Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Book Review: A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End

I so much wanted to like this book by Avi, geared toward middle and teen readers. Subtitled "The Right Way to Write Writing," this is the tale of Avon the snail and Edward the ant as they pursue the way to write a good story. I was hoping that I might use this somehow in the next creative writing class that I teach. it begins well, with helpful maxims included at the end of most chapters, such as "In writing, telling what you're going to write is never as exciting as the doing."

And some bits were quite funny, like "Make sure that when you're writing about what you don't know as if you did know, conceal the fact that you don't know what you're doing." And "Most writers talk about writing way more than they actually write. Then, when they finally do write, they mostly write talk, not writing."

But then, somehow, the maxims got muddled and the bits of wit became too clever. For the first 50 pages, I thought, "Hmm, my daughter [age 10] might like this." But in the last 100 pages, I realized that Avi's cleverness was too clever, and she wouldn't really get it.

I feel sheepish critiquing the work of Newbery winner Avi. Really, I have little patience with puns and riddles. It's not that I don't appreciate humor--really, I find a lot of things hilarious. And perhaps I'm missing the whole point of the book: perhaps the Muddle in the middle of the title is the point. Regardless, this book fell flat for me. I won't be gleaning any brilliant suggestions from it for my future writers. But if you like a fast and clever read, you might enjoy this one.

1 comment:

Becky said...

I liked the first book about Avon and Edward so so so much better. This one was just disappointing. Where the other was cute and charming and fun, this one just flopped in my opinion.