May 24, 2016

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Adobe Spark: rebranded apps & a platform-agnostic website for free student creation

A little over a month ago, I posted about my affection for the growing Adobe suite of tools/apps in Smashing Adobe. A couple of years ago, I kinda raved about Adobe Voice in Adobe Voice: Elegant, easy(!) storytelling. This week Adobe announced an official smashing of its apps with its integrated Adobe Spark, designed as […]

Book Review: Without Annette by Jane B. Mason

Publisher’s description Josie Little has been looking forward to moving halfway across the country to attend Brookwood Academy, a prestigious boarding school, with her girlfriend, Annette, for ages. But underneath Brookwood’s picture-perfect image lies a crippling sense of elitism that begins to tear the girls apart from the moment they arrive. While Josie struggles to […]

The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien | SLJ Review

The Blobfish Book

Olien, Jessica. The Blobfish Book. illus. by Jessica Olien. 40p. websites. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062394156. 

PreS-Gr 2 –A misunderstood deep-sea dweller gets its moment in the sun in this tongue-in-cheek informational picture book. The bubble-gum pink blobfish is sketched onto the pages of a nonfiction work that presents facts about and photos of the fascinating creatures that live miles beneath the ocean surface. Snappy dialogue balloons and humorously exaggerated cartoon features […]

Middle Grade Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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Jason Reynolds makes his middle grade debut, Wendy Spinale takes on Peter Pan, and Henry Cole tells a “somewhat true” mouse tale.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Picture Books Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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Say goodbye to Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie, meet Los Pollitos, and go Vroom! with Liesbet Slegers’s latest.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Graphic Novels Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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A manga-style look at anatomy, a heart-wrenching work about the Holocaust, and the latest installments in two ongoing series.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

YA Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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David Lubar delivers thought-provoking metafiction, Rick Yancey concludes “The Fifth Wave,” and Kristy Acevedo offers complex and profound science fiction.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Nonfiction Xpress Reviews | June 2016

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Inside an orangutan orphanage, all about Minecraft, and a bevy of weird factoids sure to attract browsers.

This article was published in School Library Journal's June 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Multicultural Literature for Latino Children, Early Literacy, and Storytelling | Professional Reading

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This month’s professional reading titles include global offerings for storytellers, a primer on developing literacy skills, and more.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah | SLJ Review

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Shevah, Emma. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama. illus. by Helen Crawford-White. 288p. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492631385. POP 

Gr 3-6 –British fifth grader Dara Palmer is a natural-born actress, destined for Hollywood stardom. At least, that’s what she and her best friend, Lacey, think, until neither of them lands the lead role in their school’s musical production of The Sound of Music. Dara, who is adopted from Cambodia, believes that she may have been passed […]

Wildlife of the World | SLJ Review

REF-DK-Wildlife of the World

Wildlife of the World. 480p. index. photos. DK. Oct. 2015. Tr $50. ISBN 9781465438041. 

Gr 4 Up –Looking outside one’s window can give students an appreciation for nature, and this volume greatly widens the view. Detailed data panels provide a snapshot of the size, diet, status, and habitat of each species. The book begins with information on animal habitats and then shifts the focus to species in more than 40 ecoregions. Vibrant, full-color images illuminate the pages, with […]

Review of the Day: The King of Kazoo by Norm Feuti

King of Kazoo By Norm Feuti Graphix (an imprint of Scholastic) $22.99 ISBN: 978-0545770880 Ages 9-12 On shelves July 26th When I used to run a children’s book club for 9-12 year-olds, I’d regularly let them choose the next book we’d discuss. In time, after some trial and error, I learned that the best way […]

Wordplay on the iPad | Touch and Go

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Three apps that offer children opportunities to experiment “with the way letters combine to form words” are reviewed.

Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb | SLJ Review

Sabotage The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb

Bascomb, Neal. Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb. 320p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. May 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545732437; ebk. $17.99. ISBN 9780545735339. 

Gr 8 Up –The people of Norway had hoped to remain neutral during World War II as they had in the Great War, but that hope was shattered when Nazi Germany invaded Norway’s ports in the early days of April 1940. In addition to taking over Norway’s […]

Book Review: Draw the Line by Laurent Linn

Publisher’s description After a hate crime occurs in his small Texas town, Adrian Piper must discover his own power, decide how to use it, and know where to draw the line in this stunning debut novel exquisitely illustrated by the author. Adrian Piper is used to blending into the background. He may be a talented […]

From Summer Camp to the Far Reaches of the Galaxy | Middle Grade Series Update

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Librarian Chris Lassen rounds up the latest middle grade continuations, with titles perfect for fans looking to catch up on their favorite series over the long summer vacation.

This article was published in School Library Journal's May 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Gboard: Don’t know how I lived without it

I am a bit mobile keyboard challenged. While I type like a maniac, I’m what anyone would call a slow texter.  I have trouble with tasks others find simple–finding the perfect emoji, as well as basics like copying and pasting.  So, for me Gboard is a major keyboard shift. Last week, the Official Google Blog […]

Best Frints in the Whole Universe by Antoinette Portis | SLJ Review

Best Frints in the Whole Universe

Portis, Antoinette. Best Frints in the Whole Universe. illus. by Antoinette Portis. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626721364. 

K-Gr 2 –Employing eye-catching imagery and space lingo that will have children and their adults giggling, Portis emphasizes that friendship can be tricky yet rewarding. Yelfred and Omek, residents of the planet Boborp, have been pals (or “frints”) since they were young. Though these two buddies love to engage in a variety of […]

Book Review: True Letters from a Fiction Life by Kenneth Logan

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 May 2016 issue of School Library Journal.   Gr 9 Up—Seventeen-year-old James reveals […]

Mellow Dramas | SLJ Spotlight

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Middle Grade novels often have two extremes: ultra fantastical or the issue-driven realistic. However ,these titles are equally satisfying to read stories where the drama is simply of a more mellow nature, where the smaller trials and tribulations of growing up take center stage.