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A busy librarian offers some tips for learning to read through reviews
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU READ AN EVALUATION of a book, decided not to purchase it because of the negative comments, and later seen a different, glowing review? Or vice versa. It happens often. Even award winners have received mixed notices. Although reviewers try to be objective, personal biases and experiences often come through. If a librarian only receives one review journal and a collection-development policy requires a positive review, it is quite possible for great books to slip between the cracks. Perhaps the best philosophy is to ignore reviews as they stand (no offense SLJ) and learn to read through them. Still read them, but learn to read them so that you can weigh if the negative comments that have been pointed out really are serious enough to decide against the purchase of a title that students might find useful or enjoyable.
Some librarians prefer reviews written by librarians. Others prefer those written by professional writers who have expertise in children's and young adult literature. There is no agreement as to which is better, so unless a book is read, reviewed, and discussed in many sources, as opposed to the one or two typically available in libraries, there is no way to be sure of what you are getting. In order to know if the book is as bad or as good as the reviewer claims, readers must look at other things. Make up your own mind about a book, despite what the reviewer says. The review isn't meant to be the final word in determining a book's value, but a guide for your selection. …