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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Boy in the Black Suit
by Jason Reynolds

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Matt's mother just died, and his dad isn't coping well, hanging out with the local drunk and downing whiskey, which results in his getting hit by a car and landing in the hospital. Matt is also grieving his mom's death and now he's on his own, until he lands a job at the local funeral home: $15 an hour and Mr. Ray as his boss. Attending other people's funerals helps the teen come to grips with his own grief. Hearing mourners express their real thoughts of suffering at each funeral allows Matt to figure out his own feelings. Mr. Ray is wise and shows up at all the right times to help out the struggling young man, and when Mr. Ray's secrets come to light, he appears even cooler in Matt's eyes. Amid all this, Matt meets Lovey, the girl of his dreams, who is smart, funny, gorgeous, and tough. A mystery intersecting Lovey's life and that of Matt's best friend, Chris, deepens the plot. Written in a breezy style with complex characters who have real lives, this is another hit for Reynolds, fresh off the success of his When I Was the Greatest (S. & S., 2014). The author's seemingly effortless writing shines in this slice-of-life story, which covers a lot of the protagonist's emotional ground. The realistic setting and character-driven tale keeps readers turning the pages of this winner.-Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, San Leandro, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Bell Rang
by James E. Ransome

Kirkus A girl's family life and plantation routines are interrupted when three enslaved boys run away. Most days start the same way: The bell rings, Daddy collects wood, Mama prepares breakfast, they eat together. The narrator's brother, Ben, her parents, and the other slaves go to the fields while the girl stays with the young ones to play. On Wednesday, Ben surprises her with a handmade doll. On Thursday, Ben and his two friends are gone. There are tears; the narrator's parents are beaten, and other slaves look mad or sad. On Friday, the girl cannot eat or talk. On Saturday, there are horses and dogs; Ben's friends have been caught, but there is no sign of Ben. "Out comes the whip. / All night we cry and pray for Ben." On Sunday, Big Sam preaches near the creek, "of being free. / We sing. / We hope. / We pray / Ben made it. / Free like the birds. / Free like Moses. / No more bells." The final spread shows the girl looking out, with the single word "Monday" and a bird flying away on the endpaper. The richly textured paintings make masterful use of light and space to create the narrator's world and interior life, from the glimmer of dawn as her father chops wood to her mother's fatigue and her own knowing eyes. Ransome's free-verse text is as accomplished as his glowing acrylics.With spare text and gorgeous illustrations, this work represents a unique and engaging perspective on enslaved families. (author's note) (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list *Starred Review* Every dawn begins the same for the enslaved family of four featured in this book: The bell rings, / and no sun in the sky. / Daddy gathers wood. / Mama cooks. / We eat. The father, mother, and son go to work in the fields, while the daughter spends her days with the younger children. One morning, her brother presents his sister with a handmade doll, a kiss, and a good-bye. The next day, the family discovers that Ben has run away. Tears, fear, and sorrow overtake the family as they wonder about the fate of their beloved son and brother. Beautifully rendered acrylic paintings reveal the closeness of the family, whose pleasure at being together is evident. The richly colored vignettes in Coretta Scott King Award-winning Ransome's single- and double-page-spread paintings clearly picture the emotions felt by the family and the day-to-day monotony of their lives. Swallows are seen flying on the endpapers and over the Sunday prayer gathering, signaling the freedom the family hopes Ben has achieved. The last illustration shows the girl looking at the detested bell, leaving readers to wonder if she is thinking of the day she might choose to run away also. A powerful tale of slavery and its two terrible options: stay or run.--Maryann Owen Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Horn Book Using deceptively simple, repetitive verse, an enslaved girl narrates her family's daily plantation activities over a week, every morning beginning with the bell ringing--until Thursday when her brother runs away. The author communicates the complex emotions of individuals fleeing enslavement and the aftermath for those left behind. Through lush watercolors that expertly frame and highlight the characters, the reader is drawn into scenes of tenderness, joy, terror, and despair. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Bold, painterly spreads by Ransome (Before She Was Harriet) give shape to the lives of a slave family whose days are ruled by the overseer's bell. On Monday, "The bell rings,/ and no sun in the sky./ Daddy gathers wood./ Mama cooks." Daddy; Mama; their son, Ben; and the narrator, Ben's little sister, sit close and share a meal. On Wednesday, Ben gives his sister a kiss and a handmade doll, whispering "Good-bye" before walking away with two companions. Thursday, the family realizes that Ben is really gone. "Overseer comes/ to our cabin./ Then dogs come./ Overseer hits Mama,/ then Daddy." The other boys are found, but not Ben: "We pray/ Ben made it./ Free like the birds." In an image of startling force, a flying swallow is seen darting off the last, blank page. Stories about escaping slaves often follow the journeys of those leaving; this one imagines what life was like for a family left behind. The recurring image of the bell throughout each day underscores the way slaves' lives were continually regimented and surveilled. Ransome's gracefully sculpted figures give Ben's family heroic stature; his story makes their hunger for freedom palpable. Ages 4-8. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick

School Library Journal : Gr 3–6—Brian Selznick's atmospheric story (Scholastic, 2007) is set in Paris in 1931. Hugo Cabret is an orphan; his father, a clockmaker, has recently died in a fire and the boy lives with his alcoholic Uncle Claude, working as his apprentice clock keeper in a bustling train station. When Hugo's uncle fails to return after a three-day absence, the boy decides it's his chance to escape the man's harsh treatment. But Hugo has nowhere to go and, after wandering the city, returns to his uncle's rooms determined to fix a mechanical figure—an automaton—that his father was restoring when he died. Hugo is convinced it will "save his life"—the figure holds a pen, and the boy believes that if he can get it working again, it will deliver a message from his father. This is just the bare outline of this multilayered story, inspired by and with references to early (French) cinema and filmmaker George Méliès, magic and magicians, and mechanical objects. Jeff Woodman's reading of the descriptive passages effectively sets the story's suspenseful tone. The book's many pages of pictorial narrative translate in the audio version into sound sequences that successfully employ the techniques of old radio plays (train whistles, footsteps reverberating through station passages, etc.). The accompanying DVD, hosted by Selznick and packed with information and images from the book, will enrich the listening experience.—Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog A Book Of Days
by Patti Smith

Book list “I write and take pictures every day,” Smith tells us, and, indeed, her photographs appear in her memoirs, most recently The Year of the Monkey (2019). This dual practice brought her to Instagram and now blossoms in this art volume marking each of the 366 days in a leap year with a photograph and caption. Noting births, deaths, and anniversaries, Smith poignantly mixes pictures from her Chicago childhood, early New York years, family life with Fred “Sonic” Smith, and various pilgrimages with new images, some chronicling the pandemic. Detecting the sacred everywhere she looks, Smith photographs her “desk talismans” and personal shrines to such guiding lights as Arthur Rimbaud, Sam Shepard, William Burroughs, Greta Thunberg, and Haruki Murakami. So extensive are her tributes, she provides “Suggested Readings.” Her images of coffee cups and gravestones, beaches and gardens are intimate and poetic; her captions are tender, imaginative, funny, and elegiac. Laced with gratitude and wonder, this is a transporting and affecting tour of Smith’s influences and aesthetics, an evocative celebration of her devotion to creativity and “the blessed task of remembrance.”

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

Kirkus Smith returns with a photo-heavy book of days, celebrating births, deaths, and the quotidian, all anchored by her distinctive style. In 2018, the musician and National Book Award–winning author began posting on Instagram, and the account quickly took off. Inspired by the captioned photo format, this book provides an image for every day of the year and descriptions that are by turns intimate, humorous, and insightful, and each bit of text adds human depth to the image. Smith, who writes and takes pictures every day, is clearly comfortable with the social media platform—which “has served as a way to share old and new discoveries, celebrate birthdays, remember the departed, and salute our youth”—and the material translates well to the page. The book, which is both visually impactful and lyrically moving, uses Instagram as a point of departure, but it goes well beyond to plumb Smith’s extensive archives. The deeply personal collection of photos includes old Polaroid images, recent cellphone snapshots, and much-thumbed film prints, spanning across decades to bring readers from the counterculture movement of the 1960s to the present. Many pages are taken up with the graves and birthdays of writers and artists, many of whom the author knew personally. We also meet her cat, “Cairo, my Abyssinian. A sweet little thing the color of the pyramids, with a loyal and peaceful disposition.” Part calendar, part memoir, and part cultural record, the book serves as a rich exploration of the author’s fascinating mind. “Offered in gratitude, as a place to be heartened, even in the basest of times,” it reminds us that “each day is precious, for we are yet breathing, moved by the way light falls on a high branch, or a morning worktable, or the sculpted headstone of a beloved poet.” A powerful melding of image and text inspired by Instagram yet original in its execution. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Rock star Smith (Year of the Monkey) unfurls a vibrant photo scrapbook created during the Covid-19 pandemic and inspired by the “exploding collage” of social media culture. The photos include selections from Smith’s personal archive, as well as cellphone snapshots and Polaroids. There is one photo for each day of the year, and the short accompanying text often references cultural figures, whether William S. Burroughs or Greta Thunberg. Smith also recounts moments from her own life, including riding her first bike as a child and outtakes from her 1970s punk heyday. Recurring figures include her late partner, Robert Mapplethorpe, and her daughter, Jesse, who encouraged Smith to join Instagram. The captions often take the form of straightforward descriptions (“The desk of the great writer Jorge Luis Borges lives in the National Library in Buenos Aires”), but Smith’s personal photos provide moments for deeper introspection (“This is my thinking chair. I sit and let it take me where it will, as if it were a small wooden ship”). Below a photo of One World Trade Center, Smith writes, “A city of burning days and consecrated nights, utterly transformed from the New York I once knew.” Wrapped in a nostalgic glow, this will be an inspiration for Smith’s fans. Agent: Betsy Lerner, Dunow, Carlson, & Lerner. (Nov.)

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz

Book list *Starred Review* The author of A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama (2006), Schlitz turns to a completely different kind of storytelling here. Using a series of interconnected monologues and dialogues featuring young people living in and around an English manor in 1255, she offers first-person character sketches that build upon each other to create a finer understanding of medieval life. The book was inspired by the necessity of creating a play suitable for a classroom where no one wanted a small part. Each of the 23 characters (between 10 and 15 years old) has a distinct personality and a societal role revealed not by recitation of facts but by revelation of memories, intentions, and attitudes. Sometimes in prose and more often in one of several verse forms, the writing varies nicely from one entry to the next. Historical notes appear in the vertical margins, and some double-page spreads carry short essays on topics related to individual narratives, such as falconry, the Crusades, and Jews in medieval society. Although often the characters' specific concerns are very much of their time, their outlooks and emotional states will be familiar to young people today. Reminiscent of medieval art, Byrd's lively ink drawings, tinted with watercolors, are a handsome addition to this well-designed book. This unusually fine collection of related monologues and dialogues promises to be a rewarding choice for performance or for reading aloud in the classroom.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2007 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Schlitz (The Hero Schliemann ) wrote these 22 brief monologues to be performed by students at the school where she is a librarian; here, bolstered by lively asides and unobtrusive notes, and illuminated by Byrd's (Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer) stunningly atmospheric watercolors, they bring to life a prototypical English village in 1255. Adopting both prose and verse, the speakers, all young, range from the half-wit to the lord's daughter, who explains her privileged status as the will of God. The doctor's son shows off his skills ("Ordinary sores/ Will heal with comfrey, or the white of an egg,/ An eel skin takes the cramping from a leg"); a runaway villein (whose life belongs to the lord of his manor) hopes for freedom after a year and a day in the village, if only he can calculate the passage of time; an eel-catcher describes her rough infancy: her "starving poor [father] took me up to drown in a bucket of water." (He relents at the sight of her "wee fingers" grasping at the sides of the bucket.) Byrd, basing his work on a 13th-century German manuscript, supplies the first page of each speaker's text with a tone-on-tone patterned border overset with a square miniature. Larger watercolors, some with more intricate borders, accompany explanatory text for added verve. The artist does not channel a medieval style; rather, he mutes his palette and angles some lines to hint at the period, but his use of cross-hatching and his mostly realistic renderings specifically welcome a contemporary readership. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Couplets, blank verse, and prose bring children living in a medieval village in 1255 to life in this Newbery Medal-winning book (Candlewick, 2007) by Laura Amy Schlitz. Schlitz created these monologues for 23 characters, ranging in age between 10 and 15, to be performed by the students at the school where she is the librarian. A full cast of narrators do an exceptional job of distinguishing the different characters: the nephew of the Lord, a half-wit, a shepherdess, the blacksmith's daughter, a runaway villain, and others. Along the way, the host steps in and provides more in-depth explanations about topics such as pilgrimages, crusades, falconry, feudal land laws, and Jews in medieval society. The language is lyrical and the separate stories mesh to provide a rich picture of medieval life. Listeners will be drawn in and sympathize with the many different points of view that are offered. Robert Byrd's watercolor-tinted ink drawings add to the telling and will give teachers ideas for costumes. Youngsters who enjoy historical fiction will be enchanted. Drama, social studies, and English teachers will find multiple uses for this audio version. This performance breathes life into the print version and should be considered an essential purchase.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Schlitz helps students step directly into the shoes-and lives-of medieval children in this outstanding collection of interrelated monologues. Designed for performance and excellent for use in interdisciplinary history classrooms, the book offers students an incredibly approachable format for learning about the Middle Ages that makes the period both realistic and relevant. The text, varying from dramatic to poetic, depending on the point of view, is accompanied by historical notes that shed light on societal roles, religion, and town life. Byrd's illustrations evoke the era and give dramatists ideas for appropriate costuming and props. Browsers interested in medieval life will gravitate toward this title, while history buffs will be thrilled by the chance to make history come alive through their own voices.-Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Kirkus Schlitz takes the breath away with unabashed excellence in every direction. This wonderfully designed and produced volume contains 17 monologues for readers ten to 15, each in the voice of a character from an English town in 1255. Some are in verse; some in prose; all are interconnected. The language is rich, sinewy, romantic and plainspoken. Readers will immediately cotton to Taggot, the blacksmith's daughter, who is big and strong and plain, and is undone by the sprig of hawthorn a lord's nephew leaves on her anvil. Isobel the lord's daughter doesn't understand why the peasants throw mud at her silks, but readers will: Barbary, exhausted from caring for the baby twins with her stepmother who is pregnant again, flings the muck in frustration. Two sisters speak in tandem, as do a Jew and a Christian, who marvel in parallel at their joy in skipping stones on water. Double-page spreads called "A little background" offer lively information about falconry, The Crusades, pilgrimages and the like. Byrd's watercolor-and-ink pictures add lovely texture and evoke medieval illustration without aping it. Brilliant in every way. (foreword, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 10-15) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Tara Road
by Maeve Binchy

Library Journal: Abandoned by her husband, a Dublin woman named Ria meets American Marilyn via the phone, and they end up swapping houses--with surprise results.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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