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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Boy in the Black Suit
by Jason Reynolds

Publishers Weekly When high school senior Matt realizes that working at the local chicken joint might mean cleaning up vomit, he reluctantly accepts a job at the neighborhood funeral parlor-the same one where his mother's funeral was just held. To Matt's surprise, he finds relief in watching funerals and seeing how mourners handle their grief, and he begins to grow closer to the funeral home's owner, a local character. As he did in When I Was the Greatest, Reynolds portrays Brooklyn's largely African-American Bed-Stuy neighborhood convincingly; Matt and his family are lower middle-class, as are their neighbors, but gangs and violence are a presence, as well. Coincidences and plot twists (including a car accident that conveniently helps Matt's grieving father address his drinking problem) detract from the impact of the story as it develops. Romantic interest Lovey, a very appealing girl Matt meets at her grandmother's funeral, doesn't come on the scene until halfway through the book, and the wait feels long. An affecting story of a teenager's path through pain, but one whose faults offset its strengths. Ages 12-up. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list His mother recently dead from breast cancer, 17-year-old Matt feels his life is backwards and that he has become invisible at school. Then, ironically, he secures a work-study job at the local funeral home, owned by Mr. Ray, a respected fixture in their Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and discovers, to his surprise, that he enjoys attending funerals. Somehow, he thinks, it made me feel better knowing my pain isn't only mine. It is at a funeral that he meets a beautiful girl with the improbable name of Lovey and feels an instant attraction. The two become friends and gradually their friendship, rooted in trust, becomes something deeper that may redeem both of them from their losses and loneliness. Though it gets off to a slightly slow start, Reynolds' second novel quickly becomes a superb, character-driven story. His protagonist Matt is a wonderfully sympathetic, multidimensional character whose voice is a perfect match for the material and whose relationships with Lovey and Mr. Ray also a fascinating character are beautifully realized. This quiet story is clearly a winner.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Matt's mother just died, and his dad isn't coping well, hanging out with the local drunk and downing whiskey, which results in his getting hit by a car and landing in the hospital. Matt is also grieving his mom's death and now he's on his own, until he lands a job at the local funeral home: $15 an hour and Mr. Ray as his boss. Attending other people's funerals helps the teen come to grips with his own grief. Hearing mourners express their real thoughts of suffering at each funeral allows Matt to figure out his own feelings. Mr. Ray is wise and shows up at all the right times to help out the struggling young man, and when Mr. Ray's secrets come to light, he appears even cooler in Matt's eyes. Amid all this, Matt meets Lovey, the girl of his dreams, who is smart, funny, gorgeous, and tough. A mystery intersecting Lovey's life and that of Matt's best friend, Chris, deepens the plot. Written in a breezy style with complex characters who have real lives, this is another hit for Reynolds, fresh off the success of his When I Was the Greatest (S. & S., 2014). The author's seemingly effortless writing shines in this slice-of-life story, which covers a lot of the protagonist's emotional ground. The realistic setting and character-driven tale keeps readers turning the pages of this winner.-Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, San Leandro, CA (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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Bell Rang
by James E. Ransome

Kirkus A girl's family life and plantation routines are interrupted when three enslaved boys run away. Most days start the same way: The bell rings, Daddy collects wood, Mama prepares breakfast, they eat together. The narrator's brother, Ben, her parents, and the other slaves go to the fields while the girl stays with the young ones to play. On Wednesday, Ben surprises her with a handmade doll. On Thursday, Ben and his two friends are gone. There are tears; the narrator's parents are beaten, and other slaves look mad or sad. On Friday, the girl cannot eat or talk. On Saturday, there are horses and dogs; Ben's friends have been caught, but there is no sign of Ben. "Out comes the whip. / All night we cry and pray for Ben." On Sunday, Big Sam preaches near the creek, "of being free. / We sing. / We hope. / We pray / Ben made it. / Free like the birds. / Free like Moses. / No more bells." The final spread shows the girl looking out, with the single word "Monday" and a bird flying away on the endpaper. The richly textured paintings make masterful use of light and space to create the narrator's world and interior life, from the glimmer of dawn as her father chops wood to her mother's fatigue and her own knowing eyes. Ransome's free-verse text is as accomplished as his glowing acrylics.With spare text and gorgeous illustrations, this work represents a unique and engaging perspective on enslaved families. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list *Starred Review* Every dawn begins the same for the enslaved family of four featured in this book: The bell rings, / and no sun in the sky. / Daddy gathers wood. / Mama cooks. / We eat. The father, mother, and son go to work in the fields, while the daughter spends her days with the younger children. One morning, her brother presents his sister with a handmade doll, a kiss, and a good-bye. The next day, the family discovers that Ben has run away. Tears, fear, and sorrow overtake the family as they wonder about the fate of their beloved son and brother. Beautifully rendered acrylic paintings reveal the closeness of the family, whose pleasure at being together is evident. The richly colored vignettes in Coretta Scott King Award-winning Ransome's single- and double-page-spread paintings clearly picture the emotions felt by the family and the day-to-day monotony of their lives. Swallows are seen flying on the endpapers and over the Sunday prayer gathering, signaling the freedom the family hopes Ben has achieved. The last illustration shows the girl looking at the detested bell, leaving readers to wonder if she is thinking of the day she might choose to run away also. A powerful tale of slavery and its two terrible options: stay or run.--Maryann Owen Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Horn Book Using deceptively simple, repetitive verse, an enslaved girl narrates her family's daily plantation activities over a week, every morning beginning with the bell ringing--until Thursday when her brother runs away. The author communicates the complex emotions of individuals fleeing enslavement and the aftermath for those left behind. Through lush watercolors that expertly frame and highlight the characters, the reader is drawn into scenes of tenderness, joy, terror, and despair. (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 Bold, painterly spreads by Ransome (Before She Was Harriet) give shape to the lives of a slave family whose days are ruled by the overseer's bell. On Monday, "The bell rings,/ and no sun in the sky./ Daddy gathers wood./ Mama cooks." Daddy; Mama; their son, Ben; and the narrator, Ben's little sister, sit close and share a meal. On Wednesday, Ben gives his sister a kiss and a handmade doll, whispering "Good-bye" before walking away with two companions. Thursday, the family realizes that Ben is really gone. "Overseer comes/ to our cabin./ Then dogs come./ Overseer hits Mama,/ then Daddy." The other boys are found, but not Ben: "We pray/ Ben made it./ Free like the birds." In an image of startling force, a flying swallow is seen darting off the last, blank page. Stories about escaping slaves often follow the journeys of those leaving; this one imagines what life was like for a family left behind. The recurring image of the bell throughout each day underscores the way slaves' lives were continually regimented and surveilled. Ransome's gracefully sculpted figures give Ben's family heroic stature; his story makes their hunger for freedom palpable. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Hello, Goodbye Window
by Norton Juster

BookList: PreS-Gr. 2. Two well-known names come together in a book that speaks to the real lives of children and their experiences. The young narrator visits her grandparents, Nanna and Poppy, in their big house. They explore Nanna's garden, and Poppy plays his harmonica. The narrator rides her bike and takes a nap, “and nothing happens till I get up.” Looking out the picture window, the “hello, goodbye window,” she sees the pizza guy, and, more fancifully, a dinosaur. She also spots her parents coming to pick her up. The curly-haired girl is happy to see them, but sad because it means the end of the visit. The window imagery is less important than the title would make it seem. More intrinsic is Juster's honest portrayal of a child's perceptions (a striped cat in the yard is a tiger) and emotions (being happy and sad at the same time “just happens that way sometimes”). Raschka's swirling lines, swaths, and dabs of fruity colors seem especially vibrant, particularly in the double-page spreads, which have ample room to capture both the tender moments between members of the interracial family and the exuberance of spending time in the pulsating outdoors, all flowers, grass, and sky.
IleneCooper. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Ghosts Of Honolulu
by Mark Harmon and Leon Carroll Jr

Kirkus It’s no secret that Japanese spies worked in Hawaii in the years before Pearl Harbor, but there was also a Japanese American agent working to foil them. Screen actor Harmon and NCIS technical adviser Carroll try their hand at history, and it’s mostly a success—at least for readers who can acclimate to present-tense narration and occasionally overheated prose. As relations with Japan deteriorated during the 1930s, intelligence services worried about the loyalty of Hawaii’s largest minority, Japanese Americans, although local officials found little disturbing evidence. The reality was that local Japanese officials were gathering information on island defenses, and in 1940, Japan sent an agent, Takeo Yoshikawa, to work at it full-time in the consulate. Counterespionage in Hawaii was the responsibility of local police and several government agencies, but the authors focus on the Office of Naval Intelligence and its first Japanese American agent, Douglas Wada, hired in 1937. Wada spent most of his time translating and interpreting, but he also kept an eye out for suspicious activities. In the first half of the book, Yoshikawa spies while Wada goes about his business. After the attack, Japanese diplomats, including Yoshikawa, were arrested and later exchanged. Hawaiian intelligence services were on the alert, although little of consequence turned up. In what is now agreed to be a disgraceful episode of national racism, all Japanese Americans were regarded as disloyal, and 120,000 people of Japanese descent were arrested and sent to internment camps. A few hundred people on Hawaii were detained, but there were no mass arrests. Some scholars credit American intelligence for assuring the White House that Hawaii’s Japanese Americans were loyal, but practical reasons predominated: Locking up more than one-third of the island’s population would wreck its economy. Neither Yoshikawa nor Wada was a significant historical figure, but they lived long enough to be interviewed and written about, providing material for this revealing account. Though sometimes unnecessarily breathless, this is decent military history that will appeal to World War II buffs. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly NCIS star Harmon and Carroll, the show’s technical adviser, spotlight in their fast-paced debut how the historical precursor of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service dueled with Japanese spies in Hawaii during WWII. In 1939, FDR ordered the Office of Naval Intelligence to “investigate domestic threats of espionage and sabotage.” In Hawaii, Douglas Wada was recruited as the agency’s only Japanese American counterintelligence agent at a time when Japanese Americans accounted for more than a third of the population. Wada’s job was to “monitor the local population,” but he and his fellow counterintelligence officers correctly regarded Japan’s consular agents and their staff as the real spies in Hawaii, rather than members of the overwhelmingly loyal Japanese American community. After the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. counterintelligence chiefs in Hawaii, aware the attack had been guided by information that had “come from a spy working in the consulate in Honolulu,” advocated against the kind of mass internment of Japanese Americans that occurred in the western U.S. Wada continued his career through the Cold War decades, as the Office of Naval Intelligence evolved into the NCIS, and died in 2007. The authors strikingly paint WWII-era Hawaii as a spy-vs.-spy battleground, detailing Wada’s covert cat-and-mouse games with the Japanese consulate. Espionage buffs will savor this vibrant account of a dogged WWII investigator. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. A lavish middle-grade novel, Gaiman's first since Coraline, this gothic fantasy almost lives up to its extravagant advance billing. The opening is enthralling: There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. Evading the murderer who kills the rest of his family, a child roughly 18 months old climbs out of his crib, bumps his bottom down a steep stairway, walks out the open door and crosses the street into the cemetery opposite, where ghosts take him in. What mystery/horror/suspense reader could stop here, especially with Gaiman's talent for storytelling? The author riffs on the Jungle Book, folklore, nursery rhymes and history; he tosses in werewolves and hints at vampires—and he makes these figures seem like metaphors for transitions in childhood and youth. As the boy, called Nobody or Bod, grows up, the killer still stalking him, there are slack moments and some repetition—not enough to spoil a reader's pleasure, but noticeable all the same. When the chilling moments do come, they are as genuinely frightening as only Gaiman can make them, and redeem any shortcomings. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)

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

School Library Journal : Gr 5–8—Somewhere in contemporary Britain, "the man Jack" uses his razor-sharp knife to murder a family, but the youngest, a toddler, slips away. The boy ends up in a graveyard, where the ghostly inhabitants adopt him to keep him safe. Nobody Owens, so named because he "looks like nobody but himself," grows up among a multigenerational cast of characters from different historical periods that includes matronly Mistress Owens; ancient Roman Caius Pompeius; an opinionated young witch; a melodramatic hack poet; and Bod's beloved mentor and guardian, Silas, who is neither living nor dead and has secrets of his own. As he grows up, Bod has a series of adventures, both in and out of the graveyard, and the threat of the man Jack who continues to hunt for him is ever present. Bod's love for his graveyard family and vice versa provide the emotional center, amid suspense, spot-on humor, and delightful scene-setting. The child Bod's behavior is occasionally too precocious to be believed, and a series of puns on the name Jack render the villain a bit less frightening than he should be, though only momentarily. Aside from these small flaws, however, Gaiman has created a rich, surprising, and sometimes disturbing tale of dreams, ghouls, murderers, trickery, and family.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Tara Road
by Maeve Binchy

Library Journal: Abandoned by her husband, a Dublin woman named Ria meets American Marilyn via the phone, and they end up swapping houses--with surprise results.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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