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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reporter's Review: Acting Out

Atheneum; 2008

This, by necessity, is a different sort of review. Acting Out is a compilation of six one-act plays by six Newbery medalists: Avi, Susan Cooper, Sharon Creech, Patricia MacLachlan, Katherine Paterson, and Richard Peck. Plays, for one thing, cannot be critiqued as books can be; and for another thing, it would take way too long to critique each play individually.
We’ve given an overall grade to each playwright, based on 4 factors: plot, character, dialogue, and one more… When the book’s editor spoke with the authors, he gave them one criterion: each other must pick one word, and each author must use all six words in his or her play. Our final grade is based upon how well each playwright completed this task…after all, if that’s their gimmick, they should be able to stand the consequences… The words were: dollop, hoodwink, Justin, knuckleball, panhandle, and raven.

Avi: “Not Seeing is Believing”
Plot: C- (Bo-ring…can’t imagine kids wanting to act it)
Character: C
Dialogue: B (Kind of trite, but there were funny bits)
Word Usage: B

Susan Cooper: “The Dollop”
Plot: B
Character: A
Dialogue: B (It would have been better if it weren’t for the talking rock…)
Word Usage: C (A rock that’s named, and repeats, “Dollop”? Seriously…)

Sharon Creech: “The Raven”
Plot: A (It’s pretty funny, kids would like the kooky twists)
Character: A
Dialogue: A-
Word Usage: B- (Some were good, but others…)

Patricia MacLachlan: “The Bad Room”
Plot: D (we saw a popular movie with the same plot two years ago…we’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she never saw it and didn’t purposely plagiarize…but either way, it wasn’t all that creative)
Character: A-
Dialogue: B-
Word Usage: C- (Inserting the words as random vocabulary words was just too predictable…and came across as desperate.)

Katherine Paterson: “The Billionaire and the Bird”
Plot: B- (It was well executed, but she did take it direct from Hans Christian Anderson)
Character: A
Dialogue: A-
Word Usage: A (We especially liked her use of “panhandle”…read it to find out)

Richard Peck: “Effigy in the Outhouse”
Plot: A (Very original and interesting)
Character: A
Dialogue: B (The play format may have been a little stumbling block, because sometimes the dialogue did not allow the story to flow as smoothly as Peck’s stories do)
Word Usage: B+

Possibly objectionable topics* in all six plays: none.

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