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My sister AND my daughter

Sixth SenseOver on child_lit, Cheryl Klein has been asking for titles of books with big reveals, the ones with a surprise that make you rethink the whole thing. Like Gone Girl, The Thief, and most of Robert Cormier. I contributed Gene Kemp’s The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler, the 1977 Carnegie-winning title about an obstreperous but goodhearted kid about whom something is revealed only on the last page. (Interestingly, it’s a surprise that only dates the book today.)

Reviewers HATE these books, and it only gets worse as our reviews get disseminated to a wider audience, not just professionals selecting books for other readers, but readers themselves. I think I told you about the trouble we got in when a YA writer complained all over Twitter that the Horn Book review of her book gave away the surprise. (When I queried the reviewer about it, she said “That was the surprise?” Ouch.) And now in preparation for a Talks With Roger interview I’m reading Ilsa J. Bick‘s White Space, which is crawling with these suckers. Crawling. I guess they can’t all be The King Died and the Queen Died of Grief.

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.



  1. This brings to mind “A Formal Feeling” by Zibby Oneal, whose quiet but powerful reveal near the end of the story changes everything that came before. Unfortunately, it’s out of print, as are most of Oneal’s books. Which makes me sad; she’s an under-appreciated author, in my opinion.

  2. Rusty True Browder says:

    The Language of Goldfish was a beautiful Zibby Oneal book. Am glad to be reminded of her.

  3. Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris

  4. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    Roger, have you read Gillian Flynn’s other novels? I think Sharp Objects is my favorite of the three.

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