November 29, 2015

Subscribe to SLJ

Sort of historical

I have just realized that we’ve reviewed a lot of historical fiction this year. Karyn was talking about a strong year for fantasy, but I’m over here impressed by historical fiction in 2015. Or our sort-of-historicals, as is the case for one of these. This week, we’ve got two past winners, and both authors provide […]

Show and Prove

Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero Knopf Books for Young Readers, July 2015 Reviewed from a ARC Karyn started out the week gushing about what a banner year for fantasy it is. I’m a little closer to Joy’s wavelength because I’ve got some (historical) realistic fiction to cover in this post. Joy also talked about SIGNIFICANCE […]

Ordinary Kids, Extraordinary Circumstances: World War II Fiction for Middle Grade Readers

into the killing seas

Set against a backdrop of dramatic world events, three engrossing and vividly written novels provide glimpses at history from the relatable perspectives of their young narrators.

Exploring America’s Past: Historical Fiction for Middle Grade Readers


Three new superbly written books feature unique protagonists with compelling points of view and provide insight into the experiences of others, while underscoring the extraordinary courage of otherwise ordinary kids

Review of the Day: Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

Gone Crazy in Alabama By Rita Williams-Garcia Amistad (an imprint of Harper Collins) $16.99 ISBN: 978-0062215871 Ages 9-12 On shelves now. I’m a conceited enough children’s librarian that I like it when a book wins me over. I don’t want them to make it easy for me. When I sit down to read something I […]

Which book will hurt which reader how?

There are some lively debates going on at Heavy Medal and Fuse #8 about Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Hired Girl, a presumed favorite for 2016 Newbery consideration. The Horn Book starred it; I like it too (and here’s a brief interview I did with Schlitz in the September Magazine). What’s interesting about this debate is […]

The post Which book will hurt which reader how? appeared first on The Horn Book.

The Game of Love and Death

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, April 2015 Reviewed from an ARC Last week, I spent my time talking about unusual formats. This week, I’m not dealing with an unsual format — just straight up prose here, folks — but this title does have a unique feel. It’s like […]

Review of the Day: The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Hired Girl By Laura Amy Schlitz Candlewick Press $17.99 ISBN: 978-0763678180 Ages 12 and up Bildungsroman. Definition: “A novel dealing with one person’s formative years or spiritual education.” A certain strain of English major quivers at the very term. Get enough Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man shoved down your gullet and […]

The Tightrope Walkers

  The Tightrope Walkers by David Almond Candlewick, March 2015 Reviewed from an ARC Oh, I am conflicted about this one. This is gorgeous, gorgeous writing — even the first line pulls you in and lets you know that you’re in for something unusual here (“I was born in a hovel on the banks of the […]


  Audacity by Melanie Crowder Penguin/Philomel, January 2015 Reviewed from ARC I have a copy all marked up with post its; Audacity is full of lovely language, creatively placed text (srsly, such nice design), and strong recurring images, and I want to put lots of quotes in for oooh-ing and aww-ing purposes. However, I GUESS […]

Book Review: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez

Publisher’s description: “This is East Texas, and there’s lines. Lines you cross, lines you don’t cross. That clear?” New London, Texas. 1937. Naomi Smith and Wash Fullerton know about the lines in East Texas as well as anyone. They know the signs that mark them. They know the people who enforce them. But there are […]

The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz | SLJ Review


Schlitz, Laura Amy. The Hired Girl. 400p. Candlewick. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763678180.

Gr 6-9–Fourteen-year-old Joan Skraggs is a reluctant drudge on her family’s farm, and no one appreciates her. She pours her thoughts and emotions into her diary, which is the lens through which readers experience her life. And life on her family’s 1911 hardscrabble Pennsylvania farm grinds on endlessly. She loves to read and longs for more education, but is trapped by her circumstances. Her boorish father pushes […]

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray | SLJ Review

Bray 2

Bray, Libba. Lair of Dreams. 704p. (Diviners: Bk. 2). ebook available. Little, Brown. Aug. 2015. Tr $19. ISBN 9780316126045.

Gr 10 Up–This breathtaking sequel to The Diviners (Little, Brown, 2012) is worth the wait. The novel opens in 1927 New York City, as construction continues on expanding the subway system. When workers break through to an older and forgotten train station, they develop a “sleeping sickness,” trapped first by dreams and then “nightmare[s]  from which they will, never, ever wake.” Bray […]

Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton | SLJ Review


Hilton, Marilyn. Full Cicada Moon. 400p. ebook available. Dial. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525428756.

Gr 4-8–Mimi tells her story in this novel in verse that will resonate with fans of Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming (Penguin, 2014). The seventh grader describes arriving in small-town Vermont from Berkeley in 1969. While filling out a form, the teen is perplexed by which ethnicity to check off: her father is a black college professor, and her mother is Japanese (they married when he […]

Acclaimed Author Judith St. George Dies at 84


Judith St. George, known for her historical works and mysteries, died June 10 at 84. Her more than 40 works include the Caldecott-winning So You Want to Be President?

A Spoonful of Sugar: History Lessons from Riveting Novels │ JLG’s Booktalks to Go


These works of historical fiction from Junior Library Guild expertly blend fact and storytelling, tackling figures such as magician Chung Ling Soo and events such as Operation Pied Piper.

Unexplored History

Unexplored History

Today we look at two fabulous historical fiction works exploring historical periods unfamiliar to most Americans. First up is a starred review of Michelle Moran’s Rebel Queen, which tells the story of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Specifically, it tracks the exploits of Rani Lakshmi, the queen of a smallish kingdom in northern India called […]

From Medieval England to the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire

From Medieval England to the 19th-century Austro-Hungarian Empire

Two exciting and very different historical novels today. First, a medieval murder mystery set in 1350 England. A 17-year-old is called home to run his family’s Manor after his brothers and fathers are killed by the plague. That’s hard enough, but then a young girl is murdered. We are not the only ones singing the praises […]

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

I’ve written about my regard for Kristin Hannah‘s novels before. The last one I read and reviewed was Night Road, and we also reviewed Fly Away in 2013. Hannah has a way with contemporary family stories. She writes deeply emotional women’s fiction with great characters, usually facing loss or tragedy. This year she brings those […]

The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates

The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates

Considering that it is based on a police case from almost 30 years ago, it is astonishing how much currency Joyce Carol Oates’s new novel has. A black teen is found beaten and apparently raped, naming only “white cops” as the perpetrators before lapsing into silence. The ensuing polarized reactions on the parts of the […]