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Review of The Saddest Toilet in the World

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The Saddest Toilet in the World by Sam Apple; illus. by Sam Ricks Preschool     Aladdin/Simon     32 pp. 6/16     978-1-4814-5122-2     $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-5123-9     $10.99 Potty training is serious business for all involved, but what of the unsung toilet? Does anyone consider its feelings? Apple and Ricks do just that in this laugh-out-loud respite from charts, […]

Review of The Best Man

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The Best Man by Richard Peck Intermediate, Middle School     Dial     232 pp. 9/16     978-0-8037-3839-3     $16.99     g e-book ed. 978-0-698-18973-7     $10.99 Rise and toast The Best Man, Peck’s story about Archer Magill, a boy growing from a raw dollop of kindergarten id into a functional middle-school kid, a budding citizen of the world. As a participant […]

Review of Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks

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Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown; illus. by Bob Kolar Primary    Candlewick    32 pp. 3/16    978-0-7636-6543-2    $16.99 Brown begins this playful and illuminating collection by taking a bite out of the most infamous of these ocean predators, the great white shark: “you’re no bully, / just a big attention hog. So / move […]

Review of Summerlost

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Summerlost by Ally Condie Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    253 pp. 3/16    978-0-339-18719-3    $17.99    g A local theater festival sets the stage for YA author Condie’s (Matched and sequels) first middle-grade novel. Twelve-year-old Cedar Lee, her little brother Miles, and their mother settle into their new summer home in Iron Creek, “a small town in a […]

Review of The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán”

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The White Cat and the Monk: A Retelling of the Poem “Pangur Bán” by Jo Ellen Bogart; 
illus. by Sydney Smith Preschool, Primary    Groundwood    32 pp. 3/16    978-1-55498-780-1    $18.95 e-book ed.  978-1-55498-781-8    $16.95 Perhaps best known to us now through Barber and Auden’s song “The Monk and His Cat” (there is also a YA novel […]

Review of Hare and Tortoise

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Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    32 pp. 5/16    978-0-7636-8721-2    $16.99 With warm, lively digital art and snappy narrated text, this new rendition of Aesop’s famous race will make a funny and satisfying read-aloud for both those familiar with the fable and those coming to it for the […]

Review of Every Single Second

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Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb; illus. by Diana Sudyka Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    360 pp. 6/16    978-0-06-236628-3    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-236630-6    $9.99 Nella Sabatini’s life is largely centered on her tight-knit Italian American family, including her harried mother, her cemetery-groundskeeper father, her four unruly younger brothers, and her crotchety great-grandmother, Nonna. But […]

Fathers, sons, and grandfathers

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The bonds between a son and his father or grandfather can be strong yet complicated. The following books offer middle schoolers a glimpse into some tricky, loving family relationships. In Kwame Alexander‘s verse novel Booked (a companion in structure and theme to his 2015 Newbery Award–winning The Crossover), eighth grader Nick Hall is quite a […]

Party animals

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Newly independent readers will go wild for these animal adventures with a hearty helping of wacky, slapsticky humor. A Goofy Guide to Penguins by twin-brother team Jean-Luc Coudray and Philippe Coudray supplies “everything you never, ever asked about penguins!” In an early-reader, four-panels-per-spread graphic-novel format, young Emperor penguins ask and answer silly questions: “How do […]

Arts and letters

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STEM’s great and all, but these picture-book biographies — about two fine artists, a musician, and a wordsmith — show that a career in arts and letters can be more than just a dream. In Cloth Lullaby: The Woven Life of Louise Bourgeois, Amy Novesky presents an exquisite portrait of modern artist Louise Bourgeois, who […]