Featured Book Lists
Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Viva Frida!
by Yuyi Morales

School Library Journal Gr 1 Up-Kahlo's unusual life story, background, and art have made her a frequent topic of biographies. Morales's perception of her creative process results in a fresh, winning take on an artist who has rarely been understood. The author uses strong verbs to give Kahlo voice: "I see (Veo)"; "Se (I know)." Kahlo is depicted as a self-possessed woman with a drive to create. Her artistic process has room for others to participate, though-love, imagination, and dreams are closely entangled in her art. In the illustrations, Diego Rivera is shown creating alongside his wife. While the artistic process seems magical to readers, Kahlo knows what she is searching for. Each spread has just one or two words on it, both in English and Spanish. The text floats on the page, with the Spanish in a lighter color, adding to the ethereal, dreamlike feel of the book. Morales's art and O'Meara's photographs take this book to another level. Created with stop-motion puppets, paintings, and digital elements, these are amazing works of art themselves. The puppets are lifelike, resembling Kahlo (with her unibrow) and Rivera accurately. They are surrounded by the animals Kahlo loved, including vibrant feathered parrots, a monkey, and dog. Throughout the book, Kahlo goes searching for inspiration and finds it all around her. Morales incorporates many of the hallmarks of Kahlo's art into her own. The artist wears silver, open-hand earrings and multicolored dresses. She plays with a skeleton puppet on these pages and imagines herself soaring, freed from her fragile body. Morales's note in both English and Spanish describes her connection with Kahlo. A resonant title that can be used anywhere Kahlo's art is studied. It will also be admired in bilingual collections.-Susan E. Murray, formerly at Glendale Public Library, AZ (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.

Book list Morales artistically distills the essence of the remarkable Frida Kahlo in this esoteric, multigenre picture book. Morales layers English and Spanish words never more than four to a page to depict a Frida who is curious, playful, wise, and inspired. Rather than tell a story, the text captures fragments of Frida's life, like snapshots with bilingual captions. Readers who know about this artist will appreciate that she is so much more than the product of the bus accident that robbed her of her health, and readers who do not know about her will be intrigued to learn more. The heartfelt yet succinct biography at the end provides that information in both languages. The three-dimensional quality of the illustrations lends realism, even though they are quite surreal, and the photography always captures the sparkle in Frida's eyes and the lights at any fiesta. While the picture-book format and bright photographed tableaux will appeal to a younger audience, it's slightly older readers who will be best suited to appreciate the deceptively simple text and references to Kahlo's art.--Chaudhri, Amina Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Readers will recognize Morales's (Nino Wrestles the World) handmade Frida Kahlo doll from Kahlo's self-portraits-Morales's doll has the same haunting beauty and direct gaze, and she wears the same Mexican peasant clothing. In a series of composed photographs, Frida gazes at her pet monkey-another handmade creation-who slips the artist a key. The key opens a locked box, which holds a marionette, a jointed skeleton. Spare, lyrical text is set in English and, in fainter type, in Spanish, and each page turn reveals a new word or phrase. "Juego/ I play," Frida says, manipulating the marionette while the monkey sits on her shoulder. Now a paper cutout, Frida is shown dreaming, rescuing an injured fawn, then awakening, restored to doll form, as her husband-a plump, affectionate Diego Rivera-gives her a kiss on the cheek. "Vivo!" she says. "I live!" Frida is presented less as a historical figure than as an icon who represents the life Morales holds sacred; Frida lives because she loves and creates. A detailed biography is included. Ages 4-8. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlottte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Twelve-year-old Astrid realizes that her interests are distinctly different from those of her best friend. Mesmerized while viewing a roller derby, she dreams of becoming a "Roller Girl" but discovers that the sport is considerably more daunting than she imagined and is not without physical, social, and emotional pain. Nevertheless, Astrid is determined to succeed. While this graphic novel provides interesting information about the sport, at its heart it is a story of friendship, exploring the tensions which test the girls' relationship as they move from childhood to adolescence. Astrid learns to be honest with herself, her mother, and her friends through a series of stressful events. The graphic novelist employs several excellent visual devices: angles to denote action and effective placement and space within panels. Jamieson's clever use of imagery is noteworthy. For example, desert and prehistoric depictions are used to suggest exaggerated perceptions of elapsed time. Her clothes shopping "hell" sequence is spot-on. Panels with stick figures are employed for comments, notes, and explanations. A prologue effectively frames the story and the realistic style with full-color art is reminiscent of the work of Raina Telgemeier. While at times some panels are a bit text-dense, the story will engage readers who will identify with Astrid as she deals with frustrations and disappointments. It will especially appeal to those whose aspirations fly in the face of convention. Offer this comic to fans of Telgemeier's Smile (Scholastic, 2010) and Laura Lee Gulledge's Page by Paige (Abrams, 2011).-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (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.

Publishers Weekly When Astrid's mother takes her and her best friend Nicole to a roller derby event, Astrid is intrigued, but Nicole is left cold. The rift between them grows as Astrid signs up for derby camp, while Nicole opts for ballet. Astrid works her tail off, makes friends, finds a mentor in a star skater named Rainbow Bite, and, at last, appears in her first bout. She also undergoes some uncomfortable preadolescent ordeals before reconciling with Nicole, in scenes that Jamieson (Pest in Show), in her first graphic novel, keeps blessedly free of smarminess. Jamieson's full-color cartooning has a Sunday comics vibe, and her pacing is faultless. Astrid struggles to do right as she tries to understand her soured friendship with Nicole, and she narrates her own failures with heartwarming candor ("I don't know why I did it. I didn't mean to hit them"). When she comes up with an elaborate scheme to bolster a teammate's failing confidence and carries it off despite the pressure of their upcoming bout, readers will want to stand up and cheer. Ages 9-12. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Mar.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Almost-middle-schooler Astrid (Ass-Turd to the mean girls) just isn't interested in the kinds of things everyone else is. Her BFF Nicole likes boys and ballet and the color pink, but Astrid's new obsession is tough, fast-paced Roller Derby. She thinks she and Nicole can spend their summer together at junior Roller Derby camp, but Nicole opts instead for ballet camp with Astrid's archnemesis. And when it turns out that Astrid isn't quite the Roller Derby prodigy she had hoped to be (she can barely master falling!), it seems both her summer and the impending start of junior high will be disasters. The bright, detailed, and colorful illustrations convey Astrid's scrappy personality while also focusing on the high-contact aspect of Roller Derby: the girls hip check and elbow one another right out of the panels. While learning the game, Astrid learns how to be a friend and, maybe, that not all friendships are forever. A touching look at the ups and downs of following one's dreams, in addition to introducing readers to a relatively unknown sport.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Ruby
by Cynthia Bend

Publishers Weekly Bond's debut novel is difficult to read for its graphic and uncomfortable portrayal of racism, sexual violence, and religious intolerance in East Texas in the 1960s and '70s. Bond is a gifted storyteller, able to make the reader squirm with anger and unease as she vividly depicts how easily bad things happen to good people. Ruby Bell is a middle-aged black woman living a feral existence in the woods of Liberty Township, a poor black community where the intolerant and superstitious inhabitants treat her with disgust as a social outcast and an unrepentant sinner because she's a prostitute. Ephram Jennings grew up with Ruby and has been in love with her for years, despite her reputation. He too is shunned and ridiculed-because of his feelings for her. Their romance remains sad and painfully one-sided, regardless of Ephram's tender good intentions. Even his doting older sister, Celia, is embarrassed and ashamed by Ephram's behavior, and her deep, visceral hatred of Ruby goes back decades. Flashbacks reveal why Ruby chose a life of prostitution and why Celia hates her, as well as why Ephram struggles to get out from under his sister's influence. All of the family drama is set amid an ingrained culture of sexual exploitation of women and children, racial brutality, and the community's passive acceptance that these things are facts of life. This is a grim tale, well told, but there's no comfort in these pages-just tragedy and heartache. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The citizens of Liberty, TX, have always watched Ruby Bell, first as a small child playing in the Piney Woods with her devoted cousin Maggie, then as a beautiful young woman on her way to a new life in New York City during the 1950s, and finally as she wanders aimlessly down the red dirt roads upon her return in the 1970s, muttering incoherently at the invisible spirits that torment her. Grocery clerk and childhood friend Ephram Jennings decides to reach out to Ruby, but his doing so angers his sister Celia and mobilizes his church brethren to intervene. Through multiple flashbacks, we learn of Ruby's past, rife with abuse and neglect, including lynchings, prostitution, and child rape. The strength and will that Ephram and Ruby need to fend off the rest of the world is threatened even as their bond grows stronger. Educator and debut novelist Bond knows the dark potentialities of her setting and explores them adroitly through each well-drawn character. Ruby's story is truly that of a people and a place, outlined lyrically and honestly, even when the most brutal events unfold. -VERDICT Definitely not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer lighter reads, this book exhibits a dark and redemptive beauty. Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern gothic literature. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]-Jennifer B. Stidham, Houston Community Coll. Northeast (c) Copyright 2014. 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 *Starred Review* Ephram Jennings, the son of a backwoods preacher, has been in love with the beautiful Ruby Bell ever since childhood. But Ruby has been so badly used by the men in her small African American town of Liberty, Texas, that she flees for New York City as soon as she is able, in search of the mother who abandoned her. When Ruby's best friend dies, Ruby returns home, only to succumb to the bad memories that haunt her still. Once sharply dressed and coiffed, she now wanders the streets with ripped clothing and vacant eyes. But Ephram still sees her as the lighthearted girl with pigtails, running free in the woods. And so he begins his long, sweet courtship, bringing her a homemade cake, cleaning her filthy house, and always treating her with kindness. At long last, out from under his overbearing sister's dominion, he feels himself come alive. But the church folks in town view their relationship as the work of the devil and seek to bring Ephram back to God and to cast out Ruby. In her first novel, Bond immerses readers in a fully realized world, one scarred by virulent racism and perverted rituals but also redeemed by love. Graphic in its descriptions of sexual violence and suffering, this powerful, explosive novel is, at times, difficult to read, presenting a stark, unflinching portrait of dark deeds and dark psyches.--Wilkinson, Joanne Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The Sympathizer
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Publishers Weekly This astonishing first novel has at its core a lively, wry first-person narrator called the Captain, and his two school friends Bon and Man, as they navigate the fall of Saigon and the establishment of the Communist regime in Vietnam in 1975. The Captain is a half-Vietnamese double agent; he reports to his Communist minder Man who, unbeknownst to Bon, is a Republican assassin. The Captain and Bon make it on to one of the harrowing last flights out of Saigon as the city is overtaken by the Viet Cong. They travel with the Captain's superior, the General, and his family, although Bon's own wife and son are shot making their escape. The Vietnamese exiles settle uncomfortably in an America they believe has abandoned their country, as they are reduced to new roles as janitors, short-order cooks, and deliverymen. The General opens a liquor store, then a restaurant (in which his proud wife cooks the best pho outside Vietnam) as a front to raise money for a counter rebellion. In order to protect his identity as a spy, the Captain is forced to incriminate others, and as lines of loyalty and commitment blur, his values are compromised until they are worthless. Nguyen's novel enlivens debate about history and human nature, and his narrator has a poignant, often mirthful voice. Agent: Nat Sobel, Sobel Weber. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Starred Review. Written as a postwar confessional, this novel begins with its nameless protagonist, a highly placed young aide to a general in the South Vietnamese army, recalling how he finalized the details of escape before the fall of Saigon. But our hero is a double agent, a communist sympathizer who will continue to feed information to the North even after he makes the harrowing escape with his loyalist friend Bon and the general's family on the last plane out, and becomes part of the Vietnamese refugee community in Southern California. Breathtakingly cynical, the novel has its hilarious moments; the reader will especially enjoy Nguyen's take on 1970s American life. To maintain his cover, our hero must become entangled in the general's underground resistance group, which plots a return to Vietnam through Cambodia, and the tale turns seriously dark. VERDICT Ultimately a meditation on war, political movements, America's imperialist role, the CIA, torture, loyalty, and one's personal identity, this is a powerful, thought-provoking work. It's hard to believe this effort, one of the best recent novels to cover the Vietnamese conflict from an Asian perspective, is a debut. This is right up there with Denis Johnson's Tree of Smoke. [See Prepub Alert, 10/27/14.]-Reba Leiding, emeritus, James Madison Univ. Lib., Harrisonburg, VA (c) Copyright 2015. 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 *Starred Review* Adept in the merciless art of interrogation, the nameless spy who narrates Nguyen's dark novel knows how to pry answers from the unwilling. Unexpectedly, however, this Vietnamese communist sympathizer finds himself being tortured by the very revolutionary zealots he has helped make victorious in Saigon. He responds to this torture by extending an intense self-interrogation already underway before his incarceration. The narrator thus plumbs his singular double-mindedness by reliving his turbulent life as the bastard son of a French priest and a devout Asian mother. Haunted by a faith he no longer accepts, insecure in the communist ideology he has embraced, the spy sweeps a vision sharpened by disillusionment across the tangled individual psyches of those close to him a friend, a lover, a comrade and into the warped motives of the imperialists and ideologues governing the world he must navigate. In an antiheroic trajectory that takes him from Vietnam during the war to the U.S. and then back, Nguyen's cross-grained protagonist exposes the hidden costs in both countries of America's tragic Asian misadventure. Nguyen's probing literary art illuminates how Americans failed in their political and military attempt to remake Vietnam but then succeeded spectacularly in shrouding their failure in Hollywood distortions. Compelling and profoundly unsettling.--Christensen, Bryce Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

204 East Main Klemme, IA 50449  |  Phone: 641-587-2369
Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)