We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
plot
voice
originality
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.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Reporter's Review: Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork


Overall Grade: A+

Arthur Levine, March 2009


When 17-year-old Marcelo is offered the opportunity to work at his father’s law firm for the summer, he isn’t thrilled. In fact, he’s terrified. He has a mild, undiagnosable condition similar to Asperger’s or Autism, and he wants to spend his summer taking care of ponies at his school for special needs children. The real world, as his father presents it, is the last place he wants to be.
As his summer job progresses, it would seem as if his fear was justified; Jasmine, his coworker in the mail room, didn’t want him there; a young intern named Wendell bullies him; he learns things about his father that he never wanted to know. The real world, in short, pushes in on his former peace from all angles.
Eventually he and Jasmine become friends—only to have Wendell try to take advantage of that friendship by pressuring Marcelo to help him “get” Jasmine for his selfish purposes. And when Marcelo finds a picture of a girl severely injured by the product of one of his father’s clients, his job gets more and more confusing. Should he help Jasmine? Or stay on Wendell’s good side? Should he help the hurt girl? Or should he stay true to his father?
Eventually Marcelo, so innocent in his former life, learns the hard truth of the real world: the choice between good and evil isn’t always black and white. It can mean the choice between evil—and personal sacrifice.

Marcelo in the Real World was the most beautiful book we’ve read this year, for many reasons—the foremost of which is Marcelo himself. Initially he is happy and innocent, but as the book progresses, he loses his innocence for something more important: wisdom. And the wisdom he conveys to the reader is something you will carry with you for a long time.
Though we usually reserve the “possibly objectionable topics” for the end, it’s important to mention here that this book is very intense, and not for the immature or overly innocent reader. There’s a hefty amount of crude language and material—and since Marcelo with his condition filters everything through his very literal mind, there’s no glossing over the harsh stuff. Additionally, a large facet of the plot deals with sexuality and Marcelo’s coming to understand it. The conclusions he reaches are profound and insightful, but parents and teachers may wish to read the book first before recommending it to a younger teen. In fact, they should just read the book first because they’ll love it. And because there’s no adult who won’t benefit from the lessons Marcelo learns and teaches in a real, but beautiful, way.

Literary Quality: A
Plot: A+
Voice: A+
Originality: A+
Descriptive Ability: A
Humor: A
Illustrations: n/a
Believability of Characters: A
Believability of Situations: A
Overall Reading Enjoyment: A+

Possibly objectionable topics*: sexuality, crude language, serious injury

1 comment:

robin_titan said...

I absolutely LOVED this one!! :)