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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Salt to the Sea.
by Sepetys, Ruta

Publishers Weekly Sepetys delivers another knockout historical novel, after Between Shades of Gray and Out of the Easy, that offers insight into the ugly realities of WWII and culminates with a forgotten event, the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. Set in East Prussia during the brutal winter of 1945, in the waning days of the conflict, and tautly narrated by four strong, distinct voices, the narrative highlights the plight of refugees as Germany tries to evacuate soldiers and civilians: "The brutality was shocking. Disgraceful acts of inhumanity. No one wanted to fall into the hands of the enemy. But it was growing harder to distinguish who the enemy was." The narrators include Florian, a Prussian boy carrying a secret parcel; traumatized 15-year-old Amelia, a Polish girl without papers who hides a mysterious pregnancy; Joana, a repatriated 21-year-old Lithuanian nurse, who believes she's a murderer; and Alfred, a German soldier who imagines writing self-important missives to a girl back home. Their stories collide-first as the three refugees travel through the countryside with a larger group, and then as they try to gain passage on Alfred's ship, the Wilhelm Gustloff, which is doomed to maritime disaster with casualties exceeding those of the Titanic and Lusitania combined. Sepetys excels in shining light on lost chapters of history, and this visceral novel proves a memorable testament to strength and resilience in the face of war and cruelty. Ages 12-up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Feb.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-With the same lyrical prose, eye for detail, and breath-stopping ability to unfold delicate layers of characterization and theme with skillfully paced revelations, the author of Between Shades of Gray (2011) and Out of the Easy (2013, both Philomel) presents a fictionalized World War II story based on a true tragedy. In alternating narratives, four different teens grapple with the bitter cold, the ever-present danger of falling bombs, and their own dark secrets. There's Joana, a pretty and empathetic Lithuanian nurse who harbors a heavy guilt; Florian, a mysterious young man struggling to hide his true identity; Amelia, a pregnant Polish girl; and Alfred, a sociopathic Nazi sailor with an inferiority complex. Along with a fully realized cast of secondary characters who comprise the small band of refugees slowly making their way through the frozen and battle-scarred Prussian countryside, Joana, Florian, and Amelia are determined to get aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German military ship evacuating civilians and wounded soldiers at the tail end of the war. Alfred, meanwhile, a low-ranking officer stationed aboard the ship, avoids work by hiding in the toilets, composing imaginary and boastful letters to a girl back home. Each voice is distinct, and Sepetys unwinds their individual backstories slowly and with care. As the relationships among the refugees strengthen and they begin to trust one another, vulnerabilities are revealed-some of them life-threatening. Observations of war and loss, human cruelty, and hatred are unflinching. But through the horror and heartbreak shine rays of hope: love, kindness, courage, and sacrifice. VERDICT Artfully told and sensitively crafted, Sepetys's exploration of this little-known piece of history will leave readers weeping.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal 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* Shipwrecks and maritime disasters are of fathomless fascination, with ships such as the Titanic and the Lusitania household names. It's interesting that the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff during WWII, which led to the largest loss of life on a single ship in history, goes largely unremarked upon at least in America. The numbers are staggering: far over capacity, the ship was carrying approximately 10,582 passengers when it was struck by Soviet torpedoes, and more than 9,400 of those passengers perished in the ensuing wreck, a death toll that dwarfs the Titanic's assumed losses (around 1,500). Part of the neglect might be due to timing. The ship was evacuating refugees and German citizens from Gotenhafen, Poland, when it was sunk in the Baltic Sea in the winter of 1945. Astounding losses defined WWII, and this became yet another tragedy buried under the other tragedies after all, even 9,400 is dwarfed by 60 million. But it was a tragedy, and, like all tragedies, it broke the people involved down to their barest parts. Sepetys has resurrected the story through the eyes of four young characters trying to reach safety as the Russian army advances: Joana, a Lithuanian nurse; Emilia, a pregnant Polish 15-year-old; Florian, a Prussian artist carrying dangerous cargo; and Alfred, a German naval soldier stationed on the Wilhelm Gustloff. Each has been touched by war and is hunted by the past, and, determined to get on a boat in any way possible, hurtling unknowingly toward disaster. With exquisite prose, Sepetys plumbs the depths of her quartet of characters, bringing each to the breaking point and back, shaping a narrative that is as much about the intricacies of human nature as it is about a historical catastrophe. Nominated for the Morris Award for her first novel, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys returns to those roots with another harrowing, impeccably researched story of hardship and survival in Eastern Europe. When reading a book so likely to end in tears, one inclination is to avoid getting attached to any of the characters, but that's next to impossible here, so thoroughly does Sepetys mine their inner landscapes. That doesn't mean they are all likable as it breeds heroes, so, too, does calamity breed cowards and opportunists but it does make it difficult to think of them as anything other than real people. After all, the ship was very real. It does the people aboard a disservice not to reflect them the best one can. In many ways, the greatest punishment and the greatest of all tragedies is to be forgotten. This haunting gem of a novel begs to be remembered, and in turn, it tries to remember the thousands of real people its fictional characters represent. What it asks of us is that their memories and their stories not be abandoned to the sea.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

Library Journal January 1945. The war in Europe is in its end stages as German forces are beaten back by the Allied armies. To escape the Soviet advance on the eastern front, thousands of refugees flee to the Polish coast. In this desperate flight for freedom, four young people-each from very different backgrounds and each with dark secrets-connect as they vie for passage on the Willhelm Gustloff, a former pleasure cruiser used to evacuate the refugees. Packed to almost ten times its original capacity, the ship is hit by Soviet torpedoes fewer than 12 hours after leaving port. As the ship sinks into the icy waters of the Baltic Sea, what was supposed to be an avenue for escape quickly becomes another fight to survive the randomness of war. VERDICT YA author Sepetys (Between Shades of Gray; Out of the Easy) describes an almost unknown maritime disaster whose nearly 9,000 casualties dwarfed those of both the Titanic and the Lusitania. Told alternately from the perspective of each of the main characters, the novel also highlights the struggle and sacrifices that ordinary people-children-were forced to make. At once beautiful and heart-wrenching, this title will remind readers that there are far more casualties of war than are recorded in history books. Sure to have crossover appeal for adult readers.-Elisabeth Clark, West Florida P.L., Pensacola 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.

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In East Prussia at the end of World War II, a group of refugees are desperately making their way toward the one chance they have at survival: passage aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff. Braving the unforgiving elements, violent soldiers, and an uncertain future, Joana, Emilia, and Florian narrate their harrowing journey, along with unsettling chapters from Alfred, a Nazi sailor. Sepetys brings to vivid life the events and repercussions of this little-known piece of 20th-century history. Copyright 2016. 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 Party and Other Stories
by Sergio Ruzzier

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-This easy reader-style picture book is actually three stories in one and stars two lovable and very different best friends. In "The Party," Fox is trying to read while Chick repeatedly interrupts him and requests to use his bathroom, where he proceeds to throw a raucous shindig with some other party animals. In "Good Soup," Fox digs in his garden accompanied by an indignant Chick who reminds Fox at each turn that he is supposed to be a carnivore, not a veggie-lover. In a fun twist, Chick eventually remembers that foxes are also "supposed" to eat little birds, and is glad that his friend breaks the norm. Finally in "Sit Still," Fox is painting a landscape when Chick buzzes by and offers to sit for a portrait. Chick has a long list of needs that prevent him from being able to pose, so Fox happily paints the landscape after all. In each story, Chick is the comic relief to Fox's straight man. Chick takes everything literally, while Fox plays the role of grumpy, but secretly genial, next-door neighbor. Pleasant and cartoonish pastel panels add to this enjoyable read. In the tradition of Frog and Toad and Elephant and Piggie, Fox and Chick will feel right at home in company of these other friendship tales. VERDICT Simple vocabulary, dialogue-only text, and situational comedy make this a winning choice as a confidence booster for children just learning to read. Recommended for picture book collections.-Lauren Younger, formerly at NYPL Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Book list Ruzzier kicks off a new picture-book series with this charmer, blending graphic-novel and early-reader conventions for young readers not quite ready to tackle chapter books. Adopting an odd-couple formula, the book's three short stories follow practical Fox and unpredictable Chick think Rabbit and Tigger through misunderstandings that challenge their friendship but never derail it. In The Party, Chick asks to use Fox's bathroom but neglects to mention he'd like to use it for a party. Needless to say, Fox isn't pleased. Chick's persistent questioning of Fox's vegetarian preferences comically backfires in Good Soup when he points out that foxes should eat things like moles and little birds. The final story, Sit Still, opens outside with Fox painting the landscape, but the serene scene is once more interrupted by Chick, whose desire to have his portrait painted is pitted against his inability to hold a pose. Painted in candy-hued watercolors with all text rendered in speech balloons or as sound effects, these humorous stories highlight how patience and understanding can make even the most unlikely friendships work.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Ruzzier (This Is Not a Picture Book!) kicks off a new comics-style early-chapter series, drawn with panels and dialogue balloons and starring an animal odd couple. Fox is an even-tempered reader, cook, and artist; Chick is a pain in the neck. In the first and funniest chapter, Chick asks Fox if he may use his bathroom, and then proceeds to throw a party in it (the "CRASH! THUD! SPLASH!" tips off Fox). Chapter two gets a little dark as Chick, who initially criticizes the vegetarian Fox for not being "a real fox," suddenly realizes that his soup-making friend is actually doing him a favor by not eating him. Chapter three centers on Chick's inability to sit still for a portrait. The root of their friendship remains an enigma-why does Fox tolerate such an annoying friend? But there's an easygoing, reassuring rhythm to the storytelling, and the simple text and sunny colors should engage nascent readers. Ages 5-8. Agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Nana in the city
by by Lauren Castillo

Publishers Weekly "I love my nana," a boy explains, "but I don't love the city." She greets him with a hug, but he's still nervous. "The city is busy," he says (crowds press in). "The city is loud" (a whistle shrieks). "The city is filled with scary things" (the boy shrinks from a homeless man holding out a cup). "It is no place for a nana to live," he concludes. While he sleeps, nana knits him a gift-a big red cape. A series of vignettes shows him wearing it the next morning, striking delighted poses. With new courage, the boy discovers a city he hasn't seen before-one full of life, wonder, and pretzels for homeless men: "It is the absolute perfect place for a nana to live," he decides. Castillo (The Troublemaker) examines childhood anxiety and the crucial love of grandparents with sensitivity, while her portraits of the city's challenges are honest and affectionate. It deserves a place on the shelf of classic New York City picture books. Ages 4-8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list When a little boy arrives in a big city to stay with Nana in her new apartment, he is overwhelmed and scared by the noise, the crowds, and the new experiences, from subway trains to panhandlers to graffiti. That next morning, though, he feels brave in the red cape Nana has knitted for him brave enough to venture out with her to explore. Now confident, he embraces new experiences and finds the city filled with extraordinary things! The short, simple text reads aloud well, and the watercolor artwork extends the narrative's tone and content beautifully. Strong, expressive black lines define the characters and settings, while autumn colors and interesting textures help bring the images to life. Children will want to linger over the busy urban scenes, discovering for themselves what might scare or excite the boy, while watching his body language convey his initial fears and his later engagement with all that he sees. A rewarding picture book with a vibrant setting.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Nana's young grandson is excited about staying with her, but her new apartment is in the city, which, according to him, is "busy," "loud," and "filled with scary things." Nana, however, thinks the city is "bustling, booming, and extraordinary," and the next day, she takes him out to experience the sights and sounds for himself. Soon, the boy discovers that "busy" can be fun as he romps through Central Park, which is filled with people appreciating a fine fall day. "Loud" is actually enjoyable as he listens to street musicians and sees a fellow break-dancing to recorded music. By day's end, he comes to realize that the city is "filled with extraordinary things" and is "the absolute perfect place...to visit." While the child's account is related in brief text, the watercolor illustrations tell readers much more. They see him initially hang back as his grandmother leads him into the cavernous subway, hold hands over his ears and grimace at construction and traffic noises, and cling to Nana as a street person approaches her for money, which later becomes for him a friendly encounter when she offers the man a pretzel. Dark, graffiti-filled scenes change to a spread dominated by reds and yellows as the boy points in wonder to the lights, buildings, and bustle of the city at day's end. This is a fine example of how firsthand experience can overcome initial fear. Pair it with Lilian Moore's celebration of the city in Mural on Second Avenue (Turtleback, 2013).-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT (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 Too Much And Never Enough
by Mary L Trump

Publishers Weekly Trump, a trained clinical psychologist and the niece of President Donald Trump, delivers a concise and damning account of her family's dysfunctions and their role in shaping her uncle's toxic blend of cruelty, incompetence, and vainglory. The fault, according to Trump, lies mainly with her grandfather, Fred Trump, a "high-functioning sociopath" whose harsh treatment of his eldest son and namesake, Freddy Trump (the author's father, who died at age 42 after years of alcohol abuse), taught Donald to bury his insecurities behind "a perpetual sneer of self-conscious superiority" and to cheat and bully his way to success on wheels greased by his father's money and political connections. Though Trump begins and ends the book with scathing assessments of Donald's presidency and offers plenty of unflattering anecdotes, he remains a somewhat distant figure throughout. The most harrowing sections deal with Freddy Trump's yearslong decline after his attempt to leave his father's real estate business failed, and the family's callous treatment of his ex-wife, children, and grandchildren after his death. Writing with the sharp eye of a perpetual outsider in her own family, Trump presents a melancholic portrait of their complicity in her uncle's worst behaviors. Readers who despair for President Trump's ability to lead the country out of its current crises will have their worst suspicions confirmed. (July)

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Inquisitors Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
by Adam Gidwitz>

Publishers Weekly In 1242 France, weary travelers at an inn trade stories about three miraculous children and their dog, Gwenforte, who has returned from the dead. The children-Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions of the future; William, an oblate of partial African heritage with uncanny strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy with the power to heal the sick and injured-are the subject of much rumor and debate. Are they saints, frauds, or in league with the devil? Gidwitz (the Grimm trilogy) continues to toy with narrative in a well-researched and rambunctiously entertaining story that has as much to say about the present as it does the past. Evoking the oral storytelling traditions of the time, multiple characters including a nun, troubadour, and brewer alternately describe their encounters with the children to produce the whole story. Amid mugs upon mugs of ale, the tale that comes into focus is one of religious persecution and faith, friendships that transcend difference, and a dangerously flatulent dragon-Gidwitz continues to have no problem mixing high and low. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. Author's agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Gidwitz leaves the fairy-tale realm of his Grimm trilogy behind and plunges into medieval France to tell the incredible story of three gifted children, a holy greyhound, and the people whose lives they touch. It is a time of miracles and saints, of fiends and dragons, all of which Gidwitz has meticulously teased from legends and histories of the Middle Ages. The story is relayed in the style of The Canterbury Tales, as travelers gathered at an inn share what they know of the children: Jeanne, a peasant girl with visions of the future; William, an African oblate with incredible strength; Jacob, a Jewish boy with healing powers; not to mention Gwenforte, their guardian greyhound. Religion lies at the book's heart, as Jewish and Christian beliefs come into conflict and the children's potential for sainthood is debated. It also triggers an act of defiance against the king that makes the miraculous threesome the most wanted people in France. Ten different narrators lend their voices to the tale including a brewster, nun, butcher, librarian, and troubadour while drinking a fair amount of ale, resulting in a boisterous, conversational tone. Gidwitz proves himself a nimble storyteller as he weaves history, excitement, and multiple narrative threads into a taut, inspired adventure. Though final artwork was unseen, the book will be fittingly illuminated with illustrations and marginalia. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The work put into the physical book should tell you the publisher's belief in best-seller Gidwitz's latest. Also: the national tour, the floor display, and all that.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-A hodgepodge of different narrators in 1242 France introduce readers to three unusual children and one remarkable dog. As their individual stories unfold and their paths collide, tension reaches a fever pitch as an agent of the Inquisition nips at their heels. Gidwitz's epic medieval adventure packs in boisterous action, richly depicted history, and lovable underdog characters, all illuminated by Aly's stunning artwork. The Middle Ages have never been as exciting or as funny. Copyright 2016. 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 5-10-What is a miracle? Is a miracle what happens when, faced with murderous bandits, a teenage monk rips a leg off his donkey, beats them to death with it, then restores the donkey's leg? Or is it a miracle when a cranky innkeeper is so moved by a little girl's friendliness that he risks his life to help her and her companions flee a posse of armed knights? Maybe the real miracle happens when readers attracted to the action and violence a particular author is known for find themselves strongly invested in the moral questions that plague bandit-killing monk and friendly peasant girl alike-along with every other character they encounter, from a young minstrel/pickpocket to Louis IX. Gidwitz's tale of medieval France successfully combines the epic with the personal, aiming for that heart-stopping moment when characters readers have come to care about find themselves on a collision course with one of the great wood chippers of history-the Inquisition, agents of which are in hot pursuit of three underdog characters (and one actual dog) from the very start. It is left to the titular Inquisitor to discover the truth behind the legends that quickly rise to surround these kids. He nudges it from each of the travelers at a roadside inn, the narrative tension rising as each facet is revealed. VERDICT This book appeals to the heart, to the mind, and to any reader's appetite for action: read it for the thrilling escapes, the fart jokes, the stinky cheese, and the palace intrigue. Read it for the Talmudic wisdom, commonsense philosophies, and moments of doubt. Read it for the palaces and monasteries and the unbelievable descriptions of food. But read it.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson Copyright 2016. 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.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Book of Ruth
by Jane Hamilton

Publishers Weekly ``In her first novel, Hamilton takes on a challenge too large for her talents,'' said PW of this tale about a Midwestern woman who is loyal to her wounded and wounding family. ``Hamilton evokes Ruth's character marvelously, but others as seen by her are incompletely rendered.'' (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal When a Wall Street Journal writer observed that "simple tales of life and sorrow in the heartland are red hot," he wasn't writing about Hamilton's (A Map of the World, Audio Reviews, LJ 7/95) novel, but he might as well have been. Ruth, an Illinois farm girl, gives a first-person account of her life in an effort to make sense of what has happened to her and her tragedy-prone family. The language of this novel, by turns naturalistic, romantic, and occasionally humorous, has a freshness and originality of expression, and Mare Winningham's vital and poignant reading makes Ruth come alive. Recommended for public libraries.?Jacqueline Seewald, Red Bank Regional H.S. Lib., N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. 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.