All Middle Grade Novels Should Be 192 Pages. No Exceptions.
Imagine a world…
Where all middle grade fiction is 192 pages. No exceptions.
There’s been talk for a few years now about the expanding page counts in books for young people. Some point to Harry Potter as the reason. One type of book that hasn’t ballooned is the humble picture book. There are exceptions, but in general, picture books are 32 pages long. It made me wonder, what if we applied that sort of thinking to novels? I understand the reasons for keeping a picture book at 32 make more sense than keeping middle grade to 192 (like the attention span of the audience), but what the heck? Let’s consider it for a second.
What if a story is longer, you say? Either it gets edited down, or slap a #1 on the spine because that sucker’s becoming a series. Shorter? Beef that puppy up. You have 192 pages to work with – and only 192 – make the most of them. How would this sort of picture book mentality shake things up in the middle grade world?
So why 192? I’ve always felt that just under 200 pages is a perfect length. It’s kind of like how some people feel 2:42 seconds is the perfect length for a pop song. Then I started checking out a few sample books and their page counts and was reaffirmed:
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: 188 pages
The Westing Game: 182 pages
Maniac Magee: 184 pages
Hatchet: 195 pages
A Wrinkle in Time: 211 pages
Danny the Champion of the World: 196 pages
When You Reach Me: 210 pages
Would middle grade fiction be better because of this?
Would it be worse?
Is this the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?
Pipe up in the comments.
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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