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May the Force be with you (and your reading!)

Star Wars Reads Day

[cue 20th Century Fox intro] [cue Star Wars theme song] Tomorrow, Saturday October 6, 2012 is the first National Star Wars Reads Day, designed to “celebrate reading and Star Wars.” While this may be an unusual pairing, I’m all for promoting events that encourage children to read. So in honor of the inaugural event, I’ve […]

Spooks, and ninjas, and vampires—oh my!

Trick or Treat

Who needs candy? These four new treats will satisfy picture book fans hungry for Halloween fun. While delivering invitations to his Halloween party, ghost Oliver, star of Leo Landry’s Trick or Treat, doesn’t notice when one slips away and floats down to two boys. When “a little cow and a little jack-o’-lantern” unexpectedly arrive at […]

American heroes

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass

As the school year begins, young American history students will find themselves drawn to the times, places, and people that shaped our nation. The following titles — a picture book biography for intermediate-level readers, two engaging nonfiction narratives, and a biography in cartoon-panel format — will be appreciated by middle graders looking for American heroes. […]

It’s all about the hair

brave storybook app menu

Being a big Disney/Pixar fan, I went to see the new movie Brave on opening weekend. Brave is the story of Merida, an independent, archery-loving young Scottish princess who longs to control her own destiny despite her mother’s wish to marry her off. When a magic spell Merida buys from a witch turns her mother […]

Under-the-sea reading for kids


Taking a trip to the beach this summer? These poetry and nonfiction picture books work swimmingly to teach children about ocean life. David Elliott and Holly Meade’s In the Sea combines poetry and art to create memorable portraits of twenty different ocean creatures, including an octopus, golden starfish, moray eel, and blue whale. The tone […]

Children’s books LIVE!

Peter and the Starcatcher

Two weeks ago Peter and the Starcatcher won five Tony Awards, including best performance by an actor in a featured role. The play, which is based on Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson’s Peter Pan prequel series, received nine total nominations. This children’s literature/theater connection sparked my curiosity, so I did a little research on the […]

Bob Graham on A Bus Called Heaven

A Bus Called Heaven

From the May/June 2012 issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Cynthia Ritter asks A Bus Called Heaven author/illustrator Bob Graham about the idea behind his new picture book. Read the full review of A Bus Called Heaven here. Cynthia Ritter: Was your inspiration for the book a real bus? Bob Graham: I did see such […]

Review of A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness; inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd; illus. by Jim Kay Middle School    Candlewick    206 pp. 9/11    978-0-7636-5559-4    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-7636-5633-1    $16.99 Conor’s mum has cancer; his father lives in America with his new family and rarely visits; he doesn’t get along with his grandma who helps […]

YA sci-fi and fantasy you’ve been waiting for

Beth Revis A Million Suns cover

Sci-fi and fantasy fans will thrill to these engrossing sequels. The books are sure to satisfy readers’ expectations and leave them eager for more. In A Million Suns, the sequel to Beth Revis’s Across the Universe, Sol-Earth–born Amy is struggling with the claustrophobic life aboard the Godspeed after being prematurely awakened from her frozen sleep. […]

Beautiful Bitterblue

my favorite section opener

As a big fan of Kristin Cashore’s Graceling and Fire, I was excited to review Bitterblue (Dial), the third book in her Graceling Realm, for the May/June issue of The Horn Book Magazine. I had to work from the galley, but on Monday the hardcover finally arrived in the office. With elaborate maps and illustrations […]