It was as head of Amazon.com’s children’s book department (1997 to 2002) that I developed a love for the library world and its passionate ambassadors, and as a result I’ve attended American Library Association (ALA) conferences since 1998. My work as a children’s book reviewer (Amazon first, then Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and Shelf Awareness) helped me land a spot on the ALA Notable Children’s Book Committee for two years (2005 and 2006), and later on the 2011 Newbery Medal selection committee. (For more background on my Newbery experience, here’s an interview from Seattle Child’s May 2011 issue.) From August 2015 to March 2017 I was the Children's & Young Adult Editor for Shelf Awareness. So many years of reading much of what all the publishers were publishing have given me a wonderful overview of not only the tremendous range of books for young people but an eagle-perch perspective on the industry itself. I have no doubt that my work as a critic and “judge”—precisely identifying a book’s strengths and weaknesses—has made me a better editor and writer.
Sample Children’s and Teen Book Reviews
by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
“I first met Karin Snelson when she joined ALA’s Notable Children’s Books Committee in 2004 for a two-year term. She immediately attracted attention with her incisive fearlessness in criticism and intelligent enthusiasm in support of the books under consideration. I hope it made us all better readers—I know she set a standard I continually strive to meet. Similarly, her enjoyment in the well-wrought phrase was both palpable and infectious, allowing us to see brilliance that we might have overlooked.... She was so much fun I didn’t want to fill out my second term without her. It should come as no surprise, then, to hear that inheriting Karin as a reviewer when I became Children’s & Teen Editor for Kirkus was sheer joy for me.... As a contract writer, Karin is exemplary. And, stylistically, her writing is as well crafted, thoughtful and smart as any you could hope for.”
–Vicky Smith, Children’s & Teen Editor, Kirkus Reviews