Review of On the Ball

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On the Ball by Brian Pinkney; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Disney-Hyperion   32 pp. 9/15   978-1-4847-2329-6   $17.99 Pinkney’s latest picture-book offering begins on a soccer field, then takes flight as a young boy’s imagination soars. The opening text reads, “Owen loved playing ball,” and the accompanying illustrations show a boy first dribbling and then […]

Review of Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark

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Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson Middle School   Scholastic   339 pp. 9/15   978-0-545-59220-8     $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-59222-2   $17.99 When Germany invaded Denmark in April 1940, the Nazis believed their small neighbor to the north would be a pushover. The Germans were partially right: […]

Review of Dark Shimmer

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Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli High School   Lamb/Random   358 pp. 9/15   978-0-385-74655-7   $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-385-90892-4   $19.99 e-book ed. 978-0-375-98917-9   $10.99 Napoli’s latest fairy-tale revisioning is set amongst the beautiful homes and mysterious waters of fifteenth-century Venice. Dolce grew up on a tiny island believing that she was a monster: larger than everyone else, […]

Review of Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas

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Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Simon   40 pp. 9/15   978-1-4814-3057-9   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-3058-6   $10.99 It’s hard to be a ninja when no one will join your snowball fight for fear of landing on Santa’s naughty list. There’s only one thing for Yukio to do: […]

Review of W Is for Webster: Noah Webster and His American Dictionary

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W Is for Webster: Noah Webster and His American Dictionary by Tracey Fern; illus. by Boris Kulikov Primary   Ferguson/Farrar   32 pp. 11/15   978-0-374-38240-7   $17.99 This breezy picture-book biography introduces young readers to the man responsible for all those plain, sturdy dictionaries housed in elementary classrooms across America. Far from plain himself, Webster was tall with […]

Review of Orbiting Jupiter

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Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt Middle School   Clarion   185 pp. 10/15   978-0-544-46222-9   $17.99 Jack’s new foster brother, Joseph, has a troubled past. The fourteen-year-old attacked a teacher, was subsequently incarcerated at a juvenile detention center, and has a baby daughter named Jupiter whom he’s never seen. At school, Joseph has a rough time, with […]

Review of The Plan

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The Plan by Alison Paul; illus. by Barbara Lehman Primary   Houghton   32 pp. 11/15   978-0-544-28333-6   $17.99 In just twenty words and a set of artfully plain pictures, Paul and Lehman reveal a sweet, multilayered story of family loss and closeness. May Swift lives with her father and (anthropomorphized) dog on a prairie farm sometime in […]

Review of Traveling Butterflies

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Traveling Butterflies by Susumu Shingu; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Owlkids   40 pp. 9/15   978-1-77147-148-0   $18.95   g This simple, elegant picture book traces the migration of the monarch butterfly from its northern home to its “winter sanctuary” in Mexico and back again. The story begins with eggs “as small as a dewdrop” on a […]

Review of The Wolf Wilder

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The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell Intermediate   Simon   232 pp. 8/15   978-1-4814-1942-0    $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-1944-4   $10.99 Feodora and her mother, Marina, are “wolf wilders” in early-twentieth-century Russia: when aristocrats tire of their pet wolves (a status symbol thought to bring good luck), the girl and her mother reverse the wolves’ forced domestication, teaching the […]

Review of Oskar and the Eight Blessings

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Oskar and the Eight Blessings by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon; illus. by Mark Siegel Primary, Intermediate   Roaring Brook   40 pp. 9/15   978-1-59643-949-8   $17.99 In 1938, the last night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, and for a young Jewish refugee in Manhattan, both holidays provided blessings. Following Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents had put him on […]