If you only had a brain


Farah Mendlesohn called my attention to this bit of fuckwittery from The Guardian, in which their art critic Jonathan Jones opines that the late Terry Pratchett wrote “trash” while the equally late Günter Grass was a “true titan of the novel,” so why is everyone more sad about the passing of Sir Terry? The dumbness of this point–let’s […]

What ELSE do you do?: five questions for Deborah Taylor

Deborah Taylor is third from the left in this 2014 photo of the "Cincy Gang." Photo by Alison Dougherty Berkowitz

This series of interviews debuted last spring with five questions for author T.A. Barron; now I’m following it up with five more for one of my favorite librarians, Deborah Taylor, coordinator of school and student services for the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Deb and I have been friends for more than thirty years since […]

My weekend reviews


Friday night–When Robert C. O’Brien’s 1975 YA Z for Zachariah made it onto the silver screen forty years later, you’d think its post-apocalyptic setting and sturdy heroine would have been enough to give it currency but NO: the famous two-hander is now a lurve triangle, and–spoiler alert–the attempted rape, so controversial in its time, is glossed over […]

Friday roundup


In a week when everybody is supposed to be away at the beach, the Horn Book has been cranking out stuff for you to read. Beach reading, it’s maybe not, but nevertheless useful and even entertaining, we hope. —Lolly’s Classroom is talking about STEM books and inexpensive sources for classroom libraries. –over on Out of the […]

God forbid?


He doesn’t really, but some incoming Duke University students are objecting to the pre-freshman year assignment of Fun Home, Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir of growing up gay (and the basis for the wonderful musical of the same name). If I were God–or Duke chancellor–I would immediately revoke these kids’ admission, given the evidence that they […]

Oh look, another newsletter


Look for The Horn Book’s new quarterly newsletter, WHAT MAKES A GOOD…? debuting on August 26th with “What Makes Good Narrative Nonfiction?” The issue features Five Questions for Steve Sheinkin, an essay about how to select NNF by the Junior Library Guild’s Deborah Brittain Ford, and brief reviews of our choices for the best narrative nonfiction published for kids […]



“You just follow your heart when it comes to fingering scenes” was MY takeaway quote from the latest newspaper report on the steamy goings-on in YA fiction, which predictably, has people a-Twitter. But while the article is sensationalized, it isn’t incorrect. Young adult fiction is sexier than it used to be, even if the “threesomes” […]

Summerteen 2015


SLJ’s Summerteen virtual conference is this Thursday and it’s free and promises to be a good time. I am particularly looking forward to hearing M. T. Anderson, Paula Ayer, Marc Aronson, and Susan Campbell Bartoletti talk about narrative nonfiction, which also happens to be the topic for the debut issue of our latest newsletter coming later […]

Starred reviews, September/October Horn Book


The following books will receive starred reviews in the September/October issue of The Horn Book Magazine: Fire Engine No. 9; written and illustrated by Mike Austin (Random) The Nonsense Show; written and illustrated by Eric Carle (Philomel) Waiting; written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow) Two Mice; written and illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier (Clarion) Crenshaw; by Katherine Applegate (Feiwel) Sunny Side Up; by Jennifer L. […]

Haunted home


With the theme “Homecoming,” Simmons College’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature held its biennial Institute this weekend; the Horn Book staff provides an excellent summary. (And Shoshana Flax has written a poem in its honor, too.) The funniest moment was when Jack Benny Gantos quipped about Go Set a Watchman, whose publication, he said […]