February 24, 2017

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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, […]

The Best Man by Richard Peck | SLJ Audio Review

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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 […]

Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac | SLJ Audio Review

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BRUCHAC, Joseph. Talking Leaves. 4 CDs. 4:35 hrs. Listening Library. Aug. 2016. $35. ISBN 9780451485717. digital download.

Gr 4-7 –Many of the people in 13-year-old Uwohali’s Cherokee village are whispering about his father, Sequoyah. Sequoyah has just returned from a six-year stay in Arkansas, and he spends all his time writing strange symbols on paper and scratching marks in the dirt. People whisper that Sequoyah must be crazy, and they fear his strange marks are a form of witchcraft. […]

Supertruck | SLJ DVD Review

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Supertruck. 5 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2016. $59.95. ISBN 9781338090338. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –Stephen Savage’s Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor title receives prime treatment in this presentation. All the trucks in the city do their jobs and, in their own ways, save the day. Some are flashier than others, though. The garbage truck, for example, performs a necessary job with little fanfare. However, when a snowstorm hits and snow piles high, other trucks are stuck until the garbage truck […]

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio | SLJ Audio Review

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DIPUCCHIO, Kelly. Grace for President. 1 CD w tr book. 25 min. Weston Woods. Oct. 2016. $29.95. ISBN 9781338090239.

PreS-Gr 3 –The 2016 presidential race—featuring the first woman nominated by a major U.S. political party—gives Kelly DiPucchio’s picture book, originally published in 2008, even greater relevance. Grace is an elementary school student who is appalled to learn that there has never been a female American president. Her interest in becoming the first leads to a school election with Grace […]

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson | SLJ Audio Review

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STEVENSON, Noelle. Nimona. 2:17 hrs. HarperAudio. Oct. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9780062562807. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –Imagine a future where technology meets medieval studies mashed with a bit of supernatural and government conspiracy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is determined to expose the despicable activities of the Institute of Law Enforcement, which is led by his former best friend, Sir Ambrose Goldenloin. Such a large undertaking requires not just any sidekick. Enter Nimona, a quick-witted, hilarious teen shape-shifter who has a […]

A Tween and His Tree | “A Monster Calls” Movie Review

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Director J.A. Bayona unleashes the destructive, tough-talking, and tale-spinning colossal, based on author Patrick Ness’s 2011 novel.

“Sign with Robert” Series | SLJ DVD Review

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Sign with Robert: Academic Signs. ISBN 888295392556.

Sign with Robert: Babies and Children. ISBN 888295392501.

Sign with Robert: Business, Numbers and Time. ISBN 888295392570.

Sign with Robert: Deaf Culture. ISBN 888295392518.

Sign with Robert: Family, School, Entertainment and Sports. ISBN 888295392341.

Sign with Robert: Grab Bag—Idioms, Songs and Stories. ISBN 888295392341.

Sign with Robert: Home and Travel. ISBN 888295392532.

Sign with Robert: Receptive Skills and Fun with Sign. ISBN 888295392587.

Sign with Robert: Sign Language Practice. ISBN 888295392525.

Sign […]

Top 10 DVDs | 2016

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Kent Turner, SLJ’s DVD editor, hand-picked these top-shelf productions that offer educational—as well as entertainment—value.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb | SLJ Audio Review

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BASCOMB, Neal. Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb. 5 CDs. 6:13 hrs. Recorded Books. Apr. 2016. $34.99. ISBN 9780545944021. digital download.

Gr 8 Up –This richly detailed nonfiction account of Norwegians who spied for the British and organized resistance against the Nazis unfolds like a spy thriller. Bascomb includes a good deal of science regarding the heavy water and uranium needed to create the atom bomb. Though the narrative is a bit difficult to follow in the […]

Yellow by Megan Jacobson | SLJ Audio Review

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JACOBSON, Megan. Yellow. 1 MP3-CD. 7:06 hrs. Brilliance. Jul. 2016. $9.99. ISBN 9781522642121.

Gr 9 Up –Fourteen-year-old Kirra Barley’s life is spiraling out of control. She’s bullied by girls at school who claim to be her friends, her father has left home to live with another woman, and her mother’s drinking is worse than it has ever been. Unhappy and alone, Kirra answers a ringing pay phone at the beach in her coastal Australian town, and the ghost of […]