Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays (book review) – YA authors write essays worth reading!

book cover of Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays edited by Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe published by Roaring Brook“Which five historical figures would you invite to dinner?”
“Describe a time when you lied for a good reason.”

Ah, the dreaded essay-writing assignment in school or for a contest or for college admissions

Thank goodness essays really don’t have to be five perfect paragraphs or written in third person or even written in words!

In this collection, 37 contemporary YA authors, from The Candymakers‘  Wendy Mass to The Apothecary‘s  Maile Meloy, have tackled classic essay prompts and brought us a great assortment of personal, persuasive, and literary essays that will make you ponder, nod in appreciation, and shake your head in disbelief.

Read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children  author Ransom Riggs’ essay “Camp Dread or How to Survive a Shockingly Awful Summer”  here as he answers the prompt “Describe a time you had to do something you really didn’t want to do.”

All the authors have waived their usual royalty payments for their work on this book, instead having the money sent to international education charity Free the Children.

Any other truly creative essays out there that we should be reading?

Book info: Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays / Rebecca Stern and Brad Wolfe, editors. Roaring Brook Press, 2013.  [publisher site]  [book FB page]

My book talk: Got the boring essay blues? Well, current authors of young adult and middle grade books take aim at humdrum school essays as the writers set essays free from traditional 5-paragraph format in response to a variety of common prompts in this new collection.

Read “Princess Leia is an Awesome Role Model” by Cecil Castellucci and see if she truly does “compare and contrast two characters from the same story” as per her assignment, then follow along as Ned Vizzini argues intelligently about “Why We Need Tails” as the best trait we could steal from animals.

Dip into an author’s personal history as Elizabeth Winthrop recounts “My Life Before Television” in a before and after essay and Laurel Snyder writes about “a time a friend helped” her with “A Good Lie.”

Chris Higgins argues with himself quite convincingly, writing both the title essay “Breakfast on Mars: Why We Should Colonize the Red Planet” as well as its rebuttal “Robots Only: Why We Shouldn’t Colonize Mars.”

For the essay prompt of “Take a belief that is widely accepted, and then debunk it” Scott Westerfeld gives us fair “Warning: This Essay Does Not Contain Pictures” in discussing why modern novels have no pictures as they did in Dickens’ day.

Nick Abadsiz remakes the classic “if you could change one moment in history” essay by drawing his responses as “Laika Endings” about the Russian cosmonaut dog.

Improve your own non-fiction writing range, get glimpses into the real lives and opinions of fiction authors, and learn some neat stuff along the way as you consider Breakfast on Mars. (One of 6,000 books recommended on Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

What do you think?

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