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Featured Book Lists
Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Life After Life
by Kate Atkinson

Publishers Weekly Atkinson's new novel (after Started Early, Took My Dog) opens twice: first in Germany in 1930 with an English woman taking a shot at Hitler, then in England in 1910 when a baby arrives, stillborn. And then it opens again: still in 1910, still in England, but this time the baby lives. That baby is Ursula Todd, and as she grows up, she dies and lives repeatedly. Watching Atkinson bring Ursula into the world yet again initially feels like a not terribly interesting trick: we know authors have the power of life and death. But as Ursula and the century age, and war and epidemic and war come again, the fact of death, of "darkness," as Atkinson calls it, falling on cities and people-now Ursula, now someone else, now Ursula again-turns out to be central. At heart this is a war story; half the book is given over to Ursula's activities during WWII, and in its focus on the women and civilians usually overlooked or downplayed, it gives the Blitz its full measure of terror. By the end, which takes us back to that moment in 1930 and beyond, it's clear that Atkinson's not playing tricks; rather, through Ursula's many lives and the accretion of what T.S. Eliot called "visions and revisions," she's found an inventive way to make both the war's toll and the pull of alternate history, of darkness avoided or diminished, fresh. Agent: Kim Witherspoon, Inkwell Management. (Apr. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* In a radical departure from her Jackson Brodie mystery series, Atkinson delivers a wildly inventive novel about Ursula Todd, born in 1910 and doomed to die and be reborn over and over again. She drowns, falls off a roof, and is beaten to death by an abusive husband but is always reborn back into the same loving family, sometimes with the knowledge that allows her to escape past poor decisions, sometimes not. As Atkinson subtly delineates all the pathways a life or a country might take, she also delivers a harrowing set piece on the Blitz as Ursula, working as a warden on a rescue team, encounters horrifying tableaux encompassing mangled bodies and whole families covered in ash, preserved just like the victims of Pompeii. Alternately mournful and celebratory, deeply empathic and scathingly funny, Atkinson shows what it is like to face the horrors of war and yet still find the determination to go on, with her wholly British characters often reducing the Third Reich to a fuss. From her deeply human characters to her comical dialogue to her meticulous plotting, Atkinson is working at the very top of her game. An audacious, thought-provoking novel from one of our most talented writers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Atkinson's publisher is pulling out all the stops in marketing her latest, which will no doubt draw in many new readers in addition to her Jackson Brodie fans.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Life after life after life: Atkinson's telling title suggests not some glorious afterworld but the structure of this remarkable novel, about an English girl born in February, 1910. In fact, Ursula is stillborn in an opening chapter but emerges a lusty babe in the next; Whitbread Award winner Atkinson (Behind the Scenes at the Museum) then hopscotches through time, circling back to offer alternate versions of Ursula's life. Did Ursula endure an unwanted pregnancy, see her brother die of influenza, enter into a sour marriage-or not? Did she survive World War II Britain or instead marry a German and face down Hitler, a gun in her hand? One brief passage shows Ursula musing with a doctor about her fugue states, but Atkinson doesn't waste time belaboring the idea, instead delivering a clear understanding that one life can take different avenues-and what a difference that can make. Atkinson works both large and small, capturing the sweep of history while perfectly rendering the dynamics of Ursula's loving, contentious family: gentle father Hugh, disappointed mother Sylvie, generous sister Pamela, and more. VERDICT Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/12 and Editors' Picks, LJ 2/15/13, "Editors' Spring Picks."]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Paperboy
by Vince Vawter

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-After an overthrown baseball busts his best friend's lip, 11-year-old Victor Vollmer takes over the boy's paper route. This is a particularly daunting task for the able-armed Victor, as he has a prominent stutter that embarrasses him and causes him to generally withdraw from the world. Through the paper route he meets a number of people, gains a much-needed sense of self and community, and has a life-threatening showdown with a local cart man. The story follows the boy's 1959 Memphis summer with a slow but satisfying pace that builds to a storm of violence. The first-person narrative is told in small, powerful block paragraphs without commas, which the stuttering narrator loathes. Vawter portrays a protagonist so true to a disability that one cannot help but empathize with the difficult world of a stutterer. Yet, Victor's story has much broader appeal as the boy begins to mature and redefine his relationship with his parents, think about his aspirations for the future, and explore his budding spirituality. The deliberate pacing and unique narration make Paperboy a memorable coming-of-age novel.-Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, ME (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* It's hot in Memphis during the summer of 1959 in all kinds of ways. Things heat up for the book's 11-year-old narrator when he takes over his pal Rat's paper route; meeting new people is a horror for the boy because he stutters. He only really feels comfortable with Rat and Mam, the African American maid who takes care of him when his parents are away, which is often. But being the paperboy forces him to engage in the world and to ask for payments from customers, like pretty, hard-drinking Mrs. Worthington and Mr. Spiro, who gives the boy the confidence to voice his questions and then offers answers that wondrously elicit more questions. Others intrude on his life as well. In a shocking scene, Ara T, the dangerous, disturbing junk man tries to take something precious from the boy. In some ways, the story is a set piece, albeit a very good one: the well-crafted characters, hot Southern summer, and coming-of-age events are reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. But this has added dimension in the way it brilliantly gets readers inside the head of a boy who stutters. First-time author Vawter has lived this story, so he is able to write movingly about what it's like to have words exploding in your head with no reasonable exit. This paperboy is a fighter, and his hope fortifies and satisfies in equal measure.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The name of debut novelist Vawter's 11-year-old protagonist, Vincent Vollmer III, doesn't appear until the very end of this tense, memorable story-Vincent's stutter prevents him from pronouncing it. Vincent is an excellent listener and a keen observer, and the summer of 1959 presents him with the challenge of taking over a friend's paper route in segregated Memphis. He engages with several neighborhood customers and characters while on the job, gaining new awareness of varied adult worlds, racial tension, and inequality, as well as getting into some dangerous situations. Vawter draws from his own childhood experience at a time "when modern speech therapy techniques were in their infancy," he writes in an endnote, calling the story "more memoir than fiction." The story unfolds as Vincent's typewritten account of the summer, and inventive syntax is used throughout. Commas and quotation marks are verboten-Vincent isn't a fan of the former, since he has enough extra pauses in his life already-and extra spaces appear between paragraphs, all subtly highlighting his uneasy relationship with the spoken word. Ages 10-up. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog X: A Novel
by Ilyasah Shabazz

Publishers Weekly This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, "Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you're just a nigger," or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm's life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X's daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm's passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14-up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little. The story opens with his departure from Michigan as a teen, though there are flashbacks to his younger years. It follows Malcolm through his time in Boston and Harlem, culminating with his conversion to Islam and his decision to change his name while in prison in 1948. The story does contain some gritty situations, most notably the use of the "n" word, non-graphic sex, drug and alcohol abuse, and criminal behavior. This was the reality of Malcolm X's early life, and make the later scenes that more authentic. While the novel stops prior to his rise as a civil rights leader, the excellent back matter provides historical context, bibliography, time line, family tree, and a note from the author (who is also the third of Malcolm X's five daughters). This is an eye-opening look at an important historical figure. The author's honesty about his early troubles serves to convey that it is possible to rise through adversity to make a positive difference in this world. A worthwhile addition to any collection.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly This fictionalized account of the boy who became Malcolm X maintains a suspenseful, poetic grip as it shifts among moments in his life between the years 1930 and 1948. The first-person, present-tense narrative emphasizes the experiences that affected Malcolm from early childhood to his eventual imprisonment. Memories, such as a favorite teacher telling him, "Be as good as you want in the classroom, but out those doors, you're just a nigger," or his sighting of a lynched man, trigger a sense of hopelessness that leads to self-destructive choices. Significant people in Malcolm's life offer different messages: his white lover, Sophia, fears being seen with him, while his siblings believe he has the potential for greatness. Shabazz (Growing Up X), one of Malcolm X's daughters, and Magoon (How It Went Down) capture Malcolm's passion for new experiences, the defeatism that plagued him, and the long-buried hope that eventually reclaimed him. Author notes expand on historical context and the facts behind this compelling coming-of-age story. Ages 14-up. Agent: (for Shabazz) Jason Anthony, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin; (for Magoon) Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

Publishers Weekly : SignatureReviewed by Matthew SharpeAreader might at first be surprised by how many chapters of a book entitled The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao are devoted not to its sci fi–and–fantasy-gobbling nerd-hero but to his sister, his mother and his grandfather. However, Junot Diaz's dark and exuberant first novel makes a compelling case for the multiperspectival view of a life, wherein an individual cannot be known or understood in isolation from the history of his family and his nation.Oscar being a first-generation Dominican-American, the nation in question is really two nations. And Dominicans in this novel being explicitly of mixed Taíno, African and Spanish descent, the very ideas of nationhood and nationality are thoughtfully, subtly complicated. The various nationalities and generations are subtended by the recurring motif of fukú, the Curse and Doom of the New World, whose midwife and... victim was a historical personage Diaz will only call the Admiral, in deference to the belief that uttering his name brings bad luck (hint: he arrived in the New World in 1492 and his initials are CC). By the prologue's end, it's clear that this story of one poor guy's cursed life will also be the story of how 500 years of historical and familial bad luck shape the destiny of its fat, sad, smart, lovable and short-lived protagonist. The book's pervasive sense of doom is offset by a rich and playful prose that embodies its theme of multiple nations, cultures and languages, often shifting in a single sentence from English to Spanish, from Victorian formality to Negropolitan vernacular, from Homeric epithet to dirty bilingual insult. Even the presumed reader shape-shifts in the estimation of its in-your-face narrator, who addresses us variously as folks, you folks, conspiracy-minded-fools, Negro, Nigger and plataneros. So while Diaz assumes in his reader the same considerable degree of multicultural erudition he himself possesses—offering no gloss on his many un-italicized Spanish words and expressions (thus beautifully dramatizing how linguistic borders, like national ones, are porous), or on his plethora of genre and canonical literary allusions—he does helpfully footnote aspects of Dominican history, especially those concerning the bloody 30-year reign of President Rafael Leónidas Trujillo. The later Oscar chapters lack the linguistic brio of the others, and there are exposition-clogged passages that read like summaries of a longer narrative, but mostly this fierce, funny, tragic book is just what a reader would have hoped for in a novel by Junot Diaz.Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Escape from Mr. Lemoncelloandapos;s library
by Chris Grabenstein

Publishers Weekly Librarians and English teachers will happily recommend this adventurous romp from Grabenstein (the Riley Mack books), which pays playful homage to books and libraries while engaging readers in a fast-paced competition involving research and reasoning skills. Twelve seventh-graders win a chance to spend an overnight lock-in previewing their town's new public library-it's a marvel of technological delights conceived by Luigi Lemoncello, the Willy Wonkalike founder of Mr. Lemoncello's Imagination Factory, which is a source for every kind of game imaginable. During the lock-in the winners, who include game-lover Kyle Keeley and a group of multicultural classmates with a mix of aptitudes and interests, are offered a further challenge: "Find your way out of the library using only what's in the library." The winner will become spokesperson for the Imag-ination Factory. Book lovers will relish the lavish sprinkling of book titles and references while puzzle fans will enjoy figuring out the clues. A lighthearted parody of reality survival shows, the book reinvigorates the debate over the Dewey Decimal system and traditional library skills while celebrating teamwork, perseverance, and clever wits. Ages 9-12. Agent: Eric Myers, the Spieler Agency. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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