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Five questions for Ilyasah Shabazz with Renée Watson

Malcolm X’s daughter Ilyasah Shabazz presented a fictionalized account of her father’s young-adulthood in 2015’s X: A Novel (Candlewick, 14 years and up; written with Kekla Magoon). Her new book, Betty Before X (Farrar, 11–14 years), written with 2018 CSK Author Award winner Renée Watson, and with a younger audience in mind, explores the life […]

Love, friendship, and fashion

For Valentine’s Day, here are some new YA stories featuring friendship, romance, purported space aliens, and fabulous fashion. See also Katrina Hedeen and Rachel L. Smith’s 2013 Horn Book Magazine article: “What Makes a Good YA Love Story?” Edan, star of Cecil Castellucci’s Don’t Cosplay with My Heart, is a devotee of the (fictitious) comic […]

Fantastic (graphic-novel) voyages

These engaging new graphic-novel adventures draw intermediate and middle-school readers in to fantastical worlds that are variously beautiful and bizarre. The Sand Warrior kicks off the 5 Worlds series, a sweeping, sci-fi/fantasy graphic-novel saga written by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel and illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun. Three kids from very […]

Review of A Sky Full of Stars

A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson Middle School    Houghton    307 pp.    g 1/18    978-0-544-80065-6    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-328-82907-8    $16.99 In this sequel to Midnight Without a Moon (rev. 1/17), thirteen-year-old Rosa Lee Carter, part of a struggling sharecropper family in segregated mid-1950s Mississippi, continues her search for self. In the first book, […]

Review of A Skinful of Shadows

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge Middle School, High School    Amulet/Abrams    415 pp. 10/17    978-1-4197-2572-2    $19.99 Hardinge’s (The Lie Tree, rev. 5/16) latest tour de force is set during the reign of King Charles I against the backdrop of the 1600s English Civil War and is, as unlikely as it sounds, something of a […]

Review of Older than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth

Older than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth by Don Brown and Mike Perfit; illus. by Don Brown Intermediate, Middle School    Houghton    104 pp.    g 9/17    978-0-544-80503-3    $18.99 An extended conversation between a science-savvy groundhog and a new-to-Earth’s-history worm features a comprehensive overview of the geological past of our planet. The graphic format, […]

Review of La Belle Sauvage

La Belle Sauvage [The Book of Dust] by Philip Pullman Intermediate, Middle School    Knopf    451 pp. 10/17    978-0-375-81530-0    $22.99 Library ed.  978-0-553-51072-0    $25.99 e-book ed.  978-0-553-51073-7    $11.99 Baby daemons are just as adorable as you’d think, and when it’s baby Lyra’s baby daemon we’re talking about — well, you could write a book. Set a […]

Review of A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield Middle School, High School    Clarion    196 pp.    g 1/18    978-0-544-78513-7    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-328-69904-6    $9.99 This readable, compelling history explores the longstanding and deeply rooted causes of the 1919 Chicago Race Riot, which left thirty-eight people dead and 537 wounded (two-thirds of […]

Review of Victoria: Portrait of a Queen

Victoria: Portrait of a Queen by Catherine Reef Middle School    Clarion    246 pp. 11/17    978-0-544-71614-8    $18.99 Fans’ obsession with Victorian England seems never-ending, yet how much do young Victorianaphiles know about the real woman who gave the period its name? Coming to the rescue is veteran biographer Reef (Ernest Hemingway, rev. 9/09; Florence Nightingale, rev. […]

Fantastic(al) heroines of color

These new entries in YA speculative fiction series starring kickass young women of color explore perspectives on cultural and ethnic identity — while providing glimpses of (often frightening) potential futures and alternate realities grounded in our present. Ambelin Kwaymullina concludes The Tribe, her fantasy trilogy of what she terms “Indigenous futurism,” with The Foretelling of […]