The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley

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"Rawwwwk! Reader!" screams an orange bird. "Booook open!" groans a frog. Then the sky lifts away and the enormous face of a child peers down into Sylvie's storybook world. At last, a reader again!

Sylvie has been a twelve-year-old princess for more than eighty years, ever since the book she lives in was first printed. She's the heroine, and her story is exciting -- but it's always exciting in the same way. That's the trouble. Sylvie has a restless urge to explore, to accomplish a Great Good Thing beyond the margins of her book. This time, when the new face appears, Sylvie breaks the rule of all storybook characters: Never look at the Reader. Worse, she gets to know the reader, a shy young girl named Claire, and when Claire falls asleep with the book open, Sylvie enters her dreams.

After a fire threatens her kingdom, Sylvie rescues the other characters, taking them across the sea in an invisible fish that rolls up like a window shade when it's out of water. For years they all live, royalty and rogues, in Claire's subconscious -- a surprising and sometimes perilous place.

In this new land, Sylvie achieves many Good Things, but the Greatest, like this dazzling book, goes far and deep, beyond even her imaginings.


About Roderick Townley

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Roderick Townley has written ten books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and literary criticism. He taught in Chile on a Fulbright fellowship, worked in New York as an editor, and now writes from his home in Kansas. He has two children, Jesse and Grace, and is married to poet Wyatt Townley.
Published January 1, 2001 by Perfection Learning. 216 pages
Genres: Travel, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Great Good Thing

Kirkus Reviews

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and the eternal childhood question of where beloved characters live when their book is closed are just some of the skeins of this utterly winning book.

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The New York Times

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In Roderick Townley's imaginative novel, the characters in a fairy tale must scramble into place each time a reader opens the book, readying themselves for the performance that constitutes both the story and their life.

Oct 21 2001 | Read Full Review of The Great Good Thing

The Guardian

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In 1917 a child was given a book, The Great Good Thing , which she read and re-read, loved and absorbed to the point where she was as much a part of the story as the story was a part of her.

Apr 26 2003 | Read Full Review of The Great Good Thing

Publishers Weekly

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Actress Blair Brown initially sounds stiff and detached, but after a few chapters warms to the material and reads with emotional gusto as 12-year-old Princess Sylvie ventures from her role as heroine of the storybook The Great Good Thing into the dreamscape of Claire, the book's Reader.

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Common Sense Media

In this story, this is literally true: When the book is closed, blue back-up lights come on and the characters find ways to pass the time until the next time they reenact their story.

Mar 22 2004 | Read Full Review of The Great Good Thing


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