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Children's books reviewed for grownups.


What qualifies me to recommend books for children?

I work at the public library providing service to adults, teens and children. The tax forms are over there. You need ID to sign on to one of the public Internet computers. Here is a book about penguins. I'm sorry, I haven't read Gangsta by K'wan, and I cannot tell you what it's about with any certainty, but by the cover, I assume it's about a young man... who is in a gang... who... uh, owns a car and I guess has a girlfriend.

I am an independent consultant for school libraries. I plan libraries in space and over time - I've got spreadsheets and everything. And when I pick out books for a library, I evaluate each and every title before selecting it for purchase. That means I read it. Ok or at least skim. But after buying thousands of K-8 books, I am now pretty encyclopedic on kids' nonfiction. Ask me anything.

I write reviews for at least one national publication. My reviews for them are devoid of swear words (I know, boo, right?) but they used the picture of me with the fresh, bloody tattoo on their contributor page - pretty ballsy for a publication with the word "Journal" in the title!

I have two sons who are the most consistently surprising creatures I have ever met.* They read to themselves, to each other, to me and to my husband, and we return the favor.

I started reviewing books online so that I could remember which ones were worth buying when my library budgets came in; so that I could remember which ones were worth recommending to the kids and parents who come into my libraries; and so that I could remember Oh, what was that one? with the penguin? and the tantrum?

I can be reached at the email address above. I welcome review copies of new books - fiction, nonfiction, picture books, middle grade and teen - but I tend only to post reviews of stuff I can recommend. Nobody comes over here to hear about mediocre books. You might also want to know that if it's science, science fiction, a graphic novel, a picture book, or if it's about children of color, I am more likely to get to it.

What else? I used to garden, but now I just write. I used to work in museums, but now I work in the library. I used to watch TV - oh god I miss TV - but we gave it up for the sake of the children, and now I have to wait 'til the library gets the new season of Dexter on DVD. I like science, and rock and roll, and you do NOT want to know about the grownup fiction I read. Filthy. I teach Circus Arts (hula hooping, slapstick, etc.) at the elementary school. I dye my hair pink. I am not fooling around, mister.

And to paraphrase Crash Davis, the last likeable character Kevin Costner ever played:

I believe in the word, the picture, the rhyme, the cover of a children's book,
the illustrated endpaper, nonfiction, illustrated poetry, I believe that the novels
of Susan Cooper are sheer, unadulterated genius. I believe more middle grade
chapter books should feature nonwhite main characters. I believe there ought
to be a constitutional amendment outlawing celebrity-penned picture books
and the unreliable narrator (I'm lying about that). I believe in the audio book,
teen romance fiction that is not about vampires, opening your presents
Christmas morning rather than Christmas Eve and I believe in reading for
pleasure to, with, and around children.

*Come to think of it, my friend Dan's ferret Sid was the most consistently surprising creature I ever met. Not in a good way, though.