Tuesday, April 21, 2015


     I recently started the new book in the Penderwicks series, The Penderwicks In Spring. The Penderwicks have a legion of fans. Although I loved the first book, I haven't been enthralled with any of the sequels. What is most interesting to me is that the first book was published in 2005, and this latest addition was published in 2015, ten years later. So let's say you were nine or ten years old when the first book came out, you would be 20 years old now. Would you still be interested in continuing to read this series? It's my understanding that a fifth book will complete the series. So is the series as a whole intended for the children reading it now rather than those who started it? Or does it actually matter? Because enjoying the first book doesn't mean a reader has actually committed to an entire series.

     In some ways this sheds light on the publishing wisdom of children's series books which are written as work by hire, by various authors under one fictitious name. For example, Nancy Drew or Rainbow Magic. Another book, in fact many more books, are available as soon as a child finishes one, so they don't have to wait or outgrow the series before reading more.

     A trend seems to be developing in children's books with most stories being part of a series or at least a trilogy. I have to admit a preference, with some exceptions, for stand alone stories. I loved Three Times Lucky. The sequel - Ghosts of Tupelo Landing - not as much. I felt the same about The Romeo and Juliet Code. Loved it, but only liked Romeo Blue. Although I do realize that an author may have more to say about her characters, so needs a second or third book to tell the story.

     An exception for me is the wonderful series by Hilary McKay about the artistic Casson family. I loved all of the books in the series. Perhaps the difference is that each book is from the point of view of a different child in the family.

     However, as a child I loved books in series. I read all of the Anne of Green Gables books, including when Anne is grown up and has her own family. I read Laura Ingalls Wilder, each Beverly Cleary books, everything about The Moffats. Green Knowe was a favorite. I longed for more books about terrible, horrible Edie and of course read everything about the March family. If there was a family I loved, I wanted to read and read about them.

     So it doesn't really matter whether I like sequels or not. Because these books are not written for me, or the other adults like me, who love children's books and read them for professional reasons. They are written for CHILDREN.