Featured Book Lists
Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Premeditated Myrtle
by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Kirkus An aspiring sleuth in Victorian England is convinced her neighbor’s death was no accident. Twelve-year-old Myrtle, who might have just been spying—er, Observing!—the neighborhood with her telescope, is convinced that prickly Miss Wodehouse has been the victim of foul play. Though the police say the old lady had a heart attack, Myrtle disagrees. With her magnifying lens, her specimen jars, and her stubbornness, Myrtle will prove the old lady was killed—and find the murderer, to boot. Though unpopular Myrtle leans in to a self-image as “the precocious daughter who lurked about everywhere being impertinent and morbid,” she has allies. Her interest in detecting comes from her affection for her adoring prosecutor father and the memory of her medical-student mother. Myrtle, middle-class and white, is encouraged by her equally quirky and exceedingly clever governess, Miss Judson (the multilingual, biracial daughter of white British and black French Guianese parents), who is at best half-hearted in her attempts to keep Myrtle out of trouble. Meanwhile, Caroline, a British Indian girl who’s been mean before, disassociates herself from Myrtle’s bully and becomes a staunch and equally geeky friend. Witty prose doesn’t always hew to historical accuracy but keeps the characters accessible and quite charming while Myrtle (surrounded by beloved and supportive adults) avoids many of the more tired tropes of the eccentric-detective genre. A saucy, likable heroine shines in a mystery marked by clever, unexpected twists . (Historical mystery. 10-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Channeling classic Victorian whodunits, Bunce’s (the Thief Errant series) detective series opener features a quirky, winning narrator and a lively secondary cast. Thanks to governess Miss Judson, 12-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, who is middle-class and white, is training to become a Young Lady of Quality. Inspired by the examples of her late mother, who was a medical student, and her widowed lawyer father, Myrtle tends to be anything but proper, for example erecting an observation point from which to chronicle neighborhood events. When elderly next-door neighbor, scornful Miss Wodehouse, doesn’t follow her routine one morning, Myrtle summons the constabulary. After the revelation of Miss Wodehouse’s death and the arrival of the elderly woman’s heretofore unknown relatives, Myrtle suspects she was murdered and enlists Miss Judson to solve the mystery. A generous, well-wrought relationship between governess and charge complements tightly plotted twists. As “the precocious daughter who lurked about everywhere being impertinent and morbid,” Myrtle is as clever as she is determined, and her expertise—seen in evidence collection and courtroom antics—is certain to delight genre stalwarts and mystery novices alike. Publishing simultaneously: How to Get Away with Myrtle (A Myrtle Hardcastle Mystery #2). Ages 10–up. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list There is something afoot at Redgraves, the house neighboring Myrtle Hardcastle’s own, which is why the precocious 12-year-old took it upon herself to phone the police. Myrtle is quite sure that something dastardly has occurred, but she is thrilled when the crime appears to be murder—not that anyone else is calling it that, yet. After the body of cranky old Miss Wodehouse is removed from its last earthly bubble bath, the cause of death is pronounced to be heart failure; or, if you’re Myrtle, heart failure due to poisoning. Myrtle’s above-average intellect, passions for justice and science (an endearing blend of her parents’ professions), fondness for detective stories, and predilection for asking questions make her the perfect person to investigate what is obviously a crime most foul. Written very much in the style of Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce mysteries, Myrtle’s spirited investigation—aided by her governess, who champions the Socratic method of learning—is a joyful thing to behold. Well-crafted red herrings throw Myrtle and readers alike for a loop or two, and an old story about a rare and precious flower grows some very real roots as details about Miss Wodehouse emerge. Set in Victorian England, this mystery gleefully overturns sexist norms and celebrates independent women of intellect, with Myrtle Hardcastle leading the charge.

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

Horn Book This clever and lively Victorian English-village murder mystery starring precocious twelve-year-old fledgling detective Myrtle Hardcastle has all the trappings: households with cooks and governesses and groundskeepers; church luncheons and afternoon teas; mysterious newcomers; missing wills. Also, poisoned elderly ladies: Myrtle's discovery that her neighbor, Miss Wodehouse, did not die of natural causes but was murdered leads to a story filled with spying, deduction, false accusations, red herrings, and danger. Bunce does an excellent job of making Myrtle the lead actor but gives her a strong set of (mostly female) supporters, including her beloved governess, Miss Judson; the family cook; a surprise-twist-at-the-end ally; and one very vocal cat. Myrtle's single-mindedness in solving the murder might wear thin for readers, but she is made sympathetic due to her fraught relationship with her kind but sometimes disapproving prosecutor father, her grief over her mother's death from cancer, and her fervent wish that her father now fall in love with the estimable Miss Judson. Myrtle's narration is Arch with a capital A ("Dear Reader, kindly permit me a pause to properly introduce one of the Key Players in this narrative"), but it suits the novel's setting and subgenre to a T. The last page all but promises a sequel. (For another middle-grade period murder mystery starring an intrepid young female sleuth, check out Marthe Jocelyn's Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano, rev. 1/20.) (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.

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-In this novel set in the 1980s, teenagers Eleanor and Park are outsiders; Eleanor, because she's new to the neighborhood, and Park, because he's half Asian. Although initially wary of each other, they quickly bond over their love of comics and 1980s alternative music. Eleanor's home life is difficult; her stepfather physically abuses her mother and emotionally abuses Eleanor and her siblings. At school, she is the victim of bullying, which escalates into defacement of her textbooks, her clothes, and crude displays on her locker. Although Park's mother, a Korean immigrant, is initially resistant to the strange girl due to her odd fashion choices, his father invites Eleanor to seek temporary refuge with them from her unstable home life. When Eleanor's stepfather's behavior grows even more menacing, Park assists in her escape, even though it means that they might not see each other again. The friendship between the teens is movingly believable, but the love relationship seems a bit rushed and underdeveloped. The revelation about the person behind the defacement of Eleanor's textbooks is stunning. Although the narrative points of view alternate between Eleanor and Park, the transitions are smooth. Crude language is realistic. Purchase for readers who are drawn to quirky love stories or 1980s pop culture.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (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 Half-Korean sophomore Park Sheridan is getting through high school by lying low, listening to the Smiths (it's 1986), reading Alan Moore's Watchmen comics, never raising his hand in class, and avoiding the kids he grew up with. Then new girl Eleanor gets on the bus. Tall, with bright red hair and a dress code all her own, she's an instant target. Too nice not to let her sit next to him, Park is alternately resentful and guilty for not being kinder to her. When he realizes she's reading his comics over his shoulder, a silent friendship is born. And slowly, tantalizingly, something more. Adult author Rowell (Attachments), making her YA debut, has a gift for showing what Eleanor and Park, who tell the story in alternating segments, like and admire about each other. Their love is believable and thrilling, but it isn't simple: Eleanor's family is broke, and her stepfather abuses her mother. When the situation turns dangerous, Rowell keeps things surprising, and the solution-imperfect but believable-maintains the novel's delicate balance of light and dark. Ages 13-up. Agent: Christopher Schelling, Selectric Artists. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Right from the start of this tender debut, readers can almost hear the clock winding down on Eleanor and Park. After a less than auspicious start, the pair quietly builds a relationship while riding the bus to school every day, wordlessly sharing comics and eventually music on the commute. Their worlds couldn't be more different. Park's family is idyllic: his Vietnam vet father and Korean immigrant mother are genuinely loving. Meanwhile, Eleanor and her younger siblings live in poverty under the constant threat of Richie, their abusive and controlling stepfather, while their mother inexplicably caters to his whims. The couple's personal battles are also dark mirror images. Park struggles with the realities of falling for the school outcast; in one of the more subtle explorations of race and the other in recent YA fiction, he clashes with his father over the definition of manhood. Eleanor's fight is much more external, learning to trust her feelings about Park and navigating the sexual threat in Richie's watchful gaze. In rapidly alternating narrative voices, Eleanor and Park try to express their all-consuming love. You make me feel like a cannibal, Eleanor says. The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship they develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too.--Jones, Courtney 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 My Papi Has a Motorcycle.
by Isabel Quintero

Book list Daisy Ramona loves riding on the back of her papi's motorcycle. After a long day of work, Papi picks up Daisy, and they zigzag through the streets of their neighborhood, zooming past Tortillería la Estrella and Joy's Market. Daisy loves this time with her papi, but she also notices her neighborhood changing. Don Rudy's Raspados used to be their favorite spot, but it's gone out of business. Quintero tells a beautiful story about a special father-daughter bonding moment, layered with a tale of gentrification impacting their neighborhood. Young readers will relate to Daisy's anticipation to spend time with a loved one and will understand Daisy's concern for her changing community. Peña's dynamic illustrations a mix of digital techniques and watercolors in a muted, tropical palette are packed with action, smiles, tenderness, and resilience. The neighborhood Peña has created with his art fully captures the love Quintero's characters have for the cultural roots of their home. Occasional inset panels and text bubbles in the illustrations add more community voices and details to Daisy's story neighbors greet and cheer for her, dogs go wild as she zooms by. Andrea Montejo's translation in the Spanish edition accurately embraces the sentiment in Quintero's narrative. This is a heartwarming story that centers joy in the midst of looming change. Other Latinx children's books with themes of family and community include Juan Felipe Herrera's Grandma and Me at the Flea (2002) and Maybe Something Beautiful (2016), by F. Isabel Campoy.--Sonia Alejandra Rodríguez Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Kirkus A screaming, bright-blue comet zooms through the streets of Corona, California, in a race against the orange setting sun. A unicorn-decorated purple helmet can't hide the grin of the young girl tightly gripping the waist of her carpenter father, who's hunched over his blazing motorcycle as a comet tail of sawdust streams behind them. Basking in her father's wordless expression of love, she watches the flash of colors zip by as familiar landmarks blend into one another. Changes loom all around them, from the abandoned raspado (snow cone) shop to the housing construction displacing old citrus groves. Yet love fills in the spaces between nostalgia and the daily excitement of a rich life shared with neighbors and family. Quintero's homage to her papi and her hometown creates a vivid landscape that weaves in and out of her little-girl memory, jarring somewhat as it intersects with adult recollections. At the end, her family buys raspados from a handcartare the vendor and defunct shop's owner one and the same? Pea's comic-book-style illustrations capture cultural-insider Mexican-American references, such as a book from Cathy Camper and Ral the Third's Lowrider series and the Indigenous jaguar mask on the protagonist's brother's T-shirt. Dialogue in speech bubbles incorporates both Spanish and English, and the gist of the conversation is easily followed; a fully Spanish edition releases simultaneously.Every girl should be so lucky as to have such a papi. (Picture book. 7-11) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-A radiant ode to a young girl's father and her L.A. neighborhood. Every evening, Daisy and her papi snap on their helmets (hers is purple with a unicorn, his a black vintage variety) and begin their ride on his electric blue motorcycle through Corona, CA. At times they "roar past" taquerias and murals, and other times they "cruise," greeting family and neighbors as they pass by. All the while, Daisy absorbs the sights, sounds, and smells of her beloved hometown, imprinting its idiosyncrasies into memory. Daisy's experiences mirror Quintero's childhood memories, recounted through tender language and vivid sensory details. Recalling the motorcycle rides with her papi is an exercise in familial love, but also a way to honor a hometown and present the changes from gentrification. Although the topic is touched upon lightly, its complexity percolates and becomes much more vivid with multiple reads. The illustrations faithfully capture the merriment and love through careful details and a low-key color palette that alludes to warm memories being made and recollected. Peña makes felicitous use of his comics chops, incorporating speech balloons with Spanish phrases, onomatopoeia, and panels to convey movement. Quintero's writing and Peña's art coalesce most beautifully in the infectious look of joy on Daisy's face throughout. VERDICT A book that radiates sheer happiness without shying from reality. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library © Copyright 2019. 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.

Horn Book When Papi gets home from work, young Daisy grabs their motorcycle helmets, eager to zoom through the neighborhood before the sun goes down. Joyous digital and hand-painted watercolor illustrations capture the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and colors. The text's nuanced alliteration, its use of Spanglish, and the realistic linguistic mix in the illustrations (even the cat says both meow and miau) mark the specificity shaping Daisy's memory-making. Also available in Spanish. (c) Copyright 2019. 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.

Publishers Weekly When Papi gets home from work in his gray truck, his daughter is ready for their ritual, a nightly motorcycle ride: "I run outside with both of our helmets." Together, they zip through their California city, passing the market, the church, and murals that show "our history-of citrus groves and the immigrants who worked them." The landscape is changing: Papi and his fellow carpenters are building new houses where the groves once stood, and the shaved ice shop has gone out of business. Quintero and Peña, the team behind Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, conjure up the ride's sights and sounds with sensory immediacy-the girl grasps her father's sawdusty shirt, sun-bleached pinks and oranges convey the lingering heat of evening, and stray cats run in front of the rumbling bike as neighborhood sounds reach the riders. Fresh graphic novel style art offers all the glory of a ride ("VROOOM"), and speech in balloons is a mix of Spanish and English alongside the English-only text. The love between the girl and her father is palpable, but her connection to her city (fleshed out in an author's note about Corona, Calif.) is at the story's heart. Ages 4-8. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Big Mooncake for Little Star
by Grace Lin

Publishers Weekly Nighttime paintings by Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) add magic to this fable about why the moon waxes and wanes. The story's events unfold against the velvety black of the night sky as Mama and Little Star, dressed in black pajamas spangled with yellow stars, work on their mooncake (an Asian holiday treat, Lin explains in an author's note) in the kitchen. Mama takes the cake out of the oven and lays it "onto the night sky to cool." She tells Little Star not to touch it, and Little Star attends but awakens in the middle of the night and remembers the cake. A double-page spread shows Little Star's speculative glance on the left and the huge golden mooncake-or is it the round, golden full moon?-on the right. Whichever it is, Little Star takes a nibble from the edge, another the next night, and so on until the moon wanes to a delicate crescent. Lin successfully combines three distinctive and memorable elements: a fable that avoids seeming contrived, a vision of a mother and child living in cozy harmony, and a night kitchen of Sendakian proportions. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Little Star's mother admonishes her not to eat the giant mooncake, which she left cooling in the night sky, but Little Star has her own ideas. Little Star makes a mischievous choice. "Yum!" Each night, she wakes from her bed in the sky and nibbles from the giant mooncake. "'Little Star!' her mama said, shaking her head even though her mouth was curving. ' You ate the big mooncake again, didn't you?'" Rather than scolding, Mama responds with a kind offer to bake a new mooncake. Observant eyes will recognize that the final pages showing Little Star and her mama baking a new mooncake are a repeat of the front papers-a purposeful hint that the ritual is repeated monthly as Little Star causes the phases of the moon. Artwork is gouache on watercolor paper. Each page has a glossy black background and small white font. Little Star and her mother have gentle countenances twinkling with merriment. Both wear star-studded black pajamas that are distinguishable from the inky sky only by their yellow stars and the occasional patch of Little Star's exposed tummy. The cherubic Little Star floats through the darkness, her mooncake crumbs leaving a trail of stardust in the sky. VERDICT The relationship between Little Star and her mother offers a message of empowerment and reassurance. Lin's loving homage to the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is sure to become a bedtime favorite.-Lisa Taylor, Florida State College, Jacksonville © 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.

Book list Against the backdrop of a black sky, Mama and Little Star bake a giant mooncake. But as she puts the cake out to cool, Mama admonishes her daughter not to touch it. And she doesn't until she wakes up in the night. Then, it's pat, pat, pat over to the mooncake, where she nibbles just a bit. Each night, there's more nibbling, causing the mooncake to change shape, until it's just a crescent. That's when Mama sees what's happened, but she isn't mad. It's just time to make another mooncake. Although the story is slight (and there's no direct aligning of the mooncake with the stages of the moon, either in text or note), the gouache illustrations are excellent. Mother and daughter, both dressed in star-covered black jumpsuits that add bits of light to inky backgrounds, are intriguing characters who come alive through facial expressions. Little Star's impish looks are worth the price of admission. This has no roots in Chinese mythology, Lin says, but she associates it with Asian moon festivals. A complementary read for those holidays.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Back To The Prairie
by Melissa Gilbert

Kirkus The veteran actor’s latest memoir chronicles the pastoral life she and her husband, actor/director Timothy Busfield, lived during the early days of the pandemic. In 2020, Gilbert and Busfield left their New York City apartment to live full time in their rural “Cabbage,” a cross between a cabin and a cottage. They renovated the house, started raising chickens, and began farming the land, all while trying to adjust to the slower pace of life outside of Manhattan. That transition began in 2013, when they married and moved to Michigan. “Life was simple, personal, intimate, and very different from LA,” writes Gilbert. “I melted right into the slow lane.” Of course, that did not last for long. The author got involved in the Michigan governor’s race and then became a Democratic candidate for Congress, though she had to drop out of the race due to the return of a neck injury and recurring chronic pain—not to mention the vagaries of politics, which included up to eight hours each day “dialing for dollars.” However, the bulk of her book is about the couple’s move to the country and what they learned there during the pandemic. “Maybe all the time in the country has made me more philosophical….We are being given an opportunity to see the consequences of our disregard for our home and each other,” writes the author. “We are being asked what really matters. What do we need to do to survive into the future?” Via breezy, seemingly effortless storytelling, Gilbert shows us how less can be more, fashioning a rapidly paced, straightforward tale about slowing down into life in quarantine and the opportunities that presented. “If I can help make someone feel less isolated, scared, or lonely,” she writes, “I am doing my job.” A sparse, lovely ode to the discovery of the simple life amid a global pandemic. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Actor Gilbert (Prairie Tale) leaves Hollywood behind for life in the country in this utterly entertaining account. With her characteristic wit and self-deprecating charm, Gilbert—best known for her role as Laura Ingalls Wilder on Little House on the Prairie—takes readers on a ride through the highs and lows of her recent life with her husband, actor and West Wing alum Timothy Busfield. A few years after an eventful (practice) run for Congress in Michigan in 2015, she and Tim purchased a run-down house in upstate New York. Just as they had finished rehabbing their little home, the pandemic hit, forcing the two actors to fully commit to rustic life, which included building a chicken coop, raising chicks (“I was a motherclucker”), and gardening. Hilariously recounting their new life “on a DIY budget,” Gilbert writes, “We were the aspiring Chip and Joanna Gaines of the Catskills.” While decrying pandemic pounds, Gilbert peppers in delicious recipes for comfort food staples that saw her through her rockier days, such as slow cooker “loaded baked potato soup,” spaghetti pie, and gingersnap pumpkin pie. Along the way, she delights in the little things that came from hunkering down, revealing that she’s not above such simple joys as Trader Joe’s stuffing-flavored potato chips. Fans will have no trouble devouring this. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

204 West Main Fertile, IA 50434  |  Phone: 641-797-2787
Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)