Meet Ally Malinenko, author of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, a new Middle Grade novel about a descendent of William Shakespeare who gets kidnapped and goes on an adventure with her best friend. She was nice to stop by Working for the Mandroid to discuss what appeals to her about the Middle Grade format. Please welcome Ally Malinenko!
Why I Write Middle Grade?
By Ally Malinenko
Whenever I tell people that my novel Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb is Middle Grade they sort of wrinkle their face up in abject confusion. And I get it. It’s not YA – they know YA. They’re all familiar with Twilight. It’s not a baby book. So what is it? Usually I use authors to explain. I say Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Madline L’Engle.
Then they usually ask why I wrote Middle Grade. And this is what I tell them: Because MG is one of the best possible reading times in your life. It’s about independence. It’s about letting go of the hand that constantly holds you back and reminds you to be safe and instead venturing out into the world to see what you might find. Or what might find you.
Watching kids read middle grade at the library, how engrossed and absorbed they are reminds me of how powerful middle grade books are. At that moment they exist in a multiverse. One that is made up of the slow fade of library books shelves and the chatter of toddlers into the magic of Camazotz, standing before “It” knowing that the battle for Father and Charles Wallace is still far from over. Or the worlds that meld from the sixth grade lunch room into the halls of Hogwarts, the moving staircases and the knowledge that you’re a wizard. If that child keeps reading, and grows up into a reader it will happen for them again, sure, but never with the power that it did then when they were 10 years old.