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Plots with pluck

spalding_look out for the fitzgerald trouts

Challenges from finding a new home to finding your (singing) voice to finding your “thing” are no match for the spirited main characters of these four middle-grade and middle-school novels. Eleven-year-old Kim, three siblings, and a goldfish live in a small green car in Esta Spalding’s Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts. Orphans? No, they actually […]

Welcome, new readers!

Willems_ThankYouBook

Four welcome books — two easy readers and two beginning chapter books — invite new readers in using humor and tried-and-true formats and structures. The Thank You Book is (sob!) the final entry in Mo Willems’s hugely popular series of easy readers featuring the free-spirited Piggie and her best friend, the reliable if sometimes officious […]

In the doghouse

mcanulty_excellent ed

Barking. Digging. Breaking things. True, the pooch protagonists of these recent picture books may have some bad habits. But as it turns out, even not-so-great qualities can have upsides, and the pups are excellent at what really matters: being a kid’s best friend. (And cleaning the floor, of course.) In Excellent Ed, each of the […]

Books mentioned in the August 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illus. by Nate Powell, Top Shelf, 14 years and up. Historical crossroads Presenting Buffalo Bill: The Man Who Invented the Wild West by Candace Fleming, Roaring Brook/Porter, 12–16 years. In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden […]

Review of The Snurtch

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The Snurtch by Sean Ferrell; 
illus. by Charles Santoso Preschool, Primary    Atheneum    40 pp. 8/16    978-1-4814-5656-2    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5657-9    $10.99 In this author-illustrator team’s (I Don’t Like Koala, rev. 3/15) second book, Ruthie, a wide-eyed, snub-nosed child with pigtail tufts that stick straight up, “has a problem at school.” And it’s a big […]

Review of My Book of Birds

valerio_my book of birds

My Book of Birds by Geraldo Valério; 
illus. by the author Primary    Groundwood    60 pp. 4/16    978-1-55498-800-6    $24.95 e-book ed.  978-1-55498-801-3    $19.95 In an introductory note, amateur birdwatcher Valério describes this book as “my album of artistic impressions of North American birds.” Each species is introduced with its common name, scientific name, and a descriptive […]

Review of Full of Beans

holm_full of beans

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm Intermediate    Random    196 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51036-2    $16.99 Library ed.  978-553-51037-9    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51039-3    $10.99 Beans Curry, first introduced in Turtle in Paradise (rev. 5/10), gets his own starring role in this standalone prequel set in 1934 Key West. With his dad out of work and his […]

Review of Grumpy Pants

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Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer; illus. by the author Preschool    Whitman    32 pp. 5/16    978-0-8075-3075-7    $16.99    g Penguin, dressed in yellow rain slicker and matching hat and standing under an ominous gray cloud, is in “a bad mood. A very bad mood.” He stomps inside and begins shedding layers. Off come the “grumpy boots,” “grumpy […]

From The Guide: Celebrating Music

ajmera_music everywhere

Troy Andrews’s Trombone Shorty, for which Bryan Collier took home the 2016 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (read his acceptance speech), is an inspirational musician’s-origin story. It’s also a celebration of music’s power to transform and uplift performers and to open doors. For more books to foster a love of and respect for music for […]

Review of You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

weatherford_you can fly

You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford; 
illus. by Jeffery Boston Weatherford Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    82 pp. 5/16    978-1-4814-4938-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4940-3    $10.99 Thirty-two poems written in the second person bring to life the experiences of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Pilots, bombardiers, instructors, maintenance workers, and navigators […]