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Countdown audiobook review

Countdown by Deborah Wiles; read by Emma Galvin Middle School     Listening Library     Rev. 5/10 6 CDs     7.3 hrs.     978-0-3078-7967-7     $40.00 Eleven-year-old Air Force brat Franny Chapman stars in Wiles’s documentary novel about shifting friendships, first crushes, and family loyalty, set during the volatile days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. In this audio version, […]

Review of The No. 1 Car Spotter

The No. 1 Car Spotter by Atinuke; illus. by Warwick Johnson Cadwell Primary, Intermediate    Kane Miller    112 pp. 9/11    Paper ed.  978-1-61067-051-7    $5.99 Oluwalase Babatunde Benson, called No. 1, is the best car spotter in his African village. His unnamed country has cities and towns with skyscrapers, hotels, offices, tap water, electricity, and televisions, but […]

Review of Bluefish

Bluefish by Pat Schmatz Middle School    Candlewick    229 pp. 9/11    978-0-7636-5334-7    $15.99 e-book ed.  978-0-7636-5614-0    $15.99 “Stupid bluefish” Travis Roberts finds “lowlife trailer-trash loser” Vida “Velveeta” Wojciehowski in a lovely, understated book that celebrates the possibility of a kind and humane friendship between an eighth-grade girl and boy. Travis and Velveeta meet while both are […]

O Christmas Books!

I was the type of kid who lingered in stairwells trying to overhear adult conversation and who sneaked downstairs to catch my babysitter making out with her boyfriend. As a six-year-old, I blew Santa’s cover after noticing that “his” handwriting on gift labels was just like my dad’s. My mother was aghast to learn I’d told […]

Review of First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci Middle School, High School    Scholastic    150 pp. 11/11    978-0-545-06082-0    $17.99 “Why is the hardest question in the world to answer.” And sixteen-year-old Mal (short for Malcolm) asks why a lot: Why did his father leave? Why did his mother fall apart? Why did aliens abduct him, probe him, […]

Review of The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster; illus. by Jules Feiffer; annotated by Leonard S. Marcus Knopf    284 pp. 10/11   978-0-375-85715-7   $29.99 Library ed. 978-0-375-95715-4   $32.99 If ever there were a twentieth-century children’s book that deserved an annotated edition, it’s Juster and Feiffer’s masterpiece, first published fifty years ago. Filled with […]

Review of Subway Story

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach; illus. by the author Primary    Knopf    40 pp. 10/11    978-0-375-85859-8    $16.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-95859-5    $19.99 Sarcone-Roach displays a discipline not always seen in books about the environment; she allows her theme of reuse and recycling to emerge naturally from a fine story and lets readers draw their own conclusions without […]

Review of Bailey

Bailey by Harry Bliss; illus. by the author Primary    Scholastic    32 pp. 8/11    978-0-545-23344-6    $16.99 Bailey loves school, where he is by far the most popular student. Then again, he is the only dog at Champlain Elementary School. No one can resist a dog who hangs his head out the school bus window, willing the […]

Review of The Princess of Borscht

The Princess of Borscht by Leda Schubert; illus. by Bonnie Christensen Primary    Porter/Roaring Brook    32 pp. 11/11    978-1-59643-515-5    $17.99 Though the book opens with Ruthie and her father at the hospital visiting Ruthie’s grandmother, laid up with pneumonia, this isn’t a coping-with-death book. Bubbe’s not failing, she’s a finagler. Unsatisfied by hospital food (“a person […]

From The Guide: More Good Space Books

Danielle J. Ford writes about “What Makes a Good Space Book?” in this issue. For more recommended space books, see the reviews below, compiled from The Horn Book Guide and The Horn Book Guide Online. For information about subscribing to the Guide and the Guide Online, please visit   Aguilar, David A. 13 Planets: […]