Josephine's Dream Reading

Josephine's Dream Reading
Trying to look like Josephine Baker - and failing miserably!

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls
Conquering the Beast

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Variety in Reading is the Spice of Writing

I finished reading 'The Daring Adventures of Penhaligon Brush,' by S. Jones Rogan. It was one of those stories where you want to know what happens in the end, yet you don't want it to end. A rollicking adventure with lots of humour thrown in for good measure. Whenever I opened the book I entered another world - a world I liked a lot, and want to visit again. I eagerly await the sequel so I can pack my bags and return to Ramble-on-the-Water and Porthleven.
So now I'm reading 'The Higher Power of Lucky,' by Susan Patron. Suitable for readers aged 9-11 (and obviously, 62) I bought this book because a) I read a good review of it somewhere b) it won the Newbery medal and, perhaps most important of all, c) some school librarians in the U.S. have tried to ban it, because it mentions - on the first page - a dog's scrotum. Some people believe that mention of scrotums in a children's book could have a negative influence on the young. They might have bad dreams, or worse! What if the child asked a parent or teacher or a member of the library staff, "What does this word mean?"
Actually I think it's great when children ask that question while reading a book. It's the perfect opportunity to say, "Why don't we check the dictionary, and see what it says?" That is one of the great things about reading. You ask questions. Sometimes you even ask them of yourself.
So for all these reasons I'm reading 'The Higher Power of Lucky,' and even though it might not be the type of book I would write (I can't say that for sure, however) I'm enjoying reading it very much. For one thing it's well written. I get the distinct feeling that every word in the book is just the right one, and no other word would do quite as well.
The heroine, Lucky, is a delightful character. In fact all the characters - including the dog - that I've met so far are people -and dog - I want to know more about. Susan Patron reveals her characters through the things they say and do, and shows us the landscape and climate by describing how it makes her characters feel or behave. And what I like even more about both Rogan's book and Patron's book, is that they are different from each other. You'll learn a lot about writing, about telling a story, by reading books that are different from each other.
Now that's spicy.

1 comment:

  1. I love all of your points about reading a variety of books, Joan, but I just have to clarify one point, about Susan Patron's book: school librarians are NEVER the people who want a book banned - quite the opposite! As a member of the international school librarians' listserv, LM_NET, I read the ongoing discussion amongst librarians in the U.S. about how to handle parent, teacher and administrator objections to the word 'scrotum,' and the consensus was just as you recommend: get out the dictionary and learn some dog anatomy!
    I've read "The Higher Power of Lucky" and really enjoyed it, and I have copies of it available in my school library.