Does Your Book have “It”?

Just recently I was interviewed by the Boston Herald about my series Monster&Me. Specifically Monster Needs A Costume since it will be available in Target August 2014. The interview was great! The reporter asked me several questions and during the interview I was thinking, “Wow this is going to be a two page spread with the number of questions she is asking!” But of course even reporters have word counts and editors, and the article was not as extensive as I thought it was going to be. I am not complaining, even a little publicity is good publicity. Plus, it gives me a chance to talk about some of the questions the reporter asked that did not make the article. One question in particular really struck home because I hadn’t been asked it before and it made me think. The question was, what do you want your books to have?

Now this seems like a bit of an odd question because I could have answered it in many different ways. I could say a good moral message, or comedy, or bright illustrations and strong vocabulary. But when I thought about it I remembered the books that I grew up with, the ones that I bought and read to my kids because I loved them when I was young. What made me grab those books again well over thirty years later? What did those books have? I couldn’t tell you, because I don’t know.

But that’s what I want my books to have. I want my books to have the staying power.

I want a child today to read Monster Needs A Costume and then thirty years later want to read it to their child. I know that isn’t too much to ask right? But let’s be honest; isn’t that what we all want our books to have, that “it” that resonates with someone for the rest of their lives? What that “it” is I wish I could tell you. For me sometimes it was an illustration, like the Berenstain Bears Picnic. I specifically remember a two page spread of mosquitoes chasing the Bears out of a swamp where they were picnicking. Other times it was the story, I loved Harry the Dirty Dog because I could relate to the dog getting dirty and thought it was hilarious. How did these authors create this staying power with their books in a time where word count is cut to the bare minimum and illustration tastes have changed dramatically? It is mind boggling when you think about.

I will make a deal with all the readers of this blog, if I figure out the secret recipe for longevity I will let you know but then you have to do the same. Let us know with your comments. What do you think the “it” is?

Look for Monster Needs A Costume soon to be in paperback available August 2014, and the newest Monster&Me, Monster Needs a Christmas Tree to be released October 1 2014.

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