Go your own way

smith_100 sideways miles

Teen boys go on journeys both physical (road trip!) and psychological in these affecting YA novels. Finn Easton, protagonist of Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles, has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi […]

From the Editor – August 2014

I hope you can join Horn Book executive editor Martha V. Parravano and me at Fostering Lifelong Learners, a one-day conference the Horn Book, along with School Library Journal and the Cuyahoga County Public Library, is sponsoring on September 19th at the Parma-Snow branch of the CCPL in Parma, Ohio. Martha and I will be […]

Back-to-school basics

shea_dinosaur vs school

Kids going back to school — or just starting out there? Here are a variety of picture books, from imaginative and funny to historical and serious, to help ease the transition from the lazy days of summer. “Roar! Roar! Roar!” The diminutive red dinosaur from Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs. Bedtime faces its newest foe in […]

July Notes

july 2014 notes

In this month’s Notes from the Horn Book, we chat with author Varian Johnson about his tightly plotted novel The Great Greene Heist — and his favorite heist movies! You’ll also find • more middle-school capers • pet picture books • primary nature nonfiction • dragons and witches in YA fantasy Read the issue online […]

Five questions for Varian Johnson

Varian Johnson _credit Kenneth B. Gall

Varian Johnson (who was co-valedictorian, with his twin brother, of his high school class, thank you very much) enjoys two careers: as an author and an engineer. It’s not surprising, then, that his new book The Great Greene Heist (Scholastic, 12–16 years) is so meticulously — almost mathematically — plotted. But it’s not all by-the-numbers, […]

From the Editor — July 2014

Roger Sutton

We lost two significant pioneers of YA literature this past month. When Nancy Garden’s Annie on My Mind was published in 1982, the possibilities for GLBTQ characters in teen fiction changed forever. The book said to gay kids: you are not going through a phase, you will meet others like yourself, you can have a […]

YA dragons and witches

green_half bad

What fantasy fan worth her salt doesn’t love a good dragon or witch story? There’s no shortage of them; but these YA novels are wholly original offerings that focus on the development of complex main characters and the subversion of traditional notions of good and evil. Teenager Nathan is a prisoner in a cage in […]

Science in your backyard

burns_handle with care

Outdoor play can double as an opportunity for learning about the natural world. These four nonfiction picture books may inspire readers to look more closely at the wildlife in their own neighborhoods. In Handle with Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, author Loree Griffin Burns explores the life cycle of butterflies alongside the work of a […]

Dog days of summer

stanton_monday, wednesday, and every other weekend

Dogs, cats, and…a sloth. These picture books showcase the comfort, companionship, aggravation, upheaval, and education that pets can bring into a family’s life. In Karen Stanton’s Monday, Wednesday, and Every Other Weekend, Henry and his dog Pomegranate live with Mama on Mondays, Wednesdays, and alternating weekends and with Papa the rest of the time. Rich, […]

Middle-school capers

hilmo_skies like these

Middle school can be a time when kids broaden their horizons, explore new talents, and form more grown-up opinions. But it can also be a time for mischievous adventure, social snafus, rule-breaking, and guerilla-style activism — and these middle-school capers abound with such madcap antics. Twelve-year-old Jade, star of Tess Hilmo’s Skies like These, would […]