Quality time

playtime rhymes

The holidays are approaching, and you know what that means: school vacations, trips to visit the grandparents, long plane/car/bus rides…all opportunities to spend lots of quality time with the kids. Three new books offer holiday cheer and activity ideas; the fourth reminds us to be mindful of what’s most important. All four are gift-giving gold. […]


october notes

October’s Notes from the Horn Book is all Halloween, all the time. Mwa-ha-ha-ha! In this issue, I ask vampire queen Holly Black five questions about her new YA novel, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Other treats in store for you: • more YA with dark, well-developed characters • silly Halloween picture books • primary books […]

Five questions for Holly Black

Holly Black

Holly Black’s many books for intermediate-level readers (Doll Bones, McElderry, 8–12 years; The Spiderwick Chronicles series with Tony DiTerlizzi, Simon, 8–12 years) and for young adults (the Modern Faerie Tales series, McElderry, 13–16 years; The Good Neighbors graphic novel series, Graphix/Scholastic, 13–16 years; the Curse Workers series, McElderry, 13–16 years) demonstrate various facets of supernatural […]

More silly than spooky

ten orange pumpkins

Cheery colors, gentle humor, and friendly monsters (or pals in costume!) keep these picture books for the youngest trick-or-treaters light on tricks and heavy on treats. Halloween book meets counting book in Stephen Savage’s Ten Orange Pumpkins. Rhyming text counts down through a mildly “spooky night” as, one by one, nine pumpkins disappear; the last […]

Darkness inside

hideous love

Horror fans rejoice! In addition to plenty of thrills and chills, these four books for teens offer protagonists with complex motives and dark impulses. Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein follows Mary Godwin Shelley’s life from her infatuation with Percy Bysshe Shelley through their scandalous elopement, penury, travels, the writing of […]

Boo! Participation encouraged

spooky friends

An easy reader, a seek-and-find, and two poetry books bring Halloween silliness to early elementary readers. Eager participation is anticipated. “Scarlet and Igor were very good friends. The trouble was, they could never agree on anything,” begins early reader Spooky Friends by Jane Feder. In three brief stories, vampire Scarlet and mummy Igor first argue, […]

Non-gory scary stories

wicked cruel

Many middle graders and middle schoolers like their scary books creepy… but not terrifying. The following titles fit the bill, incorporating some humor, some shivers, and a minimum of gore. The star of John Bemelmans Marciano’s The 9 Lives of Alexander Baddenfield comes from a long line of miscreants (“To say that the Baddenfield family […]

From the Editor – October 2013

Roger Sutton

I’d probably get in trouble with the ALA for this today, but back when I was a children’s librarian in the last century we limited Halloween-book checkouts to three per customer. There simply were never enough to go around, and I’m talking in November. Or December. Or Januar—you see where this is going. So please […]

September Notes on its way

sep 13 notes

September’s Notes from the Horn Book newsletter will be hitting inboxes any minute! In this issue, Roger chats with author/illustrator David Wiesner about his latest picture book Mr. Wuffles! You’ll also find • more funny animal picture books • back-to-school chapter books • primary/intermediate nonfiction science apps • YA about strong young women in difficult […]

Five questions for David Wiesner

Photo: Annie Hosfeld.

Cat-and-mouse games are so over — what might a feline do when faced with little green men? My question is entirely literal, and David Wiesner’s answer, in the form of his new picture book Mr. Wuffles! (Clarion, 3–7 years), is completely reasonable. See five more questions below. 1. History is written by the victors. What’s Mr. […]