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 10, 2009

Reporter's Review: Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate, by Donna St. Cyr

CBAY Books, August 2009
Overall Grade: B+/A-

Robert Montasio didn’t have the most normal of lives; his father, after all had disappeared a few years ago with no warning or explanation…and his little sister Janine had to be more annoying than the average. But nothing could have prepared him for the day when she would drink a strange elixir and shrink to bug-size. In order to get her back to normal, Robert discovers he must take his place in an age-old society: The Cheese Syndicate, of which his father was a member and for whose mission he disappeared. Robert must complete the mission and find an ancient, magical cheese if he ever wants to see his dad and a normal-sized Janine again.
Secrets of the Cheese Syndicate has a lot going for it: fast-paced action, very believable relationships, good humor which makes the story remarkably readable. Fans of Percy Jackson will doubtless enjoy the references to mythology and the non-stop action plot, though it could be argued (of both books, it must be admitted) that the amount of action at times clouds the character development the reader hopes for with such a funny, likeable protagonist. Additionally, some of the magical elements seemed to be too random, weakening the overall effect of the plot. I was never sure, for example, exactly why the magical cheeses were so important to the world as to necessitate a secret society for their protection. Or why a magical dog could appear out of the blue three times to save Robert—but only three times, as he failed to mention until his last visit. But as the book ended with the perfect set-up for a sequel, perhaps these are questions Donna St. Cyr is planning on giving us answers to later. She certainly has the makings of a good storyteller; as this is her first published work, it can only be assumed that her later novels (like the best cheeses, as she would say) will get better and better with age.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: mild violence

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