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The Great Good Thing (The Sylvie Cycle #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,806 Ratings  ·  252 Reviews

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 con

Published (first published May 1st 2001)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Oct 16, 2008 rivka rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to rivka by: Tea&licaeks (What's The Name of That Book group)
Shelves: other-spec-fic, kids
Great premise, and a wonderful beginning.

However, after that it wanders hither and yon, an interesting character and a clever notion in search of a plot. They never really find one.

Pre-teens may enjoy it; older kids will probably prefer a story with more of a story.
Ashlee Willis
Jul 05, 2015 Ashlee Willis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am going to admit that by the time I got mere pages into this book I had become quite depressed. At the time I read it (a year or two ago) I was well into the later drafts of my OWN book, The Word Changers, and felt more than a little terror at the thought that what I had BELIEVED to be an original idea (characters being alive in their own story) had already been taken! If you're a writer, you may have experienced that same terror before . . . not fun.

However, as I continued to read, I saw tha
The Great Good Thing is the title of the book, the storybook within the book and the deepest desire of the story’s main character, Princess Sylvie, to do some ‘great good thing’. We read this delightful children’s fantasy tale back in 2002 as a family and I’ve never forgotten it.

In The Great Good Thing the book’s characters come to life as soon the covers of the book close. Although not a novel idea, it captured my imagination at the time and I enjoyed it on this reread, although perhaps not qu
Paola (A Novel Idea)
Originally posted at A Novel Idea Reviews

Rating: 3.5/5

When the book is opened, everyone must scramble to their places and everyone must remember their lines. But the first rule, and decidedly the most important, is to never look at the Reader. Sylvie, a veteran at her job of being a storybook princess after being the book’s main character for upwards of 80 years and throughout many Readings and Re-Readings, nevertheless longs for something more. She has lived the same adventure so many times tha
Jean O'Shea
Nov 21, 2008 Jean O'Shea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lis565
Twelve-year-old Princess Sylvie's storybook kingdom really is a storybook, where nothing ever changes, even the character's mad scramble to reach their places whenever the book is opened, until Sylvie discovers she can enter new worlds with the Reader, and find new adventures.

I fell in love with this book upon reading the first line: “Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to live it very often”. I immediately identified with the character, as would many teenagers. However, traveling bet
Feb 11, 2012 Keith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A pure pleasure read. In this book, the characters are actually alive inside a storybook. When the book is closed "back up lights" come on and the characters relax a bit until the next reader comes along. When the reader shows up, they dash to their proper pages and recite their dialogue. The princess Sylvie discovers that she can make a leap from the pages of the book into the dreams of the reader. In this dream-scape she actually meets the reader and becomes her friend. Eventually all the char ...more
Mar 05, 2014 NaomiRuth rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, ir, fav-authors
This was a wonderful magical story. I have always enjoyed the idea of "what do characters do when no one is looking" and I think this book played with that idea masterfully. I would love to see this rendered into a film by someone who knows what they are doing. The first 10-15 pages in particular are fantastic, having Sylvie run to page 3 and so on and so forth. Definitely a book worth reading.
Greg Kerestan
May 10, 2016 Greg Kerestan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I vividly remember being sick with a terrible fever during Christmas break back in fourth grade, and cracking this book (a Christmas present from a teacher) on the couch as I rode out my light-headedness. When I finished the novel, I though I had dreamed it. Like Italo Calvino for kids, this book treats the fourth wall as a very real construct, bridging the gap between a fictional book and a nonfictional world. As a writer and an actor, even today I have fond feelings for this book and the way i ...more
Rain Misoa
Nov 19, 2015 Rain Misoa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves a good storybook.
Recommended to Rain by: Library
A cute little story about fictional characters being truly alive!

To read my full review, click here.
R. G. Nairam
Dec 19, 2015 R. G. Nairam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quirky, own
This is another of those books I can't quite explain my liking for. It's a story of book characters, their Readers, and their author.

Strangely enough, both my sister and I read it when we were young and then kind of forgot about it, only to discover it years later. It's one of those books that kind of slips the mind unless it's in front of you. Oh, /that/ book! I loved that book! What was it called?

I don't know if that's really a good sign or not, but I like it in some of the books I read--they'
Dec 20, 2014 Aelvana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sylvie is eager to live her life---and she knows every moment of it, from the opening scene to the last page. But sometimes her curiosity leads her to look beyond the words and at the Reader, which everyone knows is a terrible thing to do. Sylvie's off-the-page adventures have interesting consequences, but they may also be the only thing that saves herself and everyone she loves.

This is a story bursting with whimsy. From the very first sentence, the story careens off in an entirely unexpected di
Kathryn Miller
Apr 02, 2014 Kathryn Miller rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a bit of an anachronism of a book. It was published in 2003 but has little to do with what has been going on in the wider world of children's publishing for the last couple of decades. What it most reminds me of is mid-century classics like Tom's Midnight Garden, The Children Of Greene Knowe, and (the slightly later) Charlotte Sometimes.

Like those examples it's oriented around mood, feeling and character rather than plot. That's not something you often see these days (not that I'm attack
Jonathan Lavallee
Feb 25, 2014 Jonathan Lavallee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Great Good Thing tells the story of Sylvie; she’s a 12 year old princess and has been for the last 80 years. When you’re a character in a book, you say your lines in the appropriate places and you get to where you need to go in order to keep the story moving. You tell the same story whenever a Reader opens the book, you have your role and you play it to the best of your ability just like every other character in the story. Most of the characters seem to enjoy it, but Sylvie is starting to fi ...more
Lisa the Librarian
I loved the begining premise of this book. That the characters in the story existed within the book and could act independantly when the book was not being read. Rushing to the correct page when the book wa opened by a "Reader".

Unfortunately, it got confusing and convoluted and the more it became so, the less interested I was and the less I enjoyed the book.

I don't want to say how it become confusing because that would give spoilers.

Great premise, imaginative elements, messy application.
Jun 19, 2013 Katie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A book about fictional characters living in a book, and jumping into their Reader's minds, this is a very unique book. I did not enjoy this book. I felt the writing was hard to follow, and the characters seemed to be for one thing in one sentence, but then we learn they actually don't feel that way in the next. I also didn't have a clear description of how the characters jumped into the Reader's minds. Although this was a clever idea, I didn't think the story was pieced together very well.
Apr 22, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quite possibly one of my favorite books ever. Granted, I read it as a kid and so it has some sentimental value, so my opinion is biased, but I've reread it a million times and still enjoy it.

The idea that the characters in a book are but mere actors in a play, who still live after the book is closed is reminiscent of Toy Story, and holds just as much imagination. Plus, the main character is independent thinking and adventurous, which I love to see in heroines.

A great read overall.
May 12, 2015 Kelsey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
-"The wilderness is littered with forgotten stories that will never be retold."-

Timeless, enchanting, and beautifully original. Do you ever wonder what happens to your favorite characters after you stop reading their story? Does the story live on after it is forgotten or does it fade away without a reader to bring it to life? Step into The Great Good Thing and discover the tale of a beloved cast of characters fight for survival against the tides of memory.
Nov 03, 2015 Erin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite, most cherished books. I've read it multiple times before but haven't read it in many years. After picking it off the shelf a few days ago, I immediately remembered why I fell in love with it so long ago. Vivid, creative, thought-provoking, and attention-commanding are just a few of the adjectives that I would use to describe The Great Good Thing. It's truly fascinating how books can follow you and that the story only becomes more relevant and meaningful as you grow up ...more
Alma Almonte
Jan 09, 2013 Alma Almonte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was really interesting but it was a bit complicated to understand in some parts that is way this book was not my favorite. I recommend this book for people who like mystery and fantasy. This book was not my favorite but maybe other people might enjoy it.
I found this book at a used book sale for fifty cents, and it looked like an interesting new read. Last night I read it and it was the cutest story! I think this'll go on my favorites shelf. (Also, the one I got had a much better cover illustration).
Sep 12, 2014 Lolene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It sat for years in one of my book tubs at school and was never checked out, not even once, by any my students. When I moved my zillions of books to Water Canyon School, it resurfaced. I pledged to read it (in front of the kids) to make a point: the old don't-judge-a-book-by-it's cover maxim. The edition I have has an exceedingly stupid, unappealing cover. But I loved the lead: "Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to live it very often." I was hooked.

If you want to
May 06, 2010 Hailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is great read it read it ...more
Jun 04, 2016 Ruby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imaginitive, thought-provoking, interesting, and absorbing.
The plot is centered around a book character who is getting bored with her story- the old-fashioned environment the MC lives in gives the whole book a nice, comfortable feeling. The writing is very well done, from everything from the interesting descriptions of living in a book to the action scenes to the mysterious settings in the dark forest, etc.

It's the concept itself that is so riveting to me: being inside a book
Shannan Volters
Oct 16, 2015 Shannan Volters rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, want, favorites
First Off…
I was perusing the shelves at the library and saw this half pint book, which was intriguing, so i flipped through the first couple pages, and the quirkiness of it made me take it home.

This was an unexpectedly wonderful book. It was such a interestingly different story and an easy read as well.
The story starts with —– who is the character of a story. But the things is, the characters are aware of being reading, almost like someone living a play. The story continues through the
Feb 21, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Fran
Sylvie has been a young princess for 70 years living in the book The Great Good Thing. Her parents, the king and queen, the jester, the ladies in waiting, and even the thieves all have a part to play in the story. It's been the same part for 70 years, even though their book hasn't been opened in a long time and it's been ages since they've seen a Reader. Then, one day, Claire opens the book and begins reading...

The Great Good Thing is a Great Good Read. Appropriate for children grade 5+, but sti
Sep 09, 2011 Rochelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, unusual book about perspective. The "reader" of a book, and the actual characters within the book, ultimately come into contact with one another. The concept around which this novel revolves is that the characters in a story book are able to move around within their story book when it is closed, and not being read by someone. As soon as the book opens, the characters must be back in their appropriate positions within the story. Princess Sylvie is adventurous and inquisitive, ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Carin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
A book where the main character is the main character in a book! At first I thought this was going to turn out to be The Eyre Affair for teens, but alas no. The book starts out very cute. Sylvie is a 12-year-old princess in a book that hasn't been read for years. But they get a new reader, and life is lively again! But Sylvie's curiousity is piqued - why the different new reader after all this time? And she breaks the biggest rule in her world - she looks up at the reader. And later, she follows ...more
Apr 20, 2011 Esther rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens
The very first line of this book had me hooked: "Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn't get to live it very often." I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish (which was only a couple of hours). It was just so imaginatively rich, enchantingly quirky, and touches on some mature emotional themes that I like seeing in children's books because they experience hard things and can do great, good things too. It reminded me of the quote by Madeleine L'Engle "You have to write the book that ...more
Mar 30, 2009 4julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julia Fusco
Book Review
“Rawwwwk reader,” screams an orange bird. “Boook open,” groans a frog. Then the sky lifts away and an enormous face appears. This is no ordinary book and that is no ordinary face. This book is a book with a hint of a play by what the characters do and say, plus a new idea for what can happen to the characters in the book. That is why this is such a fun book to read. I should know, I’ve read this book five times.
When a person has read a book five times they are goi
“Sylvie had an amazing life, but she didn’t get to live it very often.”

Sylvie has been a storybook princess for more than eighty years. Her trouble is that the story of her amazing life is never lived until a Reader comes along. It is only when the book containing the story of Princess Sylvie is opened and read that she can live her adventures in the storybook. When your life depends on Readers reading and your story is forgotten what can you do? The characters in the book begin to accept the fa
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Other Books in the Series

The Sylvie Cycle (3 books)
  • Into the Labyrinth (The Sylvie Cycle, #2)
  • The Constellation of Sylvie (The Sylvie Cycle, #3)

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