word craft


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. 

bk_little_engine_260px-2733892That’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

      • 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 🙂


        Sound on!


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