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Click to search this book in our catalog The Passion of Dolssa
by Berry, Julie

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © 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 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © 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 Mommys Khimar.
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow

Kirkus From a debut author-and-illustrator team comes a glimpse into a young American Muslim girl's family and community as she walks around in "Mommy's khimar," or headscarf.The star of this sunny picture book is a young girl who finds joy in wearing her mother's khimar, imagining it transforms her into a queen, a star, a mama bird, a superhero. At the core of the story is the love between the girl and her mother. The family appears to be African-American, with brown skin and textured hair. The girl's braids and twists "form a bumpy crown" under the khimar, which smells of coconut oil and cocoa butter. Adults in her life delight in her appearance in the bright yellow khimar, including her Arabic teacher at the mosque, who calls it a "hijab," and her grandmother, who visits after Sunday service and calls out "Sweet Jesus!" as she scoops her granddaughter into her arms. Her grandmother is, apparently, a Christian, but "We are a family and we love each other just the same." The illustrations feature soft pastel colors with dynamic lines and gently patterned backgrounds that complement the story's joyful tone. The words are often lyrical, and the story artfully includes many cultural details that will delight readers who share the cheerful protagonist's culture and enlighten readers who don't. With a universal message of love and community, this book offers a beautiful representation of a too-often-overlooked cultural group. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-K-A young child is enchanted by her mother's many colorful khimars. She uses them to play dress-up, imagining herself as a queen, a mama bird covering her baby brother in his nest, or a superhero in a cape. The girl can inhale her mother's scent and comfort herself even if her mother is not near. She is even allowed to wear one of the khimars to the mosque where she is lovingly admired by a crowd of older women ("'Assalamu alaikum, Little Sis!'"). Her non-Muslim grandmother also makes an appearance and readers are told, "She doesn't go to the mosque like Mommy and Daddy do. We are a family and we love each other just the same." The child-narrator speaks in simple, clear sentences describing a supportive and loving family and community. However, Glenn's soft-colored, flat illustrations miss an opportunity to add visual depth and texture to the book. They serve their purpose, but don't enrich it. VERDICT A sweet addition to picture book collections.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY © 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 Mommy, an African-American Muslim woman, has a closet full of the beautiful flowing headscarves called khimars (another character refers to them as hijabs later in the story). Her imaginative daughter's favorite khimar is bright yellow, and readers follow along as the young narrator wears it in daylong dress-up play. Enveloped in the scents of coconut oil, cocoa butter, and cinnamon that linger in the khimar, the girl feels protected, loved, and bigger than life. At her mosque, she is welcomed into the world of pious women, as her mother's friends greet her with, "Assalamu alaikum, Little Sis!" The yellow khimar is also emblematic of the unconditional love within the girl's extended family: when her grandmother stops by after church ("She doesn't go to the mosque like Mommy and Daddy do"), she greets the girl with a bright smile and open arms, calling her "Sunshine." Debut author Thompkins-Bigelow's lyrical text and Glenn's lighthearted Disney-style pictures are similarly sunny. Rather than offer an exegesis of the khimar or a plea for acceptance and understanding, they allow their heroine's carefree confidence to speak for itself. Ages 4-8. Illustrator's agency: Bright Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list In this ebullient picture book, readers come to share in the delight a little girl takes in wearing her mother's khimar another term for hijab. For the girl, her mother's rainbow collection of beautiful khimars is a source of wonder, power, and intimacy, much like any mother's closet of pretty things might be for a young child. Her favorite one is yellow, and she wears it like a superhero wears her cape, imagining herself shining like the sun and shooting through the sky like a star. She recognizes her mother's fragrances coconut oil and cocoa butter which ensure the security of her mother's presence even in her absence. This affirming book will be a welcome mirror for Muslim and interfaith families, and a necessary counter to Islamophobic discourse. The illustrations are as lively and brightly colored as the khimars themselves, and smiling faces of friends and family members echo the warm message of the text.--Chaudhri, Amina Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Horn Book A young girl admires her mother and the bright khimars she uses to cover her head in observance of her Muslim faith. As she plays dress-up with her mother's yellow khimar, cheerful illustrations show the girl's imaginative play ("I am a superhero in a cape") and love for her family. A sweet family story with an affirming depiction of a black Muslim family in a supportive multicultural community. (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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Blindside
by James Patterson and James O Born

Library Journal The daughter of New York's mayor is missing, and Det. Michael Bennett's son is in jail. So they agree to trade help, with Michael investigating a homicide victim tied to both the computer-smart daughter and an ambitious hacking operation. The string of nasty murders that follows eventually affects national security, complicating matters by bringing in the NYPD, the FBI, and global crime. With a 450,000-copy first printing.

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

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