Episode 6 - Multiple Perspectives
(click on the title to listen to the podcast)
(click on the title to listen to the podcast)
Italian journalist Oriana Falacci is quoted as saying “There are three points of view to everything - yours, mine, and the truth.” As an educator, I am constantly reminded that the way I see the world isn’t everyone’s reality. One student’s experience in the library, classroom, hallway or lunchroom can be completely different from what I witness and believe to be true. In most books, readers are privy to only one perspective, usually that of the protagonist. Thankfully, several middle grade authors have taken on the challenge of writing stories from multiple points of view. I’m going share four of them with you today.
Welcome to Happy Reading, a podcast that spotlights wonderful novels aimed at 8-12 year-olds that center around a common theme. I’m your host, Sarah Threlkeld, an elementary librarian, former 6th grade reading teacher, and someone who occasionally needs a gentle reminder to consider other people’s view of the world before jumping to conclusions. Ever since I read Flipped by Wendelin van Draanen (which I happened to gush about in episode 9 of the podcast’s first season), I have been drawn to books written from multiple perspectives. Here are four more titles I adore and I hope you will too.
Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison
Not only is our first book written from two different perspectives and by two different authors, it is also written in two different styles. In Every Shiny Thing by Cordelia Jensen and Laurie Morrison, Sierra’s story is told in verse while Lauren’s is told in traditional prose. Using alternating styles of writing was a brilliant move since it clearly distinguishes the two characters and reflects their personalities. Lauren lives a privileged life and has never wanted for anything, yet she feels unfulfilled. Sierra and her mother struggle to make ends meet, yet she is happy and grateful for the love and support she feels. When Sierra’s mom ends up in jail, Sierra moves in with a foster family that lives across the street from Lauren and the two girls slowly form a friendship that will challenge and change them. Here are three poems written from Sierra’s perspective and part of a chapter from Lauren’s point of view.
The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea
High-stakes testing has been controversial for decades, but in recent years it seems like students are starting to question the need for and validity of these state-mandated tests, which is wonderful to witness. What happens when young people push back against testing? Who is helped and who is harmed? What are the consequences? These questions are explored in The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea, author if the Mr. Terupt series and master of writing middle grade books from multiple perspectives. In The Perfect Score five very different middle schoolers band together to push back against a system that to them seems unnecessary and even harmful. Will they succeed in changing their school’s approach to testing? Will their carefully crafted plan be a success or will they be punished with never ending detention? Here’s the first chapter of this thought-provoking novel that will appeal to readers of all ages.
Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick
As a child of divorce, I know how difficult it can be for kids and parents to work through the pain, confusion and guilt that often results from familial separation. It is especially challenging to move forward and accept that your mom or dad will probably start dating and may even remarry. Oh, the horror! As you can probably tell from the title, Two Naomis by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick, is about two girls named Naomi, both of whom have divorced parents. They end up meeting when Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad start to get serious about their relationship. Despite having a lot in common, the girls are not interested in becoming friends and struggle to work together on a video game project for a class their parents forced them to enroll in. Will the two Naomis ever get along or will they chip away at their mom and dad’s newfound love until no one is happy? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Here are excerpts from each girl’s perspective that will give you insight into their different personalities and views of the world.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy
My husband and I have one child and feel like life is pretty crazy, so I can’t imagine having four kids, let alone four rambunctious, active, outspoken boys like the two dads do in The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy. Ranging in age from six to twelve, the Fletcher boys are looking forward to a new school year, especially Frog who is starting Kindergarten. As the weeks pass, however, it is clear that the year is not going according to plan. From a grouchy new neighbor to a disastrous camping trip to a Halloween party that doesn’t go as expected, life is never dull in the Fletcher house and that’s exactly what makes this book so much fun to read. The characters are interesting and entertaining, and readers will easily relate to the various everyday challenges of being a family. The different voices of the four boys are well-written and, thanks to chapters written from each character’s perspective, it is easy to keep track of each person’s storyline. The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher is the perfect book for upper elementary readers who enjoy realistic fiction stories and crave diverse characters. The first chapter is written in third person, which will give you a sense of each family member’s personality.
There you have it, four fabulous middle grade novels written from many different points of view. If you are looking for some amazing picture books that explore the idea of different perspectives I highly recommend Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. If YA is more your thing you can’t go wrong with the books that David Levithan has co-written with other beloved authors. If you know of other middle grade titles that fit this episode’s theme I would love to hear about them. You can always contact me through my website, happyrdng.blogspot.com, and find me on Twitter as WordNerd153. Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to celebrate middle grade fiction with me. Until next time, happy reading!