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by Susan Orlean

Publishers Weekly New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin) doubles as an investigative reporter and an institutional historian in this sprawling account of the 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Central Public Library. On April 29, 1986, just before 11 a.m., a fire broke out in the stacks of the main branch and burned for seven hours, destroying 400,000 books and damaging hundreds of thousands more. Harry Peak, the man police believed started the fire, was arrested but never charged. Orlean's investigation into the fire-Was it arson? Why would Peak, a struggling actor and frequent patron of the library, want to burn it down?-leads her down the library's aisles of history, as she seeks out books on the flawed science of arson forensics along with titles from California serial killer Richard Ramirez's reading list to better understand the minds of psychopaths. Along the way, she introduces readers to California Public Library system staffers, among them Arin Kasparian, on the circulation desk; Kren Malone, director of the main branch; and Glen Creason, a senior librarian whose tenure spans "the fire [and] the AIDS crisis, which killed 11 librarians." Midway through, Orlean reveals her own motivation for her return to long-form journalism: her mother's dementia has made her acutely aware of how memories are doomed to be forgotten unless they're recorded. This is a persuasive reminder of the importance of libraries, whose shared spaces house historical treasures built with the common good in mind. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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by Breena Clarke
Library Journal: YA-Set in Georgetown, this poignant coming-of-age story begins with the drowning death of six-year-old Clara Bynum. Johnnie May, at 12, was supposed to be minding her the morning the children went down to the river, knowing they were not allowed to play near it, much less swim in it. The Bynums had come to Washington, DC, from North Carolina looking for a better life, and life for the colored in Georgetown in the 1920s was better: plenty of work and good schools for the children. But Johnnie May's independent spirit causes trouble from the beginning. She is always asking why-why couldn't she swim in the pool on Volta Place, right across from Aunt Ina's house? Why does she always have to mind her little sister and clean up after her? Johnnie May is a natural leader, and "knowing her place" is a struggle. The story, which follows the Bynum family and friends in Georgetown for about a year, ends in triumph as Johnnie May wins a swim meet held in the new pool built for black people. Much of the book describes Johnnie May's relationships with her mother, her relatives, and her friends, painting a revealing picture of a river, a family, and a community.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Debut writer and Washington, D.C., native, Clarke has written a novel as lyric and alternately beguiling and confounding as its title. It is the story of the drowning of a six-year-old child, and the tragedy's ramifications for her family and neighbors in the black area of Georgetown in 1925 D.C. Clarke's scene-building skills are the novel's strengths and occasionally its weaknesses, as each chapter is an intense set piece that sometimes provokes more questions than answers. The story is ultimately that of the effects of Clara Bynum's death on her 12-year-old sister, Johnnie Mae, who was babysitting Clara at the time she fell into the river. Johnnie Mae suffers guilt, fear and loss, endures dreams, imaginings and confusion as she sees visions of her sister everywhere: in a trauma-stung classmate who wears braids like Clara's, and the vapor from a boiling pot of green beans that resembles her sister's face. Against a felt, poignant and meticulously detailed panorama of the African-American (then called "colored") community of Georgetown, Johnnie Mae struggles to find her bearings, to cope with institutional and family expectations, and with puberty and race. Johnnie Mae ultimately derives strength from her element, the water, as she becomes a talented swimmer, but her parents Alice and Willie struggle with inextinguishable grief. From the first vivid description of the Potomac, liquid elements provide themes and narrative tension in this plangent coming-of-age story, granting the reader a necessary, if temporary, distancing from the blunt fact of a dead child. Indeed, Clarke's research about African-American Georgetown in the early 20th century revisits a time and place as intricate as any, but so remote from most memories that the historical details are fascinating footnotes to an era. While authorial asides are sometimes intrusive, this is a haunting story. Agent, Cynthia Cannell.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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by Hilary Mantel

Publishers Weekly When last we saw Thomas Cromwell, hero of Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, he'd successfully moved emperors, queens, courtiers, the pope, and Thomas More to secure a divorce and a new, younger queen for his patron, Henry the VIII. Now, in the second book of a planned trilogy, Cromwell, older, tired, with more titles and power, has to get Henry out of another heirless marriage. The historical facts are known: this is not about what happens, but about how. And armed with street smarts, vast experience and connections, a ferociously good memory, and a patient taste for revenge, Mantel's Cromwell is a master of how. Like its predecessor, the book is written in the present tense, rare for a historical novel. But the choice makes the events unfold before us: one wrong move and all could be lost. Also repeated is Mantel's idiosyncratic use of "he:" regardless of the rules of grammar, rest assured "he" is always Cromwell. By this second volume, however, Mantel has taught us how to read her, and seeing Cromwell manipulate and outsmart the nobles who look down on him, while moving between his well-managed domestic arrangements and the murky world of accusations and counteraccusations is pure pleasure. Cromwell may, as we learn in the first volume, look "like a murderer," but he's mighty good company. Agent: Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In her sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel has succeeded in doing what only the most gifted novelist can do. She has fleshed out an enigma-the historical cipher that was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer-and made us accept her interpretation of him as valid. Cromwell helped Henry to annul his marriage to his wife of 20 years, Katherine, so he could marry the younger Anne Boleyn. But it is three years later now. Anne has committed two fatal errors: she hasn't given the king a son and she has become shrewish. Henry's eyes are on a younger, more placid woman, Jane Seymour. He wants to be rid of Anne. It is up to Cromwell to bring Henry what he wants. Verdict It is Mantel's crowning achievement to make Cromwell not just powerful but sympathetic. Mantel is a consummate setter of scenes: descriptions of stunning poetry are embedded amid savagery and earthiness. The historical novel does not come any better than this. It will be as much of a success as its predecessor. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/11.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2012. 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.

Library Journal In her sequel to the Booker Man Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel has done what only the most gifted novelist can: she has fleshed out an enigma-the historical cipher that was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer-and made us accept her interpretation of him as valid. Cromwell helped Henry annul his marriage to his wife of 20 years, Catherine, so he could marry the younger Anne Boleyn. But three years later, Anne has committed two fatal errors: she hasn't given the king a son, and she has become outspoken. Henry's eyes are on a younger, more placid woman, Jane Seymour. He wants to be rid of Anne, and it is up to Cromwell to see that Henry gets what he wants. VERDICT Mantel's crowning achievement makes Cromwell not just powerful but sympathetic. Mantel is a consummate setter of scenes: stunning, poetic descriptions are embedded in scenes of savagery and earthiness. The historical novel does not come any better than this. It will be as much of a success as its predecessor. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/11.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2012. 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.

Publishers Weekly When last we saw Thomas Cromwell, hero of Mantel's 2009 Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, he'd successfully moved emperors, queens, courtiers, the pope, and Thomas More to secure a divorce and a new, younger queen for his patron, Henry the VIII. Now, in the second book of a planned trilogy, Cromwell, older, tired, with more titles and power, has to get Henry out of another heirless marriage. The historical facts are known: this is not about what happens, but about how. And armed with street smarts, vast experience and connections, a ferociously good memory, and a patient taste for revenge, Mantel's Cromwell is a master of how. Like its predecessor, the book is written in the present tense, rare for a historical novel. But the choice makes the events unfold before us: one wrong move and all could be lost. Also repeated is Mantel's idiosyncratic use of "he:" regardless of the rules of grammar, rest assured "he" is always Cromwell. By this second volume, however, Mantel has taught us how to read her, and seeing Cromwell manipulate and outsmart the nobles who look down on him, while moving between his well-managed domestic arrangements and the murky world of accusations and counteraccusations is pure pleasure. Cromwell may, as we learn in the first volume, look "like a murderer," but he's mighty good company. Agent: Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In her sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel has succeeded in doing what only the most gifted novelist can do. She has fleshed out an enigma-the historical cipher that was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer-and made us accept her interpretation of him as valid. Cromwell helped Henry to annul his marriage to his wife of 20 years, Katherine, so he could marry the younger Anne Boleyn. But it is three years later now. Anne has committed two fatal errors: she hasn't given the king a son and she has become shrewish. Henry's eyes are on a younger, more placid woman, Jane Seymour. He wants to be rid of Anne. It is up to Cromwell to bring Henry what he wants. Verdict It is Mantel's crowning achievement to make Cromwell not just powerful but sympathetic. Mantel is a consummate setter of scenes: descriptions of stunning poetry are embedded amid savagery and earthiness. The historical novel does not come any better than this. It will be as much of a success as its predecessor. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/11.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2012. 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.

Library Journal In her sequel to the Booker Man Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Mantel has done what only the most gifted novelist can: she has fleshed out an enigma-the historical cipher that was Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's fixer-and made us accept her interpretation of him as valid. Cromwell helped Henry annul his marriage to his wife of 20 years, Catherine, so he could marry the younger Anne Boleyn. But three years later, Anne has committed two fatal errors: she hasn't given the king a son, and she has become outspoken. Henry's eyes are on a younger, more placid woman, Jane Seymour. He wants to be rid of Anne, and it is up to Cromwell to see that Henry gets what he wants. VERDICT Mantel's crowning achievement makes Cromwell not just powerful but sympathetic. Mantel is a consummate setter of scenes: stunning, poetic descriptions are embedded in scenes of savagery and earthiness. The historical novel does not come any better than this. It will be as much of a success as its predecessor. [See Prepub Alert, 2/27/11.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2012. 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* Mantel's Wolf Hall (2009) took the literary world by storm and was quickly seen as an exceptional interpretation and depiction of Henry VIII's times and troubles as relayed through the career of Thomas Cromwell, the king's all-powerful secretary and chief task-enforcer. This new novel, the second installment of a planned Cromwell trilogy, can easily stand next to its predecessor as a major achievement in historical fiction. Mantel now tells the story of the fall of Anne Boleyn, Henry's second wife. As the novel opens, Queen Anne has enjoyed her exalted title for only a short time, but already the winds of change are blowing through the court. The king is tired of her (she hasn't produced a male heir, and her unpleasant personality is wearing thin) and finds lady-in-waiting Jane Seymour a much fresher face. Consequently, Secretary Cromwell, the king's enforcer, steps in, drawing the battle lines between himself and Queen Anne. The conflict will be deadly and, for the reader, edge-of-the-seat gripping. Like its predecessor, this is a rigorous read. One must get used to Mantel's intricate storytelling, and inattention will quickly derail one's grasp of events. Mantel's seductive, almost hypnotic, style is both formal, which is appropriate to the time, and exquisitely fluid, while beautifully articulated dialogue serves the story well, lending depth to characterizations and advancing the rich plot. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Mantel's previous novel won the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and appeared on best-seller lists; anticipation for the sequel is high.--Hooper, Brad Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

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by Kwame Alexander

School Library Journal Gr 6-10-Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: ".when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering.. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile..Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal. (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.

Book list The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn't lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: "I rise like a Learjet-/ seventh-graders aren't supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!" Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh's trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys' father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9-12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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by Mordicai Gerstein

Publishers Weekly This effectively spare, lyrical account chronicles Philippe Petit's tightrope walk between Manhattan's World Trade Center towers in 1974. Gerstein (What Charlie Heard) begins the book like a fairy tale, "Once there were two towers side by side. They were each a quarter of a mile high... The tallest buildings in New York City." The author casts the French aerialist and street performer as the hero: "A young man saw them rise into the sky.... He loved to walk and dance on a rope he tied between two trees." As the man makes his way across the rope from one tree to the other, the towers loom in the background. When Philippe gazes at the twin buildings, he looks "not at the towers but at the space between them.... What a wonderful place to stretch a rope; a wire on which to walk." Disguised as construction workers, he and a friend haul a 440-pound reel of cable and other materials onto the roof of the south tower. How Philippe and his pals hang the cable over the 140-feet distance is in itself a fascinating-and harrowing-story, charted in a series of vertical and horizontal ink and oil panels. An inventive foldout tracking Philippe's progress across the wire offers dizzying views of the city below; a turn of the page transforms readers' vantage point into a vertical view of the feat from street level. When police race to the top of one tower's roof, threatening arrest, Philippe moves back and forth between the towers ("As long as he stayed on the wire he was free"). Gerstein's dramatic paintings include some perspectives bound to take any reader's breath away. Truly affecting is the book's final painting of the imagined imprint of the towers, now existing "in memory"-linked by Philippe and his high wire. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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