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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

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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!

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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

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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 […]

Picturing Imogen

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In the March issue of Notes from the Horn Book, in honor of Women’s History Month, I picked out some recent picture-book biographies focusing on women who left their marks on society. Another worthy offering is Imogen: The Mother of Modernism and Three Boys (Cameron + Company, December 2012) by Amy Novesky, author of the […]

Women’s History Month

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March is Women’s History Month, and these four picture-book biographies of remarkable women who broke down boundaries and changed the world should find an audience of primary-aged girls and boys. Michelle Markel brings the plight of early-twentieth-century female garment workers to life in Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909. Persecuted in […]

Middle School Confidential app reviews

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The Middle School Confidential apps written by Annie Fox are graphic novel “so-real-you’ll-squeal teen adventures” from Free Spirit Publishing and developer Electric Eggplant aimed at 11–14 year olds. Each offers helpful social advice through a cast of relatable teens “just trying to figure out what middle school is all about” while coping with issues that […]

Funny folktales

Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?

Hard-boiled nursery rhymes, a one-that-got-away big-fish tale, and more. These four folklore-inspired picture books offer humorous shakeups of beloved story types and the characters who inhabit them. David Levinthal recasts the events of fairyland as crimes (“The Three Bears” is a breaking-and-entering case; “Snow White” is an attempted murder) in Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?: And […]