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Review of Democracy for Dinosaurs: A Guide for Young Citizens

Democracy for Dinosaurs: A Guide for Young Citizens by Laurie Krasny Brown; illus. by Marc Brown Primary    Little, Brown    32 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-316-53452-9    $17.99 Sharing, fairness, choice, respect, ­truthfulness — most young people are well acquainted with these concepts; the Browns (Dinosaurs Divorce; Dinosaurs Go Green!; and many others)...

Review of The Time of Green Magic

The Time of Green Magic by Hilary McKay Intermediate, Middle School    McElderry    225 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-5344-6276-2    $17.99 Everything changes for eleven-year-old North Londoner Abigail when her widower father marries Polly, mother of Max and Louis, and her beloved Granny Grace returns to Jamaica. Feeling both isolated and crowded at...

Review of I Am Every Good Thing

I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes; illus. by Gordon C. James Preschool, Primary    Paulsen/Penguin    32 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-525-51877-8    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-51878-5    $10.99 Barnes and James reunite, after the multi-award-winning success of Crown (rev. 11/17), for this beautiful and necessary book that affirms Black boys and their...

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:...

Review of Circle! Sphere!; The Last Marshmallow; Up to My Knees!; What Will Fit?

Circle! Sphere! [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by the author Preschool    Charlesbridge    16 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-62354-124-8    $6.99 The Last Marshmallow [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by the author Preschool    Charlesbridge    16 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-62354-126-2    $6.99 Up to My Knees! [Storytelling Math] by Grace Lin; illus. by...

Review of Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote

Finish the Fight!: The Brave and Revolutionary Women Who Fought for the Right to Vote by Veronica Chambers and members of the staff of the New York Times; illus. by various artists Intermediate, Middle School    Versify/Houghton    144 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-358-40830-7    $18.99    e-book ed....

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...

Review of Before the Ever After

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson Intermediate    Paulsen/Penguin    176 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-399-54543-6    $17.99 In her latest novel in verse, Woodson (Locomotion, rev. 3/03; Brown Girl Dreaming, rev. 9/14) explores the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on football players and their families from the perspective of ZJ, son...

Horn BOO! 2020

Are you going on a (virtual) book hunt this Halloween? Our annual roundup has you covered, whether your treat of choice is spooky squids, not-so-spooky spiders, or anything in between. The Little Ghost Who Lost Her Boo! by Elaine Bickell; illus. by Raymond McGrath Preschool    Philomel    32 pp.    g 8/20   ...

Review of Julián at the Wedding

Julián at the Wedding by Jessica Love; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5362-1238-9    $16.99 Love’s follow-up to Julián Is a Mermaid (rev. 5/18) features characters both familiar and new. At the start of the story, Julián and Abuela are strolling down the sidewalk, arm-in-arm...

Review of Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper

Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo’s First Woman Zookeeper by Candace Fleming; illus. by Julie Downing Primary, Intermediate    Porter/Holiday    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-8234-4318-5    $18.99 “Helen and Fred Martini longed for a baby,” begins this engaging picture-book biography. Fred spends his days working at the...

Review of Darius the Great Deserves Better

Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram High School    Dial    352 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-59310-823-9    $17.99 Since we last saw “Fractional Persian” Darius in 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book honor book Darius the Great Is Not Okay (rev. 9/18), he’s come out as gay, and has a boyfriend. Now back...

Review of If You Come to Earth

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall; illus. by the author Primary    Chronicle    80 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-4521-3779-7    $18.99 Quinn, a small child in a red gnome hat, writes a letter to potential visitors to our planet to explain to them what we’re about: our location in the universe,...

Review of Stay Curious!: A Brief History of Stephen Hawking

Stay Curious!: A Brief History of Stephen Hawking by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer; illus. by Boris Kulikov Primary, Intermediate    Crown    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-399-55028-7    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55029-4    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-55030-0    $10.99 Physicist Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) was brilliant and iconoclastic from the get-go: as a child, he...

Review of Displacement

Displacement by Kiku Hughes; illus. by the author Middle School, High School    First Second/Roaring Brook    288 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-250-19354-4    $24.99 Paper ed.  978-1-250-19353-7    $17.99 This graphic novel blends historical fact and science fiction into an enthralling time-travel tale. An imagined version of debut author Hughes’s teenage self is suddenly...

Review of In the Half Room

In the Half Room by Carson Ellis; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-5362-1456-7    $16.99 In a series of images that depict halves, Ellis ushers readers into a delightfully surreal setting. With pleasing rhymes (“Half a window / Half a door / Half a rug on...

Review of The House by the Lake

The House by the Lake by Thomas Harding; illus. by Britta Teckentrup Primary, Intermediate    Candlewick Studio    48 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-53621-274-7    $17.99 The titular dwelling was the weekend home of Harding’s great-grandparents in Germany, built by his great-grandfather nearly a century ago. Readers experience the peace and idyll of the...

Review of Punching the Air

Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi with Yusef Salaam; illus. by Omar T. Pasha High School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    400 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-06-299648-0    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-299650-3    $10.99 Sixteen-year-old Amal Dawud Shahid (who is African American) knows he didn’t throw the punch that left Jeremy Mathis (who is white)...

Review of Outside In

Outside In by Deborah Underwood; illus. by Cindy Derby Primary    Houghton    40 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-328-86682-0    $17.99 The intersection of outside and inside is creatively explored in this reflection on nature and its gentle persistence and ever-presence. The story begins in nature, as a young girl explores an impressionistic forest....

Review of Packs

Packs: Strength in Numbers by Hannah Salyer; illus. by the author Primary    Houghton    48 pp. 1/20    978-1-328-57788-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-16695-5    $12.99 For some animal species, there are evolutionary advantages to social groupings. “Packs, herds, huddles, and pods. Together, we are better.” Salyer introduces young readers to many of the...

Review of Overground Railroad

Overground Railroad by Lesa Cline-Ransome; illus. by James Ransome Primary, Intermediate    Holiday    48 pp. 1/20    978-0-8234-3873-0    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4390-1    $11.99 “Some walked. / Some drove. / But we took the train north.” In 1939, as part of the Great Migration, young Ruth Ellen and her parents leave North Carolina,...

Review of Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale

Chicken Little: The Real and Totally True Tale by Sam Wedelich; illus. by the author Primary    Scholastic    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-338-35901-5    $17.99 In this clever spin on the classic tale, Chicken Little makes it clear — right from the get-go — that she’s got plenty of pluck. “Who are...

Review of Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box

Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne Middle School, High School    Viking    176 pp.    g 4/20    978-0-45148-154-2    $19.99 In her preface, “Not the History You Learned in School,” Dionne sets the historical scene with the 2016 presidential campaign. Having...

Review of Willa the Wisp

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 lived a boy named Auggie.” So begins this early chapter book full of...

Review of You Matter

You Matter by Christian Robinson; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Atheneum    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-5344-2169-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-2170-7    $10.99 No saccharine self-esteem book, this is a powerful affirmation of each reader’s worth. Robinson’s text is loaded with child appeal (“When everyone thinks you’re a pest. / When...

Review of The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe

The Complete and Original Norwegian Folktales of Asbjørnsen and Moe by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe; trans. from Norwegian by Tiina Nunnally Intermediate    University of Minnesota    320 pp.    g 9/19    978-1-5179-0568-2    $34.95 Asbjørnsen and Moe first published their Norske folkeeventyr (“Norwegian folktales”) as a pamphlet in 1841; through the...

Review of See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle; illus. by Mike Wohnoutka Primary    Candlewick    64 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-53620-427-8    $8.99 In three brief stories, this beginning reader inventively supports both traditional and visual literacies. The first chapter, “The Cat,” opens with the sentence “See the cat” on...

Review of Pepper & Boo: A Cat Surprise!

Pepper & Boo: A Cat Surprise! by Charise Mericle Harper; illus. by the author Primary    Little, Brown    64 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-368-04904-7    $9.99 The book opens with a tidy four-panel spread, the first showing a comfy-looking house made from simple shapes (“Twelve paws are in this house,” says the text);...

Review of Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island

Kondo & Kezumi Visit Giant Island by David Goodner; illus. by Andrea Tsurumi Primary    Little, Brown    80 pp.    g 10/20    978-1-368-02577-5    $15.99 e-book ed.  978-1-368-04605-3    $9.99 Kondo, a large yellow creature, and Kezumi, a small orange creature, live on an island full of “berry bushes and flitter-birds and fluffle-bunnies.” One...

Review of Dear Beast

Dear Beast by Dori Hillestad Butler; illus. by Kevan Atteberry Primary    Holiday    77 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-8234-4492-2    $15.99 Having two pets in two separate homes can spark a bit of territorialism, so when Andy announces he has a new dog at Dad’s house, Simon, the cat who lives at Andy’s...

Review of A Field Guide to Getting Lost

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Joy McCullough Intermediate    Atheneum    210 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-5344-3849-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3851-4    $10.99 Sutton prefers programming robots to being with people, but she’s still disappointed when she learns that her mother, off researching penguins in Antarctica, won’t return in time for her...

Review of The True Definition of Neva Beane

The True Definition of Neva Beane by Christine Kendall Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    240 pp.    g 9/20    978-1-338-32489-1    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-338-32493-8    $10.99 Twelve-year-old Neva Beane loves words and consults her dictionary to help find the right ones for any situation. But lately, with the changes that come with puberty,...

Review of Pine Island Home

Pine Island Home by Polly Horvath Intermediate    Ferguson/Holiday    229 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-8234-4785-5    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4883-8    $9.99 Horvath (Everything on a Waffle, rev. 5/01) returns to her sweet spot (parents lost in tragic accident; quaint British Columbia setting) for her latest novel. When after a long journey orphaned sisters...

Review of The Silver Arrow

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman Intermediate    Little, Brown    320 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-316-54170-1    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316- 53952-4    $9.99 After writing to her rich uncle to cheekily request a present for her eleventh birthday, Kate is surprised when a full-sized locomotive shows up the next day. Resolved to get...

Review of The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth

The Talk: Conversations About Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Willis Hudson Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    128 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-593-12161-0    $18.99 Library ed.  978-0-593-12162-7    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-0-593-12163-4    $9.99 In the African American community, parents and caregivers engage their children in conversations aimed at helping...

Review of Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis by K. R. Gaddy Middle School, High School    Dutton    294 pp.    g 1/20    978-0-5255-5541-4    $18.99 The Edelweiss Pirates were groups of German youth who protested the Nazi regime through actions ranging from simple mischief...

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 changemaker 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; Feiwel....

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 changemaker

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 —...

Review of Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks

Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks by Suzanne Slade; illus. by Cozbi A. Cabrera Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    48 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-4197-3411-3    $17.99 Gwendolyn Brooks (1917–2000) grew up on the South Side of Chicago “with little money to spare,” but her childhood home was rich in volumes of...

Review of Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation

Poisoned Water: How the Citizens of Flint, Michigan, Fought for Their Lives and Warned the Nation by Candy J. Cooper with Marc Aronson Middle School, High School    Bloomsbury    243 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-5476-0232-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5476-0233-9    $13.29 Imagine: a deadly health crisis hits and the government delays, makes light...

Review of Baloney and Friends

Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli; illus. by the author Primary    Disney-Hyperion    87 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-368-05454-6    $12.99 In this energetic and amusing comics-styled easy reader, Baloney — an amiable orange pig — interacts with his friends Bizz (a bumblebee), Peanut (a blue horse), and Krabbit (an often crabby and...

Review of One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book

One Golden Rule at School: A Counting Book by Selina Alko; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Ottaviano/Holt    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-250-16381-3    $17.99 Within the familiar rhythms and routines of a school day, viewers count from one (“One backpack”) to ten (“Ten chickpeas lined up for lunch”) and back...

Review of Frog and Toad Are Friends

Frog and Toad Are Friends [I Can Read Book] by Arnold Lobel; illus. by the author Primary    Harper/HarperCollins    72 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-06-298343-5    $18.99 Here is a welcome new edition of this iconic, Caldecott Honor–winning easy reader, reissued with a section at the end of seven pages of background material....

Review of How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion by Ashima Shiraishi; illus. by Yao Xiao Primary    Make Me a World/Random    40 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-5247-7327-4    $17.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-7328-1    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-7329-8    $10.99 With a voice that’s distinctive, lyrical, and inspiring, teenage rock-climber Shiraishi...

Review of Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror

Eight Princesses and a Magic Mirror by Natasha Farrant; illus. by Lydia Corry Intermediate    Norton    217 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-324-01556-7    $19.95 The framing structure for this collection of princess stories is elaborate. When an enchantress is invited to be the godmother to a princess, she realizes that she doesn’t know...

Review of 13 Stories About Harris

13 Stories About Harris by Amy Schwartz; illus. by the author Preschool    Holiday    40 pp.    g 7/20    978-0-8234-4249-2    $18.99 Thirteen short stories follow city dweller Harris on preschooler-sized adventures. A very few seem geared toward adult sensibilities; most tap directly into authentic early-childhood behaviors and experiences. Harris, completely absorbed in...

Review of We Are Not Free

We Are Not Free by Traci Chee Middle School, High School    Houghton    386 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-358-13143-4    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-33000-4    $9.99 Chee follows up her successful fantasy trilogy (The Reader and sequels) with this very different work of historical fiction, drawing on her personal family and cultural history for...

Review of A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead

A Thousand Glass Flowers: Marietta Barovier and the Invention of the Rosetta Bead by Evan Turk; illus. by the author Primary    Atheneum    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-5344-1034-3    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5344-1035-0    $10.99 In fifteenth-century northern Italy, on the island of Murano, where glassmakers thrived, lived young Marietta Barovier. Marietta dreamed...

Review of One Year at Ellsmere

One Year at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks; illus. by the author Intermediate, Middle School    First Second/Roaring Brook    172 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-250-21909-1    $22.99 Paper ed.  978-1-250-21910-7    $14.99 Originally published as The War at Ellsmere in 2008 (by SLG Publishing) and now back in print with revamped art, this graphic...

Review of A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games

A Sporting Chance: How Ludwig Guttmann Created the Paralympic Games by Lori Alexander; illus. by Allan Drummond Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    128 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-328-58079-5    $17.99 Before Dr. Ludwig Guttmann (1899–1980), there was no treatment for a broken spine; paraplegics were deemed incurable and usually died in a matter...

Review of The One and Only Bob

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Patricia Castelao Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    338 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-299131-7    $18.99 Applegate revisits the beloved cast of characters from her Newbery Medal–winning The One and Only Ivan (rev. 1/12), but this time from a different viewpoint. Bob, the tenacious mutt (“some...

Review of Sun and Moon Have a Tea Party

Sun and Moon Have a Tea Party by Yumi Heo; illus. by Naoko Stoop Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 7/20    978-0-385-39033-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-385-39034-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-385-39035-4    $10.99 Sun and Moon meet for a late-afternoon tea party and discover the disparities between their worldviews. As they...

Review of Winter in Wartime

Winter in Wartime by Jan Terlouw; trans. from Dutch by Laura Watkinson Intermediate    NYRB    220 pp.    g Paper ed.  978-1-68137-426-0    $12.99 e-book ed.  978-1-68137-427-7    $9.99 In a village in the Netherlands, in the winter of 1944–45, teen Michiel van Beusekom becomes involved in anti-Nazi resistance activities — hiding and feeding...

Review of The Fabled Life of Aesop

The Fabled Life of Aesop by Ian Lendler; illus. by Pamela Zagarenski Primary    Houghton    64 pp.    g 3/20    978-1-328-58552-3    $18.99 Lendler gives depth to a collection of Aesop’s fables by incorporating them into the story of their teller’s life. Working off what few facts scholars have pieced together from historical...

Review of I Am Here Now

I Am Here Now by Barbara Bottner High School    Imprint/Macmillan    347 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-250-20769-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-250-20770-8    $9.99 Fourteen-year-old Maisie characterizes her 1960s coming-of-age in the Bronx as “one of those fairy tales / where the witch eats the child.” And for good reason. Her perfume mogul dad...

Review of How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea

How Women Won the Vote: Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, and Their Big Idea by Susan Campbell Bartoletti; illus. by Ziyue Chen Primary, Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    80 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-284130-8    $18.99 This well-sourced account of the fight for American women’s suffrage begins in 1909 at a protest march in London. It...

Review of The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story

The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho; illus. by Jess X. Snow Primary    Kokila/Penguin    48 pp.    g 8/20    978-1-9848-1486-9    $17.99 Young Korean girl Dayeon admires her diver grandmother (“You are like a treasure-hunting mermaid”) and wants to be like her. Grandma is a haenyeo, one of many...

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

1
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...

Review of Race Through the Skies: The Week the World Learned to Fly

Race Through the Skies: The Week the World Learned to Fly by Martin W. Sandler Middle School    Bloomsbury    185 pp.    g 7/20    978-1-5476-0344-2    $24.99 The rate of innovation during the first decade of flight is as astounding now as it must have been at the time. Sandler’s compelling look at...

Review of The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid

The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kincaid by Kate Hattemer High School    Knopf    293 pp.    g 2/20    978-1-9848-4912-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-1-9848-4913-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-1-9848-4914-4    $10.99 Jemima serves with the Senior Triumvirate at her tradition-steeped prep school, and though she’s invested in her role, she’s also eager to shake up...

Review of Brown Girl Ghosted

Brown Girl Ghosted by Mintie Das High School    Houghton    289 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-358-12889-2    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-13130-4    $9.99 Sixteen-year-old Violet Choudhury is a cheerleader; the best friend of Meryl, a popular iconoclast; and a daughter who never knew her dead mother and barely sees her largely absent father. She’s...

Review of We Didn't Ask for This

We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid High School    Inkyard    352 pp.    g 4/20    978-1-335-14676-2    $18.99 At a worldly and diverse K–12 private school in an unnamed country outside the U.S., the high schoolers look forward to the school’s legendary lock-in, planning all year for sanctioned events such as...

Review of Something to Say

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée; illus. by Bre Indigo Intermediate, Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    373 pp.    g 7/20    978-0-06-283671-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-283673-1    $9.99 Janae is a loner and plans to keep it that way in middle school, that is, until she meets outgoing, audacious Aubrey, who...

Review of Things Seen from Above

Things Seen from Above by Shelley Pearsall; illus. by Xingye Jin Intermediate    Knopf    262 pp. 2/20    978-1-5247-1739-1    $16.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-1740-7    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-1741-4    $9.99 April, beginning sixth grade and dealing with her own friendship issues, takes an interest in a younger student with puzzling behaviors and a surprising...

Review of Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe

Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe by Carlos Hernandez Intermediate, Middle School    Riordan/Disney-Hyperion    421 pp.    g 5/20    978-1-368-02283-5    $16.99 Sal and Gabi are back in the sequel to Pura Belpré Award–winning Sal & Gabi Break the Universe, only this time they have to fix the universe — and during tech...

Review of One Time

One Time by Sharon Creech Intermediate   Cotler/HarperCollins    272 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-06-257074-1    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-257075-8    $17.89 e-book ed.  978-0-06-257077-2    $9.99 Gina Filomena, eleven, has been told that she has an overactive imagination. Few teachers or classmates have seen this as a gift until the new language arts teacher, Miss...

Review of Love, Love

Love, Love by Victoria Chang Intermediate, Middle School    Sterling    214 pp.    g 6/20    978-1-4549-3832-3    $16.95 This semiautobiographical verse novel begins with eleven-year-old Chinese American girl Frances Chin witnessing an attack on her older sister, Clara, behind their school. (Frances herself has endured taunts centered on race: “you’re SO SO ugly...

Review of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero

Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    195 pp.    g 8/20    978-0-593-12136-8    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-593-12137-5    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-0-593-12138-2    $9.99 Isaiah Dunn is not your typical hero. Heroes usually win, but Isaiah seems to experience a lot of losses: losing his father on...

Review of Nana Akua Goes to School

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker; illus. by April Harrison Primary    Schwartz & Wade/Random    40 pp.    g 6/20    978-0-525-58113-0    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-525-58114-7    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-525-58115-4    $10.99 Although her grandmother, Nana Akua, is her “favorite person in the whole universe,” young Zura is not excited about...

Review of Field Trip to the Ocean Deep

Field Trip to the Ocean Deep by John Hare; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Ferguson/Holiday    40 pp.    g 9/20    978-0-8234-4630-8    $17.99 Hare’s follow-up to Field Trip to the Moon (rev. 9/19) again features a compelling setting, a not-too-scary adventure, and immersive illustrations. This wordless story begins on the book’s...

Review of Swing

Swing by Michael Hall; illus. by the author Preschool    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g 5/20    978-0-06-286617-2    $17.99 The title spread introduces a school — a place of learning and growth — where outside the classroom window a swing set stands empty and waiting. A letter L sits alone on one of...

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...

Review of Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom [Wayside School] by Louis Sachar; illus. by Tim Heitz Intermediate    Harper/HarperCollins    182 pp.    g 3/20    978-0-06-296538-7    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-06-296542-4    $10.99 Yes, per the introductory author's note to this fourth book about the wacky elementary school, it's been forty years since the first...

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...

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...

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...

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....

Reviews of 2020 Mind the Gap Award winners

Not all deserving books bring home ALA awards. Our annual Mind the Gap Awards pay tribute to our favorite books that didn’t win. Here’s how we reviewed our 2020 winners.   A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein; illus....

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...

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...

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...
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