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Children's Literature: Book Reviews, Author Info, and Scholarly Sources

A research guide for Children's Literature from West Chester University Libraries.

Biographies and critical reviews of authors and illustrators

The two works listed above are the best for information on children's authors and illustrators, but the two more general databases below also may have some biographies, book reviews, and newspaper articles.

Reference books in the children's room

Finding scholarly and professional magazine articles

Looking for critical works that analyze a particular children's book or author?  While there has not been as much scholarship on literature for children as for adults, there are articles, books, and book chapters out there.  You can try searching for the title of a particular book, but may want to search for your author's name as well, since there may be articles that analyze his or her work as a whole rather than a single book. Here are some databases to try:

Finding book reviews using OneSearch

Our new OneSearch tool seems to do a good job of finding book reviews of contemporary children's books.  For older books, you may still need to visit some of the individual databases below to get the best results.  The OneSearch box below has been customized to automatically limit to book reviews.

To get the best results in any database, follow these tips:

  • Place the title of the book in quotation marks, if it is more than one word long (e.g. "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus")
  • If you get results that don't refer to the book, as can happen if the book has a short title wit common words, add the author's last name to the search
  • Look for a "content type" or "source type" field where you can limit your results specifically to book reviews.

Databases for book reviews

Children's Literature Comprehensive Database http://www.clcd.com/#/advancedsearch   In this database, look up an author or book title.  If there is a green dot by the entry, you can click on the title to see reviews.

Academic Search Complete  You can search in this database either for the title of a book (put the title in quotation marks for the best results) or for the name of the author or illustrator.  The latter works best if your author or illustrator has a distinctive, rather than common, name.  Also remember to look under Search Options (below the search boxes) for an option called "Document Type" and use the menu to select "Book Reviews".

ERIC (Education Resource Information Center)  As with Academic search complete, you can search in this database either for the title of a book (put the title in quotation marks for the best results) or for the name of the author or illustrator.  Look under Search Options (below the search boxes) for an option called "Publication Type" and use the menu to select "Book/Product Reviews".

Biography in Context also may have some book reviews under the "Magazines and News" tab for an author or illustrator.

Trying to find reviews of an older book?

It is more difficult to find reviews of older books, because very few of the reviews are available online, but we have a database that can help.  Book Review Digest Retrospective covers 1905 to 1982.  It does not have the full text of the reviews available online, but it will tell you where and when reviews were published.  We carry quite a few of the relevant journals and magazines in our print collection.  Contact Trish Lenkowski or Rachel McMullin, or visit the library reference desk, if you need more help.

Another valuable resource for finding reviews is Book Review Index.  This print series covers 1965 to the present.  Like Book Review Digest, you will not find the full text of the reviews, but will find the citations that will lead you to the reviews.  This series is shelved in the quiet reading room that is adjacent to the reference area on the main floor of the library (on the other side of the glass wall).  The call number is 015 B724a.

Subject Guide

Dan Feinberg
Contact:
Office: 610-436-2381
West Chester University   ---    WCU Libraries  25 West Rosedale Avenue, West Chester, PA 19383  610-430-4400