I gravitate to books about orphans. As an immigrant kid who had to translate a new world's secrets for my parents, I liked reading about protagonists who triumphed without much help from adults. And orphans like Anne Shirley or Sara Crewe definitely fit the bill.
But as I'm reading through the stack of books nominated for the Cybils, I'm overwhelmed by the number of middle grade novels published in 2006 that feature dead parents. Does this generation of children need to process parental loss through the excellent therapy of fiction? Or is abandonment more of an issue underlying the psyche of the generation currently writing and editing books for kids? Here's my question as I read: will a kid want to read this book again and again, like I did with A Little Princess or Anne of Green Gables? Or will a beautifully-written book written and critiqued by adults from my generation receive yet another an award, despite the fact that kids won't read it?