January 20, 2017

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Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly | SLJ Review

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KELLY, Erin Entrada. Hello, Universe. illus. by Isabel Roxas. 320p. ­HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414151.

Gr 3-7 –The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at […]

All Ears, All Eyes by Richard Jackson | SLJ Review

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JACKSON, Richard. All Ears, All Eyes. illus. by Katherine Tillotson. 40p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481415712; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781481415729.

PreS-Gr 2 –A forest night setting created with watercolor and digital techniques at first connotes quiet and stillness, but from beginning to end, this story encourages readers to look closer and listen deeper to discover a symphony of sight and sound. As the day starts to fade, an owl sits practically camouflaged in a tree, […]

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz | SLJ Review

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SCHLITZ, Laura Amy. Princess Cora and the Crocodile. illus. by Brian Floca. 80p. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763648220.

Gr 1-4 –Little Cora is an old-fashioned princess with a decidedly contemporary problem: her well-meaning parents have overscheduled her with improving experiences, and she just wants a day off. Failing at her less than assertive attempts to convince the adults of her castle to give her a break, she calls on her fairy godmother for assistance. The help comes […]

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz | SLJ Review

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SÁENZ, Benjamin Alire. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life. 464p. ebook available. Clarion. Mar. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780544586505. POP

Gr 9 Up –It is the first day of senior year, and Sal feels as if his life is exactly as it should be. He has always been certain of his place with his adoptive gay father and their loving Mexican American extended family. Sal’s best friend, Samantha, is almost like his sister. She really gets him, and more […]

The Champ is Here | SLJ Spotlight

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A mix of picture book and YA biographies that focus on well-known athletes who not only excelled in their respective leagues but also created lasting cultural change.

Who Killed Christopher Goodman? by Allan Wolf | SLJ Review

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WOLF, Allan. Who Killed Christopher Goodman? 288p. Candlewick. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763656133.

Gr 9 Up –Christopher Goodman wears ridiculous bell bottoms, and the way he shakes hands with people is a little strange. He’s also a genuinely nice guy, which is why everyone in Goldsburg, VA, is shocked when Chris is murdered during 1979’s Deadwood Days, a Western street festival that draws tourists to the town every summer. While on a cross-country run, classmates Doc Chestnut and […]

Dozers, Dumpers, and Drills | SLJ Spotlight

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Titles featuring construction equipment and other big machines are evergreen favorites with the preschool set, and these new offerings do not disappoint. Whether told in infectious rhyme, reinforcing concepts, or building vocabulary, these active, irresistible narratives filled with vibrant art and awesome sound effects address early literacy skills and get the job done in style.

Just a Touch of Magic | SLJ Spotlight

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A trio of new titles that offer realistic themes—bullying, health issues, family troubles—with a hint of the fantastical.

Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics by Margarita Engle | SLJ Review

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ENGLE, Margarita. Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics. illus. by Rafael López. 48p. Holt. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780805098761.

Gr 4-7 –Engle highlights 18 Latinxs from a range of ethnic backgrounds and countries of origin, all of whom lived in what is now the United States or its territories. Each person made a positive impact on U.S. history, and although some are not well-known, their contributions warrant an important place in the U.S. collective cultural knowledge. Engle’s masterly first-person […]

Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg | SLJ Review

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KONIGSBERG, Bill. Honestly Ben. 336p. ebook available. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545858267.

Gr 9 Up –Ben Carver works hard trying to please his friends, his teammates, his teachers, and, most important, his father. Barely keeping up with his classwork, extracurricular activities, and friendships, Ben wonders if he does all of these things for himself or just to placate those around him. He grapples with staying true to himself, even if he isn’t sure who […]

Book Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publisher’s description From the New York Times bestselling author of More Happy Than Not comes an explosive examination of grief, mental illness, and the devastating consequences of refusing to let go of the past. When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to […]

Defending Frequently Challenged Young Adult Books: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators by Pat R. Scales | SLJ Review

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SCALES, Pat R. Defending Frequently Challenged Young Adult Books: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators. 244p. appendix. Rowman & Littlefield. Sept. 2016. Tr $38.99. ISBN 9781442264328.

As the title implies, this volume serves as a resource for public and school librarians who face complaints or objections to books housed within their young adult collections. There are 54 separate examples listed alphabetically by title (including Go Ask Alice, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Judy Blume’s […]

Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World ed. by Kelly Jensen | SLJ Review

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JENSEN, Kelly, ed. Here We Are: 44 Voices Write, Draw, and Speak About Feminism for the Real World. illus. by Laura Palese. 240p. further reading. illus. photos. websites. Algonquin. Jan. 2017. pap. $16.95. ISBN 9781616205867.

Gr 7 Up –The ever-evolving concept of feminism is approached through a variety of mediums, from essays and drawings to comics and poems, in this fantastic collected work. In six chapters, more than 40 contributors explore how necessary feminism is for both women and […]

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Publisher’s description Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but […]

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson | SLJ Review

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WATSON, Renée. Piecing Me Together. 272p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681191058.

Gr 7 Up –High school junior Jade is an “at-risk” student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, […]

Decelerate Blue by Adam Rapp | SLJ Review

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RAPP, Adam. Decelerate Blue. illus. by Mike Cavallaro. 208p. First Second. Feb. 2017. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781596431096.

Gr 10 Up –Welcome to a brave new world that is marketing-forward and tech-heavy. Culture has been reduced to snippets of perfectly packaged and abbreviated elements. It’s a world run by the Guarantee Committee (GC), and the inhabitants are “protected” and monitored to ensure that they are keeping everything short. Students at Hyper High no longer study the classics; instead, they take […]

SLJ’s January 2017 Popular Picks

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SLJ is ringing in the New Year with this January Popular Picks list! This month includes a story about a badger who realizes his obsession with cleanliness has gone too far; the return of Aaron Blabey’s “Bad Guys”; a stunning graphic novel about Artemis, the goddess of the hunt; and an autobiography by soccer star Carli Lloyd, recently voted FIFA’s Best Women’s Soccer Player.

This House, Once by Deborah Freedman | SLJ Review

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FREEDMAN, Deborah. This House, Once. illus. by Deborah Freedman. 40p. S. & S./Atheneum. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442848.

PreS-Gr 2 –In a story that’s more poetic than technical, select pieces of a home are highlighted to emphasize the idea that a house remembers. A domicile is constructed with natural elements that began as something much different. “This door was once a colossal oak tree about three hugs around and as high as the blue.” The images start simply, […]

The Secret Life of the Red Fox by Laurence Pringle | SLJ Review

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PRINGLE, Laurence. The Secret Life of the Red Fox. illus. by Kate Garchinsky. 32p. further reading. glossary. Boyds Mills. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781629792606.

Gr 1-4 –Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen’s life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration. […]

A List of Cages by Robin Roe | SLJ Review

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ROE, Robin. A List of Cages. 320p. ebook available. Disney-Hyperion. Jan. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484763803.

Gr 9 Up –Julian—shy, quiet, and nervous—has just entered high school, and it’s a nightmare. Kids pick on him for the children’s books that he keeps in his backpack; teachers berate him for not speaking up in class and for handing in near-illegible assignments because of his undiagnosed dyslexia. He hides away in the school theater at lunchtime just to get away from […]