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This New York Times article about whiny college students reminds me of the time a publisher called to complain about a negative review on the grounds that the book in question took three years to write. And that memory reminds me of the equally annoying line in a picture book autobiography by the admittedly wonderful Cynthia Rylant, where she talks about having breakfast and then taking a seat in her garden where “before I know it, I’ve written a picture book.”

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. Rebecca Hachmyer says:

    Thanks for posting this– a compelling piece of evidence in the fight against teaching to the test. If even those who succeed in making it to college fail to understand or exhibit critical thinking and a love of learning for learning’s sake methinks it is time for a change.

  2. Some writers can annoy (scare?) the bejeebies out of you, can’t they?

  3. Grade disputes…ah yes. I expect a bunch this semester. Yesterday I graded five of my young Turks’ papers and delivered two 60s, a 45, and two -10s. You got that right: minus ten out of 100 possible points. Why?

    * Didn’t respond to the assignment’s topic (turned in some paper that was obviously written for a sophomore sociology course)
    * Didn’t respond to guidelines for revisions posted in their drafts; just copied and pasted the original into a Word document and sent it in
    * Cited no sources and provided no bibliography (what part of “research paper” is hard to understand?)
    * Had no discernible thesis statement
    * Barfed out a series of incoherent paragraphs

    These are not minor issues. But you can be sure they’ll be in the chair’s or the dean’s office by the middle of next week, complaining about how harsh and unfair I am.

    Some of these folks are on their way to your offices. In fact, several have moved on into my magazine writing course. {sigh}

  4. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Vicky, I once had a student hand in a paper like that, and I consulted with the department chair, who said “I think we’re just going to have to really come down on her and give it a B minus.”

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