We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
descriptive ability
humor (if attempted)
illustrations (if present)
believability of characters
believability of situations
overall reading enjoyment

There is no grading curve. There are no points for classroom participation. There is no extra credit.
If you disagree, come speak to us after class.

The Grading System

A+.....this means (guess what) we think it's great. So great it surprised even us.
A.....this means it's pretty darn good. A book we'd recommend to just about everyone we know.
B.....better than most. Not exactly Shakespeare for kids, though, if you get our drift.
C.....mediocre. Like the color beige, it didn't stand out.
D.....we didn't like it. There were more bad aspects than good ones.
F.....it reeked of badness. We read it over and over when we are in dire need of hysterical laughter.
F-.....We're pretty sure Dante had a circle of hell for the people who wrote these...and a lower circle for those who published them.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reporter's Review: The Willoughbys, by Lois Lowry

Overall Grade: A
Houghton Mifflin; April 2008

Once upon a time there was a clever woman named Lois Lowry who wrote a great many children’s books and won gold medals that got printed into stickers and put on the covers of two of them. Then one day, she decided to flout all convention and write a book called “The Willoughbys” about four children who wish they were orphans with two parents who wish they were childless. Both teams work at their goals with great spirit and determination, but the children prevail. With their fairy-tale billionaire benefactor and odd (but not really odious) nanny and a couple random children thrown into the mix, they live happily and parentlessly ever after. The End.
The strangest thing about this book was how much we liked it. Considering how recognizable the name of “Lowry” is in the insightful, complex, thought-provoking branch of the Children’s Literature World, her sense of humor was so surprisingly wonderful in this book that it left us smiling long after we finished shaking our heads in disbelief at the Willoughby parents (un)timely demise near the end. No one in the past or present world of books seemed safe from the narrator’s sarcastic wit, and we loved it—but let us note that Lowry owes a profound debt to Roald Dahl. If he hadn’t been so insanely clever—and perhaps plain insane—she not only would have missed out on a few jokes but would have left us with our mouths gaping open at her irreverent humor. After all, we’ve seen squished aunts, devoured parents, malevolent toddlers, and unbalanced candy-makers…so we can put up with a little more lunacy now.

Literary Quality: A+ (It’s Lois Lowry—what did you expect?)
Plot: A
Voice: A+
Originality: A
Descriptive Ability: A-
Humor: A (We wanted so badly to give it an A+…but there was this one lame joke… Oh, why did you do it, Dear Author? Considering how short the book is, it is simply unforgivable to use more than one page to lead up to a joke about NOT naming a candy bar Baby Ruth.)Illustrations: A- (Despite the proviso on the cover they were not ignominious, but added to the spirit and interest of the story)
Believability of Characters: A (For a farcical work, that is; everyone was developed well and the emotional honesty of the main characters—though not always the secondary ones—was absolutely top-notch)
Believability of Situations: A (See above)
Overall Reading Enjoyment: A+

Possibly objectionable topics*: Neglectful parents; Parents abandoning their children; Children planning their parents’ death; Unhappy marriages.
As a warning: anyone without a developed sense of sarcasm should be carefully monitored during the reading of this product.

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