I didn’t know what to expect when I first opened “The Great Good Thing” by Roderick Townley. It had been recommended to me by a family member, who had read it over 10 years ago, and still vividly remembered the main protagonist. Clearly, this is one of those books that just stays with you. “The Great Good Thing” surprised me with its creativity and plot twists. Even half-way through, I still wasn’t sure how the story would end. It’s a beautifully written novel, with well-developed characters, and I am so happy that I gave it a shot!
Sylvie, the protagonist, lives in a novel. Each time that novel is opened by a reader, she and all the other characters race into position to act out their lines. Sadly, their book isn’t as popular as it once was, so when a reader finally opens the book, Sylvie desires to know more about her. She breaks the most important rule - to never look up at the reader. Thus begins a heroic journey, filled with mystery, wonder, and delight.
Recommended Age Group?
“The Great Good Thing” is a challenging read. The story moves fast and timelines can become a bit fuzzy. If I wasn’t giving all of my attention to the details, I often had to go back and reread to fully understand the inferences that the author wanted his readers to make. Due to the challenging nature of this novel, I would recommend grades 5-8 (ages 10-13); however, your fifth graders should be strong readers to fully grasp each detail.
A theme of death permeates throughout the novel, as many characters wonder what will happen to them when they die. However, the author delves into this theme with tact and an understanding for this book’s target age group. I would feel comfortable reading this novel to any child over 10.
This book is definitely classroom approved! There are sections of the novel which require deep thought and exploration, and for the most part, it moves at a quick pace and offers great opportunity for small-group discussion.
After reading this novel, your students may become inspired to write their own stories of characters coming to life and living out a hero’s journey!