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Board Book Roundup: Summer 2016 Edition

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This column is part of a series of recommended board book roundups, formerly published twice a year, now published every season. You can find the previous installments here. Don’t miss Viki Ash’s primer “What Makes a Good Board Book?” from the March/April 2010 Horn Book Magazine. Here are board books to enjoy with your toddler […]

International Primate Day


For International Primate Day, here are a few books to get you in the swing of things. One Gorilla: A Counting Book by Anthony Browne; illus. by the author Preschool    Candlewick    32 pp. 2/13    978-0-7636-6352-0    $16.99 For Anthony Browne, a gorilla is never just a gorilla. In this seemingly simple counting book from one to […]

Review of Giant Squid

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Giant Squid by Candace Fleming; 
illus. by Eric Rohmann Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 9/16    978-1-59643-599-5    $18.99 A mysterious giant squid lurks in the dark corners of the ocean depths. Page-turn by page-turn, parts of the squid are revealed: first, a few tentacles sweep across the blue/black-hued ocean environment; then, a few more emerge, and […]

Review of Dara Palmer’s Major Drama


Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah; illus. by Helen Crawford-White Intermediate    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    282 pp. 7/16    978-1-4926-3138-5    $16.99    g Though not a sequel to Shevah’s first novel, Dream On, Amber, this book is set at the same British elementary school and features another memorable narrator. Fifth grader Dara is genuinely gobsmacked when she isn’t […]

Review of How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story

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How This Book Was Made: Based on a True Story by Mac Barnett; illus. by Adam Rex Primary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp. 9/16    978-1-4231-5220-0    $17.99    g Barnett and Rex, no strangers to metafiction (Chloe and the Lion), have outdone themselves in terms of tongue-in-cheekiness as they describe the process of creating a book. “Ideas can come […]

Review of Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science

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Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    198 pp. 9/16    978-1-4814-6565-6    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6567-0    $10.99 Atkins (Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, rev. 5/10) here tells the stories, again in poetry, of three real-life self-taught female […]

Books mentioned in the August 2016 issue of What Makes a Good…?

What Makes a Good School Story? Picture Books Bean, Jonathan This Is My Home, This Is My School 48 pp.     Farrar     2015     ISBN 978-0-374-38020-5 Bell, Cece Chuck and Woodchuck 32 pp.     Candlewick     2016     ISBN 978-0-7636-7524-0 Bottner, Barbara Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) Illustrated by Michael Emberley 32 pp.     Knopf     2010     ISBN 978-0-375-84682-3 Library […]

Recommended School Stories: High School


Alsenas, Linas Beyond Clueless 249 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1496-2 Ever since fifth grade, Martha “Marty” Sullivan has been happy with just one friend: flamboyantly gay Jimmy. But now she’s attending an all-girls’ Catholic high school, which expands her social horizons both among girls (rebellious new friend Xiang) and guys. This mostly light comedy of […]

Review of School’s First Day of School


School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; 
illus. by Christian Robinson Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    40 pp. 6/16    978-1-59643-964-1    $17.99    g We’ve had many books about kids getting ready for the first day of school, but now we have another perspective: the school’s itself. The title page shows the finishing touches being added to a […]

Recommended School Stories: Middle School


Alexander, Kwame Booked 314 pp. Houghton 2016. ISBN 978-0-544-57098-6 Nick is a wordsmith, thanks to his linguistics-professor father, but he would rather be shining on the soccer field. He’s blindsided when his parents separate; things worsen at school, too, as he and best friend Coby are targeted by the racist Eggleston twins. With accessible forms […]