For the sake of my students' privacy and intellectual property rights, I won't give too many details. But the truth is that I learn so much as I read and edit these wonderful stories, I really want to share a little of the process.
The novel I'm reading today is set under the sea. The protagonist and his best friend are young sharks who have set off on a quest that could change their lives. The antagonist is a two-faced orca whale with sinister plans of his own, and the conflict of the story includes out-smarting the orcas as well as completing the quest. It's filled with subtle messages about friendship, respecting elders, showing compassion for outsiders, standing up for what you believe in, and holding on to your dreams.
The author of the story is an 8th-grader, and this is her third NaNoWriMo project. What I'm so impressed with is her growth as a writer. Her technical skills have improved dramatically, and her sense of story and dialogue has matured. More than once I've read a complex sentence that she wouldn't have attempted two years ago, and wouldn't have punctuated correctly last year, but this year it pops off the page as a sophisticated accomplishment!