Awesome or Average was started by me (Rosa) in 2016, after I noticed how varied the quality of kids’ books is, and how hard it was to tell before buying something whether it was awesome or average.

Books were a logical starting point. My entire family are book-obsessed, and I repeatedly had my lightbulb confiscated as a child for reading too late (that didn’t stop me; I opened the door a crack to read by the hall light). So I’ve always been an avid reader, and when we started reading to our son we both realised a lot of kids’ books — even some of the popular ones — are fairly rubbish.

What we look for

I’m fairly picky, but not impossible to please. In a book, I’m looking for an identifiable plot (always a good start!), a nice rhythm or flow to the story, good illustrations and/or design (no Comic Sans!), and ideally either humour or educational content. It’s surprising how many books are ruled out by these criteria.

A big preference for me is for books with broad representation. I want a balance of male and female characters; different cultures and races; different lifestyles and life choices. It’s a preference because it’s lacking in so many books that we’d be quite limited in our choice if we required it. That said, I’m sure there are many books we haven’t discovered yet that do a great job of providing this balance. Hopefully as we find them we can share them with you here.

The toy market carries similar problems – there are heaps of poorly-designed junk toys, which makes it hard to identify the good stuff. We’re not fans of waste (environmentally or money-wise) so we’d prefer not to end up regretting any of our purchases. We’d like to help you avoid waste and frustration.

We are independent

The site is not funded by any brand or product, and all opinions are our own. We buy most of the stuff we review ourselves, but occasionally we might be given items to review. If this is the case we’ll either return them after reviewing, or pass them on to a charity. 

To cover running costs we use affiliate marketing (you can read more about that here). However, our reviews are a warts-and-all deal and we’ll never recommend something if we don’t think it’s worth the money.