The staff of School Library Journal wanted to share their thoughts upon the retirement of Trevelyn Jones, who stepped down as Book Review editor of SLJ after more than three decades. Industry representatives paid tribute in an appreciation of Jones’s career, which appears in the October issue. Now, it’s our turn. We welcome your thoughts, messages for Trev—please provide them in the comments.
Working with Trev has been an education. She is tough. She is kind. She is generous and insightful. She holds books and others to the same high standards she holds herself. I am selfishly glad that when she transitions to being an editor at large she will still be around for me to share ideas and booktalk with. However, at the same time, I am so happy for her that she’ll have a chance to focus on the books and projects she loves. After all, as A.A. Milne wrote in Winnie-the-Pooh, “When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”
—Chelsey Philpot, Associate Editor, School Library Journal
It was 22 years ago when I first arrived at the New York City office of SLJ, me, a newly minted children’s librarian with a year’s experience under my belt, feeling perhaps a bit awed by the idea of working at this prestigious review journal. Of course, Trev immediately sat me down, asking me questions about my recent wedding and making me feel right at home. I was instantly impressed by Trev’s vast knowledge of children’s literature, her genuine passion for the material, and her respect for and appreciation of its audience. I was emboldened professionally by her gentle direction and natural knack for making coworkers and contributors feel valued and able to produce the best work possible. And I was set at ease by her true caring and sincere interest in the details of my life (right down to the nitty-gritty of caring for newborn twins). As the years passed, my association with SLJ continued in different capacities, as a consulting librarian during my tenure with New York Public Library, as a book review editor, and, for years now, from miles away as a freelance contributor, and Trev has never allowed that magical feeling of being home to wane.
—Joy Fleishhacker, contributor, School Library Journal
I almost got to work for Trev. Back in the early 1980s, SLJ’s Book Review Editor and Assistant Book Review Editor left at the same time, and I had my eye on that second job. But Lillian Gerhardt already had her heart set on Ms. Jones and the last thing Lil needed were two publishing novices starting at the same time, so the assistant’s job went to the very talented David Gale. I loved reviewing for Trev, though. She was a principled but practical editor, easy to work with so long as you got your reviews in on time. We had some great arguments about books—it took me a while to get over her rejection of my nomination of Aidan Chambers’s Dance On My Grave for a star, but now I can see that she might have been right. She usually was.
—Roger Sutton, Editor in Chief, The Horn Book
One of the joys upon retiring as a school librarian and becoming a contributing editor for School Library Journal was getting to know Trev Jones, THE BOOK REVIEW EDITOR! During my years as a school librarian, I was depended upon the SLJ reviews and bibliographies for my collection development.
Until coming to School Library Journal, I never realized all the work and organization it takes to provide those quality reviews for us in the profession. On behalf of all school librarians, Thank you, Trev, for your years of stewardship of the process. Both of us, being of a certain age with long careers involving children’s books, we often had the opportunity to reminisce about books and authors once popular but forgotten to many of today’s librarians. Thanks, Trev for you contributions to children’s literature, journalism and libraries.
—Rocco Staino, Contributing Editor, School Library Journal
In my 2006 interview for a job at SLJ, Trev and I somehow got around to chatting about her love of American Idol. I now see that she was putting me at my ease—thank you, Trev!—but I also view it as just the first time she showed me that knowing a little bit about a lot comes in so handy in editing book reviews. I quickly came to realize that Trev had tons to teach me and was only too happy to do it. Grammar and style are important, of course, but knowing what is and isn’t essential to squeeze into the 250 words is quite another matter, and depends on a knowledge of what libraries need that Trev has in abundance. When I checked with her, for example, about a review’s statements that a book featured a gay relationship, my eyes were opened. Trev let me know the information was important not for libraries that didn’t want to buy the book for that reason—a brigade we feared arming—but for collections that did want it for that content. I’m so glad Trev took a chance on me in that interview. Her patient tutelage and encouragement have allowed my career to grow in a direction I never expected when we were laughing at the painfully bad singers we had seen the night before. My family and I thank you, Trev. All the best in the coming years.
—Henrietta Thornton-Verma, Book Review Editor, Library Journal
I remember asking Trev—prior to the first monthly SLJ book review meeting I attended—what constituted a SLJ star review in her eyes. She just laughed and assured me that I would learn. Among other things, I discovered that a chicken as a main character always gave a book an edge, that years of preschool storytimes enabled her to spot a “chair kicker” (her words) a long way off, and that her ability to look at each and every title with fresh eyes and a generosity of spirit is a rare talent indeed. (Oh, and that having allies when a star consideration came down to a vote, were helpful and worth cultivating.) Trev’s depth of knowledge and her critical sense about children’s and young adult books are unmatched in the profession. She has been a wonderful mentor and I have been most fortunate to work with her.
—Daryl Grabarek, Editor, Curriculum Connections and Touch and Go, School Library Journal
“What do you know about children’s books?” she once asked me flatly. (There may very well have been a hand on her hip there, too, though I can’t precisely recall it.) At the time, I was covering technology for School Library Journal. I got my start in book publishing and had done some reviewing, but no matter, it was certainly a legitimate question and so very Trev—straight up, with a skeptical eye, balanced by a consistent quality of fairness that’s been noted by so many across the industry. Everything she does is toward that storied high standard, which is both hers and SLJ’s, one and the same—testament to a remarkable, singular influence on the magazine, publishing, and children’s literature for the past three decades. How lucky am I to have been able to work alongside Trev Jones, and it’s been both an honor and a true pleasure. There is so much that I admire: the unwavering pursuit of quality and attention to detail, her dedication to her staff and ability to train and nurture editors and librarian contributors alike in the fine art of reviewing. And we’ve had a good time, too.
Thank you, Trev, for your generosity and the kindness you’ve extended to my family. An eager colleague could not ask for a better advisor. To answer your question: “I’m constantly learning,” thanks, in no small part, to you.
—Kathy Ishizuka, Executive Editor, School Library Journal