February 17, 2017

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Real Friends by Shannon Hale | SLJ Review

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HALE, Shannon. Real Friends. illus. by LeUyen Pham. 224p. First Second. May 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9781626724167; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626727854. POP

Gr 3-6 –Hale revisits her elementary school years in this insightful exploration of the ups and downs of friendship. Young Shannon meets her BFF Adrienne in kindergarten, and the two bond until Adrienne moves away. When Adrienne returns, Shannon is thrilled—until Adrienne joins a clique. In over her head, Shannon copes with feelings of inadequacy as she […]

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. […]

Review: ‘Adele in Sand Land’

Adele in Sand Land By Claude Ponti Toon Books When I was a kid, my mother used to buy me a lot of books at garage sales. Many of them dated back to the period 1900-1940 and had a crazy, old-fashioned, almost scary look to them. I loved them—they were so far from the sanitized […]

Review: ‘Adele in Sand Land’

Adele in Sand Land By Claude Ponti Toon Books When I was a kid, my mother used to buy me a lot of books at garage sales. Many of them dated back to the period 1900-1940 and had a crazy, old-fashioned, almost scary look to them. I loved them—they were so far from the sanitized […]

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan | SLJ Review

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KHAN, Hena. Amina’s Voice. 208p. ebook available. S. & S./Salaam Reads. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481492065.

Gr 4-6 –A satisfying read about an 11-year-old girl navigating friendship, family, religion, and dreams of becoming a soul-singing sensation. In a quiet Milwaukee suburb, Amina and her best friend Soojin grapple with their own ethnic identities and the pressure to Americanize. Soojin is Korean American and on the pathway to citizenship. She’s contemplating changing her name to solidify her American identity, […]

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | SLJ Review

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TAYLOR, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. 544p. ebook available. Little, Brown. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316341684. POP

Gr 9 Up –Lazlo Strange is a foundling who has grown up alone and unloved, sustained only by his fantasies and stories of a city known as Weep. As an adult, Lazlo finds his way to the Great Library of Zosma and becomes a librarian, tasked with supporting scholars in their work. His fixation with Weep continues, and he searches for scraps […]

Book Review: We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Publisher’s description You go through life thinking there’s so much you need. . . . Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother. Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. […]

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney | SLJ Review

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff. adapted by Jerry Pinkney. illus. by Jerry Pinkney. 40p. Little, Brown. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316341578.

PreS-Gr 2 –Employing his signature pencil and watercolor compositions, Pinkney brings a thoughtful, nuanced perspective to this classic tale. The story begins as expected, with the goats “trip-trapping” across the bridge in search of food—the first two urging the troll to wait for the bigger animal coming next. Each goat has a distinctive appearance; the troll is […]

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 […]

A Little Heart | New in YA Romance

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From coming-of-age stories with a dusting of romance to a modern-day Romeo & Juliet, there’s something here to suit everyone.

Ox & Gazelle? A Valentine’s Day Love Story| SLJ Book Review

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A lumbering yet loquacious ox wins over a glamorous yet conceited gazelle via the power of the pen in this epistolary picture book.

American Street by Ibi Zoboi | SLJ Review

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ZOBOI, Ibi. American Street. 336p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062473042.

Gr 9 Up –After her mother is detained by immigration officials, Fabiola Toussaint has to finish her move from Port-au-Prince to Detroit alone. The tough-as-nails cousins and exhausted aunt who greet her in Michigan bear little resemblance to the warm family she had dreamed of when she was in Haiti. Left with a mother-size hole in her life, Fabiola begins the unsteady process […]

Book Review: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Publisher’s description American Street is an evocative and powerful coming-of-age story perfect for fans of Everything, Everything; Bone Gap; and All American Boys. In this stunning debut novel, Pushcart-nominated author Ibi Zoboi draws on her own experience as a young Haitian immigrant, infusing this lyrical exploration of America with magical realism and vodou culture. On […]

The Importance of Play | Professional Shelf

The cooperative games

When block and housekeeping corners give way to flash cards and workbooks, children don’t necessarily benefit academically.

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks

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These materials will fly off the shelves, from a story about a young boy who loves his green pants to a timely YA novel centered on gun violence and Islamophobia by Barry Lyga.

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi | SLJ Review

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CHOKSHI, Roshani. A Crown of Wishes. 400p. ebook available. St. Martin’s Griffin. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250085498.

Gr 9 Up –In this companion to The Star-Touched Queen, Chokshi returns to a vivid fantasy world steeped in Hindu mythology. After her brother’s betrayal, Princess Gauri is awaiting execution in an enemy Ujijain prison. Prince Vikram faces the unhappy destiny of becoming a puppet ruler in Ujijain. With nothing left to lose and everything to gain, this pair of would-be […]

Noah Webster’s Fighting Words by Tracy Nelson Maurer | SLJ Review

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MAURER, Tracy Nelson. Noah Webster’s Fighting Words. illus. by Mircea Catusanu. 40p. bibliog. chron. ebook available. further reading. notes. websites. Millbrook. Jan. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781467794107.

Gr 3-5 –Maurer and Catusanu have created a wonderfully clever and humorous depiction of Noah Webster as an outspoken, driven man who endlessly advocated for weaning Americans from British influence by producing a lexicon of truly American words with American pronunciations. For example, at that time, the terms skunk, hickory, and chowder […]

Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka | SLJ Review

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RACZKA, Bob. Niko Draws a Feeling. illus. by Simone Shin. 32p. Carolrhoda. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781467798433.

K-Gr 3 –A dedicated young artist finds a friend who understands his vision in this picture book ode to the creative spirit. Niko carries a pad of paper and a box of colored pencils everywhere he goes, and his urban community provides plenty of inspiration for his artwork. Unfortunately, his abstract attempts to capture the “ring-a-ling” of the ice-cream truck’s bell, […]

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman | SLJ Review

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FREEMAN, Martha. Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question. 224p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481472647.

Gr 3-5 –While spending the summer with her aunt and uncle in small-town Pennsylvania, inquisitive Effie Starr Zook tries to uncover family secrets. Hailing from New York City, Effie isn’t thrilled about having to spend the summer at Zook Farm while her parents fly around the world in a solar airplane. When she meets the Yoder […]

Boat of Dreams by Rogério Coelho | SLJ Review

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COELHO, Rogério. Boat of Dreams. illus. by Rogério Coelho. 80p. Tilbury House. Jan. 2017. Tr $22.95. ISBN 9780884485285.

Gr 1-4 –Outside a seaside cottage sitting on stilts, an elderly gent and his avian companion spy a glass bottle floating in the ocean. When the bottle reaches the shore, the man discovers that it contains a blank sheet of paper. The bird encourages him to sketch a picture on the paper, and the man does, creating a fantastical flying ship, […]