July 20, 2017

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La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya | SLJ Review

ELYA, Susan Middleton. La Princesa and the Pea. illus. by Juana Martinez-Neal. 32p. glossary. Putnam. Sept. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399251566.

PreS-Gr 2 –The traditional Hans Christian Andersen tale gets a makeover in this modern version with a twist. In her signature style of stories peppered with a liberal dose of Spanish and humor, Elya relates the account of a prince who wants to marry and his mother, the queen, who takes charge of vetting the possible candidates. In rhyming text, the author […]

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead | SLJ Review

STEAD, Philip C. The Only Fish in the Sea. illus. by Matthew Cordell. 40p. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626722828.

PreS-Gr 2 –With comic urgency, a boy races on his bicycle to tell his friend Sadie the story of spoiled Little Amy Scott, who declared that her birthday goldfish was BORING and walked across town to unceremoniously throw it off the dock. The boy, Sherman, asks Sadie if she could imagine that poor fish, still in its bag and […]

Poe: Stories and Poems adapted by Gareth Hinds | SLJ Review

POE, Edgar Allan. Poe: Stories and Poems. adapt. by Gareth Hinds. illus. by Gareth Hinds. 120p. Candlewick. Aug. 2017. Tr $22. ISBN 9780763681128.

Gr 9 Up –Hinds adds to his impressive library of graphic novel adaptations with this collection of stories and poems. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince holds a massive party inside a fortified castle while his subjects die of plague outside his walls—that is, until a mysterious stranger appears at the door. In “The Cask of Amontillado,” […]

When I Cast Your Shadow by Sarah Porter | SLJ Review

PORTER, Sarah. When I Cast Your Shadow. 384p. Forge/Tor Teen. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765380562.

Gr 9 Up –Teen twins Ruby and Everett have very different feelings about their older brother’s overdose. Closer to Dashiell and often oblivious to his dramatics and manipulations, Ruby is devastated while awed by and jealous of Dash. Everett understands the strain their brother created within the family. Though Dash is dead, he won’t leave. Visiting Ruby in her nightly dreams, Dash wheedles her into consenting to […]

Girls Who Code by Reshma Saujani | SLJ Review

SAUJANI, Reshma. Girls Who Code: Learn To Code and Change the World. illus. by Andrea Tsurumi. 176p. chart. diag. glossary. index. Viking. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425287538. POP

Gr 6 Up –The creator of the nationwide coding club phenomenon Girls Who Code provides a top-down look into the world of computer science and women in the field. The author takes a step-by-step approach to teaching the intricacies of coding while keeping the content relevant to the audience (a smart analogy involving a peanut […]

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley | SLJ Review

BEASLEY, Cassie. Tumble & Blue. 400p. Dial. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525428442.

Gr 4-6 –An immersive, supernatural middle grade adventure. Hear the whispers of long-kept family secrets in shadowed corners. Feel the humidity of a languid Georgia summer. Beasley, author of Circus Mirandus, weaves the tale of two tweens spending the summer looking for the way out of an ancestral curse. In 1817, 12-year-old Blue Montgomery’s forebear Walcott (a fugitive horse thief) and Tumble Wilson’s ancestor Almira (a “murderous young bride”) were forced—by […]

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu | SLJ Review

MATHIEU, Jennifer. Moxie. 336p. Roaring Brook. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626726352.

Gr 8 Up –This novel is full of wit, insight, and moxie. Vivian is the dutiful daughter of a former 1990s Riot Grrl. While her mom raged against the machine and published feminist zines in her youth, Viv prefers getting good grades and keeping a low profile. That is, until things at her small town’s high school go too far. There are double standards for football players and everyone else, arbitrary […]

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend | SLJ Review

TOWNSEND, Jessica. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow. 336p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316508889; pap. $10.99. ISBN 9780316513982.

Gr 5 Up –Morrigan Crow is cursed and doomed to die on her 11th birthday on Eventide night. She is blamed for every bit of bad luck and misfortune that plagues the residents of the town of Jackalfax in the Wintersea Republic. When Eventide arrives early, ushering in a new Age across the realm, Morrigan is faced with the prospect of her […]

Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez | SLJ Review

DOMINGUEZ, Angela. Sing, Don’t Cry. illus. by Angela Dominguez. 32p. Holt. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627798396.

PreS-Gr 2 –In this semiautobiographical picture book, Dominguez honors the memory of her grandfather Apolinar, whose music and optimism had a great effect on her. Every year, Abuelo visits from Mexico, bringing his guitar and his joyful outlook. “He would tell us about his life, and if we were sad about something, he would say, ‘Sing, don’t cry. Because singing gladdens the heart.’ ” Abuelo advises […]

Night & Day by JoJo & the Pinecones | SLJ Music Review

Night & Day. Performed by JoJo & the Pinecones. CD. 50 min. Produced by Benjamin Gallina & Joelle Lurie. 2017. $8.99

PreS Up –JoJo & the Pinecones are lead singer Joelle Lurie, her musical partner and coproducer Benjamin Gallina, and a band of talented jazz musicians. Part 1: Day features high-energy songs that follow the arc of a day from waking up to having breakfast for dinner, while Part 2: Night is a farewell to the day as listeners get ready for […]

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez | SLJ Review

ALVAREZ, Lorena. Nightlights. illus. by Lorena Alvarez. 56p. Flying Eye/Nobrow. Mar. 2017. Tr 18.95. ISBN 9781910620137.

Gr 4 Up –At Sandy’s parochial school, her talent for daydreaming, doodling, and wandering doesn’t endear her to the strict nuns, whose assignments the girl does her best to avoid. A bit of an outsider, Sandy is delighted when she meets a new friend, a strange, pale girl who gushes over her incredible artwork. As the protagonist’s flights of fancy begin to merge with reality, she must […]

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 […]

Mama Lion Wins the Race by Jon J. Muth | SLJ Review

MUTH, Jon J. Mama Lion Wins the Race. illus. by Jon J Muth. 56p. ­Scholastic. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545852821.

PreS-Gr 2 –Mama Lion and Tigey are excited: it is race day! They examine their route, take a gander at the prizes, greet the competition in the town square, and drive off with Tigey behind the wheel. The Knitted Monkeys are up to mischief and try to get ahead in the race, but others soon take the lead. When Tigey swerves to […]

Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast | SLJ Music Review

Ear Snacks: Songs from the Podcast. Performed by Andrew Barkan & Polly Hall. 38 min. Palindrome Records. 2016. $12.

PreS-Gr 5 –Like nothing you may have ever heard before, this collection of 16 original songs pulled from Los Angeles–based Andrew & Polly’s podcast for preschoolers is a great mashup of musical styles: a fresh find, filled with fantasy and fun—sophisticated yet relevant. Barkan and Hall’s fourth album injects humor and passion into each song, making it just right and “real” for youngsters […]

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore | SLJ Review

MCLEMORE, Anna-Marie. Wild Beauty. 352p. Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250124555.

Gr 7 Up –Set in an undisclosed time period, this new magical realism story featuring characters of color across the gender and sexuality spectrum draws on Latin American culture and language. Relying on lyrical prose, McLemore weaves an intricate tale of family, love, loss, and flowers. The Nomeolvides women have lived on and tended the enchanted gardens of La Pradera for generations. They are also hiding a dangerous secret: […]

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Review

REYNOLDS, Jason. Long Way Down. 320p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Oct. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481438254.

Gr 8 Up –Fifteen-year-old Will’s big brother has been shot and killed. According to the rules that Will has been taught, it is now his job to kill the person responsible. He easily finds his brother’s gun and gets on the elevator to head down from his eighth-floor apartment. But it’s a long way down to the ground floor. At each floor, a different person gets on to […]

Poulo Warali | SLJ Music Review

Poulo Warali. Performed by Poulo Warali. CD. Approx. 34 min. Awesome Tapes from Africa. 2017. $13.

PreS-Gr 8 –This is singer Awa Poulo’s first internationally distributed record. On this, her most recent recording, the popular singer of Peulh origin from Dilly Commune, Mali, shows off her beautiful, lilting voice as she sings traditional Malian music and original songs written by either Poulo or her mentor, the celebrated Malian singer Inna Baba Coulibaly. All songs are performed in Poulo’s native language. The opening […]

Strong as Sandow by Don Tate | SLJ Review

TATE, Don. Strong as Sandow: How Eugen Sandow Became the Strongest Man on Earth. illus. by Don Tate. 40p. bibliog. notes. photos. Charlesbridge. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781580896283.

Gr 1-4 –Sparked by his own passion for bodybuilding and physical fitness, Tate recounts the story of Eugen Sandow (1867–1925) in this inspirational picture book. The biography begins during Sandow’s childhood in Prussia, where he used sports and exercise to develop from a frail, skinny child into a robust, physically active young man and […]

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 […]

Friendshape | SLJ DVD Review

Friendshape. 7 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338184501. POP

PreS-Gr 1 –Never have circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles had such personality! Author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld’s picture book has become a fully animated, joyfully scored video. Rosenthal narrates, but children voice the shapes, who bounce and wiggle adorably when they laugh. Their outlines give and bend, suggesting a wide range of movement, and their simple facial features move expressively. They wrinkle when they have a disagreement and straighten […]