Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wisdom from a Friend

Despite my checking my email every five minutes for the past two days, I have gotten no new reviews of One Square Inch to counteract that somewhat disappointing review from Kirkus, the review that made me blush by quoting a couple of eloquent and lovely lines drawn from the book that the reviewer charged were implausible as utterances out of the mouth of a sixth-grade boy first-person narrator.

But then I got something even better, a wonderful email from one of my most favorite children's book authors, Sally Warner, who writes some of the most beautiful and moving books of anybody I know (she writes funny books, too, really funny ones, but the beautiful, moving ones are the ones that are lodged in my heart right now, books whose titles alone can break your heart: It's Only Temporary, Sort of Forever, A Long Time Ago Today.

Sally wrote me that the reviewer's comment on my book was "a bogus comment, because kids don't speak at all in real life the way we write them, anyway. Real conversation, whether child or adult, would be virtually unreadable."

And then, even more wisely, Sally wrote, "In much the same way that children like to read about other kids who may be braver, more adventurous, or stronger/prettier than they are, I think they also like to read about kids who are better able to articulate what they, the readers, are feeling. In fact, they're counting on it! That is, what they FEEL is every bit as deep as we could imagine, but they often can't sort it out. So the 'too knowing' character does that for them."

Doesn't that make you want to sit down and start reading one of Sally's books right now?

Okay, Kirkus reviewer: my too-articulate narrator is giving kids what they are COUNTING on getting from a book. Yay for me! And yay to Sally for being more articulate about this than I was able to be.


  1. Claudia, I understand how you respond to the critcism, because I know a writer's books are her "children." I haven't written much, and nothing on a professional level, but I still
    know the feelings writers have. Anyway, I am looking forward to reading that book.
    --Carol Linda

  2. Thanks, Carol Linda. I also wrestle with criticism, trying to decide what I need to learn from, and when I just need to "let go."