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Plots with pluck

spalding_look out for the fitzgerald trouts

Challenges from finding a new home to finding your (singing) voice to finding your “thing” are no match for the spirited main characters of these four middle-grade and middle-school novels. Eleven-year-old Kim, three siblings, and a goldfish live in a small green car in Esta Spalding’s Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts. Orphans? No, they actually […]

Review of Full of Beans

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Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm Intermediate    Random    196 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51036-2    $16.99 Library ed.  978-553-51037-9    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51039-3    $10.99 Beans Curry, first introduced in Turtle in Paradise (rev. 5/10), gets his own starring role in this standalone prequel set in 1934 Key West. With his dad out of work and his […]

Jennifer L. Holm on Full of Beans

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In our July/August 2016 issue, reviewer Betty Carter asks author Jennifer L. Holm about the inspiration for her new novel Full of Beans. Read the full starred review. Betty Carter: You have a knack of making a story so time-specific (the Great Depression in Full of Beans, for example), yet so universal in theme. What […]

Daily Wonder app review

wonder quote

Fans of R. J. Palacio’s 2012 book Wonder are probably familiar with the author’s #ChooseKind pledge and her 2014 book 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts. Now they can receive happiness-themed quotations each day with the Daily Wonder app (Random House, 2015). The app is no-frills: tap “Daily Wonder” in the pull-out menu […]

Review of You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen

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You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen by Carole Boston Weatherford; 
illus. by Jeffery Boston Weatherford Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    82 pp. 5/16    978-1-4814-4938-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-4940-3    $10.99 Thirty-two poems written in the second person bring to life the experiences of the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. Pilots, bombardiers, instructors, maintenance workers, and navigators […]

Review of Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts

spalding_look out for the fitzgerald trouts

Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding; illus. by Sydney Smith Intermediate    Little, Brown    245 pp. 5/16    978-0-316-29858-2    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316-29859-9    $9.99    g Kim, a highly capable eleven-year-old, lives with her three younger siblings (and a goldfish) in a small green car. They attend school, do errands, play board games, drive to the […]

Review of As Brave As You

reynolds_as brave as you

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    415 pp. 5/16    978-1-4814-1590-3​    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-1592-7    $10.99 Reynolds (The Boy in the Black Suit, rev. 3/15; with Brendan Kiely, All American Boys, rev. 11/15) delivers an emotionally resonant middle-grade story of an African American family working to overcome its tumultuous past in […]

Review of Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions

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Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton; illus. by Don Tate Primary, Intermediate    Charlesbridge   40 pp. 5/16    978-1-58089-297-1    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-1-60734-640-1    $9.99 From childhood, African American inventor Johnson was a tinkerer: 
“Lonnie loved building and creating. Ideas for inventions just kept on flowing.” We learn about how young Lonnie made model […]

Chris Barton on Whoosh!

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In our July/August 2016 issue, senior editor Elissa Gershowitz chatted with author Chris Barton about his new picture book biography Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions. Read the full review. Elissa Gershowitz: What is one of the challenges and/or rewards of writing a picture-book biography of a contemporary figure? Chris Barton: One big reward […]

Five questions for Lauren Wolk

lauren wolk

When twelve-year-old Annabelle’s small town is terrorized by a series of vicious attacks, many townsfolk blame World War I veteran and vagabond Toby. Only Annabelle knows that new girl Betty is actually responsible for the cruelty. Adult author and poet Lauren Wolk makes her (stunning!) middle-grade debut with the powerful historical novel Wolf Hollow (Dutton, […]