March 24, 2017

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Speed of Life by Carol Weston | SLJ Review


WESTON, Carol. Speed of Life. 352p. ­ebook available. Sourcebooks/Jabberwocky. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781492654490.

Gr 7-10 –It’s January, and eighth grader Sofia’s mother has now been dead for nine months. Disturbed that her dad has started dating so soon, Sofia, who is half Spanish, writes to Fifteen magazine’s “Dear Kate” for advice. Kate’s thoughtful response soon has Sofia writing back multiple times, asking many of the questions that a normal teen would ask her mom—if she still had […]

9 Refugee Stories for Kids and Teens


These nine titles—from picture books to YA—explore the many dangers, factors, and effects that refugees and immigrants face every day.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge | SLJ Review


HARDINGE, Frances. A Face Like Glass. 496p. ebook available. Abrams/Amulet. May 2017. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781419724848.

Gr 5 Up –Neverfell didn’t mean to cause a stir when she left Cheesemaster Grandible’s tunnels for the first time, nor could she have known that she would become a darling of the court, the target of assassins, a captive of the Kleptomancer, a pawn of the powerbrokers, or a leader of an uprising. She is just a girl trying to figure out […]

The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz | SLJ Review


DIAZ, Alexandra. The Only Road. 320p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Oct. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481457507.

Gr 5-8 –After the murder of their cousin/brother Miguel, Jaime and Ángela (ages 12 and 15) are given the “option” to join the powerful gang controlling their Guatemalan village. A refusal means certain death, so their families make the difficult decision to send the pair north, secretly gathering resources, paying smugglers, and identifying safe houses—all the while aware that their […]

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown | SLJ Audio Review


BROWN, Skila. To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party. 3 CDs. 3:51 hrs. Brilliance. Oct. 2016. $24.99. ISBN 9781522656296. digital download.

Gr 7 Up –For 19-year-old Mary Ann Graves, and her family, the journey from Illinois to California in 1846 meant an arduous walk through mountains and deserts, alongside livestock and wagons. Following Graves’s actual reports, the chapters of this novel, which is based on actual events, relate the party’s day-to-day struggles […]

Crossing Ebenezer Creek by Tonya Bolden | SLJ Review


BOLDEN, Tonya. Crossing Ebenezer Creek. 240p. Bloomsbury. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781599903194.

Gr 7 Up –In 1864, teenager Mariah and the other African Americans living in slavery on her plantation are freed by Union forces and encouraged to begin following General Sherman’s march through Georgia. Caleb assists Mariah as she prepares to join the march. Caleb and Mariah are immediately attracted to each other but are hesitant to express their feelings, so their relationship evolves slowly. Their pasts […]

First Things First: YA Debuts | SLJ Spotlight


From fun romances to royal intrigue and from a harrowing tale of Hurricane Katrina to a teen’s journey from Haiti to Detroit, the following YA debut novels offer new stories and voices on the teen lit scene.

SLJ’s February 2017 Popular Picks


These materials will fly off the shelves, from a story about a young boy who loves his green pants to a timely YA novel centered on gun violence and Islamophobia by Barry Lyga.

Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman | SLJ Review


FREEMAN, Martha. Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question. 224p. ebook available. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481472647.

Gr 3-5 –While spending the summer with her aunt and uncle in small-town Pennsylvania, inquisitive Effie Starr Zook tries to uncover family secrets. Hailing from New York City, Effie isn’t thrilled about having to spend the summer at Zook Farm while her parents fly around the world in a solar airplane. When she meets the Yoder […]

Ashes to Asheville by Sarah Dooley | SLJ Review


DOOLEY, Sarah. Ashes to Asheville. 256p. ebook available. Putnam. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399165047.

Gr 5-8 –Following the death of one of her mothers, Mama Lacy, 12-year-old Fella is ripped from the only other parent she has ever known, Mama Shannon, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany. Fella is forced to move in with her grandmother Mrs. Madison, who has never approved of the relationship between her daughter, the more serious Mama Lacy, and the free-spirited […]

Moo by Sharon Creech | SLJ Audio Review


CREECH, Sharon. Moo. 2 CDs. 2:32 hrs. HarperCollins. Nov. 2016. $19.99. ISBN 9781470853624. 1 MP3-CD; digital download.

Gr 4-6 –Twelve-year-old Reena’s outburst during a family conversation about parental careers, geography, and the future “ten years from now” catapults the family from a city of monuments, subways, and museums and lands them in rural Maine. Her expectations of her new home include lobsters, blueberries, beaches, and mountains, but what she and her seven-year-old brother Luke get most familiar with is […]

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly | SLJ Review


KELLY, Erin Entrada. Hello, Universe. illus. by Isabel Roxas. 320p. ­HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062414151.

Gr 3-7 –The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at […]

Ghost by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Audio Review


REYNOLDS, Jason. Ghost. digital download. 3:29 hrs. S. & S. Audio. Aug. 2016. $14.99. ISBN 9781508230472.

Gr 5-9 –Guy Lockard has assumed the mantle of narrator-of-choice for Reynolds’s fiction: Ghost (2016 National Book Award finalist) is Lockard’s third Reynolds title, following As Brave as You and Rashad’s chapters in All American Boys. Here, as seventh grader Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw, Lockard performs with excitable bravado, ruminating honesty, and trash-talking speed. Ghost runs fast with good reason, having escaped his father, […]

SLJ’s January 2017 Popular Picks


SLJ is ringing in the New Year with this January Popular Picks list! This month includes a story about a badger who realizes his obsession with cleanliness has gone too far; the return of Aaron Blabey’s “Bad Guys”; a stunning graphic novel about Artemis, the goddess of the hunt; and an autobiography by soccer star Carli Lloyd, recently voted FIFA’s Best Women’s Soccer Player.

A Star Is Born | SLJ Spotlight


The stage life isn’t all glamour, as the teens in these diverse titles discover. Whether they’re performing for a few spectators at a high school auditorium or for thousands of screaming fans at a stadium-size arena, these young singers and actors learn to balance everyday concerns about family, friends, and romance with the high-stakes drama of life in the spotlight.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King | SLJ Review


KING, Amy Sarig. Me and Marvin Gardens. 256p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545870740.

Gr 3-7 –Eleven-year-old Obe Devlin lives in the Pennsylvania farmhouse his family built 100 years ago. Unfortunately, his great-great-grandfather mortgaged more and more of the acreage that surrounded the house to pay for his alcohol addiction. On the small portion of land on which the house sits runs a creek surrounded by a wild area. In the habit of picking up […]

SLJ’s December Popular Picks


Featuring a tale about a rooster who refuses to stay silent, a new graphic novel series about a narwhal and his jellyfish companion, and a middle grade Cyrano de Bergerac, this month’s Popular Picks are bound to fly off shelves.

This article was published in School Library Journal's December 2016 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.

Forever, or a Long, Long Time by Caela Carter | SLJ Review


CARTER, Caela. Forever, or a Long, Long Time. 320p. HarperCollins. Mar. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780062385680.

Gr 5-7 –Eleven-year-old Flora and her younger brother, Julian, have lived in so many foster homes that they have no memories of growing up and no history. They believe not only that they were never babies but also that they were never even born. This startling notion hooks readers from the first chapter: What happened to the siblings before they were adopted by […]

Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars by Martine Murray | SLJ Review


MURRAY, Martine. Molly & Pim and the Millions of Stars. 192p. Knopf. Jan. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399550409.

Gr 3-6 –In this Australian import, 10-year-old Molly just wants to be normal. She is jealous of her best friend Ellen’s organized parents, clean house, and prepackaged muesli bars from the grocery store. Molly, on the other hand, has a space cadet mother who wanders off into the woods to gather herbs, makes potions, fills the house with odd trinkets, and […]

Suspenseful Settings | SLJ Spotlight


Boarding schools have been the backdrop for some of the most popular recent youth titles. It’s no wonder that novelists find these ready-made worlds so appealing, with their contained settings, off-site parents, and rich traditions. These offerings make the most of evocative boarding school settings in stories woven with mystery and suspense.