Middle Grade gets real was an interesting panel. The panel included Kacen Callender who is famous for Felix Ever After and Hurricane Child. Brandy Colbert, who is famous for Little and Lion and The Only Black Girls in Town. Ally Condie who is famous for the Matched series as well as many other projects, and Erin Entrada Kelly whose two most recent books are We Dream of Space and Lalani and the Distant Sea.
The panelists ended up talking a lot about how trauma shaped the middle grade writing experience. Because usually, not to exclude people who have it rougher, middle grade was the time people were experiencing their first major pains of their lives. Coming out and not being accepted, mental health stuff, dealing with death, relationships, not to say those things don’t happen earlier but there is a large intersection at the middle grade age group.
One of the panelist talked about going on a school visit and wanting to wrap the kid up in a bubble so they wouldn’t have to get hurt. In my work with youth I totally identify with that. The panel then of course talked about how that wasn’t possible and even if it were wouldn’t be good for the kids.
But the conclusion the panel came to is middle grade kind of helps you through your first pains, or that it should.