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Using Books

Bringing books and people together.

Chapter books | Class #3, fall 2016


This week we are reading three chapter books — The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron, Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos, and The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. Each is the first book in a series and each has a strong central character, an element that I think is essential in early […]

Questions from Molly Bang | Class #2, fall 2016

Picture This

We are looking forward to welcoming Molly Bang to our next class on October 19. One of the things that makes Molly unique as a guest speaker is that she likes her visits to be learning experiences — for herself. One year she focused on a book that she thought didn’t work very well. It […]

Picture books and easy readers | Class #2, fall 2016


During our first class, we started to look at picture books. For our second class on October 19, we are adding easy readers into the mix. Here’s what we are reading and discussing: Two more picture books Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown That New Animal by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pierre Pratt Two […]

Surviving Road Trips with Audiobooks


It began with Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking. I was planning a four-hour road trip with my kids, and I was searching for something besides the fail-safe DVD to entertain them during the drive. Admittedly, as an author, I rail against relying too heavily on movies, TV, and gaming. Yes, they’re convenient, and keep lunacy on […]

Books for Indigenous Peoples Day

flett_wild berries

It’s Indigenous Peoples Day! Here’s a selection of books featuring a range of indigenous North American peoples and cultures — the majority by Native authors and illustrators — to be shared today and every day. Board books were recommended in our quarterly “Board Book Roundup” column. All others were recommended by The Horn Book Magazine […]

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

Five questions for Skila Brown To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown, Candlewick, 14 years and up. Caminar by Skila Brown, Candlewick, 11–14 years. Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks by Skila Brown, illus. by Bob Kolar, Candlewick, 5–8 years. Historical horror stories The Passion of […]

Ghosts and witches and wizards, oh my!


What better time of year to curl up with a creepy book and a cup of cocoa to ward off the supernatural shivers? These middle-school novels provide just the right balance of adventure and eeriness — along with a few magical villains (or are they?) — for deliciously spooky fall reads. Set in late-nineteenth-century imperial […]

Fantastical folklore


The following works of folklore — a new Grimm like you’ve never seen, a Norwegian folk story in silly/creepy graphic novel form, a pourquoi tale done in Duncan Tonatiuh’s unmistakable visual style, and two classic reissues — feature fabulous and fantastical folk. In the hands of creative teachers, librarians, and parents, Shaun Tan’s The Singing […]

Historical horror stories

berry_passion of dolssa

History buffs and horror fans alike will appreciate these YA books about characters facing their own demons — of the metaphysical, metaphorical, or, most disturbingly, human varieties. In The Passion of Dolssa, author Julie Berry tells the story of (fictional) Catholic mystic Dolssa de Stigata after she escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 […]

Monster mash


What goes bump in the night? Maybe it’s a monster, but maybe it’s a new friend — or maybe it’s both! These monstrously silly picture books are perfect treats for a Halloween story time. In Monica Brown’s Marisol McDonald and the Monster / Marisol McDonald y el monstruo, the little-girl protagonist explores words beginning with […]