June 25, 2017

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Mahnaz Dar

About Mahnaz Dar

Mahnaz Dar (mdar@mediasourceinc.com) is Assistant Managing Editor for Library Journal and School Library Journal and can be found on Twitter @DibblyFresh.

How To Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy | SLJ Review

ROY, Katherine. How To Be an Elephant. illus. by Katherine Roy. 48p. diag. filmog. further reading. photos. websites. Roaring Brook/David Macaulay Studio. Sept. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781626721784.

Gr 3-6 –Roy follows her masterly Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands with a stunning look at how a newborn elephant matures into a capable member of the herd. The work adroitly covers anatomy, environment, family life, and other topics. Roy emphasizes how elephants, with their […]

Pandora by Victoria Turnbull | SLJ Review

TURNBULL, Victoria. Pandora. illus. by Victoria Turnbull. 32p. Clarion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544947337.

PreS-Gr 1 –Pandora, an anthropomorphic fox, finds slivers of beauty in a wasteland of discarded objects. From piles of detritus, she ferrets out treasures—a teddy bear, a van Gogh painting—repairs broken objects, and fills her house, a rickety cottage on stilts, with them. Her solitary existence is interrupted when an injured bird drops from the sky. Pandora nurses the bird, and as he becomes […]

Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton | SLJ Review

CLANTON, Ben. Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt. illus. by Ben Clanton. 64p. (A Narwhal and Jelly Book: Bk. 2). Tundra. May 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781101918296. POP

Gr 1-3 –Donning a cape, Narwhal decides to become a superhero—after eating lunch, of course. Super Narwhal needs a sidekick, so pal Jelly is dubbed Jelly Jolt. In this second installment of the sweetly surreal series, the characters are true to form; delightfully ditzy Narwhal remains upbeat even when he initially fails […]

Walk on the Weird Side | Graphic Novels

Fantasy and sci-fi tales—with their nuanced world-building, bizarre characters, and intense action—lend themselves perfectly to graphic novels.

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner | SLJ Review

RENNER, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Benjamin Renner. 192p. First Second. Jun. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781626723313.

Gr 3-6 –The proverbial fox may be a menace to the henhouse—but not the hero of this work. The titular character lacks gumption, guile, or cunning, and the chickens send him running each time he ventures into the farmyard. Taking pity on the fox, the wolf proposes playing the long game: stealing eggs and […]

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson | SLJ Review

DONALDSON, Julia. The Giant Jumperee. illus. by Helen Oxenbury. 32p. Dial. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735227972.

Toddler-PreS –When Rabbit hears a booming voice coming from his burrow, from someone who claims to be the Giant Jumperee, he’s terrified. Cat, Bear, and Elephant each attempt to investigate but are sent running by the unseen occupant. Luckily, Mama Frog puts things right and reveals that the Giant Jumperee isn’t nearly as terrifying as he sounds. Though the ending will be […]

Feminism for Everyone: Kelly Jensen on “Here We Are”

Kelly Jensen discusses her new book, Here We Are, an empowering look at feminism that highlights diverse voices.

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

Away by Emil Sher | SLJ Review

SHER, Emil. Away. illus. by Qin Leng. 32p. Groundwood. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554984831.

PreS-Gr 2 –Skip is heading to summer camp soon, but despite her mom’s reassurance, she’s certain that she’ll have a terrible time. However, a visit from Mimsy, Skip’s maternal grandmother, soon begins to convince the girl that camp might be fun. Unusually—and effectively—the story is told entirely through notes that the mother and daughter leave for each other. Both Skip’s and Mom’s voices are […]

Making the Personal Political | Angie Thomas on “The Hate U Give”

Angie Thomas, debut novelist of The Hate U Give, a stirring work on police brutality and racial violence, spoke with SLJ about bigotry, the influence of real life on her book, and the power of literature.

Real Friends by Shannon Hale | SLJ Review

HALE, Shannon. Real Friends. illus. by LeUyen Pham. 224p. First Second. May 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781626724167; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626727854. POP

Gr 3-6 –Hale revisits her elementary school years in this insightful exploration of the ups and downs of friendship. Young Shannon meets her BFF Adrienne in kindergarten, and the two bond until Adrienne moves away. When Adrienne returns, Shannon is thrilled—until Adrienne joins a clique. In over her head, Shannon copes with feelings of inadequacy as she […]

Goal: Bury the White House in Books

Responding to President Trump’s statement that he does not read books, a grassroots group is encouraging people to send ones to the White House for Valentine’s Day.

Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt by George O’Connor | SLJ Review

O’CONNOR, George. Artemis: Wild Goddess of the Hunt. illus. by George O’Connor. 80p. (Olympians: Bk. 9). bibliog. further reading. notes. First Second. Jan. 2017. pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781626725225. POP

Gr 4-8 –With the latest in his series of books focused on the Greek deities, O’Connor brings to life the goddess of the hunt. Various individuals share anecdotes, weaving a nuanced portrait of Artemis: formidable, quick-witted, occasionally cruel, yet always deeply devoted to the natural world and intensely protective of […]

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | SLJ Review

THOMAS, Angie. The Hate U Give. 464p. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062498533.

Gr 8 Up –After Starr and her childhood friend Khalil, both black, leave a party together, they are pulled over by a white police officer, who kills Khalil. The sole witness to the homicide, Starr must testify before a grand jury that will decide whether to indict the cop, and she’s terrified, especially as emotions run high. By turns frightened, discouraged, enraged, and […]

“Playing Puzzle Master”: Adam Silvera on Complex Narratives, Diversity, and More

Silvera spoke with SLJ about the need for diversity in YA literature and the challenges of penning a novel that successfully incorporates utter joy and emotional devastation.

ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet by Juana Medina | SLJ Review

MEDINA, Juana. ABC Pasta: An Entertaining Alphabet. illus. by Juana Medina. 40p. ebook available. Viking. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101999783.

PreS-Gr 1 –Medina follows up her delectable counting book, 1 Big Salad, with a circus-themed look at the ABCs. A mouth-watering mix of performers juggle, soar, and cavort their way through the alphabet. Each letter is accompanied by a zippy alliterative phrase (“basil balancing ballerinas,” “fettucine fire-eaters”) and a whimsical illustration that incorporates a photo of a different […]

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton | SLJ Review

CLANTON, Ben. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. illus. by Ben Clanton. 64p. (A Narwhal and Jelly Book: Bk. 1). Tundra. Oct. 2016. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781101918265; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781101918715. POP

Gr 1-3 –Readers new to graphic novels will be richly rewarded with this series opener about a delightfully quirky duo. Earnest and down-to-earth Jelly the jellyfish is the perfect foil for endearingly airheaded Narwhal. Divided into three tales, the book is light on plot but brimming with a […]

Living with Ghosts: Nina LaCour on “We Are Okay”

Award-winning author Nina LaCour discusses her latest YA novel, “We Are Okay,” a lyrical look at a teen’s attempt to cope with past trauma.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour | SLJ Review

LACOUR, Nina. We Are Okay. 240p. Dutton. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525425892. POP

Gr 8 Up –Her first semester of college behind her, Marin stays alone in the dorms over break, even with the threat of a snowstorm looming, rather than return to San Francisco, where bad memories lurk. Her best friend Mabel comes to stay with her, and over the next few days, Marin contemplates the events of last spring and summer and deals with her complicated […]

Deb Lucke on her Latest “Lunch Witch” Graphic Novel

Deb Lucke’s sequel to “Lunch Witch” was just named an SLJ Popular Pick. She reveals what’s next for Grunhilda.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye by Geoffrey Hayes | SLJ Review

HAYES, Geoffrey. Benny and Penny in How To Say Goodbye. illus. by Geoffrey Hayes. 32p. Toon. Sept. 2016. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781935179993.

K-Gr 2 –In this addition to the celebrated series, Benny and Penny, the mouse siblings who are prone to squabbling but quick to hug and make up, learn about death. Penny notices that Little Red, a salamander, has died, but when she tells big brother Benny, he brushes her off. With soft lines and a muted palette, […]