t's We Recommend, in which we use our superpowers to find readers the perfect book. Got a kid who needs a recommendation? Write us at thediamondinthewindow (at) gmail (dot) com with the age, reading tastes, favorite books, and any other relevant (or irrelevant) information, and we'll give it a shot. And really? All the good suggestions are in the comments.
Hold onto your hats, everyone, this might hurt your feelings a bit.
See, this one came in the form of a conversation, like so:
Here is what my 9-and-a-half year old just asked:
Mom, is there a book that is about a normal girl who is about my age or a little older--5th or 6th grade--who has adventures but not problems so much, kind of like Ramona (but I've read all those)
ME: How about Harriet the Spy?
D; I meant a modern girl, like from now.
ME: Harriet the Spy is from now.
D: Mom, no she's not. I mean like Ivy & Bean, except no offense but Ivy & Bean isn't well-written.
Got me stumped. You?
Ok, first let's get some things straight. Ramona the Pest and Harriet the Spy are from more or less the same historical period. Ramona was first published in 1968, Harriet the Spy in 1964. So we'll just see who's calling who not from now, missy!
But, at the same time...yeah. I mean, Harriet the Spy was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. And that may have had something to do with the fact that her life made some sort of sense to me. But now? I don't know, I think the absence of cell phones, googling—it's got to be noticeable to a kid.
So even though this made me think of a lot of "normal girl" novels—like, say, all of Judy Blume, and the Betsy-Tacy books—I will try to honor the desire for someone from now. Because while those are amazing (I think she would LOVE Betsy-Tacy), they are not, by any stretch, from now.
I turned, as I do, to Chestnut and Diana. Chestnut considered the Cobble Street Cousins. But, to address another sore point, I think her aversion to Ivy & Bean is more about its simplicity than any alleged poor writing. Though it could be that we just have different tastes. I will just put it out there that I, personally, find Ivy & Bean a delight to read (within reason). Then again, I have an aversion to the whole nomenclature of "well written" that is too complicated and weird to go into here. So I will just say: we think not, on the Cobble Street Cousins, as it might be too easy for her.
Which got me to thinking about Amber Brown. My hesitation? "not problems so much" Amber Brown has some problems, sort of? Hmm. And so, we came to this:
OK, yes: the first of the Anastasia books was written in 1979. But! There are more! There are lots! And one was written as recently as 1995! Yeesh. Maybe it should be Amber Brown? Still—I think she would like this.
Help me out, youth of today! Got anything more recent?