April is National Poetry Month

mcphail_my mother goose

Preschool-perfect nursery rhymes, a potpourri of new-reader-friendly seasonal verse, a presidential history lesson in rhyme, and a picture book biography about a famous poet — these new books offer unique avenues for celebrating National Poetry Month. Editor and illustrator David McPhail’s My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes is an affable collection of sixty-three […]

Boys’ life

herrndorf_why we took the car

A heartrending and hilarious junior-high road-trip novel; a story about stepping up in dire straits; an exploration of grief, false exteriors, and hope; and a riveting depiction of a boy feigning manhood. These new novels featuring teenage boys offer coming-of-age drama with real heart. Two teens abandon their lackluster lives and hit the Autobahn in […]

“HORMONES SUCK. But being a young person doesn’t always.”

rookie yearbook 2

Rookie, popular e-zine for teenage girls and brainchild of teen blogger Tavi Gevinson, has steadily garnered fans since its launch in 2011. With monthly issues, the site offers engaging, cutting-edge, easily browsable material. Rookie Yearbook Two (Drawn and Quarterly, October 2013), the second compilation of annual content, featuring goods from 2013, is just as vibrant […]

Review of The Midnight Dress

foxlee_midnight dress

The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee High School    Knopf    281 pp. 10/13    978-0-375-85645-7    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-95645-4    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-0-449-81821-3    $9.99 Self-contained, morose fifteen-year-old Rose and her alcoholic father arrive in Australian beach town Leonora, and it seems like they may actually stay put for a spell, for once. Rose enrolls in school and […]

Boys to men

coaltown jesus

Being a teenage boy can be tough. Things change, insecurities reign supreme. These new YA novels all feature male protagonists dealing, in their own ways, with life’s big stuff. When fourteen-year-old Walker offers up a prayer (“Look…if you’re up there, help / my mom, okay? My brother’s been dead / two whole months, and she’s […]

NF Notes: The 2013 Boston Globe-Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winners


Every fall, we give out the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for excellence in children’s literature. To honor the tradition, this issue of Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book includes reviews of all three 2013 nonfiction award recipients — winner Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd and honor books […]

Enjoyable and easy reading

Penny and Her Marble

Age-appropriate stories about friendship and impromptu adventure make easy reader books relatable and entertaining. With welcoming texts and complementary illustrations in engaging formats, these titles starring characters both beloved and soon-to-be-beloved have something to offer emergent and newly independent readers. In Kevin Henkes’s Penny and Her Marble, the mouse’s third early-reader outing, she spies a […]

Lisa! You’re back!

movin' and shakin'

Last winter, overcome with mid-nineties nostalgia, I excitedly blogged about Lisa Loeb’s Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs (Sterling, January 2012). The cute bespectacled songstress is back with another picture book/CD package, Lisa Loeb’s Songs for Movin’ & Shakin’: The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes (Sterling, April 2013). These songs […]

Historical fiction starring girls


Strong-willed, memorable female protagonists are the stars of these historical novels for middle-grade and middle-school readers. A small gold-mining town in Alaska; early-twentieth-century San Francisco; 1870s rural Wisconsin; and Reconstruction Louisiana provide the backdrops for their entertaining adventures. Sugar by Jewell Parker Rhodes is the story of a spirited ten-year-old African American girl who works […]

Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park

It feels like everyone (the Horn Book included) is talking about Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park (St. Martin’s Griffin, February 2013) — and for good reason. I recently read it when it up was for starring in the May/June issue (it was a shoe-in), and mourned the fact that Rachel Smith and I hadn’t come […]