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Ask a Book Blogger: Tackling the Theme of Change

July 12, 2013

Each month, we present a panel of book bloggers with a question relating to children’s books and we share their views here on the blog.  If you missed last month’s post on what upcoming books our bloggers are excited about, you can read it here.

Today we say goodbye to Erin, our beloved colleague and friend, one of the creative minds behind Random Acts of Reading, and organizer of this “Ask a Blogger” post.  We are so sad to see her go but we are also very excited for her as she embarks on her next big adventure which she shares more about below.  In light of this news, we decided to make the theme of this post about change – so we ask our fellow book bloggers: What is your favorite book in which the main character makes a major life-changing decision?

Well, of course, Hunger Games came to mind immediately. What more life-changing decision could there be? Katniss steps in to save her sister and ends up heading to the Capitol herself to play the deadliest game in Panem. I’d be very surprised if no one else mentions this.

But (if I’m allowed to mention two) I also thought of a book that’s less well-known, but deserves a broader audience. Small Damages, also YA, is written by the hugely-talented Beth Kephart. This book made me feel I was actually in Spain, surrounded by the scent of oranges, the sun warm on my face. It’s a gorgeously-written literary novel that’s all about making decisions. Kenzie is pregnant and determined not to end her pregnancy. She’s sent to Spain to have the baby and give it up for adoption. I read this in one sitting. And then wanted to read it all over again.

– Joanne, My Brain on Books @JoanneRFritz

Of course, lots of books come to mind, but I’ll go with Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. I want to keep my thoughts spoiler-free, so I’ll just say that Kami faces an excruciating choice near the end of the book and I admire her difficult but brave decision.

-Rachel, Rachel Ann Hanley

This month’s question is a tough one!  One book popped into my mind, though, and has stayed there, so I’m going to go with it.  I read WONDER by R. J. Palacio over a year ago and August and his story have stuck with me.  Because of some facial deformities, August has been home schooled all of his life.  When it’s time for middle school, he and his parents decide it’s time for him to attend school.  His experiences change his life and the lives of everyone around him and they’re bound to change the lives of those who read about him as well.  WONDER just might be the best middle grade book I’ve ever read!

– Kathy, Bermudaonion’s Weblog @bermudaonion

Change! When I think about change as a concept in stories, I think about how prominently change is featured in “coming of age” stories in many middle grade  and young adult novels.  This change is reflected in transitioning from elementary school to middle school or middle to high school.  Characters, as do their real-life counterparts, face changes in relationships within their friends, and in how they relate to parents or siblings.  There is certainly a letting go or leaving behind and the need to face more “grown-up” or adult issues.  Reading about the changes and transitions that characters go through helps children and teens navigate through their own realities. Recently, I read two books that in very different ways and for very different audiences both deal with change and coming of age in powerful ways.

For Middle Grade readers I recommend Doll Bones by Holly Black.  It may be disguised as a creepy doll book, but don’t let that fool you. It really is one of the best coming of age stories that I have read in a long-time.

For Young Adult readers, I recommend Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz.  After hearing, Sáenz speak I knew I had to read this book. It is an emotionally powerful story of friendship and self-discovery and learning about life.

– Alyson, Kid Lit Frenzy @alybee930

I have loved being part of not just this blog, and this monthly post, which is always so much fun to pull together, but also part of Random House Children’s Books, where I’ve worked for 12 years. I am making a change of my own, to run a store at a gorgeous new library being built in San Diego. I will be leaving publishing, but still working with books, which are my heart and soul.  One book has been on my mind this week, though it deals with growth more than change, and that is The World is Waiting for You. It beautifully shows young (or older!) people that their current interests may transform into a career someday. I keep thinking of myself as a young child, poring over dozens of books a week at my local library branch, and how that passion eventually led to the job I had at Random House and now to my new job based at a library. If you want to inspire someone in your own life, it would make a wonderful gift. 

If you’d like to follow along with my new journey, you can find me on Twitter @erinz1. And hopefully I will get to drop in here every now and again with a book review. Thanks for reading!  – Erin

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 12, 2013 11:38 am

    Erin – We will miss you! Best of luck with the new job! it sounds like it will be a fun new journey.

  2. July 14, 2013 11:06 am

    You deserve it, Beth! Such an excellent book.

  3. July 14, 2013 11:07 am

    Best of luck to you, Erin. We’ll all miss you. Enjoy your new adventure!

    (And it never ceases to amaze me that we each come up with different book titles. I was totally wrong about Hunger Games!)

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