Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Janet Morgan Stoeke On Reading Reviews For Inspiration

Janet Morgan Stoeke is the award-winning author of the delightfully entertaining Minerva Louise books, Waiting for May, The Bus Stop and It's Library Day. Recently, she confessed that she likes to read book reviews (of books by other authors). She graciously shares some thoughts about reading well written reviews:

I don’t review books, but I love to read reviews for the pure inspiration they provide. If I am feeling unsure about what I want to do next, I’ll go to my stack of Horn Books and immerse myself in the language of book-praise. It is thrilling to read reviews that pin down just what it means to succeed with a picture book. And I scurry off to try, try again to make something that meets those high standards.

I love the way that reviewers write about books, their careful words about crafting a text and their artful descriptions of what a child will see in it, that’s what gets my juices flowing. It’s like reading college class descriptions; I always want to take those classes. (Well, not calculus, but anything artsy.) And this way, it’s free.

Doesn’t everybody do this? It is the reason I subscribe to The Horn Book. I pour over the reviews for little bits of insight that speak to me about bookmaking. Often this sparks a small flame of excitement that leads to something new in the way of creativity. I use it also as a way to keep abreast of what is being published, and the manner in which newer things are being received. Taking risks can be scary, but reading about 14 others who have taken risks and were found to be brilliant . . . well, it makes one a bit more willing to be daring.

To learn more about Janet and her publications please visit

If you would like to read reviews of Janet’s books; see the awards, honors, prizes and reading list entries for these and other titles, as well as reading measurement program data, lesson plans or teaching guides, please sign up for a free trial of the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database at

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