I’m reading the new Mrs. Piggle Wiggle Book.Â And it’s (sigh) BAD.
I mean, it isn’t HORRIBLE.Â It’s still (kinda)Â Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She’s still fat and funny, and her house is still upside down, and the kids are still little brats. And the moms still sit around drinking retro coffee.Â I guess I’d rather read Happy BIrthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle than, say, BRATZ Superstylin’ Funktivity (I am not even making that up!)
But all the invention is missing.Â All the wackyÂ skewed thinking. All the unexpected logic.Â The cures are something out of aÂ parenting article in Good Housekeeping (gag me), and several of them are just plain ripoffs of the original books.
Reading this book reallyÂ drives home the fact that you cannot come up with a formula for voice or humor.Â You can create a formula for plot.Â But that’s it.Â And no matter how hard you try, you cannot immitate a master.
ThisÂ is why, I think, a lot of series writing fails (even when the original author doesn‘t die). Because the formula is no longer new, andÂ the voice tires, stretches to its limits.
I actually found myself feeling really bad for Anne MacDonald Canham, whose mother was Betty MacDonald.Â Because you just know she wrote this book as a tribute. A memorial to her mother. And you know she tried to do her mom justice.Â And you know it kills her that she didn’t match her mother’s wit.
But really, how could she have possibly succeeded?