From the Guide: YA Horror


This year’s “Horn BOO!,” our annual roundup of Halloween-y books, will satisfy the spook-loving picture-book set. Teen readers — those with a more mature taste in fright, greater immunity to fear, and, in some cases, seriously strong stomachs — should check out these horror novels from the spring and fall 2015 issues of The Horn […]

Review of Symphony for the 
City of the Dead

anderson_symphony for the city of the dead

Symphony for the 
City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and 
the Siege of Leningrad by M. T. Anderson High School   Candlewick   424 pp. 9/15   978-0-7636-6818-1   $24.99   g Accomplished novelist Anderson presents an ambitious work of nonfiction encompassing the life of composer Dmitri Shostakovich, the early political history of the U.S.S.R., and the nation’s horrific suffering […]

YA Meets the Real: Fiction and Nonfiction That Take On the World


It began with hot summer nights. It was on hot summer nights — when it was far too hot to go outside, when all I wanted to do was sit under the throttle of a noisy air conditioner — that I got my best reading done as a teenager. There were two kinds of books […]

Review of Lair of Dreams

bray_lair of dreams

Lair of Dreams: A Diviners Novel by Libba Bray High School   Little, Brown   691 pp. 8/15   978-0-316-12604-5   $19.00   g e-book ed. 978-0-316-36488-1   $9.99 Seventeen-year-old flapper Evie O’Neill (The Diviners, rev. 11/12) and friends confront another supernatural threat. As before, Bray follows multiple characters, many of them also paranormally gifted; while Evie (now a radio star […]

Intentions and He Said, She Said

alexander_he said, she said

I have written before about our summer program* with Boston Green Academy, and we just finished our two-week institute with ninth and tenth graders from BGA and my students from Boston University. For this summer’s core text, we chose the book He Said, She Said by Kwame Alexander, and it has been fun to watch […]

THIS, my dears, is censorship.


We talk a lot in this field (and on this blog, I guess) about censorship. And most of the time we use the term loosely, describing those who challenge a book’s distribution by a library, for example, as “censors.” I’ve always found the term in this context alarmist–it’s not the challengers who are censors, the censor is […]

My weekend reviews


Friday night–When Robert C. O’Brien’s 1975 YA Z for Zachariah made it onto the silver screen forty years later, you’d think its post-apocalyptic setting and sturdy heroine would have been enough to give it currency but NO: the famous two-hander is now a lurve triangle, and–spoiler alert–the attempted rape, so controversial in its time, is glossed over […]



“You just follow your heart when it comes to fingering scenes” was MY takeaway quote from the latest newspaper report on the steamy goings-on in YA fiction, which predictably, has people a-Twitter. But while the article is sensationalized, it isn’t incorrect. Young adult fiction is sexier than it used to be, even if the “threesomes” […]

Summerteen 2015


SLJ’s Summerteen virtual conference is this Thursday and it’s free and promises to be a good time. I am particularly looking forward to hearing M. T. Anderson, Paula Ayer, Marc Aronson, and Susan Campbell Bartoletti talk about narrative nonfiction, which also happens to be the topic for the debut issue of our latest newsletter coming later […]

Rebecca Stead on Goodbye Stranger

Rebecca Stead

In our July/August 2015 issue, reviewer Jennifer Brabander asked Goodbye Stranger author Rebecca Stead about the writing her teen girl protagonist’s friendships. Read the starred review of Goodbye Stranger here. Jennifer M. Brabander: Longtime friends Bridge, Em, and Tab have such different interests, but they manage to sustain their friendship; the three girls are “independent […]