I got mixed reviews, so decided to give it a try.
We're only a few pages into it, but so far we're really enjoying it. My girls can completely identify with Anna, who has this reaction to a recent purchase:
She unpacked her new crayons and took them all out of their box. There was a good pink and quite a good orange, but the blues were the best. There were three different shades, all beautifully bright, and a purple as well.
I can see why the boys, mentioned on the 4 Real forum thread, didn't find this to be action-packed. But my budding little writers find Anna to be just the kind of girl they'd like to spend some time with:
Lately she had been producing a number of illustrated poems which had been much admired both at home and at school. There had been one about a fire, one about an earthquake and one about a man who died in dreadful agonies after being cursed by a tramp. Why not try her hand at a shipwreck? All sorts of words rhymed with sea and there was "save" to rhyme with "wave" and she could use the three new blue crayons for the illustration. She found some paper and began.
Soon she was so absorbed that she did not notice the early winter dusk creeping into the room ....
And in this exchange, Anna's father, a writer, offers her some sage advice that my made my girls light up with its truth:
Anna said, "Papa, do you really like the poem?"
Papa said he did.
"You don't think it should be more cheerful?"
"Well," said Papa, "a shipwreck is not really a thing you can be very cheerful about."
"My teacher Fraulein Schmidt thinks I should write about more cheerful subjects like the spring and the flowers."
"And do you want to write about the spring and the flowers?"
"No," said Anna sadly. "Right now all I seem to be able to do is disasters."
Papa gave a little sideways smile and said perhaps she was in tune with the times.
"Do you think then," asked Anna anxiously, "that disasters are all right to write about?" Papa became serious at once.
"Of course!" he said. "If you want to write about disasters, that's what you must do. It's no use trying to write what other people want. The only way to write anything good is to try to please yourself."
And, the only way to find out whether or not you like a book is to read it yourself. So, we'll push on with this one, and I'll keep you posted.
And, by the way, that copy of The Winged Watchman arrived, and it's a very cool old 1962 edition. Don't you love old books?