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Not. So. Fast.

chickensThose of you who follow @rogerreads might have seen my occasional cranky #authoraskyourself (#editoraskyourself, #revieweraskyourself…) tweets in which I turn whatever crime against language and/or literature that has crossed my desk that day into a blind item for an anonymous public spanking. I keep them anonymous because a) I’m not that mean, b) they’re often examples of promiscuous horrors rather than being singularly egregious, and c) I don’t want to taint any official opinion that  the Horn Book might subsequently proffer in a review.

I have learned not to offer premature word on what the Horn Book might or might not say about a particular book. Years ago, a close friend published a novel that had been submitted for review. I stayed out of the discussion about whether to assign the book to a Magazine reviewer and which reviewer to send it to, but later when I heard that the reviewer and the editor loved it, I felt safe in telling my friend that the book would be recommended in an upcoming issue. Not. So. Fast. The reviewer had second thoughts and convinced the editor that the book should in fact not be reviewed. Ouch.

Wincing, I remembered this little learning experience when I saw that a Facebook acquaintance posted a sad lament that the review her new book had been “promised” by another publication several months ago had not yet appeared. While I have no way of knowing just what was promised by whom to whom, I’d advise concerned parties to neither offer nor expect a review until it’s ready to print. A Horn Book Magazine review goes through several editors and stages before we think it’s fit to print, and it changes all along the way. And sometimes it disappears–one or another of us will look askance at a book or its review, conveniently claim amnesia for the mistake of assigning it in the first place, and query our fellows as to whether to drop it from the Magazine (#Ijustdidthistoday). For a selective review source like the Magazine, the toughest decisions involve those books that are good but not great, and with those that our partners in crime at SLJ, etc., are raving about while we’re thinking, “this? THIS? Really?” The challenge posed by this latter kind is deciding whether to publicly demur or just keep quiet.

Don’t even get me started on stars.

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.

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