I've been trying to understand why I love a good children's story almost above all else these days. This after I've just sat here and sobbed through Kate DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie in preparation for my Kids Book Club meeting tomorrow morning. The conclusion I reached (after ruling out regression) is that there is nothing better to me than a good story, simply told. I'm of the school that believes that good stories want to be told. There are millions of them out there right now, sailing around on the winds like dreams, waiting for their chance to be born. Looking for the person who has enough self-confidence to see the story as bigger than themselves, someone who recognizes beauty in simplicity and can get out of the way of it.
Children's authors, perhaps because they make their living writing for an audience that hasn't learned the art of guile, seem to understand this better than other authors. I'm so tired of books that are studiously and condescendingly obtuse, as if their authors are writing for the Pulitzer Committee instead of for the sake of the story itself. I'm tired of fluently jumbled chronologies, tired of innovative techniques, bored with trickster narrators, exhausted with the lion's share of the history of a country summarized neatly in footnotes in a work of fiction! Tell me a good story well, and you don't need gimmicks. Tell me something that illuminates our shared humanity. Tell me something that surprises, enlightens, makes me laugh and cry. Tell me something true. You don't need $50 words to do it. You just need to listen and then get out of the way. And read some children's books before you start.