Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prefect Reads: For Kids & Young Adults

For a writer I don't tend to blog an awful lot about writing. I would, but when it comes down to it what is there to say? I wrote this great new thing, submitted it, got rejected by this agent or that agent, even though most of them agreed it was really good. Same old story.

Same old stories, coincidentally, are what you will for the most part find on bookstore shelves these days. I've read some rubbish books in the past five years and they all had one thing in common: they were published.

The vast majority of books over on authonomy are unpublished. They are not all brilliant. Some are works in progress and the authors have posted them there in search of feedback and critiques, looking to hone and improve their works, and it is a very useful community for that sort of thing. There are also some real shining gems that really deserve to be published. I may have mentioned this before, but it's worth repeating: in the space of the two months I've been a member of the authonomy community, I've found more books on the site to excite and inspire than I've found in book stores in the past five years. Easy.

Something should be done about that.

Unfortunately we don't have the power to do a great deal about it, but one of the things we can do is draw attention to those books and get people reading them and backing them (basically, plonking them on their virtual bookshelves over at the site), so as to get them to the attention of the Harper Collins editors.

Today, I'm focusing on a range of kids'/Young Adult reads. Now this is not intended to be about my book, but in the light of a comment I received today, and with respect to publishing potential, I have to at least start this off with a mention for Kip Doodle (TM).

Today I was told:

by the way had about 8 kids in here last night and 8 phone calls from parents wanting to know where they can buy your book. So please add to your agent letter that there are children in glenrothes looking for your book.

That's 8 kids - and 8 parents - in one locale. And since I can't imagine that taste is in some way geographically limited, this is highly suggestive of a good market for Kip. It's fantastic to get good comments from fellow authors, but to know that kids love your kids' book is something special.

Now, talking of special, let's move on to the other kids'/YA reads I'm recommending this month. Between them, they're aimed at various age ranges, but I'd be very surprised if you didn't find something to appeal from among these fine choices.

The Voices Of Angels by Hannah Davis.

The current No.1 over there, and not without reason. A real achievement too for a YA book. But I know from experience that halfway through the month, even a No.1 book on authonomy still needs the votes to keep coming in. Lizzie Fisher is an ordinary girl with the most extraordinary gift. She sees when people are about to die. Handles this potentially tough subject with great sensitivity and a wonderful level of heartfelt fantasy.

Sydney Wakefield: Into The Far Away by Kimberly J Smith

Another high riser in the children's/YA genre, this is a terrific fantasy that manages what I thought was the impossible: breathing genuinely fresh new life into the Arthurian myth. Or rather, tapping into it to create something new altogether. A boy helps his favorite author's ghost write the final book in her popular series, unlocking the magic that will rescue King Arthur from Avalon. A core central idea that outdoes Harry Potter in the magical stakes, for my money, and very well-written. The sort of book that, to my mind, would inspire kids to write their own stories, which is always a great thing.

Haggis: An Unusual Name For A Cat by Sharon Hartle

Writing from animals' POVs is tricky and will no doubt put a lot of resolutely rational adults off, but kids will love it. Two brave cats and their adventures as they unmask a wicked plan for world domination by Tidal Gold a wicked organisation of ... goldfish.. Told with a gifted, light touch that really draws you into the world of its two feline adventurers.

Every Cat Has A Wish by Sally M Hughes

Oh my God, I know I'm a soft-hearted soul, but this made me cry. "A girl named Poppy once loved me as if I was the most precious cat in the world. I could never replace that." After his owner dies, a ginger cat called Alf sets out on a quest to find a new home. Another story told from a feline POV, and handled so wonderfully, emotional and deeply touching.

So there we have it. More great reads to come in other genres, but those will do for today. So please do go sample these reads and by all means disagree with me, but if it strikes you I'm a good judge of these at all, do give them your vote.

Enjoy the reading. You won't find these books in the shops. But let's hope you can before very long.

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