A conversation I overheard at the children’s books’ section of my favorite neighborhood bookstore, yesterday afternoon—
Kid: “This is not a good book.”
Mom: “Why? The writer is very well known.”
Kid: “The story has a happy ending and the good guys win.”
Mom: “That’s a good story, (kid’s name). Don’t you like happy endings?”
Kid: “The bad guys were so much stronger the whole time and they should have won.”
Mom: “In stories good wins over evil.”
Kid: “In some stories I don’t mind. But there was no way in this one.”
In all my years of reading eloquent reviews and how-to books on what kids like and expect, I have never heard it expressed better.
Now that I think of it, my two favorite stories from second grade were The Little Prince and The Little Match girl. Sad endings and no fixes for the imperfections of this world. And yes, I got it, and read and re-read these for years.
©By Shelagh Duffett
A reminder to self: don’t write happy endings that are just tacked on. Don’t underestimate your readers, no matter what anyone else says about “kids won’t get that.”