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, May 6, 2009

Special Topic: “Yolenisms,” she said with a sigh, “Yolenisms.”

What is a Yolenism, you ask?
Since time immemorial, authors have been plagued with the near-impossible task of toeing the line between true drama and melodrama. To put it simply: Not enough drama = boring. Too much = sap.
Perhaps the most difficult place in a book to create and maintain drama is the dreaded chapter ending, extended to the even more dreaded book ending. Those last few lines before “THE END”—they have to be meaningful, send shivers down the reader’s spine, leave us sighing with satisfaction at the perfect conclusion.
Unfortunately, when faced with this hurdle, even some of the most-respected authors have fallen into a trap: the repeated phrase trap, which simulates the feeling of drama without actually creating any. For example: “Can you end this chapter dramatically, author?” “I can try,” she said, gritting her teeth with determination. “I can try.”
If you pay attention, you’ll be surprised how often you see this pattern emerging in books and movies—as mentioned, pay close attention to the end of dramatic scenes. And you’ll be more surprised by how little you see it in real life. Like, probably, never. (Unless you count those English professors who go around in patched tweed jackets as real life…you might hear it from them…)
Calling the repeated-phrase-trap a Yolenism is a little nod to a very well-known author who is herself susceptible to this pitfall…her early books, in particular, are full of examples and will provide a nice smile on a rainy day if you go looking for them. It’s somehow encouraging that someone that famous and prolific can still make mistakes—so take heart, my friend.
Take heart.

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