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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Gift of the Magpie
by Donna Andrews

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslow’s Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers. Unlike Meg, who’s surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphilly’s somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuff—objects of dubious value he can’t bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harvey’s only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harvey’s for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right. Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbi’s wife gets a cameo. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslows Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers.Unlike Meg, whos surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphillys somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuffobjects of dubious value he cant bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harveys only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harveys for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right.Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbis wife gets a cameo. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The Christmas spirit suffuses bestseller Andrews’s atmospheric 28th Meg Langslow mystery (after The Falcon Always Rings Twice). During the holiday season, Meg is the project manager for Helping Hands, “a sort of Make-A-Wish program for grownups,” in Caerphilly, Va. Her volunteers step in to assist citizens with anything that needs doing, including sourcing organic manure and rounding up experienced quilters. The main task at the moment is helping Harvey Dunlop (aka Harvey the Hoarder). Harvey’s conniving cousins and rapacious neighbors have filed complaints with the town council about the unkempt appearance of his home. It falls to Meg and her crew to declutter and repair the property. After only one day of packing up debris and possible treasure, Meg arrives to find Harvey lying in a pool of blood on his garage floor. He’s rushed to the hospital, where he’s declared dead. Never mind the slight murder investigation that ensues. Caerphilly, with its endearing residents, is the kind of place every cozy fan would like to escape to during stressful times. Andrews consistently entertains. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

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

Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

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

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The gospel of winter : a novel
by by Brendan Kiely

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Field Trip to the Moon
by John Hare

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Outside In
by Deborah Underwood

Kirkus Outdoors is part of people all the time, even when they're indoors."Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us," opens the text. The premise that nowadays humans sometimes forget about Outside is belied so thoroughly and passionately by the illustrations that it barely registerswhich works just fine in this love letter to nature. From opening spread to closing, nature is all-encompassing. Derby uses watercolors, powdered graphite, and thread or flower stems soaked in ink to paint full-bleed scenes bursting with dampness and leaves, branches and sticks, and qualities of light so various that they evoke different seasons and different weathers all at once. Outdoors, watery paint describes hanging branches or rain; leaves look liquid; large orange patches are treetops but evoke flower petals. Indoors, sunlight beams through glass panes to set a watery, purple-black hallway quietly aglow. Bits of dense color saturation and keen, crisp, sometimes prickly edges pierce, delineate, and offset the bountiful, wet, organic swaths. Outside "sings to us with chirps and rustles and tap-taps on the roof"; it "beckons with smells: sunbaked, fresh, and mysterious"; we feel it "in the warm weight of our cats and the rough fur of our dogs." The child character embraced by Outside (when both outdoors and in) has peach skin and long, straight, dark hair.Lushness without sweetnesswild, darkly romantic, and exquisite. (Picture book. 3-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly “Once/ we were part of Outside/ and Outside was part of us/ There was nothing between us,” begins Underwood (Ducks!) in plainspoken lines. “Now/ sometimes even when/ we’re outside.../ we’re inside.” Derby (How to Walk an Ant) portrays this tension in a gentle series of illustrations that mix gauzy, muted tones and textures with punctuations of color. The pictures follow a small child and family, visualizing moments, indoors and out, when “outside reminds us” of its abiding presence. Inside, “flashes at the window” illuminate a hallway, a window-side transformation exemplifies nature’s “slow magic tricks,” a tiny snail sneaks in on a bunch of kale, and rooftop serenades include “chirps/ and rustles/ and tap-taps on the roof.” Even when the girl sits (“in wooden chairs,/ once trees”) or stands at the bathroom sink (“rivers come inside”), the outdoors communicates its presence, requesting attention. In the final pages, the child and a cat step outside into a feathery, vibrant landscape—a moving reminder that nature’s beckoning need not go unrequited. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)

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Book list Lovely, expressionistic art and poetic prose invite readers to contemplate nature’s mystique and its role in everyday life, which is often taken for granted or goes unnoticed. The opening scenes set the pensive tone—“Sometimes even when we’re outside . . . / we’re inside. / We forget Outside is there”—while Derby’s illustrations show a road surrounded by trees, followed by a girl in close-up, inside a car. In her home, the girl’s experiences highlight how Outside makes itself known, such as when birds are silhouetted against a window, or is interwoven into daily indoor life, from the food we eat to what we wear (“Outside cuddles us / in clothes, / once puffs of cotton”). Ultimately, the girl heads outdoors, drawn to explore what’s there. Through an evocative mix of aqueous washes and richer, more saturated tones, the color-washed, loose-brushed illustrations capture a sense of nature’s intrigue, delights, and influence. While the lyrical text and concepts may be a bit too abstract or esoteric for younger children, the presentation and approach may still inspire reflection about interconnectedness in the natural world.

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

Horn Book The intersection of outside and inside is creatively explored in this reflection on nature and its gentle persistence and ever-presence. The story begins in nature, as a young girl explores an impressionistic forest. "Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us. There was nothing between us." After a few page-turns, the girl is riding in a car, with contemplative text observing, "Now sometimes even when we're outside...we're inside. We forget Outside is there." But the outside always makes itself known in subtle and miraculous ways. Airy and translucent jewel-hued watercolors create a luminous canvas for powdered graphite details that delineate how the Outside sneaks In. From the sunlight that "flashes through the window" to the "warm bread and berries" on the kitchen table to the "wooden chairs, once trees," the natural world organically weaves its way into the girl's home, creating daily rhythms ("Outside shows us there is a time to rest and a time to start fresh") and routines ("a spider seeking shelter, a boxelder bug in the bath"). Visible brushstrokes and splashes create texture, reflecting the outside's raw, sensory, and uninhibited beauty -- a beauty that (on the last spread) summons the girl out of her house and into the golden outdoors, reminding readers of the majesty that is always there, waiting just outside. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—In this exquisite tale, the wonders of nature are revealed to be all around us if we just take the time to notice and appreciate them. Spare, lyrical text offers a fable-like depth of insight: "Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us. There was nothing between us. Now, sometimes even when we're outside… we're inside." Derby's luminous watercolor illustrations evocatively show this disconnection: A little girl, buckled into a car seat, seems unaware of the scenery passing by her. "Outside" is an ebullient character, and tries to capture the child's attention by singing to her with "chirps and rustles and tap-taps on the roof," and with "slow magic tricks" like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Outside also makes its way inside, as seen in the nourishing berries on the kitchen counter, on the cotton T-shirt the child wears, and as a morning sunlight–streaming natural alarm clock. Ever patient, Outside waits and whispers, "I miss you," until the little girl rediscovers the world outside her window. VERDICT This gorgeous celebration of nature is a stirring invitation to play.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ont.

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Think Again
by Adam Grant

Kirkus The bestselling author of Originals (2016) returns with an exploration of the theoretical and practical values of rethinking and mental agility. Though rethinking and unlearning are not new intellectual exercises (Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living”), they are worth revisiting. Our worldview—that assemblage of instincts, habits, assumptions, and experiences—is something we hold dear. Grant, who teaches organizational psychology at the Wharton School of Business, challenges readers to rethink their outlooks on an ongoing basis, and he often makes time-tested concepts feel fresh. The author consistently emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning and maintaining an open, flexible mind. Grant investigates rethinking in three areas—the individual, changing others’ minds, and collective environments—and supports his text with research in numerous disciplines as well as entertaining anecdotes on a variety of topics, including the Blackberry, the presidency of Iceland, confirmation and desirability biases, the mindsets of totalitarians, and the values of scientific thinking (“favors humility over pride, doubt over certainty, curiosity over closure”) and confident humility. Regarding the last, leaders of all stripes can learn from Grant’s incisive discussion of how “you can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present.” As in his previous books, Grant employs earnest, crisp prose and thorough research. While readers will nod along in agreement with many of his points, some may give pause. For example: “Even if we disagree strongly with someone on a social issue, when we discover that she cares deeply about the issue, we trust her more. We might still dislike her, but we see her passion for a principle as a sign of integrity. We reject the belief but grow to respect the person behind it.” Activist readers, especially those involved in anti-racism work, will certainly disagree. Grant breaks little to no ground but offers well-intentioned, valuable advice on periodically testing one’s beliefs. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus The bestselling author of Originals (2016) returns with an exploration of the theoretical and practical values of rethinking and mental agility.Though rethinking and unlearning are not new intellectual exercises (Socrates: The unexamined life is not worth living), they are worth revisiting. Our worldviewthat assemblage of instincts, habits, assumptions, and experiencesis something we hold dear. Grant, who teaches organizational psychology at the Wharton School of Business, challenges readers to rethink their outlooks on an ongoing basis, and he often makes time-tested concepts feel fresh. The author consistently emphasizes the importance of lifelong learning and maintaining an open, flexible mind. Grant investigates rethinking in three areasthe individual, changing others minds, and collective environmentsand supports his text with research in numerous disciplines as well as entertaining anecdotes on a variety of topics, including the Blackberry, the presidency of Iceland, confirmation and desirability biases, the mindsets of totalitarians, and the values of scientific thinking (favors humility over pride, doubt over certainty, curiosity over closure) and confident humility. Regarding the last, leaders of all stripes can learn from Grants incisive discussion of how you can be confident in your ability to achieve a goal in the future while maintaining the humility to question whether you have the right tools in the present. As in his previous books, Grant employs earnest, crisp prose and thorough research. While readers will nod along in agreement with many of his points, some may give pause. For example: Even if we disagree strongly with someone on a social issue, when we discover that she cares deeply about the issue, we trust her more. We might still dislike her, but we see her passion for a principle as a sign of integrity. We reject the belief but grow to respect the person behind it. Activist readers, especially those involved in anti-racism work, will certainly disagree.Grant breaks little to no ground but offers well-intentioned, valuable advice on periodically testing ones beliefs. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly “Our ways of thinking become habits that can weigh us down, and we don’t bother to question them until it’s too late,” warns psychologist Grant (The Gift Inside the Box) in this energetic guide. Learning to question one’s assumptions requires a high level of “mental fitness,” he writes, which can be learned. To that end, he urges readers to stay flexible and adapt to change by identifying and managing such emotions as defensiveness and anger. Grant offers no shortage of examples of people who have managed to change their own or others’ minds, or those who have failed: Daryl Davis, for example, is a Black man who brought KKK members out of Klan membership by engaging them in thoughtful conversation, while Mike Lazaridis of Blackberry failed to adapt when he insisted no one would want an “entire computer” on their phone. In the way of advice, Grant encourages readers to develop intellectual humility, accept criticism of their work, and have a “challenge network” to prevent tunnel vision. Grant convincingly makes a case that it’s possible to prevent “locking our life GPS onto a single target can give us the right directions to the wrong destination.” His guide is reliably lively, convincing, and approachable. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Feb.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Grant (Wharton Sch.; Organizational Psychology; Give and Take) contends that people are often stuck in their own ideas. The problem is not that these ideas are wrong, but rather that we are unwilling to rethink them. In the first part of this title, he points to people who succeed in large part because they do question their own opinions. The Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman enjoys learning he is wrong, because this enables him to add to his knowledge. By contrast, victims of the Dunning-Krueger effect overestimate their knowledge of subjects about which they know little or nothing. Grant goes on to discuss ways of persuading others to change their beliefs. Here he stresses the ability to listen and ask questions. He concludes with a section on methods of teaching and communication. Rather than teaching by "laying down the law," it is more effective to learn together with one's students. VERDICT Readers with an interest in psychology, as well as the proverbial "general reader," will enjoy this fast-paced account by a leading authority on the psychology of thinking.—David Gordon, Ludwig von Mises Inst., Auburn, AL

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

Book list Can greater knowledge come from rethinking and unlearning previously accepted information? Psychologist Grant (Give and Take, 2013) walks readers through various scenarios where common perceptions were rendered moot. His first example relates to maneuvers taken by fire jumpers engulfed by a spreading forest fire. The fire chief initiated another fire in order to snuff out the momentum of the forest fire. Only he and two others survived, while nine succumbed to the smoke in attempting to outrun the fire, a strategy based on preconceived knowledge. A failure to adapt thought processes led to the demise of the BlackBerry, as company founder Mike Lazaridis chose not to further develop the attributes of the device, leading to its defeat by the iPhone. Grant delves into the reasons people hesitate to evolve their thinking, from cognitive blind spots to impostor syndrome. An inability to evolve our thinking inhibits our growth both individually and as a society, Grant finds. Readers will find common ground in many of his compelling arguments (ideologies, sports rivals), making this a thought-provoking read.

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

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