April 30, 2017

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Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson | SLJ Review

ANDERSON, Jodi Lynn. Midnight at the Electric. 272p. HarperCollins/­HarperTeen. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062393548.

Gr 9 Up –Adri’s, Catherine’s, and Lenore’s lives are intertwined but not in the way that one would think. Adri lives in 2065 Kansas, Catherine lives in 1930s Kansas, and Lenore lives in England in 1919. As Adri is preparing to go to Mars, she stays with her cousin in Kansas, where the training takes place. Upon settling in, she comes across letters written […]

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley | SLJ Review

CROWLEY, Cath. Words in Deep Blue. 288p. Knopf. Jun. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781101937648.

Gr 9 Up –An astonishingly realistic look at loss, grief, love, and the importance of words. Rachel Sweetie’s world changed forever the day her little brother Cal drowned. In the eight months since, she’s failed to graduate from school and alienated most of her friends. Rachel’s family seems to think returning to live with her aunt in their old hometown will help. She’s up for […]

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein | SLJ Review

WEIN, Elizabeth. The Pearl Thief. 336p. Disney-Hyperion. May 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781484717165.

Gr 8 Up –In this prequel to Code Name Verity, set in 1938, Julia Beaufort-Stewart, 15, returns home from school in Paris for summer break to unhappy changes. The family’s house and land have been sold and are being converted into a school. Julie, finding no one at home to welcome her, heads to the river. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the […]

SLJ’s April 2017 Popular Picks

The latest thriller from Cristin Terrill, a feminist primer for little ones, and a heartfelt memoir by a BuzzFeed editor.

4 Novels on the Trials and Tribulations of Middle School

The following novels feature characters smack-dab in the middle of those tumultuous middle school years.

2 YA Tales of Some Not-so-Witchy Witches

Teen witch books aren’t all “hocus pocus” and “eye of newt.”

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

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 […]

York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby | SLJ Review

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

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 […]

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

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

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

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 […]

The Takedown by Corrie Wang | SLJ Review

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 […]

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser | SLJ Review

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 […]

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

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 […]

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon | SLJ Audio Review

YOON , Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. 7 CDs. 8 hrs. Listening Library. Nov. 2016. $40 ISBN 9781524721404. digital download.

Gr 9 Up –Two lives are changed forever when Natasha, an undocumented Jamaican teen seeking legal help on her last day in the country before she and her family are deported, and Daniel, a budding Korean American poet on his way to a Yale admissions interview and a future he doesn’t want as a doctor, meet on […]

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick | SLJ Review

SEDGWICK, Marcus. Saint Death. 240p. ebook available. Roaring Brook. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725492.

Gr 9 Up –Arturo is scraping by, living in Anapra, on the outskirts of Juarez, Mexico. He can see El Norte from his small shack, but America feels distant compared with his reality spent hauling things at the auto shop and trying to avoid the notice of gang members and the cartel, who have carved up Juarez into their own sections of territory. Arturo’s […]

YA Xpress Reviews | April 2017

The second installment of Michael Grant’s “Front Lines” series, a debut about a 17-year-old who can’t feel pain, and the conclusion to Kevin Waltman’s “D-Bow’s High School Hoops” series.

This article was published in School Library Journal's April 2017 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Grendel’s Guide to Love and War by A.E. Kaplan | SLJ Review

KAPLAN, A.E. Grendel’s Guide to Love and War. 320p. ebook available. Knopf. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399555541.

Gr 8 Up –When the Rothgars move in next door, high schooler Tom Grendel’s summer takes a turn into uncharted territory that proves often terrible, definitely weird, and occasionally wonderful beyond words. He has struggled with the death of his mother and his father’s post-traumatic stress disorder for years; the appearance of the Rothgars, anti–manic pixie dream girl Willow, and inveterate […]

Beck by Mal Peet with Meg Rosoff | SLJ Review

PEET, Mal with Meg Rosoff. Beck. 272p. Candlewick. Apr. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780763678425.

Gr 9 Up –This final novel from the deceased Peet, completed by Rosoff, is a not-quite-YA, not-quite-adult historical fiction story of hardship after hardship. Beck is a Liverpudlian orphan, the son of a white prostitute and an African sailor. Through no choice of his own, Beck is shipped off to Canada with several other orphans to work with the Catholic Brothers. After enduring physical and […]