(Not-so) long ago or far away

hill_bo at iditarod creek

In these works of historical fiction for middle graders — taking place in 1920s Alaska, 1932 North Carolina, WWII England, or 1950s Illinois — the settings may be unfamiliar, but the feelings are timeless. At the start of Kirkpatrick Hill’s Bo at Iditarod Creek, Bo’s family has left Ballard Creek for the bigger and noisier […]

Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs app review

pterosaurs menu

Though the American Museum of Natural History‘s Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs exhibit closed a few weeks ago, those of us who missed it can learn about these fascinating animals with the associated app (2014). The first section, “What Is a Pterosaur?,” introduces this prehistoric creature, which lived for 150 million years, going […]

Review of The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

kamkwamba_boy who harnessed the wind

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; illus. by Anna Hymas Intermediate, Middle School   Dial   294 pp. 2/15   978-0-8037-4080-8   $16.99   g As a young boy growing up in Malawi, William Kamkwamba believed in — and was fearful of — magic. As he got a bit older, he […]

Review of The War That Saved My Life

bradley_war that saved my life

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley Intermediate   Dial   316 pp. 1/15   978-0-8037-4081-5   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-101-63780-7   $10.99 Ten-year-old Ada has suffered almost unimaginable deprivation and abuse due to an unrepaired clubfoot: she has never been outside her squalid London flat; she’s hit, underfed, belittled, and locked inside a dark cupboard […]

Reviews of selected books by Patrick Jennings

jennings_odd weird and little

Putnam and Pennyroyal by Patrick Jennings; illus. by Jon J Muth Intermediate     Scholastic     165 pp. 11/99     0-439-07965-9     $15.95 From the beginning of his narrative, it’s evident that Cora Lee’s Uncle Frank is possessed by a contrary streak. Cora always spends New Year’s with Frank, fishing in one of Arizona’s rare ponds, because he won’t visit […]

Geography Drive Arcade app review

geography arcade matching

Spinlight Studio’s Geography Drive Arcade app (2013) quizzes users on their United States geography knowledge in an engaging way. The app has six sections: Study Map: This streamlined map of the U.S. shows the states color-coded by region, with all fifty capitals marked and labeled. Tap each state to go in-depth, accessing a page where […]

Review of Draw What You See

benson_draw what you see

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews by Kathleen Benson; illus. with paintings by Benny Andrews Primary, Intermediate   Clarion   32 pp. 1/15   978-0-544-10487-7   $16.99 Benson opens in New Orleans in 2005, where Benny Andrews traveled after Hurricane Katrina to teach children “to use art to express their feelings about what they […]

Review of Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust

Dauvillier_Hidden

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loïc Dauvillier; illus. by Marc Lizano; color by Greg Salsedo; trans. from the French by Alexis Siegel Primary, Intermediate    First Second/Roaring Brook    78 pp. 4/14    978-1-59643-873-6    $16.99 In this graphic novel for younger readers, Elsa wakes up in the night and discovers her grandmother sitting in the […]

Review of Stella by Starlight

draper_stella by starlight

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper Intermediate   Atheneum   324 pp. 1/15   978-1-4424-9497-8   $16.99   g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9499-2   $10.99 Eleven-year-old Stella Mills may have trouble getting words on paper for school, but she’s a deep thinker, “a gemstone hiding inside a rock,” her mother tells her. Even on the coldest of nights, she sneaks out […]

Sharon Draper on Stella by Starlight

sharon m. draper

In the January/February 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine, editor Martha Parravano talked to Sharon M. Draper about her new intermediate novel Stella by Starlight. Read the full review here. Martha V. Parravano: Have you ever tried to write by starlight? Sharon M. Draper: I’ve marveled at the moon — the phases intrigue me […]