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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reporter's Review: Crows and Cards, by Joseph Helgerson

Houghton Mifflin; 2009
Overall Grade: A

Finding a trade to learn is a little difficult for Zeb Crabtree. The thought of splinters makes him queasy. Animal hair makes him sneeze. Fires are just plain scary. Having thus ruled out the occupations of cooper, livery boy, and blacksmith, Zeb’s father decides to apprentice him to a tanner and ships Zeb off on a riverboat to St. Louis. And Zeb…he does what any 1840’s boy in his position would: runs off to apprentice to a riverboat gambler, Chilly Larpenteur by name.
Chilly’s no average scalliwag, Zeb finds--he teaches the boy the noble aspects of gambling--it’s really just helping rich folks share their wealth--and Chilly even generously offers a portion of his own winnings to a woman collecting for the poor orphans. But when Zeb is asked to help Chilly cheat, his doubts are raised… and when he finds out Chilly’s generosity was a lie, he gets downright feisty. In order to get himself out of his mess (and help a beautiful Indian princess and understandably malcontent slave along the way), Zeb must face his greatest fear…
And splinters are only the start of it.
Crows and Cards is an example of historical fiction at its best. This is historical fiction that boys will love, and that no one will want to put down; Joseph Helgerson combines an intriguing story with boisterous humor, a lovable protagonist and larger-than-life crooks, and a marvelous setting. Think Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer without the hard-to-read dialect… Sam Clemens himself would have hooted along with the rest of us.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: gambling, some violence, communication with a spirit.

Note: Great book for boys!

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