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Who are you, and what qualifications do you have to review these books?

Please allow me to direct your attention to the ABOUT page.

Why do you review books with so much [sex/profanity/drug use/other trouble] in them?

YA literature is often uncomfortable because it’s written for people going through an uncomfortable point in their life. Popular media and peers teach teens a lot of inaccurate stuff about these issues, and well-written YA lit is a powerful weapon against disinformation and ignorance. Whether or not we like it, our students live in a world full of sex, profanity, drug use, and other trouble.

Why do you review older books that have already been reviewed by other people?

Why not? Most classroom libraries are stuffed with books from garage sales and library discard racks; few teachers have the luxury of buying brand-new books every month. There are so many great books out there that were written ten or twenty or more years ago that still ought to have a place in the classroom – and because there are so many, teachers can’t possibly know about all of them.

More to the point: we read books as we find them, and review them as we read them, and we’re just not that picky. 🙂

Will you read and review [book]?

We’re happy to read any YA, YA-appropriate, or professional-development-for-English-teachers-and-librarians book. There’s just two provisos: first, the book needs to be published (there are too many legal issues surrounding review of unpublished manuscripts), and we need to have access to the book.

How do you choose categories for the book reviews?

Students come up to teachers and ask, “Do you have any books about ____?” The noun in the blank is either frighteningly vague (adventure, technology) or dauntingly specific (surviving on desert islands, kids who hate math class but love math). With each book, we tried to imagine what kids might ask for that would remind me of that book. We also tried to consider discussions among teachers trying to find enrichment novels to fit various units. Most of the categories describe major setting points (WWII, post-apocalyptic), themes (LGBTQ, body image), and interests (vampires, band) as well as the obvious genre category – that is, when there is a clear genre.

Why don’t you categorize any books “coming of age”?

Redundancy. How many YA books can you list that aren’t, at some level, coming-of-age stories?

Why do you call [ethnic group] [what you call it]? I prefer to be called _____.

This can be a sensitive issue for many people. In the interest of deflecting blame to people being paid more than we are, GP defers to the AP Stylebook, which states:

  • The preferred usage for African Americans is “black.” The term is not capitalized.
  • Preferred usage for Caucasians is “white,” also not capitalized.
  • Preferred usage for Asian people is “Asian,” capitalized. Please note that in British usage the term applies only to people of the Indian Subcontinent.
  • “American Indian,” capitalized with no hyphen, is preferred over “Native American.”
  • Hispanic is the preferred term for those whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country. Latino is acceptable for Hispanics who prefer that term. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican-American or the name of an indigenous group in a Latin American country. Avoid Chicano as a synonym for Mexican-American. Refer to people of Brazilian and Portuguese origin as such, not as Hispanic.

When it’s important to identify an ethnic group, in a post or as a category, GP tries to adhere to the AP’s guidelines.

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