1. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Middle Grade Themes

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Justin Rocket 2, Nov 29, 2015.

    When writing a middle grade novel (for ages 8 - 12), is there a limit to how mature the themes can be? For clarity, when I say "mature" I don't mean "adult" (i.e. sexual), I mean how deeply and with how much complexity we look at themes which have no easy answers (e.g. justice, corruption, prejudice, etc,)
     
  2. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    The earlier the better, that people stop the good/evil divide, especially at its prevalence. The tricky part is to show why people are unethical without condoning it to the young mind. Some concepts might be beyond the grasp of an adolescent, so "assume nothing." Depending on how much you're interested, there might be some used texts on the psychology of moral development around and even the ubiquitous developmental psych books at thrift stores usually have a chapter or two for its dedication. As your question stands, its a big question, imo.
     
  3. Justin Rocket 2
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    That's your personal politics rather than writing advice. I've got no problem with calling certain acts or people evil.

    Good idea!
     
  4. T'Gatoi
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    T'Gatoi New Member

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    (I know this is an overused example sorry!) Harry Potter was meant for a middle grade audience, the first books mostly. In the first book alone he's made an orphan, raised by neglectful people who don't like him and he is confronted with the reality of death. Then they go on to have themes about prejudice, slavery, depression and prison. I think it all depends on the individual, mostly. Themes like prejudice and depression, there are some 8-12yo's unfortunately who already have to deal with them. Whatever themes you use, it would be important not to dumb them down or sugar coat them. Kids can tell when they're being talked down to.
     
  5. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    In other words, I'm referring to a simplistic characterization of guilty and innocent. It's better to not keep the narrative going too long, that, for example, people who do drugs are hiding in the bushes preying on children, etc.
     
  6. Justin Rocket 2
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    I kinda feel like this stuff was mostly kept distant. At least in the first novel, the Dursleys come across to me as cartoonish evil, more akin to Snidely Whiplash than Flowers in the Attic.
    Are Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, or the Outsiders middle grade? They might be good examples. But, is that kind of writing out of style?
     
  7. T'Gatoi
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    T'Gatoi New Member

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    Yeah, good point about the dursleys.

    The other ones were all about kids the same age, so I'd say they count; especially since The Outsiders was credited with basically starting the whole YA genre. Though unfortunately, they might not be very popular with that crowd considering they're taught in school. Lord of the Flies was really quite dark, though. I remember getting really into the essay I had to write for it. lol
     
  8. Justin Rocket 2
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    Even on the simplest level, aren't Earl Bradley and Ariel Castro evil?
     
  9. Justin Rocket 2
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    Middle Grade is roughly 8 - 12 years old.
    Young Adult is 12 - 18.

    I'm not sure if the novels I mentioned count as MG or YA.
     
  10. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    Sure. My intention wasn't to wipe "evil" off the earth. That's just how I talk. :)
     
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  11. T'Gatoi
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    T'Gatoi New Member

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    I think there's definite crossover between them; what's good for one middle grader might burn another one out.
     

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