Raymond Bial, well-known author of nonfiction for children (Ellis Island: Coming to the Land of Liberty; Tenement: Immigrant Life on the Lower East Side; Amish Home; Frontier Home), has just published a novel, one “intended primarily for adults,” according to the promotional copy on the back of the (attractive) paperback. Set in small-town 1959 Indiana [...]
I still recall fondly the female protagonists of teen “chick lit” and coming-of-age stories I read in high school. On a given day I might feel as tormented by love and teenage awkwardness as Mia Thermopolis (Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries) or lonely and isolated like Melinda Sordino (Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak). These were gals [...]
[scroll down for all six reviews] Chime by Franny Billingsley Middle School, High School Dial 358 pp. 3/11 978-0-8037-3552-1 $17.99 Reviewed 3/11 “Ooze and muck and the clean muddy smell of life” suffuse Billingsley’s long-awaited third work of fiction, which mingles “Tam Lin,” “Lord Randall,” and its own swampy folklore into [...]
Bailey by Harry Bliss; illus. by the author Primary Scholastic 32 pp. 8/11 978-0-545-23344-6 $16.99 Bailey loves school, where he is by far the most popular student. Then again, he is the only dog at Champlain Elementary School. No one can resist a dog who hangs his head out the school bus window, willing the [...]
The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert; illus. by Bonnie Christensen Primary Porter/Roaring Brook 32 pp. 11/11 978-1-59643-515-5 $17.99 Though the book opens with Ruthie and her father at the hospital visiting Ruthie’s grandmother, laid up with pneumonia, this isn’t a coping-with-death book. Bubbe’s not failing, she’s a finagler. Unsatisfied by hospital food (“a person [...]
In this business we’ve all gotten pretty used to the blurring of boundaries: between genres (is that picture book biography with invented dialogue nonfiction or fiction?); between age groups (how young does YA go now, 14? 12? younger?); between formats (right, that 534-page novel is actually a picture book!). Ho hum; been there, done that. [...]
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson; illus. by the author Intermediate | Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins | 108 pp. 9/11 | 978-0-06-173074-0 | $19.99 “Most folks my age and complexion don’t speak much about the past,” begins the unnamed narrator of this graceful and personalized overview of African American history. But [...]
Every Thing on It by Shel Silverstein; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate | Harper/HarperCollins | 202 pp. 9/11 | 978-0-06-199816-4 | $19.99 | Library ed. 978-0-06-199817-1 | $20.89 Posthumously published works are sometimes weak, but this collection of 140-plus poems is every bit as good as Silverstein’s earlier poetry collections, beginning with the now-classic Where the Sidewalk [...]
Oceanhouse Media’s Once upon a Potty app is true to the original. The focus is on the text and illustrations; digital enhancements are used sparingly and effectively. There are some polite potty sound effects and humor, and though I’m sure the urge was strong (get it?!) to make more of a splash (it’s too easy!), the producers wisely kept the intended audience in mind. The narrative’s reassuring tone, nonthreatening pictures, and unobtrusive music help distractible toddlers focus on the important information.
Upon arriving in London from Louisiana for the school year, high-school senior Rory is told that someone “pulled a Jack the Ripper” the night before. She assumes the phrase is some quaint British colloquialism she has yet to learn, not an actual reference to a gruesome murder committed on the same date—August 31—and in the same location.