Thursday, May 19, 1994

Walk Two Moons - and the Art of Telling Two Stories

image from

Walk Two Moons (1994), by Sharon Creech, is a Newbery medal recipient which - like seemingly every other Newbery winner - focuses on a girl coping with an absentee parent. I wish I could stop railing on this, but I'd like to see the Newbery committee acknowledge other challenges in the lives of teens and tweens. Anyway, that shouldn't be part of my commentary on Walk Two Moons.

Here's the description of the book at

"Walk Two Moons is the story of thirteen-year-old Salamanca Tree Hiddle from Bybanks, Kentucky, whose only wish is to be reunited with her missing mother. As Sal travels with her Gram and Gramps across the country to Idaho, she tells them the “extensively strange story” of her friend Phoebe Winterbottom, Phoebe’s disappearing mother, and the potential lunatic that comes knocking. Sal also reveals to the reader another story — her own."

As my latest project, Abigail's Atlantis, also strives to tell two stories simultaneously, I was intrigued by the novel's structure of having one story unfold within another. Gram and Gramps are quirky, lively, and heartwarming - and eager to hear their granddaughter's tale as they trek across country to let Sal discover why her mom left. The book does an admirable job jumping back and forth between the stories. Sal's telling of Phoebe's story is really Sal's way of expressing her own fears and doubts and wonders.

My biggest qualm with the book is its need to build the story around characters keeping secrets. Even though Sal's father and grandparents know what happened to Sal's mom, they don't tell her. If they were honest with Sal, the premise of the book largely falls apart. As is usually the case, they do so in the name of protecting her, but I had a hard time not just seeing it as a ploy for writing the book.

As such, I learned some important lessons as a writer. Two stories can be intertwined very successfully together. However, it is important to recognize that techniques like having characters keep secrets can leave a reader thinking, "Why didn't they just tell her?" I want to tell a story that doesn't leave the reader asking, "Well, if this happened, wouldn't that kill the entire story?"

Saturday, January 1, 1994

Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo published 150 years ago this year

First posted 7/6/2020.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

First Publication: 1844

Category: adventure novel

Sales: 1 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

“A popular bestseller since its publication in 1844, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the great page-turning thrillers of all time.” AZ It “continues to dazzle readers with its thrilling and memorable scenes” BN and has been called “the greatest tale of betrayal, adventure, and revenge ever written.” BN

“Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, Alexandre Dumas’s grand historical romance recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dant├Ęs, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason.” AZ The story details his “miraculous escape from prison, his amazing discovery of a vast hidden treasure, and his transformation into the mysterious and wealthy Count of Monte Cristo – a man whose astonishing thirst for vengeance is as cruel as it is just.” BN

“The story of his…carefully wrought revenge offers up a vision of France that has become immortal. As Robert Louis Stevenson declared, ‘I do not believe there is another volume extant where you can breathe the same unmingled atmosphere of romance.’” AZ

Resources and Related Links: