Review of The Great Greene Heist

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The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson Middle School    Levine/Scholastic    236 pp. 5/14    978-0-545-52552-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-545-52554-1    $16.99 Who knew a student council election could get so complicated? After pulling off a few legendary middle-school pranks, Jackson Greene has sworn off his scheming ways. But he gets pulled back in, in order to help […]

Review of Emily’s Blue Period

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Emily’s Blue Period by Cathleen Daly; illus. by Lisa Brown Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    56 pp. 6/14    978-1-59643-469-1    $17.99 Young Emily is an artist — a fact thoroughly established, visually, from title page on. She draws and she paints; she pores over art books. In school, she is learning about Pablo Picasso, and his work and […]

YA dragons and witches

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What fantasy fan worth her salt doesn’t love a good dragon or witch story? There’s no shortage of them; but these YA novels are wholly original offerings that focus on the development of complex main characters and the subversion of traditional notions of good and evil. Teenager Nathan is a prisoner in a cage in […]

Science in your backyard

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Outdoor play can double as an opportunity for learning about the natural world. These four nonfiction picture books may inspire readers to look more closely at the wildlife in their own neighborhoods. In Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, author Loree Griffin Burns explores the life cycle of butterflies alongside the work of a […]

Dog days of summer

stanton_monday, wednesday, and every other weekend

Dogs, cats, and…a sloth. These picture books showcase the comfort, companionship, aggravation, upheaval, and education that pets can bring into a family’s life. In Karen Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend, Henry and his dog Pomegranate live with Mama on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternating weekends and with Papa the rest of the time. Rich, […]

Middle-school capers

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Middle school can be a time when kids broaden their horizons, explore new talents, and form more grown-up opinions. But it can also be a time for mischievous adventure, social snafus, rule-breaking, and guerilla-style activism — and these middle-school capers abound with such madcap antics. Twelve-year-old Jade, star of Tess Hilmo’s Skies like These, would […]

Review of The Story of Buildings

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The Story of Buildings: From the Pyramids to the Sydney Opera House and Beyond by Patrick Dillon; 
illus. by Stephen Biesty Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    96 pp. 3/14    978-0-7636-6990-4    $19.99 Beginning with an ingratiatingly brief historical summary of how the human need for shelter brought us from caves to high-rises, Dillon and Biesty then circle […]

Reviews of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling; illus. by Mary Grandpré Levine/Scholastic Reviewed 1/99 Orphaned Harry Potter has been living a dog’s life with his horrible relatives. He sleeps in the broom cupboard under the stairs and is treated as a slave by his aunt and uncle. On his eleventh birthday, mysterious […]

Review of This One Summer

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This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki; illus. by Jillian Tamaki Middle School    First Second/Roaring Brook    320 pp. 5/14    978-1-59643-774-6    $17.99 Rose Wallace and her parents go to Awago Beach every summer. Rose collects rocks on the beach, swims in the lake, and goes on bike rides with her younger “summer cottage friend,” Windy. But this […]

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

Five questions for Varian Johnson The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson, Scholastic/Levine, 12–16 years. Middle-grade capers Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo, Farrar, 10–13 years. Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chicken by Julie Mata, Hyperion, 10–13 years. I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, Roaring Brook, 12–16 years. The Vigilante Poets of […]