"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, February 3, 2020

TTT: Starred Reviews

Top Ten Tuesday (a slight variation): Starred reviews.

Professional book publications give starred reviews for their favorite books. Each year I pay attention to these starred reviews to help me attempt to figure out which books will win an award at the ALA Midwinter meeting which just concluded last week. Looking at just six of those publications: Book List, School Library Journal, Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, Horn Book, and The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, books with the most starred reviews should technically win. Right? Well, let's check out if that is true.

(Young Adult books are the only ones I am considering here.)

There were two books which earned a starred review from each of the six publications: Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson and On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. Neither of them won any awards last week. Hmm. Interesting. Seems to me that six starred reviews should equal winners.

1. Michael L. Printz Award (Best YA literature of the year) 
  • Dig by A.S. King- Award---4 starred reviews
  • The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi- Honor---?
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki- Honor---5 starred reviews
  • Ordinary Hazards: a Memoir by Nikki Grimes-Honor---4 starred reviews
  • Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean- Honor-1 starred review
2. Schneider Family Book Award (Teen living with a disability)
  • Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein (Ages 13-18)-Award---0 starred reviews
  • The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais- Honor ---0 starred reviews
3. Stonewall Children's and Young Adult Literature (LGBTQ+) :
  • Black Flamingo by Dean Atta- YA Award---0 starred reviews
  • Pet by Akwaeke Emezi - Honor---4 starred reviews
  • Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian- Honor -1 starred review
4. William C. Morris Award (First YA novel by author)
  • The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Phillippe- Award-0 starred reviews
5. YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults 
  • Free Lunch by Rex Ogle- Award---2 starred reviews
6. Coretta Scott King Book Award (African American Author) 
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft-Award---4 starred reviews
  • The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus---3 starred reviews
  • Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds---5 starred reviews
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia---4 starred reviews
7. Coretta Scott King Author-Steptoe New Talent
  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams---3 starred reviews
8. Sibert Informational  Book Award (Distinguished Informational books)
  • This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy-Honor---3 starred reviews
  • Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes-Honor ---4 starred reviews
9. Newbery Medal (Most outstanding contribution to children's literature)
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft-Award---4 starred reviews
  • Genesis Begins Again by Alicia Williams---3 starred reviews
10. The Sydney Taylor Award (Jewish experience)
  • Someday We Will Fly by Rachel deWosken - YA Award---2 starred reviews
  • Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz- Honor-1 starred review
  • Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz ---3 starred reviews
11.  American Indian Youth Literature award
  • Hearts Unbroken, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith - YA Award ---1 starred review
  • Surviving the City by Tasha Spillett - Honor ---1 starred review
  • Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing by Angela Hovak Johnston - Honor---0 starred reviews
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza -Honor---3 starred reviews
  • Apple in the Middle by Dawn Quigley - Honor ---1 starred review
12.  Asian/Pacific American Literature Award
  • They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott - YA Award---2 starred reviews
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon- Honor---5 starred reviews
I tend to pay attention to starred reviews to make my YA choices for what to read next, yet, based on my example here, I see it is not a reliable method for picking a winner. Let's see how many starred reviews the National Book Award Finalists earned...
So. Hmm. Notice that the winner got no starred reviews, while one of the finalists got five. Interesting. Just interesting.


  1. Hmmmm. Very interesting to see how many winners didn't have many starred reviews.

    1. It's a flawed process, for sure. WHERE THE WORLD ENDS only had one review out of the six publications but it won the CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2018 so I am sure it has starred reviews from other publications.

  2. It's a bit like the Oscars. They sometimes pick odd choices and then award Best Picture to the least popular.

  3. Interesting! I've never thought to look at the relationship between starred reviews and awards, but your list does give me a couple ideas of possible books to look into.

  4. Fascinating. I'm always looking to read the best books, and finding them is an incredibly difficult process. Sometimes I differ from others. I think you are right in concluding that it is a flawed process. I seem to have more success when I carefully listen to bloggers who read carefully and review books honestly.

  5. I used to work at a library and we would do a mock of one of the awards. We would read the books on the list and have a meeting to discuss and vote. The books are always so random and not ones that I’ve heard of most of the time. Found some real gems though! The one that actually won- in real life- was totally one of my least favorites. Nice post!


    1. Me, too. I used to host a Mock Printz event after choosing 8-10 books earlier in the fall for students to read. We would get together and have big debates about the books.

  6. It's so cool that you do this. What a creative hobby. :)

    My TTT .

    1. You are right. It is a sort of hobby. But now that I am retired I find I am not as interested in the end result as I was before so not sure if I will keep this up.

  7. I hadn't really paid much attention to the correlation between awards and starred reviews, but it's so interesting seeing how you laid it all out here.

  8. This is really interesting. I'd also be curious to know more about the makeup of those writing these starred reviews and who ultimately decides a winner. Wonder where the disconnect it.

  9. I learned something today, because I didn't know what a "Starred Review" meant, other than some books got it (although I knew about Kirkus).

    At any rate, awards and whether I'm going to like the book don't necessarily correlate. I loved On The Come Up. Haven't read any of the books that got an award (although I might read Frankly in Love at some point). There's probably some subjectivity involved in the process too.

    1. Yes. It is confusing since we give stars to our reviews on goodreads or on our blog. But publications that review a lot of books give starred review to relatively few books. Kirkus gives more stars than most.

  10. I honestly never paid attention to awards but it's interesting to see this!

  11. I like what you did with this week's topic.I'm really surprised On the Come Up didn't win anything.

    Lauren @ Always Me

  12. What an interesting way to look at it. Probably reflects the fact that even starred reviews are the opinion of one person or a few people.

  13. What a unique post! Love how you looked at starred reviews stats. But you're so right--it's interesting how there doesn't seem to be a connection between winners and starred reviews.

  14. ooo that's very interesting and an original insight!


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