A thread currently under discussion on the boards at Vermont College has to do with the age of the protagonist of middle grade novels.
I have a real interest in this, since I've written a middle grade novel and most reviewers tell me they have trouble with the character's age. He acts much younger than his years, at least in the world I created. He is ADD, and kids who are ADD tend to be less mature than their peers, but that's no excuse for incorrect or age-inappropriate dialogue.
So what to do? I've done a survey of contemporary books that feature characters of the same age. Boy, do they vary! One character reads Shakespeare, another goes to boot camp, a third has dyslexia and can scarcely read anything at all. Girls tend to be more mature in general; boys tend to be more active (duh).
I'd love to hear from anyone who has thoughts on this one. So much of what kids have to read in school in middle grade/early high years is OLD - like Dickens-old - and though I love Dickens, his voice is not exactly contemporary. What is it that tweens, especially tween boys, like to read (other than the obvious fantasy/science fiction)? Who do they like as characters?
As a footnote, here in Texas, we are grateful that Gustav was not what it could have been, and we are keeping fingers crossed for our neighbors in Louisiana.