News & information for the community of SLJ reviewers. 
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Author Mac Barnett right after the Youth Media Awards press conference at ALA Midwinter, sporting a shiny new Caldecott Honor sticker on his lapel. 

The SLJ Reviewer Connection 
February 2015   |  Building a stronger community for reviewers

Raise your hand if you were in attendance—in person or watching the live webcast—for this year's Youth Media Awards. I don't think I'm the only one who walked away with a big smile and a "WOW" on my lips. What did YOU think? 

I'm happy to report that the new VERDICT statements are a big hit. While at ALA, I ran into many SLJ readers who were pleased to hear about the change. And speaking of change...we've got more on the horizon, this time in how we organize and group reviews in the magazine. More on that below. 

If you haven't already filled out the demographic survey, we would love your input. On the heels of the Day of Diversity, the other review editors and I are looking for ways to both highlight and expand the diversity of our reviews and reviewers. The more we know about our current group of fantastic reviewers, the better we can focus on our strengths and direct future recruitment efforts. 

Are you serving on an ALSC or YALSA book award committee this year? Not sure what that means for your work as an SLJ reviewer? Check out the guidelines below. And, as always, feel free to reach out to me or the other editors at any time. 

Happy Reading,
Kiera Parrott
Editor, SLJ reviews

Reviews Reorganized 

Thank you for your recent feedback regarding some proposed changes to the grouping of reviews; your input enabled us to make some key decisions.

Beginning with the April 2015 issue, the SLJ Review sections and subsections will be a bit different. Sparked initially by casual conversations with librarians—both subscribers and reviewers—and further refined through focus groups and surveys, we've settled on a simple and more-targeted way of grouping books by type—one that we believe will make reading reviews for collection development purposes much easie
r and more efficient. 

The reviews will still be, on the broadest level, divided into Fiction and Nonfiction. But within those sections there will be distinct subsections for Picture Books, Chapter Books, and Middle Grade Fiction (whereas now many titles are lumped under the general Preschool to Grade 4 or Grades 5 to 8 categories). In addition, we are adding a YA section, which will include distinct Middle School and High School subsections. In the Nonfiction realm, we are tweaking the grade levels a bit, offering an Elementary as well as a Middle to High School section. Graphic novels, or "graphic nonfiction" as the case may be, will continue to be highlighted in each grade level section. Special formats like Board Books and Beginning Readers may also have periodic roundups and spotlights, in addition to the monthly Series Updates.

A very basic breakdown of the new sections and subsections can be found here, though we are still working on the technical upgrades, so some slight changes may occur between now and April.  

Questions? Concerns? Ideas for what you'd like to see in the Reviews sections? Let us know. 

Meet the Reviewer: Paula Willey

Last month we met Sabrina Carnesi, who fell—quite literally—head over heels for Huck Finn on her path to librarianship. 

This month we profile the brilliant and talented Paula Willey, longtime SLJ and Series Made Simple reviewer. Which book made her fall in love with reading? And which children's lit classic does she admit to never having read?! GASP! 

If you are interested in being featured in a future profile, please contact Kiera ( 
I'm on an ALA Book Award Committee...Now What?

So you are on the ballot or you've been appointed to an ALA book award committee. First of all, congratulations! 

Now the tough may need to stop reviewing altogether during your term of service, or you may need to shift the types of books you review. For example, if you are serving on the 2016 Printz committee, you cannot review for SLJ (or any other professional journal) any Printz-eligible titles published in 2015. But you can certainly review picture books published in 2015...if you have the time.

1) The first step is to contact your committee chair and ask for the guidelines for your particular committee. The eligibility requirements are different for each award, which will directly impact the types of titles you can and cannot review. If you are the chair, contact your Priority Group Consultant. 

2) Next, contact me ( I'll need to know which committee you're on and for what year(s.)  

3) Finally, do some soul-searching. While technically you might be allowed to review picture books while serving on the Printz committee, will you have the time and energy to do so? If the answer is yes, huzzah! We are more than happy to adjust your assignments as needed. But if you need to take a hiatus during your committee appointment, that's okay, too. Just let us know, and we can easily reactivate your profile after your committee work concludes. 

New Reviewer Handbook—Now Online!

With basic guidelines, tip sheets, and several documents about evaluating literature, the handy new SLJ Reviewer's Handbook is a great resource. Even veteran reviewers may find it useful! 

Click HERE to view, download, or print. 

This year we plan to offer more online tools, resources, and training opportunities for SLJ Reviewers. Have an idea or suggestion? We want to hear it! 
Sharing Your Review & Communicating with Publishers/Authors

- No publisher, marketing rep, or author/illustrator should ever contact you about a previous or an upcoming SLJ review. If anyone besides an SLJ editor contacts you about a review, do not respond. Forward the communication to us immediately, and we will mediate.

- After SLJ edits and publishes your review, you may share up to 50 words of the final review on a personal website, blog, or social media platform. We love it even more if you link back to SLJ in some fashion. Six months after the print publication of your review, you may share it in full-text. Remember that the copy you submitted to us isn't the final copy. If you share your review online, link to the finalized version from Book Verdict

- Please consider the detailed and specific content of your SLJ review confidential until it is published. Do not contact any publishers or authors/illustrators to share information about your upcoming review. This includes whether you recommended the title for a star. Once the review is published, feel free to sing a the books' praises (or lament its failings) to whomever you please!

Sad twitter bird image courtesy of 
Shelly ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ . Licensed under CC-BY.
Editors' Corner 

Style tip of the month: The reader vs. readers

Here's the thing about's typically not a matter of right or wrong but simply a preference. At SLJ, one funny little internal rule is to use the more active and inclusive term readers (rather than the reader). Take this example:

In this thrilling mystery, the reader meets the nefarious Dr. Dingle. 

In this thrilling mystery, readers meet the nefarious Dr. Dingle. 
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