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Reviews of the Week

Each week we publish four brand-new reviews of books people are — or should be — talking about. Look for recommended picture books on Mondays, fiction on Tuesdays, nonfiction on Wednesdays, and poetry and audiobooks on Thursdays.

Review of Max & the Midknights

Max & the Midknights by Lincoln Peirce; illus. by the author Intermediate    Crown    280 pp.    g 1/19    978-1-101-93108-0    $13.99 Library ed.  978-1-101-93109-7    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-101-93110-3    $8.99 It’s the Middle Ages, and redheaded Max is Uncle Budrick’s troubadour apprentice. Max longs to become a knight, but there’s just one problem: Max is a girl, a […]

Review of The Stuff of Stars

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer; illus. by Ekua Holmes Primary    Candlewick    40 pp. 9/18    978-0-7636-7883-8    $17.99 From darkness, we experience the Big Bang, the birth of the universe, and the emergence of life on Earth. Holmes, known for her striking collage art (Voice of Freedom, rev. 9/15; Out of Wonder, rev. 5/17) […]

Review of Checked audiobook

Checked by Cynthia Kadohata; read by John Kroft Intermediate, Middle School     Recorded Books    Rev. 5/18 7 CDs     7.75 hrs.     978-1-5019-8278-1 $20.99 Conor MacRae’s life is consumed with elite hockey. Nothing can overtake his obsession — not his growing concerns about his elderly neighbor Mr. Reynolds, not the strained relationship […]

Review of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illus. by Paola Escobar Primary     Harper/HarperCollins     40 pp. 1/19     978-0-06-274868-3     $17.99 In her native Puerto Rico, a young Pura Belpré retells folk stories to children under a tamarind tree; when she visits Nueva York in 1921 and decides to stay, obtaining […]

Review of The Wicked King

The Wicked King [Folk of the Air] by Holly Black High School     Little, Brown     325 pp.     g 1/19     978-0-316-31035-2     $18.99 e-book ed. 978-0-316-31033-8     $9.99 A mortal raised in the realms of Faerie by the devious General Madoc, Jude Duarte has learned to play games of politics and intrigue quite well. By manipulating her […]

Review of Chicken Talk

Chicken Talk by Patricia MacLachlan; illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka Preschool, Primary    Tegen/HarperCollins     32 pp. 1/19     978-0-06-239864-2     $17.99 In this slight but charming tale, a farm family’s chickens discover the power of the written word. (It’s not an original conceit, of course; see earlier exemplars of farm-animal empowerment […]

Review of The Night Diary audiobook

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani; read by Priya Ayyar Intermediate, Middle School    Listening Library    Rev. 7/18 5 CDs    5.92 hrs.    978-0-525-53044-2    $45.00 Twelve-year-old Nisha, whose mother was Muslim and father is Hindu, begins writing a diary in the form of letters to her mother, who died when Nisha and her twin Amil were born. […]

Review of Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival

Sea Bear: A Journey for Survival by Lindsay Moore; illus. by the author Primary     Greenwillow     48 pp.     g 1/19     978-0-06-279128-3     $17.99 A polar bear wanders alone through icy northern landscapes and across the seasons in search of food, her survival practices described as she hunts seals and paddles past sharks, narwhals, and whales. […]

Review of Best Babysitters Ever

Best Babysitters Ever by Caroline Cala Intermediate, Middle School     Houghton     246 pp.     g 2/19     978-1-328-85089-8     $16.99 e-book ed. 978-1-328-52788-2     $9.99 In this series opener, Malia stumbles across an old copy of Kristy’s Great Idea, the first of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books, and appropriates the central business model. But unlike Kristy and […]

Review of The Bell Rang

The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate     Dlouhy/Atheneum     40 pp. 1/19     978-1-4424-2113-4     $17.99 e-book ed. 978-1-4814-7671-3     $10.99 “The bell rings, / and no sun in the sky. / Daddy gathers wood. / Mama cooks. / We eat.” Ransome paints a heartbreaking picture of an enslaved family existing within the […]