Peer Reviewing

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In the wake of my letter to The Guardian and additional blog comments, I have opened a new discussion topic - Peer Reviewing - on ACHUKACHAT, to debate the following:
Does the encouraging of a critical fray amongst authors in a community as intimate as that of children's books in the UK, whilst being diverting for mediawatchers such as ACHUKA, risk damaging the geniality of children's publishing?

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It's rather sad that there is so little consideration of children's books in the press - locally or nationwide. And the little I see is mostly in the form of long articles about the persons whe are already successful, with little in the way of analysis or critical comment about their work. Yet I feel sure that teachers and parents would value more reviews and more helpful reviews... rather than hoping that the blurb on Amazon is a good reflection of what's inside the covers.

Alan, you might also like to copy this comment across to the ACHUKACHAT Discussion.

No, I wasn't imputing jealousy, merely observing an emboldened readiness to be critical.

Yes, I was questioning the use of peer reviewers, which is a feature of Guardian Review as distinct from other newspapers.

Reviews of children's literature are, sadly, few and far between. The columns of the Guardian offer one of the few opportunities for a writer for young people to have their work seriously considered. Michael Thorn's recent comments seem to imply that many of its peer reviewers have been motivated by the jealousy of lesser writers for better ones. With one obvious exception, the review of Julie Bertagna's The Other Side of Chocolate, most reviewers are both critical and constructive, examining other writers' books with commendable seriousness and sensitivity. My Caught in the Crossfire was reviewed by Gillian Cross. Gillian criticised some aspects of characterisation but also praised the sweep of the novel and its examination of the dynamics of a town in crisis. I might not agree with everything Gillian wrote but the criticisms were pertinent, well-supported by evidence and valid. The positive aspects of the piece far outweighed the negative. Where, in my opinion, the review of Julie Bertagna's novel, departed from the usual high standards in The Guardian was in its pursuit of an arbitrary agenda. It decided that 'issue books'(the review's choice of genre, not mine) were bad and damned The Other Side of Chocolate for that reason. Nicola Morgan and Keith Gray's reviews don't fall into that category. They were balanced and showed a high degree of praise for the books reviewed. Keith, for example, clearly rates Kevin Brooks as a significant writer. I wholly concur. I should, I've shared numerous short lists with him! Nicola knows Malorie Blackman is a major writer (one who, in my opinion, should have won the Carnegie Medal with Noughts and Crosses). Neither review set out to be unfair to the writers considered.
The Guardian continues to provide a valuable forum for children's literature. Long may it continue to do so.

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This page contains a single entry by achuka published on February 15, 2004 9:36 AM.

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