Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George portrays Celie, who saves the kingdom of King and Queen Glower “with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns.”
In Ender’s Wars, gifted children are trained to fight like adults. In the introduction to the 1991 "author's definitive edition" of Ender's Game, the author mentions a letter he got from a guidance counselor of gifted children who said that his "depiction of gifted children was hopelessly unrealistic."
Gifted kids are as common in MG fiction as the chosen ones.
Gifted kids are rare, which make them especially interesting characters in fantasy. Kids like to identify to someone exceptional, to someone out of that world, bigger than life.
However, what the authors fail to show is that most gifted kids are only gifted in one subject like music or language and they often did not develop their social skills and are lacking in subjects they are not gifted in.
Many Middle Grade novels show super smart kids not only fitting in perfectly with other kids, but also ending up leader of the group. Many mysteries show kids repairing computers or solving clues like Sherlock Holmes, skills usually attributed to exceptional adults.
But if it is unthinkable to see them lacking of anything or being wrong, how can kids identify with them? They would admire a geek like they admire adults, but they would not identify with him.
I see several reasons why a writer would use the genius card.
Because authors think that kids need heroes who are positive role models. Perfect heroes cannot make mistakes and if they have small flaws they are easily forgiven.
Because Middle graders tend to see things in black and white. People are either smart or dumb, good or evil.
Because the fantasy hero often has to win battles against evil and defeat his or her worst enemy and save the world. Kids that age are looking for empowerment; they want to be more mature and would love being super-heroes.
Because geeks notice things other heroes do not notice, which allows the story to go forward.
Because using perfect heroes keep the writer from writing subplots and side conflicts while offering a fast-paced action where kids do not think inwardly or reflect on a situation. It keeps it sweet and simple.
Finally, because a popular hero attracts a clique around him, while tweenagers are at that age where they are trying to create a circle of friends around them.
Create stories where kids do not have to save the world even though everyone is telling you the stakes are not high enough.
Use fairy tales. The heroes are often not very bright, but they have inherent qualities that make them selfless and courageous.
Choose humorous characters or characters so helpless they can but do better.
Research your characters a little better.
Write your heroes as quirky as you can think them.
“Social and Emotional Problems Affecting Gifted Children” by Carol Brainbridge. http://giftedkids.about.com/od/socialemotionalissues/a/gtproblems.htm