SLJ Reviewer Chat Transcript from August 2016: Reviewing Basics

sdiaz101 [3:58 PM]
Hello everyone! welcome to our first reviewer chat in MONTHs!

gopetrie14 [3:59 PM]
Thanks! Excited to get started!

sdiaz101 [3:59 PM]
we still have a few minutes, but as you enter the chat start by introducing yourself and sharing what types of books you review for us

brendak [3:59 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

friende [3:59 PM]
Liz in Frisco, Texas

caseyo75 [4:00 PM]
Casey in Mooresville, Indiana. I’m new to reviewing.

brendak [4:00 PM]
Hi Shelley! Brenda Kahn, Closter, NJ. I review Middle Grade.

jillianwoychowski [4:00 PM]
Jill in West Haven, CT–Young Adult/High School

patricia [4:00 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

mpoole [4:00 PM]
Mel in Clemson, SC – YA

sdiaz101 [4:00 PM]
I’m Shelley Diaz-. SLJ reviews manager. SLJTeen newsletter editor. I oversee SLJ reviews and assign YA and bilingual books. you can email me anytime at sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com

jillianwoychowski [4:00 PM]
I’ve only reviewed 1 so far though :)

phuddy [4:00 PM]
Paula in Minnesota Children fiction and nonfiction.

tmuraski [4:00 PM]
Terri in Stevens Point, WI – I’m also new to reviewing

ilovespicturebooks [4:01 PM]
Hi Everyone. It’s Luann Toth

dfarrell [4:01 PM]
Hello, everyone! Della Farrell here.

sdiaz101 [4:01 PM]
Yay for new reviewers!!

brendak [4:01 PM]
Hi Luann!

patricia [4:01 PM]
Patricia in Bellmore, NY: children’s reference, picture books (and LJ reference).

ilovespicturebooks [4:02 PM]
We’re a bit crazed closing the Sept issue today, but are really excited to talk to you all.

kibacache [4:02 PM]
Kathia in Simi Valley I have been a reviewer for three months <>

mcdanied [4:02 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

sdiaz101 [4:03 PM]
Congrats, @jillianwoychowski on your first of many!

bonnie10 [4:03 PM]
Pamela in Texas. I’ve been blogging and reviewing tween and teen titles about 6 years on my blog, but am new to SLJ. YA books are my love

jillianwoychowski [4:03 PM]
Thank you!

sljdvds [4:04 PM]
Hi there. Kent Turner, DVD editor, here

mkkuehner [4:04 PM]
Mary Kuehner, Denver, CO. My first review, a MG book, was just published in July! Yay! I also review picture books and have two I’m working on now.

ilovespicturebooks [4:04 PM]
I assign all of the picture books and tend to assign more than one at a time. If you prefer to receive just one (or want more, more, more) just email and let me know.

mkkuehner [4:04 PM]
I’m fine with two! Thanks!

bak8382 [4:05 PM]
Elizabeth in Oswego, IL. I review Children’s Audiobooks.

sdiaz101 [4:05 PM]
We’ve received about 40 new reviewers in the last few months, so we figured we’d give a Reviewing Basics chat this time around.

[4:06]
There are a few editors out on vacation or who couldn’t join us.

brendak [4:06 PM]
Refresher for “oldies” always welcome too!

sdiaz101 [4:06 PM]
Kiera Parrott, LJ & SLJ Reviews director- she assigns middle grade and chapter books and you can contact her at kparrott@mediasourceinc.com with any questions

[4:07]
absolutely @brendak

ilovespicturebooks [4:07 PM]
That is totally awesome. Welcome one and all. I would love to know if any of you have any burning questions.

sdiaz101 [4:07 PM]
Daryl Grabarek, Curriculum Connections newsletter editor assigns app reviews (dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com)

[4:07]
Stephanie Klose, LJ reviews manager, assigns audiobooks for SLJ & LJ (sklose@mediasourceinc.com)

[4:08]
Tyler Hixson, editorial assistant, the go-to person for submitting reviews, tech issues, byline changes, address changes, etc. thixson@mediasourceinc.com

bonnie10 [4:08 PM]
Will we know if our review is in an upcoming issue?

sdiaz101 [4:08 PM]
Mahnaz Dar assigns graphic novels, professional reading, and reference. mdar@mediasourceinc.com

[4:09]
@bonnie10 we try our best every now and then to let reviewers know, but that’s not always possible.

[4:09]
We publish about 300 reviews a month and 6,000 a year.

mkkuehner [4:10 PM]
I looked at the April archived chat so I think my question has been answered, but: in my first review I submitted my review, locked it, but the next morning something was nagging at me. I went back to look at the book and found one thing that I thought might be offensive to someone of color. I sent my concern to Kiera, who never responded. I know now I should have put that in the note – but it occurred to me later. Reading the archive, it looks like you all probably took a look and either a)took action by contacting the publisher or b)decided it wasn’t a big enough deal to warrant concern. Correct?

sdiaz101 [4:11 PM]
And our staff is actually not that big… Hopefully, there will be some mechanism in place in the future, where we could automatically contact reviewers about what issue they appear in, but for now we don’t have one.

mkkuehner [4:11 PM]
I understand that you don’t necessarily contact us unless there’s a bigger problem with the review you want to discuss.

kibacache [4:11 PM]
what are the standards for a review to be considered for an upcoming issue?

jpaladino [4:11 PM]
Hi I’m Julie Paladino, YA audiobooks

sdiaz101 [4:12 PM]
@mkkuehner Exactly. if there’s something in a review that is unclear or if a verdict needs tweaking, or we’re not sure about the grade level, that’s when an individual editor will most likely contact you.

mkkuehner [4:13 PM]
I figured she would have contacted me if she thought it was an issue that needed discussing.

sdiaz101 [4:14 PM]
At SLJ, we try to equip new reviewers with lots of resources, especially for new reviewers getting their feet wet. You should’ve all received links to these in your introduction email, but just in case, here are a few

[4:15]
Reviewer handbook: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_IaCupWtxiaY0s4enV0MGZpaDQ

[4:15]
Reviewer site: http://contributors.slj.com/
contributors.slj.com
SLJ Reviewer Central — An online community for SLJ Reviewers
An online community for SLJ Reviewers

sljdvds [4:16 PM]
@mkkuehner But whenever you have a concern, feel free to contact an editor. We can always forward your email to the right editor.

sdiaz101 [4:16 PM]
These two places have guidelines, tutorials, tips from editors, FAQs, etc. Chances are your question might already have an answer in those two places.

ilovespicturebooks [4:16 PM]
I know that a perennial question in reviewing picture books is how to determine the art medium. Unless it is specifically stated, I think the best tact is to just describe it as clearly as possible and comment on how effectively it aids in telling the story it sets out to tell. That’s more important than getting the technical art terms exactly correct.

sdiaz101 [4:17 PM]
But yes, please continue to nudge us, if you don’t hear back from us.

[4:18]
Here’s a link to a tutorial video we did last year: http://contributors.slj.com/category/training-videos/

[4:19]
And on the topic of diversity, we just concluded an 8-week self-directed course on cultural literacy and reviewing children’s books. I strongly encourage everyone to take a look.

[4:20]
https://www.cloudschool.org/slj/diversity-cultural-literacy-in-professional-reviews-slj Password: slj
cloudschool.org
Protected Course – Cloudschool
Premium lesson planning software for teachers. Making it easier for teachers to create, publish and share teaching content.

ilovespicturebooks [4:20 PM]
In a recent focus group, the respondents stated that our reviews were too long. Do you feel that it’s possible to say everything that needs to be said about a book in fewer than 200 words? Does that make your job easier or harder?

brendak [4:20 PM]
I am so sorry to have missed that! I’m glad we can view it, thanks!

sdiaz101 [4:21 PM]
There are live keynotes from Debbie Reese and KT Horning. And lots of videos and readings that are really illuminating

[4:21]
Good question, @ilovespicturebooks !!

jillianwoychowski [4:21 PM]
Fewer than 200 would be really hard for YA/HS.

mkkuehner [4:22 PM]
I tend to be wordy, so that would be HARD for me. :slightly_smiling_face:

sdiaz101 [4:23 PM]
Right now our maximum is 250 words, but if you go slightly over that (300 at the most), we editors can help you bring it down. :slightly_smiling_face:

brendak [4:23 PM]
You know, it’s funny – when I’m reading reviews, I tend to skim to the last sentence and/ or verdict because there are so many reviews to read. But when I’m writing them, I have a hard time getting all I want to say in under 250 words.

dfarrell [4:24 PM]
Don’t be afraid to skip plot summary, I know it can seem odd to dive right into an assessment but readers interested in the plot can find that info in many places. Readers come to us because they value our library-related insights.

sdiaz101 [4:25 PM]
I think it’s important what we include in those 250 words. If it’s 250 words of plot summary, that’s not really helpful to readers. But if the review contains pertinent information, like pace, character development, the right audience, readability, etc. then those 250 words are totally worth it

bak8382 [4:25 PM]
Last time I saw a requirement for the audio book reviews it was for under 200 words I believe. When I’m reviewing a short audio book I actually find it hard to come up with even that much.

patricia [4:26 PM]
Pascal is said to have apologized in a postscript: sorry this letter is long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter . . . !

sdiaz101 [4:26 PM]
ha! @patricia

[4:26]
Yes, our media reviews are slightly different. very soon we’ll be having a media-focused chat

bak8382 [4:27 PM]
:slightly_smiling_face:

jpaladino [4:27 PM]
that would be great! I would love one on audiobook reviewing!

brendak [4:27 PM]
@patricia, so true! My first draft is vomited up – too long a synopsis, etc. Then I pare and pare and pare and still am not happy with what I submit.

sdiaz101 [4:27 PM]
If you every have suggestions for a future chat, or something that you’re struggling with as a reviewer, feel free to suggest! Or you can even reach out to your fellow reviewers here.

ilovespicturebooks [4:28 PM]
The important thing about picture books is that most readers won’t have seen the book (in most cases beyond the cover art) and it is important to convey not only the content of the story but the look and feel of the overall package and how well it delivers. Does it read aloud well? Would you share it in a storytime or is it better for one-on-one reading? Would you read it more than once?

dfarrell [4:29 PM]
@brendak If you’re ever feeling hesitant about a review mention your concerns in the notes field. Those comments always so appreciated and can be really helpful when editing.

sdiaz101 [4:29 PM]
Oh, and if you have a grammar/style question, check out @mahnaz grammar tips on the reviewer website. http://contributors.slj.com/category/style-and-grammar/

[4:29]
She periodically writes short articles for her grammar gazette, that even we as editors find really helpful

dfarrell [4:29 PM]
@brendak And don’t forget to cite where in the book you are tripping up

jpaladino [4:29 PM]
We don’t have a notes field for audiobooks do we? So should we just add a note of our own when we submit?

sdiaz101 [4:30 PM]
Yes @jpaladino feel free to do that

[4:31]
SLJ Style and grammar isn’t something for you to stress over, but it would definitely save editors time if you all became a little familiar with it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

gopetrie14 [4:31 PM]
Technical question. I cannot get into the Contributors Forum. It thinks I’ve registered, but then I cannot get in and it won’t send me a new password. Who can help with that?

ilovespicturebooks [4:32 PM]
The focus group really appreciated our VERDICTs. We are all still relatively new at composing them, but they should feel organic given all of the thoughtful commentary of the review. The editors are always ready to help with these as well.

sdiaz101 [4:32 PM]
Hmm @gopetrie14 I’ll have to check with kiera on that when she gets back from vacay

gopetrie14 [4:32 PM]
Thanks!

jillianwoychowski [4:32 PM]
@gopetrie14: Me either. I just emailed @sdiaz101 about that myself :0

[4:33]
Oops :)

bonnie10 [4:33 PM]
I do have a question on Verdict. The editor comes up with verdict, or do I?

sdiaz101 [4:33 PM]
Please nudge me on Tuesday, if I haven’t responded by then

[4:33]
@jillianwoychowski sorry about that jillian! yes, I’m waiting until kiera gets back. I promise I will let you know asap

jillianwoychowski [4:34 PM]
@sdiaz101: Thanks!

sdiaz101 [4:34 PM]
Reviewers should be creating their own, especially since most times, you are the ones that spend the most time with books.

bonnie10 [4:34 PM]
got it; thanks!

ilovespicturebooks [4:35 PM]
The editor only pipes up with the verdict if yours is a throwaway. It should start whether people should buy the book or not and identify the primary audience.

sdiaz101 [4:35 PM]
But if you’re having trouble creating those verdicts, you can always contact your editor for advice.

[4:35]
Yes. Verdicts should answer: Who is this book for? Are there readalikes perhaps? What kind of library/budgets should purchase this title?

dfarrell [4:36 PM]
Most of our readers are looking for Verdicts that really hone in on how this book not only fits within a collection but how it can be used/ if it has ties to curricula

sljdvds [4:36 PM]
That is also true for DVDs

sdiaz101 [4:36 PM]
Yes, and if it’s a good readaloud, or perhaps a themed storytime, etc.

bak8382 [4:36 PM]
Should we be doing verdicts for audiobooks?

sdiaz101 [4:37 PM]
we recently had a chat about verdicts. Here’s the archive link: http://contributors.slj.com/2016/04/the-deal-with-verdicts-slj-reviewer-chat-transcript-march-30-2016/

[4:38]
@bak8382 yes. Here’s a recent audio review that posted on our website: http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/the-first-time-she-drowned-by-kerry-kletter-slj-audio-review/
School Library Journal
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter | SLJ Audio Review (51KB)
brendak [4:38 PM]
Ooh! That title is on my tar list. Glad to see it’s available as an audio!

[4:38]
tbr

ilovespicturebooks [4:40 PM]
We’re beginning to focus on our Best Books list for 2016. Can I ask about your favorite picture books so far?

romalley [4:41 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

bonnie10 [4:42 PM]
i loved Bloom

brendak [4:43 PM]
Little Penguins; Uncorker of Ocean Bottles; Hotel Bruce; Nanette’s Baguette; The Christmas Boot

kibacache [4:43 PM]
Ida Always was very moving

ilovespicturebooks [4:43 PM]
I only asked about picture books cause I need to sit with a MG or YA for a while before declaring it a fave. I’d love to hear about anything you are currently loving to pieces

sdiaz101 [4:43 PM]
For the first time ever, we’re including reviewers in our Best Books process. Please feel free to add your favorites to this google form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfjac_L0_A_wW-h6uEMNCXJpE0A-bDXPgx8MH1C2VX3oU405A/viewform
Google Docs
What are your Top 5 children’s YA books published in 2016? (268KB)
brendak [4:43 PM]
Mac Barnett and Adam REx’s newest collaboration: How This book was made is a hoot.

caseyo75 [4:43 PM]
The Night Gardener

gsarahthelibrarian [4:44 PM]
My Friend Maggie and Uncorker

phuddy [4:44 PM]
In everybody books for 2016 I like The Storytellerand Night Gardener.

brendak [4:44 PM]
Ada’s Violin is a beautiful story.

sdiaz101 [4:44 PM]
Nice choices, everyone!

[4:44]
And in case you didn’t know, we editors are always looking for star recommendations. If you feel like a book is worthy of a star, please be sure to click the little star box in the left-hand corner before you submit your review.

ilovespicturebooks [4:46 PM]
We take your recommendations VERY seriously. We appreciate some notes if you have something to say that doesn’t necessarily fit in the review.

brendak [4:46 PM]
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe; Are We There Yet by Dan Santat. I have a lot of picture books on my GR 2016 faves list.

mkkuehner [4:46 PM]
I love School’s First Day of School

[4:46]
I wanted to hug it after I read it.

mpoole [4:47 PM]
What do you do with a problem by Kobi Yamada

sdiaz101 [4:47 PM]
@mkkuehner it’s a totally huggable book!

mkkuehner [4:47 PM]
Also, The Not So Quiet Library (because I love silly books best of all)

phuddy [4:47 PM]
What Do You Do With a Problem is also a fav.

sdiaz101 [4:47 PM]
Any other burning questions before we wrap up?

jillianwoychowski [4:48 PM]
Thank you. Hope to talk with all of you again soon!

sdiaz101 [4:48 PM]
Some style/grammar tips to be aware of: We use “Readers, not the reader.”

[4:49]
Merriam Webster is our house dictionary. Check character names, ages, etc. No double space after periods. Since it’s a professional review, try to stay away from “I like this because” or “You will like this because” Reviews are in third-person.

mkkuehner [4:49 PM]
Good reminders!

caseyo75 [4:49 PM]
Thank you!

sdiaz101 [4:50 PM]
@jillianwoychowski thanks for joining us! And if I don’t get back to you by Monday, please nudge me on Tues.:+1:

jillianwoychowski [4:50 PM]
OOOHH that no double space is going to be a habit I’ll need to break. Apologies in advance!

[4:50]
Will do!

brendak [4:50 PM]
Thanks for spending time with us.

sdiaz101 [4:51 PM]
And here are a few new initiatives we recently began at SLJ. Please take a look and reach out with any questions. Xpress Reviews: Select, web-only reviews of children’s and YA books and media. http://www.slj.com/tag/slj-xpress-reviews/
Popular Picks: A monthly selection of must-have new titles for kids and teens chosen by SLJ’s book review editors. http://www.slj.com/tag/slj-popular-picks/

[4:51]
THANK YOU for all you do!! we wouldn’t have a magazine if it were for all of you

dfarrell [4:51 PM]
Thank all of you! Don’t ever hesitate to reach out :grin:

sdiaz101 [4:51 PM]
weren’t*

ilovespicturebooks [4:51 PM]
Hope you all have a (No) Labor Day Weekend! Lots to look forward to going forward, but for now enjoy the rest of the summer!

sdiaz101 [4:52 PM]
An archive for this chat will be posted soon on the reviewer website. Have a great rest of your summer and good luck to those who’ve already begun your school year!

sljdvds [4:53 PM]
Until next time!
sdiaz101 [3:58 PM]
Hello everyone! welcome to our first reviewer chat in MONTHs!

gopetrie14 [3:59 PM]
Thanks! Excited to get started!

sdiaz101 [3:59 PM]
we still have a few minutes, but as you enter the chat start by introducing yourself and sharing what types of books you review for us

brendak [3:59 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

friende [3:59 PM]
Liz in Frisco, Texas

caseyo75 [4:00 PM]
Casey in Mooresville, Indiana. I’m new to reviewing.

brendak [4:00 PM]
Hi Shelley! Brenda Kahn, Closter, NJ. I review Middle Grade.

jillianwoychowski [4:00 PM]
Jill in West Haven, CT–Young Adult/High School

patricia [4:00 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

mpoole [4:00 PM]
Mel in Clemson, SC – YA

sdiaz101 [4:00 PM]
I’m Shelley Diaz-. SLJ reviews manager. SLJTeen newsletter editor. I oversee SLJ reviews and assign YA and bilingual books. you can email me anytime at sdiaz@mediasourceinc.com

jillianwoychowski [4:00 PM]
I’ve only reviewed 1 so far though :)

phuddy [4:00 PM]
Paula in Minnesota Children fiction and nonfiction.

tmuraski [4:00 PM]
Terri in Stevens Point, WI – I’m also new to reviewing

ilovespicturebooks [4:01 PM]
Hi Everyone. It’s Luann Toth

dfarrell [4:01 PM]
Hello, everyone! Della Farrell here.

sdiaz101 [4:01 PM]
Yay for new reviewers!!

brendak [4:01 PM]
Hi Luann!

patricia [4:01 PM]
Patricia in Bellmore, NY: children’s reference, picture books (and LJ reference).

ilovespicturebooks [4:02 PM]
We’re a bit crazed closing the Sept issue today, but are really excited to talk to you all.

kibacache [4:02 PM]
Kathia in Simi Valley I have been a reviewer for three months <>

mcdanied [4:02 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

sdiaz101 [4:03 PM]
Congrats, @jillianwoychowski on your first of many!

bonnie10 [4:03 PM]
Pamela in Texas. I’ve been blogging and reviewing tween and teen titles about 6 years on my blog, but am new to SLJ. YA books are my love

jillianwoychowski [4:03 PM]
Thank you!

sljdvds [4:04 PM]
Hi there. Kent Turner, DVD editor, here

mkkuehner [4:04 PM]
Mary Kuehner, Denver, CO. My first review, a MG book, was just published in July! Yay! I also review picture books and have two I’m working on now.

ilovespicturebooks [4:04 PM]
I assign all of the picture books and tend to assign more than one at a time. If you prefer to receive just one (or want more, more, more) just email and let me know.

mkkuehner [4:04 PM]
I’m fine with two! Thanks!

bak8382 [4:05 PM]
Elizabeth in Oswego, IL. I review Children’s Audiobooks.

sdiaz101 [4:05 PM]
We’ve received about 40 new reviewers in the last few months, so we figured we’d give a Reviewing Basics chat this time around.

[4:06]
There are a few editors out on vacation or who couldn’t join us.

brendak [4:06 PM]
Refresher for “oldies” always welcome too!

sdiaz101 [4:06 PM]
Kiera Parrott, LJ & SLJ Reviews director- she assigns middle grade and chapter books and you can contact her at kparrott@mediasourceinc.com with any questions

[4:07]
absolutely @brendak

ilovespicturebooks [4:07 PM]
That is totally awesome. Welcome one and all. I would love to know if any of you have any burning questions.

sdiaz101 [4:07 PM]
Daryl Grabarek, Curriculum Connections newsletter editor assigns app reviews (dgrabarek@mediasourceinc.com)

[4:07]
Stephanie Klose, LJ reviews manager, assigns audiobooks for SLJ & LJ (sklose@mediasourceinc.com)

[4:08]
Tyler Hixson, editorial assistant, the go-to person for submitting reviews, tech issues, byline changes, address changes, etc. thixson@mediasourceinc.com

bonnie10 [4:08 PM]
Will we know if our review is in an upcoming issue?

sdiaz101 [4:08 PM]
Mahnaz Dar assigns graphic novels, professional reading, and reference. mdar@mediasourceinc.com

[4:09]
@bonnie10 we try our best every now and then to let reviewers know, but that’s not always possible.

[4:09]
We publish about 300 reviews a month and 6,000 a year.

mkkuehner [4:10 PM]
I looked at the April archived chat so I think my question has been answered, but: in my first review I submitted my review, locked it, but the next morning something was nagging at me. I went back to look at the book and found one thing that I thought might be offensive to someone of color. I sent my concern to Kiera, who never responded. I know now I should have put that in the note – but it occurred to me later. Reading the archive, it looks like you all probably took a look and either a)took action by contacting the publisher or b)decided it wasn’t a big enough deal to warrant concern. Correct?

sdiaz101 [4:11 PM]
And our staff is actually not that big… Hopefully, there will be some mechanism in place in the future, where we could automatically contact reviewers about what issue they appear in, but for now we don’t have one.

mkkuehner [4:11 PM]
I understand that you don’t necessarily contact us unless there’s a bigger problem with the review you want to discuss.

kibacache [4:11 PM]
what are the standards for a review to be considered for an upcoming issue?

jpaladino [4:11 PM]
Hi I’m Julie Paladino, YA audiobooks

sdiaz101 [4:12 PM]
@mkkuehner Exactly. if there’s something in a review that is unclear or if a verdict needs tweaking, or we’re not sure about the grade level, that’s when an individual editor will most likely contact you.

mkkuehner [4:13 PM]
I figured she would have contacted me if she thought it was an issue that needed discussing.

sdiaz101 [4:14 PM]
At SLJ, we try to equip new reviewers with lots of resources, especially for new reviewers getting their feet wet. You should’ve all received links to these in your introduction email, but just in case, here are a few

[4:15]
Reviewer handbook: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B_IaCupWtxiaY0s4enV0MGZpaDQ

[4:15]
Reviewer site: http://contributors.slj.com/
contributors.slj.com
SLJ Reviewer Central — An online community for SLJ Reviewers
An online community for SLJ Reviewers

sljdvds [4:16 PM]
@mkkuehner But whenever you have a concern, feel free to contact an editor. We can always forward your email to the right editor.

sdiaz101 [4:16 PM]
These two places have guidelines, tutorials, tips from editors, FAQs, etc. Chances are your question might already have an answer in those two places.

ilovespicturebooks [4:16 PM]
I know that a perennial question in reviewing picture books is how to determine the art medium. Unless it is specifically stated, I think the best tact is to just describe it as clearly as possible and comment on how effectively it aids in telling the story it sets out to tell. That’s more important than getting the technical art terms exactly correct.

sdiaz101 [4:17 PM]
But yes, please continue to nudge us, if you don’t hear back from us.

[4:18]
Here’s a link to a tutorial video we did last year: http://contributors.slj.com/category/training-videos/

[4:19]
And on the topic of diversity, we just concluded an 8-week self-directed course on cultural literacy and reviewing children’s books. I strongly encourage everyone to take a look.

[4:20]
https://www.cloudschool.org/slj/diversity-cultural-literacy-in-professional-reviews-slj Password: slj
cloudschool.org
Protected Course – Cloudschool
Premium lesson planning software for teachers. Making it easier for teachers to create, publish and share teaching content.

ilovespicturebooks [4:20 PM]
In a recent focus group, the respondents stated that our reviews were too long. Do you feel that it’s possible to say everything that needs to be said about a book in fewer than 200 words? Does that make your job easier or harder?

brendak [4:20 PM]
I am so sorry to have missed that! I’m glad we can view it, thanks!

sdiaz101 [4:21 PM]
There are live keynotes from Debbie Reese and KT Horning. And lots of videos and readings that are really illuminating

[4:21]
Good question, @ilovespicturebooks !!

jillianwoychowski [4:21 PM]
Fewer than 200 would be really hard for YA/HS.

mkkuehner [4:22 PM]
I tend to be wordy, so that would be HARD for me. :slightly_smiling_face:

sdiaz101 [4:23 PM]
Right now our maximum is 250 words, but if you go slightly over that (300 at the most), we editors can help you bring it down. :slightly_smiling_face:

brendak [4:23 PM]
You know, it’s funny – when I’m reading reviews, I tend to skim to the last sentence and/ or verdict because there are so many reviews to read. But when I’m writing them, I have a hard time getting all I want to say in under 250 words.

dfarrell [4:24 PM]
Don’t be afraid to skip plot summary, I know it can seem odd to dive right into an assessment but readers interested in the plot can find that info in many places. Readers come to us because they value our library-related insights.

sdiaz101 [4:25 PM]
I think it’s important what we include in those 250 words. If it’s 250 words of plot summary, that’s not really helpful to readers. But if the review contains pertinent information, like pace, character development, the right audience, readability, etc. then those 250 words are totally worth it

bak8382 [4:25 PM]
Last time I saw a requirement for the audio book reviews it was for under 200 words I believe. When I’m reviewing a short audio book I actually find it hard to come up with even that much.

patricia [4:26 PM]
Pascal is said to have apologized in a postscript: sorry this letter is long, I didn’t have time to make it shorter . . . !

sdiaz101 [4:26 PM]
ha! @patricia

[4:26]
Yes, our media reviews are slightly different. very soon we’ll be having a media-focused chat

bak8382 [4:27 PM]
:slightly_smiling_face:

jpaladino [4:27 PM]
that would be great! I would love one on audiobook reviewing!

brendak [4:27 PM]
@patricia, so true! My first draft is vomited up – too long a synopsis, etc. Then I pare and pare and pare and still am not happy with what I submit.

sdiaz101 [4:27 PM]
If you every have suggestions for a future chat, or something that you’re struggling with as a reviewer, feel free to suggest! Or you can even reach out to your fellow reviewers here.

ilovespicturebooks [4:28 PM]
The important thing about picture books is that most readers won’t have seen the book (in most cases beyond the cover art) and it is important to convey not only the content of the story but the look and feel of the overall package and how well it delivers. Does it read aloud well? Would you share it in a storytime or is it better for one-on-one reading? Would you read it more than once?

dfarrell [4:29 PM]
@brendak If you’re ever feeling hesitant about a review mention your concerns in the notes field. Those comments always so appreciated and can be really helpful when editing.

sdiaz101 [4:29 PM]
Oh, and if you have a grammar/style question, check out @mahnaz grammar tips on the reviewer website. http://contributors.slj.com/category/style-and-grammar/

[4:29]
She periodically writes short articles for her grammar gazette, that even we as editors find really helpful

dfarrell [4:29 PM]
@brendak And don’t forget to cite where in the book you are tripping up

jpaladino [4:29 PM]
We don’t have a notes field for audiobooks do we? So should we just add a note of our own when we submit?

sdiaz101 [4:30 PM]
Yes @jpaladino feel free to do that

[4:31]
SLJ Style and grammar isn’t something for you to stress over, but it would definitely save editors time if you all became a little familiar with it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

gopetrie14 [4:31 PM]
Technical question. I cannot get into the Contributors Forum. It thinks I’ve registered, but then I cannot get in and it won’t send me a new password. Who can help with that?

ilovespicturebooks [4:32 PM]
The focus group really appreciated our VERDICTs. We are all still relatively new at composing them, but they should feel organic given all of the thoughtful commentary of the review. The editors are always ready to help with these as well.

sdiaz101 [4:32 PM]
Hmm @gopetrie14 I’ll have to check with kiera on that when she gets back from vacay

gopetrie14 [4:32 PM]
Thanks!

jillianwoychowski [4:32 PM]
@gopetrie14: Me either. I just emailed @sdiaz101 about that myself :0

[4:33]
Oops :)

bonnie10 [4:33 PM]
I do have a question on Verdict. The editor comes up with verdict, or do I?

sdiaz101 [4:33 PM]
Please nudge me on Tuesday, if I haven’t responded by then

[4:33]
@jillianwoychowski sorry about that jillian! yes, I’m waiting until kiera gets back. I promise I will let you know asap

jillianwoychowski [4:34 PM]
@sdiaz101: Thanks!

sdiaz101 [4:34 PM]
Reviewers should be creating their own, especially since most times, you are the ones that spend the most time with books.

bonnie10 [4:34 PM]
got it; thanks!

ilovespicturebooks [4:35 PM]
The editor only pipes up with the verdict if yours is a throwaway. It should start whether people should buy the book or not and identify the primary audience.

sdiaz101 [4:35 PM]
But if you’re having trouble creating those verdicts, you can always contact your editor for advice.

[4:35]
Yes. Verdicts should answer: Who is this book for? Are there readalikes perhaps? What kind of library/budgets should purchase this title?

dfarrell [4:36 PM]
Most of our readers are looking for Verdicts that really hone in on how this book not only fits within a collection but how it can be used/ if it has ties to curricula

sljdvds [4:36 PM]
That is also true for DVDs

sdiaz101 [4:36 PM]
Yes, and if it’s a good readaloud, or perhaps a themed storytime, etc.

bak8382 [4:36 PM]
Should we be doing verdicts for audiobooks?

sdiaz101 [4:37 PM]
we recently had a chat about verdicts. Here’s the archive link: http://contributors.slj.com/2016/04/the-deal-with-verdicts-slj-reviewer-chat-transcript-march-30-2016/

[4:38]
@bak8382 yes. Here’s a recent audio review that posted on our website: http://www.slj.com/2016/08/reviews/multimedia/the-first-time-she-drowned-by-kerry-kletter-slj-audio-review/
School Library Journal
The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter | SLJ Audio Review (51KB)
brendak [4:38 PM]
Ooh! That title is on my tar list. Glad to see it’s available as an audio!

[4:38]
tbr

ilovespicturebooks [4:40 PM]
We’re beginning to focus on our Best Books list for 2016. Can I ask about your favorite picture books so far?

romalley [4:41 PM]
joined #slj-reviewer-chat

bonnie10 [4:42 PM]
i loved Bloom

brendak [4:43 PM]
Little Penguins; Uncorker of Ocean Bottles; Hotel Bruce; Nanette’s Baguette; The Christmas Boot

kibacache [4:43 PM]
Ida Always was very moving

ilovespicturebooks [4:43 PM]
I only asked about picture books cause I need to sit with a MG or YA for a while before declaring it a fave. I’d love to hear about anything you are currently loving to pieces

sdiaz101 [4:43 PM]
For the first time ever, we’re including reviewers in our Best Books process. Please feel free to add your favorites to this google form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfjac_L0_A_wW-h6uEMNCXJpE0A-bDXPgx8MH1C2VX3oU405A/viewform
Google Docs
What are your Top 5 children’s YA books published in 2016? (268KB)
brendak [4:43 PM]
Mac Barnett and Adam REx’s newest collaboration: How This book was made is a hoot.

caseyo75 [4:43 PM]
The Night Gardener

gsarahthelibrarian [4:44 PM]
My Friend Maggie and Uncorker

phuddy [4:44 PM]
In everybody books for 2016 I like The Storytellerand Night Gardener.

brendak [4:44 PM]
Ada’s Violin is a beautiful story.

sdiaz101 [4:44 PM]
Nice choices, everyone!

[4:44]
And in case you didn’t know, we editors are always looking for star recommendations. If you feel like a book is worthy of a star, please be sure to click the little star box in the left-hand corner before you submit your review.

ilovespicturebooks [4:46 PM]
We take your recommendations VERY seriously. We appreciate some notes if you have something to say that doesn’t necessarily fit in the review.

brendak [4:46 PM]
Radiant Child by Javaka Steptoe; Are We There Yet by Dan Santat. I have a lot of picture books on my GR 2016 faves list.

mkkuehner [4:46 PM]
I love School’s First Day of School

[4:46]
I wanted to hug it after I read it.

mpoole [4:47 PM]
What do you do with a problem by Kobi Yamada

sdiaz101 [4:47 PM]
@mkkuehner it’s a totally huggable book!

mkkuehner [4:47 PM]
Also, The Not So Quiet Library (because I love silly books best of all)

phuddy [4:47 PM]
What Do You Do With a Problem is also a fav.

sdiaz101 [4:47 PM]
Any other burning questions before we wrap up?

jillianwoychowski [4:48 PM]
Thank you. Hope to talk with all of you again soon!

sdiaz101 [4:48 PM]
Some style/grammar tips to be aware of: We use “Readers, not the reader.”

[4:49]
Merriam Webster is our house dictionary. Check character names, ages, etc. No double space after periods. Since it’s a professional review, try to stay away from “I like this because” or “You will like this because” Reviews are in third-person.

mkkuehner [4:49 PM]
Good reminders!

caseyo75 [4:49 PM]
Thank you!

sdiaz101 [4:50 PM]
@jillianwoychowski thanks for joining us! And if I don’t get back to you by Monday, please nudge me on Tues.:+1:

jillianwoychowski [4:50 PM]
OOOHH that no double space is going to be a habit I’ll need to break. Apologies in advance!

[4:50]
Will do!

brendak [4:50 PM]
Thanks for spending time with us.

sdiaz101 [4:51 PM]
And here are a few new initiatives we recently began at SLJ. Please take a look and reach out with any questions. Xpress Reviews: Select, web-only reviews of children’s and YA books and media. http://www.slj.com/tag/slj-xpress-reviews/
Popular Picks: A monthly selection of must-have new titles for kids and teens chosen by SLJ’s book review editors. http://www.slj.com/tag/slj-popular-picks/

[4:51]
THANK YOU for all you do!! we wouldn’t have a magazine if it were for all of you

dfarrell [4:51 PM]
Thank all of you! Don’t ever hesitate to reach out :grin:

sdiaz101 [4:51 PM]
weren’t*

ilovespicturebooks [4:51 PM]
Hope you all have a (No) Labor Day Weekend! Lots to look forward to going forward, but for now enjoy the rest of the summer!

sdiaz101 [4:52 PM]
An archive for this chat will be posted soon on the reviewer website. Have a great rest of your summer and good luck to those who’ve already begun your school year!

sljdvds [4:53 PM]
Until next time!

kibacache [4:53 PM]
Thanks

patricia [4:56 PM]
Thanks, all! Especially to my 5-month old granddaughter who allowed me to check in here from time to time!

sdiaz101 [6:03 PM]
Aw! A future librarian there!

kibacache [4:53 PM]
Thanks

patricia [4:56 PM]
Thanks, all! Especially to my 5-month old granddaughter who allowed me to check in here from time to time!

sdiaz101 [6:03 PM]
Aw! A future librarian there!

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