Betsy and Janie are continuing their discussion of possible 2016 Newbery Award winners. On deck today is a novel by a debut author which has already been honored as a National Book Award finalist. Janie: I heard someone mention lately that most of the children’s books getting the rave reviews this year seem to be […]
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. Razorbill, 2006. 336 pages Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-15 Recommended for: ages 15-up Bottom Line: Since its publication in 2006, 13 Reasons Why has become the go-to novel on the subject of teen suicide, but it’s more sensational than useful. Suppose, when you get home from school one […]
These are dark days. I received an email this week expressing familiar anguish over the haunting reports of 21 followers of Christ who were martyred by ISIS. “I am so grieved by the reports I hear, and I’ve had a hard time explaining to my children (without freaking them out) why we need to pray. […]
NOTICE: Our giveaway of this title is now over. Thanks to everyone who entered! *The Green Ember by S. D. Smith, illustrated by Zach Franzen. Story Warren Books, 2014. 368 pages. Bottom Line: The Green Ember is animal fantasy at its best, filled with gripping action and heartwarming rabbits, all deeply informed by the Christian […]
*Tuck Everlasting (40th Anniversary Edition) by Natalie Babbitt, forward by Gregory Maguire. Square Fish, 2015. 192 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 Bottom Line: Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt’s masterpiece first published 40 years ago, is as timeless as its title characters. Time is holding still in the town of Treegap: the first week of […]
The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane Evans. Little, Brown, 2014. 319 pages, including notes and glossary. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10 Maturity Level: 4 (ages 10-12) and up Bottom Line: Though it deals with the tragic recent history of Darfur, Sudan, The Red Pencil makes an alien culture and distant […]
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire. Candlewick, 2014. 496 pages. Reading Level: Young Adult, ages 12-14 Maturity Level: 5 (ages 12-15) and up Bottom Line: Egg and Spoon casts itself as historical legend, making rich use of centuries of Russian heritage, but passes over the most profound heritage of all. Life can’t get much worse […]
If You’re Reading This, by Trent Reedy. Scholastic, 2014. 296 pages. Reading Level: Young Adults, ages 12-15 Maturity Level: 6 (ages 15-18) One-line Summary: If You’re Reading This is a moving YA novel about a father establishing a relationship with his son after the father’s death in Afghanistan. For Michael Wilson, life is an endless […]
The Great Trouble: a Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel, by Deborah Hopkinson. Knopf, 2013, 247 pages with historical notes. Reading Level: Middle Grades, Ages 8-10 Maturity Level: 4 (Ages 11-12) London, 1854: “Eel,” at 13, is on his way up after a brief career as a mudlark, when he […]
I Kill the Mockingbird, by Paul Acampora. Roaring Brook Press, 2014, 177 pages. Reading level: Middle grades, ages 11-12 Maturity level: 4 (ages 11-12) and up Lucy and her friends Elena and Michael are cemented by the lasting ties of book-fandom. They all love books, but not necessarily the same ones. Michael, for instance, has […]
Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge. Candlewick, 2003, 116 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, 10-12 Maturity Level: 5 (Ages 12-15) One-line Summary: Kevin, age 15, learns to deal with difficult life issues by expressing his thoughts in poetry. An entertaining introduction to poetry forms. Shakespeare himself doesn’t have much to do with it; it’s all […]
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