Lynley's Reviews > Writing Irresistible KidLit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers

Writing Irresistible KidLit by Mary Kole
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's review
Dec 18, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: writing
Read in December, 2012

The title promises a lot, and the author is certainly qualified, with a background in writing, publishing and acting.

The first and last chapters are all about the publishing industry, so the title should really say something about 'writing AND PUBLISHING' kidlit. Actually, this dates the book somewhat, with the assumption that everyone is still interested in the traditional publishing route, completely putting aside that a lot of new writers will have decided to self-publish. But even if you do prefer the traditional route, if you're a regular reader of the biggest publishing blogs, these chapters may not offer much.

The rest of the book might offer a lot, if this were the first book on writing that you'd ever read, and if you've stayed away from the chestnuts of writing groups. Instead of this book, you might read Self-Editing For Fiction Writers for the technical bits, Save The Cat and McKee for the plotting bits, and Bird By Bird for the inspirational bits. Kole's chapter on 'Advanced' Kidlit is nothing of the sort, and borders on condescending. Imagery is a part of the Year 10 English curriculum where I come from.

What this book does offer that other (non kidlit) writing books don't is examples from the kidlit world. But as acknowledged by the author herself, out of context some of those excerpts can't teach much. Better to read the whole book.

In the end, maybe the thing I took away is that writing for kids isn't all that different from writing for adults. Apart from the voice, which Kole doesn't manage to describe any better than most. Better off just 'absorbing' voice by reading lots of great writing than trying to pin it down, I conclude. And as Maria Nikolajeva writes in 'Children's Literature Comes Of Age':

'There is still another viewpoint which research on children's literature has quite ignored, and that is to approach children's literature as literature.' She points out that the writing of Astrid Lindgren, when analysed, is more demanding than the average book written for adults.

In this book I guess I was just hoping for something more rigorous, and for something more specifically about kidlit. I was hoping for the kidlit equivalent of James Wood's 'How Fiction Works', which really made me think in a new way about... well, how fiction works. That, too, has a big title that promises some sort of breadth, and isn't anything of the sort, but I'd recommend that book to any writer.

This book has introduced me to some excellent kidlit though, and I've now got some excellent new YA books on my to-read list.
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