This month marks the retirement of Trevelyn Jones, as she steps down from her role as head of SLJ’s Book Review. It is the end of an era three decades long. We will miss Trev’s direct leadership and her steady presence, but we are comforted to know she’s available for us to lean on (Jones will serve in an editor-at-large capacity) as we transition to a new era, with the very talented Kiera Parrott taking the helm of the reviews department. Trev’s preparation to pass the red pen, so to speak, is an opportunity to reflect on a remarkable career.
Trev tells me that when she arrived at SLJ, with little transition documentation to rely on, she was set free by then editor-in-chief Lillian Gerhardt to make her own book review. In true Trev fashion, she says she ignored the phone for several weeks while she learned what was necessary in order to be helpful once she picked it up. Pragmatic and no-nonsense, Trev does not like to waste people’s time. She knew what she needed to do and did it.
While keeping everyone on hold, she hired an editorial assistant, David Gale (now VP/editorial director of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers), and rolled up her sleeves to get to know some 300 reviewers and tackle the books that arrived daily over the transom. Tackle them she did, in more than 100,000 reviews published under her guidance by SLJ over the years (not to mention other coverage). Trev winds down her career running a small, dedicated team of review editors and a large and similarly dedicated cadre of reviewers in the field. Her greatest pride was strong hiring, she once told me. Our stellar review staff is a testament to that skill, demonstrating excellence in their own work, from beginning to end.
She should also be proud of another accomplishment that I hope to be able to point to when I shutter my keyboard: a life’s work that has made the world a better place. Her contribution to the world of children’s literature has been driven by clarity of purpose: to save people’s time in the important work of spending public dollars wisely. And save time she has, for countless numbers of librarians and teachers, of course, but also for bookstore buyers and, ultimately, parents who can see SLJ’s approval on book jackets or read the reviews themselves.
Trev’s nose for a good book is impressive, as is her industry insight, her ability to pass fair judgment, and her drive to help bring the best books to our children. Her diligence, integrity, and expertise have been applied one book at a time for 31 years here at SLJ. During her tenure, she has influenced readers, authors, and publishers (read a portion of tributes in “Review Star,” pp. 36-37). Ultimately, being a great book review editor leads the industry to make better books. Trev has done just that and so much more. She is an exemplar for all of us.
Rebecca T. Miller