Monday, March 22, 2010

SLJ Round One, Match Six: Peace or Gifts?

Peace, Locomotion or A Season of Gifts?

That is the question judge Cynthia Kadohata faced. Kadohata speaks frankly about books, explaining that, for her, Peace, Locomotion tells instead of shows: "That’s the age-old problem of telling instead of showing, and it happens too often in what is overall a fine book." In his comment, Jonathan Hunt observes that the problem could be sequelitis; that what was told here was shown in the first book.

As for Gifts, Kadohata observes that Peck succeeds by playing to his own strengths: "It could be that Woodson took more risks than Peck, that he simply knows what he does best, and he did it in A Season of Gifts. But why not do what you do best? It’s a lovely, lovely book and a joy to read. A Season of Gifts it is."

It's a fascinating question, and one that arises often when talking about art. When someone does something well and they do that over and over, they are sometimes accused of not stretching enough, of not moving outside their comfort zone. When someone does do something different -- something risky -- and it fails, they sometimes are given more credit just for trying even if they did not succeed. Frankly, though, many readers don't care about the intent of the artist and want the book, the movie, the song to deliver, whether its what the artist does best or is something new and different. It's nice to see that Peck is rewarded for knowing what he does best, continuing to deliver, and continuing to write excellent books as he does so.

Kadohata does a fab job of giving us a question to mull over on our blogs.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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