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Writing Craft Reviews: Writing Irresistible Kidlit

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

Image: The book Writing Irresistible Kidlit rests on a cross-legged lap next to a blank notebook page. A hand holding a pen is poised above the notebook, ready to write. |


Title: Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers

Author: Mary Kole

Publication Date: December 4, 2012

Page Count: 240


Writing Irresistible Kidlit is a craft book with the aim of helping you write novels that keep MG and YA audiences turning the pages. It also gives a behind-the-scenes look into an agent’s selection process and what publishers are looking for in modern literature for kids.

Recommended For:

Newer writers who write books for kids, teens, and/or young adults.

Not Recommended For:

Experienced writers, writers of adult books, writers of picture books.


The first chapter of this book was absolutely phenomenal! The sections about getting into the minds of MG and YA readers were so incredibly helpful—great reminders of what it’s like to be those ages and how to appeal to those readers.

Image text: The author compares writing to acting and theatre, which would be helpful if you have stage experience. |

There’s also a lot of great information here about what agents are looking for when reading queries and first pages. This book is by Mary Kole, who was a literary agent at the time of writing and now works as a freelance editor and consultant. She clearly knows her stuff, and if you’re out there querying, all her advice is solid. It’s great to see what’s going on in an agent’s head as she’s reading your submission.

The book contains a section on finding an agent, which is full of great tips on querying and your agent search in general. Really great for authors who plan to go the traditional publishing route.

Not So Helpful:

The grand majority of this book—I’d say about eighty percent—covers 101, entry-level writing craft stuff. Which isn’t bad at all if you’re a new writer and this is the first craft book you’ve ever read! But if you’ve read any other craft books at all, then most of this information will be a repeat.

This also means that most of the book is not specific to kidlit, but actually applies to any book you’re writing. Which, again, is perfect if you’re brand new to writing and this is your first ever craft book. But if you’re experienced, it won’t be of much use to you beyond the first chapter.

Some of the market information is quite dated. Of course, this was published nearly ten years ago, so that stands to reason. Still, I wouldn’t base your market research on what this book says—instead, keep up with the new releases in your genre and read their synopses to truly see what’s hot right now.

For Editing:

Image text: Don't come to the page with ulterior motives. No teaching lessons. No didacticism. - Mary Kole, Writing Irresistible Kidlit

The book contains a lot of excellent exercises to help you revise your book, from reconsidering your characters to mapping out the conflicts in your scenes. These can really help you find a direction for your big-picture changes, especially if it’s your first time revising.

Summing Up:

If you’re a new writer who’s working on a novel for YA or MG readers, then this book would make a perfect first foray into craft books. There’s a wealth of excellent knowledge here! However, if you’re an experienced writer with more than one revision under your belt, then this one won’t do much for you. I’d give it a pass.


Curious about what I read besides writing craft books? You can find more reviews on my Goodreads!


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