World Elephant Day 2014

oconnell_a-baby-elephant-in-the-wild

To celebrate World Elephant Day (August 12, 2014), here are some books about those larger-than-life creatures, with reviews from The Horn Book Guide Online. Picture Books Bunting, Eve Tweak Tweak 40 pp. Clarion 2011. ISBN 978-0-618-99851-7 (Preschool) Illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier. “‘Hold on to my tail, Little Elephant,’ Mama Elephant said. ‘…If you want to […]

For not-rotten new readers

gantos_rotten ralph's rotten family

Following your dreams and dealing with family: these topics get hilarious treatment for primary readers in the following early chapter books. An added bonus? Some familiar faces from popular series. In Jack Gantos and Nicole Rubel’s Rotten Ralph’s Rotten Family, the titular kitty finds a family photo album and, nostalgic for his childhood, decides to […]

Review of A Creature of Moonlight

hahn_creature of moonlight

A Creature of Moonlight by Rebecca Hahn Middle School, High School    Houghton    314 pp. 5/14    978-0-544-10935-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-544-11009-0    $17.99 Marni is the daughter of a princess and the powerful dragon who presides over the kingdom’s magicked woods. When she was a baby, her grandfather surrendered his throne to his son to save her […]

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

Five questions for Judith Viorst Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day written by Judith Viorst, illus. by Ray Cruz, Atheneum, 4–7 years. And Two Boys Booed written by Judith Viorst, illus. by Sophie Blackall, Farrarr/Ferguson, 4–7 years. Back-to-school basics Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea, Disney-Hyperion, 3–5 years. Dinosaur vs. School by […]

Beyond biography

woodson_brown girl dreaming

With storytelling ease and pitch-perfect pacing, the following works of narrative nonfiction for older readers bring their subjects to brilliant life, elevating the sometimes-staid genre of biography to literary art form. Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir-in-verse Brown Girl Dreaming is so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. Born […]

Go your own way

smith_100 sideways miles

Teen boys go on journeys both physical (road trip!) and psychological in these affecting YA novels. Finn Easton, protagonist of Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles, has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi […]

Back-to-school basics

shea_dinosaur vs school

Kids going back to school — or just starting out there? Here are a variety of picture books, from imaginative and funny to historical and serious, to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer. “Roar! Roar! Roar!” The diminutive red dinosaur from Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs. Bedtime faces its newest foe in […]

Review of The Twins’ Little Sister

yum_twins' little sister

The Twins’ Little Sister by Hyewon Yum; illus. by the author Preschool    Foster/Farrar    40 pp. 8/14    978-0-374-37973-5    $17.99 Those strong-willed sisters from The Twins’ Blanket (rev. 9/11) are back, having successfully transitioned from one shared bed and blanket to two beds and two blankets (one yellow and one pink, reflecting each twin’s decided color preference). […]

Review of Park Scientists

carson_park scientists

Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard 
[Scientists in the Field] by Mary Kay Carson; 
photos by Tom Uhlman Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    75 pp. 5/14    978-0-547-79268-2    $18.99 Although most of us think about our national parks in terms of their stunning natural vistas and opportunities for outdoor adventures, they […]

Review of Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling

frank_two girls staring at the ceiling

Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling by Lucy Frank Middle School, High School    Schwartz & Wade/Random    261 pp. 8/14    978-0-307-97974-2    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-307-97975-9    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-307-97976-6    $9.99 A high-strung teenager faces the emotional consequences of chronic illness in this poignant novel in verse. Narrator Francesca is having a magical night with a […]