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 […]

Fiction Reviews of 2015 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award Winner and Honor Books

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

 Fiction Winner Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell Middle School   Simon   248 pp. 8/14   978-1-4424-9061-1   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9063-5   $10.99 Will (short for Wilhelmina), the only daughter of William Silver, white foreman of the Two Tree Hill Farm in Zimbabwe, leads a “wildcat” life with her Shona best friend Simon, filled with good rich mud, […]

Review of The Last Leaves Falling

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The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell High School   Simon   360 pp. 5/15   978-1-4814-3065-4   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-4814-3067-8   $10.99 Sora, only seventeen, has ALS — “an old man’s 
disease” — and knows he’s going to die in just a few years. First, however, he’ll become a vegetable, dependent on his single mom to do […]

Review of The Game of Love and Death

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough High School   Levine/Scholastic   332 pp. 5/15   978-0-545-66834-7   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-66835-4   $17.99 Love and Death have played many Games down through the centuries — and Death has always won. The setting for this particular battle is Depression-era Seattle, and while Love has chosen as his […]

Review of Dear Hank Williams

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Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt Intermediate   Holt   220 pp. 5/15   978-0-8050-8022-3   $16.99   g On the first day of school, September 1, 1948, eleven-year-old Tate P. Ellerbee learns that her class will be writing to pen pals, with her teacher explaining that “new worlds will unfold in front of you, and you’ll see your […]

Deliciously creepy fantasy

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Magical alter egos, parallel worlds, and uncanny situations add a bit of atmospheric creepiness to these four intermediate and middle-school fantasy adventures. Twig Fowler and her mother keep to themselves so that their neighbors in Sidwell, Massachusetts, won’t discover their secret: Twig’s older brother James has wings, thanks to a generations-old curse laid upon all […]

Teens meet history

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Adolescence is always a time of transition. For the characters in these YA historical novels, that transition takes place while the world is changing as well. Black Dove, White Raven is set mostly in Ethiopia in the 1930s. Em (who is white) and Teo (who’s black) have grown up together, their mothers American stunt-pilots who […]

Review of Detective Gordon: The First Case

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Detective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall Primary, Intermediate   Gecko   96 pp. 4/15   978-1-927271-49-0   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-927271-72-8   $9.99 This Swedish import stars toad Detective Gordon, “Chief of Police and Chief of Detectives in the forest.” He’s elderly (for a toad: nineteen), cerebral, […]