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To Inform and Delight: The Elements of Story — The Zena Sutherland Lecture

Salutations! I am honored to be here with all of you. I never met Zena Sutherland, but she’s been described as “short and feisty,” and I like short and feisty women, especially, as in Zena’s case, ones with passion and panache. When Zena was offered the job to become editor and sole reviewer for the […]

Review of The Champions’ Game: A True Story

The Champions’ Game: A True Story by Saul Ramirez, 
as told to John Seidlitz Middle School    Canter Press    152 pp.    g 5/17    978-0-9977402-4-0    $21.99 Paper ed.  978-0-9977402-3-3    $14.99 In 2010 Saul Ramirez got a job as an art teacher at Henderson Middle School in an impoverished neighborhood in El Paso, Texas. Chess was another of […]

Review of Genuine Fraud

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart High School    Delacorte    265 pp. 9/17    978-0-385-74477-5    $18.99 Library ed.  978-0-375-99184-4    $21.99 e-book ed.  978-0-385-39138-2    $10.99 As soon as Lockhart’s latest intoxicating psychological thriller (We Were Liars, rev. 5/14) opens in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, readers will be perversely enamored of eighteen-year-old narrator Jule. She’s cold — sociopathic, even — […]

Review of Rapunzel

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin; illus. by the author Primary    Peachtree    32 pp. 10/17    978-1-68263-003-7    $16.95 Woollvin (Little Red, rev. 3/16) offers another wryly comic rewrite of a Grimms favorite, updating it with a can-do, self-rescuing heroine — there’s no prince in sight. Rapunzel resides in a tower, trapped by a witch who visits daily to […]

Review of Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México

Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México by Duncan Tonatiuh; illus. by the author Primary, Intermediate    Abrams    32 pp. 8/17    978-1-4197-2532-6    $18.95 e-book ed.  978-1-68335-110-8    $15.54 Tonatiuh (Separate Is Never Equal, rev. 7/14; Funny Bones, rev. 11/15) tells the story of Amalia Hernández (1917–2000), founder of Mexico’s most famous dance company, El Ballet […]

Review of Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen by Debbi Michiko Florence; illus. by Elizabet Vuković Primary    Farrar    115 pp. 7/17    978-0-374-30410-2    $15.99 Paper ed.  978-0-374-30834-6    $5.99 e-book ed.  978-0-374-30412-6    $4.25 Jasmine’s favorite holiday is New Year’s. Relatives gather at her home in Los Angeles to celebrate, and her beloved Obaachan comes all the way from Japan to visit. […]

Review of Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals by Mo Willems; illus. by the author Preschool    Hyperion    32 pp. 5/17    978-1-4847-6746-7    $15.99 An offstage narrator addresses listeners using the language of the hospitality industry: “THANK YOU FOR JOINING US. / Your arrival has been anxiously awaited…PLEASE / ENJOY YOUR STAY.” Our world is presented as a cruise […]

Review of You Bring the Distant Near

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins High School    Farrar    305 pp.    g 9/17    978-0-374-30490-4    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-0-374-30491-1    $9.99 In 1973 the Das sisters, Tara and Sonia, with their mother Ranee, join their father in New York City. Ranee is determined that her family will take advantage of the opportunities America offers even […]

Review of Miles Morales

Miles Morales by Jason Reynolds Middle School, High School    Marvel/Disney    263 pp.    g 8/17    978-1-4847-8748-9    $17.99 e-book ed.  978-1-368-00137-3    $10.99 In this tale based on a 2011 Marvel comic, sixteen-year-old Miles Morales is Spider-Man, but his spidey-sense feels broken, and he isn’t feeling much like anyone’s hero. Black and Puerto Rican, he’s from a “neighborhood […]

Review of Home in the Rain

Home in the Rain by Bob Graham; illus. by the author Primary    Candlewick    32 pp. 6/17    978-0-7636-9269-8    $16.99 Francie and her pregnant mom are driving home from Grandma’s in a bucketing rain — perilously, it feels. When their little red car is forced off the highway by a huge truck, they (safely) pull off into […]