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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog A Spell for Trouble
by Esme Addison

Publishers Weekly Alex Daniels, the 28-year-old heroine of Addison’s captivating debut and series launch, returns to her hometown of Bellamy Bay, N.C., more than 20 years after her mother’s death there. Her father, who died three months earlier in Connecticut, had always forbidden her to visit, but Alex is in need of some rest and relaxation after abruptly leaving her high-powered job in New York City. Impulsively, she takes a retail position at her family’s herbal apothecary, Botanika. When Alex’s reticent aunt, Lidia, is arrested for the murder of a Botanika customer, Alex sets out to clear Lidia’s name. Her investigating uncovers more about the circumstances of her mother’s death, and long-standing inter-family strife, leading her to realize her relatives have secrets beyond perfume and organic soap recipes, and to wonder whether she’ll ever feel a part of the family. A crafty plot, distinctive characters, and a quirky small-town setting bode well for future installments. Cozy fans will be more than satisfied. Agent: Nikki Terpilowski, Holloway Literary. (May)

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Kirkus Addisons sparkling debut brings a woman back to her mother's hometown, where she learns a shocking truth about her familyand herself.Aleksandra Daniels was forbidden by her father to return to Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, after her mother drowned there more than 20 years ago. After his death, however, she leaves her New York City job as a risk manager and, with her dog, Athena, goes to visit her Aunt Lidia and cousins Minka and Kamila, who are thrilled to see her after such a long hiatus, and help them out at their herbal remedies store. There she meets Pepper Bellamy, an inquisitive reporter who mentions the hidden secrets of the towns oldest clans, the Wesleys and the Sobieskis, Alexs own family. Lidia has an odd, nasty confrontation with Randy Bennett, one of her customers, who badly needs an elixir but finally departs with some tea. By contrast, Alex and new police officer Jack Frazier hit it off, but their relationship is taxed when he arrests Lidia after Randy is found fatally poisoned by deadly nightshade berries. Furious, Alex decides to look into the case herself. After all, Randys widow, Stephanie, stands to inherit millions; his business partner, Edwin Kenley, was angry with him; and the wealthy and powerful Wesleys want to buy their business. Alex is astonished when Pepper tells her shes working on an article claiming the Sobieskis are water witches descended from mermaids. When Lidia is put under house arrest, Alex learns that her relatives really are witches and that shed be wise to develop some of the powers she inherited from her talented mother. As she begins to investigate the Wesley family, she meets Dylan, a stunningly attractive man who reminds her that they played together as children. The connections still there, but she cant trust him or his steely mother and sister. As she struggles with her powers, Alex cant talk to Jack about her theories because hes a nonmagical Mundane, and she puts herself in great danger when she turns up more dangerous secrets.For those who love cozies, romance with an edge, and magical adventures. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list After her father’s death and the loss of her job, Alex Daniels travels to Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, to visit her aunt and cousins, whom she hasn’t seen in more than 20 years. Alex agrees to help out in the family herbal apothecary, and at the shop her Aunt Lidia has a physical argument with local businessman Randy Bennett. When Bennett is found poisoned, Lidia is arrested for the murder. Determined to clear her aunt of the charges, Alex begins her own investigation. She is stunned to learn that she, like her aunt and cousins, is a "water witch," a magical being thought to be descended from mermaids. Combining her fledgling magical powers and standard investigative techniques, Alex uncovers long-buried secrets and identifies additional suspects, including members of the powerful Wesley family, also with magical powers. This cozy, with its well-developed characters and charming seaside setting, and framed by plant and mermaid lore, will appeal to those who enjoy stories with a touch of magic.

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

Kirkus Addison’s sparkling debut brings a woman back to her mother's hometown, where she learns a shocking truth about her family—and herself. Aleksandra Daniels was forbidden by her father to return to Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, after her mother drowned there more than 20 years ago. After his death, however, she leaves her New York City job as a risk manager and, with her dog, Athena, goes to visit her Aunt Lidia and cousins Minka and Kamila, who are thrilled to see her after such a long hiatus, and help them out at their herbal remedies store. There she meets Pepper Bellamy, an inquisitive reporter who mentions the hidden secrets of the town’s oldest clans, the Wesleys and the Sobieskis, Alex’s own family. Lidia has an odd, nasty confrontation with Randy Bennett, one of her customers, who badly needs an elixir but finally departs with some tea. By contrast, Alex and new police officer Jack Frazier hit it off, but their relationship is taxed when he arrests Lidia after Randy is found fatally poisoned by deadly nightshade berries. Furious, Alex decides to look into the case herself. After all, Randy’s widow, Stephanie, stands to inherit millions; his business partner, Edwin Kenley, was angry with him; and the wealthy and powerful Wesleys want to buy their business. Alex is astonished when Pepper tells her she’s working on an article claiming the Sobieskis are water witches descended from mermaids. When Lidia is put under house arrest, Alex learns that her relatives really are witches and that she’d be wise to develop some of the powers she inherited from her talented mother. As she begins to investigate the Wesley family, she meets Dylan, a stunningly attractive man who reminds her that they played together as children. The connection’s still there, but she can’t trust him or his steely mother and sister. As she struggles with her powers, Alex can’t talk to Jack about her theories because he’s a nonmagical Mundane, and she puts herself in great danger when she turns up more dangerous secrets. For those who love cozies, romance with an edge, and magical adventures. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list After her father’s death and the loss of her job, Alex Daniels travels to Bellamy Bay, North Carolina, to visit her aunt and cousins, whom she hasn’t seen in more than 20 years. Alex agrees to help out in the family herbal apothecary, and at the shop her Aunt Lidia has a physical argument with local businessman Randy Bennett. When Bennett is found poisoned, Lidia is arrested for the murder. Determined to clear her aunt of the charges, Alex begins her own investigation. She is stunned to learn that she, like her aunt and cousins, is a "water witch," a magical being thought to be descended from mermaids. Combining her fledgling magical powers and standard investigative techniques, Alex uncovers long-buried secrets and identifies additional suspects, including members of the powerful Wesley family, also with magical powers. This cozy, with its well-developed characters and charming seaside setting, and framed by plant and mermaid lore, will appeal to those who enjoy stories with a touch of magic.

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

Library Journal Aleksandra Daniels's father would never let her visit her mother's hometown of Bellamy Bay, NC. But now that she's alone in the world and unemployed, she accepts an invitation from her Aunt Lidia and cousins. Alex has the time to help with the family business, an herbal apothecary. But when Alex's cousin makes a mistake in the shop, Alex sees her aunt slam a man against the wall in a rage. When he's murdered, Aunt Lidia is arrested, and the local gossip column talks about mysterious powers and witches. Alex had no idea she's descended from Polish water witches, nor did she know her mother was the most powerful of them all. Now, though, she jumps in to save Lidia and find the true killer. However, enemies with their own powerful magic oppose the search, and the endangered Alex is unprepared to use her newfound gifts. VERDICT As an amateur sleuth, Alex is awkward and too pushy for a newcomer in town. However, flaws in her character may be overlooked because of the unique background of Polish history and magic. Fans of Ellery Adams's mysteries will want to try this one.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

(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 The Cruel Prince
by Black, Holly

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 Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons.
by Laura Purdie Salas

Publishers Weekly Organized in four sections beginning with spring, Salas's lovely haiku are written in the voices of animals and organic or inanimate objects related to the seasons. "Fire in our bellies,/ we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight-/ rich meadow of stars," speak the summer's fireflies. Each haiku contains a riddle element-readers must guess the narrator (in an author's note, Salas refers to the form as a "riddle-ku"). It's not always clear who, or what, is speaking, but LA3pez's evocative acrylics visually communicate the imagery within the poems. "I'm a WRIGGLING tube,/ soft underground tunneler-/ I fear early birds," one announces. The small bird hovering over a hole clues readers in to the speaker's identity: a worm. The book's meditative tone and resonant images invite readers to embrace new ways of seeing the world around them. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Divided into four sections by season, these "riddle-ku" poems use innovative language to represent something traditionally associated with each one. (For back-to-school in fall, for example: what is "a yellow train / carrying thoughts from your brain / to the waiting page?" A pencil.) In addition to helping readers solve the puzzles, the supporting acrylic and digital illustrations capture movement and texture through strong lines and seasonal hues. (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.

Kirkus In this spirited collaboration, Salas and Lpez present 24 suggestive poetic snapshots chronicling the cycle of a year. Highlighting season-appropriate objects for spring, fall, summer, and winter, Salas magnifies the spareness of the haiku form by turning each concentrated first-person portrait into a riddle as she tantalizingly omits naming the subject describing itself. Meanwhile Lpez offers young and pre-readers florid visual hints, depicting in deft brush strokes and lush colors the author's hidden subjects. Combined, these artists render objects gentle as summer's fireflies ("fire in our bellies / we FLICKER-FLASH in twilight / rich meadow of stars") or winter's snowflakes ("I'm cold confetti / falling from a crystal sky, / blanketing the town," here shown as a white-roofed town in a snow globe painted against a wintry verdigris sky spackled with haphazard white blots) or bold as a fall jack-o'-lantern ("I perch on the porch, / spooky face frozen in place, / fire BURNING inside"glowering large with flaming orange eyes as the finger of a ghostly trick-or-treater rings the doorbell in the background). What sets this volume apart from similar haiku explorations of the seasons is the tight synthesis of visual object and oblique verbal depiction, making for both wonderfully contemplative experiences of each illustrated poem and the seamless progression of nature's cycle through the year.Richly rewarding and clever: a visually arresting, inventive treatment of a popular subject. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 1-4-A sleek bird kite flown by a child in springtime kicks off this poetic collection of seasonal objects, animals, and activities. Six poems per season invite audience observation and enjoyment. First-time readers may not realize that each haiku is also a riddle with a list of answers found at the end of the book. Only in her concluding author's note does Salas describe the structure she calls "riddle-ku." Readers are meant to guess the identity of the non-human narrator in each poem. She also notes that the non-human voices make these "mask poems." Simple instructions then encourage readers to compose their own riddle-ku. The expansive acrylic scenes featuring children, animals and/or objects offer visual cues about the narrators. For instance, the leaves talk as a child happily bounces in a pile of them. Salas often sets a playful tone and is adept with language. Her diction and syntax are simple and fun. Paired with other seasonal materials, this book offers ample discussion and teaching opportunities with individual readers or groups. VERDICT This well-crafted work contains versatile possibilities for classrooms and libraries.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston © 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 charming, beautifully illustrated collection, arranged by season, Salas employs a form she calls riddle-ku, a first-person haiku that hints at the speaker, inviting readers to guess its identity, typically an object or being associated with a season. For example, Spring opens with I am a wind bird, / sky skipper, diamond dipper, / DANCING on your string, and López's accompanying illustration depicts a soaring, large, red, bird-shaped kite guided by a boy holding the string below. Summer showcases fireflies, baseball, and fireworks. Fall features a school building ( my first-day outfit / is fresh paint and polished floors / here come my new friends! ), apple picking, and jack-o'-lanterns, while Winter includes snow, ice skates, and a hibernating animal: In fur coat and cave / I exhale white clouds of breath, / DREAM of sun . . . green . . . spring. The eloquent language ranges from philosophical to whimsical, and that tone is reflected in the colorful acrylic paintings, which nicely combine realism and abstract touches and provide visual clues. An author's note offers the inspiration behind her riddle-ku, with encouragement for readers to create their own; an answer key; and a further-reading list. While the riddles' mystique may wane once little ones solve them, the wonderfully evocative, vivid imagery in text and art also make this a welcome addition for poetry classroom units.--Shelle Rosenfeld Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Big Mooncake for Little Star
by Grace Lin

Publishers Weekly Nighttime paintings by Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon) add magic to this fable about why the moon waxes and wanes. The story's events unfold against the velvety black of the night sky as Mama and Little Star, dressed in black pajamas spangled with yellow stars, work on their mooncake (an Asian holiday treat, Lin explains in an author's note) in the kitchen. Mama takes the cake out of the oven and lays it "onto the night sky to cool." She tells Little Star not to touch it, and Little Star attends but awakens in the middle of the night and remembers the cake. A double-page spread shows Little Star's speculative glance on the left and the huge golden mooncake-or is it the round, golden full moon?-on the right. Whichever it is, Little Star takes a nibble from the edge, another the next night, and so on until the moon wanes to a delicate crescent. Lin successfully combines three distinctive and memorable elements: a fable that avoids seeming contrived, a vision of a mother and child living in cozy harmony, and a night kitchen of Sendakian proportions. Ages 4-8. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Little Star's mother admonishes her not to eat the giant mooncake, which she left cooling in the night sky, but Little Star has her own ideas. Little Star makes a mischievous choice. "Yum!" Each night, she wakes from her bed in the sky and nibbles from the giant mooncake. "'Little Star!' her mama said, shaking her head even though her mouth was curving. ' You ate the big mooncake again, didn't you?'" Rather than scolding, Mama responds with a kind offer to bake a new mooncake. Observant eyes will recognize that the final pages showing Little Star and her mama baking a new mooncake are a repeat of the front papers-a purposeful hint that the ritual is repeated monthly as Little Star causes the phases of the moon. Artwork is gouache on watercolor paper. Each page has a glossy black background and small white font. Little Star and her mother have gentle countenances twinkling with merriment. Both wear star-studded black pajamas that are distinguishable from the inky sky only by their yellow stars and the occasional patch of Little Star's exposed tummy. The cherubic Little Star floats through the darkness, her mooncake crumbs leaving a trail of stardust in the sky. VERDICT The relationship between Little Star and her mother offers a message of empowerment and reassurance. Lin's loving homage to the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival is sure to become a bedtime favorite.-Lisa Taylor, Florida State College, Jacksonville © Copyright 2018. 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 Against the backdrop of a black sky, Mama and Little Star bake a giant mooncake. But as she puts the cake out to cool, Mama admonishes her daughter not to touch it. And she doesn't until she wakes up in the night. Then, it's pat, pat, pat over to the mooncake, where she nibbles just a bit. Each night, there's more nibbling, causing the mooncake to change shape, until it's just a crescent. That's when Mama sees what's happened, but she isn't mad. It's just time to make another mooncake. Although the story is slight (and there's no direct aligning of the mooncake with the stages of the moon, either in text or note), the gouache illustrations are excellent. Mother and daughter, both dressed in star-covered black jumpsuits that add bits of light to inky backgrounds, are intriguing characters who come alive through facial expressions. Little Star's impish looks are worth the price of admission. This has no roots in Chinese mythology, Lin says, but she associates it with Asian moon festivals. A complementary read for those holidays.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2018 Booklist

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