Book Reviews

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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Honey and Me by Meira Drazin

Honey and Me explores the fun and challenge of middle-grade friendship in the context of the Orthodox Jewish community. Honey and Me by Meira Drazin. ...
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How to lead a book discussion without really trying, part 1: The motif journal

Often the best way to do discuss books effectively is to not plan it all out ahead of time. Megan's family started a motif journal ...
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All My Rage by Saaba Tahir

All My Rage, winner of the 2023 Printz Award, follows a pair of Pakistani-American teens from uncertainty through trauma to stability and hope. All My ...
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Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Spare and sensitive, Liar & Spy is a warm-hearted middle-grades story about two lonely boys who form a deep, abiding friendship. Liar & Spy by ...
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Gladys Hunt on Simplicity

Editor's Note: Bored with reading the same picture books over and over? Hang in there--you're teaching little ones to turn pages as well as exercise ...
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The Story of God With Us, The Story of God Our King, and The Forgotten King

Three beautiful picture books emphasize the promise that God will one day dwell with us and that He will restore the glory of His people ...
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*Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan

Dragonfly Eyes is a slowly-unfolding, beautiful picture of family love and loyalty during the stressful days of China’s Cultural Revolution. *Dragonfly Eyes by Cao Wenxuan, ...
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CSK Illlustrator Roundup: Standing in the Need of Prayer, Me and the Boss, and The Talk

The Coretta Scott King award, an prominent part of the annual ALA Youth Media Awards, honors African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for ...
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Bright Island by Mabel Robinson (Retro Reads)

In this "Retro Reads" book, homeschooled Thankful Curtis must leave her beloved island to brave the mainland and boarding school. Bright Island by Mabel Robinson. ...
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Princess of the Wild Sea by Megan Frazer Blakemore

A twist on Sleeping Beauty, Princess of the Wild Sea explores the concept of heroism and the danger and reward of risk-taking. Princess of the ...
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Victory, Stand! by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes

Victory, Stand!, this year's ALA YA nonfiction award winner, tells the story of the notorious "Olympic fist" from a point of view that makes it ...
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In the Blue by Erin Hourigan

In the Blue gently explores what it is like for a child to experience the depression of a loved one. In the Blue by Erin ...
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15 Books for 15-Year-Old Boys: A Book List

15-year-old boys: learning to drive. Wrestling with heavy high school work (10th grade is usually more intense than 9th, in terms of work load). Taking ...
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cover of At Jerusalem's Gate

At Jerusalem’s Gate by Nikki Grimes

At Jersualem's Gate offers poetic meditations on what people involved in the events leading to Christ's resurrection might have thought and felt. At Jerusalem's Gate: ...
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Gladys Hunt on Pigs and Possibilities

Editor's Note: Are there any animal lovers in the family? Gladys Hunt can recommend nine--count 'em, nine--recommendations for a classic story involving not one, but ...
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before music

Before Music: Where Instruments Come From by Annette Bay Pimentel, illustrated by Madison Safer

Where does music come from and how many ways can you make it? Before Music broadens the reader's horizons on the origin and creativity of ...
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*Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

A glorious story of heroism in which a mother's deep love for her children shines brightly. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert ...
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2023 Geisel Award Winner: I Did It! by Michael Emberley

I Did It!, winner of this year’s Geisel Award for early readers, charmingly illustrates a common childhood experience: trying and failing. I Did It! by ...
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Geisel Roundup: A Seed Grows, Fish and Wave, Gigi and Ojiji, Owl and Penguin

The 2023 Theodore Seuss Geisel honors books for beginning readers focus on friendship, family, and nature. A Seed Grows by Antoinette Portia. Neal Porter Books ...
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really radical book for kids

The Really Radical Book for Kids by Champ Thornton

A tremendous follow-up to The Radical Book for Kids, The Really Radical Book for Kids offers plenty of trivia along with plenty of thoughts to ...
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Honey for a Child’s Heart Read Along: Month 7

Welcome to month 7 of our Honey for a Child's Heart Read Along! Not sure what we're talking about? Find out more here. Each month, ...
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Gladys Hunt on Shared Adventures

Editor's Note: This month's Honey for a Child's Heart Read-along chapters are "The Pleasure of a Shared Adventure" and "Animal Lovers." Here's Gladys Hunt with ...
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Bright Star: The Story of Esther by Holly Mackle, illustrated by Marlena Sigman

Bright Star is a lively-written volume in Kaleidoscope's series of Bible storybooks for elementary-age children that adds helpful context to the Scriptural account. Bright Star: ...
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2023 Newbery Winner: Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

Freewater, this year's Newbery Medal winner, is as much an adventure tale as little-known history. Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson. Little, Brown (James Patterson Presents), 2022, ...
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Like Me by Laura Wifler

A young boy recounts a typical day in the life of his family, which includes a younger brother who has physical and mental disabilities. Like ...
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When Winter Robeson Came

When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods

History and a summer adventure combine in an engaging, slim, novel-in-verse for middle grade readers. When Winter Robeson Came by Brenda Woods. Nancy Paulsen Books, ...
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Why Your Church Nursery Needs a Library

The Lord has been challenging my reading skills and assumptions lately, both humbling and teaching me in the process. I had offered to teach a ...
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cover image of who is Jesus

Three books about Jesus: The Darkest Night/The Brightest Day, The Acrostic of Jesus, and Who is Jesus?

Three books from New Growth Press are helpful for teaching children who Jesus is and what he has done for us. The Darkest Night/The Brightest ...
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The Lost Year by Katherine Marsh

The Lost Year uses multiple voices to narrate a sad chapter of history: Stalin’s deliberate starving of Ukraine. The Lost Year: A Survival Story of ...
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cover of my brother is away

*My Brother Is Away by Sara Greenwood

My Brother Is Away offers an empathetic glimpse into what it's like, from the child's perspective, to have a brother (or sister) off in jail. ...
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Gladys Hunt on Raising Readers

Editor's Note: "Literacy" begins long before a child can read for herself. Here, Gladys Hunt muses about how to take those first steps. How do ...
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A Place for Peter by Elizabeth Yates

A Place for Peter is a good choice for boys who are avid readers and enjoy character-driven, literary coming-of-age stories, or families who are looking ...
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The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum

“Hoodie Rosen” introduces teen readers to the Orthodox Jewish world and the reality of antisemitism. The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum. ...
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Caldecott Honor Roundup: Ain’t Burned All the Bright, Berry Song, Choosing Brave, and Knight Owl

This year's Caldecott honor books explore a range of moods from wistful to whimsical. Ain’t Burned All the Bright by Jason Reynolds, illustrated by Jason ...
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Caldecott Medal: Hot Dog by Doug Salati

Hot Dog by Doug Salati. Knopf, 2022. 40 pages. Reading Level: Picture Book, ages 0-4 Recommended for: ages 3-8 Dogs are everywhere these days: in ...
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trafficking books for teens

Trafficking Books for Teens: A Round-Up

I rarely visit a public restroom these days without seeing a notice for women who are in troubling situations: the text usually reads, "Need Help? ...
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Gladys Hunt on Enjoying Poetry with Children

Editor's Note: This month we're reading the two chapters in Honey for a Child's Heart that address poetry. Do you enjoy poetry? Would you like ...
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Love in the Library by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Love in the Library offers a tender picture of humanity and the miracle of love, and hope in the midst of a Japanese internment camp. ...
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The British Are Coming (Young Reader Ed.) by Rick Atkinson

The British Are Coming recounts the first 4 years of the American Revolution in an engaging style, capturing substance and detail. The British Are Coming ...
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Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait by Leonard S. Marcus

Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait is an unusual and touching look at our nation's 16th president through the then-new medium of photography. Mr. Lincoln ...
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Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls by Atinuke

"Too Small Tola" returns in a second volume of this warm-hearted series of Nigerian family life. Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls by ...
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love and laughter

Love and Laughter Book List

A Valentine's Day list of books that celebrate family love and wholesome romance. It’s the season of hearts and flowers and chocolate. Valentine’s Day is ...
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romantic reads for teens

Romantic Reads for Teens: A Book List for Girls and Guys

Enjoy this unapologetic list of romantic reads for teens: great love stories and high romance without LGBTQ elements. For the genre-junkies out there, it's worth ...
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Gladys Hunt on Choosing Mother Goose

Editor's Note: It's a new month--meaning a new chapter in our Honey for a Child's Heart Read-along. Or actually, two chapters: #5: "Poetry" and #22: ...
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Honey for a Child’s Heart Read Along: Month 6

Welcome to month 6 of our Honey for a Child's Heart Read Along! Not sure what we're talking about? Find out more here. Each month, ...
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Windswept by Margi Preus

Windswept is a lovely fantasy/fairy tale of children learning to take on the responsibility of stewardship through story, service, and sacrifice. Windswept by Margi Preus. ...
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The 2023 ALA Youth Media Awards

A Redeemed Reader Tradition This morning, a Redeemed Reader tradition of multiple years continued: listening to the ALA Youth Media Awards. Last year we gathered ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #5: I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You is one of those novels that straddles the line between Newbery age ranges and Printz age ranges. Will it get some ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz Roundup #2: Frizzy, How to Build a Human, and Attack of the Black Rectangles

The American Library Association will announce the winners of its very influential Youth Media Awards, headed by the Newbery and Caldecott. Since we can't help ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #4: Jack Zulu

Does an independently published novel like Jack Zulu have what it takes to win the Newbery? We're back with Newbery Buzz Discussion #4 for 2023. ...
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*A Dragon Used to Live Here by Annette LeBlanc Cate

In a whimsical tale within a tale, two royal children discover that their castle (and their own mother!) have a very interesting past. A Dragon ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #3: Northwind

Might Gary Paulsen's last novel be a sentimental favorite for Newbery recognition? The State of Nature Betsy: Janie, this is only the second Paulsen book ...
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Newbery Roundup #1: Freestyle, Swim Team, and Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

Three novels for middle-grades that may be under consideration for this year's top prize Freestyle by Gale Galligan. Graphix; (Scholastic), 2022, 322 pages. (Ages 10-14) ...
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Poetry on Earwigs (and Also Goats With Beaks)

My husband still teases me about my first poem, which has hitherto never been published. There once was a goatWho lived in a boatHe went ...
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2023 Newbery Buzz #2: The Door of No Return

Back for our second buzz, Janie and Betsy talk over a troubling but moving verse novel. Out of Africa Janie: Kwame Alexander scored a gold ...
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The Lucky Ones by Linda Williams Jackson

In The Lucky Ones, an impoverished family in the rural south takes a big step up during the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960s. The ...
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