The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, Candace Fleming Schwartz & Wade, July 2014 Reviewed from ARC Six stars. It seems like everyone is talking about The Family Romanov*. Let’s set aside those stars though, because a discussion of what it means when a book earns full marks, ahem, stars, should be [...]
Today I review two books that have the potential to be wildly popular with teens–and wildly challenging for school librarians. Caitlin Moran and Lena Dunham are media forces, women who excel in professions dominated by men. They both succeed through the sheer force of their personalities, and to some extent through their willingness to say [...]
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Susan Kuklin Candlewick Press, February 2014 Reviewed from ARC Does literary quality mean that a writer has to have a strong authorial presence? I bring this up because Beyond Magenta is a wonderful nonfiction book. It’s easily one of the strongest contenders for this year’s YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction—but [...]
There’s been a lot of talk about accuracy in children’s nonfiction recently (which is just a fancy way of saying that there’s been a lot of talk on this particular blog). Everything from invented dialogue to series that are nonfiction-ish. One element we haven’t discussed in any way, shape, or form though is the notion [...]
I thought readers here might be interested to know, if they hadn’t heard already, that Malala Yousafzai has just been named a co-recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Malala is, of course, the author of I Am Malala–reviewed here back in December–which chronicles her struggle for education for girls in Pakistan, and eventual shooting [...]
Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling, Lucy Frank Schwartz & Wade, August 2014 Reviewed from final copy I’m old. This year, it has really come home to me that I have been doing this for a while, with the following exchanges: Me: Oooh, a new one from Cecil Castellucci! Joy: You mean the LA Review [...]
The New York Times’ sensationalizing of the practice of abridging adult nonfiction titles for a younger audience rather misses the point, which is about commerce, not censorship. The main difference between the adult and juvenile editions of these titles is that the latter are shorter, provide less background material, and are less detailed. As an […]
Poisoned Apples, Christine Heppermann Greenwillow, October 2014 Reviewed from ARC Gosh, it’s a good year for poetry, at least from a publishing perspective. And unlike Nelson’s gorgeous memoir that I will be hard pressed to sell to actual real live teen readers™, Poisoned Apples has appeal in spades. This was a later addition to our list, [...]
What if a book continued to resonate for its readers in a tangible way long after the pages were closed? What if books inspired, not just individual–but collective and collaborative response, creative expression, participation, action? What if communities formed around books? What if author’s webspace inspired true dialogue and interaction? And how can librarians, with [...]
How I Discovered Poetry, Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper Dial Books, January 2014 Reviewed from final copy Marilyn Nelson, author of the 2006 Printz honor book A Wreath for Emmett Till, is responsible for what may be this year’s most unique contender, pairing two genres only occasionally spotted in the YA world — memoir [...]
At Home in Her Tomb: Lady Dai and the Ancient Chinese Trasures of Mawangdui By Christine Liu-Perkins Charlesbridge $19.95 978-1-58089-370-1 Ages 9-12 On shelves now When I say the word “mummy” what springs into your mind? Movies starring Brendan Fraser? Egypt and scarabs and rolls of crumbling papyrus? Absolutely. But what if I told you [...]
Before They Were Famous: Young Carl Sagan, Golda Meir, and Alice Waters | Nonfiction Preschool to Grade 4
This month, SLJ highlights some picture books about famous figures—before they made it big. Barbara Krasner details Golda Meir’s first stab at leadership, Stephanie Roth Sisson offers a glimpse of Carl Sagan’s childhood dreams about the stars, and Jacqueline Briggs examines foodie Alice Waters, starting with the early years.
This article was published in School Library Journal's September 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.
Rainbow Rowell’s many, many teen readers are definitely not the target audience for her summer novel, Landline, but no matter. Rowell’s signature clever dialogue and snappy one-liners are in generous supply as one women tries to save her marriage. And while a failing marriage is not a favorite literary topic among teens, this novel also takes [...]
High school is behind you, but you’re not quite an independent adult. Today’s reviews cover one book of essays and stories written during–and one graphic novel memoir written about–the college years. Marina Keegan was a talented writer who died days after graduating from Yale. She had lined up a position as an editorial assistant at The [...]
“In comparing football players to drug dealers, Almond’s point is that football is among the very few limited options available to black youth,” writes Mark Flowers. The Adult Books 4 Teens blogger considers Burning Down the House, by Nell Bernstein, and Against Football, by Steve Almond.
Today we review two books that offer intriguing, even haunting, stories from unfamiliar cultures. Both are inspired by the family histories and folktales the authors were told by family members, one Native American, one Vietnamese. We begin with House of Purple Cedar, an historical novel that reveals both the daily and spiritual life of one [...]
I mentioned in our Best Books of the Year so far post that “If I’d had a week longer, I would have been able to list a tremendous memoir which we’ll be featuring here shortly.” Well, it’s been shortly, and here it is: Keven Brockmeier’s A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip. As a mention below, [...]
Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegretation By Duncan Tonatiuh Harry N. Abrams $18.95 ISBN: 978-1419710544 Ages 7-12 On shelves now If I blame my childhood education for anything I suppose it would be for instilling in me the belief that the history worth learning consisted of a set of [...]
Joanna Rakoff’s wonderfully engaging memoir, My Salinger Year, shares the author’s experiences during the year she moves to New York City straight out of grad school. She sort of maybe wants to be a poet. She knows she wants to work with books. Maybe publishing? She leaves her boyfriend behind, even though he sounds like [...]
Back in January, we looked at a pair of memoirs about young lives stolen through abuse and disease, and today we have two more memoirs touching on the same themes, along with a third which looks at the threat of the law. Unlike Elizabeth Smart’s somewhat older story, the tale of the captivity and dramatic [...]