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Five Tips to Get Kids Writing

As families prepare for the start of a new school year, academic plans are all over the place, but one constant is the need to lift up kids’ voices through this unsettling time. One of the best ways to do that is by encouraging them to write. Just a few...

Review of Clap When You Land

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo High School    Quill Tree/HarperCollins    422 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-288276-9    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-288278-3    $11.99 In this sharp and compelling verse novel (a 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book honoree), sixteen-year-old Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic and dreams of medical school. Sixteen-year-old Yahaira Rios...

Review of We Will Rock Our Classmates

We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins; illus. by the author Primary    Disney-Hyperion    48 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-368-05959-6    $17.99 This second installment about T. rex Penelope (We Don’t Eat Our Classmates, rev. 9/18) centers on the school talent show. Penelope loves to rock and roll, and using her...

A Note from Me (August 7, 2020)

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Dear friends:  It’s the first week of August, and thus we remember eternal Friend of the Horn Book Natalie Babbitt, not because it is her birthday but for Tuck Everlasting’s enduring opening line, “The first week of August hangs at the very top of summer, the top of the live-long...

Review of A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story

A Bowl Full of Peace: A True Story by Caren Stelson; illus. by Akira Kusaka Intermediate, Middle School    Carolrhoda    40 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-5415-2148-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5415-8219-4    $18.95 Each evening Sachiko’s family gathers around their table in Nagasaki, Japan. Before the Second World War, Grandmother’s bowl is the centerpiece...

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...

Review of War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories

War at the Snow White Motel and Other Stories by Tim Wynne-Jones Intermediate, Middle School    Groundwood    245 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-77306-047-7    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-1-77306-048-4    $11.99 Most of the protagonists in these nine short stories are twelve years old and bumping into the realities of human nature — their own...

Review of Good Guys, Bad Guys

Good Guys, Bad Guys by Joanne Rocklin; illus. by Nancy Carpenter Preschool, Primary    Abrams    32 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-4197-3417-5    $16.99 Rocklin and Carpenter present a ­rollicking homage to neighborhood kid–­summertime play. The story begins on the title-page spread as two children get ready to greet the morning. On the left-hand...

A Note from Me (July 31, 2020)

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Dear friends:  Lori-from-New-York was visiting this week and we got to talk about prime numbers! (She’s a math teacher.) When I asked her if all the primes were odd numbers she replied, “We don’t know.” Chills! Prime numbers are my next-favorite thing to talk about after diegetic music. We can...

Margaret Bloy Graham's Harry the Dirty Dog: Still Spot On

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This is the centennial year of illustrator Margaret Bloy Graham’s birth. Graham (1920–2015), who gave children lasting images of a good-natured dog “who liked everything, except…getting a bath,” is almost always associated with her then-husband, Gene Zion, author of Harry the Dirty Dog (1956) and three sequels. After the couple...

Review of On the Horizon

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry; illus. by Kenard Pak Middle School, High School    Houghton    80 pp.    g 4/20    978-0-358-12940-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-12938-7    $9.99 In a poetry collection that’s as much structure as style and theme, Lowry considers two events: the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. In the...

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...

Starred reviews, September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine

From You Matter by Christian Robinson. The following books will receive starred reviews in the September/October 2020 Horn Book Magazine:   I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes; illus. by Gordon C. James (Paulsen/Penguin) If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall (Chronicle) Sun Flower Lion by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow) Julián at...

Review of You're Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration

You’re Invited to a Moth Ball: A Nighttime Insect Celebration by Loree Griffin Burns; photos by Ellen Harasimowicz Primary    Charlesbridge    40 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-58089-686-3    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-63289-834-0    $9.99 With her latest book, Burns (Tracking Trash, rev. 3/07; The Hive Detectives, rev. 5/10) has earned the right to add...

Review of Echo Mountain

Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    359 pp.    g 4/20    978-0-525-55556-8    $17.99 Since the Great Depression forced twelve-year-old Ellie’s family to move from town up to Echo Mountain, she hasn’t known how to interact with her mother and older sister; they miss their former life and blame...

Review of Bo the Brave

Bo the Brave by Bethan Woollvin; illus. by the author Primary    Peachtree    32 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-68263-182-9    $17.99 When Bo’s two older brothers, Erik and Ivan, set off from the castle on a quest to hunt a monster, they refuse to allow her to join, sneering that she’s too little....

National Parents' Day

This Sunday, July 26 (the fourth Sunday of July), is National Parents' Day. (Oh, shush up -- it is too a real thing!) Established in 1994, this is a day for “recognizing, uplifting, and supporting the role of parents in bringing up their children.” At Family Reading we extend that...

Baseball's Opening Day 2020

Today is Opening Day for baseball’s shortened season this year – Yankees @ Nationals (2019 World Series champs), with Dr. Anthony Fauci throwing out the first pitch!; Giants @ Dodgers.  You can read with the Nats through their Summer Reading partnership with the Prince George’s County (MD) Memorial Library System. Baseball...

A Note from Me (July 23, 2020)

Dear friends, As I write this I am eating my other lunch, Kashi GO Toasted Berry Crisp with fresh blueberries, dried cranberries, and crystallized ginger in whole milk. It’s a complete sugar bomb. “Mind the Gap” — I do love this slightly obnoxious list the Horn Book allows itself once...

2020 Mind the Gap Awards: The books that didn't win at ALA

Not all deserving books bring home ALA awards. The books that didn’t win.   Misplaced A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein; illus. by Jerry Pinkney A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata; illus. by Julia Kuo     Adrift River by Elisha Cooper Lalani of the Distant Sea by...

Review of Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life

Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life by Winifred Conkling Middle School, High School    Feiwel    305 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-250-24457-4    $19.99 Conkling (Radioactive!, rev. 3/16; Votes for Women!, rev. 3/18) opens this insightful biography of the feminist icon with a close call. In 1956, when she was twenty-two, Steinem called off wedding...

Review of Felix Ever After

Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    357 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-282025-9    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-282027-3    $10.99 At seventeen, Felix Love feels marginalized as a Black teen, an aspiring artist, and a trans male. His mom left the family when he was ten, and although his...

Review of The Blue House

The Blue House by Phoebe Wahl; illus. by the author Primary    Knopf    40 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-9848-9336-9    $17.99 Library ed.  978-1-9848-9337-6    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-1-9848-9338-3    $10.99 Wahl’s picture book tells an affecting story about loss and starting over. In it, interdependent text and art channel a Molly Bang–like artistic style...

July Is National Ice Cream Month

July is National Ice Cream Month, with National Ice Cream Day being this Sunday the 19th (customarily the third Sunday in July). It makes me think longingly of last year's Horn Book Summer Outing to Kimball Farm, complete with ice cream, mini golf, and fried food. And the time when Rashin...

A Note from Me (July 17, 2020)

Dear friends, Back when I was terrified that no ALA might mean no Speeches, and no Speeches meant an enormous hole in our July/August issue, and an enormous hole in the July/August issue — one that we would not know about until we teetered at its precipice (my psychiatrist calls...

Educators, please don’t forget books

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School districts everywhere are scrambling, trying to figure out what school will look like in less than two short months. The considerations and variables are staggering; as always, thank you, educators, for the work that you do. (Isn’t this supposed to be summer vacation?!) Amidst the discussions and decisions, I...

A Year with Words and Pictures — but No ALA Annual

Who are we this time of year, without the organizing principle of the various celebrations of books and authors at ALA Annual? Usually, we’d be looking forward to the Coretta Scott King (CSK) Book Awards Breakfast, the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet, the Pura Belpré Celebración; running into old friends on the exhibit...

Review of How to Find a Bird

How to Find a Bird by Jennifer Ward; illus. by Diana Sudyka Preschool, Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-4814-6705-6    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-6706-3    $10.99 “There are a lot of ways to find a bird.” The two children in this enticing and beautiful picture book demonstrate how. After doing...

Say Hello to Your Friends, Again: The Baby-Sitters Club on Netflix

I have, you might say, some attachment to Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books. Enough that when a friend suggested a group viewing party of the new Netflix series over Zoom, the answer was, of course. And enough that if the new series had messed up our beloved series, we...

Review of Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen

Daring Darleen, Queen of the Screen by Anne Nesbet Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    357 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-5362-0619-7    $18.99 “Sometimes the real danger is not what you thought it would be at all.” So begins the story of Darleen, young (fictional) star of silent movie serials. It is 1914, and...

Review of We Are Water Protectors

We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom; illus. by Michaela Goade Primary    Roaring Brook    40 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-250-20355-7    $17.99 The book opens with a young Indigenous girl collecting water with her grandmother, who tells her that “water is the first medicine.” Vibrant blues, greens, and purples depict the river...

Table of Contents: July/August 2020 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards

Cover © 2020 by Kadir Nelson.   Features A Year with Words and Pictures -- but No ALA Annual by the Horn Book editors Children's Literature Legacy Award Acceptance by Kevin Henkes A profile of Kevin Henkes by Dudley Carlson, Laura Dronzek, Virginia Duncan, and Susan Hirschman A profile of...

A Note from Me (July 10, 2020)

Hi friends: That issue of The Horn Book I’ve been telling you about for weeks is just out and available for free, for now, to anyone with access to the internet. I do hope you like it; I think it’s the best ALA awards issue we’ve done in my time,...

Submissions...Tradition!

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Who wants to write, has something to contribute, something they can give you, some insightful take? And who’ll send it in, address it to the house— the story they will let you break? The author! The author! Submissions. The author! The author! Submissions.  Who must know the proper use of...

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...

Review of Sharuko: El arqueologo peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello

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 Primary, Intermediate    Children’s/Lee & Low    40 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-89239-423-4    $19.95 This picture-book biography of Peruvian archaeologist and educator Julio C. Tello (1880–1947) forefronts...

Editorial: Clearly Undefeated (July/August 2020)

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Welcome to our annual ALA Awards issue. When it became clear that we would not be reopening the country anytime soon and that there would be no ­celebration of the ALSC and CSK awards at the American Library Association Annual ­Conference in Chicago in June, I worried that there would...

Review of Again Again

Again Again by E. Lockhart High School    Delacorte    293 pp.    g 6/20    978-0-385-74479-9    $18.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-99185-1    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-0-385-39139-9    $10.99 In this novel set in the same world as The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (rev. 5/08), Lockhart explores the intersection between love and the multiverse. The summer...

Review of Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

Whoo-Ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story by Maria Gianferrari; illus. by Jonathan Voss Primary    Putnam    32 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-399-54842-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-54843-7    $9.99 Readers follow a pair of great horned owls and their owlets from winter into the next autumn in this life-cycle narrative told in haiku....

From the Chair: Small Moments of Joy (2020 Caldecott Committee, ALA)

Readers of The Horn Book Magazine will have heard this before: a book has the power to change a person, and a person has the power to change a book. Depending on who you are at a given time and the experiences you have collected, the understanding of a book...

From the Chair: Universality in Times of Uncertainty (2020 Newbery Committee, ALA)

In these times of uncertainty, we can all relate to what’s happening now because we are all experiencing it on some level. We have a shared experience. How we react to our situation and what we learn about ourselves may be what we look back on as our defining moments....

From the Chair: Continuing the Legacy (2020 CSK Book Awards Jury, ALA)

Since nervously accepting the appointment of jury chair from previous Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee chair Dr. Claudette McLinn, my goal has been to continue the legacy that the Coretta Scott King Book Awards have created of identifying quality children’s literature that features various narratives of the Black experience....

Review of Most Wanted: The Revolutionary Partnership of John Hancock & Samuel Adams

Most Wanted: The Revolutionary Partnership of John Hancock & Samuel Adams by Sarah Jane Marsh; illus. by Edwin Fotheringham Intermediate    Little, Brown    80 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-368-02683-3    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-368-06129-2    $12.99 Here readers meet the original American political odd couple: Samuel Adams, the serious and staunch patriot, and John...

Profile of 2020 Children's Literature Legacy Award winner Kevin Henkes

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Dudley Carlson: The farmers’ market was a riot of color. Red and green lettuces, orange carrots, blue and purple berries, and breads in rich browns and tans stretched for two blocks. At one end, a single booth held only green. Beautiful green beans were neatly bundled and stacked like a...

Profile of 2020 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement winner Mildred D. Taylor

From the time she was very young, Mildred Taylor knew she would be a writer, and she knew what her subject matter would be. She grew up listening to the family stories told by her father and uncles as they sat by the fire or on the porch of their...

Profile of 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award Author and Newbery Medal winner Jerry Craft

For Jerry Craft, books are the building blocks of communities. Certainly, in the year since it was published, his graphic novel New Kid has created and strengthened countless communities all on its own. The letters from teachers who say they’ve made the book a school-wide read — and the letters...

Read Jerry Craft's 2020 Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech at ALA's Virtual Book Award Celebration

I’d like to begin by thanking the 2020 Newbery Award Selection Committee, chaired by the incomparable Krishna Grady. Thank you for the tremendous honor of making New Kid the first graphic novel in your ninety-eight-year history to receive your prestigious medal. I would also like to thank the ALA for...

Review of Red Hood

Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    357 pp. 2/20    978-0-06-274253-3    $18.99 After a consensual (and vividly described) sexual encounter with her boyfriend that, to her surprise, ends in her beginning to menstruate for the first time, sixteen-year-old Bisou is attacked by a wolf on her...

Read Kevin Henkes's 2020 Children's Literature Legacy Award Acceptance Speech at ALA's Virtual Book Award Celebration

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When I found out on January 26th that I’d won the Legacy Award, I was ecstatic. However, it didn’t take me long — about an hour! — to start fretting about my speech. That’s just the way I am. I began working on my speech right away and had a...

Read Kadir Nelson's 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award Illustrator Acceptance Speech at ALA's Virtual Book Award Celebration

Good morning, or good afternoon, or good evening, depending on when or where in the world you are reading this. As I compose this speech, I am sitting at home under a nationwide quarantine in the midst of the proliferation of a remarkable novel virus that has commandeered the attention...

Read Jerry Craft's 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Acceptance Speech at ALA's Virtual Book Award Celebration

I’d like to begin by thanking the 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury, chaired by LaKeshia Darden, who gave me one of the two best near-dawn phone calls of my life! I would also like to thank the ALA for making this moment possible. This is truly an amazing...

Read Kadir Nelson's 2020 Caldecott Medal Acceptance Speech at ALA's Virtual Book Award Celebration

The year was 1999, and my very first picture book, Brothers of the Knight, was slated to be published by Dial Books for Young Readers. It was written by the actress and dancer Debbie Allen and based on a stage production of the same name that she had both written...

Review of Everyone's Awake

Everyone’s Awake by Colin Meloy; illus. by Shawn Harris Primary    Chronicle    48 pp. 3/20    978-1-4521-7805-9    $17.99 Meloy and Harris depict one family’s anarchical bedtime routine within their ramshackle lighthouse-esque domicile. ­Rollicking rhymes, narrated by a young family member, set the scene: “We all got / tucked in early. / A...

June Is Audiobook Month

June is Audiobook Month. As it is also summer vacation -- and a strange one at that! -- we've been doing a fair amount of family listening. (Hi, Strange Birds audio, which we started very soon after reading it aloud together!) Check your virtual local library; yes, it's real reading. ...

A Note from Me (June 25, 2020)

Dear friends: Oh, NO, did I just engage on Twitter? I thought I had learned my lesson. Nonfiction, though. The Horn Book editors had a rousing discussion of its protean nature in the May/June “Breaking the Rules” Special Issue of The Horn Book Magazine, but enough about them: I’m discovering...

Rule Breakers: The Styrofoam Tray Incident

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here....

Candace Fleming Talks with Roger

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Talks with Roger is a sponsored supplement to our free monthly e-newsletter, Notes from the Horn Book. To receive Notes, sign up here. Sponsored by   After writing about such American icons as Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, Buffalo Bill, and Amelia Earhart, Candace Fleming takes a good close look at The Rise and Fall...

Review of In Search of Safety: Voices of Refugees

In Search of Safety: Voices of Refugees by Susan Kuklin; photos by the author Middle School, High School    Candlewick    246 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-7636-7960-6    $24.99 Hewing to a definition of refugees as “people who are forced to leave their country because they are being persecuted,” Kuklin profiles five such young...

Rule Breakers: I Simply Cannot Draw

I’ve never thought of myself as that type of visual artist. You know, the kind of person whose absentminded margin doodles actually look like something? Someone with those fine motor skills that translate into magnificent sketches of stuff you can recognize without having to get liberal artsy about it? And...

Review of The Phantom Twin

The Phantom Twin by Lisa Brown; illus. by the author Middle School, High School    First Second/Roaring Brook    206 pp. 3/20    978-1-62672-925-4    $24.99 Paper ed.  978-1-62672-924-7    $17.99 In this dark graphic novel with an unconventional cast and setting — an ode to outsiders, “freaks,” and misfits everywhere — Jane and Isabel...

Preview July/August 2020 Horn Book Magazine: Special Issue: ALA Awards

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Special Issue: ALA Awards.   Original cover art by 2020 Caldecott Medal winner Kadir Nelson.  “A Year with Words and Pictures — but No ALA Annual”: The Horn Book editors discuss the children’s book landscape of 2019 and the unusual circumstances of 2020.  Kevin Henkes’s Children's Literature Legacy Award acceptance speech.  A profile of Kevin Henkes by Dudley Carlson, Laura Dronzek, Virginia Duncan, and Susan Hirschman.  A profile of Coretta Scott...

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...

Review of Jules vs. the Ocean

Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Simon    48 pp. 5/20    978-1-5344-4168-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-4169-9    $10.99 Intent on impressing her older sister at the beach, Jules plans to build a big sandcastle. When the waves foil her plans, she assumes “the Ocean” is...

A Note from Me (June 19, 2020)

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Dear friends, Beverly Sills famously opined that she wasn’t happy, she was cheerful, a sentiment that could perhaps serve us all well now. (Although if you want to hear Bev being beautifully sad and despairing, try her “Addio del passato” from La Traviata.) We do have some stuff to be...

Celebrate Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth, a day of celebration for many, who commemorate June 19th, 1865, the date enslaved people in Texas finally learned of their emancipation. To view three recommended books on the subject, click here. For even more discussion of this day, read this Floyd Cooper Talks with Roger and also Robin...

National Caribbean American Heritage Month

June is National Caribbean American Heritage Month, which celebrates “the significance of Caribbean people and their descendants in the history and culture of the United States.” There are many ways to participate -- see the calendar of (virtual) events. Don’t miss the November/December 2017 Horn Book Magazine article “Beyond the “Four...

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...

“Two, four, six, eight, don’t assume your kids are straight!”

“Two, four, six, eight, don’t assume your kids are straight!”* Happy Pride Month! And thank you, SCOTUS, for ruling to protect LGBTQIA+ workers’ civil rights! It’s about time we had some good news. Though the pandemic has forced this year’s Pride recognitions to go virtual, it’s still important to continue...

Rule Breakers: The World Is My Canvas

From the May/June 2020 Horn Book Magazine Special Issue: Breaking the Rules. Find more in the "Rule Breakers" series here. ...

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...

Review of Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside the World's Biggest Solar Plant

Solar Story: How One Community Lives Alongside the World’s Biggest Solar Plant by Allan Drummond; illus. by the author Primary    Farrar    40 pp. 3/20    978-0-374-30899-5    $18.99 Expanding his series of picture books on environmentally friendly community projects (see Green City, rev. 1/16; and Pedal Power, rev. 1/17), Drummond takes readers...

Review of Mañanaland

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    254 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-338-15786-4    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-15788-8    $11.99 Growing up in Santa Maria, a (fictional) country “somewhere in the Américas,” Maximiliano Córdoba is familiar with the legends of the Guardians and the Hidden Ones they led to safety —...

July/August 2020 starred reviews

art by Elisa Chavarri The following books will receive starred reviews in the July/August issue of the Horn Book Magazine. 13 Stories About Harris; written and illustrated by Amy Schwartz (Holiday). The Blue House; written and illustrated by Phoebe Wahl (Knopf). Clap When You Land; by Elizabeth Acevedo (HarperTeen). I Am Here Now; by Barbara...

Review of A New Green Day

A New Green Day by Antoinette Portis; illus. by the author Preschool    Porter/Holiday    40 pp. 4/20    978-0-8234-4488-5    $18.99 In this exuberant celebration of a summer day, readers engage with compelling page-turns to solve simple nature riddles. “Morning lays me on your pillow,” the book opens, “square and warm. Come out...

A Note from Me (June 12, 2020)

Dear friends: Yes, everything is still terrible out there, and I am glad that this morning’s psalm (37) had these words: A little longer — and the wicked shall have gone. Look at his place, he is not there. I wonder if those Horn Book readers who cancelled their Magazine...

S-s-s-snake!

We've been trying to get out of the city and into nature most weekends (mask-clad and all). Earlier this month, we went for a hike at the Middlesex Fells. By Long Pond, we saw turtles, ducks, and this...amazing? terrifying? stop, you're both right! creature: The kids were fascinated; the parents...

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,...

Rule Breakers: Amy and the Bus

It was a Wednesday, and Wednesday meant what in 1979 was called gifted class, and gifted class meant getting out of regular class (yay!) and getting on a bus (yay!) and driving along a really curvy road with a bump on it that made us all fly up from our...

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...

Review of Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers

Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers by Matthew Cordell; illus. by the author Primary    Porter/Holiday    40 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-8234-4618-6    $18.99 This authorized biography of Fred Rogers opens as did his iconic television program, with a stoplight flashing yellow, signaling that it is time to slow...

Rule Breakers: What Was I Doing with Those Books?

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My first job after I graduated from college was as a sixth-grade science teacher. I was woefully ill-prepared for this position — I had limited passion for the subject of science, and even less aptitude. I struggled with everything from classroom management to balancing the seemingly never-ending piles of paper...

Review of What About Worms!?

What About Worms!? [Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!] by Ryan T. Higgins; illus. by the author; with additional illustrations by Mo Willems Primary    Hyperion    64 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-368-04573-5    $9.99 Tiger is BIG. Tiger is BRAVE. Tiger is afraid of nothing...“except worms.” Tiger, a plush Calvin and Hobbes-ian animal with...

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 BGHB Fiction and Poetry Award winners extras

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., announced the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners on May 27th, 2020, at School Library Journal's virtual Day of Dialog in New York City. You can watch the announcement video here and read the press release here. Read reviews of all...

2020 BGHB Picture Book Award winners extras

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., announced the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners on May 27th, 2020, at School Library Journal's virtual Day of Dialog in New York City. You can watch the announcement video here and read the press release here. Read reviews of all...

Review of The Camping Trip

The Camping Trip by Jennifer K. Mann; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    56 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-5362-0736-1    $17.99 City-dweller Ernestine has never been camping, but when Aunt Jackie and cousin Samantha invite her, she gets her dad’s okay and starts preparing: new flashlight and sleeping bag, a homemade batch...

“It’s not People of Color's job to 'fix' racism...”

“It’s not People of Color's job to 'fix' racism. It's People of Color's job to heal from racism.’ And it's all of our job to: expose racism, name it, acknowledge it, and ‘explicitly encourage anti-racist values’" (from 2019 Wee the People ABCs of Racism Parent/Educator Workshop).     Watch this Kidlit...

Rule Breakers: The Things We Do for Love

The story starts like this. “One time, at orchestra camp…” Maybe this isn’t the kind of rule-breaking you meant, but it’s true. One time at orchestra camp, I met a boy who played the bass like an absolute wizard. I did everything I could to make myself attractive to this...

A Note from Me (June 4, 2020)

Dear friends: I know I’ve been sending you some rather lighthearted thoughts in this COVID-era newsletter but I just can’t do it this week. Instead I’ll simply direct you to Kekla Magoon’s contribution to our May/June 2020 Breaking the Rules special issue of the Magazine, “Our Modern Minstrelsy,” in which...

Rule Breakers: Not "Not Your Business"

When I was in my late twenties, I studied karate at a women’s dojo. This surprised my friends, who immediately started teasing me — a newly out lipstick lesbian — about going for a “pink belt” (there’s no such thing). I surprised myself by progressing from white belt to yellow...

Review of Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird's Amazing Journey

Tiny Bird: A Hummingbird’s Amazing Journey by Robert Burleigh; illus. by Wendell Minor Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp. 4/20    978-1-62779-369-8    $18.99 In the late days of summer in the northeastern United States, a ruby-throated hummingbird (here called Tiny Bird) “feels a pull and knows it must go” on its migration journey...

Presenting the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners

  On Wednesday, May 27, 2020, at SLJ's virtual Day of Dialog, Horn Book editor in chief Roger Sutton announced the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners. If you missed the live stream (or if you just want to relive the excitement!), you can watch the archived video here:  ...

Review of We Dream of Space

 We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly Intermediate, Middle School    Greenwillow    392 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-274730-3    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-274732-7    $9.99 In the foreground of this novel are three siblings. Twelve-year-old Fitch lives for video games and is angry through and through. His twin sister Bird is an amiable,...

Review of Rita & Ralph's Rotten Day

Rita & Ralph’s Rotten Day by Carmen Agra Deedy; illus. by Pete Oswald Preschool, Primary    Scholastic    48 pp. 3/20    978-1-338-21638-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-59927-5    $10.99 Rita and Ralph are best friends. Each day they meet at the apple tree midway between their houses and play games together. One day the...

A Note from Me (May 29, 2020)

Hello friends: One big thing this week has been the announcement of the Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, which took place on Wednesday before the start of SLJ’s virtual Day of Dialog, which was a big success. And our job now is to figure out what October’s BGHB award ceremony is...

What Is Crisanto Wearing?

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Crisanto Guadiz is my brother-in-law of twenty-six years, married to baby brother Rand (whose image you may recall from his stint as a Horn Book poster child). The thing about a visit to Cris and Rand is that everything looks perfectly conventional on the surface, a suburban couple of DINKs (he's a...

Rule Breakers: Never a Rule to Begin With

When I was young, I heard a family member say something that has stuck with me for all of these years: “Black people can’t be gay.” As ridiculous as this sounds, there are plenty of people who have had and still have this mindset. Beyond the unfortunately common homophobia, the...

Review of Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem

Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem by Kate Messner Intermediate, Middle School    Millbrook    64 pp. 3/20    978-1-5415-5706-2    $31.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5415-8379-5    $31.99 This thoroughly engrossing field guide takes readers into the “scrublands and swamps” of South Florida, where scientists are battling the explosive...

Reviews of the 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Nonfiction Award Winner and Honor Books

Nonfiction Winner Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan; illus. by the author Middle School, High School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    107 pp. 10/19    978-1-5344-0490-8    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-0491-5    $10.99 Ashley Bryan was a nineteen-year-old art student when he was drafted into a segregated army...
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