April 30, 2017

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The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner | SLJ Review

RENNER, Benjamin. The Big Bad Fox. tr. from French by Joe Johnson. illus. by Benjamin Renner. 192p. First Second. Jun. 2017. pap. $15.99. ISBN 9781626723313.

Gr 3-6 –The proverbial fox may be a menace to the henhouse—but not the hero of this work. The titular character lacks gumption, guile, or cunning, and the chickens send him running each time he ventures into the farmyard. Taking pity on the fox, the wolf proposes playing the long game: stealing eggs and […]

Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb | SLJ Audio Review

WEBB, Holly. Return to the Secret Garden. 4 CDs. 5:13 hrs. Dreamscape. Dec. 2016. $29.99 ISBN 9781520064765. digital download.

Gr 3-6 – Emmie and the other orphans of the Craven Home for Orphaned Children are being evacuated from London to Misselthwaite Manor on the eve of World War II. The chaos of displacement mirrors Emmie’s loneliness and frustration. This powerful historical setting is the backdrop for Webb’s lovely sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic The Secret Garden. As Emmie […]

SLJ’s April 2017 Popular Picks

The latest thriller from Cristin Terrill, a feminist primer for little ones, and a heartfelt memoir by a BuzzFeed editor.

4 Novels on the Trials and Tribulations of Middle School

The following novels feature characters smack-dab in the middle of those tumultuous middle school years.

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce | SLJ Review

COTTRELL BOYCE, Frank. Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. 336p. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062643629.

Gr 4-7 –Prez Mellows is a list expert. He’s been making lists for years on sticky notes to help his granddad remember important life facts, such as “Prez is your grandson” and “Do not go out without trousers.” His lists help save the planet when a space-traveling alien, Sputnik, shows up on Earth and enlists Prez’s help to come up with […]

Gordon Korman, Prolific—and Lifelong—Author, Balances Absurdity and Heart

Gordon Korman, author of more than 80 books for middle grade and young adult readers, published his very first novel at the age of 14—and has been writing ever since.

Guest Post: Five Things I’ve Learned from Being an Advice Columnist by Carol Weston

I’ve been “Dear Carol” at Girls’ Life since the magazine’s first issue in April of 1994. For 23 years, I’ve been hearing from tween and teen girls. What have I learned?  1. School Can Be A Refuge When I was 28 and Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You was first published, I […]

Review of the Day: Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, ill. Meilo So

Bronze and Sunflower By Cao Wenxuan Illustrated by Meilo So Translated by Helen Wang Candlewick Press $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-7636-8816-5 On shelves now It’s odd. Parents these days. I meet so many of them that believe that to live in a globalized society it is imperative for their children to learn another language. That’s not the […]

Review of the Day: Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, ill. Meilo So

Bronze and Sunflower By Cao Wenxuan Illustrated by Meilo So Translated by Helen Wang Candlewick Press $16.99 ISBN: 978-0-7636-8816-5 On shelves now It’s odd. Parents these days. I meet so many of them that believe that to live in a globalized society it is imperative for their children to learn another language. That’s not the […]

Middle Grade Xpress Reviews | April 2017

A fictional account of real-life Civil War spy, Mary Bowser; a brand-new series that takes place in the Star Wars universe; and the second installment of Kate O’Hearn’s Norse mythology-inspired series

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

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. […]

Lynda Mullaly Hunt On Connecting with the “Middle-Grade Psyche”

Librarian Karen Yingling chats with author Linda Mullaly Hunt about how she taps into and crafts authentic middle-grade characters.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, […]