I've just finished 'The Deadly Dare Mysteries' by Malorie Blackman, and I read it mainly on the recommendation of my 10-year-old niece.
I have to say it was something of a revelation. I don't read children's books. I guess properly this would be classed as 'MG' (middle grade). I loved all three stories in this book. It was pacey, humorous, and neatly wove in messages about trust, honesty, anger management, and being their for friends.
But, as a writer, it raised a couple of questions. The first of these was that sometimes the 10 yr old protagonists spoke with vocabulary or phrasing that simply didn't seem appropriate for their age. Two examples are boys saying "satisfy your need for concrete and absolute proof" and "was not as spontaneous as it looked". I may be out of touch- not having boys of that age - but it seems out of character. I've always been told that its a no-no. Its certainly not something I would expect the target audience to pick up on, though, and I guess it develops their vocabulary. So here I'm wondering if it was deliberate.
The second thing that struck me was differentiation. In three stories we have threats of extreme violence, being threatened with a gun, several kinds of verbal intimidation, attempted murder, lying, cheating, being deliberately run over, burgalry... I think there's more but I can't remember all of them. So where is the differentiation? OK, so perhaps here is less graphical description of the gorier bits, but the only thing that seems missing to me is any deeper relationship (or pre-sexual context).
I'm not cocking snooks at any genre, or any book or style of writing. I'm genuinely curious what - apart from the ages of the protagonists - makes this MG rather than the younger and of YA, and I'd be more than happy to enter into a discussion here or on facebook about it, if anybody felt the urge