Posted on 9 May 2010 Sunday

Good morning!

I’m finding myself reviewing reviews mostly so that I can improve my own. I find it quite a challenge to find what I want a review to say. I’ve researched how to write a review, only to find there is no definitive approach. So, I’ve decided to follower reviewers I like and analyze why I like them. Here are a couple that I’ve recently discovered. Friday, Laura posted ‘Speed Reviews‘ which were neither too gushy nor too critical and revealed just enough of the plot to pique one’s interest. I enjoy the quotes Ari posts with her reviews. Ari, what does “IQ” mean? Uma, Doret, Ah Yuan and Lotus Reads raise reviews to an artistic level. Tanita Davis does too and I’m so glad to see her on GuysLitWire! Actually, everyone there is quite talented! All of these reviewers skillfully  incorporated what that they’ve learned about life, writing and literature along with something that cannot be taught to inform and excite us about a book. It is clear that they enjoy reading! And then there is Richie. Richie can get me interested in books I’d have no intention of reading. His reviews can be longer than I’d care to read, but it doesn’t matter because it’s good reading. This is from his review of Tell Us We’re Home by Marina Budhos.

So much of what really tore me up about this story had to do with that sense of entitlement that some of the story’s characters — both teens and adults — seem to possess so many decades after the deaths of Emmett and Medgar and Martin.  I thought that part of the Civil Rights Movement had to do with everyone being able to slurp from the same drinking fountain and play on the same park lawn (and for the first kid in line to get to slurp first).  But an ugly and pivotal scene that plays out in the park in TELL US WE’RE HOME is just all too plausible given the exclusionary sentiments one regularly encounters in the news these days.

“Ah, but ain’t that America for you and me”
— John Mellencamp

In the end, it all comes back around to a wise old lady, Abigail Harmon, who knows and demonstrates that when it comes to having and sharing a sense of belonging, opening one’s heart and tearing down walls is where it’s at.

Richie’s reviews can be found here.  He uses a wiki, so you’ll have to subscribe by email to keep up with his reviews. He also posts reviews to the YALSABook Discussion and LM_NET listservs. I haven’t found professionals that I follow just yet. I do like the reviews at the LATimes and ALAN. (This links to the online edition, but I prefer the print.)  They don’t overwhelm me like the massive amounts of reviews in Booklist or School Library Journal tend to do. They also offer a diversity you don’t find in many other places.

You know I’m a bleeding heart when it comes to a good cause so, I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed PaperTigers lately. Recent articles range from the post about a local Cub leader who went to Haiti with Shelter Box to celebrating the first anniversary of One Hen to observing Mother’s Day with “To Mama With Love” a collaborative online art project that honors moms across the globe while raising funds to invest in one remarkable mama.

And I’m going to end it here, observing Mother’s Day, sending up good thoughts to my mom, Pearling Taylor and making a donation in her name to the above mentioned organization. I miss my mom. I didn’t cherish her enough when she was here, but I always knew that what I learned about mothering was what I learned from her and not from what she said, but from what she did. She wasn’t a perfect mom and neither am I. But she showed me how to do for my children, particularly how to make them my priority and how to love them without end. I agree with Doret that it is careless and painful to randomly throw out Mother’s Day greetings to women of a certain age. We don’t know their memories or their desires. I can wish you a peaceful day without putting a label on it. I don’t know if anything can be more painful that hurt from a mother and I learned that from watching my own mom. And nothing can be better than her love, a mother’s love. My mom also taught me that a mother’s love, that acceptance, that concern about me not just for the moment but for how you want me to be can come from any woman who is wise enough to know her own strength. There are plenty of these women out there, women who don’t even know how many people they ‘mother’. These are often the women I think about on this day and give thanks for because this would be an ugly world without them.

Good reading to you this Sunday Morning!