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Newbery Medal Winners
2019
Merci Suarez Changes Gears
Book Jacket   Meg Medina
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780763690496 *Starred Review* Merci Suárez loves painting with her Papi, playing on his soccer team, telling her Abuelo Lolo about her days at school, and taking pictures of her family when they are together. But lately Lolo has been acting different he wanders off, forgets things easily, and has even gotten angry. To add to Merci's worries, sixth grade at Seaward Pines Academy has gotten off to a rocky start. To make up her school tuition, Merci has been assigned community service as a Sunshine Buddy to new student Michael Clark, and, as the weeks go by, popular Edna Santos only gets meaner as Merci and Michael become friends. Merci isn't sure what to make of this new world where maybe like is not the same as like like, and where popular is not the same as having friends. As she navigates her way through the year, she discovers that, even though change is scary and even though it may mean things will never be the same, sometimes it is unavoidable. Medina's breathtaking coming-of-age story features a strong, deeply honest protagonist whose insights will make readers laugh, as well as dynamic secondary characters who reveal glimmers of profound depth. Medina capably gets to the heart of middle-school experiences in this engrossing story of a kid growing into herself. A must-read.--Paz, Selenia Copyright 2010 Booklist
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763690496 Cuban American Merci's life in south Florida consists of spending time with her extended family (including her abuelo, Lolo, who no longer seems like himself) and attending elite Seaward Pines Academy, where she does community service to pay for her tuition. Medina brings depth, warmth, and heart to her characters, never shying away from portraying this family's flaws. Accurate, natural use of Spanish builds authenticity. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763690496 Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Merci Suárez is starting sixth grade and everything is changing. Not only do upper graders have to switch teachers throughout the day, but playing sports, like Merci loves to do, is seen as babyish and befriending boys is taboo. So when Merci is assigned to show new kid Michael Clark around as part of her scholarship package at Seaward Pines Academy, it's a problem. Especially when the richest, smartest, most popular girl in school, Edna, who gets to write the sixth grade's social rules and break them, too, seems to like Michael. Meanwhile, at home, Merci has to watch over her little twin cousins who live close by at Las Casitas, a row of houses belonging to Mami and Papi; Abuela and Lolo; and Tia, for free, so trying out for the school's soccer team and earning money to buy her dream bike is almost impossible. What's worse, Merci can't even talk to her beloved Lolo about all her problems like she used to as he starts acting less and less like himself. The realistic portrayal of a complex young Latina's life is one many readers will relate to as she discovers that change can be hard, but it's the ride that matters. VERDICT Pura Belpré-winning author Medina cruises into readers' hearts with this luminous middle grade novel. A winning addition to any library's shelves.-Brittany Drehobl, Morton Grove Public Library, IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780763690496 In this warmly told story, Medina (Burn Baby Burn) introduces 11-year-old Merci, descendent of Cuban immigrants, who attends a Florida private school on scholarship with her whip-smart older brother. Merci doesn't feel much pressure to be anyone but herself, but her self-assuredness ("It's never too early to work on your corporate leadership skills," she declares at one point) makes her a target: rich kid Edna tries to put Merci outside the sixth grade girls' friend circle, and the clashes make school miserable ("No offense is what Edna says right before she takes a hatchet to your feelings," she reports). Merci's home life is also stressful-money is tight, her beloved grandfather is failing, and familial obligations (mostly babysitting twin cousins) mean there's no chance to try out for the school soccer team. Through all this, Medina keeps the tone light as Merci's take-charge personality helps her to succeed in this coming-of-age tale about family and the perils of sixth grade. Ages 9-12. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Merci navigates the challenges of being a scholarship kid at a posh South Florida private school and the expectations of and responsibilities to her intergenerational family.Eleven-year-old Merci Surez isn't the typical Seaward Pines Academy sixth-grader. Instead of a stately mansion, Merci lives with her parents and older brother, Roli, in one of three identical homes next to her Cuban-American extended family: Abuela and Lolo, Ta Inz, and her rambunctious little twin cousins. At school, Merci has to deal with condescending mean girl Edna Santos, who loves to brag, boss around her friends, and throw out hurtful comments that start with "No offense." Although Merci wants to earn money so that she can afford a new bike, she's stuck volunteering for Sunshine Buddies, in which current students mentor new ones. What's worse is that her assigned buddy is Michael Clark, a new tall white boy in her class. At home, Merci's beloved Lolo begins to act erratically, and it becomes clear something secret and serious is happening. Medina writes about the joys of multigenerational home life (a staple of the Latinx community) with a touching, humorous authenticity. Merci's relationship with Lolo is heartbreakingly beautiful and will particularly strike readers who can relate to the close, chaotic, and complicated bonds of live-in grandparents.Medina delivers another stellar and deeply moving story. (author's note) (Fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2019
The Night Diary
Book Jacket   Veera Hiranandani
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780735228511 Gr 5-8-Nisha writes to her Muslim mother, who died giving birth to her and her twin brother, Amil, in a diary she receives on their 12th birthday. Through her diary entries, Nisha documents the changes brought about by India's independence from the British. Nisha and Amil live with their Hindu father, paternal grandmother, and the family's Muslim chef, Kazi, and they must flee their city after independence. Hiranandani creates a world full of sensory experiences: "I ate a samosa. I ate it slowly, savoring the crispy outside tingling with the tart green chutney I dipped it in." Readers see the depth of Hiranandani's characters during the family's walk to the border, particularly Nisha's rarely affectionate father who gently cares for her brother and grandmother. Without contrivance, Hiranandani weaves parallels into Nisha's story-Nisha cooking with Kazi and Rashid Uncle, and Rashid Uncle's inability to speak along with Nisha's extreme shyness. She evenly and powerfully communicates the themes of family, faith, humanity, and loss. In the back matter, Hiranandani includes information about how her Indian father's experiences influenced this story and provides a glossary of Indian terms. VERDICT This rich, compelling story, which speaks to the turbulence surrounding India's independence and to the plight of refugees, should be in all libraries serving middle grade readers.-Hilary Writt, Sullivan University, Lexington, KY © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780735228511 A quiet, sensitive half Hindu, half Muslim girl tries to make sense of her place in a country literally divided during the India Partition in 1947. Twelve-year-old Nisha has always struggled to express herself to her family and schoolmates, so each night she turns to her diary, where she writes entries to her mother, who passed away when she was a baby. Nisha feels the diary helps make the mother she never knew more real, but it also becomes a tool to bring Nisha's own thoughts and feelings into focus as she sorts through confusion, loss, and terror as her family embarks on a dangerous, forced migration from Pakistan to their new home. Hiranandani's prose shines in both emotion and simple, rich description, especially with regards to Nisha's developing love of cooking. This new passion ties her to the beloved Muslim cook her family left behind, and becomes a way for Nisha to connect to her complicated family, fractured past, and homeland old and new. A clear, compelling, and deeply felt historical novel.--McIntyre, Beth Copyright 2018 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525530442 Gr 3-7-On her 12th birthday, Nisha receives her first diary from Kazi, the family's cook, presented with prescient words: "he said it was time to start writing things down.someone needs to make a record of the things that will happen because the grown-ups will be too busy." In 1947, the Partition of India brings independence from British rule but cleaves a nation into Pakistan and India. The divisions along religious lines make little sense to Nisha: her father and grandmother are Hindu, her late mother was Muslim, and Kazi is Muslim. When the family is forced to flee from what becomes Pakistan to "the new India," beloved Kazi must stay behind. Facing a complicated future not of her making, Nisha observes, "It's one thing to understand facts and another thing to understand why those facts are facts." With pitch-perfect youthful delivery, Priya Ayyar is an ideal narrator for Nisha's evolution from reluctant and reticent to bold and brave. The addition of Hiranandani's (The Whole Story of Half a Girl) reading of her author's note-in which she reveals her father's family's 1947 exodus along Nisha's family's route from Mirpur Khas to Jodhpur-proves especially gratifying. -VERDICT Recommended for all libraries serving middle grade listeners.-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780735228511 Half-Hindu, half-Muslim twelve-year-old Nisha's family is forced to leave home after the Partition of India in 1947 places their city in the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan. Hiranandani flawlessly renders a world-altering historical event through the diary of a perceptive child, providing enough detail for readers who may not be familiar with the history while keeping focus on Nisha's arduous literal and emotional journeys. Glos. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In 1947, Nisha's beloved country is being torn apartand so is her family.Nisha and her twin brother, Amil, celebrate their 12th birthday in their beloved town of Mirpur Khas, India, a month before their country receives independence from the British and splits into India and Pakistan. Painfully shy, Nisha, who lost her mother in childbirth and feels distant from her stern father and her elderly grandmother, is only able to speak freely with the family cook, a Muslim man named Kazi. Although Nisha's mother was Muslim, her family is Hindu, and the riots surrounding Partition soon make it impossible for them to live in their home safely despite their mixed faith. They are forced to leave their townand Kazi. As Nisha and her family make their way across the brand-new border, Nisha learns about her family history, not to mention her own strength. Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl, 2013) compassionately portrays one of the bloodiest periods in world history through diary entries Nisha writes to her deceased mother. Nisha's voice is the right mix of innocence and strength, and her transformation is both believable and heartbreaking. Nisha's unflinching critiques of Gandhi, Nehru, and Jinnah are particularly refreshing in their honesty.A gripping, nuanced story of the human cost of conflict appropriate for both children and adults. (Historical fiction. 11-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735228511 After introverted Nisha receives a diary for her 12th birthday, she begins to find her voice as she documents her family's upheaval amid the 1947 Partition of India. Nisha's journal entries, which are addressed to her deceased mother, take on new urgency as she witnesses India being "split in half like a log" along religious lines after gaining independence from Britain. As the daughter of a Hindu father and a Muslim mother, Nisha questions which side of the Indian-Pakistani border to call her own. But when her family is no longer safe in their home in the city of Mirpur Khas (which became part of Pakistan), they set out for "the new India." Hiranandani (The Whole Story of Half a Girl) places Nisha's coming of age against the violent birth of a nation. The diary format gives her story striking intimacy and immediacy, serving as a window into a fraught historical moment as Nisha grapples with issues of identity and the search for a home that remain quite timely. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2019
The Book of Boy
 Catherine Gilbert Murdock
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062686206 Gr 4-6-Boy is the village outcast. A hunchbacked orphan with a mysterious past and a knack for talking to animals, he's faced more than his share of abuse and mockery from those around him. Enter Secundus, a strange pilgrim impressed with Boy's climbing and jumping skills. Secundus pulls Boy into a journey across Europe to gather the seven relics of Saint Peter. The journey, however, is not as innocent as Boy first assumes. Instead, they're stealing relics, making enemies, and facing peril all the way to Rome. Set in the year 1350, this is a medieval tale that blends historical fiction with magical realism. Readers will enjoy the adventures of Boy and Secundus, rife with twists that give the story more depth than a straightforward historical novel. Boy is an admirable protagonist who deals with his differences with a mix of acceptance and self-consciousness. Secundus, too, is a character that has more depth to him than meets the eye. While the peril may seem light to some, younger readers will get a thrill with every narrow escape. The book is easy to read with clear prose, short chapters, and illustrations scattered throughout. VERDICT A good recommendation for readers not quite ready for Adam Gidwitz's The Inquisitor's Tale or for those who enjoyed Karen Cushman's Catherine, Called Birdy but crave a bit more magic.-Paige Garrison, The Davis Academy, Sandy Springs, GA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780062686206 *Starred Review* It is 1350, the pope has fled from Rome to France, plague has ravished Europe, and Boy is sitting in an apple tree when a mysterious traveler approaches. So begins the marvelously rich tale of Boy, who has a secret; Secundus, who has many secrets; and the journey they undertake to find seven relics: rib, tooth, thumb, toe, dust, skull, and tomb. Murdock uses the conventions of the pilgrim's journey and adds enticing details that will draw in a young audience. Boy, an orphan and servant in a manor house, was told by the village priest he is a miracle, but he doesn't feel like one. He has a hump on his back, which makes him an object of derision, and he must hide his ability to speak with and understand animals. Secundus, meanwhile, is a man of mystery who stinks of brimstone, but as he warms to Boy, he also exhibits kindness and loyalty. Their epic adventures take them to Rome, where Secundus is determined to present his relics at the tomb of St. Peter. Scuffles and sacrifices, ferocious animals, and dastardly thieves abound as Boy and Secundus are slowly revealed to readers and each other. This is also a beautiful piece of bookmaking, from the woodblock-style design elements to the manuscript-like paper. A vivid, not-to-be-missed story, part The Inquisitor's Tale (2016), part Skellig (1998), but wholly its own.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2018 Booklist
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062686206 Secundus, a pilgrim, and Boy, a goatherd, travel together from France to Rome in 1350, each mysterious character on a quest. Murdock is in complete control of her medieval material, limning a world of bleak, plague-decimated villages and steeped in religious belief. The fantastical story is beautifully served by its generous page design, thick deckle-edged paper, and gorgeous woodcut-style illustrations. Most remarkable is the complex, compelling character of Boy. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Light and darkness have never clashed with such fierce majesty and eloquent damnation.Murdock weaves an engrossing tale set in medieval France, filled with charismatic characters, daring deeds, and more sinister duplicity than a certain serpent in the Garden of Eden. The titular Boy is thought a simpleton, a disfigured child who has lived a life of ridicule. Accepting of his sorry lot in life, the humble servant wants nothing more than to live in the shadows and avoid the ill-tempered attention of the likes of town bully Ox. That is, he accepts it until the arrival of the shadowy pilgrim, Secundus, enlarges Boy's world beyond the small boundaries of his village and introduces him to a world filled with greed, hunger, joy, deceit, and victory. Along with a story that unravels to reveal that not everything in the world is as it appears, Murdock delivers a wickedly fun-filled quest that twists and turns with lyrical fire. Boy ponders: "Pilgrim he might be but this man has sin stitched into his soul." The story is, among other things, an exploration of religion, Secundus' thieving quest for relics a counterpoint to Boy's stalwart faith.Blend epic adventure with gothic good and evil, and add a dash of sly wit for a tale that keeps readers turning the page, shaking their heads, and feeling the power of choice. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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  Book Jacket
2018
Hello, Universe
 Erin Entrada Kelly
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780062414151 *Starred Review* Four middle-schoolers' fates intertwine one summer in Kelly's (The Land of Forgotten Girls, 2016) touching tale of friendship. Scrawny, taciturn Virgil Salinas can generally be found caring for his guinea pig and avoiding neighborhood bully Chet Bullens. The only people he feels comfortable around are his lola (his Filipino grandmother) and his Japanese American friend Kaori, who fancies herself a psychic. Kaori's quirky self-confidence is a foil to Virgil's insecurities, and when he comes to her for help befriending a girl in his class, Valencia Somerset, she can't wait to consult her star chart. For her own part, Valencia struggles with nightmares after being rejected by her best friend, and the fact that she's deaf hasn't made finding new friends easy. When she spots Kaori's business card on a notice board, she makes an appointment to discuss her troubling dreams. That very day, Virgil goes missing, and Valencia joins Kaori's search for the boy. Chapters alternate between the four kids' perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. Lola's hilariously grim Filipino folk stories weave in and out of Virgil's mind, ultimately giving him the courage to stand up for himself; and rather than holding her back, Valencia's deafness heightens her perceptiveness. Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062414151 Gr 3-7-The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at the hands of a bully, Chet, it is up to the stars to align before it's too late. Coming together like spokes on a wheel, everyone converges in the woods-Valencia, a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush; Kaori, an adolescent fortune-teller and free spirit; Kaori's sister, Gen, her jump-roping apprentice; a feral dog Valencia has befriended; and a snake, which is the only thing Chet fears. Unlikely friendships are formed and heroism abounds as the group of young people try to find their way in the world. Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. VERDICT Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone-humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.-Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062414151 Virgil is bullied by classmate Chet, who calls him "retardo." Valencia feels like an outsider because she's deaf. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic. When Chet drops Virgil's backpack into an abandoned well, Virgil gets stuck trying to retrieve it; Kaori and Valencia investigate Virgil's whereabouts. Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain, the children's inner lives are distinctive. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062414151 Kelly (The Land of Forgotten Girls) offers up a charming novel about a serendipitous friendship that forms among a trio of sixth graders after a bully's heartless act brings them together. Virgil Salinas, an immensely shy 11-year-old, lives in the shadow of his boisterous family, struggles in school, and wants little more than to hang out with his guinea pig, Gulliver, and friend, Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic. Virgil's classmate Valencia, who is ostracized at school because of her near deafness, longs for a friend for the summer and hopes that Kaori's psychic powers might help her vanquish her recurring nightmares. Instead, Kaori enlists Valencia's help to rescue Virgil after he fails to show up for a scheduled meeting. Kelly rotates among the viewpoints of Kaori, Virgil, Valencia, and neighborhood bully Chet, who contribute their own distinct stories, voices, and challenges. Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage. Readers will be left inspired to tackle life's fears head-on. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062414151 Virgil is bullied by classmate Chet, who calls him "retardo." Valencia feels like an outsider because she's deaf. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic. When Chet drops Virgil's backpack into an abandoned well, Virgil gets stuck trying to retrieve it; Kaori and Valencia investigate Virgil's whereabouts. Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain, the children's inner lives are distinctive. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2018
An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Book Jacket   Derrick Barnes
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Safe to say, there's nothing like the feeling of the fresh cut. You feel so extra visible with a fresh new cut, and this book built from that experience translates it in a way never before brought to the children's bookshelf. Basquiat-inspired king insignias and a bit of Kehinde Wiley flair shape portraits of all the various ways men (and women too!) come into the black barbershop to restore their cool, leaving the chair with high self-esteem, self-pride, and confidenceif only for as long as their hairlines remain crisp. It's sacred. The all-important line and the diverse styles take center stage here. The Big Daddy Kane-homage flat-top. The part. The light shape-up surrounded by cornrows and locs. The taper. The classic wavy dark Caesar. Barnes' imaginative prose mirrors the hyperbole and swagger of the barbershop. No cut is just good. It will have you looking "presidential," "majestic." Like you own "a couple of acres of land on Saturn." The swagger is on a million. The sauce is drippin'. James' oil-based portraiture will send many readers reminiscing. This book oozes black cool and timely, much-needed black joy, using the unique and expansive experience of the barbershop to remind young boys that their inner lives have always mattered there. One of the best reads for young black boys in years, it should be in every library, media center, and, yes, barbershop. (Picture book. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781974921195 PreS-G 2-Smooth jazz and a strong narration blend together to tell this story of the fresh cut, the experience of sitting in the barber's chair and the feelings that come with it. Gordon C. James's Caldecott Honor-winning illustrations are full of life as they shift and move, and pull viewers into the barbershop as they wait in anticipation to see the final results. An author's note from Derrick Barnes explains his own experience getting a haircut and the confidence that accompanies it. © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781572842243 The unnamed black protagonist tells of his barbershop haircut from start to finish, narrating most of it in the second person. James's color-saturated illustrations capture the boy's bravado, swagger, and even his humility, which he needs in accepting a post-cut kiss from his admiring mother. Alternately precise, metaphorical, and culturally specific, Barnes's descriptions make each page a serendipity. A not-to-be-missed portrayal of the beauty of black boyhood. (c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781572842243 How good can a haircut make a person feel? "Magnificent. Flawless. Like royalty." In a powerfully moving tribute to barbershop culture, Barnes (We Could Be Brothers) addresses readers directly-and it's safe to say his audience is primarily boys of color-using hyperbole to boost their confidence and help them recognize their own value. "You came in as a lump of clay," he writes, "a blank canvas, a slab of marble./ But when my man is done with you,/ they'll want to post you up in a museum." Created with thick, forceful daubs of paint, James's luminous portraits reinforce the idea that, when a person looks this good, not even the sky is the limit. Of a man admiring the curving designs newly shaved into his head, the narrator remarks, "Maybe there's a river named after him on Mars. He looks that important." Pride, confidence, and joy radiate from the pages, both in the black and brown faces of men, women, boys, and girls featured in Barnes's majestic paintings, and in writing that celebrates human worth with every syllable. Barbers included: "Tip that man! Tip that man!" Ages 3-8. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781572842243 K-Gr 3-Rhythmic text describes the feeling of a young African American boy as he gets a "fresh cut" and how a trip to the barbershop changes the way he feels about the world and in turn how the world perceives him. He might just "smash that geography exam" or "rearrange the principal's honor roll" and, of course, the cute girl in class won't be able to keep her eyes off of him. The protagonist spends time looking at black men in chairs next to him and creating vivid stories about their lives: "the dude to the left of you with a faux-hawk.looks presidential.maybe he's the CEO of a tech company." Oil paintings illustrate the intricacies of the haircuts, details in the characters' faces, along with the sense of well-being that is conveyed along the way. While a trip the barbershop is the main story line, the themes of confidence-building, self-esteem, and joy of young black boys are the important takeaways, and the illustrations jump off the page and invite readers to share in the experience. VERDICT A super fun read-aloud, this title is a recommended purchase for all picture book collections.-Kristen Todd-Wurm, Middle Country Public Library, NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781572842243 Barnes (Ruby and the Booker Boys, 2008) playfully tells the story of a black boy getting a haircut at a barbershop. The boy comes in as a blank canvas, but as the haircut starts, Barnes leads the reader into all the things that might happen because of the cut, from passing a geography test, to becoming a star, and even impressing a girl. The other men in the barbershop look important and full of swagger because of their hair, and the barber knows what he's doing and doles out shape-ups and a faux hawk with skill. Colorful images illustrate all of the patrons, including a woman. Barnes mixes fresh and sharp lines with an integral part of the African American experience: maintaining one's hair. Illustrator James deftly uses bright colors including teal and fuchsia, and a colorful galaxy complements Barnes' words well. The strong voice will resonate with readers, soothe any young child scared of their first cut, and give a boost of confidence to the seasoned pros.--Gilfillian, Courtney Copyright 2017 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781980026600 PreS-Gr 3—Is a haircut just the snip of the scissors and the buzz of the razor? No, Barnes insists that a visit to the barbershop is a rite of passage that renews the recipient again and again. In pulsing, pounding prose, he describes the experience of getting a "fresh cut" from the eyes of a young African American boy. It allows him to view the world differently and gives him the confidence to know the world is looking at him in a new light. Possibilities open up that seemed closed before. The world is new, and so is he. Corey Allen reads the book with a smile in his rich and rhythmic voice. VERDICT This is an exceptional production, beautifully performed. It certainly merits a place in library collections, and homes with young African American boys should especially appreciate this paean to self-esteem and confidence. It will be most effective when combined with the book, as Gordon C. James's gorgeous oil illustrations deepen the experience.—Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary School, Federal Way, WA
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2018
Long Way Down
Book Jacket   Jason Reynolds
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge. Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother's gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each "ghost" speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share. This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781481438254 Will, 15, is following his neighborhood's well-established rules-don't cry, don't snitch, but do get revenge "if someone you love/ gets killed"-when he leaves his apartment, intent on killing whoever murdered his older brother, Shawn. He's emboldened by the gun tucked into his waistband: "I put my hand behind my back/ felt the imprint/ of the piece, like/ another piece/ of me/ an extra vertebra,/ some more/ backbone." As Will makes his way to the ground floor of his building, the elevator stops to accept passengers, each an important figure from his past, all victims of gun violence. Are these ghosts? Or is it Will's subconscious at work, forcing him to think about what he intends to do and what it will accomplish? The story unfolds in the time it takes for the elevator to descend, and it ends with a two-word question that hits like a punch to the gut. Written entirely in spare verse, this is a tour de force from a writer who continues to demonstrate his skill as an exceptionally perceptive chronicler of what it means to be a black teen in America. Ages 12-up. Agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481438254 Gr 8 Up-Fifteen-year-old Will's big brother has been shot and killed. According to the rules that Will has been taught, it is now his job to kill the person responsible. He easily finds his brother's gun and gets on the elevator to head down from his eighth-floor apartment. But it's a long way down to the ground floor. At each floor, a different person gets on to tell a story. Each of these people is already dead. As they relate their tales, readers learn about the cycle of violence in which Will is caught up. The protagonist faces a difficult choice, one that is a reality for many young people. Teens are left with an unresolved ending that goes beyond the simple question of whether Will will seek revenge. Told in verse, this title is fabulistic in its simplicity and begs to be discussed. Its hook makes for an excellent booktalk. It will pair well with Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give and Reynolds's previous works. The unique narrative structure also makes it an excellent read-alike for Walter Dean Myers's Monster. VERDICT This powerful work is an important addition to any collection.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781481438254 *Starred Review* Spanning a mere one minute and seven seconds, Reynolds' new free-verse novel is an intense snapshot of the chain reaction caused by pulling a trigger. First, 15-year-old Will Holloman sets the scene by relating his brother Shawn's murder two days prior gunned down while buying soap for their mother. Next, he lays out The Rules: don't cry, don't snitch, always get revenge. Now that the reader is up to speed, Will tucks Shawn's gun into his waistband and steps into an elevator, steeled to execute rule number three and shoot his brother's killer. Yet, the simple seven-floor descent becomes a revelatory trip. At each floor, the doors open to admit someone killed by the same cycle of violence that Will's about to enter. He's properly freaked out, but as the seconds tick by and floors count down, each new occupant drops some knowledge and pushes Will to examine his plans for that gun. Reynolds' concise verses echo like shots against the white space of the page, their impact resounding. He peels back the individual stories that led to this moment in the elevator and exposes a culture inured to violence because poverty, gang life, or injustice has left them with no other option. In this all-too-real portrait of survival, Reynolds goes toe-to-toe with where, or even if, love and choice are allowed to exist. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A noisy buzz always surrounds this critically acclaimed author's work, and the planned tour and promo campaign will boost this book's to a siren call.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2017 Booklist
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2018
Piecing Me Together
 Renee Watson
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781681191058 Who owns the river and the line, and the hook, and the worm? wonders Jade, a scholarship kid at Portland's prestigious St. Francis High. Through her first two years of school, she's had to balance her home life in a poor neighborhood with her life at a school populated mostly by rich white kids. When offered a mentorship for at-risk girls (which includes a full college scholarship), she jumps at the opportunity to learn how to be a successful black woman. However, she soon suspects that her mentor, Maxine, may only have a superficial understanding of Jade's challenges and that there may be things Jade can teach her. Watson is unafraid to show Jade as a young woman who is resilient and mature for her age, but also plagued by self-doubt. The book itself is a balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book's defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration.--Suarez, Reinhardt Copyright 2016 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781681191058 Gr 7 Up-High school junior Jade is an "at-risk" student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, a mentorship program for young women like her: poor and black. Her mentor, Maxine, is from a more privileged background, and Jade doesn't see what she can learn from her. But in spite of her early resistance to Maxine, Jade begins to open up and gain confidence, and, eventually, she is able to express the importance of her family, her community, and her art. The two strong female characters and the ways in which they struggle with and support each other form the center of this tale. Most young people will relate to Jade's search to find her voice and learn to advocate for herself in appropriate ways. The lack of a romantic lead may leave some young teen readers disappointed, but there is a real, refreshing strength in a fully fleshed-out female character whose story is her own. This is a memorable novel that demonstrates that a happy ending doesn't require a romantic subplot. VERDICT This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. A first purchase for YA collections.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781681191058 Jade Butler, an African-American artist-in-the-making, lives with her mother in Portland, Ore., and travels by bus to private school, where she is both grateful for and resentful of the opportunities presented to her. In short, poetic chapters, Jade ponders her family, school, and neighborhood relationships, wondering where she fits in: "How I am someone's answered prayer but also someone's deferred dream." Watson (This Side of Home) weaves collage imagery throughout the story as Jade ruminates over historical figures such as York, the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark, and distressing current events, including police violence against a neighborhood girl: "I am ripping and cutting. Gluing and pasting. Rearranging reality, redefining, covering, disguising. Tonight I am taking ugly and making beautiful." Jade's narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. Ages 12-up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Sixteen-year-old Jade dreams of success beyond her neighborhood despite the prejudices that surround her For two years, Jade has been a scholarship student at a predominantly white private high school where she is one of few African-American studentsthe only one from her "bad" neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Jade's mom struggles to make ends meet. At school, Jade has many opportunities, steppingstones to move beyond her neighborhood someday, maybe even travel the world. But sometimes these opportunities and her white guidance counselor make Jade feel like a charity case. Junior year brings yet another opportunity that leaves Jade feeling judged and pitied: the Woman to Woman mentorship program, which promises a full college scholarship to mentees. Jade's mentor, Maxine, is both well-intentioned and also black, but she's from a wealthy family. Jade chafes against the way Maxine treats her as though she needs to be saved. Through Jade's insightful and fresh narration, Watson presents a powerful story that challenges stereotypes about girls with "coal skin and hula-hoop hips" who must contend with the realities of racial profiling and police brutality. Jade's passion for collage and photography help her to find her voice and advocate not only for herself, but for her community. A timely, nuanced, and unforgettable story about the power of art, community, and friendship. (Fiction. 12 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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2017
The Girl Who Drank the Moon
 Kelly Barnhill
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781616205676 Gr 4-6-Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. VERDICT An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781616205676 *Starred Review* Every year, the elders of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to appease an evil witch though, in truth, it's a facade to subdue the populace. Xan, the witch in question, actually rescues each baby and finds families for them. One time, however, Xan accidentally feeds moonlight to the baby, which fills her with magic. Xan thereupon adopts her, names her Luna, and raises her with the help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Luna's magic grows exponentially and causes such havoc that Xan casts a spell to suppress it until Luna turns 13. But the spell misfires, clouding Luna's mind whenever magic is mentioned, making proper training impossible. As the fateful birthday approaches, Xan fears dying before she can teach Luna everything she needs to know. Meanwhile, in the Protectorate, a young couple dares to challenge the status quo, a madwoman trapped in a tower escapes by way of paper birds, and a truly evil witch is revealed. Barnhill's latest, told in omniscient point of view, is rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity (as well as characters without any), a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.--Young, Michelle Copyright 2016 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781616205676 Gr 4-6-In a vividly created fantastical realm, a baby is left in the forest, according to an annual tradition of sacrifice. Discovered by a kind witch, who mistakenly feeds the child moonlight, the girl grows up with a potent power she must learn to control. This swiftly paced and highly imaginative title expertly weaves myriad threads into a memorable story that will easily enchant readers. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781616205676 Xan, a kindhearted witch, lives in the woods with an erudite swamp monster, Glerk, and a lovable "Perfectly Tiny Dragon," Fyrian. Every year she finds a new home for a baby the sorrowful people of the Protectorate leave in the woods on the Day of Sacrifice. One year, she accidentally "enmagicks" a baby with moonlight, so the three decide to raise her as their own, their Luna. But Luna's magic is strong, and before her 13th birthday, events unfold that will change everything she has known. Barnhill (The Witch's Boy) crafts another captivating fantasy, this time in the vein of Into the Woods. Via intricately woven chapters that follow Luna, her unusual family, the devious Grand Elder of the Protectorate, his honorable nephew and niece, the mysterious Sister Ignatia, and a sympathetic "madwoman" in a tower, Barnhill delivers an escalating plot filled with foreshadowing, well-developed characters, and a fully realized setting, all highlighting her lyrical storytelling. As the characters search for family, protect secrets, and seek truth, they realize that anything can happen in the woods-when magic is involved. Ages 10-up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2017
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life
Book Jacket   Asheley Bryan
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Gr 4-6-Using real documents from an estate appraisal dated July 5, 1828, Bryan has created beautiful portrait paintings for 11 people who were named and priced as property on the Fairchildses' estate (the documents are reproduced fully in the endpapers and in segments throughout the work). Relying on narrative poetry to explore each figure's inner and outer life, Bryan gives voice to their history, their longing for freedom, and their skills as artisans, cooks, musicians, carpenters, etc. Each person has two visual portraits, with each accompanied by a poem (on the opposite page). Collaged historical documents of slave auctions fill the negative space of the first portrait frame. The second portrait depicts that person in a private dream, often a dream for safety, family, community, or the freedom to create. Peggy, a self-taught expert herbalist and cook for the Fairchildses, knows that although she works hard, everything goes to the estate. She dreams of her Naming Day ceremony and her parents calling to her, "Mariama! Mariama!" Each portrait reflects the role of song, call-and-response, ceremony, spirituality, community, and griots in living a double life-doing what was demanded while keeping close in their hearts the "precious secret," the constant yearning for freedom. Expertly crafted, these entries will deeply resonate with readers. Referenced in the poems are slave independence in Haiti, the drinking gourd, the North Star, and songs such as "Oh, by and By," "This Little Light," and "Oh Freedom." VERDICT A significant contribution to U.S. and African American history that will elicit compassion and understanding while instilling tremendous pride. A must-purchase for all collections.-Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, MA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781481456906 Using a document from 1828 that lists the value of a U.S. landowner's 11 slaves, Bryan (Sail Away) creates distinct personalities and voices for each, painting their portraits and imagining their dreams. He starts with the wife of the slave owner, who felt her husband was good to their slaves ("He never hired an overseer"). But it's quickly clear that "good" slave ownership is an oxymoron: "I work hard-all profit to the estate," their cook Peggy observes. Bryan shows that the enslaved had secret lives of their own: "Years ago blacksmith Bacus and I/ 'jumped the broom'-/ the slave custom for marriage. No legal form for slaves." They cherish their traditions, call each other by their African names ("I am Bisa, 'Greatly Loved'?"), dream of escape, and long for freedom. His portraits show the men, women, and children gazing out at readers, the contours of their faces traced as if carved from wood, while strong rhythmic outlines mimic stained glass, echoing the sense of sacred memory. There are few first-person accounts of slaves, and these imagined words will strike a chord with even the youngest readers. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Gr 4-6-Documents related to an 1828 estate sale that included, along with hogs and cows, the names and prices of 11 individuals, were the genesis of this tribute to the lives, talents, and community of generations of those who were treated as property and whose humanity was disregarded. Bryan's expressive portrait art allows readers to peer into the faces of these men and women, while his poems unmask their hopes and aspirations. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781481456906 *Starred Review* Inspired by a document appraising the value of 11 enslaved people (along with livestock and cotton) in an estate for sale in the antebellum South, this exceptional book presents the imagined faces and voices of individuals whose society, against all reason, regarded them as less than human. Each person appears in a four-page section, opening with a page of free-verse text opposite a riveting head-and-shoulders portrait with a grim collage background of slavery-related documents. A banner reveals the person's appraised value, master-imposed slave name, and age. In the text, these individuals introduce themselves, their roles on the estate, and the skills (cooking, blacksmithing, sewing) they take pride in. On the second double-page spread, a verse text offers more personal reflections on their African roots, their love of family, and their dreams, while a more detailed, colorful painting expresses their heritage, their strength, and their rich inner lives. Their humanity shines through, showing the tragedy of their status and the gross absurdity of assigning prices to people. Longing for freedom is a constant theme, made all the more poignant by the appraisal document's date: 1828, decades before emancipation. Clean and spare, the verse brings the characters to life, while in the radiant artwork, their spirits soar. Rooted in history, this powerful, imaginative book honors those who endured slavery in America.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Bryan restores humanity to ten real-life slaves listed for sale on an 1828 document (plus one fictional slave), giving them ages, African names, relationships, talents, and dreams. Each individual receives two spreads of poetry: the first serves as introduction (accompanied by a wood carvinglike portrait, suggesting the mask each wears for day-to-day life on the plantation); the second (illustrated in brilliant colors) is devoted to his or her dreams. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781501956652 Gr 4-6-Bryan presents the lives and dreams of 11 enslaved people in free verse. He found their names on a document appraising the property of a deceased estate owner in mid-19th-century America. Eleven enslaved people were listed on that document by name and dollar appraisement along with cattle, horses, and pigs. Bryan has given each individual an age, an occupation, and a dream. Three narrators, Patricia R. Floyd, Kevin R. Free, and Jenny Sterlin, successfully voice them. Estate owner Cado Fairchilds apprenticed his slaves to tradesmen to learn carpentry, metalwork, gardening, pottery, basket making, cooking, and sewing. Each slave takes pride in work well done but longs for a day when labor would be for his or her gain and not for the enrichment of Fairchilds's estate. They all dream of living free, having their personhood respected, coming and going as they please, and marrying and raising a family that will not be divided. Bryan presents a window into plantation life without gruesome details but directed to the heart of every listener. -VERDICT This is a winner with a message for all ages.-Mary Lee Bulat, Harwinton Public Library, CT © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Gr 4-6-Using real documents from an estate appraisal dated July 5, 1828, Bryan has created beautiful portrait paintings for 11 people who were named and priced as property on the Fairchildses' estate (the documents are reproduced fully in the endpapers and in segments throughout the work). Relying on narrative poetry to explore each figure's inner and outer life, Bryan gives voice to their history, their longing for freedom, and their skills as artisans, cooks, musicians, carpenters, etc. Each person has two visual portraits, with each accompanied by a poem (on the opposite page). Collaged historical documents of slave auctions fill the negative space of the first portrait frame. The second portrait depicts that person in a private dream, often a dream for safety, family, community, or the freedom to create. Peggy, a self-taught expert herbalist and cook for the Fairchildses, knows that although she works hard, everything goes to the estate. She dreams of her Naming Day ceremony and her parents calling to her, "Mariama! Mariama!" Each portrait reflects the role of song, call-and-response, ceremony, spirituality, community, and griots in living a double life-doing what was demanded while keeping close in their hearts the "precious secret," the constant yearning for freedom. Expertly crafted, these entries will deeply resonate with readers. Referenced in the poems are slave independence in Haiti, the drinking gourd, the North Star, and songs such as "Oh, by and By," "This Little Light," and "Oh Freedom." VERDICT A significant contribution to U.S. and African American history that will elicit compassion and understanding while instilling tremendous pride. A must-purchase for all collections.-Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, MA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781481456906 Using a document from 1828 that lists the value of a U.S. landowner's 11 slaves, Bryan (Sail Away) creates distinct personalities and voices for each, painting their portraits and imagining their dreams. He starts with the wife of the slave owner, who felt her husband was good to their slaves ("He never hired an overseer"). But it's quickly clear that "good" slave ownership is an oxymoron: "I work hard-all profit to the estate," their cook Peggy observes. Bryan shows that the enslaved had secret lives of their own: "Years ago blacksmith Bacus and I/ 'jumped the broom'-/ the slave custom for marriage. No legal form for slaves." They cherish their traditions, call each other by their African names ("I am Bisa, 'Greatly Loved'?"), dream of escape, and long for freedom. His portraits show the men, women, and children gazing out at readers, the contours of their faces traced as if carved from wood, while strong rhythmic outlines mimic stained glass, echoing the sense of sacred memory. There are few first-person accounts of slaves, and these imagined words will strike a chord with even the youngest readers. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Gr 4-6-Documents related to an 1828 estate sale that included, along with hogs and cows, the names and prices of 11 individuals, were the genesis of this tribute to the lives, talents, and community of generations of those who were treated as property and whose humanity was disregarded. Bryan's expressive portrait art allows readers to peer into the faces of these men and women, while his poems unmask their hopes and aspirations. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781481456906 *Starred Review* Inspired by a document appraising the value of 11 enslaved people (along with livestock and cotton) in an estate for sale in the antebellum South, this exceptional book presents the imagined faces and voices of individuals whose society, against all reason, regarded them as less than human. Each person appears in a four-page section, opening with a page of free-verse text opposite a riveting head-and-shoulders portrait with a grim collage background of slavery-related documents. A banner reveals the person's appraised value, master-imposed slave name, and age. In the text, these individuals introduce themselves, their roles on the estate, and the skills (cooking, blacksmithing, sewing) they take pride in. On the second double-page spread, a verse text offers more personal reflections on their African roots, their love of family, and their dreams, while a more detailed, colorful painting expresses their heritage, their strength, and their rich inner lives. Their humanity shines through, showing the tragedy of their status and the gross absurdity of assigning prices to people. Longing for freedom is a constant theme, made all the more poignant by the appraisal document's date: 1828, decades before emancipation. Clean and spare, the verse brings the characters to life, while in the radiant artwork, their spirits soar. Rooted in history, this powerful, imaginative book honors those who endured slavery in America.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781481456906 Bryan restores humanity to ten real-life slaves listed for sale on an 1828 document (plus one fictional slave), giving them ages, African names, relationships, talents, and dreams. Each individual receives two spreads of poetry: the first serves as introduction (accompanied by a wood carvinglike portrait, suggesting the mask each wears for day-to-day life on the plantation); the second (illustrated in brilliant colors) is devoted to his or her dreams. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2017
The Inquisitors Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog
Book Jacket   Adam Gidwitz>
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525426165 In 1242 France, weary travelers at an inn trade stories about three miraculous children and their dog, Gwenforte, who has returned from the dead. The children-Jeanne, a peasant girl who has visions of the future; William, an oblate of partial African heritage with uncanny strength; and Jacob, a Jewish boy with the power to heal the sick and injured-are the subject of much rumor and debate. Are they saints, frauds, or in league with the devil? Gidwitz (the Grimm trilogy) continues to toy with narrative in a well-researched and rambunctiously entertaining story that has as much to say about the present as it does the past. Evoking the oral storytelling traditions of the time, multiple characters including a nun, troubadour, and brewer alternately describe their encounters with the children to produce the whole story. Amid mugs upon mugs of ale, the tale that comes into focus is one of religious persecution and faith, friendships that transcend difference, and a dangerously flatulent dragon-Gidwitz continues to have no problem mixing high and low. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10-up. Author's agent: Sarah Burnes, Gernert Company. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780525426165 *Starred Review* Gidwitz leaves the fairy-tale realm of his Grimm trilogy behind and plunges into medieval France to tell the incredible story of three gifted children, a holy greyhound, and the people whose lives they touch. It is a time of miracles and saints, of fiends and dragons, all of which Gidwitz has meticulously teased from legends and histories of the Middle Ages. The story is relayed in the style of The Canterbury Tales, as travelers gathered at an inn share what they know of the children: Jeanne, a peasant girl with visions of the future; William, an African oblate with incredible strength; Jacob, a Jewish boy with healing powers; not to mention Gwenforte, their guardian greyhound. Religion lies at the book's heart, as Jewish and Christian beliefs come into conflict and the children's potential for sainthood is debated. It also triggers an act of defiance against the king that makes the miraculous threesome the most wanted people in France. Ten different narrators lend their voices to the tale including a brewster, nun, butcher, librarian, and troubadour while drinking a fair amount of ale, resulting in a boisterous, conversational tone. Gidwitz proves himself a nimble storyteller as he weaves history, excitement, and multiple narrative threads into a taut, inspired adventure. Though final artwork was unseen, the book will be fittingly illuminated with illustrations and marginalia. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The work put into the physical book should tell you the publisher's belief in best-seller Gidwitz's latest. Also: the national tour, the floor display, and all that.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525426165 Gr 4-8-A hodgepodge of different narrators in 1242 France introduce readers to three unusual children and one remarkable dog. As their individual stories unfold and their paths collide, tension reaches a fever pitch as an agent of the Inquisition nips at their heels. Gidwitz's epic medieval adventure packs in boisterous action, richly depicted history, and lovable underdog characters, all illuminated by Aly's stunning artwork. The Middle Ages have never been as exciting or as funny. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525426165 Gr 5-10-What is a miracle? Is a miracle what happens when, faced with murderous bandits, a teenage monk rips a leg off his donkey, beats them to death with it, then restores the donkey's leg? Or is it a miracle when a cranky innkeeper is so moved by a little girl's friendliness that he risks his life to help her and her companions flee a posse of armed knights? Maybe the real miracle happens when readers attracted to the action and violence a particular author is known for find themselves strongly invested in the moral questions that plague bandit-killing monk and friendly peasant girl alike-along with every other character they encounter, from a young minstrel/pickpocket to Louis IX. Gidwitz's tale of medieval France successfully combines the epic with the personal, aiming for that heart-stopping moment when characters readers have come to care about find themselves on a collision course with one of the great wood chippers of history-the Inquisition, agents of which are in hot pursuit of three underdog characters (and one actual dog) from the very start. It is left to the titular Inquisitor to discover the truth behind the legends that quickly rise to surround these kids. He nudges it from each of the travelers at a roadside inn, the narrative tension rising as each facet is revealed. VERDICT This book appeals to the heart, to the mind, and to any reader's appetite for action: read it for the thrilling escapes, the fart jokes, the stinky cheese, and the palace intrigue. Read it for the Talmudic wisdom, commonsense philosophies, and moments of doubt. Read it for the palaces and monasteries and the unbelievable descriptions of food. But read it.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780735287389 Gr 5-8-The year is 1242; the setting: a roadside inn on the outskirts of a small French town. Travelers from all corners of France share what they know about the country's most notorious outlaws: a group of three children and their dog. Jeanne is a peasant girl able to see the future. William is a young monk with unusual physical strength and intelligence. Jacob is a Jewish boy who possesses powerful healing abilities. The final member of the group is Gwenforte, the holy greyhound. These unlikely friends find themselves on the run from monks, demons, dragons, knights, and the king of France himself as they try to escape persecution and save religious books from being burned. Each traveler who is gathered at the inn recounts a different piece of the children's story, creating a Canterbury Tales-like narrative structure. The audiobook is voiced by a cast of nine narrators, each telling a different character's part of the tale. Gidwitz himself voices the character of the Inquisitor. Thirteenth-century music and vocals by a renowned medieval musician bring the troubadour's part of the novel to life. An author's note at the end of the production shares the background research Gidwitz did to create this story and includes details about what parts of the tale are based on actual medieval history and which parts are fiction. VERDICT Mixing history and adventure, religion and humor, Gidwitz breathes new life into the Middle Ages and makes this time period accessible and exciting for middle grade listeners.-Anne Bozievich, Friendship Elementary School, Glen Rock, PA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525426165 In thirteenth-century France, peasant Jeanne has visions of the future; William, illegitimate son of a crusader knight and an African "Saracen," has supernatural strength; Jacob, a learned Jewish boy, has healing powers. Together they try to thwart King Louis's plan to burn all the Jewish texts in France. An ambitious mash-up of medieval saints' lives, the Joan of Arc legend, and elements of The Canterbury Tales. Bib. (c) Copyright 2017. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780735287365 In 1242 France, weary travelers at an inn exchange stories of their encounters with a group of three children accompanied by their dog who are set to be brought before the king for the threat they pose. The story is framed as an inquisition, with an agent of the king serving as the main narrator and questioning the travelers to discern the true nature of the children, who are rumored to have magical abilities. The structure lends itself clearly to the audio format, with one narrator acting as the interviewer while more than a half-dozen others take up the rest of the characters sharing the tales of these adventurers. It's more entertaining with multiple voices and it brings the conversational elements of the story to the forefront, but not always seamlessly; there are points in this production when it sounds as if the actors were all recorded separately and the dialogue pieced together later. Still, the variety of voice actors at work plays well with the story and makes for a lively listening experience. Ages 10-up. A Dutton hardcover. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2017
Wolf Hollow
 Lauren Wolk
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781101994825 Gr 5-8-In 1943 rural Pennsylvania, Annabelle is plagued by intense and violent bullying by new girl Betty-until Betty goes missing. The prime suspect is a local World War I vet and resident oddball, Toby. Annabelle knows Toby is innocent and sets out to prove it. Prejudice is not sugarcoated; Wolk displays deep respect for readers and trusts them to grapple with complex moral themes. A middle grade novel distinguished for its stark honesty and unflinching exploration of injustice. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780451485670 Gr 3-7-In the fall of 1943, World War II rages on, but its presence is only a shadow in the idyllic life of 11-year-old Annabelle, who lives in the woods of rural Wolf Hollow, PA. Sharing these hills is Toby, a shell-shocked World War I veteran, who lives in an abandoned smokehouse. Then Betty Glengarry arrives. Proud of her incorrigible nature, Betty sets her sights on innocent Annabelle. When a vindictive prank goes awry, Betty makes Toby the scapegoat, leading to a deadly manhunt. However, Annabelle and her parents believe that Toby's reclusive behavior does not mean that he is malicious. So they begin to build a sticky web of honorable lies and secrets to protect an innocent man, though it results in unforeseen consequences. Emily Rankin's narration is spot-on as reflective and pensive Annabelle, her well-grounded parents, and the other characters. Wolk's novel about the loss of childhood innocence is deeply moving and not soon forgotten. VERDICT This vivid tale of prejudice and bullying is a perfect addition to school or public libraries. ["Highly recommended for purchase; a truly moving debut": SLJ 4/16 starred review of the Dutton book.]-Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781101994825 *Starred Review* Eleven-year-old Annabelle is living a relatively idyllic life on her family's Pennsylvania farm, until its normalcy is interrupted by Betty Glengarry, who has been sent to live with her grandparents because she is incorrigible. Betty's sullen presence quickly upsets the one-room school's traditional pecking order, and Annabelle and her younger brothers are Betty's favorite targets until Annabelle stands up to her. Not to be outdone, Betty shifts her attention to Toby, a strange WWI veteran already saddled with a dubious reputation within the community. Wolk conjures an aura of unease and dread from the first chapter, even as her pastoral setting and Annabelle's sunny family life seem to suggest that a happy ending is possible. The spare but hauntingly beautiful language paints every early morning walk to school, household chore, emotion, and rational and irrational thought in exquisite detail, while remaining true to Annabelle's early-adolescent voice. Her craft notwithstanding, Wolk is relentless in her message: lies and secrets, even for the most noble of reasons, have unintended consequences, as Annabelle's poignant dilemma reminds us long after the last page is turned. Perfectly pitched to be used in classrooms in conjunction with To Kill a Mockingbird.--Bradburn, Frances Copyright 2016 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781101994825 Gr 5-8-Eleven-year-old Annabelle lives in a rural Pennsylvania community in 1943. The continued fighting of World War II haunts everyone, but life is mostly peaceful-until Betty Glengarry's arrival. Betty is cruel and threatening and thrives on inflicting pain. At first, Annabelle is slightly comforted to know that Toby is watching out for her. Toby is a local vagabond, a World War I veteran of few words who has become something like a friend of Annabelle's family. Meanwhile, Betty's violent malice only grows, until one day she goes missing. Toby immediately becomes the prime suspect in Betty's disappearance. Annabelle is sure of Toby's innocence and is determined to prove it. Readers are alerted from the outset that this is the story of how the narrator loses her childish naïveté in a life-altering way. The narrative is powerful, complex, and lifelike. There are pointlessly cruel people, courageously kind people, and those who simply pass the gossip. Despite the jaded feelings that come with witnessing unjust persecution, the heart of this story is ultimately one of hope and empathy. Thematically, this book raises some of the same issues as To Kill a Mockingbird, but with social status rather than racism as the basis for injustice. Vicious bullying is also a highly relevant topic, and this aspect is sure to spark important conversations. VERDICT Highly recommended for purchase; a truly moving debut.-Sara White, Seminole County Public Library, Casselberry, FL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2016
Last Stop on Market Street
 Matt De La Pena
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780399257742 Like still waters, de la Peña (A Nation's Hope) and Robinson's (Gaston) story runs deep. It finds beauty in unexpected places, explores the difference between what's fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared by an African-American boy and his grandmother. On Sunday, CJ and Nana don't go home after church like everybody else. Instead, they wait for the Market Street bus. "How come we don't got a car?" CJ complains. Like many children his age, CJ is caught up in noticing what other people have and don't have; de la Peña handles these conversations with grace. "Boy, what do we need a car for?" she responds. "We got a bus that breathes fire, and old Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you." (The driver obliges by pulling a coin out of CJ's ear.) When CJ wishes for a fancy mobile music device like the one that two boys at the back of the bus share, Nana points out a passenger with a guitar. "You got the real live thing sitting across from you." The man begins to play, and CJ closes his eyes. "He was lost in the sound and the sound gave him the feeling of magic." When the song's over, the whole bus applauds, "even the boys in the back." Nana, readers begin to sense, brings people together wherever she goes. Robinson's paintings contribute to the story's embrace of simplicity. His folk-style figures come in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, his urban landscape accented with flying pigeons and the tracery of security gates and fire escapes. At last, CJ and Nana reach their destination-the neighborhood soup kitchen. Nana's ability to find "beautiful where he never even thought to look" begins to work on CJ as the two spot people they've come to know. "I'm glad we came," he tells her. Earlier, Nana says that life in the deteriorated neighborhood makes people "a better witness for what's beautiful." This story has the same effect. Ages 3-5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780399257742 CJ and his nana depart church and make it to the bus stop just in time to avoid an oncoming rain shower. They board the bus, and while CJ is full of questions and complaints (why don't they have a car? why must they make this trip every week? and so forth), Nana's resolute responses articulate the glories of their rich, vibrant life in the city, as presented by the bus' passengers and passages. A tattooed man checks his cell phone. An older woman keeps butterflies in a jar. A musician tunes and plays his guitar. At last the pair arrive at the titular destination and proceed to the soup kitchen where, upon recognizing friendly faces, CJ is glad they came to help. Robinson's bright, simple, multicultural figures, with their rounded heads, boxy bodies, and friendly expressions, contrast nicely with de la Peña's lyrical language, establishing a unique tone that reflects both CJ's wonder and his nana's wisdom. The celebratory warmth is irresistible, offering a picture of community that resonates with harmony and diversity.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2015 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399257742 K-Gr 2-After church on Sundays, CJ and his nana wait for the bus. It's a familiar routine, but this week CJ is feeling dissatisfied. As they travel to their destination, the boy asks a series of questions: "How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?" "Nana, how come we don't got a car?" "How come we always gotta go here after church?" CJ is envious of kids with cars, iPods, and more freedom than he has. With each question, Nana points out something for CJ to appreciate about his life: "Boy, what do we need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fire." These gentle admonishments are phrased as questions or observations rather than direct answers so that CJ is able to take ownership of his feelings. After they exit the bus, CJ wonders why this part of town is so run-down, prompting Nana to reply, "Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful." The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner. Robinson's flat, blocky illustrations are simple and well composed, seemingly spare but peppered with tiny, interesting details. Ultimately, their destination is a soup kitchen, and CJ is glad to be there. This is an excellent book that highlights less popular topics such as urban life, volunteerism, and thankfulness, with people of color as the main characters. A lovely title.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A young boy yearns for what he doesn't have, but his nana teaches him to find beauty in what he has and can give, as well as in the city where they live. CJ doesn't want to wait in the rain or take the bus or go places after church. But through Nana's playful imagination and gentle leadership, he begins to see each moment as an opportunity: Trees drink raindrops from straws; the bus breathes fire; and each person has a story to tell. On the bus, Nana inspires an impromptu concert, and CJ's lifted into a daydream of colors and light, moon and magic. Later, when walking past broken streetlamps on the way to the soup kitchen, CJ notices a rainbow and thinks of his nana's special gift to see "beautiful where he never even thought to look." Through de la Pea's brilliant text, readers can hear, feel and taste the city: its grit and beauty, its quiet moments of connectedness. Robinson's exceptional artwork works with it to ensure that readers will fully understand CJ's journey toward appreciation of the vibrant, fascinating fabric of the city. Loosely defined patterns and gestures offer an immediate and raw quality to the Sasek-like illustrations. Painted in a warm palette, this diverse urban neighborhood is imbued with interest and possibility. This celebration of cross-generational bonding is a textual and artistic tour de force. (Picture book. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399257742 CJ, a young black boy, has a flurry of questions for his grandmother one rainy day. "How come we always gotta go here after church?" "Here" is a soup kitchen, where they work every Sunday. Nana has bottomless look-on-the-sunny-side answers, but she isn't dispensing bromides; the exquisitely composed collage illustrations showing a glamour-free urban setting forbid a glib reading. A quietly remarkable book. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781520011356 K-Gr 3-Winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal, as well as numerous other awards, this picture book by Matt de la Peña receives a lovely treatment in this video presentation. Arnell Powell reads the deceptively simple text, which follows CJ and his grandmother as they take the bus through their diverse neighborhood after church. CJ is not content with his lot (he wishes he was in a car instead), and he uses the opportunity to complain just a little. His grandmother, however, sees beauty around her and finds joy in small experiences, gradually helping CJ do the same. She teaches her grandson to be grateful and to enjoy what he has. Their final destination is, in itself, a lesson in counting your blessings: serving food at a soup kitchen. The book is warm and rich, and this video presentation, with its simple animation of Christian Robinson's blocky, expressive, and poignant illustrations, gives viewers the chance to savor every moment. It allows for a close examination of the small details of urban life-details that might be missed from a casual reading of the book itself. VERDICT This is a delightful treatment of a praiseworthy book and merits a place in any library serving children.-Teresa Bateman, Brigadoon Elementary, Federal Way, WA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
The War that Saved My Life
Book Jacket   Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803740815 Gr 4-6-Bradley turns her keen historical eye from Monticello (Jefferson's Sons, Penguin, 2011) to the British home front during World War II. Ada isn't exactly sure how old she is; for as long as she can remember, she's been a virtual prisoner in her mother's third floor one-room apartment. She was born with a clubfoot and her mother uses her disability as an excuse to abuse her both emotionally and physically. Ada watches the world through the narrow confines of the apartment window, waves to neighbors in the street, and carefully gauges the danger of being beaten during each encounter with her hateful mother. She envies the freedom of her little brother, Jamie, who goes to school and generally roves the neighborhood at will. When her mother prepares to ship Jamie out to the countryside with other children being evacuated from London, Ada sneaks out with him. When the two fail to be chosen by any villagers, the woman in charge forces Susan Smith, a recluse, to take them in. Though Susan is reluctant and insists that she knows nothing about caring for children, she does so diligently and is baffled by the girl's fearful flinching anytime Ada makes a mistake. Though uneducated, Ada is intensely observant and quick to learn. Readers will ache for her as she misreads cues and pushes Susan away even though she yearns to be enfolded in a hug. There is much to like here-Ada's engaging voice, the vivid setting, the humor, the heartbreak, but most of all the tenacious will to survive exhibited by Ada and the villagers who grow to love and accept her.-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Ada discovers there are worse things than bombs after she escapes her Mam's cruelty during a children's evacuation of World War II London. Crippled by an untreated club foot and imprisoned at home by Mam, Ada has survived, but she hasn't thrived. Only caring for her brother, Jamie, has made life tolerable. As he grows, goes out and tells Ada about the world, her determination to enter it surges. She secretly begins learning to walk and joins Jamie when Mam sends him to the country. Ada narrates, recalling events and dialogue in vivid detail. The siblings are housed with Susan, a reluctant guardian grieving the death of her friend Becky. Yet Susan's care is life-changing. Ada's voice is brisk and honest; her dawning realizations are made all the more poignant for their simplicity. With Susan's help and the therapeutic freedom she feels on horseback, Ada begins to work through a minefield of memories but still harbors hope that Mam will accept her. In interesting counterpoint, Susan also knows what it is like to be rejected by her parents. With the reappearance of Mam, things come to an explosive head, metaphorically and literally. Ignorance and abuse are brought to light, as are the healing powers of care, respect and love. Set against a backdrop of war and sacrifice, Ada's personal fight for freedom and ultimate triumph are cause for celebration. (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803740815 Ten-year-old Ada, abused by her cruel, ignorant mam due to an unrepaired clubfoot, has never been outside her squalid London flat. With WWII imminent, her brother, Jamie, is evacuated to the countryside, and Ada determines to go with him. The emotional content feels completely true, especially in recognition of how far Ada's journey will be to both physical and mental health. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780803740815 When word starts to spread about Germans bombing London, Ada's mother decides to send her little brother, Jamie, to the country. Not 11-year-old Ada, though she was born with a crippling clubfoot, and her cruel mother treats her like a slave. But Ada has painfully taught herself to walk, so when Jaime departs for the train, she limps along with him. In Kent, they're assigned to crotchety Susan, who lives alone and suffers from bouts of depression. But the three warm to each other: Susan takes care of them in a loving (if a bit prickly) way, and Ada finds a sense of purpose and freedom of movement, thanks to Susan's pony, Butter. Ada finally feels worthy of love and respect, but when looming bombing campaigns threaten to take them away from Susan, her strength and resolve are tested. The home-front realities of WWII, as well as Ada's realistic anger and fear, come to life in Bradley's affecting and austerely told story, and readers will cheer for steadfast Ada as she triumphs over despair.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780803740815 Bradley (Jefferson's Sons) examines WWII through the eyes of a disabled child eager to escape her life of neglect and abuse. With the threat of German bombs being dropped on London, most parents are anxious to get their children out of the city. But Ada's mother, shamed by her daughter's deformed foot, doesn't seem to care. Ada takes it upon herself to board an evacuee train with her younger brother and, without their Mam's knowledge, they arrive in a country village with a crowd of students. Malnourished and filthy, the siblings are placed with Miss Smith, a woman lacking any experience with children, who claims she isn't "nice." Nonetheless, she offers Ada and Jamie food, clothing, and security, and she owns a pony that Ada is determined to learn to ride. In this poignant story, Bradley celebrates Ada's discovery of the world outside her dismal flat, movingly tracing her growing trust of strangers and her growing affection for Miss Smith. Proving that her courage and compassion carry far more power than her disability, Ada earns self-respect, emerges a hero, and learns the meaning of home. Ages 9-12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2015
Roller Girl
Book Jacket   Victoria Jamieson
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803740167 Gr 4-8-Twelve-year-old Astrid realizes that her interests are distinctly different from those of her best friend. Mesmerized while viewing a roller derby, she dreams of becoming a "Roller Girl" but discovers that the sport is considerably more daunting than she imagined and is not without physical, social, and emotional pain. Nevertheless, Astrid is determined to succeed. While this graphic novel provides interesting information about the sport, at its heart it is a story of friendship, exploring the tensions which test the girls' relationship as they move from childhood to adolescence. Astrid learns to be honest with herself, her mother, and her friends through a series of stressful events. The graphic novelist employs several excellent visual devices: angles to denote action and effective placement and space within panels. Jamieson's clever use of imagery is noteworthy. For example, desert and prehistoric depictions are used to suggest exaggerated perceptions of elapsed time. Her clothes shopping "hell" sequence is spot-on. Panels with stick figures are employed for comments, notes, and explanations. A prologue effectively frames the story and the realistic style with full-color art is reminiscent of the work of Raina Telgemeier. While at times some panels are a bit text-dense, the story will engage readers who will identify with Astrid as she deals with frustrations and disappointments. It will especially appeal to those whose aspirations fly in the face of convention. Offer this comic to fans of Telgemeier's Smile (Scholastic, 2010) and Laura Lee Gulledge's Page by Paige (Abrams, 2011).-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780803740167 When Astrid's mother takes her and her best friend Nicole to a roller derby event, Astrid is intrigued, but Nicole is left cold. The rift between them grows as Astrid signs up for derby camp, while Nicole opts for ballet. Astrid works her tail off, makes friends, finds a mentor in a star skater named Rainbow Bite, and, at last, appears in her first bout. She also undergoes some uncomfortable preadolescent ordeals before reconciling with Nicole, in scenes that Jamieson (Pest in Show), in her first graphic novel, keeps blessedly free of smarminess. Jamieson's full-color cartooning has a Sunday comics vibe, and her pacing is faultless. Astrid struggles to do right as she tries to understand her soured friendship with Nicole, and she narrates her own failures with heartwarming candor ("I don't know why I did it. I didn't mean to hit them"). When she comes up with an elaborate scheme to bolster a teammate's failing confidence and carries it off despite the pressure of their upcoming bout, readers will want to stand up and cheer. Ages 9-12. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780803740167 Almost-middle-schooler Astrid (Ass-Turd to the mean girls) just isn't interested in the kinds of things everyone else is. Her BFF Nicole likes boys and ballet and the color pink, but Astrid's new obsession is tough, fast-paced Roller Derby. She thinks she and Nicole can spend their summer together at junior Roller Derby camp, but Nicole opts instead for ballet camp with Astrid's archnemesis. And when it turns out that Astrid isn't quite the Roller Derby prodigy she had hoped to be (she can barely master falling!), it seems both her summer and the impending start of junior high will be disasters. The bright, detailed, and colorful illustrations convey Astrid's scrappy personality while also focusing on the high-contact aspect of Roller Derby: the girls hip check and elbow one another right out of the panels. While learning the game, Astrid learns how to be a friend and, maybe, that not all friendships are forever. A touching look at the ups and downs of following one's dreams, in addition to introducing readers to a relatively unknown sport.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2015 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. One summer changes everything for two 12-year-old girls whose friendship is tested when their interestsand attitudesdiverge.Astrid and Nicole have been BFFs truly forever. When the girls go to the roller derby one night, Astrid is immediately hooked and jumps at the chance to attend a roller-derby camp, skating alongside the tough, dyed girls. Nicole, however, who's passionate about ballet, decides not to follow along with Astrid, creating the first real rift the girls have known. The two quickly make new friends in their new circles: Astrid with her roller-derby cohorts and Nicole with the popular ballet crowd. As Astrid navigates the rough-and-tumble sport she's fallen in love with (and the bumps and bruises that come with it), she must also deal with what happens when friends just stop being friends and grow apart. Jamieson captures this snapshot of preteen angst with a keenly decisive eye, brilliantly juxtaposing the nuances of roller derby with the twists and turns of adolescent girls' friendships. Clean, bright illustrations evince the familiar emotions and bring the pathos to life in a way that text alone could not. Fans of Raina Telgemeier or Jimmy Gownley's Amelia series should certainly skate on over to this gem. Full of charm and moxiedon't let this one roll past. (Graphic fiction. 9-13) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803740167 At summer roller derby boot camp, coaches, teammates, and celebrity roller Rainbow Bite cheer on twelve-year-old Astrid as she faces the challenges of derby as well as tweendom. When time comes for her big end-of-summer bout, "Asteroid" is ready to roll. Jamieson's dialogue captures coming-of-age within a subculture authentically; the graphic-novel format is used resourcefully. Have this at the ready for Telgemeier fans. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525429678 Gr 5-8-When Astrid, about to begin junior high, heads to summer roller derby camp while best friend Nicole opts for ballet camp, their relationship is jeopardized by opposing interests. This fast-paced, engrossing graphic novel featuring a lesser-known sport captures the first pangs of adolescent angst, friendship, and loyalty. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2015
Echo
 Pam Munoz Ryan
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780439874021 The fairy tale that opens this elegant trio of interconnected stories from Ryan (The Dreamer) sets the tone for the rest of the book, in which a mystical harmonica brings together three children growing up before and during WWII. Friedrich, an aspiring conductor whose birthmark makes him an undesirable in Nazi Germany, must try to rescue his father after his Jewish sympathies land him in a prison camp. In Pennsylvania, piano prodigy Mike and his brother, Frankie, get a chance to escape the orphanage for good, but only if they can connect with the eccentric woman who has adopted them. In California, Ivy Maria struggles with her school's segregation as well as the accusations leveled against Japanese landowners who might finally offer her family a home of their own. Each individual story is engaging, but together they harmonize to create a thrilling whole. The book's thematic underpinnings poignantly reveal what Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy truly have in common: not just a love of music, but resourcefulness in the face of change, and a refusal to accept injustice. Ages 10-14. Agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary Agency. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780439874021 Gr 5-8-"Long before enchantment was eclipsed by doubt," a young boy named Otto lost in the woods is rescued by three sisters imprisoned there by a witch's curse. In return, he promises to help break the curse by carrying their spirits out of the forest in a mouth harp and passing the instrument along when the time is right. The narrative shifts to the 20th century, when the same mouth harp (aka harmonica) becomes the tangible thread that connects the stories of three children: Friedrich, a disfigured outcast; Mike, an impoverished orphan; and Ivy, an itinerant farmer's child. Their personal struggles are set against some of the darkest eras in human history: Friedrich, the rise of Nazi Germany; Mike, the Great Depression; Ivy, World War II. The children are linked by musical talent and the hand of fate that brings Otto's harmonica into their lives. Each recognizes something unusual about the instrument, not only its sound but its power to fill them with courage and hope. Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy are brought together by music and destiny in an emotionally triumphant conclusion at New York's Carnegie Hall. Meticulous historical detail and masterful storytelling frame the larger history, while the story of Otto and the cursed sisters honor timeless and traditional folktales. Ryan has created three contemporary characters who, through faith and perseverance, write their own happy endings, inspiring readers to believe they can do the same.-Marybeth Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780545788373 Gr 5-8-This World War II-set story concerns three children: 12-year-old Friedrich in Germany in 1933, 11-year-old Mike in Pennsylvania in 1935, and fifth-grader Ivy in southern California in 1942. They have nothing in common except a love for music, difficult challenges they each have to face, and, by an odd coincidence, the use of the same harmonica. The three characters are united at the end of the story in a satisfying conclusion. The narrators include Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, Macleod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler; the beautiful harmonica and piano music integrated into the recording is performed by Corky Siegel. Ryan's lyrical phrases are read beautifully by the narrators, but it is the inclusion of the musical performances that make this audiobook stand apart from others. VERDICT A must purchase.-Julie Paladino, East Chapel Hill High School, NC © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A multilayered novel set in turbulent times explores music's healing power. Sweeping across years and place, Ryan's full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California and finally New York City. Linking the stories is an ethereal-sounding harmonica first introduced in the fairy-tale beginning of the book and marked with a mysterious M. In Nazi Germany, 12-year-old Friedrich finds the harmonica in an abandoned building; playing it fills him with the courage to attempt to free his father from Dachau. Next, the harmonica reaches two brothers in an orphanage in Depression-era Pennsylvania, from which they are adopted by a mysterious wealthy woman who doesn't seem to want them. Just after the United States enters World War II, the harmonica then makes its way to Southern California in a box of used instruments for poor children; as fifth-grader Ivy Lopez learns to play, she discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ryan weaves these stories together, first, with the theme of musicsymbolized by the harmonicaand its ability to empower the disadvantaged and discriminated-against, and then, at the novel's conclusion, as readers learn the intertwined fate of each story's protagonist. A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it's worth every moment of readers' time. (Historical fiction. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780545788366 It's hard to imagine a better way to experience this story than in the audiobook format. Music infuses the entire plot line; the characters are cellists, pianists, conductors, and singers. They hear orchestras and have chamber concerts in their homes. And a simple harmonica links the three main narratives. In pre-WWII Germany, young Friedrich, a budding conductor, finds comfort in playing a harmonica as he plots to rescue his father from a concentration camp. Mike and his little brother, Frankie, are in a Pennsylvania orphanage in 1935. Mike may need to win a spot in a harmonica orchestra to keep Frankie safe. In 1942 California, Ivy, a young migrant farm worker, plays the harmonica while living on a farm owned by Japanese-Americans who are in an internment camp. All three characters find great strength in music. The audio edition takes full advantage of the medium, with music playing throughout the story-simple harmonica tunes and orchestral music play in the background and the readers even sing at times. Ages 10-14. A Scholastic Press hardcover. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780439874021 When Otto meets three ethereal sisters, he has no idea that the harmonica they enchant will one day save a life. Decades later, the very same harmonica makes its way to America, and in three sections, Ryan tells the stories of kids whose lives are changed by its music: Friedrich Schmidt, in 1933 Germany, whose father is a Jewish sympathizer; Mike Finnegan, an orphan in Philadelphia in 1935; and Ivy Lopez, living with her parents in California in 1942 while they take care of the farm of a Japanese family who has been sent to an internment camp. The magical harmonica not only helps each of the three discover their inborn musical talents but also gives them the courage to face down adversity and injustice. Though the fairy tale-like prologue and conclusion seem a bit tacked on, Ryan nonetheless builds a heartening constellation of stories around the harmonica, and the ultimate message that small things can have a powerful destiny is resoundingly hopeful. Harmonica tabs are included for readers who want to try their hands at the instrument.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780439874021 A boy is mesmerized by a story about three princesses trapped under a witch's spell until they save a life through a special harmonica. This story within a story is prelude to three more. Ryan's storytelling prowess and vivid voice lead readers through a hefty tome illuminated by layers of history, adventure, and the seemingly magical but ultimately very human spirit of music. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
2015
The Crossover
 Kwame Alexander
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives. Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story. Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781490627571 Gr 5-9-Everything seems to be going right for Josh "Filthy McNasty" Bell. His life has always been defined by two things: being a twin and being a great basketball player. When his brother Jordan gets a girlfriend, the boys' relationship becomes strained. To make matters worse, Josh is suspended from the team, and their father's health starts going downhill. With his life falling apart, Josh starts doing a lot of soul searching and wondering if there is more to life than basketball. Narrator Corey Allen brings a unique dimension to Alexander's (He Said, She Said) tale. Although Allen's poetic pace takes a little getting used to, his intonation gives realistic, unique dimension to the voice of a teenage boy. Other voices are easily distinguished and seem fitting. The plot, though relatively simple, is well developed and full of energy. Jazz, reading, hip-hop, and school life are blended together with finesse and engage the listener. Avid and reluctant readers who like sports, coming-of-age stories, and realistic fiction will enjoy listening to this work.-Kira Moody, Whitmore Library, Salt Lake City, UT (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544107717 Twelve-year-old twins Josh and Jordan (JB) are a well-oiled machine on the basketball court. But then JB gets a girlfriend, and before Josh knows it, things start to change. Josh's narration is a combination of exciting play-by-play game details, insightful observations on middle school, and poignant meditations on sibling dynamics and familial love. This verse novel has massive appeal for reluctant readers. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780544107717 Gr 6-10-Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: ".when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering.. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile..Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780544107717 The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2014 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780544107717 Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn't lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: "I rise like a Learjet-/ seventh-graders aren't supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!" Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh's trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys' father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9-12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2014
El Deafo
Book Jacket   Cece Bell
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781419710209 A bout of childhood meningitis left Bell (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) deaf at age four, and she was prescribed a Phonic Ear, with a receiver draped across her chest and a remote microphone her teachers wore. Her graphic memoir records both the indignities of being a deaf child in a hearing community ("IS. THAT. AAAY. HEAR-ING. AAAID?") and its joys, as when she discovers that the microphone picks up every word her teacher says anywhere in the school. Bell's earnest rabbit/human characters, her ability to capture her own sonic universe ("eh sounz lah yur unnah wawah!"), and her invention of an alter ego-the cape-wearing El Deafo, who gets her through stressful encounters ("How can El Deafo free herself from the shackles of this weekly humiliation?" she asks as her mother drags her to another excruciating sign language class)-all combine to make this a standout autobiography. Cece's predilection for bursting into tears at the wrong time belies a gift for resilience that makes her someone readers will enjoy getting to know. Ages 8-12. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781419710209 When cartoonist Bell was four years old, a case of meningitis left her severely deaf. In this graphic memoir, she tells readers about the friends and family who help her adjust, the frustration she feels when learning to communicate, and the devices she uses to assist her hearing, most notably the Phonic Ear, a large machine that connects to a microphone her teachers wear and amplifies sounds in her hearing aids. Aside from making school easier, the Phonic Ear gives Bell a superpower: when her teachers forget to doff the microphone, she can still hear them anywhere in the school (including the bathroom!). She keeps her newfound superpower a secret and daydreams about being El Deafo, a super alter ego whose deafness makes her powerful. Bell's bold and blocky full-color cartoons perfectly complement her childhood stories she often struggles to fit in and sometimes experiences bullying, but the cheerful illustrations promise a sunny future. This empowering autobiographical story belongs right next to Raina Telgemeier's Smile (2011) and Liz Prince's Tomboy.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781419710209 Starred Review. Gr 2-6-Cece loses her hearing from spinal meningitis, and takes readers through the arduous journey of learning to lip read and decipher the noise of her hearing aid, with the goal of finding a true friend. This warmly and humorously illustrated full-color graphic novel set in the suburban '70s has all the gripping characters and inflated melodrama of late childhood: a crush on a neighborhood boy, the bossy friend, the too-sensitive-to-her-Deafness friend, and the perfect friend, scared away. The characters are all rabbits. The antics of her hearing aid connected to a FM unit (an amplifier the teacher wears) are spectacularly funny. When Cece's teacher leaves the FM unit on, Cece hears everything: bathroom visits, even teacher lounge improprieties It is her superpower. She deems herself El Deafo! inspired in part by a bullied Deaf child featured in an Afterschool Special. Cece fearlessly fantasizes retaliations. Nevertheless, she rejects ASL because it makes visible what she is trying to hide. She ventures, "Who cares what everyone thinks!" But she does care. She loathes the designation "special," and wants to pass for hearing. Bell tells it all: the joy of removing her hearing aid in summer, the troubles watching the TV when the actor turns his back, and the agony of slumber party chats in the dark. Included is an honest and revealing afterword, which addresses the author's early decision not to learn ASL, her more mature appreciation for the language, and her adage that, "Our differences are our superpowers."- Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A humorous and touching graphic memoir about finding friendship and growing up deaf. When Cece is 4 years old, she becomes "severely to profoundly" deaf after contracting meningitis. Though she is fitted with a hearing aid and learns to read lips, it's a challenging adjustment for her. After her family moves to a new town, Cece begins first grade at a school that doesn't have separate classes for the deaf. Her nifty new hearing aid, the Phonic Ear, allows her to hear her teacher clearly, even when her teacher is in another part of the school. Cece's new ability makes her feel like a superherojust call her "El Deafo"but the Phonic Ear is still hard to hide and uncomfortable to wear. Cece thinks, "Superheroes might be awesome, but they are also different. And being different feels a lot like being alone." Bell (Rabbit Robot: The Sleepover, 2012) shares her childhood experiences of being hearing impaired with warmth and sensitivity, exploiting the graphic format to amplify such details as misheard speech. Her whimsical color illustrations (all the human characters have rabbit ears and faces), clear explanations and Cece's often funny adventures help make the memoir accessible and entertaining. Readers will empathize with Cece as she tries to find friends who aren't bossy or inconsiderate, and they'll rejoice with her when she finally does. Worthy of a superhero. (author's note) (Graphic memoir. 8 up) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781419710209 At age four Bell contracted meningitis, leaving her deaf. This graphic-novel memoir relates how she adapted to deafness, others' attitudes toward it, and to a cumbersome assistive device. At the heart of her story is an experience relevant to most children: finding the "True Friend," a falling out, a reunion. Bell combines humor and charm (her characters are anthropomorphized bunnies) with emotional complexity. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Brown Girl Dreaming
Book Jacket   Jacqueline Woodson
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399252518 A memoir-in-verse so immediate, readers will feel they are experiencing Woodson's childhood along with her. We see young Jackie grow up not just in historical context but also in the context of extended family, community, and religion (she was raised Jehovah's Witness). Most notably, we trace her development as a nascent writer. The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780553397260 Gr 4-7-Free verse is an effective writing style for describing dreams. Woodson's text is particularly compelling when detailing the small moments of life, such as the "Saturday night smells of biscuits and burning hair" or bemoaning the "hair ribbons that anchor (her) to childhood." And while poetry is sometimes difficult to follow on audio, this author is a masterful narrator. The sounds of the words and the rhythm expressed by her thoughtful intonation, careful pacing, and deliberate emphasis make clear the poetic form: "a country caught" (sharp c's and t, pause) "between black and white." Themes include the iconic search for identity in changing times: for example, Woodson's Southern cousins say she speaks too quickly, while in New York, "coming back home isn't really coming back home at all." Yet throughout her interestingly complicated childhood, young Jackie tells stories until she grows to understand that "stories are like air to me and I know now that words are.my brilliance." A personal memoir and a child's eye view of the nascent civil rights movement, this work confirms Woodson's brilliance as a writer for children and for adults, too.-Toby Rajput, National Louis University, Skokie, IL (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780399252518 *Starred Review* What is this book about? In an appended author's note, Woodson says it best: my past, my people, my memories, my story. The resulting memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson's preadolescent life into art, through memories of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family. Small things ice cream from the candy store, her grandfather's garden, fireflies in jelly jars become large as she recalls them and translates them into words. She gives context to her life as she writes about racial discrimination, the civil rights movement, and, later, Black Power. But her focus is always on her family. Her earliest years are spent in Ohio, but after her parents separate, her mother moves her children to South Carolina to live with Woodson's beloved grandparents, and then to New York City, a place, Woodson recalls, of gray rock, cold and treeless as a bad dream. But in time it, too, becomes home; she makes a best friend, Maria, and begins to dream of becoming a writer when she gets her first composition notebook and then discovers she has a talent for telling stories. Her mother cautions her not to write about her family, but, happily, many years later she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A multiaward-winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is "a country caught / / between Black and White." But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father's people in Ohio and her mother's people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah's Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe's Stevie and Langston Hughes' poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that "[W]ords are my brilliance." Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780399252518 Gr 4-7-"I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins" writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, "as the South explodes" into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the "colored" were treated in the North and South. "After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio." She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother's insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780399252518 Written in verse, Woodson's collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author's perspective of America, "a country caught/ between Black and White," during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah's Witnesses, her grandmother's religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: "Who could love/ this place-where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them." The writer's passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson's ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family. Ages 10-up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2014
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
 Kate DiCamillo
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780763660406 Newbery Medalist DiCamillo and illustrator Campbell meld prose with comics sequences in a broad comedy tinged with sadness. Bitter about her parents' divorce, Flora Buckman has withdrawn into her favorite comic book, The Amazing Incandesto! and memorized the advisories in its ongoing bonus feature, Terrible Things Can Happen to You! She puts those life-saving tips into action when a squirrel is swallowed whole by a neighbor's new vacuum cleaner, the Ulysses Super-Suction Multi-Terrain 2000X. Flora resuscitates the squirrel, christens him after the vacuum, and witnesses a superhero-like transformation: Ulysses is now uber-strong, can fly, and composes poetry. Despite supremely quirky characters and dialogue worthy of an SAT prep class, there's real emotion at the heart of this story involving two kids who have been failed by the most important people in their lives: their parents. It's into this profound vacuum that Ulysses really flies, demonstrating an unconditional love for his rescuer, trumped only perhaps by his love for food and a desire "to make the letters on the keyboard speak the truth of his heart." Ages 10-up. Author's agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780449015131 When a squirrel is sucked inside a neighbor's vacuum cleaner, Flora Belle Buckman-who is still recovering from her parents' divorce-puts down her favorite comic book (Terrible Things Can Happen to You!) and springs into action. But once she has saved the squirrel-whom she names Ulyssess-Flora soon discovers that the animal has some magical powers. Narrator Sands delivers a charming and lighthearted performance that listeners will love. Sands's ability to create colorful, over-the-top characters is an ideal match for DiCamillo's quirky novel, and the voices she produces here are pitch-perfect. This is a fun-filled audio experience. Ages 10-up. A Candlewick hardcover. (Sept) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780763660406 *Starred Review* The story begins with a vacuum cleaner. And a squirrel. Or, to be more precise, a squirrel who gets sucked into a Ulysses Super Suction wielded by Flora's neighbor, Mrs. Tickham. The rather hairless squirrel that is spit out is not the same one that went in. That squirrel had only one thought: I'm hungry. After Flora performs CPR, the rescued squirrel, newly named Ulysses, is still hungry, but now he has many thoughts in his head. Foremost is his consideration of Flora's suggestion that perhaps he is a superhero like The Amazing Incandesto, whose comic-book adventures Flora read with her father. (Drawing on comic-strip elements, Campbell's illustrations here work wonderfully well.) Since Flora's father and mother have split up, Flora has become a confirmed and defiant cynic. Yet it is hard to remain a cynic while one's heart is opening to a squirrel who can type ( Squirtl. I am . . . born anew ), who can fly, and who adores Flora. Newbery winner DiCamillo is a master storyteller, and not just because she creates characters who dance off the pages and plots, whether epic or small, that never fail to engage and delight readers. Her biggest strength is exposing the truths that open and heal the human heart. She believes in possibilities and forgiveness and teaches her audience that the salt of life can be cut with the right measure of love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: DiCamillo has a devoted following, plus this book has an extensive marketing campaign. That equals demand.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780449015131 Gr 3-7-Flora starts off her 10th summer by promising her mother that she'll spend more time reading real books, and less time poring over the pages of her favorite superhero comics. But neither she nor her mother could have predicted that her summer would be one long superhero adventure, starring none other than Flora and her new pet squirrel, Ulysses. Ulysses gains super-squirrel strength after being sucked into a vacuum cleaner, and he changes the Buckman family's lives, renewing a sense of hope and optimism in Flora. Fans of the title's print version (Candlewick, 2013) will likely be disappointed by its audio adaptation. The novel features a number of fun cartoons, and does not translate well without the accompanying artwork, which plays a significant role in telling the story. While reader Tara Sands makes a valid attempt to differentiate male and female characters, she does not quite pull it off. The men in the novel come off sounding hokey and exaggerated. While DiCamillo's work shines on paper, the excessive use of dialogue tags, and absence of corresponding artwork, make this novel a poor choice as a read aloud.-Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. When a cynical comic-book fanatic discovers her own superhero, life becomes wonderfully supercharged. Despite the contract her mother made her sign to "turn her face away from the idiotic high jinks of comics," 10-year-old Flora avidly follows her favorite superhero's adventures. Flora's mother writes romance novels and seems more in love with her books than with her lonely ex-husband or equally lonely daughter. When a neighbor accidentally vacuums a squirrel into a Ulysses 2000X vacuum cleaner, Flora resuscitates him into a "changed squirrel," able to lift the 2000X with a single paw. Immediately assuming he's a superhero, Flora names the squirrel "Ulysses" and believes together they will "[shed] light into the darkest corners of the universe." Able to understand Flora, type, compose poetry and fly, the transformed Ulysses indeed exhibits superpowers, but he confronts his "arch-nemesis" when Flora's mother tries to terminate him, triggering a chain of events where Ulysses becomes a real superhero. The very witty text and droll, comic-bookstyle black-and-white illustrations perfectly relay the all-too-hilarious adventures of Flora, Ulysses and a cast of eccentric characters who learn to believe in the impossible and have "capacious" hearts. Original, touching and oh-so-funny tale starring an endearingly implausible superhero and a not-so-cynical girl. (Fantasy. 8-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763660406 Ten-year-old Flora Belle Buckman's life changes when she befriends a squirrel with superpowers. There's only one problem: Flora's self-absorbed, romance novelwriting, squirrel-hating mother. DiCamillo imbues her novel with warmth, humor, and emotion, focusing on large life issues such as loss and abandonment, acceptance of differences, and the complexity of relationships. Full-page and spot pencil illustrations accentuate the mood. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Doll Bones
 Holly Black
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781416963981 Twelve-year-old Zach and his friends Poppy and Alice play an elaborate game with their dolls. When Poppy is haunted by dreams of a girl whose ashes are inside the game's queen doll, they embark on an adventure to lay the girl's ghost to rest. The story contains ample thrills, but it also takes on the changes adolescence brings and the tests friendships face. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781416963981 Gr 4-7-At 12 years old, lifelong friends Zach, Poppy, and Alice are ferociously clinging to their childhoods. Using old Barbies, pirate action figures, dolls from Good Will, and their imaginations, they have created an exciting world of characters in an elaborate game. Figuring heavily in their plotline is the Queen, an antique doll of bone china that belongs to Poppy's mother and is strictly off-limits to the kids. She's also incredibly creepy. When Zach's dad throws away his action figures, the boy is so devastated that he ends the game abruptly, leaving the girls hurt and confused. Shortly thereafter, Poppy reveals that the Queen is made of the bones of a dead girl named Eleanor who has been communicating with her at night. The doll appears to be filled with Eleanor's ashes, and she has promised Poppy that she will make their lives miserable if they don't journey to Ohio, find her grave, and bury her properly. After much persuading, Zach and Alice agree to the journey. The Queen gets scarier and scarier as unexplained events begin to occur along the way. Black has created protagonists who readers will care about, and amusing secondary characters, like a pink-haired librarian and a crazy bus passenger who seems to be able to see Eleanor. This novel is a chilling ghost story, a gripping adventure, and a heartwarming look at the often-painful pull of adulthood. Black-and-white illustrations actually tone down the scare factor a little, making this a perfect starter story for budding horror fans.-Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. A middle-grade fantasy dons the cloak of a creepy ghost tale to deliver bittersweet meditations on the nature of friendship, the price of growing up and the power of storytelling. The lifelong friendship of Zach, Poppy and Alice revolves around their joint creation, an epic role-playing saga of pirates and perils, queens and quests. But now they are 12, and their interests are changing along with their bodies; when Zach's father trashes his action figures and commands him to "grow up," Zach abruptly quits the game. Poppy begs him to join her and Alice on one last adventure: a road trip to bring peace to the ghost possessing her antique porcelain doll. As they travel by bus and boat (with a fateful stop at the public library), the ghost seems to take charge of their journey--and the distinctions between fantasy and reality, between play and obligation, begin to dissolve....Veteran Black packs both heft and depth into a deceptively simple (and convincingly uncanny) narrative. From Zach's bitter relationship with his father to Anna's chafing at her overprotective grandmother to Poppy's resignation with her ramshackle relations, Black skillfully sketches their varied backgrounds and unique contributions to their relationship. A few rich metaphors--rivers, pottery, breath--are woven throughout the story, as every encounter redraws the blurry lines between childishness and maturity, truth and lies, secrecy and honesty, magic and madness. Spooky, melancholy, elegiac and ultimately hopeful; a small gem. (Fantasy. 10-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780804122900 When Zach's father insists that the games he-and friends Poppy and Alice-play with dolls must end, the three friends refuse to let their imaginations die. Instead, they set out on an epic adventure involving a china doll that just might be made from the bones of a murdered girl. And along the way, they discover that there could be more to what was once a simple backyard game. Narrator Nick Podehl delivers a fun-filled reading that will delight this audiobook's young-adult target audience. Podhel delivery is simple, his pacing steady, and his performance one that skillfully captures all the action of this imaginative tale. Ages 10-14. A Margaret K. McElderry paperback. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781416963981 *Starred Review* A trio of adolescents goes on a quest to satisfy the demands of a ghost. Sounds like standard middle-grade fare, but in Black's absolutely assured hands, it is anything but. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing the same make-believe game for years, one involving pirates and mermaids and, of course, the Great Queen a creepy, bone-china doll at Poppy's house. Then Poppy reveals that she's been haunted by a girl whose ground-up bones lie inside the Great Queen, so the doll must be properly buried. Begrudgingly, the three agree to play one last game and hope against hope for a real adventure, the kind that changed you. With heart-wrenching swiftness, Black paints a picture of friends at the precipice of adulthood; they can sense the tentative peace of youth that is about to be demolished. The tightly focused, realistic tale bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness feels cut from the very soul of youth: there is no sentimentality, no cuteness, only the painful, contradictory longing to move forward in one's life without leaving anything behind. Stories about the importance of stories ( Maybe no stories were lies, thinks Zach) don't come much more forthright and affecting than this one. Wheeler's sketches ameliorate some of the tension and dread not a bad thing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Black's best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles pave the way for this powerful stand-alone, which comes with an author tour, in-theater promos, and more.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781416963981 Zach plays with dolls. Never mind that they're action figures, heroes in a wild, improvisational saga he acts out with friends Poppy and Alice. Never mind that he's a solid student and rising basketball star. Zach is 12, and his father has decided this must stop. While Zach's at school, the dolls go to the dump, and Zach is left with only rage. He quits the game, but Alice and Poppy haul him out for one more quest: a bus trip to lay to rest the Queen, a bone china doll that Poppy swears is made from the bones of a murdered girl. Another crazy quest from Poppy's fertile brain? Or could this ghost story be real? The wonderfully eerie doll, the realism of the kids' improbable logic, and the ache underlying every character's actions create as much a state of existential anxiety as narrative tension. Black captures the adolescent sense that things are about to explode before they get explained. And it's a darn good adventure, too. Ages 10-14. Author's agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator's agent: Jennifer Rofe, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780804122924 Gr 5-8-Black's tale (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013) of friendship and the trials of growing up is set against the backdrop of a spooky ghost story. Zach Barlow loves to make things up. He and his friends Poppy and Alice spend every afternoon concocting new adventures for their dolls and action figures. However, Zach's recently returned father is less than thrilled about his son spending his time playing with dolls instead of taking part in more age-appropriate activities, such as basketball. When he commits a drastic act to force Zach to give up his play-acting, it precipitates a series of events that send Zach, Poppy, and Alice on a midnight quest to lay to rest the soul of a murdered girl, a soul that now inhabits a bone china doll. Along the way, the trio uncovers secrets about the past and one another, and discovers that they are capable of more than they ever realized. Nick Podehl expertly voices the three friends as well as the unforgettable characters Tin-Shoe Joe and the pink-haired librarian, Miss Katherine. Black has written an adventurous ghost tale that fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Peg Kehret and devotees of the author's previous novels will love.-Michaela Schied, formerly, Indian River Middle School, Philadelphia, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
The Year of Billy Miller
Book Jacket   Kevin Henkes
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780062268129 Billy Miller is starting second grade, and though his teacher, Mrs. Silver, tells the class it is the Year of the Rabbit, Billy's father tells him it will be the Year of Billy Miller. Billy isn't sure. He's even more worried when he gets off on the wrong foot his first day, but as the months go on, Billy begins to shine. There are some wonderful moments here: when Billy brings his teacher silver items coins, a paper clip, a little rabbit to show her he's a nice boy; when he agonizes over how to tell his father that Papa is a babyish name; and a triumphant ending when poetry and self-confidence intertwine. But the school year also seems rushed, and some intriguing characters, like the annoying Emma, are barely touched. Harkening back to writers of an earlier era, like Eleanor Estes, Henkes never compromises his language. Words like replicated, diligently, and frustrated appear and that's on just one page. Since this is so age specific, older readers might pass it by. That would be too bad, because this is a story with a lot of heart and sweet insights into growing up. Illustrations unseen. High-Demand Backstory: There's no more versatile producer of children's books working today than Henkes. Libraries, with great justification, are always interested in what he's up to now.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062268129 Gr 1-3-The beginning of a new school year brings anxious moments for Billy Miller, a typical second grader at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in a small Wisconsin town. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, uses chopsticks to hold her hair in place and know-it-all Emma Sparks is unfortunately one of his desk mates. Just as a school year is divided into quarters, the book is divided into four parts-"Teacher," "Father," "Sister," and "Mother"-each offering a new perspective on Billy's personality and development through his interactions with these well-developed characters. He begins the school year with a lump on his head from a family-vacation incident and navigates glitter homework fiascos, canceled sleepover plans, and sibling annoyances as readers see the year unfold through funny and often poignant situations. Billy himself might have been daunted by a book with more than 200 pages, but eager young readers will find this a great first chapter book to share or read solo.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062268129 Billy Miller starts off on the wrong foot with his second-grade teacher; his seat isn't next to his best friend; and he worries he may not be smart enough for school. Henkes divides his nuanced novel into four parts, each with a focus on someone in Billy's life: Teacher, Father, Sister, Mother. Together they offer a vivid portrait of a boy coming into his confidence. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Billy Miller's second-grade year is quietly spectacular in a wonderfully ordinary way. Billy's year begins with his worry over the lump on his head, a souvenir of a dramatic summer fall onto concrete: Will he be up to the challenges his new teacher promises in her letter to students? Quickly overshadowing that worry, however, is a diplomatic crisis over whether he has somehow offended Ms. Silver on the first day of school. Four sections--Teacher, Father, Sister and Mother--offer different and essential focal points for Billy's life, allowing both him and readers to explore several varieties of creative endeavor, small adventures, and, especially, both challenges and successful problem-solving. The wonderfully self-possessed Sal, his 3-year-old sister, is to Billy much as Ramona is to Beezus, but without the same level of tension. Her pillowcase full of the plush yellow whales she calls the Drop Sisters (Raindrop, Gumdrop, etc.) is a memorable prop. Henkes offers what he so often does in these longer works for children: a sense that experiences don't have to be extraordinary to be important and dramatic. Billy's slightly dreamy interior life isn't filled with either angst or boisterous silliness--rather, the moments that appear in these stories are clarifying bits of the universal larger puzzle of growing up, changing and understanding the world. Small, precise black-and-white drawings punctuate and decorate the pages. Sweetly low-key and totally accessible. (Fiction. 7-10)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780062268129 It's the Year of the Rabbit, according to Billy Miller's new second-grade teacher. It's also the year of several dilemmas for the boy, including the fear he might "start forgetting things" due to bumping his head while on vacation over the summer. Then there's the habitat diorama that Billy is assigned-the bat cave he creates doesn't turn out quite like he'd hoped. Henkes's (Junonia) gentle slice-of-life novel, divided into four sections, humorously examines these and other plights while capturing the essence of Billy's relationships with four significant figures in his life: his teacher (who he accidentally insults on the first day of school); his stay-at-home, struggling-artist father; his sometimes annoying, sometimes endearing three-year-old sister; and his mother, about whom Billy must compose a poem to be presented at the end of the school year. Each segment introduces a new conflict that Billy manages to resolve without too much fuss or torment. The book's clear structure, concrete images, and just-challenging-enough vocabulary are smartly attuned to emerging readers, and its warmth, relatable situations, and sympathetic hero give it broad appeal. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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2014
One Came Home
Book Jacket   Amy Timberlake
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780375869259 To find out what really happened to her purportedly dead sister, sharpshooting 13-year-old Georgie Burkhardt and her sister's one-time suitor Billy McCabe follow the trail of pigeon hunters and discover far worse going on near Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871. Georgie tells her story in a first-person narrative that rings true to the time and place. She is smart, determined, and not a little blind to the machinations of adults around her, including Billy, who has been sent by Georgie's storekeeper grandfather to follow her and keep her safe. She does notice that Billy is well made, but this is no love story; it's a story of acceptance, by Georgie, her family, and her small town. Timberlake weaves in the largest passenger pigeon nesting ever seen in North America, drought and fatal fires along Lake Michigan that year, a currency crisis that spawned counterfeiters, and advice on prairie travel from an actual handbook from the times. Historical fiction and mystery combine to make this a compelling adventure, and an afterword helps disentangle facts from fiction.--Isaacs, Kathleen Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In 1871, in the small town of Placid, Wis., a sister goes missing and a great adventure begins. Disconsolate over the end of a promising courtship, Agatha Burkhardt runs off without so much as a goodbye to her younger sister, Georgie. When the sheriff attempts to locate and retrieve Agatha, he brings home not the vibrant sister that Georgie adores, but an unidentifiable body wearing Agatha's ball gown. Alone in her belief that the body is not her sister's, Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace Agatha's steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. To Georgie's surprise, she's joined on the journey by her sister's former flame. And what a journey it is, fraught with mountain lions, counterfeiters and marriage proposals. The truly memorable characters and setting--particularly descriptions of the incredible phenomenon of passenger-pigeon nesting and migration--and the gradual unraveling of the mystery of Agatha's disappearance make this one hard to put down. The icing on the cake, though, is Georgie's narration, which is fresh, laugh-out-loud funny and an absolute delight to read. Georgie's story will capture readers' imaginations with the very first sentences and then hold them hostage until the final page is turned. (Historical fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869259 Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Georgie Burkhardt can shoot better than anyone in Placid, Wisconsin. She can handle accounts and serve customers in her family's general store. What she can't do is accept that the unrecognizable body wearing her older sister's blue-green gown is Agatha. Determined to discover what happened after Agatha abruptly left town with a group of pigeoners, Georgie sets out to follow her route. In return for the loan of a mule, she reluctantly allows Billy McCabe, one of Agatha's suitors, to accompany her. The journey includes a menacing cougar and ruthless counterfeiters, but Georgie's narration offers more than action-packed adventure. She unravels the tangle of events that led to Agatha's sudden departure and acknowledges her own role. By turns humorous and reflective, Georgie's unique and honest voice includes confusion about her feelings for Billy and doubts about her ability to kill even in desperate circumstances. Timberlake seamlessly integrates information about two significant events that occurred in Wisconsin in 1871: the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons in spring and devastating firestorms in fall. Georgie's physical and emotional odyssey that occurs between those two events will linger in readers' minds.-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375869259 When her older sister Agatha is found dead (but unrecognizable), Georgie is certain that there has been a mistake. With her sister's unwelcome suitor Billy McCabe, Georgie sets off to find her sister, or, at least, to find out how she died. The adversarial relationship between Georgie and Billy provides superb comic relief in a gripping, gritty story set in 1870s Wisconsin. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2014
Paperboy
 Vince Vawter
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385742443 Gr 6-9-After an overthrown baseball busts his best friend's lip, 11-year-old Victor Vollmer takes over the boy's paper route. This is a particularly daunting task for the able-armed Victor, as he has a prominent stutter that embarrasses him and causes him to generally withdraw from the world. Through the paper route he meets a number of people, gains a much-needed sense of self and community, and has a life-threatening showdown with a local cart man. The story follows the boy's 1959 Memphis summer with a slow but satisfying pace that builds to a storm of violence. The first-person narrative is told in small, powerful block paragraphs without commas, which the stuttering narrator loathes. Vawter portrays a protagonist so true to a disability that one cannot help but empathize with the difficult world of a stutterer. Yet, Victor's story has much broader appeal as the boy begins to mature and redefine his relationship with his parents, think about his aspirations for the future, and explore his budding spirituality. The deliberate pacing and unique narration make Paperboy a memorable coming-of-age novel.-Devin Burritt, Wells Public Library, ME (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385742443 *Starred Review* It's hot in Memphis during the summer of 1959 in all kinds of ways. Things heat up for the book's 11-year-old narrator when he takes over his pal Rat's paper route; meeting new people is a horror for the boy because he stutters. He only really feels comfortable with Rat and Mam, the African American maid who takes care of him when his parents are away, which is often. But being the paperboy forces him to engage in the world and to ask for payments from customers, like pretty, hard-drinking Mrs. Worthington and Mr. Spiro, who gives the boy the confidence to voice his questions and then offers answers that wondrously elicit more questions. Others intrude on his life as well. In a shocking scene, Ara T, the dangerous, disturbing junk man tries to take something precious from the boy. In some ways, the story is a set piece, albeit a very good one: the well-crafted characters, hot Southern summer, and coming-of-age events are reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird. But this has added dimension in the way it brilliantly gets readers inside the head of a boy who stutters. First-time author Vawter has lived this story, so he is able to write movingly about what it's like to have words exploding in your head with no reasonable exit. This paperboy is a fighter, and his hope fortifies and satisfies in equal measure.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. Little Man, whose real name isn't revealed until the conclusion, stutters badly, a situation that presents new difficulties now that he's taken over his friend's paper route for a month. Debut author Vawter depicts a harshly segregated 1959 Memphis, and since the tale is highly autobiographical, he captures a full and realistic flavor of the time. Little Man, as he's called by his brave, black live-in housekeeper, Mam, has a few less-than-effective strategies that he employs to control his stutter, but it dominates his life nonetheless. Along the paper route, he encounters three fully rounded characters who make their mark on the story: Mrs. Worthington, a young, attractive and abused wife who drinks too much and awakens in Little Man a new, albeit very safe, interest in the opposite sex; Mr. Spiro, a widely read retired seaman who offers Little Man heartfelt advice and insightful support; and scary junkman Ara T, who steals Little Man's knife and evolves into a looming threat both to the boy and Mam. Carefully crafted language, authenticity of setting and quirky characters that ring fully true all combine to make this a worthwhile read. Although Little Man's stutter holds up dialogue, that annoyance also powerfully reflects its stultifying impact on his life. An engaging and heartfelt presentation that never whitewashes the difficult time and situation as Little Man comes of age. (Historical fiction. 10-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385742443 Because of his stuttering, the eleven-year-old narrator seldom speaks. When he takes over his friend's paper route, the task is Herculean: he must talk to strangers. With heartbreaking detail, in a near-stream-of-consciousness narrative, he describes his difficulties: how he uses the "Gentle Air" method or shouts certain words. An eloquent debut novel set in 1959 Memphis. (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385742443 The name of debut novelist Vawter's 11-year-old protagonist, Vincent Vollmer III, doesn't appear until the very end of this tense, memorable story-Vincent's stutter prevents him from pronouncing it. Vincent is an excellent listener and a keen observer, and the summer of 1959 presents him with the challenge of taking over a friend's paper route in segregated Memphis. He engages with several neighborhood customers and characters while on the job, gaining new awareness of varied adult worlds, racial tension, and inequality, as well as getting into some dangerous situations. Vawter draws from his own childhood experience at a time "when modern speech therapy techniques were in their infancy," he writes in an endnote, calling the story "more memoir than fiction." The story unfolds as Vincent's typewritten account of the summer, and inventive syntax is used throughout. Commas and quotation marks are verboten-Vincent isn't a fan of the former, since he has enough extra pauses in his life already-and extra spaces appear between paragraphs, all subtly highlighting his uneasy relationship with the spoken word. Ages 10-up. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780804167956 Gr 6-9-Set in Memphis in the late 1950s, this tale focuses on 11-year-old Victor, who has stuttered for as long as he can remember. He volunteers to cover his friend Arthur's paper route while he is away on summer vacation. Victor knows he will be good at throwing the paper. After all, he has the best fastball in town-but he isn't so sure he will be good at collecting the money. Collecting means talking to people and that's not Victor's strong point. At first he's terrified of collection day, but throughout Vawter's novel (Delacorte) he grows to enjoy his weekly chats as the customers along his route turn out to be influential characters in his life. It is through his interactions with them that he learns to work through his stutter rather than live in fear of it. Lincoln Hoppe is a talented voice artist and masters both a stutter and a Southern accent. An excellent choice for school and public libraries, the novel is a terrific accompaniment to middle grade units on diversity.-Jennifer Furuyama, Pendleton Public Library, OR (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013
The One and Only Ivan
 Katherine Applegate
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780061992254 Inspired by a true story, Applegate (Home of the Brave) offers a haunting tale told from the perspective of Ivan, a silverback gorilla who has been confined to a small "domain" of concrete, metal, and glass for 27 years. Joining Ivan at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade are Stella, an aging elephant, and Bob, a feisty stray dog. While other animals perform, Ivan makes art, watches TV, and offers melancholy assessments of their situation. When Ruby, an inquisitive baby elephant, arrives and Stella dies from neglect, her dying wish is for Ivan to help Ruby escape. The brief chapters read like free-verse poetry, the extra line breaks between paragraphs driving home the contrast between Ivan and humans, who in his opinion, "waste words. They toss them like banana peels and leave them to rot." As is to be expected, there's significant anthropomorphism, but Applegate is largely successful in creating a protagonist who can understand humans yet feels like a gorilla. Although Ivan's role in the events leading to their rescue reads as too human, readers will be left rethinking our relationship to animals. Final art not seen by PW. Agent: Wernick & Pratt Agency. Illustrator's agent: Kidshannon. Ages 8-12. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780061992254 Ivan, a silverback gorilla, has lived in a glass, metal, and concrete enclosure at Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, conveniently located off I-95, for 27 years. Bored, he watches TV, draws pictures, throws me-balls (dried excrement) at visitors, and enjoys the company of a venerable elephant named Stella and a few other friends. After a baby elephant arrives, Ivan makes Stella a solemn promise that seems impossible to fulfill. The text, written in first person from Ivan's point of view, does a good job of vividly conveying his personality, emotions, and intelligence as well as creating a sense of otherness in his point of view. His story is based on the life of a gorilla now living at Zoo Atlanta. The book's wide-spaced lines, plentiful white space, and pleasing black-and-white illustrations make this a quicker read than the page count might suggest. Animals fans will enjoy this one.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781470351243 Gr 3-7-Ivan the silverback gorilla has lived a solitary life as the star of the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade for 27 years, watching TV and painting still-life representations of objects in his domain. Separated from his family at a very young age, Ivan lived with Mack and his wife as one of the family until he became too large for their home. Now his companions are an elderly elephant named Stella and a stray dog, Bob. Although he forms an attachment to Julia, the daughter of the mall's custodian, Ivan views most humans with distaste, merely tolerating the crowds that come to stare at him daily. Life changes dramatically for Ivan, though, when a baby elephant, Ruby, is bought to replace Stella, who is dying of an old injury and neglect. Prodded by his urge to care for and protect Ruby, Ivan begins remembering what it was like to be a wild gorilla, and how he was violently taken from his family. He begins to see his "domain" as the cage that it is, and he vows to give Ruby a better life than he and Stella had. It is Ivan's art that sets him free, and his courage and resourcefulness that help him fulfill his promise. Adam Grupper gives Ivan a calm, pragmatic voice that aptly conveys his concise, descriptive sentences, while giving similarly unique voices to other characters. Applegate's Newbery winner (HarperCollins, 2012) is based on a true story. Ivan's heart-wrenching tale reminds us that every animal has the right to a safe place called home.-MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061992254 Gr 3-7-This tender tale of friendship and hope is narrated by a silverback gorilla living at The Big Top Mall, a shabby, circus-themed roadside attraction. For years, Ivan was passively content. He had his art, unlimited bananas, and his friends: Stella (an elephant), Bob (a stray dog), and Julia (a human child). Ivan's eyes are finally opened to his deplorable surroundings when he loses a friend due to neglect. The last straw is when he witnesses the attraction's owner abusing Ruby, a newly acquired baby elephant. Thus, Ivan is inspired to take action. With some help from his human friends, his dream of a better life for all the Big Top's animals just might come true. The character of Ivan, as explained in an author's note, is inspired by a real gorilla that lived through similar conditions before being adopted by Zoo Atlanta. Applegate makes a powerful statement about the treatment of animals-especially those living in captivity-and reminds readers that all creatures deserve a safe place to call home. Castelao's delightful illustrations enhance this lovely story, and the characters will capture readers' hearts and never let go. A must-have.-Alissa J. LeMerise, Oxford Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. (Fiction. 8-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061992254 In short chapters that have the look and feel of prose poems, Applegate captures the voice of Ivan, a captive gorilla who lives at the "Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade." When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan realizes they deserve more than their restrictive environment. Ivan's range of thoughts and emotions poses important questions about kinship and humanity. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780062425249 The Newbery Medalwinning novel about a gorilla and an elephant, kept captive on display in a shopping mall, is reissued in an oversize edition in which the original illustrations are printed in full color. Larger trim size means larger font and expanses of white space--and a serious heft factor. Back matter includes Applegate's acceptance speech and a letter from the real Ivan's zookeeper. (c) Copyright 2016. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2013
Splendors and Glooms
Book Jacket   Laura Amy Schlitz
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780763653804 *Starred Review* A brooding, Dickensian novel with a touch of fantasy and a glimmer of hope, Schlitz's latest opens in London in 1860, when lonely Clara, the only remaining child in a doctor's grief-stricken household, attempts to celebrate her twelfth birthday. Grisini the puppet master is engaged to perform, along with the two orphaned children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, who serve as his assistants. Clara bridges the class divide to befriend the children. After kidnapping Clara for ransom, cruel Grisini disappears, leaving Lizzie Rose and Parsefall struggling to survive on their own. They make their way to the country house of a bewitched woman whose magical amulet gives her amazing powers while draining away her humanity. There they learn certain grisly secrets involving their cruel master, Clara's fate, and the wealthy witch, who seeks to control them all. The magic of the storytelling here lies in the subtle depiction of menacing evil. After working its way insidiously through the characters' lives, it is defeated by the children, who grow in strength and understanding throughout the novel. Vividly portrayed and complex, the characters are well-defined individuals whose separate strands of story are colorful and compelling. Schlitz weaves them into an intricate tapestry that is as mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Schlitz's Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2007) earned her a wide following, and librarians will be eager to see what she's up to next.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780763653804 Anyone who thinks marionettes are creepy will have that opinion reinforced by this dark tale about three children at the mercy of an unscrupulous puppeteer and the witch who pulls his strings. Clara Wintermute asks her father, a wealthy doctor in 1860 London, to hire Professor Grisini and his Venetian Fantoccini to entertain guests at her 12th birthday party. Clara is stagestruck by the puppets and taken with one of Grisini's two assistants, the pretty, well-mannered orphan Lizzie Rose (the other assistant, Parsefall, is an urchin straight out of a Dickensian workhouse). After the puppet show, Clara disappears. Grisini is suspected, but he, too, vanishes. The fate of the three children becomes intertwined with Grisini's old flame, the witch Cassandra Sagredo. It's a fairly complicated plot, and although the pacing occasionally lags, Newbery Medalist Schlitz (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) delivers many pleasures-fully dimensional children, period details so ripe one can nearly smell them, and droll humor that leavens a few scenes of true horror. A highly original tale about children caught in a harrowing world of magic and misdeeds. Ages 9-13. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763653804 Gr 4-8-Victorian London could be a magical place: horse-drawn carriages, puppet shows, elaborate upper-class houses. Of course it could also be miserable: fog, filthy streets, shabby hovels where too many people live in too few rooms. Schlitz conjures both the magic and the mundane here. For Clara's 12th birthday, her parents hire a street performer to give a puppet show in their home. The puppeteer, Grisini, is so talented that he appears to be magical. His two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, are envious of Clara's home and all its comforts. Clara vanishes the night of the puppet show, and Grisini and his assistants are the prime suspects. Then Grisini disappears, and Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must seek out the missing girl, with the sinister and mysterious help of a wealthy old witch. Schlitz uses such evocative language that readers will practically smell dirty London and then be relieved by the crisp, cold air in the countryside around the witch's crumbling mansion. The characters are recognizable tropes: the witch is rotting from the inside out; the orphans may be dirty and ill-bred, but they have spirit and pluck; the little rich girl is actually sad and lonely; the skinny puppeteer and the overly dramatic landlady are recognizably Dickensian. Yet, they are so well drawn that they are never caricatures, but people whom readers will cheer for, be terrified of, or grow to like. The plot is rich with supernatural and incredibly suspenseful elements. Fans of mystery, magic, and historical fiction will all relish this novel.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781449835682 Gr 4-8-Set in a Dickensian London, Davina Porter is the perfect narrator to capture the nuances of the characters and the time period in Schlitz's exceptional Victorian fantasy (Candlewick, 2012). Listeners will ache for the orphan children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, when they come up with money after pawning a watch. Should they have a proper meal and see the marionettes, or spend the money on practical items they so desperately need? Will they be able to hold onto it long enough to realize either option? The privileged Clara has been kidnapped and transformed by the evil puppet master Grisini. He gained his power from the witch, Cassandra, who desperately needs a child to steal the fire opal that fuels her magic, thereby saving her from a fiery death. Grisini offers up his charges, not realizing that they have discovered the puppet Clara. Parsefall believes it is the missing girl, and Lizzie Rose can't quite deny it. When Clara's father sees Parsefall using the puppet, he confronts the children who performed with their master on his daughter's birthday. Threatened by the possibility of police, the children flee. Cassandra's promise of an inheritance and money for the train arrive just in time. If and how the three children can save themselves will keep listeners enthralled to the very end. Porter's deliberate pacing intensifies the drama and her talent with accents broadens the portrayals. A not-to-be-missed gothic thriller.-Janet Thompson, Chicago Public Library, W. Belmont Branch, IL (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013
Bomb
Book Jacket   Steve Sheinkin
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781596434875 In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781596434875 Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781596434875 Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781596434875 In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin (The Notorious Benedict Arnold) weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&w portraits of key players appear in photo- montages that begin each of the book's four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a "genie out of the bottle" epilogue, details of the Cold War's escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin's final thoughts: "It's a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you're in it." A must-read for students of history and science. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) ? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781596434875 Using some of the same narrative techniques he used in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction-winning The Notorious Benedict Arnold (2010), Sheinkin shapes the story of the Manhattan Project into a dense, complicated thriller that intercuts the action with the deftness of a Hollywood blockbuster. There are more characters than readers will be able to handle, but they'll follow the three main threads. The first is a tale of spy versus spy, as Soviet informants infiltrate America's Los Alamos laboratory. The second tracks the heroism of Knut Haukelid as he parachutes into Norway to destroy Germany's heavy water plant. Most amazing is Robert Oppenheimer's assemblage of the greatest scientific minds in the U.S. (aka the world's largest collection of crackpots ), who under great duress design the most lethal weapon in history. Sheinkin's prose understandably favors plot machinations over character, and positioning photos in the back matter feels anticlimactic. Nonetheless, the painstakingly sourced narrative crackles and drives home the strange mix of pride and horror felt by the scientists who had just won the war but lost something of equal worth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781596434875 Gr 5 Up-"Harry Gold was right: This is a big story." So begins this depiction of the "creation-and theft-of the deadliest weapon ever invented." As he did in The Notorious Benedict Arnold (Roaring Brook, 2010), Sheinkin has again brought his superior talent for storytelling to bear in what is truly a gripping account of discovery, espionage, and revolutionary changes in both physics and the modern world. This fascinating tale, packed with a wide cast of characters, focuses mainly on three individuals: spy for the Soviets Harry Gold, leader of the Manhattan Project J. Robert Oppenheimer, and Knut Haukelid, who sabotaged German bomb efforts while working for the Norwegian resistance. Sheinkin skillfully combines lucid, conversational snapshots of the science behind the atomic bomb with a fast-paced narrative of the remarkable people who made it possible and attempted to steal it. Handsomely designed and loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, the accessible volume lays out how the bomb was envisioned and brought to fruition. While the historical information and hard facts presented here will likely be new to the intended audience, they in no way overwhelm readers or detract from the thoroughly researched, well-documented account. It reads like an international spy thriller, and that's the beauty of it.-Brian Odom, Pelham Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. In late December 1938, German chemist Otto Hahn discovered that uranium atoms could be split, and just a few months later the race to build an atomic bomb was on. The story unfolds in three parts, covering American attempts to build the bomb, how the Soviets tried to steal American designs and how the Americans tried to keep the Germans from building a bomb. It was the eve of World War II, and the fate of the world was at stake, "[b]ut how was a theoretical physicist supposed to save the world?" It's a true spy thriller, ranging from the football stadium at the University of Chicago to the mountains of Norway, from the deserts of New Mexico to laboratories in East Tennessee, and all along the way spies in the United States were feeding sensitive information to the KGB. Groups of photographs are sprinkled throughout the volume, offering just enough visual support for the splendid character development in the writing, and thorough documentation is provided in the backmatter. It takes a lot of work to make a complicated subject clear and exciting, and from his prodigious research and storytelling skill, Sheinkin has created a nonfiction story young people will want to read. A superb tale of an era and an effort that forever changed our world. (source notes, quotation notes, acknowledgments, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 10 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780804122207 Gr 5 Up-Sheinkin's stellar nonfiction account (Flash Point, 2012) captures the science, technology, logistics, and politics of the race to build the first atomic bomb. The book gives listeners a holistic perspective, highlighting the fact that the story of the bomb, while a technological miracle of the time, is at its core, an intricate tale of daring individuals whose actions affected families, friends, communities, and nations. The story begins at the end, with the capture of American spy Harry Gold in Philadelphia. From Gold's seizure, Sheinken takes a retrospective look at events from the discovery of nuclear fusion to the deployment and the aftermath of the uranium and plutonium bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Gold, a chemist, in his role as Communist sympathizer and Soviet courier, is the thread that weaves this fascinating book together as it follows the trail of scientists, Nazi resisters, Soviet and American spies, workers, military commanders, and political leaders across the globe. The author's narrative is as gripping as that of nonfiction masters such as Jim Murphy and Russell Freedman. Roy Samuelson's clear diction and measured delivery complements the subject matter, offering students the opportunity to absorb sometimes complex material without pause. This award-winning, meticulously sourced book deserves a spot in every library.-Lisa Taylor, Ocean County Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013
Three Times Lucky
 Sheila Turnage
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780803736702 Eleven years ago, Mo LoBeau arrived in Tupelo Landing, N.C., a newborn baby girl washed downstream during a hurricane and rescued by "the Colonel," a stranger who can't remember anything about his own past. Both are taken in by Miss Lana, owner of the Tupelo Cafe. Mo (short for Moses) loves the Colonel and Lana, but she can't curb her curiosity: isn't anybody missing a lucky newborn? Mo scratches this itch by sending messages in bottles to her "Upstream Mother." Into this implausible but hilarious premise arrives an out-of-town detective, a dead body (cafe customer Mr. Jesse), a long-forgotten bank robbery, and a kidnapping. This much plot might sink a story, but Turnage makes it work. Here is a writer who has never met a metaphor or simile she couldn't put to good use. Miss Lana's voice is "the color of sunlight in maple syrup," while "[r]umors swirl around the Colonel like ink around an octopus." But it's Mo's wry humor that makes this first novel completely memorable. "Boredom kills," she suggests as Mr. Jesse's cause of death. "I've had close brushes myself, during math." Ages 10-up. Agent: Melissa Jeglinski, the Knight Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780803736702 *Starred Review* Mysteries abound in this unusual book set in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, and narrated by Mo, or as she introduces herself, Miss Moses LoBeau, rising sixth-grader. First there are old mysteries. What was Mo's story before Colonel LoBeau rescued her from the creek as a newborn and took her in? And who was the colonel before amnesia wiped away his memory? But soon the plot thickens and more alarming questions arise. Who has murdered one of Tupelo Landing's most unlikable residents? Who is holding Mo's unofficially adoptive parents for ransom? How can she and her friend Dale rescue them? While the pace of the narrative is initially languid, the storytelling is always enjoyable, from the amusing early scene in which Mo and Dale make breakfast for the regulars at the cafe (peanut butter sandwiches with or without the drink du jour, Mountain Dew) to her continuing attempts to find her birth mother through messages launched in bottles. Later the pace quickens considerably as the mystery gains momentum, climaxing in an epic scene during a hurricane. Turnage's lively novel features a distinctive voice and a community of idiosyncratic characters whose interlocking stories are gradually revealed. A sequel is planned for 2013.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781611761368 Gr 5-7-Moses was rescued as a newborn during a hurricane in North Carolina by Colonel LoBeau and has lived with him and Miss Lana ever since. Mo is now 12-years-old and continues to look for her birthmother by sending letters in a bottle to be launched by anyone heading upstream. During her quest, she also sharpens her detective skills with her best friend, Dale Earnhart Johnson III, by finding missing cats and bicycles. When Detective Joe Starr comes to Tupelo Landing seeking information about a Winston-Salem murder, Mo's intuition helps to solve that and several other mysteries, many of them in her own life. Narrator Michal Friedman does for this story what the narrators of Moon over Manifest did for the Great Plains. The sounds of the racetrack where Dale's older brother races and the smells in Miss Lana's cafe come alive via Friedman's storytelling. Sheila Turnage's words and phrases in the novel (Delacorte, 2012) give the narrator a lot to work with, and she does justice to every one of them. From the Colonel's gruff manner to Dale's daddy's drunken slur and Miss Lana's calming tone, each character is consummately voiced. Listeners will hope that there will be more books about Mo. Of special note: every chapter begins a new track, making it easy for interrupted listeners to find their place.-Ann Brownson, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803736702 Gr 4-7-Quick-thinking and precocious Mo LoBeau is hilarious in this modern-day mystery set in a small North Carolina town. The 11-year-old discovers the true meaning of family as she searches for her "upstream mother." As a baby, Mo was found washed ashore during a hurricane and has led a quiet life with the Colonel, a cafe owner with a hidden past, and Miss Lana, the fun and colorful cafe hostess. Then one day, this idyllic town is turned upside down by a murder investigation. The twists and turns in the plot will keep readers on their toes, and the humorous interactions between Mo and her quirky neighbors will keep them coming back for more. While the story is amusing and mysterious, the author also skillfully touches on tough issues such as alcoholism, spousal and child abuse, and underage drinking. The mood of the book stays light and keeps youngsters rooting for Mo in all of her adventurous endeavors, yet elicits empathy for the secondary characters as they endure and conquer challenging circumstances. While the overall theme is predictable, the solution to the mystery is not, and this book will leave readers hoping for more books about Mo and her gang.-Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. What do you get when you combine Because of Winn-Dixie's heart with the mystery and action of Holes? You get an engaging, spirit-lifting and unforgettable debut for young readers. Turnage introduces readers to the homey yet exotic world of Tupelo Landing, N.C., well-populated with one-of-a-kind characters. A stranger with justice on his mind has just arrived in town, and Hurricane Amy is on its way. Rising sixth-grader Mo LoBeau leads the cast through a series of clues as the whole town tries to figure out who among them might be a murderer. The novel's opening lines reveal the unflappable Mo LoBeau as a latter-day Philip Marlowe: "Trouble cruised into Tupelo Landing at exactly seven minutes past noon on Wednesday, the third of June, flashing a gold badge and driving a Chevy Impala the color of dirt." This is the first of many genius turns of phrases. Pairing the heartbreaking sadness of children who don't get their fair share from parents with the hilarity of small-town life, Turnage achieves a wickedly awesome tale of an 11-year-old girl with more spirit and gumption than folks twice her age. Mo LoBeau is destined to become a standout character in children's fiction. Readers may find they never want to leave Tupelo Landing. (Mystery. 10-14)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803736702 The center of rural Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, is a cafi owned by the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby. Completing their unconventional family is Miss Lana, the cafi's hostess. All is well--until a stranger comes to town. Humor sweetens the mix in this dandy, leisurely plotted mystery. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
2013
Dead End in Norvelt
 Jack Gantos
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780374379933 Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781427213563 Standard: Students will identify the causes of the Great Depression, its impact on Americans, and the major features of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. An exhilarating summer marked by death, gore and fire sparks deep thoughts in a small-town lad not uncoincidentally named "Jack Gantos."The gore is all Jack's, which to his continuing embarrassment "would spray out of my nose holes like dragon flames" whenever anything exciting or upsetting happens. And that would be on every other page, seemingly, as even though Jack's feuding parents unite to ground him for the summer after several mishaps, he does get out. He mixes with the undertaker's daughter, a band of Hell's Angels out to exact fiery revenge for a member flattened in town by a truck and, especially, with arthritic neighbor Miss Volker, for whom he furnishes the "hired hands" that transcribe what becomes a series of impassioned obituaries for the local paper as elderly town residents suddenly begin passing on in rapid succession. Eventually the unusual body count draws thejustified, as it turns outattention of the police. Ultimately, the obits and the many Landmark Books that Jack reads (this is 1962) in his hours of confinement all combine in his head to broaden his perspective about both history in general and the slow decline his own town is experiencing.Characteristically provocative gothic comedy, with sublime undertones.(Autobiographical fiction. 11-13)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780374379933 A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374379933 In 1962 Norvelt, Pennsylvania (a town founded by Eleanor Roosevelt), Jack's summer job keeps him busy. Jack's work--typing up obituaries for his arthritic neighbor--chronicles the history of the community: a "museum of freaks." There's more than laugh-out-loud gothic comedy here. This is a richly layered semi-autobiographical tale, an ode to a time and place, to history and the power of reading. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780374379933 Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781427213563 Gr 5-8-It is the summer of 1962 and Jack Gantos is 12 years old in this "entirely true and wildly fictional" story (Farrar, Straus, 2011). Jack lives with his parents in Norvelt, Pennsylvania, a town planned during the Great Depression by Eleanor Roosevelt. His summer quickly turns sour when his mother grounds him for the entire two months for something his father made him do. Jack's mother loans him out to ancient Mrs. Volker to assist her in writing the town's obituaries, a job that keeps the boy hopping since the original residents are quickly dying off. As Mrs. Volker and Jack spend the summer together, they develop an unusual friendship. She teaches Jack about language and history by dictating luminous obits and fascinating "This Day in History" facts. Jack relishes driving the woman around town to investigate the sudden rash of elderly deaths. Gantos narrates his laugh-out-loud semi-autobiographical tale, providing a pitch-perfect rendition of Jack's sarcasm, exaggeration, and whining. Included on the CD, but not available for review, is a video interview with Gantos where he explains "one of the prime motivations for the book is this notion that history, our history, is so vastly important." The author's trademark quirky characters are in abundance here and while the plot rises to only a gentle crest, middle school listeners will thoroughly enjoy the ride.-Tricia Melgaard, formerly Broken Arrow Public Schools, Tulsa, OK (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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  Book Jacket
 
2013
Inside Out and Back Again
Book Jacket   Thanhha Lai
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061962783 Recounting events that resemble her own family's 1975 flight from Saigon, Lai pens a novel in vividly imagined verse. In Alabama, Ha is daunted by challenges including mastering idiosyncratic English. Many people are cruelly antagonistic, but Ha soon finds allies at school. Spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee's complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties. (c) Copyright 2011. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061962783 Gr 4-6-A story based on the author's childhood experiences. Ha is 10 when Saigon falls and her family flees Vietnam. First on a ship, then in two refugee camps, and then finally in Alabama, she and her family struggle to fit in and make a home. As Ha deals with leaving behind all that is familiar, she tries to contain her temper, especially in the face of school bullies and the inconsistencies of the English language. She misses her papaya tree, and her family worries about friends and family remaining in Vietnam, especially her father, who was captured by Communist forces several years earlier. Told in verse, each passage is given a date so readers can easily follow the progression of time. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Ha's perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction. Even through her frustration with her new life and the annoyances of her three older brothers, her voice is full of humor and hope.-Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781464020896 Gr 4-8-Spanning one Tet to the next from 1975 to 1976, Thanhha Lai's semi-autobiographical novel (HarperCollins, 2011) is divided into four chapters: "Saigon," "At Sea," "Alabama," "From Now On." Ha, her mother, and her three brothers live in Saigon and her father has been missing in action for nine years. The threat of invasion from the North forces the family to flee on a South Vietnamese naval ship. After a rough trip, they are rescued by an American ship and go to America. They spend weeks in a tent city until a car lot owner sponsors the family and they move to Alabama. Ha faces discrimination, is bullied in school, makes new friends, and finally makes peace with the fact that her father is never coming home. This National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor Book offers a heart-breaking look at the costs of the Vietnam war, what it means to be an immigrant in a new country, and the strength of family. It ends on a hopeful note with the start of a new Tet and the hope for a bright future for the family. Doan Ly perfectly portrays Ha's youth and innocence, and captures the humor and emotions of the situations, especially those involving the quirks of the English language. A great addition to library collections.-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780061962783 *Starred Review* After her father has been missing in action for nine years during the Vietnam War, 10-year-old Hà flees with her mother and three older brothers. Traveling first by boat, the family reaches a tent city in Guam, moves on to Florida, and is finally connected with sponsors in Alabama, where Hà finds refuge but also cruel rejection, especially from mean classmates. Based on Lai's personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee's struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free-verse poems, Hà's immediate narrative describes her mistakes both humorous and heartbreaking with grammar, customs, and dress (she wears a flannel nightgown to school, for example); and readers will be moved by Hà's sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast who spends lunchtime hiding in the bathroom. Eventually, Hà does get back at the sneering kids who bully her at school, and she finds help adjusting to her new life from a kind teacher who lost a son in Vietnam. The elemental details of Hà's struggle dramatize a foreigner's experience of alienation. And even as she begins to shape a new life, there is no easy comfort: her father is still gone.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780061962783 Narrating in sparse free-verse poems, 10-year-old Ha brings a strong, memorable voice to the immigrant experience as her family moves from war-torn South Vietnam to Alabama in 1975. First-time author Lai, who made the same journey with her family, divides her novel into four sections set in Vietnam, "At Sea," and the last two in Alabama. Lai gives insight into cultural and physical landscapes, as well as a finely honed portrait of Ha's family as they await word about Ha's POW father and face difficult choices (awaiting a sponsor family, "...Mother learns/ sponsors prefer those/ whose applications say ¿Christians.'/ Just like that/ Mother amends our faith,/ saying all beliefs/ are pretty much the same"). The taut portrayal of Ha's emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. A series of poems about English grammar offer humor and a lens into the difficulties of adjusting to a new language and customs ("Whoever invented English/ should be bitten/ by a snake"). An incisive portrait of human resilience. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780061962783 Gr 4-6-Ten-year-old Ha and her family flee Saigon and struggle to make a new life in Alabama. Told in verse, the story features a spirited child who misses her homeland and faces bullies, unfriendly people, and perfectly horrid American food. A tender tale, leavened with humor and hope. (Mar.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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2013
Breaking Stalins Nose
Book Jacket   Eugene Yelchin
Kirkus Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission. "There's no place for the likes of you in our class," Sasha Zaichik's teacher tells him, and that seems to be the motto of the whole Stalinist nation.Yelchin's debut novel does a superb job of depicting the tyranny of the group, whether residents of a communal apartment, kids on the playground, students in the classroom or government officials. It's the readiness of the group to create outsidersbad ones, "unreliables," "wreckers"by instilling fear in everyone that chills. Not many books for such a young audience address the Stalinist era, when, between 1923 and 1953, leaving a legacy of fear for future generations. Joseph Stalin's State Security was responsible for exiling, executing or imprisoning 20 million people. Sasha is 10 years old and is devoted to Stalin, even writing adoring letters to Comrade Stalin expressing his eagerness at becoming a Young Pioneer. But his mother has died mysteriously, his father has been imprisoned and Sasha finds he has important moral choices to make. Yelchin's graphite illustrations are an effective complement to his prose, which unfurls in Sasha's steady, first-person voice, and together they tell an important tale.A story just as relevant in our world, "where innocent people face persecution and death for making a choice about what they believe to be right," as that of Yelchin's childhood. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 9-12)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780805092165 Gr 5-7-Velchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Sasha Zaichik, the 10-year-old son of a member of the secret police, is bursting with pride because he is ready to become a Young Pioneer. He is equally excited that his father will be officiating at the ceremony. But then he watches as his father is taken away to prison, turned in by a neighbor vying for bigger living quarters. Sasha joins his peers in taunting Borka Finkelstein, their only Jewish classmate, even though readers sense that he doesn't really want to do it. The question of who is a good Communist underlies much of the plot. The book's intriguing title refers to Sasha's accidentally breaking the nose off a bust of Stalin. Borka, desperate to see his imprisoned parents, confesses to the action, with the hope that he will be taken to prison, too. Sasha does not admit his own guilt. Eventually disillusionment overtakes homeless Sasha as he waits in line to visit his father. Velchin's illustrations are filled with pathos and breathe life into the narrative. Though there are many two-dimensional characters, mostly among the adults, Sasha and Borka are more fully drawn. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin's regime, Sasha's emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Velchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything. Along with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), this selection gives young people a look at this dark history.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780805092165 Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha's dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid's naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child's innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha's classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780805092165 Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art. Ten-year-old Sasha lives with his father, a State Security secret policeman whom he worships (almost as much as he worships Stalin), and 46 others in a communal apartment. The story opens on the eve of the fulfillment of Sasha's dream-to become a Young Soviet Pioneer-and traces the downward spiral of the following 24 hours, as he resists his growing understanding that his beloved Communist state is far from ideal. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future. An author's note concisely presents the chilling historical background and personal connection that underlie the story. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Horn Book (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780805092165 Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik loves Stalin and the Communist party. He's especially proud of his father, a member of the secret police. Sasha's worldview shifts after his father is arrested. Although the story takes place over just two days, it is well paced, peeling off the layers of Sasha's naiveti. Appropriately menacing illustrations add a sinister tone. (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781464045608 Gr 5-8-Ten-year-old Sasha Zaichik lives with his father and 48 other Soviet citizens in a communal apartment. Like many children his age, Sasha has been conditioned to idolize Joseph Stalin and believes that everyone is equal and no one should have secrets. Sasha's father's job, as a high-ranking officer in the State Security, or secret police, is to uncover and arrest those who resist the teachings of Stalin. Sasha is obsessed with his dad's job and is ecstatic when he discovers that his father will be part of the Young Pioneers rally in which Sasha will be pledging his allegiance to the Communist party. When his father is taken prisoner by another State Security officer, Sasha is bewildered. His father was one of them. How could this happen? Orphaned and alone on the streets, what is a young Communist to do but camp out and wait for school to begin. In school, Sasha breaks a classmate's eyeglasses with a snowball and damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. Sasha is scheduled to carry the banner for the rally, but has everything changed? Eugene Yelchin's novel (Holt, 2011) draws on the author's own experiences to expose life in a totalitarian state in a way that can be easily understood and discussed by younger listeners. Narrator Mark Turetsky conveys Sasha's emotions in an appropriate manner. An author's note conveys Yelchin's personal experience with the State Security. This 2012 Newbery Honor award-winner leaves listeners wanting more.-Amanda Schiavulli, West Orange Public Library, NJ (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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