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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Piecing Me Together
by Watson, Renee

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.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos
by Monica Brown

School Library Journal Gr 1-4-Two well-known children's book creators present the life of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo through the kid-friendly lens of her animal friends. Kahlo's life as a young girl at La Casa Azul was marked by the support of her family, illness, and her "animalitos," or the many pets and creatures that she loved. Each spread introduces a new animal, from Bonito the parrot to her spider monkeys Fulang Chang and Caimito de Guayabal. The text often makes comparisons between the featured critters and the independent, free-spirited girl and budding artist. Throughout, Brown makes references to Kahlo's love of and inspiration by her Aztec culture, which was often seen in her art and evidenced by her pets' names. The picture book biography touches only briefly upon some of the artist's life-changing events, such as the accident she experienced in her teens or her marriage to Diego Rivera, but instead emphasizes the companionship of the animals with which she surrounded herself. Parra's lively acrylic paintings pay tribute to the vibrant hues of Kahlo's paintings, and her ties to her Mexican and Aztec heritage are apparent. A detailed author's note about the subject's life, art, and influence concludes the book and lists the many works in which her animalitos appear. VERDICT This unique and gorgeous take on the famous figure's work will give children an accessible entry point to an important artist. A good choice for picture book biography shelves.-Shelley M. Diaz, School Library Journal © 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.

Book list Featuring charming visuals and lively, often lyrical prose, this picture book introduces Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, interweaving biographical details while highlighting her special relationships with pets. From early efforts at painting, to a childhood illness, to school escapades, Brown takes us into Kahlo's adulthood her developing passion for creating art, her marriage to Diego Rivera, and, finally, her animals. She kept company with spider monkeys, parrots, dogs, turkeys, and much more, and Brown describes each as possessing personalities that reflect Kahlo's own characteristics: Like her eagle, Frida's imagination could fly high. Rich-hued, folk art-style illustrations incorporate evocative touches, fanciful details, and collagelike compositions. Both the accessible art and text convey a sense of how some of Frida's experiences and animals impacted and informed her life and art. Although examples of her actual artwork aren't included, an author's note lists some titles that feature her animals, and provides further biographical information.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Brown uses the pets and animals in Frida Kahlo's life-spider monkeys, a parrot, and a fawn, among others-to emphasize aspects of her personality as she developed into an artist: "Frida's turkeys were intelligent and sensitive, just like her. And, like Frida, her dogs were warm and loving." Along with highlighting Kahlo's tender interactions with the animals, Brown shows how art buoyed her during difficult times, including a bus accident at age 18 that left her with persistent health problems. Parra's warm, weathered paintings are done in a flattened, folk-art style that vividly evokes the Mexican environment and "heritage of which she was very proud." Even if readers don't get much of a sense of the work Kahlo created, they'll finish the book feeling like they know the artist. Ages 4-8. Agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Flotsam
by David Wiesner

Publishers Weekly Two-time Caldecott winner Wiesner (Tuesday; The Three Pigs) crafts another wordless mystery, this one set on an ordinary beach and under an enchanted sea. A saucerlike fish's eye stares from the exact center of the dust jacket, and the fish's scarlet skin provides a knockout background color. First-timers might not notice what's reflected in its eye, but return visitors will: it's a boxy camera, drifting underwater with a school of slim green fish. In the opening panels, Wiesner pictures another close-up eye, this one belonging to a blond boy viewing a crab through a magnifying glass. Visual devices binoculars and a microscope in a plastic bag rest on a nearby beach towel, suggesting the boy's optical curiosity. After being tossed by a wave, the studious boy finds a barnacle-covered apparatus on the sand (evocatively labeled the "Melville Underwater Camera"). He removes its roll of film and, when he gets the results, readers see another close-up of his wide-open, astonished eye: the photos depict bizarre undersea scenes (nautilus shells with cutout windows, walking starfish-islands, octopi in their living room ? la Tuesday's frogs). A lesser fantasist would end the story here, but Wiesner provides a further surprise that connects the curious boy with others like him. Masterfully altering the pace with panel sequences and full-bleed spreads, he fills every inch of the pages with intricate, imaginative watercolor details. New details swim into focus with every rereading of this immensely satisfying excursion. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

Book list PreS-Gr. 2. As in his Caldecott Medal Book Tuesday 0 (1991), Wiesner offers another exceptional, wordless picture book that finds wild magic in quiet, everyday settings. At the seaside, a boy holds a magnifying glass up to a flailing hermit crab; binoculars and a microscope lay nearby. The array of lenses signals the shifting viewpoints to come, and in the following panels, the boy discovers an old-fashioned camera, film intact. A trip to the photo store produces astonishing pictures: an octopus in an armchair holding story hour in a deep-sea parlor; tiny, green alien tourists peering at sea horses. There are portraits of children around the world and through the ages, each child holding another child's photo. After snapping his own image, the boy returns the camera to the sea, where it's carried on a journey to another child. Children may initially puzzle, along with the boy, over the mechanics of the camera and the connections between the photographed portraits. When closely observed, however, the masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create a clear narrative, and viewers will eagerly fill in the story's wordless spaces with their own imagined story lines. Like Chris Van Allsburg's books and Wiesner's previous works, this visual wonder invites us to rethink how and what we see, out in the world and in our mind's eye. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2006 Booklist

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

School Library Journal K-Gr 4-A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. It's a "Melville underwater camera," and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of-the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless book's vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesner's other works, Chris Van Allsburg's titles, or Barbara Lehman's The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.-Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Educated
by Tara Westover

Book list To the Westovers, public education was the quickest way to put yourself on the wrong path. By the time the author, the youngest Westover, had come along, her devout Mormon parents had pulled all of their seven children out of school, preferring to teach just the essentials: a little bit of reading, a lot of scripture, and the importance of family and a hard day's work. Westover's debut memoir details how her isolated upbringing in the mountains of Idaho led to an unexpected outcome: Cambridge, Harvard, and a PhD. Though Westover's entrance into academia is remarkable, at its heart, her memoir is a family history: not just a tale of overcoming but an uncertain elegy to the life that she ultimately rejected. Westover manages both tenderness and a savage honesty that spares no one, not even herself: nowhere is this more powerful than in her relationship with her brother Shawn, her abuser and closest friend. In its keen exploration of family, history, and the narratives we create for ourselves, Educated becomes more than just a success story.--Winterroth, Amanda Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Library Journal Raised on a secluded family compound in Idaho, Westover was seven before realizing the biggest difference between her family and others was not their remote home, or their Mormon religion-but that "we don't go to school." Westover helped the family maintain a minimalist existence through construction, scrapping, and midwifery, no matter how many injuries she sustained. But when the author's wounds go untreated, leaving her mother mentally compromised and herself an object of abuse, cracks in her upbringing began to appear. Westover's brother Tyler is the first to leave home for college, later encouraging her to do the same. "There's a world out there, Tara...it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in your ear." Starting her academic career at Brigham Young University, Westover continued to earn academic achievements, including a PhD in history from Cambridge University. VERDICT Explicit descriptions of abuse can make for difficult reading, but for a student who started from a point of near illiteracy, Westover's writing is lyrical and literary in style. With no real comparison memoir, this joins the small number of Mormon exposés of recent years. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," p. 29.-Ed.]-Jessica Bushore, Xenia, OH © 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 A girl claws her way out of a claustrophobic, violent fundamentalist family into an elite academic career in this searing debut memoir. Westover recounts her upbringing with six siblings on an Idaho farm dominated by her father Gene (a pseudonym), a devout Mormon with a paranoid streak who tried to live off the grid, kept four children (including the author) out of school, refused to countenance doctors (Westover's mother, Faye, was an unlicensed midwife who sold homeopathic medicines), and stockpiled supplies and guns for the end-time. Westover was forced to work from the age of 11 in Gene's scrap and construction businesses under incredibly dangerous conditions; the grisly narrative includes lost fingers, several cases of severe brain trauma, and two horrible burns that Faye treated with herbal remedies. Thickening the dysfunction was the author's bullying brother, who physically brutalized her for wearing makeup and other immodest behaviors. When she finally escaped the toxic atmosphere of dogma, suspicion, and patriarchy to attend college and then grad school at Cambridge, her identity crisis precipitated a heartbreaking rupture. Westover's vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Year of Billy Miller
by Kevin Henkes

Book list Billy Miller is starting second grade, and though his teacher, Mrs. Silver, tells the class it is the Year of the Rabbit, Billy's father tells him it will be the Year of Billy Miller. Billy isn't sure. He's even more worried when he gets off on the wrong foot his first day, but as the months go on, Billy begins to shine. There are some wonderful moments here: when Billy brings his teacher silver items coins, a paper clip, a little rabbit to show her he's a nice boy; when he agonizes over how to tell his father that Papa is a babyish name; and a triumphant ending when poetry and self-confidence intertwine. But the school year also seems rushed, and some intriguing characters, like the annoying Emma, are barely touched. Harkening back to writers of an earlier era, like Eleanor Estes, Henkes never compromises his language. Words like replicated, diligently, and frustrated appear and that's on just one page. Since this is so age specific, older readers might pass it by. That would be too bad, because this is a story with a lot of heart and sweet insights into growing up. Illustrations unseen. High-Demand Backstory: There's no more versatile producer of children's books working today than Henkes. Libraries, with great justification, are always interested in what he's up to now.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-The beginning of a new school year brings anxious moments for Billy Miller, a typical second grader at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in a small Wisconsin town. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, uses chopsticks to hold her hair in place and know-it-all Emma Sparks is unfortunately one of his desk mates. Just as a school year is divided into quarters, the book is divided into four parts-"Teacher," "Father," "Sister," and "Mother"-each offering a new perspective on Billy's personality and development through his interactions with these well-developed characters. He begins the school year with a lump on his head from a family-vacation incident and navigates glitter homework fiascos, canceled sleepover plans, and sibling annoyances as readers see the year unfold through funny and often poignant situations. Billy himself might have been daunted by a book with more than 200 pages, but eager young readers will find this a great first chapter book to share or read solo.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2013. 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 It's the Year of the Rabbit, according to Billy Miller's new second-grade teacher. It's also the year of several dilemmas for the boy, including the fear he might "start forgetting things" due to bumping his head while on vacation over the summer. Then there's the habitat diorama that Billy is assigned-the bat cave he creates doesn't turn out quite like he'd hoped. Henkes's (Junonia) gentle slice-of-life novel, divided into four sections, humorously examines these and other plights while capturing the essence of Billy's relationships with four significant figures in his life: his teacher (who he accidentally insults on the first day of school); his stay-at-home, struggling-artist father; his sometimes annoying, sometimes endearing three-year-old sister; and his mother, about whom Billy must compose a poem to be presented at the end of the school year. Each segment introduces a new conflict that Billy manages to resolve without too much fuss or torment. The book's clear structure, concrete images, and just-challenging-enough vocabulary are smartly attuned to emerging readers, and its warmth, relatable situations, and sympathetic hero give it broad appeal. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Icy Sparks
by Gwyn Hyman Rubio

Library Journal: Kentucky writer Rubio's big-hearted first novel features Icy Sparks, a brave and lovable child with Tourette Syndrome. Her involuntary twitches, eye poppings, and repetitions isolate her from the life of her Appalachian community. She is hospitalized for several months and finally receives the correct diagnosis, and under the care of a kindly doctor she learns techniques to reduce the severity of her symptoms. Her loving grandparents and the friendship of the hugely fat Miss Emily, also isolated by her difference, sustain her for five years. During those years Miss Emily teaches her what she will need to know for college. By the end of those years Icy has learned to manage her disability and has used her pain and loneliness to grow into a wonderful young woman. In refusing defeat, she wins the love and respect of the reader. For all collections where there are tender hearts.

Judith Kicinski, Sarah Lawrence Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: The diagnosis of Tourette's Syndrome isn't mentioned until the last pages of Rubio's sensitive portrayal of a young girl with the disease. Instead, Rubio lets Icy Sparks tell her own story of growing up during the 1950s in a small Kentucky town where her uncontrollable outbursts make her an object of fright and scorn. "The Saturday after my [10th] birthday, the eye blinking and poppings began.... I could feel little invisible rubber bands fastened to my eyelids, pulled tight through my brain and attached to the back of my head," says Icy, who thinks of herself as the "frog child from Icy Creek." Orphaned and cared for by her loving grandparents, Icy weathers the taunts of a mean schoolteacher and, later, a crush on a boy that ends in disappointment. But she also finds real friendship with the enormously fat Miss Emily, who offers kindness and camaraderie. Rubio captures Icy's feelings of isolation and brings poignancy and drama to Icy's childhood experiences, to her temporary confinement in a mental institution and to her reluctant introduction--thanks to Miss Emily and Icy's grandmother--to the Pentecostal church through which she discovers her singing talent. If Rubio sometimes loses track of Icy's voice, indulges in unconvincing magical realism and takes unearned poetic license with the speech of her Appalachian grandparents ("`Your skin was as cold as fresh springwater, slippery and strangely soothing to touch'"), her first novel is remarkable for its often funny portrayal of a child's fears, loves and struggles with an affliction she doesn't know isn't her fault. Agent, Susan Golomb; editor, Jane von Mehren.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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