Middle Grade Fiction Can Make a Rat Look Heroic

There was a huge rat in our garage. I mean, this thing was big enough to scare off the neighborhood cats. My dad had tried all the conventional cheese traps. In the morning, the bait was gone… along with the traps – carried off by this ROUS.

I was about nine years old at the time, engrossed in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. Rodents were heroes to me! When my dad finally caught the beast in a live trap, I couldn’t let him kill it! For all I knew, the rodent was a long-lost cousin of Martin the Warrior! Or Narnia’s Reepicheep, crossed into our world! My dad indulged my imagination and we drove out of town to release the rat into the valley marshlands.

I heard a simple statement at a writer’s conference once. Something like, “You’ll never love a book the same way as you did when you were young.”

And that’s why I write Middle Grade. I love books now, but I lived books when I was 10. I shared them with my friends, we acted out scenes, I ducked my head under the blankets with a flashlight so I could keep reading past bedtime.

I write Middle Grade with the hope that I can give an exciting story to the kids of today. Growing up, I was nourished on imaginative tales and wondrous stories. I would feel ungrateful if I didn’t try, in some small measure, to add to that spool of yarn – To do unto others as was done unto me.

-- Tyler Whitesides, author of the upcoming Janitors series.


  1. Well put, Tyler. A very moving post. I had that same dynamic relationship with books as a kid, and write in the hope of offering that experience to others.

  2. You had me at the post title. As a kid I loveloveloved Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. And more recently, Ripred in the Gregor series. Yay for rats. :)


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