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Unit of Study:  Book Reviews

Page history last edited by kim.wells@spartanburg2.k12.sc.us 13 years, 11 months ago

 This page is to share the suggested list of book reviews discussed in class and to provide a space for us to add to this list collaboratively.  *Please add your first and last name and the title and author of your text with your post. Please also add a picture if available and a hyperlink to the page where we could order the book online if we choose to.


Book Review Text Set


Product DetailsNew Moon magazine for girls


Spaghetti Book Club - an online site that publishes book reviews for kids by kids



Kids Read - an online site for librarians and teachers that features an extensive review section that has tons of book reviews in alphabetical order


Reader Views - an online site that also publishes book reviews by kids for kids in alphabetical order


BookLoons - an online site with hundreds of book reviews that is updated often.


Common Sense- Recommended by: Amber Pitts This is a great website that offers reviews on books, games, TV, movies, websites and music. It gives a book summary, good things about it and also publisher's information. I really liked that this website rates it with up to 5 stars, but also rates it on what age it is appropriate for. Each thing can be rated on, iffy, or off based on things such as violence, sex, language, consumerism, drinking drugs or smoking. I think this is a great way to review products before sharing them with kids. Another neat thing is it offers sections such as "What parents need to know" and "Families can talk about" which could lead itself to great conversation starters after reading the books with children.


Book Review Site - Alan Brown - Recommended by Lindsay Blanton. This is a neat site that I ran across when looking for ideas for book reviews.  I love having students use technology to read book reviews and then they can write their own, plus it is a great way to have it posted online. 



Mentor Text

BOOK REVIEW MODEL features professional writer for YES Mag and a 10 year old reader, Anton Makazawa. The two provide great compare and contrasts as mentor texts.



Oh yes, this book is definitely “oh yuck”! And terribly interesting too. Author Joy Masoff takes great delight in sharing the “grossities” of the world from A (as in Acne) all the way back to Z (as in Zits)! She shares the recipe for toe “jam” and farts too. Masoff really gets into the subject, dropping pearls of information that should make everyone at the dinner table blow chunks. This is more than just superficial information guaranteed to gain attention; we’re talking honest-to-goodness science facts coupled with some stomach-churning historical facts. Masoff also goes to the trouble of cross-referencing, allowing readers to fully absorb a particular subject. You should enjoy this thoroughly revolting book. (But whatever you do, do not look at the picture of finger warts on page 148—it’s truly, truly disgusting!)


Anton Nakazawa
Age 10

This book was well-designed. I liked how the topics were listed in alphabetical order, the goop design on the edges, and the size and shape of the book. The subject was also grossly interesting. It’s something new and you don’t expect to find a book all about gross stuff. What I liked most about the book was what I learned and that it’s very funny too. Also, I enjoyed the stories about the past called, “The Putrid Past”. The only problem I found was the lack of colours. Only two colours were used to illustrate the book. I think they should have used more colours so readers could see how gross stuff really is! I learned a lot. For example, there are two kind of farts: noisy and silent (but oh-so-deadly). Different chemicals mixed together make that rotten egg smell. It was a lot of fun reading the book. The book is great to read because it’s funny and cool to find out all about these different things. The only thing I would change is to use more colours on the pages. What worked well was the funny drawings and the photos. They made me say, “Oh my gosh! That’s gross!”

     I would say this book is excellent! It makes learning fun and I give it a 9 out of 10. The one word I would use to describe this book is: disgusting. The topic is so interesting though, that I would read other books just like it.

(Originally published in the Sept/Oct 2001 issue of YES Mag.)



Movie Reviews

Rotton Tomatoes - This is a site that reviews movies through links to local newspapers as well as reviews of video games.


Metacritcs -     recommended by Kimberly Barnette

This is an online site for an overall media review.  There are reviews on movies, DVD's, TV shows, music, and video games.  What is neat about this website is when you click on the particular game you get a summary of the game, a list of what the critics said about it, and a list of what the users said about it.  On this review website you get both the public's opinion and different creators opinion. 


Restaurant Reviews

MetroMix - This online site is wonderful for local restaurant reviews across the country.   You just type in your zipcode and then choose your cuisine to access tons of local restaurant reviews.  It also has reviews of cultural and recreational locations and events.



Recommended by Cammie Price

This is an online site for restaurant reviews. You type in your city and it will pull up local restaurants. You can also type in what kind of cuisine (ex. Mexican) you are looking for. It will give you a map, address, telephone number, rating with starts out of 5, and any local reviews. It is very helpful and user friendly.



Recommended by Renee Phillips

This site gives reviews that are written by everyday people for more upscale places. Great vocabulary!


In General Reviews

Amazon - a great site with several reviews for each book submitted by the public as well as from Kirkus and the American Library Association.  Amazon not only has reviews for books for just about everything that they sell including music, videos, toys, collectables, etc.

Recommended by Joan Green.  I love going to Amazon for book and product reviews.  I always read what people have written.  I pay attention to how many stars a book or product received.  I feel so much better when I buy something that received five stars!  Another feature that I enjoy is when they tell you other products that customers bought when they bought the one you are considering.  I have gotten a lot of good ideas for further purchases that way.

 http://bnreview.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Personal-Picks-Best-of-2009/The-Best-Children-s-Books-of-2009-Chapter-Books/ba-p/1875 This is a wonderful site from Barnes and Noble that is a great resource for teachers, parents, and children.  It includes reviews for all genre and the link that I posted is for the best children's books for 2009.  Recommended by Cathy Rode


                      Target Store recommended by Bonnie Cumbo

So many people shop at this store for a "one stop shop" experience.  I was thrilled to find that there is a review option for their books and I wrote a review for Cynthia Rylant's Dog Heaven.    This store has reviews for other items such as clothing, movies, home needs, etc.  I recommend this site for anyone that is busy and wants to review all types of items. 


Current Issue Magazine Cover    Time for Kids

Recommended by Sarah Stephanoff. Time for Kids has review of books, movies and music in every issue on the back cover. Sometimes the reviews include snippets from interviews with the authors, actors or musicians. The only drawback is that sometimes the reviews are very brief when we would want them to be longer for our kids to study. It is sometimes difficult for my kids to mimic the style of very short reviews.


PEOPLE coverPEOPLE Magazine-Recommended by Lori Milan

 I love the book, movie, and music reviews that I receive each week in my PEOPLE magazine. They show books that I normally wouldn't get my hands on. I seem to get my summer reading list from PEOPLE....along with some "creditable" celebrity gossip!


Clothing Reviews

Shoes, Shoes, Shoes Recommended by Amber McDonald

This online review of shoe stores was a neat site. I didn't know that there would be a site dedicated to rating various types of shoe stores! Selction, Features, Ease, Customer Service, and Overall Rating are all parts to the review. It also lets you go directly to the site and shop if you would like to. It also lets you review the store revew that was placed by someone else, which I did to see what would happen. I liked this site!!!!


Movies Reviews

Fandango Recommended by Kelly Compton

This is an online review for movies. You can see the lastest critics and viewers feedback. You can see trailers, show times, top 10 list, coming soon, etc. You can also put this app on your iphone...love it!!


Music Reviews

ITunes Online - Recommended by Heather Yordy - Gives the top charts/sales on ITunes and allows you to access music, movies, tv shows, etc.  Within the ITunes application, you can access customer feedback as well as professional reviews of millions of albums.


Movie Reviews 

http://www.pluggedinonline.com/-Recommended by Martha Vest

This is the Focus on The Family Review Site.  Movies are reviewed on this Christian site. All areas are evaluated-spiritual, violence level, drug and alcohol use, and basic quality of production.  Very reliable, especially for parents who screen carefully what their children watch.


Daycare Review

http://www.daycarereviews.com/ by Crystal Weathers

Daycare Reviews is the premier online reference to find and rate daycare providers nationwide. We feature a comprehensive database of daycare providers and user reviews/ratings in every state and the District of Columbia!

You can literally search every daycare in the nation.

Our site allows you to:

Find Daycares Nationwide
Search our comprehensive database to find daycare providers in your area. We have nearly 100,000 listings of daycare centers and daycare homes in every state and the District of Columbia.

View/Post Daycare Ratings and Reviews
Read daycare reviews and ratings posted by other users or post your own! Research daycares in your area and tell others about your experiences.

Access Resources and Discussion Forums
Access child care resources for parents, kids and providers such as free publications, links and information. Learn about great educational software titles for children.

Tell Us What You Think
We value your feedback and ideas. Please let us know what you think about this site and what we can do to make it better for you.




recommended by Kim Sutherland

This is a site that is great for movies!  

  • It shows the new release movies (dates)
  • offers many options for having movies sent to your house and in store exchanges
  • you have access to watch movie trailers 
  • user friendly (change your plan or cancel at anytime)
  • movies are sent to you by mail
  • you can submit a critique of all the movies and read reviews from others that have rented a particular movie
  • you can also see what movies are still in theatres and when they will be released on DVD

Great site for movie viewers!!!! 





Unit of Study

Writing Reviews (Restaurant Reviews)

Renee Phillips


.Reflection and Overview

This unit of study worked really well with 5th grade but could be used with 3rd and 4th grade too. Because restaurant reviews use vivid vocabulary and adjectives that appeal to the senses, this unit of study was great to show students how word choice enhances your writing and makes it more interesting to read. Many of the reviews that we read were written for an adult audience and use vocabulary that the students might not encounter in their everyday reading. We also found that some reviews were more formal than others so we were able to talk about the audience for which they were written. For example we found that the more “expensive” the restaurant, the more difficult the review was to read. Also reviews really do showcase a variety of sentence structures and examples of grammar usage and made the unit a perfect time to teach mini lessons on process. We did a lesson on image grammar during this unit. Next time I will do one on punctuation as well. This is a unit of study that I will use in the future because the students really enjoyed it and so did I as the teacher.


Target Indicator(s)
Create informational pieces (for example, book reviews and newsletter articles) that use language appropriate for the specific audience.

The students will create an informational piece that both informs and persuades a specific audience.

2 Weeks

Students will create restaurant reviews for Wades Restaurant after doing a unit of study on review writing. Even though this study includes a field trip to the restaurant as a class, the unit of study could be done without a trip. The students would just have to make sure that they chose a restaurant to write about that they had visited at least once. Taking the class trip gave us the opportunity to use or writer's notebooks like a real author.

Professional Resources Study Driven by Katie Wood Ray
www.swpunitsofstudy.pbworks.com/ (this site will give you places where you can look for examples of mentor text)

Procedures (Balanced Literacy Lesson) All units of study in Writer's Workshop start with a close study and immersion in the genre of writing that the students will produce. This takes at least 3 days and in most cases takes a week.
Day 1
The teacher will share with the students an example of restaurant review. As they listen to the review the students will begin to notice characteristics of a restaurant review. (for example what is included, sentence structure, length of article) See noticing chart in attachments We found that all reviews talked about service, price, food, and atmosphere.
Day 2
The teacher will share a different review with the students. They will look to see similarities and differences in the articles. You will continue to add to the noticing chart from day one. During independent writing time the students should start to think about which restaurant they would like to write about. What kinds of information would you need to include and how much do you already know. Many students may be working on backup work as well. (see Study Driven)
Day 3-5
The teacher will continue to share reviews with the students. Students should read some reviews independently and complete individual noticing charts.Because review use adjectives and verbs that paint a picture for the reader, it would also be a good idea to look for some of those in the reviews you are reading. A mini lesson on grammar fits into this study as well. Use the students writing to help guide you as you chose what they need at this time. During Independent writing they may be working on writing a review or doing backup work. If you are going to visit a restaurant as a class they may also be doing research during this time. We found reviews that were written about a local restaurant that might be considered a landmark, included historical facts. (for example who started it, how long has in been in business, or how many people it serves a day)
Day 6
Visit a restaurant with the eye of a reviewer. This does not have to happen as a class but if you can make this work it really does help the students practice using their writer's notebooks. We chose Wades because of the historical significance and we wanted the students to do research. We also felt that most of them had been to Wades at some point so it would fun to visit again with a different purpose.
Day 7-10
Students should complete a review that includes all of the qualities we have noticed in our study. Because everyone writes at a different rate students may finish before day 10. If this happens they should go back to working on backup work. Also you may chose to do some specific mini lessons during this time based on your class and what you notice through your conferences. For example we found students wanting to write something like "the macaroni and cheese was really good". We did a lesson on how to show me and not tell me. So the same sentence became "the macaroni and cheese was made from scratch and was very creamy and cheesy. It tasted like my grandmother's.


Assessments Students will hand in a review that will be graded using the attached rubric.


Noticing Chart

  • Interesting usage of punctuation and sentence structure
  • Good examples of figurative language and vivid vocabulary
  • Reviews for “fancy” restaurants were written for a more educated audience (big words)
  • Paragraphs were short and often did not indent
  • Told what made the food good and not just that it was good
  • Talked about atmosphere
  • Talked about the menu (what kind of food)
  • Talked about price
  • Talked about service
  • The more expensive restaurants told you how to dress


Useful Website for Reading, Blogging and Reviewing 

   by Kim Wells  

Tween tribune.ppt This Power Point can serve as an introduction for your students, fellow teachers, and parents to blogging and reviewing.


Unit of Study Plan for 7th grade ELA classroom: Writing Book Reviews 

by Kim Wells



Lesson plans include lesson sequence, noticings chart, student writings, and teacher reflection lesson plan.


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