Little Pear: A Guest Post by Silvia from Books Complicity

[Hello, dear readers!  I have a guest post from Silvia, who blogs at Books Complicity, and has an Etsy store of the same name!  She's here to tell you about a series of books I've never read.  (I love new-to-me things!)  Older copies may be found used, or at your local library, while new paperback editions are published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Thank you so much, Silvia, for guesting on Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes this week!  - Danzel]

                                                                                              


When I saw a tattered paperback book at a library sale, with a cute Chinese boy on the cover that said, Little Pear, I knew I had found a good book. It was more than that, I discovered a precious series of books and a wonderful author, Eleanor Frances Lattimore. Serendipity put a sturdy red hardcover in my hands a week later. Ever since, we are captivated by the adventures of Little Pear, family, and friends.

What does a book need to be not just a good title, but one of the best? I will venture a few characteristics.

The narrative must touch on elements of a timeless childhood. The characters and places may not be familiar to us. No matter if the story happens in the past, or in remote countries, timeless topics that connect with the reader are offered.


The writing is not politically correct. Little Pear stories show us the values and beliefs of a Chinese family. They let children roam around in the street unattended or at the care of not too old siblings. In one of the books, it is mentioned that everybody knew each other in the village. His family describes Little Pear as a naughty little boy, and that is not an insult. I am thinking about Russell Hoban books, with France's father smoking a pipe. We can argue that those are cultural or epochal beliefs. It does not matter. What does is that the writer must not be compromised with an agenda (that makes for pitiful literature), but true to himself.

The writing possesses quality, what we call style
. I cannot define quality, or beauty. But when we read aloud, we easily notice the lack of it. When, by contrast, the story flows; when everything disappears around you, and reader and listener submerge themselves in the narrative, you are experiencing a great book.



Balance and congruence between text and illustrations. While it is said we cannot judge a book by its cover, if we are considering the best children books - even chapter books with sparse illustrations - cover and illustrations need to match the quality of the text. Yes, there are cheap and ugly editions of classics, and a great book is a great book, even read from an electronic devise. A nice edition of a book adds to the experience.  And a tattered book that belonged to you when you were a girl, or a vintage paperback with the original illustrator for a few cents, can be charming copies of a great book. But all great books have been published in a nice edition, possibly in many.



Age is usually a determining factor.  Older books usually have the best language, the best stories. Not by accident have they stood the test of time. Many are in the public domain, and they have been reprinted numerously occasions. Others are out of print, yet. But notice I wrote usually, because it is not always true any old book is great. Or it could be great, but not our favorite, more about this later. And I don't imply contemporary books cannot be some of the best, but they are too close to our noses for us to determine their proper value.



Where does our taste or preference fit in judging a great book? One is to put it at work for contemporary literature. Some of the books from our era we find wonderful, and we have our right to think of them as great. Time will judge them. They will be, if nothing else, dear books to us. We may not like a book, even if it's great. That's life. Though great books don't grow like mushrooms after rain, they are not a rarity, the list is robust. And the pleasure of finding some of these best titles is priceless.

Will I grow to read Little Pear to my grandchildren? Will I ever have grandchildren? Will the girls read some or any of these great titles to their children? I pray for that day to come! In the meantime, we are making the most of our present, and enjoying some of these best children books we have. 



[Thank you again, Silvia, for sharing these books and your words with us today!  And be sure to visit Silvia's blog and store, when you get the chance!  - Danzel, Silver Shoes & Rabbit Holes]

Comments

  1. That's a book serie I would love to read! Thank you for featuring this post!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks to you, Danzel, for so graciously opening your lovely blog corner to my guest post. Jane, these are very charming. You won't go wrong with them.

    Warmly,

    Silvia

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are welcome, and thanks again for guesting! :)

    ReplyDelete

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