Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In Praise of Sequels

So do you love a children's book so much that you wish you could read another with the same characters? Welcome to sequels.

I'm one of those people that love a good sequel. I get so caught up in the book that I purposely slow down when I am near the end so it will last longer (not as easy for those Kindle users unless you keep track of the "percentage done").

I have read some amazing sequels and some that left me scratching my head. Here are my favorites first:

The Cricket in Times Square: Everyone knows this book about Chester cricket and his adventures with Harry Cat and Tucker Mouse. An amazing book by George Seldon. He actually did several sequels. The first was called Tuckers Countryside which has Harry and Tucker visiting Chester in his home this time. I think its an amazing adventure and almost as uique as the original-a tough job for any sequel. Its everything you want in a sequel-you get to revisit the characters, read another new adventure and it does not take anything away from the original story. I think George did like 8 sequels all together in the series but not all were my favorites.

The Poppy series by Avi: Well you know I'm a sucker for a good animal novel and Avi does not disappoint. My personal favorite is Poppy and Ereth about the unlikely friendship between Poppy the mouse and an unfriendly porcupine. A wonderful book and series.

My least favorite sequel is actually by my favorite author! Its Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. If you read the original (and it doesn't count if you only know the movie version which I loved as well-the original with Gene Wilder that is). The book itself is pure Dahl with unusual gadgets and awful things happening to bad children. Its wicked good fun.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was an instant success. At the time in 1964, sequels were not the norm but Dahl had pressure from his publisher to bring back the characters. The original ends with them crashing through the factory and the reader imagining the wonderful life for Charlie and his family that is ahead. The sequel picks up right where the first book leaves off and turns into a political mishmass about governments and the political times.

It actually goes against one of the cardinal rules of a sequel: don't take anything away from the original. So now when you reread the first book and you get to the end you no longer close the book and imagine the wonderful life that awaits Charlie. Instead you know this silly political satire awaits instead.

But that is my own personal bias in only one of Dahl's books. If you never read him you must. The BFG and The Witches are two of the best books ever written. And his biographical books-Boy and Going Solo are as fascinating as anything he imagined!


  1. Need new glasses. At first I read (too quickly)
    In Praise of "Squirrels".
    I enjoyed the sequels to LITTLE WOMEN, Little Men and Jo's Boys. Though not as good as LW, they did
    satisfy my need to know what happened to the sisters, particularly Jo.

  2. I am so with you on the vermicious knids. We are all Wonka-ites in my family; in fact, we just watched the Gene Wilder movie again last weekend. I have owned "the Great Glass Elevator" since childhood, but never opened it again after the first time. Definitely a sequel that should have gone unwritten. Interesting topic -- thank you for making me think.