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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Out of the Easy
by Ruta Sepetys

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Against a vivid 1950s New Orleans backdrop, 17-year-old Josie Moraine is caught between the harsh reality of her negligent, prostitute mother's lifestyle and her desire to escape to a new life. Josie is smart, resourceful, and determined. Her support group includes Willie, the shrewd brothel madam who recognizes Josie's potential; Cokie, Willie's kind and devoted driver; Patrick, who runs the bookshop where Josie works; Charlotte, an upscale acquaintance who encourages Josie to join her at Smith College; and Jesse, the handsome motorcyclist neighbor who has eyes only for Josie. When a mysterious death leads police to Josie's mother and abusive boyfriend, the teen is drawn into the investigation and into an underworld of threats, violence, and retribution. After her mother skips town, Josie is targeted to repay her debt to a powerful criminal boss. As she tries to handle mounting adversity on her own, she struggles with fear, desperation, and her conscience. Stealing from Willie or hooking up with a wealthy john seem her only choices for survival. Overwhelmed, she reveals her predicament to Willie, who saves her in a final act of generosity. Josie's narrative features a Dickensian array of characters; the mystique, ambience, and language of the French Quarter; a suspenseful, action-packed story; and a coming-of-age realization that personal decisions ultimately shape one's future. With dramatic and contextual flair, Sepetys introduces teens to another memorable heroine.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC (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.

Publishers Weekly Sepetys follows her debut, Between Shades of Gray, with another taut and charged historical novel, though the setting-the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950-is a world apart from that of her previous book. Living and working in a bookshop, 17-year-old Josie Moraine dreams of attending college-anything to get away from her mother, a prostitute with Hollywood dreams and a knack for getting involved with the worst men. When Josie becomes involved in a high-profile murder investigation, she becomes even more entrenched in her circumstances. The sensual yet rigidly class-based setting is a real standout, and Sepetys has also built a stellar cast, which includes Willie, a strident but generous madam; Charlie Marlowe, the bookshop's owner; and a pair of potential love interests for Josie. Readers will find Josie irresistible from the get-go ("The only reason I'd lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you," she tells a guy early on) and will devour the sultry mix of mystery, historical detail, and romance. Ages 14-up. Agent: Writers House. (Feb.)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list In a radical departure from her first novel, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys' second is partially set in a 1950s New Orleans brothel where Josie's mother works as a prostitute. Humiliated, the 18-year-old fears she is destined for nothing more than a crummy life skirting the New Orleans underworld. That underworld looms larger when a murder occurs and it appears Josie's mother may be complicit. Josie's dream is to go to Smith College, but even if she is admitted, how will she pay for it? Meanwhile, she finds herself attracted to two very different young men: her best friend, clean-cut Patrick, with whom she works at his father's bookstore, and quietly mysterious biker Jesse. Complicated? You bet! Sepetys' latest strongly evokes 1950s radio soap operas, but despite over-the-top emotional pitch and stereotypical characters, this is nevertheless a page-turner that noir romance fans will gobble up like popcorn shrimp. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The legions of fans that Sepetys earned with her best-selling debut novel will all be lining up for this.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Wall in the Middle of the Book
by Jon Agee

Book list *Starred Review* A tall brick wall runs through the gutter of this book. On the left, a narrating knight mounts a ladder to replace a brick. He's convinced the wall is a good thing because it protects his safe side from dangers on the other. Wild animals and a large man (the knight insists he is an ogre) live on the right side of the wall. If the ogre ever caught me, he'd eat me up, states the knight with certitude. What goes unmentioned is the water rising underneath the knight and a lot of predator-prey carnage beneath him. Eventually the knight falls into the water and is rescued by the ogre (who is actually a nice guy), and everyone ends up happily on a final spread that pays homage to Maurice Sendak's wild rumpus. Agee's signature cartoon artwork employs simple shapes, white backgrounds, and muted colors, appropriate to the deadpan delivery of the story. The ogre and animals may look fearsome, but everyone is well-behaved and pleasant. By contrast, bigger creatures keep eating smaller ones (much like in Jon Klassen's Hat trilogy) in the knight's kingdom on the left side of the book. Will the intended audience recognize the xenophobia depicted here? Probably not. But the message that walls don't help us understand our neighbors will stick.--Kay Weisman Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 3-There's a wall in the middle of this book. And it's a good thing, because it protects one side of the book from the other side. Or, at least that's what the hero of the book, a young knight, thinks. As the knight warns readers about all of the dangers on the other side of the wall-like tigers and mean ogres-he remains oblivious to the rising water and crocodile who are sneaking up behind him on his side of the wall. Before the water engulfs him completely, the knight is rescued by a surprising savior, and he soon learns that things may not be so bad on the other side of the wall after all. The knight's journey reminds readers that instead of building walls, we should be tearing them down in order to understand who or what is on the other side. Agee's simple illustrations combined with his trademark humor and ability to let readers in on a secret that the protagonist knows nothing about, combine to solidify him as a hilarious picture book master. VERDICT A silly read-aloud with an important message. A solid choice for storytime and 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.

Publishers Weekly In this sly fable by Agee (Life on Mars), a tall brick wall runs along the book's gutter, and the action takes place on either side. On the verso, a short, perky knight approaches the wall with a ladder. On the recto, a menacing-looking tiger and rhino lurk. "The wall protects this side of the book" the knight explains, "from the other side of the book." The contrast between the knight's cheery, confiding tone and the outsize dangers supply hilarity, and blocky images in faded hues soften potentially scary moments. As the animals flee, the knight's side of the wall starts to fill up with water. "The most dangerous thing on the other side of the book is the ogre," the knight says from his ladder, oblivious to the deepening flood, finger raised in emphasis. Enter the ogre-uh oh. As ever, Agee nails pacing and punch lines, making inventive use of the famous fourth wall as a literary device (and giving the book a new wall altogether). Most satisfying is his gentle reminder that preconceived notions about things and people, over a boundary or otherwise, are often distinctly wrong. Ages 4-8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Summer Of '69
by Elin Hilderbrand

Publishers Weekly Hilderbrand (Winter in Paradise) delivers a superb novel about the goings-on of a family during the summer of 1969 in Nantucket, centered on four siblings. Mother Kate Levin has taken to drinking after her only son, Tiger, is drafted and sent to Vietnam. Kate has agreed to let her family's longtime caretaker Bill stay on their property with his grandson Pick in exchange for using Bill's army connections to keep Tiger safe and away from the front. Blair, the eldest sibling, pregnant with twins, gave up a promising career and a shot at Harvard at the behest of her astrophysicist husband, Angus, who is preoccupied with the upcoming moon landing and has deep spells of depression; Blair flees to Nantucket when Angus says he cheated on her. Middle sister Kirby is trying to clear her head on Martha's Vineyard after getting arrested for protesting and ending an affair with a married man. She finds herself judged by the family of the man she's now seeing, likely, she believes, because of their interracial relationship. Jessie, the youngest, gets a crush on Pick and hits puberty as she bears witness to how shame and propriety drive her family members, and how they suffer because of it. The sisters manage to slay their own demons while finding strength in their siblinghood. Hilderbrand hits all the right notes about life in a tightly knit family, and this crowd-pleaser is sure to satisfy both her fans and newcomers alike. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Echo
by Pam Munoz Ryan

Publishers Weekly The fairy tale that opens this elegant trio of interconnected stories from Ryan (The Dreamer) sets the tone for the rest of the book, in which a mystical harmonica brings together three children growing up before and during WWII. Friedrich, an aspiring conductor whose birthmark makes him an undesirable in Nazi Germany, must try to rescue his father after his Jewish sympathies land him in a prison camp. In Pennsylvania, piano prodigy Mike and his brother, Frankie, get a chance to escape the orphanage for good, but only if they can connect with the eccentric woman who has adopted them. In California, Ivy Maria struggles with her school's segregation as well as the accusations leveled against Japanese landowners who might finally offer her family a home of their own. Each individual story is engaging, but together they harmonize to create a thrilling whole. The book's thematic underpinnings poignantly reveal what Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy truly have in common: not just a love of music, but resourcefulness in the face of change, and a refusal to accept injustice. Ages 10-14. Agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-"Long before enchantment was eclipsed by doubt," a young boy named Otto lost in the woods is rescued by three sisters imprisoned there by a witch's curse. In return, he promises to help break the curse by carrying their spirits out of the forest in a mouth harp and passing the instrument along when the time is right. The narrative shifts to the 20th century, when the same mouth harp (aka harmonica) becomes the tangible thread that connects the stories of three children: Friedrich, a disfigured outcast; Mike, an impoverished orphan; and Ivy, an itinerant farmer's child. Their personal struggles are set against some of the darkest eras in human history: Friedrich, the rise of Nazi Germany; Mike, the Great Depression; Ivy, World War II. The children are linked by musical talent and the hand of fate that brings Otto's harmonica into their lives. Each recognizes something unusual about the instrument, not only its sound but its power to fill them with courage and hope. Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy are brought together by music and destiny in an emotionally triumphant conclusion at New York's Carnegie Hall. Meticulous historical detail and masterful storytelling frame the larger history, while the story of Otto and the cursed sisters honor timeless and traditional folktales. Ryan has created three contemporary characters who, through faith and perseverance, write their own happy endings, inspiring readers to believe they can do the same.-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY (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 When Otto meets three ethereal sisters, he has no idea that the harmonica they enchant will one day save a life. Decades later, the very same harmonica makes its way to America, and in three sections, Ryan tells the stories of kids whose lives are changed by its music: Friedrich Schmidt, in 1933 Germany, whose father is a Jewish sympathizer; Mike Finnegan, an orphan in Philadelphia in 1935; and Ivy Lopez, living with her parents in California in 1942 while they take care of the farm of a Japanese family who has been sent to an internment camp. The magical harmonica not only helps each of the three discover their inborn musical talents but also gives them the courage to face down adversity and injustice. Though the fairy tale-like prologue and conclusion seem a bit tacked on, Ryan nonetheless builds a heartening constellation of stories around the harmonica, and the ultimate message that small things can have a powerful destiny is resoundingly hopeful. Harmonica tabs are included for readers who want to try their hands at the instrument.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

Library Journal : A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction. Literary Guild dual main selection.

Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale. 400,000 first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main dual selection; author tour.

Copyright 1989 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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