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Review of Well, That Was Awkward

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Well, That Was Awkward by Rachel Vail Middle School    Viking    314 pp. 2/17    978-0-670-01308-1    $16.99    g As eighth grade comes to a close and her fourteenth birthday approaches, Gracie Grant discovers she has a problem. Out of the blue, Gracie realizes she like-likes longtime and suddenly very attractive classmate AJ Rojanasopondist. But that’s not the […]

Dystopian teen heroes

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These four novels envision authoritarian societies, some in the future, some not-so-futuristic, that cause their teenage protagonists to take revolutionary action. Under Little Town’s strict Regime, no one crosses the border to or from Old Country — until the Duda family arrives as refugees. Protagonist Charlie befriends teenager Pavel Duda and tries to teach him […]

Patricia Hruby Powell on Loving vs. Virginia

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In our January/February 2017 issue, our editors asked author Patricia Hruby Powell about approaching a landmark historical event through a novelistic lens in Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case. Read the full review. Horn Book Editors: Why did you choose to write the Lovings’ story as a “documentary novel”? […]

Review of Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case

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Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell; illus. by Shadra Strickland Middle School, High School    Chronicle    260 pp. 2/17    978-1-4521-2590-9    $21.99 Organized chronologically, the alternating first-person narratives, written in free verse, begin in 1952 as Mildred Jeter enters sixth grade at the “colored” school; six years […]

YA Trivia Night at Trident Booksellers and Café

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Trident Booksellers & Café kicked off its new YA Passport series last night with a YA trivia night. Katie, Cindy, and I represented The Horn Book, though I’m not sure we represented very well. (I’m also not sure whether Horn Book founder Bertha Mahony Miller would’ve liked our team name — Bertha’s Bitches — or […]

Review of Almost Autumn

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Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin; trans. from the Norwegian by Rosie Hedger High School    Levine/Scholastic    281 pp. 1/17    978-0-545-88965-0    $17.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-545-88966-7    $10.99 Ilse Stern, a typical rebellious, lovelorn adolescent, lives with her Jewish family in 1942 Nazi-occupied Oslo, where her father, Isak, runs a tailor shop. A present-tense narration creates immediacy, while […]

Embracing cultural identity

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The following YA stories feature teens struggling with family, friendship, and cultural identity in ways that feel organic to their experiences and are relatable to a variety of readers. Alternating between the voices of two seventeen-year-olds — a contemporary biracial (her mother is black, her father is white) young woman named Rowan Chase, and Will […]

History of war

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“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The following books for middle schoolers describe the horrors of twentieth-century wars and urge readers to learn from history’s mistakes. Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II by Albert Marrin opens briefly with a prologue set on the day of the attack […]

Review of Cloudwish

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Cloudwish by Fiona Wood High School    Poppy/Little, Brown    309 pp. 10/16    978-0-316-24212-7    $18.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-316-24211-0    $9.99 The Australian author’s third novel focuses on two minor characters from Wildlife (rev. 11/14). Vân U’ó’c Phan is a hardworking scholarship student, an artist, and the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who expect her to become a doctor. […]

Review of The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily

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The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan High School    Knopf    217 pp. 10/16    978-0-399-55380-6    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55381-3    $20.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-399-55382-0    $10.99 It’s been a year since the two teens met and fell in love in New York City (Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, rev. 1/11), […]