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Genres & Age Categories => Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: elissacruz on September 27, 2010, 01:13 PM

Title: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: elissacruz on September 27, 2010, 01:13 PM
This has been discussed in some earlier MG threads (and plenty of YA threads), but I wanted to see if anything has changed recently.  I couldn't find an older thread that seemed appropriate, so forgive me for starting yet another POV topic.

My question is this:  What is the industry's current view about multiple POVs in a book that is solidly middle-grade?  Is it still considered a little difficult for kids to follow, or has the MG POV sensibility grown up a little?  (The earlier threads seem to indicate that MG multiply POV is somewhat frowned upon.  I would like to know how accurate that statement is today, since there has been a huge push in MG books lately, and therefore more experimenting in MG as well.)

And does anyone know of any newer MG books that change POV between two (or more) characters?

Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Jenn Reese on September 27, 2010, 02:21 PM
I really can't speak for anyone else, but my MG series (Candlewick 2012) has two main PoV characters and I received no negative feedback on that aspect during the submission process. (Plenty of feedback on other aspects, though!)  I was a little worried about it, and was relieved that it didn't seem to be a sticking point... at least not a major one.

Jenn
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Cheri on September 30, 2010, 08:53 PM
I was just about to post this very question!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: ChristinefromCorona on September 30, 2010, 09:12 PM
Wendy Mass likes to do this.   Every Soul a Star has 3 alternating narrators,  and her new MG,  The Candymakers,  is split into 4 parts,  each with a different MC. 

Christine
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: olmue on September 30, 2010, 09:13 PM
Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, that came out earlier this year, is narrated by a brother and sister. Very MG.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: ChristinefromCorona on September 30, 2010, 09:20 PM
There's also The Mother-Daughter Book Club series by Heather Vogel Frederick (Pies and Prejudice just came out recently).   They have 4 alternating narrators.   So I guess it's not a problem in MG.    :yup   
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: elissacruz on September 30, 2010, 10:25 PM
Thanks.  I'm glad to hear it, since that's where my current WIP is taking me, and I couldn't stand the thought of picking just one narrator!

Please let me know of any other MG books with multiple POV.  I'd like to research how other MG authors have handled it.  (Care to send me and advance copy of yours, Jenn?   :whistle )
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Jenn Reese on September 30, 2010, 10:52 PM
LOL -- maybe when we're done with line edits. I have a feeling there will be a lot of those. :-D

Jenn
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: DanetteFromOrlando on October 01, 2010, 06:11 AM
The Summer of Moonlight Secrets has alternating narrators.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: ChristinefromCorona on October 01, 2010, 10:27 PM
The View from Saturday (Newbery winner) by E.L. Konigsburg.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Mike Jung on October 01, 2010, 11:12 PM
Gordon Korman's SCHOOLED jumps around among at least a half-dozen POVs.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: SMozer on October 04, 2010, 04:36 AM
Wendy Mass likes to do this.   Every Soul a Star has 3 alternating narrators,  and her new MG,  The Candymakers,  is split into 4 parts,  each with a different MC. 

Christine

These are the two middle grade books I was going to mention as well. Both are excellent examples and she does the points of view differently in each one so you can get a lot of ideas.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: jancoates on August 05, 2012, 06:10 AM
This is sort of the same topic - I'm looking for examples of good MG novels with dual POV, but with one character in the present, and one in the past. Any ideas?  Thanks!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Natalie on August 05, 2012, 06:39 AM
Clare Vanderpool's MOON OVER MANIFEST

I'll keep thinking...
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: jojohn on August 05, 2012, 06:54 AM
WONDER is in multiple POV.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: jodyjl on August 10, 2012, 04:34 PM
FLIPPED is another alternating POV novel that is definitely MG.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Kurtis on August 10, 2012, 04:55 PM
Tom Angleberger does it and he's doing OK.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: JennaWren on August 10, 2012, 05:54 PM
Just read Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver. Alternating POV, within chapters (as opposed to those with alternating POV with each chapter). Extremely well done.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Natalie on August 11, 2012, 01:03 AM
My novel, FLYING THE DRAGON, alternates chapters by point of view with two main characters, a boy and a girl.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: jancoates on August 11, 2012, 07:52 AM
Thanks, everybody - I'm requesting/reading some of your suggestions. I had already read Moon Over Manifest, but forgot about the dual POV - seems every book takes a different approach to weaving both stories together. Still haven't found one with the 200+ year gap between characters, which is what I hope to attempt :flowers2
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Raynbow Gignilliat on August 11, 2012, 07:58 AM
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey has a huge gap of years between the different characters. It's YA, but maybe could give you some ideas?
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Jean Reidy on August 11, 2012, 08:01 AM
I think the key with MG and multiple points of view is making it very clear through chapter breaks and even chapter titles whose head the reader should be in at any given point in time. The more clues you give, the easier it will be for the younger reader to follow.
Jean
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: lynnek on August 18, 2012, 10:33 AM
Thanks.  I'm glad to hear it, since that's where my current WIP is taking me, and I couldn't stand the thought of picking just one narrator!

I'm the same way with my WIP, Elissa! Mostly I'll stay with the main character, but since it's a mystery I want to occasionally check in with the villain to show the reader what they're up to, and to show the POVs of a couple other characters who will be interested in how things turn out.

Sarvenaz Tash's THE MAPMAKER AND THE GHOST has multiple POVs too.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Alison Stevens on January 10, 2013, 12:26 PM
I'm glad to see this post, even if it is an older thread. My MG had one main POV with a second character who had about a third of the chapters. Based on recent feedback and a need for clarity regarding a third character, I revised so there are three alternating points of view. One of my trusted CPs loves the revision and thinks it's definitely the way to go. Another trusted CP doesn't like it all. She thinks it will be too confusing for MG readers. So now I'm stuck.  :banghead  What to do with such totally conflicting responses?
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: KeithM on January 10, 2013, 02:18 PM
I think as mentioned in this thread there's quite a lot of pov switching even in mg, but if it's done, it should be clear and well set up. Also, there's always a question with switching to different characters, and that is whether the reader wants to stay with the one they're with or if they're okay with switching.

Maybe because you just put the third pov in, it's still a bit jumpy and not quite set up. In a way, if you want to keep the new pov, you may need to embrace it and go all in, and make sure it's done as well as possible. But as to deciding whether to use it or not at all, that's got to be your decision. I think confusion can be solved--but there's the question of whether a scene in another pov takes readers away from the heart of the story.

If it's hard to decide too, you can also take a long hard look again to see if what you solved with a pov switch can also be solved in another way. I think too the genre and the whole style of the story matter a lot, the voice and so on. Hmm, hard question!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Alison Stevens on January 10, 2013, 03:12 PM
Thanks, Keith. I have chapter titles with the relevant character's name to help with the transition from one perspective to the next. I honestly think it's the best way to go. I'll just have to be extremely careful about going through and making the story as seamless as possible, so the transitions aren't too jarring, I guess.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Hannah on February 22, 2013, 08:09 AM
Is it still considered a little difficult for kids to follow, or has the MG POV sensibility grown up a little?

I remember reading "special editions" of Babysitters Club books that had every member of the club as a POV character multiple times throughout the book. And those books have been out since the mid eighties. But that might also have been easy to do because it would be assumed that readers would already be quite familiar with the voices of each character from other novels in the series.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: lab on February 22, 2013, 12:08 PM
Hi Alison,

I have a full in with a house right now which I actually rewrote because the editor doesn't like multiple points of view for MG novels, unless it's done from the very beginning of the story. I coulnd't have done it with my story this time so I stuck with the MC's point of view.

I'm not sure. I guess it depends on the type of story but I think it could be quite interesting, done correctly.  And, I guess editors and publishers have different opinions about this.  Who knows? :shrug:
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Alison Stevens on April 18, 2013, 01:27 PM
Wow, I haven't stopped by in a while (so apologies for the really delayed response!), but that's really interesting about having to rewrite. I'm not surprised to find there's variation in preferences among editors (likely agents, too). My story starts off with two different perspectives, and a third comes in a bit later, so the reader knows from the get-go. Ah well, will finish this last round of edits and send it off, see how it's received!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: RaeE on April 18, 2013, 02:10 PM
 :goodthread: I'm so glad this was bumped!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Liz Straw on April 18, 2013, 06:16 PM
I just read a book that was told from a dog's point of view as well as the owner of the dog.  MG mystery.  I found it very jarring as you never knew who was speaking (arf, arf) from one chapter to the next until you read a few lines. 

Of course I do not like talking thinking animals.  :grrr

However this looks like it is going to be a series - A Dog and her Girl. 
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Alison Stevens on April 18, 2013, 07:45 PM
I've used the characters' names as chapter titles, so the reader knows going into each one, who's POV it will be. It's much like Rebecca Stead's FIRST LIGHT (which I just read and loved).

I'm not a fan of talking animals, either, although THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN would be the exception to the rule.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Sheila on April 18, 2013, 07:58 PM
Talking animals have been around for a long time, so I think they are here to stay. Black Beauty, Watership Down, Charlotte's Web are a few that have done well. But if you don't like this type of story, you won't want to write your own talking animal book. I agree with Alison, multiple POV can work fine if the reader is kept informed about which character is telling the story.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Liz Straw on April 19, 2013, 04:29 PM
Actually I did like the Art of Racing in the Rain, also.  I don't totally dislike animals that think for themselves - the dog did not talk to people and acted like a dog, I think that it was the way it was presented, without knowing that suddenly I was reading the dog's pov and then I was reading the girls pov. 

I think I was okay with Black Beauty as a kid mostly because it was a horse story.  I never like Charlotte's Web, even when I read it to my classes when I taught.  The kids loved it, I did not.  But I did not deprive them from a classic book that they would probably not have heard at home. (poor rural area, most families barely getting by). 
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: mrh on April 19, 2013, 05:36 PM
I enjoy multiple POV books. In my WIP, I also use character names just under each chapter title so they know whose POV to expect.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Bobi Martin on April 19, 2013, 09:35 PM
For me, it depends on how the switches are handled. I like multiple pov best when the characters switch only at chapter breaks and when the main character is shown through first person with the other pov characters told in third person. I find I can stay bonded with the mc best this way.  My loyalties get pulled at when all characters have the same "weight" so to speak.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: hhbrady on May 13, 2013, 07:11 PM
This is a great thread. I ended up two alternating POVs and there is almost a 100-year gap between them. However, they are both strong-willed fashionistas so that thread binds them together. I've alternated at each chapter and tried to create a smooth transition between them. I would like to do an illustration for the front of each chapter (or a scrapbook page) but I imagine that's up to the publisher unless I decide to strike out on my own.

I'm puzzled on how to set this up in a query though. My instinct tells me to stick with one POV, my contemporary tween. Maybe I'll post that question in the query thread, but I wanted to mention it here in case you'd like to ferret it out.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Jaina on May 14, 2013, 06:34 AM
If it's written in two PsOV, I'd say so in the query.  "Told in alternating points of view, X book . . . " and talk about both your POV characters. 

If one of them hardly appears and the emphasis is on the contemporary tween (it's really his/her story, with a few instances of reading the other character's thoughts), then maybe just concentrate on that main character's journey.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: mrh on May 14, 2013, 07:45 AM
I agree with Jaina. The "told in alternating points of view, X book..." way of saying it works well.

If the two characters have equally strong arcs and about equal time, I'd talk about both in the query. It sounds like this is your situation. The only time I might not talk about both in the query is if one is clearly subordinate to the other. Example: Pat Schmatz's BLUEFISH. It's in two POVs, but one of them gets much more stage time and the story is clearly his.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Sheila on May 14, 2013, 09:04 AM
Hi,

When you are talking about POV, are you thinking of first person exclusively? Or are you including third person, limited perspective? I'm just wondering. There are some excellent novels for MG and YA that use the former. WONDER has been mentioned already. STRONG DEAF is another great example with one character able to hear and the other not. And HOW TO SAVE A LIFE is really well done. In each of these, first person is used. This makes it easier for the author and the reader to feel as if they are inside the character's head. But the author still needs to make certain that the character is an individual and has his or her own window on the world.

When an author uses third person, limited perspective, switching to other characters is more common and less obvious to the reader. I've found this an interesting way to write a novel although usually, I stick with one character's POV. I think writers back in the 1940s--1980s (no research--just recollection!), were more likely to write in third person and skip around into various characters' heads. I have one novel told totally in third person, but I limited alternating chapters  to the POVs of the two main characters. I've used this novel with kids to help them understand the concept of POV.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: mrh on May 14, 2013, 09:18 AM
As we've seen from the examples, POV switches can happen in either first or third. It's also possible to do one in third and the other in first. I'm pretty sure Bluefish does this. With first, of course, that means really nailing the distinctive voices of each.

I agree that a few decades ago, a lot of third person was less close than today. Now, it's as if a lot of writers feel that third CLOSE is their only option if they're writing in third. I've even seen newer writers opine that anything less than CLOSE in third person is a technical POV fault. What it really is, I think, is current market taste. I don't like feeling that current market taste is often removing this or that tool from our toolbox. But I digress. :)
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: hhbrady on May 20, 2013, 06:05 PM
It's alternating first POV - draft #6! I was writing in close third but I keep getting "great premise, great concept, I'm sure someone will pick it up. . .I just didn't feel close enough to the characters"

So major overhaul now into the alternating first POVs. 

No responses on the query board btw. Thanks for the feedback!
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: anningalls on May 22, 2013, 07:41 AM
Sharelle Byars-Moranville employs multiple point of view in her new book, THE HOP, a MG novel. I've read this book twice and honestly think I may like it as much as CHARLOTTE'S WEB, high praise from a former second-grade teacher who's read that book to students' delight over a dozen times. If I were in the classroom today, I'd read THE HOP for direction in talking about all creatures on this Earth and their rights.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Alison Stevens on May 22, 2013, 11:49 AM
Sharelle Byars-Moranville employs multiple point of view in her new book, THE HOP, a MG novel. I've read this book twice and honestly think I may like it as much as CHARLOTTE'S WEB, high praise from a former second-grade teacher who's read that book to students' delight over a dozen times. If I were in the classroom today, I'd read THE HOP for direction in talking about all creatures on this Earth and their rights.
Ooh, I need to read that, thanks for the tip!

Mine is actually third-person close. I debated which POV to use and this was best suited. It does make for easier transitions, I think, since I don't have to worry about the reader figuring out which "I" is talking. I've also seen multiple POV with third person more often than with first, but that could just be the books I've been reading.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: kategoka on May 22, 2013, 08:39 PM
A multiple POV middle grade that I just loved was BIRD IN A BOX by Andrea Davis Pinkney.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: sandycarl on June 01, 2013, 12:27 PM
Super late in jumping in here. As a former teacher, I know MGers can easily handle POV switches, those wonderful little sponges! But IMO, whatever your editor says about POV, go for it. She or he knows best and is the one who will publish your story.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Carol F on June 11, 2013, 04:20 PM
There are so many great examples where point of view switches from chapter to chapter, but there are also some that go inside different people's heads in one chapter. Someone mentioned Liesel & Po -- super example. And I'm just reading Magyk (Septimus Heap, Book 1), where different points of view occur in the same scene, but it works well.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Phil Hilliker on July 12, 2013, 08:20 PM
This kind of question is always so tough. As with many restrictions, the final answer comes down to an editor's personal taste and the old refrain of "as long as it's done well." Fine the right editor and practically everything is acceptable (as long as it's done well).  And so many posters have already given great examples that prove it's being done well and on a regular basis.

I'd throw in Adam Rex's Cold Cereal series as another example. It bounces around a lot.
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: jerry-craft on February 24, 2015, 08:06 PM
I started my publishing company back in 1997, because there are a few things that I wanted to do that the industry frowned upon. One of them is using flashbacks, and the other is multiple POVs. Personally I think that kids today are MUCH more sophisticated than we were as kids. I think the music they listen to is more mature, the video games has storylines that are more complicated than most movies, and the movies have a ton of flashbacks and alternate realities. So I'm still stunned to hear the same critiques on my manuscripts. When I wrote "The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!" I wanted it to be about 5 kids from various ethnicities (both male and female). And I wanted each of them to tell their own story. I KNEW kids would be able to follow along. And so far, I've not gotten a single complaint from a kid, parent or teacher. What I have gotten is emails from kids who said that they hate to read, but enjoyed reading my book because it was fun. I wonder how often the big publishing houses reexamine their dos and don'ts, or if they are written in stone to last for all eternity. :)
Title: Re: Multiple POV in MG
Post by: Vijaya on February 25, 2015, 06:10 AM
I've read several multiple-POV books, and not all are done well. The best, I think is delivered by Laura Amy Schlitz. Splendors and Glooms is perfection. Her Good Masters, Sweet Ladies, is another perfect tale. My kids, at first were not enamored by GMSL, but by the 2nd or 3rd story saw how the stories were going to be linked and loved it. Great read-aloud. Wow! Sometimes, when something is a bit different, kids will balk, but if they stick with it, they are richly rewarded.

I adore talking animal stories. Often, when I read a book, I wonder what the dog would be thinking. LOL.
I also enjoy connected short stories.
Vijaya