December 7, 2016

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SLJ Spotlight

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Black Contributions Matter | SLJ Spotlight

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These titles are an evocation of the depth and richness of black artistry and creativity.

Every Dog Has His Day | SLJ Spotlight

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Whether tiny and intrepid or large and stately, our canine companions are almost always willing helpmates and loyal friends. Even those with exuberant personalities and vocal proclivities add excitement, energy, and elements of fun to otherwise humdrum households. Here are some winning pup-related picture books from this issue.

Suspenseful Settings | SLJ Spotlight

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Boarding schools have been the backdrop for some of the most popular recent youth titles. It’s no wonder that novelists find these ready-made worlds so appealing, with their contained settings, off-site parents, and rich traditions. These offerings make the most of evocative boarding school settings in stories woven with mystery and suspense.

We Are Family | SLJ Spotlight

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Is there anything more complicated than family? For the protagonists of these recent novels, families are both the source of strife and foundations of strength.

Companionable Reads | SLJ Spotlight

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Several sequels and companion books are reviewed in this month’s issue—from Bruce Coville’s laugh-out-loud second installment in the “Enchanted Files” series and Eleanor Glewwe’s thoughtful follow-up to Sparkers to Kirsten Hubbard’s unique companion to last year’s unsettling Watch the Sky and Beth Vrabel’s heartfelt sequel to A Blind Guide to Stinkville.

LGBTQ in Genre Fiction | SLJ Spotlight

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While coming-out stories will always be necessary in teen lit, it’s refreshing to see that LGBTQ protagonists are taking center stage in mysteries, sci-fi, romance, and other genre fiction. These latest titles offer engaging narratives with nonheteronormative leads that all young adults will find fun to read.

Secret Agent STEM | SLJ Spotlight

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From murderous poisoners to poop-sniffing dogs, there is a wealth of educational and accessible material here.

Sleep Tight! | SLJ Spotlight

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For babies, toddlers, and even elementary-age children, preparing for bed, settling down to rest, and calming fears of the dark are perennially popular picture book themes. This month brings a plethora of soothing stories to spark the imagination and usher in sweet dreams.

Paranormal Pals | SLJ Spotlight

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Most ghost stories are designed to send shivers up readers’ spines, but these three new books buck the trend, tackling a range of relatable themes via interactions with the not-so-scary recently deceased. There’s 13-year-old Andie, whose paranormal investigations help her grapple with loss; Baylor, a young teen who communes with his dead sister; and Ada, a goth girl who befriends a ghostly mouse. Engaging mystery, strong characters, and dashes of humor set these offerings apart from the typical ghoulish fare.

Tell It Slant | SLJ Spotlight

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These works are a call for empathy and compassion and necessary reads for students engaged with our nation’s past, the refugee experience, and the power of self and nature.

On the Road, Again: New YA Road Trip Novels | SLJ Spotlight

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Nothing signifies “coming of age” as well as a road trip. And as the protagonists in these YA novels prove, the twists and turns of highways and inevitable vehicle malfunctions are part and parcel of this rite of passage. From an Odyssey-like journey to an artist’s struggle to forge her own identity in the Jim Crow South, the following works highlight the ups and downs of adolescence and the winding adventures of the road.

Oh, Baby | SLJ Spotlight

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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.

Wild, Weird, and Wonderful | SLJ Spotlight

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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

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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.

YA Shakespeare Retellings | SLJ Spotlight

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William Shakespeare’s plays have found a welcoming home in YA adaptations. Complete with a diverse cast and contemporary settings, these works play with the legendary playwright’s plots, characters, and themes.

The Gang’s All Here | SLJ Spotlight

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Take a peek at this collection of notable activists and political figures to start conversations about social movements with students.

Getting In on the Action | SLJ Spotlight

Ryan Quinn and the Rebel’s Escape

For readers looking for books that will grab them, hold their attention, and leave them wanting more, these action packed titles will have readers humming the “Mission Impossible” theme song.

Wild Things! | SLJ Spotlight

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Whether large or infinitesimally tiny, predators or helpful plants and creatures, all offer something to stimulate the senses and secrets to be discovered in these selected titles about exploring the natural world.

New Kid Blues | SLJ Spotlight

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Moving to a new town or school is a common, and difficult, life experience for many kids. Several new titles feature characters who experience—and overcome—the new kid blues.

Small Steps | SLJ Spotlight

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Forget the electoral process; students may need a refresher on what Washington, DC, even looks like! These titles will have readers ready to set off on the right foot toward greater political knowledge.