Deirdre Baker

About Deirdre Baker

Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca
at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the
past tense.

An Interview with Elizabeth Wein

A wall in Ravensbrück; the dynamic sky (symbol of freedom for the prisoners) above it.

Author Elizabeth Wein is also a pilot, and her two most recent novels, Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, feature young female pilots who ferry aircraft for Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II. When Elizabeth was in Toronto recently for a book tour, she invited me to join her on a flight […]

Review of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

kwaymullina_interrogation of ashala wolf

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Ambelin Kwaymullina Middle School, High School    Candlewick    371 pp. 4/14    978-0-7636-6988-1    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7225-6    $17.99 In this Australian import, Ashala Wolf is head of the Tribe, a group of refugees deemed Illegals because of their supernatural abilities, which the government claims threaten the world’s fragile Balance. Some […]

Review of Far Far Away

far far away

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal Middle School, High School     Knopf     373 pp. 6/13     978-0-375-84972-5     $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-94972-2     $20.99     g e-book ed. 978-0-375-89698-9     $10.99 Sprightly, assured, and original, this story blends a small-town, middle-American, twentieth-century setting with the learned realms of the Brothers Grimm and their […]

Review of Maggot Moon

maggot moon

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner; illus. by Julian Crouch Middle School, High School    Candlewick    281 pp. 2/13    978-0-7636-6553-1    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7636-6573-9    $16.99 Gardner (I, Coriander, rev. 8/05) here imagines an alternate, dystopic UK: a repressive 1950s regime that calls itself the Motherland, abhors “impurities,” is led by a man with a bad haircut, and […]

Review of The Archived

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The Archived by Victoria Schwab Middle School, High School    Hyperion    324 pp. 1/13    978-1-4231-5731-1    $16.99    g Mackenzie is a “Keeper”; her job is to return the wakeful dead (or “Histories”) to the Archive, a repository of all human memory. Persuading the dead to return to their rightful resting place often involves kick-ass combat, but never […]

Gary D. Schmidt on What Came from the Stars

gary schmidt

From the September/October issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Reviewer Deirdre F. Baker asks What Came from the Stars author Gary D. Schmidt about the function of elevated language in the novel. Read the full starred review of What Came from the Stars here. Deirdre F. Baker: For the book’s fantasy elements, you hark back […]

Review of What Came from the Stars

what came from the stars

What Came from the Stars  by Gary D. Schmidt Middle School     Clarion     293 pp. 9/12     978-0-547-61213-3     $16.99     g Schmidt brings high heroic fantasy and contemporary realism together in this novel of a bereaved family. In Plymouth, Massachusetts, Tommy grieves for his mother, who died eight […]

Review of A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes

A Confusion of Princes by Garth Nix Middle School, High School    Harper/HarperCollins    337 pp. 5/12    978-0-06-009694-6    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-009695-3    $18.89    g Nix’s gaming-inspired, sci-fi fantasy is a pleasing mix of high-adventure space drama, total bunkum (e.g., “it’s functioning on the tertiary backup level, without a holo…”), and wry, boyish charm. Khemri’s coming-of-age story begins […]

Review of Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein High School    Hyperion    337 pp. 5/12    978-1-4231-5219-4    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4231-5325-2    $16.99 Wein’s exceptional—downright sizzling—abilities as a writer of historical adventure fiction are spectacularly evident in this taut, captivating story of two young women, spy and pilot, during World War II. Wein gives us the story in two […]

Review of The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths

The Cabinet of Earths by Anne Nesbet Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    260 pp. 1/12    978-0-06-196313-1    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-209919-8    $8.99 “Well! It is better to read fairy tales than to find yourself caught in them,” Nesbet’s narrator declares, a predictor of what is to be found in the subsequent pages — for Nesbet’s story is a-shimmer with […]