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MG books with great dialogue

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I'm trying to improve the dialogue in my MG writing and I'm looking for MG books with kid dialogue that feels real. It doesn't necessarily have to be a recent book. I'm okay on knowing which expressions feel current or dated, that's not what I'm trying to work on. It just has to feel like the characters are saying things that real kids would say.
Thanks!
#1 - March 10, 2013, 03:35 PM

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I usually turn to Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume and Lisa Yee when I'm reading for dialogue. (Otherwise, sit in a mall for a little while and eavesdrop.  :shh )
#2 - March 10, 2013, 03:47 PM

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Ha, I usually drive my kids and their friends around for an afternoon!  :)

But second those suggestions.....
#3 - March 10, 2013, 04:54 PM

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 :lol4 My oldest is nearly 8 and I'm starting to realize what a gold mine he is!

What? You want to have friends over? Sure! Just let me get my computer set up first... Oh, and pretend I'm not here, honey!  :paperbag

#4 - March 10, 2013, 05:03 PM

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One of my favorite spots to observe middle school-ers in their natural habitat is the public library right after school. It's gold!

I'll have to think about dialogue in MG books and get back on that one.  :eh2
#5 - March 10, 2013, 06:30 PM

I agree it's great to listen to kids, but then translating it to the page is its own art. And even if you hear it well in your head, capturing it well is something else...
Maybe Skullduggery Pleasant? It's pretty funny dialog. :)
#6 - March 10, 2013, 06:46 PM
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I turned to JK Rowling so much when I felt like I needed help with this! I think the dialogue in Harry Potter flows really smooth, seems realistic, is current but also timeless, and is also very funny! Of course, you have to be careful not to absorb the British accents into your own writing...:) Someone stateside (but with the same editor, interestingly) who nailed it is Mike Jung in Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities. Reading that, you feel like you could really hear today's kids saying those things.

I think who you should read depends a lot on what kind of book you're writing, if it's contemporary or fantasy, a sports book or an adventure book.
#7 - March 15, 2013, 08:25 AM

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I use Harry Potter for natural-sounding kid 3rd person dialogue & Percy Jackson for natural-sounding 1st person dialogue. Not sure if this is true across the board, but Rowling's and Riordan's use of phrasing and  punctuation, work as hard in defining "natural" as the vocabulary and internal dialogue.
 

#8 - March 15, 2013, 11:37 AM
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 :bow Sharon Creech. Master of great MG voice & dialogue, IMO.
#9 - March 15, 2013, 12:55 PM
DREAM JOBS IN SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY (Rosen 2018)
THE GROSS SCIENCE OF BAD BREATH AND CAVITIES (Rosen 2019)

http://www.authorjessicashaw.com

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I'm reading The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.L. Konigsburg) to my daughter. I loved it as a kid without really knowing why. As an adult, I was impressed with how distinct her voices are for her characters. The brother sounds like a boy and Claudia sounds like...Claudia. Even the narration of Mrs. Frankweiler has its own flavor. Definitely a good read for great dialogue even though its an oldie.  ;)
#10 - March 15, 2013, 01:34 PM
Seek ye out of the best books...
http://dewdropsofink.blogspot.com

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Linda Urban does a wonderful job with kid voices, and she is/ was a BlueBoarder. Give A Crooked Kind of Perfect a try. She has a new book out this month that I haven't read yet, but I bet it's terrific.

Maybelle
#11 - March 16, 2013, 01:02 PM

Linda's new book is The Center of Everything and so lovely, just like everything she writes.  Hound Dog True is excellent, too.  She's very natural.

Here's an oldie but goodie, but I love everything Noel Streatfeild and she does wonderful dialogue for characters of all ages (adults right down to the smallest kid in the family).  You can even "hear" their regional/cultural accents without it being too much.  Warning: the characters are British, so it will make you want some tea.

Ditto E. Nesbit.  I love it when people write siblings talking like siblings actually talk.  Very old-fashioned stuff, but I love it.

Actually, I'm starting to think that great dialogue comes in books where people have very natural-acting characters, behaving and speaking in a way that rings very true and not writerly.
#12 - March 16, 2013, 01:08 PM

Linda Urban does a wonderful job with kid voices, and she is/ was a BlueBoarder. Give A Crooked Kind of Perfect a try. She has a new book out this month that I haven't read yet, but I bet it's terrific.

Maybelle

I saw Linda's new book, The Center of Everything, on the Fuse#8 early Newbery predictions. Congrats to her! Can't wait to read it.
#13 - March 16, 2013, 02:29 PM

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Thanks, everyone - these are very, very helpful suggestions! Some I haven't read, plus some I've read and loved but didn't even think to look at for dialogue! You all rock! :)
#14 - March 18, 2013, 02:07 PM

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Graphic novels are another option. They are pretty much pure dialogue with the artwork to bring in all other elements of the story.

Some that I've really liked:
Drama by Raina Telgemeier
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
#15 - March 18, 2013, 08:45 PM

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