July 21, 2017

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden | SLJ Review

ARDEN, Katherine. The Bear and the Nightingale. 336p. glossary. Ballantine/Del Rey. Jan. 2017. Tr $27. ISBN 9781101885932.

Reading Arden’s debut novel is like listening to an entrancing tale spun out over nights in the best oral tradition. This mesmerizing fantasy takes place in medieval Russia, at a time when women had but two choices in life: serve their appointed husband by bearing his children and taking care of his household, or serve God in a convent. Vasilisa Petrovna refuses […]

Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton | SLJ Review

TRAFTON, Jennifer. Henry and the Chalk Dragon. illus. by Benjamin Schipper. 240p. Rabbit Room. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780986381881.

Gr 3-6 –Henry Penwhistle has a very active imagination. His mother has drawn on his bedroom door with chalkboard paint, and Henry decorates his door with a variety of changing pictures, including a dragon, a dinosaur, and a rhino. One morning, as the boy prepares for school, the dragon springs to life, hitching a ride in Henry’s lunch box. […]

The Seventh Wish

The Seventh Wish Written by Kate Messner Published in 2016 by Bloomsbury Grades 4-8 ISBN: 978-1-61963-376-6 Book Review  “I must have imagined the voice. I have magic flowers and crystal dresses and wishes swirling around my brain, and that all added up to a fish talking.” Life for twelve-year-old Charlie Brennan suddenly changes when she […]

The Last True Love Story by Brendan Kiely | SLJ Review

KIELY, Brendan. The Last True Love Story. 288p. ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481429887.

Gr 10 Up –Teddy Hendrix is a typical teenage boy dealing with hormones, girls who won’t give him the time of day, and family issues. His grandfather, Gpa, is in the throes of Alzheimer’s, and his memories are quickly fading away. After getting into a fight with a popular boy at his school, Hendrix joins up with […]

Towers Falling

Towers Falling Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes Published by Little, Brown and Company 2016 ISBN 978-0-316-26222-4 Grades 4-8 Book Review “Six weeks at a new school has changed everything. School didn’t teach me everything about 9/11. Still, I understand a lot more. I understand some of the enormous hurt to families, my family, and country” […]

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung | SLJ Review

PUNG, Alice. Lucy and Linh. 352p. ebook available. Knopf. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399550485.

Gr 8 Up –Life is not easy for Lucy Lam. Her immigrant mother and father work seemingly never-ending hours to make life bearable for her and her young brother in suburban Stanley, Australia. Lucy can’t help but compare herself to her more outgoing friends, especially Linh, who always seems to come out on top with her easy retorts and spunky attitude. When she and […]

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter | SLJ Review

Porter, Sarah. Vassa in the Night. 304p. ebook available. Tor Teen. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380548. 

Gr 9 Up –Sixteen-year-old Vassa Lisa Lowenstein’s mother is dead, and her father is gone. She has a stepmother and two stepsisters. It’s an odd living arrangement but no more peculiar than a lot of things in her working-class Brooklyn neighborhood. The nights have been especially strange, growing longer and longer. When her stepsister sends Vassa out in the […]

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

Lin, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. illus. by Grace Lin. 384p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316125925; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316317696. POP  

Gr 3-6 –The Tiger Emperor is conscripting all the men of the mountain villages to build the Vast Wall surrounding the kingdom. But when they reach Pinmei’s village, they also take her grandmother, the Storyteller. In order to save her, Pinmei and her friend Yishan embark on a voyage […]

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown | SLJ Review

Brown, Jaye Robin. Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit. 432p. ebook available. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062270986. 

Gr 9 Up –Brown orchestrates a fast-paced narrative that is powerful, moving, and relatable. Jo Gordon, a proudly queer teen, has recently been uprooted from her home in Atlanta to a more rural part of the state during her senior year of high school. Her father also has recently remarried, is a man of faith, and has […]

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon | SLJ Review

Yoon, Salina. Duck, Duck, Porcupine! illus. by Salina Yoon. 64p. Bloomsbury. May 2016. Tr $9.99. ISBN 9781619637238. 

PreS-Gr 1 –This wonderfully engaging easy reader, starring the titular trio, is divided into three short chapters. The two duck siblings and their purple porcupine pal go on an all-weather picnic, celebrate Porcupine’s birthday in style (well, eventually), and gather all of the things they need for a campout. The stories are told almost exclusively in dialogue, with the […]

Unbound by Anne E. Burg | SLJ Review

Burg, Ann E. Unbound. 352p. Scholastic. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545934275.

Gr 4-8 –Grace is a light-skinned, blue-eyed slave who is called to work in “The Big House,” leaving behind her family and friends in the fields. What she sees of the Master and Missus gives Grace even more motivation to escape, including Missus’s decision to sell members of Grace’s family at the auction block. Soon, Grace and her family flee to the Great Dismal […]

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier | SLJ Review

Larbalestier, Justine. My Sister Rosa. 320p. ebook available. Soho Teen. Nov. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781616956745. 

Gr 9 Up –When Che is forced to move from Australia to the United States, he has two things on his mind: find a new boxing gym and keep the world safe from his sister Rosa. For almost as long as she’s been alive, Che has known that something is not right with her. Callous, indifferent, fascinated by pain, she […]

Home at Last by Vera B. Williams | SLJ Review

Williams, Vera B. Home at Last. illus. by Vera B. Williams & Chris Raschka. 40p. HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780061349737. 

Gr 1-3 –Sitting on the steps of the children’s center, Lester anxiously waits for his new parents and their dog, Wincka, to take him home. They’ve waited a year for this moment, as “it always takes a long time to adopt someone.” Even though Lester loves his new home and Daddy Albert and Daddy […]

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi | SLJ Review

Hashimi, Nadia. One Half from the East. 272p. HarperCollins. Sept. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062421906. 

Gr 4-8 –After Obayda’s policeman father loses a leg in a car bombing in Kabul, her family moves to a rural village to be near their extended relatives. When her father retreats from life because of his injury, an aunt suggests that the girl be allowed to be a bacha posh and live as a boy. Obayda would have a better […]

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow | SLJ Review

Bow, Erin. The Swan Riders. 384p. (Prisoners of Peace: Bk. 2). ebook available. S. & S./Margaret K. McElderry Bks. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481442749. 

Gr 10 Up –This sequel picks up shortly after the conclusion of The Scorpion Rules. Greta Gustafson Stuart, former princess of the Pan Polar Confederation, is a newly minted Artificial Intelligence. In agreeing to become an AI, Greta has saved herself and fellow hostage Elián Palnik while avoiding the wrath of […]

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer | SLJ Review

Starmer, Aaron. Spontaneous. 368p. Dutton. Aug. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525429746. 

Gr 10 Up –From the author of “The Riverman” trilogy comes a wholly original YA tale of identity, friendship, love, lust, and gory, grisly death. Covington High is facing a unique crisis: one by one, members of the senior class are spontaneously combusting, inexplicably blowing up in a mess of blood and guts. As the body count increases and the government gets involved, 12th grader […]

NanoBots by Chris Gall | SLJ Review

Gall, Chris. NanoBots. illus. by Chris Gall. 40p. Little, Brown. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780316375528. 

PreS-Gr 2 –Hard at work in his musty basement, a brilliant young inventor constructs a crew of mighty but minute NanoBots, each with its own special skill and the ability to change the world. For example, MechanoBots can infiltrate the “hardest-to-reach places” and fix anything with their built-in tool arrays; HeloBots utilize rotors to fly in swarms and can form […]

Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon by Torben Kuhlmann | SLJ Review

Kuhlmann, Torben. Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. illus. by Torben Kuhlmann. 128p. NorthSouth. Sept. 2016. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9780735842625. 

Gr 2-6 –Uniquely similar in artistic design and writing style to Kuhlmann’s Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse, this title relates the story of another clever mouse’s fascination with the moon, which, his telescope shows him, is actually “a giant ball of stone”—not the big ball of cheese that his friends […]

Afterward by Jennifer Mathieu | SLJ Review

Mathieu, Jennifer. Afterward. 320p. ebook available. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722385. 

Gr 9 Up –Kidnapped 11-year-old Dylan Anderson has been found after a harrowing four days; along with him is Ethan Jorgensen, 15, who has been missing four years—from the same neighborhood. Caroline, Dylan’s 16-year-old sister, is desperate to help her brother with autism work through his trauma, but he only seems to be getting worse. She wishes her parents would see that […]

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore | SLJ Review

McLemore, Anna-Marie. When the Moon Was Ours. 288p. ebook available. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250058669. 

Gr 9 Up –Love bests every opponent in this surreal exploration of familial bonds and sexual identity. Teens Sam and Miel have been best friends for years, ever since Miel appeared, sodden and terrified, amid the flooded ground around an overturned water tower. As their friendship unfolds into romance, long-repressed secrets and rumors clamor for air. Sam […]