January 20, 2017

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This House, Once by Deborah Freedman | SLJ Review


FREEDMAN, Deborah. This House, Once. illus. by Deborah Freedman. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442848.

PreS-Gr 2 –In a story that’s more poetic than technical, select pieces of a home are highlighted to emphasize the idea that a house remembers. A domicile is constructed with natural elements that began as something much different. “This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.” The images start simply, […]

Snapchatting “The Odyssey”: An Epic Success


A librarian-teacher team figure out how to get a group of reluctant learners excited about a required project on Homer’s epic poem: Snapchat.

Outside the Frame | New YA Fiction About Teen Artists


In these recent titles, the world is a canvas for teen artists.

The Secret Life of the Red Fox by Laurence Pringle | SLJ Review


PRINGLE, Laurence. The Secret Life of the Red Fox. illus. by Kate Garchinsky. 32p. further reading. glossary. Boyds Mills. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781629792606.

Gr 1-4 –Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen’s life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration. […]

PEN America To Hold NYC Rally in Defense of Free Expression


“Writers Resist: Louder Together for Free Expression” will be held on the steps of the New York Public Library on January 15, Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

The Best Man by Richard Peck | SLJ Audio Review


PECK, Richard. The Best Man. 4 CDs. 4:25 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $30. ISBN 9780735288881. digital download.

Gr 4-6 –The latest from Newbery Medal–winning author Peck takes on important and timely topics—marriage, sexuality, manhood, nontraditional families—and alchemizes them into an affecting story full of warmth, acceptance, and understanding. Sixth grader Archer Magill narrates what he calls “A Tale of Two Weddings.” At the first, “a train wreck” of an event, Archer, age six, was the ring bearer and […]

Grand Canyon by Jason Chin | SLJ Review


CHIN, Jason. Grand Canyon. illus. by Jason Chin. 56p. bibliog. diag. further reading. websites. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Feb. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596439504.

Gr 3-5 –A breathtaking walk through multiple habitats and deep time. Beginning at the banks of the Colorado River, a child and her adult companion hike up the South Kaibab trail from 1.84 billion-year-old “basement rocks” past the layers of the Grand Canyon Supergroup, the Bright Angel Shale, and other major formations to the Kaibab […]

SLJ’s Starred Reviews | January 2017


This month’s can’t-miss titles include Jason Chin’s stunning look at the Grand Canyon, George O’Connor’s graphic novel treatment of the goddess of the hunt, and a charming new chapter book from Laura Amy Schlitz.

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

Teens Review “Dreamland Burning,” New Fantasy, and More


The Kitsap YA reviewers take on new thrillers and fantasy titles and Jennifer Latham’s Dreamland Burning, among other recent releases.

A Perfect Day by Lane Smith | SLJ Review


SMITH, Lane. A Perfect Day. illus. by Lane Smith. 32p. Roaring Brook. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725362.

PreS-Gr 1 –An enjoyable afternoon is upended by an unexpected visitor in this charming book by the beloved children’s writer and illustrator. It was the perfect day for young Bert, his cat basking in the sunshine, his dog frolicking in a plastic pool, a chickadee enjoying the birdseed—even a squirrel was relishing a corncob. Then a bear lumbers onto the scene […]

Love Is a Truck by Amy Novesky | SLJ Review


NOVESKY, Amy. Love Is a Truck. illus. by Sara Gillingham. 24p. Cameron Kids. Nov. 2016. Board $12.95. ISBN 9781937359867.

Toddler-PreS –Fire trucks usually get all the love, but in this book, there is an abundance of love for trucks of all types and sizes. With everything from dump trucks to ice-cream trucks to cement trucks, this honey of a title conveys the simple joy of creative play. An adorable brown-skinned tot with cross-hatched red cheeks is all smiles and […]

The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig | SLJ Review


HEILIG, Heidi. The Ship Beyond Time. 464p. (The Girl from Everywhere: Bk. 2). ebook available. HarperCollins/ Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062380784.

Gr 8 Up –This artfully constructed sequel to The Girl from Everywhere does not disappoint, with even more romance and adventure than in the first installment. Based on a devastating prediction, ship captain Nix takes her crew on a time-traveling journey to a mythological kingdom. They are pursuing a method of manipulating time, and with all […]

Hooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins | SLJ Review


COUSINS, Lucy. Hooray for Birds! illus. by Lucy Cousins. 40p. Candlewick. Feb. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763692650.

PreS-Gr 2 –Bold electric colors flutter on each spread of this high-flying adventure that’s perfect for young fans of Hooray for Fish! The art is rendered in gouache, and the text is hand-lettered in ink. Readers are invited to pretend they are various birds as pages provide playful rhyme and expressive action verbs. “Swoop up and down,/Swoop round and round./Scratch the ground […]

A Conversation with the 2017 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalists


Join us for a live webcast featuring the five finalists for the 2017 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award. Register now to learn a bit about these terrific titles; hear from the authors about their research and writing processes; and glean some insights into publishing decisions that make the best nonfiction titles accessible and engaging to today’s teens. Don’t miss out on this exclusive event, which will take place right before the award announcement at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta.
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Bats: Learning To Fly by Falynn Koch | SLJ Review


KOCH, Falynn. Bats: Learning To Fly. illus. by Falynn Koch. 128p. (Science Comics). further reading. glossary. First Second. Feb. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626724099; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626724082.

Gr 3-7 –This latest in the science-related graphic novel series turns its focused eye to the world of bats. A little brown bat is lost in a Southwestern desert at night, just as a group of nature lovers are out for a tour. Injured in a commotion with the humans, the […]

In Darkling Wood by Emma Carroll | SLJ Review


CARROLL, Emma. In Darkling Wood. 240p. ebook available. Delacorte. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399556012; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9780399556029.

Gr 5-8 –When Alice’s younger brother is summoned for heart transplant surgery, her mother sends her to stay with her paternal grandmother, Nell, a curmudgeonly woman she has never met. Learning to deal with prickly Nell is one more stress for Alice, added to her worries about her brother and her frustration with her father, who seems to be […]

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell | SLJ Review


CORDELL, Matthew. Wolf in the Snow. illus. by Matthew Cordell. 32p. Feiwel & Friends. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250076366.

K-Gr 2 –In this mostly wordless picture book, a girl gets lost in a snowstorm while walking home from school. At the same time, a wolf pup gets separated from its pack. The girl discovers the pup and carries it through dangerous and icy terrain to reconnect with its pack, and the wolves assist the girl by howling to […]

Siren Sisters by Dana Langer | SLJ Review


LANGER, Dana. Siren Sisters. 256p. ebook available. S. & S./Aladdin. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481466868.

Gr 4-6 –Lolly Salt is living a double life. By day she fights exhaustion and acts like a normal middle school student, but at night she must follow her three beautiful older sisters as they are called by the Sea Witch to destroy fishing vessels using their magical siren song. Not yet a siren herself, Lolly will become one as soon as she […]

At Night by Helga Bansch | SLJ Review


BANSCH, Helga. At Night. tr. from German. illus. by Helga Bansch. 41p. Eerdmans. Aug. 2016. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780802854711.

PreS –Because bedtime leads to separation for many children, they resist it mightily. This Austrian import offers an antidote, presenting a nocturnal world in which curling up to sleep connects kids to other creatures in settings both wondrous and whimsical. Mixed-media collages in a cozy format (7” x 7”) depict slumbering animals, one per page: “At night, the elephant lies […]

The Search for Olinguito: Discovering a New Species by Sandra Markle | SLJ Review


MARKLE, Sandra. The Search for Olinguito: Discovering a New Species. 40p. ebook available. further reading. glossary. index. maps. notes. photos. websites. Millbrook. Jan. 2017. lib. ed. $30.65. ISBN 9781512410150.

Gr 3-6 –“Nothing new under the sun,” goes the old saying, but apparently there is. Consider the first “new” carnivore spotted in the Americas in 35 years—the olinguito (Bassaricyon neblina), a small furry member of the raccoon family, hiding in plain sight (though nocturnal in nature) in the Ecuadorian rain […]