Inspired by the Lucky 13′s “Meanwhile… Middle Grade” series, we the MG authors of 2014 have banded together to create an unstoppable league of superheroes… or… erm… we decided to create a similar series. Welcome to MAD FOR MIDDLE GRADE! We’ll be here the first Monday of every month! Stay tuned as we discuss the process of middle grade writing, chat about our favorite middle grade books, introduce our own middle grade titles, interview middle grade professionals, and generally obsess over everything middle grade! And if there’s any middle grade topic you’re interested in, we’d love to hear it in the comments!
Welcome back, folks! We’ve have more more MORE Middle Grade authors joining the fold, which means we are one step closer to world domination muahahahaha! *achem* *cough cough* *looks around sheepishly* Speaking of evil laughter, we’re here today to talk about the BIG BAD BADDIES: the most fearsome, loathsome, intriguing, wonderful, horrible MG villains in existence!
Question: Who is your favorite Middle Grade villain, and why?
Curious Fox/Capstone Young Readers
We need strong female role models, but although Mrs. Coulter is both female and strong, if you see her as a role model then I sincerely hope we never meet, for beneath that surface veneer of beauty and sophistication is a woman unutterably wicked and cruel. But even when she is at her most charming and bewitching her demon, a golden monkey, betrays her thoughts and cannot conceal her wickedness. It is her total belief in her own actions—cutting children from their demons for instance—that makes her so dangerous. Fear her.
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN WITCHES
I love antagonists who act like the protagonists of their own story. The Warden from Louis Sachar’s Holes is dangerous, selfish, conniving, calculating, temperamental, and just plain scary. But the thing I love about her is that she isn’t acting evil for the sake of being evil. She has a singular, clear ambition—one that was hammered into her brain as a child. After learning her story, we can truly understand how she became the villain that she is. The Warden is someone I understand and empathize with—but I don’t hate her any less for it. An excellent example of a realistic human villain—flawed and awful and glorious—on the page.
I HEART BAND
Grosset & Dunlap/Penguin
How can you not love an antagonist who’s also the protagonist? Artemis Fowl has the logic and forensic science know-how of Sherlock Holmes, the cool gadgetry of James Bond, and the evil brilliance of Lex Luther, all combined into one Armani-wearing teenage mastermind. And over the course of his 8-book series, Artemis exhibits some of the most incredible character growth in any middle grade novel I’ve ever read – particularly in The Time Paradox,when Artemis travels back in time to outwit his ten-year-old self, and learns how evil he truly was.
THE LOST PLANET
Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan
Joan Aiken is one of my favorite middle grade authors, and I adore her Wolves Chronicles, with their plucky orphan heroes and sinister Victorian villains. To me, none is more deliciously wicked than Miss Leticia Slighcarp from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. A governess who turns out to be a greedy and vicious con artist, when left in charge of the two heroines she proceeds to dismiss the staff, wear Lady Willoughy’s dresses, and lock the girls into closets for discipline. Her outrageous, blatant thievery makes it all the more satisfying when she finally receives her comeuppance!
WHEN AUDREY MET ALICE
The evilest villains aren’t the ones who cackle and swashbuckle, but those who pretend to be caring and good to sway their victims. The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy’s saccharine Principal Lucretia Trapp smells like lilies and provides bottomless bowlfuls of candy for her dear students. She’s described by the main character, Lorelei, as “one of those adults who got kids. She really cared; it was there every time she looked at me.” I won’t tell you why Principal Trapp lures kids to Splendid Academy with delectable meals and crazy-fun playgrounds and zero rules, but I will tell you that her reason is totally wicked.
HOPE IS A FERRIS WHEEL
The thing about the Wayside series is that there are so many great villains to choose from: Mrs. Gorf, Mr. Gorf, and Mrs. Drazil are all wonderfully terrible in their own right. But Miss Nogard is my favorite because no one knows she’s a villain except for the reader! And Sachar added just enough tragic backstory to make you feel sorry for her, if not openly root for her. Plus, she has a third ear and psychic powers! And like all great villains, she’s brought down by the power of love. D’aaaw.
I’m going to have to go with Black Stache in Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. He’s just the right mix of tall, dark and evil, with a dash of comic relief. Such a great character to read aloud! His voice has a sinister cadence to it, and you can’t help but laugh at every “DON’T BE AN IDJIT, SMEE!” as you’re reading. Prequels are always fun, and it’s great in this one to watch Captain Hook become a one-armed, Peter-Pan-hating, island-living villain.
ALL FOUR STARS
I’ve never been a big fan of stupid villains. If a villain is clever and creative, he forces the heroes to up their own games…and almost no one is more creative than Count Olaf in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events! He’ll do anything to get his greedy paws on the Baudelaire fortune—dress in drag, attempt to marry a 14-year-old, murder people—and while you kind of have to root against him, it’s undeniably fun to see what scheme or disguise he comes up with next.
Who’s your favorite (or least favorite) middle grade villain? Which MG villain scared the living daylights out of you? And which MG villain gave you nightmares for ALL TIME? Leave us a comment! And remember: be sure to mention any future MG topics you want us to cover or MG questions you want us to answer!
Thanks for tuning in! Find us again on June 3rd! Muahahahaha!
|Lauren Magaziner is a 4th grader at heart, watches entirely too much TV, and loves to steal people’s toes to make Toecorn, which tastes like very chewy, meaty popcorn. Only one of those things is true. (Okay… you caught me. They’re all true.) Her currently titleless MG debut—about a boy who secretly becomes a witchling’s apprentice in a town full of dangerous witches who love Toecorn—is forthcoming from Dial/Penguin in Summer 2014.|