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>People who make purchase decisions based on starred reviews aren’t doing their job right

>Considering how professionally bankrupt–giving ’em, getting ’em, using ’em–the whole starred review system is, I really like what Shelftalker has to say about the whole business.

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Margie Culver says:

    >I concur with the assessment of this article. In fact, sometimes after reading a book that has received a starred review I am left shaking my head. Before purchases are made multiple reviews should be read and books should be read as much as possible. And the most crictical element is how well are you familiar with the tastes and needs of your patrons.

  2. >Yep, I too agree with the article.

  3. proseandkahn says:

    >Thanks for posting this link. I agree wholeheartedly. I am a middle school librarian. While I am interested in what has gotten starred reviews, I still read most of the reviews each month in multiple journals, including HB. And then I buy what will fill my curriculum needs and the tastes of my patrons. What good is filling the shelves with starred reviews if no one reads them?


  4. Anonymous says:

    >Shouldn't you use your "why we can't have nice things" tag? I'm not sure that "people might do stupid things with this list" is a reason not to make it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    >What is it about the starred review system that makes it "professionally bankrupt"?

  6. >I am dittoing Anonymous's comment and question. I certainly don't buy for the library based on entirely on stars, but something that has a bunch of stars is definitely going to get my attention as a reader. I appreciate the stars as a way of helping the cream rise when there are so many books being published. There's a reason that Chime has stars from all of the youth review journals.

    That doesn't mean that worthy books aren't sometimes overlooked, of course.

  7. Anonymous says:

    >I wonder if those in favor of stars/star tallies are the authors who receive them.

  8. Rachael says:

    >The star tally (along with things like the ALSC Notables nominations, etc.) is crazy helpful if you happen to be trying to put together a Mock Newbery reading list.

  9. Hope Vestergaard says:

    >But lots of Newbery books do not receive stars in advance of the award, right? Or maybe that's just an old jives tale to make starless-sneetches feel better?

    I would like to hear more about the professional bankruptcy of the star system, tho.

  10. Roger Sutton says:

    >I think stars are bankrupt because they indicate that writers, publishers, reviewers, and readers alike have no patience for words–they want the gold-sticker of unnuanced approval instead. For a thing that is made of words–a book. If buying books is as all-fired important as we say it is, should we really be making purchasing decisions based on somebody's stupid little symbol?

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