What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'Reviews of the Week')

Recent Comments

Recently Viewed

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Tag

In the past 7 days

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Reviews of the Week, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 135
1. Review of Our Moon: New Discoveries About 
Earth’s Closest Companion

scott_our moonOur Moon: New Discoveries About Earth’s Closest Companion
by Elaine Scott
Intermediate   Clarion   72 pp.
2/16   978-0-547-48394-8   $18.99   g

This deep dive into the science of the moon includes explanations of its formation and composition, as well as details about the all-important Apollo missions (1963–1972) and the latest in lunar exploration. Scott begins with a history of human surmise on the moon’s appearance, including the maps of early astronomers. Subsequent chapters provide the latest scientific consensus (known as the “giant impact theory”) on the creation of the moon during the earliest days of the formation of our solar system, the formation of craters and maria, and on the geology of moon materials (the so-called “moon rocks”) that were collected during the Apollo missions. Most exciting is the final chapter, in which lunar missions from 2007 to 2014 — and the scientists who worked on them — are profiled. During this timeframe, scientists have confirmed the presence of water on the moon, examined its dust, atmosphere, and gravitational field, and are currently considering what it would take for humans to live on the moon. Color photos and additional text boxes found on nearly every page are as informative as the main narrative. Appended with an extensive glossary; a brief list of further resources, both online and in print; and an index.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Our Moon: New Discoveries About 
Earth’s Closest Companion appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Our Moon: New Discoveries About 
Earth’s Closest Companion as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Review of Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!

shea_ballet cat dance dance underpantsBallet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants!
by Bob Shea; illus. by the author
Primary   Disney-Hyperion   56 pp.
2/16   978-1-4847-1379-2   $9.99

Dance diva Ballet Cat returns for her second early-reader performance (Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, rev. 7/15), and once again she’s paired with a reluctant partner/friend. Butter Bear likes dancing but draws the line at leaping. Ballet Cat can’t imagine why: “Super-high leaps are the best part of ballet.” Ballet Cat gamely accommodates her pal’s concerns…at first. When Butter Bear resorts to tried-and-true stalling tactics — she’s hungry/thirsty/has to go to the bathroom “in the woods” — normally sunny Ballet Cat cracks. Shea knows how to get maximum expression out of thick black lines. His characters’ pas de deux is choreographed on solid-color backgrounds with a minimum of props, giving new readers a leg up on the energetic and funny speech-bubble text. An audience of “underpants peepers” is what has Butter Bear grounded; Ballet Cat’s perspective — “If you dance with all your heart, the only thing they will see is the beauty of ballet” — 
lifts everyone’s spirits. Underpants are on full display, but “ballet conquers all!” (Shorts under tutus would help, too.)

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Ballet Cat: Dance! Dance! Underpants! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. Review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton

vernick_kid from diamond streetThe Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton
by Audrey Vernick; 
illus. by Steven Salerno
Primary   Clarion   40 pp.
3/16   978-0-544-61163-4   $17.99   g

Edith Houghton was “magic on the field,” a baseball legend of the 1920s. Playing starting shortstop for the 
all-women’s professional team the Philadelphia Bobbies, she drew fans to the ballpark with her impressive offensive and defensive talent. Besides that, Edith was just ten years old; her uniform was too big, her pants kept falling down, and her too-long sleeves encumbered her play. But she was good, and the older players took “The Kid” under their wing. And that’s the real story here, told through Vernick’s conversational text. It’s not so much about the baseball action but the team — barnstorming through the Northwest U.S. playing against male teams; experiencing ship life aboard the President Jefferson on the way to Japan; playing baseball in Japan; and learning about Japanese culture. Salerno’s appealing charcoal, ink, and gouache illustrations evoke a bygone era of baseball with smudgy-looking uniforms, sepia tones, and double-page spreads for a touch of ballpark grandeur. An informative author’s note tells more of Houghton’s story — the other women’s teams she played for, her job as a major league scout for the Philadelphia Phillies, and being honored at the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. An engaging story that reminds readers that “baseball isn’t just numbers and statistics, men and boys. Baseball is also ten-year-old girls, marching across a city to try out for a team intended for players twice their age.”

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Kid from Diamond Street: The Extraordinary Story of Baseball Legend Edith Houghton as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
4. Review of Maybe a Fox

appelt_maybe a foxMaybe a Fox
by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
Intermediate, Middle School   Dlouhy/Atheneum   261 pp.
3/16   978-1-4424-8242-5   $16.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-8244-9   $10.99

Eleven-year-old Jules, a budding geologist, and her twelve-year-old sister Sylvie, the fastest kid in school, live with their father in rural Vermont. Because the girls’ mother died when Jules was small, her memories, frustratingly, are dim. She does remember the awful sight of their mother collapsing onto the kitchen floor, and then six-year-old Sylvie sprinting as fast as she could to get help, but it was too late. And now Sylvie is the one who has disappeared: one morning before school she takes off running in the woods and never comes back; they think she tripped into the river and was swept away. At the same time, a fox kit, Senna, is born, with the instinctual desire to watch over and protect Jules. Because foxes are considered good luck, Jules’s occasional glimpses of Senna bring her some peace. A catamount, too, is rumored to be in the woods, along with a bear, and at book’s climax, the human, animal, and (most affectingly) spirit worlds collide and converge. This is a remarkably sad story that offers up measures of comfort through nature, family, community, and the interconnectedness among them. The sisters’ best friend, Sam, who is himself grieving for Sylvie and desperately longs to see that catamount, is happy to have his brother Elk home from Afghanistan, but Elk’s own best friend Zeke didn’t return, leaving Elk bereft; he and Jules mourn their losses in the woods. Zeke’s grandmother is the one to whom Sylvie ran when their mother collapsed and who now brings soup for Jules, and for her kind, stoic, heartbroken father. A good cry can be cathartic, and this book about nourishing one’s soul during times of great sadness does the trick.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Maybe a Fox appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Maybe a Fox as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!

falatko_snappsy the alligatorSnappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!
by Julie Falatko; illus. by Tim Miller
Primary   Viking   40 pp.
2/16   978-0-451-46945-8   $16.99   g

The omniscient narration begins normally enough: “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.” After a bit more in this vein, Snappsy turns to the reader: “This is terrible!…Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?” So proceeds this book-length sparring match between the exasperated protagonist (“You’re an awful narrator. You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations”) and an offstage storyteller-foil who criticizes Snappsy (“The story is really boring now”), ignores his pleas to scram, and saddles him with unwanted idiosyncrasies, including a predilection for foods that begin with the letter P. The story’s meta aspect, the alligator’s rib-tickling madder-by-the-minute agitation, and the simple primary-color-avoidant illustrations outlined in black may all owe a debt to Mo Willems — but it’s still a pretty terrific book. It’s distinguished by Falatko’s ability to sustain the tension at length; by Miller’s savory palette, largely in underripe greens and purples; and by the unvoiced suggestion that when fiction is working well, a character can take on a life of his or her own.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
6. Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!

falatko_snappsy the alligatorSnappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book!
by Julie Falatko; illus. by Tim Miller
Primary   Viking   40 pp.
2/16   978-0-451-46945-8   $16.99   g

The omniscient narration begins normally enough: “Snappsy the alligator wasn’t feeling like himself.” After a bit more in this vein, Snappsy turns to the reader: “This is terrible!…Why is this rude narrator trying to make it seem like I need a nap?” So proceeds this book-length sparring match between the exasperated protagonist (“You’re an awful narrator. You’re just describing what you see in the illustrations”) and an offstage storyteller-foil who criticizes Snappsy (“The story is really boring now”), ignores his pleas to scram, and saddles him with unwanted idiosyncrasies, including a predilection for foods that begin with the letter P. The story’s meta aspect, the alligator’s rib-tickling madder-by-the-minute agitation, and the simple primary-color-avoidant illustrations outlined in black may all owe a debt to Mo Willems — but it’s still a pretty terrific book. It’s distinguished by Falatko’s ability to sustain the tension at length; by Miller’s savory palette, largely in underripe greens and purples; and by the unvoiced suggestion that when fiction is working well, a character can take on a life of his or her own.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Snappsy the Alligator: Did Not Ask to Be in This Book! as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
7. Review of Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather

lin_ling and ting together in all weatherstar2 Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather
by Grace Lin; illus. by the author
Primary   Little, Brown   44 pp.
11/15   978-0-316-33549-2   $16.00

In this fourth book in the sweet and funny easy-reader series (Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same, rev. 7/10, and sequels), six brief chapters take the twins through the 
seasons, together. In the first story, a thunderstorm finds them hiding under a blanket: they are not scared, just 
“surprised.” On a hot summer day they sell all their 
lemonade — to each other. Raking leaves has to be done all over again, since first Ting’s red hat and then Ling’s might be at the bottom of the pile (later in the book, Ling’s hat turns up, at first mistaken for an unusual spring flower). In the winter, Ting claims to be sick so she can avoid shoveling snow; Ling’s recipe for some “old Chinese medicine” (a smelly simmering of onions, ginger, dirt, an old sock, etc.) drives a suddenly recovered Ting out of bed, snow shovel in hand. The final story finds the twins looking for a rainbow and finding two. “They are twin rainbows!” says Ting. “Just like us!…We are so lucky to be together!” As always, the girls’ personalities shine through in both text and illustrations (and Ting is still differentiated by her jagged bangs). Each chapter employs a different-color border around the bold gouache illustrations, giving the book a predictable and unifying visual structure. An artist’s note says, “The color palette was inspired by the sudden appearance of a bright rainbow on a gray, glum day.” That’s how the whole book feels.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Ling & Ting: Together in All Weather as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
8. Review of Amazing Places

hopkins_amazing placesAmazing Places
selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins; illus. by Chris Soentpiet and 
Christy Hale
Primary, Intermediate   Lee & Low   40 pp.
10/15   978-1-60060-653-3   $18.95

The amazing places mentioned in the title of this poetry collection are all in the United States, with their locations marked on a map on the endpapers. The specificity of the places is a real strength of this compilation, with each of the fourteen poems centering on one particular location and the experience of being there. The focus is as much on people as on scenery, with many of the poems written in the first person, as with Janet Wong’s “Campfire,” set in Denali National Park: “Just think— / when Mother was my age, / she could build a fire / with sparks from rocks.” The art shows the mountain range in sunset colors, with firelight creating a cozy spot for mother and daughter to connect. While some poems are set in nature (Prince Redcloud’s “Niagara”; Nikki Grimes’s “Tree Speaks,” about Grand Canyon National Park), others are about historical sites, like Joseph Bruchac’s poem set in a longhouse at the Oneida Nation Museum in Wisconsin. Soentpiet and Hale combine their talents to showcase the special elements of a place (size or majesty or vibrancy) as well as the response of people to it, conveying powerful emotion and interactions through facial expressions and body language. Hopkins has gathered together an impressively diverse and talented group of poets for this polished and inspiring collection, which concludes with additional information about the places in the poems and source notes.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Amazing Places appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Amazing Places as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
9. Review of The Red Hat

teague_red hatThe Red Hat
by David Teague; 
illus. by Antoinette Portis
Primary   Disney-Hyperion   40 pp.
12/15   978-1-4231-3411-4   $16.99

With a nod to Albert Lamorisse’s film The Red Balloon, and with much of its tenderness, this fable-like story tells of Billy Hightower, whose isolated life atop “the world’s tallest building” changes when another skyscraper is built alongside it and Billy catches a glimpse of “the girl in the red hat.” Billy longs to communicate with the girl, but his various attempts fail, repeatedly foiled by the wind. First the wind snatches away Billy’s words, then it derails his paper-airplane missive. Finally it pulls Billy himself (wrapped in a parachute-like red blanket) off his building and into the sky, and deposits the boy on a noisy, gritty, confusing city street. Undaunted, he finds his way to the girl’s tower and is united with her. The ever-present antagonist here is the wind, pictured as a glossy, lightly embossed, swirling pattern on each page, a turquoise line against the restrained palette of black, white, taupe, sky-blue, and crimson. Teague’s rhythmical and unadorned text is fleshed out by Portis’s graphically arresting compositions. The color red, for example, has its own character and plot: the temporary roadblock of a red light, the welcoming red carpet, the subtly recurring shape of a red heart. When this love story ends with the words “The Beginning,” we believe it.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Red Hat appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Red Hat as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Review of Dylan the Villain

campbell_dylan the villainDylan the Villain
by K. G. Campbell; illus. by the author
Primary   Viking   40 pp.
2/16   978-0-451-47642-5   $17.99   g

“‘Congratulations,’ said the doctor. ‘It’s a healthy little super-villain!’” Sweet, unsuspecting new parents Mr. and Mrs. Snivels are surprised by this development (and by the fact that they just “happened to have a baby”), but not disappointed. They tell their son Dylan, born wearing a purple mask and a fiendish expression, that he’s “the very best and cleverest super-villain in the whole wide world!” Dylan thinks so, too, until he goes to school and meets Addison Van Malice (sporting blue Princess Leia–style hair and a swashbuckling eye patch), who out-evils Dylan at every turn. Campbell’s soft-focus illustrations — rendered in watercolor and colored pencil on tea-stained paper — give all the characters personality, even those without speaking roles. The classroom of small villains is a hoot, and there are lots of dastardly details in the not-at-all-villainous art. The well-paced narrative’s comedic timing reinforces the absurdity of the premise. When a “most diabolical robot”–building contest is announced, Dylan seizes the chance to prove he’s more fiendish than Addison: “That hideous trophy…will be mine! All MINE!” And it is, after Dylan accidentally-on-purpose sends Addison and her menacing robot into space. And that’s that…or is it? In a satisfying twist, the final pages give Addison the last “MU-HA-HA-HA!!”

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Dylan the Villain appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Dylan the Villain as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
11. Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem

viorst_what are you glad aboutWhat Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem
by Judith Viorst; illus. by Lee White
Primary, Intermediate   Dlouhy/Atheneum   102 pp.
2/16   978-1-4814-2355-7   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-2355-1   $10.99

Viorst’s most famous book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and this collection of over fifty poems expresses the same wry humor and sharp observation about the range of feelings children experience in their everyday lives. Viorst plays with school subjects such as reading, writing, and “arithmetrick” (in the “School Stuff” section), and there are poems about competition with friends (the “Friends and Other People” section), bossy moms (“About the Family”), and the mystery of time sometimes seeming fast and sometimes slow. But the strongest poems go to the heart of feelings, such as worrying: “I like the sun hot on my back. / If killer sharks did not attack, / I’d like beaches.” One especially poignant piece deals with breaking up with a best friend: “We’ve never had an argument, or even a small fuss, / But I’m not my best friend’s best friend anymore.” White’s illustrations bring zany humor to the poems, and even sometimes add their own little twist, as in “Whoops,” where a poem about trying to reach something high up is pictured with someone reaching for a treasure chest on the back of a dragon. From a riff on The Sound of Music (“My Least Favorite Things”) to a clever poem pondering the purpose of toes, this collection will delight kids and the adults who read it aloud, too.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem

viorst_what are you glad aboutWhat Are You Glad About? What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person Needs a Poem
by Judith Viorst; illus. by Lee White
Primary, Intermediate   Dlouhy/Atheneum   102 pp.
2/16   978-1-4814-2355-7   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-2355-1   $10.99

Viorst’s most famous book is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and this collection of over fifty poems expresses the same wry humor and sharp observation about the range of feelings children experience in their everyday lives. Viorst plays with school subjects such as reading, writing, and “arithmetrick” (in the “School Stuff” section), and there are poems about competition with friends (the “Friends and Other People” section), bossy moms (“About the Family”), and the mystery of time sometimes seeming fast and sometimes slow. But the strongest poems go to the heart of feelings, such as worrying: “I like the sun hot on my back. / If killer sharks did not attack, / I’d like beaches.” One especially poignant piece deals with breaking up with a best friend: “We’ve never had an argument, or even a small fuss, / But I’m not my best friend’s best friend anymore.” White’s illustrations bring zany humor to the poems, and even sometimes add their own little twist, as in “Whoops,” where a poem about trying to reach something high up is pictured with someone reaching for a treasure chest on the back of a dragon. From a riff on The Sound of Music (“My Least Favorite Things”) to a clever poem pondering the purpose of toes, this collection will delight kids and the adults who read it aloud, too.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of What Are You Glad About? 
What Are You Mad About?: Poems for When a Person 
Needs a Poem as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses

hitchcock_smell of other people's housesThe Smell of Other People’s Houses
by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Middle School, High School   Lamb/Random   228 pp.
2/16   978-0-553-49778-6   $17.99
Library ed. 978-0-553-49779-3   $20.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-553-49780-9   $10.99

Through sensory details that viscerally evoke the story’s physical and emotional landscapes, readers are transported to 1970s Birch Park, Alaska, where hunting and fishing are both livelihood and way of life for most families. As the book’s title suggests, richly described scents are pervasive. Sixteen-year-old Ruth associates the smell of freshly cut deer meat with her happy early-childhood home, in sharp contrast to the clinical, Lemon Pledge–clean of Gran’s house, where she and her sister have been raised in rigid austerity since their father’s death. A wealthy family’s lake house smells of cedar, while the heavily trafficked Goodwill “smells like everyone’s mud room in spring…moldy and sweaty.” Four distinct first-person narrative voices — no small feat — breathe life into the adolescent protagonists, whose engaging individual stories, thematically linked by loss and yearning throughout the seasons, are enriched by their intersections. Escaping her alcoholic father’s abuse and mother’s neglect, Dora finds a welcome haven in the bustling energy of Dumpling’s family’s fish camp. A few stolen nights with handsome Ray Stevens lands Ruth scared, alone, and pregnant on a bus to Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, an abbey with unexpected ties to her family. While some character crossings strain credulity, all the story lines are grounded in emotional honesty.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Smell of Other People’s Houses as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Review of Here Comes Valentine Cat

underwood_here comes valentine catHere Comes Valentine Cat
by Deborah Underwood; 
illus. by Claudia Rueda
Preschool   Dial   88 pp.
12/16   978-0-525-42915-9   $16.99   g

Valentine’s Day has its haters, and Cat (Here Comes the Easter Cat, rev. 3/14, and sequels) is one of them. Cat can’t think of anyone to grace with a Valentine, and new neighbor Dog doesn’t seem a likely candidate, what with all the bones he annoyingly keeps lobbing over the fence. Using this series’ trademark format — offstage narrator addresses nonverbal Cat, who responds with humorous placards and body language — the book shows Cat’s escalating plans against Dog (starting, but not ending, with a few not-so-sweet Valentines), and then shows that Dog may not deserve such poor treatment. Rueda’s ink and colored-pencil illustrations, surrounded by white space, once again convey lots of information via Cat’s facial expressions and other simple cues. Young listeners should enjoy the simply delivered misunderstandings, as well as the opportunities to yell emphatically at the main character (“You can’t send Dog to the moon!”).

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Here Comes Valentine Cat appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Here Comes Valentine Cat as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Review of The Inker’s Shadow

say_inker's shadowThe Inker’s Shadow
by Allen Say; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School, High School   
Scholastic   80 pp.
10/15   
978-0-545-43776-9   $19.99   g

This “patchwork of memories” (“and memories are unreliable, so I am calling this a work of fiction made of real people and places I knew”) sequel to Drawing from Memory (rev. 9/11) takes the fifteen-year-old Allen to Glendora, California, where he is enrolled in what seems to have been a distinctly mediocre military academy run by one of his (miserable) father’s old friends. That doesn’t go very well, and Allen soon finds himself, happily, enrolled in a regular high school, taking classes at an art institute in Los Angeles, and working part-time in a printing shop. Throughout, Kyusuke, Allen’s scapegrace comic-strip alter ego created by his revered Sensei, accompanies him in his imagination. Befitting adolescence, the tone here is sometimes sulky, even sarcastic, but, truth be told, Say can be so deadpan that it’s difficult to know when he’s kidding. The illustrations are a pleasing combination of watercolor cartoon panels — neat and nimble executions of the teen’s days — and black-and-white sketches that evoke what he was drawing at the time. Together, the two combine to provide an engaging and thoughtful view of the intersection of art and life.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of The Inker’s Shadow appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of The Inker’s Shadow as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
16. Review of My Seneca Village

nelson_my seneca villagestar2 My Seneca Village
by Marilyn Nelson
Middle School, High School   Namelos   88 pp.
11/15   978-1-60898-196-0   $21.95
Paper ed. 978-1-60898-197-7   $11.95
e-book ed. 978-1-60898-198-4   $9.95

Seneca Village in Manhattan was founded in 1825 by free African Americans; by 1857 it had been razed to make way for the construction of Central Park. In forty-one poems Nelson spans the life of the village through the imagined reflections of its inhabitants. Some we meet just once, while others reappear: Epiphany Davis, forecaster of the future; Frederick Riddles, schoolboy turned soldier; and Sarah Matilda White, hair-braider and gossip. Most of the characters are African American, with a few Irish and German immigrants who also made their home there. Through a range of poetic forms and voices, Nelson communicates the desires, fulfillments, and disappointments of the village residents, along with episodes from daily life and larger historical incidents such as the Shakespeare 
Riot and an address by Frederick Douglass (italicized historical notes help contextualize events). Poems appear on right-hand pages and are prefaced by brief text on the left — reminiscent of stage directions — that helps set the scene (“We’re in Sarah’s kitchen again. The woman whose hair she is braiding looks very shocked”) and knit a light narrative from the chronologically sequential poems. Nelson’s natural and musical poetic lines (mostly in iambic pentameter) suggest reading aloud yet are accessible on the page and lend themselves to multiple reading experiences: as history; as story; as poetry, to be read sequentially or browsed and revisited. The drab cover is unfortunate, but readers who get past it will find one of Nelson’s finest works.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of My Seneca Village appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of My Seneca Village as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
17. Review of Oskar and the Eight Blessings

simon_oskar and the eight blessingsOskar and the Eight Blessings
by Richard Simon and Tanya Simon; illus. by Mark Siegel
Primary, Intermediate   Roaring Brook   40 pp.
9/15   978-1-59643-949-8   $17.99

In 1938, the last night of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Eve, and for a young Jewish refugee in Manhattan, both holidays provided blessings. Following Kristallnacht, Oskar’s parents had put him on a boat to New York with just the name and address of his aunt; his walk from the harbor takes him more than a hundred blocks up Broadway. Along the way he encounters friendly and helpful strangers, Macy’s Christmas windows, and Count Basie and Eleanor Roosevelt (whose historical presence in the city that night is confirmed in an author’s note). The changing light of the day and developing snow are beautifully conveyed in the illustrations, an engaging blend of large and small panels paced to echo the starts and stops and blessings of Oskar’s (successful) journey. An appended map of Manhattan details the route and visually reprises the gifts Oskar receives along the way.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Oskar and the Eight Blessings appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Oskar and the Eight Blessings as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
18. Review of Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark

hopkinson_courage and defiance 2Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark
by Deborah Hopkinson
Middle School   Scholastic   339 pp.
9/15   978-0-545-59220-8     $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-59222-2   $17.99

When Germany invaded Denmark in April 1940, the Nazis believed their small neighbor to the north would be a pushover. The Germans were partially right: the Danish government pretty much rolled out the red carpet for Hitler’s army. What no one foresaw was the way many Danes, angered by their leaders’ capitulation, would fight back. Some, like Tommy Sneum, spied on the Germans and fed intelligence to the British; others, like Niels Skov, sabotaged German vehicles and weapons; countless others worked together to warn and aid Danish Jews before they could be rounded up by the Nazis. Hopkinson pulls together these narratives, and others, with some truly propulsive storytelling (just try to put the book down during the tale of Sneum’s harrowing night flight across the English Channel) and great attention to the humanity involved. This will surely garner comparisons to Hoose’s The Boys Who Challenged Hitler (rev. 7/15), and while there is plenty of overlap between the two in terms of subject matter, Hopkinson’s account is a little broader in scope; where Hoose keeps a tighter narrative focus, Hopkinson opts for multi-player storytelling (and two helpful sections in the excellent back matter — “About Danish,” a pronunciation guide; and the self-explanatory “People in this book” — help readers navigate the material). Well-balanced and attractively designed (save for a few too many segments of text interrupted by full-page photo spreads), this is another strong showing from the reliable Hopkinson. A selected chronology, maps, bibliography, source notes, and photo credits are appended; index unseen.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and 
Survivors in World War II Denmark as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
19. Review of On the Ball

pinkney_on the ballOn the Ball
by Brian Pinkney; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Disney-Hyperion   32 pp.
9/15   978-1-4847-2329-6   $17.99

Pinkney’s latest picture-book offering begins on a soccer field, then takes flight as a young boy’s imagination soars. The opening text reads, “Owen loved playing ball,” and the accompanying illustrations show a boy first dribbling and then tripping over a soccer ball, because “playing ball…didn’t always love Owen.” Pinkney employs loose black ink brushstrokes accented with swabs of color that recall the style of his contemporary Chris Raschka to visually convey movement. This sense of motion is crucial to the success of the story, which has the intrepid Owen “chase down” the ball when it gets away from him. Fantastical scenarios show the ball floating away through the water, as Owen transforms into a merman; next rolling into “tangled bushes” with a now tiger-shaped Owen pursuing it. When the ball bounces off a cliff, Owen sprouts wings and flies after it, then finally brings it (and himself) back down to earth on the soccer field. Triumphant, a “fierce” and loose Owen now floats and flies through the game, having learned a lesson about focus and determination through a story that also offers an artful, subtle message about the importance of perseverance in life.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of On the Ball appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of On the Ball as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
20. Review of City of Halves

inglis_city of halvesCity of Halves
by Lucy Inglis
Middle School, High School   Chicken House/Scholastic   361 pp.
11/15   978-0-545-82958-8   $17.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-83054-6   $17.99

While on reconnaissance for her lawyer father in the City of London, sixteen-year-old Lily is viciously attacked by a two-headed dog and discovers the existence of the other half of the City she thought she’d known all her life. Tall, “eerily beautiful” Regan saves her life with a transfusion of his blood, which miraculously heals her wounds. Lily is plunged into the world of the City’s unseen, inhuman inhabitants, the Eldritche, at a dangerous time when young girls are disappearing and monsters are at large; an ancient prophecy concerning Lily and Regan is coming to pass. The historically distinct City of London, surrounded by an ancient Roman wall and gates, is a perfect setting for Inglis’s credible blending of the mythological and modern and her appealingly extraordinary protagonists. A deft hacker, Lily follows leads for the missing girls into dangerous situations, from which Regan, Guardian of the Gates, rescues her more than once. Slowly unraveling mystery, fast-paced action, and preternatural romance will leave readers eager for the clearly projected sequel.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of City of Halves appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of City of Halves as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
21. Review of Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game

coy_game changerGame Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game
by John Coy; illus. by Randy DuBurke
Primary, Intermediate   Carolrhoda   32 pp.
10/15   978-1-4677-2604-7   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4677-8810-6   $17.99

Based closely on a 1996 New York Times article by Scott Ellsworth, this picture book tells the dramatic story of an illegal college basketball game planned and played in secret in Jim Crow–era North Carolina. On a Sunday morning in 1944, while most Durham residents, including the police, were in church, the white members of the Duke University Medical School basketball team (considered “the best in the state”) slipped into the gym at the North Carolina College of Negroes to play the Eagles, a close-to-undefeated black team coached by future Hall of Famer John McClendon. What happened when “basketball of the present” (Duke’s three-man weaves and set shots) met “basketball of the future” (the Eagles’ pressure defense and fast breaks) is suspenseful, dramatic, and telling: the Eagles beat Duke 88–44. Afterward, pushing the boundaries even further, the players evened up the teams for a friendly game of shirts and skins. Coy’s succinct narrative is well paced, compelling, and multilayered, focusing on the remarkable game but also placing it in societal and historical context. DuBurke’s illustrations can be static at times but nicely capture the story’s atmosphere, from the tension of the Duke players’ covert arrival to the basketball action to the post-game geniality and then back to tension (since all parties, including several newspaper reporters, had to pledge to keep the day’s events secret to protect themselves and Coach McClendon). A fascinating story, with appeal far beyond sports- and history fans; appended with an author’s note, a timeline, and a brief bibliography.

From the November/December 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Game Changer: John McLendon and the Secret Game as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
22. Review of I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, 
and Taste It, Too!)

isadora_i hear a pickle2I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, and Taste It, Too!)
by Rachel Isadora; illus. by the author
Preschool   Paulsen/Penguin   32 pp.
1/16   978-0-399-16049-3   $16.99   g

Starting with a clever, attention-grabbing title, Isadora’s book about the five senses is aimed perfectly at another sense — kids’ sense of humor. Separate sections, beginning with sound and ending with taste, visit each sense in double-page spreads that contain small vignettes of children exploring their world, both indoors and out. Brief sentences describe what each child hears, smells, sees, touches, or tastes. Frequent statements about what the child doesn’t sense add levity: “I see the turtle’s shell but I don’t see the turtle”; “I don’t smell. I have a cold.” Interjections throughout, printed in italics, add read-aloud pleasure: “I touch my brother’s foot. Hee-hee. / I don’t touch my boo-boo. Ouch! / I don’t touch the plug. No-no!” Certain items are revisited in different sections: “I don’t hear the snow falling…I see the snow. I don’t see my mitten.” Delicate ink and watercolor illustrations on white backgrounds nicely elicit a young child’s point of view, such as when a girl peering over a counter can just barely see the pizza she smells. The final page wraps things up by going back to the titular pickle in all its sensory glory: “I taste the pickle. / It’s sour,” and so on until “I hear the pickle…CRUNCH!” Be sure to have a jar of baby dills on hand for this one.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, 
and Taste It, Too!) appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of I Hear a Pickle (and Smell, See, Touch, 
and Taste It, Too!) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. Review of Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

rowell_carry onCarry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow
by Rainbow Rowell
High School   St. Martin’s Griffin   522 pp.
10/15   978-1-250-04955-1   $19.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4668-5054-5   $9.99

In Fangirl (rev. 11/13), protagonist Cath wrote fanfiction for the fictitious “Simon Snow” fantasy series. Now Rowell has written a novel set in Simon Snow’s universe and using many conventions of fanfiction, most notably “slash” (in this case non-graphic), usually defined as a wish-fulfilling relationship between two characters of the same sex who, in the original work, are not a romantic couple. Simon, the most powerful mage in centuries, uncovers secrets during his final year at Watford School of Magicks that call into question his long-held beliefs about sharp lines between good and evil. He also begins to realize that his obsession with his probably-a-vampire roommate Baz may not be purely antagonistic. The novel is longer than it needs to be — just kiss already, Simon and Baz — and the many alternating narrators are a little dense when it comes to solving several related mysteries. But there’s plenty to enjoy along the way, including clever names for spells (“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” makes oddities like dragon parts on a human unnoticeable) and plenty of wit. Reading Fangirl first isn’t strictly necessary — the brief author’s note covers the basics — and the metatextual concept is somewhere on the spectrum between confusing and fascinating, depending on one’s perspective. A working knowledge of the Harry Potter books and other popular fandoms isn’t absolutely essential either, but it makes this send-up a lot more fun.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
24. Review of A Year Without Mom

tolstikova_year without momstar2 A Year Without Mom
by Dasha Tolstikova; 
illus. by the author
Middle School   Groundwood   168 pp.
10/15   978-1-55498-692-7   $19.95
e-book ed. 978-155498-693-4   $16.95

Tolstikova’s illustrated memoir recounts the time when her mother relocated to America for graduate school and she, twelve years old, was left in the care of her grandparents in Moscow. Through present-tense narration, readers follow Dasha’s experiences chronologically as she navigates both specific and universal rites of passage, including uncertainty during the 1991 coup d’état attempt and distress when she learns that her crush, older boy Petya, has a girlfriend (who smokes cigarettes, no less!). Pencil and ink illustrations, in mostly whites and grays, emphasize the chilly setting. Color is used sparsely but to great emotional effect: bright reds on cheeks represent characters’ embarrassment; dark, smudgy grays dominate in moments of heartache. Most of the dialogue is in the same type as the main narrative but separated from it through thin speech bubbles drawn around characters’ statements. Hand-lettered text (sometimes incorporating Cyrillic) evokes mood as well, as seen when Dasha listens to her mother’s words (a letter left for her as a cassette recording) and they surround her, reflecting her longing. The author includes authentic details (including how the Russian grading system works) and, with personality and sincerity, 
creates an accessible, truthful, and relatable record for readers of a different generation.

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of A Year Without Mom appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of A Year Without Mom as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
25. Review of Murphy in the City

provensen_murphy in the cityMurphy in the City
by Alice Provensen; 
illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary   Simon   32 pp.
11/15   978-1-4424-1971-1   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4814-1832-4   $10.99

The small, busy, curious, noisy farm terrier from A Day in the Life of Murphy (rev. 7/03) is on his way to the big city with his family for a day of adventures (visits to a dog park and a doggie boutique) and misadventures (wandering off and a resultant brief stay at the animal shelter). Murphy’s unbounded energy is reflected in bustling city scenes that often include multiple images of Murphy; one particularly effective 
double-page spread contains three stacked horizontal panels in which a progression of Murphys explores a crowded and fascinating sidewalk — humans seen only from the knees down — after his accidental escape out the back door of the doggie boutique. This sense of motion and energy is 
reinforced in the all-caps typeface and in the endpapers — a riot of paw prints going every which way — not to mention Murphy’s own spiky fur, hyper-alert gazes, and many BARK BARK BARKs. The arc of the story, from early-morning enthusiasm to late-night exhaustion, will be both satisfying and familiar to children, who often follow that same arc in their own lives. After such a hectic and exciting day full of new sights, sounds, and experiences, everyone will be happy that Murphy ends up back home, curled up in the hay in the barn with his familiar toys: “Dear sock, good old bone, good old stick. / Sigh. / Good night.”

From the January/February 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

The post Review of Murphy in the City appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Review of Murphy in the City as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts