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.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Reporter's Review: The Summer of Moonlight Secrets, by Danette Haworth

Walker Books, to be released June 2010
Overall Grade: A-/A

Allie Jo fears that summer with her best friend away is going to be miserable—but she didn't expect that helping her parents work at the Meriwether Hotel in Hope Springs, Florida, would bring her a few new friends: a sweet girl named Sophie, a skateboard-loving boy named Chase, and a beautiful girl named Tara with a mysterious penchant for moonlit swims...and maybe that's not the only mystery surrounding her...
There's something about a big, old house, a bunch of kids, and a mystery that made the perfect ingredients for a kids' book. There's a long history of books that fit into this sub-genre: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Children of the Green Knowe; now, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets. Danette Haworth created a cast of lovable, believable characters, and put them in an absolutely incredible setting. The Meriwether is bursting with secret passages, hidden rooms—it's the perfect place to hide a secret, so it isn't too surprising that secrets abound. These secrets, and the characters themselves, move the plot forward to an exciting, touching climax.
My critique of the book would be that certain plot elements (Chase's mom and Chase's relationship with Sophie, in particular) are very built up in the beginning, to be left rather vague by the end. They serve well as plot-propellers, but didn't tie up into a perfectly satisfying ending. Also, in terms of pacing, once the danger arrives at the book's climax, everything is resolved a little too quickly for my taste. I felt that if the danger had presented itself sooner or lasted longer, the tension and pacing would have been perfect.
Altogether, The Summer of Moonlight Secrets is an enchanting story for middle grade readers, and, who knows? It might be at the start of a new fantasy trend—you'll have to read to find out what.

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

Possibly objectionable topics*: broken family, kidnapping

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