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Middle Grade vs. Chapter Books

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How are the book series, Ranger in Time by Kate Messner and I Survived by Lauren Tarshis categorized? Middle grade or chapter books?  Is a 15,000 word book with an eleven year old protagonist a middle grade or chapter book?

Any perspective would be appreciated.

Thanks.
#1 - December 04, 2019, 01:00 PM

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Well, it gets very confusing because some people call all books with chapters "chapter books" and other people call early middle grade chapter books and other people differentiate between early middle grade and chapter books.

Both of the series you mention are for ages 7-10, grades 2-5, so that's right smack dab in the middle of the confusing part. I'd call them either chapter books or early middle grade, not true middle grade, which is more for 9-12. Others will probably chime in with different ideas, since there's not one strict standard.

Anne Marie



#2 - December 04, 2019, 01:05 PM
VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion)
SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY (Abrams)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

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I agree with Anne Marie. The books you cited could go either way. The fact the word count is 15,000  (less than half of a typical mg) and they are part of a series makes me lean more toward older chapter book.
#3 - December 04, 2019, 02:24 PM
Rebecca Langston-George
The Women's Rights Movement: Then and Now
Capstone: January, 2018

The I Survived series is shelved with the middle grade/juvenile fiction at Barnes and Noble if that helps.
#4 - December 05, 2019, 07:09 AM
LOVE AND LEFTOVERS and FAN ART
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins

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The Ranger in Time series averages about 12,500 words, and a reading level of 4.5. So similar to the later Magic Tree House books.

There's a chart here about the difference: https://emmawaltonhamilton.com/blog/chapter-books-vs-middle-grade-whats-the-difference

But the main thing would be word count. Even the highly illustrated Diary of a Wimpy Kid books are 20,000 words.
#5 - December 05, 2019, 11:23 AM

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You might find this helpful with the examples cited: http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html 

It isn't just the word count that matters, but the subject matter, more importantly. Carolyn Coman's book What Jamie Saw is a slim book about violence in the family but it's on the upper MG/YA even though the protagonist, Jamie, is only 9 years old.

Sarah, Plain and Tall is another slender book that's solidly MG.

Also, think about Hi/Lo books--these are high interest with a lower reading level for older children who are struggling with reading. It's the topic that pulls these kids into reading.
#6 - December 05, 2019, 11:52 AM
Max & Dagny, Why in the World, Tongue-Tied, Bound, Ten Easter Eggs & 100+ bks/mags
https://vijayabodach.blogspot.com https://bodachbooks.blogspot.com

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Sarah, Plain and Tall is another slender book that's solidly MG.

Yeah, I guess I wasn't focusing on historical fiction. The Our Canadian Girl series has very short books too.
#7 - December 05, 2019, 12:39 PM

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Sarah, Plain and Tall is another slender book that's solidly MG.

But this is an old book. I don't know that I'd go by it. It's always best to look at things published within the past five years or series with books from that time period. The more recent the better. The industry changes.
#8 - December 05, 2019, 06:33 PM
Website: http://www.debbievilardi.com/
Twitter: @dvilardi1

I'd think you need to be close to 30,000 words for MG if you're looking at word count, though as the others mentioned you have to consider the content. Chapter books are usually part of a series and are focused on the main character and his/her main problem without much in the way of subplots. I wrote a book I thought was a chapter book because it was around 13,000 words but my editor said the main character was too complex (dealing with a range of special needs and adopted as well). She said kids reading chapter books are still learning to decode words and the plot needs to be simple and not grapple with any multileveled issues. She advised me to rewrite it as a middle grade.
#9 - December 07, 2019, 08:41 AM
EXTRAORDINARY ( Skypony Press  May 2015)
CALL ME SUNFLOWER (Skypony Press May 2017)
EMILY OUT OF FOCUS (Skypony Press May 2019)

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Another factor to consider--chapter books are often episodic. Each chapter has its own story,  with only a weak overall story arc...
#10 - December 07, 2019, 04:40 PM
Harold Underdown

The Purple Crayon, a children's book editor's site: http://www.underdown.org/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/HUnderdown

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