April 23, 2017

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How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child by Sandra Uwiringiyimana with Abigail Pesta | SLJ Review

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UWIRINGIYIMANA, Sandra with Abigail Pesta. How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child. 304p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. May 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062470140.

Gr 7 Up –The greatest storytellers connect with readers through universal truths, and Uwiringiyimana tells her own profound story with clarity and honesty. After a heart-pounding cliff-hanger opening, Uwiringiyimana goes back in time to revisit her childhood in Uvira, a city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Although occasionally interrupted by bouts of […]

A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent by Anne Rockwell | SLJ Audio Review

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ROCKWELL, Anne. A Spy Called James: The True Story of James Lafayette, Revolutionary War Double Agent. 1 CD. 14 min. Dreamscape. Jan. 2017. $14.99. ISBN 9781520066172.

Gr 2-5 – The true story of James Lafayette, a Revolutionary double agent, will captivate and anger young listeners as they learn about the incredible dangers that James, an American enslaved person, took while trying to secure America’s freedom from the British and earning his own from his masters. At great danger to […]

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

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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 […]

Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin | SLJ Review

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FULTON, Sybrina & Tracy Martin. Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin. 352p. Spiegel & Grau. Jan. 2017. Tr $26. ISBN 9780812997231.

Four years after Trayvon Martin, a black teenager, was killed walking home by George Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch coordinator with a gun, the teen’s mother and father, in alternating chapters, share the devastating experience of losing a son to senseless violence: “We tell it in hope for healing, for bridging the divide that separates […]

Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market by Michelle Schaub | SLJ Review

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SCHAUB, Michelle. Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. illus. by Amy Huntington. 32p. Charlesbridge. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781580895477.

Gr 3-5 –A multiethnic crowd of people saunter through a farmers’ market, investigating produce, accompanied by cheerful poetry. Does the “smell of a melon give clues you can use”? Are free-range eggs truly “eggs-traordinary,” and is honey really “liquid-gold alchemy”? Along with this delectable sampling of sweet corn and the search for gooseberries are a list of […]

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson | SLJ Review

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DONALDSON, Julia. The Giant Jumperee. illus. by Helen Oxenbury. 32p. Dial. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780735227972.

Toddler-PreS –When Rabbit hears a booming voice coming from his burrow, from someone who claims to be the Giant Jumperee, he’s terrified. Cat, Bear, and Elephant each attempt to investigate but are sent running by the unseen occupant. Luckily, Mama Frog puts things right and reveals that the Giant Jumperee isn’t nearly as terrifying as he sounds. Though the ending will be […]

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby | SLJ Review

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RUBY, Laura. York: The Shadow Cipher. 496p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Walden Pond. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062306937.

Gr 5-8 –In an alternate present-day New York, three seventh graders embark on a citywide adventure as they attempt to solve a centuries-old cipher in order to save their home. In the mid-19th century, the Morningstarr twins, brilliant inventors who created steampunk-esque technology and iconic architecture that greatly influenced New York, disappeared, leaving a puzzle for the city, known as the Old […]

Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner | SLJ Review

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TURNER, Megan Whalen. Thick as Thieves. 352p. (Queen’s Thief: Bk. 5)

­HarperCollins/Greenwillow. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062568243.

Gr 7 Up –Kamet is a slave poised to become one of the most powerful men in the Mede Empire thanks to his master’s close relationship with the Emperor. While he knows the limitations of his life as a secretary and slave, Kamet is ambitious and eager for the chance to help shape the Empire and wield his influence until one […]

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

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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 […]

Playing for the Devil’s Fire by Phillippe Diederich | SLJ Audio Review

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DIEDERICH, Phillippe. Playing for the Devil’s Fire. 7 CDs. 8:14 hrs. Listening Library. Jan. 2017. $45. ISBN 9781524723842. digital download.

Gr 7 Up – Izayoc is an idyllic Mexican pueblo where 13-year-old Boli and his friends spend time ogling the girls, shining shoes to earn money, watching the luchadores (the wrestlers), and playing marbles in the hopes of winning the much-coveted “Devil’s Fire” marble. The new highway, however, has opened the town up to dangerous people. Body parts appear, […]

Be True to Me by Adele Griffin | SLJ Review

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GRIFFIN, Adele. Be True to Me. 352p. Algonquin. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781616206758.

Gr 8 Up –Eager to escape her sister’s shadow for the summer, privileged but insecure Jean Custis is delighted to meet newcomer Gil Burke one early June night. Yet within a matter of days, Gil has been intercepted by Fritz, a girl with no family connections to the small town of Sunken Harbor, who humiliated Jean in last year’s tennis playoff. As both girls interact […]

The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby | SLJ Review

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JUBY, Susan. The Fashion Committee. 320p. Viking. May 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780451468789.

Gr 9 Up –Charlie Dean and John Thomas-Smith live on the wrong side of the tracks, but they both want to attend the private and exclusive Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design. Their local public high school is so poorly funded that all nonessential classes, including art, have been eliminated from the curriculum. But every year, Green Pastures sponsors an emerging talents scholarship worth […]

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly | SLJ Review

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SHETTERLY, Margot Lee. Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race. 368p. bibliog. index. notes. Morrow. Sept. 2016. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9780062363596.

In popular culture, Rosie the Riveter symbolized the thousands of women who worked assembly line jobs during World War II; her image lives on as an iconic poster for women’s rights. Shetterly tells a companion story: starting in 1945, about 50 college-educated African American female […]

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

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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 […]

The Takedown by Corrie Wang | SLJ Review

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WANG, Corrie. The Takedown. 384p. Freeform. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484757420.

Gr 9 Up –The near future in this novel is just close enough to feel incredibly eerie. Wang’s characters are plugged in to a degree that will leave some readers exhilarated and others delightfully spooked. Kyla Cheng and her three best friends are uber-popular girls who constantly use their Docs (next-next-next-gen iPhones) for absolutely everything. Sounds familiar, but the reach of this version of social networking is […]

Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale | SLJ Review

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LEATHERDALE, Mary Beth. Stormy Seas: Stories of Young Boat Refugees. illus. by Eleanor Shakespeare. 64p. chron. websites. Annick. Apr. 2017. Tr $24.95. ISBN 9781554518968; pap. $12.95. ISBN 9781554518951.

Gr 4-7 –Across time, desperation has driven people from their homes in search of refuge—and the only way out is often through a stormy passage on the sea. Ruth was one of 900 Jewish people who boarded a ship, hoping to escape Nazi Germany; Mohammed, orphaned during the civil war in […]

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser | SLJ Review

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TOLCSER, Sarah. Song of the Current. 384p. Bloomsbury. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781681192970.

Gr 9 Up –Caroline “Caro” Oresteia knows that like her wherryman father, she belongs to the river god. Yet at 17 she’s still waiting for him to whisper to her. When her father is imprisoned for refusing to carry mysterious cargo, Caro elects to take over. She arranges to captain her first ship and get her father out of jail. After a pirate attack, Caro […]

The Colin Thompson Collection by Colin Thompson | SLJ Audio Review

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THOMPSON, Colin. The Colin Thompson Collection. 1 CD. 13 min. Brilliance. Dec. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781489358387. digital download.

PreS-K – This whimsical collection by Thompson centers on two dogs, Fearless—a lumbering, bighearted bulldog who is quite the opposite of what his name implies—and Stanley. The four tales include Fearless, in which the not-quite watchdog timidly instructs a startled burglar that standing on the table is inappropriate behavior, thus awakening his owners and thwarting the theft; Fearless in Love, in […]

Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family When a Loved One Is Incarcerated by Becky Birtha | SLJ Review

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BIRTHA, Becky. Far Apart, Close in Heart: Being a Family When a Loved One Is Incarcerated. illus. by Maja Kastelic. 32p. websites. Albert Whitman. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780807512753.

PreS-Gr 3 –How can a family stay intact if a parent is incarcerated? This tale follows children as they deal with bullying, isolation, fear, guilt, and uncertainty. In one scene, Xavier has his face down and is worried because he needs to keep his father’s incarceration a secret while […]

Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me by Andrea Portes | SLJ Review

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PORTES, Andrea. Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me. 400p. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062421999.

Gr 10 Up –Paige is a college student who has had anything but a typical life. Her journalist parents ensured she learned five languages, earned a black belt in martial arts, and acquired a healthy skepticism of American involvement in international affairs. Paige’s distrust of the government is heightened with the disappearance of her parents, who were captured by terrorists. Are […]