Tales with tails


Who wouldn’t want a giant, invisible, jelly bean–eating cat as a best friend? In the following imaginative middle-grade animal fantasy stories, creatures interact with humans in unusual ways, or they are the stars of their own shows. Fifth-grader Jackson, protagonist of Katherine Applegate’s Crenshaw, is the one scientifically minded member of his dreamy family, which […]

Forging a path


Four new picture-book biographies focus on trailblazers, from pioneering social and political activists to groundbreaking dancers and musicians, to inspire a new generation of children. Carole Boston Weatherford’s majestic new book, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, chronicles the civil-rights icon’s life from her beginnings as the child of […]



From kidnapped young women in bizarre landscapes to invisible helicopters; trippy, graffiti-like illustrations to tantalizing chapter openers that tell a whole other story, these novels use distinctive narrative structures to describe teens in…unusual…circumstances. Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here is a fantasy novel — and simultaneously a fantasy-novel send-up — whose true […]

Stuff and nonsense


These new picture books put silly spins on their topics, with playful pigs, wily walruses, mischievous mice, hat-stealing creatures (not, this time, a fish) — and antic adventures for all.  In Anita Lobel’s Playful Pigs from A to Z, twenty-six pigs who are exploring the countryside find a field of “magical surprises”: brightly colored, freestanding […]

Review of Two Mice

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Two Mice by Sergio Ruzzier; 
illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Clarion   32 pp. 9/15   978-0-544-30209-9   $12.99 Using only two-word phrases (“One house / Two mice / Three cookies”) and a simple repeating number pattern (one, two, three; three, two, one; one, two, three), this clever book (with an extra-small, preschooler-perfect trim size) creates a […]

Review of Noah Webster: Man of Many Words

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Noah Webster: Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef Middle School, High School   Clarion   214 pp. 8/15   978-0-544-12983-2   $18.99   g Think of what it would be like to create the first American dictionary: selecting the words, including those used in science and math as well as those from everyday speech; determining spelling, such as favor […]

Review of Tender Morsels


Margo Lanagan Tender Morsels 435 pp. Knopf 10/08 isbn 978-0-375-84811-7 $16.99 g Library edition isbn 978-0-375-94811-4 $19.99 (High School) Raped repeatedly by her father and, after his death, brutally gang-raped by village youths, fifteen-year-old Liga determines to kill herself and her baby. Instead of dying, the two enter a parallel world; a place without aggression, […]

Review of The Spell Book of Listen Taylor

Jaclyn Moriarty The Spell Book of Listen Taylor 479 pp. Levine/Scholastic 9/07 isbn 978-0-439-84678-3 $16.99 g (High School) Moriarty (The Year of Secret Assignments, rev. 3/04; The Life Murder of Bindy Mackenzie, rev. 1/07) returns with another madly convoluted, over-the-top comedy-drama-mystery told from multiple points of view. Twelve-year-old Listen Taylor is too ashamed to tell […]

Review of Another Day

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Another Day by David Levithan Middle School, High School   Knopf   327 pp. 8/15   978-0-385-75620-4   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-385-75621-1   $20.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-385-75622-8   $10.99 In Every Day (rev. 11/12), we heard from “A,” a gender-neutral sixteen-year-old character who wakes up in a different body each morning. As readers may recall, the day A inhabited Justin, […]

Review of Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box

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Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box by Michael S. Bandy and Eric Stein; illus. by James E. Ransome Primary   Candlewick   32 pp. 7/15   978-0-7636-6593-7   $16.99 “Patience, son, patience.” That’s what the young narrator’s grandfather tells him as they wait for the fish to bite. That’s also what Granddaddy says when he puts on […]