Reviews Gone Wild

book reviews, children's booksOver the fall I made a book review sheet for each of my three grandsons who live on the other coast. These boys, ages 6-10, rarely stop moving enough to read. But of course I send them books every other month with hope in my heart.

I sweetened the book review deal with the promise of giving them a $5 Amazon gift card for each review they return. I sent them each three blank reviews.

My son called with regret in his voice: “I don’t think they’ll do this.” I understood. Can’t “make” a child read a book and enjoy.

Wellll, last month in the mail I received one review from the oldest (who does love to read). I was so ecstatic and excited that I immediately bought and e-mailed him a $10 gift card, thinking his brothers wouldn’t be following through so I should reward the reader and give him a big “YAY.” book reviews, children's books

But in the mail the next day I received two reviews from the youngest brother. Oh, no. Another $10??

Then the following day two more reviews from both fellows. And then, the dyslexic one who hates to read sent me a story he wrote, instead of a review, with his own illustration. Triple whammy!

children's books, children writingI am now officially Amazon poor, but still. I Love Book Reviews!!

Oh, and ahem, many of my friends and followers have bought my latest book, MOLLY FINDS HER PURR, for themselves or as gifts.  I’m happy to say Molly has received excellent reviews on Goodreads and Amazon – all five stars.

But we authors always like to remind readers. WRITE A REVIEW. Reviews help a book find its way into other people’s hearts, and reading laps.

Molly Finds Her Purr is a beautiful story about friendship and acceptance. It is important for both adults and children. Illustrations are wonderful! I bought copies for Christmas gifts for adults and for my precious little grandchild. We love it!” Amazon Review

114 thoughts on “Reviews Gone Wild

  1. How wonderful! Children never cease to amaze me. I love that you gave them an incentive. So pleased your new book is getting great reviews. That last picture is adorable. Happy Holidays to you and yours. xo

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  2. you are going to be broke in no time, but I love that they are reviewing, a great means to an end. glad your book is doing so well, I’m going to buy one to share with my class and my grandies.

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    • I LOVE the idea of you reading MOLLY FINDS HER PURR to your class, Beth. I’ve read it at elementary schools to kindergarteners and 1st and 2nd graders here in my area to great success.. As you know, children this age believe that authors are celebrities. They ask me for my “autograph.” 🙂

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  3. While reading, I was thinking that this post was a “re-run,” Pam. Then I remember you’d told me about this in an email. I loved it then and I love reading it here on your blog. Such a brilliant idea! Gift cards are a great incentive. 🙂 Thanks for sharing. ❤

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  4. You’re a wonderful grandmother, and you found a terrific way to engage with your grandchildren while encouraging them to read. I often read or re-read books my daughters were reading so we could discuss them. (Sometimes we still do this!)

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  5. What a great idea! I have a grandson, seventeen, who states quite boldly, “I don’t like to read!” as if that is a good thing. I take that as a challenge, to find just the right book for him, that will help to instill a love for books and reading.

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    • Oh boy, Cindy (literally and metaphorically), that IS a challenge. I wonder if your teenage grandson has tried graphic books, or audio books. I watch the younger busy men in my family who work too many hours and “don’t have time to read,” and cringe. Reading not only brings us joy, it brings us knowledge.

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  6. I love it, Pam. And what a great idea to get the grandchildren reading, thinking about books, and writing about them. Wonderful in so many ways. I’m going to copy cat with the Gnome King, though he might need another year. And congrats on the reviews for Molly. What a treat. Happy Holidays.

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  7. What a wonderful way to encourage the kids to read. I really love this. I’d like to try it on my nephews (who are gamers), but don’t know what kinds of books would interest them. Two in 7th grade, one in 9th grade, any suggestions?

    Thank you for sharing this. You are a good grandma. Have a great weekend.

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  8. What a brilliant idea! If I were still teaching elementary school, I would use this idea in a heartbeat. (Not the gift certificate—I’d go broke with so many students leaving reviews.) 😎 My favorite part is, “One sentence on why I liked or didn’t like the book.” That is amazing in its simplicity and yet opens the door to having a student write a persuasive piece of writing.

    I think this a great way to connect with your grandchildren too. I’m sure they love the gift certificates, but it also is a special connection that they have with their grandma. You can’t put a price on that!

    I ‘m laughing in my head, remembering the letters I’d get back from my grandmother. She used to edit my messages and send them back to me. I’ll admit that I was a bit offended, even as a young boy. On the other hand, as I think about it as an adult, I know her heart was in the right place. After all, she was a teacher, and we teachers can’t help ourselves—we give our opinions even when others don’t want them. 🤣🤣

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    • Well, you have made me blush with pride. If you, an amazing elementary school teacher and now author, love this idea, I’ve done a good job! And yes, knowing that asking my grandboys to write too much in their review would turn them off, I chose to use some multiple choice, the star system, as well as ask for just one sentence on why they did or didn’t like the book. Their answers on the sheets were, well, short and to the point. But at least it made them think!
      Funny about your grandmother. She was a tough teacher, I bet. I’m a bit more “encouraging” when I write to my grandkids – I want to hear back from them! 🙂

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  9. Pam, this is the best idea ever! A gentle nudge towards reading for your grandsons, as well as encouraging them to leave reviews! Wow! You might be a bit poorer but what richness you’ve helped sow in their hearts and minds … fantastic! This is so heartwarming and touching!

    Congratulations on your amazing reviews for Molly Finds Her Purr! That is wonderful! I’ll toast you to :

    ‘Reviews help a book find its way into other people’s hearts, and reading laps.’

    Wishing you a magical weekend filled with joy and lots of books! hugs xx

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    • I’m toasting you back, Annika. And thanks for quoting back my review sentence. I think I should tweet it or something. It’s so true! “REVIEWS HELP A BOOK FIND ITS WAY INTO OTHER PEOPLE’S HEARTS, AND READING LAPS.” Thanks for the nudge to do that! 🙂 Hope you’re having a great time preparing for the holiday as you make your special cookies. Yummmmmmmmm.

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  10. I am ecstatic at your results for the book review sheet you created. Even if money is the lure, these kids are establishing a habit that will sustain them over time. Brava to you for initiating this!

    Reviews are the best gift you can give an author. I cherish the review you wrote for Mennonite Daughter + other encouragement I’ve filed in a special folder. I purchased both your “birdy” and kitty book and have RIght/Wrong man on my Kindle. I did post a photo of myself holding your Molly book on Facebook, but I could do better with reviews. You are the gold standard for gifting authors with reviews, my 2020 aspiration!

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    • In truth, if I love a book, as soon as I finish it I type it in my year’s “loved this book” file so I then remember to review it on Amazon and Goodreads. But I admit, I’m much more prone to review books written by independent authors (as opposed to well-known “mainstream” authors), since we need all the publicity help we can get. Your book was on top of my best memoir for 2019.
      And your Facebook photo of you holding my newest book, MOLLY FINDS HER PURR? Absolutely and totally priceless. (But reviews are fantastic and needed too – haha – never satisfied, right?) 🙂 xo

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  11. Grandmoms are a blessing! I wish I had one like you Pam but I am trying to be the one I yearn for 🙂 I am impressed at the way you could elicit reviews out of your boys…yay! great achievement! Love your inspiration.

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    • We ‘new generation’ grandparents are different from other generations I think, Balroop. Younger in many cases (because 60 is the new 40, right?) 🙂 and much more involved with our kids and their kids. I know it’s an amazing blessing to be part of my grandchildren’s lives in such an active way, even those who don’t live nearby. ❤

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    • You might be surprised! Of course, the added incentive of an Amazon gift card helps (I recommend not going over $5, or you’ll be sorry – and broke). 🙂
      Have I thanked you for your FANTASTIC review of Molly Finds Her Purr? Beautiful and heartfelt. Thank you! ❤

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    • Haha. Well, I’d rather go broke from sending the grandkids Amazon gift cards for book reviews, rather then spending it on toys that break within months! (Okay, I admit, I spend money on that too.) 🙂 🙂

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    • Exactly, Dale. I need to promote more to sell more books to BUY more books and Amazon gift cards for grandkids’ book reviews. 🙂 In fact, maybe that’s how I should promote Molly Finds Her Purr (“Buy this book so I can get my grandkids to read and review”). :–0 🙂

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    • However, when your nephews were young and Amazon wasn’t around, you didn’t have all of those “devices” to contend with. They (phones, I-pods, laptops, etc.) give a lot of competition to the idea of reading a “real” book! Thanks for the kudos, Marty.

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  12. What a great and fun initiative to create these book review sheets, Pam. And, successfully so. You are just the best grandma!! Yes, you will be broke soon, but imagine all your grandchildren picking up the new or rekindled hobby of reading. And, congrats on all your five-star reviews for Molly. That is such fantastic news! I’d pick up a couple of your books as well, if I were to be around (young) family this Christmas… Maybe next year?

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    • Thank you for your enthusiastic “good goings,” Liesbet. Molly will be around next year when you’re around family, for sure. Many people have told me that Molly Finds Her Purr is just as much for adults as for children. Now, if they’d only write that in a review…. 🙂 xo

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  13. I extra like the thought of children writing book reviews on children’s books. I also appreciate the whatever works philosophy to possibly help motivate children to read, creating momentum. Especially in today’s overstimulated and electronics culture. You are an amazing Grandma!

    Pam, since I began blogging this past year I have met blogging friends who write books. You are one of these friends. I was not aware how book reviews can actually make a difference. Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    I checked Amazon.ca again this morning, and it says “Molly finds her purr” will take one to three months delivery. I will keep checking. The reviews have been wonderful:)

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    • Erica – thank you thank you for bringing up this point again here. There are SO MANY children’s books that even a wonderful one can get lost in the shuffle (in libraries, bookstores and most definitely on Amazon). So yes, the more reviews an author receives on a book, the more her/his book will be moved up a list that Amazon compiles to more easily highlight a title so customers see it.
      My publisher has sent many books to my Canadian fans (she has books in her office and mails them herself so it’s not a wait). Because we have a “deal’ for my blogger friends, the book is discounted to $15.99 ($17.99 on Amazon) plus cost of shipping to Canada. Just FYI if interested, publisher’s e-mail is Easty Lambert-Brown, borgogirl@bellsouth.net .

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    • I’m always up for new ways to engage the grandkids, Ann. Another great bribery is cookies. My grandson (10) polished my silver this weekend for a few Christmas cookies. I never discount the magic of sugar. 🙂

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  14. -giggles- Be careful what you wish for!!!! Seriously, that is a brilliant outcome for the boys. You can’t make a child read, but a little encouragement can go a long way. Money well spent. 😀
    And huge congratulations on Molly! You may have started another generation on reading. That’s a huge achievement.

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    • For every child who reads my book about Molly Finds Her Purr, I hear a bell ring somewhere (hmm, I think there’s a movie about that somewhere – something about an angel getting his wings and a bell rings). 🙂 Seriously, parents/grandparents/aunts and uncles have sent me photos of their child holding onto the Molly book and re-reading it many times. Now THAT’S an amazing gift.

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  15. Isn’t this absolutely great, Pam. Well done on encouraging your grandchildren like this. I will be ordering your new book after the Christmas backlog passes as sometimes they go missing at this time of your. Our courier and postal services can be inefficient. I don’t like reading children’s books as kindle books.

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    • I totally agree, Robbie. I don’t read or order children’s books for the Kindle (and I only sell my adult fiction as e-books as well as paper). Kids need to feel a book and study the amazing illustrations in a beautiful book for children. I hope you’ll be able to order Molly. My publisher sells them from her office for blogger’s discount and mails them herself (just charging for $15.99 plus shipping cost). If you’re interested you can also contact her: Easty Lambert-Brown: borgogirl@bellsouth.net xo

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  16. Bribery is such a good way to get children to read and I’m so glad it worked for you! 😀 I have no grandchildren but I remember my elder daughter needed no encouragement to read and still reads every spare moment she has. My younger daughter (now 22) likes reading but has great difficulty finding books/authors she enjoys. She has found she likes fantasy/science fiction best but there must be minimal romance and no violence or bad language. She is very exacting.

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    • It’s fascinating how each of our children/grandchildren have different tastes in their reading and reading styles. I have a great fantasy book author recommendation for you to pass on to your daughter. Have you followed D.W. Peach’s blog? https://mythsofthemirror.com/ She’s a great blogger and an wonderful fantasy author. Builds amazing worlds, with minimal romance or bad language. Stories are fantastical. I’ve read The Sorcerer’s Garden, Soul Swallowers, and Catling’s Bane and recommend them all. (And in truth, I was never a reader of fantasy!)

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    • Hmmm. Well, lately the grandboys have been suggesting that I (bold I) write them a review of my week and include a picture of it that I draw. Then send it all in the mail. I’m intimidated by the idea, but I guess I better play along. ;-0 Thanks for reading my latest posts. Love reading your comments.

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  17. My pleasure always.
    Well, turnabout is fair play – what are THEY going to do if you do that? You give them a reward – what will theirs be for you? Maybe an extra chore to help their Mom? A helpful act when they come visit you, or maybe a can of food for the local food pantry? I believe you have a bargaining chip here!

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    • I believe you are right. Our 10-year-old grandson spent the weekend here with us this past Sat-Sun. He has difficulty reading, but when he saw what his CA cousins had sent me (um, ahem, I happened to have their book reviews hanging around) the boy picked up his book and read for an hour. And wrote a review. OH! and then he polished my silver. ;-0 How’s that for payback?

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    • Haha. Thanks for letting me know, Mark. And THANK you for your comment. Yes, Sutton’s note was adorable. Just this past weekend I wrote him a story in return about a grandmother who gets lost while skiing (and I even illustrated it – poorly – but it was fun). Hoping this encourages him to write another story back. I figure the more he writes, the more he’ll figure out that reading is fun too.

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