In the July 16 issue of “Booklist,” Ilene Cooper discusses how middle-grade fiction is experiencing a resurgence. Twenty years ago YA novels were declared dead. However, new authors and the creation of the Michael L. Printz Award has given new life to this genre.
But, Cooper states, it seems that in the publishing world when one kind of book is up another must be down. So middle-grade fiction was the next victim of this thinking.
However, things are changing because now middle-grade fiction is being declared “edgy and groundbreaking.” The author believes that there has always been middle-grade fiction that pushes the boundaries. She cites Maud Hart Lovelace’s series about Betsy, Tacy and Tib. This series dealt with an immigrant community, and Betsy’s decision to become an Episcopalian among other real-life situations. Another example is Beverly Cleary’s Ramona series. In one story, Ramona has to deal with the fact that her father is out of work.
A new author and story now join this list of middle-grade fiction that will push the boundaries. Kate Beasley’s “Gertie’s Leap to Greatness” deals with the real-life problems of fifth-grader Gertie Reece Foy. Gertie’s dad works on an oil rig and her mother doesn’t acknowledge her existence. Gertie is described as being “bossy, bouncy, and busy.” She is a child who gets knocked down but picks herself up.
Serious and funny, filled with surprises and secrets, Gertie will find an audience with middle-grade readers.