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Review of A Clatter of Jars

graff_clatter of jars

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff Intermediate    Philomel    218 pp. 5/16    978-0-399-17499-5    $16.99    g Graff returns to the magical world introduced in A Tangle of Knots (rev. 7/13), where citizens are either Talented (possessing gifts that range from asparagus cooking to memory manipulation) or Fair, with no extraordinary abilities. Here, children with Singular Talents […]

Eureka!

carson_inside biosphere 2

Inspire middle-school readers with these true tales of intellectual inquiry, scientific advancement, and STEM trailblazers. In her latest Scientists in the Field series entry Inside Biosphere 2: Earth Science Under Glass, Mary Kay Carson takes readers into the research facility designed to be a self-sustaining model of Earth’s environments. The ability to control environmental conditions […]

A little light fantasy

cushman_grayling's song

With historical, contemporary, and folkloric set-ups, this selection of new light fantasies has something for every middle-grade fantasy fan. Grayling’s Song is a moral tale with a simple lesson: it’s not magic but rather “courage, cleverness, imagination, good judgment, and good sense” that make for a hero who can overcome evil. When her wise-woman mother […]

Review of I Am Pan!

gerstein_i am pan

I Am Pan! by Mordicai Gerstein; 
illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Roaring Brook    80 pp. 3/16    978-1-62672-035-0    $18.99 Never have the first-person point of view and the exclamation point been used more appropriately than in this introduction to the Greek god Pan. Untrammeled ego, low impulse control, resilient, charming — this is a Pan […]

Empire Run app review

empire run title

The setup of Empire Run (Planet H/Red Games, 2014) is similar to another Planet H/Red Games app, Frontier Heroes (and with the same caveat about some arguably stereotypical images; see details below) several sections, themed by historical time period, each contain a few games; each game has a number of different levels which allow the […]

Recommended Poetry: Intermediate

fogliano_when green becomes tomatoes

Fogliano, Julie When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons 56 pp. Roaring Brook/Porter 2016. ISBN 978-1-59643-852-1 Illustrated by Julie Morstad. The book begins and ends on “march 20″ with a blue bird on a flowering tree branch (and with the same poem). In between are poems for days throughout the year. Morstad’s gouache and […]

Review of Raymie Nightingale

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Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo Intermediate    Candlewick    264 pp. 4/16    978-0-7636-8117-3    $16.99    g When ten-year-old Raymie Clarke’s father runs away with a dental hygienist, Raymie has no idea how to take charge of her life. Her mother’s no help, and her father’s secretary simply assures her that “most things work out right in the end.” […]

Bob Raczka on Wet Cement

raczka_wet cement

In our May/June 2016 issue, reviewer Sarah Ellis asked Bob Raczka about poetry in unconventional places. Read the starred review of Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems. Sarah Ellis: Have you ever, yourself, written in wet cement or indulged in any other sneaky poetry? Bob Raczka: Sneaky poetry? Hmmm. In my day job as […]

Review of Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems

raczka_wet cement

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka Primary, Intermediate     Roaring Brook    44 pp. 3/16     978-1-62672-236-1     $17.99     g Graphic design meets riddle meets visual wordplay in this collection of sturdy and joyful perspectives on the ordinary stuff of the world. Each of the twenty-one offerings consists of a one-word title and […]

Twentieth-century friends

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Here are four works of historical fiction with vivid characters whose relationship with friends and family will draw middle-grade readers into their stories. In G. Neri’s Tru & Nelle, Truman, an eccentric Little Lord Fauntleroy aspirant, and Nelle, a feisty girl with a boyish haircut, strike up an unlikely and unshakable friendship in Depression-era Monroeville, […]