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

Five questions for Linda Sue Park The One Thing You'd Save by Linda Sue Park, illus. by Robert Sae-Heng; Clarion. New for National Poetry Month 2021 Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile by María José Ferrada, illus. by María Elena Valdez, trans. from Spanish by Lawrence Schimel; Eerdmans....

From the Editor - April 2021

It is National Poetry Month, and the books selected by our editors for this issue of Notes remind me of how pliable our definition of poetry has had to become: it can be poetry-poetry, as in the collections by Naomi Shihab Nye, Jack Prelutsky, and Nikki Grimes reviewed above; but...

AAPI stories and voices

The following six YA titles center Asian American and Pacific Islander stories and voices, both in fiction and nonfiction — especially vital in a climate of rising violence. May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and we’ll be posting more links and booklists throughout the month. See also this year’s...

For Earth Day: Protecting animals

With Earth Day just around the corner (April 22), look to these engaging and accessible nonfiction picture books to demonstrate the importance of appreciating animal species. See also our 50th anniversary celebration of Earth Day, from last year, and look for more from us on the day itself. Crossings: Extraordinary...

New for National Poetry Month 2021

April is National Poetry Month, and the following seven titles, for middle-grade and up, represent the variety — and appeal — of the form. See also our Five Questions interview with Linda Sue Park about her new illustrated verse novel The One Thing You’d Save; along with Jacqueline Woodson’s 2021...

The Writer's Page: Hello Again

Writing sequels or companion books to my novels has never been tempting to me, probably because I like to think each book accomplished all I’d intended to say. After completing When Zachary ­Beaver Came to Town (1999), I felt satisfied that I’d finished the story of Toby, Cal, and Zachary....

Field Notes: "But Are They Level O?": Leveled Reading and Antiracism

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Knoth reading to a kindergarten class in her school library. My search began with the most ordinary of questions. All school librarians will recognize the request: a teacher sent a weekend email needing book suggestions for her fourth graders — books that were well written, accessible, and of course, engaging....

Why Read Books from the Past?

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Mitali Perkins's nonfiction book for adults Steeped in Stories: Timeless Children's Novels to Refresh Our Tired Souls (Broadleaf Books) will be published in August. In it Perkins examines seven classic children's novels — Anne of Green Gables, Heidi, Emily of Deep Valley, The Hobbit, Little Women, A Little Princess, and...

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

Five questions for Lesa Cline-Ransome and Andrea Davis Pinkney Claudette Colvin by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illus. by Gillian Flint, and Harriet Tubman by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illus. by Gillian Flint; Philomel. Persistent women The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung, illus. by Julie Kwon; Little, Brown. The Water...

From the Editor - March 2021

Welcome to Women’s History Month, which we are celebrating at the Horn Book through March. Really, given the influence Bertha Mahony Miller and her Horn Book sistren still hold upon this company, it’s always Women’s History Month for us, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I may joke...

YA mythology and folktales

From ancient Greece and Brittany to the Americas and Vietnam, traditional storytelling provides rich inspiration for these YA re-visionings. The Daughters of Ys by M. T. Anderson; illus. by Jo Rioux Middle School    First Second/Roaring Brook    208 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-62672-878-3    $24.99 e-book ed.  978-1-25079-036-1    $11.99 In graphic novel form,...

Resilient girls

The young female protagonists of the following six historical fiction novels demonstrate strength and resilience when faced with family challenges, societal limitations, and dramatic world events. March is Women’s History Month. For more, click the tag Women’s History Month and follow #HBWomensHistoryMonth on Twitter and Facebook. Letters from Cuba by...

Persistent women

For young readers not quite ready for illustrated chapter-book biographies such as Claudette Colvin and Harriet Tubman, which are discussed in our Five Questions interview with authors Lesa Cline-Ransome and Andrea Davis Pinkney, here are picture-book biographies about seven tenacious, inspiring, and diverse women. March is Women’s History Month. For...

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

Five questions for Frank Morrison Above the Rim: How Elgin Baylor Changed Basketball by Jen Bryant, illus. by Frank Morrison; Abrams. #OwnVoices biographies for Black History Month 2021 This Is Your Time by Ruby Bridges; Delacorte. One Step Further: My Story of Math, the Moon, and a Lifelong Mission by...

From the Editor - February 2021

Welcome to Black History Month 2021! As several of the books reviewed here remind us, you can’t have American history without it. Please go see all of our BHM coverage on the website, where the indefatigable Cindy and Elissa are posting related reviews, interviews, articles, and essays every day throughout...

Middle-grade sci-fi/fantasy for Black History Month

Read S. R. Toliver’s 2019 Horn Book article on why representation matters in sci-fi/fantasy, then dip into the following fantastical middle-grade novels by Black authors and starring Black protagonists. See also our Black History Month 2021 coverage. Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston Intermediate, Middle School    Balzer...

Black history, American history

Take it from Ruby Bridges — one person can make a difference in the fight for civil rights, a fight that continues today. The following illustrated biographies (all #OwnVoices) highlight important figures in Black — and American — history. See also our Black History Month 2021 coverage. This Is Your...

In Memoriam: Jill Paton Walsh (1937–2020)

It’s a trick of the human mind that we rarely remember experiences in sequence. Rather, our brain does something scattershot, collaged. When emotion inflects memory, as happens at the death of a friend, it can be a struggle to organize the onrush of the past into narrative coherence. The news...

Queer romance

This Valentine’s Day, find book love with the following recent YA titles centering queer romance. for more on romantic love, click the tag "love stories" and see also Katrina Hedeen and Rachel L. Smith’s 2013 Horn Book Magazine article: “What Makes a Good YA Love Story?” Love Is for Losers...

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 2020 2020 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners 2021 ALA Youth Media Award winners Board Book Roundup: Treasure Hunting in the Public Library by Julie Roach (September/October 2018 Magazine) The 2021...

The CCBC's Diversity Statistics: New Categories, New Data

This is the fourth column in a series examining statistics gathered by the recently expanded database of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC), a research library of the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education. Previous columns can be found at hbook.com/tag/ccbc. Since 1985, the CCBC has kept track of children’s...

2020 Booklists and Resources Master List

Booklists and resources on holidays, special events, seasons, social justice...and "mother forking space and time"? We've covered a wide range of topics for all age levels in 2020, so we've compiled them together for readers to find some great new books to enjoy and share. Don't miss out — subscribe...

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...

"Sometimes You Have to Lie": A Conversation with Leslie Brody

Nearly sixty years after the publication of Harriet the Spy (Harper, 1964) the book remains as fresh as ever, so it’s not surprising that Harriet’s author was just as captivating. In her new, thoroughly researched biography, Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author...

New for New Readers: How to Publish (What I Think Are) Great Books for New Readers

Sometime in 2017, I got a call from Bernice Myers, a mid-twentieth-century illustrator of nonfiction picture books and author-illustrator of books for new readers such as Not THIS Bear! Bernice, who hadn’t published a new book for many years, had a story for me, and of course I was happy...

What Makes a Good Hanukkah Picture Book?

Let’s say, for some reason, you wanted to read the worst Hanukkah picture book ever written. Why would you wish to do this? Well, such a book could serve as a fine blueprint for how not to write a lousy Hanukkah book and/or how not to choose a lousy Hanukkah...

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...

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

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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...
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