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Review of Full of Beans

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Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm Intermediate    Random    196 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51036-2    $16.99 Library ed.  978-553-51037-9    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51039-3    $10.99 Beans Curry, first introduced in Turtle in Paradise (rev. 5/10), gets his own starring role in this standalone prequel set in 1934 Key West. With his dad out of work and his […]

Jennifer L. Holm on Full of Beans

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In our July/August 2016 issue, reviewer Betty Carter asks author Jennifer L. Holm about the inspiration for her new novel Full of Beans. Read the full starred review. Betty Carter: You have a knack of making a story so time-specific (the Great Depression in Full of Beans, for example), yet so universal in theme. What […]

Review of Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts

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Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding; illus. by Sydney Smith Intermediate    Little, Brown    245 pp. 5/16    978-0-316-29858-2    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316-29859-9    $9.99    g Kim, a highly capable eleven-year-old, lives with her three younger siblings (and a goldfish) in a small green car. They attend school, do errands, play board games, drive to the […]

Review of As Brave As You

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As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    415 pp. 5/16    978-1-4814-1590-3​    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-1592-7    $10.99 Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15; with Brendan Kiely, All American Boys, rev. 11/15) delivers an emotionally resonant middle-grade story of an African American family working to overcome its tumultuous past in […]

Five questions for Lauren Wolk

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When twelve-year-old Annabelle’s small town is terrorized by a series of vicious attacks, many townsfolk blame World War I veteran and vagabond Toby. Only Annabelle knows that new girl Betty is actually responsible for the cruelty. Adult author and poet Lauren Wolk makes her (stunning!) middle-grade debut with the powerful historical novel Wolf Hollow (Dutton, […]

Review of Wolf Hollow

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Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    294 pp. 4/16    978-1-101-99482-5    $16.99    g Two story lines wind around each other in this novel set in rural Pennsylvania in the 1940s. The narrator, twelve-year-old Annabelle, is one of the objects of vicious attacks by new girl Betty, who has inexplicably but relentlessly taken against […]

“What are you doing after graduation?”

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What high-school senior doesn’t dread that question? Young adulthood is full of change and daunting decisions; even those with solid post-graduation plans may feel as much uncertainty as excitement. The protagonists of these new novels are on the cusp of similarly life-changing moments. In Bryan Bliss’s Meet Me Here, Thomas watches his classmates celebrate graduation […]

The past made personal

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Here are four historical novels about kids living through difficult times in the past, all recommended for intermediate readers. Marc Tyler Nobleman’s epistolary novel Brave like My Brother explores ten-year-old Charlie’s home-front uncertainty and the challenges of war for his older brother Joe. Joe’s letters describe life as a soldier stationed in Europe without sounding […]

Review of A World Without You

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A World Without You by Beth Revis High School    Razorbill/Penguin    371 pp. 7/16    978-1-59514-715-8    $17.99    g Two alternating and emotionally entangling first-person narrations present different versions of reality and of the novel’s events. Bo tells readers that he attends the Berkshire Academy for Children with Exceptional Needs, an exclusive boarding school for students with supernatural […]

Review of Grayling’s Song

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Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman Intermediate    Clarion    210 pp. 6/16    978-0-544-30180-1    $16.99    g Cushman’s previous works (The Midwife’s Apprentice, rev. 7/95; Will Sparrow’s Road, rev. 11/12; etc.) fall into the realm of historical fiction; this novel is historically based but a fantasy, set in a culture inspired by, but not wedded to, medieval Europe. It’s […]