May 25, 2017

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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling | SLJ Review

BOWLING, Dusti. Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. 272p. Sterling. Sept. 2017. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781454923459.

Gr 5-8 –Aven Green has always loved her life in Kansas—hanging out with Emily and Kayla, her best friends since kindergarten; planning pranks; and playing on the school soccer team. Though Aven was born without arms, she has never let her “lack of armage,” as she calls it, deter her from doing anything she sets her mind to. But when her […]

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa & James Parks | SLJ Review

COSTA, Ben & James Parks. Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo: The Road to Epoli. illus. by Ben Costa. 208p. Knopf. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399556135; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9780399556142.

Gr 6 Up –Rickety Stitch is a skeleton minstrel who travels throughout the fantasy realm of Eem with Goo, his jiggling cube of a sidekick. Unlike the other reanimated skeletons in this world, Rickety retains his personality, but he has no memory of who he was when he […]

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia | SLJ Review

ZAPPIA, Francesca. Eliza and Her Monsters. 400p. HarperCollins/­Greenwillow. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062290137.

Gr 9 Up –Eliza’s parents have no understanding of her online life, from her friendships to the scope of the world she created. As a result, Eliza feels like an outsider, unless she’s talking with her cyberfriends or working on her popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Wallace, a new boy at school, has been the first person to bring her out of her shell in ages. […]

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams | SLJ Review

WILLIAMS, Lily. If Sharks Disappeared. illus. by Lily Williams. 40p. bibliog. glossary. websites. Roaring Brook. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626724136.

K-Gr 2 –Young audiences learn conservation vocabulary and concepts through an illustrated examination of what might happen if sharks were to become extinct. A brown-skinned girl in a boat acts as a guide for this predictive exercise. She first introduces sharks as part of a healthy ocean, then describes the ways in which sharks influence our ecosystem. In […]

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali | SLJ Review

ALI, S.K. Saints and Misfits. 336p. S. & S./Salaam Reads. Jun. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781481499248.

Gr 9 Up –Life has settled since Janna’s parents’ divorce, but several new obstacles are making things difficult. Her brother, Muhammad, is moving back home as he changes majors and pursues marriage, while Janna silently battles against a respected boy at her mosque who attempted to rape her. To cope, Janna has separated people into categories. Farooq is a monster, but there are […]

Guided by Meaning in Primary Literacy: Libraries, Reading, Writing, and Learning by Joyce Carroll, Kelly Barger, Karla James & Kristy Hill | SLJ Review

CARROLL, Joyce, Kelly Barger, Karla James, & Kristy Hill. Guided by Meaning in Primary Literacy: Libraries, Reading, Writing, and Learning. 297p. chart. illus. index. photos. Libraries Unlimited. Feb. 2017. Tr $39.94. ISBN 9781440843983.

A practical and important book on supporting early literacy in schools and libraries with lessons in writing and reading. The title’s most crucial arguments are that literacy (and, for that matter, anything) should resonate with those we teach and that “brain research has supported meaningful instruction […]

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 […]

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar | SLJ Review

LAZAR, Tara. 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story. illus. by Ross MacDonald. 32p. Disney-Hyperion. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484717790.

K-Gr 3 –Private investigator Al F. Bet relates a recent case history—the mysterious disappearance of Number 9. It all starts with Client Number 6, who comes into the office visibly agitated about Number 7. Has shady 7 committed a horrific crime? Are his own days “numbered”? In search of some leads, the PI heads to Café Uno, and after […]

Mystery of the Ghost Ship by Philip Pullman | SLJ Review

PULLMAN, Philip . Mystery of the Ghost Ship. illus. by Fred Fordham. 160p. (The Adventures of John Black). Scholastic/Graphix. Jun. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781338149128.

Gr 8 Up –When Harvard student Danielle succeeds in tracking the legendary Mary Alice, a pirate ship that disappears and reappears across time, she becomes drawn into a conspiracy headed by the menacing Dahlberg Corporation. The Dahlbergs are after the secrets of the Mary Alice, and only Royal Navy agent Roger Blake opposes them. […]

The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold | SLJ Review

HARROLD, A.F. The Song from Somewhere Else. illus. by Levi Pinfold. 240p. Bloomsbury. Jul. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781681194011.

Gr 4-6 –Strong characterizations and a good dose of spookiness are standouts in this illustrated novel. After a strange boy named Nick rescues her from bullies, Frank begins a cautious friendship with her unpopular classmate. When she hears mysterious and beautiful music coming from Nick’s cellar, Frank secretly investigates. She discovers a “leechway” that acts as a door to alternate […]

4 Picture Books Celebrating the Importance of Family

A wide array of titles that show the warm and sometimes wacky world of familial interactions.

5 Nonfiction Titles (and a Graphic Novel!) for Those Who Love the Sea

Just in time for summer are a number of well-written titles for beachgoers and budding marine biologists alike

The Quest to the Uncharted Lands by Jaleigh Johnson | SLJ Review

JOHNSON, Jaleigh. The Quest to the Uncharted Lands. 352p. (World of Solace: Bk. 3). Delacorte. Jun. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101933121.

Gr 4-8 –In a third visit to the lands of Solace, Johnson introduces Stella Glass, a brave young alchemist who stows away on the exploration airship Iron Glory on its mission to the Uncharted Lands, accompanying her unwitting scientist parents, who have been drafted on this dangerous voyage by their king. Once on board, Stella is startled by […]

The Year of the Garden by Andrea Cheng | SLJ Review

CHENG, Andrea. The Year of the Garden. illus. by Patrice Barton. 128p. HMH. Apr. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780544664449.

Gr 2-5 –In this satisfying prequel to The Year of the Book, Anna and her family have moved from an apartment to a house, meaning she will begin third grade at a new school. Before long, she meets Laura, also new to the neighborhood and eager to make new friends. The seeds of their tumultuous friendship are sown as they […]

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall | SLJ Review

CORNWALL, Gaia. Jabari Jumps. illus. by Gaia Cornwall. 32p. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763678388.

PreS-Gr 2 –An African American boy and his baby sister and father head to an urban community pool. Jabari has completed his swim lessons and tests and is ready to jump off a diving board. In his zigzag swim trunks and swim goggles, the boy tells his dad that diving looks easy. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, up, […]

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia | SLJ Review

WILLIAMS-GARCIA, Rita. Clayton Byrd Goes Underground. 176p. HarperCollins/ Amistad. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062215918.

Gr 4-6 –Clayton Byrd has some complicated relationships in his family. His strict, demanding mother refuses to marry his father, but allows him to be a presence in Clayton’s life. Clayton adores his grandfather, “Cool Papa,” though his mother does not. Cool Papa nurtures Clayton in many ways—cooking his favorite foods, reading to him each night, and teaching him the harmonica and the blues. […]

A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human by Kay Frydenborg | SLJ Review

FRYDENBORG, Kay. A Dog in the Cave: The Wolves Who Made Us Human. 256p. bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. notes. photos. websites. HMH. Mar. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780544286566.

Gr 7 Up –It may come as no surprise that our canine companions descended from wolves, but this title describes a coevolution and cooperation with humans that may have begun much earlier than scientists once estimated. The 1994 discovery and carbon dating of tracks of a wolflike dog and a […]

Poor Louie by Tony Fucile | SLJ Review

FUCILE, Tony. Poor Louie. illus. by Tony Fucile. 40p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763658281.

PreS-Gr 1 –Louie is a cute and cuddly Chihuahua in crisis. He speaks directly to readers and tries to solicit their sympathy. The pup recounts his idyllic life as the apple of his human parents’ eye. Walks in the park, eating ice cream, and shopping excursions are all part of their normal family routine, along with dinner, movies, and plenty of snuggle time. […]

Duck on a Tractor/Un pato en tractor | SLJ DVD Review

Duck on a Tractor/Un pato en tractor. 11 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338161885. BL

PreS-Gr 3 –In 2002, Duck tried out a bicycle in Duck on a Bike, but author David Shannon left his audience on tenterhooks. What’s the next vehicle Duck will try? Here’s the answer: Duck drives the farm tractor, taking the other barnyard animals on a joyride through town. Shannon’s newest Duck tale follows the same pattern as the first, comparing what is said […]

Duck on a Bike/Un pato en bicicleta | SLJ DVD Review

Duck on a Bike/Un pato en bicicleta. 8 min. Weston Woods. 2017. $59.95. ISBN 9781338187021. BL

PreS-Gr 3 –Duck is a fowl with a fervor for adventure. Can he ride a bike? A few wobbles and he’s on his way! The other animals on the farm all have their say. Their responses range from amazement to scorn to envy. Envy wins out, and when more bikes are available, the whole barnyard is soon pedaling. This silly, delightful tale, based […]