This short week is the most intense in the Magazine's annual schedule. Because of heavy holiday mailing, all of our deadlines for the January/February issue arrive about two weeks earlier than usual, while at the same time we are readying "Fanfare," our choices for the best books of the year. I hope to be able to have some news of that list for you before Thursday--right now we are still arguing over the last handful of titles.
But throughout this hectic time I've been listening to the audiobook of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, wanting to have read it before seeing the movie. What a story--and it is inadvertently reminding me of something that seems to too frequently go missing in children's books of the "worthy" kind. By these quotation marks I mean novels that announce that they are going for higher stakes than entertainment, that seek to shed light upon some overlooked social or historical injustice or other. Too often, these books forget to tell a story, opting instead for (sometimes quite vivid) portraiture or scene-painting, trusting that the rightness of the theme is enough to carry readers along. It isn't.