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January 26, 2015

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SLJ Multimedia Reviews

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Smith’s humorous, heartbreaking “Winger” translates seamlessly to audio | Audio Pick

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SMITH, Andrew. Winger. 8 CDs. 9:52 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $52.97. ISBN 9781491507926.
Gr 9 Up–Ryan Dean West is the smartest student in the junior class at Pine Mountain boarding school, a starter on the rugby team, and two years younger than the rest of his classmates. He is also hopelessly in love with his best friend, Annie, who sees him as just a little kid. When Ryan Dean moves into Opportunity Hall, the dorm for misbehaving students (owing to an […]

Paddington Finds a Home on the Big Screen | Movie Review

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Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that this frisky and good-natured take on Michael Bond’s beloved bear was produced by David Heyman of the “Harry Potter” film series. Both adaptations plant a big wet kiss on bustling, inclusive London.

“All About Ann” explores life of notable female politician | DVD Pick

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All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State. 82 min. Dist. by the Cinema Guild. 2014. $99.95. ISBN 0781515017.
Gr 9 Up–Adults, particularly Texans, may have at least a passing familiarity with Ann Richards, but this affable documentary could introduce teenage viewers to this firecracker of Texas politics, who passed away in 2000. It uses archival footage, family photos, and campaign coverage to showcase her talent and abundant humor in scripted speeches and off-the-cuff remarks. Her early adult life […]

Adventure abounds in Maguire’s “Egg & Spoon”| Audio Pick

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MAGUIRE, Gregory. Egg & Spoon. 11 CDs. 12:51 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $59.97. ISBN 9781491502327.
Gr 7 Up–Peasant girl Elena Rudina is slowly starving to death along with her dying mother in the Russian countryside. Her eldest brother has just been drafted into the Tsar’s army. When a train carrying Ekaterina, a girl of the nobility, unexpectedly breaks down in their village, an opportunity presents itself. Through a series of unplanned events, the girls switch places, and Elena is off to […]

“Caminar” is a powerful tale of courage in Guatemala | Audio Pick

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BROWN, Skila. Caminar. 2 CDs. 2:23 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $49.97. ISBN 9781491536858.
Gr 5-8–Carlos, a young boy living in remote Guatemala, yearns to be a man and defend his village from the soldiers who are seeking Communist rebels. His mother, however, tells him to run to the trees to hide. He’s in the jungle when the soldiers return, and he’s left alone, full of shame because he did not help his people. Carlos comes across a small band of guerillas, […]

Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” excels in audio format | Audio Pick

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Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming. 4 CDs. 3:56 hrs. Listening Library. $28. ISBN 9780553397260. digital download.
Gr 4-7–Free verse is an effective writing style for describing dreams. Woodson’s text is particularly compelling when detailing the small moments of life, such as the “Saturday night smells of biscuits and burning hair” or bemoaning the “hair ribbons that anchor (her) to childhood.” And while poetry is sometimes difficult to follow on audio, this author is a masterful narrator. The sounds of the words […]

Filmmaker tackles the gluten-free trend in “The Trouble with Bread” | DVD Pick

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The Trouble with Bread. 27 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2013. $195. Rent $60. ISBN 1941545130.
Gr 7 Up–Beautifully shot, this informative work chronicles filmmaker Maggie Beidelman’s journey to understand her gluten intolerance and the burgeoning gluten-free market. After spending time in France, where bread was a large, enjoyable part of her diet, Beidelman returned to the United States and began to experience discomfort and pain after she ate bread. She investigates the difference between how the United States and France […]

SLJ’s Top 10 DVDs 2014

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School Library Journal DVD reviews editor Kent Turner selects the top picks out of the more than 250 DVDs reviewed in SLJ this year. The following are memorable works that will enhance curricula with their strong educational and entertainment appeal.

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

SLJ’s Top 10 Audiobooks 2014

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SLJ’s top 10 audiobooks of 2014 represent the best of the best of 2014’s releases, with titles for all age groups and interests.

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

A complex father-son relationship is found “Somewhere in the Darkness” | Audio Pick

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MYERS, Walter Dean. Somewhere in the Darkness. 5 CDs. 5:15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $51.75. ISBN 9781470393922. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 7 Up–Jimmy is 14 years old. His biological mother is dead and his father has been incarcerated for the past nine years. As the story opens, Jimmy is living with Mama Jean in a rundown New York neighborhood. One day he returns home to find a stranger claiming to be his father. Crab, as Jimmy’s father is called, has been […]

“Safety Show” explores a broad range of topics | DVD Pick

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The Safety Show. (Ruby’s Studio). 47 min. Dist. by the Mother Company. Themotherco.com. 2013. $14.99. ISBN 9780988282780.
PreS-Gr 1–Keeping children safe is a key concern for parents and teachers, and this production addresses this important topic in a way that empowers children instead of scaring them. The upbeat music, original cartoons, practical crafts, and music videos make learning about safety fun and memorable. Segments cover a range of different topics, and young viewers will learn how to stay safe in a […]

Award-Winning Works Arrive | Multimedia Reviews, December 2014

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The debate about cell phone radiation and the startling increase in teen drug overdoses are scrutinized in this month’s DVD section. In addition, the landmark Emmy Award–winning series Years of Living Dangerously takes viewers around the world exploring climate change. Author Neil Gaiman provides one of the voices in the audiobook version of his acclaimed and ghostly novel The Graveyard Book, and Jacqueline Woodson narrates her award-winning free verse memoir Brown Girl Dreaming.

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

Gaiman’s ghoulish “Graveyard” is brought to life with a full cast | Audio Pick

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Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Harper Audio. 2014. $27.99. ISBN 9780062364463. digital download.
Gr 5 Up–Gaiman’s beloved novel gets the full-cast treatment in this new audio edition. Due to ghastly circumstances, the ghosts of a graveyard take in a young toddler whom they name Nobody, or Bod for short. The enigmatic Silas becomes Bod’s guardian and makes it his duty to protect the boy from those who intend harm. Bod grows up in the graveyard, and although […]

Sir David Attenborough investigates “Fabulous Frogs”| DVD Pick

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Fabulous Frogs. (Nature). 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. DVD $19.99. Blu-ray $24.99. ISBN 9781627890731.
Gr 4 Up–Presenter Sir David Attenborough states, “There’s more to frogs than you might suppose,” and this film has the quality sound and visuals viewers expect from this series, in addition to Attenborough’s charming, conversational approach. He clearly loves these creatures. An abundance of interesting facts concerning the 5,000 species of frogs and toads that share our planet will captivate viewers, along with explanations and discussions […]

‘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.

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 […]

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 […]

November Starred Reviews

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Get political with Ken Burns’s newest documentary, The Roosevelts, find out how Megan Shepherd’s “Madman’s Daughter” trilogy ends, and change how you see rainstorms with April Pulley Sayre’s Raindrops Roll with the November stars, which offer the best of fiction, nonfiction, and multimedia.

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

Bailey, Brave Girl, Leroy Ninker, and the Romanovs | Multimedia Reviews, November 2014

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Harry Bliss’s enthusiastic dog and Michelle Markel’s picture book biography of labor activist Clara Lemlich make their DVD debut. In audiobooks, Kate DiCamillo’s Leroy Ninker Saddles Up while becoming a cowboy and Candace Fleming traces The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia

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

Alaskan culture and human nature explored in “Ice Whale” | Audio Pick

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GEORGE, Jean Craighead. Ice Whale. 4 CDs. 4:30 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $46.75. ISBN 9781490630212. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 4-6–This magnificent story begins with Toozak‚ a Yup’ik Eskimo boy in Alaska, staring at a whaling ship with a red, white, and blue flag. When Toozak unknowingly leads the Yankee ships to the whales’ feeding grounds, the animals are slaughtered. For this, the village shaman declares Toozak’s family cursed until one of them can save the life of Siku, a young ice […]