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Everyday — and otherworldly — wonders

In these new books for intermediate readers, the boundaries between our reality and more fantastical realms blur, allowing protagonists and magical beings alike to walk between worlds. My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, author-illustrator Nie Jun’s graphic novel for young readers, begins with a girl, Yu’er, who dreams of swimming in the Special Olympics. […]

Five questions for Zetta Elliott

Zetta Elliott’s Dragons in a Bag (Random, 8–11 years) kicks off a new middle-grade fantasy series starring Jaxon, a young African American Brooklynite who gets a glimpse of the magical possibilities of our world (and others) when he spends a day with new acquaintance Ma. 1. In the acknowledgements of Dragons in a Bag you […]

Review of Dragons in a Bag

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott; illus. by Geneva B Primary, Intermediate    Random    154 pp.    g 10/18    978-1-5247-7045-7    $16.99 Library ed.  978-1-5247-7046-4    $19.99 e-book ed.  978-1-5247-7047-1    $10.99 There are two things you should never do when dealing with dragons. First, do not let them out of the bag; and second, do not feed them […]

Review of As You Wish audiobook

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti; read by Brian Hutchison High School    Recorded Books    Rev. 1/18 8 CDs    9.75 hrs.    978-1-5019-7224-9    $24.49 In a Nevada desert town where everyone gets a wish on his or her eighteenth birthday (and it comes true), seventeen-year-old Eldon doesn’t know what to choose. What’s more, he’s convinced that most […]

The art of deception

The protagonists of the following new YA fantasies all face complex societal structures which force them to hide, lie, or deceive others in some fashion. Along the way, this leads each character to re-examine her or his own identity and prior beliefs…and also makes for compelling reading. Rachel Hartman returns to her fantastical medievalesque world […]

Strange and magical middle-grade

What’s summer without a vacation from the norm? These fantasy and sci-fi novels for intermediate and middle-school readers are anything but ordinary. You’d think it would be hard to forget a weird, green, diminutive creature dressed in a chicken costume, but Livy has since her last visit to her grandmother’s in Australia five years ago. […]

Summer listening

These recent speculative fiction favorites are now available as audiobooks — just in time for summer, when teens may be seeking escapist vacation listening or entertainment on that epic road trip with friends. In Kristin Cashore’s Jane, Unlimited, recently bereaved Jane is unexpectedly invited to spend the weekend at a mysterious island mansion — and […]

Spring 2018 Publishers’ Preview: Five Questions for Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2018 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions. Sponsored by In Mass and Stead’s middle-grade 
collaboration Bob, Livy (a human […]

Review of Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi High School    Holt    533 pp. 3/18    978-1-250-17097-2    $18.99 When magic suddenly disappears from the kingdom of Orïsha, King Saran seizes the chance to murder all the maji (rare and powerful magic-wielders), leaving alive only the divîners (children born to be maji but too young to have yet […]

Bad blood

All teens grapple with family dynamics as they define their individual identities. But the protagonists of these YA fantasy novels must also contend with magic, secrets, and misdeeds in their bloodlines. In Frances Hardinge‘s A Skinful of Shadows, orphan Makepeace (an illegitimate relation) becomes a servant to the aristocratic Fellmotte family. She soon realizes that […]