Bookanistasa: MEDUSA THE MEAN and the whole mythology thing
In my opinion, middle grade is a tricky space for writing. Especially in the 21st century when gradeschoolers have cellphones and internet access and are all kinds of savvy that I certainly wasn't at 10 or 11 or 12. Sometimes when this slippery mixture of sophistication and immaturity makes me scared to work on a middle grade piece, I think about mythology.
Many kids go through a period of fascination with the Greek myths. I remember gifting my eldest (now a teenager) with D'Aulaire's Greek Myths. He went from there to a quirky little series called Myth-o-Mania (this series, btw, has been reissued due to long-standing popularity) then on to Edith Hamilton's Mythology. The myths are not stories for the faint of heart--for folks who don't want to think about BIG questions of love and loyalty. This mythology interest suggests that middle graders want to confront big issues even if they don't have driver's licenses or credit cards. They are concerned about their friends, their families and their futures. They have a lot to learn--but also a lot to say. The whole mythology thing is, to me, heartening. It is one of the things that gets me excited about writing for this readership.
Which brings me to Suzanne Williams and Joan Holub's contribution to the myths-for-middle-graders canon. The Goddess Girls series is set in a mythical high school populated by teen versions of the Greek greats. And they deal with issues of fitting in, of reputation and of growing up with Grecian style and lots of fun. MEDUSA THE MEAN is no exception--imagine trying to be popular with a snakes-on-your-head hairdo! This is a brightly written story perfect for girls seeking a break from 700-page Harry Potter marathons. It's a brisk, confidence-building read for those middle-graders struggling to think those big, grown-up thoughts while still hanging on to a bit of their childhoods.