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, March 18, 2010

Reporter's Review: The Last Summer of the Death Warriors, by Francisco X. Stork

Arthur A. Levine Books, March 2010
Overall Grade: A

At seventeen, Pancho has decided the last thing he needs to do with his life: kill the man he thinks responsible for the death of his sister. It's not so simple, though...first he has to figure out who exactly the man is, how to find him, and how to get past the annoying, aggravatingly happy D.Q., another teen boy with a mission of his own: live life to the fullest in his last months...before he dies of brain cancer. And...honestly...I can't do justice to the plot here. Throw in some conversations about life, death, faith, love. Mix up with heart-wrenching backgrounds, wise children, foolish adults, and sucking every drop of marrow from life.
As my little synopsis probably makes clear, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is one of those fathoms-deep, meaningful stories that you rarely come across in YA lit. It is also an extremely subtle story--almost too subtle for my taste (the ending didn't feel wrapped-up enough for me), yet I love the way it left me thinking after I finished it. I can guarantee that it will make you question the way you're living your life, embrace the beauty of every day, and appreciate things you never thought to notice. You will never forget Pancho and D.Q. or the friends they make on their journey--Francisco Stork is a master at character and relationship development, and these aspects of the story are truly what make it shine. Even every description, although technically all of them are extremely basic and simply worded, serves to develop character--and does so perfectly.
As a bit of a warning, this is a very difficult book to read...certainly not in actual pacing or readability, but simply because it delves into topics and a world that are hard to be in. This is not a story to be read casually, and it is certainly for mature readers who can handle its issues. Yet it is a beautiful book, and it is an important book.

Literary Quality: A-
Plot: B+
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*: Serious issues, such as death, sex, alcohol, drugs. Harsh language. A lot of all of the above.

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