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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Heroine
by Mindy McGinnis

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. 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 The Balcony
by Melissa Castrillon

Horn Book CastrillĂłn presents an almost-wordless story of a child uprooted by a family move from the countryside to the city and the growth in self, surroundings, and community that results. Lonely but hopeful, the protagonist tends seeds on the apartment balcony. Eventually, the neighborhood turns into an urban gardener's paradise, community members connect, and a flower shop opens downstairs. Circle motifs throughout support the themes of beginnings and endings, cycles and growth. (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.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—A young girl brings along her love of the outdoors as she makes the adjustment of moving from a country home to a city apartment in this mostly wordless attestation to the possibilities of change and the meaning of home. When her mother receives a great job offer in the city, a girl is heartbroken to leave her home's lush garden where she has found solace with the flora and fauna, only to move to an apartment where the main access to the outdoors is a small, barren balcony. Soon, with some seeds she brought with her, she starts a balcony garden that quickly flourishes, spilling over to the balconies below hers. While enjoying her garden, she meets a friend, which leads to a satisfying realization that home can be a lot of things. With only a few elegantly hand lettered words, Castrillón's richly hued digital and pencil Ottoman-style illustrations carry the story. Making use of the book's narrow shape, she moves back and forth between spreads and vignettes that add pacing and offer moments to pause and bask in the splendor of the magical world the girl is creating. Centered on the child's story, other story lines unfold in the background, reinforcing the book's theme of hope in change. VERDICT A book to assuage the fear of moving to a new home, this lovely illustrated tale will be a delightful addition to most collections.—Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, OR

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

Book list Using only seven words, Castrillón tells a rich story of a girl's adjustment after moving from a house in the country to an apartment in the city. It is with a tearful goodbye that the girl, rosy cheeked with a short black bob, presses her face against the rear window of her parents' car as it drives away. Castrillón's distinctive, whimsical illustrations an arresting combination of pencil and digital color show the pangs of leaving a beloved place behind and highlight the girl's affinity for nature. The sun-kissed yellows and greens of the country give way to darker blues and pinks in the city. On her first night in the apartment, she finds comfort in planting seeds in a pot, which quickly grow in the balcony's sunlight. Brighter colors return, as does the girl's cheerful disposition, creating a lovely study in making a place your own. Castrillón creatively uses the page, clustering spot art alongside full- and double-page spreads of swirling lines and kaleidoscopic tones. The upbeat message of this tender tale blooms as beautifully as the plants in the little girl's care.--Julia Smith Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly The girl who stars in this nearly wordless tale by Castrillón (If I Had a Little Dream) has rosy cheeks and short dark hair and lives blissfully in the countryside. Castrillón’s lush spreads of her house and its surroundings recall early modern woodcuts and traditional folk art. Movement is everywhere: curtains sway, smoke curls. Then the girl’s parents tell her that her mother has gotten a new job and they must move to the city (“Goodbye,” hand-lettered text reads). Their new brick walk-up has a balcony, and from it the girl stares forlornly at the hills where she used to play. But she’s brought a pot with her, in which she plants seeds (“Hope,” the letters read). A large, artichokelike plant soon springs forth, growing by leaps and bounds, and slowly, the girl transforms her balcony into a wild garden. Tendrils and flowers reach the balcony below; neighbors rejoice. She spots a child with dark skin and curly hair across the way, and their families become friends. Castrillón offers riotous sprouting life through soft forms, stylized shapes, and bright colors. “Bloom where you’re planted,” the adage goes, and that’s just what this girl does. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus A child gardener makes a new place feel like home.The young protagonist, whose skin is the pale cream of the book's paper, enjoys the lush garden of their country home, serenely having tea with animal friends. Then a job change for their parents means goodbye. Saddened, they move to an apartment in the city, from which they gaze longingly at the distant country from their third-story balcony. They plant seeds in a pot, and, seemingly overnight, an asparagus-looking bloom sprouts. It grows steadily, eventually becoming even taller than the child's parents. With more plants, the balcony soon becomes an overflowing oasis of flora, attracting friendly animals, until the whole neighborhood is teeming with vegetation. The plants form connections among the community, including the protagonist's friendship with a next-door-neighbor child who has dark skin and wears their hair in braided knots. The occasional text provides some plot developments (a posted letter inviting the mother to take a job in the city) and conveys strong moods ("Hope" appears next to the child as they pot their initial plant). Digitally colored pencil illustrations are classically styled, with hatchings, strong lines, playful spatial distortions reminiscent of Wanda Gg, and a vintage-feeling tricolor palette. The organic elements have especially enchanting forms. Elegant drawings and sparse, emotive text make this story accessible to readers of a wide age range.A charmingly verdant tale in classic style. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Help, Thanks, Wow
by Anne Lamott

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Wish
by Nicholas Sparks

Book list Maggie Dawes is a successful travel photographer and free spirit who has traveled to scores of countries and every continent. But now, diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and given only months to live, she finds herself reexamining her life. Sparks doesn’t sugarcoat cancer and its treatments. Readers will be able to feel the pain, uncertainty, and endless waiting that the disease entails as Maggie tries to find comfort and meaning in her last days. She bravely records Cancer Video, a series of programs, to confront her disease and alert her followers. The shows bring Mark, a kind young man studying theology, to her gallery to apply for a job. As the months pass, Mark and Maggie become close, and she begins to share her life story. The plot flashes back and forth between the weeks building up to Maggie’s last Christmas in New York City and her teenage years when her parents sent her to Aunt Linda’s home in the Outer Banks to hide an unwanted pregnancy. Aunt Linda, a former nun, had helped teens before, and at her home, Maggie finds the kindness and support her parents didn't provide. She also finds Byrce, a local teen on his way to West Point, who becomes Maggie’s tutor and only friend and who introduces her to the magic of the camera. As the two stories finally become one, readers will be drawn into this gentle story of love, regrets, and redemption. Perennially best-selling Sparks has a ready audience, but anyone looking for a sweet story will be enchanted.

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog New Kid
by Jerry Craft

Horn Book Jordan, an African American seventh grader from Washington Heights, confronts both covert and overt racism in his first year at a prestigious academy, but he also develops supportive relationships with classmates of different races. Artist Jordan's sketchbook is shown in interludes throughout the engaging graphic novel's main narrative; Craft's full-color comics art is dynamic and expressive. A robust, contemporary depiction of a preteen navigating sometimes hostile spaces yet staying true to himself. (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.

Book list *Starred Review* Don't let the title fool you. Seventh-grader Jordan Banks may be the new kid at his upper-crust private school, but this remarkably honest and accessible story is not just about being new; it's unabashedly about race. Example after uncomfortable example hits the mark: casual assumptions about black students' families and financial status, black students being mistaken for one another, well-intentioned teachers awkwardly stumbling over language, competition over skin tones among the black students themselves. Yet it's clear that everyone has a burden to bear, from the weird girl to the blond boy who lives in a mansion, and, indeed, Jordan only learns to navigate his new world by not falling back on his own assumptions. Craft's easy-going art and ingenious use of visual metaphor loosen things up considerably, and excerpts from Jordan's sketch book provide several funny, poignant, and insightful asides. It helps keep things light and approachable even as Jordan's parents tussle over the question of what's best for their son to follow the world's harsh rules so he can fit in or try to pave his own difficult road. A few climactic moments of resolution feel a touch too pat, but Craft's voice rings urgent and empathetic. Speaking up about the unrepresented experience of so many students makes this a necessary book, particularly for this age group. Possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.--Jesse Karp Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Kirkus Jordan Banks takes readers down the rabbit hole and into his mostly white prep school in this heartbreakingly accurate middle-grade tale of race, class, microaggressions, and the quest for self-identity.He may be the new kid, but as an African-American boy from Washington Heights, that stigma entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom. Riverdale Academy Day School, located at the opposite end of Manhattan, is a world away, and Jordan finds himself a stranger in a foreign land, where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates ape African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. Jordan's a gifted artist, and his drawings blend with the narrative to give readers a full sense of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in between. Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance. Shrinking Jordan to ant-sized proportions upon his entering the school cafeteria, for instance, transforms the lunchroom into a grotesque Wonderland in which his lack of social standing becomes visually arresting and viscerally uncomfortable.An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. (Graphic fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Riverdale Academy Day School is every parent's dream for their child: it has a beautiful sprawling campus, a rigorous academic curriculum, and ample extracurricular activities. It's also distinctly lacking in diversity. African-American new kid Jordan Banks would rather go to art school, but his parents have enrolled him, so he dutifully commutes to the Bronx from his home in Washington Heights, Manhattan. When he's not being confused with the few other students of color, he is being spoken to in slang, is receiving looks when financial aid is mentioned, or is forced to navigate many more micro-aggressions. Artwork by Craft interweaves the story with Jordan's sketchbook drawings, which convey the tension of existing in two markedly different places. The sketches show him being called "angry" for his observations, feeling minuscule in a cafeteria, and traveling by public transportation across different socioeconomic and racially segregated neighborhoods, changing his outfit and demeanor to fit in. This engaging story offers an authentic secondary cast and captures the high jinks of middle schoolers and the tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space. Ages 8-12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Jordan Banks is anxious about being the new kid at Riverdale, especially since he'd rather be going to art school. He's even more nervous when he realizes that, unlike in his Washington Heights neighborhood, at Riverdale, he's one of the few kids of color. Despite some setbacks, Jordan eventually makes a few friends and chronicles his experiences in his sketch pad. This is more than a story about being the new kid-it's a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers. He is regularly mistaken for the other black kids at school. A teacher calls another black student by the wrong name and singles him out during discussions on financial aid. Even Jordan's supportive parents don't always understand the extent of the racism he faces. This book opens doors for additional discussion. Craft's illustrations are at their best during the vibrant full-page spreads. The art loses a bit of detail during crowd scenes, but the characters' emotions are always well conveyed. Jordan's black-and-white notebook drawings are the highlight of this work, combining effective social commentary with the protagonist's humorous voice. VERDICT Highly recommended for all middle grade shelves.-Gretchen Hardin, Sterling Municipal Library, Baytown, TX © 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.

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