August 28, 2016

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Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann | SLJ Review

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Kuhlmann, Torben. Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. illus. by Torben Kuhlmann. 128p. NorthSouth. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780735842625. 

Gr 2-6 –Uniquely similar in artistic design and writing style to Kuhlmann’s Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, this title relates the story of another clever mouse’s fascination with the moon, which, his telescope shows him, is actually “a giant ball of stone”—not the big ball of cheese that his friends […]

Review of the Day: Kid Beowulf by Alexis Fajardo

Kid Beowulf: The Blood-Bound Oath By Alexis E. Fajardo Color by Jose Mari Flores Prologue Color by Brian Kolm Amp Comics for Kids (an imprint of Andrews McMeel Publishing) $10.99 ISBN: 978-1-4494-7589-5 Ages 9-12 On shelves now. This is a true story. I started college in 1996. Earlham College. Richmond, Indiana. Nice place. Little Quaker […]

Book Review: It Looks Like This by Rafi Mittlefehldt

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 2016 issue of School Library Journal.   Mittlefehldt, Rafi. It Looks Like This. […]

Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan | SLJ Review

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Phelan, Matt. Snow White: A Graphic Novel. illus. by Matt Phelan. 216p. Candlewick. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763672331.

Gr 4-8 –Spanning the Roaring Twenties and the Great Depression, Phelan’s noir-esque adaption of the classic fairy tale is atmospheric, clever, and touching. Samantha White, affectionately called Snow White by her ailing mother, is sent off to a boarding school as her father, the King of Wall Street, grieves his wife’s death by marrying the dazzling Queen […]

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu | SLJ Review

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu

Mathieu, Jennifer. Afterward. 320p. ebook available. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722385. 

Gr 9 Up –Kidnapped 11-year-old Dylan Anderson has been found after a harrowing four days; along with him is Ethan Jorgensen, 15, who has been missing four years—from the same neighborhood. Caroline, Dylan’s 16-year-old sister, is desperate to help her brother with autism work through his trauma, but he only seems to be getting worse. She wishes her parents would see that […]

Oh, Baby | SLJ Spotlight

PB-SP-Swanson-Babies Ruin Everything

There are loads of books about the arrival of cute bundles of joy into a household. These titles address some of the less charming aspects of infants. They disrupt established routines, demand (and command) constant attention, terrorize the family pets, and drive their siblings bonkers.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | SLJ Review

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

McLemore, Anna-Marie. When the Moon Was Ours. 288p. ebook available. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250058669. 

Gr 9 Up –Love bests every opponent in this surreal exploration of familial bonds and sexual identity. Teens Sam and Miel have been best friends for years, ever since Miel appeared, sodden and terrified, amid the flooded ground around an overturned water tower. As their friendship unfolds into romance, long-repressed secrets and rumors clamor for air. Sam […]

Storyworlds: Nature by Thomas Hegbrook | SLJ Review

Storyworlds Nature by Thomas Hegbrook

Hegbrook, Thomas. Storyworlds: Nature. illus. by Thomas Hegbrook. 64p. Tiger Tales/360 Degrees. Sept. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781944530013. 

PreS-Gr 2 –Simple narratives about animals and nature unfold through artwork in this refreshingly open-ended work. The book begins with an invitation: “Every picture tells a story. What do you think that story is?” One hundred wordless illustrations are presented for children to examine, interpret, and discuss. From a snake shedding its skin to a baby koala climbing […]

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful | SLJ Spotlight

NF-SP-Elem-Turner-Crow Smarts

These selections are odes to all of the fierce, creepy, and, in some cases, elusive beasts that ordinarily make even the toughest of us say “eek!”

Smells Like Tween Spirit | SLJ Spotlight

MG-SP-Tougas-A Patron Said for Junior Bridesmaids

Whether you call them “upper middle grade” titles, “tween reads,” or just “great books for preteens,” the following selections are perfect for those looking for a middle school setting, a bit of YA-esque action, but non of the more sophisticated content that typically accompanies novels for true teens.

Review: ‘DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis’

DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis Writer: Shea Fontana Artist: Yancey Labat DC Comics; $9.99 Mattel’s DC Super Hero Girls line of action figures launched last year, accompanied by online animated shorts, and then a TV special and a series of young reader novels. Given the source material that inspired the toy line/burgeoning media franchise–it’s […]

Reaching for the Sky: Tinybop, Inc. | Touch and Go

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“Sparking curiosity, diving into big ideas, and making connections to the world,” are design objectives of the innovative developer Tinybop, Inc., and all are in evidence in Skyscrapers, the seventh volume in their “Explorer’s Library” series.

Sunker’s Deep by Lian Tanner | SLJ Review

Sunker’s Deep by Lian Tanner

Tanner, Lian. Sunker’s Deep. 304p. (The Icebreaker Trilogy: Bk. 2). Feiwel & Friends. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250052179. 

Gr 5-8 –Three crises get the action started quickly in this second installment of Tanner’s “Icebreaker” trilogy. There’s mutiny aboard the Oyster, which strands returning characters Petrel, Fin, Krill, and the captain in hostile territory controlled by a radical sect of Anti-Machinists. The friends’ only chance to get back to their ship lies with Sharkey, young captain […]

Creatures of Light | SLJ DVD Review

Creatures of Light PBS

Creatures of Light. (NOVA). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627894739. 

Gr 5 Up –Fireflies are dazzling; few land animals glow as they do. In the oceans, lighting up from within (bioluminescence) or by reflecting light (biofluorescence) is almost matter of fact—about 90 percent of ocean life glows. As this delightful program explains, marine biologists are trying to better understand these displays, since the science behind illumination can be used to track cancer, discover pollution, and perhaps […]

Bloomz: a powerful tool for home/school communication

Bloomz is a game changer, a kind of Swiss Army knife for school communication that does the job of multiple single purpose apps. It’s free and it works across platforms and devices and it’s got the  communications arena covered. I first discovered Bloomz from this year’s Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee, but it […]

Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas by Yuyi Morales | SLJ Review

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Morales, Yuyi. Rudas: Niño’s Horrendous Hermanitas. illus. by Yuyi Morales. 40p. ebook available. glossary. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722408.

PreS-Gr 2 –Niño is back in this rollicking adventure, but he takes backseat to the Rudas: his mischievous little sisters. The masked hero’s siblings do not play by the rules, and they conquer each of their opponents with incredibly rude feats and moves that young readers will find familiar (and hilarious): the […]

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart | SLJ Audio Review

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Gephart, Donna. Lily and Dunkin. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. 48 min. Listening Library. May 2016. $45. ISBN 9780451481962. digital download. 

Gr 5-8 –Lily and Dunkin have a chance meeting just before entering eighth grade and sense an immediate connection; both harbor deep secrets. Gephart expertly weaves the characters’ separate but similar struggles with school, family, and society with concurrent narratives. Lily was assigned male at birth but has always felt she is a girl; she’s pressuring her family to […]

Review: ‘An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar’

An Olympic Dream: The Story of Samia Yusuf Omar By Reinhard Kleist Self Made Hero, $22.95 One of the most inspiring stories to come out of this year’s Olympics is that of swimmer Yusra Mardini, a refugee from Syria who helped rescue a group of refugees in a rubber dinghy by swimming for three hours, […]

AnswerGarden a powerful, minimalistic feedback/brainstorming tool

Gathering quick feedback and initiating a brainstorm have never been easier.  AnswerGarden looks like what would happen if Twitter, TodaysMeet, Padlet and Wordle and Tagxedo had a little baby app. Here’s a little introduction I pulled together. AnswerGarden rightly describes itself as a minimalistic feedback tool. It takes under 10 minutes to master. You can […]

Skunked! by Jacqueline Kelly | SLJ Review

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Kelly, Jacqueline. Skunked! illus. by Teagan White & Jennifer Meyer. 112p. (Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet). Holt. Oct. 2016. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781627798686.

Gr 2-4 –Award-winning author Kelly introduces the “Calpurnia Tate” series to a younger audience. The year is 1901, and Calpurnia lives in a big white house in Texas with her mother, father, grandfather, and six brothers. Living with so many brothers can bring excitement and, at times, trouble. High jinks ensue when Cal’s younger […]