Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Makes a Great Book?

by ANDREA MACK on JULY 10, 2009

My husband recently sent me a list of fav children’s books from this Op Ed column in the NY Times: The Best Kids’ Books Ever

I was pleased and astounded to see the outpouring of reactions and comments. How thrilling that so many people care and read good children’s literature! I tried to come up with my own list for MG novels and found it extremely challenging – there are so many great books out there. Here’s my attempt (in no particular order):

  • Charlotte’s Web (and The Trumpet of the Swan) by E.B. White
  • On the Banks of Plum Creek (and These Happy Golden Years) by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park
  • The City of Ember – Jeanne Du Prau
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson series) – Rick Riordan
  • A Summer to Die – Lois Lowry
  • All of a Kind Family – Sydney Taylor
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K.Rowling
  • Harriet the Spy – Louise Fitzhugh
  • Cricket in Times Square – George Selden

I’m sure I’ve left out some of my favourites. But as I work on revising my own novels, it’s worthwhile to take time to think about ‘why these ones?’ What is it about these novels that appeals to me and how can I capture some of that in my own work? In addition to just a great story, the authors make good pacing and adding the right amount of detail seem effortless. For more on pacing, check out some of these thoughts on The Enchanted Inkpot.

– Andrea

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christina 07.11.09 at 4:19 pm

Your list is great. Many of those I enjoyed too. As far as classics, I loved Little Women and Anne of Green Gables too.

They were slower in plot than many of the books we read today but they were rich and full of real characters that I still to this day remember who they were and the feelings that the story evoked in me!

Debbie 08.20.09 at 11:35 am

I’ve read all of these except (I think) “Summer To Die.” Hmm….must check that out.

Interesting point about the plots being slower, and it makes me wonder how some of the older titles would fare if submitted to publishers today.

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