Like many of those who have been blogging about it, Dessen's own feelings were initially mixed. "I'm not sure how I feel about this. I mean, I'm sure it's useful for parents. But I worry it's breaking a book down into these pieces that don't do justice to the whole. What do you think?" she asked. Many of those who were familiar with Common Sense praised the San Francisco-based nonprofit's work. "I LOVE Common Sense Media," wrote one parent. "I use it all the time to help me determine what is appropriate for my children (ages 11 and 14). I certainly don't have time to screen every movie and read every book ahead of time so they give me very useful information." Others weren't so sure. "I don't think the way it is broken down does it justice, because it focuses on what their system considers negative and takes everything out of context," commented another Dessen fan.
Sounds great, right? Ditch the wading through and understand in nanoseconds what is decent for "kids" to be watching. But being "safe" to children's attention - i.e. what "common" is it to make something like this:
But the listing doesn't do the items justice, especially at Barnes & Nobles.com.
At BN.com, Sassy Monkey noted, the reviews include only the negative information from the On What Parents Need to Know section, while fuller reviews on the Common Sense Web site shows ratings by parents, educators, and children, as well as topics for discussion.
The alarm bells that ring, though, are that these "common sense" guides are that what is "common" is never, actually, common, and though not technically a moral watchdog, the concerns sometimes seem silly; especially with the implementation on the B&N site.