Boys will be boys (what could go wrong?)

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Boys have adventures both big and small — and realistic and poignant and meta and supernatural! — in these books for intermediate and early middle-school readers. In Boy’s Best Friend by Kate Banks and Rupert Sheldrake, two sixth-grade dog owners living on Cape Cod devise an experiment based on scientist Sheldrake’s real book Dogs That […]

Mysterious ways

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Full of thrills, chills, secrets, and lies, these new high-stakes mysteries for middle- and high-school readers will get hearts racing. Teen detective Scarlett is wary when nine-year-old Gemma appears at her office and tells her that she thinks her brother murdered someone. Scarlett accepts the case, and she’s soon launched into a dangerous mystery that […]

Review of Hit Count

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Hit Count by Chris Lynch High School   Algonquin   362 pp. 5/15   978-1-61620-250-7   $17.95   g e-book ed. 978-1-61620-490-7   $17.95 As a lowly freshman, junior varsity football player Arlo Brodie sets his future goals: varsity linebacker by sophomore year, then college ball for a Division One team, then the pros. After freshman year, Arlo works out like […]

Review of Misty

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Misty [Stanley & Me] by Christine Dencer; illus. by Jessica Meserve Primary   Simply Read   32 pp. 2/15   978-1-927018-59-0   $12.95 The first title in this new beginning reader series introduces Sophie and Stanley, neighbors and best friends. Four cumulative chapters tackle the friendship’s first obstacle, Stanley’s new dog Misty. “I would like to play in Stanley’s […]

Review of Nimona

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson; illus. by the author Middle School, High School   HarperTeen   266 pp. 5/15   978-0-06-227823-4   $17.99 Paper ed. 978-0-06-227822-7   $12.99 Ballister Blackheart — ex-knight and current 
supervillain — is focused on the destruction of the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. He also wouldn’t mind getting even with Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, a knight-school […]

Review of Unusual Chickens for the 
Exceptional Poultry Farmer

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Unusual Chickens for the 
Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones; illus. by Katie Kath Intermediate   Knopf   213 pp. 5/15   978-0-385-75552-8   $16.99 Library ed. 978-0-385-75553-5   $19.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-385-75554-2   $10.99 Moving to a farm inherited from her great-uncle may not be city-girl Sophie’s first choice for improving her family’s financial situation, but she’s determined to […]

Listen, laugh, and learn

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Some stories can be at their funniest — and most poignant — when read aloud. The following audiobooks, recommended for intermediate and middle-school listeners, offer lots of laughs and lots to learn. Lynne Rae Perkins’s Nuts to You tells the wacky story of a trio of industrious young squirrels saving their respective colonies from the […]

In summer

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Anna and Kristoff. Olaf and Sven. Pablo and Alicia. The following books for young independent readers feature unlikely pairs palling around in the big city, the ‘burbs…and contemporary Norway. (Is that close to Arendelle? It is!) At the start of Nadja Spiegelman’s lively graphic-novel picture book Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure, new-kid Pablo’s class […]

Review of X: A Novel

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 X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon High School   Candlewick   375 pp. 1/15   978-0-7636-6967-6   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7425-0   $16.99 Shabazz, Malcolm X’s third daughter, and YA author Magoon (Fire in the Streets, rev. 9/12; How It Went Down, rev. 11/14) team up to present a vivid, immediate fictionalized portrait of the civil rights […]

Ilyasah Shabazz on X

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In our May/June 2015 issue, reviewer Martha V. Parravano talks to author Ilyasah Shabazz about her approach to writing a novel about her father, Malcolm X. Read the starred review of X here. Martha V. Parravano: Why did you choose to present the story of Malcolm X’s formative years as fiction, rather than nonfiction — and […]