April 23, 2017

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A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell | SLJ Audio Review

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ROCKWELL, Anne. A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent. 1 CD. 14 min. Dreamscape. Jan. 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9781520066172.

Gr 2-5 – The true story of James Lafayette, a Revolutionary double agent, will captivate and anger young listeners as they learn about the incredible dangers that James, an American enslaved person, took while trying to secure America’s freedom from the British and earning his own from his masters. At great danger to […]

Playing for the Devil’s Fire by Phillippe Diederich | SLJ Audio Review

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DIEDERICH, Phillippe. Playing for the Devil’s Fire. 7 CDs. 8:14 hrs. Listening Library. Jan. 2017. $45. ISBN 9781524723842. digital download.

Gr 7 Up – Izayoc is an idyllic Mexican pueblo where 13-year-old Boli and his friends spend time ogling the girls, shining shoes to earn money, watching the luchadores (the wrestlers), and playing marbles in the hopes of winning the much-coveted “Devil’s Fire” marble. The new highway, however, has opened the town up to dangerous people. Body parts appear, […]

The Colin Thompson Collection by Colin Thompson | SLJ Audio Review

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THOMPSON, Colin. The Colin Thompson Collection. 1 CD. 13 min. Brilliance. Dec. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781489358387. digital download.

PreS-K – This whimsical collection by Thompson centers on two dogs, Fearless—a lumbering, bighearted bulldog who is quite the opposite of what his name implies—and Stanley. The four tales include Fearless, in which the not-quite watchdog timidly instructs a startled burglar that standing on the table is inappropriate behavior, thus awakening his owners and thwarting the theft; Fearless in Love, in […]

Viewers’ Advisory: 3 Netflix Series with YA and Kid Appeal

Dylan Minnette and Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why (Photos: Netflix)

Is Netflix the future for book-to-screen adaptations? SLJ’s resident movie reviewer checks out new series that your patrons and students can binge-watch.

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | SLJ Audio Review

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YOON , Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Listening Library. Nov. 2016. $40 ISBN 9781524721404. digital download.

Gr 9 Up –Two lives are changed forever when Natasha, an undocumented Jamaican teen seeking legal help on her last day in the country before she and her family are deported, and Daniel, a budding Korean American poet on his way to a Yale admissions interview and a future he doesn’t want as a doctor, meet on […]

A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent | SLJ DVD Review

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A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent. 14 min. Dreamscape. 2017. $38.99. ISBN 9781520066141.

Gr 2-5 –Anne Rockwell’s exquisitely written picture book biography about an unknown African American hero of the Revolutionary War is noteworthy on many levels. The addition of the richly textured illustrations of Floyd Cooper makes it a winning selection. Everyone knows the names Franklin, Jefferson, and Washington and their contributions to the establishment of the United States. Lesser […]

Baby Brother Blues | “The Boss Baby” Movie Review

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Author/illustrator Marla Frazee’s titular tyrannical tot from her acclaimed picture book waddles onto the big screen, wreaking his own brand of mayhem.

Treasures of the Earth | SLJ DVD Review

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Treasures of the Earth. (NOVA). 3 hrs. Dist. by PBS. 2017. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898546.

Gr 7 Up –This program contains three hour-long episodes (“Power,” “Gems,” and “Metals”), which examine the earth’s geological resources. Each focuses on the natural forces that have created them and the human manufacturing processes that transform them into products. For example, viewers learn about different metals used in jewelry, warfare, and modern electrical wiring. Through computer animation, the program details atomic composition, production techniques, and […]

Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story by Caren Stelson | SLJ Audio Review

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STELSON, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. 3 CDs. 3:27 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. $29.99. ISBN 9781520063034. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Sachiko Yasui was six years old when an atomic bomb was dropped on her hometown of Nagasaki: this is the account of her survival. She experienced the death of family members, homelessness, and ill health, but the unrelenting encouragement of her father gave her the strength and willpower to face the future. He had told her always […]

Heartless by Marissa Meyer | SLJ Audio Review

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MEYER , Marissa. Heartless . 12 CDs. 14:34 hrs. Macmillan Audio. Nov. 2016. $39.99. ISBN 9781427267948. digital download.

Gr 8 Up –In this dark imagining of the origin of the Queen of Hearts, Lady Catherine starts out with the dream of owning a bakery with her maid, Mary Ann. Cath’s baking skills land her the heart of the King of Hearts, but she is drawn to the mysterious court joker, Jest. As Cath begins to give her heart to […]

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela S. Turner | SLJ Audio Review

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TURNER, Pamela S. Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune. 4 CDs. 4:51 hrs. Recorded Books. Oct. 2016. $46.75. ISBN 9781501936265.

Gr 7 Up –Combining action, history, and excellent descriptions, this book shares the story of Yoshitsune, a most unlikely samurai. Spared after his father attacked a rival, Yoshitsune was raised by monks and later received instruction in the way of the samurai. Yoshitsune pledged his loyalty to his half brother Yoritomo and performed many heroic feats. Unfortunately, […]

The Best Bear in All the World by Paul Bright, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis & Kate Saunders | SLJ Audio Review

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BRIGHT, Paul, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, & Kate Saunders. The Best Bear in All the World. 2 CDs. 1:37 hrs. Listening Library. Oct. 2016. $22. ISBN 9780735287655. digital download

Gr 2-5 – Four seasons bring new adventures and curiosities to Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin, and friends. From Eeyore seeing another donkey to Piglet and Pooh meeting a dragon, the tales will delight, inspire, and encourage imagination. Narrator Martin Jarvis’s voice is ideal for bringing to life each of the Hundred […]

My Congo | SLJ DVD Review

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My Congo. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898737.

Gr 5 Up –It pays to travel with a professional photographer. Stunning images of the landscapes, wildlife, and people of the Republic of the Congo grace this wonderful film that draws viewers into a world of beauty and diverse cultures. Wildlife filmmaker Vianet D’jenguet spent his childhood there before moving to Europe. His return to his homeland is moving and informative. The film takes viewers on a […]

I Voted? | SLJ DVD Review

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I Voted? 77 min. Dist. by Tugg Educational. 2016. $75. ISBN unavail.

Gr 9 Up –Jason Grant Smith, a young independent filmmaker, asks, “Are we the country we think we are?” in this timely, provocative, and important exploration of America’s voting procedures. His initial interest in the unlikely primary victory of an unknown candidate for the U.S. Senate in South Carolina morphs into a general investigation of current voting systems, which are likely to be vulnerable to error and […]

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown | SLJ Audio Review

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BROWN, Skila. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party. 3 CDs. 3:51 hrs. Brilliance. Oct. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781522656296. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –For 19-year-old Mary Ann Graves, and her family, the journey from Illinois to California in 1846 meant an arduous walk through mountains and deserts, alongside livestock and wagons. Following Graves’s actual reports, the chapters of this novel, which is based on actual events, relate the party’s day-to-day struggles […]

Incarcerating US | SLJ DVD Review

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Incarcerating US. 84 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2015. $350 (PPR). Rental $95. ISBN 1941545629.

Gr 9 Up –A brutal and honest look inside the U.S. prison system. Colorful graphics help viewers visualize alarming statistics. For example, the federal prison population rose from 36,000 in 1985 to 200,000 today. Five grams of drugs, the amount equal to a sweetener packet, can get someone a five-year sentence. Additionally, judges, under the mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, have little room for compassion. […]

The Story of Cats | SLJ DVD Review

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The Story of Cats. (Nature). 106 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898751. Blu-ray $29.99. UPC 0841887030472.

Gr 5 Up –This engaging film offers an incredible amount of information. The focus is on the most widespread of all carnivores, cats, found all over the world, even in our homes. The 37 different species of cats today live in every climate, and the program chronicles the evolution of the first breed of cats known to have existed 11 million […]

A Bully Backtracks | “Before I Fall” Movie Review

Zoey Deutch as Samantha in Before I Fall

A popular high school senior relives the same day over and over again, caught in a repetitive time warp.

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham | SLJ Audio Review

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DOWNHAM, Jenny. Unbecoming. Preloaded digital audio player. 14:14 hrs. Mar. 2016. Scholastic. $30. ISBN 9780545945905.

Gr 9 Up−Although Mary, Caroline, and Katie are three very different generations in the same family, suddenly living under the same roof forces them to confront a complicated past that has kept them estranged for decades. Mary is the grandmother, newly widowed, fighting the dementia that is clouding and tangling memories. Caroline is her angry daughter, unforgiving of the long estrangement and unwilling to […]

Long Way North | SLJ DVD Review

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Long Way North. 81 min. Dist. by Shout! Kids Factory. 2016. $16.99 UPC 0826663172027. Blu-ray $22.99 UPC 0826663172034.

Gr 5 Up –Viewers are introduced to 15-year-old Sacha as she explores her lavish Russian home and dances with a prince at a ball. This lovely animated film quickly reveals that Sacha Tchernetsov is no princess wannabe, but a strong-minded adventurer. She feels kinship with her explorer grandfather, who disappeared while seeking the North Pole. When she finds his notes in […]