Subscribe to The Horn Book

About Sarah Ellis

Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Review of Tumble & Blue

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley; illus. by the author Intermediate    Dial    392 pp. 8/17    978-0-525-42844-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-698-18907-2    $10.99 Way back when, there were strange things done in the Okefenokee Swamp. A plot was set in motion by two bad people, horse thief Walcott Montgomery and murderer Almira LaFayette. Their descendants, especially a […]

Review of Life

Rylant, Cynthia Life 48 pp. Simon/Beach Lane 2017. ISBN 978-1-4814-5162-8 Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-5163-5 (3) K–3 Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. A reverie on life — its mutability, joys, and challenges — leads to a conclusion of hope: “There is always a new road to take.” The poetic (if slightly bromidic) text is given rigor and specificity […]

Review of Izzy Kline Has Butterflies: A Novel in Small Moments

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies: A Novel in Small Moments by Beth Ain Intermediate    Random    167 pp. 3/17    978-0-399-55080-5    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55081-2    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-399-55082-9    $10.99 Fourth grader Izzy has her share of common woes — mean girls, school anxiety, auditions for a play, a dad […]

Review of Goldfish Ghost

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket; illus. by Lisa Brown Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 5/17    978-1-62672-507-2    $17.99 This story begins with a death framed in terms of a birth. “Goldfish Ghost was born on the surface of the water in a bowl on the dresser in a boy’s room.” Our hero […]

Review of Town Is by the Sea

 Town Is by the Sea by Joanne Schwartz; illus. by Sydney Smith Primary    Groundwood    56 pp. 4/17    978-1-55498-871-6    $19.95 “From my house, I can see the sea. It goes like this — house, road, grassy cliff, sea. And town spreads out, this way and that.” There’s a distilled, haiku-like quality to […]

Review of The Great Antonio

The Great Antonio by Elise Gravel; illus. by the author; trans. from the French by Richard Kutner Primary    TOON    64 pp. 10/16    978-1-943145-08-9    $12.95 TOON Books continues to reinvent the easy reader with this biography of eccentric strongman Antonio Barichievich, a Croatian-born showman who became a Montreal legend. Fact, speculation, and tall tale mingle in […]

Review of Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    48 pp. 10/16    978-0-7636-6530-2    $16.99    g Picture books have traditionally been a rich source of neologisms. Grinch, knuffle: plums in the puddings of picture book texts. In this story, told in dialogue, Ellis pushes that tradition and invents an entire language. On the […]

Review of Inspector Flytrap

Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger; illus. by Cece Bell Primary    Amulet/Abrams    104 pp. 8/16    978-1-4197-0948-7    $14.95 Paper ed.  978-1-4197-0965-4    $5.95 e-book ed.  978-1-4197-0965-4    $5.95 In three easy-reading mystery stories (plus lunch), Angleberger and Bell introduce a high-concept detective duo. A Venus flytrap, with a goat sidekick, runs the Flytrap Detective Agency, which specializes in “BIG […]

Review of Mister Cleghorn’s Seal

Mister Cleghorn’s Seal by Judith Kerr; illus. by the author Primary/Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    95 pp. 6/16    978-0-00-817083-7    $14.99 Recently retired newsagent Mister Cleghorn finds himself lonely and purposeless. On a trip to the seaside, he impulsively adopts Charlie, an orphaned seal pup, intending on taking him back to the city and donating him to his local […]

Review of Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? 
[Tales from Deckawoo Drive] by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Chris Van Dusen Primary    Candlewick    101 pp. 8/16    978-0-7636-7311-6    $14.99    g DiCamillo continues the relay of Tales from Deckawoo Drive, as minor characters from previous books (Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, rev. 9/14; Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon, rev. 9/15) […]