Book Reviews

2024 Newbery Buzz #1: A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

A First Time For Everything has already won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Could it also win the Newbery? We're kicking off ...
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What It’s Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley

What It’s Like to Be a Bird is an endlessly browsable resource for budding birdwatchers by a well-known authority in the field. What It’s Like ...
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We Are Branches by Joyce Sidman

We take branches for granted, but have you ever considered what a wise design they are, with so many applications in nature? We Are Branches ...
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Behold the Octopus! by Suzanne Slade

With text that is both simple and detailed, and with beautiful illustrations, Behold the Octopus introduces a fascinating ocean creature. Behold the Octopus! by Suzanne ...
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Evergreen by Matthew Cordell

Evergreen is the story of a fearful young squirrel who learns bravery on her quest to obey her mother and deliver soup to ailing Granny ...
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Hidden Hope by Elisa Boxer

Hidden Hope tells of a brave young lady who smuggled papers in a child's toy to save lives during World War II. Hidden Hope: How ...
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YA Fantasy: Murtagh, Theft of Sunlight, & Wind Daughter

A rapid fire round up of three YA fantasy novels that belong to bigger worlds: Murtagh, A Darkness at the Door, and Wind Daughter. Murtagh ...
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Mooses with Bazookas by S. D. Smith

Mooses with Bazookas is a light-hearted, funny romp through humorous letters and stories; they remind us not to take ourselves too seriously! Mooses With Bazookas ...
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Back to the Bright Before by Katherin Nolte

Back to the Bright Before is a touching tale that mixes medieval imagery with a contemporary story of guilt and redemption. Back to the Bright ...
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Remember Us by Jacqueline Woodson

Remember Us is a quiet novel that ponders the conundrum of change and permanence. Remember Us by Jacqueline Woodson. Nancy Paulsen Books (PRH), 2023, 192 ...
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Two Picture Books on Words and Storytelling: Sholem’s Treasure and The Language of Angels

The Language of Angels and Sholem’s Treasure illustrate how great an influence word and history has had on Jewish culture. The Language of Angels: A ...
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*Daughter of Arden Trilogy by Loren Warnemuende

The Daughter of Arden Trilogy is an epic retelling of an older fairy tale; in its new version, strong echoes of Christian faith mingle with ...
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*Journey to Bethlehem by Leland Ryken

Journey to Bethlehem is a lovely anthology of historic Christmas poetry, hymns, and devotionals. Starred review! *Journey to Bethlehem: A Treasury of Classic Christmas Devotionals ...
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Niche Nonfiction for Teens (AKA “Living Books”): A Book List

Living Books Are Full of Ideas Those of us in Charlotte Mason educational philosophy circles like to talk about "living books." A living book is ...
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Babble! And How Punctuation Saved It

Babble! is a short, lively, memorable story that SHOWS writers understand the importance of those little indicators. Babble! And How Punctuation Saved It by Caroline ...
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Tomfoolery! by Michelle Markel

Tomfoolery! tells the story of Randolph Caldecott, the iconoclastic illustrator who lent his name to the prestigious award. Tomfoolery! Randolph Caldecott and the Rambunctious Coming-of-Age ...
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*Saving H’Non: Chang and the Elephant by Trang Nguyen

Saving H'Non beautifully employs a graphic-novel format to tell the true story of an animal rescue and faithful human stewardship. *Saving H’Non: Chang and the ...
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Janie’s Favorite Books, Old and New

We are excited to be partnering with Story Glory Kids for our Winter Book Fair this year! In the past, we linked to amazon for ...
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Hayley’s Favorite Books, Old and New

We are excited to be partnering with Story Glory Kids for our Winter Book Fair this year! In the past, we linked to amazon for ...
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All of a Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins and Paul O. Zelinsky

All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah is a fun way to introduce this Jewish holiday to young children. All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. ...
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The Winterton Deception 1: Final Word by Janet Sumner Johnson

Final Word introduces the Winterton family, dictionary magnates with lots of money and plenty of secrets to hide. The Winterton Deception 1: Final Word by ...
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Megan’s Favorite Books, Old and New

We are excited to be partnering with Story Glory Kids for our Winter Book Fair this year! In the past, we linked to amazon for ...
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Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust is a suitable introduction for grades 2-4 to this terrible chapter in history. Hidden: A Child’s Story of ...
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Betsy’s Favorite Books, Old and New

We are excited to be partnering with Storyglory Kids for our Winter Book Fair this year! In the past, we linked to amazon for all ...
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*Watership Down: The Graphic Novel by Richard Adams, James Sturm, and Joe Sutphin

The graphic-novel version of Watership Down combines the dramatic force of the original story with winning art. *Watership Down: The Graphic Novel by Richard Adams, ...
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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Bruno is a 9yo German boy living during World War II who isn't happy with his father's new work assignment until he makes a friend ...
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Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith & Boulet

Calvin and Hobbes meets the Nickelodeon channel to retell Beowulf in a colorful, creative, graphic novel. Bea Wolf by Zach Weinersmith & Boulet. First Second, ...
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Christian Christmas Picture Books Round-Up

Christian Christmas Picture Books Round-Up: Holy Night and Little Star, 'Twas the Night, The Nativity, and The Animals Speak Today we're highlighting Christian Christmas picture ...
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Traditional Christmas Picture Books: A Roundup

The Chimney Problem, the decorating dilemma, a pesky pigeon, and a reformed Grinch take center stage in four new Christmas picture books. Those of us ...
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Tomie DePaola Christmas Picture Books Round-Up

Tomie DePaola Christmas Picture Books Round-Up Tomie DePaola was a truly prolific (and much beloved) picture book creator. His illustrations are recognizable anywhere. We're only ...
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The Hiding Place, A Christmas Carol, Hinds Feet on High Places, and Les Miserables: An Engaging Visual Journey

The four books in the Engaging Visual Journey series provide beautiful, dignified forms to stories that are dearly loved spiritual classics. The Hiding Place by ...
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A Stubborn Sweetness by Katherine Paterson

"A Stubborn Sweetness" is one of 15 short stories that celebrate the truth, beauty, and goodness of the real meaning of Christmas. A Stubborn Sweetness ...
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Children of Israel: Our Book List of Jewish Life, History, and Culture

The terrifying attack on Israel on October 7 has brought new awareness to the ancient phenomenon of antisemitism. Though small in number (and reduced by ...
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*Memories of Survival by Esther Nisenthal Krinitz and Bernice Steinhardt

A Jewish woman who lived through World War II in Poland and had to hide in order to survive tells her story through fabric and ...
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Wicked History Series: Henry VIII, Leopold II, and Rasputin

A Wicked History: A nonfiction book about a historical figure who was, well, wicked! Nonfiction series for the middle school age-range vary quite a bit ...
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Nothing Else but Miracles by Kate Albus

Nothing Else but Miracles features a spunky and imaginative protagonist making the most of hardships on the WWII home front. Nothing Else but Miracles by ...
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A Walk in the Woods by Nikki Grimes and Jerry Pinkney

A Walk in the Woods features Jerry Pinkney’s last illustrations in a sensitive portrayal of childhood grief. A Walk in the Woods by Nikki Grimes, ...
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Music for the End of Time by Jen Bryant

Music for the End of time is a picture book biography, a story of hope found through creating beauty in the midst of affliction. Music ...
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diary of anne frank

Which Version of The Diary of Anne Frank Is Best?

A lengthy post in which Betsy seeks to answer some of the many questions she and the RR team have received over the past several ...
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The Weary World Rejoices, edited by Melissa Kruger

The Weary World Rejoices is a collection of Advent readings from the Gospel Coalition that relate to the Advent wreath. For teens and up. The ...
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Awaiting the Manger by Ocieanna Fleiss

Awaiting the Manger, an Advent devotional for teens and up, uses stories from the Old Testament to point to the coming of Jesus. Awaiting the ...
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He Came Down From Heaven by Laurel Sauder

He Came Down From Heaven offers 25 days of biblical readings and cultural enrichment for families who celebrate Advent. He Came Down From Heaven: A ...
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*Enemies in the Orchard by Dana VanderLugt

In Enemies in the Orchard, an American girl and a German POW discover a shared humanity among the tragedy of war. *Enemies in the Orchard ...
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*The Miracle Seed by Martin Lemelman

The Miracle Seed tells the amazing story of how a tree extinct for a millennium came back to life. *The Miracle Seed by Martin Lemelman. ...
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*Seeds of America Trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Seeds of America Trilogy powerfully examines some of the complex ideas of the American Revolution: freedom, justice, and equality for all. Seeds of America ...
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Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Fever 1793: Yellow fever sweeps through Philadelphia, challenging young Mattie to the core in this historical fiction novel for young teens. Fever 1793 by Laurie ...
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Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke

Ben Hatke’s graphic novel Things in the Basement takes an intrepid protagonist through centuries of art and symbolism. Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke. ...
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*The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo

The Puppets of Spelhorst is a bittersweet fairy tale with engaging characters and an enthralling conclusion. *The Puppets of Spelhorst: A Norendy Tale by Kate ...
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The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day

The Mona Lisa Vanishes tells of an astonishing theft while tracing the background of the world’s most famous painting. The Mona Lisa Vanishes: A Legendary ...
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Retro Reads: The Rescuers by Margery Sharp

The Rescuers by Margery Sharp offers fun, old-fashioned storytelling that bears little resemblance to the Disney movie. The Rescuers by Margery Sharp, illustrated by Garth ...
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Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, 20th Anniversary Edition

Those who love dragons and long for more lore will find this field guide an excellent companion. Dragonology: The Complete Book of Dragons, 20th Anniversary ...
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*Jumper: A Day in the Life of a Backyard Jumping Spider by Jessica Lanan

A girl and a spider share adventures. Don't overlook this masterpiece of creation that probably lives in your own backyard. *Jumper: A Day in the ...
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*The Vanderbeekers Ever After by Karina Yan Glaser

The Vanderbeeker family faces their greatest challenge yet in this last volume of a beloved series. The Vanderbeekers Ever After by Karina Yan Glaser. Clarion ...
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While Everyone Is Sleeping by Sarah Mackenzie

While Everyone Is Sleeping is a sweet bedtime book, perfect for cozy nights. While Everyone Is Sleeping by Sarah Mackenzie and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard. ...
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*Charis in the World of Wonders by Marly Youmans

Charis in the World of Wonders is a richly satisfying novel of a young Puritan woman who learns much about the world and herself through ...
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100 Things to Know About Inventions by Clive Gifford

A fun, visual book about the history of inventions and some relationships between them, ideal for those who are mechanically minded. 100 Things to Know ...
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Chinese Menu by Grace Lin

Chinese Menu traces the origin of everybody’s favorite Chinese dishes, from wonton soup to rice fortune cookies. Chinese Menu: The History, Myths, and Legends behind ...
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The Brilliant Calculator: How Mathematician Edith Clarke Helped Electrify America by Jan Lower

The Brilliant Calculator is a good introduction to a woman engineer whose work allows us to communicate better. For that, I am grateful. The Brilliant ...
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*William’s House by Ginger Howard

Wouldn't it make sense that a house built in the style of a home in England would work just as well in America? *William's House ...
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Code of Silence and Back Before Dark by Tim Shoemaker

A heart-pounding mystery series, with hidden twists and turns at every corner and a powerful message. Note: this is a guest review. See below for ...
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Impossible Christianity by Kevin DeYoung

Impossible Christianity is a breath of fresh air for those Christians feeling weighed down by false guilt over unbiblical expectations. Impossible Christianity by Kevin DeYoung. ...
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Gertie: The Darling Duck of WWII by Shari Swanson

A sweet story about a mother duck whose unusual nesting spot provided a welcome diversion from from the war, both in local news and beyond. ...
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Impossible Escape by Steve Sheinkin

Impossible Escape tells the story of one determined teenager who survived Auschwitz and became one of the first to reveal details of the Holocaust. Impossible ...
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The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall by Ali Standish

The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall series imagines the mysterious education of a classic mystery writer. The Improbable Tales of Baskerville Hall by Ali Standish. ...
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Maps, by Eleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Maps is an oversize and endlessly browseable collection of hand-drawn maps of most of the world. Maps by Eleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. Candlewick, 2013, ...
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God, You Are by William R. Osborne

God, You Are introduces young children to God’s character and attributes in a warm devotional setting. God, You Are: 20 Promises from the Psalms for ...
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*The Carver and the Queen by Emma Fox

An adventurous fairy tale set in Imperial Russia, perfect for teens who enjoy books like The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis. *The Carver and ...
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5 Ways to Encourage Art Appreciation with Picture Books

When are children old enough to begin appreciating quality art? As soon as they start looking at picture books. Note: even though this post references ...
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The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

The Lost Library is thin on theme, but warm hearted and family-friendly. The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass. Feiwel and Friends, 2023, ...
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What came from the stars

What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt

What Came From the Stars is mysterious, offering hope for those grieving and illuminating the strange power of art. What Came From the Stars by ...
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Dust by Dusti Bowling

Dust is the story of an asthma sufferer challenged to “use her breath” to fight a wrong. Dust by Dusti Bowling. Little, Brown, 2023, 328 ...
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YA Graphic Novels: Graceling, Cheshire Crossing & Lore Olympus

A rapid fire round up of three YA graphic novels for mature teen readers. Graceling by Kristin Cashore, adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Clarion ...
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Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef

In the tradition of Susan Cooper, a lyrical, dark fantasy for mature middle grade readers. Once There Was by Kiyash Monsef. Simon & Schuster Books ...
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SmART: Use Your Eyes to Boost Your Brain by Amy E. Herman

SmART, a young-reader version of the best-seller Visual Intelligence, employs art as a way of teaching observation and interpretation. SmART: Use Your Eyes to Boost ...
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authority vs anarchy book list

Authority vs. Anarchy: A Book List for Teens

Authority vs. Anarchy: Opposites? Two sides of the same coin? Romans 13 reminds us to obey our governing (civic) authorities. Exodus 20 and Ephesians 6 ...
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The Switch by Roland Smith

A 13-year-old boy must help his large family survive an ElectroMagnetic Pulse in The Switch. The Switch by Roland Smith. Scholastic, 2022, 303 pages. Reading ...
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Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan

Sparrow Being Sparrow introduces a likeable heroine with some impulsive ways that are open to correction. Sparrow Being Sparrow by Gail Donovan, illustrated by Elysia ...
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Beneath the Swirling Sky by Carolyn Leiloglou

Vincent and his cousin Georgia travel through the Corridor and art masterpieces to rescue Vincent's little sister while trying to undo the villainous efforts of ...
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ancient literature

Reading Ancient Literature with High School Students

Some of us love ancient literature, especially the great Homeric epics. Others shudder at the thought. I'm in the former camp, but I haven't always ...
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Stuff Kids Should Know by Clark and Bryant

Stuff Kids Should Know draws from a popular podcast to detail the fascinating histories behind some everyday realities. Stuff Kids Should Know: The Mind-Blowing Histories ...
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The Story of Gumluck the Wizard by Adam Rex

Gumluck the Wizard is a charming chapter-book character with some humorous misapprehensions. The Story of Gumluck the Wizard (Book One) by Adam Rex. Chronicle Books, ...
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Nonfiction Picture Books: We Are Starlings, Great Carrier Reef, The Book of Turtles

We Are Starlings: Inside the Mesmerizing Magic of a Murmuration by Robert Furrow & Donna Jo Napoli, illustrated by Marc Martin. Random House Studio, 2023, ...
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quicksilver

Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson

In an engaging sci-fi thriller, one girl attempts to outrun her past while discovering her true identity. Quicksilver by R. J. Anderson. Carolrhoda Lab, 2013. 320 ...
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ultraviolet cover

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson

A first-person psychological thriller inside one young woman's remarkable consciousness. Ultraviolet, by R. J. Anderson. Carolrhoda Lab, 2011, 303 pages.  Reading Level:  Young Adults, Ages 14-upRecommended ...
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Starboard by Nicola Skinner

Starboard takes a young reality-TV star on an involuntary voyage of self-discovery. Starboard by Nicola Skinner. Harper 2023 (US edition), 398 pages. Reading Level: Middle ...
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Portraits of Faith: *Pilipinto and God’s Servant Ruth

A missionary daughter in the 20th century and a pagan-born woman of ancient Israel offer two inspiring examples of faithfulness in difficult circumstances. *Pilipinto: The ...
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My Head Has a Bellyache and More Nonsense by Chris Harris

Poems about nail clippings, sausages, and page numbers?! Yes, and many more. My Head Has a Bellyache and More Nonsense by Chris Harris, illustrated by ...
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Most of P. G. Wodehouse book cover

The Most of P. G. Wodehouse by P. G. Wodehouse

An excellent introduction to P. G. Wodehouse via his short stories and one delightful novella. The Most of P.G. Wodehouse by P. G. Wodehouse, Touchstone, 2000.  ...
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Teaching the Faith: *The Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism

A new edition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism uses cartoon illustrations as an aid to understanding and discussion. *The Illustrated Westminster Shorter Catechism in Modern ...
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A Kid’s Guide to Backyard Bugs by Eliza Berkowitz

Fascinating, familiar specimens of insects AND arachnids are found in this lovely guide for young naturalists. A Kid's Guide to Backyard Bugs by Eliza Berkowitz, ...
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How to Stay Invisible by Maggie C. Rudd

In How to Stay Invisible, an abandoned boy attempts to make it on his own and discovers he needs other people. How to Stay Invisible ...
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Mr. Darcy & Miss Tilney Mysteries (Books 1 & 2) by Claudia Gray

Mysteries involving Jane Austen characters? That is the premise of Claudia Gray's recent mystery series suitable for mature teen readers as well as adults. As ...
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Ginny Off the Map by Caroline Hickey

In Ginny off the Map, a geography-obsessed sixth-grader learns to meet people where they are and find “true north” in her own family. Ginny Off ...
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*Hope in the Valley by Mitali Perkins

Hope in the Valley captures one girl’s momentous summer as she processes grief, grapples with change, and finds her own voice along the way. *Hope ...
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The McNifficents by Amy Mckechnie

The McNifficents are a family of rambunctious kids corralled by a perceptive and conscientious Schnauzer. The McNifficents by Amy Makechnie. Simon & Schuster, 2023, 310 ...
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The Windeby Puzzle: History and Story by Lois Lowry

The Windeby Puzzle is half history and half story: Lowry allows young readers to peer behind the curtain into the process of creating a work ...
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In the Tunnel by Julie Lee

In the Tunnel takes readers into the savagery and family upheaval of the Korean War . In the Tunnel by Julie Lee. Holiday House, 2023, ...
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Race against Death by Deborah Hopkinson

Race against Death surveys the fall of the Philippines during WWII, the fate of American prisoners left there, and the bold plan to rescue them ...
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Comics: Whys, Hows, and Wherefores

(Originally published at Redeemed Reader on November 27, 2013) Most kids enjoy comics or their upscale cousins, graphic novels.  Of those who enjoy them, many ...
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cover of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Gladys Hunt on Re-issues: Good, Bad, and Ugly

A story betrayed Originally published on the Tumblon website January 29, 2010 It’s sometimes like wandering into unknown territory if you’ve had favorite books in ...
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