What Makes A Children's Book Great? was the theme of the May 31st conference on children's publishing I attended at Scholastic headquarters (in downtown Manhattan -557 Broadway. Note: the open-to-the-public bookstore is on the ground floor worth a visit for anyone with children in their lives!).
Did the four-hour conference answer the question? Not exactly. Perhaps there is no answer is the answer. Lots of thought-provoking things were said, and the energy in the packed auditorium with its bright Clifford-red seats was high, full of hope that someone will write another break-out, surprise us all, someday classic. Random quotes include:
"Young adult books are popular with adults because they hooks readers in quick. They tend to be more plot driven.... I'm still getting used to saying 'the last century'..." Pamela Paul, Children's Book Editor, New York Times Book Review
"It's still about authors writing stories they're passionate about..." David Levithan, Scholastic editor and young adult author
"The line is blurring between literature and entertainment...[in the digital age] writers are impatient..." Rosemary Stimola, literary agent, most notably of Suzanne Collins, author of the Hunger Games
"What makes a book great...the evidence not just of a brilliant mind but a glittering heart..." Beth Kephart, young adult author.Small Damages, Kephart's seventh young adult novel, will be released this summer. (I plan to read it: review copies were given out at conference!)
"If it lingers in my imagination, it's great..." Peter Brown, children's book author and illustrator.
What do you think makes a children's book great?
Truly, author of LIE a critically acclaimed novel -set on Long Island and inspired by real events. A must-read for your summer's list. More at www.carolinebock.com.