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, July 3, 2009

Reporter's Review: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, by Jacqueline Kelly

Henry Holt; May, 2009
Overall Grade: A-

As the only girl stuck in the middle of six brothers, Calpurnia (Callie Vee) Tate has to fend for herself—and in turn-of-the-century Texas, this means fighting for her right to be a girl with interests other than knitting and sewing and learning a new dish to cook every week…in particular, interests in the budding field of naturalism, in which Callie turns to her reclusive grandfather for help and mentorship. Through the course of several months she develops an unexpected friendship with the old man, who teaches her, though word and example, that she can be whatever she dreams of becoming.
With The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, we’ve never been so grateful for our grading system, which allows the individualization of various elements: the pacing and slow, but steady character development in Jacqueline Kelly’s story was exemplary, very fine writing; the sense of place and time was excellent; the reading enjoyment was unflagging. It is hard to say, however, whether the average (or even above-average) middle grade reader would be able to appreciate the extremely subtle plot. As far as plots go, this one was only average: whole chapters pass with no development—one chapter is entirely devoted to Callie and her family’s musical taste, another entirely to the history of their maid. The overall story arch is very small. It should be kept in mind, however, that this is Ms Kelly’s first novel—if she can bring the same flow and character and language to her future stories while devising more clever or complicated plots, her work will certainly be among the best of this time.

Literary Quality: A
Plot: C
Voice: A+
Originality: A
Descriptive Ability: A+
Humor: A
Illustrations: n/a (Though praise should be given to the gorgeous dust jacket)
Believability of Characters: A-
Believability of Situations: A
Overall Reading Enjoyment: A

Possibly objectionable topics*: mild language, veiled Victorian references to sex

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