Friday, March 25, 2016

Adult/Kid Dichotomy in YA and Middle Grade

The separation between adult and kid's worlds in YA and Middle Grade books can be confusing at times. I mean, they do both live in the same world, but sometimes it doesn't feel like it. The extreme example are the so-called sitcoms on the Disney Channel where adults are so clueless you wonder how they manage to hold a job while the kids are clever but mean and sarcastic to everyone, including their parents.

Part of the dichotomy is due to the way the stories have to be set up. Mysteries that have the kids running around finding clues and solving problems would end rather swiftly if adults listened to what the kids said they saw and acted to shut down the problem right away. Instead, the "meddling kids" have to work under adult radar and solve the mystery themselves, sometimes against well-meaning adult interference. Would Harry Potter have been a shorter series if Harry had been able to get Dumbledore to listen to him right away?

Sometimes the separation is due to the kids feeling that they have to hide things from their parents, whether it's bullying, grades, or a strange alien creature that just landed in their back yard. Sometimes the adults are the ones so caught up in their own lives that they don't notice that their kids are behaving strangely.

This is a standard trope in YA and Middle Grade books. Most times it works (which is why it's a standard trope), and other times you just want to yell at the characters to listen to each other.

In my own Talking to Trees Peter has to hide the fact that the person his mother is driving home with them from the mall is a tree being from another world.

Peter frowned at his sister. "We need to go to the woods later today, Mom. Got a project...for Science. I'll be meeting my study partner there. This is Twyl, Jody's study partner."

Jody stared at Peter in shock. Peter never lied--yet here he was telling their mother these big fibs without a qualm! And he was scowling at her as if ordering her not to say anything about what was really happening! As if she knew.


When they got home, she followed her brother into his room and, despite her worries about smells, shut the door. "Peter Robert Burns! You lied to her!"

"Well, what am I supposed to say? 'Hey, Mom, we're off to defeat an evil creature in another world and if we're successful we should be back by dinner?' You think Mom would say, 'yes, dear, go ahead,' to that?"

Mark Reads has started on Diane Duane's Young Wizard series and within the first few pages he was remarking on how great the interaction was between the adults and the kids. The fact that Nita has been bullied is evident right away to a librarian and then later her parents and each tried in their own way to help.

What books have you enjoyed that handled the trope well? Is having the kids hide things from the adults something that bothers you or is it something you accept?


A final reminder for anyone interested: my stories The Crystal Throne, Agents and Adepts, Talking to Trees, "Oracle of Cilens", and "Search and Rescue" will only be available through March 30, 2016 at Amber Quill Press (e and paper), Amazon (paper) and B&N. The free short story, "Hiding in Plain Sight", is only available at Amber Quill Press until then, when Amber Quill Press closes. The quick link to these (or a link to keep track of where these might end up), is through my book and short story page.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Hi, I'm cross posting this from my other blog. Edits, edits, edits are keeping me busy. But that's good.

Well, my brain took a holiday this week and forgot that Monday was the A to Z Theme Reveal Day.
I hope you don't mind if I post mine today. I'm late with a lot of things, so one more shouldn't make a lot of difference. Anyway, here is my theme for 2016.

This theme will be history for lots of you. For me, it was my life, at least part of it. We'll meet interesting men and women of the era, entertainment (we didn't have iPads, iPhones, computers, and other things we take for granted these days), and I'm still working on ideas. I know, time's running out. One day at a time is my motto. Stop by my other blog, starting April 1, join the fun, and travel back to the past.
Happy Reading