September 21, 2017

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When I Was a Turkey by Joe Hutto | SLJ Review

HUTTO, Joe with Brenda Z. Guiberson. When I Was a Turkey: Based on the PBS Documentary My Life as a Turkey. illus. by Joe Hutto. 192p. bibliog. glossary. photos. Holt. Nov. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781627793858.

Gr 5-8 –Based on an Emmy Award–winning documentary of the same name, this describes the two years the naturalist and author spent as a wild turkey mother. Having been given two clutches of wild turkey eggs rescued from Florida’s flatwoods, Hutto incubated the eggs and made sure […]

The Playbook by Kwame Alexander | SLJ Audio Review

ALEXANDER, Kwame. The Playbook: 52 Rules To Aim, Shoot, and Score in This Game Called Life. 1 CD. 1 hr. Recorded Bks. Feb. 2017. $15.75. ISBN 9781501949180. digital download.

Gr 5-8 –Alexander delivers 52 inspiring rules and motivational life lessons using notable sports figures, terminology, and stories. Sections include “Warm-Up: The Rules,” in which Alexander reminisces about his childhood involvement in sports and the lessons he learned. Four “Quarters,” with a “Half Time” and an “Overtime,” comprise the rest of the book. Each section […]

Meet Cindy Sherman by Jan Greenberg & Sandra Jordan | SLJ Review

GREENBERG, Jan & Sandra Jordan. Meet Cindy Sherman: Artist, Photographer, Chameleon. 64p. bibliog. notes. photos. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626725201.

Gr 4-8 –The duo’s latest collaboration centers on a contemporary artist so enigmatic that it’s no surprise the authors begin by asking readers, “Who is Cindy Sherman?” The work opens with Sherman’s childhood and early career in New York City before launching into chapters organized around milestone projects/installations (Chapter 4 covers Rear Screen Projections 1980–1981Fairy Tales 1985, and more). […]

The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi | SLJ Review

RINALDI, Tom. The Red Bandanna. 176p. bibliog. photos. Viking. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425287620.

Gr 6-8 –Before leaving for church one day, Jeff Crowther gave his then seven-year-old son, Welles, a red bandanna to keep in his pocket, similar to his own blue bandanna. For the rest of Welles’s life, that red piece of fabric remained a constant reminder of his special bond with his father while also serving a variety of practical purposes—a handkerchief, a headband worn underneath a hockey helmet, […]

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford | SLJ Review

WEATHERFORD, Carole Boston. Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library. illus. by Eric Velasquez. 48p. bibliog. chron. notes. Candlewick. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763680466.

Gr 3-6 –Born in 1874, Afro-Puerto Rican Arturo Schomburg’s sense of wonder was stoked early on by listening to el lector, who read aloud from newspapers and novels to the cigar workers Schomburg kept company. When a teacher asserted that “Africa’s sons and daughters” had no history or heroes worth noting, it sparked Schomburg’s lifelong quest to uncover his people’s […]

Fault Lines in the Constitution by Cynthia Levinson and Sanford Levinson | SLJ Review

LEVINSON, Cynthia & Sanford Levinson. Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today. illus. by Adela Pons. 192p. Peachtree. Sept. 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781561459452.

Gr 6-8 –Gerrymandering. Filibusters. The electoral college. The authors tackle these and other constitutional issues in this insightful work. The book functions differently than a straightforward explanatory text on the U.S. Constitution. Rather, the authors examine the fissures and issues that arise when it comes to the actual application of […]

Amazon Adventure by Sy Montgomery | SLJ Review

MONTGOMERY, Sy. Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World’s Largest Rainforest. photos by Keith Ellenbogen. 80p. (Scientists in the Field). bibliog. index. photos. websites. HMH. Jul. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544352995.

Gr 5-8 –Scientists studying fish ecology in specific biomes often dwell on the evils of overfishing, but along the Río Negro, a major tributary to the mighty Amazon, scientist Scott Dowd has noticed something radically different: a fishing industry that not only supports the human population in this rain forest […]

Writing Radar by Jack Gantos | SLJ Review

GANTOS, Jack. Writing Radar: Using Your Journal To Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories. illus. by Jack Gantos. 224p. Farrar. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374304560. POP

Gr 4-8 –You might expect that the writing method of the author of such no-holds-barred tales as Joey Pigza Swallowed the KeyThe Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, and the Newbery Award–winning Dead End in Norvelt would be chaotic. You might picture him plucking bizarre anecdotes from his own frenzied noggin and slapping them together in a blind delirium of inspiration. […]

Sue Macy on Women in Sports, Feminism, and the Impact of Title IX

Sue Macy, whose books center on the intersection of women’s history and sports, discusses the impact of Title IX, feminism, and why she writes about real-life heroines.

I’m Just No Good at Rhyming by Chris Harris | SLJ Review

HARRIS, Chris. I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: And Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-Ups. illus. by Lane Smith. 192p. index. Little, Brown. Sept. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780316266574.

Gr 3-8 –Those who claim to hate poetry will enjoy this riotous compilation just as much as those who love the form. Fans of Ogden Nash, Shel Silverstein, and Jack Prelutsky will rejoice in finding another member of their gang. Wordplay abounds: “If ever I find myself holding a gecko…/I’ll lecko.” Typography […]

The Magician and the Spirits by Deborah Noyes | SLJ Review

NOYES, Deborah. The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini and the Curious Pastime of Communicating with the Dead. 160p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Viking. Aug. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780803740181.

Gr 6 Up –Harry Houdini is best remembered as a magician and escape artist, but he also spent more than half his life tirelessly investigating mediums and séances—charlatans in disguise. Noyes’s narrative blends the history of the spiritualism movement in the early 20th century with a biographical account of Houdini. Early in Houdini’s […]

Standout STEM Reads | SLJ Spotlight

Most children’s and YA books on STEM subjects can be a tad didactic; however, these recent offerings are anything but dull.

How To Be an Elephant by Katherine Roy | SLJ Review

ROY, Katherine. How To Be an Elephant. illus. by Katherine Roy. 48p. diag. filmog. further reading. photos. websites. Roaring Brook/David Macaulay Studio. Sept. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781626721784.

Gr 3-6 –Roy follows her masterly Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands with a stunning look at how a newborn elephant matures into a capable member of the herd. The work adroitly covers anatomy, environment, family life, and other topics. Roy emphasizes how elephants, with their […]

Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation by Anthony & Annmarie Young | SLJ Review

ROBINSON, Anthony & Annemarie Young . Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation. photos by Anthony Robinson. 144p. chron. filmog. further reading. maps. websites. Interlink. Jul. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781566560153.

Gr 7 Up –A number of Palestinian kids and teens discuss their hopes and dreams and what it is like living in an occupied country. An introductory chapter explains the Occupied Territories, provides an overview of the history of the Palestinian land, and explores the impact of occupation on […]

Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough | SLJ Review

BROCKENBROUGH, Martha. Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary. 384p. bibliog. chron. index. notes. Feiwel & Friends. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250123190.

Gr 7 Up –Brockenbrough engagingly re-creates the complex character and eventful life of Alexander Hamilton in her nuanced biography. The author explores this eloquent, passionate, and principled founding father, from his illegitimate birth on the Caribbean island of Nevis to his fatal duel with Aaron Burr. The chronological narrative relies on thorough research to present details of Hamilton as an […]

Voyager’s Greatest Hits: The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space by Alexandra Siy | SLJ Review

SIY, Alexandra. Voyager’s Greatest Hits: The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space. 80p. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. Charlesbridge. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781580897280.

Gr 4-8 –Forty years after the launch of the twin space probes, Siy’s well-researched and enthusiastic title depicts their conception, construction, major discoveries, and lasting legacy. After two introductory chapters, the narrative settles into a pattern: each chapter opens with a historical breakthrough, such as Galileo discovering four of Jupiter’s moons, and then […]

Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender by S.D. Nelson | SLJ Review

NELSON, S.D. Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender. 64p. bibliog. illus. notes. photos. Abrams. Mar. 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781419723131.

Gr 4-6 –Chief Red Cloud (1822–1909) is known as an Oglala Lakota leader who acquiesced to the demands of United States and entered into a treaty despite opposition from other Lakota leaders. The treaty forever changed the lifestyle of the Lakota and forced them to relinquish their freedom, homelands, and indigenous ways of being to live […]

13 Must-Read Titles for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with novels and works of nonfiction that highlight the Asian American experience.

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend by Susan Goldman Rubin | SLJ Review

RUBIN, Susan Goldman. The Quilts of Gee’s Bend. 56p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Abrams. Jun. 2017. Tr $21.95. ISBN 9781419721311.

Gr 6 Up –A quilt “represents safekeeping, it represents beauty, and you could say it represents family history.” In this handsomely designed volume, Rubin shares the history of the Gee’s Bend families, who, for more than 100 years, have been designing and creating bold and brilliant quilts. From 1845, when plantation owner Mark Pettway and his household settled in […]

Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins & Stan Yogi | SLJ Review

ATKINS, Laura & Stan Yogi. Fred Korematsu Speaks Up. illus. by Yutaka Houlette. 112p. (Fighting for Justice). bibliog. chron. index. notes. photos. Heyday. Jan. 2017. Tr $18. ISBN 9781597143684.

Gr 4-8 –A compelling blend of free verse, expository text, and artwork illuminates the life and times of Japanese American activist Fred Korematsu. Growing up in Oakland, the child of Japanese immigrants, Korematsu was a typical American kid, joining the Boy Scouts and dancing to big band music. Following Pearl […]