There’s more to children’s literature than sparkling in the sunlight

Vampires, vampires and more vampires. Am I the only one sick of this? There are only so many spins you can put on it until you’re just spinning in a pile of undead dusty detritus.

So what else is out there?

Grace Dent. Thank God for Grace Dent. Funny, sharp and not at all patronising. She’s got a lovely way of empathising without getting “adult”. The latest Diary of a Snob is due out on 2nd September. I’m currently halfway through the first Diary of a Snob and loving it.

The Gossip Girl series has crossed over to books very successfully, spawning spin-offs and pretenders such as The Clique and The Beautiful Dead (the latter reading like a GG / Twilight cross that practically has sexy young tv series written all over it)

There’s the awesome Mary Hooper producing a standard of books that makes me frankly envious. Her latest (June 2010) Fallen Grace is a masterpiece of quiet elegant power. She’s also got the skill of cramming her books full of historical detail but never overwhleming the reader.

Keren David is perhaps less well known but that’s no comment on the quality of her books. Debut novel When I was Joe came out in January this year (the sequel is due in September). When I was Joe is a crackingly astute and quick read – the fact that a vast amount of the Amazon reviews are from kids speaks volumes.

I know it’s been out since 2007 but The Plain Janes is one of those stories that I keep returning too. It’s from the sadly missed and shortly lived Minx run of graphic novels from DC. The language in this book is the thing that keeps pulling me back as is the sharp social commentary – delivered with a delicacy that makes me envious.

Perhaps as a result of Twilight’s massive success, there’s an influx of Angel related novels hitting the shelves. L A Weatherley’s imaginatively titled Angel arrives 1/10/10. There’s been a lot of Twitter buzz on this one – whether that’s from a proactive publishing department or genuine heat is unclear. I’ll hold my judgement until I get to read it.

Eva Ibbotson is one of the most simply effortless writers I know. She’s got the ability to just create convincing love stories and characters that make you root for them – regardless of their foibles. One of her older titles (2007) The Morning Gift is a gorgeous tale of romance that keeps pulling me back. Ibbotson produces stories that defy the sometimes limiting label of ‘children’s literature’.

And then, for next time, I have to mention the emotionally brilliant writing of  Michael Morpurgo, and I can’t forget the epic nature of KM Peyton and the gorgeous Pennington, and what about Antonia Forest and the deeply lovable Marlows and then there’s Robert Muchamore and the CHERUBS and shouldn’t the brilliantly real Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins fit in here somewhere?