My daughter Cassie was looking for something new and interesting to read, so I found one of my favorites for her at the library: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. I had read it when I was taking a children’s literature class in college, and I can still remember how exciting it was, so exciting that I couldn’t put it down. I was sure she’d enjoy it, too.
Cassie’s about halfway through the book now, but she’s not responding to it the same way I did. Perhaps it’s because I was older when I read it, and she’s just going on twelve. She reminded me of some of the more violent passages (the story involves a mutiny on a ship), and wondered if she should continue. So we looked it up at Focus on the Family’s Book Reviews.
Much like the Plugged-In movie reviews, the book reviews are designed to provide parents with enough information to decide if a book is appropriate for their students. Each review includes a plot summary, a summary of the Christian beliefs expressed (either directly or indirectly), an evaluation of the authority figures in the story and how they are portrayed, a description of other belief systems introduced in the book, and any profanity and sexual references it contains. At the end of the review, you’ll also find a list of awards the book has won, as well as study questions.
While these reviews don’t discuss the literary merit of a book, they do provide parents with such a detailed overview of the book that there are few, if any, surprises. After reading a review, a parent can feel confident about assigning (or un-assigning) a particular book.
So what about Charlotte? All looked good on the review, so Cassie’s moving on to Part II. Hopefully, she’ll enjoy the adventure as much as I did.