October 13, 2015

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“Rhythm” Fans Find the Groove at Greenlight

The TeeTops kept the crowd grooving and moving at the book launch for Rhythm Ride.

The star power of author Andrea Davis Pinkney and the TeeTone’s Motown sounds drew enthusiastic book (and music) lovers to the launch of Pinkney’s Rhythm Ride.

The Iliad by Homer | SLJ Review


HOMER. The Iliad. retold by Gillian Cross. illus. by Neil Packer. 160p. Candlewick. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780763678326.
Gr 6-9–Cross presents a fluid and highly readable version of this celebrated tale. The text follows the essential plot structure of the classic work, beginning with Helen’s capture and concluding with Hector’s demise. The book includes an introduction to the Odyssey (retold by this creative team in 2012) and provides brief historical context of the Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean. A helpful spread groups […]

Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder | SLJ Review

Screen from Kindo

SNYDER, Laurel. Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova. illus. by Julie Morstad. 52p. Chronicle. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452118901.
Gr 1-4–This tall, graceful picture book captures the artistic spirit, if not the entire biography, of one of the world’s prima ballerinas. Pavlova’s humble beginnings and early life in 19th-century tsarist Russia are merely hinted at, though spelled out more fully in an appended author’s note. The spare, lyrical text instead offers imagery that is more poetic than concrete. For […]

Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation by Peggy Thomas | SLJ Review


THOMAS, Peggy. Thomas Jefferson Grows a Nation. illus. by Stacy Innerst. 48p. bibliog. chart. notes. websites. Calkins Creek. Sept. 2015. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781620916285. LC 2014958527.
Gr 3-6–In this illustrated biography, Thomas continues her portraits of Americans who contributed to the development of the United States. As the author establishes, Thomas Jefferson had many interests, including his passion for plants and animals, which was evident in his roles as farmer, diplomat, and president. In his work Notes on the State of […]

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People by S.D. Nelson | SLJ Review


NELSON, S.D. Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People. illus. by S.D. Nelson. 64p. bibliog. chron. index. maps. notes. photos. Abrams. Nov. 2015. RTE $19.95. ISBN 9781419707315. LC 2014045761.
Gr 4-6–Sitting Bull witnessed great changes in the lives of Native Americans during his lifetime (1831–90). Nelson, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in the Dakotas, presents Sitting Bull’s life as an entry point into that period of history. A detailed time line and author’s note reflect […]

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh | SLJ Review


TONATIUH, Duncan. Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras. illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh. 40p. bibliog. glossary. index. websites. Abrams. 2015. RTE $18.95. ISBN 9781419716478. LC 2014042319.
Gr 3-6–Tonatiuh’s latest delves into the life of artist and social commentator extraordinaire José Guadalupe Posada, best known for his literary calaveras, brief and amusing rhyming poems about skeletons dressed in clothes, going about their daily business. The beautifully expressive Day of the Dead–inspired illustrations on heavy paper pages sport borders of […]

Human Body Theater by Maris Wicks | SLJ Review


Wicks, Maris. Human Body Theater. illus. by Maris Wicks. 240p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. websites. First Second. Oct. 2015. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781596439290.

Gr 4-8–A playfully engaging skeleton emcee introduces the parts of the body and their systems as part of an informational stage revue in this clever overview of human biology. Panels, word balloons, and cartoon illustrations provide strong visuals, while each chapter covers a different biological system in a logical, well-organized fashion, with an initial overview that leads into […]

Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson | SLJ Review


Anderson, M.T. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad. 464p. bibliog. ebook available. index. notes. photos. Candlewick. Sept. 2015. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780763668181.

Gr 9 Up–This ambitious and gripping work is narrative nonfiction at its best. Anderson expertly sets the scene of the tumultuous world into which Dmitri Shostakovich was born in 1906 and traces his development as an artist and a public figure. He also tells the story of the composer’s beloved Leningrad, […]

Nonfiction Series Update


Check out the latest installments of these can’t-miss nonfiction series that tackle a variety of topics: science, animals, careers, history, and more.

This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2015 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Most Dangerous by Steve Sheinkin | SLJ Review


SHEINKIN, Steve. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. 384p. bibliog. index. notes. photos. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781596439528.

Gr 7 Up–In this thoroughly researched, thoughtfully produced, and beautifully written book, Sheinkin delves into the life of Daniel Ellsberg, former Pentagon consultant and a self-described “cold warrior,” who gradually made an about-face with regard to America’s presence in Vietnam. Ellsberg famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, a lengthy document written by military insiders about […]

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia Manzano | SLJ Review

becoming maria cover

SLJ’s starred review of Sonia Manzano—Sesame Street‘s “Maria”—YA memoir.

“The Nonfiction Minute” Resumes September 8


Popular resource The Nonfiction Minute will resume in September in time for the 2015–16 school year. Daily posts by award-winning authors will include a corresponding audio version, enabling less-fluent readers to listen and follow along.

Video: Daniel José Older Talks to Sonia Manzano, Sesame Street’s ‘Maria,’ About Her Memoir


SLJ had the opportunity of pairing two Latino authors—Daniel José Older and Sonia Manzano, an award-winning author and acclaimed actress who originated the iconic role of “Maria” on Sesame Street—in a conversation about Manzano’s first memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx.

The Sound And The Fury | SLJ Spotlight


Two nonfiction titles speak on the power of music.

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall | SLJ Review


MATTICK, Lindsay. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear. illus. by Sophie Blackall. 56p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2015. Tr ISBN 9780316324908. LC 2014041128.
K-Gr 3–This sweet tale of the black bear that inspired the legendary children’s book character Winnie-the-Pooh will resonate with readers. In the framing story, a mother tells her son, Cole, a bedtime tale about how veterinarian Harry Colebourn, a young Canadian soldier on his way to train and fight in Europe during World War […]

The Wolf-Birds by Willow Dawson | SLJ Review


DAWSON, Willow. The Wolf-Birds. illus. by Willow Dawson. 40p. bibliog. Owlkids. Sept. 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781771470544. LC 2015900227.
K-Gr 2–This attractive picture book portrays the relationship between wolves and ravens, explaining how these birds often lead wolves to prey that both creatures can then eat. Having lost the chase of an evasive bison, the cold, wandering wolves follow a familiar cry, “the sound of hungry ravens!” Working together, wolves and “wolf-birds” track and hunt prey to keep starvation at bay […]

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown | SLJ Review


BROWN, Don. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans. illus. by Don Brown. 96p. bibliog. ebook available. notes. HMH. Aug. 2015. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544157774.
Gr 7 Up–A murky watercolor storm spreads across pages, darkening and becoming more ominous as it builds in Brown’s deeply affecting look at Hurricane Katrina. Dynamic sketches capture shocking scenes, such as residents fleeing down claustrophobic highways as the 400-mile-wide storm looms in a nearly completely dark spread. Brown depicts broken levees, flooded homes, and inhabitants […]

Strike Up the Band | M.T. Anderson and the Story Behind the Leningrad Symphony


SLJ chats with M.T. Anderson, SummerTeen speaker, about his first work of narrative nonfiction, Symphony for the City of the Dead, and the power of music to change lives and make history.

Review of the Day: Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

Review of the Day: Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower By Greg Pizzoli Viking (an imprint of Penguin Group USA) $17.99 ISBN: 978-0-670-01652-5 Ages 8-11 On shelves now I was listening to a favorite podcast of mine the other day when the panelists began discussing the difference between heist films and […]

In the Most Recent Issue of SLJ

When I’m reviewing books for professional publications, I stay quiet about them on social media. I’m always really excited once a review comes out to be able to talk about the book, finally! Here’s one of my most recent reviews, which originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of School Library Journal.   Rockin’ the Boat: 50 […]