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Friday, January 18, 2008

When a reviewer "gets" us

As we've said before, we love to hear what readers think of our books. But we also like to hear what grownups think. That’s why a good review in SLJ or Booklist means so much to us. Every time the reviews come in, we send them to everybody at Stone Arch Books. We all talk about what we think of the reviews, what we can learn from them, how they can better our future books, and whether we agree with the review. It’s rewarding when we see that a reviewer really gets what we’re doing.

This review was in the January School Library Journal.

GALLAGHER, Diana G. Guilty!: The Complicated Life of Claudia Cristina Cortez. ISBN 978-1-59889-838-5; ISBN 978-1-59889-881-1. LC 2007005955.
GALLAGHER, Diana G.. Whatever!: The Complicated Life of Claudia Cristina Cortez. ISBN 978-1-59889-839-2; ISBN 978-1-59889-880-4. LC 2007005954. ea vol: illus. by Brann Garvey. 81p. (Claudia Cristina Cortez Series). photos. glossary. Web sites. CIP. Stone Arch. Jan. 2008. PLB $23.93; pap. $5.95.

Gr 4–7—In Guilty!, seventh-grader Claudia and her friend Monica are accused of stealing from popular clique leader Anna. Learning the principle "innocent until proven guilty," Claudia tracks down the real thief, exposing other wrongdoings and earning a few extra bucks in the process. Whatever! describes the never-ending drama faced by many 13-year-olds. When longtime friend Adam wants to join Claudia and her friends' "Whatever Club," the trio must decide if letting a boy in will alter the way their club is run and, ultimately, affect their friendships. With their TV-sitcom-like tone, these books are lively and engaging. Their short sentences, changing and playful fonts, and cartoons will entice reluctant readers. Each title includes background information about the different characters and their relationship to the protagonist. Fans of Marissa Moss's "Amelia's Notebook" series (S & S) and Carol Weston's The Diary of Melanie Martin (Knopf, 2000) will enjoy Claudia and her dilemmas. Discussion questions and writing prompts are included.—Jennifer Cogan, Bucks County Free Library, Doylestown, PA (School Library Journal, 1/2008)

We loved that the reviewer could tell the Claudia books were meant for reluctant readers, since we designed the Claudia books specifically to appeal to the growing population of reluctant girl readers. We use cool fonts to emphasize key words and phrases. We are careful with sentence structure, in order to make reading easy and fun. The pages are lined with small illustrations to help identify characters and enliven the story. And the Cast of Characters in the beginning of the book helps readers predict the story and recognize characters immediately, thus removing one of the very first obstacles to reading.

We’ll have more Claudia in our Fall ’08 catalog. In fact, we’re having the photo shoot for the new Claudia covers in February!

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