Teens meet history

wein_black dove white raven

Adolescence is always a time of transition. For the characters in these YA historical novels, that transition takes place while the world is changing as well. Black Dove, White Raven is set mostly in Ethiopia in the 1930s. Em (who is white) and Teo (who’s black) have grown up together, their mothers American stunt-pilots who […]

Connecting the dots

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Probably inspired by our seeing yesterday the wonderfully mysterious The Clouds of Sils Maria, I dreamed last night that we received for review a new YA novel that took the form of a high school yearbook. Apparently something very terrible had happened at that school, but the reader had to piece together clues in the text and […]

Apple-picking season came early

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Similar to our shelf of purple-jacketed books, we spotted another mini-trend on these jacket covers. Tempted to bite into one? Careful! Some of them might be poisonous.

Review of The Boy in the Black Suit

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The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds Middle School, High School   Atheneum   257 pp. 1/15   978-1-4424-5950-2   $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4424-5952-6   $10.99 High-school senior Matt wears a black suit because he has a job at Mr. Ray’s funeral home (setting up chairs and food for services), but also — metaphorically — because he himself […]

Review of Shadow Scale

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Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman Middle School, High School   Random   600 pp. 3/15   978-0-375-86657-9   $18.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-96657-6   $21.99   g e-book ed. 978-0-375-89659-0   $10.99 With the dragon civil war closing in on Goredd, Seraphina (Seraphina, rev. 7/12) begins an uncertain mission: she and Abdo, a fellow half-dragon, embark on a journey to recruit other ityasaari […]

Insurgent movie review

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Not having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. […]

Life, death, and football

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Gritty and intense but also full of heart and hope, each of these four YA novels stars a teenage boy facing some of life’s most serious challenges. Andrew Smith follows his 2014 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award–winning Grasshopper Jungle with the similarly multilayered, ambitious novel The Alex Crow. Fifteen-year-old war refugee Ariel lived through the bombing […]

Review of Please Excuse This Poem

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Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick High School   Viking   289 pp. 3/15   978-0-670-01479-8   $16.99   g “Most poets begin writing poetry in secret.” Poet Carolyn Forché opens her introduction to this anthology of contemporary American poetry with a shout-out to young or burgeoning […]

Gender by the numbers

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A poster in our office lobby for the upcoming Simmons International Women’s Film Forum alerted me to the interestingly low–29%–number of female protagonists in films for children.* I guess it ain’t all Disney Princesses after all. How does this compare with the numbers in books for children? I asked myself. The gender disparity had been on my […]

Review of The Tight-Rope Walkers

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The Tight-Rope Walkers by David Almond High School   Candlewick   326 pp. 3/15   978-0-7636-7310-9   $17.99   g Dom is a clever, working-class boy from the north of England, beloved of his teachers, the hope of his parents. It’s the early 1960s, an optimistic period in British education, when the son of a shipbuilder could plausibly end up […]