Word Limits in Professional Book Reviews

sew subversivesew subversive

Book cover image retrieved fromhttp://www.amazon.com/Sew-Subversive-Dirty-Fabulous-Fashionista/dp/1561588091/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414875280&sr=8-1&keywords=sew+subversive

It can be challenging to evaluate a title in 200 words or less, the standard limit in certain professional journals.  In order to accomplish this, it may take ‘practice, practice, practice.’

The following is the result of reducing “Looking for a Cool Sewing Resource?” (my book review posted November 1, 2014) from 286 to 199 words.  See what you think! 


REVIEW of Rannels, Melissa; Alvarado, Melissa; and Hope Meng. Sew Subversive: Down & Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista. Taunton, 2006. 186 p. $14.95 Paperback. 978-1-56158-809-1. Resources. Index.

[VOYA codes:]  3Q  2P  S  A/YA

If teens think of sewing as a chore, this upbeat title will change their minds.  The pages are colorful, with bold photographs, sassy jargon, realistic advice, encouragement, and energizing projects that will make readers want to sew and shout, “I made this and it’s so cool!”

As a sewing manual, this is compact yet detailed, and contains basic sewing skills, advanced techniques, and easy-to-follow drawings.  As a guidebook, it can inspire fashion design ideas and inventive clothing recycling.  The ‘Resources’ include information about storefront and online suppliers, sewing organizations, and DIY websites.

Problems include some lengthy sections in faint typeface, and unrealistically short project times.  Also, there are stereotypical clichés about boyfriends and undergarments, and frivolous references to partying with alcohol.  And, what about the guys?  It would be great to have a Sew Subversive that would speak to them as well.

This title will contribute to an appealing collection of fabric-arts materials for mature older teens.  Team it with hands-on help from a sewing instructor or sewing group, as well as titles such as Sara Trail’s Sew With Sara (C & T, 2009), Ellen Warwick’s Injeanuity (Kids Can Press, 2006), and CosmoGIRL! Make it Yourself (Hearst Books, 2007).

4 thoughts on “Word Limits in Professional Book Reviews

  1. I think you did a wonderful job of editing this review. The concise, detailed nature of it draws a reader into the important aspects of the text, while not providing needless information. The portion that deals with problems within the text would be beneficial to someone looking for a specific book on sewing. I also questioned if I should mention males in my review of Seventeen – I knew a lot of teen males growing up that were interested in makeup – maybe I will have to go back and edit…


  2. youthreadingmedia says:

    Completely agree with K. I almost like it better. We can tell that you know the subject and you also found a voice for the positive and negative aspects of the book. Good work.


  3. Thank you also. One of the things I’m trying to do is to speak to both the teens and the people who serve them. I like to create documents that can reach out to both groups.


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