March 24, 2017

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

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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 […]

5 Middle Grade Titles Featuring People of Color

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Looking for new middle grade novels starring main characters of color? Here are five standout titles suitable for most collections.

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz | SLJ Review

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DIAZ, Alexandra. The Only Road. 320p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481457507.

Gr 5-8 –After the murder of their cousin/brother Miguel, Jaime and Ángela (ages 12 and 15) are given the “option” to join the powerful gang controlling their Guatemalan village. A refusal means certain death, so their families make the difficult decision to send the pair north, secretly gathering resources, paying smugglers, and identifying safe houses—all the while aware that their […]

From Speechwriter to Fan-Favorite “Stick Dog” Author: Chatting with Tom Watson

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Funnyman Tom Watson is the creative force behind the laugh-out-loud illustrated novels starring Stick Dog and Stick Cat. Surprisingly, his writing career began in politics.

Three Pennies by Melanie Crowder | SLJ Review

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CROWDER, Melanie. Three Pennies. 192p. ebook available. S. & S./Atheneum. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481471879.

Gr 4-6 –Eleven-year-old Marin knows how to stay under the radar. Having been in the foster system since she was four, she knows a thing or two about getting by and has just three rules for survival. The third rule is the most important: “Never, under any circumstances, tell anyone that you’re waiting for your mother to come back for you.” Marin travels […]

Harry Miller’s Run by David Almond | SLJ Review

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ALMOND, David. Harry Miller’s Run. illus. by Salvatore Rubbino. 64p. Candlewick. Feb. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763689759.

Gr 4-6 –In this charming generational tale, elderly, frail Harry Miller shares a piece of his past with 11-year old Liam and his kindly mother, who are helping Harry pack up his home and move into a nursing home. Liam has been training for the Junior Great Northern Run, a short version of the now-famous annual half-marathon from Newcastle upon Tyne to […]

Blast from the Past | SLJ Spotlight on Middle Grade

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Are your patrons itching to revisit days of yore and bygone eras? These recent novels take on historical fiction from varied perspectives, from a narrative set during the 1950s that tackles bias and prejudice to a tale of medieval London that incorporates fantasy and magic.

Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan | SLJ Review

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KHAN, Hena. Amina’s Voice. 208p. ebook available. S. & S./Salaam Reads. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481492065.

Gr 4-6 –A satisfying read about an 11-year-old girl navigating friendship, family, religion, and dreams of becoming a soul-singing sensation. In a quiet Milwaukee suburb, Amina and her best friend Soojin grapple with their own ethnic identities and the pressure to Americanize. Soojin is Korean American and on the pathway to citizenship. She’s contemplating changing her name to solidify her American identity, […]

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks

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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.

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman | SLJ Review

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FREEMAN, Martha. Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question. 224p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481472647.

Gr 3-5 –While spending the summer with her aunt and uncle in small-town Pennsylvania, inquisitive Effie Starr Zook tries to uncover family secrets. Hailing from New York City, Effie isn’t thrilled about having to spend the summer at Zook Farm while her parents fly around the world in a solar airplane. When she meets the Yoder […]

Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley | SLJ Review

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DOOLEY, Sarah. Ashes to Asheville. 256p. ebook available. Putnam. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399165047.

Gr 5-8 –Following the death of one of her mothers, Mama Lacy, 12-year-old Fella is ripped from the only other parent she has ever known, Mama Shannon, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany. Fella is forced to move in with her grandmother Mrs. Madison, who has never approved of the relationship between her daughter, the more serious Mama Lacy, and the free-spirited […]

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

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BRIGHT, Paul, Brian Sibley, Jeanne Willis, & Kate Saunders. The Best Bear in All the World. illus. by Mark Burgess. 128p. ebook available. Dutton. Oct. 2016. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780399187476.

Gr 2-5 –As Winnie-the-Pooh turns 90 years old, four respected children’s authors have imagined entertaining new adventures for the iconic bear and his friends. Echoing the voice of A.A. Milne and illustrated in the style of E.H. Shepard, this new volume invites readers to “join Winnie-the-Pooh for a year […]

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

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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

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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 […]

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly | SLJ Review

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KELLY, Erin Entrada. Hello, Universe. illus. by Isabel Roxas. 320p. ­HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414151.

Gr 3-7 –The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at […]

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

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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 […]

Just a Touch of Magic | SLJ Spotlight

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A trio of new titles that offer realistic themes—bullying, health issues, family troubles—with a hint of the fantastical.

“A Flame in Water”: Jason Reynolds on Writing for Middle Grade Readers

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Award-winning author Jason Reynolds talks about his transition from writing YA to penning middle grade stories.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review

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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, […]

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson | SLJ Review

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WATSON, Renée. Piecing Me Together. 272p. Bloomsbury. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681191058.

Gr 7 Up –High school junior Jade is an “at-risk” student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, […]