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Click to search this book in our catalog American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

Library Journal In a book both timely and prodigiously readable, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) offers an unrelenting and terrifyingly you-are-there account of a Mexican mother and son fleeing to America after cartel violence takes their entire family. Lydia had been comfortably running a bookstore in Acapulco, but cartel violence is escalating, and the charming customer with whom she's become friendly turns out to be the jefe of the newest, cruelest cartel in town. When he's also the subject of her journalist husband's latest reveal-all profile, vengeance is swift, which puts Lydia and Luca on the run by bus and van, in migrant shelters, on top of a train, and, finally, in the remote and blazing American Southwest. Cummins expertly balances the brutality of the cartel, its scary omniscience, and Lydia's ululating fear with Lydia's passionate commitment to Luca's survival and the numerous small, brave acts of kindness she encounters that speed this duo north. VERDICT Here, it's the journey rather than the arrival on American dirt that counts, and readers will wonder whether they could ever have survived such a trek even as they realize that this could happen to them. An important book. [See Prepub Alert, 7/15/19.]—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

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

Publishers Weekly With this devastating yet hopeful work, Cummins (The Crooked Branch) breathes life into the statistics of the thousands fleeing their homelands and seeking to cross the southern border of the United States. By mere chance, Lydia Quixano Pérez and her eight-year-old son, Luca, survive the massacre of the rest of her family at her niece’s quinceañera by sicarios of the Los Jardineros cartel in Acapulco. Compounding the horror of the violence and loss is the fact that the cartel’s leader is a man that Lydia unwittingly befriended in her bookstore. Lydia and Luca flee north to the only refuge that she can imagine: her uncle’s family in Denver. North of Mexico City, all other sources of transportation become impossible, so mother and son must risk traveling atop La Bestia, the freight trains that are the only way to reach the border without being seen. They befriend two beautiful sisters—Soledad, 15, who is “a living miracle of splendor,” and Rebeca, 14—who have fled life-threatening circumstances in Honduras. As the quartet travel, they face terror on a constant basis, with danger possible from any encounter, but also compassion and occasionally even wonder. This extraordinary novel about unbreakable determination will move the reader to the core. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal All's well for Lydia Quixano Perez, who runs a bookstore in Acapulco while raising beloved son Luca, until her journalist husband writes a reveal-all profile of the jefe of the newest drug cartel brutalizing the city. For safety, she and her family are forced to flee north, trying to get onto "American dirt"—but what will life be like for them when they arrive? Starting to buzz; a ten-city author tour.

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

Kirkus This terrifying and tender novel is a blunt answer to the question of why immigrants from Latin America cross the U.S. borderand a testimony to the courage it takes to do it.Cummins (The Crooked Branch, 2013, etc.) opens this propulsive novel with a massacre. In a pleasant Acapulco neighborhood, gunmen slaughter 16 people at a family barbecue, from a grandmother to the girl whose quinceaera they are celebrating. The only survivors are Lydia, a young mother, and her 8-year-old son, Luca. She knows they must escape, fast and far. Lydia's husband, Sebastin, is among the dead; he was a fearless journalist whose coverage of the local cartel, Los Jardineros, is the reason los sicarios were sent, as the sign fastened to his dead chest makes clear. Lydia knows there is more to it, that her friendship with a courtly older man who has become her favorite customer at the small bookstore she runs is a secret key, and that she and her son are marked for death. Cummins does a splendid job of capturing Lydia's and Luca's numb shock and then panic in the aftermath of the shootings, then their indomitable will to survive and reach el norteany place they might go in Mexico is cartel territory, and any stranger might be an assassin. She vividly recounts their harrowing travels for more than 1,000 miles by bus, atop a lethally dangerous freight train, and finally on foot across the implacable Sonoran Desert. Peril and brutality follow them, but they also encounter unexpected generosity and heroism. Lydia and Luca are utterly believable characters, and their breathtaking journey moves with the velocity and power of one of those freight trains.Intensely suspenseful and deeply humane, this novel makes migrants seeking to cross the southern U.S. border indelibly individual. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Lydia Perez's life is not extraordinary; she is a bookstore owner with a husband and eight-year-old son, Luca, in Acapulco. When cartel jefe Javier Fuentes has her entire extended family killed while Lydia and Luca are fortuitously hiding in a bathroom, Lydia realizes they must leave Mexico immediately or be killed when Javier finds out she is still alive. Luca, confused but trusting in his mother, embarks with her on an odyssey to the north, joining other migrants trying to make it to the U.S. border. What they see along the way will bring readers both heartbreak and hope, pain and promise. While Cummins alternates points of view, Luca's voice in particular sings with innocent optimism in the face of a series of near misses. The journey towards the prospect of safety is not only that of Luca and Lydia but of many other migrants, and complex secondary characters serve as both warnings and signs of possibility. Beautiful, straightforward language drives home the point that migration to safer places is not a political issue but a human one. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With a story line sure to be much discussed this election year plus a film in the works American Dirt may be the don't-miss book of 2020.--Tracy Babiasz Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Fox on the Swing
by Evelina Daciute

Publishers Weekly This fresh and unexpected Lithuanian import transcends easy categorization. Paul's father flies helicopters, his mother is a potter, and they live in a tree. In episodic passages, Daciute lays out these whimsical details with cheerful matter-of-factness. A parade of people, vehicles, and animals through Kiudulaite's colorful digital collages contributes to the atmosphere of bouncy unpredictability. On his daily journey to buy rolls, Paul meets a fox in the park-she likes to sleep on the swing-and they become friends. She's moody, even prickly, but she addresses Paul like a peer. "Will I always find you here?" Paul asks. "Of course not," the fox replies. "When I need to be somewhere else, that's where I'll go." Yet it's Paul who leaves first, as his family moves to a bigger tree in a bigger city. Stories about moving often imagine the main character gradually adapting to the new place, but Daciute's story immediately gives Paul what he most wishes for-a reunion with a friend. Ages 4-8. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus This Lithuanian import portrays the friendship developing between a boy and a fox.An omniscient narrator introduces Paul's family: His father pilots a helicopter, and his mother makes pottery. More unusual is their dwelling, which is a tall tree in the park. Close observers of the zany mixed media and digital collages will glimpse a bushy orange tail early on. Paul's first encounter with the lanky fox, clad in blue boots and enjoying a swing in the park, is during his daily walk home from the bakery. Although the fox engages in philosophical and somewhat mysterious conversations (reminiscent but not duplicative of her counterpart in Antoine de Saint-Exupry's The Little Prince), the boy anticipates these visits even though it means sharing his bakery treat. He learns how to be a friend in ways appropriate to her moods, especially exulting in the swinging and shouting about things that make them happy. Suddenly concerned one day, Paul asks: "Will I always find you here?" She replies: "Of course not.When I need to be somewhere else, that's where I'll go." The text is longer than in many American picture books, but there is much to savor: the honesty of unspoken ruminations, challenging dialogue, and myriad unexpected details, such as a sign-carrying parade of protesting birds. The humans' skin tones range from Paul's paper-white to pink or red.An enormously satisfying surprise completes this wholly original narrative. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Locomotive
by Brian Floca

Publishers Weekly In 1869, not long after the golden spike is driven into the rails at Promontory Summit, a mother and her two children climb aboard the Transcontinental Railroad, leaving behind their old life in Omaha for a new one in California, where Papa awaits. Floca (Moonshot) chronicles their journey from multiple perspectives: documentarian, poet, historian, tour guide, and irrepressible railroad geek. With the rhythmic, verselike text that's become his signature; expressive typography; and handsome, detailed watercolor, ink, and gouache paintings, he celebrates the majestic (the passing western landscape), the marvelous (the engineering and sheer manpower required to keep the engine safely on its course), and the mundane, from the primitiveness of the toilets to the iffiness of depot food ("If the chicken/ tastes like prairie dog,/ don't ask why"). It's a magisterial work (even the endpapers command close reading), but always approachable in its artistry and erudition. And readers will come away understanding that the railroad wasn't just about getting a group of passengers from Point A to Point B; it carried an entire nation into a new, more rapid world: "Faster, faster, turn the wheels,/ faster, faster breathes the engine!/ The country runs by, the cottonwoods and river./ Westward, westward,/ runs the train,/ through the prairies,/ to the Great Plains,/ on to the frontier." Ages 4-10. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 3-5-It all started with "a new road of rails/made for people to ride" where "covered wagons used to crawl." Almost 150 years ago-just after the Civil War-the completion of the transcontinental railway radically changed both this country's landscape and the opportunities of its people. The book traces the advent of cross-country train travel, focusing on an early trip from Omaha to Sacramento. As in Moonshot (2009) and Lightship (2007, both S & S), Floca proves himself masterful with words, art, and ideas. The book's large format offers space for a robust story in a hefty package of information. Set in well-paced blank verse, the text begins with a quick sketch of "how this road was built" and moves abruptly to the passengers on the platform and the approaching train. The author smoothly integrates descriptions of the structure and mechanics of the locomotive, tasks of crew members, passing landscapes, and experiences of passengers. Simply sketched people and backgrounds, striking views of the locomotive, and broad scenes of unpopulated terrain are framed in small vignettes or sweep across the page. Though a bit technical in explaining engine parts, the travelogue scheme will read aloud nicely and also offers absorbing details for leisurely personal reading. Substantial introductory and concluding sections serve older readers. There's also a detailed explanation of the author's efforts and sources in exploring his subject. Train buffs and history fans of many ages will find much to savor in this gorgeously rendered and intelligent effort.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston (c) Copyright 2013. 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* Floca follows up the acclaimed Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 (2009) with this ebullient, breathtaking look at a family's 1869 journey from Omaha to Sacramento via the newly completed Transcontinental Railroad. The unnamed family is a launching point for Floca's irrepressible exploration into, well, everything about early rail travel, from crew responsibilities and machinery specifics to the sensory thrills of a bridge rumbling beneath and the wind blasting into your face. The substantial text is delivered in nonrhyming stanzas as enlightening as they are poetic: the smoke and cinders, / ash and sweat of the coal engine and the Great Plains stretching out empty as an ocean. Blasting through these artful compositions are the bellows of the conductor ( FULL STEAM AHEAD ) and the scream of the train whistle, so loud that it bleeds off the page: WHOOOOOOO! Font styles swap restlessly to best embody each noise (see the blunt, bold SPIT versus the ornate, ballooning HUFF HUFF HUFF ). Just as heart pounding are Floca's bold, detailed watercolors, which swap massive close-ups of barreling locomotives with sweeping bird's-eye views that show how even these metal giants were dwarfed by nature. It's impossible to turn a page without learning something, but it's these multiple wow moments that will knock readers from their chairs. Fantastic opening and closing notes make this the book for young train enthusiasts.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Sparrow
by Moon, Sarah

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Fourteen-year-old Sparrow Cooke is believed to have nearly taken her own life on her school's roof. She begins to see a therapist. The teen refuses to open up during her initial sessions with Dr. Katz, but the therapist slowly gets through to Sparrow by introducing her to rock music. However, Sparrow wants to fly away from dealing with issues, such as the death of her favorite school librarian Mrs. Wexler, the loss of her kindergarten best friend Chocolate, popular mean girls like Monique, nearly flunking the eighth grade, her inability to socialize with other kids, and her distance from her mom. Their relationship becomes more strained after a parent-teacher conference with Sparrow's teachers. With Dr. Katz's help, the girl's world is opened up and she gets the opportunity to attend the Gertrude Nix Rock Camp for Girls for the summer. She reluctantly leaves her comfort zone and befriends three unlikely dorm mates. Readers will quickly identify with this protagonist; Sparrow speaks to those who may have difficulty dealing with loss, making friends, and feeling alienated. Librarians will appreciate the nod to the Brooklyn Public Library and the significant role Mrs. Wexler played in Sparrow's life. Moon brilliantly weaves the intersections of race, class, sexual orientation, body image and women's contributions to rock and pop music histories into the narrative. Rock music fans will love the homage to the diverse artists, musicians, and bands within the genre. VERDICT This novel will inspire readers to find their own voices through literary and musical expression. A good choice for most YA collections.-Donald Peebles, Brooklyn Public Library © Copyright 2017. 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 When eighth-grader Sparrow wakes up in the hospital, she can't convince the doctors or her mother that she wasn't attempting suicide on the roof of her school. Once she starts seeing her therapist, she reveals that when she experiences anxiety, she becomes a real sparrow and flies with other birds. Moon's debut novel deftly normalizes therapy and prioritizing one's mental health. In lyrical, minimalist prose that resounds with authenticity, Moon tracks Sparrow's relatable experience with trauma and anxiety. The recurring therapy sessions never come across as manufactured or heavy-handed, nor do they present a singular, correct way to cope with anxiety. After opening up to her therapist, Sparrow takes a brave step and enrolls in a month-long music camp. There she finds unexpected validation and a community of women who build her up. An elegantly told and important novel about learning to cope, live, and be happy with depression and anxiety.--Kling, Caitlin Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

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