Now that it's time to go back to school, I have a plea for all you middle grade authors.
I picked up a newly published middle grade novel after the agent who represented it said the book was the one that really got him excited about children's literature.
I was eager to dive into the story and see what made this book special. And much like diving into water that's shallower than it appears, I ran smack into a child of destiny being tormented by bullies among both students and faculty in an oppressive institution.
|Eddie~S at Wikimedia|
I know school isn't rainbows and unicorns, and kids can be mean to each other, but this is becoming a tired trope. So I'm calling for an end to bullies in middle grade novels. (Unless the novel is actually about bullies at some level and those characters are in the book to do more than simply set the starting scene.)
I know you middle grade authors are creative, so let's step up and find something other than the overdeveloped brute who takes senseless pleasure in pounding your protagonists. How about a rival? An enemy? Another kid so focused on what he or she wants that they run over your protagonist and don't even notice the bump?
At a minimum, please don't use a bully simply because almost everyone else has.
* At least C.S. Lewis had the decency to let his protagonists go back to their dreary new school at the end of Voyage of the Dawn Treader and give their tormentors a proper comeuppance.
Deren blogs daily at The Laws of Making.
Image: Michelle Meiklejohn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net