Recommended Books

Promoting good books for children and young adults is the heart of The Horn Book’s editorial mission. Archived here are annotated lists of recommended titles.

Review of Winter Bees

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Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman; illus. by Rick Allen Primary, Intermediate    Houghton    32 pp. 11/14    978-0-547-90650-8    $17.99 In winter, bees (“we are nothing on our own”) keep their precious queen warm by massing together into a “sizzling ball.” Hibernating garter snakes, safe in a cave, “’round each other twist […]

Review of The Spiritglass Charade

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The Spiritglass Charade [Stoker & Holmes] by Colleen Gleason Middle School, High School    Chronicle    356 pp. 10/14    978-1-4521-1071-4    $17.99    g In the second Stoker & Holmes mystery (The Clockwork Scarab, rev. 9/13), the royal family enlists the teenage protagonists to investigate whether a young lady, Willa Ashton — who believes she can communicate with her […]

Review of The Book with No Pictures

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The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak Preschool    Dial    48 pp. 9/14    978-0-8037-4171-3    $17.99    g Novak (from television’s The Office) goes meta in this very funny text-only picture book. On crisp white pages, in a large black font, readers and listeners get clued in: “Here is how books work: Everything the words say, […]

Review of El Deafo

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El Deafo by Cece Bell; illus. by the author; 
color by David Lasky Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    242 pp. 9/14    978-1-4197-1020-9    $21.95 Paper ed.  978-1-4197-1217-3    $10.95 At the age of four, in 1975, Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her severely to profoundly deaf. In this characterful, vivid, often amusing graphic-novel memoir she recaptures the experiences of […]

Social justice

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Civil rights, global warming, and crime and punishment: these complex social issues receive accessible, clear treatment in four new nonfiction books for teens. In Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America, Russell Freedman documents the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march, including the horrific Bloody Sunday confrontation between marchers and Alabama state troopers. […]

Around the world

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Reading can take children on journeys outside of their everyday realms. The following stories — some humorous, some tender — allow independent readers to spend time with characters from all over the globe. When Naomi Shihab Nye’s The Turtle of Oman opens, Aref and his mother are preparing to leave their home in Muscat, Oman, […]

You’ve got to have friends

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Picture books about friendship can be a dime a dozen. However, these four new gems — about companions in adventure, in-sync skating partners, a tender odd-couple bond, and a freewheeling affection-giver — freshen things up. In Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, two boys set out to do just that — but unearth nothing. Eventually […]

Middle-grade mirth

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Kids having strange and wacky adventures with their friends — what’s a more engaging topic for upper-intermediate and early-middle-school readers? Two of the books below will have readers saying goodbye to favorite characters, one is a (snarky) sequel, and one is an homage — albeit a strange one — to a beloved classic. The Key […]

Books mentioned in the November 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Sharon Flake Unstoppable Octobia May by Sharon G. Flake, Scholastic, 9–12 years. Middle-school mirth The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos, Farrar, 9–12 years. He Laughed with His Other Mouths [Pals in Peril] by M.T. Anderson, illus. by Kurt Cyrus, Simon/Beach Lane, 9–12 years. Cartboy Goes to Camp by L.A. […]

Review of The Red Pencil

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The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Shane W. Evans Middle School    Little, Brown    324 pp. 9/14    978-0-316-24780-1    $17.00 e-book ed.  978-0-316-24781-8    $9.99 The first part of this vivid novel, set from September 2003 to March 2004, celebrates twelve-year-old Amira’s life on her family farm in Darfur, Sudan. Her first-person prose poems and […]