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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Winger
by Andrew Smith

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Smith takes readers inside the mind of Ryan Dean West, nicknamed Winger for his position on the rugby team of his tony private school. He's brilliant, immature (a 14-year-old junior), and anxious to prove himself to his teammates and especially to his crush, 16-year-old Annie. "You push things too far" advises his best friend and teammate Joey, who is gay and accepted for his honesty about it and his status as team captain. With only Joey, Annie, and the Tao of rugby to guide him, it's no wonder Ryan Dean has more than his share of missteps while trying to reinvent himself. Some are painfully awkward, and some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, especially his sponge bath by a hot nurse. The team's on-field camaraderie deteriorates into simmering hostility off the field, rife with drinking, crudeness, profanity, and constant verbal slurs. Still, readers will be shocked by a climactic violent act against Joey that leaves Ryan Dean changed forever. Smith's understanding of teen males is evident; nuances add depth and authenticity to characters that could have been cliches. However, Annie feels a bit idealized: one wonders what she sees in Ryan Dean. The pace moves quickly and holds readers' interest, punctuated by Bosma's charts and graphic-novel pages that cleverly depict the boy's hilarious inner turmoil. Readers don't need to know anything about rugby to appreciate this moving, funny coming-of-age novel.-M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY (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 This brutally honest coming-of-age novel from Smith (Passenger) unfolds through the eyes of Ryan Dean West, a 14-year-old, rugby-playing junior at the exclusive Pine Mountain school. He's two years younger than his classmates, hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie, and stuck in Opportunity Hall, the residence reserved for the worst rule-breakers. As Ryan Dean struggles with football-team bullies, late-night escapades, academic pressures, and girl troubles, he also discovers his own strengths. Like puberty itself, this tale is alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening; Bosma's occasional comics add another layer of whimsy and emotion, representing Ryan Dean's own artistic bent. The characters and situations are profane and crass, reveling in talk of bodily functions and sexual innuendo, and the story is a cross between the films Lucas and Porky's, with all the charm and gross-out moments that dichotomy suggests. That's what makes the tragedy near the very end all the more shocking and sudden, changing the entire mood and impact of Ryan Dean's journey. The last-minute twist may leave readers confused, angry, and heartbroken, but this remains an excellent, challenging read. Ages 12-up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrew Brown Literary Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* After he opened a vein in YA lit with The Marbury Lens (2010) and then went completely nutso in Passenger (2012), about the only thing that Smith could do to surprise would be a hornball boarding-school romantic romp. Surprise! Well, sort of. At 14, Ryan Dean West is a couple years younger (and scrawnier) than the rest of the juniors at Pine Mountain. He is a plucky kid despite a tendency to punctuate his every thought with I am such a loser who stars in the rugby team due to his speed and tenacity. The rail ties of his single-track mind, though, are his exploits (or lack thereof) with the opposite sex, particularly his best friend Annie, who thinks he is adorable. In short, Ryan Dean is a slightly pervy but likable teen. He rates the hotness of every female in sight but also drops surprising bombs of personal depth on a friend's homosexuality, the poisonous rivalries that can ruin friendships, and his own highly unstable mix of insecurity and evolving self-confidence. Much of the story seems preoccupied with the base-level joys and torments of being a teenager, content to float along with occasional bursts of levity from some nonessential but fun minicomics by Bosma. But at its heart, it is more in line with Dead Poets Society, and by the end this deceptively lightweight novel packs an unexpectedly ferocious punch.--Chipman, Ian 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 Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-George Washington, or "GW" for short, may look like a sweet, innocent classroom hamster, but little do the second graders at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School know that he's the inventor of the Sunflower Seed Slingshot and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device, both of which are going to help him and his fellow inmates-Barry the rabbit (serving time in first grade) and Biter the world's toughest guinea pig (doing a stint in kindergarten)-escape to freedom. Unfortunately, when GW finally liberates his rodent pals, a gang of surly mice threaten their plans. Jamieson, author and illustrator of Roller Girl (Dial, 2015), here presents a giggle-worthy tale for younger readers and those just venturing into graphic novels. Easy-to-follow panels, complemented by several spreads, explode off the page with her bright and cheery palette. Visual humor abounds, from GW's gallant attempts at sword fighting with the mouse leader (using a broken piece of uncooked spaghetti) to Biter's confession that, while in kindergarten, she's found a way to channel her anger issues through meditation. VERDICT Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey's works, Cyndi Marko's "Kung Pow Chicken" series (Scholastic), and Geoffrey Hayes's "Benny and Penny" books (TOON.)-Kiera Parrott, 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.

Book list *Starred Review* For the hamster known as George Washington (GW, for short), there is no greater prison than the second grade classroom. For three months, GW has been plotting and scheming, waiting patiently for things to fall into place so he can finally break free from the joint. It takes some effort to convince fellow prisoners Barry and Biter to join him they actually seem to like it there but a well-laid guilt trip does the trick. On the brink of freedom, the three rodents run up against the biggest obstacle of all, Harriet the mouse. She and her minions have a taste for destruction, but will GW have a change of heart and stop Harriet's mad plan to ruin the school? Told with a wickedly sharp sense of humor, Jamieson's latest delivers a madcap adventure that is sure to please young readers. The hilariously expressive rodents guarantee laughs from page one with plenty of slapstick humor and pointed one-liners. Jamieson makes excellent use of a variety of panel sizes to maximize the action, and the liberal use of bright color adds extra visual punch.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
by Javaka Steptoe

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-Through a simple text and vivid mixed-media collage art, the author evokes the life and work of the Brooklyn-born Basquiat, who was nurtured in a loving family and schooled in the museums and streets of New York City. Incorporating found materials into the illustrations, Steptoe captures the originality and urban vibe of a charismatic artist whose talent revealed itself early on and matured into a powerful social and political voice. 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.

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-A visually stunning picture book biography about modern art phenomenon Jean-Michel Basquiat. Coretta Scott King Award-winner Steptoe's vivid text and bold artwork reflect the Haitian Puerto Rican artist's collage-style paintings that rocketed him to fame in the 1980s. Back matter and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat's work help readers appreciate the layers of Black identity and Yoruba influences at play in Steptoe's illustrations. 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.

School Library Journal Gr 1-5-One extraordinary artist illuminates another in this textured, heartfelt picture book biography of the 1980s cultural phenom. Employing signature features of Jean-Michel Basquiat's work-vibrant colors, found objects, repeated motifs-Steptoe allows his own emotionally rich style to shine through the artistic and biographical references dotting the illustrations. Pieces of discarded wood from Basquiat's stomping grounds fit together to form the painted surfaces for Steptoe's scenes of the Afro Puerto Rican artist, each unfolding within a colored frame. Occasional collage elements of newsprint, photographs, and art materials add dimension and immediacy, highlighting both artists' immersion in their work and surroundings. Adhering to a straightforward chronology, Steptoe addresses events in Basquiat's life primarily as they affected his artistic growth from young boyhood in Brooklyn through the triumphant years as a critical and popular success in Manhattan. With minimal detail, the author sensitively touches upon his subject's childhood car crash and his mother's mental illness, though the story avoids his drug use and stops before his early death. Crucial back matter provides context for readers in every respect. Additional biographical information fleshes out the lyrical text of the main narrative, and an introduction to symbolism in Basquiat's work helps readers appreciate the layers at play in Steptoe's illustrations. An author's note articulates feelings that radiate from every page of the book: Steptoe's admiration for and attachment to Basquiat and his personal investment in depicting a complicated, loving relationship between a child and a mentally ill parent. VERDICT Pairing simple text with expressive, encompassing illustrations, this excellent title offers a new generation a fittingly powerful introduction to an artistic luminary.-Robbin E. Friedman, Chappaqua Library, NY 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.

Publishers Weekly In this visually arresting and vibrantly narrated biography, Steptoe (In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall) charts the childhood of incandescent, ill-fated artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988). Although the book includes no work by Basquiat himself, Steptoe emulates 1980s street art by layering paint, paper scraps, paint tubes, and photos on found-wood panels. The artist, Steptoe writes, learned to see art in the "messy patchwork of the city," the "street games of little children," and the "terrible blues" of growing up. Basquiat's early influences include his Puerto Rican mother, Matilde, who encourages him with museum visits and with the textbook Gray's Anatomy. Poetry and his Haitian father's jazz records fuel his imagination, too: "His drawings are not neat or clean, nor does he color inside the lines." Basquiat's radiance was suffused with trauma, and Steptoe alludes to Matilde's mental illness and Basquiat's teenage strife ("His mother's mind is not well, and the family breaks"). Passing references to Warhol, Haring, graffiti, and Basquiat's heroin overdose appear in the afterword: "Basquiat lived an exhilarating life, but... he struggled with a drug addiction until his death." Overall, Steptoe focuses on Basquiat's meteoric rise, and readers see the artist smiling as he walks on the gritty Lower East Side. Collaged photographs picture a crowded gallery, and Steptoe concludes in the present tense: "He is now a famous artist!" Steptoe downplays tragic elements, instead celebrating Basquiat's irreverence and brilliance. Ages 4-8. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Beautifully evoking his subject's exuberant, colorful, and playful art style in jostling paintings on scraps of found wood, Steptoe introduces young readers to Basquiat's childhood and early career. Born in Brooklyn, Basquiat loved art early, and with the encouragement of his similarly artistic mother, he actively pursued his dream of being a famous artist, finding creative inspiration not only at museums but also in the color and rhythm of the city around him. Basquiat's signature style sloppy, ugly, and sometimes weird, but somehow still beautiful should appeal in particular to kids who find joy in free-form scribbles, and that same spirit animates Steptoe's collage illustrations. Thickly laid paints and exploded perspectives in bright hues depict scenes from Basquiat's life and highlight some of his iconic imagery, like golden cartoon crowns, eyeballs, and vehicles scattered everywhere. There's no mention of his problems with addiction or untimely death; rather, the book closes with him achieving his dream, crown overhead and surrounded by clipped headlines about his work. A lively, engaging introduction to a one-of-a-kind artist perfect for art-loving kids.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog All-american Murder
by James Patterson and Alex Abramovich with Mike Harvkey

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo

Publishers Weekly Newbery Medalist DiCamillo and illustrator Campbell meld prose with comics sequences in a broad comedy tinged with sadness. Bitter about her parents' divorce, Flora Buckman has withdrawn into her favorite comic book, The Amazing Incandesto! and memorized the advisories in its ongoing bonus feature, Terrible Things Can Happen to You! She puts those life-saving tips into action when a squirrel is swallowed whole by a neighbor's new vacuum cleaner, the Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X. Flora resuscitates the squirrel, christens him after the vacuum, and witnesses a superhero-like transformation: Ulysses is now uber-strong, can fly, and composes poetry. Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there's real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents. It's into this profound vacuum that Ulysses really flies, demonstrating an unconditional love for his rescuer, trumped only perhaps by his love for food and a desire "to make the letters on the keyboard speak the truth of his heart." Ages 10-up. Author's agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* The story begins with a vacuum cleaner. And a squirrel. Or, to be more precise, a squirrel who gets sucked into a Ulysses Super Suction wielded by Flora's neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. The rather hairless squirrel that is spit out is not the same one that went in. That squirrel had only one thought: I'm hungry. After Flora performs CPR, the rescued squirrel, newly named Ulysses, is still hungry, but now he has many thoughts in his head. Foremost is his consideration of Flora's suggestion that perhaps he is a superhero like The Amazing Incandesto, whose comic-book adventures Flora read with her father. (Drawing on comic-strip elements, Campbell's illustrations here work wonderfully well.) Since Flora's father and mother have split up, Flora has become a confirmed and defiant cynic. Yet it is hard to remain a cynic while one's heart is opening to a squirrel who can type ( Squirtl. I am . . . born anew ), who can fly, and who adores Flora. Newbery winner DiCamillo is a master storyteller, and not just because she creates characters who dance off the pages and plots, whether epic or small, that never fail to engage and delight readers. Her biggest strength is exposing the truths that open and heal the human heart. She believes in possibilities and forgiveness and teaches her audience that the salt of life can be cut with the right measure of love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: DiCamillo has a devoted following, plus this book has an extensive marketing campaign. That equals demand.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

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

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. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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 (c) Copyright 2010. 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 Growing up in a small town in Kentucky, young Icy Sparks is set apart from her classmates by her weird mannerisms and strange noises. Not until she becomes an adult does Icy learn that her tics, croaks, and groans are all part of Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disease of which few people in the 1950s were aware. As a child, Icy suffers through taunts and mockery by her classmates. Even the adults closest to her--her loving grandparents who raise her, her school principal, and her despicable fourth-grade teacher--view her with alarm. Icy is sent to a children's asylum, where doctors try to discover the cause of her disease. While she is in the asylum, Icy begins to see beyond her own differences to the sufferings of others far worse off than she. Although many of the characters in this first novel are portrayed so simplisticly that they are either very good or unbelievably bad, this is a fast-moving and enjoyable narrative. A good choice for public libraries. --Nancy Pearl

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

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