What does this have to do with books you ask? I think our relationship with books changes as we mature. When we are first readers, we ask the books to do most of the work for us. Entertain us, we demand. Tell us a story and don't make us work too hard for meaning and stuff, OK? As we develop into more avid and mature readers, we are more willing to do some of the heavy lifting. I am watching the resident of the back bedroom go through this change, almost a metamorphosis. She now will bring back a book and announce rather with disgust that she had it all figured out well before the end. She loves, instead, finding new words and new ways of putting words together. Me, too.
There has been some talk lately on one of the listservs about a book that some people loved and others did not. The bottom line was, IMHO, that this was a book that required some heavy lifting on the part of the reader. Think of some of the best books you have read. Most of them, I am willing to bet, required some heavy lifting. HOLES, THE GIVER, JELLICOE ROAD, THE BOOK THIEF, TENDER MORSELS are just a few that come to mind. Lest you think only award winners requre work on the part of the reader, here are some others: A SOLDIER'S HEART, OFFICER BUCKLE AND GLORIA (yes, it is a Caldecott), EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK, THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE, THE MOZART QUESTION, THE WALL, and any piece of manga (for me).