Ghostbusters begins with a prologue showing a nonprimary character who sees a ghost, which provides the need for the Ghostbusters to form. In these cases, we see some of the ways a prologue-style opening can help your story. A prologue can establish why things are as they are in the world of your story, and why the character is the way he is when the main action begins. Here are 4 things to consider when researching literary agents.
Many fiction experts tell writers never to write a prologue, while others like me say prologues are great. The Anti-Prologuers argue that: 1 No one reads prologues; 2 Prologues are just dumping grounds for backstory; and 3 Prologues prevent you from getting to the main action of the story. The Pro-Prologuers Pro-Loguers? Can beginning with a prologue engage your reader?
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In a hero action beginning, the hero is onstage, doing something active and interesting related to the launching of the core story it need not involve explosions and car chases, but it certainly can. Groundhog Day begins with Phil Connors onstage giving a sarcastic weather report. Juno begins with Juno walking through the neighborhood, drinking SunnyD, on her way to the corner store to buy a pregnancy test.
Nearly every James Bond story begins with performing some amazing derring-do. What About Bob? The hero action beginning is the other most common way to begin a story. Read about them here. But remember to ask yourself how much of a stretch is it to show that action. And would a prologue or some other approach help you more than a hero action beginning? Some books lend themselves naturally to a hero action beginning. If the protagonist is a superhero when the story begins, you can start the novel by having her save the earth.
Mulan is feeding chickens on the family farm—not necessarily an interesting introduction. We all could make up something for our heroes to do as the book begins. With in medias res, you start at a point deep in the story, show a bit of activity to intrigue the reader, and then jump back to an earlier, quieter part in the story. In this case, you show a later episode, and then you hit the rewind button and spend some or all of the rest of the book catching up to that moment.
Battle: Los Angeles begins with U. Then we jump back about 20 years. Part of the reason is because it can be perceived as a gimmick. Sometimes it gives readers that same ripped-off feeling they get when they read a novel that begins with a dream. It can also sacrifice suspense for that whole portion of the story until you catch up with the first moment. Think about it: If you see the main character alive and well in what you now realize is a future moment, how nervous are you going to be when she gets into danger?
I mean, you know she lives, right, at least up to the in medias res moment? An in medias res opening can deflate the tension the way a hole deflates a tire. Before now, everything has been relatively safe. But when you get to that moment, and especially when you surpass it, everything changes. The payoff of the in medias res beginning is that thrilling moment of angst you give your reader when you reach that point and go beyond it. The tension shoots through the roof. The risk is that you may bore your readers if things are too slow before you catch up to that opening moment.
The payoff is that breathless feeling of performing without a net that you give readers who stay with you. The choice is yours. The final major way of beginning your first chapter is to use a frame device. In this, your story is bookended on the front and back and usually a few instances in the middle by a story that is outside the main story.
After plowing through both, we opted…. With Leah starting to demonstrate an interest in history and in particular, the story of the Titanic, we turned to Canadian author, Gordon Korman, and next read his Titanic trilogy. From there, we stumbled upon two excellent trilogies. All four children have been recruited into a special school run by a mysterious man called Dr. Each child has a unique gift but not a supernatural gift. Their gifts are athleticism, intuition, logic, and a photographic memory. The children are asked to decipher clues and solve mysteries throughout and are constantly reminded that they have the skills necessary to the success of the group when they work as a team rather than as individuals.
Leah enjoyed seeing intelligence celebrated and having the children solve problems using their brains rather than relying on magic or gizmos. The stories are fairly lengthy and there was plenty of interesting background detail on all of the main characters. We enjoyed solving the mysteries along with the characters, as they arose in these books. Again, the children use intelligence and courage to piece together the clues to discover who is involved and what is behind the theft of this painting.
The two follow-up books were equally good. All three books involved mathematics, art, poetry, and seeing the patterns that exist in numbers, geometry and nature. These books were accessible reads for any child but, would really be enjoyed by intelligent children who could appreciate that intelligent students were being featured and celebrated throughout the series. After the first four chapters, I stopped and told Leah that if she felt the storyline was too scary or too hard to understand, that we could stop. We read all seven books in order.
After The Chronicles of Narnia , Leah felt ready to tackle more substantive literature. The first book was Bridge To Terabithia. Leah had long had the habit of reading her best-favoured books again and again. Her attention span, having grown to a suitable length, now afforded her the ability to read for as long as she liked, put an unfinished book down, and pick it back up at the next, earliest opportunity. When Leah started re-reading Bridge To Terabithia , it caused her to pick up Prince Caspian again and read it solo style. She did the same with Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
To this day, I have still not read some of them. It is difficult to keep up with her, to be honest. This book was significant because it was the first real dipping of her toes in both the horror and fantasy genres. I think Coraline is an incredibly good book for intelligent children because, even at an early age, it allows for discussions about the price of our some of our dreams, and the cost of some of the Faustian bargains we strike in pursuit of what we think will make us happy.
Speaking of graphic novels , it was around this time that Leah discovered author Raina Telgemeier and her series of graphic novels, Drama, Smile and Sisters. All three of these novels have become wildly popular with Junior grade students , and Leah and Sophie too is no exception. These books may hold the record in our house for being re-read, over and over again.
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Although Leah was branching off into her own world of literary choices, we still made time to share our own stories together. If Leah, in her mind, was not ready for the world of Hogwarts and Harry Potter then, we would explore the next best thing: the series that is said to have made a major impression on a younger J. The story is set is Wales and is essentially a tale, spanning five books, of the forces of Good trying to keep the forces of Darkness at bay. The hero is 11 years old, just like another certain eleven year old boy who turned up years later at Privet Drive. Will has an uncle who mentors him, just as Harry had his Dumbledore.
One of the cooler aspects of this series was that many of the settings really existed. So, after we finished reading the books, we went to Google Earth and journeyed into the fishing villages and windswept moors mentioned so prominently throughout the books. Pretty neat. There is a certain cadence to the writing that makes the text simply roll off of the tongue when reading out loud.
Not much need be said about this series. The tales of friendship, loyalty, courage and love have struck a chord with millions of young readers, including Leah. Not only that, but while Harry Potter is certainly the star of the story, Hermione Granger, his faithful friend, has emerged from the series as one of the strongest female characters ever written for children.
Everything about her personality resonated with Leah; her fierceness, her sense of honour and justice, her intelligence, her femininity, and her feminism, too. Leah even dressed up as Hermione for Halloween last year! One of the worries that Leah had heading into the first Potter book was that it would be too scary and violent. She soon found that this was not the case. Instead, she found the action scenes to be rather thrilling and took them in stride within the context of events as they unfolded in the story.
Having Leah realize that she was brave and intelligent enough to handle action scenes, even when they contained violence or suspense , helped prepare her for our next series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. Percy Jackson and the Olympians was the series that connected a lot of dots for Leah. First of all, it helped bring her love of Greek culture to the fore.
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It was one of the first times she was ever made aware that discrimination based upon gender was a reoccurring theme throughout the course of history. So, this book was the kindling that gave birth to the first sparks of the feminist mindset that Leah possesses to this day. It also created a fascination with the Greek culture and history. Leah loved every aspect of the Gods, Goddesses and Demigods, and their relationships to each other and to mere mortals. Because of this series, Leah went on a non-fiction blitz of our public library, checking out every book she could find on Greek mythology and history.
While reading The Heroes of Olympus , Leah, with her sense of female empowerment growing, turned to one of the biggest female role models of recent time by reading I Am Malala. As many of you may know, Malala Yousafzai was a young girl who was attending school in Afghanistan at a time when the Taliban forbid girls from getting an education. She was shot and left for dead by the Taliban. Malala is a brave, intelligent, charming and tenacious young lady. To paraphrase the old saying, in order to see the way forward, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Malala is that wonderful role model for Leah and for countless other girls around the world.
For most of the past year or so, Leah and I have entered the world of Starclan, with the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. We read only the first six, but, even with that small a sampling, we were impressed with the detailed description of feline communities within a forest. Leah thought that the descriptions of everyday life in the forest, and the detailed and thoughtfully planned character development reminded her a lot of the social structure of her school.
Thus, she was able to bring meaning to the books and make personal connections which, as you know, makes for a deeper and more meaningful reading experience. One of the good things about having a reputation as a reader is that as you grow up, other like-minded peers will seek you out. So, not surprisingly, as Leah has moved through the Junior grades at school, she and the girls who have become her fast friends spend a regular portion of their free time reading and talking about books with each other.
It was a recommendation from a dear friend that led Leah to request that we read The Hunger Games trilogy. So, we did. Leah liked that she was a strong young girl. She liked that Katniss would fight for what was right and for those she loved. Leah also liked how the politics of both the Capitol and the Rebels had flaws that made supporting them untenable.
She respected how Katniss sought out her own truth and reacted accordingly at the conclusion of The Mockingjay. What gorgeous language throughout! What an intricate tale of childhood innocence, the power of love, friendship, and loyalty, and as well, the redemptive value of forgiveness. It features another strong female character called Lyra Belacqua and an almost equally strong, nasty female character, Mrs. Highly, highly recommended!
As mentioned earlier, Leah and I read together each night and, Leah also reads her own books throughout the day. So, in compiling this post, I felt it was prudent to ask Leah for some of her personal recommendations.
Although she enjoyed them all, the one that continues to get pulled out is Matilda. Of all of the female characters in all of the books that Leah has read or has listened to, Matilda might be the one who is the biggest reader. Leah completely gets how i mportant books are in terms of the information they transmit, as well as their ability to transport the reader away from where they are to anywhere their imagination may take them. Leah is, at this point in her life, kind of like Matilda……but with a better family life, I hope!
The theme of animals in captivity is highlighted in this powerful book by Katherine Applegate called The One and Only Ivan. Told from the point of view of Ivan, a gorilla who lives his life in a glass cage in a rundown shopping mall, The One and Only Ivan is a terrific portrait of loneliness and the deep set yearning within us all to lead a life of purpose and meaning. Liesl and Po concerns a lonely girl Liesl and an equally lonely ghost named Po.
In the midst of all this, a young man, smitten with Liesl, drops off a box of magic that sets off a chain reaction of events that change all of their lives. The characters are quirky and likeable and the writing is terrific. Wonder by R. Palacio is about a boy named Auggie who possesses a severe facial deformity. Because of how he looks, people often judge him without ever getting to know the real him. What lifts this book above the cliched premise of not judging a person based upon looks, is how masterfully Palacio creates realistic characters that the reader can relate to.
Leah, once again thought that this was very representative of her school experience, and it got her thinking about body image in a more positive and upbeat manner than is often the case for young girls. Not every book Leah has read has been heavy or serious. Leah enjoys a fast-paced, funny story , too. The Dear Dumb Diary series is school-based, and has a cast of pre-teen and tween age characters that Leah relates to well. Like many books of this sort, the female character, Jamie Kelly, always gets into and out of plenty of jackpots, and provides many moments of silliness and slapstick humour.
Not surprisingly, Ella gets into lots of trouble because she literally has to do whatever she is told, no matter how wrong, dangerous or silly it turns out to be. Leah enjoyed watching Ella cope with this curse and develop strategies to circumvent the terms of the curse. Generally speaking, Leah is not a fan of stories about princesses who live happily-ever-after in the company of a prince, but every now and again, a good old-fashioned fairy tale type of book is just what the doctor ordered.
When Leah discovered graphic novels , one of the series that she was most drawn to was the Thea Stilton series. This was a spin-off of the Geronimo Stilton franchise, and involved a troupe of female mice who were investigative journalists-in-training. Needless to say, they got involved in mysteries from around the world, and used their ingenuity and intelligence to solve crimes. Leah really enjoyed that the settings were famous foreign locales, and that the five girls worked together so well and used their brains cohesively as one unit.
Leah read Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin in school, and raved about it whenever she talked about books that she thought were original and creative. Everyone ages backwards until they reach the age of seven days, and then they are reborn and start life on Earth anew. Leah has said that she has never read a book like Elsewhere, and she recommends it to anyone who enjoys the kind of book that keeps you guessing right until the end. Leah received Pax by Sara Pennypacker as a gift, and we could not tear her away from its pages from the moment she opened it.
The story takes place amid war. The book begins with a boy and his pet fox being forced to separate because the boy is going to live with family members while his father goes off to war. The rest of the story involves the boy trekking back home in hopes of finding his fox, and the fox learning to survive in the wild, all the while maintaining faith that his boy will return. Lots of interesting characters help out along both journeys, according to Leah. She says Pax tugs at your heartstrings and is a great read. Leah recommends this book because of the strong female character Meg Murry.
Leah found this book a little more challenging than she did enjoyable, but having said that, she has re-read it several times this year. I would like to hope that if I were ever trapped on some distant outcrop, Leah would go to the ends of the universe to rescue me. She also likes that Nancy has a sister, just like she does. Finally, Nancy is in Grade 3 in school, and Sophie is in Grade 2, so they are almost the same age.
So, there you have it! Thanks, Sophie! Here are just a few of best non-fiction books that Leah has devoured in her search for knowledge, inspiration, and incredible stories:. Leah has read dozens of books dedicated to the ill-fated voyage of the Titanic. But the one book on the subject that has stood the test of time and which resides on the bookshelf in her bedroom is Exploring the Titanic by Robert Ballard, who is the oceanographer who first discovered the wreck.
The allure of the Titanic disaster, for Leah, is the contrast between the epic scale of the disaster and the incredible personal stories that abound. Leah also appreciated the respect with which Dr. Leah has never shown that much interest in war history per se, but like so many others, she has been drawn to the story of Anne Frank. The conclusion of the book is well-known, but still caused Leah to feel much in her heart and mind. We may cover all of the following books, some of them, or perhaps none at all, as our attention may be diverted by treasures that we are not even aware of yet.
But more than likely, these books will be next on our list. The story is told all in rhyme. It tells the tale of the wreck from the point of view of Seamus, a crew member, and Ann, who rowed out in raging seas, and was credited with rescuing dozens of survivors.
This is a creative take on the historical fiction genre and can easily be read in one sitting. Ann is, definitely, an under-celebrated Canadian heroine. These books are bleak, but they do a really good job of portraying the lives of women and girls under the Taliban, and without having to say it, contrasting their lives with those of young girls in our part of the world who are doing the reading. Excellent, thought-provoking, and occasionally unsettling books , but highly recommended nonetheless. Quite simply, The Giver is a wonderful story of a unique world where colour equals emotion and feelings.
The story depicts a society that has traded passion for security, love for stability, and ideas for industry. Any reader, male or female, who has any sense of emotional claustrophobia will not breathe until this story has raced downhill to its icy conclusion. Lois Lowry also wrote another great book called Number the Stars. The main character is a ten-year old girl named Annemarie who, as the events of history unfolds, finds herself protecting her best friend, who is Jewish, from being sent to the concentration camps.
Annemarie and her family work with the Danish Resistance to smuggle Jewish friends and families into Sweden. The act of smuggling the Jewish characters is a white-knuckle read. It would be an excellent adventure story on its own, but with the historical tie-ins, the plot is elevated to a higher plain of relevance.
All that I have ever really asked for Leah, when it has come to reading, is that she continue to pursue it, that she continue to enjoy it and that she continue to read good books, period , regardless of gender classifications. A good book is a good book is a good book, as I always say. As I begin to wind this post down, I do so with the slight caution that while the books Leah and I have read over the course of her life have been the best books for her and, by extension, for me , they are only a guide for you as a young female reader, or for you as the person who loves that young female reader.
The overarching message that extends throughout my journey with my daughter is this:. If you want a young girl in your life to make a permanent, lifelong connection with the act of reading, you need to read to them from their earliest days, and do so out of love for them and for the stories you are sharing.
You need to surround them with books of all subject matter, genres, and levels of complexity. Finally, you need to let the young reader follow their muse when it comes to mining an area of interest.
We did all of those things with Leah and she has turned out to be a wonderful reader with a keen eye for good literature and strong female role models. The fact that she accomplished this mainly through historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy is neither here nor there. It is simply what worked for her. Read with your child, surround them with good books, and let them chart their own course, and you too, will have an inspired reader on your hands. Knowing the Happy Hooligan community a bit, I know that you are good to share success stories with each other.
Here’s how we’ve managed to pull that off:
So, in that regard, if you feel this list has missed some of the best books for girls; books that have worked for you as a young female reader, or have worked with daughters of yours then please, by all means, share those titles and your stories in the comment box below. I hope that your readers may draw inspiration from what she has accomplished.
This moment symbolizes for me what reading with my daughter truly means. I share that moment now, with all of you. As noted at the beginning of this post, Leah and I reading together has become woven in the fabric of our lives. It is part of our relationship together that we both treasure.
We read together because we love one another. We love one another, so we read together. It all fits together so perfectly for us both. I will feel my heart crack on the spot, but because I love her, I will tell her to go and be with her friends. I will tell her to have fun with someone other than me. I will watch her grow up and leave. I know that this is a part of life, but just the same, I am not yet ready for our reading time to end. So, with that in mind, I was definitely caught off guard when we came to the scene in the Little House books where Laura has fallen in love with Almanzo Wilder and has agreed to get married.
I choked back my tears and soldiered on, but inside I was dying, and all the while, Leah was wondering what was wrong with my voice all of a sudden.