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Susin Nielsen UK Blog Tour: Susin Nielsen’s 6 favourite MG/YA characters

 Thanks for having me to your blog! When I started to think about my five favourite middle grade and young adult characters, I couldn’t narrow it down that much, so here’s six, in no particular order (well, except for the last one, who is my all-time favourite).  

Damien from Millions by Frank Cotrell Boyce.
I love this book (it was a good movie too, directed by Danny Boyle). Damian is a delight. Another first-person narrative (a lot of my choices, it dawns on me, are in first-person, which is probably not all that surprising since my own books have used first-person narrative). Damian interprets the adult world around him in a hilarious, authentically kid-like way. I wanted to adopt him.

Bud from Christopher Paul Curtis’s Bud, Not Buddy
Bud changed my life. I couldn’t believe how adeptly Christopher Paul Curtis managed to tell what is really an incredibly heartbreaking story, but through the eyes of Bud, an African American boy who’s lost his mom. Set in the Great Depression, CPC uses first-person narrative, and that allows the story to be filled with humor thanks to Bud’s perspective on things. I wanted to wrap my arms around Bud and never let go. This book encouraged me to try my hand at my first YA novel, “Word Nerd,” which is also rather sad in spots but leavened with humor thanks to a first-person narrative.

Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. 
Part fiction, part memoir, this story of Native American Junior is such a powerful book. Junior is an incredible character, resilient even in the face of poverty, racism and injustice. Alexie deftly uses humor to help make all the horrors Junior faces, infinitely readable.

Margaret from Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.
A classic, which I read when I was about Margaret’s age. This book, and Margaret herself, meant so much to me. I had to make a big move in my life; so did Margaret. And as I was going through puberty, buying my first bra, getting my period, getting more interested in boys – so was Margaret. I feel deeply indebted to Judy Blume and her heroine for making me realize “I am not alone.”

Adrian from The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend.
Oh how I adored this book when I read it many years ago. I believe this was the first YA novel I ever read that was told in first person narrative. It clearly burrowed deep in my mind, and influenced my own writing when I finally sat down to write my own novels. Adrian’s misadventures are so funny, and so painfully real.

And now, drumroll please, for #1 …

Harriet from Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.
I read this book when I was eleven. Then I re-read it last year, the 50th anniversary edition. I was blown away at just how much Harriet, and Louise Fitzhugh, had influenced my own writing without my being aware of it. Harriet had clearly lived on in me all those years! She broke new ground. Harriet is the antithesis of a girly-girl and she can be really mean sometimes – in other words, she is utterly human and believable.

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog!