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Friends to the animals


The following chapter books feature kids — and kids at heart — whose animal-loving ways lead to beautiful interspecies friendships. In Frances O’Roark Dowell’s Sam the Man & the Chicken Plan, seven-year-old Sam Graham is too young to have a real job. But when neighbor Mrs. Kerner tries to hire Sam’s too-busy older sister to […]

Review of Snow White

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Snow White by Matt Phelan; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    216 pp. 9/16    978-0-7636-7233-1    $19.99 Phelan has visited the 1930s Dust Bowl in The Storm in the Barn (rev. 11/09), early-1900s vaudevillian Buster Keaton in Bluffton (rev. 11/13), and late-nineteenth-century explorers in Around the World (rev. 11/11). Here he heads off to […]

Review of Dara Palmer’s Major Drama


Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah; illus. by Helen Crawford-White Intermediate    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky    282 pp. 7/16    978-1-4926-3138-5    $16.99    g Though not a sequel to Shevah’s first novel, Dream On, Amber, this book is set at the same British elementary school and features another memorable narrator. Fifth grader Dara is genuinely gobsmacked when she isn’t […]

Review of Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science

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Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science by Jeannine Atkins Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    198 pp. 9/16    978-1-4814-6565-6    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6567-0    $10.99 Atkins (Borrowed Names: Poems About Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie, and Their Daughters, rev. 5/10) here tells the stories, again in poetry, of three real-life self-taught female […]

Recommended School Stories: Intermediate

barnett and john_terrible two

Barnett, Mac and John, Jory The Terrible Two 220 pp. Abrams/Amulet 2015. ISBN 978-1-4197-1491-7 Ebook ISBN 978-1-61312-763-6 Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Forced to leave behind his proud reputation as class prankster, Miles Murphy dreads starting over in a new town. Miles finds himself paired up with do-gooder Niles at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters Academy […]

Review of Mister Cleghorn’s Seal

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Mister Cleghorn’s Seal by Judith Kerr; illus. by the author Primary/Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    95 pp. 6/16    978-0-00-817083-7    $14.99 Recently retired newsagent Mister Cleghorn finds himself lonely and purposeless. On a trip to the seaside, he impulsively adopts Charlie, an orphaned seal pup, intending on taking him back to the city and donating him to his local […]

Review of A Most Magical Girl

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A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee Intermediate    Knopf    297 pp. 8/16    978-0-553-51285-4    $16.99 Library ed    978-0-553-51286-1    $19.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-553-51287-8    $10.99 Annabel is outraged when her mother removes her from her conventional young ladies’ school, sets her up as an assistant in her great-aunts’ magic shop, and promptly disappears. But the tears and […]

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


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 […]