Friday, July 18, 2008

There are so many books out right now about child geniuses so we decided to focus on a few og them this month

Something to think about relating to all three books:
What is each genius's attitude toward the "non-geniuses" around him or her?
How does that attitude direct the plot?
How does it affect the relationships they have with family and friends?

Millicent Min, Girl Genius, by Lisa Yee
Lisa Yee said she wrote this book because she wanted to write about a girl who was lonely. Why is Millicent lonely and what does she do about it? Is it her intellect that makes her lonely?
What do you think is Millicent's biggest problem?
As a parent, how would you deal with a child as smart as Millicent?
Were Millicent's parents as weird as she thought they were? What about Emily's mom?

Lisa Yee has some great blogs: lisayee.livejournal.com

There are two companion books to Millicent Min, Girl Genius, both taking place the same summer but from different perspectives: Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time and So Totally Emily Ebers.

Since The Specialists and Evil Genius have some points in common, here are some questions that cover the two books.
What do you think of the plot device in which genius kids are "recruited" by organizations when they're very young? Do you think it could possibly happen in reality?
Not only are these kids smart, they're loners without family or friends. Do you think intelligence can isolate kids? Does isolation encourage smart kids to explore law-breaking (hacking in particular)?
In both books, the kids are genius computer hackers. Did you find the technical jargon hard to follow? If so, is there a generation gap here?

The Specialists: Model Spy, by Shannon Greenland
Did anyone else find the plot slightly ridiculous? I thought it was fluffy but still enjoyable.
Does Kelly's character change through her experiences? If so, how?
How are the specialists like a family? How are they not?
How well do you think teen readers would relate to Kelly and the other specialists?

Shannon Greenland's blogs: shannongreenland.com and shannongreenland.blogspot.com

Evil Genius, by Catherine Jinks
Can you escape your upbringing?
What is it that awakens Cadel's sense of morality?
Blogger Fuse#8 wrote that "there's a powerful message here regarding love. That villains can and do love is something not a lot of children and teen books examine." What role does love play in Cadel's life?
Characters seem to have either intense love or intense hatred for Cadel. Why?
There are elements of the science fiction and superhero genres here. Did that draw you in or drive you back?
I thought the book was pretty dark, but with odd spots of humor. Do you think any of the humor was out of place? Did you find the book too dark for teens?

There's a sequel to Evil Genius out now (Genius Squad) and more planned in the series. The Axis Institute has a fun little web site where you can take a quiz to see if you're the kind of person who could get a degree in world domination: axisinstitute.org. Also: catherinejinks.com.
Looking for more books about child geniuses? Try The Artemis Fowl series or the Mysterious Benedict Society.

1 comment:

Echelon Press Publishing said...

What do you think of the plot device in which genius kids are "recruited" by organizations when they're very young?

**I think it is great. In reality there are so many kids out there alone and this, while being purely fiction, allows kids to dream of a place where they could belong. It is a kind of hope.

Do you think it could possibly happen in reality?

**Of course not, but this isn't reality. It is fiction, and while I don't believe it could happen, as I said above, it still offers a slice of hope.

Not only are these kids smart, they're loners without family or friends. Do you think intelligence can isolate kids?

**Of course it can isolate them. Being overly intelligent offers a kind of handicap. It sets them apart and increases the gap of comfortable communication.

Does isolation encourage smart kids to explore law-breaking (hacking in particular)?

**No, lack of guidance from parents and a need for positive role models is more of an encouragement in this regard. Not a fault mind you, but if a genius kid has no guidance, they are going to get into trouble. You can't give someone--anyone--a gift and not tell them how to use it properly.

In both books, the kids are genius computer hackers. Did you find the technical jargon hard to follow?

**In some cases, but kids seem to get it more than adults, and if they don't, they are more apt to use their imaginations and let their creative side decide what it is and how it works. This in my opinion is a bonus.

If so, is there a generation gap here?

**Probably. :)


The Specialists: Model Spy, by Shannon Greenland
Did anyone else find the plot slightly ridiculous?

**Why is this a question? THis isn't reality, this is fiction, it is supposed to be "out there." Otherwise the readers wouldn't enjoy it as much. I wouldn't say it is any more ridiculous than a grown man playing with kids and talking to pirates and fairies, or a talking bear whose best friend is a bouncing tiger.

I thought it was fluffy but still enjoyable.

**This has become one of my favorite series and I know for a fact that the kids seem to be devouring it! IT has joined the ranks of favorite series at my local library and you can never find the books on the shelf. Always checked out.

Does Kelly's character change through her experiences? If so, how?

**Of course she does. Through out the story, she is learning about herself, she is building confidence and she is learning the value of being a part of something, a team depending on one another.

How are the specialists like a family? How are they not?

**There is a definite feeling of sibling attachment. In every family you have different types of personalities clashing for control and attention. This is very much the case with the specialists. Learning to adjust as the group changes and grows, just like any family.

How well do you think teen readers would relate to Kelly and the other specialists?

**If the way they relate to Shannon is any indication I think they would definitely relate well to the specialists. Even though there is an element of the wrong doing (hacking) and such, I think the stories give a strong lesson on commitment, loyalty, and the difference between right and wrong. In every situation there is a catalyst and in these stories the catalyst is to fix a problem. I think this makes the team more likeable and respect worthy.