Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books Paperback – March 19, 1997
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Horning articulates the reviewer's goal as "an informed and reasoned opinion clearly articulated so that others can learn about books they haven't seen." Toward that end, she begins with an enlightening discussion on children's publishing and ends with a practical presentation on evaluating books and writing reviews based on sound analysis. In between, she divides the literature into books of information, folklore, poetry, picture books, beginning readers, transitional books, and fiction, and cogently discusses each one. Pleasing design makes the book all the more readable. The appended source notes comprise a complete, chapter-by-chapter listing of books and magazines quoted as well as those simply mentioned in the text. Anyone entering the field of children's book reviewing, or indeed, the wider field of children's literature, will find From Cover to Cover an excellent guide to analyzing books and presenting clear, useful reviews. Carolyn Phelan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Kathleen T. Horning is the director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She was also a children's librarian at Madison Public Library for nine years.
Ms. Horning was the president of the Association for Library Service to Children of the American Library Association in 2007, as well as president of the United States Board on Books for Young People in 2003. She has chaired or served on a variety of children's book award committees, including the Américas Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Award, the John Newbery, USBBY's Hans Christian Andersen Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Mildred L. Batchelder Award, the ALA/ALSC's Notable Children's Books, and the NCTE Lee Bennett Hopkins Award committees, and she was selected to deliver the 2010 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture.
She is the coauthor with Ginny Moore Kruse of Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults and of CCBC Choices, an annual publication reviewing the best books for children and young adults. She has a BA in linguistics and a master's degree in library and information studies, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Top customer reviews
However, the author sometimes "puts a bit too fine a point on it," as a Brit might say. There is a section on the layout of early readers and transitional books which describes a specific target number of words per line, lines per page, text size, etc. I found this section quite helpful overall, and I specified changes to our style guide after reading it. But as useful as this material is, I felt the author's attempt to distinguish numbers of words per line between level 1, level 2 and level 3 early reader books was taking the process a bit too far.
Overall, this is a minor issue. As other reviewers have mentioned, writers will find value in the detailed descriptions of how children learn to read, how they react to themes, styles and plots (and how to recognize weakness in each), and how to target different age groups. Indeed, this is the only book I have found with detailed and usable information on these points.
Summary: Buy it if you are a creator or reviewer of children's books.
Underneath Horning's considerable knowledge of books for children, is a cookie cutter set of criteria for what she prescribes as acceptable that in many cases have little to do with the quality of the book. A case in point is her laying out of 5 types of source notes from "model" at the top of her scale to background and nonexistent at the bottom accompanying folktales and fairystories. She rules the bottom two unacceptable. Under this procrustean bed, Shakespeare and Joyce would have no hope. While having this information ready at hand might be convenient, it does not change the merits of the actual story content at all. As a young reader, doing my own research into the backgrounds of tales led me into the world of scholarship and research. Having it spoonfed as Horning demands might be nice, but also forestalls the reader taking action inspired by the story. Making it a requirement as Horning does has no merit.
Later, for those who have the temerity to write an original story in the folktale genre, she actually cautions the would be evaluator to "be on the look out" and go so far as to recommend checking the Library of Congress CIP and Dewey decimal number assignment to see if the author is lying about telling an original story. Hornig even notes that even these are "not always infallible." Cheep cheep cheep!
Her prescriptions on illustrations are no less condescending, snide, and nitpicking. She describes a fracas amongst librarians over two visual depictions of African tales that had the impudent gall to use illustration that interprets the culture that the stories came from rather than meticulously, slavishly reproducing that culture on the page. She does not provide any detail of the complaints making her prescription on illustration a blanket one, either slavish reproduction or none at all. The Disney production of Lion King would not pass her test. Why bother with art and proclaim only photographs should be used in books for children?
Under the section for picture books, she asks derisively who has not had the experience of a child wanting a page finished before the reader has finished reading the page. At this point, I found myself wanting to turn the page before she was finished. In fact, I only perfunctorily finished the book so that I could honestly say I'd read it. The majority of the book is an enumeration of the basic parts of writing and illustration that any high school graduate would be familiar with. A good language arts teacher would be a much better source to learn to appreciate and enjoy what makes for good reading material than Hornig's narrow, shallow, and somewhat sanctimonious, dry list.
When I looked up the song now annoyingly loud in my ears to quote for this review, I found the opening lyrics to be about book evaluation and close here with those lines:
Professor, her kind of woman doesn't belong on any committee.
Of course, I shouldn't tell you this but she advocates dirty books.
They refer to the librarian who goes against popular views and looks generously but not not without discerning at works for their merit. Horning is the chorus of upstanding custodians of children's literature who go all the while in the background Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, Cheep cheep cheep!
I would add here Chandler Harris who wrote the Br'er Rabbit stories, Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, or more recently, Harry Potter and Susan Patron's "The Higher Power of Lucky". Horning is supposedly on the committee that nominated these last two. I find a hard time seeing these as acceptable by the standards she prescribes here. I'm all for having standards and looked to this book by an author clearly having the authority worth listening to for her views on what those standards might be. This book, though, by an author who can divide all lines into just two kinds, straight and curved, I take a fat black marker and make a definitive stroke of a straight one marking this one out, definitely No!