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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 The Vanishing Stair

The Vanishing Stair [Truly Devious] by Maureen Johnson High School    Tegen/HarperCollins    373 pp. 1/19    978-0-06-233808-2    $17.99 In this absorbing continuation of Truly Devious (rev. 1/18), amateur gumshoe and anxiety sufferer Stevie Bell is still trying — from afar, her parents having removed her from Ellingham Academy at the end of the first book — to […]

Review of There Are No Bears in This Bakery

There Are No Bears in This Bakery by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Knopf    40 pp. 1/19    978-0-399-55665-4    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-399-55666-1    $20.99 e-book ed.  978-0-399-55667-8    $10.99 Sarcone-Roach’s previous bear-centric picture book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich (rev. 1/15), featured an unreliable offstage narrator, a cover-up, and — spoiler alert — no […]

Review of Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons

Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons by Laura Purdie Salas; illus. by Mercè López Primary    Millbrook    32 pp. 4/19    978-1-5124-9809-7    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5415-4383-6    $19.99 Salas presents a volume of “riddle-ku” poems, a form that is a cross between riddles, haiku, and “mask poems” (poems narrated by “something nonhuman”). The book is divided […]

Review of Beware of the Crocodile

Beware of the Crocodile by Martin Jenkins; illus. by Satoshi Kitamura Primary    Candlewick    32 pp.    g 3/19    978-0-7636-7538-7    $16.99 Heeding the old adage “when introducing a topic to children, start with what they know,” Jenkins initiates his discussion of crocodiles with their most prominent feature: those fascinating and intimidating teeth, which Kitamura depicts in all […]

Review of Dealing in Dreams

Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera High School    Simon    328 pp.    g 3/19    978-1-4814-7214-2    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-7216-6    $10.99 Rivera (The Education of Margot Sanchez) presents an action-filled dystopian novel about loyalty, power, and losing and finding oneself. Nalah, a.k.a. Chief Rocka, is the leader of the all-girl gang Las Mal Criadas, which owns the […]

Review of Poetree

Poetree by Shauna LaVoy Reynolds; illus. by Shahrzad Maydani Primary    Dial    32 pp.    g 3/19    978-0-399-53912-1    $17.99 To celebrate the end of winter, young poetry lover Sylvia writes a poem about spring and ties it to a birch tree in the park. The next day her poem is gone; in its place is another that […]

Review of The Undefeated

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illus. by Kadir Nelson Primary, Intermediate, Middle School     Versify/Houghton     40 pp.    g 4/19     978-1-328-78096-6     $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-358-05761-1     $12.99 Alexander and Nelson honor the achievements, courage, and perseverance of ordinary black people as well as prominent black artists, athletes, and activists. The free-verse poem begins: “This is for the unforgettable. / […]

Review of Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti

Two Brothers, Four Hands: The Artists Alberto and Diego Giacometti by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan; illus. by Hadley Hooper Primary, Intermediate    Porter/Holiday    64 pp.    g 4/19    978-0-8234-4170-9    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-0-8234-4224-9    $16.99 Experts at accessibly describing art and exploring the often-complex lives of its creators, Greenberg and Jordan (most recently Meet Cindy Sherman, rev. […]

Review of The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James

The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake Intermediate, Middle School    Little, Brown    373 pp.    g 3/19    978-0-316-51553-5    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316-51550-4    $9.99 After receiving a heart transplant, twelve-year-old Sunny decides it’s time for a “New Life” with specific components — including finding a boy to kiss and finding a new best […]

Review of Carl and the Meaning of Life

Carl and the Meaning of Life by Deborah Freedman; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary    Viking    48 pp.    g 4/19    978-0-451-47498-8    $17.99 Carl is an earthworm, always moving under the ground, digesting leaves and “turning hard dirt into fluffy soil.” When a field mouse asks him why he does that, […]