February 11, 2016

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Threatened: The Controversial Struggle of the Southern Sea Otter | SLJ DVD Review

Threatened The Controversial Struggle of the Southern Sea Otter

Threatened: The Controversial Struggle of the Southern Sea Otter. 41 min. Dist. by the Video Project. 2013 released in 2015. Price $59. ISBN unavail.

Gr 7 Up –This insightful documentary provides information on the history of the southern sea otter’s journey back from the brink of extinction and presents both sides of the repercussions of the restoration of a protected sea otter zone. Environmentalists and their supporters argue that the otters have existed for thousands of years, are a […]

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older | SLJ Audio Review

OLDER, Daniel José. Shadowshaper

OLDER, Daniel José. Shadowshaper. 6 CDs. 7:21 hrs. Scholastic Audio. 2015. $29.99. ISBN 9780545921220.

Gr 7 Up –If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does it mean when paintings start morphing, shifting, and even weeping actual tears? For Sierra Santiago, who thought she would spend her summer making the mural of her dreams, these newly moving pictures are clear warnings that mere words can’t save the world as she knows it. While avoiding evil spirits and […]

Book: My Autobiography by John Agard | SLJ Audio Review

Agard, John. Book My Autobiography

Agard, John. Book: My Autobiography. 1 CD. 1:04 hrs. Brilliance. 2015. $16.99. ISBN 9781511323604.

Gr 4-8 –Here listeners are treated to an overview of the written word from oral traditions to ebooks, from the point of view of the book itself. As narrator of its own story, Book touches on multiple important topics in short, engaging chapters. With style and aplomb, it describes cuneiform and clay tablets, hieroglyphics and alphabets, papyrus and parchment, the invention of paper, […]

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story | SLJ DVD Review

A Brave Heart The Lizzie Velasquez Story

A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story. 78 min. Spanish subtitles. Dist. by Tugg. 2015. DVD and Blu-ray $95. $375 PPR. ISBN unavail.

Gr 6 Up –Lizzie Velasquez, born with a rare condition that prevents her from gaining weight, among other symptoms, was bullied as a child because of her ailment, but with the support of her family was able to grow into her teen years with few psychological issues. She even became a middle school cheerleader. Then […]

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier as told to Michelle Cuevas | SLJ Audio Review

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend A Memoir by Jacques Papier

CUEVAS, Michelle. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier. 3 CDs. 3:03 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $27. ISBN 9781101925751. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –Jacques Papier is going through an existential crisis: nobody seems to acknowledge his presence, not even his own parents, and he begins to doubt that anyone can even see him. The exception is his twin sister, Fleur, his constant companion and advocate. While brooding over his predicament at the park one […]

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow | SLJ Audio Review


BOW, Erin. The Scorpion Rules. 8 CDs. 10:30 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2015. $29.99. ISBN 9781442391604.

Gr 9 Up –Four centuries in the future, the UN’s leading artificial intelligence has put an end to large-scale wars by requiring all world leaders to surrender one of their children as a hostage to peace. The children live in isolated preceptures and are educated to be future heads of state, all the while knowing that if their countries go to war, […]

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz | SLJ Audio Review

Code of Honor by Alan Gratz

Gratz, Alan. Code of Honor. 6 CDs. 7:09 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2015. $34.99. ISBN 9780545881524.

Gr 8 Up –Seventeen-year-old Kamran Smith is a typical American high school student. He plays football, has a girlfriend and friends, plans to attend West Point after he graduates, and has an older brother he idolizes, Darius, a U.S. Army Ranger. But when Darius is captured in Afghanistan and is then seen on television appearing to work alongside terrorists, Kamran and his […]

14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez | SLJ DVD Review

14 Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez DVD

14: Dred Scott, Wong Kim Ark & Vanessa Lopez. 67 minutes. w/English & Spanish subtitles. Dist. by Graham Street Productions. 2014. $125. UPC 857670005114.

Gr 8 Up –From the minute this documentary begins until the end, viewers are confronted with the question of who has the right to be an American citizen. The film opens and closes with Vanessa Lopez describing her hopes and dreams. Viewers meet three generations of the Lopez family and see them challenge the […]

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell | SLJ Audio Review


Rowell, Rainbow. Carry On. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Macmillan Audio. 2015. $39.99. ISBN 9781427262028.

Gr 9 Up –Simon Snow is back with his own story, after being introduced as a fanfiction hero in Rowell’s Fangirl (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013). It’s senior year at the Watford School of Magicks, but Simon’s roommate/nemesis Baz is nowhere to be found, which disconcerts Simon more than he would have guessed. When Baz finally does turn up, Simon offers to help him find […]

Lunch Love Community | SLJ DVD Review


Lunch Love Community. 78 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2015. $295. Rental $95. ISBN 1941545416.

Gr 6 Up –This unique documentary is made up of 12 short films depicting the food reform for school lunches in Berkeley, CA. Though the overall message is that success for school children begins with healthy nutrition, the short films delve into the nitty-gritty details of this concept. Ranging from three to 13 minutes, these shorts give a closer look at how the movement […]

Scaredy Squirrel at Night | SLJ DVD Review

Scaredy Squirrel at Night

Scaredy Squirrel at Night. 11 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2015. $59.95. ISBN 9780545879231.

PreS-Gr 3 –Scaredy Squirrel lives up to his name. He’s nervous about everything. This picture book by Mélanie Watt (Kids Can, 2009) addresses his nighttime issues—fear of ghosts, bats, polka-dot monsters, and more. It’s delightful on its own, but this production augments the story through clever animation, drawing viewers in and emphasizing all the humorous asides that might be missed by casual readers. It turns […]

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes | SLJ Audio Review

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes

GRIMES, Nikki. Poems in the Attic. 1 CD. 15 min. Recorded Books. 2015. $15.75. ISBN 9781501907814. digital download.

Gr 1-5 –While visiting her grandma, a seven-year-old girl discovers her mother’s keepsakes in the attic: a cedar box filled with poems, written long before her daughter was born. The poems describe her childhood experiences as a military brat. California, Alaska, Germany, and Japan are just a few of the poems’ backdrops that paint a vivid picture of […]

One-on-one with the legendary Raffi | ClefNotes


In the first installment of ClefNotes, SLJ‘s new music column, Veronica DeFazio interviews children’s music legend Raffi about his advocacy work and his new album.

Top 10 Audiobooks 2015


These 10 titles, curated by audio editor Stephanie Klose, represent excellent storytelling with exceptional narration and production values.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Flame Out | “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 2″ Movie Review

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen (Photo: Lionsgate/Murray Close)

Katniss Everdeen brandishes her lethal bow and makes her final bow in the film finale of Suzanne Collins’s “Hunger Games” trilogy.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy | SLJ Audio Review


MURPHY, Julie. Dumplin’. 8 CDs. 9 hrs. Blackstone. 2015. $59.99. ISBN 9781504645225. digital download.

Gr 8 Up –“The word fat makes some people uncomfortable,” Willowdean Dickson remarks. Called Dumplin’ by her mother, Will insists that fat is “not an insult.” She’s comfortably self-aware, buoyed by her late aunt, whom she still deeply mourns, and her picture-perfect best friend. When she introduces herself to coworker Bo, a private school jock and hottie, she’s direct, describing herself as a “cashier, Dolly […]

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon | SLJ Audio Review


YOON, Nicola. Everything, Everything. 6 CDs. 6:45 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $40. ISBN 9781101916391. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –Yoon’s superb debut begins and ends with books. Stories are how 18-year-old Madeline has survived with Severe Combined Immunodeficiency—“you know it as ‘bubble baby disease’”—in her sanitized world that includes only her doctor mother and a nurse. She’s been content enough with taking classes via Skype, having movie nights with Mom, and posting Tumblr book reviews, until Olly and […]

Diversity explored and celebrated in “Same, Same but Different” | Audio Pick


KOSTECKI-SHAW, Jenny Sue. Same, Same but Different. 1 CD. 6 min. Weston Woods. 2015. $12.95. ISBN 9780545842426.
K-Gr 2–When Elliott draws a picture of his world in art class, his teacher sends it across the globe to another classroom and a beautiful story is born. Elliott from America and Kailash from India have very different lives, but through their letters and drawings they see how much they have in common. Kostecki-Shaw teaches listeners about the beauty of diversity and sends the […]

Scientists and engineers explore climate change in “Antarctic Edge” | DVD Pick


Antarctic Edge: 70° South. 72 min. Dist. by First Run Features. 2015. $24.95. UPC 720229916639.
Gr 9 Up–This documentary follows oceanographer Oscar Schofield and a team of scientists from many disciplines on a three-month expedition to Antarctica. Their research vessel becomes an independent community in the remote, harsh wilderness as they study the myriad effects of global warming on the continent and its life-forms. Particular attention is given to the melting of sea ice, which is an important habitat for penguins. […]

Dual narrators excel in gripping supernatural thriller “The Walls Around Us” | Audio Pick


Suma, Nova Ren. The Walls Around Us. 8 CDs. 8:45 hrs. Recorded Books. 2015. $87.75. ISBN 9781490664613. digital download.
Gr 9 Up–In alternating narratives that ultimately converge in supernatural ways, two girls share a connection, though, ostensibly, their stories are separated by three years. Violet is an 18-year-old ballet dancer, recently graduated and soon to start at Juilliard. Amber is incarcerated at a juvenile detention center for allegedly killing her abusive stepfather. Tying them together is Orianna, Violet’s best friend, who […]