Play nice. Use the Golden Rule. If you can’t say something nice . . .
I tell my children these things all the time, and I try to live them as well, although being a parent can make that a challenge (Why? Because I say so! I’m the parent! Sigh.) I also try to blog respectfully, not just on Ink Spells, but in my comments on other blogs as well.
When there are dustups in the Wild West that is the blogosphere, it mostly makes me sad. The medium is conducive to misunderstandings, and that can lead to hurt feelings amongst well intentioned people. Occasionally there’s someone looking for a fight, but it’s best to ignore those types and hang with the cool kids who know how to play nice in the sandbox.
As my lovely readers may have noticed, my book reviews are generally positive. Ok, ALWAYS positive, and that is by design, gentle readers. I know how hard authors work to produce, much less publish, a novel and I don’t have much heart for tearing it apart (this is separate from critiques, which are private and I will always give my complete, honest, but gentle, opinion there). There is also the fact that I am essentially reviewing my colleagues, in public, and it would be rather bad form to tear them apart if I ever would like to join their ranks.
Now, before you think I am hopelessly mired in impotence here, the most important thing to remember is the purpose of this blog: finding good books for advanced readers, ages 8-12. It is not to “warn people away from the BAD books for advanced readers, ages 8-12”, nor is it to “scoff at the obviously poor use of the work ‘like’ in middle grade fiction.” My goal is to help steer parents, teachers, librarians, and by proxy kids, to good books that are appropriate for them.
This is why I make pains to list the content of a book, and take a stab at an age rating, but always caveat that parents know their child best.
And I am carefully selective about the books that I review.
I recently started reading a book that I ended up putting down and eventually returning to the library unread. Those that know I loathe stopping in the middle of a book will understand how hard this was. I was drawn to the book by its high reading level (over 7.5 gentle readers!), and its promising premise. But it turned out the language was difficult because it was poorly written, with lots of high-falutin’ words that, while lovely in other contexts, were mangled into incomprehensible patterns that I could barely hack my way through. Given that this blog posting is reading level 9.8, I’m pretty sure I’m capable of understanding the reading level, but the dense use of the language made the book a struggle to get through. I decided most children ages 8-12 would quickly lose interest, no matter how advanced their reading ability, and I obviously won’t be reviewing the book here (except the anonymous review above for illustration only).
Taking into account that you might not share my love of all things science fiction, and I may not share your love of historical fiction, I also try to refrain from criticisms about the appeal of a book.
So, make no mistake: this is not a proper book review site. In fact, I think I shall start searching out links to more extensive reviews for the books that I cover on Ink Spells, for those that want more information before taking a chance on picking up that paperback.
But I hope that the reading level and content information provide useful guidance in any event.
Or maybe you’ll keep coming back for the cats . . .