Originality: What I Learned in my May Reading

  1. Best, Cari.  When We Go Walking (Amazon Children’s Publishing)
  2. Bunn, Davis.  Gold of Kings (Touchstone Book)
  3. Carson, Rae.  The Crown of Embers (Greenwillow Books)
  4. DaCosta, Barbara, Ed Young, illustrator.  Nighttime Ninja (Little Brown and Co.)
  5. Ford, John. C.  The Morgue and Me (Viking)
  6. Green, John.  Looking for Alaska
  7. Krull, Kathleen.  Louisa May’s Battle: How the Civil War Led to Little Women (Walker Books for Young Readers)
  8. McGinty, Alice.  Ghandi:  A March to the Sea (Amazon Children’s Publishing)
  9. O’Neal, Barbara.  The Garden of Happy Endings (Bantam)
  10. Ravishankar, Anushka. Elephants Never Forget (Houghton Mifflin)
  11. Ravishankar, Anushka. One, Two, Three (Tara Publishing)
  12. Ravishankar, Anushka.  The Rumor (Tundra Books)
  13. Ravishankar, Anushka.  Tiger on a Tree (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux)
  14. Ravishankar, Anushka. To Market, To Market (Tara Publishing)
  15. Stewart, Melissa.  A Place for Bats (Peachtree)
  16. Yolen, Jane and Heidi Stemple.  Not All Princesses Dress in Pink (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers)

That’s what I managed to get read during May.  Not what I had hoped to accomplish but let’s just say that I started a number of books that I never finished.  If I writer wants to keep me with them from beginning to end, they better surprise me.  And if it feels predictable, I’m going to guess the ending, flip to the chapter or spread and see if I was right.  If so, I probably won’t finish the book.

The funny thing is that one of the books that surprised me the most was a bed time book.  I’m talking about Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta and illustrated by Ed Young   (Little Brown and Company). First things first, it was a bedtime book.  Ask an editor what they are sick of seeing and what is going to be a hard sell and they will most likely include bed time books on their list.

The twist here?  It’s a bed time book but you don’t know that until very near the end.  Why?  Because you’re reading about a ninja stealing through the darkened house on a mission.  You don’t figure out what is going on until someone flips on a light.  And, no.  He isn’t dreaming.

The other surprise, at least for me, was that this wasn’t by an author/illustrator.  At only 85 words total, that’s what I expected.  I don’t know how this book was created and/or sold but with text this simple, I expect an author/illustrator but not this time.

Another book that surprised me was The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson.  At some point in the story, it becomes obvious that someone is a traitor, continually endangering the young queen’s life.  If you are anything like me, you spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out who it is and this time around I was completely surprised.  Yes, there have to be clues but don’t make them too obvious.  Otherwise your ending will still be predictable.  This one was not.

If you want to keep a reader, whether that person is an agent, an editor or the buyer of your book, turning pages.  You have to surprise them.

Nuf said.