Professional Update: I’m a Reviewer!

Well, I failed at this whole writing a blog post once a week thing but that’s okay! I’m going to be positive about it because I have some exciting news to share… I am now a reviewer for School Library Journal!

I’ve wanted to be a professional reviewer since I was in high school which, admittedly, was not that long ago. Back then I thought it could be my job. I saw the cover quotes on the first Percy Jackson book and told myself I would one day write something as beautiful as what Polly Shulman did for the New York Times: “perfectly paced, with electrifying moments chasing each other like heartbeats.” That one line was, in my view, the best thing I’d ever read. Boy could Polly Shulman write! I’ve carried that one quote with me to this day as my paragon.

Fast forward to graduate school when I was in a reviewing course with Roger Sutton and Martha Parravano from The Horn Book. Roger said something about how reviews shouldn’t be about the reviewer showing off their writing skills. A review should be about the book in hand and nothing else. I was crushed. But what about the Percy Jackson quote!? Now that I read reviews to help me in my real librarian day job, I see his point. The purpose of a review is to sell a book not a reviewer. While Shulman’s quote certainly sells the book, you can see that she’s flexing her writing muscles there, too.

That class—and graduate school in general—taught me a lot about the publishing industry. Under Roger and Martha’s tutelage, I learned that the New York Times, which writes long-form book reviews, was different than The Horn Book, School Library Journal, and their ilk. I also learned of the reputations journals earned: Kirkus once being nicknamed “Carcass” for its highly critical, anonymous reviews; Horn Book‘s image as the “ivory tower”; and, School Library Journal‘s incessant niceness.

Of all the journals, though, I’m proud to now be affiliated with School Library Journal. Call it “incessant niceness” if you wish but I personally find the journal to be the most immediately useful to librarians in the country. Of course, I read them all—Booklist, too, when I can get my hands on it—and I don’t necessarily trust one journal over another. But, nonetheless, ’tis an exciting time. I look forward to sharing my reviews here when they are released into the wild!


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