News & information for the community of SLJ reviewers. 
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Your SLJ Review Editors. Top row, from left: Luann Toth, Kent Turner, Ashleigh Williams, Stephanie Klose. Bottom row, from left: Mahnaz Dar, Shelley Diaz, Kiera Parrott, Stephanie Coy. 

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

Welcome to the second issue of the newsletter exclusively for SLJ reviewers. 

In big-time reviewing news that may have an immediate impact on your review-writing, "verdicts" have come to SLJ. We think these small, but powerful, additions to the end of each review will help our readers make informed purchasing decisions. More on that below. 

You'll also see a link to a brief demographic survey. This is the first time that SLJ review editors have ever gathered statistical data on the demographic makeup of our reviewers as a group. We know our reviewers are the best in the we'd like to quantify the various kinds of diversity represented within that group. The survey is short and completely anonymous. Your participation will help us focus on our strengths and identify opportunities to expand our outreach and recruitment. 

Thank you for your feedback last month regarding the organization and grouping of reviews by age/grade level. Your responses are helping us make crucial decisions about the Reviews section...including some changes that will take effect in the spring. More on that next month!

Happy Reading,
Kiera Parrott
Editor, SLJ reviews

How diverse are the reviewers for School Library Journal? We suspect that, as a group, our incredibly talented corps of reviewers represent one of the most diverse groups of professional reviewers in the industry—but we currently have no solid statistical evidence to support that guess.

This is where you come in: Take the SLJ SURVEY.

Professional review journals, like SLJ, are hugely influential in terms of what books are purchased and which titles receive attention from librarians and teachers. As “gatekeepers” of sorts, the editors are committed to examining our own process for review selection. How do we select books for review? Who reviews them? And what kinds of expertise and experiences do our reviewers bring to that process? 

We hope that you will participate in this anonymous survey. It will help us identify our strengths as an organization as well as provide a means of zeroing in on opportunities to expand our recruitment for new reviewers.  


Meet & Greet at ALA Midwinter

Attending Midwinter in Chicago? Swing by to say hello and meet some of your fellow reviewers.

Monday, February 2
12:30 to 2pm 
M/X Lounge, located in the Hyatt Regency-McCormick Place


Meet the Reviewer: Sabrina Carnesi

Last issue we asked for volunteers willing to be featured in a new monthy spotlight. We got an overwhelming number of responses! Thank you! 

We'll be profiling one reviewer in each issue. It may take us a while to get to everyone...but we appreciate your enthusiasm & willingness to share yourselves with our readers. This month, meet Sabrina!

If you are interested in being featured, please contact Kiera ( 
If you've ever read our sister publication, Library Journal, you'll recognize a key feature of their reviews: verdicts. These short and powerful final statements come at the very end of a review and serve as a final statement on whether librarians should consider purchasing the title, and if so, for whom and/or what kind of collection. 

After several surveys and focus groups, we've determined that our readers would like these statements as part of their SLJ reviews as well. You'll notice them starting in the February issue. For this first issue, the editors worked carefully to craft the verdict statements using the existing review content—in fact, most reviewers were crafting verdict statements already! We simply had to add the word "VERDICT" before your final sentence. Moving forward, we'd like each reviewer, when possible, to add this information to their review.

To aid you in this process, we've created a handy Downloadable Guide with tips and guidelines for crafting verdicts in your reviews. 

Editor's Corner 

Style tip of the month: The Present Tense

When evaluating the merits of a book, use the present tense. For example, instead of “Thirteen-year-old Candace was a strong and likable protagonist,” try “Thirteen-year-old Candace is a strong and likable protagonist.” It lends the review a sense of immediacy and freshness. 
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