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.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reporter's Review: Distant Waves; a Novel of the Titanic, by Suzanne Weyn

Scholastic, 2009
Overall Grade: A

Jane Taylor can remember the day, when she was only four, that her life changed: her medium mother seemingly contacted a spirit “from beyond”; her family was caught in a freak earthquake caused by the odd and genius scientist Nikola Tesla; and her mother decides to move her family of five daughters to the little town of Spirit Vale, New York, inhabited entirely by those hoping to make their living through the new fad of spiritualism. For the next twelve years, Jane’s life is stuck in this surreal setting, until she runs away with her older sister Mimi to interview the great Tesla for a journalism contest. The trip is life-altering, to say the least: Jane meets her hero,Tesla; she falls in love with his handsome assistant; and Mimi runs away to be the companion of Ninette Aubart, the beautiful and wealthy mistress of Benjamin Guggenheim, wealthy business magnate. Once introduced into this new world, the Taylor sisters follow on a path that leads their whole family, and many of those they love, to face their lives, and possible death, on the maiden voyage of the Titanic.
Distant Waves is a very enjoyable read, skillfully blending elements of historical fiction, romance and fantasy almost seamlessly. Suzanne Weyn did a laudable job connecting the reader to the various characters and their dilemmas; the character changes were always tied so closely to the ever-moving plot that it was impossible to lose interest in their lives for even a second. Only on reflection after finishing did we realize that a few situations and character decisions were fairly unbelievable—the story is so engrossing that they won’t be bothersome to any but the most analytical and critical (which, we fully admit, we probably are). Especially considering how many Titanic stories are out there, this novel was refreshing and original—and surprisingly uplifting—so don’t be afraid to pick this up even if you, like us, dread the tragic ending.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: many attempts (mostly fake but a couple real) to contact the dead through “spiritualism”; a couple in an adulterous relationship

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