(If you hurry, you can still register with the early bird special price. CLICK HERE FOR the LINK.)
I'm signing up for Erin Entrada Kelly's Saturday workshop. All day to write. Yay.
Now that I've read two of her books, I'm beyond excited!
Check out all the stickie notes in my library copy of
YOU GO FIRST.
I tried to read this book like a writer. I wanted to learn some of the tricks, some of the tips, some of the fabulous ways Erin tells her stories.
But had I reviewed it as a reader, as a librarian, as someone recommending books to young readers, I couldn't have done better than this SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review:
"VERDICT Heartfelt and hopeful, this novel will encourage young readers to offer their hand in friendship to kids who, just like them, might be struggling."
Both of the books I read by Erin are truly heartfelt. BUT, they're also funny as everything. One of my writing goals is to be funnier. It's not so easy to write humor and also create a story that tugs at kids' hearts.
A few observations:
I adore the Rabbit Hole thoughts at the beginning of Charlotte's chapters. Rabbit Hole because that's what happens when you start researching one thing and end up elsewhere.
We've all been there, but did anybody else see it as a way to develop a character?
And they're not just random. They're connected, they have flow, they sometimes lead to very funny observations.
The way she writes about how two friends pull apart- ingenious! At one point, Charlotte hides in the library and eavesdrops on her former friend who's now gone over to the other side, the popular kids. But does Erin write long boring passages of exposition to let the reader know what Charlotte's feeling? Nope.
How about this:
"Charlotte wanted to sweep all the stupid nonfiction books off the shelf and scream." (p. 141)
And then Charlotte goes on to muse about her rock collection. Yes, introspection. Yes, often longer than one of those writing rules that say a young reader won't sit still for this. Ha. In Erin's hands, the passages are beautifully written and, again, often funny.
Funny, nervous, filled with guilt. All the emotions, in a lovable narrator.
I just love that about Charlotte.
The book is a lesson in crafting perfect characters and their arcs.
Ben is so wonderfully flawed. And does he really know it? Perhaps my favorite line of his-
"Ben carried his shirt to the boys' bathroom knowing the medium would be too big. But it's not often that you're given a choice of what you want to be, and Ben decided he didn't want to be small." (p. 152)
This might be the most perfectly-written book about friendship I've read in a very long time.
Here's my copy of HELLO, UNIVERSE. I bought it after it won the Newbery and have now read it a couple of times.
True confessions, if a book is mine and I don't plan to send it elsewhere, I write in it. Don't judge! Hey, I love finding notes in books.
(Aside: One of the coolest recent things to happen in the book world is the various journeys teachers send new ARCs on, sharing and leaving notes in them, then returning them to the author. We love reading your notes!)
By now, everybody in the universe has probably read HELLO, UNIVERSE. So I'll just say that if you haven't, what are you waiting for?
Your turn. What are you reading on this lovely Monday in May?