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Review of Burn Baby Burn

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Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina High School   Candlewick   308 pp. 3/16   978-0-7636-7467-0   $17.99   g This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City, when tensions rose throughout a city enduring an oppressive heat wave, culminating in the historic blackout of July 13th. Seventeen-year-old Nora López faces an insecure […]

New (and old) friends for beginning readers

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Many beginning readers love visiting familiar characters. Here are two continuations of existing series; one spinoff of an old favorite; and the beginning of a series whose characters may quickly feel like old friends. Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis debut a series for just-beginning readers, with entertaining, expressive illustrations by dePaola. In the first entry, […]

Some audiobooks!

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Variously set long ago, far away and right here, right now, these audiobooks deeply engage middle-grade listeners in the struggles — and triumphs — of their protagonists. George, Alex Gino’s middle-grade novel about a transgender girl named George (who secretly thinks of herself as Melissa), gets a remarkable reading from narrator Jamie Clayton, herself transgender. […]

Review of Pax

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Pax by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Jon Klassen Intermediate, Middle School   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   278 pp. 2/16   978-0-06-237701-2   $16.99 e-book ed. 978-0-06-237703-6   $11.99 Twelve-year-old Peter and his pet fox have been inseparable since Peter rescued Pax as a kit. Now Peter’s father has enlisted, and there’s no room at Grandfather’s house (where the boy will […]

Review of Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!

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Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants! by Bob Shea; illus. by the author Primary   Disney-Hyperion   56 pp. 2/16   978-1-4847-1379-2   $9.99 Dance diva Ballet Cat returns for her second early-reader performance (Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, rev. 7/15), and once again she’s paired with a reluctant partner/friend. Butter Bear likes dancing but draws the line at […]

Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee on Maybe a Fox

kathi appelt and alison mcghee

In our January/February 2016 issue, Mag editor Elissa Gershowitz asked Maybe a Fox coauthors Alison McGhee and Kathi Appelt about their collaboration process — and about that tearjerker ending. Read the full review of Maybe a Fox here. Elissa Gershowitz: How did you work together on this book? (And did you intentionally set out to […]

Review of Maybe a Fox

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Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee Intermediate, Middle School   Dlouhy/Atheneum   261 pp. 3/16   978-1-4424-8242-5   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-8244-9   $10.99 Eleven-year-old Jules, a budding geologist, and her twelve-year-old sister Sylvie, the fastest kid in school, live with their father in rural Vermont. Because the girls’ mother died when Jules was small, her […]

Of magic and moxie

anderson_my diary from the edge of the world

These books take place in fantastical worlds, but the protagonists’ pluck may feel familiar to many intermediate and middle-school readers. Twelve-year-old Gracie Lockwood, the high-spirited heroine of Jodi Lynn Anderson‘s My Diary from the Edge of the World, lives in a world that’s like ours but with a few key differences (involving dragons and poltergeists, […]

Not your average problem novel

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Facing illness, sexuality, family issues, and life-and-death situations, the following teen protagonists maturely and deeply explore the world around them while also looking within themselves. Until the hospital called, asking her mother to pick up elderly Mary, seventeen-year-old Katie — star of Jenny Downham’s Unbecoming — didn’t even know she had a grandmother. Katie, her […]

Five questions for Tanita S. Davis

Tanita Davis_credit David T. Macknet

Coretta Scott King Author Award honoree (for Mare’s War in 2010; Knopf, 13–16 years) Tanita S. Davis’s fourth novel, Peas and Carrots (Knopf, 13–16 years), is told through the alternating perspectives of prickly Dess, whose mother is in jail, and privileged Hope, whose family has fostered Dess’s half-brother since he was a baby and is […]