Saturday, August 27, 2011
My little sisters went on an Andrew Clements binge, so I re-read some books and caught up on the newer ones as well. It was a nice trip down memory lane, and a pleasant dip back into childhood! At the same time, I was able to think critically about the books and analyze them as an adult, in addition to simply enjoying them the way a child does, the way I did when I first read books like Frindle, The School Story, and The Report Card. So now, I was thinking about what makes these books so appealing to young kids, and also why adults like them so much.
What it comes down to, I think, is that Clements portrays young kids actually going out and doing things. They're powerful in that way, and that appeals to kids who feel like they have no power in an adult world. And the books overtly address this feeling of powerlessness that most kids have, so the answer is clear and straightforward.
What adults like about these books is that the kids in them learn lessons, and even when they do crazy things that get them in loads of trouble, they get to take away a really important message. And the adults in the books never defer to the kids, so that while the kids are empowered, the structure of the world, of adult-child relations, stays stable.
What I really like about these books is that they are borderline un-real - the kids do things that probably would never happen in real life - but there's that tiny bit of realism to what they do, the way everything is logically worked out so that it could happen in real life, that makes the books so compelling - and, I think, what keeps these books on the best-seller list!