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On our own

Children make their own homes and families in these middle-grade novels. The stories range in tone from zany to poignant and highlight important elements of any family dynamic: love, loyalty, understanding, and, once in a while, cookies for dinner. For more on how child characters define their own versions of “home” in fiction, look for […]

Review of Felix Yz

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker Intermediate, Middle School    Viking    283 pp. 6/17    978-0-425-28850-4    $16.99 Thirteen-year-olds may sometimes seem like alien creatures, but how often do you meet one with an actual alien inside? Meet Felix Yz (pronounced like “is”). When Felix was three, his scientist father was vaporized in a lab accident and Felix himself […]

Review of Izzy Kline Has Butterflies: A Novel in Small Moments

Izzy Kline Has Butterflies: A Novel in Small Moments by Beth Ain Intermediate    Random    167 pp. 3/17    978-0-399-55080-5    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55081-2    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-399-55082-9    $10.99 Fourth grader Izzy has her share of common woes — mean girls, school anxiety, auditions for a play, a dad […]

Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids app review

Stop, Breathe, and Think Kids (May 2017; iOS and Android), by the creators of the similarly titled adult meditation app, is intended for children ages five to ten. (An orientation video for adults demonstrates how to use the app with children and offers some tips for extending the activities.) Tap “Find a Mission” to find […]

Review of Garvey’s Choice

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes Intermediate, Middle School    WordSong/Boyds Mills    108 pp. 10/16    978-1-62979-740-3    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-1-62979-747-2    $7.99 In a little book of little poems, Grimes tells a big-hearted story of Garvey (named after Marcus Garvey), an overweight boy tormented by name-calling at school: “lard butt, fatso, Mister Tubs.” Of his size, he says, […]

Review of Binny Bewitched

Binny Bewitched by Hilary McKay; illus. by Tony Ross Intermediate, Middle School    McElderry    233 pp.    g 6/17    978-1-4814-9102-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-9104-4    $10.99 McKay continues to display her extraordinary gifts (for language, nuance, humor; for capturing human nature and family dynamics) in this third book about the endearingly imperfect […]

Review of Moo

Moo by Sharon Creech Intermediate, Middle School    Cotler/HarperCollins    278 pp. 8/16    978-0-06-241524-0    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-241525-7    $17.89    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-241527-1    $6.99 Sick of city life and having recently lost their jobs, Reena’s parents decide to move to Maine, to a small coastal town. It’s summer, and twelve-year-old Reena and younger brother Luke are free […]

Growin’ up is hard to do, audiobook version

The preteen years are full of new experiences and challenges. These four audiobooks — three novels, and one book of advice — all involve aspects of growing up and exploring one’s identity. For Archer Magill, main character of Richard Peck‘s 2017 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book The Best Man, sixth grade is full of changes: […]

Dotopedia app review

Dot — star of the CBC animated TV series of the same name — is ready to guide you through a virtual encyclopedia experience in Dotopedia (CBC, January 2017, iOS and Android). The home screen is designed like a website with a search bar at the top, a featured article front and center, and buttons […]

Review of Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Holiday    40 pp. 3/17    978-0-8234-3664-4    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-3796-2    $16.95 McCully’s profile of remarkable nineteenth-century astronomer Caroline Herschel reveals the scientist’s complicated yet productive life as her brother William’s co-researcher and housekeeper. After childhood illnesses […]