Sunday, March 23, 2014

Writing Reviews

By: Stephanie Burkhart 

Writing reviews isn't easy. As authors, we all like to get good reviews, but it's important to give reviews, too. I thought I'd talk a little bit about how I try to write reviews for children's books. Next month I'll focus on writing reviews for mainstream novels.

Children's picture books aren't that long, but you have to capture the essence of the story in a dynamic paragraph or two.

My first sentence or two I try to capture the plot of the book without giving it away and I usually end asking if the main character can solve the problem? (That's the hook to get you to read the book – to find out if he/she does.)

Then I talk about the illustrations. Are they eye-catching? Unique? Fit the story?

Other things to mention in the review: Is the title appropriate? Is the author's writing style engaging? Did you understand the main character's challenge? Was the ending satisfactory? Would you recommend this book? What's the age range for the book?

Question: Do you have any tips for writing reviews for children's books?
My son, Joe, reading
Here's my review for "The Marshmallow Man:"

"The Marshmallow Man" is an entertaining story that will have children flipping the pages to find out what happens next.

An old lady who is lonely creates a marshmallow man to help keep her company. The marshmallow man however, is an adventurous soul and sets out with the refrain, "You can't catch me, I'm the Marshmallow Man."

The story will appeal to preschoolers' and young elementary students' sense of adventure. The Marshmallow Man stimulates a child's imagination. Macquignon's illustrations are sharp, bringing the story's creativity to life. "The Marshmallow Man" is a fine book for any 3-7 year-old's library.

Author Bio: Stephanie Burkhart is a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. When she's not working at her day job, she's writing and being a Cub Scout mom. She loves chocolate, adores coffee, and enjoys taking walks around Castaic Lake.  Her story, "The Giving Meadow" is published with 4RV Publishing. Caterpillar makes his way through the meadow with the help of some friends.

Find me on the web:








  1. Tweeted for you. Currently, I'm writing mostly reviews for non fiction circa WW1, so I tend to say what I've learned, if they're biased and if they include the important resources.

  2. At my children's book blog, I follow a similar format to what you do. I tend to get new releases from authors I've read before, so I might mention why I am familiar with their work or other titles by them that I've read.

  3. I write Adult Paranormal-Romance (heavy on Action and Political Intrigue) but am now jumping genre' to write a story for and about my six year old granddaughter (who loves dinosaurs) called "Lily and the Time Buggy" where she, I and friend construct a mobile time-machine and go back to see dinosaurs in different eras. As for your day-job as a 9-11 Dispatcher, I would think you could write several books from that experience alone! LOL

  4. So interested in your article, Stephanie! Have recently branched out into the picture book genre. Having an absolute ball!! And it's so much fun working with the illustrators. A whole new world of writing which I'm loving! Thanks for your insight. Lynda Raymond

  5. Great post, Steph - I never even thought about writing reviews for children's books. I have a hard time finding time to write reviews for the romances I read. But after reading this, I realize how important it is to write them for children's books too.

  6. Great information on writing reviews for children's books. I like the idea of having a 'hook' ending. Reviews are so important to us authors.
    I write reviews for Sylvan Dell (now Arbordale or something like that) and Enslow, as well as children's authors. Depending on where you want to put the review (I try to get them up on Ezine Articles, so word count needs to be what they want) you need to keep track of the word count. For Amazon and Goodreads is doesn't really matter though. I like the visibility from the article directory.