So you'll routinely see me checking out stacks of middle-grade books at the library. It's nice reading, even if you're not eight-to-twelve years old. But as I read more, I also started noticing some cliches/trends.
Trend 1: Lots of smarty-mouth books featuring boys. Now, I can't say anything about the mouth business, because Linc has his share of attitude. But some of the attitude I see in these books is kind of... Disrespectful toward adults, or fellow kids that are portly/foreign/homely-looking. Maybe it's the parent in me, but I frowned at this trend. You can be a smart-mouth without being disrespectful, I think (hope).
Trend 3: No plot. A smart mouth and middle-school detention does not a story make.
What's frustrating to me about these books is that I visit classrooms full of the intended readers all the time. We plot a novel together (loads of fun), and what strikes me every time is how smart, creative, imaginative, and positive middle-schoolers are. They deserve better books. Especially if they're reluctant readers, because how do we expect them to keep reading if all they get is books on boogers, farts, and snarky comments about odd kids?
The good news? There are a lot more books being published for middle-graders, and really GOOD books at that. Sure, many are still in the fantasy department, but contemporary fiction is represented too. Let's hope that we'll see fewer Wimpy Kid knock-offs (why try anyway? Jeff Kinney does such a great job), and more stories taking kids on adventures outside the classroom... More mysteries too, I hope.
What do you think? Are there any cliches you're sick of seeing?