In this series, I will interview a series of kids on their thoughts on kids’ books with the sole intention of getting into their heads to understand what they are looking for in books and what to put in mine. This is in addition to my research on how kids talk, or YA voice…
The first interview is with Maha Rahman, 10, 4th grader at Travis Elementary School. There may be several interviews with Travis kids to start with, and perhaps several with my first victim, Maha:
What did you like about The Mysterious Benedict Society?
Well, I liked how in the first part they did puzzles? And a lot of the book started to draw you in and it didn’t go and on with these details and really bore you.
Do you think a lot of books that you don’t like go on and on with details?
It’s a big book. Why did you keep on reading?
Because each page was part of the story…not just details.
What do you think is important to have in a kids’ book?
Well, obviously, you need some jokes, you need some puzzles, and you need some plot. And a lot of the successful ones have surprises or twists. First it has a whole test of puzzles in the book, so that’s like a lot of questions. And I think the questions are really intelligent because there are tricks in those questions. And jokes: well, there is one character who is very annoying but she [Constance] is annoying in that way that she is funny! I also like it because it is very intelligent. I like one part where Reynie, the main character, answers the last question: Are you brave?” with “I hope so.” It’s not like you are pathetic by answering “no” and it’s not like you are too full of yourself by answering “yes.” That’s why it’s my favorite moment because it’s a really good answer.
What are your favorite moments in the book?
One is umm…I really don’t have particular favorite moments.
Does a book absolutely have to have all of these elements: plot, humor, and puzzles?
Well, I don’t think so because these elements only suit some books and they don’t have to have all of them to be a successful book because they can have other things which may also make them successful. Some books, sarcasm suits them. Some books are silly. Some books are serious and emotional. There’s The Hunger Games. It doesn’t have jokes, really. It does have puzzles, though.
Are there no jokes at all? And which puzzles?
There are some jokes, but they didn’t really work out because they weren’t any good and some people couldn’t tell they were jokes. And they had puzzles when they were in the arena during the fighting when she [Katniss] had to figure out how to survive, or in the sequel when they figure out that the arena is really something else.