Middle Grade Monday – Shannon Hale
You see, Shannon Hale is in my state, for the first time ever. And tonight she’s coming to my local bookstore. She’ll be promoting the third Princess Academy book, Princess Academy: the Forgotten Sisters, which isn’t even out until next week. I am so excited!
Shannon Hale is one of the first authors I ever met. It was at ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, probably about 10 years ago? I can only remember because she’d had her first baby and he was about 6 months old, and now he’s 11 (I think.) I had stopped by her booth on the vendor floor in the hopes that her line wouldn’t be too long. After all, Goose Girl was one of the best books I’d read in years, and I was sure that there would be a crowd. Lucky for me, there was no one there and I got to talk to her for about 45 minutes and meet her baby and husband when they stopped by. She was so lovely and approachable. It was one of the best times I have had meeting an author.
Cut to tonight – I’m sure it’s going to be crowded, but I am just as excited to see her! I’m planning on getting a copy of the new Princess Academy Book and taking all of my others to be signed.
To be honest, there are a lot of reasons to love Shannon Hale. First and foremost, of course, her books are amazing! I fell in love with Goose Girl when I read it and I book talk it (and the rest of the Bayern Books every year.) I love to watch the looks on the face of the less enlightened young men change from skepticism to interest, to excitement as I explain the story and talk about murder plots, epics sword fights, etc. She writes brilliant stories about complex female protagonists with agency. And they are wonderful.
The second reason to love Shannon Hale is her internet presence. Even though she has a myriad of responsibilities both as an author and a parent, she spends time advocating for those things in which she strongly believes, including reading for pleasure and the false dichotomy of ‘boy books’ and ‘girl books,’ to just name two. Also, if you follow closely, you’ll get to see the occasional tweet in her Twitter stream that cracks a window into the minds of her 4 year old twin girls, which is fascinating. For instance this, from this morning:
Thirdly, and finally for now, Shannon Hale’s books fall into what I like to think of as the ‘middle school sweet spot.’ There is nothing in them that might cause concern, even for an elementary student, but they are written in such a way as to have major mass appeal to all levels of readers in my population. Everyone from the youngest of my sixth graders to the oldest (and most jaded) of my eighth graders can find an engaging read with an appealing protagonist withing the covers of her books. And for that, I am truly grateful.
So, I’m off to see her tonight! You can expect a review of her newest forthwith!
***Post event update: Shannon is just as wonderful as I remembered. Probably more. Also, best presentation since Cassie Clare (strongly recommended.)
Filed under: Middle Grade Monday
About Robin Willis
After working in middle school libraries for over 20 years, Robin Willis now works in a public library system in Maryland.
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