Reviewing Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Authored by: Michael Cart

Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature

Print publication date:  October  2010
Online publication date:  April  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415965057
eBook ISBN: 9780203843543
Adobe ISBN: 9781136913570

10.4324/9780203843543.ch33

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Abstract

From Mrs. Trimmer’s 19-century Guardian of Education to the brave new online world of blogs and social networking sites, Michael Cart charts the history and evolution of reviewing books for young readers. Himself a veteran of 40 years of reviewing, Cart focuses on such considerations as the journalistic and cultural contexts of reviewing, the differences between reviews and literary criticism, the various audiences for reviews and how these affect their tone and content, and longstanding criticisms of reviews themselves from both authors and professional librarians. As befits this consummate educator, Cart concludes with practical advice—and sample reviews—for would-be reviewers of books for young readers.

Though reviews of children’s and young adult books typically contain some elements of critical evaluation, they are nevertheless essentially works of journalism, timely reports of the publication of new books. In announcing such publishing events, their function—as Virginia Woolf (1939) famously observed—is “partly to sort current literature; partly to advertise the author; partly to inform the public” (p. 10). And—it must be added—their purpose is to inform that same “public” of the quality of the book, thereby assisting its members in deciding whether or not to purchase or read it. Indeed, this remains the fundamental purpose of contemporary book reviews, whether they are targeted at collection-developing librarians or at parents in search of gifts for children (who are probably hoping for a video game, instead).

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