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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

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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 […]

Recommended School Stories: High School

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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

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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

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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 […]

Recommended School Stories: Intermediate

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Barnett, Mac and John, Jory The Terrible Two 220 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1491-7 Ebook ISBN 978-1-61312-763-6 Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Forced to leave behind his proud reputation as class prankster, Miles Murphy dreads starting over in a new town. Miles finds himself paired up with do-gooder Niles at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy […]

Recommended School Stories: Easy Readers and Chapter Books

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Cheng, Andrea The Year of the Book 148 pp. Houghton 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-68463-5 Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Nine-year-old Anna, who always has her head stuck in a book, sometimes uses reading as a shield against social exclusion (of the specialized fourth-grade-girl kind) and her own lack of confidence. Cheng’s telling is as straightforward yet sympathetic […]

Recommended School Stories: Picture Books

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Bean, Jonathan This Is My Home, This Is My School 48 pp. Farrar 2015. ISBN 978-0-374-38020-5 The boy from Building Our House welcomes readers back into his home — and school. Our narrator — the author/illustrator’s stand-in — gives a whirlwind tour of homeschooling life, and the warmhearted, cheerfully cluttered illustrations show how home and […]