April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Archives for December 2015

Honor Girl

Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash Candlewick Press, September 2015 Reviewed from final copy I was distracted while reading Honor Girl. The first two chapters orient the reader in the early days of the new millennium; there’s a list of celebrity crushes including Leonardo DiCaprio, Usher, and Justin Timberlake, our narrator is reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of […]

California Teens Create Literacy Center—and a Brighter Future—for Preschoolers

High school students at Gateway Community School in San Mateo, CA, a school for those suspended or expelled from schools in their home districts, team up to help preschoolers in a local Head Start program.

Shelter from the Storms: How You Can Help Recovery Efforts

On Saturday, December 26th, the day after Christmas, I sat in my bathtub with my two crying girls and a dog as tornado sirens blared all around us. I would learn later that night that towns all around us were devastated by this storm, though this time we were spared. We were not so lucky […]

This Side of Wild by Gary Paulsen | SLJ Audio Review

Paulsen, Gary. This Side of Wild. 3 CDs. 3 hrs. S. & S. Audio. 2015. $14.99. ISBN 9781442389618.

Gr 5-8 –In this memoir, Paulsen shares anecdotes about the ways dogs, horses, birds, and other creatures have touched and shaped his life. Listeners are introduced to dogs such as Corky, a toy poodle whose unfailing instinct protects Paulsen from grizzly bear attacks; Josh, a horseback-riding border collie; and Gretchen, a coffee-drinking dog with an uncanny ability to converse with humans […]

Top 10 Posts of 2015: #2

The Wildest Children’s Books of 2015

Graphic Novels, redux

OK, I know I’ve already said it’s been quite a year for historical fiction (and, you know, I stand by that), but we’ve had some amazing graphic novels to read this year, too. I don’t know if we’ll replicate This One Summer’s total dominance at the YMAs (OK, maybe I’m slightly overstating there!), but I […]

A Personal Top 10 (or so) List of Top 10 (or so) Lists

This time of year we are flooded by best or Top 10 lists.  I love them, but it’s easy to drown. So I selected My Top 10 (or so) List of Top 10 (or so) Lists listing my personal favorites in hopes you might find some of my choices interesting. And here, just for fun, is […]

Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang | SLJ Review

Chang, Victoria. Is Mommy? illus. by Marla Frazee. 40p. ebook available. S. & S./Beach Lane. 2015. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781481402927.

Toddler-PreS –A troupe of toddlers cheekily field questions about their mothers. An unseen narrator asks, “Is mommy tall…/or short?” A red-headed imp ponders the query and imagines a tall mommy reaching down for a loving embrace, and then fantasizes about towering over a suddenly diminutive, doll-like mommy. A huge speech bubble, spread across the next two […]

A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen | SLJ Audio Review

Nielsen, Jennifer A. A Night Divided. 6 CDs. 7:12 hrs. Scholastic Audiobooks. 2015. $34.99. ISBN 9780545880794.

Gr 5-8 –This work follows the brave journey of 12-year-old Gerta and her older brother, Fritz, as they try to leave East Berlin. Gerta’s father escaped right before the Wall went up, but Gerta spots him across the Wall and deciphers his secret message that she is to dig her way through freedom. The novel graphically describes life in East Berlin and the […]

Book Review: Firsts by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn

Publisher’s Book Description: Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends […]

Review: Little Robot

As the 2016 new releases start to flood the market, here’s a look at some of the titles we didn’t have a chance to review. Little Robot By Ben Hatke. First Second Books. 2015. ISBN 9781626720800 HC, $16.99. 136pp. Grades 2 and up Little Robot is by the artist best known for Zita the Space […]

Fusenews: The bumps on the tongue just add insult to injury

Good morning, campers!  Are we ironing out the last of the holiday season from our socks?  Are we eyeing our decorations with a jaded eye?  Well, wonderful news!  2016 is on the horizon and I bring you news of the peppy variety.  Packed deep in snow, no less, since I appear to be living in […]

Top 10 Posts of 2015: #3

The Real Age of Children’s Literature Characters

Prepare kids for emergencies with Monster Guard

The motto here is Learn, practice, share how to stay safe during emergency The American Red Cross, with the sponsorship of Disney, present Monster Guard, a free mobile app available at the App Store and Google Play. Beyond the necessary, and sometimes confusing disaster drills that all students are required to experience at school, this fun, […]

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys | SLJ Review

Sepetys, Ruta. Salt to the Sea. 400p. Philomel. Feb. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780399160301.

Gr 8 Up –With the same lyrical prose, eye for detail, and breath-stopping ability to unfold delicate layers of characterization and theme with skillfully paced revelations, the author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013, both Philomel) presents a fictionalized World War II story based on a true tragedy. In alternating narratives, four different teens grapple with […]

Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor by Robert Burleigh | SLJ Review

Burleigh, Robert. Solving the Puzzle Under the Sea: Marie Tharp Maps the Ocean Floor. illus. by Raúl Colón. 40p. bibliog. ebook available. glossary. websites. S. & S./Paula Wiseman Bks. Jan. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481416009. LC 2014010158.

Gr 2-4 –In this excellent biography of scientist Marie Tharp, Burleigh, writing in the first person, allows this adept geologist and oceanographic cartographer to tell her own story. Map lover Tharp became one of the 20th century’s most important […]

Location, Location, Location | Adult Books 4 Teens

Mark Flowers compiles reviews of adult books that will resonate with teens, which take place in locales as diverse as modern-day New Mexico and 1862 Paris.

Links: Angouleme Selections Include ‘Nimona,’ ‘Walker Bean’

The official selections for the Angouleme International Comics Festival have been announced, and a number of children’s and YA books, including Nimona, Ms. Marvel, and The Unsinkable Walker Bean, have made the cut. Jennifer Sheehan does a thorough job of reporting on a comics course offered at Phillipsburg High School in Phillipsburg, Pennsylvania, interviewing the […]


As I get ready for the Oakland Mock Newbery this coming Sunday, I’m thinking of the members of the many actual award committees, also doing some final re-reading and considering before they head to Boston to huddle in.  They meet for two full days, as many hours as they can squeeze in, and deliver their […]

16 2016 YA Books I’m Anxiously Anticipating

Like many of you (I’m guessing), I keep multiple reading-related lists. I keep track of what I read each year. I keep track of what ARCs I’ve gotten and hope to read. I keep track of what books I either want to get when they come out or hope to track down as ARCs but […]