Review of The Book with No Pictures

novak_bookwithnopix

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

eldeafo

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

freedman_because they marched

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

nye_turtle of oman

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

barnett_samanddave

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

gantos_key that swallowed joey pigza

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

pinkney_red pencil

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 […]

Review of The Way to the Zoo

burningham_this way to the zoo

The Way to the Zoo by John Burningham; 
illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 8/14    978-0-7636-7317-8    $15.99 “All I have to do is leave you at home when I go out for a while and it looks as if you had the whole zoo in here!” cries Sylvie’s mother. Actually, there had […]

Review of The Iridescence of Birds

maclachlan_iridescence of birds

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse by Patricia MacLachlan; 
illus. by Hadley Hooper Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 10/14    978-1-59643-948-1    $17.99 “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived / in a dreary town…” Thus begins this speculative exploration of the painter’s early encounters with color, worded as a book-length […]