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: When the Whistle Blows, by Fran Cannon Slayton

Philomel; June 2009
Overall Grade: A+

Growing up in the 1940’s railroad town of Rowlesburg, West Virginia, Jimmy Cannon just wants to grow up and work on the steam engines like his family has for generations. Oh, and keep his no-nonsense father from finding out about his antics. And stick up for his friends. And win the championship football game for his high school. And grow up to become a man…maybe more like his father than he would have ever guessed.
When the Whistle Blows is an example of an excellently-written story teamed with a tangible, charming setting, a cast of believable, lovable characters and a touching plot. I could go on for a long time about everything I love about this novel, but I’ll limit myself to only a few: 1) Voice. Fran Cannon Slayton uses the first person voice of her narrator with incredible skill, adroitly expressing setting and time period not so much by what is said as by how it is said…and that also serves to make this an excellent read-aloud. 2) Style. Each chapter is presented vignette-style, presenting several consecutive All Hallows’ Eves, each with its own story…which leads to 3) Plot. Although each chapter is a vignette, each perfectly advances the overall plot, which is beautifully wrapped-up in the final chapter, while still leaving the reader with plenty to reflect upon.
Very highly recommended.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: small amounts of violence; death

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