Home
Calendar
Directory
News & Weather
Hot Titles
About Us

SCC Middle School Library

Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Scythe.
by Shusterman, Neal

Publishers Weekly In the future Earth of this grim novel from National Book Award-winner Shusterman (Challenger Deep), the digital cloud has transformed into the self-aware Thunderhead, whose benevolent totalitarian rule has turned the planet into a utopia. There's no poverty or crime, and everyone is guaranteed immortality. Well, almost everyone. Because babies are still being born, population growth must be limited. Thus evolved the Scythes, an organization whose members are charged with "gleaning" citizens at random. Sixteen-year-old Citra and Rowan are chosen by a Scythe named Faraday to train as apprentices. Neither likes the idea, but they're given no choice. Later, Citra becomes an apprentice to Curie, a legendary Scythe, but Rowan is apprenticed to Goddard, who kills for sadistic pleasure. Calling to mind Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," Shusterman's story forces readers to confront difficult ethical questions. Is the gleaning of a few acceptable if it maximizes the happiness of all? Is it possible to live a moral life within such a system? This powerful tale is guaranteed to make readers think deeply. Ages 12-up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In a world where humanity has conquered death and a fraternity called Scythes are the only ones allowed to kill people in order to curb overpopulation, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch must cope with their newfound and terrible responsibilities as apprentices in killing. A brilliant and gripping sci-fi thriller that acutely explores the consequences of worldwide immortality and asks readers to think critically about the nature of morality. 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.

Book list *Starred Review* In the year 2042, humans conquered death. Now, in the postmortal society of MidMerica, people can live for millennia, either reanimated from fatal accidents or turning the corner when they get old by resetting themselves to a younger age. But Earth remains the only habitable planet and so exist the Scythes, tasked with keeping the population in check: those who a Scythe gleans stay dead. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers in this world, chosen to apprentice the Honorable Scythe Faraday (Scythes abandon their own names and take the names of historical innovators). Neither teen wants to learn the ways of a Scythe, and neither wants to begin gleaning lives, although Faraday tells them that, actually, only the uneager have any business accepting the mantle of a Scythe. The plot, which follows Citra's and Rowan's year-long apprenticeships, is certainly interesting enough: the two are both allies and competitors, as only one will be given the dubious prize of Scythedom, and there's an inevitable hint of forbidden love. More fascinating, though, are the questions that Shusterman raises in his exploration of this seemingly perfect future. Murdering teens are nothing new, but this is not the brave new world of The Hunger Games (2008). This society isn't a totalitarian regime masquerading as a paradise, nor is it a postapocalyptic wasteland. It's an actual utopia, a place where a sentient Cloud, known as the Thunderhead, has wiped out poverty, racial inequality, and mental and physical disease a place where lives are long and death, even with the Scythes, is virtually nonexistent. (The statistics: Everyone knows the chance of being gleaned in this or even the next millennium is so low as to be ignored.) The world is at peace and tragedy has been minimized and, honestly, it's kind of boring. There have been, of course, other future-facing books that deal with the eradication of death, like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005), and others that explore the bounds of immortality, as in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting (1975), and this pairs wonderfully with both. But few endeavors ask the questions Shusterman faces head-on: in a world without death, what becomes of life? On a field trip of sorts, Faraday takes Rowan and Citra to a museum, and Rowan notes that postmortal art lacks the urgency and turbulence of art created before the eradication of death. Similarly, Scythes are required to keep journals, and frequent musings from Scythe Curie (The Granddameof Death) appear throughout the narrative. We are not the same beings we once were, she says. Consider our inability to grasp literature and most entertainment from the mortal age. To us, the things that stirred mortal human emotions are incomprehensible. Only stories of love pass through our postmortal filter, yet even then, we are baffled by the intensity of longing and loss that threatens those mortal tales. And then the more troubling question: If we are no longer human, what are we? Static and stale, for one. Many of Shusterman's secondary characters here come across flat and bland because their world has made them that way. There's no struggle, no desire, no vibrancy. It's not to say there's no tension in this world Citra and Rowan face increasingly higher stakes as they race toward the end of their apprenticeship. A rogue group of Scythes begins killing beyond their quota, corrupting the power they possess to take a life, and a sequel is heralded by the explosive ending. But the world around them spins contentedly on. Shusterman is no stranger to pushing boundaries. Scythe owes an obvious debt to Unwind (2007) and its sequels, and this succeeds as a sort of shadow companion to Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy: instead of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, this deals in what happens to men when there are no monsters. When our reach does not exceed our grasp, when comfort is more easily obtained than struggle, when our essential humanity doesn't burn out but becomes slowly irrelevant, what becomes of us? Readers will find many things in these pages. Answers to such unsettling questions will not be among them.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In a world in which humanity has conquered death (no aging, no disease, no poverty, no war), ruled by the Thunderhead, an omniscient evolution of today's cloud, Scythes are the only ones who are allowed to take a human life. They are considered to be the best humanity has to offer, and they roam the world "gleaning" people in order to keep the population in check. Scythes are treated like royalty and feared. The last thing Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch want is to become Scythes, but when they are chosen by Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices, they are thrown into a life in which they need to master the art of death. They prove to be apt pupils, but when Scythe Faraday mysteriously gleans himself and Citra and Rowan are apprenticed to two other fearsome Scythes, they will have to put their skills to the test against each other. Intertwined with the fascinating concept of humanity conquering death and the idea of Scythes is the prospect that perhaps this is not the ideal world in which to live. Humanity has perfected itself-so what does that leave it to accomplish? Shusterman starts off this series in dramatic fashion as he creates an engrossing world that pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. VERDICT A truly astounding, unputdownable read and a fast-paced beginning to an excellent sci-fi series. A must-have.-Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal 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 The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs the Hard Way
by Patrick McDonnell

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-McDonnell's abecedarian tale takes a small scarlet cat on a breathtaking adventure. The clever tale-wordless except for two signs and one warning shout-begins when the feline notices his home's front door standing open and takes to the hills. He almost immediately comes upon a gape-mouthed Alligator, a climbing Bear, and an agitated Chicken along with a couple of other pursuers of the D and E variety. A chase begins with the cat leading his entourage through a day filled with ice and snow, a jungle, mountain peaks, and a potentially hazardous tumble off a high cliff. Humorous pen, ink, pencil and watercolor illustrations surrounded by copious white space are energetic and highly engaging for readers. The large letters of the alphabet appear near the top of the page and feature both capital and lowercase forms. While most illustrations offer a clear-cut answer to what each letter represents in the sequence, there are a few pages that require some thought; an answer key can be found at the end of the book. -VERDICT A brilliant caper that young learners will want to pore over! A must-purchase.-Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI 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 This gloriously fun escapade from McDonnell follows the misadventures of the eponymous red cat, who dashes out the front door of his home, only to be set upon, almost instantly, by an alligator, bear, chicken, and dragon. The book is wordless, other than capital and lowercase letters that correspond to each new character or event, creating a guessing game for readers in the process. In one scene, the pursuers and pursued are slipping and sliding on a patch of ice for I; a page turn, and they're swinging from vines in a jungle. A king and his daughter get involved, parachutes manifest after a tumble off a cliff ("Nnnnnnnn Oooooooo!"), and there's even a bathroom break. It's teeming with visual wit, and McDonnell's cartoons illustrate the emotional dramas of the chase with telegraphic clarity. Ages 3-6. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A little red cat runs away from home and begins an alphabetical adventure in this (nearly!) wordless picture book. A is an alligator who joins the cat, B is a bear, C a chicken, and D a dragon. After that, the party continues on through different landscapes, and, ultimately, the red cat ends up home and catching some well-deserved z's. Because of its wordless nature, readers can make up their own stories while also hunting for what represents the letter on the page. Although some are obvious, in some illustrations, there may be multiple answers, providing a great opportunity for vocabulary building. (Answers appear at the end.) McDonnell uses a combination of simple lines and a plain background to keep the focus on the action. His is a distinctive style, but the simplicity doesn't take away from the humor, and each character remains distinctive and filled with expression. Best to be shared one-on-one, though the format could inspire young authors and illustrators to try their own journeys through the alphabet.--Linsenmeyer, Erin Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Hello, Goodbye Window
by Norton Juster

BookList: PreS-Gr. 2. Two well-known names come together in a book that speaks to the real lives of children and their experiences. The young narrator visits her grandparents, Nanna and Poppy, in their big house. They explore Nanna's garden, and Poppy plays his harmonica. The narrator rides her bike and takes a nap, “and nothing happens till I get up.” Looking out the picture window, the “hello, goodbye window,” she sees the pizza guy, and, more fancifully, a dinosaur. She also spots her parents coming to pick her up. The curly-haired girl is happy to see them, but sad because it means the end of the visit. The window imagery is less important than the title would make it seem. More intrinsic is Juster's honest portrayal of a child's perceptions (a striped cat in the yard is a tiger) and emotions (being happy and sad at the same time “just happens that way sometimes”). Raschka's swirling lines, swaths, and dabs of fruity colors seem especially vibrant, particularly in the double-page spreads, which have ample room to capture both the tender moments between members of the interracial family and the exuberance of spending time in the pulsating outdoors, all flowers, grass, and sky.
IleneCooper. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Past Tense
by Lee Child

Book list *Starred Review* En route to San Diego from Maine, Jack Reacher finds himself looking at a road sign saying Laconia, New Hampshire. Reacher recognizes the name; it's the place where his father was born. He decides to take a quick detour and have a look at the place. Meanwhile, not far away, a Canadian couple's car is acting up. They manage to drive it to an out-of-the-way motel before it breaks down. As Reacher tries to track down some proof that his father once lived in Laconia (official records show no trace of anyone named Reacher), the Canadians begin to suspect that the motel's owner isn't being entirely truthful with them, and that, despite his repeated promises, helping them get their car fixed is the last thing he wants to do. Child expertly juggles a pair of seemingly unrelated story lines, keeping them moving simultaneously, until, inevitably, the lines merge and violence ensues. The twenty-third Reacher novel springs some interesting surprises about Jack's family and contains one of Reacher's most cold-blooded acts of violence. As always, the prose is lean and efficient, the action scenes are well designed, and Reacher is as formidable an opponent as one could imagine (just this side of a Transformer). Another first-class entry in a series that continues to set the gold standard for aspiring thriller authors. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A Reacher novel travels the world with much more than a toothbrush. Think media avalanche.--David Pitt Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Early in bestseller Child's superb 23rd Jack Reacher novel (after 2017's The Midnight Line), the peripatetic Reacher reaches a fork in a road in rural New Hampshire; he chooses the path heading to Laconia, "his late father's place of birth." At the same time, just 30 miles away, a young Canadian couple on their way south have car trouble and stop at a small motel, finding they're apparently its only guests. Reacher uncovers few traces of his father's existence, other than a 75-year-old assault case in which Stan Reacher is named. But he does stir up a world of trouble when he steps in to help a woman under attack and gives her assailant-the son of a well-connected underworld figure-a humiliating beating. While Reacher is dealing with a revenge posse, the Canadian couple discover just how strange their motel is. Child neatly interweaves multiple narratives, ratchets up the suspense (the reveal of the motel plot is delicious), and delivers a powerful, satisfying denouement. Fans will enjoy learning more of this enduring character's roots, and Child's spare prose continues to set a very high bar. Agent: Darley Anderson, Darley Anderson Literary. (Nov.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal When Jack Reacher hits the road, fans know there will be blood, beatings, clever helpmates, military jargon, calculated risks, and a few good men (and women) met. This 23rd novel involves dual detours. Reacher is on his way from Maine to San Diego when he spots a road sign: Laconia, NH. That's where his father grew up, so he decides to make some genealogical inquiries in town. Not far from Reacher, Canadian travelers Shorty and Patty pull into a remote motel, their car on its last legs. They're the only guests and the proprietors seem a little odd. Of course things get worse for them and for Reacher, who pummels a local, well-connected bully when he's not poring over census records and playing matchmaker for two government workers. Child brings the two narratives together in a satisfying way, doling out inside jokes, imaginative fight scenes (one in a library), family secrets, and some observational humor. And all that happens before Reacher shows up at the motel. VERDICT With his usual flair for succinctness and eye for detail, Child creates another rollicking Reacher road trip that will please fans and newcomers alike. [See Prepub Alert, 5/7/18.]-Liz French, Library Journal 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.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The War that Saved My Life
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Bradley turns her keen historical eye from Monticello (Jefferson's Sons, Penguin, 2011) to the British home front during World War II. Ada isn't exactly sure how old she is; for as long as she can remember, she's been a virtual prisoner in her mother's third floor one-room apartment. She was born with a clubfoot and her mother uses her disability as an excuse to abuse her both emotionally and physically. Ada watches the world through the narrow confines of the apartment window, waves to neighbors in the street, and carefully gauges the danger of being beaten during each encounter with her hateful mother. She envies the freedom of her little brother, Jamie, who goes to school and generally roves the neighborhood at will. When her mother prepares to ship Jamie out to the countryside with other children being evacuated from London, Ada sneaks out with him. When the two fail to be chosen by any villagers, the woman in charge forces Susan Smith, a recluse, to take them in. Though Susan is reluctant and insists that she knows nothing about caring for children, she does so diligently and is baffled by the girl's fearful flinching anytime Ada makes a mistake. Though uneducated, Ada is intensely observant and quick to learn. Readers will ache for her as she misreads cues and pushes Susan away even though she yearns to be enfolded in a hug. There is much to like here-Ada's engaging voice, the vivid setting, the humor, the heartbreak, but most of all the tenacious will to survive exhibited by Ada and the villagers who grow to love and accept her.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ (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.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog A Million Little Pieces
by James Frey

Publishers Weekly : Frey is pretender to the throne of the aggressive, digressive, cocky Kings David: Eggers and Foster Wallace. Pre-pub comparisons to those writers spring not from Frey's writing but from his attitude: as a recent advance profile put it, the 33-year-old former drug dealer and screenwriter "wants to be the greatest literary writer of his generation." While the Davids have their faults, their work is unquestionably literary. Frey's work is more mirrored surface than depth, but this superficiality has its attractions. With a combination of upper-middle-class entitlement, street credibility garnered by astronomical drug intake and PowerPoint-like sentence fragments and clipped dialogue, Frey proffers a book that is deeply flawed, too long, a trial of even the most na?ve reader's credulousness-yet its posturings hit a nerve. This is not a new story: boy from a nice, if a little chilly, family gets into trouble early with alcohol and drugs and stays there. Pieces begins as Frey arrives at Hazelden, which claims to be the most successful treatment center in the world, though its success rate is a mere 17%. There are flashbacks to the binges that led to rehab and digressions into the history of other patients: a mobster, a boxer, a former college administrator, and Lilly, his forbidden love interest, a classic fallen princess, former prostitute and crack addict. What sets Pieces apart from other memoirs about 12-stepping is Frey's resistance to the concept of a higher power. The book is sure to draw criticism from the recovery community, which is, in a sense, Frey's great gimmick. He is someone whose problems seem to stem from being uncomfortable with authority, and who resists it to the end, surviving despite the odds against him. The prose is repetitive to the point of being exasperating, but the story, with its forays into the consciousness of an addict, is correspondingly difficult to put down.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Adult/High School-Frey's high school and college years are a blur of alcohol and drugs, culminating in a full-fledged crack addiction at age 23. As the book begins, his fed-up friends have convinced an airline to let him on the plane and shipped him off to his parents, who promptly put him in Hazelden, the rehabilitation clinic with the greatest success rate, 20 percent. Frey doesn't shy away from the gory details of addiction and recovery; all of the bodily fluids make major appearances here. What really separates this title from other rehab memoirs, apart from the author's young age, is his literary prowess. He doesn't rely on traditional indentation, punctuation, or capitalization, which adds to the nearly poetic, impressionistic detail of parts of the story. Readers cannot help but feel his sickness, pain, and anger, which is evident through his language. Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (Viking, 1962) seems an apt comparison for this work-Frey maintains his principles and does not respect authority at all if it doesn't follow his beliefs. And fellow addicts are as much, if not more, help to him than the clinicians who are trying to preach the 12 steps, which he does not intend to follow in his path to sobriety. This book is highly recommended for teens interested in the darker side of human existence.-Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)