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Review of Betty Before X audiobook

Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz with Renée Watson; read by Ilyasah Shabazz Intermediate, Middle School    Macmillan Young Listeners    Rev. 3/18 4 CDs    4.5 hrs.    978-1-4272-9368-8    $29.99 Long before she was the wife of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz was a girl growing up in 1940s Detroit within a solid churchgoing community engaged in the fight […]

Review of Louisiana’s Way Home

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo Intermediate    Candlewick    230 pp.    g 10/18    978-0-7636-9463-0    $16.99 Readers first met Louisiana Elefante in Raymie Nightingale (rev. 3/16) as the orphaned daughter of famous trapeze artists and as one of the Three Rancheros, a steadfast trio of young friends who vowed to always have one another’s backs. In this […]

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 Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground

Zora and Me: The Cursed Ground by T. R. Simon Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    261 pp.    g 9/18    978-0-7636-4301-0    $16.99 This second novel featuring a young Zora Neale Hurston and her friend Carrie Brown is once again set in the girls’ hometown of Eatonville, Florida, in 1903, less than forty years after the end of […]

Review of Merci Suárez Changes Gears

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina Intermediate, Middle School    Candlewick    361 pp.    g 9/18    978-0-7636-9049-6    $16.99 Working-class Cuban American girl Mercedes “Merci” Suárez’s life in South Florida consists of spending time with her extended family and attending elite Seaward Pines Academy, where the sixth grader does community service to pay for her tuition. Now […]

Review of The Sinking of the Vasa

The Sinking of the Vasa by Russell Freedman; illus. by William Low Primary, Intermediate    Godwin/Holt    40 pp.    g 8/18    978-1-62779-866-2    $18.99 Freedman (posthumously) tells the story of the Swedish warship Vasa, from its tragic sinking to its eventual recovery and restoration as a museum piece. Sweden’s King Gustav II Adolf commissioned the Vasa, intended to […]

Review of Sunny

Sunny [Track] by Jason Reynolds Intermediate, Middle School    Dlouhy/Atheneum    163 pp. 4/18    978-1-4814-5021-8    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-5023-2    $10.99 As in Reynolds’s two previous novels in the Track series (Ghost, rev. 11/16; Patina, rev. 11/17), sports aren’t really the point here — certainly not for Sunny, the team’s best miler, who decides, just as he’s about […]

Review of Waylon!: Even More Awesome audiobook

Waylon!: Even More Awesome by Sara Pennypacker; read by Christopher Gebauer Intermediate    Recorded Books    Rev. 11/17 3 CDs    2.5 hrs.    978-1-5019-8150-0    $10.45 Fourth grader Waylon and his classmate Baxter (“the closest thing to a juvenile delinquent [Waylon] had ever encountered”) are dog lovers with a problem: if they don’t find a permanent home for Dumpster […]