Thursday, April 5, 2012

The ABC's of Middle Grade: R is for Rascal

Rascal is my synonym for villain. I'm admitting it, straight up. When I was preparing my alphabet list, letter 'V' shouted Voice! to me (and also insisted it came after 'C'), but villain echoed in the background, so I decided on rascal in order to still tackle the topic of villains in this alphabet march. Genius, I know.

Rascally villains take all shapes and forms in middle grade books. They can be conniving bullies, evil sorcerers, or mean old neighbor ladies. Those are obvious rascal/villains, easy to pick out in the story, the good vs. bad type of rascals. But there are plenty of rascals that aren't so obvious--the villain can be the conflict itself, the story's setting, or a main character's internal struggle.

Rascals in middle grade books come alive in millions of ways. But do middle grade readers care what kind of rascal a story has as long as the story has one? I have my views but would love to hear yours. What's your take?

11 comments:

  1. When I think of rascal, I think of Huckleberry Finn. I think rascals have to be loveable. Villains though are mean.

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  2. I'm not sure middle graders think about what kind of villains are in the story as long as it fits the story. The best ones have layers to their personalities like all characters do.

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  3. True about rascals and villains, Em-Musing. And Natalie, layers -- yes!

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  4. Middle-graders like hope. Therefore, I think the middle-grade villains have to have the possibility of being flipped, taught, or have a back story so compelling the reader can have empathy. :0)

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  5. Rascal is a great term for a Middle Grade villain!

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  6. I'm with Margo. You can have a true MG villain, but it's much more common (I think) to have a good 'ol, down low rascal.
    I love that R too.

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  7. I like Margo's post too. I don't think of villains in MG as truly evil, like the word villain implies. Picky R as rascal instead of V for villians fits right in with your mg list!

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  8. Villains or rascals don't have to be bad; they just have to be people whose goals are at cross purposes with the MC. If they are bad, they need to have good in them, too. It suddenly makes the whole story more complex and thought-provoking.

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  9. I couldn't agree more with Marcia. That's what I like about my favorite rascals. :)

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  10. At cross purposes with the MC -- that's good stuff, Marcia.

    So, it turns out, rascal was a good word rather than villain after all.

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  11. I agree with Marcia and Margo. A rascal for me is less malevolent that a villain, and they're both better with layers and good sides. I know my 8-y-o son likes characters who are rascals in books - it makes the whole conflict clearer and more interesting to him.

    Good choice for today!

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