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The Writer's Page: Navigating the N-Word

The mere mention of the n-word is usually cause for conversation and consternation, to put it mildly. Whenever used in a song lyric or a piece of literature, dialogue and debate are quick to follow. Even so, the n-word is a brick wall I occasionally crash into, on purpose, whenever...

Transgender Awareness Week

Transgender Awareness Week is November 13-19, leading to Transgender Day of Remembrance / Trans Day of Resilience on November 20th, today. We join our trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary family members, friends, and neighbors near and far in celebrating the lives of trans people, remembering those lost to transphobic hate...

Field Notes: Books Everlasting: Teaching Children's Literature to Older Adults

Retired children’s librarians don’t fade away. They become consultants, and teach. When I’m not taking classes myself, I am teaching two courses about children’s books to older adults who participate in Osher, the Lifelong Learning Institute, based at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. My students are mostly grandparents. Some are...

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...

Writing as an Act of Defiance

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As the Vietnam War escalated in the late 1960s I marched and protested, raged and wept for our country and Vietnam. Fifty years later, we are living through another extraordinary, terrifying time. We’re being stalked by a pandemic, living under political strong-arming, in a deeply divided country. Our economy teeters...

Bundles of joy

We’re pleased to introduce Book Bundles on the Guide/Reviews Database. Each week we post a short list of recommended new books, mainly nonfiction for all ages. The books may share a theme or subject matter or age level or author -- every week brings a new bundle of book joy to...

Field Notes: Teaching Infinite Hope

Ashley Bryan’s Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace won the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award for Nonfiction and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award — but as a teacher, children’s literature aficionado, and friend of Ashley’s, I’ve known the book was special for...

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...

Happy Anniversary: His Dark Materials

2020 marks two milestones for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy: the twenty-fifth anniversary of the UK publication of its first volume, Northern Lights (published a year later in the United States as The Golden Compass); and the twentieth anniversary of the international publication of the third, The Amber Spyglass...

Yom Kippur 2020/5781

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, begins Sunday evening, September 27, at sundown. Following Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, these are times for family, community, and self-reflection. The following books could be useful for sharing with children and/or for generating discussions. All reviews are from the Guide/Reviews Database. For...

In Memoriam: Lee Kingman Natti (1919–2020)

Editor, author, artist, and designer Lee Kingman Natti’s association with The Horn Book, Inc., spanned eighty years — surely a record. Bertha Mahony, founder of The Horn Book Magazine and owner of The Bookshop for Boys and Girls, gave the nine-year-old Lee advice on choosing ten free books from the...

Children's Books and Contradictions

In March 1888, New York City was in the midst of a legendary blizzard. The city had been caught off-guard, unprepared for a storm so late in the year. The trees were already blooming in Central Park, the birds were singing — and then the unexpected snow. For days, streetcars...

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 —...

The Writer's Page: "At the Mercy or Whim of Others": Policing Protest in Children's Publishing

“I will not write another lament.” That’s the first line of my poem “Room to Breathe,” which I wrote on May 29, 2020, the day a White Minneapolis police officer was charged with the murder of George Floyd. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I turned to poetry, since I couldn’t...

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...

In Memoriam: Tomie dePaola (1934–2020)

The first thing I think of when I think of Tomie dePaola (who died in March at the age of eighty-five, from complications following a fall) isn’t a book at all. It’s Christmas. I think of a Tomie dePaola nativity set my family had growing up. I’m not even talking...

Happy Anniversary: The People Could Fly

The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1985. We look back on this iconic Coretta Scott King Author Award winner (also a CSK Illustrator honor) as it celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary.   Since...

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   ...

Cadenza: The Rules That "Jack" Broke

This is the house that Jack built… / This is the cat, / That killed the rat, / That ate the malt / that lay in the house that Jack built. This is the noun that noun verbed… / This is the noun, / That verbed the noun, / That...

Happy Anniversary: Black and White and Read All Over Again

Black and White by David Macaulay was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1990. We look back on this rule-breaking Caldecott Medalist as it celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.   By 1990, children’s literature professionals had come to expect the unexpected from David Macaulay. An innovative artist and illustration teacher, Macaulay knew...

How Do You Solve a Problem like Nonfiction?

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As we near the close of every issue of the Magazine, the editors look at all the books being reviewed, together as a group, to make sure they’re in the “right” part of the book review section. Where will the librarians, the booksellers, the teachers, the parents for whom each...

Our Modern Minstrelsy

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The phrase literary blackface came up in popular conversation recently, when Barnes & Noble announced they were putting out a line of classic literature titles that had been reissued with “diverse” covers in celebration of Black History Month. Novels like Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, and The Secret Garden...

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...

Revolution Kid Style Now!*: Writing Books (About Kids) That Break the Rules

As someone who writes books about kids who break rules, I keep waiting for it to happen. I’m waiting for the moment when an adult points out that the protagonists in my books are disagreeable troublemakers. These kids lie and sneak. Sometimes they do illegal things. Yes, illegal things. Twelve-year-olds!...

2020 Summer Reading Recommendations

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If there’s one book on our 2020 Summer Reading list that speaks best to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s Remy Lai’s Pie in the Sky, about two brothers who find communion in baking, of all things, in order to “adjust to life in an ‘alien’ world.” Sound familiar? Otherwise, my eye...

"Give Me a Decent Bottle of Poison": Writing a Mystery

My most recent book is a middle-grade mystery, my first. I realized, after only a few days of struggling to construct a murder, that I didn’t know how to do it. I’d written plenty of novels, but I’d always begun with a person, not the plot. The person, in this...

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....

Cinco de Mayo 2020

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate (virtually!) with three new booklists from the Guide/Reviews Database starring the holiday itself, Mexican and Mexican American protagonists, and the Spanish language. We've got recommended fiction and nonfiction titles for primary, intermediate, and older readers. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real...

Happy Anniversary: The Janitor's Boy

The Janitor’s Boy by Andrew Clements was published by Simon & Schuster in 2000. We look back on it on its twentieth anniversary.   Published twenty years ago, The Janitor’s Boy was the third middle-grade novel by the late Andrew Clements, following a bestselling debut with Frindle and then The...

Middle-Grade Graphic Novels Make Good

In 2012 the Horn Book published a special issue on the theme “Books Remixed: Reading in the Digital Age.” Of course graphic novels weren’t new at the time; but books such as The Arrival and The Invention of Hugo Cabret, with their copious illustrations and hard-to-classify format, were spurring us...

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...

We Need Diverse Jewish and Muslim Books: A Conversation

In recent years, we have seen a welcome increase in books that center diversity in race, class, ability, sexuality, and more. As members of religious minority groups (Sadaf is Muslim, Heidi is Jewish) — and at a time when both Islamophobia and antisemitism are on the rise (deeply troubling and...

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...

The Writer's Page: Compassion, as Well as Correctness

As a writer who is identifiable as “diverse” (I’m a South Asian Indian woman) and who has fought for diversity in our industry for over a decade, I’m often asked to offer an opinion about whether a specific book got a diversity-related issue “right.” While it’s easy for me to...

Books in the Home: The Joys of Cooking: Good Books About Good Food

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How does a person learn to cook? My mother prepared family meals every evening. She didn’t involve us in the making of the meal, but she was my model of a home cook who knew the importance of ­families eating together. She relied on a 1940s edition of The Boston...

The Birds and the Bees

Birds of a Feather. Helen’s Birds. Johnny’s Pheasant. Strange Birds. The Parrot and the Merchant. Fly! Sometimes, particular subjects take off in children’s books. Lately, bird books are soaring, and the office hivemind has noticed bee books gathering, too. See Nesting by Henry Cole and Honeybee: The Busy Life of...

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...

Happy World Read Aloud Day

...one of our favorite days of the year! To help you celebrate, here are some recommended books, Horn Book Fanfare 2019 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners 2020 ALA Youth Media Award winners Board Book Roundup: Treasure Hunting in the Public Library by Julie Roach (September/October 2018 Magazine) The 2020...

2019 Booklists and Resources Master List

Booklists and resources for holidays, special events, seasons, social justice...and Grumpy Cat? We've covered a wide range of topics for all age levels in 2019, so we've compiled them together for readers to find some great new books to enjoy and share. The reviews — and many more — are also...

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...

Books mentioned in the December 2019 Nonfiction Notes from the Horn Book

Language and Literature Fact Finders: Why Do We Say That? series. Berne, Emma Carlson  What Is an Idiom When It's at Home? Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Capstone    2017 Library binding ISBN 978-1-5157-6388-8 Paper ISBN 978-1-5157-6393-2 Ebook ISBN 978-1-5157-6405-2 Stefoff, Rebecca  Me, Myself, and I: The More Grammar Changes, the More...

Language and Literature

Berne, Emma Carlson  What Is an Idiom When It's at Home? Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Capstone    2017 Stefoff, Rebecca  Me, Myself, and I: The More Grammar Changes, the More It Remains the Same Gr. 4–6    32 pp.    Capstone    2017 Fact Finders: Why Do We Say That? series. Beginning with a...

War and Peacemakers

Goldsmith, Connie  Women in the Military: From Drill Sergeants to Fighter Pilots Middle school, high school    120 pp.    Twenty-First Century    2019 This in-depth and refreshingly inclusive text looks at the history and current state of women in the military. Illuminating first-person accounts and biographical profiles are interspersed with descriptions of...

U.S. Landmarks

Brown, Carron  Wonders of the USA: A Shine-a-Light Book Gr. K–3    40 pp.    Kane/Miller    2017 Illustrated by Bee Johnson. "Shine a flashlight behind the page...to reveal the amazing sights in and around our country. Discover a land of great surprises." This Shine-a-Light installment presents a very broad tour of American...

Poetry and Poetry Collections

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience Middle school, high school    183 pp.    Seven/Triangle    2019 Edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond. This piercing poetry collection's sixty-four pieces (many previously published) in a variety of forms mourn loss, celebrate survival, and explore breaking and remaking self...
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