Review of El Deafo

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El Deafo by Cece Bell; illus. by the author; 
color by David Lasky Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    242 pp. 9/14    978-1-4197-1020-9    $21.95 Paper ed.  978-1-4197-1217-3    $10.95 At the age of four, in 1975, Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. In this characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic-novel memoir she recaptures the experiences of […]

Review of The Red Pencil

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The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Shane W. Evans Middle School    Little, Brown    324 pp. 9/14    978-0-316-24780-1    $17.00 e-book ed.  978-0-316-24781-8    $9.99 The first part of this vivid novel, set from September 2003 to March 2004, celebrates twelve-year-old Amira’s life on her family farm in Darfur, Sudan. Her first-person prose poems and […]

Thom’s Rules of Order: Ten Tips for Good Book Discussion

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Many of us who read and consider books for young people in 
some professional capacity know group book discussion to be one 
of the most rewarding parts of the job. Few gratifications compare with enlightened, book-focused repartee in intelligent company. These discussions take many forms, from conversations around a kitchen table or in a college […]

Review of The Way to the Zoo

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The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham; 
illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 8/14    978-0-7636-7317-8    $15.99 “All I have to do is leave you at home when I go out for a while and it looks as if you had the whole zoo in here!” cries Sylvie’s mother. Actually, there had […]

Review of The Iridescence of Birds

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The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan; 
illus. by Hadley Hooper Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 10/14    978-1-59643-948-1    $17.99 “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived / in a dreary town…” Thus begins this speculative exploration of the painter’s early encounters with color, worded as a book-length […]

Beyond the Magically (Dis)abled

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This past May, Twitter broke out in a glorious maelstrom of activity around the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks that was thrilling to follow and — once I realized the plea wasn’t only for more books with central characters of color — even more thrilling to join. As the mother of a teenager with autism, the founder of […]

Review of Unstoppable Octobia May

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Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    281 pp. 9/14    978-0-545-60960-9    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-545-60961-6    $16.99 Unstoppable indeed is the dogged and imaginative protagonist of this fast-paced mystery novel set in 1953. Once narrator Octobia May gets an idea into her head, she follows it as far as it will take […]

Review of The Farmer and the Clown

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The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    32 pp. 10/14    978-1-4424-9744-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4424-9745-0    $10.99 Appearances can be deceiving in this superb wordless book from two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Frazee. At sunset, a grim-faced, pitchfork-wielding farmer comes to the rescue when a circus train hits […]

What Happened to the Frog?

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During this new era of the Common Core State Standards, it is essential for teachers and librarians not only to have an understanding of the end goal of each particular standard but also to have a deep knowledge of the children’s literature that can support it. Take, for example, the College and Career Readiness Anchor […]

Editorial: Self Service

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The Horn Book website was alight last month with a discussion of self-
publishing books for children. It began when I posted my thoughts on the subject in response to an email I received querying our policy of not reviewing books written and published by the same person. Like most good discussions, it was both heated […]