Review of Tommy

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Tommy: The Gun that Changed America by Karen Blumenthal Middle School, High School     Roaring Brook     223 pp. 6/15     978-1-62672-084-8     $19.99     g In this biography of a gun and the times in which it lived, Blumenthal traces the Thompson submachine gun, a.k.a. the Tommy. After the Spanish-American War, an Army officer, John […]

Review of The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden

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The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne Intermediate, Middle School     Simon    247 pp. 7/15     978-1-4424-9882-2     $16.99     g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-9886-0     $10.99 While out grave-robbing with his father one night, Thomas Marsden digs up a corpse that looks exactly like him, down to the birthmark on his cheek. In his […]

Review of Binny in Secret

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Binny in Secret by Hilary McKay; illus. by Micah Player Intermediate, Middle School     McElderry     276 pp. 6/15      978-1-4424-8278-4     $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4424-8280-7     $10.99 Belinda (Binny for Short, rev. 1/14) is back, along with her single-parent mum, responsible sister Clem, and lovable little brother James. In this second adventure the Cornwallis family […]

Review of The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

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The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly Intermediate, Middle School     Holt     309 pp. 7/15     978-0-8050-9744-3     $16.99     g Kelly returns to turn-of-the-last-century small-town central Texas to continue the story of nascent scientist Callie Vee. Kelly quickly fills readers in on essential background (only girl in the family, with six brothers; […]

Review of The Octopus Scientists

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The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk [Scientists in the Field] by Sy Montgomery; photos by Keith Ellenbogen Intermediate, Middle School     Houghton     71 pp. 5/15     978-0-544-232-70-9     $18.99 The French Polynesian island region of Moorea is home to the Pacific day octopus and to a research center that serves as home base […]

Review of Finding Audrey

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Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella Middle School, High School     Delacorte     287 pp. 6/15     978-0-553-53651-5     $18.99 e-book ed. 978-0-553-53652-2     $10.99 Audrey wears dark glasses all of the time, “even in the house.” But it’s not out of excessive devotion to her movie-star namesake; it’s because she’s afraid. Of everyone. We learn, incompletely, that “some […]

Boys will be boys (what could go wrong?)

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Boys have adventures both big and small — and realistic and poignant and meta and supernatural! — in these books for intermediate and early middle-school readers. In Boy’s Best Friend by Kate Banks and Rupert Sheldrake, two sixth-grade dog owners living on Cape Cod devise an experiment based on scientist Sheldrake’s real book Dogs That […]

Mysterious ways

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Full of thrills, chills, secrets, and lies, these new high-stakes mysteries for middle- and high-school readers will get hearts racing. Teen detective Scarlett is wary when nine-year-old Gemma appears at her office and tells her that she thinks her brother murdered someone. Scarlett accepts the case, and she’s soon launched into a dangerous mystery that […]

Review of Stonewall

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 Stonewall: Breaking Out in the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum Middle School, High School     Viking     120 pp. 5/15     978-0-670-01679-2     $16.99 Bausum begins her history of the gay rights movement with a careful, detailed exposition of the June 1969 Stonewall riots, laying out the events leading up to the clash between the […]

The value of the graphic novel

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This year, I’ve really pushed my students to embrace graphic novels. It’s helped my low readers to access the same information as their peers, and although some students read it because it’s “easier,” they’re reading. What I find myself conflicted with now is that my school is part of the Accelerated Reader (AR) program, where […]