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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog With the Fire on High
by Elizabeth Acevedo

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 Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story
by Kevin Noble Maillard

Book list Fry Bread celebrates the thing itself and much, much more. The simplicity of the ingredients, readers learn, belies the quality of the cooking process, the proximity with people, the historical tradition, the geography for fry bread is everything. Maillard and Martinez-Neal bring depth, detail, and whimsy to this Native American food story, with text and illustrations depicting the diversity of indigenous peoples, the role of continuity between generations, and the adaptation over time of people, place, and tradition. Fry bread becomes a metaphor for resilience, born ironically, as Maillard explains, from the most basic of government-issued ingredients. Martinez-Neal's (Alma and How She Got Her Name, 2018) illustrations are meant to be relished, lingered over. Smiling, round-faced children are shown playing together and learning from elders, and details include traditional Seminole textile designs, dollmaking, and pottery styles. A particularly striking spread depicts a wall etched with the names of hundreds of Native American nations, explicitly countering perceptions about the extinction or invisibility of indigenous peoples. A lengthy author's note provides valuable context and history, as well as the author's personal evolution into the fry bread lady with his own modern take on the recipe. This lovely, important book pairs well with Linda Sue Park's Bee-bim Bop! (2005) and Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji (2011) by F. Zia for fun culinary, familial themes.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Using brief statements that begin “fry bread is,” Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as “a cycle of heritage and fortune.” In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (“Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land”), culture (“Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait”), and community (“Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals”). In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement. A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Millard explores the rich and varied cultures of modern Native Americans through the lens of fry bread. Each section opens with "Fry Bread" in red capital letters, followed by a short lyrical verses tying the food to different aspects of Indigenous life. For example, the verse for "Fry Bread Is Time" reads "On weekdays and holidays/Supper or dinner/Powwows and festivals/Moments together/With family and friends." The verse for "Fry Bread Is History" explains, "The long walk, the stolen land/Strangers in our own world/With unknown food/We made new recipes/From what we had." Double-page color sketches in muted tones show the diversity of tribal members, with thoughtful details. As elders tell about the Trail of Tears, dark birds turn into sad people in the background. The author, a member of the Seminole Nation, shares his family recipe for fry bread and provides an extensive and thoughtful Author's Note, providing more information on each topic covered and occasionally calling out special details in the drawings. These notes deal with and dispel many stereotypes associated with Native peoples, while providing historical and contemporary facts. VERDICT This warm and charming book shows and affirms Native lives. The informational text and expressive drawings give it broad appeal, making it a first purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

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

Kirkus A bright picture book invites kids to cook with a Native American grandma.Kids of all races carry flour, salt, baking powder, and other supplies into the kitchen to make dough for fry bread. Flour dusts the counter as oil sizzles on the stove. Veggies, beans, and honey make up the list of toppings, and when the meal is ready, everyone is invited to join the feast. Community love is depicted in this book as its characters gather on Indigenous land across the continentindoors, outdoors, while making art or gazing at the night sky. This is about more than food, referencing cultural issues such as the history of displacement, starvation, and the struggle to survive, albeit in subtle ways appropriate for young children. With buoyant, heartfelt illustrations that show the diversity in Native America, the book tells the story of a post-colonial food, a shared tradition across the North American continent. Broken down into headings that celebrate what fry bread is, this story reaches readers both young and old thanks to the author's note at the back of the book that dives into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized tribes. Through this topic that includes the diversity of so many Native peoples in a single story, Maillard (Mekusukey Seminole) promotes unity and familiarity among nations.Fry bread is much more than food, as this book amply demonstrates. (recipe) (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Fry Bread celebrates the thing itself and much, much more. The simplicity of the ingredients, readers learn, belies the quality of the cooking process, the proximity with people, the historical tradition, the geography for fry bread is everything. Maillard and Martinez-Neal bring depth, detail, and whimsy to this Native American food story, with text and illustrations depicting the diversity of indigenous peoples, the role of continuity between generations, and the adaptation over time of people, place, and tradition. Fry bread becomes a metaphor for resilience, born ironically, as Maillard explains, from the most basic of government-issued ingredients. Martinez-Neal's (Alma and How She Got Her Name, 2018) illustrations are meant to be relished, lingered over. Smiling, round-faced children are shown playing together and learning from elders, and details include traditional Seminole textile designs, dollmaking, and pottery styles. A particularly striking spread depicts a wall etched with the names of hundreds of Native American nations, explicitly countering perceptions about the extinction or invisibility of indigenous peoples. A lengthy author's note provides valuable context and history, as well as the author's personal evolution into the fry bread lady with his own modern take on the recipe. This lovely, important book pairs well with Linda Sue Park's Bee-bim Bop! (2005) and Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji (2011) by F. Zia for fun culinary, familial themes.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Using brief statements that begin “fry bread is,” Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as “a cycle of heritage and fortune.” In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (“Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land”), culture (“Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait”), and community (“Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals”). In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement. A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Millard explores the rich and varied cultures of modern Native Americans through the lens of fry bread. Each section opens with "Fry Bread" in red capital letters, followed by a short lyrical verses tying the food to different aspects of Indigenous life. For example, the verse for "Fry Bread Is Time" reads "On weekdays and holidays/Supper or dinner/Powwows and festivals/Moments together/With family and friends." The verse for "Fry Bread Is History" explains, "The long walk, the stolen land/Strangers in our own world/With unknown food/We made new recipes/From what we had." Double-page color sketches in muted tones show the diversity of tribal members, with thoughtful details. As elders tell about the Trail of Tears, dark birds turn into sad people in the background. The author, a member of the Seminole Nation, shares his family recipe for fry bread and provides an extensive and thoughtful Author's Note, providing more information on each topic covered and occasionally calling out special details in the drawings. These notes deal with and dispel many stereotypes associated with Native peoples, while providing historical and contemporary facts. VERDICT This warm and charming book shows and affirms Native lives. The informational text and expressive drawings give it broad appeal, making it a first purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

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

Kirkus A bright picture book invites kids to cook with a Native American grandma.Kids of all races carry flour, salt, baking powder, and other supplies into the kitchen to make dough for fry bread. Flour dusts the counter as oil sizzles on the stove. Veggies, beans, and honey make up the list of toppings, and when the meal is ready, everyone is invited to join the feast. Community love is depicted in this book as its characters gather on Indigenous land across the continentindoors, outdoors, while making art or gazing at the night sky. This is about more than food, referencing cultural issues such as the history of displacement, starvation, and the struggle to survive, albeit in subtle ways appropriate for young children. With buoyant, heartfelt illustrations that show the diversity in Native America, the book tells the story of a post-colonial food, a shared tradition across the North American continent. Broken down into headings that celebrate what fry bread is, this story reaches readers both young and old thanks to the author's note at the back of the book that dives into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized tribes. Through this topic that includes the diversity of so many Native peoples in a single story, Maillard (Mekusukey Seminole) promotes unity and familiarity among nations.Fry bread is much more than food, as this book amply demonstrates. (recipe) (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Fry Bread celebrates the thing itself and much, much more. The simplicity of the ingredients, readers learn, belies the quality of the cooking process, the proximity with people, the historical tradition, the geography for fry bread is everything. Maillard and Martinez-Neal bring depth, detail, and whimsy to this Native American food story, with text and illustrations depicting the diversity of indigenous peoples, the role of continuity between generations, and the adaptation over time of people, place, and tradition. Fry bread becomes a metaphor for resilience, born ironically, as Maillard explains, from the most basic of government-issued ingredients. Martinez-Neal's (Alma and How She Got Her Name, 2018) illustrations are meant to be relished, lingered over. Smiling, round-faced children are shown playing together and learning from elders, and details include traditional Seminole textile designs, dollmaking, and pottery styles. A particularly striking spread depicts a wall etched with the names of hundreds of Native American nations, explicitly countering perceptions about the extinction or invisibility of indigenous peoples. A lengthy author's note provides valuable context and history, as well as the author's personal evolution into the fry bread lady with his own modern take on the recipe. This lovely, important book pairs well with Linda Sue Park's Bee-bim Bop! (2005) and Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji (2011) by F. Zia for fun culinary, familial themes.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Using brief statements that begin “fry bread is,” Maillard, who is a member of the Mekusukey band of the Seminole Nation tribe, creates a powerful meditation on the food as “a cycle of heritage and fortune.” In each spread, descriptions of fry bread range from the experiential (flavor, sound) to the more conceptual (nation, place). Bolstering the bold statements, spare poems emphasize fry bread in terms of provenance (“Fry bread is history/ The long walk, the stolen land”), culture (“Fry bread is art/ Sculpture, landscape, portrait”), and community (“Fry bread is time/ On weekdays and holidays/ Supper or dinner/ Powwows and festivals”). In blues and browns with bright highlights, Martinez-Neal’s wispy art features a diverse group of six children carrying ingredients and learning about each statement. A fry bread recipe concludes the book, and an author’s note offers vital, detailed context about this varied dish and its complex history (“The story of fry bread is the story of American Indians”). Ages 3–6. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Millard explores the rich and varied cultures of modern Native Americans through the lens of fry bread. Each section opens with "Fry Bread" in red capital letters, followed by a short lyrical verses tying the food to different aspects of Indigenous life. For example, the verse for "Fry Bread Is Time" reads "On weekdays and holidays/Supper or dinner/Powwows and festivals/Moments together/With family and friends." The verse for "Fry Bread Is History" explains, "The long walk, the stolen land/Strangers in our own world/With unknown food/We made new recipes/From what we had." Double-page color sketches in muted tones show the diversity of tribal members, with thoughtful details. As elders tell about the Trail of Tears, dark birds turn into sad people in the background. The author, a member of the Seminole Nation, shares his family recipe for fry bread and provides an extensive and thoughtful Author's Note, providing more information on each topic covered and occasionally calling out special details in the drawings. These notes deal with and dispel many stereotypes associated with Native peoples, while providing historical and contemporary facts. VERDICT This warm and charming book shows and affirms Native lives. The informational text and expressive drawings give it broad appeal, making it a first purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

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

Horn Book More than just food, ‘Fry bread is time...Fry bread is art...Fry bread is history.’ An intergenerational group of Native American friends and family makes fry bread, a common Native food staple as varied as the people who make it; this diversity is reflected in Martinez-Neal's warmhearted illustrations. Back matter explains how fry bread became a part of many Native Americans' diet after being forced from their land and given limited U.S. government rations. Recipe appended. Bib. (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.

Kirkus A bright picture book invites kids to cook with a Native American grandma.Kids of all races carry flour, salt, baking powder, and other supplies into the kitchen to make dough for fry bread. Flour dusts the counter as oil sizzles on the stove. Veggies, beans, and honey make up the list of toppings, and when the meal is ready, everyone is invited to join the feast. Community love is depicted in this book as its characters gather on Indigenous land across the continentindoors, outdoors, while making art or gazing at the night sky. This is about more than food, referencing cultural issues such as the history of displacement, starvation, and the struggle to survive, albeit in subtle ways appropriate for young children. With buoyant, heartfelt illustrations that show the diversity in Native America, the book tells the story of a post-colonial food, a shared tradition across the North American continent. Broken down into headings that celebrate what fry bread is, this story reaches readers both young and old thanks to the author's note at the back of the book that dives into the social ways, foodways, and politics of America's 573 recognized tribes. Through this topic that includes the diversity of so many Native peoples in a single story, Maillard (Mekusukey Seminole) promotes unity and familiarity among nations.Fry bread is much more than food, as this book amply demonstrates. (recipe) (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Mission to Paris
by Alan Furst

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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Lincoln Highway
by Amor Towles

Kirkus Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm. They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCD–like symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New York–bound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history. An exhilarating ride through Americana. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Massive but light on its feet, this playfully thought-provoking novel from Towles (A Gentleman in Moscow, 2016) follows a young man newly released from a juvenile work camp through 10 eventful days in 1954. Convicted of accidentally killing a classmate who was taunting him, 18-year-old Emmett Watson has been released a few months early because of his father’s death, and is transported home to Nebraska by the camp’s warden, who unknowingly brings along two work-camp stowaways in the trunk of his car. Just as Emmett is about to head west along the transcontinental Lincoln Highway with his solemn eight-year-old brother, Billy, stowaways Duchess and Woolly take off toward New York with Emmett’s prized baby-blue Studebaker, in which Emmett has hidden all the money he has in the world. Emmett and Billy hop a boxcar in pursuit, in a convoluted chase that involves a vagabond named Ulysses, Emmett’s neighbor Sally, a circus, the author of Billy’s favorite book, and an Adirondack hunting lodge. Towles, paying more than a passing nod to Huckleberry Finn, juggles the pieces of his plot deftly, shifting from voice to voice, skirting sentimentality and quirkiness with a touch of wistful regret, and leading up to an ending that is bound to provoke discussion. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The millions of readers Towles reached with the mega-selling A Gentleman in Moscow will be thrilled to see something new from the author.

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

Library Journal In June 1954, when 18-year-old Emmett Watson is dropped back home by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, he expects simply to grab his little brother and skedaddle to California. His mother is long gone, his father recently dead, and the farm foreclosed. Then he spots two friends from the farm who surreptitiously hitched a ride on the warden's truck and plan to steer him toward New York instead. Clearly, the author of the New York Times best sellers Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow aims never to write the same book twice.

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

Kirkus Newly released from a work farm in 1950s Kansas, where he served 18 months for involuntary manslaughter, 18-year-old Emmett Watson hits the road with his little brother, Billy, following the death of their father and the foreclosure of their Nebraska farm.They leave to escape angry townspeople who believe Emmett got off easy, having caused the fatal fall of a taunting local boy by punching him in the nose. The whip-smart Billy, who exhibits OCDlike symptoms, convinces Emmett to drive them to San Francisco to reunite with their mother, who left town eight years ago. He insists she's there, based on postcards she sent before completely disappearing from their lives. But when Emmett's prized red Studebaker is "borrowed" by two rambunctious, New Yorkbound escapees from the juvie facility he just left, Emmett takes after them via freight train with Billy in tow. Billy befriends a Black veteran named Ulysses who's been riding the rails nonstop since returning home from World War II to find his wife and baby boy gone. A modern picaresque with a host of characters, competing points of view, wandering narratives, and teasing chapter endings, Towles' third novel is even more entertaining than his much-acclaimed A Gentleman in Moscow (2016). You can quibble with one or two plot turns, but there's no resisting moments such as Billy's encounter, high up in the Empire State Building in the middle of the night, with professor Abacus Abernathe, whose Compendium of Heroes, Adventurers, and Other Intrepid Travelers he's read 24 times. A remarkable blend of sweetness and doom, Towles' novel is packed with revelations about the American myth, the art of storytelling, and the unrelenting pull of history.An exhilarating ride through Americana. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Towles’s magnificent comic road novel (after A Gentleman in Moscow) follows the rowdy escapades of four boys in the 1950s and doubles as an old-fashioned narrative about farms, families, and accidental friendships. In June 1954, 18-year-old Emmett Watson returns to his childhood farm in Morgen, Neb., from a juvenile detention camp. Emmett has been released early from his sentencing for fighting because his father has died and his homestead has been foreclosed. His precocious eight-year-old brother, Billy, greets him, anxious to light out for San Francisco in hopes of finding their mother, who abandoned them. Plans immediately go awry when two escaped inmates from Emmett’s camp, Duchess and Woolly, appear in the Watsons’ barn. Woolly says his grandfather has stashed $150,000 in the family’s Adirondack Mountains cabin, which he offers to split evenly between the three older boys. But Duchess and Woolly take off with Emmett’s Studebaker, leaving the brothers in pursuit as boxcar boys. On the long and winding railway journey, the brothers encounter characters like the scabrous Pastor John and an endearing WWII vet named Ulysses, and Billy’s constant companion, a book titled Professor Abacus Abernathe’s Compendium of Heroes, Adventures, and Other Intrepid Travelers, provides parallel story lines of epic events and heroic adventures. Woolly has a mind for stories, too, comparing his monotonous time in detention to that of Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo and hoping eventually to experience a “one-of-a-kind kind of day.” Towles is a supreme storyteller, and this one-of-a-kind kind of novel isn’t to be missed. (Oct.)Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the name of the Ulysses character.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Standard: Students will identify the causes of the Great Depression, its impact on Americans, and the major features of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. (c) Copyright 2012. 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 An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named "Jack Gantos."The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment "would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames" whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly, as even though Jack's feuding parents unite to ground him for the summer after several mishaps, he does get out. He mixes with the undertaker's daughter, a band of Hell's Angels out to exact fiery revenge for a member flattened in town by a truck and, especially, with arthritic neighbor Miss Volker, for whom he furnishes the "hired hands" that transcribe what becomes a series of impassioned obituaries for the local paper as elderly town residents suddenly begin passing on in rapid succession. Eventually the unusual body count draws thejustified, as it turns outattention of the police. Ultimately, the obits and the many Landmark Books that Jack reads (this is 1962) in his hours of confinement all combine in his head to broaden his perspective about both history in general and the slow decline his own town is experiencing.Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.(Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book In 1962 Norvelt, Pennsylvania (a town founded by Eleanor Roosevelt), Jack's summer job keeps him busy. Jack's work--typing up obituaries for his arthritic neighbor--chronicles the history of the community: a "museum of freaks." There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading. (c) Copyright 2012. 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 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. 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 5-8-It is the summer of 1962 and Jack Gantos is 12 years old in this "entirely true and wildly fictional" story (Farrar, Straus, 2011). Jack lives with his parents in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, a town planned during the Great Depression by Eleanor Roosevelt. His summer quickly turns sour when his mother grounds him for the entire two months for something his father made him do. Jack's mother loans him out to ancient Mrs. Volker to assist her in writing the town's obituaries, a job that keeps the boy hopping since the original residents are quickly dying off. As Mrs. Volker and Jack spend the summer together, they develop an unusual friendship. She teaches Jack about language and history by dictating luminous obits and fascinating "This Day in History" facts. Jack relishes driving the woman around town to investigate the sudden rash of elderly deaths. Gantos narrates his laugh-out-loud semi-autobiographical tale, providing a pitch-perfect rendition of Jack's sarcasm, exaggeration, and whining. Included on the CD, but not available for review, is a video interview with Gantos where he explains "one of the prime motivations for the book is this notion that history, our history, is so vastly important." The author's trademark quirky characters are in abundance here and while the plot rises to only a gentle crest, middle school listeners will thoroughly enjoy the ride.-Tricia Melgaard, formerly Broken Arrow Public Schools, Tulsa, OK (c) Copyright 2011. 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.

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