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Ghosts and witches and wizards, oh my!


What better time of year to curl up with a creepy book and a cup of cocoa to ward off the supernatural shivers? These middle-school novels provide just the right balance of adventure and eeriness — along with a few magical villains (or are they?) — for deliciously spooky fall reads. Set in late-nineteenth-century imperial […]

Fantastical folklore


The following works of folklore — a new Grimm like you’ve never seen, a Norwegian folk story in silly/creepy graphic novel form, a pourquoi tale done in Duncan Tonatiuh’s unmistakable visual style, and two classic reissues — feature fabulous and fantastical folk. In the hands of creative teachers, librarians, and parents, Shaun Tan’s The Singing […]

Historical horror stories

berry_passion of dolssa

History buffs and horror fans alike will appreciate these YA books about characters facing their own demons — of the metaphysical, metaphorical, or, most disturbingly, human varieties. In The Passion of Dolssa, author Julie Berry tells the story of (fictional) Catholic mystic Dolssa de Stigata after she escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 […]

Monster mash


What goes bump in the night? Maybe it’s a monster, but maybe it’s a new friend — or maybe it’s both! These monstrously silly picture books are perfect treats for a Halloween story time. In Monica Brown’s Marisol McDonald and the Monster / Marisol McDonald y el monstruo, the little-girl protagonist explores words beginning with […]

Review of Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak?

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    48 pp. 10/16    978-0-7636-6530-2    $16.99    g Picture books have traditionally been a rich source of neologisms. Grinch, knuffle: plums in the puddings of picture book texts. In this story, told in dialogue, Ellis pushes that tradition and invents an entire language. On the […]

Horn BOO! 2016

caswell_boo haiku

Not sure what to read on Halloween? Never fear! 
We’ve got you covered with picture books about ghosts, bats, and…trucks? Boo! Haiku by Deanna Caswell; illus. by Bob Shea Preschool    Abrams Appleseed    24 pp. 8/16    978-1-4197-2118-2    $12.95 Caswell and Shea return to the format of their earlier book, Guess Who, Haiku, and make it spooky […]

Plum’s Creaturizer app review


It’s that (internet) age-old problem: if kids are staring at screens, they aren’t playing outside. PBS Kids’s Plum’s Creaturizer app (2015; iOS and Android), follow-up to the Plum’s Photo Hunt app, attempts to combine techie-fun, some very early science, and outdoor play. According to the “For Parents” section, its aim is to help children “develop […]

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science 
from Sherlock Holmes to DNA


Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science 
from Sherlock Holmes to DNA by Bridget Heos Middle School, High School    
Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    259 pp. 10/16    978-0-06-238762-2    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-238764-6    $9.99 Each of eleven chapters chronologically traces the development of one branch of forensic science and the experts who practice it. Methods […]

Picture books | class #1, fall 2016


For our first class on October 12, we will be reading two picture books and three articles. Where the Wild Things Are is a classic now, but when it was first published in 1963 it was controversial. If you knew this book as a child, what did you notice this time that you might not […]

Review of Ashes


Ashes [Seeds of America] by Laurie Halse Anderson Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    296 pp. 10/16    978-1-4169-6146-8    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4424-4508-6    $6.99 It’s been five long years since Isabel’s younger sister, Ruth, was stolen away by hated slave owner Madam Lockton (Chains, rev. 11/08), but as Isabel continues her fraught journey south in June 1781 […]