November 30, 2016

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Yellow by Megan Jacobson | SLJ Audio Review


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 […]

TOP 10 Audiobooks | 2016


These 10 titles represent excellent storytelling with exceptional narration and production values.

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

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah | SLJ Audio Review


SHEVAH, Emma. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501921575. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –Dara knows she was meant to be a star. She watches TV all the time to study for roles, practices facial expressions in the mirror, and daydreams constantly about her future in Hollywood. When her middle school prepares to put on The Sound of Music, Dara knows she’ll be Maria. Instead, she is in the chorus. As an […]

Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman | SLJ Audio Review


CUSHMAN, Karen. Grayling’s Song. 4 CDs. 5 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $46.75. ISBN 9781501916922. digital download.

Gr 3-6– Cushman delivers an intriguing cast of characters in a fantastical tale set in a medieval world. A dark cloud is turning Grayling’s demanding hedgewitch mother and other “wise folk” into trees. Though Grayling is shy and unsure, after she assembles her mother’s potions and learns her songs, the teen sets out to find her mother’s stolen grimoire (book of magic). […]

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer | SLJ DVD Review


Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer. 34 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520016788.

Gr 4-8 –This iconographic video expands on Carole Boston Weatherford’s exemplary picture book biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by adding narration and simple animation. Janina Edwards’s spirited narration conveys the beauty of Weatherford’s poetic text and convincingly voices Hamer’s perspective. Born in poverty, Hamer became a powerful voice of the civil rights movement. Forced to leave school after the sixth grade, she was in […]

The First Silent Night | SLJ DVD Review


The First Silent Night. 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2015. $24.99. ISBN 9781627894173.

Gr 5 Up –This sweeping backstory of the world’s best-known Christmas carol is a mystery, with surprises aplenty as the 200-year-old song’s humble history is revealed. With gorgeous cinematography and rich narration by British actor Simon Callow, the tale is told with splendor yet simplicity. The illegitimate, impoverished Josef Mohr was born in 1792 in Salzburg, Austria, during a time of deep divisions between the haves […]

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan | SLJ Audio Review


SHOVAN, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. 3 CDs. 3:15 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501925344. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –When the land where their school is located is sold to build a supermarket, 18 fifth graders use poetry to tell the story of their loss. Each student has a unique voice reflecting personality, culture, and individual challenges. Some fight the change. Others embrace new possibilities. Soon they will be scattered to other schools. It […]

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music | SLJ DVD Review


Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music. 10 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520013213.

PreS-Gr 2 –What do you do when your talents and dreams remain unfulfilled? That was the problem facing Millo Castro Zaldarriaga. A girl of Chinese African descent living in Cuba, Millo was surrounded by a rich culture and a world filled with rhythms begging to be shared. In a tradition where boys were the only ones allowed to play the drums, […]

Island of Misfit Boys (and Girls) | “Miss Peregrine” Movie Review


At first glance, the pairing of Ransom Riggs’s macabre 2011 coming-of-age novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and director Tim Burton would seem like a match made in movieland heaven.

Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island by Sonia De Los Santos | SLJ Music Review


Mi Viaje: De Nuevo León to the New York Island. Performed by Sonia De Los Santos. CD. 40:50 mins. Festival Five Records. 2015. $11.99.

PreS Up –In telling tales about growing up in Monterrey, Mexico; moving to the United States; and sharing stories from family and friends, De Los Santos has created a beautiful album for families of all ages to enjoy. While this collection of 12 songs are in Spanish, listeners do not have to speak Spanish to […]

Savvy Survivor | “Queen of Katwe” Movie Review


This is a quietly triumphant adaptation of Tim Crothers’s nonfiction account of a Ugandan teenage girl from the slums who becomes an international chess champion.

I Believe in Little Things by Diana Panton | SLJ Music Review


I Believe in Little Things. Performed by Diana Panton. CD. approx. 55 min. Entertainment One Music. 2016. $11.

PreS-Gr 5 –In her debut album for families, Canadian jazz vocalist Panton weaves a beautiful spell with a delightful selection of classics from children’s movies and television. Parents and grandparents who remember songs like “Pure Imagination” from the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “The Rainbow Connection” from The Muppet Movie, and “When You Wish upon a Star” from Pinocchio […]

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review


REYNOLDS, Jason. As Brave as You. 7 CDs. 7:02 hrs. S. & S. Audio. May 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9781508225089. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Reynolds makes his middle grade debut with a multigenerational story featuring two Brooklyn brothers sent to stay temporarily with grandparents in rural Virginia. While their parents take some time to salvage their fraying relationship, 11-year-old Genie and his almost 14-year-old brother, Ernie, are expected to spend a month obeying their strict grandmother, surviving without cellular service […]

Flight of the Butterflies | SLJ DVD Review


Flight of the Butterflies. 44 min. Dist. by Shout! Kids Factory. 2016. 3-D Blu-ray/digital copy $19.99 UPC 826663168327. Ultra high definition/3-D Blu-ray/Blu-ray $39.99. 0826663168334.

Gr 2 Up –Half biography, half nature documentary, the film follows naturalist Fred Urquhart’s pursuit of the monarch butterflies and their epic migration. Urquhart was a naturalist who became interested in the insects in the 1920s. He spent nearly 40 years searching for the monarchs’ migration destination, and he finally found it, with the help […]

Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Doreen Rappaport | SLJ Audio Review

abe's honest words

RAPPAPORT, Doreen. Abe’s Honest Words: The Life of Abraham Lincoln. 1 CD w tr book. 13 min. Weston Woods. Mar. 2016. $29.95. ISBN 9780545932677.

Gr 1-4 –Rappaport paints a human and inspiring portrait of Abraham Lincoln. The text in this biography is uplifting, accessible, powerful, and tender. The author captures Lincoln’s influence on modern society in a way that young children can understand and appreciate, and Kadir Nelson’s illustrations are simply breathtaking. Narrators Nicol Zanzarella and Trevor Murphy deliver […]

My Name Is Not Friday by Jon Walter | SLJ Audio Review


WALTER, Jon. My Name Is Not Friday. 9:56 hrs. Scholastic Audio. Jan. 2016. $19.50. ISBN 9780545911061. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –Samuel, almost 13, and his younger brother Joshua are orphans but born free and growing up educated. During the Civil War’s final year, Samuel takes the blame for mischief that he’s convinced that Joshua committed, and finds himself betrayed by the priest who has raised him. He’s stripped of everything familiar and renamed Friday—for the day he’s auctioned […]

Audio Xpress Reviews | September 2016


Jon Walter’s complex and beautifully written My Name Is Not Friday; the can’t-miss conclusion to Margaret Peterson Haddix’s “Missing” series.

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

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter | SLJ Audio Review

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

Kletter, Kerry. The First Time She Drowned. 8 CDs. 10:19 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2016. $50. ISBN 9780399567933. digital download. 

Gr 9 Up –Eighteen-year-old Cassie is facing the world for the first time since checking herself out of the mental institution where she has spent two and a half years. She agrees to attend her mother’s alma mater and try to make a fresh start, but illness and the pressures of social engagement prove too much for her, […]

Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World To Play | SLJ DVD Review

Bounce How the Ball Taught the World To Play DVD

Bounce: How the Ball Taught the World To Play. 71 min. Dist. by Alexander Street. 2015. $295. ISBN unavail. 

Gr 9 Up –Director Jerome Thelia’s insightful documentary delves into our instinctual drive to play ball and explores how this fundamental need crosses cultures, time, and even species, whether players use a ball made from plastic bags, rags, and twine or the factory-made spheres thrown and kicked on million-dollar playing fields. Human and animal subjects share screen time in locales […]

Creatures of Light | SLJ DVD Review

Creatures of Light PBS

Creatures of Light. (NOVA). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627894739. 

Gr 5 Up –Fireflies are dazzling; few land animals glow as they do. In the oceans, lighting up from within (bioluminescence) or by reflecting light (biofluorescence) is almost matter of fact—about 90 percent of ocean life glows. As this delightful program explains, marine biologists are trying to better understand these displays, since the science behind illumination can be used to track cancer, discover pollution, and perhaps […]