Review Guidelines

Thank you for agreeing to review a book for Africa Access Review.

Please notify us when you receive the book.

Your review is due one month after you receive the book. If you cannot meet this deadline, identity the date that is best for you.

The Fiction Organizer and Subject Organizer are often useful when analyzing titles.

Your review should be a summary of the information you glean from your analysis of the book. Please limit your discussion of the book’s contents or plot. Write concisely (300 – 1000 words). (See sample review is below).

Completed reviews in Microsoft Word format (pasted in the email and sent as an attachment) should be e-mailed to

Reviews are read by librarians, publishers, educators, authors, and the general public. It is a good idea to begin and end your review with sentences that indicate your overall assessment of the work. Some people skim the opening and closing sentences of a review, looking for information that indicates whether they should purchase the title for their collections.

Keep these points in mind when writing your review

  1. Very briefly summarize the contents.
  2. Focus most of your attention on themes/topics, strengths and weaknesses. When discussing weaknesses try to suggest ways the text could be improved.
  3. Be concise (300 – 1000 words).
  4. Be courteous and professional.
  5. If possible, compare the book to related titles.
  6. Describe the author – previous books written, their academic background or other credentials.
  7. Use stars to rate the book.


★★★★★ (5 stars): Highly Recommended — excellent title, accurate, balanced, outstanding scholarship.
★★★★ (4 stars): Recommended — very good title, accurate, balanced, no significant problems.
★★★ (3 stars): Recommended — good title, largely accurate but some caveats.
★★ (2 stars): Advisory — significant problems, should be used with caution.
★ (1 star): Marginal/Not Recommended — mediocre title, contributes little understanding or insight.

Sample Review

Payne, Won-Ldy and Margaret H. Lippert / ; Julie Paschkis (illus.) Head, Body, Legs: A Story from LiberiaNew York: Henry Holt, 2002. $16.95ISBN 0-8050-6570-9.

This didactic tale is common to many cultures. In this Liberian setting. The story illustrates how the “whole is greater than its parts” and how all “parts need to work in harmony.” The story also portrays the power of persuasion. Although the head is in command, it still needs the other body parts to help it pick a mango. As each new body part affixes itself, “Head” states: “This is perfect.” Only when the body parts are in their proper place on the torso and working together will “Head” achieve its goal.

The illustrations appear generic in terms of cultural context. The illustrator presents the body parts with black color which suggests an African or Asian setting. There are few other features from Liberia incorporated in the illustrations. The brightly-colored illustrations focus on the text and not the culture or ethnicity.

This story would have been a “perfect” situation for a bilingual publication. Names of body parts are some of the first vocabulary learned in a new language. Any number of Liberian languages could have been chosen to introduce a Liberian ethnicity and to give the book a Liberian flavor. Nevertheless, as the book stands, it would be useful in an English as a Second Language
class to supplement a unit on body parts.

Reviewed by: Patricia Kuntz, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin

Published in Africa Access Review (2002)

Copyright 2002 Africa Access