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August 2017 Back-to-School Horn Book Herald: Primary and Intermediate

Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded by Sage Blackwood (Tegen/HarperCollins)
“Magical maiden” Chantel’s biggest challenge in her education to become a proper and correct sorceress is “deportment.” And when Miss Ellicott and the other sorceresses disappear, the school runs out of food, and the manageress assigned by the city patriarchs plans to sell off the girls, Chantel finds deportment particularly difficult. A magical-school story with welcome diversity (Chantel is black), unexpected reveals, and thrilling surprises.

Trouble at School for Marvin & James [Masterpiece Adventures] by Elise Broach; illus. by Kelly Murphy (Ottaviano/Holt)
Unconventional friends James (a human boy) and Marvin (a beetle) head to school. Artist Marvin is especially enthusiastic about meeting art teacher Mr. Chang. Told from a beetle’s-eye point of view, their day is all fun and games until Marvin accidentally winds up in the garbage. Short, punchy sentences; lively pen-and-ink drawings; and large type make the book accessible to new chapter-book readers.

The Losers Club by Andrew Clements (Random)
Sixth grader Alec is forced to either join or create a club; he founds the “Losers Club,” whose name is intended to ensure solitary reading bliss. But the rules require at least one other member, and as the club grows, Alec’s expectations change. The story easily works in themes of evolving friendships; bullying and teasing; and how reading is the best thing ever. Reading list.

Superstar by Mandy Davis (Harper/HarperCollins)
Ten-year-old Lester (who has autism) is home-schooled until his astronaut father dies and his mother takes a full-time job. Lester finds a friend in public school classmate Abby — that is, until a new student steals Abby away. In this story of friendship, bullying, and community, Lester’s literal perceptions are often different from what the adults (and readers) understand, providing insight into his character.

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey; illus. by Victoria Jamieson (Greenwillow)
Bug Eddie leaves his home behind an elementary-school chalkboard to rescue his aunt from the school’s library. The book-loving young bug soon launches a plan to save the library from closure, a cause as important to him as getting injured Aunt Min home safely. Copious references to the world of children’s literature enhance the engaging story line. Personality-rich illustrations perfectly match the lighthearted tone.

From the August 2017 issue of The Horn Book Herald: Back to School.

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