SLJ Reviewer Chat Transcript April 27th: Gaffe vs. Fatal Flaw

On April 27th, SLJ reviews editors and reviewers discussed how to identify whether a book/review material has a small error that doesn’t make or break it or if there’s something in the title that would keep it from getting a “Recommended” review. Here’s the transcript of that conversation.
sdiaz101
3:23 PM “see” you all in about 5 minutes!
mkilgallen
3:26 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
mkozikowski
3:27 PM Hello, everyone! Marybeth Kozikowski from sunny Long Island, NY
sstone
3:28 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
sdiaz101
3:29 PM Yes, everyone please start introducing  yourself
3:29 I’m Shelley Diaz, slj reviews manager
3:30 I edit Ya reviews and bilingual book reviews
sljdvds
3:30 PM Hi there, I’m Kent. I edit SLJ’s DVD reviews
scharle4
3:30 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
dfarrell
3:30 PM Hello! My name is Della Farrell and I edit nonfiction reviews.
minerva10alaniz
3:30 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
jenna_friebel
3:30 PM Hi! I’m Jenna Friebel, YS librarian in suburban Chicago. YA and MG fiction reviewer.
mkozikowski
3:30 PM I review middle grade fiction for SLJ and love it.
scharle4
3:31 PM Hello everyone! Stephanie from NH (by way of Michgian though)
tara
3:31 PM Hi, I am Tara Kehoe from New Jersey.  I review YA fiction and Adult Books for Teens.
ilovespicturebooks
3:31 PM Hi Everyone. Welcome to the chat! Luann Toth here. I assign the picture book.
greerr
3:31 PM Hello!  I’m Becky, YA Librarian in Tampa, Fl and new YA fiction reviewer.
minerva10alaniz
3:31 PM Hello, I am Minerva Alaniz from Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
jennie_rothschild
3:31 PM I’m Jennie Rothschild (from rainy Northern Virginia) and review a range of materials.
hwrittsljatsullivan
3:31 PM Hi. Hilary from Lexington, KY. I review middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction.
emakoff
3:31 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
kparrott
3:31 PM Hi everyone! Kiera Parrott here, reviews director for SLJ/LJ. Beaming to you from our Manhattan offices.
m_tidman
3:31 PM Hi! Misti from Ohio.  I review mostly middle-grade and YA fiction and nonfiction.
sophiekenney
3:32 PM Hi, I’m Sophie Kenney from Chicago and I’m a brand new reviewer for MG fiction.
sstone
3:32 PM Hello! I’m Sarah from San Francisco,  and I review a mix of things.
kparrott
3:32 PM It’s so great to see old friends and new faces here. :simple_smile:
emakoff
3:32 PM Hi. I’m Eileen . I’m a new reviewer, so I can’t really generalize about what I review yet. I’m a school librarian in Coney Island.
ernie_cox
3:33 PM Hello. Ernie Cox from Cedar Rapids, IA. Professional titles, all things middle grade, currently reading some YA sic-fi
mahnaz
3:33 PM Hi everyone. It’s Mahnaz Dar, assistant managing ed at SLJ. I handle adult bks 4 teens, prof reading, reference, and graphic novels!
friende
3:34 PM Liz Friend from Frsico, Texas.
ilovespicturebooks
3:34 PM We going to talk about what happens when you discover an error or some problematic content.
mahnaz
3:34 PM *gasp*
kparrott
3:34 PM (clutches pearls)
dfarrell
3:34 PM :confused:
mkozikowski
3:34 PM ha, kiera. funn!
3:34 funny
kparrott
3:35 PM :smirk:
sdiaz101
3:35 PM Oh, and before we get too deep, here’s a link to last month’s chat–just in case! http://contributors.slj.com/2016/04/the-deal-with-verdicts-slj-reviewer-chat-transcript-march-30-2016/
ilovespicturebooks
3:35 PM It’s important to call these issues to readers’ attention, but how do you determine if it’s a fatal flaw?
laura.simeon
3:36 PM Sorry, was dealing with a recess issue! I’m Laura Simeon in Bellevue, WA and I review a variety of print resources.
ernie_cox
3:36 PM @sdiaz101: that chat on verdicts was very helpful – thanks!
sdiaz101
3:36 PM glad you can join us @laura.simeon!
ilovespicturebooks
3:36 PM By that I mean, when would you give it a negative verdict.
mahnaz
3:36 PM Thanks, @ernie_cox!
sdiaz101
3:37 PM Right, there are very rarely perfect books
kparrott
3:37 PM For me, there’s a big difference between a FATAL flaw (one that would lead to an overall verdict along the lines of “Not recommended” or “don’t buy this”) versus a book that is not perfect–with some problems or shortcomings.
mkozikowski
3:38 PM I had that questions myself when reading Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb, after it won all the awards. I noticed something that was not correctly attributed and emailed Sheinkin about it.  Amazingly he responded and acknowledged the “error” and hoped it would be corrected in future editions. My question, tho, was that the Sibert Committee surely must have noticed it too and I guess they didn’t consider it a fatal flaw.
sdiaz101
3:38 PM How do we communicate a book’s faults while at the same time not completely slamming it
3:39 As we often repeat in these chats, if you’re not sure, you can always add a comment to the notes field. and editors can help determine whether something is a fatal flaw.
ktolson
3:39 PM joined #slj-reviewer-chat
kparrott
3:39 PM @mkozikowski: That’s a great example. We’ll never know if the committee didn’t see it (unlikely) or if they decided it was not fatal. But either way, it’s always better to note these things–in our case, in the review. And we have had situations when we brought errors to the attention of publishers and they were able to make a correction even before the book hit the market.
mahnaz
3:39 PM We once had a book and the reviewer loved it but thought it wasn’t worthy of an SLJ star because of the lack of an index (this was NF). We did ultimately star the title, though, because we felt that the content was so strong and well presented that the lack of an index didn’t mean that it wasn’t excellent. Sometimes it can be tough–and so subjective!
jennie_rothschild
3:40 PM Luckily (?) I find that most books with a fatal flaw often have more than one– and they build on each other.
ilovespicturebooks
3:40 PM It should never seem like a “Gotcha.” Rather point out that something is incorrect or if something stated as an absolute is up for debate.
sdiaz101
3:40 PM it’s important that when you review, you consider the right audience for this particular material. It might not be perfect book, but is there a reader/listener/etc. who would be the right person for it?
m_tidman
3:40 PM Unless I’m giving the book a “not recommended,” I try to go by the rule of saying something positive, something negative, then something else positive.
kparrott
3:41 PM True, @jennie_rothschild.
ernie_cox
3:41 PM can we make some distinctions between fatal flaws in fiction and nonfiction?
mkozikowski
3:41 PM Great point, Ernie
greerr
3:41 PM I found a very minor continuity error, and while I haven’t finished the book yet, so far I haven’t found any others.  For such a minor flaw it doesn’t seem worth mentioning.
kparrott
3:41 PM Yes. Let’s talk about that, @ernie_cox. What’s a fatal NF flaw?
dfarrell
3:41 PM sure! @ernie_cox
jennie_rothschild
3:41 PM When it’s just one error, I try to look at how big the issue is and how much it effects the rest of the book. Getting a year slightly wrong might be a typo, but if the thesis of the book depends on it, then it’s fatal.
mahnaz
3:41 PM Good point, @greerr and sometimes those might be corrected, if yr reviewing off an ARC (advanced reader copy).
kparrott
3:42 PM Incorrect info. I’d say that’s a big one. But is there a tipping point? @jennie_rothschild has a great point–maybe a small error isn’t a deal breaker, depending on what it is.
laura.simeon
3:42 PM Yesterday I was reading an SLJ review of a book that the reviewer felt was cultural appropriation to a degree that it should not be purchased, but Booklist and Kirkus starred it. Without having seen the book myself, I feel torn (am also the Diversity Coordinator at my school and passionate about this topic). It’s The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks, by the way. Graphic novel, fiction.
ernie_cox
3:43 PM For me a fatal flaw is when the author’s bias begins driving the book without the support of evidence
mahnaz
3:43 PM So true, @jennie_rothschild and we can’t stress enough the imp. of letting us know. Sometimes we’ll even reach out to the publisher to see if they can correct or if they already have corrected. We had a picture book on math where there was one line that was off and it was so crucial to the whole book (teaching decimal points) that we did reach out to the publisher…who then corrected the bk. Sometimes our eagle eyes can have strong ripples in the publishing world!
sdiaz101
3:43 PM exactly. when what you’re reviewing isn’t a finished book, it’s important to alert your editor to your concerns. we can then try to get a finished copy or at least a PDF of the finished work
jennie_rothschild
3:43 PM I also try to let a book sit for a few days before I write the review. When I think about the book then, what comes to mind first? The issues or something else?
kparrott
3:44 PM That was a book and a review we discussed at length here–internally and with our reviewer, @laura.simeon. While we all love the author/illustrator and appreciated many things in that book, we agreed with our reviewer on the cultural appropriation and thought it warranted mention in the review. For us, that was big enough a flaw to make it a “not recommended.”
ernie_cox
3:44 PM With you @kparrott significant factual errors in NF can be a deal breaker.
jenna_friebel
3:44 PM I struggle with determining what is a flaw for me *personally* and what is a critical flaw.
jennie_rothschild
3:44 PM Yes! Once there was a wrong year issue and it was so clearly a type (two digits got switched) and the publisher was so grateful to be alerted But it didn’t really affect the rest of the book at all, so I didn’t mention it in the review.
3:44 Typo, not type
mkozikowski
3:45 PM The first book I received to review from SLJ, only 4 characters were left at the end of the novel and one just went “missing” from the narrative – I thought I was being punked. The review I submitted (in 2011) mentioned this, but that reference was deleted in the published review. I was curious about that and read the published book, and the character was still missing at the end. When would SLJ delete a specific mention like that?
sdiaz101
3:46 PM @jenna_friebel: really good point to raise Jenna. As reviewers we have to take into account who the right reader is for it, even if it wasn’t your cup of tea.
dfarrell
3:46 PM @ernie_cox: right! when you get that feeling the author is specifically selecting information that drives a personal agenda. Reviewer Clara Hendricks and I had this issue with a recent title where the author’s portrayal of certain presidents and their polices was so glowing, so worshiping, there was no space for an actual balanced conversation. When the author dismisses a racist or discriminatory policy as “well it was on the wrong side of history” then there is a problem.
sdiaz101
3:46 PM Who is the intended audience? Will they appreciate the work? Or will they agree with your misgivings.
kparrott
3:47 PM That’s really interesting, @mkozikowski. In that case, I think we were probably wrong to delete it. Sounds like we didn’t do a great job following up with you and asking about that aspect of the book. But YOU were 100% correct in noting it. (We have been trying really hard to get better about chatting with reviewers about major review revisions.)
sdiaz101
3:47 PM And often, it’s important we stick to the facts, in these kinds of decisions.
mahnaz
3:47 PM I think your idea, @jennie_rothschild , of letting the bk sit. If you come back to it and it’s not something you think of, maybe it’s not that big a deal. But if it’s something that you’re still wondering about, maybe it’s something other readers will be bothered by.
ilovespicturebooks
3:48 PM If at any time a personal flaw or pet peeve keeps you from giving an objective evaluation, you need to contact your editor to see if we have time to reassign it.
mahnaz
3:48 PM So true, @ilovespicturebooks
sljdvds
3:48 PM @ernie_cox: For documentaries or NF, if there are at least three historical/factual errors, I would begin to question almost all of the information and would lean toward considering the errors as fatal, especially since the material might be used for research.
sdiaz101
3:48 PM Here’s a link to writing “bad” or negative reviews that Kiera wrote a while ago: http://contributors.slj.com/2015/05/writing-a-bad-review/
ernie_cox
3:48 PM @dfarrell:  that is the kind of thing I had in mind.
kparrott
3:49 PM On the issue of cultural literacy and things like appropriation or stereotypes…those can indeed be more than just “gaffes.” When a culture is portrayed inaccurately or stereotypically or errors are made about cultural traditions and facts, that is usually enough to make something a FATAL flaw in my book. My advice–if you’re not sure if something like that is a fatal flaw, it’s better to mention it in the review (or notes) than ignore it.
ilovespicturebooks
3:49 PM I believe in the three strikes you’re out rule.
jennie_rothschild
3:49 PM @sljdvds I also think the same if it’s pretty basic information that’s incorrect. If you can’t get this minor thing right, how can I trust you with the other stuff?
sdiaz101
3:50 PM @jennie_rothschild: very true!
sljdvds
3:50 PM @ilovespicturebooks: Good rule
kparrott
3:50 PM What about something *really* subjective, like art style?
sljdvds
3:51 PM @kparrott: It’s trickier if it’s interpretive
laura.simeon
3:51 PM Thanks @kparrott! I was grateful to see that dissenting viewpoint, and to have a glimpse behind the scenes. Admittedly this is a hot button issue for me, and so one I am more likely to consider a fatal flaw than some other problems. The vast difference in opinions was so striking.
mkozikowski
3:52 PM I think art style would be a fatal flaw if it were inconsistent or interrupted the book’s message/audience.
kparrott
3:53 PM I’ve also seen art bios in which reviewers didn’t like the way the illustrator interpreted the artist’s style. Which is an interesting concern.
mahnaz
3:53 PM That’s a good point, @mkozikowski
sdiaz101
3:54 PM Yes. And if it affects how the intended audience will experience the work as well. Art in a picture book for older readers most likely won’t be the same as art in a picture book for early learners
ernie_cox
3:54 PM it helps to know that the SLJ editors want us to communicate with them via the Notes field ….I will be sure to use that as needed
dfarrell
3:54 PM I love when there are comments in the Notes field
laura.simeon
3:54 PM One example I got from an illustrator/art professor was Herge’s portrayals of Africans, in particular, in the Tintin books. She pointed out how the style of illustration shifted in a single volume from incredibly detailed realism with the European people (and even inanimate objects) to cartoonish caricatures in the portrayals of black people. That is an example of what @mkozikowski wrote. Hopefully we won’t see anything new that is quite as egregious, but these types of biases can come through more subtly.
kparrott
3:54 PM Yes! We say it a lot but it bears repeating: we LOVE when you all use the notes field. And we do honestly read them.
mahnaz
3:55 PM Yes, seconded!
3:55 (or thirded?)
kparrott
3:55 PM It can give you a way to communicate concerns even if you’re not sure how to work them into your review.
mahnaz
3:55 PM Such a good example, @laura.simeon
sstone
3:55 PM Art style is hard.  I try to think about whether it would appeal to the book’s audience, but do I really know for sure what e.g. 8-year-olds like in art?  I have a general sense, after years of librarianship, but does that mean I’m qualified to say such-and-such art is unsuccessful or unappealing?
mkozikowski
3:55 PM Thanks for bringing the “notes” to my attention, I confess I hadn’t noticed them.
kparrott
3:56 PM Yeah–that is an excellent example, @laura.simeon. For me, those derogatory illustrations would be a fatal flaw.
mahnaz
3:56 PM So true, @sstone Sometimes reviewers will read their galleys aloud to kids or share w/ a child, just to see what a kid might think.
jennie_rothschild
3:56 PM Sometimes my notes are twice as long as the actual review!
sdiaz101
3:57 PM @sstone: I think that’s a good point. We place a lot of weight on your experience as librarians, especially those who still work with children/teens. That’s what sets us apart from other journals
kparrott
3:57 PM Good point, @sstone . That reinforces the idea that as reviewers we need to think about our own blinders and our own (adult) experiences we bring to a reading and evaluation. At some point when I’m reviewing, I like to imagine the child reader–and ask myself how a child (children) would read or experience this work?
ilovespicturebooks
3:57 PM I also think that in illustration the use of caricature can sometimes verge on stereotyping. This is often a judgment call.
kparrott
3:58 PM And anyone who works with kids or teens every day–if you have the chance to “test drive” your assignments with real kids, do it! Can help you get a better sense of how the titles are working with *real* kids.
dfarrell
3:58 PM I can’t tell you how many reviewers have noted that the book is OK but their kids hated it!
kparrott
3:59 PM Arh, @dfarrell. Yes–that’s a little (a lot) frustrating.
jenna_friebel
4:00 PM @ilovespicturebooks: that was the problem I had with a GN I reviewed– cartoon style art which was fine, but all the females were thin waist, big boob, etc etc– does that just fit into the art style? or is that problematic sexist stereotyping? (I did end up mentioning it in my mostly negative review)
sdiaz101
4:00 PM Yes, we as adult reviewers have to be careful not to only assess a work based on our adult sensibilities and experience, but try our best to put ourselves in the mind of a child reading this type of work for the first time
4:01 especially, if we don’t kids around us to help us decide :simple_smile:
ilovespicturebooks
4:01 PM @jenna_friebel: I’m with you on this one. If it makes you stop and takes you out of the story, I think it’s a problem.
sdiaz101
4:01 PM @jenna_friebel: I think that’s a perfectly reasonable point to raise, especially given the comic book industry’s history
kparrott
4:01 PM Yep–very tricky, @jenna_friebel. My general advice on situations like that is to note it as clearly in the review as possible. Sometimes it’s not even about a negative criticism, but just describing the art style so that readers and potential buyers know exactly what they’re getting–and then leave it up to them to judge whether the depiction is good or bad, something they want in their collection or not.
mahnaz
4:02 PM good point, @kparrott leaving it to the reader is great
4:02 What about the difference between unlikable characters and badly written characters? How do we differentiate?
sstone
4:03 PM And it’s hard because kids are also products of their environment, no? There are gobs of kids in my city who love Tintin and see no problem with the racist imagery–it doesn’t even register as racist to them.  There are also gobs of kids in my city who would look at the racist imagery and be hurt and angered.  So there’s no one reader or kid.
laura.simeon
4:05 PM With my Diversity Coordinator hat on, I feel that part of my job is helping to develop cultural literacy. So instead of simply not having certain books on the shelves that have achieved ‘classic’ status, I try to offset them with alternative portrayals and viewpoints. Adding *new* materials that are out of touch or offensive is something else.
kparrott
4:05 PM On the issue of unlikable characters, that’s a tough one. What makes them unlikable? What do we mean by that? And unlikable for whom?
ilovespicturebooks
4:05 PM I’m  for standing up for the kids who would be hurt or angered by the imagery.
jenna_friebel
4:06 PM @mahnaz: Unlikeable shouldn’t be a criticism– probably means the character is realistically flawed. I think a badly written character is possibly flat, stereotypical, or inconsistent.
ilovespicturebooks
4:06 PM Kids have other avenues to find these materials.
sdiaz101
4:06 PM Here’s a great post that Roxane Gay wrote about unlikable characters
4:06 http://www.buzzfeed.com/roxanegay/not-here-to-make-friends-unlikable?utm_term=.vcEXjMvAn
BuzzFeed
Not Here to Make Friends
On the importance of unlikable female protagonists. (322KB)
tara
4:06 PM Reader’s do not need to “like” a character– but the character should be fully fleshed out.   Also note that many readers out there have a harder time with an “unlikeable” female character.
ilovespicturebooks
4:06 PM We don’t need them in our libraries, IMHO
greerr
4:06 PM For me unlikable characters can be fun to hate, or give you someone to root against.  They are unlikable with purpose. Badly written characters have flaws that do not help to advance the plot.  They might serve no purpose or be bland characters who do not enrich the storyline.
jennie_rothschild
4:06 PM @jenna_friebel: YES! I hate using “unlikeable” to describe a character
kparrott
4:07 PM Yeah, the “classics” issue is a tough one, too. There can be a lot of pressure to have these antiquated classics in our collections. But I agree with Laura about finding great–non harmful, non stereotypical, culturally authentic–alternatives.
tara
4:07 PM Yes, shelly!  Thanks, that is what I was getting at (less eloquently than Roxane Gay)
mahnaz
4:07 PM So true, @tara Here’s an Atlantic piece on the issue of unlikable female characters: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/12/in-praise-of-fictions-unlikable-women-in-2015/421698/
The Atlantic
Female Characters Don’t Have to Be Likable
Several novels this year challenged the entrenched notion that literature only has room for flawed and interesting men.
gsarahthelibrarian
4:07 PM I’m trying to catch up–Sarah Hill, AB4T co-columnist here.
jennie_rothschild
4:07 PM Characters can be flawed, and you can list what their flaws are. They can be badly written, but unlikeable rubs me the wrong way!
mkozikowski
4:07 PM Agreed, Jenna. In a review I’ve mentioned that characters use expressions that feel dated, clichéd or too young for their age.
laura.simeon
4:07 PM @ilovespicturebooks: absolutely, but it’s tricky. E.g. I grew up loving Enid Blyton and have many children from Indian families who adore her books as well, so Famous Five is on our shelves (the modern, cleaned up versions, but there is still class, ethnic, etc. bias). But I have white friends who believe she’s racist and shouldn’t be read at all… With things like Tintin I compromise by not having all the volumes.
mahnaz
4:07 PM Hi @gsarahthelibrarian !!!
jennie_rothschild
4:08 PM (Of course, the characters I find the most “unlikeable” are the most perfect. Who can relate to perfection?!)
tara
4:08 PM Yes, the male anti-hero is celebrated.  The female anti-hero is maligned.
sdiaz101
4:08 PM Dexter, American Psycho, etc…..
mahnaz
4:08 PM @jennie_rothschild: So true. Who really liked Elizabeth Wakefield? Be honest.
ilovespicturebooks
4:09 PM I also admire characters that you can love to hate, but I detest characters that I don’t find believable.
kparrott
4:10 PM So what about poetic license when it comes to fictionalized books about real places or real people? What’s a fatal flaw?
sdiaz101
4:10 PM Lazy characterizations is a fatal flaw. Realistically flawed characters are actually very welcomed!
jtlibrarian
4:11 PM Looking through the comments here, I keep thinking about description being the most significant tool a reviewer has at their disposal. Bad or good should become obvious. At least we can argue our verdict.
jennie_rothschild
4:11 PM @kparrott: that’s harder. Personally, I look to see if it pulls me out of the story. Like, if it nags enough that I stop reading to look something up to see if the error is in the book or my memory…
sstone
4:11 PM Oh man can we please have a whole reviewer chat about semi-fictionalized books about real people/events?  I feel like there are so many, and it’s so hard to say what they are (fiction or non?) and whether they have been successful at it, whatever “it” is.
emakoff
4:12 PM I read an ARC recently that fortunately I didn’t have to review in which a trip on a NYC subway that was described in some detail simply couldn’t have taken place. It really got on my nerves, and I complained about it to all who would listen for days.
jennie_rothschild
4:12 PM But while I might mention it in the review, depending on the strength of the rest of the novel, it might not make the verdict.
kparrott
4:12 PM THIS.
jtlibrarian [4:11 PM]
Looking through the comments here, I keep thinking about description being the most significant tool a reviewer has at their disposal. Bad or good should become obvious. At least we can argue our verdict.
mkozikowski
4:12 PM Great point, Jennie. If something stops me in my reading tracks and pulls me out of the story, that’s gone a little too far.
greerr
4:12 PM A fatal flaw when it comes to poetic license regarding fictionalized accounts of real people / events would be contradicting fairly well known facts.
sdiaz101
4:13 PM Very good questions! I don’t understand why we can’t historical fiction/alternative history be called what it is?
jennie_rothschild
4:13 PM But I’ll also forgive a lot if there’s an author’s note saying where they changed things and why, and what actually happened.
ilovespicturebooks
4:14 PM Do kids ever read author’s notes?
jtlibrarian
4:14 PM Good question Luann. I never did.
eholt13
4:15 PM just joining! got busy over here!
jennie_rothschild
4:15 PM Some do. It depends on how much they engaged with the main book.
sdiaz101
4:15 PM As a historical fiction diehard fan since birth, I know i did
m_tidman
4:15 PM @ilovespicturebooks: I did, as a MG reader — I remember really enjoying the notes in, for instance, Ann Rinaldi’s historical fiction, and being disappointed when I read other authors who did not provide detailed notes.
emakoff
4:15 PM The book that abused the NYC subway system so badly, btw, was Towers Falling, by Jewel Parker Rhodes, which also got on my nerves by being too obviously intent on teaching a lesson and sending a message. Do those things count as flaws, or is it just my pet peeve?
mkozikowski
4:15 PM I had an “discussion” with another librarian over whether Island of the Blue Dolphins was historical fiction (me) or a biography (other side) and Luann, your mentioning the author’s note was instrumental in my point.
sdiaz101
4:16 PM But not every reader will, I’m guessing
tara
4:16 PM So when something really bugs us as reviewers, are we too bias to fairly review the book?
laura.simeon
4:16 PM One of my pet peeves in fiction is when people of color, LGBTQ characters, etc. seem to exist solely to reflect positively on the straight white protagonist (showing how ‘tolerant’ that character is). It’s so common – the minority best friend/sidekick – that I don’t think I can call it a fatal flaw, but it’s one that deserves mention because these characters are typically not well fleshed out.
mkozikowski
4:16 PM That being said, I think more kids would read Author Notes if they were in the front of the book, not at the end.
mahnaz
4:16 PM so true, @laura.simeon
sdiaz101
4:18 PM 100% agreed, @laura.simeon . Talk about lazy characterization! Especially since most marginalized groups barely see the light of day in children’s books. And when they finally do, they’re a prop for the main character (often white). That is certainly a big flaw
laura.simeon
4:18 PM @emakoff: that’s interesting! Do you think it was sloppiness on the author’s part or did the trip have to take place the way it did in order to further the plot? For someone like me (who doesn’t know the NYC subway system) the specifics of the route wouldn’t mean anything and likely wouldn’t register in any way, so I wonder why it needed to be described in any detail?
mkozikowski
4:19 PM For a while I was reviewing a lot of boy fiction and after one too many books that started with “oh boy, get ready for what’s coming next” I had to mention that in the review. I mean, the book’s not going to explode, so why warn the reader to “get ready”? Ugh.
jtlibrarian
4:19 PM Gotta go, thanks for the food for thought.
mahnaz
4:20 PM bye @jtlibrarian :simple_smile:
jennie_rothschild
4:20 PM @emakoff: Interesting! One of the books that pulled me out so I could look something up was her Ninth Ward (her timeline of Katrina and when parts of New Orleans flooded was really off. It made for better narrative, BUT…)
emakoff
4:20 PM It was necessary for characterization for the subway doors to open several times between Points A and  B, even though it’s only a two-stop trip. If you didn’t know New York, you’d never notice. But since it’s a story about 9/11, I felt like the details of NYC were kind of important.
imtanner
4:21 PM OMG so sorry I’m late!  Got caught up recommending books for lessons for the second grade teachers.
sdiaz101
4:21 PM @imtanner: no worries! The archive will be available. Glad you made it!
kparrott
4:21 PM Oh, guys, guys. Okay. I have the most straightforward example of a fatal flaw I’ve ever seen. We recently reviewed a nonfiction series. On every copyright page was a disclaimer from the publisher that essentially said “We cannot/do not verify the accuracy of any of the facts in this book.” On an INFORMATIONAL book! It drove me crazy. I mean, if the publisher can’t stand behind the integrity of their work, why should we? (The series was terrible, by the way, and our review said as much.) Beyond the many smaller flaws in this series, that disclaimer alone was a pretty fatal flaw for me.
dfarrell
4:22 PM yes!
ilovespicturebooks
4:23 PM The wonderful Jim Arnosky once said this about his informational books. I’m paraphrasing him, but he essentially said that he never wants kids to have to unlearn anything that was included in one of his books.
dfarrell
4:23 PM for NF always check the CIP page and the author’s acknowledgement pages to see if they have consulted with any experts in the field
eholt13
4:23 PM i haven’t started reading the author’s note until I read EVERY LAST WORD
imtanner
4:23 PM I just read an ARC of a book about world war 2 and the author said something along the lines of “The Austrians really didn’t mind when the Germans invaded them because they were totally down with it.  I wondered how many Austrians might have agreed.
eholt13
4:23 PM if the book intrigues me enough, I’ll go on to read it but otherwise, don’t b/c I don’t want it to taint my review (if that makes sense)
mkozikowski
4:23 PM Too funny, imtanner
imtanner
4:24 PM I also found that books about hurricane experiences that don’t feel real bug me, but I’ve lived through several hurricanes so maybe it’s just a bias like the one about the subways.
sljdvds
4:24 PM @imtanner: Yes, generalizations are often sloppy
emakoff
4:24 PM I feel like the “throw it across the room test” should be a thing, as in, if something makes me want to throw a book across the room, like @kparrott’s example, then possibly, possibly, that’s a fatal flaw.
gsarahthelibrarian
4:25 PM I just read a fiction book where the main character checks her Facebook.  In the 1990s. But that was the only time editing mistake I noticed.
imtanner
4:25 PM Facebook in the 1990s.  Whoopsie.
laura.simeon
4:25 PM @gsarahthelibrarian: I wonder how old the author was! Couldn’t imagine life before FB :simple_smile:
mahnaz
4:25 PM @gsarahthelibrarian: LOL. yes, there was a time before Fbook!
eholt13
4:26 PM I really liked BURN BABY BURN and it made me want to research more about that time in history fwiw
gsarahthelibrarian
4:26 PM I didn’t mention the Facebook error in my review, because I didn’t want that small mistake to stop people from reading the amazing novel. :simple_smile:
eholt13
4:26 PM and I believe all of the historical facts were accurate
mahnaz
4:26 PM we loved that one, too, @eholt13
4:26 a great read
eholt13
4:26 PM She weaved the story in so seamlessly it was amazing
sdiaz101
4:27 PM Hey everyone, we’re about to wrap up, but if you have any last-minute questions feel free to fire away!
kparrott
4:27 PM Whoa, nelly. This hour went by so quickly!
imtanner
4:27 PM This is probably off topic, but I submitted my two reviews and I haven’t heard anything back.  How does that go?
mkozikowski
4:27 PM Sure  did fly by. Thank you for another great chat! Bye!
laura.simeon
4:28 PM Thanks, everyone! I always learn so much!
jenniferschultz
4:28 PM Great chat, everyone! Came in late and then had to deal with computer issues (and it’s after school!), so wish I could have contributed. Looking forward to reading the transcript.
sdiaz101
4:28 PM And if you have ideas for future chats, feel free to mention them here!
mahnaz
4:29 PM Thanks for coming, all!
minerva10alaniz
4:29 PM I like to print the chat sessions and make my notes so that I can remember.
mahnaz
4:29 PM it was a most enlightening hour
sdiaz101
4:29 PM OR email me sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com
eholt13
4:29 PM yes @imtanner we used to get an email w/ the edited review and an additional note if it got a star
ilovespicturebooks
4:29 PM Lots to think about. Thanks so much. Great chatting with you all, as always.
jenna_friebel
4:29 PM :wave:
dfarrell
4:29 PM thank you, everyone!!!!
sstone
4:29 PM Thank you all!
tara
4:29 PM Thanks!
sljdvds
4:29 PM Bye
ernie_cox
4:29 PM thanks all
minerva10alaniz
4:29 PM Thanks everyone for the comments. Bye!
greerr
4:29 PM Great chat!
eholt13
4:30 PM now i don’t know anything til it hits the print issue lol
kparrott
4:30 PM @imtanner: Hi Debbie. It could be several things. Sometimes it takes us a few weeks to get to the review edits, since we work in monthly issue cycles. And if the review only needs a small number of grammatical changes and small things, then we usually don’t contact you. But if we have questions or may need to make bigger changes, one of the editors will be in touch to chat.
4:30 @eholt13: We were doing that for a while–which was great! But super time consuming on our end. We are trying to figure out a way to auto-send reviewers the final copy. But since it’s still a human process, it’s been slow-going. :disappointed:
eholt13
4:31 PM ah i understand. thanks!
emakoff
4:31 PM Is there a way to know when something has been published, other than just keeping an eye on the print issue and/or the website?
eholt13
4:31 PM i use bookverdict and check for the title there which will give you the print issue it will appear in fwiw
imtanner
4:32 PM Groovy.   Thanks for the info!
emakoff
4:32 PM Thanks, @eholt13
sophiekenney
4:32 PM Thank you, I had the same questions!
kparrott
4:33 PM @emakoff: Well, that’s not an easy one. Most reviews publish in the issue, but some publish only to the web. All reviews get licensed out to Amazon, Follett, B&Tm B&N, etc. And of course on Book Verdict. But we’re still working on a way to auto-send you all the finished reviews….waiting on our tech team to help us get that going, though.
4:33 Soon…hopefully!
mahnaz
4:33 PM one of these days
4:33 :simple_smile:
sdiaz101
4:33 PM Till the next time, all! Thanks for joining us!
eholt13
4:33 PM yeah, i’d like to know if it received a star beforehand but understand the issues you guys are having w/ it
4:33 thx sorry i was late! :simple_smile: have a great afternoon!
kparrott
4:34 PM Bye all!

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