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Boys to remember

reynolds_all american boys

Four novels featuring teenage boys — in both contemporary and historical settings — take on big issues, with memorable results. All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely is a ripped-from-the-headlines story written with nuance, sharp humor, and devastating honesty. When a quick stop at the corner store suddenly escalates into a terrifying scene […]

Sounds good

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Audio can add another layer to a story, whether through the addition of story-enhancing music, through a narrator’s command of tricky jargon, or the way he or she can make even the prickliest character seem lovable. Here are four audiobooks recommended for older intermediate and middle school readers. As Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan begins, […]

Review of All American Boys

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely High School   Dlouhy/Atheneum   316 pp. 9/15   978-1-4814-6333-1   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-6335-5   $9.99 Teens Rashad (who is African American) and Quinn (who is white) are high school classmates and not much more — neither even knows the other’s name. But when a quick stop at the corner […]

Review of James to the Rescue!

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James to the Rescue! [Masterpiece Adventures] by Elise Broach; illus. by Kelly Murphy Primary   Ottaviano/Holt   104 pp. 10/15   978-1-62779-316-2   $15.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-62779-317-9   $9.99 There is something universally compelling about little critters having their own world, mostly hidden from adults (witness the staying power of the Littles, the Borrowers, and the Doll People), and […]

Review of The Hired Girl

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 The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz Middle School   Candlewick   392 pp. 9/15   978-0-7636-7818-0   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-0-7636-7943-9   $17.99 In 1911, spirited fourteen-year-old Joan, the only girl in a family of three boys plus a verbally abusive father (her weak-of-constitution mother has died), musters her courage and leaves her rural Pennsylvania home for Baltimore, the […]

Review of The Rest of Us Just Live Here

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The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness High School   HarperTeen   320 pp. 10/15   978-0-06-240316-2   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-06-240318-6   $10.99 Ness’s latest offering is a fantasy novel — and simultaneously a fantasy-novel send-up — whose true focus is on its cast of innocent bystanders. Mikey’s town is “just like your town,” except […]

REALLY scary middle grade

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Horrifying Hymenoptera, frightening faeries, malicious magick, and creepy corpses come out to play in these chilling middle-grade novels. Steve’s baby brother comes back from the hospital sick (“there was something wrong with his heart and his eyes and his brain”) and needing lots of care, so his parents don’t pay much attention when Steve develops […]

Pick your poison

tucholke_slasher girls & monster boys

A chilling short story collection, two suspenseful novels, and one book that’s a bit of both: there’s something here for every young adult horror fan. Each of the fourteen short tales of horror in Slasher Girls & Monster Boys, selected by April Genevieve Tucholke, is inspired by at least one other story, film, or song: […]

Not-scary magic

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Not everyone wants the pants scared off of them on Halloween. Some people like their witches sweet and their HobGrackles cuddly. Sadie’s Story, the first in the Backyard Witch series by Christine Heppermann and Ron Koertge, introduces readers to nine-year-old Sadie, her cat — and the small witch who takes up residence in the plastic […]

Review of Sunny Side Up

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Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm; 
illus. by Matthew Holm; color by Lark Pien Intermediate   Graphix/Scholastic   218 pp. 9/15   978-0-545-74165-1   $23.99 Paper ed. 978-0-545-74166-8   $12.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-74167-5   $12.99 Set largely during the summer of 1976, this semiautobiographical graphic novel from the brother-and-sister team behind the Babymouse series includes an […]