March 24, 2017

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Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

Kiera Parrott

About Kiera Parrott

Kiera Parrott is the reviews director for School Library Journal and Library Journal and a former children's librarian. Her favorite books are ones that make her cry—or snort—on public transportation.

5 Middle Grade Titles Featuring People of Color

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Looking for new middle grade novels starring main characters of color? Here are five standout titles suitable for most collections.

Blast from the Past | SLJ Spotlight on Middle Grade

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Are your patrons itching to revisit days of yore and bygone eras? These recent novels take on historical fiction from varied perspectives, from a narrative set during the 1950s that tackles bias and prejudice to a tale of medieval London that incorporates fantasy and magic.

Just a Touch of Magic | SLJ Spotlight

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A trio of new titles that offer realistic themes—bullying, health issues, family troubles—with a hint of the fantastical.

Download SLJ’s Sneak Peek Guide to Spring/Summer 2017 Titles

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Over 150 of the most hotly anticipated spring and summer titles, hand-picked by the SLJ editors. With info on ALA author signings and galley giveaways.

Daniel Nayeri’s Design-Centered, Studio Approach to Kid Lit | Up Close

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Nayeri, director of children’s publishing at Workman, leads a close-knit creative team tasked with an unusual mandate.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Unzip the Mysteries | SLJ Spotlight

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With red herrings, suspects, and plenty of clues, mysteries hold tons of appeal for readers of all ages. These novels have all the twists and turns that make the genre so captivating, but all are tween-friendly. From the latest “Glimmer Girls” installment to the tale of a mystery prankster to a book about a disappearing toddler, these are intriguing yet age-appropriate stories that are bound to inspire budding gumshoes.

Positing a Perfect World: Neal Shusterman on Scythe

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The National Book Award–winning author discusses the elaborate world-building behind his new series, “Arc of a Scythe.”

We Are Family | SLJ Spotlight

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Is there anything more complicated than family? For the protagonists of these recent novels, families are both the source of strife and foundations of strength.

SLJ Regrets an Error, Updates Reviewer Guidelines

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SLJ has corrected a serious error, which appeared in a 2013 review of Tim Tharp’s audiobook Mojo.

Watch with a Friend: Tween-Friendly Movies To Scare Your Socks Off

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Thirteen PG-rated films perfect for a Halloween movie night.

Don’t Read These After Dark: A Horror Book List for Tweens

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25 bone-chilling reads to help tween horror fans get ready for Halloween night.

Companionable Reads | SLJ Spotlight

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Several sequels and companion books are reviewed in this month’s issue—from Bruce Coville’s laugh-out-loud second installment in the “Enchanted Files” series and Eleanor Glewwe’s thoughtful follow-up to Sparkers to Kirsten Hubbard’s unique companion to last year’s unsettling Watch the Sky and Beth Vrabel’s heartfelt sequel to A Blind Guide to Stinkville.

Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim | SLJ Review

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ASIM, Jabari. Preaching to the Chickens. illus. by E.B. Lewis. 32p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399168567.

Gr 2-5 –Luminous artwork and stirring text shed light on the childhood of one of America’s most respected civil rights leaders. Young John Lewis found his calling early in life, tenderly caring for the many chickens on the family farm and emulating his church’s ministers by preaching to the attentive hens: “ ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ he’d say when […]

Paranormal Pals | SLJ Spotlight

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Most ghost stories are designed to send shivers up readers’ spines, but these three new books buck the trend, tackling a range of relatable themes via interactions with the not-so-scary recently deceased. There’s 13-year-old Andie, whose paranormal investigations help her grapple with loss; Baylor, a young teen who communes with his dead sister; and Ada, a goth girl who befriends a ghostly mouse. Engaging mystery, strong characters, and dashes of humor set these offerings apart from the typical ghoulish fare.

Smells Like Tween Spirit | SLJ Spotlight

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Whether you call them “upper middle grade” titles, “tween reads,” or just “great books for preteens,” the following selections are perfect for those looking for a middle school setting, a bit of YA-esque action, but non of the more sophisticated content that typically accompanies novels for true teens.

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen | SLJ Review

We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen

Klassen, Jon. We Found a Hat. illus. by Jon Klassen. 56p. Candlewick. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763656003. 

PreS-Gr 3 –The conclusion to the “Hat” trilogy offers the sly humor fans have come to expect along with a surprisingly tender ending. When a pair of googly-eyed tortoises find a 10-gallon hat—which they both agree would look good on either of them—they decide to leave it be rather than risk inequity between them. But as should be […]

Getting In on the Action | SLJ Spotlight

Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape

For readers looking for books that will grab them, hold their attention, and leave them wanting more, these action packed titles will have readers humming the “Mission Impossible” theme song.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas | SLJ Review

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

Cuevas, Michelle. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles. illus. by Erin E. Stead. 40p. Dial. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780803738683.  

K-Gr 2 –A man who lives at the seashore has a unique—but lonely—job. The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles spends his days watching the waves for a glint of glass and delivering messages near and far. His only companions are an orange tabby cat and a cow. Befitting the slightly melancholy tone, Cuevas’s text is appropriately […]

The Stars So Far: Tween Picks

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A list of recent starred reviews hand-picked for tween readers.

The Bee Book | 30-Second Booktalk

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A mini booktalk about one of our favorite new nonfiction titles, The Bee Book.