January 27, 2015

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Welcome to Heap House, the Untold Story of Goldilocks, and Roots Rediscovered | Fiction Grades 5-8


Middle-grade readers are treated to stories painstaking and poignant and funny and whimsical. Katherine Coville’s The Cottage in the Woods takes readers behind the fairy tale to the real story of Goldilocks, while Thanha Lai’s Listen Slowly sees a young girl travel to Vietnam to learn about her heritage. And don’t forget Edward Carey’s Heap House, a tale of a most unusual family—and their mansion.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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


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 […]

The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice and Fire

As this blog’s resident Game of Thrones reviewer (again, despite having never read the novels), I took it upon myself to read the newest entry into the world of The Song of Ice and Fire, a “nonfiction” companion to George R.R. Martin’s epic world. The book has Martin’s name above the title, but the smaller […]

“Stephen Hawking’s Snaphots of the Universe” |On the iPad


In this “fun introduction to big concepts in astronomy,” students will engage in a variety of interactive experiments, illuminated by the lucid text.

Kick-butt Heroines, Epic Sagas, and Quirky Debuts | Fiction Grades 9 & Up


The new year is filled with richly imagined new worlds YA readalikes for fans of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling, such as Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in Ashes. Readers of realistic fiction will delight in Lance Rubin’s unique Denton Little’s Deathdate and Juliana Romano’s romance-filled First There Was Forever.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

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


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, […]

AfterSchool Edge: Keep Them Edutained | Reference Online


AfterSchool Edge pulls together different games into a tablet or desktop computer. Though more entertaining than academic, this is a quick and easy way to offer gaming options to the elementary school set.

This article was published in School Library Journal's January 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Bewitching Readalikes for Joseph Delaney’s “The Last Apprentice” in Honor of “Seventh Son” Film


Another reader-favorite young adult book series makes its big-screen debut on February 6. Based on Joseph Delaney’s “The Last Apprentice” adventure/fantasy series, Seventh Son is set during a time of enchantment, when supernatural evil threatens all of humankind.

From the Bell Tower to the City Gates, Teens Review Titles by Kristen Simmons, Jennifer Niven, and More

All the bright places

Our teen reviewers offer up a big dose of contemporary coming-of-age fiction, with just a dash of dystopia. The featured titles touch on teen suicide, PTSD, sexism, mental illness, and more.

Inspirational Memoirs

Inspirational Memoirs

One of my favorite books of 2011 was Little Princes by Conor Grennan. It made that year’s AB4T best list, and Grennan is in demand around the country at schools and colleges where his book is a great Common Read choice. I say all of this to give context to the first of today’s books. […]

First Frost

First Frost

Happy New Year! Given the frost on the ground in my usually balmy California home, I thought we would ring in the New Year here with the appropriately titled First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen–our first 2015 title, to boot. This book is an example of one of my favorite parts of this blog: when […]

Meet the Reviewer | Sabrina Carnesi

Sabrina Carnesi

SLJ interviews reviewer of the month Sabrina Carnesi.

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


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 […]

Animals as We’ve Never Seen Them | SLJ Spotlight


Four nonfiction titles that portray animals in an unusual (and sometimes endearing) light.

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


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 […]

Two Very Different Memoirs

Two Very Different Memoirs

When I picked up An Age of License a couple months ago, I had not read Lucy Knisley’s Alex Award-winning graphic novel Relish. (We did not review Relish for AB4T last year–we thought it was a YA publication.) I read An Age of License all in one sitting, and basically fell in love with it. The next morning I checked Relish out of […]

A Bevy of Books for Gift-giving | SLJ Sneak Peek


From a galazy far, far away to a pop-up misadventure, this month’s sneak peek of January 2015 reviews features great last-minute gift ideas and new titles to add to your TBR pile.

Far-Out Science Fiction | SLJ Spotlight


Four out-of-this-world YA novels that will grab teens’ attention.



It’s mid-December and that means there are lots of lists coming out. Last year, I made an exhaustive spreadsheet of all of the major journals’ best-of lists to show you what made multiple lists and which ones we’d reviewed. This year, I’m . . . not going to do that. Instead, just a few thoughts. […]

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site | Touch and Go


You don’t have to go far to find a truck or construction site enthusiast in the under-five crowd. Since it was published in 2011, Sherri Duskey Rinker’s picture book ‘Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site’ has been a favorite with this group. Now there’s an app.