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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Poet X
by Acevedo, Elizabeth

Book list This coming-of-age story from the streets of Harlem centers on Xiomara Barista, a teenage poet seeking to express herself. X has loved writing down her thoughts from an early age. Unfortunately, she doesn't get to share them with her family, due to her mother's strict dedication to making sure X is focused on being a good Catholic girl. When X starts questioning her faith and realizes her brother is hiding his own secrets from their mother, she starts figuring out how she can stand up for herself and her beliefs. The story, though centered around the family drama, explores other poignant themes facing girls today, diving into human sexuality, the psychological impacts of going through an early puberty, and how girls have to fend off advances from men as well as the slut-shaming stigma that simultaneously can come from women. Ultimately, though, this is a powerful, heartwarming tale of a girl not afraid to reach out and figure out her place in the world.--Bratt, Jessica Anne Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Magnificently crafted, Acevedo's bildungsroman in verse is a stunning account of a teen girl's path to poetry. Sophomore Xiomara Batista is simultaneously invisible and hyper visible at home, school, and in her largely Dominican community in Harlem-her body is "unhide-able" she tells readers early on, yet she bristles at how others project their desires, insecurities, failures, patriarchal attitudes toward her. Though she is quick to battle and defend herself and her twin brother Xavier, Xiomara's inner life sensitively grapples with these projections and the expectations of her strict, religious mother. Acevedo's depiction of a faith in crisis is exceedingly relatable and teens, especially those going through the sacrament of Confirmation, will deeply appreciate Xiomara's thoughtful questioning of the Church and how it treats women. Forbidden kisses with a crush and an impromptu performance at an open mic prove to be euphoric, affirming moments for Xiomara: "it's beautiful and real and what I wanted." Acevedo's poetry is skillfully and gorgeously crafted, each verse can be savored on its own, but together they create a portrait of a young poet sure to resonate with readers long after the book's end. -VERDICT Truly a "lantern glowing in the dark" for aspiring poets everywhere. All YA collections will want to share and treasure this profoundly moving work.-Della Farrell, School Library Journal 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.

Publishers Weekly Harlem sophomore Xiomara Batista isn't saintly like her virtuous twin brother. And her tough exterior-she's always ready to fend off unwelcome advances and unkind words-hides questions and insecurities. As her confirmation nears (after two failed attempts), Xiomara begins to voice her uncertainties about the Catholic faith and patriarchal piety pressed on her by her mother and the church. Both intrigued and disgusted by the advances of her peers and older men, she begins a secret relationship with her lab partner Aman, who seems interested in more than her curves ("who knew words,/ when said by the right person,/ by a boy who raises your temperature,/ moves heat like nothing else?"). Xiomara pours her innermost self into poems and dreams of competing in poetry slams, a passion she's certain her conservative Dominican parents will never accept. Debut novelist Acevedo's free verse gives Xiomara's coming-of-age story an undeniable pull, its emotionally charged bluntness reflecting her determination and strength. At its heart, this is a complex and sometimes painful exploration of love in its many forms, with Xiomara's growing love for herself reigning supreme. Ages 13-up. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog See Pip Flap
by David Milgrim

Horn Book After watching bird Tweet fly, mouse Pip becomes inspired to try it. Several page-turns (and much fruitless flapping) later, robot friend Otto comes up with a clever remote-control drone solution that allows Pip's dreams to take flight. This latest series entry's extremely limited vocabulary provides effective new-reader support, the comic timing is spot-on in the repetition and pacing, and the clean illustrations are both understated and hilarious. (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.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog The fourteenth goldfish
by Jennifer L Holm

Publishers Weekly Middle school doesn't start smoothly for 11-year-old Ellie, whose best friend finds her passion (volleyball) and new teammates to eat lunch with, while Ellie flounders, uninterested in sports or her parents' avocation, theater. A startling addition to the household helps Ellie get her groove back when Grandpa Melvin, a scientist, moves in after engineering a cure for aging (the regenerative properties of jellyfish are involved) and transforming himself into a teenage boy. Though Melvin dresses and acts like the crotchety old man he was, he and Ellie bond over spirited discussions about Jonas Salk, Robert Oppenheimer, the possibilities of science, and the moral questions scientific advances can raise. Though the subject matter has a lot of intellectual heft, the writing has Holm's ever-present light touch. The small cast, which refreshingly includes divorced parents who treat each other respectfully, is so well realized that the farfetched aspects of the plot seem almost plausible. This is top-notch middle-grade fiction with a meaty dilemma, humor, and an ending that leaves room for the possibility of a sequel. Ages 8-12. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Grinberg Literary Management. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* It's a little strange for 11-year-old Ellie when her mother brings home a boy who looks to be about 13 but dresses like Ellie's grandfather. But it's a shocker when Ellie realizes that the kid is her grandfather, a scientist who has suddenly succeeded in reversing the aging process. Now sleeping in their den and newly enrolled in Ellie's middle school, Grandpa connives with her to sneak into his old lab and swipe what he needs to continue his research. Meanwhile, Ellie comes to admire the grandfather she has barely known, listens to his stories of famous scientists, and discovers her own passion for science. Written in a clean, crisp style, with lively dialogue and wit, this highly accessible novel will find a ready audience. The idea of an adult in a young teen's body may not be new, but Ellie's first-person narrative makes good use of the situation's comic potential, particularly in the fractious, role-reversed relationship between Mom and Grandpa. Along with the comedy, the story has a reflective side, too, as Ellie thinks through issues such as death and immortality and confronts Grandpa with the social consequences of his research. A great choice for book groups and class discussions as well as individual reading. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A three-time Newbery Honor-winning author, whose books have also ranked on the New York Times best-seller lists, Holm has a formidably sized fan base waiting for her next release.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5-7-Eleven-year-old Ellie Cruz's life changes dramatically when her mother brings a teenage boy home one night and she learns it is her estranged grandfather. Melvin is a scientist who has figured out how to reverse aging and is now 13 again. Tensions are high between Melvin and his adult daughter, Ellie's mother, but Ellie feels like she now has the opportunity to really get to know her grandfather. Her interest in science blossoms, and she is eager to help Melvin retrieve the jellyfish specimen he used in his experiments so he can publish his discovery. Fascinated, Ellie learns about the work of Jonas Salk, Robert Oppenheimer, and Marie Curie. But as she learns more, she realizes that scientific discoveries often have unforeseen consequences. Readers are carried along with Ellie as she navigates old and new friendships in her first year in middle school with the added complication of her teenage grandfather at the same school. Short chapters keep the story moving at an engaging pace, and the interactions among the characters will easily hold readers' interest. Ellie's growing relationship with her grandfather helps her make discoveries about herself. Melvin, who begins as unapologetically single-minded in his determination to continue his work, also learns from Ellie. With humor and heart, Holm has crafted a story about life, family, and finding one's passion that will appeal to readers willing to imagine the possible.-Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL (c) Copyright 2014. 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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Evening And The Morning
by Ken Follett

Publishers Weekly Follett delivers a lackluster prequel to his Kingsbridge series. The structure will feel familiar to series devotees; it centers on the intertwined stories of three people: a man who is good with his hands, an attractive noblewoman, and a cleric. This time, the action spans 997–1007 CE, and the leads are Edgar, Ragna, and Aldred, whose lives intersect multiple times despite their disparate backgrounds. Edgar, the teenage son of a boatbuilder, is planning to run off with a married woman until a Viking attack on his village in the west of England leaves her dead; that tragedy leads to his family’s move to Dreng’s Ferry, the future Kingsbridge, and to his developing career as a builder. At Dreng’s Ferry, he reunites with Ragna, a Norman woman he’d met years earlier, who has married Wilf, the royal official overseeing the area. Ragna, smart, independent, and beautiful, is trapped in an unfulfilling marriage. The “miraculously handsome” Brother Aldred, a scholar, finds himself confronted with corruption in the church, personified in Wilf’s cartoonishly evil brother, Wynstan, a bishop. The prose is often stilted and overwrought (“This was the funeral of his hopes”), and the plot elements are derivative of Follett’s past work, adding up to an epic full of romance tropes rather than a reimagined time and place. This is only for series completists. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal It's still the Dark Ages in 997 CE, England, where a young man, Edgar, steals away from his house to flee with his love, Sunni. But the Vikings attack and Sunni is killed; so are his mother and father. Edgar's livelihood—boatmaking—is gone, too. Ragna is an aristocrat, daughter of the Norman count of Cherbourg. Her father's plans for her are upended when she meets an English thane, Wilf, and sparks fly. Soon Ragna is in England and married to Wilf, all she had hoped for. But life doesn't proceed as she'd expected. Wilf's family proves to be her enemy, and her hold over him isn't as absolute as she'd thought. The Vikings attack again, and Wilf returns from battle an invalid, his wits addled. The vultures gather. During these times, Ragna and Edgar cross paths several times. Their feelings for each other grow, but Edgar's a commoner and Ragna's a noblewoman and married. It takes 10 years, during which calamity after calamity rolls over them, before there is any possibility for them to be together. VERDICT Follett has done it again. Readers will gobble up this exciting prequel to his 1989 classic, The Pillars of the Earth.—David Keymer, Cleveland

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

Book list Three decades after Follett launched his best-selling Kingsbridge series with The Pillars of the Earth, he presents a sequel tracing the fictional city's origins as the bedraggled settlement of Dreng’s Ferry. Dispossessed by Viking raiders of both his home and the woman he loves, Edgar ends up working for the despicable Dreng as a ferryman. Edgar is a builder, with a mind and skills that soon set him apart. Meanwhile, Ragna, a young Norman noblewoman, falls for ealdorman (a shire's chief officer) Wilwulf, member of a powerful Anglo-Saxon family that holds Dreng’s Ferry as part of its domains. Thanks to Wilwulf’s amoral half-brother, Bishop Wynstan, life in England is not what Ragna anticipated, and neither hers nor Edgar’s lives take the paths they had envisioned. Follett’s choice of language and explication accommodate an audience unfamiliar with the period, painting a large canvas with broad Dark Ages strokes. Violence, rape, slavery, romance, power plays, and human striving all combine into Follett's absorbing and lengthy saga of life in a chaotic and unstable England on the cusp of the Middle Ages.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of Follett's ever-popular Kingsbridge series, bolstered by an Oprah Book Club pick and a TV series, will flock to this well-publicized prequel, while intrigued newcomers can start here. Refresh holdings of the three earlier titles.

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

Kirkus Murder, sex, and unholy ambition threaten to overwhelm the glimmers of light in Dark Ages England in this prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989). A Viking raid in 997 C.E. kills Edgar’s one true love, Sungifu, and he vows never to love another—but come on, he’s only 18. The young man is a talented builder who has strong personal values. Weighing the consequences of helping a slave escape, he muses, “Perhaps there were principles more important than the rule of law.” Meanwhile, Lady Ragna is a beautiful French noblewoman who comes to Shiring, marries the local ealdorman, Wilwulf, and starts a family. Much of the action takes place in Dreng’s Ferry, a tiny hamlet with “half a dozen houses and a church.” Dreng is a venal, vicious ferryman who hurls his slave’s newborn child into a river and is only one of several characters whose death readers will eagerly root for. Bishop Wynstan lusts to become an archbishop and will crush anyone who stands in his way. He clashes with Ragna as she announces she is lord of the Vale of Outhen. “Wait!” he says to the people, “Are you going to be ruled by a mere woman?” (Wynstan’s fate is delicious.) Aldred is a kindly monk who harbors an unrequited love for Edgar, who in turn loves Ragna but knows it’s hopeless: Although widowed after Wilwulf’s sudden death, she remains above Edgar’s station. There are plenty of other colorful people in this richly told, complex story: slaves, rapists, fornicators, nobles, murderers, kind and decent people, and men of the cloth with “Whore’s Leprosy.” The plot at its core, though, is boy meets girl—OK, Edgar meets Ragna—and a whole lot of trouble stands in the way of their happiness. They are attractive and sympathetic protagonists, and more’s the pity they’re stuck in the 11th century. Readers may guess the ending well before Page 900—yes, it’s that long—but Follett is a powerful storyteller who will hold their attention anyway. Follett's fans will enjoy this jaunt through the days before England was merry. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Three decades after Follett launched his best-selling Kingsbridge series with The Pillars of the Earth, he presents a sequel tracing the fictional city's origins as the bedraggled settlement of Dreng’s Ferry. Dispossessed by Viking raiders of both his home and the woman he loves, Edgar ends up working for the despicable Dreng as a ferryman. Edgar is a builder, with a mind and skills that soon set him apart. Meanwhile, Ragna, a young Norman noblewoman, falls for ealdorman (a shire's chief officer) Wilwulf, member of a powerful Anglo-Saxon family that holds Dreng’s Ferry as part of its domains. Thanks to Wilwulf’s amoral half-brother, Bishop Wynstan, life in England is not what Ragna anticipated, and neither hers nor Edgar’s lives take the paths they had envisioned. Follett’s choice of language and explication accommodate an audience unfamiliar with the period, painting a large canvas with broad Dark Ages strokes. Violence, rape, slavery, romance, power plays, and human striving all combine into Follett's absorbing and lengthy saga of life in a chaotic and unstable England on the cusp of the Middle Ages.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fans of Follett's ever-popular Kingsbridge series, bolstered by an Oprah Book Club pick and a TV series, will flock to this well-publicized prequel, while intrigued newcomers can start here. Refresh holdings of the three earlier titles.

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

Kirkus Murder, sex, and unholy ambition threaten to overwhelm the glimmers of light in Dark Ages England in this prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (1989).A Viking raid in 997 C.E. kills Edgars one true love, Sungifu, and he vows never to love anotherbut come on, hes only 18. The young man is a talented builder who has strong personal values. Weighing the consequences of helping a slave escape, he muses, Perhaps there were principles more important than the rule of law. Meanwhile, Lady Ragna is a beautiful French noblewoman who comes to Shiring, marries the local ealdorman, Wilwulf, and starts a family. Much of the action takes place in Drengs Ferry, a tiny hamlet with half a dozen houses and a church. Dreng is a venal, vicious ferryman who hurls his slaves newborn child into a river and is only one of several characters whose death readers will eagerly root for. Bishop Wynstan lusts to become an archbishop and will crush anyone who stands in his way. He clashes with Ragna as she announces she is lord of the Vale of Outhen. Wait! he says to the people, Are you going to be ruled by a mere woman? (Wynstans fate is delicious.) Aldred is a kindly monk who harbors an unrequited love for Edgar, who in turn loves Ragna but knows its hopeless: Although widowed after Wilwulfs sudden death, she remains above Edgars station. There are plenty of other colorful people in this richly told, complex story: slaves, rapists, fornicators, nobles, murderers, kind and decent people, and men of the cloth with Whores Leprosy. The plot at its core, though, is boy meets girlOK, Edgar meets Ragnaand a whole lot of trouble stands in the way of their happiness. They are attractive and sympathetic protagonists, and mores the pity theyre stuck in the 11th century. Readers may guess the ending well before Page 900yes, its that longbut Follett is a powerful storyteller who will hold their attention anyway.Follett's fans will enjoy this jaunt through the days before England was merry. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Breaking Stalins Nose
by Eugene Yelchin

School Library Journal Gr 5-7-Velchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Sasha Zaichik, the 10-year-old son of a member of the secret police, is bursting with pride because he is ready to become a Young Pioneer. He is equally excited that his father will be officiating at the ceremony. But then he watches as his father is taken away to prison, turned in by a neighbor vying for bigger living quarters. Sasha joins his peers in taunting Borka Finkelstein, their only Jewish classmate, even though readers sense that he doesn't really want to do it. The question of who is a good Communist underlies much of the plot. The book's intriguing title refers to Sasha's accidentally breaking the nose off a bust of Stalin. Borka, desperate to see his imprisoned parents, confesses to the action, with the hope that he will be taken to prison, too. Sasha does not admit his own guilt. Eventually disillusionment overtakes homeless Sasha as he waits in line to visit his father. Velchin's illustrations are filled with pathos and breathe life into the narrative. Though there are many two-dimensional characters, mostly among the adults, Sasha and Borka are more fully drawn. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin's regime, Sasha's emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Velchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything. Along with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), this selection gives young people a look at this dark history.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha's dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid's naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child's innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha's classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art. Ten-year-old Sasha lives with his father, a State Security secret policeman whom he worships (almost as much as he worships Stalin), and 46 others in a communal apartment. The story opens on the eve of the fulfillment of Sasha's dream-to become a Young Soviet Pioneer-and traces the downward spiral of the following 24 hours, as he resists his growing understanding that his beloved Communist state is far from ideal. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future. An author's note concisely presents the chilling historical background and personal connection that underlie the story. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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