An excerpt from a response I did for a Uni YA writing course some time ago:
Do you have your own private classics? Name one. Why do you call it a classic? What do you think makes a children’s or adolescents’ classic?
Witches, Ghosts and Goblins, by Ruthanna Long, is an absolutely awesome picture book about a quest by the witch Miranda and two children to find her missing cat. The story is long and quite involved, with the team traipsing around a fantasy world filled with…well, witches, ghosts and goblins. The illustrations, by Paul Durand, are suitably bright and colourful and fascinated me as kid because of the detail (and the fact that certain things, like Miranda’s castle, looked different at the start of the book than it did at the end).
This story is wonderfully imaginative, from the witches’ technological city (where air traffic control and walkie talkies are used for take offs and landings), to the goblin mines, pirates and the giant’s beach. It was a book that stirred my imagination and, along with comics and adult books far beyond my age at the time, stimulated my love of creating, drawing and writing.
What makes a children’s or adolescents’ classic? I think the book needs to have a profound impact on the young person. Sure, there are plenty of books that can be considered classics, due to age or popularity, but I believe it’s the way books influence and promote creativity and imagination, that make them true classics. That’s the case for me, anyway.