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.

Review of Tender Morsels


Margo Lanagan Tender Morsels 435 pp. Knopf 10/08 isbn 978-0-375-84811-7 $16.99 g Library edition isbn 978-0-375-94811-4 $19.99 (High School) Raped repeatedly by her father and, after his death, brutally gang-raped by village youths, fifteen-year-old Liga determines to kill herself and her baby. Instead of dying, the two enter a parallel world; a place without aggression, […]

Review of Challenger Deep

Challenger Deep jacket

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman; illus. by Brendan Shusterman High School   HarperTeen   318 pp. 4/15   978-0-06-113411-1   $17.99   g e-book 978-0-06-223172-7   $9.99 This novel is a challenge to the reader from its first lines: author Shusterman takes us into the seemingly random, rambling, and surreal fantasies of fifteen-year-old Caden Bosch (yes, it makes sense to associate […]

Cece Bell on El Deafo


In the November/December 2014 Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Deirdre Baker asked Cece Bell about her graphic novel memoir El Deafo — which is told entirely with anthropomorphic bunnies. Read the starred review here; see more grrl-power graphic novels here. Deirdre F. Baker: Why did you choose to tell your autobiography with bunny characters? Cece Bell: […]

Review of El Deafo


El Deafo by Cece Bell; illus. by the author; 
color by David Lasky Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    242 pp. 9/14    978-1-4197-1020-9    $21.95 Paper ed.  978-1-4197-1217-3    $10.95 At the age of four, in 1975, Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. In this characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic-novel memoir she recaptures the experiences of […]

Review of Into the Grey

kiernan_into the grey

Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan Middle School, High School    Candlewick    295 pp. 8/14    978-0-7636-7061-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7636-7409-0    $16.99 When their home burns down, twin teens Patrick and Dominick move with their family to the shabby seaside cottage where they usually spend summer holidays. Almost at once, Pat sees that Dom is being haunted […]

Review of Poisoned Apples

hepperman_poisoned apples

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann; 
photos by various artists High School    Greenwillow    106 pp. 10/14    978-0-06-228957-5    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-228959-9    $9.99 For this poet, there is no dividing line between fairy tales and reality: “You can lose your way anywhere,” claims the poem with which she begins this collection […]

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 […]