July 26, 2017

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YA: Quirky Romance, Tough Decisions, & a Timely “Tick Tock Man” | August 2017 Xpress Reviews

This month’s YA web-only reviews feature a new voice in gritty contemporary fiction, a teenage spin on Yoruba folklore, the psychological push-pull of social media mind games, and more.

This article was published in School Library Journal's August 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

The Notations of Cooper Cameron by Jane O’Reilly | SLJ Review

O’REILLY, Jane. The Notations of Cooper Cameron. 320p. Carolrhoda. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781512404159.

Gr 4-6 –After the death of his grandfather, 11-year-old Cooper Cameron develops a complicated relationship with “That Boy,” the voice inside of him that compels him to complete elaborate counting and washing rituals that he feels he must do to prevent terrible things from happening to his family. When medication and therapy fail Cooper, his mother moves him and his 15-year-old sister Caddie to their grandfather’s cabin for […]

Writing Radar by Jack Gantos | SLJ Review

GANTOS, Jack. Writing Radar: Using Your Journal To Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories. illus. by Jack Gantos. 224p. Farrar. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374304560. POP

Gr 4-8 –You might expect that the writing method of the author of such no-holds-barred tales as Joey Pigza Swallowed the KeyThe Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, and the Newbery Award–winning Dead End in Norvelt would be chaotic. You might picture him plucking bizarre anecdotes from his own frenzied noggin and slapping them together in a blind delirium of inspiration. […]

Book Review: The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan

Publisher’s description A funny, bracing, poignant YA romance and coming-of-age for fans of Huntley Fitzpatrick, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and The Beginning of Everything lake effect | n. 1. The effect of any lake, especially the Great Lakes, in modifying the weather in nearby areas 2. The effect of elderly ladies, mysterious girls, and countless funerals, in upending your life, one summer at the beach It’s the summer after senior year, […]

In Your Hands by Carole Boston Weatherford | SLJ Review

WEATHERFORD, Carole Boston. In Your Hands. illus. by Brian Pinkney. 32p. S. & S./Atheneum. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481462938.

PreS-Gr 3 –From award-winning Weatherford (Voice of FreedomMoses), this poem from a black mother to her firstborn son will resonate as a prayer for all black boys. A mother holds her child’s hand while expressing her hopes for his safety, his confidence, and a world that will see him as a “vessel to be steered rather than a figure to be feared.” The narrative […]

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater | SLJ Review

SLATER, Dashka. The 57 Bus. 320p. Farrar. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374303235.

Gr 6 Up –On November 4, 2013, Sasha, a high school senior from Oakland, CA, was napping on the 57 bus home from school. Shortly thereafter, Richard, another Oakland teen, boarded the bus with his two friends. When the trio’s jokes took a dark turn, Richard’s and Sasha’s lives were forever changed. Slater, who originally covered the crime for the New York Times magazine, here breaks down the series of events into […]

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya | SLJ Review

ELYA, Susan Middleton. La Princesa and the Pea. illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. 32p. glossary. Putnam. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399251566.

PreS-Gr 2 –The traditional Hans Christian Andersen tale gets a makeover in this modern version with a twist. In her signature style of stories peppered with a liberal dose of Spanish and humor, Elya relates the account of a prince who wants to marry and his mother, the queen, who takes charge of vetting the possible candidates. In rhyming text, the author […]

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead | SLJ Review

STEAD, Philip C. The Only Fish in the Sea. illus. by Matthew Cordell. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722828.

PreS-Gr 2 –With comic urgency, a boy races on his bicycle to tell his friend Sadie the story of spoiled Little Amy Scott, who declared that her birthday goldfish was BORING and walked across town to unceremoniously throw it off the dock. The boy, Sherman, asks Sadie if she could imagine that poor fish, still in its bag and […]

Board Book Buzz | Editors’ Picks

SLJ’s editors have selected and annotated 50 of the season’s top board book selections.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Poe: Stories and Poems adapted by Gareth Hinds | SLJ Review

POE, Edgar Allan. Poe: Stories and Poems. adapt. by Gareth Hinds. illus. by Gareth Hinds. 120p. Candlewick. Aug. 2017. Tr $22. ISBN 9780763681128.

Gr 9 Up –Hinds adds to his impressive library of graphic novel adaptations with this collection of stories and poems. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince holds a massive party inside a fortified castle while his subjects die of plague outside his walls—that is, until a mysterious stranger appears at the door. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” […]

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter | SLJ Review

PORTER, Sarah. When I Cast Your Shadow. 384p. Forge/Tor Teen. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380562.

Gr 9 Up –Teen twins Ruby and Everett have very different feelings about their older brother’s overdose. Closer to Dashiell and often oblivious to his dramatics and manipulations, Ruby is devastated while awed by and jealous of Dash. Everett understands the strain their brother created within the family. Though Dash is dead, he won’t leave. Visiting Ruby in her nightly dreams, Dash wheedles her into consenting to […]

Book Review: Madness by Zac Brewer

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 July 2017 issue of School Library Journal.    Madness by Zac Brewer ISBN-13: 9780062457851 […]

Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani | SLJ Review

SAUJANI, Reshma. Girls Who Code: Learn To Code and Change the World. illus. by Andrea Tsurumi. 176p. chart. diag. glossary. index. Viking. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425287538. POP

Gr 6 Up –The creator of the nationwide coding club phenomenon Girls Who Code provides a top-down look into the world of computer science and women in the field. The author takes a step-by-step approach to teaching the intricacies of coding while keeping the content relevant to the audience (a smart analogy involving a peanut […]

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley | SLJ Review

BEASLEY, Cassie. Tumble & Blue. 400p. Dial. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525428442.

Gr 4-6 –An immersive, supernatural middle grade adventure. Hear the whispers of long-kept family secrets in shadowed corners. Feel the humidity of a languid Georgia summer. Beasley, author of Circus Mirandus, weaves the tale of two tweens spending the summer looking for the way out of an ancestral curse. In 1817, 12-year-old Blue Montgomery’s forebear Walcott (a fugitive horse thief) and Tumble Wilson’s ancestor Almira (a “murderous young bride”) were forced—by […]

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu | SLJ Review

MATHIEU, Jennifer. Moxie. 336p. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626726352.

Gr 8 Up –This novel is full of wit, insight, and moxie. Vivian is the dutiful daughter of a former 1990s Riot Grrl. While her mom raged against the machine and published feminist zines in her youth, Viv prefers getting good grades and keeping a low profile. That is, until things at her small town’s high school go too far. There are double standards for football players and everyone else, arbitrary […]

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend | SLJ Review

TOWNSEND, Jessica. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. 336p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316508889; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780316513982.

Gr 5 Up –Morrigan Crow is cursed and doomed to die on her 11th birthday on Eventide night. She is blamed for every bit of bad luck and misfortune that plagues the residents of the town of Jackalfax in the Wintersea Republic. When Eventide arrives early, ushering in a new Age across the realm, Morrigan is faced with the prospect of her […]

SLJ’s July 2017 Popular Picks

A little train peruses a tiny town, a young Wonder Woman finds a warbringer, girls learn to code, and bestselling fantasy authors continue exciting new series in this month’s popular picks!

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez | SLJ Review

DOMINGUEZ, Angela. Sing, Don’t Cry. illus. by Angela Dominguez. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627798396.

PreS-Gr 2 –In this semiautobiographical picture book, Dominguez honors the memory of her grandfather Apolinar, whose music and optimism had a great effect on her. Every year, Abuelo visits from Mexico, bringing his guitar and his joyful outlook. “He would tell us about his life, and if we were sad about something, he would say, ‘Sing, don’t cry. Because singing gladdens the heart.’ ” Abuelo advises […]

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez | SLJ Review

ALVAREZ, Lorena. Nightlights. illus. by Lorena Alvarez. 56p. Flying Eye/Nobrow. Mar. 2017. Tr 18.95. ISBN 9781910620137.

Gr 4 Up –At Sandy’s parochial school, her talent for daydreaming, doodling, and wandering doesn’t endear her to the strict nuns, whose assignments the girl does her best to avoid. A bit of an outsider, Sandy is delighted when she meets a new friend, a strange, pale girl who gushes over her incredible artwork. As the protagonist’s flights of fancy begin to merge with reality, she must […]

Book Review: The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

Publisher’s description Matt hasn’t eaten in days. His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal, but Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove […]