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, May 1, 2009

Reporter's Review: Peace, Locomotion, by Jacqueline Woodson

Overall Grade: B
Putnam, 2009

Lonnie Collins Motion (a.k.a. Locomotion) lives in a foster home with a kind woman named Miss Edna and her older son Rodney—they wait anxiously for news of the other son, Jenkins, who is away fighting in Iraq. Locomotion writes daily to his little sister Lili in her own foster home, telling her of his longing for Peace and of the difficulties at his home when Jenkins returns depressed, panicky, and missing one leg.
Being unfamiliar with the first book about Locomotion puts us at a disadvantage to review this one—but reviewing it as a literary whole on its own, it wasn’t particularly impressive. So many wonderful things have been said about Ms. Woodson’s writing that the plot, style, and overall character development in this book were disappointing. It was okay, mind you, just not the stunning piece of literature we expected. The plot was very predictable and often borderline unbelievable and it was hard to picture the main character as a real twelve-year-old boy.
Finally, it was bothersome to see the one-sided view the author presented of the war. While war is certainly always an evil, it hardly seems fair to use such didactic phrases as “nobody should be over there fighting,” or, “it wasn’t a good war…we didn’t need to be in it but we were” without presenting any alternate viewpoint. Really, there’s no such thing as a good war, is there? And no one wants to see people get hurt and die in battle. But many Americans, many soldiers especially, believe that we do “need to be in it” and are fighting for that conviction to get them through the horrors of their daily life. To completely overlook this or any alternate point of view seemed unbalanced and read almost as propaganda, even to someone who generally agrees with the author’s opinion.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: mild language, injury of secondary character in a war

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