children's & ya literature revisited anew

When I first started my master's program, I was so thrilled that there were any critical studies of children's literature at all that I could hardly stand it.  Now I've been in the field, more or less, since 1997, and there's been huge growth in the scholarship of children's literature, some of it wonderfully inventive, some of it peculiarly intriguing, and of course some not so hot.  It's a delight to be working with a grad student who is contributing some very hot new stuff to the field.

And as for me and my reading, well, it seemed appropriate this last few weeks of summer to get back to basics and read a handful of good books for kids and teens.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
YA fantasy fans have yet another tough assassin heroine to admire and envy, and this time she has a genuine ball-gown-fancying girly streak.  Though it takes her awhile to get back into fighting or gown form after a year in the death camp of Endovier.  Background info is filled in with add-on paragraphs and the one character-of-color is, predictably, wise and aloof.  While the action is great, the relationships aren't always well-developed; for instance, the attraction between Celaena and the crown prince is more believable than the attraction to the captain of the guard.  Still, it's a fine romp of a YA fantasy.  It's satisfying indeed to see that Celaena can give all of the other competitors for king's champion a real run for their money, even if they are demons from another dimension.

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
It's a sad and sometimes scary scene at James Whitman's house.  He reads the poet Whitman and yawps his way through a life where his sister Jorie has been kicked out of the house and he refers to his own father at "The Brute."  James' narration starts out as slightly unreliable, especially when his internal cast of characters includes a psychologist named Dr. Bird, but he actually becomes more reliable over time.  And both of his parents are revealed to be brutes, but James begins to make a plan to move forward with his life anyhow.

Powerless by Matthew Cody
What if you moved to a town where all the kids had superpowers--except you?  Daniel Corrigan is the only kid without superpowers, having just moved to town to take care of his grandma, and it bites.  Of course, all the kids lose their powers and their memories of their powers at the age of 13, so he'll be normal pretty soon.  But there's a a bigger mystery to be solved here, because it turns out that one adult knows the children's secrets, including the reason why their powers disappear at 13.  In the end, not having superpowers may make Daniel the most powerful ally of all, at least when it comes to helping his super friends.  Classic good-vs-evil comic book fans would enjoy this middle-grade novel.

In other news--and I'll make another post if this turns out to be the case--I may be cooking up a writing project that will lead me to start another blog.  If I do that, then I'll probably shift my attention to that blog and keep track of my reading on Goodreads and elsewhere, because I'm not a big fan of multitasking.  More to come...

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