December 13, 2017

The Advocate's Toolbox

Audiobooks: Baba Yaga, Civil Rights, and Advice from an Olympian | December 2017 Xpress Reviews

Three extraordinary teens face face high school, their biggest challenge yet; a young girl and her grandfather find a temperamental typewriter; and a multicultural attempt to broaden Eurocentric history feature in December’s audiobook Xpress.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes | SLJ Audio Review

Gr 9 Up –Seventeen-year-old Minnow Bly is sentenced to juvenile detention for brutally assaulting a mentally disturbed man. Only 12 hours prior, her entire community had been burned to the ground and the Prophet, the leader of the cult to which her family belonged, had been murdered.

Book Jumper by Mechthild Gläser | SLJ Audio Review

Gr 7 Up –Amy Lennox and her mom, Alexis, decide they need a change, so the duo head to the family home in Stormsay, Scotland. There, Amy discovers her family’s book-jumping legacy.

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker | SLJ Audio Review

BUNKER, Lisa. Felix Yz. 5 CDs. 6:03 hrs. Listening Library. Jun. 2017. $35. ISBN 9781524775258. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Felix Yz would be an absolutely normal 13-year-old, if an accident in his father’s lab had not fused him with Zyx, a superintelligent being from the fourth dimension, when he was three years old. This alien causes him to appear disabled; Felix is painfully bent, and he twitches when Zyx gets excited, and sometimes cannot speak, making him an easy target for bullies. But […]

The Playbook by Kwame Alexander | SLJ Audio Review

ALEXANDER, Kwame. The Playbook: 52 Rules To Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life. 1 CD. 1 hr. Recorded Bks. Feb. 2017. $15.75. ISBN 9781501949180. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Alexander delivers 52 inspiring rules and motivational life lessons using notable sports figures, terminology, and stories. Sections include “Warm-Up: The Rules,” in which Alexander reminisces about his childhood involvement in sports and the lessons he learned. Four “Quarters,” with a “Half Time” and an “Overtime,” comprise the rest of the book. Each section […]

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus | SLJ Audio Review

MCMANUS, Karen M. One of Us Is Lying. 9 CDs. 11:44 hrs. Listening Library. May 2017. $65. ISBN 9781524756901. digital download.

Gr 9 Up –Five high school students walk into a normal Monday after-school detention but only four leave alive. Simon, the dead student, was despised for the secrets he revealed in his toxic gossip app targeting the students of Bayview High. The remaining four students all have reasons to want Simon dead, and the police quickly zoom in on all of them […]

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

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

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 […]

Unbecoming by Jenny Downham | SLJ Audio Review

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 […]

When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin | SLJ Audio Review

LIN, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. 6 CDs. 7:37 hrs. Hachette Audio. Oct. 2016. $24. ISBN 9781478912538. digital download.

Gr 4-6– In this companion novel to When the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky, the Black Tortoise of Winter’s chilly grip hasn’t stopped villagers from trekking up the mountain to hear tales from Amah the Storyteller. Upon their arrival, Pinmei, Amah’s granddaughter, hides in the shadows and listens. Life abruptly unravels when the […]

Moo by Sharon Creech | SLJ Audio Review

CREECH, Sharon. Moo. 2 CDs. 2:32 hrs. HarperCollins. Nov. 2016. $19.99. ISBN 9781470853624. 1 MP3-CD; digital download.

Gr 4-6 –Twelve-year-old Reena’s outburst during a family conversation about parental careers, geography, and the future “ten years from now” catapults the family from a city of monuments, subways, and museums and lands them in rural Maine. Her expectations of her new home include lobsters, blueberries, beaches, and mountains, but what she and her seven-year-old brother Luke get most familiar with is […]

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz | SLJ Audio Review

GIDWITZ, Adam. The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. 8 CDs. 10:14 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $40. ISBN 9780735287389. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –The year is 1242; the setting: a roadside inn on the outskirts of a small French town. Travelers from all corners of France share what they know about the country’s most notorious outlaws: a group of three children and their dog. Jeanne is a peasant girl able to see the […]

Ghost by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review

REYNOLDS, Jason. Ghost. digital download. 3:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. Aug. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781508230472.

Gr 5-9 –Guy Lockard has assumed the mantle of narrator-of-choice for Reynolds’s fiction: Ghost (2016 National Book Award finalist) is Lockard’s third Reynolds title, following As Brave as You and Rashad’s chapters in All American Boys. Here, as seventh grader Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw, Lockard performs with excitable bravado, ruminating honesty, and trash-talking speed. Ghost runs fast with good reason, having escaped his father, […]

The Best Man by Richard Peck | SLJ Audio Review

PECK, Richard. The Best Man. 4 CDs. 4:25 hrs. Listening Library. Sept. 2016. $30. ISBN 9780735288881. digital download.

Gr 4-6 –The latest from Newbery Medal–winning author Peck takes on important and timely topics—marriage, sexuality, manhood, nontraditional families—and alchemizes them into an affecting story full of warmth, acceptance, and understanding. Sixth grader Archer Magill narrates what he calls “A Tale of Two Weddings.” At the first, “a train wreck” of an event, Archer, age six, was the ring bearer and […]

Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac | SLJ Audio Review

BRUCHAC, Joseph. Talking Leaves. 4 CDs. 4:35 hrs. Listening Library. Aug. 2016. $35. ISBN 9780451485717. digital download.

Gr 4-7 –Many of the people in 13-year-old Uwohali’s Cherokee village are whispering about his father, Sequoyah. Sequoyah has just returned from a six-year stay in Arkansas, and he spends all his time writing strange symbols on paper and scratching marks in the dirt. People whisper that Sequoyah must be crazy, and they fear his strange marks are a form of witchcraft. […]

Stalking Jack the ­Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco | SLJ Audio Review

MANISCALCO, Kerri. Stalking Jack the ­Ripper. 8 CDs. 9:30 hrs. Hachette Audio. Sept. 2016. $30. ISBN 9781478967422. digital download.

Gr 9 Up –This audiobook has everything: a true-life tale that has intrigued readers for 100-plus years, a young woman who balks at the constraints put upon women during the Victorian era, a marvelous yet somewhat gruesome mystery, and a narrator who brings you down into Spitalfields as Jack the Ripper earns his name. Audrey Rose has suffered the loss […]

Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb by Neal Bascomb | SLJ Audio Review

BASCOMB, Neal. Sabotage: The Mission To Destroy Hitler’s Atomic Bomb. 5 CDs. 6:13 hrs. Recorded Books. Apr. 2016. $34.99. ISBN 9780545944021. digital download.

Gr 8 Up –This richly detailed nonfiction account of Norwegians who spied for the British and organized resistance against the Nazis unfolds like a spy thriller. Bascomb includes a good deal of science regarding the heavy water and uranium needed to create the atom bomb. Though the narrative is a bit difficult to follow in the […]

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah | SLJ Audio Review

SHEVAH, Emma. Dara Palmer’s Major Drama. 5 CDs. 6 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501921575. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –Dara knows she was meant to be a star. She watches TV all the time to study for roles, practices facial expressions in the mirror, and daydreams constantly about her future in Hollywood. When her middle school prepares to put on The Sound of Music, Dara knows she’ll be Maria. Instead, she is in the chorus. As an […]

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan | SLJ Audio Review

SHOVAN, Laura. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. 3 CDs. 3:15 hrs. Recorded Books. Jul. 2016. $51.75. ISBN 9781501925344. digital download.

Gr 3-6 –When the land where their school is located is sold to build a supermarket, 18 fifth graders use poetry to tell the story of their loss. Each student has a unique voice reflecting personality, culture, and individual challenges. Some fight the change. Others embrace new possibilities. Soon they will be scattered to other schools. It […]

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review

REYNOLDS, Jason. As Brave as You. 7 CDs. 7:02 hrs. S. & S. Audio. May 2016. $17.99. ISBN 9781508225089. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Reynolds makes his middle grade debut with a multigenerational story featuring two Brooklyn brothers sent to stay temporarily with grandparents in rural Virginia. While their parents take some time to salvage their fraying relationship, 11-year-old Genie and his almost 14-year-old brother, Ernie, are expected to spend a month obeying their strict grandmother, surviving without cellular service […]