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Click to search this book in our catalog The Midnight Library
by Matt Haig

Book list Nora Seed believes her life is made up of wrong choices. She didn’t become an Olympic swimmer; she quit her brother’s band; she left her fiancé two days before the wedding. Living with crippling disappointment and situational depression, Nora decides that the only right choice for her is to end her existence. But “between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. With the help of the friendly librarian Mrs. Elm, Nora tries on these lives in hopes of finding one where she will truly be happy. In the process, Nora finds that life is made of choices of both little and big consequence, and sometimes the choice to believe in oneself is both the biggest and smallest decision a person can make. Haig’s latest (after the nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers.

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

Kirkus An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? Thats the question at the heart of Haigs latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existenceas a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you wont need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isnt difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the books playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.A whimsical fantasy about learning whats important in life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives. How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable. A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Nora Seed believes her life is made up of wrong choices. She didn’t become an Olympic swimmer; she quit her brother’s band; she left her fiancé two days before the wedding. Living with crippling disappointment and situational depression, Nora decides that the only right choice for her is to end her existence. But “between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. With the help of the friendly librarian Mrs. Elm, Nora tries on these lives in hopes of finding one where she will truly be happy. In the process, Nora finds that life is made of choices of both little and big consequence, and sometimes the choice to believe in oneself is both the biggest and smallest decision a person can make. Haig’s latest (after the nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers.

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

Publishers Weekly Haig (How to Stop Time) draws on quantum wave theory in this charming if sometimes laborious account of the many possible lives of a depressed woman. Nora, in her mid-30s and living in the small English town of Bedford, suffers from “situational depression”—though, as she wryly observes, “It’s just that I keep on having new... situations.” After she gets fired from her job and her cat dies, she attempts suicide, only to wake up in a book-lined liminal zone, where she is guided by a librarian: “Between life and death there is a library... Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.” There, Nora discovers what would have happened had she not abandoned her promising swimming career, called off her engagement, or left the rock band she started with her brother. Each time an alternate life disappoints or doesn’t feel quite right, Nora exits, reappearing in the library to continue browsing for the perfect story. While the formula grows repetitive, the set changes provide novelty, as Haig whisks Nora from Australian beaches to a South American rock concert tour to an Arctic encounter with a polar bear. Haig’s agreeable narrative voice and imagination will reward readers who take this book off the shelf. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal If you could live your life over again, would you make the same choices? Nora Seed is depressed: Her best friend has ghosted her from the other side of the world; she is estranged from her brother; she just got fired; and her cat died. Suicide seems to be the answer, but instead of dying, she awakens in a library of infinite books, all about the lives she could have lived. There she meets her school librarian, who guides her first to her "Book of Regrets," where she sees every choice she made, while the rest of the books take her on journeys to visit her potential lives. What if, instead of quitting the band, she became a rock star? Or instead of leaving school, she became a world-renowned glaciologist? Nora gets to live these alternative lives, the goal being to find the life that will make her happy. But happiness, even in this fantasy, still proves elusive; perhaps that wasn't the goal after all. VERDICT Haig (How To Stop Time) takes readers on a journey of quantum physics that will have them feeling that they actually understand the theory. Most reminiscent of Ken Grimwood's Replay.—Stacy Alesi, Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Lib., Lynn Univ., Boca Raton, FL

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

Book list Nora Seed believes her life is made up of wrong choices. She didn’t become an Olympic swimmer; she quit her brother’s band; she left her fiancé two days before the wedding. Living with crippling disappointment and situational depression, Nora decides that the only right choice for her is to end her existence. But “between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. With the help of the friendly librarian Mrs. Elm, Nora tries on these lives in hopes of finding one where she will truly be happy. In the process, Nora finds that life is made of choices of both little and big consequence, and sometimes the choice to believe in oneself is both the biggest and smallest decision a person can make. Haig’s latest (after the nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers.

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

Kirkus An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives.How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? Thats the question at the heart of Haigs latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existenceas a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you wont need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isnt difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the books playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable.A whimsical fantasy about learning whats important in life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus An unhappy woman who tries to commit suicide finds herself in a mysterious library that allows her to explore new lives. How far would you go to address every regret you ever had? That’s the question at the heart of Haig’s latest novel, which imagines the plane between life and death as a vast library filled with books detailing every existence a person could have. Thrust into this mysterious way station is Nora Seed, a depressed and desperate woman estranged from her family and friends. Nora has just lost her job, and her cat is dead. Believing she has no reason to go on, she writes a farewell note and takes an overdose of antidepressants. But instead of waking up in heaven, hell, or eternal nothingness, she finds herself in a library filled with books that offer her a chance to experience an infinite number of new lives. Guided by Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, she can pull a book from the shelf and enter a new existence—as a country pub owner with her ex-boyfriend, as a researcher on an Arctic island, as a rock star singing in stadiums full of screaming fans. But how will she know which life will make her happy? This book isn't heavy on hows; you won’t need an advanced degree in quantum physics or string theory to follow its simple yet fantastical logic. Predicting the path Nora will ultimately choose isn’t difficult, either. Haig treats the subject of suicide with a light touch, and the book’s playful tone will be welcome to readers who like their fantasies sweet if a little too forgettable. A whimsical fantasy about learning what’s important in life. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Nora Seed believes her life is made up of wrong choices. She didn’t become an Olympic swimmer; she quit her brother’s band; she left her fiancé two days before the wedding. Living with crippling disappointment and situational depression, Nora decides that the only right choice for her is to end her existence. But “between life and death there is a midnight library,” a library that contains multiple volumes of the lives she could have had if she had made different choices. With the help of the friendly librarian Mrs. Elm, Nora tries on these lives in hopes of finding one where she will truly be happy. In the process, Nora finds that life is made of choices of both little and big consequence, and sometimes the choice to believe in oneself is both the biggest and smallest decision a person can make. Haig’s latest (after the nonfiction collection Notes on a Nervous Planet, 2019) is a stunning contemporary story that explores the choices that make up a life, and the regrets that can stifle it. A compelling novel that will resonate with readers.

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

Publishers Weekly Haig (How to Stop Time) draws on quantum wave theory in this charming if sometimes laborious account of the many possible lives of a depressed woman. Nora, in her mid-30s and living in the small English town of Bedford, suffers from “situational depression”—though, as she wryly observes, “It’s just that I keep on having new... situations.” After she gets fired from her job and her cat dies, she attempts suicide, only to wake up in a book-lined liminal zone, where she is guided by a librarian: “Between life and death there is a library... Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived.” There, Nora discovers what would have happened had she not abandoned her promising swimming career, called off her engagement, or left the rock band she started with her brother. Each time an alternate life disappoints or doesn’t feel quite right, Nora exits, reappearing in the library to continue browsing for the perfect story. While the formula grows repetitive, the set changes provide novelty, as Haig whisks Nora from Australian beaches to a South American rock concert tour to an Arctic encounter with a polar bear. Haig’s agreeable narrative voice and imagination will reward readers who take this book off the shelf. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal If you could live your life over again, would you make the same choices? Nora Seed is depressed: Her best friend has ghosted her from the other side of the world; she is estranged from her brother; she just got fired; and her cat died. Suicide seems to be the answer, but instead of dying, she awakens in a library of infinite books, all about the lives she could have lived. There she meets her school librarian, who guides her first to her "Book of Regrets," where she sees every choice she made, while the rest of the books take her on journeys to visit her potential lives. What if, instead of quitting the band, she became a rock star? Or instead of leaving school, she became a world-renowned glaciologist? Nora gets to live these alternative lives, the goal being to find the life that will make her happy. But happiness, even in this fantasy, still proves elusive; perhaps that wasn't the goal after all. VERDICT Haig (How To Stop Time) takes readers on a journey of quantum physics that will have them feeling that they actually understand the theory. Most reminiscent of Ken Grimwood's Replay.—Stacy Alesi, Eugene M. & Christine E. Lynn Lib., Lynn Univ., Boca Raton, FL

(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 Pokko and the Drum
by Matthew Forsythe

Horn Book The biggest mistake Pokko's parents ever made was giving her a drum," begins this story about a young frog musician's path to creative fulfillment, benevolent (mostly) leadership, and satisfying self-expression. After that attention-grabbing opening line, the well-paced text builds anticipatory humor by backing up to describe earlier gifts Pokko's parents regretted: a slingshot, a llama, and a balloon, all shown in uncluttered spreads featuring the game but poker-faced Pokko. Then comes the drum: Pokko's face lights up and she reaches toward her instrument, her now-constant companion. She practices inside the house; her parents send her out. She goes to the forest, where her playing attracts a banjo-strumming raccoon, a trumpet-blowing rabbit, and more; soon she's trailed by a parade of like-minded, music-making creatures (minus the rabbit, who gets eaten by a wolf: "No more eating band members or you're out of the band," deadpans Pokko). There are lots of visual nods and references in Forsythe's textured, painterly watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations--Rousseau, Sendak, Lobel, Ungerer, Keats, Klassen--but, like his amphibian protagonist, this idiosyncratic author/illustrator/animator (The Brilliant Deep, rev. 7/18; Warning: Do Not Open This Book!; the Adventure Time television series) marches to his own beat. (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 1—An omniscient narrator explains the story's central problem on the first page: "The biggest mistake Pokko's parents ever made was giving her a drum." It was, apparently, not an isolated error in judgment by these amphibians. Readers observe the young frog positioning herself in a slingshot, riding a llama in the living room, borne aloft by a balloon. The apron-wearing father keeps lamenting their latest purchase to his constantly reading wife, who can't hear anything due to the din. Forsythe's watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil compositions employ a warm palette of browns, oranges, reds, yellows, and greens. Polka-dot, patchwork, and striped patterns against cream-colored backgrounds create a cozy environment. When her father encourages drumming outside their homey mushroom, Pokko enters a lush forest with Matisse-like flora—but soon a reddish-yellow light permeates the page, and the eerie quiet causes her to start tapping "just to keep herself company." She is soon followed by a banjo-playing raccoon, a trumpet-wielding rabbit, a host of other instrumentalists, and an appreciative audience. Children may identify some characters from rhymes and folk tales. In addition to being a talented musician (something the father comes to recognize), the protagonist also proves to be an effective band leader. Faced with unsavory behavior from a wolf, she confronts him and earns a sincere apology; the show goes on. VERDICT Creative design and painterly scenes portray a heroine who takes risks and follows her heart into experiences that bring a little danger, but also joy and satisfaction.—Wendy Lukehart, District of Columbia Public Library

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

Kirkus Pokko's parents give her a drumbiggest mistake everand she makes a thoroughgoing racket.Her father suggests taking her drum outside. "But don't make too much noise. We're just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don't like drawing attention to ourselves." Pokko sets off quietly into the too-quiet forest. She taps her drum "just to keep herself company." When a banjo-playing raccoon follows her, she plays louder. A trumpet-playing rabbit's next, then a wolf, ostensibly there for the music. In a plot twist evocative of Jon Klassen, the wolf eats the rabbit, earning Pokko's stern rebuke: "No more eating band members or you're out of the band." Soon, many animalssome making music, others enjoying itare following Pokko. When her father calls her to dinner, he hears faint music, growing louder. The crowds sweep in, carrying off Pokko's parents. (Comically, her mother's still engrossed in the book she's been reading throughout.) Her father thinks he spies Pokko down in front. "And you know what?I think she's pretty good!" Pokko's a self-possessed marvel, brave enough to walk alone, face down a wolf, and lead a band. Forsythe's smudgily glowing paintings alternate Rousseau-esque forest forms with cozy interiors; stripes and harlequin diamonds decorate clothing.Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly “The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum,” begins this dark, hilarious tale by Forsythe (The Brilliant Deep). As Pokko marches across the colorful bed the frog family shares, her sticks poised for big blows, her father expresses deep misgivings. The next day, he prevails upon her to head outside—“We’re just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don’t like drawing attention to ourselves”— and she does, venturing into the surrounding woods alone. After Pokko resists the forest’s silence, “tapping on her drum,” a banjo-playing raccoon falls in behind her; as Pokko plays louder, a rabbit with a trumpet appears. An eager wolf joins, too, with less-than-musical results (“No more eating band members or you’re out of the band,” Pokko orders). As the drummer plays, the parade grows, and pretty soon, it’s a throng, joined even by her noise-averse dad. Forsythe’s tapestrylike spreads give the tense, funny sequences a lush elegance marked by amusing visual asides, painterly interiors, and a triumphant parade. In embracing one’s own beat, Pokko discovers, extraordinary things can happen—surprising things, upsetting things, and glorious things, too. Ages 4–8. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list The frog family lives a quiet, out-of-the-way existence in a peaceful forest peaceful, that is, until they present their daughter, Pokko, with a drum. It's a big mistake, they realize even bigger than their previous gifts of a slingshot and llama. We don't like drawing attention to ourselves, her father says, and Pokko agrees to take her drum-banging out into the woods, giving her patient parents some peace. As she walks about, drumming, different forest critters join her, their own instruments in tow, and form a boisterous musical parade. In one dicey moment, a wolf joins the throng. No more eating band members or you're out of the band, Pokko admonishes the apologetic predator. The joyful cacophony resumes, eventually convincing even her quiet parents that perhaps the drum wasn't such a mistake after all. Forsythe's coy, playful writing is a wonder on its own, but the lush watercolor, gouache, and colored-pencil illustrations beautifully elevate the tale, creating a warm and wonderful world that any woodland creature (or small child) would long to inhabit. There is something inspirational about Pokko's determined drumming and steadfast leadership, subtly providing a delightful lesson on the importance of quite literally marching to the beat of your own drum. Sometimes making noise is the only way to be heard.--Emily Graham Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Freedom in Congo Square
by Carole Boston

Book list *Starred Review* Coretta Scott King Honorees Weatherford and Christie have created a gorgeously artistic and poetic homage to the birthplace of jazz and a people whose legacy is too often ignored. For one day a week, the slaves of New Orleans were allowed by law to gather on one public space: Congo Square. Through sparse, deliberate language, Weatherford tangibly captures the anticipation of those Sundays, listing the physical and emotional work that slaves endured without respite. They tend to animals and crops, cater to their masters, endure losses and lashings, all the while counting the hours until they can revel in the freedom of Congo Square. Holding on to that joyful experience feels like a form of silent resistance as the slaves bear the harshness of the week. The blunt words are richly supplemented by illustrations reminiscent of Jacob Lawrence's work. Christie elegantly renders people's gestures in chalk, capturing their energy or lack of, depending on the context. Blocks of color stamped with texture bring to life the landscape and movement in a place where they rejoiced as if they had no cares; / half day, half free in Congo Square. Subtle and layered, this is an important story, beautifully told.--Chaudhri, Amina Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-This vibrant picture book examines Congo Square in New Orleans. A foreword and author's note explain how, historically, slaves in Louisiana were allowed Sunday afternoons off. This custom continued after the territory joined the United States, although in time, New Orleans established one location for all slaves to gather: an area that became known as Congo Square. This unique practice helped enslaved and free Africans maintain cultural traditions. The impact was felt far beyond New Orleans as musicians, dancers, and singers developed, explored, and shared rhythms that eventually grew into jazz music. The text is realistic but child appropriate. Couplets count down the days to Sunday in a conversational tone ("Slavery was no ways fair./Six more days to Congo Square."). The writing is accompanied by folk art-style illustrations, with paint applied in thick layers. Some images, such as faces, are more detailed, while others are presented as silhouettes. Collage with painted elements is incorporated on occasion. The architecture portrayed evokes the New Orleans setting. Bright colors suggest the exuberance displayed at Congo Square. Spreads where the slaves are finally able to sing, dance, and express emotion contrast effectively with the forced restraint of those depicting the work week. VERDICT Unique in its subject and artistic expression, this beautiful book belongs in most collections.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA © 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 1-3-Couplets count down the days of the week and detail the daily labor duties of those who were enslaved in New Orleans-all leading up to Sunday, the day of rest and an afternoon in Congo Square. Acknowledging and contrasting the brutal toll of slavery with the exuberance and collective power of their one half-afternoon of free expression, Weatherford has created a masterly and multifaceted work. Christie's illustrations, so loaded with color and movement, are the perfect accompaniment to this must-have book. © 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.

Publishers Weekly Located in what is now the Treme neighborhood, Congo Square was the one place where the slaves and free blacks of New Orleans were allowed to gather on Sundays, a legally mandated day of rest. There they could reconnect with the dance and music of their West and Central African heritages and feel, at least for a few hours, that they were in "a world apart," where "freedom's heart" prevailed. Weatherford hits a few flat notes with her rhyming ("Slaves had off one afternoon,/ when the law allowed them to commune"), but she succeeds in evoking a world where prospect of Sunday becomes a way to withstand relentless toil and oppression: "Wednesday, there were beds to make/ silver to shine, and bread to bake./ The dreaded lash, too much to bear./ Four more days to Congo Square." Christie, who worked with Weatherford to illuminate another historic neighborhood in Sugar Hill (2014), takes readers on a visual journey, moving from searing naïf scenes of plantation life to exuberantly expressionistic and abstract images filled with joyous, soaring curvilinear figures. An introduction and afterword provide further historic detail. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Bone Gap
by Laura Ruby

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.

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. 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 Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © 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.

Kirkus A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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.

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.

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