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.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reporter's Review: Forest Born (Book 4 in the Books of Bayern), by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury; September, 2009
Overall Grade: A+

Rin has had a happy childhood in the Forest of Bayern. But as she grows older, she realizes that she doesn’t know who she is, what she is supposed to be--or if she even likes what she might become. To discover herself, she leaves the forest, her beloved trees and even more beloved family, to become a handmaid to Isi, her brother Razo’s friend--who also happens to be the Queen of Bayern. War has only just ended, but a new, mysterious threat faces the monarchs. Rin joins Isi, Enna, and Dasha (the three mysterious “fire sisters” who can speak the languages of wind, fire, and water) on a mission to save Bayern and the queen’s own son. Rin soon realizes that in order to be truly helpful, she must find her own self (and maybe her own language) along the way.
Those of you who regularly follow this blog (or just look at my lists) already know that Shannon Hale is, in my opinion, one of the best contemporary authors, so you’ll know it means a lot when I say that Forest Born is one of my favorites of her books, and that Rin is my favorite character. Upon beginning the book, I felt a little disappointed with Rin, feeling that her character wasn’t as well developed or interesting as Bayern’s other heroines--but then I was knocked over with Shannon Hale’s ability to use a seeming flaw as a crucial element to the plot. I hate spoilers, so I won’t give anything away…but Rin’s struggles and victories make her arguably the strongest Hale character yet. For those of you who follow Shannon Hale’s work religiously, I felt that Forest Born’s plot was not as heart-stopping as Enna Burning’s or as well-paced as Princess Academy’s, and that the humor was not quite up to the level of River Secrets. (But they’re still very good.) On the other hand, her descriptions and metaphors are better than ever, and…the characters! Every book has its own particular strength and Forest Born’s is the characters. Rin is inspirational, and you’ll be pleased to see the old cast of friends come back into play.
Readers will love Forest Born, but I should add that writers could use it as a lesson in creating a story that can simultaneously follow a protagonist’s growth, learning and development as well as an intriguing action plot. These elements, to me, are what made Forest Born one of the most enjoyable stories I’ve read this year.

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*: war; violence

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