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Review of Pax

pennypacker_pax

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

appelt_maybe a fox

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 […]

Review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses

hitchcock_smell of other people's houses

The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock Middle School, High School   Lamb/Random   228 pp. 2/16   978-0-553-49778-6   $17.99 Library ed. 978-0-553-49779-3   $20.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-553-49780-9   $10.99 Through sensory details that viscerally evoke the story’s physical and emotional landscapes, readers are transported to 1970s Birch Park, Alaska, where hunting and fishing are both livelihood […]

Review of To Catch a Cheat

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To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson Middle School   Levine/Scholastic   248 pp. 2/16   978-0-545-72239-1   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-72241-4   $16.99 After his crew succeeded at foiling a corrupt student council election in The Great Greene Heist (rev. 7/14), Jackson Greene retired from his con-man antics. Until…someone floods the Maplewood Middle School bathrooms and hallways, and […]

Review of American Ace

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American Ace by Marilyn Nelson Intermediate   Dial   122 pp. 1/16   978-0-8037-3305-3   $17.99   g Nelson’s talent for undergirding her poetry with historical empathy (Fortune’s Bones, rev. 1/05; A Wreath for Emmett Till, rev. 5/05) is once again present in this verse novel. In forty-five poems, Nelson tells the story of Connor Bianchini, who finds out that […]