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May 24, 2015

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SLJ Multimedia Reviews

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“Listen, Slowly” explores a teen’s journey from the valley to Vietnam| Audio Pick

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LAI, Thanhhà. Listen, Slowly. digital download. 8 hrs. Harper Audio. 2015. $18.99. ISBN 9780062346469.
Gr 6-8–Mai (though at school in Laguna Beach she’s known as “Mia”) is a seventh grade valley girl who is expected to accompany her grandmother on an all-summer visit to Vietnam. Bà fled Vietnam with her children during the Fall of Saigon, and doesn’t know what happened to her husband, Mai’s grandfather. Occasionally using her rudimentary Vietnamese, Mai tells the story (grudgingly adding SAT vocabulary sent daily […]

Incredible abilities are showcased in “Owl Power”|DVD Pick

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Owl Power. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. By PBS. 2015.  $19.99. ISBN  9781627892827.
Gr 5 Up–Owls are known to have keen eyesight, and this film informs viewers that there is much more to their hunting skills and their nocturnal habits. The main focus here is the manner in which scientists are able to study the owl’s unique set of superpowers. Bird trainers Lloyd and Rose Buck provide a rare and up-close opportunity for viewers—two baby barn owls are seen hatching in an […]

Jim Dale brings well-loved characters to life in “The Mr. Men Collection” | Audio Pick

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HARGREAVES, Roger. The Mr. Men Collection Vol. 1. 1 CD. 59 min. Listening Library. 2015. $10. ISBN 9781101891285. digital download.
PreS-Gr 2–This recording features ten titles from the appealing collection of brief books that highlight Hargreaves’s classic “Mr. Men” tales. Mr. Happy ends up chuckling with a now-smiling Mr. Miserable. Mr. Messy leaves the cap off his toothpaste, Mr. Small slips into the mustard, and Mr. Brave rushes to arrive on time for tea to avoid upsetting stern Miss Bossy. There […]

Changing the World with Erin Gruwell | Professional Shelf

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Erin Gruwell, a teacher determined to make a difference, and her students became the subject of the 2007 Hollywood movie Freedom Writers. On May 5, Gruwell and some of those same students will visit with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Together they will view a new documentary about the Freedom Writers’ extraordinary journey.

Powerful film explores the dire consequences of plastic| DVD Pick

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Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. 57 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $350. Rent $85. ISBN 1941545246.
Gr 7 Up–After seeing this documentary, viewers will not think of plastic in the same way again and will likely be inspired to make some personal changes, such as carrying reusable bags. Journalist Angela Sun’s journey to find the so-called drifting plastic island takes her to the remote Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. There plastic debris from the […]

Sleepy creatures, historical fiction, & a new Sammy Keyes | Audio Reviews

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L. Frank Baum’s Ozma of Oz and Ilyasah Shabazz’s historical novel about her father Malcolm X, are among this month’s audiobook reviews.

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

Lincoln, Jefferson, and Franklin | DVD Reviews

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The arrival of Barb Rosenstock’s Ben Franklin’s Big Splash makes waves, along with Maira Kalman’s inspired biographies of presidents Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Additionally, post-Katrina New Orleans and the civil rights movement are poignantly depicted in The Whole Gritty City and The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement.

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

Animal adventures and fun lessons abound in “Humphrey” collection | Audio Pick

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Birney, Betty G. Humphrey Audio Collection, Books 8-11. 11 CDs. 13 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $75. ISBN 9780553556490. digital download.
Gr 3-7–Everyone’s favorite golden hamster is back in this audio presentation of four of the books by Birney. In “Mysteries According to Humphrey,” Humphrey’s class is reading Sherlock Holmes, a substitute takes over, and Humphrey has his own mysteries to solve. “Winter According to Humphrey” brings snow, a pageant, and all the winter holidays. In “Secrets According to Humphrey,” the class […]

A cozy barnyard tale prepares youngsters for bedtime|Audio Pick

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RAY, Mary Lyn. Go to Sleep, Little Farm. 1 CD. 15 min. $15.75. Recorded Books. 2015. ISBN 9781490660080. digital download.
K-Gr 2–On a quiet farm a variety of creatures are preparing for sleep: gray mice hide under roots, a beaver makes a bed in a bog, and a little girl prepares to go to sleep. The sweet storyline and crafty wordsmithing combine for a work that children will love to listen to before going to bed. Such lines as “Somewhere a […]

Lifelong civil rights activist celebrated in “Barber of Birmingham”| DVD Pick

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The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. 26 min. Dist. by the Video Project. 2014. $59. ISBN unavail.
Gr 7 Up–This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, and this documentary introduces viewers to a man described as a foot soldier for the civil rights movement: 85-year-old James Armstrong. He carried a flag when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched towards the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and his Armstrong Barbershop (parts of which seem held together […]

Documentary sheds light on vicious bullying cycle in “Mentor” | DVD Pick

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A powerful documentary about bullying and suicide in a small town.

From the Page to the Screen | Multimedia Reviews, March 2015

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This month features the arrival of the DVD and audio versions of Jon Agee’s satirical Nothing, Alison McGhee’s wintry Making a Friend, and Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton’s The Very Fairy Princess, who lets her sparkle out in both formats. Christopher Myers’s H.O.R.S.E. and Ann M. Martin’s Reign are among the starred audiobook reviews.

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

The Fast and the Feisty | “Insurgent” Film Review

Theo James and Shailene Woodley in The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Photo credit: Andrew Cooper)

After the heavy plot lifting in the first film based on Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” trilogy (HarperCollins) viewers are in for a smoother ride in the adaptation of her second installment, Insurgent. It speeds past intricate intrigues and sketchy characterizations, moving like a sleek roller coaster ride, free from clunky exposition.

Black’s “Forest” is chock-full of magic and mystery | Audio Pick

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Black, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. 8 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2015. $25. ISBN 9781478955894. digital download.
Gr 8 Up–A small town, sibling pairs, a beautiful horned boy who has been entombed in a clear casket for as long as anyone in the town can remember, and a dark forest inhabited by Fae folk of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments—these are just a few of the elements Black blends together to create this riveting and engrossing story that […]

“Oil & Water” drills deep into the issue of conservation | DVD Pick

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Oil & Water. 78 and 55 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $295. Rent $95. ISBN 1941545165.
Gr 9 Up–This exquisitely edited documentary focuses on two young men who have dedicated their lives to the preservation of the indigenous culture and the ecosystem of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Hugo Lucitante, a member of the Cofán tribe, spent years in the U.S. and graduated from a Seattle high school. The film follows Lucitante over the next several years as he returns home to […]

March Starred Reviews

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Visit old friends and new with this month’s SLJ stars. Will Grayson, Will Grayson fans will delight in finally seeing TIny Cooper’s masterpiece come to life, and Avi fans are in for a treat with Catch You Later, Traitor. Graphic novel fans have a wonderfully gruesome new series with “The Lunch Witch,” while YA fans looking for a new voice will find it with Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days.

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

“This is the Rope” discusses importance of family and history | Audio Pick

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WOODSON, Jacqueline. This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration. 1 CD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545790512.
Gr K-2–Something as simple as a discarded rope has tied a family story together through several generations. In the middle of the 20th century, an African American family moves from South Carolina to Brooklyn, NY, making the great migration north as many other families bravely did at the time. This tale follows a family through several generations, always coming […]

“Little Big Girls” explores puberty and its effects | DVD Pick

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Little Big Girls. 52 min. Dist. by National Film Board of Canada. 2014. $295 (PPR). ISBN unvail.
Gr 5 Up–Three of the times in a girl’s life when she’s told she’s a “big girl” are depicted in the animated introduction: when she learns to use the potty; then when she rides her bike without training wheels for the first time; and lastly, when she gets her first bra. The subject here is early puberty, and the candid interviews with girls who […]

A Nat Geo explorer gets up close and personal in “Crocodile Encounters!”| Audio Pick

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Barr, Brady with Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. Crocodile Encounters! And More True Stories of Adventures With Animals. 1 CD. 45 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490635873. digital download.
Gr 2-4–National Geographic explorer Barr presents four suspenseful and often humorous tales of his encounters with crocodiles. In “Undercover Croc,” he dons a specially developed crocodile suit to enter into a large group of fearsome crocodiles. In “Toy Story,” he tries to capture a crocodile using a remote-controlled car and milk jug with […]

Around the World in DVDs |Multimedia Reviews, February 2015

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Many of February’s DVD selections highlight world history, from the invention of the hot-air balloon in 18th-century France to China’s terra-cotta warriors and the black pharaohs of ancient Egypt. In addition, the 2015 Carnegie Medal–winning Me…Jane earns a star, and SLJ’s quarterly review of music is also featured.

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