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Disco fish

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I cannot see this new picture book (which was starred in the November/December 2016 Horn Book Mag) and not have this song in my head. Oddly fitting, given the book’s subject — evolution. “At first I was a fish / I was petrified…” Which of course makes me think of this. And so the day […]

Revenge of the Little Free Libraries

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Remember how all those Little Free Libraries were in the news, with people being forced to take them down because of zoning laws and such? Here’s one Little Free Library (preemptively) striking back: Those suckers can be prickly!

Review of Still Life with Tornado

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Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King High School    Dutton    296 pp. 10/16    978-1-101-99488-7    $17.99    g “There is no such thing as an original idea,” sixteen-year-old Sarah’s teacher tells the class, a dictum that sticks with the once-promising art student. Sarah had an original idea, and she executed it beautifully, but Something Happened at school […]

Emerson’s “Diversity in Children’s and YA Publishing” panel

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Last week, Martha and I attended an excellent panel on “Diversity in Children’s and Young Adult Publishing,” hosted by Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. Panelists were Lesléa Newman (author of Heather Has Two Mommies, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, and many, many others); Vicky Smith, Kirkus‘s children’s and teen editor; and […]

Review of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

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Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; illus. by Jillian Tamaki Intermediate    Farrar    250 pp. 10/16    978-0-374-30261-0    $16.99    g Gertie Reece Foy lives with her great-aunt Rae in coastal Alabama while her kind and loving father, Frank, works on an oil rig. Her mother, Rachel, who left the family when Gertie was a baby, lives […]

Fantastical folklore

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The following works of folklore — a new Grimm like you’ve never seen, a Norwegian folk story in silly/creepy graphic novel form, a pourquoi tale done in Duncan Tonatiuh’s unmistakable visual style, and two classic reissues — feature fabulous and fantastical folk. In the hands of creative teachers, librarians, and parents, Shaun Tan’s The Singing […]

Historical horror stories

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History buffs and horror fans alike will appreciate these YA books about characters facing their own demons — of the metaphysical, metaphorical, or, most disturbingly, human varieties. In The Passion of Dolssa, author Julie Berry tells the story of (fictional) Catholic mystic Dolssa de Stigata after she escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 […]

Plum’s Creaturizer app review

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It’s that (internet) age-old problem: if kids are staring at screens, they aren’t playing outside. PBS Kids’s Plum’s Creaturizer app (2015; iOS and Android), follow-up to the Plum’s Photo Hunt app, attempts to combine techie-fun, some very early science, and outdoor play. According to the “For Parents” section, its aim is to help children “develop […]

Review of King Baby

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King Baby by Kate Beaton; illus. by the author Preschool    Levine/Scholastic    40 pp. 10/16    978-0-545-63754-1    $17.99    g Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but this ruler can’t yet support his own neck. A king (really a newborn baby) greets his loyal subjects (really relatives and friends of the family): “I am King Baby!…I […]

Help! My newborn hates to read.

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By now, we all know the benefits of reading to children from birth. The emotional bonding, the language development, the cognitive skills. Plus, there’s a sleep benefit, as Dr. Robert Needlman of Reach Out and Read discussed at the Horn Book’s Fostering Lifelong Learners symposium a few years ago. Tiny babies need to learn to […]