Book Reviews

cover of Chains

*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: 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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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 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 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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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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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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Summer Fun Ahead: a Picture Book Tour

(Originally published at Redeemed Reader on May 21, 2013) The Not-for-Parents Travel Book, Lonely Planet Publications, 2011, 207 pages.  Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 ...
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Alternative Physics: Larklight

(Originally posted at Redeemed Reader on July 27, 2013) The Larklight Trilogy, by Philip Reeve, decorated throughout by David Wyatt: Larklight (2006), Starcross (2007), Mothstorm ...
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Batter Up! Books About Baseball (a Librarian’s List)

(Originally published at Redeemed Reader on May 27, 2013; updated July, 2023) Aside from the beach, nothing says "summertime" and "American" more than a game ...
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Talking About Money

(Originally published at Redeemed Reader on June 1, 2012) We think of summertime as beach days, catch-up-on-our-reading days, vacation days, camp days (more on that ...
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Beach Books! (Librarians’ List)

Originally published at Redeemed Reader on June 6, 2014. Of course a professional book reviewer and librarian takes books with her to the beach—for herself ...
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*Land of Hope by Wilfred McClay

Land of Hope offers a balanced, positive, and often inspiring view of American history--now available in student workbook, teacher's guide, and young-reader editions! *Land of ...
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Gladys Hunt on Stellar Historical Fiction

Editor's Note: We're wrapping up our Honey for a Child's Heart Read-along with Chapter 19, on historical novels. Sarah, Plain and Tall Series Originally published ...
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High School World Literature: A Thematic Approach

High School World Literature: What to Cut? "World literature" can mean literally any book ever written. The hard part of planning a world literature class ...
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When Clouds Touch Us by Thanhhà Lai

When Clouds Touch Us follows up the award-winning Inside Out and Back Again with the further adventures of a Vietnamese refugee family in the 1970s. ...
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Buffalo Flats by Martine Leavitt

Buffalo Flats takes readers to the Northwest Territory of Canada, for an unforgettable story of spiritual growth and romance. Buffalo Flats by Martine Leavitt. Margaret ...
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*Nearer My Freedom by Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge

Nearer My Freedom uses the actual text of an 18th-century memoir to create a poetic account of an extraordinary life story. *Nearer My Freedom: The ...
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The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

The Magician's Elephant is a delicately written (and illustrated) fairy tale of one boy's longing for family, one girl's longing for home, and an elephant ...
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*Arthur, the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland

The lavishly-illustrated Arthur the Always King communicates the doomed majesty of the Arthurian legend. *Arthur, the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Chris Riddell. ...
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American Born Chinese by Gene Yuen Yang

American Born Chinese is a coming-of-age story with great spiritual insight in graphic novel format. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. FirstSecond, 2021 (reprint). ...
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Enter the Body by Joy McCullough

Enter the Body engages three tragic heroines of Shakespeare in a discussion of love, oppression, and what they might have done differently. Enter the Body ...
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The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson

Noting one important consideration, The Firefly Summer is an enjoyable light read with a theme of family solidarity. The Firefly Summer by Morgan Matson. Simon ...
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Songs of America by Jon Meacham and Tim McGraw

Songs of America takes an interesting approach to American history—tracing our story through popular tunes and lyrics. Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest, and the Music ...
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Gladys Hunt on Diversity

“Teacher, do you have any books with pictures of kids that look like me?” Originally published on the Tumblon website, October 10, 2009 Probably more ...
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Big Tree by Brian Selznick

Big Tree, by best-selling author-illustrator Brian Selznick, attempts to capture the wonder of creation without a Creator. Big Tree by Brian Selznick. Scholastic, 2023, 525 ...
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*The Labors of Hercles Beal by Gary Schmidt

The title character of The Labors of Hercules Beal works through his grief by duplicating, in contemporary terms, the 12 "labors" of his mythical namesake. ...
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Picture Books to Make You Think: Twenty Questions, Bucket of Questions, Wants vs. Needs vs. Robots, and The Tree and the River

Four new picture books raised questions and stimulate discussion for readers ages 3-12. Twenty Questions by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson. Candlewick, 2023, 32 ...
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Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Sunshine is the true story of a young man finding joy amid sorrow at a summer camp for seriously-ill children. Sunshine: How One Camp Taught ...
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Two Books about Sexuality for Kids and Teens

Books about sexuality for kids and teens are not new, but these days, it's getting harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Well-meaning titles ...
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*Make Way by Angel Burke Kunkel

Make Way tells the story of a very famous family of ducks, the man who made them famous and the woman who made them a ...
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Abandon Ship by Michael J. Tougias

Abandon Ship! tells the little-known story of a World War II sea disaster with a surprising twist. Abandon Ship! The True World War II Story ...
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The Book That No One Wanted to Read by Richard Ayoade

What if a book writes itself, but is determined that no one should actually read the final product? The Book That No One Wanted to ...
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Button Pusher by Tyler Page

Button Pusher is the graphic-novel memoir of a boy who struggled with ADHD before learning to manage it. Button Pusher by Tyler Page. First Second, ...
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The Guardian Test by Christina Soontornvat

The Legends of Lotus Island series follows a child of destiny as she seeks to pass “The Guardian Test.” The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus ...
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Gladys Hunt on Getting Them to Sleep

Go to Sleep Books Originally posted on the Tumblr Website, June 23, 2009 A new mother told me that her baby received four copies of ...
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The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri: A Book Discussion

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams by Daniel Nayeri: Betsy and Janie Discuss Betsy: Janie, you and I both (eagerly) received advance ...
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*Bright April by Marguerite De Angeli

Themes of loving nature, loving one's neighbor, and loving Truth are woven through Bright April, a story that gracefully handles racism and the dignity of ...
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Practical Graduation Gifts: A Book List

We have a robust list of book recommendations for graduation gifts. Why another? This book list is all about practical graduation gifts: books that offer ...
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*A Little More Beautiful by Sarah Mackenzie

Lou Alice loves to make the world a little more beautiful. But what happens when she's old and bedridden? *A Little More Beautiful by Sarah ...
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Do Not Be True to Yourself by Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung reminds young adults to be true to Christ and His church, not true to their own selves, in this short, engaging read. Do ...
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Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen

In Iceberg, a 12-year-old stowaway experiences history's worst maritime disaster. Iceberg by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Scholastic, 2023, 339 pages. Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12 ...
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Nonfiction Picture Books: Concrete; Luminous; The Animal Toolkit; The Universe in You; Digestion: The Musical

Outstanding picture books from 2022 feature the story of a ubiquitous building material, unusual animals, basic particle physics, and a different take on the topic ...
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Gladys Hunt on Taking Notice

Editor's Note: The Honey for a Child's Heart Read-Along is focusing this month on Chapter 7 ("Honey from the Rock") and Chapter 23 ("Nourishing Your ...
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School Trip by Jerry Craft

School Trip, a companion novel to Newbery-winning New Kid, launches the Riverdale Academy students on a tour of Paris. School Trip by Jerry Craft. Quill ...
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A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

In A First Time for Everything, Caldecott Medalist Dan Santat looks back on a life-changing tour of Europe as a 13-year-old. A First Time for ...
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Not an Easy Win by Chrystal D. Giles

Not an Easy Win is the encouraging story of a displaced young man finding purpose and life lessons in the game of chess. Not an ...
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How to lead a book discussion without really trying, part 2: The book club

Often the best way to do discuss books effectively is to not plan it all out ahead of time. Megan's family started with a motif ...
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3 Picture Books about Friendship and Positivity

Silver Linings and The Bright Side showcase a positive attitude, while Friends beyond Measure puts a clever, mathematical spin on childhood best friends. Silver Linings ...
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Noticing by Kobi Yomada

Noticing, a picture book for tweens and older, beautifully illustrates the point that “One of the best things you can be is interested.” Noticing by ...
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The Silence of Bones by June Hur

Can Seol figure out what happened to her brother even as she investigates a murder? The Silence of Bones is a gritty, historical mystery for ...
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