Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Best Story

The Best Story

Eileen Spinelli
Illustrator:  Anne Wilsdorf 
Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Penguin, 2008   ISBN: 978-0803730557

The Red Brick Library is hosting a writing contest, and the winner is going to get a free ride on the Sooper Dooper Looper Roller coaster with the author Anne Miles. When a little girl sees the poster advertising the contest, she is determined to write the best story so that she can win the contest.

Back at home, she sits down and tries to come up with a story. Unfortunately, a good story refuses to come into her head. Who knew that “this writing stuff” could be so “hard and lonely.”

Deciding that she needs some help, she tells her brother Tim about the contest. He advises her to write a story that has “lots of action.” She sits down and writes a story that is packed with action, but something about it just doesn’t feel right.

Next, the girl asks her father for his advice, and he tells her that the best stories have lots of humor in them. The girl does her best to add humor to her story, but though her father seems to like it a lot, she does not like what she has written.

Aunt Jane suggests that a good story needs to make the reader cry, so the girl adds in sobby bits, but that doesn’t work either. Nor does it help when she adds the romance that Cousin Anika believes should be there. In the end, the story she creates doesn’t work for anyone, especially for herself. What is she going to do now?

Being true to yourself when you write something is not easy to do. All too often we are influenced by the books we read, and by the comments people make. We want to write about things that we know nothing about, and this often means that we end up with a story that we really do not connect with on a personal level.

In this wonderful picture book, we meet a little girl who makes a very important discovery about writing, and who comes to understand that the best pieces of writing are the ones that are written from the heart.