White Sands, Red Menace

Once again, my opinion of a book was completely different from the kids’ opinion.  The sixth grade book group unanimously agreed that they LOVED Ellen Klages’s White Sands, Red Menace.  They loved absolutely everything about the book: the characters, the pacing, that it’s historical fiction, the way the book ends…everything.  In fact, they couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the book.

Which shows why we adults who are in charge of writing, publishing, reviewing, and buying children’s literature need to always remember that while we can have our grownup opinions of a children’s book, we’re not kids and we don’t think or read like kids.  It’s important for us to check our own thoughts from time to time (or more frequently) against the thoughts of the actual and intended reader, the child.  Such a slippery topic, that always incites heated discussion, as evidenced in this recent post on the topic by Roger Sutton.  I’m never able to completely pin down my own thoughts about this, sometimes wavering in the direction of “A good book is a good book is a good book,” sometimes wavering the other way, “But kids do know what they like to read – they’re as capable of having opinions as adults.”

So I’m not going to try to solve the mystery today.  I’ll just suffice it to say that Klages’s book was a huge hit with this book group, and their enthusiasm makes me want to read the book again to see if my own opinion changes on a second reading.