Review of Drowned City

brown_drowned city

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans by Don Brown; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School   Houghton   96 pp. 8/15   978-0-544-15777-4   $18.99 To date, the majority of children’s and young adult books about Hurricane Katrina are microcosmic stories or accounts of a single person or family. Here, in powerful comic-book format, Brown delivers the […]

Review of Mothman’s Curse

hayes_mothman's curse

Mothman’s Curse by Christine Hayes; illus. by James K. Hindle Intermediate, Middle School   Roaring Brook   311 pp. 6/15   978-1-62672-027-5   $15.99 e-book ed. 978-1-62672-028-2   $9.99 Spine-tingling mystery meets small-town gossip in this ghost story set in Athens, Ohio, “the most haunted town in America.” Josie Fletcher and her scheming brother Fox are no strangers to the […]

Review of Funny Bones

tonatiuh_funny bones

Funny Bones: Posada and His Day 
of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh; 
illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate   Abrams   40 pp. 8/15   978-1-4197-1647-8   $18.95 Artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852–1915) didn’t invent calaveras, the iconic skeletons associated with Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebration, but they attained their greatest popularity during the twenty-four years that […]

Review of My Autumn Book

yee_my autumn book

My Autumn Book by Wong Herbert Yee; 
illus. by the author Preschool   Ottaviano/Holt   32 pp. 8/15   978-0-8050-9922-5   $14.99 A girl celebrates autumn in Yee’s fourth in a quartet of books about the seasons (Tracks in the Snow, rev. 11/03; Who Likes Rain?, rev. 3/07; Summer Days and Nights, rev. 7/12). The young narrator continues her […]

Field Notes: On Propagating Literacy


My story about working in adult literacy starts with a Black Knight Buddleia sapling on my twenty-sixth birthday at around two o’clock in the afternoon. I was digging the hole to plant the Buddleia in the garden of my Tipperary farm when the phone rang. The caller was Mary, who ran the then-small adult literacy […]

Review of Swan


Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder; 
illus. by Julie Morstad Primary, Intermediate   Chronicle   48 pp. 8/15   978-1-4521-1890-1   $17.99 In this exquisite introduction to ballet great Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), the impressionistic text begins the night young Anna goes out into the big city to see The Sleeping Beauty performed. Like the […]

Reviews of select books by Vera B. Williams

chair for my mother

Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart by Vera B. Williams; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Greenwillow    72 pp. 9/01    0-06-029460-4    15.95    g Library ed.    0-06-029461-2    15.89 For sisters Essie and Amber, a “Best Sandwich” means snuggling together with their teddy bear between them, breathing “each other’s breath / in and out and in […]

Review of James to the Rescue!

broach_james to the rescue

James to the Rescue! [Masterpiece Adventures] by Elise Broach; illus. by Kelly Murphy Primary   Ottaviano/Holt   104 pp. 10/15   978-1-62779-316-2   $15.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-62779-317-9   $9.99 There is something universally compelling about little critters having their own world, mostly hidden from adults (witness the staying power of the Littles, the Borrowers, and the Doll People), and […]

Review of The Hired Girl


 The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz Middle School   Candlewick   392 pp. 9/15   978-0-7636-7818-0   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7943-9   $17.99 In 1911, spirited fourteen-year-old Joan, the only girl in a family of three boys plus a verbally abusive father (her weak-of-constitution mother has died), musters her courage and leaves her rural Pennsylvania home for Baltimore, the […]

Review of Look and Be Grateful

depaola_look and be grateful

Look and Be Grateful by Tomie dePaola; illus. by the author Preschool   Holiday   32 pp. 10/15   978-0-8234-3443-5   $16.95   g e-book ed. 978-0-8234-3485-5   $16.95 With all the picture books designed for just-before-sleep (see Thank You and Good Night and Beep! Beep! Go to Sleep! in this issue), why not one to bring you awake? DePaola’s rouse […]