I’m sharing reading material with my 7-year-old daughter again. (While this feels strange now, it will probably feel more strange once she’s outgrown chapter books and I’m still reading them.)
This time, it’s the Sisters 8 series that has captured both of us. She’s on book five, I’m on book eight, and we’re both marvelling at the way these books contain so much… personality.
On the other hand, I’m probably the only one (of the two of us) who has noticed that the Sisters 8 series breaks quite a few “rules” of chapter book writing.
Rule #1: Limit the Number of Characters
Not only does this series feature eight sisters, but each sister has a cat. And my daughter can reel off the names of every single girl/pet combo.
Rule #2: Identify the Damn Narrator
There is a first-person narrator in these books. BUT I DON’T KNOW WHO IT IS. It’s driving my crazy. There are a few subtle references to this mystery but so far, no answers. I asked my daughter, and she seems to assume that each book is narrated by a different sister. I disagree. I suppose I’ll have to wait until book eight to see who’s right.
Rule #3: Write Something Young Readers Will Understand
Here’s a quote from the prologue of book three: “And what did happen to the Eights’ parents? Well, we don’t know that yet, do we? Besides, if I told you that now, I would be telling and not showing…” I guarantee you that 99 percent of Sisters 8 readers will have no idea what the difference is between telling and showing, in terms of writing. So, is this thrown in there for the writer-parents who happen to share their kids’ taste in books? And how many of us are there, do you think?
Rule #4: The Characters Should Be Slightly Older than the Readers
This is a rule. Ask anyone. Seven-year-old readers like to read about nine year olds. Thirteen-year-old readers like to read about fifteen year olds. I don’t know why this is a rule, but it is. And Sisters 8 is written at a grade two or three level, at least, and yet the characters are only seven. Gasp.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go read two more books, so I can sort out this narration issue.