I love lots of books. But I think my favourite—I believe it's a 'perfect' book for many reasons—is one I read many years ago. Actually I had it read out loud to me. Then when I got older, I read it myself. I continue to read it every so often, and appreciate it more and more. When I first encountered it, of course it was the superficial story itself that I loved. But as I got older, I realised the skill it took to write it so simply, with such a confident voice, to defy so many conventions about what books for young people needed to be like. The book conjured up a time and place to perfection, without being either sentimental or pessimistic. It was a simple story, with only a few characters, but they were expertly crafted. It's a story I still enjoy reading, and it still moves me. It's actually a very adult book. It's about how life doesn't always give you what you want, that it's often unfair and cruel. But you make the hard decisions, live with the consequences and keep going, because that's what you do. And you take pleasure in small things, when you can. The story? Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson. I still occasionally re-read stories I loved as a child, and many of them still 'work' for me. But none as well as this one does. There isn't a single word out of place, or a single aspect that rings false. I wish I could write like that.