Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from June 8–12 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Speak, by Louisa Hall
In the near future, children, mostly girls, become so attached to their babybots—lifelike, speaking dolls—that the bots are banned. After the babybots are gathered up and shipped to the desert, the children start to stutter and then to freeze. One, Gaby, is only able to communicate with MARY3, a cloud-based intelligence thirsty for her story.
Fuzzy Mud, by Louis Sachar
In the woods behind Woodridge Academy, in Heath Cliff, Pennsylvania, a seemingly innocuous substance grows exponentially more threatening by the hour. It’s fuzzy mud. and its discovery is nothing short of spine-tingling. While taking a shortcut home from school, fifth-grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi comes in contact with the mud and breaks out into a terrible, blistery rash.
Goodbye Stranger, by Rebecca Stead
Starting seventh grade means lots of changes for Bridge and her best friends Em and Tabitha. The most obvious is Em’s sudden curves, which grab the attention of pretty much everyone. Other changes are more subtle, like the way Bridge starts looking forward to seeing her classmate Sherman Russo, or Tabitha’s growing interest in feminism and social justice.
Ron Chernow’s magisterial Washington (Penguin, 2010) gave us an extremely well rounded portrait of our greatest national icon. A member of a highly regarded British family of biographers and historians now treats us to a more specific aspect of Washington’s life in a fresh and highly informative view of Washington the husband.
Dark Places of the Earth: The Voyage of the Slave Ship Antelope, by Jonathan Bryant
In 1820, the Spanish-chartered slave ship Antelope was captured off the African coast by legally sanctioned privateers. After a voyage across the Atlantic that included multiple stops at Latin American ports, the ship was stopped, boarded, and seized by American sailors off the Florida coast. On board were the crew, many of whom spoke English, and approximately 270 African slaves. Since 1808, the U.S. had banned the Atlantic slave trade, but slavery within the U.S. was thriving.