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Review of On a Sunbeam

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden; illus. by the author High School    First Second/Roaring Brook    537 pp. 10/18    978-1-250-17814-5    $32.99 Paper ed.  978-1-250-17813-8    $21.99 This serial webcomic turned epic graphic novel tells Mia and Grace’s story in two alternating, far-future timelines, each initially distinguished by a different limited palette. In the first timeline, depicted in […]

Foreseeable futures

Speculative fiction can provide an effective vehicle for authors to comment on and critique the state of our own world. The following new YA novels examine timely social issues in new settings, whether far-flung galaxies or uncomfortably close-to-home dystopian societies. (And by the way, did you know The Hunger Games just celebrated its tenth publication […]

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. […]

Beyond the world we know | Class #4, 2018

This week’s topic is “Beyond the World We Know” — a category that encompasses an extensive range of books, from magical realism to science fiction to the far-away places of other worlds. Jane Langton’s classic piece on fantasy from the 1973 Horn Book, “The Weak Place in the Cloth” provides an apt and lovely metaphor […]

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 […]

Review of Warcross

Warcross by Marie Lu High School    Putnam    357 pp. 9/17    978-0-399-54796-6    $18.99 One minute Emika Chen is a hacker and bounty hunter in a futuristic New York City, struggling to make ends meet, and the next minute — after she’s hacked into Warcross, the phenomenally popular virtual reality game — she’s on a private jet […]

Outta this world

In these middle-grade and middle-school science-fiction novels, aliens variously come in peace or seek to destroy humanity — but either way, their existence forces characters to ponder deep philosophical questions and experience life-changing journeys. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth begins with narrator Prez Mellows (who is electively mute) opening the front […]

Review of The Wild Robot

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown; illus. by the author Intermediate    Little, Brown    279 pp. 4/16    978-0-316-38199-4    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-0-316-38201-4    $9.99 When five shipping crates from a doomed ship crash ashore on a deserted island, only one of them — 
containing our robot protagonist — is lucky enough to survive undamaged. ROZZUM unit 7134 […]

Peter Brown on The Wild Robot

In our May/June 2016 issue, our editors asked Peter Brown about thematic similarities between his 2014 BGHB Picture Book Award–winning picture book Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and his new sci-fi Robinsonade The Wild Robot. Read the full review of The Wild Robot. Horn Book editors: Though it’s a very different book, there are similarities in […]

The Campaign for Shiny Futures

When Roger Sutton asked me why science fiction for teens did not get the same attention or respect as fantasy, I wanted to throw up my hands and say, “Because it’s written by the ignorant, published by the ignorant, and reviewed by the ignorant — present company included.” Here’s why. The notion that SF for […]