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Review of Well, That Was Awkward

vail_well that was awkward

Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail Middle School    Viking    314 pp. 2/17    978-0-670-01308-1    $16.99    g As eighth grade comes to a close and her fourteenth birthday approaches, Gracie Grant discovers she has a problem. Out of the blue, Gracie realizes she like-likes longtime and suddenly very attractive classmate AJ Rojanasopondist. But that’s not the […]

Review of Me and Marvin Gardens

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Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King Intermediate, Middle School    Levine/Scholastic    250 pp. 2/17    978-0-545-87074-0    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-545-87077-1    $10.99 The middle-grade debut of YA novelist A.S. King (Still Life with Tornado, rev. 9/16) was bound to be a little weird — and it is. It’s also a smart, environmentally conscious underdog story […]

Dystopian teen heroes

conaghan_bombs that brought us together

These four novels envision authoritarian societies, some in the future, some not-so-futuristic, that cause their teenage protagonists to take revolutionary action. Under Little Town’s strict Regime, no one crosses the border to or from Old Country — until the Duda family arrives as refugees. Protagonist Charlie befriends teenager Pavel Duda and tries to teach him […]

Review of The Silver Gate

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The Silver Gate by Kristin Bailey Intermediate, Middle School    Tegen/HarperCollins    313 pp. 1/17    978-0-06-239857-4    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-239859-8    $9.99 In Elric’s superstitious feudal village, people think children born with disabilities are changelings; even worse, that they bring down a curse on the community. That’s why Elric’s mother and younger sister, Wynn, with her strange […]

Patricia Hruby Powell on Loving vs. Virginia

powell_loving vs virginia

In our January/February 2017 issue, our editors asked author Patricia Hruby Powell about approaching a landmark historical event through a novelistic lens in Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. Read the full review. Horn Book Editors: Why did you choose to write the Lovings’ story as a “documentary novel”? […]

Review of Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

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Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell; illus. by Shadra Strickland Middle School, High School    Chronicle    260 pp. 2/17    978-1-4521-2590-9    $21.99 Organized chronologically, the alternating first-person narratives, written in free verse, begin in 1952 as Mildred Jeter enters sixth grade at the “colored” school; six years […]

Review of Almost Autumn

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Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin; trans. from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger High School    Levine/Scholastic    281 pp. 1/17    978-0-545-88965-0    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-545-88966-7    $10.99 Ilse Stern, a typical rebellious, lovelorn adolescent, lives with her Jewish family in 1942 Nazi-occupied Oslo, where her father, Isak, runs a tailor shop. A present-tense narration creates immediacy, while […]

Review of Midnight Without a Moon

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Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson Middle School    Houghton    310 pp. 1/17    978-0-544-78510-6    $16.99    g In the summer of 1955, thirteen-year-old Rose Lee Carter chafes at the daily drudgery of life in rural Mississippi. Rose, who lives with her sharecropper grandparents, suffers from low self-esteem fostered by her despotic grandmother, who incessantly reminds […]

Embracing cultural identity

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The following YA stories feature teens struggling with family, friendship, and cultural identity in ways that feel organic to their experiences and are relatable to a variety of readers. Alternating between the voices of two seventeen-year-olds — a contemporary biracial (her mother is black, her father is white) young woman named Rowan Chase, and Will […]

Review of Flying Lessons & Other Stories

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Flying Lessons & Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    225 pp. 1/17    978-1-101-93459-3    $16.99 Library ed.  978-1-101-93460-9    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-101-93461-6    $10.99 Edited by Oh, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books, ten stories by (mostly) well-known authors of diverse backgrounds present young protagonists dealing with common themes of growing up […]