Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Serpent King
by Zentner, Jeff

Publishers Weekly Forrestville, Tenn., named after Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, isn't exactly a welcome place for slightly ouside-the-mainstream folks like friends Dillard, Lydia, and Travis. Dill is a high school senior whose snake-handling preacher father is currently incarcerated; Lydia, a successful fashion blogger, plans on attending NYU after graduation; and Travis, large of body and gentle of soul, loses himself (and the pain of his father's physical and emotional abuse) in a fantasy series called Bloodfall. While Dill finds comfort and beauty in music, Travis's innate kindness belies his circumstances, and Lydia's incandescent, gleefully offbeat personality draws them together. As the novel, Zentner's debut, builds to a shocking act of violence that shatters the friends' world, this sepia-toned portrait of small-town life serves as a moving testament to love, loyalty, faith, and reaching through the darkness to find light and hope. Zentner explores difficult themes head on-including the desire to escape the sins of the father and the fragility of happiness-while tempering them with the saving grace of enduring friendship. Ages 14-up. Agent: Charlie Olsen, Inkwell Management. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Book list In small-town Forrestville, Tennessee, broody musician Dill Early begins his senior year with a general feeling of dread because it means his best friend, Lydia, will be leaving for college once they graduate. As the son of a snake-handling Pentecostal preacher currently in prison, Dill is unable to escape his father's shadow. Lydia, on the other hand, is an outspoken blogger and fashionista, who can't wait to get out of Dodge. Completing their trio is Travis, a gentle giant who carries a staff and is obsessed with fantasy novels. In chapters that shift among the teens' perspectives, Zentner effectively shows the aspirations, fears, and dark secrets they harbor during their final year together. A musician himself, Zentner transitions to prose easily in his debut, pulling in complex issues that range from struggles with faith to abuse to grief. Refreshingly, this novel isn't driven by romance though it rears its head but by the importance of pursuing individual passions and forging one's own path. A promising new voice in YA.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-The son of a snake-handling preacher imprisoned for possessing child pornography, Dill escapes his controlling mother and social ostracism with the help of his two friends, Lydia and Travis. As the trio round out their senior year, it becomes overwhelmingly apparent the different paths their lives are going to take-Travis is content working in a lumberyard and diving into a fantasy world from a book series in his spare time, while Lydia runs a popular fashion blog and is intent on attending New York University. As for Dill, he yearns for more than Forrestville, TN, can offer, but he feels compelled to honor his father's legacy and his mother's domineering wishes. As Dill grapples with a crush on Lydia and a mother who wants him to drop out of high school, a YouTube clip of Dill singing and playing guitar begins to garner attention. Dill must decide among what his heart wants, what his family needs, and his own desire for a life outside of their small town; "If you're going to live," he says, "you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things." Zentner offers a contemporary young adult novel that explores many issues common with teenagers today-bullying, life after high school, and the coming together and breaking apart of high school friendships. Thorough characterization and artful prose allow readers to intimately experience the highs and lows of these three friends. VERDICT Recommended for fans of John Green and Rainbow Rowell.-Amanda C. Buschmann, Atascocita Middle School, Humble, TX Copyright 2016. 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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Hello Lighthouse
by Sophie Blackall

Publishers Weekly Painted with the featherlight touch that distinguishes Caldecott Medalist Blackall's work, this graceful account of a lighthouse keeper's life celebrates a lost era. While it was lonely and sometimes dangerous, watching the lighthouse was monastic in its simplicity: "He tends the light and writes in the logbook." The lighthouse keeper readies his home for the arrival of his wife, who nurses him when he falls ill; then he helps her as she gives birth to their first child. Soon the family receives word that the lighthouse is to be fitted with a mechanical light, and their idyll comes to a serene end. Many spreads, delicate as painted porcelain, depict the lighthouse amid the breaking waves and changing life of the ocean. Seals bask, whales pass, and the aurora borealis flickers overhead. Repeated images of circles echo the lighthouse's circular rooms, from vignettes framed with nautical rope to a breathtaking sequence of the lighthouse-keeper's wife walking through her labor, each moment like the hand on the face of a clock. It's a jewel of a creation and a gift to those who dream of retreat. Ages 4-8. Agent: Nancy Gallt, Gallt + Zacker Literary. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal PreS-Gr 3-On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. Every day and every night, the lighthouse guides the way for passing ships, as its keeper tends to the light and writes in his guidebook. Over time, the lighthouse becomes a constant fixture in the middle of the sea as endless waves, ships, winds, whales, fish, storms, and keepers come and go. Here, Blackall tells the story of a lighthouse and its keeper, and how they both serve the sea. In the end, a machine is able to tend the light and the keeper must move on. But he will be forever connected to his lighthouse. The keeper's own light across the bay shines back at the lighthouse, saying "hello!" Gorgeous and appealing illustrations done in Chinese ink and watercolor make readers feel as though they are inside the lighthouse along with the keeper, surrounded by the beauty and drama of the ever-changing sea. A spread full of information about lighthouses for those who seek further knowledge is appended. VERDICT A lovely picture book, recommended for all libraries. A delightful bedtime read perfect for one on one sharing.-Elizabeth Blake, Brooklyn Public Library Copyright 2018. 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 *Starred Review* When a new keeper arrives at a remote lighthouse, he sets out to make it a home, and in Blackall's rhythmic lines and gorgeous artwork, his adoration for the building, with its round rooms and windy ocean views, warmly comes through. Amid his responsibilities of lighting the beacon, clanging the bell in a fog, recording events in the logbooks, and helping ensure the safety of passing sailors, the lighthouse keeper makes a home with his wife, has a daughter, and feels remorse when he has to leave to make way for an automated light. All the while, Blackall's bright, crisp artwork depicts the changing skies and seas around the proud, solid lighthouse. Softly chopping waves give way to billowing white breakers that crash against the rocks. Clear blue skies transform into the black, inky clouds of a storm. It occasionally seems dangerous to live in a lighthouse, but the repeated refrain of Hello! . . . Hello! . . . Hello! is stalwart, friendly, and reassuring, just like a lighthouse should be, and the adoring expressions and gestures of the family living in it quietly demonstrate their affection for the building. Blackall's charmingly old-fashioned art style is beautifully matched to this nostalgia-rich story, which imbues an antiquated place with warmth and wonder.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Guardians
by John Grisham

Library Journal This just in: a new legal thriller is coming in October from the No. 1 New York Times best-selling author. No word on plot, but eminently purchasable.

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

Book list Cullen Post works for the Guardian Ministries, a shoestring operation that tries to get wrongfully convicted people out of jail. At the top of Post's to-do list is a Black man, Quincy Miller, who has been in prison for 22 years after being convicted of the murder of his divorce lawyer. But the evidence is shaky at best: the shotgun used in the crime was never found, and a flashlight with a supposed blood spatter disappeared from evidence. Further bolstering Post's case, an expert who testified for the prosecution about the blood spatter on the missing flashlight has since been discredited as a charlatan. Post thinks Miller may have been the fall guy for a drug-cartel hit. The murdered lawyer took minor civil cases to keep up appearances, but his primary moneymaker was the drug cartel. If the cartel can keep the murder pinned on Miller, it's in the clear. Grisham novels have a cinematic feel to them. A Time to Kill (1989), The Firm (1991), and The Rainmaker (1995) have all been successful motion pictures. The Guardians could be next on the list; it's an excellent legal thriller with a strong social-justice component.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Grisham's readers are legion, and they will be prepped for his latest, which finds the perennial chart-topper in great form.--Wes Lukowsky Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly A lack of nuance mars this novel from bestseller Grisham (The Reckoning), which centers on idealistic attorneys fighting wrongful convictions. Cullen Post, who became a Lutheran minister after burning out as a public defender, is working as a lawyer again in Savannah, Ga., where he runs Guardian Ministries, which helps convicts whose claims of innocence he and his three colleagues, including a man he helped free from incarceration, deem worth investigating. In the first chapter, Duke Russell is minutes away from execution when Post’s request for a stay is granted, giving him time to pursue his belief that Duke wasn’t in fact guilty of raping and murdering a woman 11 years earlier. Guardian Ministries is also seeking to prove that Quincy Miller is innocent of the shotgun murder of his former attorney, Keith Russo, in Seabrook, Fla., and deserves his freedom. Post and his allies diligently attack the flimsy forensic and eyewitness evidence used to convict Miller. A conspiracy subplot related to one of Post’s cases, involving especially sadistic bad guys and an international angle, feels out of place. Readers who like their legal thrillers dosed with ethical ambiguities should look elsewhere. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Company. (Oct.)

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Piecing Me Together
by Renee Watson

Book list Who owns the river and the line, and the hook, and the worm? wonders Jade, a scholarship kid at Portland's prestigious St. Francis High. Through her first two years of school, she's had to balance her home life in a poor neighborhood with her life at a school populated mostly by rich white kids. When offered a mentorship for at-risk girls (which includes a full college scholarship), she jumps at the opportunity to learn how to be a successful black woman. However, she soon suspects that her mentor, Maxine, may only have a superficial understanding of Jade's challenges and that there may be things Jade can teach her. Watson is unafraid to show Jade as a young woman who is resilient and mature for her age, but also plagued by self-doubt. The book itself is a balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book's defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration.--Suarez, Reinhardt Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-High school junior Jade is an "at-risk" student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, a mentorship program for young women like her: poor and black. Her mentor, Maxine, is from a more privileged background, and Jade doesn't see what she can learn from her. But in spite of her early resistance to Maxine, Jade begins to open up and gain confidence, and, eventually, she is able to express the importance of her family, her community, and her art. The two strong female characters and the ways in which they struggle with and support each other form the center of this tale. Most young people will relate to Jade's search to find her voice and learn to advocate for herself in appropriate ways. The lack of a romantic lead may leave some young teen readers disappointed, but there is a real, refreshing strength in a fully fleshed-out female character whose story is her own. This is a memorable novel that demonstrates that a happy ending doesn't require a romantic subplot. VERDICT This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. A first purchase for YA collections.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH Copyright 2017. 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 Jade Butler, an African-American artist-in-the-making, lives with her mother in Portland, Ore., and travels by bus to private school, where she is both grateful for and resentful of the opportunities presented to her. In short, poetic chapters, Jade ponders her family, school, and neighborhood relationships, wondering where she fits in: "How I am someone's answered prayer but also someone's deferred dream." Watson (This Side of Home) weaves collage imagery throughout the story as Jade ruminates over historical figures such as York, the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark, and distressing current events, including police violence against a neighborhood girl: "I am ripping and cutting. Gluing and pasting. Rearranging reality, redefining, covering, disguising. Tonight I am taking ugly and making beautiful." Jade's narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. Ages 12-up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Best Way to Play
by Bill Cosby

School Library Journal : K-Gr 3--Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers--but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.

Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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