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Talented tweens

Discovering new talents — from running to writing to pranking — helps these middle-school protagonists figure out who they are and what their futures could be. In Ghost, the first volume of Jason Reynolds’s Track series, seventh grader Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw has a talent for running as well as a tendency to get into trouble, […]

YA love stories in troubling times

Love can flourish in even the most challenging of circumstances. In the following stories, teens fall in love in the shadow of the September 11th attacks, at a self-harm therapy group, and despite cultural and familial pressures. In Gae Polisner’s The Memory of Things, it’s the morning of September 11, 2001, in Manhattan, and the […]

Five questions for Nicola Yoon

Natasha’s family is about to be deported to Jamaica. It’s a bad time to fall in love, and she fights it mightily. But Daniel Jae Ho Bae is so kind, sweet, and charming, she can’t resist — and neither will readers be able to resist Nicola Yoon’s romantic and multifaceted The Sun Is Also a […]

Review of The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz; illus. by Hatem Aly Middle School, High School    Dutton    365 pp. 9/16    978-0-525-42616-5    $17.99    g An ambitious mash-up of medieval saints’ lives, the Joan of Arc legend, thirteenth-century French history, and elements of The Canterbury Tales, Gidwitz’s hopeful story of […]

The Phantom of the Opera is there…

…inside our office! Editorial intern Molly accessorized her already-adorbs Halloween #OOTD with a mask that just arrived to promote A. G. Howard’s upcoming Phantom-inspired YA novel RoseBlood (Abrams/Amulet, January 2017). Time for a Halloween singalong at our desks, I think!

Review of Still Life with Tornado

Still Life with Tornado by A.S. King High School    Dutton    296 pp. 10/16    978-1-101-99488-7    $17.99    g “There is no such thing as an original idea,” sixteen-year-old Sarah’s teacher tells the class, a dictum that sticks with the once-promising art student. Sarah had an original idea, and she executed it beautifully, but Something Happened at school […]

Review of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; illus. by Jillian Tamaki Intermediate    Farrar    250 pp. 10/16    978-0-374-30261-0    $16.99    g Gertie Reece Foy lives with her great-aunt Rae in coastal Alabama while her kind and loving father, Frank, works on an oil rig. Her mother, Rachel, who left the family when Gertie was a baby, lives […]

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

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!

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

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 […]