Home
Calendar
Directory
News & Weather
Hot Titles
About Us

SCC Middle School Library

Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Far far away
by Tom McNeal

School Library Journal Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Book list *Starred Review* So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker's next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal's deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob's phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Field Trip to the Moon
by John Hare

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Hare's picture book debut is a winner. His wordless tale in acrylic paint depicts a typical class field trip to the moon-the school bus ship, the trek across a gray lunar surface, the leap over a big chasm, a lecture on craters, and the one kid who lags behind. In this case the kid who lags behind is armed with crayons and a sketch pad. After wandering off to sketch the Earth and accidentally napping, the child awakens to discover the bus ship leaving! Despite some initial panic, the youngster settles in to draw and wait for its return, unknowingly attracting a crowd of gray aliens fascinated by the colored crayons. A hilarious fun fest of aliens drawing-on paper, on rock, on one another-ensues until the bus returns and they fade back into the moon dust. The happy reunion is marred only when the teacher notices the drawings on the rock that the child must remove before they leave. It is only on the final page that the face of the protagonist is revealed to be that of a dark-haired girl. Hare flawlessly and convincingly depicts the emotions of his characters - the desire to draw, the panic of being left behind, the joy of being remembered, and everything in between-all while they are wearing space suits with black, opaque face shields. His gray yet surprisingly detailed moonscape is both the setting and a character in its own right; his depiction of the aliens as gray humanoids amazed by color is genius. -VERDICT A beautifully done wordless story about a field trip to the moon with a sweet and funny alien encounter; what's not to like? A must-have for most libraries.-Catherine Callegari, Gay-Kimball Library, Troy, NH Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Book list In this wordless picture book, schoolchildren are transported to the moon on a space shuttle resembling a bus, and one space-suited child discovers that, although the moon has been explored, there is always something new to discover. While the other kids stick to the field trip itinerary, this child finds a quiet spot to sit with some crayons and draw the Earth and is thus accidentally left behind. As the bus disappears into space, the child resumes coloring, which draws out a group of gray rock-like moon people who humorously interact with the crayons, doodling on themselves as well as a nearby boulder. The fun ends when the bus returns and the moon people hide, each still holding a crayon. Homeward bound, the child (whose gender is undefined) uses the only remaining crayon a gray one to draw a picture of the moon people. A perfectly paced paean to imagination, Hare's auspicious debut presents a world where a yellow crayon box shines like a beacon.--Karen Cruze Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Kirkus Left behind when the space bus departs, a child discovers that the moon isn't as lifeless as it looks.While the rest of the space-suited class follows the teacher like ducklings, one laggard carrying crayons and a sketchbook sits down to draw our home planet floating overhead, falls asleep, and wakes to see the bus zooming off. The bright yellow bus, the gaggle of playful field-trippers, and even the dull gray boulders strewn over the equally dull gray lunar surface have a rounded solidity suggestive of Plasticine models in Hare's wordless but cinematic scenesas do the rubbery, one-eyed, dull gray creatures (think: those stress-busting dolls with ears that pop out when squeezed) that emerge from the regolith. The mutual shock lasts but a moment before the lunarians eagerly grab the proffered crayons to brighten the bland gray setting with silly designs. The creatures dive into the dust when the bus swoops back down but pop up to exchange goodbye waves with the errant child, who turns out to be an olive-skinned kid with a mop of brown hair last seen drawing one of their new friends with the one crayongray, of courseleft in the box. Body language is expressive enough in this debut outing to make a verbal narrative superfluous.A close encounter of the best kind. (Picture book. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Told through wordless spreads, a classroom of child astronauts takes a yellow school bus rocket to their destination. One student lags behind the others, sketch pad and crayons in tow, and finds a quiet moon rock to sit behind while drawing (and napping). In a gaspworthy moment, the young astronaut realizes that the ship has left. But the consummate artist continues drawing, attracting the attention of a small group of friendly aliens—whose skin tones perfectly match the dusky gray of the moon’s surface and who marvel at the crayons’ varied hues. Readers may have mixed feelings about the eventual rescue (the aliens seem like a lot of fun), but a final spread showing the child’s face for the first time (a shaggy-haired kid with just a single gray crayon left) makes the story all the more relatable. A clever and noteworthy tale of lunar adventure. Ages 4–8. (May)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The House in the Night
by Susan Marie Swansonk

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter—a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, Here is the key to the house./ In the house burns a light./ In that light rests a bed./ On that bed waits a book. That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep (dark in the song, song in the bird, / bird in the book, book on the bed). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3–6. (May)

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

School Library Journal : Starred Review. PreS-Gr 1—Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed…." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song…all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

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 Matrix
by Lauren Groff

Publishers Weekly Groff (Florida) fashions a boldly original narrative based on the life and legend of 12th-century poet Marie de France. After Marie is banished to a poverty-stricken British abbey by Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine at age 17 in 1158, she transforms from a reluctant prioress into an avid abbess. With the rhythm of days and nights regulated by the canonical hours from Lauds to Prime, from Compline to bed, Marie reshapes the claustrophobic community into a “self-sufficient... island of women,” where “a woman’s power exists only as far as she is allowed.” To that end, she confesses a series of 19 beatific visions that guide her in designing an impenetrable underground labyrinth as a secret passageway to the convent, building separate abbess quarters, establishing a scriptorium, and constructing a woman-made lake and dam to insure a constant water supply. Groff fills the novel with friendships among the nuns, inspirational apparitions, and writings empowered by divine inspiration. Transcendent prose and vividly described settings bring to life historic events, from the Crusades to the papal interdict of 1208. Groff has outdone herself with an accomplishment as radiant as Marie’s visions. Agent: Bill Clegg, the Clegg Agency. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Set in early medieval Europe, this book paints a rousing portrait of an abbess seizing and holding power. After the spicy, structurally innovative Fates and Furies (2015), Groff spins back 850 years to a girl on a horse: “She rides out of the forest alone. Seventeen years old, in the cold March drizzle, Marie who comes from France.” The inspiration is a historical figure, Marie de France, considered the first woman to write poetry in French. Groff gives her a fraught, lifelong, sexually charged tie to Eleanor of Aquitaine. A matrix, which comes from the Latin for mother, builds implacably between Eleanor and Marie. But in the first chapter, the queen rids the court of an ungainly, rustic Marie by installing her in a remote English convent, home to 20 starving nuns. The sisters hang the traveler’s clothes in the communal privy, where “the ammonia of the piss kills the beasties”—the lice. After a long sulk, Marie rouses herself to examine the abbey’s disastrous ledgers, mount her warhorse, and gallop forth to turn out the family most egregiously squatting on convent land. News spreads and the rents come in, “some grumbling but most half proud to have a woman so tough and bold and warlike and royal to answer to now.” The novel is at its best through Marie's early years of transforming the ruined, muddy convent, bit by bit, into a thriving estate, with a prosperous new scriptorium, brimming fields, and spilling flocks, protected by a forest labyrinth and spies abroad. In this way, Marie forestalls the jealous priests and village men plotting against her. Readers of Arcadia (2012), Groff’s brilliantly evocative hippie commune novel, will remember her gift for conjuring life without privacy. And she knows a snake always lurks within Eden. The cloister witnesses lust, sex, pregnancy, peril. Marie has visions of the Virgin Mary, 19 in all, but these passages stay flat. Medieval mystics, unsurprisingly, write better about mysticism. The gesture toward a lost theology based on Marie’s visions amounts to weak tea. Groff’s trademarkworthy sentences bring vivid buoyancy to a magisterial story. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list 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

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

School Library Journal 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.

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

Kirkus 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.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly 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.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book 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.

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

School Library Journal 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.

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

School Library Journal 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.

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Songs in Ordinary Time
by Mary McGarry Morris

Publisher's Weekly : Set in Vermont during the summer of 1960, Morris's latest concerns a dysfunctional family that falls prey to a dangerous con man.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)