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, September 17, 2009

Reporter's Review: Prophecy of the Sisters, by Michelle Zink

Little, Brown; August 2009
Overall Grade: B+

There are so many things in her life that Lia can’t explain: the unaccountable, unexpected deaths of both her parents, her twin sister Alice’s distance and strange behavior, a mysterious scar-like mark that appears on her own wrist, the discovery that her two new friends bear similar marks. When she discovers her role in an ancient prophecy, a prophecy that for thousands of years has turned sisters against each other in an age-old battle against evil, she finds some answers…but the questions of what she must do become more and more confusing.
Prophecy of the Sisters contains arguably some of the best writing I’ve encountered this year. Michelle Zink has created a unique dilemma and unique characters to face it; I loved the way she gave the protagonist a very complex personality and allowed her the opportunity to use her free will to fight what seems to be her fate. However, I found the plot somewhat bothersome. While the events were dramatic and story-worthy, I thought the overall situation was lacking an element crucial to the kind of epic-style fantasy the story implies. Namely, while the evil power is very clear in this story, there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent good power. Particularly in a story set in our own world, against the backdrop of real world religions, this lack of good was disorienting. It brought up many unanswered questions: Who made the prophecy in the first place? Who or what are the good characters working for? If it is simply a lack of evil, it diminishes the story’s significance and makes a happy outcome seem less complete.
This issue is complex enough that I believe I shall have to address it further in a “special topic” handling epic fantasy plot in general; for now, let’s hope that Ms Zink has plans to answer these questions in Prophecy’s sequel and bring the story to a satisfying end.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: demons, violence, murder, suicide, spellcasting, contact with the dead through a spiritualist, indication of plurality of gods

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