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January 30, 2015

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Calling All Environmentalists | SLJ Spotlight

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Four nonfiction titles take an innovative approach to ecology.

Two Takes on Environmental Destruction

Two Takes on Environmental Destruction

Today, we review two books that examine the environmental destruction of small towns, and the ensuing fallout in the community at large. In Rene Steinke’s Friendswood, the eponymous town has been the victim of chemical leaks from a nearby oil refinery. Most of the town seems ready to move on once the EPA has cleared […]

Ancient Civilizations Up Close | Touch and Go

Interior screen from 'Incas' (Kids Discover)

Two recently released apps from Kids Discover featuring colorful visuals, 360-degree views of artifacts, and birds-eye perspectives of sites, offer students journeys back in time to ancient civilizations.

Descent

Descent

Descent is my favorite book of 2015 so far, and one I expect to see on best lists come next winter. Why? Tim Johnston combines edge-of-your-seat suspense with family drama, tragedy, and an unforgettable setting. The characters are real, which is what makes their fates so suspenseful, of course. And it is incredibly well-written. There are […]

Unique wildlife is beautifully showcased in “Animal Misfits”|DVD Pick

animal misfits

Animal Misfits. (Nature.) 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $19.99. ISBN 9781627891714.
Gr 5 Up–This program describes how and why certain animals have evolved in such unconventional ways, including pandas, nonmeat-eating carnivores, flightless parrots, fish that walk on their fins, and even the eerie-looking stalk-eyed fly. The sloth maintains its leisurely lifestyle because the plants it eats take a long time to digest and don’t provide much energy. To protect itself from swift predators, the sloth blends in with the environment, […]

Carnivorous cakes, nail-biting horror, and a reimagined Alice | SLJ Sneak Peek

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From a hilarious chapter book set in space to an imaginative origin story for Alice and Wonderland’s Queen of Hearts, the following works featured in SLJ’s February 2015 issue will entertain and pique the interest of voracious and emergent readers. Check out the latest sneak peek of reviews appearing in the next print issue.

Stellar Beginning Chapter Books for Young Readers │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go

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From a new work by renowned author Cornelia Funke to a sweet book by John Himmelman, these wonderful selections by the editors at Junior Library Guild will appeal to emerging readers.

Alex Award Predictions

Alex Award Predictions

MARK: The 2015 Alex Awards–recognizing “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults”–will be named during the Youth Media Awards on February 2. In our annual quest to pretend we know what we’re talking about, today Angela and I are going to make some guesses about what we think might have […]

Bopping Through Biomes | Touch and Go

tinybop

At Launch Kids, a full day devoted to children’s publishing at the Digital Book World Conference, Warren Buckleitner, editor and founder of “Children’s Technology Review,” noted that after a few years of invention and originality, app innovation had begun to level off. There are always exceptions, of course, and Tinybop is one.

The Heart Does Not Grow Back

The Heart Does Not Grow Back

The tagline plastered on the back of Fred Venturini’s debut novel–”Every superhero needs to start somewhere”–may draw in readers, but it may mislead them as well. It is true that the novel’s protagonist, Dale Sampson, has a superheroic ability to regenerate his limbs, but the novel is much less of an origin story than it […]

Smith’s humorous, heartbreaking “Winger” translates seamlessly to audio | Audio Pick

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SMITH, Andrew. Winger. 8 CDs. 9:52 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $52.97. ISBN 9781491507926.
Gr 9 Up–Ryan Dean West is the smartest student in the junior class at Pine Mountain boarding school, a starter on the rugby team, and two years younger than the rest of his classmates. He is also hopelessly in love with his best friend, Annie, who sees him as just a little kid. When Ryan Dean moves into Opportunity Hall, the dorm for misbehaving students (owing to an […]

Girl Power, High Fantasy, and Unconventional Lit | What’s Hot in YA

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Highly illustrated novels, out-of-the-ordinary narratives, and titles with female leads and fascinating world-building are just some of the YA books that are on SLJ editors’ radar. See what else is trending in teen lit.

Mort(e)

Mort(e)

Here we have a new kind of apocalypse, one in which humans are at war with ants, joined later by cats, dogs, and more. Just what is going on?? Robert Repino’s debut lands somewhere between Animal Farm and those B-movie sci-fi thrillers with giant, mutated insects. Give this to teens looking for something different. Maybe Grasshopper Jungle fans […]

Strike A (Yoga ) Pose | SLJ Spotlight

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Two titles explore the benefits of yoga for a young audience.

The Rosie Effect: A Sequel That Delivers the Goods

The Rosie Effect: A Sequel That Delivers the Goods

When I read Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project, I loved it (and reviewed positively)–funny, charming, sweet, with something real to say about humanity. But I had some doubts about it’s teen appeal, which was the only reason I didn’t give it a starred review. So I was pleasantly surprised when one of our other reviewers […]

Paddington Finds a Home on the Big Screen | Movie Review

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Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that this frisky and good-natured take on Michael Bond’s beloved bear was produced by David Heyman of the “Harry Potter” film series. Both adaptations plant a big wet kiss on bustling, inclusive London.

Predators, Pollinators, and Prairie Dogs: An Ecosystem Revealed | Touch and Go

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The release of Dawn Publications’s “The Prairie that Nature Built” a new app based on Marybeth Lorbiecki’s the book of the same title (2014), continues the publisher’s strong commitment to environmental education.

High Marks from Teens for Medieval Magic and McCloud’s “The Sculptor”

Scott McCloud

Science continues to surface in contemporary fiction, and titles with magical settings still hold their edge. Scott McCloud’s impactful graphic novel The Sculptor examines one man’s countdown through his last 200 days alive.

“All About Ann” explores life of notable female politician | DVD Pick

all about ann

All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State. 82 min. Dist. by the Cinema Guild. 2014. $99.95. ISBN 0781515017.
Gr 9 Up–Adults, particularly Texans, may have at least a passing familiarity with Ann Richards, but this affable documentary could introduce teenage viewers to this firecracker of Texas politics, who passed away in 2000. It uses archival footage, family photos, and campaign coverage to showcase her talent and abundant humor in scripted speeches and off-the-cuff remarks. Her early adult life […]

The Return of Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, Paddington Bear, and More | Refreshing Reissues

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These recently released special editions are can’t-miss versions of some spectacular works that should occupy a place in every collection.

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