The Kirkus Review began in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus. Kirkus arranged to receive advanced galley proofs of books for review. She read each book and wrote brief, critical evaluation of their literary merit and probable popular appeal. Today Kirkus Review is still one of the most popular reviewers of books and other media. According to its’ website, “Today, Kirkus reviews more than 7,000 books published by traditional houses and more than 3,000 self-published books every year. The magazine is published on the 1st and 15th of every month, and because of the scope of our coverage, our authoritative voice and the timeliness of our reviews, Kirkus Reviews is revered by many as the first indicator of a book’s potential.
The Kirkus Review I found to be easy to use and divided into categories based on genre and age which makes searching for items related to children ages 0-4 easy. Each of the reviews includes a picture of the book, author, illustrator and appropriate age range. One review site I examined, The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books had very few pictures. There many books that have the same title therefore, having a picture to reference is very helpful. Kirkus also includes the publication date, publisher, ISBN number and date of review at the end of each review in a neat and easy to understand format. Again unlike The Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books whose reviewed item information was nearly non-existent. In most cases it was not present. Below is a sample of the item information as presented by Kirkus Review.
Another book review publication I examined was The Horn Book. The Horn Book was founded in 1924 by Bertha Mahoney to showcase the best in children’s literature. According to The Horn Book website, “More than eighty years later, we are still following her lead. The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide are the most distinguished journals in the field of children’s and young adult literature and the core of our company.We also produce The Horn Book Guide Online, a fully searchable database of more than 80,000 reviews, and Notes from the Horn Book, our monthly e-newsletter for parents.”
The Horn Book reviews are generally shorter in length than the previous mentioned Kirkus Review and The Bulletin. However, the book information such as publisher, ISBN, etc. placed immediately at the beginning of the review which is nice in that it is easy to find but I do not care for the placement. It tends to run into the review itself. The Horn Book’s online reviews are not divided into categories by age. In their review section I had to scroll down through the books being reviewed to find one that pertained to our target age. Dividing reviews by genre and age I think is easier and more appealing for users. Below is an example of a review from The Horn Book showing the book information immediately at the beginning of the review in no way set apart from the review in an eye pleasing manner.
Review of My First Day
My First Day
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page; illus. by Steve Jenkins
Preschool, Primary Houghton 32 pp.
1/13 978-0-547-73851-2 $16.99
“What did you do on your first day — the day you were born? Probably not much” begins this book about baby animals’ first hours of life. Jenkins and Page’s simple text effectively highlights the differing degrees of independence of a variety of species’ young. Brief descriptions touch on the animals’ range of mobility (some can walk or swim, others must be toted about), sustenance (mothers’ milk versus solid food), and the ways in which parents use patterns, sounds, and scents to recognize their young. “On my first day, my mother held me close so I wouldn’t drift out to sea,” says a sea otter. “I dozed on her belly while she floated in the waves.” “On my first day, I trotted along with my mother,” boasts a young blue wildebeest. “My herd was on the move, and I had to keep up!” Jenkins’s torn- and cut-paper collage illustrations employ rounded edges and fuzzy textures to maximize the adorableness of the newborns as they take their first looks, steps, or leaps. End pages provide additional facts about the adult and baby creatures.
School Library Journal is another popular resource when expanding your personal book collection or public or school library collection. School Library journal was founded in 1954 with the title Junior Libraries in the pages of its parent publication Library Journal. Today, “School Library Journal, is the leading print magazine, and now SLJ.com serving librarians who work with young people in schools and public libraries. The two resources give librarians up-to-date information needed to integrate libraries into the school curriculum, become leaders in the areas of technology, reading, and information literacy, and create high-quality collections for children and young adults
School Library Journal (SLJ) serves librarians who work with students in school and public libraries, reaching an audience of more than 100,000. The world’s largest and most authoritative reviewer of children’s and young adult content—principally books, but also including audio, video, and the Web—the magazine and its Web site provide 38,000 subscribers with information indispensable in making purchasing decisions. In addition to its reviews, SLJ’s news, features, columns, and departments deliver the perspective, resources, and leadership tools necessary for its readers to become indispensable players in their schools and libraries.”
Using the School Library Journal (SLJ) reviews is easy. There reviews are broken down into categories by age. I would like it broken down into smaller age groups as it would make our target age easier to find. The reviews include a picture of the book being reviewed as well as the publisher, author, and ISBN denoted after a red star just before the review. While I still prefer the Kirkus Review presentation of information the SLJ does highlight the information by using the red start to flag the post. The reviews are generally the same length as the Horn Book reviews and I would use either as a source when looking for book recommendations. Below is an example of a review from the SLJ site.
WRIGHT, Joanna. Bunnies on Ice. illus. by author. 32p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. 2013. RTE $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59643-404-2. LC 2012001187.
PreS-Gr 1–This budding champion (a white snow bunny) loves to ice skate so much that she patiently waits for perfect conditions. When the other bunnies are doing summer things, she is planning what she will do when the snow falls. She proceeds to wait through the fall as she dresses her scarecrow with a pair of skates. Then when the snow arrives and the conditions seem right, she heads for the ice with her family as her support team. She boasts about all the maneuvers she hasn’t quite perfected yet, all while proclaiming her champion status. After a rigorous workout of not-so-perfect figure eights and leaps, she rewards herself with après skate indulgences, including hot chocolate, toasted marshmallows, and a warm bath. After her busy day, this little bunny goes to bed, ready to try again tomorrow. Wright has created a charming and determined character. The youngster’s fortitude and enthusiasm are admirable even if she isn’t as accomplished as she makes out to be. The dark-outlined illustrations are painted in soft hues. This sweet story about a bunny who is determined to follow her dream is a great addition.–Diane Antezzo, Ridgefield Library, CT
The final book review source I examined was Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews. This source is much smaller than the others I examined but I found it to be very charming and easy to use. I would recommend Through the Looking Glass over The Bulletin not only for its appealing website but also its presentation of information. Through the Looking Glass was started in October 2003 by Marya Jansen-Gruber. According to their website, “Our goal is to provide parents, teachers, and others with a tool to help them find truly exceptional books for the young people in their lives. We do not sell books, we just review them, and we only review the books we like, so our reviews are always positive ones. Over time TTLG has expanded this fundamental goal to include doing what we can to review books published by small houses, to publicize organizations who work for children, and to publicize the work of new authors and illustrators.”
Through the Looking Glass sorts their reviews by categories such as, Board Books, Pop-up Books, Wordless Books, Craft Books, And Other Novelty Titles, Picture Books and many others. I found the category sort to be easy to use and although the source is new compared to others such as SLJ and Kirkus Review the information is presented professionally and in an easy to use manner. The book being reviewed is pictured and its pertinent information is clearly stated above the review. The reviews I viewed were a little shorter in length than other sources but I enjoyed the website and its wealth of information and honest reviews. Below is a board book review from Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews.
Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews
A Ball for Daisy
Wordless Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Random House, 2011 ISBN: 978-0375858611Daisy the dog has a red ball that she loves very very much. She plays with it, and even snuggles it when she is napping on the sofa. One day Daisy and her owner go for a walk. Daisy’s owner carries Daisy’s beloved ball and then she gives it to Daisy to play with. All goes well until a brown dog decides to play with the ball too. To Daisy’s consternation the brown dog runs off with the ball and then, horror of horrors, the ball bursts. To say that Daisy is devastated is an understatement. Daisy cannot understand why her ball is not ball-like anymore. What has happened?In this delightful wordless book, Chris Raschka perfectly captures the love a little dog has for her ball. Readers will be able to easily understand all of the little dog’s moods, and appreciate how lost she is when her treasure is ruined. The wonderfully expressive illustrations in this title will charm readers of all ages.Review Written by Marya Jansen-GruberAfter looking at several children’s book review sources I plan to model my reviews after Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews and the School Library Journal. Both presented their materials in a clean concise manner and presented the book information at the beginning of the review yet not awkwardly placed into the review. I also will include a picture in all of my reviews because I think it so important and frankly I would not want to read a review without the picture to reference. Below are my first five reviews of books directed at children ages 0-4.SLEEP LIKE A TIGER
Author: Mary Logue
Illustrator: Pamela Zagarenski
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Peter Brown
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Jasper LOVES Carrots. Especially the ones from Crackenhopper Field. But one day Jasper feels like the carrots are following him. Is he imagining things? Mom and Dad thinks so. They have checked the shed and under the bed, “No Creepy Carrots”! This silly but darkly illustrated book will delight those picky 4yr old listeners who will be trying to convince their own parents that carrots are creepy! Definitely not a book that the little readers will like do to the scary faces on the carrots but the 3 and 4 yr old kids will understand the meaning of the story and the funny carrot twist!
Author: Laura Vaccaro Seeger
A Neal Porter Book Roaring Brook Press
Is your favorite color green? Even if it is not you will love this book! With its magical page cutouts and luscious oil paintings of green this book showcases the color green. Each page has a special way of tying into the rest and kids will love the thrill of finding out how one simply cutout of a blade of grass can turn into a work on the next page. This book is appropriate for ages 0-4 and is sure to please those who love the color green and its presence in our beautiful world.
ONE COOL FRIEND
Author: Toni Buzzeo
Pictures By: David Small
Dial Books for Young Readers an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Elliot is a curious child with no time for your typical childlike behavior. One day at the aquarium Elliot meets his new best friend and they go on quite the adventure. While telling a simple tale of friendship the author also provides the adult readers with penguin information and additional resources for further activities for their little penguin lovers. However I think when reading this book during storytime or bedtime it might be wise to remind our little listeners that penguins and ice rinks do not belong in their bedrooms! Simple pen and ink pictures in black and white with the occasional ice blue give this book a retro 1950’s feel yet tells a story that is timeless and sure to please even the littlest of penguin fans.
Author: Mac Barnett
Illustrator: Jon Klassen
Balzer + Bray An imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers
It is a dark and dreary winter and Annabelle sets out to add color to a lifeless world. She does it with the help of her never-ending supply of yarn and her little dog. But as usually the evil villain shows up and tries to steal Annabelle’s happiness. but true happiness as we all know is something no one can ever take away from you. This charming story would delight children age 0-4 and is easy for all to understand. Much like a true fairy tale this story has its heroine and dastardly villain and the heroine’s sidekick puppy. You can engage you readers with discussions about not stealing from others, seasons and how does Annabelle get all the yarn in her magic box? A purely wonderful updated fairly tale with just the right amount of vivid imagination.