November 22, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

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.

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

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

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

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

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

We Are Family | SLJ Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

Companionable Reads | SLJ Spotlight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bee Book | 30-Second Booktalk

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

Librarian Creates #BlackLivesMatter Booklist for Teens

Chelsea Couillard-Smith, a librarian at Hennepin County (MN) Library, created a #blacklivesmatter booklist for teens.

Duck on a Tractor by David Shannon | SLJ Review

Shannon, David. Duck on a Tractor. illus. by David Shannon. 40p. Scholastic/Blue Sky. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545619417. 

PreS-Gr 2 –A daring duck gets the wild idea to ride an unattended bike down on the farm in Shannon’s Duck on a Bike. At the very end of that now classic storytime title, the mischievous drake spies a tractor, thereby setting the stage for this delightful follow-up. Duck decides to drive the massive red vehicle into […]

New Kid Blues | SLJ Spotlight

Moving to a new town or school is a common, and difficult, life experience for many kids. Several new titles feature characters who experience—and overcome—the new kid blues.