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Review of Snow White

phelan_snow white

Snow White by Matt Phelan; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    216 pp. 9/16    978-0-7636-7233-1    $19.99 Phelan has visited the 1930s Dust Bowl in The Storm in the Barn (rev. 11/09), early-1900s vaudevillian Buster Keaton in Bluffton (rev. 11/13), and late-nineteenth-century explorers in Around the World (rev. 11/11). Here he heads off to […]

Review of Dara Palmer’s Major Drama


Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah; illus. by Helen Crawford-White Intermediate    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    282 pp. 7/16    978-1-4926-3138-5    $16.99    g Though not a sequel to Shevah’s first novel, Dream On, Amber, this book is set at the same British elementary school and features another memorable narrator. Fifth grader Dara is genuinely gobsmacked when she isn’t […]

Recommended School Stories: High School


Alsenas, Linas Beyond Clueless 249 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1496-2 Ever since fifth grade, Martha “Marty” Sullivan has been happy with just one friend: flamboyantly gay Jimmy. But now she’s attending an all-girls’ Catholic high school, which expands her social horizons both among girls (rebellious new friend Xiang) and guys. This mostly light comedy of […]

Recommended School Stories: Middle School


Alexander, Kwame Booked 314 pp. Houghton 2016. ISBN 978-0-544-57098-6 Nick is a wordsmith, thanks to his linguistics-professor father, but he would rather be shining on the soccer field. He’s blindsided when his parents separate; things worsen at school, too, as he and best friend Coby are targeted by the racist Eggleston twins. With accessible forms […]

Recommended School Stories: Intermediate

barnett and john_terrible two

Barnett, Mac and John, Jory The Terrible Two 220 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1491-7 Ebook ISBN 978-1-61312-763-6 Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Forced to leave behind his proud reputation as class prankster, Miles Murphy dreads starting over in a new town. Miles finds himself paired up with do-gooder Niles at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy […]

Recommended School Stories: Easy Readers and Chapter Books


Cheng, Andrea The Year of the Book 148 pp. Houghton 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-68463-5 Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. Nine-year-old Anna, who always has her head stuck in a book, sometimes uses reading as a shield against social exclusion (of the specialized fourth-grade-girl kind) and her own lack of confidence. Cheng’s telling is as straightforward yet sympathetic […]

Review of Mister Cleghorn’s Seal

kerr_mister cleghorn's seal

Mister Cleghorn’s Seal by Judith Kerr; illus. by the author Primary/Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    95 pp. 6/16    978-0-00-817083-7    $14.99 Recently retired newsagent Mister Cleghorn finds himself lonely and purposeless. On a trip to the seaside, he impulsively adopts Charlie, an orphaned seal pup, intending on taking him back to the city and donating him to his local […]

Review of A Most Magical Girl

foxlee_most magical girl

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee Intermediate    Knopf    297 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51285-4    $16.99 Library ed    978-0-553-51286-1    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51287-8    $10.99 Annabel is outraged when her mother removes her from her conventional young ladies’ school, sets her up as an assistant in her great-aunts’ magic shop, and promptly disappears. But the tears and […]

Review of Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?

dicamillo_where are you going baby lincoln

Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln? 
[Tales from Deckawoo Drive] by Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Chris Van Dusen Primary    Candlewick    101 pp. 8/16    978-0-7636-7311-6    $14.99    g DiCamillo continues the relay of Tales from Deckawoo Drive, as minor characters from previous books (Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, rev. 9/14; Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon, rev. 9/15) […]

Plots with pluck

spalding_look out for the fitzgerald trouts

Challenges from finding a new home to finding your (singing) voice to finding your “thing” are no match for the spirited main characters of these four middle-grade and middle-school novels. Eleven-year-old Kim, three siblings, and a goldfish live in a small green car in Esta Spalding’s Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts. Orphans? No, they actually […]