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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Like a Love Story
by Abdi Nazemian

Publishers Weekly When Reza, a closeted teen, moves from Toronto to New York City ("by way of Tehran") in 1989, the city feels like the epicenter of the AIDS crisis. In a heart-wrenching and bittersweet unfolding of events, he gravitates toward Art, the only openly gay student at his school, and to Art's best friend, Judy, who represents everything he feels that he should desire. Though Reza tries his hardest to keep his attractions secret, dating Judy despite his chemistry with Art, he finds that he can't live a lie, whatever that might cost him. A first-person narrative moves among the three characters as they discover their inner truths at a time that sometimes feels apocalyptic for their community and loved ones. Under the nurturing guidance of Judy's gay activist uncle, the characters subtly investigate different family dynamics. The intense and nuanced emotions evoked by the characters' journeys help to give this powerful novel by Nazemian (The Authentics) a timeless relevance. Ages 13-up. Agent: Curtis Brown, Curtis Brown Ltd. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus At the height of the 1980s AIDS crisis, three teens grapple with love and friendship.Raised in Tehran, then Toronto, Reza is living in New York City with his mother and new stepfather and stepbrother. Though he is attracted to men, he is paralyzingly afraid of AIDS, equating being gay with death. Judy, who loves fashion, is best friends with Art, the only out student at their school, and both are bullied by fat-shaming, homophobic peers. United in their love for Judy's uncle Stephen, who is gay and has AIDSand whom Art sees as a father figurethey become involved in AIDS advocacy. After meeting Reza, the duo find that they are both attracted to him, their friendship strained when Reza and Judy start datingdespite Art and Reza's undeniable chemistry. In a tribute to gay culture icons, the book depicts the social and political climate of the time in vivid detail, capturing the dichotomy between fear and love and, finally, acceptance. The lack of clinical trials for women and people of color, safe sex, and heteronormativity are highlighted in a nondidactic way along with the legacy of the 1980s gay community, the devastation of HIV/AIDS, present-day joy, and continued violence toward the queer community. Reza and his family are Persian, and Art, Judy, and their families are assumed white. Despite an abrupt ending, a truly lovely romance to cherish.Deeply moving. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Judy and Art are best friends. That means Judy is always in his corner when their homophobic classmates harass him and Art would never do anything to hurt her. Which is why things get very complicated when he starts to fall for her new boyfriend, Reza. And they get even more complicated when Reza admits he's fallen for Art, too. This is a beautifully written exploration of first love's fragility in the face of a world full of hate and fear. But just as compelling is its look into a friendship that isn't shattered by a betrayal; instead, its cracks are revealed as two friends grow into the people they're meant to be. Nazemian (The Authentics, 2017) paints a picture of late '80s queer life in New York City that's neither romanticized nor viewed as only tragic. Judy's relationship with her uncle, who is living with AIDS, is important but it's his relationship with Art, as a person who can give him the love and acceptance he doesn't find at home, as well as an education in what it means to be part of the LGBTQ community, that is truly powerful. Nazemian's latest will remind readers that first love is isolating and unifying, exhilarating and terrifying, and every paradox in between.--Molly Horan Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Bear Came Along
by Richard T. Morris

Publishers Weekly What begins as a solo log ride down a river for Bear turns into a group adventure as new forest animals join the pileup hurtling through the water. Each has a different approach to the wild ride: the turtles worry about what could go wrong, while the raccoons delight in the "twists and turns." All are surprised, though, when they realize where they're headed: a waterfall, which, after a dramatic plunge, lands them in a calm, communal pool. Text by Morris (Fear the Bunny) bounces along with appealing repetition and rhythm, but it's cleverly designed illustrations by Pham (Stop That Yawn!) that make this offering a standout choice for reading aloud. Varying perspectives amplify both the drama and the humor, particularly in wordless scenes that move from the vertiginous animals'-eye-view to their comically shocked faces to an aerial image that emphasizes how far the drop will be. And the forest's gradual color shifts, from muted grays to the brilliant hues in the final scene, echo the story's underlying message: connecting with others makes life richer, more vibrant, and a lot more fun. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Alice Tasman, Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. Illustrator's agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt Literary Agency. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2–The dramatic cover, featuring a large hand-lettered title and a close-up of an alarmed-looking bear, sets the stage for a spirited adventure. Venturing out of his cave, a curious bear climbs out on a tree that breaks off and falls into a river. Starting what becomes a natural "log flume" ride, Bear initially moves slowly, picking up Froggy and the Turtles, then a string of various animals. Each creature gains specific knowledge through the quest. Bear doesn't know he was on an adventure until he finds Froggy. Froggy doesn't realize she has friends, until the Turtles join them, etc. Watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations are well-designed to expand the text, using each animal's expressions and body language to convey their individual roles. Front and back end pages both act as maps of the river, but also provide an introduction and an epilogue to the tale. A dramatic spread, positioned from the animals' point of view, shows them on the edge of a precipice about to take the plunge. A page turn shifts to a facing view and all the creatures' wide-eyed expressions. One more turn pulls the focus out to long range, showcasing the river, the drop, and the animals perched precariously. As they fall, however, their expressions are mostly cheerful, then exuberant, ending with "Oh, what a ride!" VERDICT Full of messages about seizing the day and learning from one another, this jaunty tale and its large-scale, immersive pictures expansively invite readers to come along, too.—Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA

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

Book list A big brown bear doesn't know what a river can do until he falls in. As the water rushes on and he floats away on a log, Bear inadvertently finds a number of new friends. A frog hops on his head, turtles climb aboard, a beaver and raccoons drop in, and the whole gang crashes into a flock of ducks. All the while, the river is twisting and turning and heading for a deep-drop waterfall. The two-page spread in which the animals observe their fate is priceless, varying between uncertainty and shock. But the fall turns out to be much more delightful than anticipated, with even more new friends appearing. Anyone who fondly remembers the similarly themed Little Golden Book Big Brown Bear (and everyone else!) will have warm feelings toward this river-­riding fellow who isn't expecting what he finds but embraces the experience and happily accepts the friendships that come along with it. Pham's artwork here is delightful as she paints between the lines of sensational and silly. Her vivid colorings and imaginative design command attention, as does her focus on the blue water, which swirls and whirls with both fun and purpose. Most important, she uses her watercolor, ink, and gouache artwork to build the simple story to (mixing metaphors here) a breath-holding cliff-hanger. Perfect for listeners in story hours or on laps.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Horn Book This boisterous adventure is about discovery and friendships forged when least expected--all in the form of a wild log-ride. A river "didnt know it was a river" until...Bear shows up. Bear doesn't know he's on an adventure until...a frog leaps onto his head. And so it goes until...the animals plummet over a waterfall in an exhilarating vertical spread. Pham's illustrations have a 1980s-cartoon feel yet remain fresh. (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 A succession of forest creaturesand even the river itselflearn from one another and validate their relationships with both one another and the wider world.The simplicity of the text and the stylized, comical creatures belie the depth of the message that comes through for even the youngest of readers: We are all in this together, and our differences strengthen our unity. The river "didn't know it was a riveruntil" Bear accidentally begins riding down it on a piece of broken tree trunk. Bear in turn doesn't realize he is on an adventure until Froggy lands on his back; lonely Froggy doesn't know how many friends she has until the wary Turtles show up on the ever-more-swiftly-moving log; the Turtles learn how to enjoy the ride when Beaver climbs aboard; and so on through several more characters until they are all at the brink of a waterfall. Outstanding art perfectly complements the text, showing the animals' differing personalities while also using color, space, and patterns to create appealing scenery. There are several hilarious double-page spreads, including one from the animals' collective perspective, showing solely the various feet on the tree-trunk-cum-raft at the waterfall's edge, and one requiring a 90-degree turn, showing the plummeting animals as they reach for one anothersome looking worried and others, like Duck and Beaver, obviously enjoying the sudden drop.To quote one particularly joyous double-page spread, "Oh, what a ride!" (author's note, illustrator's note) (Picture book. 2-5) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom

Publishers Weekly Metis/Ojibwe author Lindstrom (Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle) honors those who fight to protect the Earth’s fresh water. The words are spoken by a child who’s shown first with her grandmother: “Water is the first medicine.... Water is sacred,” the white-haired woman tells her. Bold strokes of light, limpid color wash across layered spreads by Tlingit and Haida artist Goade (Encounter). The girl tells of the arrival of an oil pipeline, the “black snake” that will “spoil the water./ Poison plants and animals./ Wreck everything in its path.” The half-bleached figures of a bird and a fish lie next to the pipeline leaking black sludge. “The plants, trees, rivers, lakes...”—Goade pulls back to view the Earth from space studded with stars—“We are all related.” Observation is not enough, the book communicates: action is necessary. And the girl doesn’t just participate in protest; she stands at the front, carrying a feather in one hand, as other protestors answer her call. “We are water protectors. WE STAND!” An author’s note traces the story’s genesis to the 2016 Standing Rock protests in the Dakotas. A passionate call for environmental stewardship. Ages 3–6. Author’s agent: Kathleen Rushall, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Kirsten Hall, Catbird Productions. (Mar.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—From swirling, detailed watercolor illustrations to lyrical text with the refrain, "We stand with our songs and our drums. We are still here," this title explores the Indigenous fight to protect water from pollution. A young Anishinaabe girl explains the prophecy of the black snake "that will destroy the land. Spoil the water. Poison plants and animals. Wreck everything in its path." The unnamed girl calls for action to protect all living things and "fight for those who cannot fight for themselves." The illustrations use rich colors and shading to show the intricate connection among all living creatures. A broken pipeline leaks into blue waters, turning fish and fowl into skeletons. Ghosts of ancestors surround children as an elder tells them the black snake prophecy. Black pipelines form the body of the snake on a red background, its mouth open and ready to strike. The author and illustrator notes focus on the need to protect water, and explain events at Standing Rock, where tribal members and their allies fought against an oil pipeline. A glossary of terms is provided, and the last page has an "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge" for readers to sign. VERDICT An accessible introduction to environmental issues combined with beautiful illustrations, this book will both educate and inspire youth. First purchase for all libraries.—Tamara Saarinen, Pierce County Library, WA

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

Horn Book The book opens with a young Indigenous girl collecting water with her grandmother, who tells her that "water is the first medicine." Vibrant blues, greens, and purples depict the river as it flows in the background of the beautifully composed spread. The river then flows onto the next spread, encircling a mother and her unborn child. The water "nourished us inside our mother's body. As it nourishes us here on Mother Earth." With every page-turn, the river continues to flow; it becomes the young girl's hair as she leads members of her community to where the "black snake" threatens to take over their land and water. The refrain "We stand / With our songs / And our drums / We are still here," which punctuates and strengthens the main text, is printed in italics and can easily be read as the voice of the community come together. The book closes with members of multiple Native communities united at Standing Rock to stop the "black snake." Back matter includes more information about water protection and Standing Rock; a glossary of Ojibwe, Tlingit, and Lakota words; an illustrator's note; and an "Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge. (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.

Kirkus In this tribute to Native resilience, Indigenous author-and-illustrator team Lindstrom and Goade invite readers to stand up for environmental justice. "Water is the first medicine," a young, unnamed protagonist reflects as she wades into a river with her grandmother. "We come from water." Stunning illustrations, rich in symbolism from the creators' respective Ojibwe and Tlingit/Haida lineages, bring the dark-haired, brown-skinned child's narrative to life as she recounts an Anishinaabe prophecy: One day, a "black snake" will terrorize her community and threaten water, animals, and land. "Now the black snake is here," the narrator proclaims, connecting the legend to the present-day threat of oil pipelines being built on Native lands. Though its image is fearsome, younger audiences aren't likely to be frightened due to Goade's vibrant, uplifting focus on collective power. Awash in brilliant colors and atmospheric studies of light, the girl emphasizes the importance of protecting "those who cannot fight for themselves" and understanding that on Earth, "we are all related." Themes of ancestry, community responsibility, and shared inheritance run throughout. Where the brave protagonist is depicted alongside her community, the illustrations feature people of all ages, skin tones, and clothing styles. Lindstrom's powerful message includes non-Native and Native readers alike: "We are stewards of the Earth. We are water protectors." An inspiring call to action for all who care about our interconnected planet. (author's note, glossary, illustrator's note, Water Protector pledge) (Picture book. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list An Indigenous girl explains why water is sacred, before she speaks of the foretold black snake that will destroy the land, referring to the polluting oil pipelines that course through the earth. The girl then casts fear aside, crying, Take courage! as she marches forward, rallying her people to defend their village and their planet. Goade's watercolor illustrations fill the spreads with streaming ribbons of water, cosmic backdrops, and lush natural landscapes, sometimes intercut by the harsh red that comes with the black snake depicted literally, towering over people of many nations, who link hands in solidarity. Lindstrom's spare, poetic text flows with the river's rhythm, periodically stopping to beat out the refrain, We stand / With our songs / And our drums. / We are still here. Written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, famously protested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others, these pages carry grief, but it is overshadowed by hope in what is an unapologetic call to action. While the text draws on specific cultural beliefs, its argument is universal: We are stewards of the Earth. Back matter includes notes from both author and illustrator, and the final page offers a pledge that readers may choose to recite, sign, and date to affirm their commitment to the cause. A beautiful tribute and powerful manifesto.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2020 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Billy Summers
by Stephen King

Publishers Weekly Ex-Army sniper turned hit man Billy Summers, the protagonist of this tripwire-taut thriller from MWA Grand Master King (Later), who views himself as “a garbageman with a gun,” decides his 18th assassination will be his last. But he rightly smells something fishy in the promised $2 million payout and runs rogue when things go south with his employers. Matters get complicated when a rape victim whose life he saves becomes his confidante and a participant in his plans to get even. King meticulously lays out the details of Billy’s trade, his Houdini-style escapes, and his act to look simpler than he is, but the novel’s main strength is a story within a story: as he preps for months in the small town “east of the Mississippi and just south of the Mason-Dixon Line” where the hit will happen, Billy, masquerading as a novelist, writes his lightly fictionalized autobiography, which grows more candid as it inches closer to current events and illustrates a line he remembers from a Tim O’Brien interview that fiction “was the way to the truth.” This is another outstanding outing from a writer who consistently delivers more than his readers expect. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.Hes not a normal person. Hes a hired assassin, and if he doesnt think like who and what he is, hell never get clear. So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun whos been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War whos seen friends blown to pieces; hes perhaps numbed by PTSD, but hes goal-oriented. Hes also a readerZolas novel Thrse Raquin figures as a MacGuffinwhich sets his employers wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend hes a writer while hes waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldnt be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, theres a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. Its no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young womanAliceafter shes been roofied and raped. Billys revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: He doesnt know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks its good, King writes of one days output. And good that its awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because thats a writers thought. Billys art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over. That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billys battered copy of Zolas book plays a part, too.Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller. “He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too. Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt De La Pena

Publishers Weekly Like still waters, de la Peña (A Nation's Hope) and Robinson's (Gaston) story runs deep. It finds beauty in unexpected places, explores the difference between what's fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared by an African-American boy and his grandmother. On Sunday, CJ and Nana don't go home after church like everybody else. Instead, they wait for the Market Street bus. "How come we don't got a car?" CJ complains. Like many children his age, CJ is caught up in noticing what other people have and don't have; de la Peña handles these conversations with grace. "Boy, what do we need a car for?" she responds. "We got a bus that breathes fire, and old Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you." (The driver obliges by pulling a coin out of CJ's ear.) When CJ wishes for a fancy mobile music device like the one that two boys at the back of the bus share, Nana points out a passenger with a guitar. "You got the real live thing sitting across from you." The man begins to play, and CJ closes his eyes. "He was lost in the sound and the sound gave him the feeling of magic." When the song's over, the whole bus applauds, "even the boys in the back." Nana, readers begin to sense, brings people together wherever she goes. Robinson's paintings contribute to the story's embrace of simplicity. His folk-style figures come in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, his urban landscape accented with flying pigeons and the tracery of security gates and fire escapes. At last, CJ and Nana reach their destination-the neighborhood soup kitchen. Nana's ability to find "beautiful where he never even thought to look" begins to work on CJ as the two spot people they've come to know. "I'm glad we came," he tells her. Earlier, Nana says that life in the deteriorated neighborhood makes people "a better witness for what's beautiful." This story has the same effect. Ages 3-5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list CJ and his nana depart church and make it to the bus stop just in time to avoid an oncoming rain shower. They board the bus, and while CJ is full of questions and complaints (why don't they have a car? why must they make this trip every week? and so forth), Nana's resolute responses articulate the glories of their rich, vibrant life in the city, as presented by the bus' passengers and passages. A tattooed man checks his cell phone. An older woman keeps butterflies in a jar. A musician tunes and plays his guitar. At last the pair arrive at the titular destination and proceed to the soup kitchen where, upon recognizing friendly faces, CJ is glad they came to help. Robinson's bright, simple, multicultural figures, with their rounded heads, boxy bodies, and friendly expressions, contrast nicely with de la Peña's lyrical language, establishing a unique tone that reflects both CJ's wonder and his nana's wisdom. The celebratory warmth is irresistible, offering a picture of community that resonates with harmony and diversity.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-After church on Sundays, CJ and his nana wait for the bus. It's a familiar routine, but this week CJ is feeling dissatisfied. As they travel to their destination, the boy asks a series of questions: "How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?" "Nana, how come we don't got a car?" "How come we always gotta go here after church?" CJ is envious of kids with cars, iPods, and more freedom than he has. With each question, Nana points out something for CJ to appreciate about his life: "Boy, what do we need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fire." These gentle admonishments are phrased as questions or observations rather than direct answers so that CJ is able to take ownership of his feelings. After they exit the bus, CJ wonders why this part of town is so run-down, prompting Nana to reply, "Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful." The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner. Robinson's flat, blocky illustrations are simple and well composed, seemingly spare but peppered with tiny, interesting details. Ultimately, their destination is a soup kitchen, and CJ is glad to be there. This is an excellent book that highlights less popular topics such as urban life, volunteerism, and thankfulness, with people of color as the main characters. A lovely title.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN (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.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Meanest Thing to Say
by Bill Cosby

School Library Journal K-Gr 3?Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers?but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.?Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY (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.

Book list Gr. 2^-4, younger for reading aloud. As Oprah fans will already know, Winfrey has chosen these titles as recent book club selections. With all the great children's writers out there, it's too bad that Bill Cosby is her author of choice, but these beginning chapter books are serviceable, if on the didactic side. In Play, Little Bill wants a $50 video game but finds that he can have more fun making up a game with his friends. Meanest Thing, the best book of the trio, shows how to handle kids who call names (keep saying, "So?"). Hunt is about Little Bill's finding out what he likes to do best. The collage-style artwork is particularly nice here. Vibrant colors and interesting shapes combine in some wonderfully eye-catching spreads. Normally, these wouldn't be a first choice for purchase, but never underestimate the power of Oprah. Even six-year-olds may be coming in to request these. --Ilene Cooper

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

Horn Book Fiction: Y Horn Rating: Marginal, seriously flawed, but with some redeeming quality. Reviewed by: jch (c) Copyright 2010. 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.

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