Avi WordCraft blog

Pass them on

“I think I requested this book from Net Galley because I was so astonished Avi is still writing books. I remember reading The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle when I was in seventh grade—and now I have a seventh grader myself.”

A good number of years ago I read—I don’t recall where—that a work of children’s literature achieves semi-permanence if it can last for something like twenty-five years. A generation. The quote above—recently posted online—is a perfect example of this phenomenon. 

Little Engine That CouldThat’s to say, one generation of readers passes on a particular book to the next generation. I’ve done it myself. My two-year-old granddaughter—Etta—is fascinated by trains. Knowing this, I sought out a book I loved when I was a child, The Little Engine That Could.

Why does this transmission happen? That book was—apparently—so successful an experience for me, I never forgot it. How easy it was to recall “I think I can. I think I can,” and pass it on to my grandchild. My wife, remembering the books she gave the children, selected some of those same titles for Etta. So, it goes. And indeed, it does go on. 

In truth, parents are often frustrated when picking out a book for a child. What is good? How much easier it is to recall what was once read and pass it on. It is, so to speak, safe. Nothing wrong with that. And there is a comfort—and special joy—in an adult sharing a book they once loved when young with the new young. It creates a singular kind of bonding. 

These days, having published for more than fifty years, I often see comments from adults who recall—positively—reading my work when young and going back to them. I have no doubt some of these folks pass on the same titles. It’s very gratifying.

And indeed, Things That Sometimes Happen, my first book, published in 1970 is still around, albeit in a revised version. So too is No More Magic, my first novel, (published in 1975). Poppy has been around for twenty-five years. And there are many others which also have had a long life. 

This is a special aspect of children’s books, which is not always noted. It’s a wonderful thing. 

Long live children’s books. How wonderful that they do live long. Think about it this Christmas. Birthday. Any time. Yes, pass them on.

4 thoughts on “Pass them on”

  1. No More Magic… You really got me!

    *spoiler alert; read No More Magic before reading these next words.

    So, my friend came over when I had 10 or so pages left in this book. I explained that I had to finish the story or I’d be no good for company. She sat with me while I finished it. When it was over, I laughed for quite a while and she just had to know what I was fussing about so I told her as best I could.

    She got quite a laugh and then commented on how she kept noticing me turning back and re-reading things. In other words, I even LOOKED like a buffoon while reading this story.

    “I’ve figured out who the warlock is.” -Muffin

    Reply
      • I’ve been reading all of those stories behind the stories 🙂 All I could think was that I’d like to know what book beat No More Magic!!!!

        Say mouse, any chance there is an audiobook for No More Magic and I just can’t find it?

        I listen to most of your books on audio with my daughter. What are the odds, we are HUGE fans of yours and are on a quest to listen to ALL of your audiobooks (and I’m going to read the remainder). AND we are HUGE into slackline. You really nailed it on School of the Dead.

        She’s in 8th GR and was so proud of this paper she had to write about Nazi’s and insisted I read it. Reluctantly, I took it from her and read the title, “Respect the past, protect the future.”

        But for real, they call her the “Lil Crusher.” Check out this 70M waterline official send. She was the only person to send this line. The water moving underneath induces vertigo.

        Trust me, this line was HARD. Dig this well timed drone video and the beaver (a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met!) swimming underneath right before she drops into the Quidditch catch. Cas and the lodge was just to the right and you can easily see it at the end 🙂

        https://youtu.be/S30YziMZJnY

        Sound on!

        Reply

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