March 24, 2017

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Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson | SLJ Audio Review

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STELSON, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. 3 CDs. 3:27 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. $29.99. ISBN 9781520063034. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Sachiko Yasui was six years old when an atomic bomb was dropped on her hometown of Nagasaki: this is the account of her survival. She experienced the death of family members, homelessness, and ill health, but the unrelenting encouragement of her father gave her the strength and willpower to face the future. He had told her always […]

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | SLJ Audio Review

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MEYER , Marissa. Heartless . 12 CDs. 14:34 hrs. Macmillan Audio. Nov. 2016. $39.99. ISBN 9781427267948. digital download.

Gr 8 Up –In this dark imagining of the origin of the Queen of Hearts, Lady Catherine starts out with the dream of owning a bakery with her maid, Mary Ann. Cath’s baking skills land her the heart of the King of Hearts, but she is drawn to the mysterious court joker, Jest. As Cath begins to give her heart to […]

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner | SLJ Audio Review

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TURNER, Pamela S. Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune. 4 CDs. 4:51 hrs. Recorded Books. Oct. 2016. $46.75. ISBN 9781501936265.

Gr 7 Up –Combining action, history, and excellent descriptions, this book shares the story of Yoshitsune, a most unlikely samurai. Spared after his father attacked a rival, Yoshitsune was raised by monks and later received instruction in the way of the samurai. Yoshitsune pledged his loyalty to his half brother Yoritomo and performed many heroic feats. Unfortunately, […]

The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis & Kate Saunders | SLJ Audio Review

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BRIGHT, Paul, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, & Kate Saunders. The Best Bear in All the World. 2 CDs. 1:37 hrs. Listening Library. Oct. 2016. $22. ISBN 9780735287655. digital download

Gr 2-5 – Four seasons bring new adventures and curiosities to Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and friends. From Eeyore seeing another donkey to Piglet and Pooh meeting a dragon, the tales will delight, inspire, and encourage imagination. Narrator Martin Jarvis’s voice is ideal for bringing to life each of the Hundred […]

My Congo | SLJ DVD Review

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My Congo. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898737.

Gr 5 Up –It pays to travel with a professional photographer. Stunning images of the landscapes, wildlife, and people of the Republic of the Congo grace this wonderful film that draws viewers into a world of beauty and diverse cultures. Wildlife filmmaker Vianet D’jenguet spent his childhood there before moving to Europe. His return to his homeland is moving and informative. The film takes viewers on a […]

I Voted? | SLJ DVD Review

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I Voted? 77 min. Dist. by Tugg Educational. 2016. $75. ISBN unavail.

Gr 9 Up –Jason Grant Smith, a young independent filmmaker, asks, “Are we the country we think we are?” in this timely, provocative, and important exploration of America’s voting procedures. His initial interest in the unlikely primary victory of an unknown candidate for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina morphs into a general investigation of current voting systems, which are likely to be vulnerable to error and […]

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown | SLJ Audio Review

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BROWN, Skila. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party. 3 CDs. 3:51 hrs. Brilliance. Oct. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781522656296. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –For 19-year-old Mary Ann Graves, and her family, the journey from Illinois to California in 1846 meant an arduous walk through mountains and deserts, alongside livestock and wagons. Following Graves’s actual reports, the chapters of this novel, which is based on actual events, relate the party’s day-to-day struggles […]

Incarcerating US | SLJ DVD Review

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Incarcerating US. 84 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2015. $350 (PPR). Rental $95. ISBN 1941545629.

Gr 9 Up –A brutal and honest look inside the U.S. prison system. Colorful graphics help viewers visualize alarming statistics. For example, the federal prison population rose from 36,000 in 1985 to 200,000 today. Five grams of drugs, the amount equal to a sweetener packet, can get someone a five-year sentence. Additionally, judges, under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, have little room for compassion. […]

The Story of Cats | SLJ DVD Review

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The Story of Cats. (Nature). 106 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898751. Blu-ray $29.99. UPC 0841887030472.

Gr 5 Up –This engaging film offers an incredible amount of information. The focus is on the most widespread of all carnivores, cats, found all over the world, even in our homes. The 37 different species of cats today live in every climate, and the program chronicles the evolution of the first breed of cats known to have existed 11 million […]

A Bully Backtracks | “Before I Fall” Movie Review

Zoey Deutch as Samantha in Before I Fall

A popular high school senior relives the same day over and over again, caught in a repetitive time warp.

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

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 […]

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin | SLJ Audio Review

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LIN, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. 6 CDs. 7:37 hrs. Hachette Audio. Oct. 2016. $24. ISBN 9781478912538. digital download.

Gr 4-6– In this companion novel to When the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, the Black Tortoise of Winter’s chilly grip hasn’t stopped villagers from trekking up the mountain to hear tales from Amah the Storyteller. Upon their arrival, Pinmei, Amah’s granddaughter, hides in the shadows and listens. Life abruptly unravels when the […]

Moo by Sharon Creech | SLJ Audio Review

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CREECH, Sharon. Moo. 2 CDs. 2:32 hrs. HarperCollins. Nov. 2016. $19.99. ISBN 9781470853624. 1 MP3-CD; digital download.

Gr 4-6 –Twelve-year-old Reena’s outburst during a family conversation about parental careers, geography, and the future “ten years from now” catapults the family from a city of monuments, subways, and museums and lands them in rural Maine. Her expectations of her new home include lobsters, blueberries, beaches, and mountains, but what she and her seven-year-old brother Luke get most familiar with is […]

Super Hummingbirds | SLJ DVD Review

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Super Hummingbirds. (Nature). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. UPC 0841887030106. Blu-ray $29.99. ISBN 9781627899086.

Gr 6 Up –They are the smallest birds in the world, but what makes hummingbirds so difficult to see is their speed of flight. With the assistance of special high-speed photography and creative camera work, viewers will finally be able to observe the unique and fast-paced world of this fascinating species. Probably too few realize that hummingbirds have “superpowers,” such as flying backward […]

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz | SLJ Audio Review

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GIDWITZ, Adam. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. 8 CDs. 10:14 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $40. ISBN 9780735287389. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –The year is 1242; the setting: a roadside inn on the outskirts of a small French town. Travelers from all corners of France share what they know about the country’s most notorious outlaws: a group of three children and their dog. Jeanne is a peasant girl able to see the […]

Ghost by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review

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REYNOLDS, Jason. Ghost. digital download. 3:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. Aug. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781508230472.

Gr 5-9 –Guy Lockard has assumed the mantle of narrator-of-choice for Reynolds’s fiction: Ghost (2016 National Book Award finalist) is Lockard’s third Reynolds title, following As Brave as You and Rashad’s chapters in All American Boys. Here, as seventh grader Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw, Lockard performs with excitable bravado, ruminating honesty, and trash-talking speed. Ghost runs fast with good reason, having escaped his father, […]

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes | SLJ DVD Review

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The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes. 18 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520049472.

K-Gr 4 –Award-winning author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh has taken a treasured Mexican folktale and rewritten it with spare, Aztec-inspired artwork in this story of Princess Itza, whose heart was won not by a prince but by a humble warrior. His only chance to marry the princess lies in victory against the enemy. That triumph, however, is useless, for upon his return, […]