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.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Reporter's Review: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, by Jeanne Birdsall

Overall Grade: A-
Knopf; 2008

There is a character mentioned in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street who claims to have been all sorts of people in her past lives: Mary Queen of Scots, Mary Magdalene…lots of Mary’s. If we believed in reincarnation, we’d have a list of people Jeanne Birdsall might have been in a past life: L. M. Montgomery, Eleanor Estes, Elizabeth Enright, Hilda Van Stockum. Her book had an old-fashioned (in a good way) charm that permeated the entire story and made it altogether lovable despite a somewhat predictable plot and a horrible dust jacket—but the latter wasn’t Ms. Birdsall’s fault, poor woman. The characters’ development was believable and meaningful, and you can’t help but love them all. Their problems are those of an innocent lot of girls, without so many problems found in most contemporary novels—which was nice to find. Having had pretty innocent childhoods ourselves, it was refreshing to see a modern children’s book that actually acknowledged such childhoods as normal. A quote from the aforementioned L. M. Montgomery comes to mind: “Don’t be led away by those yowls about realism. Remember—pine woods are just as real as pigsties—and a darn sight pleasanter to be in.” The Penderwicks, etc was a very pleasant book to find oneself immersed in—it will be on our shelf years from now for our children to enjoy—with our hearty recommendation. Not to sound hackneyed, but just make sure not to judge this book by its cover!

Literary Quality: A
Plot: B+
Voice: A+
Originality: B
Descriptive Ability: A
Humor: A
Illustrations: F (We hate to do it, but the dust jacket was possibly the worst we have ever seen on a children’s book. It looks like someone not artistically-inclined printed it out from Microsoft Publisher.)
Believability of Characters: A (This has emotional honesty at its best)
Believability of Situations: A+
Overall Reading Enjoyment: A+

Possibly objectionable topics*: Death of a parent

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