Student Snippets A Window Into The Daily Life & Thoughts of SLIS Students

Reviewing Reviews

This week we’ve been focusing on book reviews.  Book reviews are just one part of the collection development process, but they are very important.  Established journals like School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher’s Weekly write reviews of upcoming books and librarians frequently use them to figure out what books to buy for the library.  Reviews are surprisingly complex because they must pack a lot of information, including details about the most important plot points, analysis of the text and illustrations (if there are any), and a firm recommendation decision, in 250 words or less.  This is hard to do!

Our assignment for this week was to choose a book and write a review of it.  Then, we had to find three other journal reviews of the same book.  Lastly, we had to analyze, compare, and contrast them all.  It was difficult but enlightening.  The book I chose to review was Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd.  It’s a graphic novel about a girl named Maggie who only realizes she has a severe allergy to animals after adopting a dog.  She unfortunately has to return the dog, and, disappointed, she begins a quest to find the perfect pet that will not cause her to have an allergic reaction.  It’s a sweet, surprisingly emotional book, and I would highly recommend it!  It was incredibly interesting to compare all the reviews because each of them was so different.  They all had the same basic plot summary, but one review was extremely wordy, while another was clear and concise.  Another review focused on the subplots rather than the main plot.  One review described the illustrations and their format, while the other two barely mentioned the illustrations.  It was fascinating to pick out all the little differences, and to see what each reviewer decided to focus on.  It’s very hard to distill the plot points down to a few sentences.  I struggled with how much to include, and what to include.  Our class readings shed some light on what exactly to include and what not to include, but still, I had to leave out a lot.  I had to focus on what was absolutely necessary for people to know, which is different than what I wanted them to know.  So, while this assignment was difficult, it gave me a real appreciation for book reviews and how much time and effort it takes to write them.