Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Half Magic

I've often had good luck following Nancy Pearl's book recommendations for kids - which is to say I enjoy reading them but J (the intended reader) liking them is a whole different matter. She will pronounce an opinion on the book after having read all of five lines of Chapter 1 on Page 1. More often than not the book is cast away unread.

If I can coax her to read just a little more to see if she may end up liking it, and she reaches the end of Chapter 1, chances are she'll stick with it to the point that I will need to peel her away from it. So, off I go looking for recommendations on contemporary children's literature and have more than 90% of my discoveries summarily rejected. My most recent casualty has been Half Magic by Edward Eager
described thusly :

Jane and her sister are having a very boring summer. Yet, everything changes after Jane finds a coin on the street, which grants wishes. The only problem is that only half of the wish comes true. She realizes that her wish will only be granted if she asks for twice as much as she wanted. Jane is then bewildered in the calculations for her desires…

To me that was a fascinating plot and definitely worth reading. I got it from the library and handed it to J, eager to see her enjoy the story. Her first complaint was about the names of the chapters - "too boring". The chapters, I admit are somewhat uninspiringly named :

How It Began
What Happened To Their Mother
What Happened To Mark
What Happened To Katherine
What Happened To Martha
What Happened To Jane
How It Ended
How It Began Again

Once she got past that to Chapter 1, she did not like the opening line of the book :

It began one day in summer about thirty years ago, and it happened to four children.

With that the book was cast away in favor of some others that she liked more. Like a bowl of boiled brussels sprouts, I push Half Magic her way every once in a while knowing that she will get hooked if she persists with it to end of the first chapter. She responds by pushing it aside telling me she'll read it "later". I had no idea kids were such fussy and impatient readers - I thought my challenges ended at the dinner table.


Priyamvada_K said...

J will probably become editor of some magazine in her adult years :). She has an eye for what is catchy, what grabs attention, and what doesn't.

When she grows up and you have more time to write full-time, she can proof-read your works and comment on what will take, and what won't.

I know I shouldn't, but can't help laughing picturing your eagerness in presenting "Half Magic" to her, and her summary rejection of it, based on the chapter titles and how the book began :D. The scene seems straight out of a comic strip :))


gg said...

Let J choose her books for a bit. Can you find a pattern? Why do some books click with her?!

Heartcrossings said...

Priya - Life with J is often right out of a comic strip ;) I figure that is the fun part of being parent to a child. I have to write sometime Good idea about getting J to proof-read my writing if I can get her to read past page 1 !

gg - Every time I have thought that I have discovered the formula for what J will enjoy reading, along comes a book that bucks the trend and I am back to square one ! She does pick some of her own books from the school and public library - they tend to be about golden retrievers and dolphins for the most part :)