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An Evaluation Guide for Fiction

Evaluations for Books ages 0-7


Author: Robert McCloskey
Title: Blueberries For Sal
Publisher: The Viking Press
Summary: Sal and Little bear both go blueberry picking with their mothers who have the same goal in mind: stocking up for
the long, cold winter ahead. Both Sal and her mother and Little Bear and his mother get all mixed up with each other on
blueberry hill. Each mother finds her baby and everyone goes home with their goal completed.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1-10 = (7)

Comment: While this story could happen in real life, I think it may not end as well as this story did.
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes Yes (but slow emerging) No (YES)
Comment: The author made it appear very quickly that Sal would get separated from her mother.
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1-10 =

(7)

Comment: As I read this story for the first time, I felt very tense to find out what would happen to Sal.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)
1 - 10 = (7)
Comment: I enjoyed the insight of Mother Bear.
Pacing

1-10 =

(7)

Comments: I felt the pacing was just right. Not too fast, not too slow.
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1-10 =

(7)

Comments: Sals character seems spot on for that of a 3-4 year old child. The motherly characters were great as well.
Setting: (detail, text)

1-10 = (9)

Comments: The details and texture of blueberry hill were amazing. Overall, I think this book is very finely illustrated.
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?) 1-10 = (9)
Comments: I feel that there are definite lessons learned within this text, but it is not overtly didactic.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1-10 = (6)
Comments: I am slightly concerned about Sals mothers nonchalant attitude when she realizes Sal is missing.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1-10 = (7)
Comments: This is a well-rounded book. Very sweet story line and very well illustrated.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low) 1-10 = (7)
Comment: Overall, I feel this is a very well rounded piece of work, with an excellent story.

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson
Title: Adam, Adam What Do You See?
Publisher: Tommy Nelson
Summary: This book walks through several beloved bible stories and lays out the lesson of each story by asking a simple question such as
Adam, Adam what do you see? The answer follows: I see creation all around me. The bible stories included in this book are as follows:
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samson, Ruth, David, Esther, Mary, John, Peter, Paul, and a little child.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 9

Comment:
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes
Comment:
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 10
Comment:
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)

1 - 10 = 7

Comment: While there is nice use of cadence and understatement, I feel the author could have used figurative language better.
Pacing 1 10 = 10
Comments:
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1 - 10 = 10

Comments: The characters in the story are all drawn very well, according to their actual biblical descriptions.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1 10 = 10

Comments:
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 8

Comments: While, there are didactic lessons within this book, they are not overtly didactic.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 10
Comments: The mood of this book is positive, and the tone is hopeful.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 10
Comments: I feel this is a well-rounded piece. The illustrations are amazing, and I love how the author has taken his coined phrase and
written about several biblical characters.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 = 9

Comment: Overall, I give this book a 9. I enjoyed the cultural characters, and the illustrations are beautiful

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Lois Ehlert
Title: Eating the Alphabet
Synopsis: This book covers knowlwdge of letters and foods
Summary: From Apple to Zucchini, this brightly illustrated book walks through the alphabet showing fruits and or vegetables whose names
begin with the corresponding letter of each fruit.
Evaluation
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, strong and clear exposition, Personal voice, avoids didacticism and
condescension, etc.) 1 - 10 = (8)
Comment: While this book is didactic in nature, it teaches important information about foods.
Compelling details (quotations, anecdotes, little-known facts, etc.)

1 - 10 = (9)

Comment: I learned a thing or two about the color of a few vegetables. Did you know parsnips are brown?
Fascinating comparisons

1 10 = (8)

Comment: I enjoyed the side by side writings of each upper and lower case letter and word.
Unusual subjects or viewpoints 1 - 10 = (8)
Comment: There are no unusual viewpoints shared.
Personalized content (new perspectives, first-person accounts, etc.)

1 - 10 =

(7)

Comments: While there are no personal accounts in this book, the illustrations speak loudly for themselves.
Accuracy (up-to-date research, references, no mixing of fact and fiction or anthropomorphism, etc.)

1 - 10 = (10)

Comments: The author/illustrator did not mix fact or fiction.


Attractive design (Photos, artwork, etc.)
Comments:

1 10 = (10)

The design and artwork are beautiful!

Photo or artwork captions (new information?) 1 10 = (8)


Comments: The illustrations are gorgeous.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = (9)
Comments: This is a well-rounded piece. The art is beautiful.
Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 = 9

Comments: I rated this book so highly because of the high quality illustrations and the need for a book like this that shows beautiful,
mouthwatering HEALTHY foods.

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Cynthia Rylant
Title: The Relatives Came
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Summary: The relatives, pack up their car, and drive up from Virginia. Everyone is happy to see each other and enjoy quality time just
being together and doing daily activities. After a long time, the relatives load up their car and go back home, each family set dreaming of the
next time they will see each other.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.) 1-10=

(10)

Comment: This is a very believable lot for me, it is also has sentimental meaning for me, because this was my childhood.
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) (YES)
Comment: The dramatic question is clear from the first page. Where are they going and what will happen when they get there?
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.)

1-10=

(9)

Comment: I loved the conclusion. It is nice to get away and visit family, but it is always nice to go back home too.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.) 1-10= (10)
Comment: The figurative language is this book is amazing.
Pacing 1-10 = (9)
Comments: The pacing is perfect. Not too fast, not too slow.
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)
Comments: I enjoyed the showing of this type of culture.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1-10 =

(10)

Comments: Attention to detail is great. Texture not so much. I still give this book a 10.
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1-10 = (10)

Comments: I do not see anything didactic within this book.


Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.)

1-10 = 8)

Comments: The mood is jovial, the tone is happy and the illustrations are colorful.
Is it a well-rounded piece?

1-10 = (10)

Comments: This is a very well rounded piece, showing a unique culture.


Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

(10)

Comment: I love this book! It shows age, culture and is just plain fun.

1-10 =

(9)

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Lynn Reiser
Title: Hard Working Puppies
Publisher: Harcourt, Inc.
Summary: A group of puppies kept bust by working hard, until one day they all wanted more. Each puppy finds purpose as they are one by
one adopted by a member of working class society.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1-10=

(8)

Comment: The book has a believable plot, similar to what you would find every day in a pet store or animal shelter.
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes Yes (but slow emerging) No (YES)
Comment: It is fairly clear early in the book, that the question is will all the puppies get adopted?
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1-10=

(7)

Comment: The conclusion is sweet. Each puppy gets adopted and finds a niche.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)

1-10= (8)

Comment: The unexpected insight is that each puppy looks different, but all have important jobs.
Pacing 1-10 = (7)
Comments: I feel the pacing is slightly off. It seems to go very fast.
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1-10 = (7)

Comments: Each puppy looks different from the last, and they each find their own culture.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1-10 = (7)

Comments: There is great attention to detail within the illustrations. Not as much attention to texture.
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?) 1-10= (7)
Comments: The theme of this book is didactic in nature, but it is written in a way that it is not noticeable.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.)

1-10=

(9)

Comments: I enjoyed the mood/tone of the book. Every pup had obvious differences, yet each pup had and found a different niche.
Is it a well-rounded piece?

1-10= (7)

Comments: This is a well-rounded piece. Nice multi-cultural story line albeit didactic.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1-10=

(8)

Comment: I enjoyed the multi-cultural aspect of the book, and I love the lesson behind it!

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction

Evaluations for Books for Children over age 8


Author: John Steptoe
Title: Mufaros Beautiful Daughters
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Summary: Mufaro had 2 beautiful daughters. Nyasha was kind as well as beautiful, but Manyara was beautiful but unkind. When the king
decides to take a wife, Mufaro decrees that the king may choose between his 2 beautiful daughters. Manyara, being selfish, sets out to make
sure that she will be the chosen daughter. Manyara sneaks out of the village in the middle of the night. She runs into a hungry boy in the
middle of the path and after he asks her for food, she humiliates him and continues on. She comes across an older woman who seeks to give
her advice, but is rude to this woman also.Nyasha woke at first morning light and is shocked, along with the rest of the village, that Manyara
is missing. Manyara comes across the same hungry boy and the older woman, and is very kind to them both. Manyara arrives at the kingdom
in time to meet the king. Just as Nyasha and their father arrive, Manyara runs out of an enclosure and begs her sister not to go meet the king,
saying he is a 5 headed serpent. Nyasha proceeds to meet the king, who appears to her as a tiny garter snake. The snake announces to
Nyasha that he is the king, and he was also the hungry boy whom she shared a yam with in the forest , and the older woman whose advice she
had taken., and then before Nyashas eyes, the snake turns into the king and tells her that he would be happy to have her as his wife.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 7

Comment:
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes
Comment: From the very beginning, it is evident that one of Mufaros daughters is only pretty outside.
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 10
Comment: I enjoyed the tension and climax of this book.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)

1 -10 =

10

Comment: I enjoyed the figurative language and unexpected insights in this book.
Pacing 1 10 =9
Comments:
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1 - 10 = 10

Comments: The development of the characters is amazing. I enjoyed each character as they were presented.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1 10 = 9

Comments:
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 10

Comments: There are lessons taught in this book, but there is no overt didacticism.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 10
Comments: The tone of this book is hopeful. The mood is suspenseful.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 10
Comments:
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 = 10

Comment: I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a breath of fresh air to see a book for this age group that teaches the value of doing the right
thing and inner beauty.

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Chris Van Allsburg
Title: Zathura
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Summary: When Walter and Dannys parents leave them alone, a board game called Zathura takes them on an out-of-this-world adventure in
outer space.. From meteors, losing gravity, a robot that is out to destroy alien life forms, what can go wrong does , as each boy takes their
turn on the board game. As Walter nearly disappears into a black hole, he closes his eyes until thud he and Danny are back in the park by
their house at which point, the boys decide to go play catch.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 1

Comment: This story is not believable, but is great for the imagination!
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes
Comment: From page one, when you learn that their parents are leaving, the major dramatic question arises. Will the boys be ok?
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 10
Comment: There is a considerable amount of tension in this book, and a great conclusion.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)
Comment: Great usage of precise vocabulary.
Pacing 1 10 = 8
Comments: The story moves at a nice pace. Not too fast, not too slow.
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1 - 10 = 5

Comments: I dont see much culture in this story


Setting: (detail, texture)

1 10 = 10

Comments: There is great attention to detail and visible texture within the illustrations.
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 10

Comments: Slightly didactic with a lesson about doing as you are told and loving your family, but still a great story.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 10
Comments: The mood is fun, the tone is serious.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 8
Comments: Between precise vocabulary and fantastic illustrations, I loved this book.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 = 9

Comment: This was a fun book, and I plan on using it later on in my teaching career when I teach older children.

1 - 10 =

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Author: Brian Selznick
Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Summary: Hugo is a young orphan boy who has been entrusted to the care of his uncle, a clock tender who works in a train station. When
Hugos uncle disappears, Hugo struggles to maintain the clocks, hoping that it wont be noticed that his uncle is missing. Hugo Lives in the
walls of the train station and in his spare time, he works on repairing an automaton that his father had cherished. Hugo also cherishes the
automaton, and is convinced that if he can repair it, it will send a message from his dead father. As his uncle has disappeared, Hugo begins
stealing toys from the train shop which is operated by Georges, to help in the repairs of the automaton. Hugo notices a key around Georges
granddaughter, Isabelles neck and realizes it is the last piece that he needs to make the automaton work. Hugo steals the key and rushes back
to the automaton to watch it as it draws a picture from his fathers favorite movie. The signature on the picture is Georges signature. Hugo is
shocked and tries to find out why Georges signature is in this picture. With Isabelles help, Hugo figures out that Georges was once a
magician who invented the automaton, When movies became popular, Georges became a film director, but after the war when Georges
friends were killed in a car accident, Georges was left to take care of Isabelle and forced to stop making movies. Once Georges comes to
terms with his past, he decides to have a banquet and is finally able to celebrate his work from his younger years.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 10

Comment: By modern day standards, the plot may seem farfetched, but by Paris 1930 standards, it is quite believable.
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes
Comment: From very early in the story, the dramatic question is clear. What will become of Hugo? Will he finish the automaton?
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 10
Comment: This story is very climactic and full of tension. I was very pleased with the outcome.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)

1 - 10 =

10

Comment: I loved the unspoken cadence between the pictures and the words in this story. I mostly enjoyed the seamless transition between the
pictures and the story.
Pacing 1 10 = 10
Comments:
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1 - 10 = 10

Comments: Brian Selznick hit the nail on the head with the descriptions and cultural considerations for the time period that he was writing.
Setting: (detail, texture)
Comments:

1 10 = 10

The setting in general is amazing. The texture rich pictures are very detailed.

Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 10

Comments:
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 10
Comments:
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 10
Comments: This is a very well rounded piece. I very much enjoyed the detail oriented drawings.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low) 1 10 = 10
Comment: I LOVED this book. It was an amazing find, and I plan on having my own children read this book.

Author: David Wisniewski

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Title: Golem
Publisher: Clarion Books/New York
Summary: When the Jewish people living in Prague are accused of mixing the blood of Christian children (the blood lie) with flour and water
to make Passover bread, they become victims of cruelty themselves. Locked in their walled ghetto, the Rabbi of the city knew he had to find
some way to get do away with the destruction and anger. While dreaming, the Rabbi receives n answer when a finger writes the word GOLEM
out of smoke and ashes. With the help of his son-in-law and a student, the Rabbi uses earthen clay and shapes the golem who was supposed
to help protect Jewish people and keep them safe. He was also supposed to capture and take to the authorities, the people who were spreading
false lies and planting evidence on the blood lie. As the jail filled with Golems arrests, the people of Prague realize that the blood lie was
slanderous and untrue. Golem at this point begins to go rogue. The Rabbi tells the Golem that he will now return to the earth. The Rabbi,
uses his staff and begins erasing the letters that brought him to life from Golems forehead. The Golem begs the Rabbi to let him live. The
Rabbis son-in-law and student wheel the clay back into the synagogue and cover it with old prayer books. Since then the Golem has slept, but
tradition holds that if desperations arises, the Golem will come to life once more.
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 1

Comment: This story was not believable.


Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) YES
Comment: How will the Jewish people be protected from the horrible blood lie?
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 5
Comment: There was a lot of tension. I did not like the end of the story.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)
Comment: There was great use of figurative language.
Pacing 1 10 = 8
Comments: Great pacing of the book. Not too fast, not too slow.
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)
Comments: I thouroughly enjoyed the cultural aspects of this book.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1 10 = 10

Comments: The illustrations are amazing. Very detailed.


Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 7

Comments: There was a lesson in this book, but it was not overtly didactic.
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 6
Comments: The mood of this book is serious and the tone is dark,, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 8
Comments: This is a well-rounded piece. Great figurative language and excellent illustrations.
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 =8

Comment: Great book. I take points from the rating due to the heaviness of the topic.

Author: Kate DiCamillo

1 - 10 = 8

1 - 10 =

An Evaluation Guide for Fiction


Title: The Tale of Despereaux
Publisher: Candlewick
Summary: This book is written in 4 different sections. Each section focuses on a different character. Despereaux is a tiny mouse. He is the
last of his litter and he is the only one who is born alive. Born with large ears and an even bigger heart, Despereaux sees the world differently
than everyone else. He does not like eating, but instead enjoys listening to music. He particularly likes listening to King Phillip play the guitar
and his daughter, Princess Pea sing. Princess Pea and Despereaux have an encounter and Despereaux have an encounter. Princess Pea picks
Despereaux up and Despereaux realizes that she looks just like the princess in the books that he loves, and he fall desperately in love with
Princess Pea. Pea longs to keep Despereaux, but her father refuses. Despereauxs brother witnesses the encounter between Pea and
Despereaux and goes to their father. Their father call a meeting of The Mouse Council where they vote to send Despereaux to the dungeon to
be eaten by rats. They tie a red thread around Despereauxs neck and just before they push Despereaux down the stairs, the thread master
tells Despereaux that he is a lover of Fairy tales as well. They push Despereaux down the stairs. Despereaux is so scared that he begins
telling himself a story. The Jailer hears Despereaux talking and picks him up. Each Chapter after this one adds new details from each
characters point of view. There is a LOT that happens in this story!
Evaluation
Plot:
Believability (absence of coincidence, sentimentality, etc.)

1 10 = 8

Comment:
Major dramatic question (clear early in the book?) Yes
Comment: The drama in this story is gut wrenching. The story is dramatic from the birth of Despereaux until the very end.
Other considerations (satisfactory conclusion, tension, clear conflict, etc.) 1 10 = 10
Comment: The conclusion is satisfactory. There is so much tension in this story.
Style and language (precise vocabulary, figurative language, dialogue, cadence, understatement, unexpected insights, etc.)
Comment: I loved the way the words leapt off the page at me as I read this story.
Pacing 1 10 = 10
Comments:
Character (dynamic protagonist, characters ring true {including cultural considerations} etc.)

1 - 10 = 10

Comments: The characters in this story are all dynamic and well written.
Setting: (detail, texture)

1 10 = 10

Comments: The setting is amazing. The detail oriented pictures are few, but beautiful.
Theme (absence of overt didacticism?)

1 10 = 10

Comments:
Other considerations (mood, tone, etc.) 1 -10 = 10
Comments: The tone is somewhat dark. There are valuable lessons to be learned from this story.
Is it a well-rounded piece? 1 10 = 10
Comments:
Overall Rating (10 high; 1 low)

1 10 = 10

Comment: Overall, I give this book a 10. It is very well written and SO creative. I loved it.

1 - 10 = 8