Anyway, if you follow WII at all, you may have noticed that more and more reviews have dipped into the middle-grade market. I thought it might be a good idea to write a few words about my choice to do that. When I first began this website, the idea was to stick closely to the YA market. That is where most juvenile books with problematic or mature content are found. Relatively few middle grade novels worry parents, because publishers follow stricter content guidelines. Of course, there are a few that have caused an uproar in the middle grade market--particularly the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling, and the His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman. Generally, however, the middle grade market is considered pretty safe by most concerned parents, myself included.
As I've reviewed more and more books, though, I have found myself coming across a lot of middle-grade novels with teen protagonists. They are young teens, to be sure, but they are still teens, my target age level for WII reviews. Occasionally, I purposely choose a middle-grade book with a teen character, such as Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass, because I want a book aimed at younger teens in order to give age variety to my reviews. Most of the middle-grade books I and my volunteers have reviewed, however, are books that we chose to read for personal reasons (hey, children's books are for everyone!) and have had no intention of reviewing. Once we discovered that the book had at least one teen protagonist, it seemed silly not to review it for the benefit of all.
I also continue to read and review YA books, but over the past year I have found myself feeling more and more oppressed by the books I've chosen. One after the other has told a tale of angst and misery, or else the story has featured murder, graphic sex, and/or more spiritual darkness than I can handle. I have found myself being affected by these stories and have tried to choose more upbeat novels, but the truth is, the YA market just doesn't publish a lot of them. Dark and dismal is de rigeur. Look long and hard, and you'll find a few--some even reviewed on WII--but you'll have better luck if you ignore the 8-12 middle-grade age label and expand your search into that market
And that's why WII now features many more middle-grade reviews than it used to. For my sake as a reviewer and for your teens' sake, I now keep my eyes open for any middle-grade novels that feature teen protagonists. Young adult literature is still the focus of this website, and I will continue to feature reviews of all sorts of books (except horror and novels published by religious houses). Happily, though, I have discovered that the middle-grade market offers wonderful tales for teens that aren't oppressive, so they will continue to have a place in What's In It.