Subscribe to The Horn Book

Family ties

Maya Angelou wrote, “Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” For many teens, adolescence includes contending with changing sibling relationships. Four new novels explore the joys and challenges of these shifting dynamics. Suzette and Lionel, the protagonists of Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion, are close teen step-siblings in a happy, blended, […]

Review of The Emperor’s Ostrich

The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry Intermediate, Middle School    Roaring Brook    276 pp. 7/17    978-1-59643-958-0    $16.99 e-book ed.  978-1-59643-959-7    $9.99 A beloved farm animal, a perpetually messy young man, a missing boy emperor, and a sturdy heroine are at the center of Berry’s lively literary fairy tale, a loving homage to Lloyd Alexander and his […]

Review of Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali Middle School, High School    Salaam/Simon    328 pp. 6/17    978-1-4814-9924-8    $18.99 e-book ed.  978-1-4814-9926-2    $10.99 Sophomore Janna Yusuf, a hijab-wearing Flannery O’Connor devotee, knows that the world is full of “saints,” “monsters,” and “misfits.” She considers herself the last, not quite sure where she belongs within her post-divorce family […]

Review of This Impossible Light

This Impossible Light by Lily Myers Middle School, High School    Philomel    343 pp. 6/17    978-0-399-17372-1    $17.99 Fifteen-year-old Ivy Lewis is a straight-A student who takes comfort in the familiar predictability of her sophomore year. Her father has moved out, her mother is slipping further into depression, her brother has left for college, and her best […]

Review of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth; illus. by Ekua Holmes Intermediate, Middle School, High School    Candlewick    50 pp. 3/17    978-0-7636-8094-7    $16.99 The title of this innovative poetry collection comes from Lucille Clifton, who wrote, “Poems come out of wonder, not out of […]

Challenge your students to activism

I was too young in the 1960s to join the activist movement, and the narrow-minded family in which I grew up wouldn’t have tolerated it. But I feel as if I’ve been given a second chance. Today’s political and social atmosphere simply won’t let me be silent to the injustices I see being committed all […]

Review of Felix Yz

Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker Intermediate, Middle School    Viking    283 pp. 6/17    978-0-425-28850-4    $16.99 Thirteen-year-olds may sometimes seem like alien creatures, but how often do you meet one with an actual alien inside? Meet Felix Yz (pronounced like “is”). When Felix was three, his scientist father was vaporized in a lab accident and Felix himself […]

Outta this world

In these middle-grade and middle-school science-fiction novels, aliens variously come in peace or seek to destroy humanity — but either way, their existence forces characters to ponder deep philosophical questions and experience life-changing journeys. Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth begins with narrator Prez Mellows (who is electively mute) opening the front […]

Review of Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves [Queen’s Thief] by Megan Whalen Turner Middle School, High School    Greenwillow    339 pp.    g 5/17    978-0-06-256824-3    $17.99 Library ed.  978-0-06-256825-0    $18.89 e-book ed.  978-0-06-256827-4    $9.99 Turner’s eagerly awaited fifth Queen’s Thief novel (beginning with The Thief, rev. 11/96) displays in full her many fortes: ingenious […]

Review of Garvey’s Choice

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes Intermediate, Middle School    WordSong/Boyds Mills    108 pp. 10/16    978-1-62979-740-3    $16.95 e-book ed.  978-1-62979-747-2    $7.99 In a little book of little poems, Grimes tells a big-hearted story of Garvey (named after Marcus Garvey), an overweight boy tormented by name-calling at school: “lard butt, fatso, Mister Tubs.” Of his size, he says, […]