October 18, 2017

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Putting “Wunder” into the Ordinary: An Interview with Jessica Townsend

Jessica Townsend’s debut fantasy is as delightful and optimistic as the author herself.

Middle Grade Standalones and Sequels from Favorite Authors | SLJ Spotlight

These 10 titles from favorite authors will delight readers whether they’re seeking a standalone or series sequel.

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

4 Middle Grade Books To Tug the Heartstrings | SLJ Spotlight

Four poignant middle grade titles for analytical and introspective young readers.

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

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say | SLJ Review

SAY, Allen. Silent Days, Silent Dreams. illus. by Allen Say. 64p. bibliog. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780545927611.

Gr 3-7 –In this fascinating longform “imagined” biography about James Castle, author-illustrator Say plays with artistic and literary formats. Castle was born deaf and premature in Idaho, was considered to be autistic and dyslexic, and was abused and bullied for his inability to speak or read. He was discouraged from creating art by his parents and principal, and had his art supplies […]

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson | SLJ Review

JAMIESON, Victoria. All’s Faire in Middle School. illus. by Victoria Jamieson. 248p. Dial. Sept. 2017. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780525429982.

Gr 4-8 –Helping her parents with their jobs at the Renaissance Faire is all 11-year-old homeschooler Imogene “Impy” Vega has ever known. While working with her family is fun, she wants to go to middle school and meet kids her own age. Unfortunately, sheltered Impy is ill-equipped for the realities of draconian teachers, frenemies, and boys. Her new challenges begin to wear her down, and […]

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley | SLJ Review

BRADLEY, Kimberly Brubaker. The War I Finally Won. 400p. Dial. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525429203.

Gr 4-6 –Eleven-year-old Ada picks up her story shortly after The War That Saved My Life left off. She’s in the hospital, nervously awaiting the surgery that will fix her club foot, when Susan receives a letter from Lady Thornton that obviously upsets her. Turns out, Ada’s mother was killed in a bombing. Ada does not know how to feel about that, but, ever practical, she worries about where […]

Patina by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Review

REYNOLDS, Jason. Patina. 240p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481450188.

Gr 5-8 –Twelve-year-old Patina Jones not only loves to run, she needs to run—and win. She’s a gifted athlete, and since the death of her father and her mother’s life-altering health problems, Patty’s track club has become the focal point of her life. Running helps her to navigate the changes she and her younger sister, Maddy, are experiencing. They have left their urban neighborhood to live in a different part […]

The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain & Philip C. Stead | SLJ Review

TWAIN, Mark & Philip C. Stead. The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. illus. by Erin Stead. 160p. Doubleday. Sept. 2017. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780553523225.

Gr 4-8 –Using 16 pages of abbreviated handwritten notes from 1880 and outlining a tale Twain made up for his daughters, Stead has created a rhythmic and imaginative story seamlessly blended with intermittent “discussions” between the two authors. Twain’s story is set in a land where “the luckless and hungry remain luckless and hungry for all of their lives,” while “in […]

Review of the Day: The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez

The First Rule of Punk By Celia C. Perez Viking (an imprint of Penguin Random House) $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-425-29040-8 Ages 9-12 On shelves now They don’t warn you in library school. They’ll tell you about all the cool children’s books you’ll get to read. They’ll stress how you’ll be able to make a difference in […]

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 Wonderling by Mira Bartók | SLJ Review

BARTÓK, Mira. The Wonderling. 464p. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $21.99. ISBN 9780763691219.

Gr 3-6 –Thirteen, a fox groundling (creatures that are half animal, half human), has spent most of his life in “the Home,” a horrid orphanage/workhouse run by the evil Mrs. Carbunkle. When he saves a bird groundling named Trinket, the two hatch an escape plan, and Trinket renames him Arthur, in honor of the brave medieval king. Once Arthur and Trinket are free from Mrs. Carbunkle, they set off on an adventure […]

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar | SLJ Review

KELKAR, Supriya. Ahimsa. 304p. Tu Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781620143568.

Gr 4-6 –Ten-year-old Anjali’s comfortable life changes dramatically when her parents decide to honor Mahatma Gandhi’s request that every Indian family give one member to the fight for freedom from British rule. Anjali’s mother takes the active role, first learning to spin cotton on the charkha in order to make khadi, or homespun clothes, and teaching others to do the same. Her aspirations expand to helping the Dalit community, referred to […]

The Explorer | Katherine Rundell

RUNDELL, Katherine. The Explorer. 336p. S. & S. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481419451.

Gr 5-8 –The fiery crash of a six-seater plane, following the apparent heart attack of its pilot, leaves British adolescents Fred and Con and Brazilian children Lila and her brother Max stranded in the Amazon jungle, having escaped the flames and left relatively unhurt, but with little knowledge of how to survive. Strangers to one another, the three young teens must overcome their emotional baggage and learn to cooperate in […]

Books in a lee light

Julie Hakim Azzam’s diagnosis of ADHD for Ramona Quimby has me of two minds AT LEAST. I agree it’s good that readers with ADHD can find in Ramona a mirror, friend, or hero. But if we position the character as a child with ADHD, are we being faithful to the text, which leaves her undiagnosed? […]

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser | SLJ Review

GLASER, Karina Yan. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. illus. by Karina Yan Glaser. 304p. HMH. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780544876392.

Gr 3-5 –Glaser’s pitch-perfect debut novel set in Harlem introduces the endearing biracial Vanderbeeker family. Twins Isa and Jessie, along with siblings Oliver, Hyacinth, and Laney (ranging from ages four-and-three-quarters to 12), plus a dog, a cat, a bunny, and their parents, all live together in a brownstone on 141st Street. Unfortunately, cantankerous landlord Mr. Biederman refuses to renew the lease. They […]

Threads of Blue by Suzanne LaFleur | SLJ Review

LAFLEUR, Suzanne. Threads of Blue. 224p. Random. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101939994.

Gr 4-6 –Picking up where Beautiful Blue World left off, 12-year-old Mathilde awakes in the bottom of a boat headed towards the island of Eilean, hoping to be reunited with the group of children and adults she’s been separated from. Mathilde’s country, Sofarende, is at war and has just fallen to the enemy, Tyssia. The country of Eilean is an ally and a place of refuge for many of the children fleeing […]

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste | SLJ Review

BAPTISTE, Tracey. Rise of the Jumbies. 272p. Algonquin. Sept. 2017. Tr $16,95. ISBN 9781616206659.

Gr 4-6 –This sequel to The Jumbies, a dark fairy tale woven from elements of traditional Caribbean folklore, does not disappoint. Shunned by most of the town on her small island for her recently revealed part-jumbie heritage, Corinne is lonely and yet still wants to help when several children are lost after a tidal wave. After discovering that these are not the first kids to go missing near water, Corinne […]

Talking with Terry Lynn Johnson: Author, Conservationist, Musher

Terry Lynn Johnson doesn’t just write about wilderness and survival—she lives it.

Review of the Day: Patina by Jason Reynolds

Patina By Jason Reynolds Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Books $16.99 ISBN: 978-1481450188 Ages 9-12 On shelves August 29th You cannot be a children’s librarian or an adult children’s book reviewer if you do not constantly remind yourself that you have to read outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. Our current […]

The Summer of Owen Todd by Tony Abbott | SLJ Review

ABBOTT, Tony. The Summer of Owen Todd. 224p. Farrar. Oct. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780374305505.

Gr 5-8 –It’s the summer after fifth grade, and lifelong best friends Owen and Sean are looking forward to a vacation full of baseball, go-karts, beach trips, and, now that they are getting older, a bit more independence in their Cape Cod hometown. Things don’t go as planned, however, when Sean’s single mom hires Paul to help look after Sean, who depends on insulin injections to manage his […]