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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Sometimes You Have to Lie: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy
by Leslie Brody

Book list Much like the titular heroine in her beloved children’s book Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh developed a knack for hiding the truth. Throughout her life, Fitzhugh was often forced to cover up details about herself from the public at large, including the fact that she was openly gay. In the years after her death, friends and partners began to slowly come forward with more details about the author. Sometimes You Have to Lie captures those details and is the most thorough print biography on Fitzhugh available. In this compelling telling, Brody follows Fitzhugh’s life from the brief and tumultuous relationship between her parents to her exploration of her own sexuality, her colorful life in New York City, and her personal struggles. Readers will see Harriet’s cantankerous charm mirrored in Fitzhugh and, as they learn more about her remarkable life in this thoroughly researched and meticulously organized biography, will likely want to revisit her classic works.

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

Kirkus A scholarly biography of the creator of Harriet the Spy, the nosy scamp who brought “a new realism” to children’s fiction. Does Harriet the Spy have a “queer subtext”? Is its heroine a “quintessential baby butch” character? Or is Harriet simply “a nasty little girl who keeps a notebook on all her friends,” as Louise Fitzhugh (1928-1974) told the poet James Merrill, her former adviser at Bard College? While fairly representing these varied points of view, Brody, a creative writing instructor, mostly lets Fitzhugh’s life speak for itself. The author follows her subject from her birth in Memphis to her death from a brain aneurysm in New Milford, Connecticut. Raised by a rich father who won custody after a sensational divorce trial, Fitzhugh later moved in boho circles with Djuna Barnes, Lorraine Hansberry, and Anatole Broyard in Greenwich Village. She had her first lesbian romance as a teenager and, after decades of affairs with women, was “obviously out of the closet” in later life. Yet Fitzhugh had a long-term correspondence only with Merrill, and her estate, the book suggests, keeps a tight rein on other material. Perhaps partly for such reasons, Fitzhugh remains an elusive figure who emerges most clearly through the tensions in her relationships with three celebrated editors who kept their own records: Ursula Nordstrom, Charlotte Zolotow, and Michael di Capua. Di Capua once complained to Fitzhugh about the Black characters’ dialogue in her post-Harriet book Nobody’s Family Is Going To Change: “You don’t know how to write black people.” A longtime lover said that an upset Fitzhugh responded, “I know how I want my characters to sound, and what I want them to say.” Such anecdotes, which are too few, give valuable glimpses of the fierce tenacity Fitzhugh shared with her most famous character. A diligent but sometimes-hazy portrait of a beloved children’s author and illustrator. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Much like the titular heroine in her beloved children’s book Harriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh developed a knack for hiding the truth. Throughout her life, Fitzhugh was often forced to cover up details about herself from the public at large, including the fact that she was openly gay. In the years after her death, friends and partners began to slowly come forward with more details about the author. Sometimes You Have to Lie captures those details and is the most thorough print biography on Fitzhugh available. In this compelling telling, Brody follows Fitzhugh’s life from the brief and tumultuous relationship between her parents to her exploration of her own sexuality, her colorful life in New York City, and her personal struggles. Readers will see Harriet’s cantankerous charm mirrored in Fitzhugh and, as they learn more about her remarkable life in this thoroughly researched and meticulously organized biography, will likely want to revisit her classic works.

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

Library Journal Biographer/playwright Brody, who adapted Harriet the Spy for the stage, portrays the determinedly lesbian/radical life led by Harriet's creator, Louise Fitzhugh, taking her from segregated 1920s Memphis to heady Greenwich Village to postwar Europe. With a 25,000-copy first printing.

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

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Shadowshaper
by Daniel Jose Older

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. 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 Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © 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 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © 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.

Kirkus A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © 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 When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte

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 The House in the Night
by Susan Marie Swansonk

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter—a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, Here is the key to the house./ In the house burns a light./ In that light rests a bed./ On that bed waits a book. That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep (dark in the song, song in the bird, / bird in the book, book on the bed). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3–6. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Starred Review. PreS-Gr 1—Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed…." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song…all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Fairy Tale
by Stephen King

Library Journal As the pandemic descended, King asked himself: "What could you write that would make you happy?" Here's the result, inspired by a sudden vision he had of an immense but empty, shattered city, with life pulsing just beneath the surface. His protagonist is Charlie Reade, whose mother died in a hit-and-run when he was ten and whose father subsequently disappeared into drink. At 17, self-sufficient Charlie befriends a dog named Radar and his crusty, reclusive master, Howard Bowditch, for whom he starts doing odd jobs. A cassette Bowditch leaves for Charlie at his death shares a secret: that funny shed at the back of his house contains a portal to another world, where a battle between good and evil is roaring. Boy and dog pass through the portal for the adventure of their lives. With a 1.5 million copy first printing.

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

Book list King's latest novel follows Charlie, a teen boy who befriends local recluse Mr. Bowditch and his elderly dog, Radar. Soon after, Mr. Bowditch passes away, leaving everything to Charlie, including a cassette tape that reveals the existence of a portal to another world in an old garden shed. Hoping to use the magic of this other world to restore Radar's youth, Charlie enters Empis and becomes drawn into a desperate struggle to prevent this already sick and dying world from being finally destroyed. King's fantasy otherworld, which some characters posit is the source of many fairy-tale or fantastic stories, is by its nature a bit of a hodgepodge of various existing references, with some occasional striking images of its own (millions of monarch butterflies, a telepathic cricket). While this novel certainly doesn't break new ground for King or for the fantasy genre, it should please King's existing fans, especially those who enjoyed the more complex otherworlds of the Dark Tower series or King's earlier fantasy work, The Eyes of the Dragon (1987). HIGH DEMAND BACKSTORY: A new novel from King means lots of interest and lots of holds.

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

Publishers Weekly Bestseller King (Billy Summers) underwhelms in an overlong fantasy most likely to appeal to his YA fans. In 2003, seven-year-old Charlie Reade’s mother dies in an accident, sending his father into an alcoholic tailspin. Ten years later, a chance event changes Charlie’s life dramatically; while passing by a neighbor’s home, he hears frantic barking, and a feeble cry for help. He discovers elderly Howard Bowditch badly injured from a fall and calls 911, earning him Bowditch’s gratitude and a reputation as a hero. Charlie becomes the caretaker for both the dog, Radar, whom he grows to love, and Bowditch, who gradually reveals his secrets, including the source of the gold pellets he keeps in his safe: the mysterious shed on his property contains a portal to another world, one teeming with evil that wants to escape. Once the action shifts there, the plot becomes derivative, retreading standard portal fantasy tropes and the familiar struggle between good and evil. Illustrations at the start of each chapter, headed with descriptions of what they include, further convey a juvenile feel. This attempt at creating a sense of wonder and magic falls short. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.Whats a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In Kings case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outsideravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. Kings yarn begins in a world thats recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumbers van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven bugfuck by a father who was always trying to apologize. The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor whos fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the mans equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: Dont go in there, he said. You may in time, but for now dont even think of it. Its not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but theres plenty thats weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed, and a whole bunch of peoplewell, sort of people, anywaywhod like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our worlds surface. Kings young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: I think I know what you want, Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have itnamely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.A tale thats at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twistsvintage King, in other words. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King. What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink. A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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