Friday, November 11, 2011

What I learned from MG Books - #2

I'm reading MG books in the attempt to define what makes a good book. I'll share what I learn.

Book #2: The Lost Children, a MG fantasy, by Carolyn Cohagan. 

Here's what I learned (and what I learned not to do) from this author/book. 

  • Do write a great first line that catches a reader’s attention.
I was intrigued by the first line “Josephine Russing owns 387 pairs of gloves”. I wanted to find out why, so I checked the book out from the library. Sadly, that line was the best that I read.      
  • Don’t create a silly, unbelievable story.
I couldn’t connect with the story or the characters. The silliness ruined it.
Examples of silliness:
Josephine’s father, Mr. Russing had a law passed in their town that every person must wear gloves in public, even seamstresses in his sewing factory must sew while wearing gloves. Can you imagine sewing while wearing gloves?

Mr. Russing’s factory makes the gloves. His factories are in the shape of ducks. Ducks? Really?
Then, there is back story about a little boy. His dad, a light house keeper, allowed his light to go out, then called the son to get the coal, and then shoveled like mad to get the light going again. Meanwhile, a ship wrecks and the boy is basically blamed for it. His family was then taken away when they could not pay for the replacement of the ship and crew. How is this the boy’s fault? And why is this important?   
  • Don’t create cookie-cutter bad guys.
This book has two nasty ladies in it. Kitchen Maggie is the fat one. Stairwell Ruth is the thin one. Both are cookie-cutter and unbelievable as characters.

I forced myself to read to page 55, but then I had to stop. The reading was that painful. Maybe I shouldn’t do a review on this one since I didn’t read it all, but I did learn what not to do, so I’m sharing it. Having said all that, the reviews on Amazon were pretty good, so that leaves me wondering if the book got better. 55 pages was enough for me.

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