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August 26, 2015

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Review from This Month’s School Library Journal: Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown

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 2015 issue of School Library Journal.   BROWN, Don. Drowned City: Hurricane […]

“Toca Nature”: “A Perfectly Pixelated World” | Touch and Go

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Many readers know Toca Boca’s “play studio” apps designed for preschoolers. Here is something from them that’s a little different. It combines sandbox activities with a subtle ecological message.

Mystery, Thriller, and Sci-Fi Debuts | Adult Books 4 Teens

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Adult Books 4 Teens columnist Mark Flowers rounds up a group of debut novels that run the genre gamut—from meta cozy mysteries to survival fiction with threads of romance.

Rollicking “Ratscalibur” a sure favorite among young fantasy fans|Audio Pick

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LIEB, Josh. Ratscalibur. 3 CDs. 3:36 hrs. Listening Library. 2015. $27. ISBN 978101915301. digital download.
Gr 3-6–Joey, a soon-to-be seventh grader, has recently moved to New York City with his mother. He is not particularly enthralled by big city life. Soon though, Joey’s uncle brings home a special new friend for him—a rat, just like the creatures he has seen about the city. To Joey’s surprise, his new pet rodent begins speaking to him from his cage. He learns that the […]

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands | SLJ Review

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SANDS, Kevin. The Blackthorn Key. 384p. ebook available. S. & S./Aladdin. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481446518. LC 2014048032.
Gr 4-6–An auspicious debut middle grade novel. Set in the 1600s, the story revolves around Christopher Rowe, the apprentice to a Master Apothecary. After losing his master, Christopher begins to unravel a series of complex codes that his master had, unbeknownst to Chris, been preparing him to solve all along. The more that the protagonist uncovers, the more he finds himself in […]

Review of the Day: The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

The Nest By Kenneth Oppel Illustrated by Jon Klassen Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers $16.99 ISBN: 978-1-4814-3232-0 On shelves October 6th Oh, how I love middle grade horror. It’s a very specific breed of book, you know. Most people on the street might think of the Goosebumps books or similar ilk when they […]

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano | SLJ Review

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SLJ’s starred review of Sonia Manzano—Sesame Street‘s “Maria”—YA memoir.

Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound by Andrea Davis Pinkney | SLJ Review

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PINKNEY, Andrea Davis. Rhythm Ride: A Road Trip Through the Motown Sound. 176p. chron. discog. index. notes. photos. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596439733.
Gr 5 Up–A tour of the musical powerhouse’s history done with verve and panache. “The Groove” takes readers through the birth and demise of Motown, one of the most influential African American-owned enterprises in the world’s social and musical history. Centering around Gordy Berry, the talented tastemaker and eventual mogul, the ingenious narration highlights the […]

The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds | SLJ Review

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REYNOLDS, Luke. The Looney Experiment. 208p. Blink. Aug. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780310746423.
Gr 5-8–Eighth-grader Atticus Hobart is having a rough time. He is short and unathletic; his courage (and his voice) routinely fail him, especially when he’s around his crush Audrey Higgins; and he is the primary target of a blowhard class bully, who calls him “Fatticus.” To make matters worse, his father has just left the family to “figure things out” and the boy can’t help but feel that […]

Dream On, Amber by Emma Shevah | SLJ Review

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SHEVAH, Emma. Dream On, Amber. illus. by Helen Crawford-White. 272p. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky. Oct. 2015. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781492622505.

Gr 4-6Eleven-year-old Ambra Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto (please, just call her Amber) navigates middle school embarrassments, awkward friendships, a first crush, an intimidating bully, and the realities of being a biracial tween in this smart and funny middle grade debut, first published in the UK. Half Italian and half Japanese, Amber has always felt a bit different than her peers in South London. […]

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell | SLJ Review

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MCDONNELL, Patrick. Thank You and Good Night. illus. by Patrick McDonnell. 40p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780316338011.
PreS-Gr 1–Clement, a rabbit, is having his first sleepover. Jean (an elephant) and Alan Alexander (a bear) arrive appropriately dressed in pajamas, ready to take part in the fun. The friends spend their evening in innocent pursuits, such as happily performing the chicken dance, playing hide-and-seek, and jumping on the bed. Maggie, the young girl who shares Clement’s home, serves each […]

Review: Roller Girl

This summer I challenged myself to read as much as I could. I made sure to keep my house inundated with books, which between the loads of reserves I placed at the public library and the many books I still have from Book Expo America, is not a problem. I also wanted to do a […]

Middle Grade Monday Book Review – School for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough

Something is rotten in the state of Heropolis! Or, rather, several somethings are rotten, and maybe not quite what you think. Well, really, it’s a very broad and layered situation with various levels of understanding and complexities to points of view. Obviously, this is not just another book where a kid discovers he has super […]

Review of the Day: Moletown by Torben Kuhlmann

Moletown By Torben Kuhlmann North/South Books, Inc. $17.95 ISBN: 978-0-7358-4208-3 Ages 4-6 On shelves October 1st Cautionary tales for kids who can’t do a darn thing about the original problem. It’s sort of a subgenre of its very own. As I hold this lovely little book, Moletown, in my hands I am transported back in […]

Little Robot by Ben Hatke | SLJ Review

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HATKE, Ben. Little Robot. illus. by Ben Hatke. 144p. First Second. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626720800.
Gr 2-4–Once again Hatke delivers a delightful graphic novel with a positive female role-model, fun non-humans, and a message of friendship. When a brown-skinned cherubic girl chances upon a robot that looks like a trash can, she finds a friend worth protecting. Each day they explore the junkyard and the surrounding forest, with the little girl acting as a guide to new sights and […]

Mixed Me by Taye Diggs and Shane W. Evans | SLJ Review

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DIGGS, Taye. Mixed Me! illus. by Shane W. Evans. 40p. Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250047199.
Gr 2-5–A little boy with wildly curly hair navigates the social terrain of being a biracial child. Diggs’s short, choppy, rhyming verses convey the busyness of a kid who likes “to go FAST!” All through his day he encounters people staring and asking questions. “See, my dad’s a deep brown and my mom’s rich cream and honey. Then people see me, and […]

The Sound And The Fury | SLJ Spotlight

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Two nonfiction titles speak on the power of music.

A “Completely and Utterly Disgusting” Game, Among Others | Touch and Go

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With only a few weeks left before summer is over, it’s time to download a few playful apps. While fun and games rule, you’ll discover that planning, strategy, and skill also come into play. Oh, yes, and then there’s that “completely and utterly disgusting” game for fans of Roald Dahl.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall | SLJ Review

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MATTICK, Lindsay. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. illus. by Sophie Blackall. 56p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2015. Tr ISBN 9780316324908. LC 2014041128.
K-Gr 3–This sweet tale of the black bear that inspired the legendary children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh will resonate with readers. In the framing story, a mother tells her son, Cole, a bedtime tale about how veterinarian Harry Colebourn, a young Canadian soldier on his way to train and fight in Europe during World War […]

Book Review: Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

Publisher’s Description: From William C. Morris YA Debut Award nominee Carrie Mesrobian, Cut Both Ways is an unflinching look at a high school senior who must come to terms with his attraction to both his girlfriend and his male best friend. It took Will Caynes seventeen years to have his first kiss. He should be […]