Writing for Children and Young Adults by Marion Crook inspires, educates, and motivates. The book comes with a download kit containing an extensive list of resources full of direct links to helpful websites. There are writing samples and worksheets, which contribute to understanding the points being presented. I highly recommend this up-to-date writing resource to both new and experienced writers. It is much like having guidance from a personal tutor—one who is empowering and realistic.
Marion Crook’s writing style is extremely practical, clear, and sprinkled with humour (“There is always the strong possibility that the editor is right.” p. 5) and hard facts (“Sorry. You do need to learn the basic rules of grammar” p. 66). The book addresses more than the craft of writing, looking at such topics as contracts, submitting to publishers, self-publishing, and marketing your book online. Each genre of books for young readers is examined (even New Adult), explaining the appropriate format, content, and language for its targeted age group. Crook also includes information of benefit to established authors, for example, keeping a record of promotion events, contact information, evaluations of what you did, and further action required.
Writing for Children and Young Adults also delves into your motivations and beliefs as a writer and how these impact your fiction. Crook emphasizes how crucial it is for you to respect the young reader. How well do you know your intended audience? She advises that “one method of measuring whether you are too distant from your audience is to get to know a group of children.” (p. 6)
Crook pulls no punches when discussing what is writing, and what is not writing, for example, email “can substitute for writing. It feels like writing, but it doesn’t result in a finished book.” (p. 137) and “You can be seduced into thinking that posting on your blog every day is writing and producing. It’s not writing. It’s promotion.” (p. 138)
Shortcomings in this resource are few. While there is a detailed section about writing fiction and another on writing nonfiction, there is no mention of the info-fiction genre of writing that contains both fiction and nonfiction. It’s unfortunate that Crook doesn’t fully address the common problem of writer’s block; however, she does share her own experience dealing with a plot that’s not working. With only a few of the download kit’s samples and worksheets referenced in the book, it would be more beneficial to readers to include a reference to each sample and worksheet.
As an experienced writer, I found the book to be a great refresher. I look forward to trying some new practices. After creating my character descriptions, I will switch things up by writing the first chapter before plotting the outline. I can’t wait to see how this will aid the outline writing process.
Writing for Children and Young Adults is a comprehensive writing resource with a balanced perspective, examining the joys and challenges of being a writer.
September 20, 2016 (ebook)
October 2016 (paperback)
Marion Crook has written many books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Here, she offers advice on writing, publishing, and marketing. Crook’s background in child development education as a nurse and her Ph.D. in education give her solid knowledge, but she maintains that a keen observation of people, places, and events can be the author’s most useful tool. An experienced teacher and writer, she gives her readers clear and practical tips, with humor and obvious understanding of what it’s like to write and publish.
Karen Autio is the author of a trilogy of historical novels and a sea otter adventure chapter book, all for young readers.