August 24, 2016

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One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi | SLJ Review

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Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. 272p. HarperCollins. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062421906. 

Gr 4-8 –After Obayda’s policeman father loses a leg in a car bombing in Kabul, her family moves to a rural village to be near their extended relatives. When her father retreats from life because of his injury, an aunt suggests that the girl be allowed to be a bacha posh and live as a boy. Obayda would have a better […]

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow | SLJ Review

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Bow, Erin. The Swan Riders. 384p. (Prisoners of Peace: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442749. 

Gr 10 Up –This sequel picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Scorpion Rules. Greta Gustafson Stuart, former princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a newly minted Artificial Intelligence. In agreeing to become an AI, Greta has saved herself and fellow hostage Elián Palnik while avoiding the wrath of […]

Review: ‘Blip!’

Blip! By Barnaby Richards TOON Books Level One, grades K-1 A robot’s spaceship crash-lands on a strange planet, where he encounters strange creatures, both friendly and scary, and eventually finds a friend. That’s the very simple plot of this very complicated comic, which is due out next month from TOON Books. Like many TOON books, […]

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer | SLJ Review


Starmer, Aaron. Spontaneous. 368p. Dutton. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525429746. 

Gr 10 Up –From the author of “The Riverman” trilogy comes a wholly original YA tale of identity, friendship, love, lust, and gory, grisly death. Covington High is facing a unique crisis: one by one, members of the senior class are spontaneously combusting, inexplicably blowing up in a mess of blood and guts. As the body count increases and the government gets involved, 12th grader […]

NanoBots by Chris Gall | SLJ Review

NanoBots by Chris Gall

Gall, Chris. NanoBots. illus. by Chris Gall. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316375528. 

PreS-Gr 2 –Hard at work in his musty basement, a brilliant young inventor constructs a crew of mighty but minute NanoBots, each with its own special skill and the ability to change the world. For example, MechanoBots can infiltrate the “hardest-to-reach places” and fix anything with their built-in tool arrays; HeloBots utilize rotors to fly in swarms and can form […]

Teens Review “A Week of Mondays,” Monster Fiction, and More


SLJ’s teen reviewers cover Jessica Brody’s Groundhog Day–type YA, a monstrous tale, and more.

#MHYALit Book Review: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Publisher’s description Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is […]

Motor Miles by John Burningham | SLJ Review

Motor Miles by John Burningham

Burningham, John. Motor Miles. illus. by John Burningham. 32p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763690649. 

PreS-Gr 2 –After Alice Trudge and her son Norman give Miles a home, they realize he is a difficult dog. Miles doesn’t like walks, other dogs, or much of anything except car rides. The next-door neighbor solves the problem by building the pup his own car. Once Miles masters driving, he takes Norman to school and on trips in the […]

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 […]

Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box edited by Leonard S. Marcus | SLJ Review

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Marcus, Leonard S., ed. Comics Confidential: Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box. 192p. further reading. glossary. illus. notes. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780763659387. 

Gr 6 Up –In this volume, Marcus compiles interviews with 13 different graphic novel artists. All of the interviews retain their question-and-answer format and are about 12 to 14 pages long. They cover the interviewees’ childhoods, how they got interested in comics, ways comics and graphic […]

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann | SLJ Review


Kuhlmann, Torben. Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. illus. by Torben Kuhlmann. 128p. NorthSouth. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780735842625. 

Gr 2-6 –Uniquely similar in artistic design and writing style to Kuhlmann’s Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, this title relates the story of another clever mouse’s fascination with the moon, which, his telescope shows him, is actually “a giant ball of stone”—not the big ball of cheese that his friends […]

Review of the Day: Kid Beowulf by Alexis Fajardo

Kid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath By Alexis E. Fajardo Color by Jose Mari Flores Prologue Color by Brian Kolm Amp Comics for Kids (an imprint of Andrews McMeel Publishing) $10.99 ISBN: 978-1-4494-7589-5 Ages 9-12 On shelves now. This is a true story. I started college in 1996. Earlham College. Richmond, Indiana. Nice place. Little Quaker […]

Book Review: It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the August 2016 issue of School Library Journal.   Mittlefehldt, Rafi. It Looks Like This. […]

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan | SLJ Review

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Phelan, Matt. Snow White: A Graphic Novel. illus. by Matt Phelan. 216p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763672331.

Gr 4-8 –Spanning the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, Phelan’s noir-esque adaption of the classic fairy tale is atmospheric, clever, and touching. Samantha White, affectionately called Snow White by her ailing mother, is sent off to a boarding school as her father, the King of Wall Street, grieves his wife’s death by marrying the dazzling Queen […]

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu | SLJ Review

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Mathieu, Jennifer. Afterward. 320p. ebook available. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722385. 

Gr 9 Up –Kidnapped 11-year-old Dylan Anderson has been found after a harrowing four days; along with him is Ethan Jorgensen, 15, who has been missing four years—from the same neighborhood. Caroline, Dylan’s 16-year-old sister, is desperate to help her brother with autism work through his trauma, but he only seems to be getting worse. She wishes her parents would see that […]

Oh, Baby | SLJ Spotlight

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There are loads of books about the arrival of cute bundles of joy into a household. These titles address some of the less charming aspects of infants. They disrupt established routines, demand (and command) constant attention, terrorize the family pets, and drive their siblings bonkers.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | SLJ Review

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

McLemore, Anna-Marie. When the Moon Was Ours. 288p. ebook available. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250058669. 

Gr 9 Up –Love bests every opponent in this surreal exploration of familial bonds and sexual identity. Teens Sam and Miel have been best friends for years, ever since Miel appeared, sodden and terrified, amid the flooded ground around an overturned water tower. As their friendship unfolds into romance, long-repressed secrets and rumors clamor for air. Sam […]

Storyworlds: Nature by Thomas Hegbrook | SLJ Review

Storyworlds Nature by Thomas Hegbrook

Hegbrook, Thomas. Storyworlds: Nature. illus. by Thomas Hegbrook. 64p. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees. Sept. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781944530013. 

PreS-Gr 2 –Simple narratives about animals and nature unfold through artwork in this refreshingly open-ended work. The book begins with an invitation: “Every picture tells a story. What do you think that story is?” One hundred wordless illustrations are presented for children to examine, interpret, and discuss. From a snake shedding its skin to a baby koala climbing […]

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful | SLJ Spotlight

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These selections are odes to all of the fierce, creepy, and, in some cases, elusive beasts that ordinarily make even the toughest of us say “eek!”

Smells Like Tween Spirit | SLJ Spotlight

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Whether you call them “upper middle grade” titles, “tween reads,” or just “great books for preteens,” the following selections are perfect for those looking for a middle school setting, a bit of YA-esque action, but non of the more sophisticated content that typically accompanies novels for true teens.