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Review of Smick!

Smick! by Doreen Cronin; illus. by Juana Medina Preschool, Primary   Viking   32 pp. 2/15   978-0-670-78578-0   $16.99   g With minimal text, a clever use of sight words and word families, and a bounty of playfulness, Cronin introduces preschoolers (and early readers) to their new best friend: good-natured, tail-wagging, droopy-eared dog Smick. A game of fetch between […]

Review of First Snow

First Snow by Peter McCarty; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   40 pp. 1/15   978-0-06-218996-7   $16.99 Genial siblings Sancho, Bella, Lola, Ava, and Maria welcome their cousin Pedro, visiting from warmer climes, and introduce him to the joys of snow. The siblings are thrilled with an overnight snowfall and excitedly proclaim their […]

Review of Fiendish

Fiendish by Brenna Yovanoff High School    Razorbill/Penguin    341 pp. 6/14    978-1-59514-638-0    $17.99    g Yovanoff (The Space Between, rev. 1/12; Paper Valentine, rev. 3/13) here weaves a haunting tale of old magic in a changing world. When Clementine was a child, a torch-bearing mob burned out her family; Clementine escaped by virtue of a magical coma […]

Review of The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase [Lockwood & Co.] by Jonathan Stroud Intermediate, Middle School     Disney-Hyperion     374 pp. 9/13     978-1-4231-6491-3     $16.99     g With a morbidly cheery tone and sure-footed establishment of characters and setting, Stroud (the Bartimaeus trilogy; Heroes of the Valley, rev. 1/09) kicks off a new series that is part procedural and part ghost story, with […]

Review of Openly Straight

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg High School     Levine/Scholastic     328 pp. 6/13     978-0-545-50989-3     $17.99     g e-book ed. 978-0-545-50990-9     $17.99 Rafe is sick of being the poster child for all things gay at his uber-liberal Colorado high school: no matter how accepting everyone is, it feels like they only […]

Review of If You Could Be Mine

If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan High School    Algonquin    247 pp. 8/13    978-1-61620-251-4    $16.95    g Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for years, but the girls live in Iran, where their love is illegal. That hasn’t kept them from being together, but now Nasrin has accepted a marriage […]

What Makes a Good YA Coming-Out Novel?

Since John Donovan’s groundbreaking 1969 I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip, young adult novels featuring gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning teens have come a long way. Once few and far between, they have enjoyed a steady rise in numbers and prominence, particularly over the last decade, as prolific and acclaimed queer* […]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has a lot riding on it. The final installment of the wildly popular series, it’s the story of the boy hero’s final showdown with the ultimate villain. Voldemort has severed pieces of his soul and placed them in Horcruxes, which must be found and destroyed in order for his […]

David Yates’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

As a book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the more uneven entries in the famed series. The plot is episodic, meandering through Dumbledore’s collected memories of Voldemort’s past and taking what seems like an unnecessarily indirect route to setting up Harry’s final quest: the destruction of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (sundered pieces of […]

Review of Parrotfish

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger High School     Simon      294 pp. 7/07     978-1-4169-1622-2     $16.99     g “What I am is a person who’s capable of loving other people. That’s all that matters.” This is the unwavering thrust of Wittlinger’s groundbreaking latest, narrated by Grady (born Angela), a transgendered teenage boy who is determined to […]