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Field Notes: Escaping Series Mania

building our house

Last spring I worked, temporarily, as a school librarian, a position I hadn’t held since Reagan was president. There were lots of adjustments, some easier than others. But the biggest surprise of all was that in this elementary school in an affluent suburb in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, almost every child was really reading, with […]

Review of Surf’s Up

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Surf’s Up by Kwame Alexander; 
illus. by Daniel Miyares Primary    North-South    32 pp. 2/16    978-0-7358-4220-5    $17.95    g Alexander follows up his poignant 2015 Newbery-winning middle-grade verse novel The Crossover (rev. 5/14) with…a picture book starring two frogs, one a surfer dude, the other a bookworm. “SURF’S UP, BRO!” calls the first frog to his bud. […]

Review of Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History

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Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal Middle School, High School   Feiwel   418 pp. 1/16   978-1-250-08029-5   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-250-06014-3   $9.99 Though definitely not a hagiography, this biography offers a frank yet positive account of Clinton’s life through the 2015 announcement of her presidential candidacy. Beginning with her birth in 1947, […]

Review of Burn Baby Burn

medina_burn baby burn

Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina High School   Candlewick   308 pp. 3/16   978-0-7636-7467-0   $17.99   g This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City, when tensions rose throughout a city enduring an oppressive heat wave, culminating in the historic blackout of July 13th. Seventeen-year-old Nora López faces an insecure […]

New (and old) friends for beginning readers

new readers_depaola_when andy met sandy

Many beginning readers love visiting familiar characters. Here are two continuations of existing series; one spinoff of an old favorite; and the beginning of a series whose characters may quickly feel like old friends. Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis debut a series for just-beginning readers, with entertaining, expressive illustrations by dePaola. In the first entry, […]

Let’s hear it for spring

spring_karas_on the farm

Winter is almost over! Time to head outdoors. Four very different picture books take readers outside, whether it’s on a working farm, in an imaginary tree fort, for a day out with two best friends (one is a bulldog), or going up on a mountaintop in search of a lost kite. On the Farm, at […]

Some audiobooks!

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Variously set long ago, far away and right here, right now, these audiobooks deeply engage middle-grade listeners in the struggles — and triumphs — of their protagonists. George, Alex Gino’s middle-grade novel about a transgender girl named George (who secretly thinks of herself as Melissa), gets a remarkable reading from narrator Jamie Clayton, herself transgender. […]

Her-stories

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March is Women’s History Month, and this is an especially noteworthy year for one of the subjects of these four YA biographies (and possible vindication for another one of them whose notorious reputation precedes her). Hillary Rodham Clinton: A Woman Living History by Karen Blumenthal offers a positive yet frank account of Clinton‘s life through […]

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

Five questions for Laura Dronzek When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek, Greenwillow, 2–4 years. Birds by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek, Greenwillow, 2–4 years. It Is Night by Phyllis Rowand, illus. by Laura Dronzek, Greenwillow, 2–4 years. Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow, 2–4 years. Let’s hear it […]

Review of When Spring Comes

henkes_when spring comes

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; 
illus. by Laura Dronzek Preschool   Greenwillow   40 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-233139-7   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-06-233140-3   $18.89 “Before Spring comes, / the trees look like / black sticks against the sky. // But if you wait, / Spring will bring / leaves and blossoms.” In a gently rhythmic text and lush, […]