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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Midnight at the Barclay Hotel
by Fleur Bradley

Publishers Weekly When 12-year-old JJ Jacobson’s CEO mom wins a weekend at the haunted Barclay Hotel in Aspen Springs, Colo., paranormal investigation enthusiast JJ convinces her to bring him along. The Jacobsons seemingly have nothing in common with the other guests: cowboy Buck Jones; Fiona Fleming, an actress and occasional medium; retired Detective Frank Walker; and children’s librarian Chelsea Griffin. But, save for Detective Walker, each of the guests has a Barclay-related secret—and, as they learn upon their arrival, all are suspects in the murder of Mr. Barclay. Detective Walker’s 11-year-old book-loving granddaughter, Penny, and lonely 12-year-old hotel resident Emma, who is prone to mysterious disappearances, team up with JJ to discover “who had motive, means, and opportunity,” while JJ simultaneously attempts to prove the existence of ghosts to skeptic Penny. Bonet’s black-and-white illustrations are appropriately mellow; all characters are portrayed as light-skinned except for Penny and her grandfather. Though readers already exposed to the genre may consider this well-trod ground, Bradley (the Double Vision series) offers a fast-paced, lightly spooky entrťe to mystery fare. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Author’s agent: Laurel Symonds, the Bent Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Hannah Whitty, Plum Pudding Illustration. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Five strangers (with secrets!) are invited to a historic (haunted) hotel—to solve a murder. The secluded Barclay Hotel, one of Colorado’s most haunted places, sends five invitations to a carefully selected guest list: a cowboy, a librarian, a CEO, an actor, and a detective. The CEO’s preteen son (ghost-hunting aficionado JJ, who hates reading) and the detective’s granddaughter (aspiring detective Penny, a bookworm) tag along and immediately connect with the hotel’s lonely resident kid, Emma, daughter of the head chef. Once the guests are assembled (and the driver has left, natch), the butler reveals that they’ve been gathered to solve a mystery—who killed Mr. Barclay?—and, with the exception of the detective, they are the suspects. The kids jump into action, interviewing suspects to tease out motive, means, and opportunity—and all of the adults have secrets. The mystery features some fun reversals, allowing just enough convolution for mystery novices (who will learn the terms “whodunit” and “red herring”); Agatha Christie references abound, and the hotel setting shines. The ghostly supernatural storyline is mild and unthreatening and not prominent enough for kids looking for a paranormal scary story. The murder mystery is gentled through temporal distance (the murder happened a week prior; there are no bodies or graphic moments). While the ending relies on a villain’s monologue, the happily-ever-after is an earned one. Aside from dark-skinned Penny and her grandfather, the other characters default to (and are illustrated as) white. A quirky, kid-friendly introduction to the murder mystery. (Mystery. 8-12) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Five strangers (with secrets!) are invited to a historic (haunted) hotelto solve a murder.The secluded Barclay Hotel, one of Colorados most haunted places, sends five invitations to a carefully selected guest list: a cowboy, a librarian, a CEO, an actor, and a detective. The CEOs preteen son (ghost-hunting aficionado JJ, who hates reading) and the detectives granddaughter (aspiring detective Penny, a bookworm) tag along and immediately connect with the hotels lonely resident kid, Emma, daughter of the head chef. Once the guests are assembled (and the driver has left, natch), the butler reveals that theyve been gathered to solve a mysterywho killed Mr. Barclay?and, with the exception of the detective, they are the suspects. The kids jump into action, interviewing suspects to tease out motive, means, and opportunityand all of the adults have secrets. The mystery features some fun reversals, allowing just enough convolution for mystery novices (who will learn the terms whodunit and red herring); Agatha Christie references abound, and the hotel setting shines. The ghostly supernatural storyline is mild and unthreatening and not prominent enough for kids looking for a paranormal scary story. The murder mystery is gentled through temporal distance (the murder happened a week prior; there are no bodies or graphic moments). While the ending relies on a villains monologue, the happily-ever-after is an earned one. Aside from dark-skinned Penny and her grandfather, the other characters default to (and are illustrated as) white.A quirky, kid-friendly introduction to the murder mystery. (Mystery. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 3–7—When unexpected invitations are received for an all-expenses-paid weekend at the newly renovated (yet rumored to be haunted) Barclay Hotel, no one thinks to question why. The five invited guests—a cowboy, a librarian, an actress, a CEO with 12-year-old son JJ, and a detective with 11-year-old granddaughter Penny—arrive and discover they are there to solve a murder. It turns out that most of them are suspects. JJ, a ghost-hunting enthusiast, and bookish Penny team up with Emma, a mysterious girl who lives at the hotel, to discover everyone's secrets and figure out the answer. Veteran narrator January LaVoy reads, and does a wonderful job adding life and sparkle to the audio. Characters are differentiated well, particularly JJ, who is convincingly read with a husky voice. As the kids follow the clues, there are various twists and turns to keep the listeners absorbed, and LaVoy's reading of the suspenseful parts leaves the listener breathless. The Barclay Hotel itself is described in such an atmospheric way that it is easy for listeners to picture the spooky setting. Penny and her grandfather are African American while the other characters appear to be white. VERDICT Puzzle buffs will enjoy this fast-paced supernatural mystery.—Julie Paladino, formerly with East Chapel Hill H.S., NC

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

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Heroine
by Mindy McGinnis

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come.
by Sue Macy

School Library Journal Gr 1–4—Aaron Lansky could not forget what his grandmother told him as a child. At the age of 16, she immigrated to the United States from Eastern Europe. In his twenties, Lansky decided to find out more about his grandmother's stories, which set him on a journey to learn how to speak and read Yiddish and to also locate Yiddish books. The result is the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Lansky's story is a fascinating one, filled with book rescues and meeting older people who not only treasure books but what they represent. His disappointments and rewards in pursuing this passion are well portrayed. The narrative is both informative and engaging and includes Yiddish words, many of which have been incorporated into English. All appear in a glossary. An afterword by Lansky himself brings the Center and his work up to date. Illustrations intentionally call to mind the bold line and semi-abstraction of Russian-born artist Marc Chagall. VERDICT A potentially valuable addition to both school and public libraries as well as Jewish schools. Echoing Carole Boston Weatherford's Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library, the book's narrative shows that pursuing interests can lead to meaningful and long-lasting results.—Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library

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

Book list Yiddish was a dying language (it's still not robust) when a young man, Aaron Lansky, decided to save it. Macy begins the story several generations back, with Lansky's grandmother arriving in America: her suitcase was thrown in the ocean by her brother out with the old, in with the new. Flash-forward to the 1970s, and Aaron is in college, studying Jewish history, and he wants to read books in the common language of European Jews in past centuries, Yiddish. But after the Holocaust and the diaspora of European Jewry, the number of people speaking Yiddish plummeted. Yiddish books were also disappearing, so Lansky decided to make it his mission to rescue them and his ancestors' heritage. Macy's text details how Lansky's pursuit took him out in all kinds of weather, to all kinds of places, where elderly Jews gave him an education in their lives and the importance of their books. An afterword by Lansky tells readers about the Yiddish Book Center, a vibrant organization that, among many other things, fosters learning the language. The story comes alive through the bold acrylic and gouache art, which illustrator Innerst says was inspired by the ""exuberant motifs"" of Marc Chagall. He finds drama in faces, profundity in the weight and number of books. The most outstanding spread places a shtetl on Yiddish pages that resemble matzo. Yiddish appears throughout the text; a glossary explains the words.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Kirkus One young man seeks out a unique collection of Yiddish books to preserve them and their lost world.Growing up, Aaron Lansky remembered the story of his grandmother's immigration to America. She had just one worn suitcase, filled with books in Yiddish and Sabbath candlestickswhich her brother tossed into the water upon greeting her. It was of the Old World, and she was in the New World. Lansky loved reading but realized that to pursue his interest in Jewish literature he would have to study Yiddish, his grandmother's language. His search for books in Yiddish led to one rabbi about to bury a pile, which led to years of rescuing books from dumpsters and then building a depository for them and for the thousands of subsequent donations. Lansky visited many of the donors and heard their emotional stories. Now a well-established resource in Amherst, Massachusetts, his Yiddish Book Center is digitized, with free downloads, and conducts educational programs. Macy's text beautifully and dramatically tells this story while noting the powerful influence of Yiddish writing in the lives of Jews. Innerst's acrylic and gouache artwork, with the addition of digitized fabric textures, is stunning in its homage to Marc Chagall and its evocation of an Eastern European world that has physically vanished but is alive in these pages of beautifully realized imagery.For lovers of books and libraries. (afterword by Lansky, author's note, illustrator's note, Yiddish glossary, further resources, source notes, photographs) (Picture book/biography. 7-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book Aaron Lansky's difficulty in finding Yiddish novels for his college studies led him to collect books first for his own purposes, then for the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts (which he founded), starting in 1980. Stories of how he obtained them--meetings ‚€˜over tea and cake and lokshn kugl‚€™ with older Jews; a late-night dash to a dumpster--lend both human interest and a sense of urgency to the mission. Painterly illustrations give readers plenty to peruse, with sprinkled Yiddish words and visual references to Jewish history and culture. Reading list. Glos. (c) Copyright 2021. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Publishers Weekly This inspired pairing of two top picture book biographers tells the story of Aaron Lansky, an “all-American boy” (a Star Trek poster decorates his bedroom) who in college became convinced that Yiddish books represented the “portable homeland” of the Jewish people. With Yiddish dying out after the Holocaust and little mainstream support (“Yiddish was a language whose time had passed”), Lansky learned the language, then began saving Yiddish books any way he could. He pulled nearly 5,000 out of a dumpster and accepted “one book at a time” from elderly owners (“We didn’t eat much,” one book donor tearfully tells him, “but we always bought a book. It was a necessity of life”). Founded in 1980, Lansky’s Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., is today home to 1.5 million rescued books and is a hub of Yiddish studies. Innerst (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), who notes in an afterword that his illustrations were inspired by Chagall, contributes dramatic, textural acrylic and gouache images, with sculptural figures, expressionistic settings, and the deep, rich tones of vintage book bindings. Evoking both a lost past and an urgent present, they’re a marvelous complement to the journalistic, propulsive narrative by Macy (Motor Girls). Ages 5–8. (Oct.)

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Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog So You Want to be President
by David Small

Publishers Weekly : HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms