We don't do stars...
We don't do thumbs...
We read children's books and grade them in 10 categories:
literary quality
plot
voice
originality
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.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Reporter's Review: Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce


Harper Collins (Walden Pond), January 2010 (U.S. date)
Overall Grade: A

Ever since he was a little kid, Liam wasn't little. By the time he turns twelve, he's way taller than his dad, let alone his classmates. He has to shave. Everyone mistakes him for an adult—and he hates it. Until...he's the only kid allowed to ride the new super ride at the amusement park...and adults treat him with respect...and he (almost) gets away with test-driving a Porsche. And he somehow cons his way into being the “parent chaperone” to the first four kids in space. Which is absolutely cosmic, as he would say—until the kids start acting like typical kids and break the ship. What they need is a dad to come rescue them—but Liam is the only dad they've got.
You come across a few books in your lifetime that really surprise you. You come across a few that make you laugh until you're crying. You come across a few that have such profound depth and meaning that when you finish them they settle into your gut so you'll always remember the way you felt reading them. You hardly ever come across one that embodies all these qualities; Cosmic is such a book. I finished it a week ago and held off writing the review so I didn't just gush meaninglessly (I did that to my family and friends). Now that I've stopped raving, here are my more organized thoughts:
To start with the negative (note the use of the singular), the structure was confusing. Liam begins telling his story to his parents from space, through recording himself on his phone—which makes for a very cool opening. But once we get to the point in the story where he began telling it, there is a disconnect. The time and circumstances have to be reestablished a few times, which can be disorienting. Unfortunately, it felt that a story which could more simply have been told in past tense after it was all over, began in the middle for the sake of a killer opening paragraph.
That said—deal with the confusion. Seriously. Because... we're on to the positives: brilliant voice, wonderful humor, the coolest tribute to Roald Dahl ever. (You'll have to figure it out yourselves.) If you like Science fiction, you'll be impressed by the author's attention to research and detail; if you don't, you'll still love Cosmic for the characters, the story, the subtlety with which a very important message is conveyed.
Ok, I'm going to go gush to my family some more now.

Literary Quality: B (for the aforementioned confusing structure—and that alone.)
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

1 comment:

Lenore said...

Sounds fun! I finding books with such an original voice :)