Review of Once Upon an Alphabet

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Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate   Philomel   112 pp. 10/14   978-0-399-16791-1   $26.99 Each letter of the alphabet gets its own little story in this picture book that is much more than a simple set of ABCs. Whimsical, funny, occasionally tragic, and highly entertaining, this collection of (sometimes) interlocking […]

A Second Look: The Planet of Junior Brown

The Planet of Junior Brown

Does one of the salient works of the black children’s lit breakthrough still hold its own? Is it still the knockout that I pronounced it, at Kirkus, in 1971? The Planet of Junior Brown was Virginia Hamilton’s fourth book — each of them different from the others, and from anything else around. Hamilton, an emerging […]

Sushi Monster app review

sushi monster menu

Blobby, colorful monsters with insatiable appetites for sushi are the stars of entertaining — and challenging! — math-centric game-app Sushi Monster (Scholastic, 2012). Begin by selecting either Addition or Multiplication and a level (Addition has seven, Multiplication five). A gong sounds to move you on to the next screen and into the game. A hungry […]

Review of Star Stuff

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Star Stuff: Carl Sagan and the Mysteries of the Cosmos by Stephanie Roth Sisson; illus. by the author Primary   Roaring Brook   32 pp. 10/14   978-1-59643-960-3   $17.99 Beginning with the first page, Sisson showcases the magnitude of the universe, visually presenting the Milky Way and our sun’s place in it. Turn the page, and readers move […]

Review of The Darkest Part of the Forest

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The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black High School   Little, Brown   323 pp. 1/15   978-0-316-21307-3   $18.00 g e-book ed. 978-0-316-21305-9   $9.99 The people of Fairfold live beside the fairy folk with scant worry and not a little smugness. After all, only foolish tourists, lured to town by legend and the beautiful horned prince […]

Review of First Snow

mccarty_first snow

First Snow by Peter McCarty; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   40 pp. 1/15   978-0-06-218996-7   $16.99 Genial siblings Sancho, Bella, Lola, Ava, and Maria welcome their cousin Pedro, visiting from warmer climes, and introduce him to the joys of snow. The siblings are thrilled with an overnight snowfall and excitedly proclaim their […]

Review of Harlem Hellfighters

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Harlem Hellfighters by J. Patrick Lewis; 
illus. by Gary Kelley Intermediate, Middle School   Creative Editions   32 pp. 9/14   978-1-56846-246-2   $18.99 The story of the 15th New York National Guard, or the “Harlem Hellfighters,” an all-black regiment that joined the Great War in its final year, is a revealing lens through which to view that conflict. […]

Review of Belzhar

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Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer High School   Dutton   264 pp. 9/14   978-0-525-42305-8   $17.99   g After her boyfriend Reeve’s death, Jam Gallahue is shipped off to The Wooden Barn, a boarding school for “emotionally fragile, highly intelligent” teens. There she’s placed in a widely coveted, extremely selective course called Special Topics in English, one of just five […]

Editorial: Why #WNDB

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In this issue you’ll find “Fanfare,” The Horn Book’s selections for the best children’s and young adult books of last year. I’m happy to see so much variety among them, from a picture book about a bus driver to another about a haunted dog to a historical novel about Baba Yaga to a contemporary novel […]

Review of Firebird

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Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland 
Shows a Young Girl How to 
Dance like the Firebird by Misty Copeland; 
illus. by Christopher Myers Primary   Putnam   40 pp. 9/14   978-0-399-16615-0   $17.99   g Think you can simply write off celebrity books? Think again. American Ballet Theatre soloist Copeland is just as graceful with words as she is with her […]