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Not so easy to be hard

I’m enjoying PW’s discussion of “The Top Ten Most Difficult Books.” (I’ve read some of most of them but haven’t finished any.)

Could we make such a list of children’s books? We’d have to wrestle with the problem that difficulty in a children’s book is grounds for many to not consider it a children’s book, et voilá. But I might include the William Mayne novel pictured here, Anderson’s Octavian Nothing, Hamilton’s Arilla Sundown, Garner’s Red Shift . . . . Martha mentions Paton Walsh’s Unleaving, and Elissa offers Kingley’s Water-Babies as a book all the Simmons students resented having to read. (Let me add to that my experience Grahame’s The Golden Age, which I read for a CLNE seminar with great, great grudging.) What else?

One question I have here and about PW’s list is the assumption that difficulty equals accomplishment, that the harder a book is to read, the more an author has to say and the more the reader has achieved. Nah–the most difficult reading I see in this office are the review copies of self-published novels, for children and adults, written by crazy people.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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