Always harbored a dream of penning a book for kids or young adults? Here’s a tip: make sure the main character is an orphan.
Think about it. From classics like “Heidi,” “Anne of Green Gables,” “The Secret Garden,” “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Boxcar Children” to contemporary hits like “Harry Potter” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” many successful kid lit books feature protaganists who have lost their parents. Why is that?
Even in books where the parents are theoretically alive, such as “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” they are left out of the grand adventure.
Galleycat quotes children’s book editor Leila Sales as saying that orphaned protaganists are a sign of “lazy writing” because readers have built-in sympathy towards an orphan. Plus, not having parents around liberates the main character to have adventures. Well, exactly. Isn’t that the point?
I think that all kids secretly (or not-so-secretly) harbor a fantasy about being an orphan. No parents around to tell them to finish their broccoli or make sure they get to school on time. My older daughter went through a period of singing along to the soundtrack of “Annie,” “scrubbing” the floors, and pretending she lived at an orphanage.
The truth is that parents can be a real drag. It’s much more fun to imagine all of the things you’d do if they weren’t around. Don’t you think?
Photo Credit: Tim Pierce