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From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and…
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From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books

by Kathleen T. Horning

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This book contains some useful advice on what to consider when evaluating children's books, and a wealth of references to worthwhile children's books, but it was fairly dull.

Too much time, I felt, was spent on tangential issues, such as details of publication, what are endpapers, what is the difference between a printing and an edition, and so forth. While of course it is useful to know the right terms to use when discussing a book, and some insight into the publishing process can be helpful, ultimately this feels like it takes up a disproportionate amount of space in what is a fairly short book.

My other major criticism is that the wealth of references to children's books, which I mentioned above, is both a strength and a weakness. For example, Horning spends some time discussing how the illustrations in a picture book should support and enhance the text, using Goodnight Moon as an example. For readers unfamiliar with that book, this discussion will be far less helpful. Not too big of an issue with such a very popular book, but many other, less well-known books are mentioned as good examples of a type, without a great deal of explanation why--it would be necessary to acquire and investigate each of these books to understand the points Horning makes.

From Cover to Cover is useful, but doesn't stand alone as a complete guide to evaluation and review of children's books. ( )
  Sopoforic | Feb 6, 2014 |
Richie's Picks: FROM COVER TO COVER: EVALUATING AND REVIEWING CHILDREN'S BOOKS (REVISED EDITION) by Kathleen T. Horning, HarperCollins, April 2010

***IMPORTANT: You MUST purchase the revised 2010 edition of Horning.
-- as noted on the Fall 2010 syllabus for my Children's Materials 0-4 classes

I did not think that there would be much of a need to write about the revised edition of FROM COVER TO COVER. After all, the original 1997 edition is the book that has been guiding so many children's services library students in learning how to evaluate children's books. I'd read it when I was a student in library school -- from cover to cover -- for one class and then reread various chapters of it for several other classes. Wouldn't everyone automatically order the revised edition of such a well-known and regarded book?

One of the essential skills we learn in collection management is "weeding." When you have a book in your collection that is no longer accurate then it needs to be deselected and removed from the collection or, as we say, weeded. Then you replace it with something new. This happens all of the time with science books because new discoveries make older books inaccurate and obsolete. The same goes for atlases and books about countries. Stuff happens. Countries change names, get new leaders, start wars, or national boundaries move. You just have to get an up-to-date edition.

How about having your child or patron reading a book about US Presidents that ends with Ronald Reagan? Working briefly in a school district in 2007 (Yes, that school district.), I came across such interesting curiosities as a 1967 biography of Richard Nixon and a 1983 biography of Al Gore while weeding one of their elementary collections. Laughable, when it's such an extreme example, but a real and dead serious issue when it comes to educating students in the Twenty-first century, particularly in an era of tightening job markets and budget cutting.

Speaking of budgets, things got so bad budget-wise for the Sonoma County Library (where I live in California) that they had to shut down the main library and all twelve branches over the entire 2009-2010 winter holiday. Kids were out of school for two weeks and not a library in the county was open. You couldn't even access their online resources!

And so I appreciate the notion that the Sonoma County Library might want to hold onto their three copies of the original edition of Horning and hold off on purchasing the new edition.

But there is a problem. I just recommended to a friend of mine that she read FROM COVER TO COVER. This friend is both a parent to a three year-old and a graduate student in the School of Education at Sonoma State University. She's a specialist in reading and language arts. If I give her or another parent or another teacher a copy of the original Horning book, then they won't learn that the American Library Association now recognizes the best beginning reader of the year with an award named after Dr. Seuss. Nor will they learn that the Newbery and Caldecott medals have been joined by the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal which is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished informational book for children. (How many times have I now talked about ALMOST ASTRONAUTS, the most recent Sibert winner?) Nor will they learn about all the other significant changes that have taken place in children's publishing over the past thirteen years.

Being that so many of the books that Horning cites in the revised edition were not yet published in 1997, readers of the original edition will also miss out on hearing about such great books as THE RACE TO SAVE THE LORD GOD BIRD HITLER YOUTH GROWING UP IN HITLER'S SHADOW WE ARE THE SHIP THE STORY OF NEGRO LEAGUE BASEBALL THE TROUBLE BEGINS AT 8 A LIFE OF MARK TWAIN IN THE WILD WILD WEST TRACKING TRASH FLOTSAM JETSAM AND THE SCIENCE OF OCEAN MOTION ESCAPE! THE STORY OF THE GREAT HOUDINI THE LINCOLNS A SCRAPBOOK LOOK AT ABRAHAM AND MARY THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE SUPERNOVAE DARK ENERGY AND BLACK HOLES TSUNAMI! DIAMOND WILLOW THE UNDERNEATH THE HUNGER GAMES ELIJAH OF BUXTON THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE THE HOUSE OF THE SCORPION WHEN YOU REACH ME THE LONDON EYE MYSTERY and THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (just to mention a few books to which Horning refers that have also been Richie's Picks titles).

With all that we know today about the essential nature of reading to our children from the moment they are born -- or even before they are born -- there are good reasons to encourage parents and childcare providers to read FROM COVER TO COVER. They will really benefit from knowing how to choose the best books for their child's or young students' needs. I recommend that the revised edition of FROM COVER TO COVER be shelved in the Parenting Collection. Us professionals will have no problem tracking it down there when we need to refer to it.

But it's got to be the revised edition and I'm needing to know what to tell my friend (the parent and reading specialist) about getting a copy, so this is specifically a request to the Sonoma County Library that you order a few copies of the revised edition of FROM COVER TO COVER asap.

Thanks!

(Hey, Marin County. You don't have a copy down there either.)

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/middle_school_lit/
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/EcolIt/
http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php

FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books. You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received. Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries. ( )
  richiespicks | Jun 3, 2010 |
This is a great book if... you need to evaluate and review children's books on a professional level. It might be a bit much for parents who just want a good feel on kidlit for their own children. However, if you are a children's book professional, this is a must have for your bookshelf. She gives a lot of useful advice on what to watch out for, both in terms of text and in general book design. Horning covers pictures books, transitional readers, and older readers with tons of in-depth information about every single aspect (it seems like) of each group.

My one complaint is her dismissal of humorous poetry in favor of "more sophisticated forms of true poetry." I really don't think humorous poetry such as Shel Silverstein of Jack Pretlusky is any lesser than other types of poetry out there, especially when it comes to children's poetry.

see all my reviews at www.tushuguan.blogspot.com ( )
1 vote kidsilkhaze | Sep 28, 2007 |
Essential. ( )
  adge73 | Jul 14, 2006 |
An excellent resource for anyone who wishes to know more about how to evaluate and review children's books. Great for librarians, teachers, reviewers, and even parents. ( )
  Crowyhead | Nov 20, 2005 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 006446167X, Paperback)

From Cover To Coveris a fresh, up-to-date look at some of the best examples of children's literature today, and also includes practical advice on how to write clearly articulated, reasoned opinions so that others can learn about books they have not yet read.

It includes:

a short explanation of the process of making a children's book from manuscript to final bound book a description of the importance of the many different parts of a book (jacket flaps, title page, copyright, Cataloging-in-Publication information, etc.) six thought-provoking chapters that explain how ot think about and critically evaluate several different genres of children's books:

books of information traditional literature (myths, legends, tall tales, folktales) poetry, verse, rhymes, and songs picture books easy readers and transitional books fictiona concluding chapter on how to write reviews that are both descriptive and analytical

From Cover To Cover is an invaluable resource for all professionals who wish to write book evaluations that go beyond a simple personal response.

This definitive guide to reviewing children’s books makes it effortless for parents, teachers, librarians, children’s literature students and general readers who are interested in becoming children’s book reviewers to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a children’s book. An authoritative reviewer in her own right, Kathleen Horning provides practical guidelines for reading critically, evaluating an initial response, answering questions raised during the first reading, putting a response into words, balancing description with criticism, and writing reviews for a particular audience.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:21 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A librarian and authoritative reviewer provides practical guidelines to help other librarians, parents, teachers, children's literature students and general readers evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a children's book and write reviews for a particular audience.… (more)

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