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Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

building our house

Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every child was really reading, with […]

Review of Surf’s Up

alexander_surf's up

Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander; 
illus. by Daniel Miyares Primary    North-South    32 pp. 2/16    978-0-7358-4220-5    $17.95    g Alexander follows up his poignant 2015 Newbery-winning middle-grade verse novel The Crossover (rev. 5/14) with…a picture book starring two frogs, one a surfer dude, the other a bookworm. “SURF’S UP, BRO!” calls the first frog to his bud. […]

Everyone Needs a Ramona

ramonastatue

I was a voracious reader growing up. I gorged on heaps of nonfiction from the public library, signing out all the shark books one day, clearing out every last volcano title the following week. I read Archie comics from the drugstore and dusty poetry books borrowed from the barn of the antique-books dealer who lived […]

Review of Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History

blumenthal_hillary

Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal Middle School, High School   Feiwel   418 pp. 1/16   978-1-250-08029-5   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-250-06014-3   $9.99 Though definitely not a hagiography, this biography offers a frank yet positive account of Clinton’s life through the 2015 announcement of her presidential candidacy. Beginning with her birth in 1947, […]

Review of Burn Baby Burn

medina_burn baby burn

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina High School   Candlewick   308 pp. 3/16   978-0-7636-7467-0   $17.99   g This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City, when tensions rose throughout a city enduring an oppressive heat wave, culminating in the historic blackout of July 13th. Seventeen-year-old Nora López faces an insecure […]

Review of When Spring Comes

henkes_when spring comes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; 
illus. by Laura Dronzek Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-233139-7   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-06-233140-3   $18.89 “Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. // But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” In a gently rhythmic text and lush, […]

Dear Mrs. Cleary

cleary_mouse and the motorcycle

Looking back, I’m amazed at the impact Beverly Cleary’s books had on my life, as both a reader and a writer. The first Cleary book I remember reading was The Mouse and the Motorcycle, which featured a talking rodent named Ralph who could ride a toy motorcycle just by saying “pb-pb-b-b-b.” I had just seen […]

Review of The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 Olympic Marathon

mccarthy_wildest-race-ever

The Wildest Race Ever: The Story of the 1904 
Olympic Marathon by Meghan McCarthy; 
illus. by the author Primary   Wiseman/Simon   48 pp. 3/16   978-1-4814-0639-0   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-0640-6   $10.99 The year 1904 saw the running of the first Olympic marathon on American soil, taking place in St. Louis during the World’s Fair. How fitting that […]

Horn Book Magazine – March/April 2016

March/April 2016 Horn Book Magazne

Table of Contents Features Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday A series of tributes to the author and her work. “The Real Ramona” by David Reuther “Telling the Truth While Making Things Up” by Elaine Scott “Dear Mrs. Cleary” by Varian Johnson “Everyone Needs a Ramona” by Kate Messner “Beverly Cleary and the Art of Growing Up” […]

Review of Pax

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Jon Klassen Intermediate, Middle School   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   278 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-237701-2   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-0-06-237703-6   $11.99 Twelve-year-old Peter and his pet fox have been inseparable since Peter rescued Pax as a kit. Now Peter’s father has enlisted, and there’s no room at Grandfather’s house (where the boy will […]