Visiting The Writing Cave today is Pat Zietlow Miller, who has a great feature on her blog Read, Write, Repeat (good advice by the way) called Kid Reviews.

The kid reviews are such a good idea. How do you find the kids for your book reviews?

I wanted to let kids do the book reviews for three reasons. First, because they’re the ultimate consumer for books. Second, because I wanted to spotlight kids who love reading. And third, because they’re a lot cuter and funnier than I am.

At first, I thought I might have trouble finding kids to review the books, but that hasn’t been the case. After I recruited family members and friends who couldn’t really say “no,” I had lots of volunteers from children of my coworkers, people I go to church with or my writing buddies. I also worked out an agreement with my youngest daughter’s second-grade class where they review a book when they’re the “Star of the Week.” I’ve had lots of fun working with the kids in her class and getting to know them better.

I wish they had a “Star of the Week” when I was in second grade! Do the kids pick the books or do you?

Usually I pick the books, although I try to offer the kids a choice so they’re not forced to read something they don’t like. My goal is to review recent releases, so I have a list of titles and actual books I keep on hand. And, I especially try to choose new releases from authors I know. For the second-grade class I work with, I donated a supply of books for the class to keep.

Sometimes, a child wants to review a specific book, and I usually let them as long as it’s not too old.

What’s the funniest response you’ve gotten from a reviewer?

One little girl told me her nickname was “Princess Reads-a-Lot.” Another boy had obviously studied the book he reviewed very carefully. He pointed out small details in the illustrations I had never noticed. And, I always enjoy the question, “What did this book teach you?” The kids are very literal. They say things like, “Don’t go near the edge of high places.” or “Don’t go outside in your underwear.”

It amazes me how attentive kids are to illustrations. Do you anticipate expanding the reviews to middle grade and YA books in the future?

Yes! I’ve had some middle-grade and YA book reviews and author interviews, but I’d love to do more. I’m trying to track down willing volunteers. Suggestions are welcome!

See that, readers? Suggestions welcome 🙂 What are you working on writing-wise right now?

I have a chapter book I’m continually polishing and an array of picture book manuscripts I’m creating, refining and submitting. I’ve gotten a nice collection of form rejections and a few editorial letters and requests to resubmit, but I haven’t gotten the final offer. Luckily, I find the whole process fun and know there’s always more to learn.

You recently featured a book review from your cat, Vince (which was fantastic, read it here). Are there any more special guest reviews upcoming?

Vince might be a tough act to follow. He really enjoyed his moment in the spotlight, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he made a return appearance down the road. When I took him to the vet after his post appeared, the vet asked, “Is this the blogging kitty?” Vince is still living off that moment.

By now, everyone knows how I feel about cheese. What’s your favorite kind of cheese and why? 🙂

Well, I do live in Wisconsin, so cheese is an integral part of my life. In fact, a town about an hour from where I live has a high school whose nickname is the Cheesemakers. I always thought that might make for interesting cheers at sports events. You know:

Cheddar, Muenster, Mozzarella, Swiss!
We’re the team that just can’t miss!
Go-oo-oo Cheese!

 

My favorites are provolone and Monterey Jack. And I have a manuscript about a cow named Colby Longhorn that is full of cheese-related humor.

Wow, so much awesomeness in that answer. First, I want to read the book about Colby Longhorn. Second, I want a picture with the Cheesemakers mascot. Third, maybe there will be an occasion to use that cheer at the next SCBWI conference…*wiggles eyebrows*

You used to be a sports journalist. Do you fill out NCAA basketball tournament brackets? Any predictions for this year’s tournaments?

I was a sportswriter for several years, but I covered high school and community sports, not Division I basketball. Even so, my family has a big online bracket competition every year and I’m in a contest with work friends, too. I never do well in the brackets, though. I vote with my heart too often. I sometimes pick schools because they have cool names like Gonzaga or the under-dog factor like Wofford or because I like where they’re located, like Vermont. But this year, I chose Syracuse to win the whole thing in one tournament and Kansas in the other.

Good picks; I went Kansas as well. Thanks so much, Pat! Be sure to check out Pat Zietlow Miller’s blog and enjoy her fantastic reader reviews.

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