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Click to search this book in our catalog Gift of the Magpie
by Donna Andrews

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslow’s Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers. Unlike Meg, who’s surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphilly’s somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuff—objects of dubious value he can’t bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harvey’s only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harvey’s for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right. Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbi’s wife gets a cameo. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus Ornamental blacksmith/general do-gooder Meg Langslows Christmas activities entangle her with a fellow resident of Caerphilly, Virginia, whose domestic life is even more chaotic than hers.Unlike Meg, whos surrounded by members of her own cheerfully argumentative family as well as the Shiffleys, Caerphillys somewhat more benign version of the Snopeses, Harvey Dunlop has chosen to surround himself with stuffobjects of dubious value he cant bring himself to throw out. So Meg, her friend Caroline Willner, Meredith Flugleman of Adult Protective Services, and other concerned members of Helping Hands for the Holidays have banded together to strong-arm, er, help and encourage him to go through his house with a shovel and relocate his treasures to an empty building Randall Shiffley owns in the hope of deep-cleaning the house and then urging Harvey to move on without moving his prized junk back in. Except for the unwelcome appearance of Morris, Ernest, and Josephine Haverhill, the cousins who seem to be Harveys only living relatives, the preliminaries go well. But when Meg shows up at Harveys for the main event in the decluttering marathon, her host is unresponsive, brained with a spittoon in his garage. As Harvey hovers between life and death, Meg plunges into his family history to uncover a motive for the murderous attack. Readers patient enough to wait for any mystery, or for that matter any significant conflict, to develop will be rewarded when their own suspicions about whodunit are proved exactly right.Andrews lays on the good cheer with a trowel. Even the rabbis wife gets a cameo. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The Christmas spirit suffuses bestseller Andrews’s atmospheric 28th Meg Langslow mystery (after The Falcon Always Rings Twice). During the holiday season, Meg is the project manager for Helping Hands, “a sort of Make-A-Wish program for grownups,” in Caerphilly, Va. Her volunteers step in to assist citizens with anything that needs doing, including sourcing organic manure and rounding up experienced quilters. The main task at the moment is helping Harvey Dunlop (aka Harvey the Hoarder). Harvey’s conniving cousins and rapacious neighbors have filed complaints with the town council about the unkempt appearance of his home. It falls to Meg and her crew to declutter and repair the property. After only one day of packing up debris and possible treasure, Meg arrives to find Harvey lying in a pool of blood on his garage floor. He’s rushed to the hospital, where he’s declared dead. Never mind the slight murder investigation that ensues. Caerphilly, with its endearing residents, is the kind of place every cozy fan would like to escape to during stressful times. Andrews consistently entertains. Agent: Ellen Geiger, Frances Goldin Literary. (Oct.)

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Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

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

Book list With Christmas fast approaching, Meg Langslow’s house is full of visiting relatives, and she is in charge of Caerphilly’s Helping Hands for the Holidays, where neighbors volunteer to help those who need assistance with projects, from building a handicapped ramp to finishing a quilt. Their biggest challenge to date is to declutter hoarder Harvey Dunlop’s home before the authorities move in in response to the complaints from his neighbors and the feigned concern of his cousins. The project is progressing well when Meg finds Harvey in his garage, badly injured. Meg and the other volunteers are saddened when Harvey dies, convinced he was in the process of turning his life around. Suspects include Harvey’s neighbors, his cousins, and a woman who claims to be Harvey’s girlfriend. Meg assists Chief Burke with his investigation, and, with the support of friends and family, she uncovers the killer. Framed by the warmth of the holiday season, this satisfying entry in the long-running cozy series delights with humor, familiar quirky characters, and a Christmas miracle.

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

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The crossover
by by Kwame Alexander

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. 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 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © Copyright 2016. 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 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. 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 A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. 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.

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Across the Bay
by Carlos Aponte

Book list Carlitos lives with his mother and his abuela in Cataño, Puerto Rico. Though he's happy in his cozy house, his family is different because his father is gone, living somewhere across the bay in San Juan. An idea forms: he'll bring a photo of his father and take the ferry to the capital. He shows the picture to strangers, and some offer suggestions. He wanders until the only place left to look is the El Morro castle. But there's no Papi, and his photo is lost. The kind words of a park ranger offer solace: no matter the dark clouds, the sun will eventually return. Aponte does a fine job of taking on a poignant problem without overwhelming the story with sadness. Much of the heavy lifting is done by the effusive art, done in the style of mid-century artwork, with thick lines around fancifully shaped characters, including hidden gems like the cats that follow Carlitos. The lushly colored art is suffused with an animation that reminds readers that life is always moving, a good lesson for any age group.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Aponte (A Season to Bee) unmistakably writes from the heart in this story rooted in his childhood in Puerto Rico. Located across the bay from Old San Juan, Carlitos’s hometown of Cataño, where he lives with his loving mother and abuela, is ablaze with flowers and fruit trees—vibrantly portrayed in fluid, expressive cartoons that capture the tranquility of his village and the vitality of the city beyond. The observation that Carlitos’s family “didn’t look like the others” is confirmed when he and his mother enter a barbershop where other boys wait their turn alongside their fathers, prompting Carlitos to ask, “Mami, where is Papi?” Her response—that he is “across the bay” and that “sometimes things don’t work out”—incites Carlitos to sneak out of the house and ride a ferry to the city, a photo of Papi in his pocket. After no one he asks recognizes the man in the picture, the comforting words of a park ranger and Carlitos’s longing to see his family “calling from across the bay” impel him to return home—contentedly. A reflective, poignant portrait of loss, resilience, and the protean nature of family. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Missing a father in his life, a young boy goes searching for him. Carlitos lives in the town of Cataño in Puerto Rico, a town just across the bay from the capital city of San Juan. Carlitos leads a happy life with his mother, abuela, and cat, Coco. But he doesn't like going to the barbershop, where he feels left out when he sees all of the other boys accompanied by their dads. Knowing his father lives in San Juan, the boy finds an old photo of him, grabs some money, and tiptoes out of the house and to the ferry terminal. Predictably, he doesn't find his father but instead realizes how important the family he does have is to him. Aponte's color-filled illustrations capture the vibrancy and warmth of Carlitos's environment. As the boy walks the streets of San Juan, readers familiar with the city will easily recognize it. The text, however, is inconsistent. For example, the absence of a father is explained as, "most families in Carlitos's town looked the same. His family didn't look like the others." It is also somewhat jarring when the barber greets Carlitos's mother as "Doña Carmen" but she responds with a simple "Francisco." Is she asserting social privilege? VERDICT Though not without flaws, this book with a Puerto Rican setting may be considered as a secondary purchase.—Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ

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

Kirkus Carlitos' yearning for his father takes him on a clandestine solo trip to Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, to find him. In the town of Catao, across the titular bay from the capital, Carlitos lives with his mother, his abuela, and their cat, Coco. Carlitos' "family didn't look like the others." The neighborhood children play basketball, learn to ride a bike, or do housework with their fathers while Carlitos goes to the barbershop with only his mother. When Carlitos asks about Papi's whereabouts, his mother reassures him that his father is across the baythat "sometimes things don't work out." Even though he is happy with his family, a desire for more sets Carlitos on a ferry with Papi's photo in hand. Vibrant illustrations with an inviting tropical palette draw readers in as Carlitos searches high and low for Papi. A refreshingly varied spectrum of brown shades of skin abounds in colorful city scenes. Wide-angle perspectives effectively emphasize emotional scale: the vastness of San Juan Bay, Carlitos' sense of his own smallness as he searches for his father in the "maze" of the old capital, and his despair at his journey's end. Aponte's decision to leave Carlitos' quest unresolved is an honest one, and readers will respond to this beautiful depiction of a young boy's physical and emotional journey within a deeply cultural setting.Shining with palpable pride for family and home. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book Aponte explores a young child's physical and emotional journey coping with his father's absence from his life and learning to love all that is around him. Carlitos lives with his mother, grandmother, and cat in Catano, a town just across the bay from Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now and then, in the streets or at the barbershop, Carlitos notices that there's something "different" about his family. From his mother, the young boy learns that his father lives "across the bay." ("Sometimes things don't work out.") Carlitos decides to hop onto the ferry and travel to Old San Juan with a photo of his dad and the hope of finding him. Through strikingly colorful and vibrant illustrations, Aponte captures the essence of Old San Juan: while Carlitos asks around for his father, readers can see such typical local images as a shaved-ice vendor, a group of cats, old men playing dominoes, the traditional San Sebastian street festival, and people flying kites at El Morro fort. This tale, in which a young boy walks around by himself without anyone knowing, asking, or wondering where his supervising adults are, is based on Aponte's childhood memories of a particular time and place. A lively and honest story about filling voids and exploring what defines a family--as well as a love letter to a childhood home. (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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog My Friend Rabbit
by Eric Rohmann

School Library Journal : PreS-Gr 1-A simple story about Rabbit and Mouse, who, despite Rabbit's penchant for trouble, are friends. When Rabbit launches his toy airplane (with Mouse in the pilot seat at takeoff) and it gets stuck in a tree, he convinces his friend that he will come up with a plan to get it down. He does so by stacking animals on top of one another (beginning with an elephant and a rhinoceros) until they are within reach of the toy. The double-page, hand-colored relief prints with heavy black outlines are magnificent, and children will enjoy the comically expressive pictures of the animals before and after their attempt to extract the plane. The text is minimal; it's the illustrations that are the draw here.-Kristin de Lacoste, South Regional Public Library, Pembroke Pines, FL

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