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Review of To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party

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To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown Middle School, High School    Candlewick    292 pp. 10/16    978-0-7636-7811-1    $17.99 In this compelling verse novel, Brown (Caminar, rev. 3/14) imagines the Donner Party’s harrowing survival tale as experienced by nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves, a real-life member of the […]

Ghosts and witches and wizards, oh my!

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What better time of year to curl up with a creepy book and a cup of cocoa to ward off the supernatural shivers? These middle-school novels provide just the right balance of adventure and eeriness — along with a few magical villains (or are they?) — for deliciously spooky fall reads. Set in late-nineteenth-century imperial […]

Review of Ashes

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Ashes [Seeds of America] by Laurie Halse Anderson Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    296 pp. 10/16    978-1-4169-6146-8    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4424-4508-6    $6.99 It’s been five long years since Isabel’s younger sister, Ruth, was stolen away by hated slave owner Madam Lockton (Chains, rev. 11/08), but as Isabel continues her fraught journey south in June 1781 […]

Review of Lucy

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Lucy by Randy Cecil; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Candlewick    144 pp. 8/16    978-0-7636-6808-2    $19.99 In the fictional, old-fashioned metropolis of Bloomville, store-clerk-by-day Sam moonlights as a (stage fright–suffering) juggler. His daughter Eleanor lavishes attention on the neighborhood dogs, including a stray named Lucy. When Lucy — who is often in survival mode — […]

Review of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill Intermediate, Middle School    Algonquin    388 pp. 8/16    978-1-61620-567-6    $16.95 Every year, the people of the Protectorate steel themselves for the Day of Sacrifice, when the elders take the city’s youngest baby and leave it in the woods to appease the witch — a witch no one […]

Most peculiar

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Fans of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series will recognize the title Tales of the Peculiar; it’s the book of folktales read aloud by protagonist Jacob and his fellow peculiar children in the trilogy. In the same vein as J.K. Rowling’s Tales of Beedle the Bard, Ransom Riggs’s new collection Tales of the Peculiar (Dutton, […]

Review of Fuzzy

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Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger Intermediate, Middle School    Amulet/Abrams    256 pp. 8/16    978-1-4197-2122-9    $14.95 Life quickly gets complicated for seventh-grader Max Zelaster the day she meets Fuzzy, the first robot student at Vanguard Middle School. Designed to use fuzzy logic (hence his name), Fuzzy can think for himself and update his own programming. […]

Graphic novels that grab you

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These new graphic novels — two fairy-tale retellings, a mistaken-identity high-seas adventure, and a magical-realism ghost story — will captivate intermediate and middle-school readers. At the start of Mighty Jack, young Jack, while visiting a flea market with his single mother and younger sister Maddy (who does not speak), foolishly trades the family car for […]

Friends to the animals

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The following chapter books feature kids — and kids at heart — whose animal-loving ways lead to beautiful interspecies friendships. In Frances O’Roark Dowell’s Sam the Man & the Chicken Plan, seven-year-old Sam Graham is too young to have a real job. But when neighbor Mrs. Kerner tries to hire Sam’s too-busy older sister to […]

Review of Snow White

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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 […]