February 26, 2017

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What Today’s Teens Have To Say About George Orwell’s ‘1984’

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With “alternative facts” in the headlines, high schoolers connect with George Orwell’s classic novel and protagonist Winston Smith’s world of “Newspeak” and “doublethink.”

Rain by Sam Usher | SLJ Review

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USHER, Sam. Rain. illus. by Sam Usher. 32p. Candlewick/Templar. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763692964.

PreS-Gr 2 –In a suitable sequel to the author’s Snow, Sam can’t wait until he is “out in the rain. You can catch raindrops, splash in puddles, and look at everything upside down.” Granddad and his young grandson watch through the window as drops fall steadily, increasing until the street disappears in a steady downpour. They wait and wait, one reading about sea monsters […]

Talking Baby: Helping Your Child Discover Language by Margaret MacLagan & Anne Buckley | SLJ Review

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MACLAGAN, Margaret & Anne Buckley. Talking Baby: Helping Your Child Discover Language. 192p. Finch. Nov. 2016. pap. $18.95. ISBN 9781925048605.

In this puddle-jumper from down under, child language development lecturer ­Maclagan and speech-language therapist Buckley set forth a just-technical-enough look at how children acquire language and how to best support its development. Beginning with infancy, the authors encourage parents to talk, talk, talk about anything and to leave time for “response” (anything the baby does is her “turn” in […]

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham | SLJ Audio Review

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DOWNHAM, Jenny. Unbecoming. Preloaded digital audio player. 14:14 hrs. Mar. 2016. Scholastic. $30. ISBN 9780545945905.

Gr 9 Up−Although Mary, Caroline, and Katie are three very different generations in the same family, suddenly living under the same roof forces them to confront a complicated past that has kept them estranged for decades. Mary is the grandmother, newly widowed, fighting the dementia that is clouding and tangling memories. Caroline is her angry daughter, unforgiving of the long estrangement and unwilling to […]

Baby Talk, Physical Play, and More | Parenting Reviews

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Seeking new materials to bolster parenting collections? Look no further.

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

Long Way North | SLJ DVD Review

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Long Way North. 81 min. Dist. by Shout! Kids Factory. 2016. $16.99 UPC 0826663172027. Blu-ray $22.99 UPC 0826663172034.

Gr 5 Up –Viewers are introduced to 15-year-old Sacha as she explores her lavish Russian home and dances with a prince at a ball. This lovely animated film quickly reveals that Sacha Tchernetsov is no princess wannabe, but a strong-minded adventurer. She feels kinship with her explorer grandfather, who disappeared while seeking the North Pole. When she finds his notes in […]

Celebrate Black History Month with Afro-Latinx Kid Lit

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SLJ reviews manager Shelley Diaz highlights children’s and YA books with Afro-Latinx roots.

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

The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found by Martin W. Sandler | SLJ Review

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SANDLER, Martin W. The Whydah: A Pirate Ship Feared, Wrecked, and Found. 176p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763680336.

Gr 6 Up –Sandler dispels many popular pirate-related myths and offers a more realistic and factual view of the era of piracy in the New World. Instead of living in abject poverty at the mercy of kings and nobles, many men embraced piracy as a means to support their families and live a comfortable life, […]

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper | SLJ Reviews

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COOPER, Elisha. Big Cat, Little Cat. illus. by Elisha Cooper. 40p. Roaring Brook. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626723719.

PreS-Gr 1 –Bold and simple illustrations perfectly depict life with cats. Elegant, expressive black line drawings on white backgrounds capture the essence of all things feline and call to mind the work of Clare Turlay Newberry and Nikki McClure. The book follows a lone white cat who gains a small black companion, their life together, and the eventual loss of […]

Real Friends by Shannon Hale | SLJ Review

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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 […]

Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants | SLJ DVD Review

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Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898744. POP

Gr 5 Up –Dr. Julian Fennessy has spent the last two decades studying giraffes. Astonishingly little is known about them, especially compared with other high-profile animals whose populations are also under threat, such as elephants and rhinos. Alarmed that giraffe populations have declined 40 percent in the past 20 years and are thus threatened with extinction, Fennessy developed a relocation project for 20 giraffes. […]

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan | SLJ Review

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KHAN, Hena. Amina’s Voice. 208p. ebook available. S. & S./Salaam Reads. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481492065.

Gr 4-6 –A satisfying read about an 11-year-old girl navigating friendship, family, religion, and dreams of becoming a soul-singing sensation. In a quiet Milwaukee suburb, Amina and her best friend Soojin grapple with their own ethnic identities and the pressure to Americanize. Soojin is Korean American and on the pathway to citizenship. She’s contemplating changing her name to solidify her American identity, […]

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | SLJ Review

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TAYLOR, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. 544p. ebook available. Little, Brown. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316341684. POP

Gr 9 Up –Lazlo Strange is a foundling who has grown up alone and unloved, sustained only by his fantasies and stories of a city known as Weep. As an adult, Lazlo finds his way to the Great Library of Zosma and becomes a librarian, tasked with supporting scholars in their work. His fixation with Weep continues, and he searches for scraps […]

Chapter Books for Change | Chapter Book Chat

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Topics such as immigration, gender identity, and homelessness are explored in this selection of chapter books for younger readers, with supporting web resources for classroom lessons and discussions.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney | SLJ Review

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff. adapted by Jerry Pinkney. illus. by Jerry Pinkney. 40p. Little, Brown. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316341578.

PreS-Gr 2 –Employing his signature pencil and watercolor compositions, Pinkney brings a thoughtful, nuanced perspective to this classic tale. The story begins as expected, with the goats “trip-trapping” across the bridge in search of food—the first two urging the troll to wait for the bigger animal coming next. Each goat has a distinctive appearance; the troll is […]

The Choice | SLJ DVD Review

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The Choice. (Frontline). 120 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627899031.

Gr 8 Up –The PBS series presents a biography/documentary to examine the latest presidential candidates, an election year tradition since 1988. This edition concentrates primarily on the psychological makeup of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump and the influences that combined to create their well-known personas. The candidates are presented in an evenhanded manner that allows their primary personality traits to surface through archival footage that reaches […]

Comical Information | Nonfiction Notions

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Can the graphic novel format ever be considered “true” nonfiction? For librarian Jennifer Wharton, who recommended several recent favorites, they occupy a space between fiction and nonfiction, offering readers a highly accessible and exciting entry into informational text.

From Refugees to Voting Rights, Books to Inspire a Just, Inclusive Society

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Dozens of titles that help promote a deeper understanding and acceptance of our human differences, selected and recommended by the Bank Street College of Education.

Ox & Gazelle? A Valentine’s Day Love Story| SLJ Book Review

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A lumbering yet loquacious ox wins over a glamorous yet conceited gazelle via the power of the pen in this epistolary picture book.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi | SLJ Review

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ZOBOI, Ibi. American Street. 336p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473042.

Gr 9 Up –After her mother is detained by immigration officials, Fabiola Toussaint has to finish her move from Port-au-Prince to Detroit alone. The tough-as-nails cousins and exhausted aunt who greet her in Michigan bear little resemblance to the warm family she had dreamed of when she was in Haiti. Left with a mother-size hole in her life, Fabiola begins the unsteady process […]