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Similarities throughout the series?

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If I'm writing a chapter book series, how similar should the opening be? If every book begins the same way--before starting a new adventure-- should the opening practically mirror each time to give younger readers something they expect?
#1 - August 24, 2017, 07:41 AM

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I don't know if there's a rule, but I do know that Chapter 2 of every Babysitters Club Little Sisters series was virtually identical.

Chapter 1 introduced the particular story problem, then Chapter 2 gave the backstory for Karen and her friends.
#2 - August 24, 2017, 10:08 AM
VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW (Disney-Hyperion, 2018)
BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, 2018)
GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017)
among others

Many of the chapter books I've read have similar openings.   Not identical, but similar: intro the characters, what they do, why they may do it...  It seems repetitive to adults but it is helpful to children.   They can predict and it makes reading smoother for them. 

I'm dealing with this myself as I hash out a chapter book (and possible subsequent stories) - the openings are all looking like they will be similar, but I think it will be necessary.  Then again, I may get flustered and chuck it all out.
#3 - August 24, 2017, 02:58 PM

Mine are looking like they'll be similar too.  As in-- The bus ride always seems too long, Tyler always has to be reminded to tie his shoes, Logan always tells Gabby their adventure will be too scary for girls, Gabby always responds with a good example of why it's not...

Besides, if Babysitter's Club does it, it's probably isn't too far off base. :yup

Long Hair, this is way too early in the game to get flustered and chuck it all out!
#4 - August 25, 2017, 05:30 AM

I've been reading a lot of really young chapter books and early readers to my three year old. The re-cap is necessary because there are often so many books in a series that you come upon stories that you've not yet been introduced to. It's a real art to create a world you can enter as a fresh reader every time. Some series are really annoying in how they re-cap (see the Young Cam Jansen series--it just goes on and on), but others are very artful. My hero is Cynthia Rylant, who does such a beautiful job with the Mr. Putter and Tabby books, just touching on how both Mr. Putter and Tabby are old and who Mrs. Teaberry is. Not everyone can be so subtle, but she makes me want to be a better writer every time I read and re-read one of her books.
#5 - August 26, 2017, 09:37 AM

Thanks for these examples! I have to admit, I hadn't even considered the idea of parents having to read these books one after another.
#6 - August 28, 2017, 08:23 AM

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Be sure to introduce the new story first somehow and then get those kids into the Magic Tree House or whatever other thing needs repeating. Something unique acts as a hook for each story. (I skipped those pages in Cam Jansen. They just need to say she closes her eyes and says click to activate her internal mental camera, nothing more.) It might be good to hit a store and read the first page or so of five books in each series to see how others handle this.
#7 - August 29, 2017, 11:37 AM
Twitter: @dvilardi1

Thanks, Debbie. I've been reading a lot of them. One day I'm thinking I'm doing everything right. The next, I'm thinking Oh no! Everyone's going to skip the first chapter of every book... :umm Maybe I should read a few more.
#8 - August 30, 2017, 05:21 AM


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