Casting about last night for books that the older boy* might want to read, I began thinking about S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders as a possible candidate. Then, while looking around the web for reminders of its contents — too sexxxy? too violent? — I discovered that Ms. Hinton** was in her teens when she wrote the book. “That’s remarkable,” thought I. I then remembered the moment that I learned, shortly after reading Rumble Fish in fifth grade, that she was a she rather than the he that I had supposed. I share this anecdote not because it’s important but because the older boy only recently grilled me about why J.K. Rowling uses her initials rather than revealing her gender. “The patriarchy,” I explained with a sad nod. He understood.

Anyway, if you can think of books suitable for a somewhat precocious nine-year-old, that would be wonderful. Said books can even be written by women.

* He’s nine.
** House style.