The Great Good Thing

The Great Good Thing

For Ages: 10 - 14
Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to live it very often.
Sylvie has been a twelve-year-old princess for more than eighty years, ever since the book she lives in was first printed. She's the heroine, and her story is exciting -- but that's the trouble. Her story is always exciting in the same way. Sylvie longs to get away and explore the world outside the confines of her book.
When she breaks the cardinal rule of all storybook characters and looks up at the Reader, Sylvie begins a journey that not even she could have anticipated. And what she accomplishes goes beyond any great good thing she could have imagined...
  • Atheneum Books for Young Readers | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689853289 | 
  • October 2002 | 
  • Grades 5 - 9
List Price $9.99 (price may vary by retailer)


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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide to

The Great Good Thing
By Roderick Townley

About the Book

Twelve-year-old Princess Sylvie lives in a storybook that hasn’t been read in years. She’s tired of the same old tale and longs for adventure beyond the boundaries of the book. So when a young girl named Claire begins reading The Great Good Thing, Sylvie makes her move. First, she disobeys the number one rule of storybook characters: Never Look at the Reader. Soon after that, she leaves the confines of the page to explore Claire’s dreams. But when the book is destroyed by fire, Sylvie, her family, and all the characters in the kingdom must take up permanent residence in Claire’s subconscious. There, adventure is assured; but it’s what Sylvie accomplishes on the outside that brings the greatest good, for herself and countless others. Publisher’s Weekly called Townley’s novel “clever and deftly written… as much a romantic paean to reading and writing as it is a good story.” Indeed, Townley’s fantastic journey renders the imagination real.

Discussion Topics

Please use examples from the text to support your answers.

1. As a storybook character Sylvie stays the same age despite the passage of time. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of staying the same age forever? If you could choose one age at whi see more

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About the Author

Roderick Townley
Photo Credit:

Roderick Townley

Roderick Townley's first book about Sylvie, The Great Good Thing, was a Top-Ten Book Sense Pick, praised by Kirkus Reviews as "utterly winning...a book beloved from the first page." Its sequel, Into the Labyrinth, was hailed by the New York Times as "a hopping fine read." The present volume completes the Sylvie cycle.

Mr. Townley has also published the novel Sky, described by VOYA as "one hell of a book," as well as volumes of poetry, nonfiction, and literary criticism. He has two children, Jesse and Grace, and is married to author Wyatt Townley.