Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers

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Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in verse has perhaps half the […]

Review of Use Your Words, Sophie!

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Use Your Words, Sophie! by Rosemary Wells; illus. by the author Preschool   Viking   24 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01663-1   $16.99   g Mouse-child Sophie uses lots of words. She welcomes her new baby sister home from the hospital in Jellyfish language (“Jubbabubba”); she growls that she’s “too big for naps” in Hyena language (“Grabvjkloz!”). But her distracted parents […]

Review of In Mary’s Garden

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In Mary’s Garden by Tina Kügler and Carson Kügler; illus. by the authors Primary   Houghton   32 pp. 3/15   978-0-544-27220-0   $16.99 As a girl, Mary “was happiest when her hands were busy making, building, creating things.” As she grew up and traveled around the world, those early interests developed into a love for art. She returns […]

Sara Pennypacker on Completely Clementine

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In the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, reviewer Claire Gross talked to author Sara Pennypacker about the end of her long-running Clementine series. Read the full review of Completely Clementine here. Claire E. Gross: What was the hardest part about saying goodbye to Clementine? Sara Pennypacker: Clementine was a mix of my […]

Review of Completely Clementine

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Completely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Marla Frazee Primary, Intermediate   Disney-Hyperion   181 pp. 3/15   978-1-4231-2358-3   $14.99   g In this series-ender, third grade is almost over, but Clementine is far from ready to say goodbye to her familiar classmates and supportive teacher. Mr. D’Matz keeps trying to tell her about all the ways she’s grown […]

Review of You Nest Here with Me

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You Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple; illus. by Melissa Sweet Preschool   Boyds Mills   32 pp. 3/15   978-1-59078-923-0   $16.95   g Yolen and Stemple gracefully incorporate natural science into a comforting picture book comparing various nesting birds with a “nesting” child (“My little nestling, time for bed…”). Some birds, such […]

The Writer’s Page: Ex Libris

The author, age 15.

While I know there must be many books that feature great scenes 
set in libraries, one book that I’ve often thought about over the years is The Abortion (1971) by Richard Brautigan, whose narrator works in — and makes his home in — a public library whose shelves are filled with unpublished manuscripts that writers […]

Review of I, Fly

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I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are by Bridget Heos; illus. by Jennifer Plecas Primary   Holt   40 pp. 3/15   978-0-8050-9469-5   $17.99   g An adorable fly — googly-eyed, fuzzy-bodied, and with a winning smile, as portrayed in Plecas’s funny but informative cartoon illustrations — makes a compelling argument for why he should […]

Review of Listen, Slowly

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Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lại Intermediate, Middle School   Harper/HarperCollins   260 pp. 2/15   978-0-06-222918-2   $16.99 This second novel from National Book Award winner Lại (Inside Out and Back Again, rev. 3/11) grabs readers from the start. California girl Mai is on a plane, accompanying Ba, her grandmother, on a trip to Vietnam. Mai, who planned to […]

Review of Bird & Diz

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Bird & Diz by Gary Golio; illus. by Ed Young Primary   Candlewick   26 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-6660-6   $19.99 An impressionistic story of a “be-bop-a-skoodley” friendship comes together in the juxtaposition of a series of opposites — rendering and abstraction, saturation and resistance, darkness and light — reflecting the special partnership of two distinct musical legends. Golio […]