March 27, 2015

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Black’s “Forest” is chock-full of magic and mystery | Audio Pick


Black, Holly. The Darkest Part of the Forest. 8 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. 2015. $25. ISBN 9781478955894. digital download.
Gr 8 Up–A small town, sibling pairs, a beautiful horned boy who has been entombed in a clear casket for as long as anyone in the town can remember, and a dark forest inhabited by Fae folk of all shapes, sizes, and temperaments—these are just a few of the elements Black blends together to create this riveting and engrossing story that […]

“Oil & Water” drills deep into the issue of conservation | DVD Pick


Oil & Water. 78 and 55 min. Dist. by Bullfrog Films. 2014. $295. Rent $95. ISBN 1941545165.
Gr 9 Up–This exquisitely edited documentary focuses on two young men who have dedicated their lives to the preservation of the indigenous culture and the ecosystem of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Hugo Lucitante, a member of the Cofán tribe, spent years in the U.S. and graduated from a Seattle high school. The film follows Lucitante over the next several years as he returns home to […]

March Stars


Visit old friends and new with this month’s SLJ stars. Will Grayson, Will Grayson fans will delight in finally seeing TIny Cooper’s masterpiece come to life, and Avi fans are in for a treat with Catch You Later, Traitor. Graphic novel fans have a wonderfully gruesome new series with “The Lunch Witch,” while YA fans looking for a new voice will find it with Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days.

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

“This is the Rope” discusses importance of family and history | Audio Pick


WOODSON, Jacqueline. This Is the Rope: A Story from the Great Migration. 1 CD. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2014. $12.95. ISBN 9780545790512.
Gr K-2–Something as simple as a discarded rope has tied a family story together through several generations. In the middle of the 20th century, an African American family moves from South Carolina to Brooklyn, NY, making the great migration north as many other families bravely did at the time. This tale follows a family through several generations, always coming […]

“Little Big Girls” explores puberty and its effects | DVD Pick


Little Big Girls. 52 min. Dist. by National Film Board of Canada. 2014. $295 (PPR). ISBN unvail.
Gr 5 Up–Three of the times in a girl’s life when she’s told she’s a “big girl” are depicted in the animated introduction: when she learns to use the potty; then when she rides her bike without training wheels for the first time; and lastly, when she gets her first bra. The subject here is early puberty, and the candid interviews with girls who […]

A Nat Geo explorer gets up close and personal in “Crocodile Encounters!”| Audio Pick


Barr, Brady with Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld. Crocodile Encounters! And More True Stories of Adventures With Animals. 1 CD. 45 min. Recorded Bks. 2014. $15.75. ISBN 9781490635873. digital download.
Gr 2-4–National Geographic explorer Barr presents four suspenseful and often humorous tales of his encounters with crocodiles. In “Undercover Croc,” he dons a specially developed crocodile suit to enter into a large group of fearsome crocodiles. In “Toy Story,” he tries to capture a crocodile using a remote-controlled car and milk jug with […]

“Me…Jane” paints portrait of Goodall as a curious youngster | DVD Pick


Me…Jane. 9 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2014. $59.95. ISBN 9780545696869.
PreS-Gr 2–In this heartwarming portrait of primatologist Jane Goodall as a young girl, author Patrick McDonnell eloquently tells the story of young adventurous Jane. She, along with her stuffed chimpanzee, Jubliee, delights in exploring the outdoors; observing animals and nature; and finding magic in such things as the discovery of where eggs come from. Children will love the simple text of this Caldecott Honor–winning picture book (Little, Brown, 2011), which […]

Two young Afghanis form a dangerous friendship in “The Secret Sky”| Audio Pick


Abawi, Atia. The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan. 7 CDs. 7:45 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $77.75. ISBN 9781490627403. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 9 Up–This story is told through the alternating viewpoints of three young Afghanis—Fatima, a Hazara girl on the cusp of womanhood; Samiulla, a teenaged Pashtun boy disillusioned by the “religious” teachings of radicals; and Rashid, a believer in the harsh justice and rhetoric of Islamic fundamentalists. On the path to the well, Sami and Fatima […]

Unique wildlife is beautifully showcased in “Animal Misfits”|DVD Pick

animal misfits

Animal Misfits. (Nature.) 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. $19.99. ISBN 9781627891714.
Gr 5 Up–This program describes how and why certain animals have evolved in such unconventional ways, including pandas, nonmeat-eating carnivores, flightless parrots, fish that walk on their fins, and even the eerie-looking stalk-eyed fly. The sloth maintains its leisurely lifestyle because the plants it eats take a long time to digest and don’t provide much energy. To protect itself from swift predators, the sloth blends in with the environment, […]

Smith’s humorous, heartbreaking “Winger” translates seamlessly to audio | Audio Pick


SMITH, Andrew. Winger. 8 CDs. 9:52 hrs. Brilliance Audio. 2014. $52.97. ISBN 9781491507926.
Gr 9 Up–Ryan Dean West is the smartest student in the junior class at Pine Mountain boarding school, a starter on the rugby team, and two years younger than the rest of his classmates. He is also hopelessly in love with his best friend, Annie, who sees him as just a little kid. When Ryan Dean moves into Opportunity Hall, the dorm for misbehaving students (owing to an […]

“All About Ann” explores life of notable female politician | DVD Pick

all about ann

All About Ann: Governor Richards of the Lone Star State. 82 min. Dist. by the Cinema Guild. 2014. $99.95. ISBN 0781515017.
Gr 9 Up–Adults, particularly Texans, may have at least a passing familiarity with Ann Richards, but this affable documentary could introduce teenage viewers to this firecracker of Texas politics, who passed away in 2000. It uses archival footage, family photos, and campaign coverage to showcase her talent and abundant humor in scripted speeches and off-the-cuff remarks. Her early adult life […]

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 […]

“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, […]

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 […]

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 […]

A complex father-son relationship is found “Somewhere in the Darkness” | Audio Pick


MYERS, Walter Dean. Somewhere in the Darkness. 5 CDs. 5:15 hrs. Recorded Bks. 2014. $51.75. ISBN 9781470393922. Playaway, digital download.
Gr 7 Up–Jimmy is 14 years old. His biological mother is dead and his father has been incarcerated for the past nine years. As the story opens, Jimmy is living with Mama Jean in a rundown New York neighborhood. One day he returns home to find a stranger claiming to be his father. Crab, as Jimmy’s father is called, has been […]

“Safety Show” explores a broad range of topics | DVD Pick


The Safety Show. (Ruby’s Studio). 47 min. Dist. by the Mother Company. 2013. $14.99. ISBN 9780988282780.
PreS-Gr 1–Keeping children safe is a key concern for parents and teachers, and this production addresses this important topic in a way that empowers children instead of scaring them. The upbeat music, original cartoons, practical crafts, and music videos make learning about safety fun and memorable. Segments cover a range of different topics, and young viewers will learn how to stay safe in a […]

Gaiman’s ghoulish “Graveyard” is brought to life with a full cast | Audio Pick


Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. 7 CDs. 8:30 hrs. Harper Audio. 2014. $27.99. ISBN 9780062364463. digital download.
Gr 5 Up–Gaiman’s beloved novel gets the full-cast treatment in this new audio edition. Due to ghastly circumstances, the ghosts of a graveyard take in a young toddler whom they name Nobody, or Bod for short. The enigmatic Silas becomes Bod’s guardian and makes it his duty to protect the boy from those who intend harm. Bod grows up in the graveyard, and although […]

Sir David Attenborough investigates “Fabulous Frogs”| DVD Pick


Fabulous Frogs. (Nature). 60 min. Dist. by PBS. 2014. DVD $19.99. Blu-ray $24.99. ISBN 9781627890731.
Gr 4 Up–Presenter Sir David Attenborough states, “There’s more to frogs than you might suppose,” and this film has the quality sound and visuals viewers expect from this series, in addition to Attenborough’s charming, conversational approach. He clearly loves these creatures. An abundance of interesting facts concerning the 5,000 species of frogs and toads that share our planet will captivate viewers, along with explanations and discussions […]

July Starred Reviews


Ben Franklin makes a splash, Hervé Tullet mixes it up, and Mo Willems makes new friends in the July stars, offering the best of fiction, nonfiction, and multimedia.

This article was published in School Library Journal's July 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.