News & information for the community of SLJ reviewers. 
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A rare peek into a corner of SLJ's book room. Just like a library...but messier! Pictured: Shelley Diaz, reading Dragons Beware!, the follow-up to Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado's hilarious graphic novel, Giants Beware!

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

Hello from the blustery and slush-filled streets of the Northeast! Though March has only just arrived, the editors at SLJ are knee-deep into the April issue, already thinking about spring and summer.

We've got some fun and exciting news below including some upcoming training webcasts and a soon-to-be revealed reviewer website. Don't forget to RSVP and let us know what kinds of training webcasts you'd like to see in the future. 

How are you liking your SLJ assignments? Happy with the genres and types of materials we are sending? In the mood to mix it up a bit? Fill out the Request Form below to specify any changes you'd like to make to your record, and we'll do our best to send you the types of books you most enjoy.

Happy Reading,
Kiera Parrott
Editor, SLJ reviews

RSVP for Webcast on Reviewing Basics

We are pleased to announce the first of several upcoming Google Hangouts for reviewers. The first one, Reviewing Basics, will take place on Monday, April 6 at 3pm EST, hosted by yours truly and my cohorts here at SLJ Review Headquarters. 

We'll go over some 
technical aspects of using the online Review Center to submit reviews, cover general guidelines for evaluating literature, and offer tips on crafting rich but concise copy. You'll also have a chance to meet the editors and ask questions. If you've never attended a Google Hangout, that's okay—we'll provide detailed instructions beforehand. Simply RSVP if you're interested in attending. If you can't make the live event, the video will also be archived. 

We anticipate offering at least 2 or 3 additional webcasts this year, on a variety of topics including Diversity, Describing Artwork in Picture Books, and Evaluating Nonfiction. Have an idea for a training webcast? We'd love to hear it

Meet the Reviewer: Maryann Owen

Last month, we met the fantastic Paula Willey, a Baltimore County public librarian who's been reviewing everything from ancient cultures to graphic novels for SLJ since 2008.

This month we profile Maryann Owen, a librarian from Oak Creek, WI, who's been reviewing picture books and other materials for nearly two decades. 
Coming Soon...a Website Just for Reviewers!

Wouldn't it be great to have a dedicated space where SLJ reviewers can find resources, training documents, and videos and connect to other reviewers and the editorial team? We think so, too.

In the next few months (actual debut TBD), we'll be rolling out a website for reviewers. In the meantime, we'd love to hear from you. What types of resources or features of a website would you like to see? Let us know.
Reviewer Request Form

Each SLJ reviewer has a profile that helps the editors select material to send them each month. This includes a section on the types of genres, age groups, and subjects preferred. If you have been less than thrilled with your recent assignments, it may be time to update that section. At the moment, the Review Center does not allow you to make those changes yourself—but we are happy to update your file on our end!

Simply fill out this simple Request Form to let us know what you'd like to read. And we'll do our very best to match your assignments whenever possible. 
Demographic Survey: Last Hurrah! 

If you haven't already, please take a moment to fill out the first-ever SLJ Reviewer Demographic Survey. The link will close on March 15. 

Sparked by the We Need Diverse Books campaign, this survey was created to take a look at the demographic makeup of our current pool of reviewers. We'd like to know where our strengths are, and be aware of those areas in which we need to recruit more diverse perspectives. 
Worth Reading:

Malinda Lo on Reviewing & Diversity

Lo, a YA author and a cofounder of the Diversity in YA blog, takes an in-depth look at how various professional journals (SLJ included) treat issues of diversity and representation in the review context. It's a fascinating read. 

Top 20 Most Annoying Book Review Cliches
"Gripping," "compelling," "poignant," "unputdownable." We are all guilty of employing some of what The Examiner's Michelle Kerns calls the most annoying book review cliches. A gripping, riveting, timely read! 
Editors' Corner 

Tip #1: Comparison Titles

SLJ subscribers love when a new book is compared to something already in their collection. This can help librarians determine if the book has readalike appeal or if it's just more of the same. Sometimes, though, it feels as if every YA dystopian novel gets compared to The Hunger Games and every poignant teen love story gets measured against The Fault in Our Stars. With some books, these comparisons are inevitable, but whenever possible, try to reach beyond the usual suspects.

Tip #2: The Book That Is vs. The Book We Wish It Was

It can be tempting to project what we want to see in a book onto the title we actually have in our hands. For example, I would love to see more nonfiction easy readers. But if I'm reviewing a fiction easy reader, it's not fair to complain that it is too fictional. It is what it is. Instead, criticism should focus on what it does well (or does poorly) in that given genre or format, for the intended age group. 
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