About Me

My name is Tanya Turek and I believe that reading the right book can be a transformative experience. As a former children's bookseller for almost 20 years, former elementary school librarian, ardent reader of children's literature, and mother of three, I want to help kids start their reading journey on the right path and spark a life long love of reading. My reviews are thoughtful and insightful and I provide excellent suggestions for similar titles that will ensure readers are never without a good book in hand. I do not receive compensation in any way for this blog and never will. All titles here are purchased by me or are review copies from publishers, as noted. 

I began working as a children's bookseller in 1995 and was with Barnes & Noble for almost two decades. I had an amazing year working as an assistant to a literary agent who represents many of the greats from the world of kidlit. Reading manuscripts, queries, and diving into every other aspect of the publishing world sharpened my critical skills and deepened my love of  children's books as well as my desire to spark this joy in young readers. In a move that feels like winning the Trifecta, I embarked on a career as elementary school librarian in 2014. Working with a student population that is over 80% Latinx and also qualifies for free lunch (meaning that the majority of my students live in poverty) I became passionate about equity and literacy. Educating myself about the effects of childhood poverty on education, the quality of education children living in poverty receive and their ability to access this education influenced my perspective on the world of kid's books and the importance of books as windows and mirrors. Representation matters, and I worked to make sure my students had access to as many books that are mirrors, not just windows, as possible.

If you've read this far, I'm taking this opportunity to ask you NOT TO buy your books (or anything, if you can help it) from amazon.com. I started working at Barnes & Noble in 1995 and saw the rise of amazon.com change the world of bookselling, and not for the better. Besides forcing many independent bookstores (and chains, remember Borders??) to close, B&N had to shift toward selling non-book items to compete. Most grievously, the rise on amazon.com meant the decline of booksellers, both as a job and as a reliable resource for finding good books. When it comes to books, an online customer review will never replace an in person conversation with a knowledgeable, passionate bookseller, and I will always mourn the impact online bookselling has had on this community.

Another unfortunate aspect of the rise of amazon.com is the way that their self-publishing platform gave even more people the idea that writing a children's book is easy. Writing a children's book may be easy, but writing a QUALITY children's book is not. I knew this to be true while still a bookseller, but came to truly understand why while working for a literary agent. Writing a children's book, a picture book especially, is a talent and a skill and the authors and author/illustrators who do it work very hard at their craft. Even when a manuscript (especially when a manuscript) is less than 1,500 words, as most picture books published today are, there are many revisions made and many eyes (editors, agents, assistants to editors and agents, writing groups, etc.) helping to shape one story and make it the best it can be. This is rarely the case with a self-published book. 

This is why I established the following review policy. 


I will not review the following types of books:

Anything published by Amazon or an imprint of Amazon

Any work that exists in eBook format only

Any work by an author/illustrator who does not have a literary agent

Any work that is self-published or published by a house that requires payment from the author

I do review titles from the following houses:

Abrams / Amulet
Candlewick Press / Walker Books
Chronicle Books
Creston Books
Drawn + Quarterly
Enchanted Lion Books
First Second
Laurence King
Harper Collins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Penguin Random House
Princeton Architectural Press
Quarto Books
Simon & Schuster
TOON Books

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