The Horn Book http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:00:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Review of Please Excuse This Poem http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-please-excuse-this-poem/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-please-excuse-this-poem/#respond Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:00:54 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47977 Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick High School   Viking   289 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g “Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning […]

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lauer_please excuse this poemPlease Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
High School   Viking   289 pp.
3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g

“Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning poets who likely do just that — an audience that won’t be disappointed with the volume’s one hundred poems, which meander through topics and styles and, for the most part, unabashedly ignore conventions of form. The best of these poets pack punches with raw handling of timely issues, such as Terrance Hayes with “Talk” (“…like a nigger is what my white friend, M, / asked me, the two of us alone and shirtless / in the locker room…M, where ever you are, / I’d just like to say I heard it, but let it go / because I was afraid to lose our friendship / or afraid we’d lose the game — which we did anyway”) and Patricia Lockwood with her uncomfortably humorous “Rape Joke,” one of the most powerful of the bunch (“Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke”). What will appeal to teens (and new adults) the most about this anthology, and what holds it all together, however loosely, is its gritty, unapologetic sensibility, and the feeling that many of these poems were perhaps, at one point, secrets. A lengthy “about the poets” section provides biographical details and answers to such prompts as “your idea of misery.”

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture by Jack Gantos http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/2015-zena-sutherland-lecture-by-jack-gantos/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/read-roger/2015-zena-sutherland-lecture-by-jack-gantos/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 14:46:33 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=48013 Please join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

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GantosSuttonPlease join us for the 2015 Zena Sutherland Lecture, “A Pair of Jacks to Open,” with Jack Gantos. Friday May 1, Harold Washington Library in Chicago, 7:30PM. The lecture is free but tickets are required.

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ImPress http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/impress/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/04/blogs/out-of-the-box/impress/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 12:50:52 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47591 Introducing a new Horn Book partner:   For every kids’ or YA book sticking out of a briefcase, there’s someone insisting that adults should only read adult books. But how can the grownups of the world access the often innovative stories aimed at the younger set without lowering themselves? Enter ImPress, a new small publisher […]

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Introducing a new Horn Book partner:

 ImPress_DRAFT3
For every kids’ or YA book sticking out of a briefcase, there’s someone insisting that adults should only read adult books. But how can the grownups of the world access the often innovative stories aimed at the younger set without lowering themselves? Enter ImPress, a new small publisher that adapts children’s titles into books acceptable for adults, free of such indignities as illustrations. Here’s a glimpse at some titles on their Fall 2015 list:

Mr. Tiger Goes Walden Mr. Tiger Goes Walden
James Tiger (who is human, of course) grows weary of his materialistic existence and goes to live in the woods.
The Right Word:
The Annotated Roget’s Thesaurus

This coffee-table book for English majors includes the full text of Roget’s thesaurus with biographical commentary.
The Right Word for adults
Sam & Dave Dig Themselves Deeper Sam & Dave Dig Themselves Deeper
Two friends collaborate on a search for riches, but the further they go, the more futile their search becomes, and the less likely it seems that they will ever make it home.
The Book
Originally titled The Book with No Pictures, this exploration of the relationship between book and reader has shortened its title because, obviously, grown-up books don’t have pictures.
The Book
All the Light We Cannot See All the Light We Cannot See
Originally titled The Dark.
Extremely Long Journey
The first in a trilogy, this thousand-page novel tells the story of an adventure that begins with a magic door drawn on a wall. Look for the Spring 2016 sequel, Even Longer Quest.
Extremely Long Journey
Don't Let Any Human Animal Whatsoever Drive the Bus Don’t Let Any Nonhuman Animal
Whatsoever Drive the Bus

Mo Willems’s warning against handing the keys to a pigeon has been expanded into a more comprehensive driving manual.

Stay tuned! ImPress has hinted that over the next few years, they’ll take on more of the classics. First up: a certain Louisa May Alcott novel will see an adaptation simply titled Women.

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Gender by the numbers http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/gender-by-the-numbers/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:01:20 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47998 A poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all. How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my […]

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girlsmoviesA poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all.

How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my mind ever since I got sucked into the Bookriot discussion about girls and YA spurred by the Andrew Smith drama of a couple of weeks ago. Somebody on the thread was vociferously decrying the lack of female protagonists in YA novels, which made me think what you all are probably thinking: Wait, wut?

But the poster and the discussion made me think it was a good time to do some arithmetic. Or, more precisely, engage our talented Emerson College intern Mariesa Negosanti in researching the question of gender representation in youth fiction via our ever-handy Horn Book Guide.

Our sample was limited to the Fall 2014 issue of the Guide, which reviewed all hardcover books published in the first six months of 2014 by U.S. publishers listed in LMP. Mariesa coded each fiction review in the Intermediate and Older Fiction sections for gender of protagonist(s): male, female, both, neither. The numbers for Older (books for 12-18-year-olds) were not surprising, except maybe to that zealot at Bookriot: 65% of the protagonists in YA novels were female, 22% were male, boys and girls shared main-character duties in 13%.  I thought the numbers for Intermediate (roughly 9-12-year-olds) would be about the same but NO: 48% boys, 36% girls, 16% both.

I’m guessing the greater numbers of boy-heroes in fiction for these younger readers is probably attributable to our conventional wisdom that pre-teen girls are more likely to read about boys than the other way around, so a book about a boy is more likely to garner more readers. And that–conventional wisdom again–teen boys are less likely to read for pleasure than teen girls are, period, and that those boys who do read tend to prefer nonfiction.

Down at the other end of the age spectrum, we’ve  been thinking about gender from a completely different angle: is it fair to label as male or female a character in a wordless picture book? Because, who knows?

 

*The poster is actually putting an optimistic gloss on what looks to be the study from which it is drawn. According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, which conducted the original research, the 29.2 percentage refers to speaking parts, not protagonists!

 

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Preview May/June 2015 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: Transformations http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/preview-mayjune-2015-horn-book-magazine-special-issue-transformations/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/preview-mayjune-2015-horn-book-magazine-special-issue-transformations/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:30:28 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47833 Special Issue: Transformations Cover art by Bob Staake. Transformers: Reflections on transforming well-known stories, from Susan Cooper, Jerry Pinkney, Malinda Lo, Donna Jo Napoli, H. Chuku Lee & Pat Cummings, Gareth Hinds, T. A. Barron, and Christine Heppermann. “Hijacking the Pumpkin Coach”: Gregory Maguire shares his storytelling inspirations. “Book and Me”: Introducing a new comics […]

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May/June 2015 Horn Book MagazineSpecial Issue: Transformations

Cover art by Bob Staake.

Transformers: Reflections on transforming well-known stories, from Susan Cooper, Jerry Pinkney, Malinda Lo, Donna Jo Napoli, H. Chuku Lee & Pat Cummings, Gareth Hinds, T. A. Barron, and Christine Heppermann.

“Hijacking the Pumpkin Coach”: Gregory Maguire shares his storytelling inspirations.

“Book and Me”: Introducing a new comics series from Charise Mericle Harper.

The Writer’s Page: Alice Hoffman’s appreciation of Edward Eager, and his appreciation of E. Nesbit.

“Apples to Elephants”: SLJ blogger Betsy Bird examines the transition some artists have made between animation and illustration.

Thom Barthelmess interviews four authors whose writing has gone “From Series to Serious.”

Horn Book reviewer Betty Carter asks, “What Makes a Good Nonfiction Adaptation?”

Field Notes: In honor of the 150th anniversary of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, fourth-grade teacher Monica Edinger discusses “Alice, the Transformer” in the classroom.

Librarian and storyteller Lee McLain: “What Makes a Good Fractured Fairy Tale?”

From The Guide: Board Book Transformations.

Impromptu: Books back in print and Books by our friends.

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Home movie review http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/out-of-the-box/home-movie-review/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/out-of-the-box/home-movie-review/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:12:35 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47989 The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex is a novel about a girl, Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, who befriends hapless alien J.Lo after J.Lo’s alien race, the Boov, take over Earth and kidnap Tip’s mother. Its target audience is at least upper elementary school; The Horn Book put it at grades 4-6. In the 3D […]

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The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex is a novel about a girl, Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, who befriends hapless alien J.Lo after J.Lo’s alien race, the Boov, take over Earth and kidnap Tip’s mother. Its target audience is at least upper elementary school; The Horn Book put it at grades 4-6.

home posterIn the 3D animated film adaption, Home (DreamWorks Animation, March 2015), Tip (voiced by Rihanna) befriends the perhaps less confusingly named Oh (Jim Parsons). (J.Lo’s namesake, Jennifer Lopez, voices Tip’s mom.) The target audience for the movie is much younger than the book’s; the kids Siân and I observed in the theater dancing to the closing credits were probably around kindergarten-age.

Obviously, this is an adaptation that doesn’t follow the source material plot point for plot point. The original story line is simplified; gone is much of the backstory as well as the framing device of Tip’s personal essay on “the true meaning” of the day the Boov, led by Captain Smek (portrayed in the film by Steve Martin), colonized the planet. Instead, we meet Oh first, and learn how excited the little purple guy is that it’s “Moving Day”: the Boov, the “best species ever at running away” from their enemy the Gorg, are escaping to Earth. Once Tip and Oh meet and slowly learn to trust each other, their journey to find Tip’s mom takes different directions, literally — Paris and Australia rather than the novel’s Florida and Arizona destinations.

I found myself thinking back to Children’s Books Boston’s From Page to Screen panel and the idea that a good book-to-film adaptation captures the source material’s essence, even if it makes significant changes to the story. The movie still has a smart, scared main character doing whatever it takes to find her mom. It still has alien races whose societies are different enough from ours to highlight things we take for granted. It still has the Boov’s hilariously roundabout attempts at speaking English; Parsons, best known as The Big Bang Theory’s socially inept Sheldon Cooper, is perfectly suited to express confusion at human behavior (asking, when he doesn’t understand Tip’s expression, “What is the purpose of your face?”).

Oh, and by the way, that face has “big green eyes and beautiful brown skin.” It was exciting to see a long-overdue heroine of color in a funny sci-fi novel — and it’s even more exciting to see that heroine on posters for a movie aimed at young audiences.

Home’s reviews haven’t been entirely positive, and the frequent objection that the plot will be familiar to viewers who’ve seen other alien movies isn’t unfounded. But I’ll have to echo Oh here, and I suspect young moviegoers would agree: “My hands are in the air like I just do not care.”

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Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-the-tight-rope-walkers/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/review-of-the-week/review-of-the-tight-rope-walkers/#respond Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:54:56 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47976 The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]

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almond_tight-rope walkersstar2 The Tight-Rope Walkers
by David Almond
High School   Candlewick   326 pp.
3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g

Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up at Oxford. We follow Dom from ages five to seventeen as he forges his own values; succumbs to the lure of Vincent, the troubled, violent neighborhood thug; falls in love with his childhood pal Holly; and discovers himself as a writer. In all these areas of life he learns to walk a tightrope both literal and figurative. There’s no cool here, no distancing irony or comforting hipness. It’s all intense, profoundly unsettling emotion. Almond limns the nature of joy and rage in all his work, but here he pulls out all the stops. Through Dom we experience the unimaginable pain of his mother’s death, the liberation and grief of rejecting religion, and the sadistic, homoerotic lure of Vincent. The violence is hard to take, all the more so because the writing is so controlled and powerful. The novel is Shakespearean in its breadth, earthiness, and emotional pitch. A mysterious tramp who wanders in and out of the narrative — unspeaking, benevolent, holy — is like a precursor of Skellig. It ends with a wedding and a newborn baby, but that final section is a Rorschach test for the reader. Is the overall mode comedic or tragic? There is much room for discussion in this difficult and brilliant novel.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Selfie Sweepstakes Reviews: Mary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-mary-ellen-okeefes-word-speaking-diet/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/blogs/read-roger/selfie-sweepstakes-reviews-mary-ellen-okeefes-word-speaking-diet/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:04:58 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47958 [As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.] Mary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet; written by Tom Neely; illustrated by Sharad Kumar. Tom Neely, 2014. 36pp. ISBN 978-1502-44425-7. Paper ed. $9.97. Mary-Ellen has always been a […]

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[As an experiment last fall, I invited self-publishers to submit their best new titles for review. About a dozen heeded the call, and I am reviewing their books in this space.]

NeelyMary-Ellen O’Keefe’s Word-Speaking Diet; written by Tom Neely; illustrated by Sharad Kumar. Tom Neely, 2014. 36pp. ISBN 978-1502-44425-7. Paper ed. $9.97.

Mary-Ellen has always been a big talker–at home. But why is she paralyzed into silence at school? Situational shyness is a condition known to most of us, and kids will understand why this gabby little girl seems almost like a different person once she’s in the company of her teacher and classmates. A little pep talk from Mom clears the problem right up, and, while I guess that’s nice for Mary-Anne, it doesn’t make for a plot that’s very satisfying to the rest of us. The tale is told in awkwardly rhyming couplets, many of which seem more content to mark time than move the story forward,  and the illustrations are generic cartoons.   R.S.

 

[This review may be distributed freely and excerpted fairly; credit to “Read Roger, The Horn Book Inc., www.hbook.com.]

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Field Notes: “This Is Too Much!” Why Verse Novels Work for Reluctant Readers http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/field-notes-this-is-too-much-why-verse-novels-work-for-reluctant-readers/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/horn-book-magazine/field-notes-this-is-too-much-why-verse-novels-work-for-reluctant-readers/#comments Mon, 30 Mar 2015 16:00:29 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=46884 Novels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in verse has perhaps half the […]

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alexander_crossoverNovels in verse have earned their place in the mainstream of children’s and young adult literature — Exhibit A: Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover winning the Newbery Medal — and this is good news for reluctant readers, especially reluctant middle-grade and middle-school readers. Compared to a conventional novel, a novel in verse has perhaps half the number of words per page — and isn’t that half the battle with reluctant readers? These readers often look at a page filled with words and think, This is too much! And quit before they begin. I recently told a young man, an eighth grader who loves baseball, that he should try Hard Hit by Ann Warren Turner. I opened the book and showed him the pages: words only on the left-hand pages, written in verse; blank right-hand pages. I told him he could probably read the book in about an hour. He came back the very next morning, excited, with a huge smile on his face, surprised — and proud — that he had finished it. (He also said, “You didn’t tell me it was sad!”) But what really matters is that a reluctant reader felt successful. He read an entire novel in one night.

Novels in verse can be especially appealing to reluctant readers because they use so much vivid imagery, and I have found that many reluctant readers are visual learners. Poetry expresses meaning through the graphic placement of words on the page. Can’t you see the papaya seed when you read these lines from Thanhhà Lại’s Inside Out & Back Again?

A seed like
a fish eye,
slippery
shiny
black.

Look at the placement of the words in another verse novel, Jen Bryant’s Kaleidoscope Eyes, and see how it corresponds with the meaning:

Another week of digging.
More blisters.
Shoulders ache.

Still
a big,
empty               hole.

Readers see the hole; they don’t just read the words. The picture instantly makes reading, normally an abstract activity, suddenly concrete. (By the way, concrete poetry is a great way to introduce poetry to the reluctant reader, but that’s another story.)

raybuck_heartbeatAnd what about kinesthetic learners? And auditory learners? By the time Sharon Creech writes in Heartbeat that main character Annie loves to run, the reader already knows it, feels it, hears it, because the very first words in this novel are “Thump-thump, thump-thump.” This repetition continues throughout the short book. The reader learns so much about Annie by feeling what Annie feels, physically and emotionally.

In the middle grades, emotions often run high. Students are changing physically, intellectually, and emotionally, and all of these changes happen quickly. Middle graders’ high-octane emotions sometimes manifest in tears, fights, moodiness, fits of laughter and giggles, defiance in their search for independence…and frequently do so at the most inopportune times. Because they are poetry, novels in verse often tap more directly into the emotions of their characters. One middle-grade boy cried at the end of Creech’s Love That Dog. He, too, had lost his beloved dog and understood the protagonist’s pain.

We need more diverse books, and many novels in verse published for children contain multicultural elements. Some of the reluctant readers in our library are our English language learner students. Maddie, part Cuban, gobbled up various novels in verse by Margarita Engle and Carmen T. Bernier-Grand: César: Sí, se puede! / Yes, We Can!; The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba; The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, and others. But diverse verse novels are a wonderful way to introduce all readers to other worlds and ways of living.

Books about immigrants, too, allow readers to see aspects of various cultures. Becoming Joe DiMaggio, a historical novel in verse by Maria Testa about an Italian family who admires Joe DiMaggio, may be especially enjoyed by a baseball lover or a student with Italian family roots; either way, a reluctant reader will have made a connection and broadened his or her horizons by learning about a sport or what it feels like to be an immigrant.

We have read and heard much about the reluctant male reader, but little about the reluctant female reader. Why? In my experience, there are more uninterested, unmotivated, and/or insecure reluctant male readers, but that doesn’t mean that all reluctant readers are males (or even, for that matter, sports-loving males). Fortunately, many verse novels feature female protagonists. May in May B. by Caroline Starr Rose must fight to survive alone during a prairie winter (and the subplot concerning her dyslexia may resonate with some reluctant readers). Looking for Me by Betsy R. Rosenthal features a female protagonist, Edith, who must solve the mystery of who she is as a middle child in a very large family.

The reluctant reader cannot be stereotyped if we expect to reach him or her with a good read. Reluctant readers are as varied in interests as those who love to read, and luckily novels in verse come in many genres, both fiction and nonfiction. Consider The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells by Debbie Levy. This powerful nonfiction title, based on the author’s mother’s childhood in Nazi Germany, describes the systematic degradation of the Jewish population as seen through eleven-year-old Jutta’s eyes. Or give the verse biography Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Charles R. Smith to the student who wants to know more about the famous boxer but who normally wouldn’t pick up a biography because they are “too wordy.”

raybuck_kaleidoscopeI enjoy mysteries, and so do many of my middle-grade students, especially the reluctant readers. At this age, students’ own lives hold so much unknown that the idea of solving a mystery is appealing, even if subconsciously. Also, mysteries tend to present situations middle-grade readers might secretly (or not-so-secretly) wish for: adventure, the thrill of the chase. Many mysteries provide more thoughtful and reflective elements as well. Kaleidoscope Eyes takes the reader on a treasure hunt — and not just any treasure, but the treasure that belonged to Captain William Kidd — while it explores the strong friendship between three characters, two white and one black, during the 1960s. Although the mystery is great fun, the beauty of this novel is the exposure that middle-grade readers get to what it may have been like to live in the 1960s. They learn about racial prejudice, the Vietnam War, the feminist movement, and in the process they learn a little more about what it means to be a young person in our own era.

I encourage librarians and teachers to take the next opportunity to talk up books in verse. How about a book discussion about Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse, perhaps pairing it with a documentary about the 1930s Great Dust Bowl? Connect it to the curriculum if you can. Have a good time together. Soon you may have fewer reluctant readers in your library — or at least a few more students asking you about novels in verse.

Books in Verse for 
Middle-Grade Readers

Becoming Joe DiMaggio (Candlewick, 2002) by Maria Testa; illus. by Scott Hunt

César!: Sí, se puede! / Yes, We Can! (Cavendish, 2006) by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand; illus. by David Diaz

The Crossover (Houghton, 2014) by Kwame Alexander

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba (Holt, 2010) by Margarita Engle

Hard Hit (Scholastic, 2006) by Ann Warren Turner

Heartbeat (Cotler/HarperCollins, 2004) by Sharon Creech

Inside Out & Back Again (Harper/HarperCollins, 2011) by Thanhhà Lại

Kaleidoscope Eyes (Knopf, 2009) by Jen Bryant

Looking for Me (Houghton, 2012) by Betsy R. Rosenthal

Love That Dog (Harper/HarperCollins, 2001) by Sharon Creech

May B. (Schwartz & Wade/Random, 2012) by Caroline Starr Rose

Out of the Dust (Scholastic, 1997) by Karen Hesse

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom (Holt, 2008) by Margarita Engle

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali (Candlewick, 2007) by Charles R. Smith; illus. by Bryan Collier

The Year of Goodbyes: A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells (Disney-Hyperion, 2010) by Debbie Levy

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Review of Use Your Words, Sophie! http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-use-your-words-sophie/ http://www.hbook.com/2015/03/choosing-books/reviews/review-of-use-your-words-sophie/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:39:30 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=47909 Use Your Words, Sophie! by Rosemary Wells; illus. by the author Preschool   Viking   24 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01663-1   $16.99   g Mouse-child Sophie uses lots of words. She welcomes her new baby sister home from the hospital in Jellyfish language (“Jubbabubba”); she growls that she’s “too big for naps” in Hyena language (“Grabvjkloz!”). But her distracted parents […]

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wells_use your words sophie2Use Your Words, Sophie!
by Rosemary Wells; illus. by the author
Preschool   Viking   24 pp.
3/15   978-0-670-01663-1   $16.99   g

Mouse-child Sophie uses lots of words. She welcomes her new baby sister home from the hospital in Jellyfish language (“Jubbabubba”); she growls that she’s “too big for naps” in Hyena language (“Grabvjkloz!”). But her distracted parents — who can’t even agree on the baby’s name — don’t listen, telling her over and over to “use your words, please, Sophie!” Then Sophie sings the “Baboon national anthem…as loud as she could,” and little Ashleigh (or is it Amber?) wakes up screaming and won’t stop. Once again, Granny comes to the rescue (Time-Out for Sophie, rev. 1/13; Sophie’s Terrible Twos, rev. 1/14) — answering Sophie’s Space language greeting in Martian before helping restore the peace. Wells’s cozy ink, watercolor, and gouache illustrations expand on the measured text; her sturdy mouse characters are notably expressive. Sophie and Granny’s special relationship comes across warmly in both text and pictures. With Granny on her side, Sophie doesn’t need the disruptive behavior and — speaking English — offers to hold the howling baby. Sophie and her words finally get baby Samantha Marie (or, wait, Symphonie Pearl?) to stop crying and listen. Sophie listens, too, and tells the grownups: “She wants to be called Jane.” This is a satisfying story with a believable hero whose everyday experiences will resonate with young children…and their parents, if they’re paying attention.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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