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November 21, 2014

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Behind the Scenes: The 2014 SLJ Best Books List

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An inside look at how the SLJ book review editors chose the 70 Best Books of 2014. View a slideshow of our favorite titles and download a printable version of the list.

College Daze: YA Novels that Tackle the Undergraduate Years | SLJ Spotlight

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Three YA novels explore the limbo between high school and college.

A Debut Novel for Lovers of (or Newbies to) the Greek Classics

A Debut Novel for Lovers of (or Newbies to) the Greek Classics

Natalie Haynes’s debut novel is a fascinating mix of Haynes’s diverse interests and talents. A stand-up comedian, television panelist, journalist, and author of a nonfiction book on the Greek classics, Haynes brings all these sources to bear in creating a complex and satisfying narrative. As our reviewer notes, the novel is structured, as a traditional [...]

‘Katniss and Mouse’ Game in ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1′| Film Review

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The hit “Hunger Games” film series has become more assured in its latest installment, with Katniss Everdeen returning as a teen embracing the role of rebel leader and engaging in a lethal game of “Katniss and Mouse” with President Rose.

The Ebook Dilemma: Thoughts on Selecting the Right Ebook Model | Tech Tidbits

Ebooks 2013: New leasing models, cheaper devices, more content

The ebook journey has been circuitous for high school teacher librarian Krista Brakhage. Some of the collection she purchased three years ago “disappeared,” prompting her to search for a new ebook purchasing model that works for her budget, students, and staff.

LGBTQ Fiction, Reimagined Fairy Tales, & Horror | What’s Hot in YA

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From an anthology of writings by LGBTQ teens to R.L Stine’s newest entry in the “Fear Street” saga, the latest books for teens are sure to pique readers’ interest and keep them coming back for more.

A young sleuth solves mysteries in “Spy Catchers of Maple Hill”| Audio Pick

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Blakemore, Megan Frazer. The Spy Catchers of Maple Hill. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $45. ISBN 9781490627595. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 4-6–The year is 1953, and fifth grader Hazel Kaplansky is a girl in search of a mystery. When rumors begin flying that the Russians are operating a spy ring right in her small New England town, Hazel knows she is the girl for the case. She’s the smartest, most relentless person she knows, and she’s ready to put [...]

A Debut Novel by Indie Rock Darling John Darnielle

A Debut Novel by Indie Rock Darling John Darnielle

As a (and often the only) member of the indie rock band The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle is responsible for some of the most literate music of the 2000s and early 2010s. This year he turned to the in-no-way-guaranteed-to-succeed extension of that literate nature: a novel. But succeed it does, and I’m not the only [...]

A Trio of Thrillers

A Trio of Thrillers

Valerie Geary‘s debut novel is a family drama, coming-of-age, psychological murder mystery that builds to thriller pitch. Two sisters deal with unusual family dynamics, and put themselves at risk to clear their father’s name.  It seems fitting that one of the authors who has blurbed the novel is Lisa O’Donnell, who won an Alex Award for The Death [...]

Teens Review the Latest from Sedgwick, Barnes, and Serle

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Check out the high praise from teen reviewers for titles by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, Marcus Sedgwick, and more. Read on to find out what some of YA’s hottest authors are delivering to shelves this fall and winter.

North of Normal and What is Visible

North of Normal and What is Visible

On Monday, Angela mentioned that we haven’t had as many nonfiction titles as we’d like this year, and offered up Dr. Mutter’s Marvels for consideration. Today, we’ve got another nonfiction title, this time a memoir, and a novel based on a real person. The memoir is Cea Sunrise Person’s North of Normal, and Person’s first [...]

Tense Pasts: Middle-Grade Historical Fiction | SLJ Spotlight

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These middle grade novels explore adventures set in older times.

Mighty Mosasaurus | Touch and Go

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‘Mosasaurus’ is the latest app from Oceanhouse Media based on Smithsonian ‘Prehistoric Pals’ print series. This “mighty ruler of the sea” grew to 55 feet in length and weighed 20 tons.

Rwandan women build their own business in “Sweet Dreams”| DVD Pick

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Sweet Dreams. 56 min. Dist. by Liro Films. Sweetdreamsrwanda.com. 2014. Schools $195. 1 year streaming rights $150.  Three years streaming rights $350. ISBN unavail.
Gr 9 Up–A devastating civil war in the 1990s between Hutus and Tutsis left Rwanda in an emotional and political spasm, with more than 800,000 murdered. The surviving families experienced nationwide trauma, but perhaps the unifying force of traditional drumming could help them heal. Drumming had been the exclusive domain of men until Kiki Katese created a [...]

Old Friends, Fresh Stories: New Middle Grade Fantasy

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Fantasy writing for children has a long and storied history, populated with all manner of heroic quests, forgotten prophecies, and strange magic. Despite its near-century of popularity, there is no sign of flagging enthusiasm for this much-beloved genre.

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels

We’ve suffered from a dearth of adult nonfiction for teens this year, but today I am thrilled to bring you a great recommendation. In fact, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels shares some of the very best qualities of Mary Roach’s iconic Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, especially a gross-out curiosity factor and great story-telling. Add a larger-than-life subject and [...]

Early Chapter Books to Cheer About | SLJ Spotlight

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Six great new titles to help early readers hone their skills.

Historical Fiction Round-Up

Historical Fiction Round-Up

I have to say I expected more World War I books this year, considering it is the Centennial of that war. We did have the fabulous poetry collection/graphic novel Above the Dreamless Dead. But other than that we haven’t seen a huge push for books about the Great War. One book under review today takes [...]

A Mysterious Thief with an Unusual Mission| Touch and Go

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Looking for an app that offers a language-arts lesson ? The Happy Dandelion’s ‘UnStealer’ fits that bill, but does it succeed as story?

Reaching a Range of Users, from the Youngest to the Oldest | Reference Online

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This month, we highlight databases for both the oldest and the youngest patrons. While Sparticl brings together the best science material on the Web, World Book’s Early World of Learning focuses on users making their first forays into reading.

This article was published in School Library Journal's November 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.