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Books mentioned in the January 2021 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner Return of the Thief [Queen's Thief] by Megan Whalen Turner; Greenwillow. YA world building Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust; Flatiron. How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories [Folk of the Air] by Holly Black, illus. by Rovina Cai; Little, Brown. Daughters...

From the Editor - January 2021

Though we won’t miss 2020 (good riddance), we will miss the world that Megan Whalen Turner created in her Queen’s Thief series, complete with political maneuvering, backstabbing, power grabs...oh, wait. World-building was perfected by Turner, and is used to great effect in these recent YA titles. If kindhearted skunks and...

Intermediate STEM

Hand the following entertaining and informative STEM-focused nonfiction titles to science-minded middle graders. Grasping Mysteries: Girls Who Loved Math by Jeannine Atkins Intermediate, Middle School    Atheneum    320 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-5344-6068-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6070-6    $10.99 Atkins’s (Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science, rev. 7/16) latest collective biography in...

Primary animal fantasy chapter books

These recent animal-fantasy chapter books will thrill, educate, and crack up new readers. Willa the Wisp [The Fabled Stables] by Jonathan Auxier; illus. by Olga Demidova Primary    Amulet/Abrams    96 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-4197-4269-9    $12.99 “At the top of the world sat an island. And at the heart of that island...

YA world building

The following YA titles feature strongly built worlds — some well-known to fans, some brand new — that will sweep readers up with their fantastical details and enthralling adventures. Don’t miss our “Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner,” author of the Queen’s Thief series, which concludes with Return of the...

Five questions for Megan Whalen Turner

Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief (with that never-to-be-bettered twist at the end!) was published in 1996. Now, after six books set in that unforgettably detailed world, full of political machinations, double crosses, dubious motivations, and familial obligations, the series comes to a close with Return of the Thief (Greenwillow, 12...

Fanfare 2020 Annotations

Welcome to Fanfare, our choices of the best books of 2020. When The Horn Book’s tiny office went from wall-to-wall books, ARCs, effin’ jeez, and piles and piles of still more books to fully remote, there was a lot of uncertainty. Overnight, our digital tag line — It’s virtually a...

Books mentioned in the November 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith I Talk like a River by Jordan Scott, illus. by Sydney Smith; Porter/Holiday. The sound of sounds Can Bears Ski? by Raymond Antrobus, illus. by Polly Dunbar; Candlewick. Ten Ways to Hear Snow by Cathy Camper, illus. by Kenard Pak; Kokila/Penguin. Sound:...

From the Editor - November 2020

Ready to celebrate? I bet you are, and our annual Holiday High Notes list of recommended seasonal titles is here to help you get the party started. It’s not too early, he says, having picked up two boxes of chocolate peppermint cookies earlier today, and while to keep household peace...

YA American historical fiction

These five works of historical fiction for young adults are set during turbulent times in American history — and effectively interrogate those moments from our past. Zora and Me: The Summoner by Victoria Bond Middle School    Candlewick    256 pp.    g 10/20    978-0-7636-4299-0    $17.99 Paper ed.  978-1-5362-1667-7    $7.99 This final entry...

Fiction for sports fans

Some sports are seasonal, but reading novels about them is an all-year-round affair, and these four recent offerings for middle graders and middle schoolers are worth adding to the rotation. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance by Donna Barba Higuera Intermediate, Middle School    Levine Querido    272 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-64614-003-9    $17.99 e-book...

The sound of sounds

The following picture books — two nonfiction, three fictional — engagingly and informatively explore the topics of hearing, sound, and speech for young readers. See also Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith about I Talk like a River centering a protagonist with a stutter. Can Bears Ski? by...

Five questions for Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith

I Talk like a River (Porter/Holiday) — a collaboration between poet Jordan Scott and award-winning illustrator Sydney Smith — has received multiple starred reviews. The story takes us into the psyche of a boy who struggles with stuttering. After a “bad speech day,” the boy’s father takes him for a...

Books mentioned in the October 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Grace Lin Circle! Sphere!; The Last Marshmallow; Up to My Knees!; What Will Fit? [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin, illus. by the author; Charlesbridge. Ever-changing weather and seasons If Winter Comes, Tell It I'm Not Here by Simona Ciraolo, illus. by the author; Candlewick. The Weather's Bet...

From the Editor - October 2020

We hope you’ve been enjoying attending our first-ever virtual Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, with coverage of this year’s BGHB winners — videos, interviews, articles, and more — each week in October. It’s all archived, and everything is free — find the full schedule here. In this issue of Notes and...

YA ghosts and demons

Ghosts, demons, and hauntings — both metaphorical and spiritual — inhabit these eerie and atmospheric YA titles. A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    480 pp.    g 6/20    978-0-06-289149-5    $18.99 This tale, first in a West African–inspired duology, is narrated in the...

Ever-changing weather and seasons

October in New England can be changeable. (Coats over costumes? This year stay home.) Similar to Grace Lin’s four season-themed Storytelling Math series of board books, these fiction and nonfiction picture books explore weather and seasons in entertaining, accessible, informative ways. If Winter Comes, Tell It I’m Not Here by...

Five questions for Grace Lin

Caldecott (for A Big Mooncake for Little Star in 2019), Newbery (for Where the Mountain Meets the Moon in 2010), and Geisel (for Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! in 2011) honoree Grace Lin’s new Storytelling Math board book series (Charlesbridge, 3-5 years) fulfills both parts of its name:...

Lighthearted supernatural stories

The following books should appeal to middle-graders and middle-schoolers who prefer their supernatural thrills with a side of humor. The Weird in the Wilds [Tales of Triumph and Disaster!] by Deb Caletti; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School    Putnam    272 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-9848-1308-4    $13.99 e-book ed.  978-1-9848-1309-1    $8.99...

Books mentioned in the September 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Evette Dionne Lifting as We Climb: Black Women's Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne, Viking. Be a change maker Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal; Roaring Brook. Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life by Winifred Conkling;...

From the Editor - September 2020

The lyric “You can’t live with ’em, you can’t live without ’em” from The Muppet Movie got stuck in my head last week as I was working on our siblings section for this month’s Notes. Perhaps it was my subconscious’s way of telling me something (though my older sister and...

Animal friends (and frenemies)

Last week we highlighted the fiftieth anniversary edition of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad Are Friends, a book which arguably introduced one of the most famous animal pairings in children’s literature. The following five recent offerings for primary readers (and “What (Exactly) IS an Easy Reader?” anyway?) continue in that...

Siblings: You can’t live with ’em, you can’t live without ’em

The relatable main characters in these five recent novels for middle-grade readers learn that siblings can go on magical adventures together, look after each other, provide inspiration, serve as unlikely allies, help one another find their place, and so much more. Check out the siblings tag on our website for...

Be a change maker

In addition to the Black women suffragists whom Evette Dionne spotlights in Lifting as We Climb, history is filled with people making a difference tackling important social issues by bringing awareness and/or being an activist. Here are six such nonfiction stories for middle school and teen readers. Jane Against the...

Five questions for Evette Dionne

Last month, in recognition of the Nineteenth Amendment’s centennial, we featured Lifting as We Climb (Viking, 12 years and up) by Evette Dionne among other books about women’s suffrage. The subtitle of Dionne’s book, however, focuses readers’ attention on a very specific, vital, and too-frequently overlooked — and/or whitewashed —...

Five questions for Ryan T. Higgins

In young dino Penelope Rex’s picture-book debut, she learned that We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Now the pony-loving T. rex is back in Ryan T. Higgins’s We Will Rock Our Classmates (Disney-Hyperion, 4–7 years). Readers discover her equally passionate love of rock ’n’ roll when she signs up for the...

Books mentioned in the August 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Ryan T. Higgins We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins, Disney-Hyperion. September learning One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book by Selina Alko, Ottaviano/Holt. Swing by Michael Hall, Greenwillow. Field Trip to the Ocean Deep by John Hare, Ferguson/Holiday. Nana Akua Goes to School...

From the Editor - August 2020

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I can only laugh, mordantly, as we send you this, our annual Back-to-School issue of Notes from the Horn Book. There are some funny (We Will Rock Our Classmates), adventurous (Field Trip to the Ocean Deep), courageous (Something to Say), and sporting (Dragon Hoops) choices among them, but much as...

YA realism (for a weird year)

These YA books — three novels and a graphic memoir — document what can be a tumultuous and transitional time in people’s lives; this school year, especially, stories of tumult — and triumph — may be appreciated by readers. See also Go with the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen...

Middle-grade/middle-school stories and struggles

Middle-graders and middle-schoolers, who are on the cusp of adolescence during an especially challenging time, may take comfort or inspiration from the following school-set stories about young people dealing with personal challenges. See also We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow); and for pure escapist ridiculousness, Louis Sachar’s...

September learning

No matter what form learning takes starting in the fall, the following picture books may entertain, and perhaps even enlighten, young readers. See also The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard; illus. by Oge Mora (Schwartz & Wade/Random); and for silliness The Cool Bean...

Five questions for Monica Brown

In the picture-book biography Sharuko: El arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri; translated into Spanish by Adriana Domínguez (Children’s/Lee & Low, 6–9 years), author Monica Brown tells the story of Julio C. Tello, “one of the most important archaeologists in all...

Books mentioned in the July 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Monica Brown Sharuko: El arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello by Monica Brown, illus. by Elisa Chavarri, trans. into Spanish by Adriana Domínguez, Children's/Lee. Exploration and curiosity Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington, illus....

From the Editor - July 2020

Did you miss the Speeches? We have them — the Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Caldecott, and Legacy acceptance speeches — in the latest issue of The Horn Book Magazine. Print subscribers should be receiving the issue per usual; it is also available in digital format for all comers for free....

Middle school and YA verse novels and poetry

Encourage middle- and high schoolers to read poetry beyond National Poetry Month by sharing with them these four historically set books in verse. And also check out 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction and Poetry honor book verse novel Clap When You Land and our Five Questions interview with author Elizabeth...

Kids in summer

This may not be a typical summer for most kids, but that doesn’t mean middle-grade readers can’t embark on summertime adventures with the characters in these four new novels. And don’t miss Lucy Knisley’s recent summer-set graphic novel Stepping Stones or our Five Questions interview with the author/illustrator from the...

Exploration and curiosity

Channel the inquisitive Sharuko with the following nonfiction picture books, which encourage readers’ curiosity about the outdoors (city or country; in-person or virtually). Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner by Janice N. Harrington; illus. by Theodore Taylor III Primary    Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills    48 pp. 11/19    978-1-62979-558-4   ...

Big life changes

Change is never easy to deal with (and it’s particularly hard for everyone right now), but these recent books for middle-graders may help readers feel less alone in their experiences. Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome Intermediate, Middle School    Holiday    199 pp. 1/20    978-0-8234-4442-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4633-9    $10.99 Lymon Caldwell,...

YA Pride fiction 2020

June is Pride month. Here are some recent books for middle schoolers and high schoolers about LGBTQIA+ young people coming into their own identities. See also Elizabeth Acevedo’s Clap When You Land (a 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction and Poetry honoree; read our review in the upcoming July/August Horn Book...

Five questions for Elizabeth Acevedo

In Clap When You Land (Quill Tree/HarperCollins, 14 years and up), two teens — Camino, who lives in the Dominican Republic, and Yahaira, who lives in New York City — discover they are half-sisters after their father perishes in a plane crash. Told in alternating verse, the story — winner...

From the Editor - June 2020

It is a tough time for celebration, that’s for sure. But in this issue of Notes we recommend books for "Pride" and books for "Father’s Day," and I hope those who observe these holidays find a way to do so amidst the at-once turbulent and static conditions we are facing....

Father's Day picture books 2020

For Father’s Day — June 21 — here are some recent picture books that celebrate loving fathers and father figures. See also The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl in the upcoming July/August issue of the Horn Book Magazine (“It’s notable to see a single-father, working-class household represented…”) and our recently...

Books mentioned in the June 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Elizabeth Acevedo Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo, Quill Tree/HarperCollins. YA Pride fiction 2020 The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. Holt, Chronicle. In the Role of Brie Hutchens... by Nicole Melleby, Algonquin. The Midnight Lie by Marie...

2020 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School

  Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2019–2020 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion....

2020 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Middle School

  Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2019–2020 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion....

2020 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Intermediate

  Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2019–2020 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion....

2020 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Easy Readers and Primary Grades

  Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2019–2020 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion....

2020 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Picture Books

  Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2019–2020 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion....

2020 Summer Reading List

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  Picture Books Suggested grade level for all entries: PS–2   Summer Song by Kevin Henkes; illus. by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow) The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann (Candlewick) Johnny’s Pheasant by Cheryl Minnema; illus. by Julie Flett (Minnesota) Goodnight, Veggies by Diana Murray; illus. by Zachariah OHora (Houghton) Hike...

Five questions for Lucy Knisley

Adult comics creator Lucy Knisley’s middle-grade graphic novel debut Stepping Stones (RH Graphic/Random, 9–12 years) follows city kid Jen and her mom to a small farm in the country. There she contends with new chores (feeding chickens!), tricky family dynamics (Mom’s annoying boyfriend and his daughters who visit on weekends),...

75th anniversary of WWII's VE Day

May 8, 2020 will be the seventy-fifth anniversary of VE (Victory in Europe) Day. Here are five recent novels about the war for middle school and high school readers; see also our starred review of The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein (Little, Brown) in the upcoming May/June Horn Book Magazine....

Books mentioned in the April 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Diana Murray and Zachariah OHora Goodnight, Veggies by Diana Murray, illus. by Zachariah OHora, Houghton. Preschool bedtime books Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown, illus. by AG Ford, Farrar. I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five! by Cari Best, illus. by Boris Kulikov, Ferguson/Holiday. Bedtime for Sweet...

From the Editor - April 2020

I hope you are all healthy and managing at home, with — perhaps? — more time to read what you really want to. Even when your boss calls you into a Zoom meeting: just say your camera’s broken and keep those pages turning. A shoutout, too, to the libraries and...

National Poetry Month 2020

This April, enjoy poetry with middle-graders — and find more for all ages on hbook.com. Up Verses Down: Poems, Paintings, and Serious Nonsense by Calef Brown; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Ottaviano/Holt    80 pp. 6/19    978-0-8050-9929-4    $19.99 Brown (Soup for Breakfast, rev. 3/09; Hypnotize a Tiger, rev. 3/15) presents...

Preschool bedtime books

After saying goodnight to veggies (see Five questions for Diana Murray and Zachariah OHora), listeners can also enjoy these four recent bedtime books. For more, click the tag Bedtime Books. Brown Baby Lullaby by Tameka Fryer Brown; illus. by AG Ford Preschool    Farrar    32 pp.    g 1/20    978-0-374-30752-3    $16.99 Chronicling...

Five questions for Diana Murray and Zachariah OHora

In the adorable rhyming picture book Goodnight, Veggies (Houghton, 3–6 years), author Diana Murray’s tongue-in-cheek verse takes readers on a very special tour of an apartment rooftop garden as various vegetables get ready for bed. Zachariah OHora’s illustrations show friendly-faced veggies and a spiffily dressed worm, à la Richard Scarry...

Books mentioned in the March 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five Questions for Alice Faye Duncan Just like a Mama by Alice Faye Duncan, illus. by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, Millner/Simon. Women's History Month 2020 picture-book biographies Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya Angelou by Bethany Hegedus, illus. by Tonya Engel, Lee & Low. A Life Made...

From the Editor - March 2020

I hope you are all enjoying the March/April issue of the Magazine; here in the office we are busily pulling together the May/June special issue, whose theme is "Breaking the Rules." Jarrett J. Krosoczka is creating the cover; inside the issue fourteen authors and illustrators share stories (and comix) about...

YA magic for March 2020 Notes

These YA fantasy novels star strong and intelligent magic-wielding young women fighting to save their worlds. Read them during #HBWomensHistoryMonth — and every month. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi High School    Holt    405 pp. 12/19    978-1-250-17099-6    $19.99 In Orïsha, where magic has recently been restored (Children of...

Middle-grade mystery & detective stories for March 2020 Notes

The following books will have middle-grade mystery fans puzzling through clues to determine "Whodunit?" See also Marthe Jocelyn’s upcoming article about Agatha Christie in the May/June Magazine — and what The Horn Book thought of Knives Out. Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn; illus....

Women's History Month 2020 picture-book biographies

During Women’s History Month, and every month, we celebrate the accomplishments of women and female-identifying people in the arts, sciences, athletics, literacy, and more. Here are a few examples of picture-book biographies that do just that. For more follow #HBWomensHistoryMonth. Rise!: From Caged Bird to Poet of the People, Maya...

Five questions for Alice Faye Duncan

Alice Faye Duncan’s picture book Just like a Mama (Millner/Simon, 3–7 years), illustrated by Charnelle Pinkney Barlow, explores the special bond between a young girl and her “right now” caretaker Mama Rose, who is “just like a mama to me.” The story was inspired by Duncan’s own family and is...

Five questions for A.S. King about Dig.

A.S. King’s Dig. (Dutton, 14 years and up) was the winner of the 2020 Printz Award. The story focuses on five teens with a startling connection that is only gradually revealed. Constantly shifting perspectives — between the unforgettable teens themselves, along with an outsized cast — keep readers off-balance and...

Books mentioned in the February 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five Questions for A.S. King Dig. by A.S. King, Dutton, 14 years and up. I Crawl Through It by A.S. King, Little, Brown, 14 years and up. Reviews of the 2020 ALA Youth Media Award winners YA love stories for Black History Month 2020 With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo,...

From the Editor - February 2020

Yes, Notes from the Horn Book looks and works a little different/ly and we hope you find it works for you! (Send any complaints or compliments to newsletter@hbook.com.) It’s a very busy time in the Horn Book office: the March/April issue of the Magazine goes to the printer today and...

Picture books for Presidents' Day 2020

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The following recent picture books provide engaging looks at the U.S. presidency; the people a president might work with, meet, or appoint; and the office’s power for good. The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner; illus. by Adam Rex Primary    Chronicle    48...

YA love stories for Black History Month 2020

For Valentine’s Day, here are some thoughtful (and swoon-worthy) YA love stories that center Black protagonists and focus on love in various forms — including passion for dance and relationships tested by a zombie apocalypse. Throughout February we’ve been celebrating Black History Month with articles, interviews, book recommendations, and more...

Five questions for Kacen Callender

In King and the Dragonflies (Scholastic, 10–14 years), our grieving twelve-year-old protagonist is convinced that his recently deceased older brother has transformed into a dragonfly. He is also, reluctantly, keeping secrets for his sort-of friend, Sandy, who is gay and has run away from an abusive home. Via dreamlike imagery,...

Books mentioned in the January 2020 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Kacen Callender King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender, Scholastic, 10–14 years. Sense of place Some Places More than Others by Renée Watson, Bloomsbury, 9–12 years. All the Ways Home by Elsie Chapman, Feiwel, 9–12 years.    Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by...

From the Editor - January 2020

Happy New Year, everybody, and I hope you all found some time for reading — by which I mean reading for the fun of it — over the December holidays. (Mine was divided between The Turn of the Key, Ruth Ware’s recent homage to The Turn of the Screw, and...

Fascinating figures from twentieth-century history

The lives of these fascinating figures should engage young adult readers while providing unique entry points into twentieth-century history. In Torpedoed: The True Story of the WWII Sinking of "The Children's Ship," Deborah Heiligman tells the riveting tale of the SS City of Benares. Carrying two hundred passengers, half of...

Intergenerational warmth and wisdom

These recent picture books center the warmth, wisdom, and love of family members across generations. In Love and the Rocking Chair, the final collaboration between Diane and Leo Dillon (much of the book had been finished before Leo's death in 2012), a rocking chair bought in anticipation of a baby's...

Sense of place

As in King and the Dragonflies, setting is a key part of these recent intermediate and middle-school realistic stories. In Some Places More than Others, Amara's twelfth birthday trip with her dad becomes a whirlwind of highs and lows as she's introduced to the rich history of African Americans in...

Fanfare 2019 Annotations

Welcome to Fanfare, our choices of the best books of 2019. I believe we first published this list in 1939, recommending the best of 1938. Many of the titles are now mostly forgotten (or notorious: see The Five Chinese Brothers), but look: there is Andy and the Lion, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, and The Hobbit....

Five Questions for Susan Cooper

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"The Shortest Day, " Susan Cooper's 1974 poem honoring the winter solstice, is performed annually at The Christmas Revels. Now, Carson Ellis's gouache illustrations grace a picture-book version, The Shortest Day (Candlewick, 5–8 years), which imagines people "down the centuries of the snow-white world" as they greet the season. See...

Books mentioned in the November 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Susan Cooper The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper, illus. by Carson Ellis, Candlewick, 5–8 years. Contemplative seasonal picture books Small in the City by Sydney Smith, Holiday/Porter, 3–6 years. A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin, Little, Brown, 3–6 years.    A Stone Sat Still...

From the Editor - November 2019

While as far as I’m concerned it’s never too early for peppermint-stick ice cream, I always feel discombobulated reading holiday books before Halloween, but that’s how we get you news of the good new ones in a timely fashion (although as I recall, Christmas books get heavy circulation throughout the...

Intermediate/middle school historical fiction

These works of historical fiction provide snapshots of time and place — and blood- and chosen families — for middle-graders and middle-schoolers. In Indian No More, it’s 1954 and eight-year-old Regina Petit and her family — members of the Umpqua tribe in northern Oregon — are forced by the U.S....

YA audiobooks

These audiobooks for young adults speak to important topics in engaging ways. This is a gripping audio version of A.S. King's Dig., a YA novel with so many characters that each chapter begins with a cast list. Three of the characters get their own readers — Mike Chamberlain, Kirby Heyborne,...

Contemplative seasonal picture books

The following picture books explore the warmth of relationships in seasonal settings. In Sydney Smith's Small in the City, an intrepid child on the move in the big, wintry city speaks directly to an unknown someone, dispensing advice and encouragement. With full-bleed spreads juxtaposed with ones featuring small vignettes, Smith...

Books mentioned in the October 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Rainbow Rowell Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, illus. by Faith Erin Hicks, Roaring Brook/First Second, 14 years and up. Meet-cute love stories Somewhere Only We Know by Maureen Goo, Farrar, 14 years and up. Love from A to Z by S. K. Ali, Simon/Salaam, 14 years and up....

From the Editor - October 2019

We are celebrating the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, which were presented in a ceremony at Simmons University on October 4th. It was great fun, with two unprompted standing ovations (plus a third I accidentally set off); a group sing-along video "Happy Birthday to You" for award chair Monica Edinger,...

Eerie and uncanny

Starring ghosts, ghost hunters, goblins, and changelings, these new adventures for intermediate and middle-school readers are atmospherically spooky (but not-too-scary) books to snuggle up with on a gloomy fall day. Find more Halloween recommendations in Friday's Horn Book Herald e-newsletter. Mollie sets out to return Guest, a changeling child, to...

Offbeat pet picture books

Four picture books feature stories of unusual pets, from a ghost cat to a balloon puppy to a dog who thinks he's a baked potato. Also check out Jon Agee's hilarious new picture book I Want a Dog, reviewed in the upcoming November/December Horn Book Magazine, in which a determined...

Meet-cute love stories

Read our Five Questions interview with Rainbow Rowell, about pumpkin patch employees strolling toward love in the delicious graphic novel Pumpkinheads (Roaring Brook/First Second, 14 years and up). Then enjoy the following YA love stories in which the protagonists similarly meet-cute — and realize their feelings for each other —...

Five questions for Rainbow Rowell

Photo: Augusten Burroughs. Rainbow Rowell's graphic-novel debut Pumpkinheads (Roaring Brook/First Second, 14 years and up) takes place in a theme park–like pumpkin patch (petting zoo, pumpkin slingshot, haunted graveyard, s'mores pit), where over the course of their last day at work, college-bound employees and BFFs Deja and Josiah search for...

Books mentioned in the September 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Raina Telgemeier Guts by Raina Telgemeier, color by Braden Lamb, Scholastic/Graphix, 9–12 years. Smile by Raina Telgemeier, color by Stephanie Yue, Scholastic/Graphix, 9–12 years. Sisters by Raina Telgemeier, color by Braden Lamb, Scholastic/Graphix, 9–12 years. School-set graphic novels Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, Holt, 8–11...

From the Editor - September 2019

The September/October issue of The Horn Book Magazine takes an unusually practical turn for us, with how-to articles about facilitating effective book discussions, sharing books with refugees and developmentally disabled children, and producing readers' theater in the classroom as well as a call for more black faces in books about nature and the outdoors. Plus, Cathie Mercier and I remember our great friend and colleague Susan Bloom. Please...

Five questions for Raina Telgemeier

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Guts is the latest graphic memoir from Raina Telgemeier, whose previous titles — Smile and Sisters (all Scholastic/Graphix, 9–12 years) — blazed a path for middle-grade confessional nonfiction in comics form. This story, which takes place during her fifth-grade year, focuses on childhood anxiety and chronicles young Raina's difficulties with...

YA anthologies and you

Four recent anthologies that celebrate racial, cultural, and religious identities (among others) help address the need for teens to see both themselves — and a spectrum of their peers — represented on shelves.  In Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, compiler Ibi Zoboi presents seventeen short stories by an impressive collection...

New year, new possibilities

Starting a new school year—and especially starting school, period—can be nerve-wracking, but it also presents opportunities for new friendships and experiences. These lighthearted picture books validate first-day worries while also celebrating this significant moment.    In The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes, vignettes follow a boy through his first day of big-kid school. Dubbed the "King of Kindergarten" by his mother, the...

School-set graphic novels

The following graphic- and illustrated novels for middle graders and middle schoolers, set in and around school, are great for those students eager to return — and those who may need a little coaxing to get back into the swing of things. See also in this issue our Five Questions...

Books mentioned in the August 2019 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for George Takei They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott, illus. by Harmony Becker, Top Shelf, 12 years and up. Japanese internment Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, a Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II by...

From the Editor - August 2019

Back to SCHOOL? Already? Sheesh. You still have time to take some of our summer reading suggestions* and on Friday we will be bringing you — yup — the back-to-school issue of The Horn Book Herald with recommendations, survival tips, and an interview with Celia C. Pérez about her new...

Amazing animals

These approachable science books introduce primary and intermediate readers to two extraordinary animals, one species' survival story, and the everyday dynamics between predator and prey. Inky's Amazing Escape: How a Very Smart Octopus Found His Way Home tells how a real octopus was caught in a Pacific Ocean lobster trap...

Five questions for George Takei

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He's gone to the stars and back via the starship Enterprise as Hikaru Sulu on the classic television show Star Trek. With an influential social media presence, he's a passionate advocate and activist for social justice and LGBTQ rights. He's the author of several books for adults. Now George Takei...

Fueling imagination

These recent picture books for preschool- and primary-age children celebrate "things that go" as a vehicle (heh) for daydreaming and imaginative play. It's "a fine evening for a drive," and Annie, protagonist of Vroom! by Barbara McClintock, has a plan — and a big imagination. In her sleek racing car, Annie...

Japanese internment

In his comics-format memoir They Called Us Enemy (Top Shelf, 12 years and up), actor and activist George Takei describes his childhood years in two Japanese American internment camps during World War II (read our Five Questions interview with Takei here). The following books, both nonfiction and fiction (YA and...

Social issues today

For today's activist teens who are engaging with tough issues in the world around them, here are four recent YA nonfiction titles (three print and one audiobook version) to provide further context and enhance understanding — and compassion. In Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience,...

From the Editor - July 2019

Last month I invited you to take a look at our new iteration of The Horn Book Guide, and now I ask you to visit the all-new Hbook.com, the Horn Book's home address on the internet. It is a work in progress — aren't we all? — but there is...
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