May 25, 2017

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Duck on a Tractor/Un pato en tractor | SLJ DVD Review

Duck on a Tractor/Un pato en tractor. 11 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338161885. BL

PreS-Gr 3 –In 2002, Duck tried out a bicycle in Duck on a Bike, but author David Shannon left his audience on tenterhooks. What’s the next vehicle Duck will try? Here’s the answer: Duck drives the farm tractor, taking the other barnyard animals on a joyride through town. Shannon’s newest Duck tale follows the same pattern as the first, comparing what is said […]

Duck on a Bike/Un pato en bicicleta | SLJ DVD Review

Duck on a Bike/Un pato en bicicleta. 8 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338187021. BL

PreS-Gr 3 –Duck is a fowl with a fervor for adventure. Can he ride a bike? A few wobbles and he’s on his way! The other animals on the farm all have their say. Their responses range from amazement to scorn to envy. Envy wins out, and when more bikes are available, the whole barnyard is soon pedaling. This silly, delightful tale, based […]

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise | SLJ DVD Review

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise. (American Masters). 114 min. PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627899871.

Gr 6 Up –Ask students if they recognize the name Maya Angelou (1928–2014) and most will respond that she’s a writer and a poet, but few will know about the remarkably varied and prodigious path her life took. Directors Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack combine archival photos and film and interviews with an impressive array of high-profile individuals and, most effective, with Angelou […]

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

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 […]

Treasures of the Earth | SLJ DVD Review

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 […]

My Congo | SLJ DVD Review

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

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 […]

Incarcerating US | SLJ DVD Review

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

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 […]

Long Way North | SLJ DVD Review

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 […]

Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants | SLJ DVD Review

Giraffes: Africa’s Gentle Giants. (Nature). 53 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627898744. POP

Gr 5 Up –Dr. Julian Fennessy has spent the last two decades studying giraffes. Astonishingly little is known about them, especially compared with other high-profile animals whose populations are also under threat, such as elephants and rhinos. Alarmed that giraffe populations have declined 40 percent in the past 20 years and are thus threatened with extinction, Fennessy developed a relocation project for 20 giraffes. […]

The Choice | SLJ DVD Review

The Choice. (Frontline). 120 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781627899031.

Gr 8 Up –The PBS series presents a biography/documentary to examine the latest presidential candidates, an election year tradition since 1988. This edition concentrates primarily on the psychological makeup of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump and the influences that combined to create their well-known personas. The candidates are presented in an evenhanded manner that allows their primary personality traits to surface through archival footage that reaches […]

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks

These materials will fly off the shelves, from a story about a young boy who loves his green pants to a timely YA novel centered on gun violence and Islamophobia by Barry Lyga.

Super Hummingbirds | SLJ DVD Review

Super Hummingbirds. (Nature). 54 min. Dist. by PBS. 2016. $24.99. UPC 0841887030106. Blu-ray $29.99. ISBN 9781627899086.

Gr 6 Up –They are the smallest birds in the world, but what makes hummingbirds so difficult to see is their speed of flight. With the assistance of special high-speed photography and creative camera work, viewers will finally be able to observe the unique and fast-paced world of this fascinating species. Probably too few realize that hummingbirds have “superpowers,” such as flying backward […]

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes | SLJ DVD Review

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes. 18 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520049472.

K-Gr 4 –Award-winning author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh has taken a treasured Mexican folktale and rewritten it with spare, Aztec-inspired artwork in this story of Princess Itza, whose heart was won not by a prince but by a humble warrior. His only chance to marry the princess lies in victory against the enemy. That triumph, however, is useless, for upon his return, […]

SLJ’s January 2017 Popular Picks

SLJ is ringing in the New Year with this January Popular Picks list! This month includes a story about a badger who realizes his obsession with cleanliness has gone too far; the return of Aaron Blabey’s “Bad Guys”; a stunning graphic novel about Artemis, the goddess of the hunt; and an autobiography by soccer star Carli Lloyd, recently voted FIFA’s Best Women’s Soccer Player.

Supertruck | SLJ DVD Review

Supertruck. 5 min. Dist. by Weston Woods. 2016. $59.95. ISBN 9781338090338. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –Stephen Savage’s Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor title receives prime treatment in this presentation. All the trucks in the city do their jobs and, in their own ways, save the day. Some are flashier than others, though. The garbage truck, for example, performs a necessary job with little fanfare. However, when a snowstorm hits and snow piles high, other trucks are stuck until the garbage truck […]

SLJ’s December Popular Picks

Featuring a tale about a rooster who refuses to stay silent, a new graphic novel series about a narwhal and his jellyfish companion, and a middle grade Cyrano de Bergerac, this month’s Popular Picks are bound to fly off shelves.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

“Sign with Robert” Series | SLJ DVD Review

Sign with Robert: Academic Signs. ISBN 888295392556.

Sign with Robert: Babies and Children. ISBN 888295392501.

Sign with Robert: Business, Numbers and Time. ISBN 888295392570.

Sign with Robert: Deaf Culture. ISBN 888295392518.

Sign with Robert: Family, School, Entertainment and Sports. ISBN 888295392341.

Sign with Robert: Grab Bag—Idioms, Songs and Stories. ISBN 888295392341.

Sign with Robert: Home and Travel. ISBN 888295392532.

Sign with Robert: Receptive Skills and Fun with Sign. ISBN 888295392587.

Sign with Robert: Sign Language Practice. ISBN 888295392525.

Sign […]

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer | SLJ DVD Review

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer. 34 min. Dist. by Dreamscape. 2016. $38.99. ISBN 9781520016788.

Gr 4-8 –This iconographic video expands on Carole Boston Weatherford’s exemplary picture book biography of Fannie Lou Hamer by adding narration and simple animation. Janina Edwards’s spirited narration conveys the beauty of Weatherford’s poetic text and convincingly voices Hamer’s perspective. Born in poverty, Hamer became a powerful voice of the civil rights movement. Forced to leave school after the sixth grade, she was in […]