You know those little sayings that your mother said to you your entire childhood?
The one I am often stuck with is, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all”. Now I know my mother did not “invent” this saying and it is one that most children have drilled into their heads from a young age, but in regards to my blogging life, it is one that comes up again and again. I have a really hard time reviewing books that I’ve read, but don’t have anything very nice to say. It is as if the author is my personal friend and I’m telling them their baby is ugly. It just doesn’t feel right!
Here are some examples of things I often think, but find almost impossible to put down in published word:
Don’t buy it, check it out from the library.
Don’t bother reading it-you’ll be disappointed.
Someone’s editor was not doing a good job.
Wow! Good thing they’ve won the Newbery in the past or they wouldn’t have gotten past the interns.
I will share two recent examples at the risk of bringing the authors’ wrath upon my head. Gary Paulsen’s Mudshark and Sharon Creech’s Unfinished Angel.
I have devoured everything written by both these authors. Any time I see that they have a new book being released, it is like my birthday and Christmas rolled up into one. I’m that excited! Plunking down the cost the hardcover book is not an issue when it comes to these authors. Delayed gratification and books is not my strong suit.
Creech’s Unfinished Angel is a nice story. Nice is one of those words teachers use on report cards when they don’t want to sound too negative. It doe
sn’t convey much meaning.
I LOVE Sharon Creech. I’ve heard her present multiple times (although I was a little disappointed at last year’s NCTE’s talk), Walk Two Moons is one my all-time favorite books that I read over and over, Granny Torrelli Makes Soup is the best read aloud for middle grade students and I don’t think it can get any better that Love That Dog. With that said, I was a little disappointed in Unfinished Angel. It’s not a bad story, but it is as if the great Italian-accented English from Granny Torrelli and the boarding school/overseas from Bloomability is combined into a not totally tied together story. I think you could do some fun things with it as a read-aloud, but it falls into the “Check it out from the library” category for me.