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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog The Turning Tide
by Catriona McPherson

Publishers Weekly Agatha winner MacPherson’s vivid 14th Dandy Gilver mystery (after 2018’s A Step So Grave) opens in the summer of 1936, when Dandy Gilver and her inquiry agent colleague, Alec Osborne, receive a series of letters from a Scottish minister begging for their help. Vesper Kemp, the ferry operator for the town of Cramond, on the Firth of Forth, has abandoned her post and seems to be losing her mind. A young man accidentally fell into the river and drowned, but Vesper insists she murdered him. Dandy and Alec dismiss the case as more appropriate for a doctor than for detectives, until they discover the victim was Peter Haslett, whom Dandy has known since he was a child. Once in Cramond, Dandy and Alec find Vesper in a sad state, and their investigation takes several odd turns involving an old Roman fort, two unhelpful spinsters, four threatening millers, and a couple of students with a hidden agenda growing a particular strain of potato. MacPherson does a masterly job capturing the feel of rural Scotland and the mores of pre-WWII Britain. Readers will hope Dandy has a long career. Agent: Lisa Moylett, CMM Literary (U.K.). (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Leah on the Offbeat
by Albertalli, Becky

Book list *Starred Review* Leah Burke takes center stage in this sequel to Albertalli's Morris Award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015). It's senior year, and Leah's friends can't stop talking about college, prom, and long-distance relationships. Simon and Bram are as cute as ever, Leah's got college lined up, and goofy Garrett obviously has a crush on her. But Leah can't quite get into it. She feels like a third wheel (even at home, now that her mom is dating someone new); she doesn't really care about prom; and when her friend and bandmate says something racist, Leah's content to just break up the band and get on with her life. Plus, she's nursing a wicked crush on her friend Abby, and she's worried that if she does anything about it, she'll blow up their whole friend group let alone the fact that no one knows she's bi. Albertalli has a fantastic ear for voice, and it's beautifully on display in Leah's funny, wry, and vulnerable first-person narrative. She gets to the core of Leah's hang-ups about money, her body, her place among her friends, her reluctance to let anyone get too close, and her perfectionism without a trace of heavy-handedness, and she leavens the poignant emotional growth with snarky teen banter, hilarious mishaps, and swoonworthy (but never saccharine) romance. Everything Albertalli already did so well in Simon, she's improved upon here, and fans of the first book will be utterly smitten with Leah. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Perhaps you've heard of a little movie called Love, Simon? Your patrons certainly have. You'll probably want extra copies of this.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Horn Book Leah, Simon's friend from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, stars in a story of their friend group's last few months of high school. Leah, who hasn't told others she's bisexual, slowly falls for her once-estranged friend Abby but worries about a variety of repercussions. Frequently funny, this novel is also socially aware, addressing issues of race, class, and body image in addition to sexuality. (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.

Kirkus Leah Burke is perched on the precipice of change in the final months of senior year, before everyone in her diverse friend group scatters off to become their college selves. Leah, Simon Spier's best friend in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015), takes center stage in this sequel. She knows she's bisexual, but she's only out to her mom, not her friends, not even to Simon, who is gay. Leah's cynical and socially awkward but also confident in herself. She's unapologetically fat. She's a talented artist and a ripper on the drums. She's also fierce when called for. When a white friend implies that their classmate Abby Suso only got accepted to her college because she is black, Leah, also white, calls out her bias directly (Abby is not present for this conversation), sparking a nuanced subplot on racism and white allyship. Mostly, though, senior year is characterized by Leah's aching crush on Abby, the oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-straight girlfriend of Leah's good friend Nick. When the prom-scene ending finally arrives, even the most Leah-worthy cynics will be rooting for her. With complex characters, authentic dialogue, and messy-but-beautiful friendships, this sequel is more than capable of standing on its own. A subversive take on the coming-of-age romance that will leave readers feeling like witnesses to a very special moment in Leah's life and filled with gratitude for sharing it. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog How to Read a Book
by Kwame Alexander

Book list Come, let your fingers wonder as they wander through this engaging and mesmerizing ode to reading. Beginning with the captivating front endpapers that contain a poem and letters of the alphabet, this title is a treat to ears and eyes with its lyrical language and visual metaphors. Newbery medalist Alexander instructs the reader on how to best go about devouring a book, likening it to peeling a piece of fruit and savoring its goodness. First, pick a comfortable place to sit, open a book, and open your mind to all that volume has to offer. Caldecott Honor Book illustrator Sweet's intricate collage art uses an array of materials, including text and images from Bambi, old book covers, watercolors, and gouache paintings. Popping pink, orange, yellow, and purple leap from the artwork, creating an energy and optimism that will keep readers glued to the pages. Books take on the shape of a bookmobile, a guitar, a record player, and a toaster that spews forth letters spelling Once upon a Time. One gatefold and a die-cut page continue to enthrall and expand enthusiasm. The author admonishes readers: Don't rush though: Your eyes need time to taste. Your soul needs room to bloom. Endnotes by the author and illustrator describe how they came to create this delightful and appealing instruction manual.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Newbery medalist Alexander is popular across genres, and Caldecott Honoree Sweet's illustratrions enhance any project; together, they make an irresistible (and multi-award-winning) team--Maryann Owen Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Award-winning poet Alexander compares reading a book to peeling the gentle skin of a clementine, digging in to its juiciness, enjoying it "piece by piece, part by part," until you can "watch a novel world unfurl right before your eyes." And who better to illustrate this delicious poem than Caldecott Honoree Sweet. The artwork is done in watercolor, gouache, mixed media, handmade and vintage papers, found objects including old book covers, and a paint can lid. Not a splash of color, a piece of paper, or a line is out of place. Starting with the initial collage that incorporates the building blocks of reading (the letters A to Z) and the lines from a poem by Nikki Giovanni that careful readers will have to pay attention to see, the tone is set. "So get/real cozy/between/the covers/And let your/fingers wonder/as they wander…" for there is much to relish in this poem and its exuberant images. "Squeeze/every morsel/of each plump line/until the last/drop of magic/drips from the infinite sky." The book includes a note from both the poet and the artist. VERDICT A beautiful book not to be rushed through, but to be enjoyed morsel by tasty morsel.—Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ

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

Kirkus A linguistic and visual feast awaits in Alexander and Sweet's debut collaboration.If the mechanics of deciphering words on a page is a well-covered topic, the orchestration of finding magic between pages is an art emphasized but unexplaineduntil now. First things are first: "find a treea black tupelo or dawn redwood will doand plant yourself." Once settled, take the book in hand and "dig your thumb at the bottom of each juicy section and pop the words out[then] // Squeeze every morsel of each plump line until the last drop of magic / drips from the infinite sky." Reading, captured here in both content and form, is hailed as the unassailably individual, creative act it is. The prosody and rhythm and multimodal sensuousness of Alexander's poetic text is made playfully material in Sweet's mixed-media collage-and-watercolor illustrations. Not only does the book explain how to read, but it also demonstrates the elegant and emotive chaos awaiting readers in an intricate partnership of text and image. Despite the engaging physicality of gatefolds and almost three-dimensional spreads, readers with lower contrast sensitivity or readers less experienced at differentiating shapes and letters may initially find some of the more complex collage spreads difficult to parse. Children depicted are typically kraft-paper brown.New readers will be eager to follow such unconventional instructions, and experienced readers will recognize every single step. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Newbery Medalist Alexander's love poem to literacy conjures up startling, luscious images: to begin reading a book, he tells readers, "peel its gentle skin,/ like you would/ a clementine..../ Dig your thumb/ at the bottom/ of each juicy section." Caldecott Honor artist Sweet (Some Writer!) riffs on his verse, line by line, imbuing spreads with the feel of a continually evolving, handmade Valentine (as the copyright page pointedly notes, "no computer was used in making this art"). By turns dreamy and ecstatic, the images include portraits of blissed-out readers in a variety of settings, all constructed from swaths of saturated neon color and literary-themed ephemera (pages from Bambi are used throughout). One gatefold transforms a book into an electric orange triple-decker party bus, with 18 windows revealing allusive scenes made from cut paper and collage. The text, set in hand-lettered capitals, sprawls and stacks energetically as it proclaims its bibliophilia-sometimes whispering and cooing, sometimes shouting from the rooftops that it's got it bad for books. And why not? As Alexander writes, "Now, sleep./ dream./ hope./ (you never reach)/ the end." Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Bram Stoker Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Fearful symmetries : an anthology of horror
by Ellen Datlow, editor

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Cat Man of Aleppo
by Karim Shamsi-Basha

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—The power of one person's kindness and commitment to others is a potent message. Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel's life is "a story about cats and war and people. But most of all, it is a story about love." In this book based on an actual person and real events, Latham tells the tale of an ambulance driver who chose to stay in his hometown of Aleppo, Syria, even after war broke out. He begins to come across hungry, lonely cats as he drives his ambulance. With what little money he has, he buys scraps of meat to feed the animals; he extends his efforts to other animals and children as well. With international support, Mohammad creates a sanctuary from war's devastation for animals and children. The straightforward telling is accompanied by graphically strong illustrations. The art depicts war-torn streets, bombed buildings, and great sadness but also playful cats and smiling children who have been helped by Mohammad. Notes from both authors and the illustrator provide a glimpse into the book's inspiration and the research that went into the art. VERDICT A useful addition to school and public libraries to inform and to spark discussion about war, individual potential, and kindness to animals.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

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

Book list The ongoing civil war in Syria has brought devastation for almost a decade now, and this picture-book collaboration relates that tragedy through the hopeful and incredible true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel. When the war came to Aleppo, many people fled and were forced to leave behind their animals. Alaa, an ambulance driver, began feeding the stranded cats of his abandoned neighborhood, and their numbers quickly multiplied. One social media movement later, he was able to build an animal sanctuary, as well as offer other services for local human survivors. The story of the Cat Man of Aleppo is remarkable in its own right, but it also serves as a bridge between the harsh reality in Syria and young American students, with the cats serving as a more approachable and relatable proxy for the people suffering in the background. Shimizu's lifelike illustrations capture the joy and beauty prior to the war, juxtaposing it with the horror and grief that followed. A trio of early spreads depict the trauma, violence, and mass destruction, though there is no gore, and what follows is a purely hopeful tale of love for one's homeland. What a relief to see Middle Easterners depicted as recognizably modern people through their clothing, technology, and so on rather than religious caricatures or characters from Aladdin. A safe, sobering, and hopeful introduction to the crisis in Syria.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2020 Booklist

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

Kirkus When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood emptiesexcept for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they're left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them. A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this picture book biography of an unexpected war hero, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel—Alaa—is first seen in the old covered market of Aleppo, his native city. When war comes to Syria, many inhabitants leave, but Alaa stays to help: as an ambulance driver, “he swerves through the rubbled streets and carries the wounded to safety.” Intricate digitally colored ink drawings by Shimizu (Barbed Wire Baseball) portray scenes of desolation in this story by Latham (This Poem Is a Nest) and Shamsi-Basha, a Syrian-born writer and photographer. With meticulous care, Shimizu draws the destroyed buildings, the empty streets, and the cats that fleeing Syrians have left behind. In one striking spread, a huge olive tree towers over Alaa, two cats eyeing him from its branches. He starts bringing the strays food and water. “Together we can save them all,” he tells his neighbors. Donors who hear about his efforts help him fund a sanctuary (“Alaa is able to rescue other animals, too”), a playground for children, and a well. “All he did was love the cats, and that love multiplied and multiplied again.” Latham and Shamsi-Basha pick out the glimmers of light that make up Alaa’s story, and Shimizu portrays their beauty. Author’s notes give more information—including where to donate. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agents: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio (for Latham); Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency (for Shamsi-Basha). (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—The power of one person's kindness and commitment to others is a potent message. Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel's life is "a story about cats and war and people. But most of all, it is a story about love." In this book based on an actual person and real events, Shamsi-Basha and Latham tell the tale of an ambulance driver who chose to stay in his hometown of Aleppo, Syria, even after war broke out. He begins to come across hungry, lonely cats as he drives his ambulance. With what little money he has, he buys scraps of meat to feed the animals; he extends his efforts to other animals and children as well. With international support, Mohammad creates a sanctuary from war's devastation for animals and children. The straightforward telling is accompanied by graphically strong illustrations. The art depicts war-torn streets, bombed buildings, and great sadness but also playful cats and smiling children who have been helped by Mohammad. Notes from both authors and the illustrator provide a glimpse into the book's inspiration and the research that went into the art. VERDICT A useful addition to school and public libraries to inform and to spark discussion about war, individual potential, and kindness to animals.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

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

Horn Book In 2012, civil war comes to Aleppo, then the largest city in Syria. Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel is an ambulance driver who remains behind while many of his neighbors flee. Soon his area is filled with abandoned cats, whose "lonely, confused faces remind Alaa of the loved ones he has lost." He begins feeding them (and, as cat lovers know, stray cats return to their food source). News of Alaa's actions circulates on social media, and he becomes known as the "Cat Man of Aleppo"; an outpouring of donations allows him to create a cat sanctuary. This gentle book emphasizes that in the midst of chaos, caring for the forgotten and discarded, no matter how small, affirms the preciousness of all life. In an author's note, Shamsi-Basha explains that during wartime, animals, too, "suffer, and caring for them illuminates what it means to be human." Shimizu's ink, watercolor, and digital illustrations capture scenes of human despair and physical wreckage along with images of cats perching (and napping) in burnt-out cars and on heaps of rubble. Other images showing the "hope and love [that] fill people's hearts," along with the playground Alaa builds and the wells he helps dig in the city, reflect optimism and solace. An introductory note by Alaa, printed in English and Arabic, along with appended author and illustrator notes and art references, provide additional context. (c) Copyright 2021. 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.

Book list The ongoing civil war in Syria has brought devastation for almost a decade now, and this picture-book collaboration relates that tragedy through the hopeful and incredible true story of Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel. When the war came to Aleppo, many people fled and were forced to leave behind their animals. Alaa, an ambulance driver, began feeding the stranded cats of his abandoned neighborhood, and their numbers quickly multiplied. One social media movement later, he was able to build an animal sanctuary, as well as offer other services for local human survivors. The story of the Cat Man of Aleppo is remarkable in its own right, but it also serves as a bridge between the harsh reality in Syria and young American students, with the cats serving as a more approachable and relatable proxy for the people suffering in the background. Shimizu's lifelike illustrations capture the joy and beauty prior to the war, juxtaposing it with the horror and grief that followed. A trio of early spreads depict the trauma, violence, and mass destruction, though there is no gore, and what follows is a purely hopeful tale of love for one's homeland. What a relief to see Middle Easterners depicted as recognizably modern people through their clothing, technology, and so on rather than religious caricatures or characters from Aladdin. A safe, sobering, and hopeful introduction to the crisis in Syria.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2020 Booklist

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

Kirkus When the war comes to Syria, many flee, but Alaa stays in his beloved city, Aleppo, where he continues to work as an ambulance driver and helps the wounded to safety.Day after day, he misses his family and friends who have left, wondering where they are and how they are doing. His neighborhood emptiesexcept for cats! However, these cats are affected by the conflict too; they're left behind with shelters destroyed and food and water stringently limited. Alaa, who has a big heart, starts taking care of them using the little money he has. The love between man and cats multiplies, and many people from around the world step up to help. Soon, the cats of Aleppo get a pleasant shelter set in a courtyard. However, Alaa does not stop there and goes on to help other animals and more people, spreading joy, love, and hope. Based on a true story, this picture book is distinctive for its engaging narrative and impeccable illustrations. It is also enriched with notes from Alaa himself (the real one) as well as the authors and illustrator. The often-dramatic images offer a glimpse of the city prior to the conflict and a window on the real people who experience war and try to survive and help others around them. A beautifully told and illustrated story that offers a unique perspective on both war and humanity. (Picture book. 6-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In this picture book biography of an unexpected war hero, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel—Alaa—is first seen in the old covered market of Aleppo, his native city. When war comes to Syria, many inhabitants leave, but Alaa stays to help: as an ambulance driver, “he swerves through the rubbled streets and carries the wounded to safety.” Intricate digitally colored ink drawings by Shimizu (Barbed Wire Baseball) portray scenes of desolation in this story by Latham (This Poem Is a Nest) and Shamsi-Basha, a Syrian-born writer and photographer. With meticulous care, Shimizu draws the destroyed buildings, the empty streets, and the cats that fleeing Syrians have left behind. In one striking spread, a huge olive tree towers over Alaa, two cats eyeing him from its branches. He starts bringing the strays food and water. “Together we can save them all,” he tells his neighbors. Donors who hear about his efforts help him fund a sanctuary (“Alaa is able to rescue other animals, too”), a playground for children, and a well. “All he did was love the cats, and that love multiplied and multiplied again.” Latham and Shamsi-Basha pick out the glimmers of light that make up Alaa’s story, and Shimizu portrays their beauty. Author’s notes give more information—including where to donate. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agents: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio (for Latham); Rena Rossner, Deborah Harris Agency (for Shamsi-Basha). (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved