October 30, 2014

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SLJ Spotlight

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Teen learns important lessons through community service in “Havana Curveball”| DVD Pick


Havana Curveball. 60 min. Dist. by PatchWorks Films. 2014. $89 (with PPR). $39.95 (no PPR). ISBN 3621179767.
Gr 5 Up–In this documentary, how can Cuba, baseball, a bar mitzvah, and a grandfather be connected into one fabulous story? For his upcoming bar mitzvah, Mica Schneider from California’s Bay Area decides to send baseball equipment to Cuba for his community service project. (He loves baseball.) His grandfather lived in the island nation as a child refugee from Nazi Germany, which led to [...]

Curl up with these books about bears | SLJ Spotlight


Four children’s titles explore the wacky lives of bears.

Lawson reimagines Twain’s classic characters in “Becky Thatcher”| Audio Pick


Lawson, Jessica. The Actual and Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. 5 CDs. 5:59 hrs. Dreamscape Media. 2014. $39.99. ISBN 9781629239385. 1 MP3-CD.
Gr 3-7–It’s 1860, and 11-year-old Becky Thatcher has just moved to St. Petersburg, Missouri. She’s looking for big-time adventure in this small town, and once she meets Sid Sawyer, it doesn’t take her long to find it. Pretty soon, she’s sneaking out after dark, stealing graveyard dirt at midnight, and keeping an eye out for dead cats to help [...]

#WeNeedDiverseBooks: Realistic fiction with diverse protagonists | SLJ Spotlight

Diamond Boy

Three teen titles highlight diverse protagonists whose stories are not often told.

Documentary explores female pioneers in the world of Jazz | DVD Pick


The Girls in the Band. 88 min and 57 min. Dist. by Kino Lorber Edu. 2013. $99. UPC 823857178124.
Gr 6 Up–What was conspicuous about women jazz musicians in the big band era was their near absence. Those lucky enough to be asked to sit in with a band were not accepted by male peers and had short tenures. How women broke into the world of jazz, as revealed in this exceptional documentary, is poignant and disturbing. The resulting all-women orchestras [...]

Secret agents, robot chickens, and zombies | SLJ Spotlight


These zany middle grade titles are perfect shelf bait for reluctant readers.

Parenting 101 | SLJ Spotlight


Three great titles on the diverse aspects of parenting.

Documentary explores an unconventional classroom in ‘Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten’ | DVD Pick


Young viewers will love learning about a nontraditional environment in Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten DVD.

Move Over, Waldo | SLJ Spotlight


Two foldout picture books rejuvenate the “seek and find” style for young readers.

An inspirational woman’s life in review in “Sally Ride”| Audio Pick


Sherr, Lynn. Sally Ride: America’s First Woman in Space. 11 CDs. 13:30 hrs. Tantor Audio. 2014. $44.99. ISBN 9781494503406. 2 MP3-CDs.
Gr 9 Up–Sally Ride, the first American woman to go into space, impressive had earned a newly minted doctorate in physics from Stanford when she applied for the space program, beating out a thousand applicants for the job. Her focus was on her work and that dedication led to all of her successes. Published originally for the adult market, this [...]

Rock On! | SLJ Spotlight


Three illustrated biographies give insight into rock ‘n’ roll legends.

“Growing Up Green” takes learning outside the classroom | DVD Pick


Growing Up Green. 27 min. Dist. by the Video Project. 2013. School: $79. Public: $39. ISBN unavail.
Gr 9 Up–Award-winning filmmaker Bob Gliner’s new documentary focuses on the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) in Michigan, a statewide initiative that centers on school reform through the students’ environment. Urban and rural students of all ages learn and practice science and environmental knowledge and skills. In doing so, they make connections to their physical surroundings, history, and community, while developing solutions and even [...]

The Well-Traveled Reader | SLJ Spotlight


Readers can take a trip without moving an inch in these novels with vibrant, far away settings.

History comes to life in Wiles’s second “Sixties” installment|Audio Pick


Wiles, Deborah. Revolution. (The Sixties Trilogy: Bk. 2). 10 CDs. 12:10 hrs. Listening Library. 2014. $50. ISBN 9780553395266. digital download.
Gr 5-8–At home, 12-year-old Sunny’s prickly relationships with her blended family trigger yearning for her absent mother. In town, the community faces SNCCs, COFOs and COREs, invaders from the North who’ve come to register black voters despite violent local opposition. Stacey Aswad perfectly conveys Sunny’s sassy young voice while Francois Battiste becomes Raymond, the African American boy who personifies the struggle [...]

Playing With the Narrative | SLJ Spotlight


These teen fiction titles stretch the limits with twists on the traditional narrative.

Tragic consequences of intolerance and gun violence explored in “Valentine Road”| DVD Pick


Valentine Road belongs in all school and public libraries as a cautionary tale about homophobia, intolerance, and the easy availability of guns.

Sketching Celebrities | SLJ Spotlight


James Gulliver Hancock’s new nonfiction title offers a charming and whimsical look at well-known figures through drawing.

Folklore and fantasy thrive in “Midwinterblood”| Audio Pick


This unusual book for teensis is comprised of seven vignettes, with settings ranging from the future to Viking times and a variety of characters, including vampires, ghosts, and humans all based on the Scandinavian island of Blessed.

‘Gatsby’ and ‘Brideshead Revisited’ Readalikes for Teens | SLJ Spotlight

even in paradise

Chelsey Philpot’s Even in Paradise and Charles Finch’s The Last Enchantments explore the lush secret lives of the rich and privileged.

“Addiction Incorporated” highlights dangerous dealings of the tobacco industry| DVD Pick


An extremely interesting snapshot that gives viewers a chance to watch a rather sordid piece of American corporate history. Researcher Victor DeNoble talks about his research in the 1980s for tobacco giant Philip Morris.