How to Write an AP Mini Book Review
An AP mini report is a brief reaction to a book. The report is written
in three parts, including a short description of the book, a list of major
characters with the correct spelling of their names and a list of adjectives,
and two intelligent discussion questions about the book. This report is an
opportunity to exercise your critical thinking skills, especially summarizing in
the first part of the report and raising questions in the third part.
Part One: The Description of the Book
The first part of this report is a brief description of your book. For
this, you are limited to three declarative sentences, but no run-ons or long
rambling sentences will be allowed, and no semicolons or colons either. Every
sentence must be tightly packed with meaning. You will have to cover all of
the things a reader might need to know about a book, focusing on plot,
character, setting, theme, and style. Also, you will have to get right to the
point in each of these areas.
Here you must be very discriminating about which details you choose
to best characterize your book. This is where your critical thinking ability
really kicks in. To be most effective, you must select the most revealing
details, and these must be expressed in your very best vocabulary. Because
you are limited to only three sentences in this part of the report, every
word you choose must be subjected to the most careful consideration.
When you finish, you should be confident that you have communicated as
effectively and economically as you are capable.
In each sentence of your report, you should strive to achieve the
Economy of expression
Careful word choice
Attention to detail
Good sentence variety.
Obviously several revisions will probably be necessary before you arrive at
an acceptable first copy.
This part of the assignment creates special problems for a writer.
How can you express everything you need to say about your book in only
three declarative sentences? Solving this problem should result in some
interesting experiments with language. When your best sentence
experiments succeed, the results can be startling. You might find yourself
producing some surprisingly well-written phrases.
You will probably find yourself writing some rather long declarative
sentences, at least longer and more complicated than you usually produce.
This is okay. With so much to say and so little space, complicated sentence
structures will probably be unavoidable. Just be careful not to get so
complex that you cannot be immediately understood. No one minds a long
sentence when the long sentence is easy to read. Anyone can appreciate a
writer who gets directly to the point.
Part Two: Vocabulary Development
You can get a chance to build your vocabulary while you work on this
assignment. You will have to use a thesaurus and a dictionary to locate some
strong adjectives or adverbs to go with a list of the most important
characters from your book. If you are resourceful, you should come up with
some good ones.
This part of the report is an opportunity for you to look up some new
words and to expand your vocabulary. You need to take care in this part of
the assignment that you get the right word. Any old word in a thesaurus
entry may not fit your character exactly; some dictionary work to confirm
the precise meaning might be needed. Be prepared to defend your word
choices with evidence from the text if need be.
Part Three: Writing Interrogative Sentences
You will close your report with two interrogative sentences. This
might be the most deceptively simple exercise in this whole assignment. All
you have to do is raise two thought-provoking questions about your book, no
Your questions should reflect your best critical thinking ability. Avoid
questions that lead to a quick answer, a simple “yes” or “no”, or an easy
response to Who? What? When? Where? How and why questions are
better. They’re harder to answer, more open-ended. Probe around in areas
where you think there might be difficulty pinning down an answer. The best
questions are those that are not easily answered, but which lead to lively
discussions, further thinking, and more reading. Look for questions that
expand our horizons, and force you onto ground you may even be afraid to
Hopefully, your thinking will continue long after you finish your
reading. Remember: You are not required to answer your questions, so be as
bold as you want. It is enough that you only point out the direction your
thought will take. Good questions do that. The moment you frame a good
question, the thinking begins. If you put together the right kind of
questions, you may be lucky enough to begin a line of thought that will go on
unbroken for years. The best critical thinking is open-minded and open-
Questions about literature can be written on three levels of
difficulty: literal, interpretive, and applied. Literal level questions tend to
lead toward factual answers and are good for testing simple knowledge.
Interpretive and applied level questions are more open-ended and tend to
open up discussion and critical thinking. We will not concern ourselves with
literal level questions, but focus our attention on developing interpretive and
applied level questions.
Interpretive Level Questions:
An interpretive question is a question about the reading that has many
possible answers, each of which is supportable with evidence from the text.
An interpretive question asks you to offer an opinion about what the author
means by what he says. In literature, the interpretive questions are often
about plot, setting, character, theme or style. The answer depends more on
thinking than memory.
What did the author mean?
Did any character have to overcome a difficulty?
Was the main character perfect or did he or she make any mistakes?
Did the book make fun of anyone or anything?
What is the author trying to tell us……?
What kind of person was…….?
When you read this book, did you get any ideas that were not actually
put into words?
Did the story move along the way you expected it to?
What do you suppose…….?
How do you know that …….?
Applied Level Questions
An applied level question demands that you put things together for
example, your personal values with those of the author, some aspect of a
book with another book by the same author or by another author, a book and
its historical context, and so forth.
How can the knowledge acquired by reading this book be integrated
with other knowledge?
How do the characters, plot, or setting of this book compare with
people, places, or events in your own personal experience?
Does the book represent its historical period accurately?
How was the author of the book influenced by a prevailing philosophic
Is your book similar or different from, or responsive to any other
book you know about?
How is your book similar to, or different from, its movie version?
How would you solve the central problem of the book?
Could you get into an argument about some aspect of your book?
After reading the book, did you feel as though you wanted to do
something about anything?
Can you believe everything you read in this book?
Did anything in the book make you change your mind about something?
This assignment must be typed: 12 size font, plain/clear font style and
double-space the summary (Part One). Thorough completion of this
assignment will earn you a test grade of 90. If you so choose to do the
fourth part of this assignment, you could earn as much as a 100.
Part Four: Citing a Significant Passage
Your report should include a significant passage from the book, which
is especially important to you, followed by your brief reaction to the
passage. Any good book has its memorable moments. These might include an
interesting exchange between two or more characters, a great description,
an idea, and an insight into the human condition, a universal truth, a
humorous observation, a bold statement, or great use of language. You
choose the passage and type it out word for word as the author did. Be sure
to put the passage in quotations since you are copying straight from the
Your reaction to the passage should be short, probably one paragraph,
and the reaction should be laced with quotes from the passage you are
discussing. In other words, you should take a position on the passage and
then offer textual evidence to support that position. You should pay special
attention to those places in the passage where the author has used language
most effectively. If the passage made a strong impression on you, you
should be able to show exactly where in the passage the author used words
and phrases most effectively.
Copying a great author’s work forces you to closely examine the way
the writer put words together. Writing a reaction to the passage slows you
down and makes you think about what the writer was thinking when the
words first hit the page. In a sense you enter the creative mind of the
author. Insights into the creative process should benefit your development
as a writer.
Criteria for Evaluating Your Paper
Integration: How effectively do you respond to the assignment? Is
your three-sentence description of the book clearly written, easy to read
and inclusive of a full treatment of the book? Have you found interesting,
sophisticated adjectives for the main characters? Are your questions open-
ended and thought provoking and so designed that the answers will lead to a
better understanding of the book?
Focus: Is your description of the book comprehensive and
understandable, clearly written and easy to read? Do your questions point
the way toward interesting observations about the book? Do the questions
lead to the important insights that are the evidence of penetrating thought?
Is the point of each question clearly focused on some particular aspect of
Support: Is your description of the book sharpened with strong
details from the book, using either the words of the author or specific
incidents? Could an answer to each question be supported with evidence from
Organization: Is the mini-report well organized, uncluttered, and
sensibly laid out? Is your description of the book easy to follow and logically
organized? Are your questions clearly organized in logical word order, which
is easy to read and readily understood?
Conventions: Are your sentences punctuated correctly, spell-checked,
and generally free of errors? Do you have good sentence variety? Is there
evidence that you have consulted a thesaurus to find good adjectives for
This writing assignment is equal in value to a two-or-three page essay,
so it pays to put some time into it. This may look easy; all you have to
do is craft five sentences, three declarative and two interrogatives, and
then do a little thesaurus work. However, the thinking skills involved
are quite sophisticated. In the first part of this assignment, I am
calling on you to summarize what you have read in only three sentences.
That means that you will have to sift through possible hundreds of pages
of detail to arrive at those elements of the book that most reveal the
author’s intent. You must strip away the flesh of the book to get down
to the bare bones. Then this skeleton of information must be
rearranged in a way that reveals the original design of the book. This
kind of analysis and reorganization is indicative of critical thinking at its
best. When you finish your work on this paper, you should be better
able to summarize your observations in a few well-chosen words, and you
should be able to articulate your thoughts so that you can be clearly and
immediately understood. To be able to get directly to the point and to
make your point clear is a valuable skill in many situations.