For March, I’m going to recommend one of my favorite young reader books: The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley.
If I remember correctly, I got this book through one of those Scholastic book order catalogs that my school would send home each month (which were the BEST, am I right??). Thankfully my parents had the means to buy me whatever books I wanted from said orders. I think I read this book around the 4th grade, and I was completely enamored by it.
The Great Good Thing is about a girl named Sylvie who is a princess in a storybook. Literally. It’s a book about a character in a book. Think Toy Story: when a Reader opens the book, the characters get to play out the story, and that gives them joy and purpose in life. When the book is closed, they are free to wander around the pages within the world of the story. After a long time without being read, the book will collect dust and our heroine loses her sense of purpose, wherein lies part of the conflict of the book. It’s quite meta. This book was probably a harbinger of my love for meta-fiction…Jasper Fforde’s “Thursday Next” series, anyone?? I love stories about stories – Big Fish and Stranger than Fiction are two of my favorite films. This book was my first experience with that, and I absolutely fell in love with it.
I re-read The Great Good Thing a bit later in life just to make sure it would hold up its greatness and goodness as time passed and I grew – I believe I reread it in high school. I would say that if you are older, it is still worth a read if you enjoy the occasional young reader book. It is utterly charming, especially if you are a book lover, fairy tale lover, or lover of books about books or meta-fiction.
The author did come out with 2 sequels to The Great Good Thing, but based on their plot descriptions, they sound a bit too campy and far-fetched to interest me. It’s one of those cases of wanting to push a concept farther than it should go…in the third book they apparently end up in space?? Too much. Calm down, Roderick.
Regardless of questionable sequels, this book is a stand-alone gem, and I recommend it highly!
For those who like:
- Fairy tales
- Books about books
Things People May Not Like:
- Odd/potentially confusing plot
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