Those of you writing, or thinking about writing, a children’s or young adult book ought to read The Magic Words: Writing Great Books for Children and Young Adults by Cheryl Klein. As the Amazon review says, it’s a “master class in writing children’s and young adult novels…”
Klein, and executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic uses extensive samples from Marcelo In The Real World, a book she worked on, to demonstrate how to fix matters of plot, tone and style for the book you’re writing.
The Magic Words focuses on three kid book categories: chapter books, middle-grade novels and young adult novels, using examples and reader exercises to make her points, and demonstrates essential differences in the sub-genres.
Klein’s basic guidelines:
A) The book will be centrally interested in the life, experience, and growth of its young protagonist.
B) The protagonist will contribute to the action, consistently doing things or making choices that move the narrative forward.
C) The novel will be narrated with relative immediacy to the protagonist’s youthful perspective, and not with the distance of, say, an adult looking back at his preteen years.
D) In more literary novels, the protagonist will be different at the end of the novel than he was at the beginning, and usually for the better.
The Magic Words is one of the most useful books on writing I’ve ever read.