Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What makes a good kids' book

Michael Stearns at Upstart Crow has shared Little, Brown's list of what makes an excellent children's book:

If you work in publishing in any capacity whatsoever, then you likely have a deep affection for Little, Brown. And not just because they are riding so high these days. Sure, they the publishers of a kind-of-sort-of-somewhat-successful series you may have heard of, but they also have one of the sharpest, most insistently singular lists around. Not just the thrill-a-minute money machines of James Patterson, but also cheerily commercial fare such as Vampirates, literary bestsellers that smart kids love such as The Mysterious Benedict Society, compelling and complex teen fiction about dark stuff in life such as The Hate List and North of Beautiful [CHINOOK UPDATE: WOOT WOOT, JUSTINA!], and more more more. It’s just a great house with great books, and the people who edit there are pretty fabulous, too.

But this isn’t a love letter to Little, Brown—honest, it’s not. (My love is much too fickle and unpleasant to be captured in a mere blog post.) Instead, it’s a reproduction of a useful handout their editors distribute at conferences and which every writer should tack to his or her wall.The list of eminent attributes below may not all be required of a good book, but I’d wager most are true of the best books. How do these strike all of you? As things that need not be said? As constraints? Or as the distilled wisdom of the soldiers in the trenches of children’s books publishing?

Read the whole list.

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