Back in March, I had some AWESOME visits in Ohio with kids so sharp I had to stock up on bandaids. I thoroughly enjoyed my conversations at Emma Bailey Elementary with the Newbery Club and at Botkins Elementary with a big group of passionate readers. I asked each of these groups if they'd give me some feedback, as readers, on books. And being the good souls that they are, they all said yes.
|Emma Bailey Newbery Club|
First up are some thoughts from the Bailey Newbery Club on book endings (check back in May for Botkins' comments on the topic of character) While at the school (thanks again, librarian Bill Prosser!), I had a lively discussion with the kids pictured above who had pretty strong feelings about this topic. What got us started is the fact that there was a contingent of girls most distressed about how Jennifer Holm ended her Turtle in Paradise. I don't want to spoil the book for the 2 people who haven't read it yet, so let's just say it did not have a Hollywood happy ending. That led me to ask about book endings in general and here is what Vince and Delaney from the Bailey crew had to say:
Does a book have to have a happy ending to for you to like it?
Vince: No. Sometimes good books have very sad endings, like when a likable character dies or things don't plan out exactly the best way.
What is it about an ending that makes you feel like it's the right ending?
Delaney: I think it's the right ending when it doesn't leave me hanging or if there is a good guy and bad guy, and the good guy wins.
Can you describe an ending that wasn't satisfying to you?
Vince: I am not happy with endings that are rushed such as the ending of Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. He is one of my favorite authors and I loved that book, but the ending was rushed and I felt like it was incomplete.
If you could rewrite the ending of any book what would you do?
Delaney: I would rewrite Hattie Big Sky. I would have Hattie and Charlie live together at Hattie's house. Also I would have Lottie die from the influenza not Mattie because it feels like Hattie and Mattie were close for some reason.
Do you like to be able to predict the ending of a book?
Vince: No. What is the point of reading a book if you know what will happen? Some of my favorite books have a twist at the end that made me keep reading.
Should the character get everything they want by the time the book ends? Why or why not?
Delaney: Both, because the main charactor could be a criminal and if he/she got what they wanted it would be the end of the world. But it could be a nice happy main character and they should get what they want. Also, I like happy endings, but I have different opinion than everyone else
What advice would you give to a writer about book endings?
Vince: Don't rush the ending or make the book predictable.
Fellow writers: take note!