Posted by: kidsbooksreviews | May 12, 2008

A conundrum of sorts

Professional reviewers have a tough job.  I’m not sure I could do it.  I know I’d be torn between being nice, being honest, and the knowledge that not everyone will share my opinions or tastes.

I’ve tried, in these reviews, to avoid interjecting my own opinion of the book itself, and rather, opine solely on its instructional value.  This means that I’ve read a stack of books that I just haven’t gotten around to reviewing because I’m trying to remain objective, and I know I won’t be able to write anything about them right now without coming across like I’m gushing or trying to sell something.  Or both.  And if I come across a book that I feel might only be suited to certain tastes, I’ve tried to include that in my review.  Some examples include Black Storm Comin’ and The Willoughbys.

So what should I do with a book that I feel is horrible?  This is the conundrum I now face.  I could ignore it, but it’s a book that my colleagues, particularly those in Missouri (due to it being nominated for a Missouri-based book award), might have in their classrooms.  It’s the book that kids will take home and then not manage to finish, and will have shallow responses to in their in-depth response journals because frankly, the book in question lacks depth.  And oddly enough, Amazon’s reviewers have ranked it highly, but an informal poll of teachers and students who have also read the book have shared my own opinion, which not only has me feeling a bit validated, but also has me scratching my head:  Do I post a review that says, “Don’t read this book!”  and risk offending someone who thinks it’s The Best Book Ever?  Or do I extol its (very, very few) virtues and add a disclaimer that I didn’t personally care for it?  I don’t think I have enough readers now for it to matter, but I did notice the other day that some of my posts are in the top five links for searches for reviews of some of the books here (yay!) and I know eventually, traffic will increase.

If you’ve found this site in any way useful, please provide some feedback here.  I’m truly torn on what to do.  I don’t want to ignore the problem, and I hate to avoid reviewing a book just because I personally hated it.  Besides, that’s the lazy way out!

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Responses

  1. I can’t imagine that any of your reviews would come across as gushing. I’ve really appreciated the objective feel of your review. I look forward to discussing some of the books you’ve reviewed with my children. I don’t think you have to distance yourself from books that you really like or dislike. I would like to hear why you like or dislike the books.

    I don’t expect your taste to match mine or any of my kids’ exactly, and I’m sure I’ll disagree with you about some books. However, you’ve earned my trust as a reviewer. I know you won’t post some hysterical review claiming this is “the best book ever!” or “the worst book in history!”

    I would expect a book you didn’t like to be reviewed something like this:
    An explanation of themes, etc., similar to your other reviews.
    A brief note that you did not care for it, with specific reasons that you think others may agree.
    A mention of any glowing reviews from individuals you respect, or reasons others may enjoy it more than you did.

    Thank you for your efforts in these reviews.


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