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Talented tweens

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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, […]

Win the White House app review

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If you’ve gotten anywhere near the news in the past, oh, fifteen months, you know one thing: running for president is complicated. It requires careful planning and strategic skill. Ever wondered if you’ve got what it takes? Find out with Win the White House (iCivics, 2011 with update July 2016; iOS,  Android, and web). First, […]

Review of Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life

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Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    56 pp. 9/16    978-1-4814-5690-6    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5691-3    $10.99 A historical document dated July 5, 1828, lists the property to be sold from the Fairchilds’ estate. Hogs. Cattle. A handmill. Men. […]

Shadow House app review

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Set in Larkspur House, a home for abandoned and wayward children, Shadow House (Scholastic, August 2016; iOS and Android) is the app component of Dan Poblocki’s new multi-platform middle-grade horror series of the same name. The app allows users to interact with the series’ fictional world by choosing their own pathways through twelve different “Incidents.” […]

Review of Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

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Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    164 pp. 10/16    978-0-544-31959-2    $18.99    g Salutations! Sweet raises her collage skills to new heights while bringing her love and admiration for fellow Mainer E. B. White to the page for everyone to appreciate. Just as […]

Review of Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

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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 The Singing Bones: Inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales

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The Singing Bones: Inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Shaun Tan; abridged and adapted from translations of Grimms’ fairy tales by Jack Zipes; sculptures and photos by the author Intermediate, Middle School    Levine/Scholastic    
186 pp. 10/16    978-0-545-94612-4    $24.99    g In the hands of creative teachers, librarians, and parents, this book-lover’s book will find its way […]

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 […]

Fantastical folklore

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The following works of folklore — a new Grimm like you’ve never seen, a Norwegian folk story in silly/creepy graphic novel form, a pourquoi tale done in Duncan Tonatiuh’s unmistakable visual style, and two classic reissues — feature fabulous and fantastical folk. In the hands of creative teachers, librarians, and parents, Shaun Tan’s The Singing […]

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 […]