Friday, October 21, 2011

What I learned from MG Books - #1

I'm reading MG books in the attempt to define what makes a good book. I'll share what I learn.
Book #1: The Sky Inside, a MG sci-fi mystery, by Clare B. Dunkle. 

Here's what I learned from this author/book.
  • Write simple, easy to understand chapters.
  • Don't get too technical even if it is sci-fi.
  • Adult characters, especially parents, should be believable.
Martin's parents were not played as dumb adults. They had believable interactions with each other and with the children. As the story progresses you see their short-falls and fears. They are portrayed as real people. 
  • Child characters and their actions should be believable. 
The main character, Martin, reminded me of a 13 year old boy I know, even down to some of his personality traits! He loves his old sneakers. He worries he is dying when he gets a terrible sunburn. He starts to figure out that something is terribly wrong in the suburb. He has compassion for younger kids.  
  • Insert key aspects that kids love.
Kids would love Alldog, the toy that acts like a real dog. It is a robot that can morph into any type of dog. Chip is his name and he is as loyal as any dog. Other fun kid interests: exploring the underground city, robots, video games, skipping school, and even the oven that is like a lottery, determining what you get to eat for dinner.
  • Have an over-arching theme or moral for the story.
This one was about lies. Every aspect of the suburb is built on lies. Martin sees how the lies have completely degraded society and his family.

If you'd like to know more about this book, here is a synopsis I wrote, as well as the actual back book jacket quote.

Synopsis: Martin, age 13 has a Wonder Baby sister, age 6, who is super smart. They live with their parents in the Sky Dome suburb and are told that outside the dome poisons will kill you. All the suburbs’ supplied come in off the train, called a packet, and are decontamized. Martin gets an Alldog toy for his birthday, but this robotic dog can do things others can’t, like deprogram unauthorized doors. The suburb inhabitants are constantly being watched. People disappear. Then, when a man comes and takes all the Wonder Babies away, Martin sets out to find them.

Back Cover: Quote from book – “The ads had started running on mid-morning television the summer after Martin’s fourth birthday. “Wonder babies are here!” they announced….Never had the arrival of the stork brought such excitement. Overflowing  with charm and intelligence, WonderBabies were like nothing the suburb had seen before. But that didn’t turn out to be a good thing.”


  1. Love how you are sharing what you are learning. You've gleaned a lot already just from one book! Thanks, Dawn!

  2. It really helps me to gather my thoughts by putting it in a post.