About Sarah Ellis

Vancouver writer and critic Sarah Ellis is on the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Review of Crenshaw


Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate Intermediate   Feiwel   243 pp. 9/15   978-1-250-04323-8   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-250-08022-6   $9.99 Jackson is a scientist, a skeptic, and nobody’s fool. He’s the resilient fifth-grader (the “most grown-up one in the house”) in a dreamy, overwhelmed family that has fallen on hard times. But sometimes even the hyper-competent need help, and […]

Review of My Family Tree and Me

petricic_my family tree and me

My Family Tree and Me by Dušan Petričić; illus. by the author Primary   Kids Can   24 pp. 4/15   978-1-77138-049-2   $16.95 The truth that if one’s parents hadn’t met one wouldn’t exist is a head-exploding realization of childhood. In this celebration of ancestry, Petričić bounces off that revelation to create an innovative introduction to the ordinary […]

Review of Detective Gordon: The First Case

nilsson_detective gordon the first case

Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall Primary, Intermediate   Gecko   96 pp. 4/15   978-1-927271-49-0   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-927271-72-8   $9.99 This Swedish import stars toad Detective Gordon, “Chief of Police and Chief of Detectives in the forest.” He’s elderly (for a toad: nineteen), cerebral, […]

Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers

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The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]

Review of Home


Home by Carson Ellis; illus by the author Preschool, Primary   Candlewick   40 pp. 2/15   978-0-7636-6529-6   g Ellis presents a dreamy, painterly meditation on the diversity and range of dwellings around the world and across time and imagination. “Home is a house in the country,” the text begins, and the illustration shows a simple-looking house with […]

Review of Harlem Hellfighters


Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis; 
illus. by Gary Kelley Intermediate, Middle School   Creative Editions   32 pp. 9/14   978-1-56846-246-2   $18.99 The story of the 15th New York National Guard, or the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an all-black regiment that joined the Great War in its final year, is a revealing lens through which to view that conflict. […]

Review of Nuts to You

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Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins; illus. by the author Intermediate    Greenwillow    260 pp. 8/14    978-0-06-009275-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-226220-2    $8.99 Jed the squirrel’s odyssey begins dramatically when he is captured by a hawk and carried far away from his community. Using an “ancient squirrel defensive martial art,” he escapes and so begins his […]

Review of Rain Reign

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Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin Intermediate    Feiwel    226 pp. 10/14    978-0-312-64300-3    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-250-06423-3    $9.99 Eleven-year-old Rose’s “official diagnosis is high-functioning autism.” She lives with her single dad, who does not have the resources, material or emotional, to be a parent. At school she is laughed at by her classmates. Her life […]

Review of Very Little Red Riding Hood

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Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy; illus. by Sue Heap Preschool    Houghton    32 pp. 9/14    978-0-544-28000-7    $16.99 In this re-imagining, Little Red is a toddler. She’s affectionate, stubborn, imperious, and has no time for the intimidation techniques of the wolf. “No touch my cakes!” She hugs him, calls him Foxie, and proceeds to […]

Review of Hermelin the Detective Mouse


Hermelin the Detective Mouse by Mini Grey; illus. by the author Primary    Knopf    32 pp. 8/14    978-0-385-75433-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-385-75434-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-385-75435-4    $10.99 A double-page spread shows us Offley Street, a panorama of seven row houses, each revealing, in glimpses through windows and open doors, small mysteries and nascent stories that figure […]