My wonderful, wonderful 4th grade class gave me a wonderful, wonderful end-of-the-year gift yesterday, an”educating monica” scrapbook filled with the children’s ideas on what makes a great story — all to help me in my Newbery quest. It is a work of art — in addition to the children’s writing, each page is filled with images related to our studies of the year, my ladybug fixation (related to September 11th — but that is a story for another post), and more. It is one of the most lovely testimonials I’ve received as a teacher.
To begin with they recommend that our Newbery winner have imagination, emotion, purpose, humor, action, funny words, interesting scenery, and empathy. And then they want it to be exciting, hilarious, happy, sad, adventurous, surprising, interesting, visual, cliffhanging, understandable, great, and creative. Here are some more of their ideas:
AM tells me, “It can’t be too much action, but it also can’t be too boring.”
MD points out that in one of her favorite books, Harry Potter, “…. in the end of the book you figure out the answers to some secrets…”
AI noted that a writer of a great book needs to “use lots of humor; kids love it.” and also to “use fun words like willy-nilly. I used those kinds of words in my Pilgrim story.”
CK thinks a great story, “… must be laugh out loud funny. Not the kind of funny where you laugh and one minute later you forget; the kind of funny where it is hilarious and you can never get it out of your head.”
XF thinks a great story is “…should not be too sad that a person should start crying when reading it. It should not be too happy that they would get bored. And, it should not be too funny that they would laugh themselves to death!”
SF thinks it needs imagination!
HU wants a story that is humorous and one worth listening to ” over and over again.” She also wants fascinating characters like the Gryphon, Mock Turtle, and Mad Hatter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
OF thinks it should be “interesting, exciting and sometimes funny…”
SS recommends that it have “adventure, humor, and mystery.”
JG believes, “every story should have a great beginning….”
OS highlights as great stories, Charlotte’s Web, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and The Tale of Despereaux among others.
EC notes that, “You know you read a good book if you can say to a friend, ‘Oh, last year I read a really good book.'”
MB thinks, among other things, that it has “something that can take you away.”
BW wisely reminds us that we need to “be creative and write all your good thoughts before you forget them.”
FL thinks a great fantasy book “is a balanced blend of fantasy fairy-tale, excitement, humor, and creative-ness.”
ZB sees a “wonderful novel of far away lands as well as a stunning but diverse cast of characters to play out a cliffhanging fast pace, page turning, eventful masterpiece of literature.”
LK feels there “there needs to be excitement or a trick so that the book is not boring.”
Thanks, Edinger House 2006-2007; I will keep all your important ideas in mind as I read, read, and read some more this summer and next fall!