October 22, 2016

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It’s Genius Hour!


Understanding genius hour and making it rock at your school.

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

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer | SLJ DVD Review


Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer. 34 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520016788.

Gr 4-8 –This iconographic video expands on Carole Boston Weatherford’s exemplary picture book biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by adding narration and simple animation. Janina Edwards’s spirited narration conveys the beauty of Weatherford’s poetic text and convincingly voices Hamer’s perspective. Born in poverty, Hamer became a powerful voice of the civil rights movement. Forced to leave school after the sixth grade, she was in […]

The Book Palace: One Librarian’s Adventure at the Library of Congress


The Library of Congress Summer Teaching Institute turned out to be a dream come true for an elementary school library media specialist.

A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators by Beatrix Potter & others | SLJ Review


POTTER, Beatrix & others. A Celebration of Beatrix Potter: Art and Letters by More Than 30 of Today’s Favorite Children’s Book Illustrators. 112p. illus. Warne. Nov. 2016. Tr $25. ISBN 9780241249437.

Gr 3 Up –In 1866, a truly remarkable woman was born. Scientifically inclined and always curious, the observant Potter grew up to become a woman ahead of her time. In this tribute to Potter and her memorable characters, 32 contemporary illustrators share anecdotes about their experiences with Peter […]

Browse This! Great Magazines for Kids and Teens


From Ranger Rick to Rookie, these thoughtfully curated, smartly designed, and engagingly written magazines are sure to entice patrons, from babies and toddlers to teenagers.

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

The First Silent Night | SLJ DVD Review


The First Silent Night. 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2015. $24.99. ISBN 9781627894173.

Gr 5 Up –This sweeping backstory of the world’s best-known Christmas carol is a mystery, with surprises aplenty as the 200-year-old song’s humble history is revealed. With gorgeous cinematography and rich narration by British actor Simon Callow, the tale is told with splendor yet simplicity. The illegitimate, impoverished Josef Mohr was born in 1792 in Salzburg, Austria, during a time of deep divisions between the haves […]

Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell | SLJ Review


FARRELL, Mary Cronk. Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights. 56p. bibliog. chron. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Abrams. Nov. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781419718847.

Gr 4-6 –The narrative begins with the murder of Fannie Sellins by deputies in Natrona, PA, in 1919 and then goes back 20 years to when Sellins first started working at the Marx and Haas garment factory and helped form the local United Garment Workers […]

Captain Pug by Laura James | SLJ Review


JAMES, Laura. Captain Pug. illus. by Églantine Ceulemans. 128p. Bloomsbury. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681193809; pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781681193816.

Gr 1-3 –Meet Pug. He lives with his best friend, Lady Miranda; her housekeeper; and two running footmen. Today, the two friends have been invited to go pedal boating. Lady Miranda dubs her canine pal Captain Pug. Being terrified of water, the dog isn’t so thrilled. Soon Pug gets separated from Lady Miranda before he can become a real […]

Pablo Finds a Treasure by Andrée Poulin | SLJ Review


POULIN, Andrée. Pablo Finds a Treasure. tr. from French by Andrée Poulin. illus. by Isabelle Malenfant. 32p. Annick. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554518678; pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781554518661.

Gr 1-3 –The author delves into a reality that is rarely portrayed in picture books—poverty in developing countries. This descriptive and candid narrative follows two young children whose lives involve sifting through garbage heaps for things to use, eat, and sell. As Pablo and Sofia unearth, and delight in, their “treasures,” […]

A Family Is a Family Is a Family by Sara O’Leary | SLJ Review

Groundwood Logos Spine

O’LEARY, Sara. A Family Is a Family Is a Family. illus. by Qin Leng. 32p. Groundwood. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781554987948.

PreS-Gr 2 –A classroom of young children are asked to consider what makes families special. The narrator, a student whose head is hanging low, is nervous about answering, because she feels her family is too different from everyone else’s. One by one, the students share, in intricate spreads, what makes their families unique. One student says that […]

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan | SLJ Audio Review


SHOVAN, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. 3 CDs. 3:15 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501925344. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –When the land where their school is located is sold to build a supermarket, 18 fifth graders use poetry to tell the story of their loss. Each student has a unique voice reflecting personality, culture, and individual challenges. Some fight the change. Others embrace new possibilities. Soon they will be scattered to other schools. It […]

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music | SLJ DVD Review


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music. 10 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520013213.

PreS-Gr 2 –What do you do when your talents and dreams remain unfulfilled? That was the problem facing Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. A girl of Chinese African descent living in Cuba, Millo was surrounded by a rich culture and a world filled with rhythms begging to be shared. In a tradition where boys were the only ones allowed to play the drums, […]

Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts by Emily Gravett | SLJ Review


GRAVETT, Emily. Little Mouse’s Big Book of Beasts. illus. by Emily Gravett. 32p. ebook available. S. & S. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481439299.

PreS-Gr 2 –This worthy successor to Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is another of Gravett’s comic, inventive marvels. Little Mouse finds certain creatures worrisome. How can the rodent make them less scary? Using a paint set, paper, magazine cut-outs, and origami folds and doing some serious editorializing, Mouse tries to calm the ferocious “original” […]

ESSA Action Focus Pivots to Policy Points


State education agencies are trying to find solutions to problems in this new ESSA environment. If you don’t bring the librarian perspective to the next version of the draft, no one else will.

Teens Review “The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily,” “Holding Up the Universe,” and More


SLJ‘s teen reviewers cover Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily, Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up the Universe, and more.

Samson in the Snow by Philip C. Stead | SLJ Review


STEAD, Philip C. Samson in the Snow. illus. by Philip C. Stead. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721821.

K-Gr 2 –Samson the woolly mammoth is content with the company of his flowers. When a little red bird flies by, asking for some flowers for a friend whose favorite color is yellow, Samson wonders what having a pal would be like. As summer turns to winter, Samson, concerned about the bird’s fate, decides that “it […]

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo | SLJ Review


BARDUGO, Leigh. Crooked Kingdom. 560p. ebook available. Holt. Sept. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781627792134.

Gr 7 Up –Teens will be excited to return to Bardugo’s marvelous world, first visited in her “Grisha Trilogy” and in this duology’s previous Six of Crows. They will be treated to a visit from old friends—the graceful (and deadly) Inej; Nina, the Grisha Heartrender; Wylan, the discarded, illiterate merchant’s son; and the mysterious and vengeful Kaz. Characters from the original trilogy (most notably Stormhund, […]

Monsters On Their Minds | New YA Fiction


A new crop of horror titles offers a mix of historical fiction, fantasy, and even humor, spawning a slew of tales sure to have teens biting their nails.

A Mathemagician’s Playbook | Apps


Criteria for selecting math apps and a few stellar examples.

Rani Patel in Full Effect by Sonia Patel | SLJ Review


PATEL, Sonia. Rani Patel in Full Effect. 313p. ebook available. further reading. glossary. Cinco Puntos. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781941026496; pap. $11.95. ISBN 9781941026502.

Gr 10 Up –On Molokai in the early 1990s, Rani Patel lives the life of the ultimate outsider. A quiet class council member of Indian descent whose relationship with her parents is deeply dysfunctional, she takes comfort only in hip-hop and rap. Her unrequited crushes on two local guys lead her into the underground […]