Saturday, February 16, 2008

You Gotta Have the Passion

I've been down sick this week, so I've made the best of it by getting some reading done. In the last three days, I've finished two terrific examples of kid lit, The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin and A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban.

Eric Berlin is a New York Times crossword creator, which makes him, like, practically a god. The fact that he can do that and write a fun middle-grade mystery with puzzles scattered throughout it makes him, like, actually a god. If you or someone you know enjoys puzzles, particularly word puzzles, you'll want to get your hands on this book.

Linda Urban is not a New York Times crossword creator. For all I know, she may not even be able to solve them. Nonetheless, she is a goddess. Crooked is one of the best books I have ever read. Ever. And I've read a lot of books. The writing, the humor, the story arc ... everything about the book is perfect, crooked or otherwise.

One thing these books have in common (besides being written by higher beings) is the fact that they tell the story of a character who has a passion. Winston Breen is passionate about puzzles. Zoe Elias is passionate about playing the piano (well, even if she is stuck playing the organ).

Whether or not we can relate to each kid's passion (puzzles ... oh, yeah! pianos ... not so much), we like to see it. It makes the character interesting, a little different from his or her peers. It gives the character strength and spunk. It provides a path for conflict and growth. It makes us care about them and root for them.

What is your main character's passion?

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