Jackie Briggs Martin and I have a book review column in the local newspaper. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been doing it for NINE years already! We take turns every other month…and we’ve sort of fallen into a pattern where she reviews picture books and I review middle grade and YA novels. We only review books we think are absolutely wonderful…the whole point of the column is to lead people to great children’s books. There are plenty of other review opportunities for a children’s book to get slammed. If your book gets mentioned in one of our columns, you know it’s going to be a GOOD review.
I just turned my column in this morning. I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately, so I had a lot to choose from. I reviewed Nancy Garden’s, End Game; Dana Reinhardt’s, Brief Chapter in my Impossible Life; Sarah Dessen’s, Just Listen; Amy Goldman Koss’s, Poison Ivy; and Dan Gutman’s, The Homework Machine. I feel good that I got five in this time (sometimes I’m really pushing the limit with word count). I used to review just one or two books per column. What was nice about that was I could take a little more time to say what was wonderful about each book. But I decided a few years ago that when I’m only doing this every other month, it’s nice to mention as many books as I possibly can. So I really only have room to give a brief summary of the book, say something wonderful about it, and tell readers who it’s aimed at. My reviews are not great literature by any stretch of the imagination (they’re not as beautifully written as Jackie’s, for example), but hopefully they get people interested in kids books. And at least the column is still going. Apparently the Des Moines newspaper has done away with their children’s book review column. (See the April 7 entry at http://kelcrocker.livejournal.com/)