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Thoughts From an Unfinished Adult
Anna Grossnickle Hines
Published in Penn&Ink, Newsletter of Eastern Pennsylvania SCBWI, Fall 1998

      Betsy, a friend of mine, recently met another woman at a party.  "I understand you have published some books,"  the woman said.  "I'm a writer too. I just finished my first novel two days ago. What kind of books do you write?"

    "Mostly children's," Betsy, who has three published books and two more under contract, modestly replied. The woman came back with, "Oh. I've outgrown that."  My friend was left speechless, but afterward we had a good time kicking around some possible come-backs.  Betsy wished she'd said,  "Let's talk after you've published that novel." 

     My husband Gary's erudite suggestion was to "bomp her over the head with a flyswatter." What I'd have liked to say is, very sweetly and sincerely, "Oh, that's too bad. I hope that never happens to me."

    Most of us have had such conversations. What's really sad is that it's not just indicative of people's attitude toward children's books, but toward children.  The simple minded little creatures don't need too much to entertain them. Anyone can write for them, just look at the celebrity books that get the airtime on talk shows.  One morning I saw a nice piece on children's books on the Today show.  The books were good ones, the presentation positive, but the names of the authors and illustrators were not even mentioned!  Never would they review an adult book, no matter how briefly, without mentioning the name of the author.

    Ursula Nordstrom talked in her letters (Dear Genius, Harper, 1998) about the dullness of what she called "finished adults".  She, like most of us, much preferred to help create books for bright, spunky children.  The world may never recognize what we do, the value and difficulty of our craft, but that just makes it that much more important that those of us who love it, keep doing it.  Those bright eager young minds need us.  And those poor souls who just don't get it, probably do deserve a little pity.  Poor things.  They really don't know what they're missing.

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