Monday, October 28, 2013

The Monday Rant: Let Me 'Splain

Sometimes on the Internet, I get really stupid comments.  As in, not thought through, purposefully spiteful (yet uninformed), or just plain stupid.  My first reaction is to argue back against their stupidity, but then I realize that this does no good.  It makes me mad, raises my blood pressure, doesn't solve anything, and only fuels discord.  So I take the path of simply deleting the comment.  But that doesn't mean it's not still in my head.  (Good heavens, I still have one stuck in my head from two years ago!)  So today, I'm going to argue back against one I received recently.

I read this book a couple of months ago (along with the other books in the series) and pinned it to my 'Books Read in 2013' board.  (Which, for the record, is simply a way for me to keep track of what I read.  My siblings keep an Excel spreadsheet, and I've never really had a system but wished I did, so this is what I use now.)

The comment was something along the lines of, "Childish?  Maybe you should read it again.  I love Wendy Mass and her books are so great.  If you can't appreciate books for younger audiences, maybe you should stop reading." 

Okay, can you just go for a second to my board?  Now, do you see any books for younger audiences?  Just about all of them, right?  Do they all have negative reviews?  Now let me tell you something.  If I read a book in a genre/style/lexile that I really don't enjoy, I may try one more book in that group, but if I don't enjoy that, I'm going to stop reading that group of books, not read 80 more. (Not an exaggeration.  I counted.)  I appreciate books for younger audiences.

What I meant by the word 'childish' is this: the book was written as if the children for which it is intended do not have a very large vocabulary, do not enjoy a book that challenges their reading ability, and need things explained very clearly because they can't understand the first time.

Of the 105 books I have read so far this year, 80 of them came from the Juvenile Fiction section.  Of these 80, many of them were truly well-written.  The writing style did not hamper the story.  It may not have challenged me (as an older reader), but it did not drag along either.  Do you get what I'm saying?  There are childish books that are well-written and then there are childish books that are childishly written.

For example, The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer was nearly torture to read.  Why?  Because it reads like a 5th grader wrote it.  Almost everything is explained twice, any slightly difficult word was explained in the text (instead of sending readers to a dictionary), and the story drags.  Now, I still read it because I found the story interesting, but it was far less enjoyable than The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker.  This book has a similar idea: a character journeying through the fairy tale world and meeting all sorts of different characters.  But instead of deeply explaining everything ad nauseam, Baker assumes that her readers have a basic grasp of the English language and how to use a dictionary.

I would like to end by saying that I actually did enjoy Finally by Wendy Mass (and the rest of the Willow Falls series).  It just wasn't as good as other books that I have read.

Love and Mugs,
Leah Joy

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