The New York Times

Children's Books: Novels

WHEN LIFE GETS TOUGH AND GROWN-UPS DON’T HAVE ANSWERS, KIDS TAKE MATTERS INTO THEIR OWN HANDS.

These days, parents like to think of themselves as responsible for every aspect of their children’s happiness and well-being. But often overlooked in this 21st-century conception of parent/child dynamics is the powerful sense of responsibility children feel for adults. A desire to protect their elders is particularly strong during the tween years, when the darkness and complexity of the world come into focus, but the magical thinking of childhood still offers the comfort of solutions. These four middle-grade novels capture something moving and seemingly eternal: When trouble strikes the grown-ups around them, children instinctively put themselves on the emotional front lines.

This article originally appeared in .

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