Of Wintersmith and Clementine, one book was a hit, and one book was a flop.Â Any guesses as to which was which?
Once again, I demonstrated my deep understanding of the appeal of children’s and young adult literature: my opinions on the two books were polar opposite to the kids’ opinions.Â Granted, the third grade book group had never met before, and only two kids showed up (and a newspaper reporter stayed for the whole meeting), so they tended towards shy rather than forthcoming.Â I’d like to think that’s why they claimed to love Clementine, but I think I’ll have to face the sad truth that they actually DID love the book.Â They loved the humor, they loved Clementine’s character, and they made some thoughtful observations about language and connections to their lives and other texts.Â All in all, a successful first meeting.Â (And I decided not to spoil it by saying that I hated the book. 🙂 )
As for the teen book group’s discussion of Wintersmith: by the end of our meeting, they had convinced me that the book is a bit flimsy, with weak characterizations and an abrupt ending.Â I had been swept along by Pratchett’s language and the humor (especially the humor of the Feegles, and especially the scene in which the Feegles talk about women – the pursin’ o the lips, the foldin’ o the arms, and the tappin’ of the feet), but the girls in the book group saw past the humor and found many flaws with the novel.Â They’re right.Â The witches are rather interchangeable, lacking real character, and the plot flounders in the final third of the book.Â I still like the book, but I agree with the teen book group that it should be given a B- or C+, no better.Â
That’s what I love about these book groups – the kids who come to the meetings are open to and freely participate in intelligent discussions that ultimately expand the appreciation of the book for all participants, me included.Â The teen book group mentioned yesterday that they’d like to read some classics (Pride and Prejudice was specifically named), and they will each be sending me lists of books that they’d like to be considered for our February, March, April, May, and June meetings.Â I’d love for us to discuss a truly great piece of literature, and see where our discussion leads.
(keep your eyes on the Book List page of this blog, since I’ll be adding many new titles in the coming days)