July 26, 2017

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YA: Quirky Romance, Tough Decisions, & a Timely “Tick Tock Man” | August 2017 Xpress Reviews

This month’s YA web-only reviews feature a new voice in gritty contemporary fiction, a teenage spin on Yoruba folklore, the psychological push-pull of social media mind games, and more.

This article was published in School Library Journal's August 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Best of Raffi | SLJ Music Review

Best of Raffi. Performed by Raffi. CD. Approx. 35 min. Rounder Records. 2017. $9.49.

PreS-Gr 4 –Multi-award-winning Raffi, one of the first of the children’s music troubadours and who’s celebrating 40 years as an entertainer, presents 16 of his best songs from 10 albums. Featured here are both traditional and original songs in folk, reggae, jazz, country, and pop musical styles. The titles include “Baby Beluga,” “Down by the Bay,” “Apples and Bananas,” “Shake My Sillies Out,” “Wheels on the Bus,” “Day […]

Review of the Day: Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out! by Patricia C. McKissack, ill. Brian Pinkney

Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out! Games, Songs & Stories from an African American Childhood By Patricia McKissack Illustrated by Brian Pinkney Schwartz & Wade (an imprint of Penguin Random House) $24.99 ISBN: 978-0-375-87088-0 All ages On shelves now. Would you like to know the last film Orson Welles […]

Nurture Budding Researchers with a User-Friendly Database from Gareth Stevens

Students looking to complete their very first research project will find the assistance they need with Report Builder.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

The Notations of Cooper Cameron by Jane O’Reilly | SLJ Review

O’REILLY, Jane. The Notations of Cooper Cameron. 320p. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781512404159.

Gr 4-6 –After the death of his grandfather, 11-year-old Cooper Cameron develops a complicated relationship with “That Boy,” the voice inside of him that compels him to complete elaborate counting and washing rituals that he feels he must do to prevent terrible things from happening to his family. When medication and therapy fail Cooper, his mother moves him and his 15-year-old sister Caddie to their grandfather’s cabin for […]

Test-Driving the Starling: Can a word-tracking device make babies smarter? | SLJ Review

SLJ reviews the Starling, a word-tracking device for babies. Our “First Steps” columnist Lisa Kropp considers its potential use in libraries.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Meditative Gaming: Prune | Touch and Go

While the premise of the game is simple, two aspects of the app elevate it into an amazing experience: the Oscar-worthy animation and the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack.

Writing Radar by Jack Gantos | SLJ Review

GANTOS, Jack. Writing Radar: Using Your Journal To Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories. illus. by Jack Gantos. 224p. Farrar. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374304560. POP

Gr 4-8 –You might expect that the writing method of the author of such no-holds-barred tales as Joey Pigza Swallowed the KeyThe Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, and the Newbery Award–winning Dead End in Norvelt would be chaotic. You might picture him plucking bizarre anecdotes from his own frenzied noggin and slapping them together in a blind delirium of inspiration. […]

Book Review: The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan

Publisher’s description A funny, bracing, poignant YA romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything lake effect | n. 1. The effect of any lake, especially the Great Lakes, in modifying the weather in nearby areas 2. The effect of elderly ladies, mysterious girls, and countless funerals, in upending your life, one summer at the beach It’s the summer after senior year, […]

Nero’s Sunken City | SLJ DVD Review

Nero’s Sunken City. (Secrets of the Dead). 55 min. PBS. 2017. $24.99. ISBN 9781531701758.

Gr 9 Up –This episode examines the archaeological remains of Baiae, an ancient Roman city in the Bay of Naples. One half of the ruins are now underwater, as the land has shifted over time owing to seismic forces. This city is the site of ruins of palaces of the Roman Empire’s elites in the first through third centuries AD. Emperor Claudius (10 BC–54 AD) had an […]

In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford | SLJ Review

WEATHERFORD, Carole Boston. In Your Hands. illus. by Brian Pinkney. 32p. S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481462938.

PreS-Gr 3 –From award-winning Weatherford (Voice of FreedomMoses), this poem from a black mother to her firstborn son will resonate as a prayer for all black boys. A mother holds her child’s hand while expressing her hopes for his safety, his confidence, and a world that will see him as a “vessel to be steered rather than a figure to be feared.” The narrative […]

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater | SLJ Review

SLATER, Dashka. The 57 Bus. 320p. Farrar. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374303235.

Gr 6 Up –On November 4, 2013, Sasha, a high school senior from Oakland, CA, was napping on the 57 bus home from school. Shortly thereafter, Richard, another Oakland teen, boarded the bus with his two friends. When the trio’s jokes took a dark turn, Richard’s and Sasha’s lives were forever changed. Slater, who originally covered the crime for the New York Times magazine, here breaks down the series of events into […]

Natural Reader and other free text-to-speech tools

I’ve been working on gathering resources on for our new Emerging Literacies course and wanted to share some of the resources/app lists I’ve gathered for learners with special needs. Among the tools I am discovering are a few free resources for supporting text-to-speech. These resources are so handy for struggling readers, for ESL students, for […]

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya | SLJ Review

ELYA, Susan Middleton. La Princesa and the Pea. illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. 32p. glossary. Putnam. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399251566.

PreS-Gr 2 –The traditional Hans Christian Andersen tale gets a makeover in this modern version with a twist. In her signature style of stories peppered with a liberal dose of Spanish and humor, Elya relates the account of a prince who wants to marry and his mother, the queen, who takes charge of vetting the possible candidates. In rhyming text, the author […]

Review: ‘DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus’

DC Super Hero Girls: Summer Olympus Writer: Shea Fontana Artist: Yancey Labat DC Comics; $9.99 How are you spending your summer vacation? Perhaps you would like to spend it reading about how Wonder Woman, Supergirl and the other kids at Super Hero High in Metropolis are spending their summer vacation? That’s the premise of Shea […]

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead | SLJ Review

STEAD, Philip C. The Only Fish in the Sea. illus. by Matthew Cordell. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722828.

PreS-Gr 2 –With comic urgency, a boy races on his bicycle to tell his friend Sadie the story of spoiled Little Amy Scott, who declared that her birthday goldfish was BORING and walked across town to unceremoniously throw it off the dock. The boy, Sherman, asks Sadie if she could imagine that poor fish, still in its bag and […]

Monument Valley II | Touch and Go

Is it magic? Or is it geometry? Monument Valley llis a game to be savored.

Board Book Buzz | Editors’ Picks

SLJ’s editors have selected and annotated 50 of the season’s top board book selections.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Poe: Stories and Poems adapted by Gareth Hinds | SLJ Review

POE, Edgar Allan. Poe: Stories and Poems. adapt. by Gareth Hinds. illus. by Gareth Hinds. 120p. Candlewick. Aug. 2017. Tr $22. ISBN 9780763681128.

Gr 9 Up –Hinds adds to his impressive library of graphic novel adaptations with this collection of stories and poems. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince holds a massive party inside a fortified castle while his subjects die of plague outside his walls—that is, until a mysterious stranger appears at the door. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” […]

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter | SLJ Review

PORTER, Sarah. When I Cast Your Shadow. 384p. Forge/Tor Teen. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380562.

Gr 9 Up –Teen twins Ruby and Everett have very different feelings about their older brother’s overdose. Closer to Dashiell and often oblivious to his dramatics and manipulations, Ruby is devastated while awed by and jealous of Dash. Everett understands the strain their brother created within the family. Though Dash is dead, he won’t leave. Visiting Ruby in her nightly dreams, Dash wheedles her into consenting to […]