Review of Adrift

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Adrift by Paul Griffin Middle School, High School   Scholastic   231 pp. 8/15   978-0-545-70939-2   $17.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-545-70941-5   $17.99 Narrator Matt and his friend John have left their native Queens to take summer jobs in Montauk on the easternmost tip of Long Island. There they meet a trio of wealthy Portuguese teens — Driana; her […]

Five questions for Sonia Manzano

Photo: Edward Pagan

Sonia Manzano’s forty-four-year run as Sesame Street‘s Maria recently came to a close, but that doesn’t mean she’s taking it easy. Her newest book, Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx (Scholastic, 14 years and up), is a memoir in which Manzano recounts her rough childhood and adolescence, ending just as she auditions […]

Rebecca Stead on Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead

In our July/August 2015 issue, reviewer Jennifer Brabander asked Goodbye Stranger author Rebecca Stead about the writing her teen girl protagonist’s friendships. Read the starred review of Goodbye Stranger here. Jennifer M. Brabander: Longtime friends Bridge, Em, and Tab have such different interests, but they manage to sustain their friendship; the three girls are “independent […]

Picturing fantasy

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Funny, action-packed, thought-provoking (and sometimes all of the above), these three graphic novels and one…well, what do you call Brian Selznick’s books? take readers on fantastic adventures. Brian Selznick defined his own format with The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. He pushes the envelope even further in The Marvels. Black-and-white drawings (over four hundred […]

Review of Tommy

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Tommy: The Gun that Changed America by Karen Blumenthal Middle School, High School     Roaring Brook     223 pp. 6/15     978-1-62672-084-8     $19.99     g In this biography of a gun and the times in which it lived, Blumenthal traces the Thompson submachine gun, a.k.a. the Tommy. After the Spanish-American War, an Army officer, John […]

Review of Finding Audrey

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Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella Middle School, High School     Delacorte     287 pp. 6/15     978-0-553-53651-5     $18.99 e-book ed. 978-0-553-53652-2     $10.99 Audrey wears dark glasses all of the time, “even in the house.” But it’s not out of excessive devotion to her movie-star namesake; it’s because she’s afraid. Of everyone. We learn, incompletely, that “some […]

Mysterious ways

latham_scarlett undercover

Full of thrills, chills, secrets, and lies, these new high-stakes mysteries for middle- and high-school readers will get hearts racing. Teen detective Scarlett is wary when nine-year-old Gemma appears at her office and tells her that she thinks her brother murdered someone. Scarlett accepts the case, and she’s soon launched into a dangerous mystery that […]

Review of Stonewall

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 Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum Middle School, High School     Viking     120 pp. 5/15     978-0-670-01679-2     $16.99 Bausum begins her history of the gay rights movement with a careful, detailed exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, laying out the events leading up to the clash between the […]

Brain-bending books

smith_grasshopper jungle

Lately, I’ve read several books that blew me away with their beautiful and sometimes anarchic originality. I’ve written before about the creepy dreaminess of the almost-song We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and I was equally bowled over by the lyrical oddity of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, which […]

Review of Hit Count

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Hit Count by Chris Lynch High School   Algonquin   362 pp. 5/15   978-1-61620-250-7   $17.95   g e-book ed. 978-1-61620-490-7   $17.95 As a lowly freshman, junior varsity football player Arlo Brodie sets his future goals: varsity linebacker by sophomore year, then college ball for a Division One team, then the pros. After freshman year, Arlo works out like […]