>I received an email yesterday from a librarian who hated our reviews because she thought they had too much plot summary, but she was really pissed that we “almost always give away the ending.”
Her first point is debatable–how much is too much?–but her second is demonstrably false while containing a truth: sometimes, we do give away the ending. As I explained in my response to her, Horn Book reviews are not written for the same people for whom the books we review are intended. The reviews are for grownups; the books are for kids. Sometimes the grownup wants to know if the dog dies.
There’s a bigger, probably incendiary, question raised by this particular exchange. How do we feel about grownups who read children’s books as if they weren’t? That is, people who peruse the Horn Book like another person reads the Times Book Review, looking for a new book to read? As annoying as adults who dismiss children’s books as unworthy of attention can be, I also feel my jaw clench when a fellow adult tells me that he or she prefers children’s books to adult books because they have better writing or values or stories. This is just sentimental ignorance.
I’m reminded of the ruckus in SLJ some years back when a library school professor wrote that l.s. students like to take children’s literature classes because the reading is so easy, “like eating popcorn.” You can imagine the heated response, but I think she had a point. While noting the exceptions of James Patterson on the one hand and William Mayne on the other, children’s books tend to be easier and thus potentially “fun” for adults in a way they tend not to be for children, an incongruence librarians need to remember, not dissolve. Whatever whoever chooses to read is their business, of course, but adults whose taste in recreational reading ends with the YA novel need to grow up.