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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Field Guide to the North American Teenager
by Ben Philippe

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Seventeen-year-old Norris Kaplan has just had his world turned upside-down. When his mother has to relocate to find work in her field, Norris finds his identity as a Black, French-Canadian hockey fan challenged by his new existence in the suburbs of Austin, Texas. While on the surface this is a classic fish-out-of-water tale, there are many more layers to the story. Lots of different elements of identity are brought to bear in Norris's narration: his Haitian/immigrant heritage, racial identity, and viewpoint on American high school stereotypes. The protagonist's smart and funny demeanor will engage readers, even when he makes obviously bad decisions. Norris is particularly adept at letting his assumptions about his peers impact his ability to relate to them as individuals, either as friends or romantically. The authorial decision to have the "outsider" be the character influenced by stereotypes rather than the opposite makes for a very compelling reversal that ultimately works. The unresolved ending allows teens to revel in the messiness of high school social blunders and see the value in doing the hard work of making amends. VERDICT A witty debut with whip-smart dialogue that will find much love among fans of authors like John Green and Jason Reynolds.-Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR © 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.

Kirkus A teenage, not-so-lonely loner endures the wilds of high school in Austin, Texas.Norris Kaplan, the protagonist of Philippe's debut novel, is a hypersweaty, uber-snarky black, Haitian, French-Canadian pushing to survive life in his new school. His professor mom's new tenure-track job transplants Norris mid-school year, and his biting wit and sarcasm are exposed through his cataloging of his new world in a field guide-style burn book. He's greeted in his new life by an assortment of acquaintances, Liam, who is white and struggling with depression; Maddie, a self-sacrificing white cheerleader with a heart of gold; and Aarti, his Indian-American love interest who offers connection. Norris' ego, fueled by his insecurities, often gets in the way of meaningful character development. The scenes showcasing his emotional growth are too brief and, despite foreshadowing, the climax falls flat because he still gets incredible personal access to people he's hurt. A scene where Norris is confronted by his mother for getting drunk and belligerent with a white cop is diluted by his refusal or inability to grasp the severity of the situation and the resultant minor consequences. The humor is spot-on, as is the representation of the black diaspora; the opportunity for broader conversations about other topics is there, however, the uneven buildup of detailed, meaningful exchanges and the glibness of Norris' voice detract.Despite some missteps, this will appeal to readers who enjoy a fresh and realistic teen voice. (Fiction. 13-16) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list For Norris Kaplan, Austin, Texas location of his mother's new professor gig is the antithesis of his true home in Montreal, Canada. Gone are hockey hooligans and routinely spoken French, replaced by relentless heat and the ubiquitous orange of the UT Longhorns. Compounding these differences is the fact that Norris is a black Haitian Canadian kid stuck in cowboy country. He resolves to build a barrier of snark to keep everyone out until he can get back north, where he hopes to reunite with his estranged father. However, Norris doesn't count on falling head over heels for the devilishly mysterious, soulful, and fiery Aarti Puri. Philippe's protagonist is as acerbic as they come, tossing one-liners at breakneck speed. His repartee with other characters, especially his closest friends Liam and Maddie, is hilarious and engaging. These friendships are the most interesting aspect of the book, even over the love story, which has a few twists along the way. Readers looking for a diverse, fun, coming-of-age tale need not look any further than this fantastic debut.--Reinhardt Suarez Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog A Map into the World
by Kao Kalia Yang

School Library Journal Gr 2–5—The world can be a lonely and confusing place, but with the right companionship, it can be more easily navigated. Paj Ntaub and her Hmong family move into a new house with a swing and a garden, just in time to welcome her new baby twin brothers into their home. Her family befriends the elderly couple across the street, often waving back and forth, especially when things are overwhelming inside the houses. Over the winter, the man's wife dies, and when the weather again turns warm, Paj Ntaub executes a brave and insightful plan to reach out to her grieving neighbor. Written in a simple style with lyrical phrases peppered throughout, the heartfelt narrative allows readers to appreciate the depth the child's musings. The endpapers showcase a story cloth depicting how the Hmong people came to America. Beautiful, detailed illustrations are rich in color, texture, and emotion, lifting the story off the page; an emotional ending will leave tears in the eyes of some readers. VERDICT This is an excellent addition to elementary school libraries, especially as an enhancement to selections about intergenerational love and acceptance, and immigration stories about bridging cultures.—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver Public Library

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

Horn Book A Hmong American family--mother, father, Tais Tais (grandmother), and little girl--moves into a cozy house across the street from a loving elderly couple, Bob and Ruth. The girl's twin baby brothers are born; the seasons pass; the outdoor landscape changes; and in wintertime Ruth dies. When spring comes, Bob takes his seat on the "special bench" that he and Ruth had shared; it's clear that he is grieving, and the little girl uses her skill with sidewalk chalk--and her great compassion--to brighten up his outlook and their neighborhood. Yang's story is an understated (if somewhat sentimental) snapshot of family life over the course of a quietly transformative year. The text is straightforward and spare, with touches of lyricism ("The house across the street looked empty. The gingko trees reached for the sky with their thin fingers"). Culturally specific details are naturally incorporated into the text and into the textured, delicate-lined, digitally created illustrations. A brief glossary on the copyright page explains that the protagonist's name, Paj Ntaub, is both a girl's name and the word for the traditional needlework often used to create story cloths like the one hanging on the family's wall (also shown in close-up detail on the endpapers), "which visually represent and document the experiences of the Hmong people across time, including families' journeys as refugees. (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 A young Hmong American girl shares the small things of wonder that make up her world.When Paj Ntaub moves into a new green house with big windows with her family, the garden grows with "tomatoes, green beans, and a watermelon as round as my mother's belly." Soon, the green house becomes their house. Paj Ntaub helps "Tais Tais hang the special story cloth about how the Hmong got to America." She exchanges waves with her neighbors Bob and Ruth, an elderly white couple even older than Tais Tais. And changing seasons usher in life and death. In gentle prose, Yang's picture-book debut explores nature, community, and connection. Twin brothers are born amid the summer bounty in the garden. On a snowy, cold morning, loss arrives, and bare gingko trees "[reach] for the sky with their thin fingers" against the new emptiness of the house across the street. When the world becomes green again, Paj Ntaub draws together these connections in a neighborly gesture of comfort. Using digital graphite, pastels, watercolor, and scanned handmade textures, Kim brings detailed dimension to the green house and the world around it. Alternating perspectives capture the expansiveness of the outside as well as the intimacy of Paj Ntaub's observations.Contemplative, curious, and kind. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Yang (The Song Poet for adults), a Hmong writer making her picture book debut, offers a story about a girl who notices things. Young Paj Ntaub (both a girl’s name and a term that nods to needlework tellings of Hmong experiences) moves with her family to a green house and helps to hang their story cloth “about how the Hmong got to America” on the wall. When her twin baby brothers cry too loudly, her father takes her outside, where they wave to their elderly neighbors, Bob and Ruth. In lovingly detailed spreads, Kim, making her U.S. debut, draws all the things that Paj Ntaub sees: gingko leaves (“yellow like apricots”), winter snow, a worm. When Ruth dies in the winter, and Paj Ntaub notices Bob grieving come spring, she chalks a wealth of previously regarded details on his driveway—“a map into the world,” she explains. Though age separates them, Paj Ntaub’s accounting of everyday details reaches Bob—and gives voice to the child’s experience, too. A distinctive story that weaves together threads of family life, community and culture, the natural world, and the power of stories. Ages 7–8. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A year brings many changes to a Hmong girl's world. Paj Ntaub and her family move to their house in the summer, when her mother's belly is round with twins and the garden is flourishing. Across the street live Ruth and Bob, an elderly couple with whom they exchange friendly waves. The seasons change, twins are born, and Ruth dies. To comfort Bob, Paj Ntaub makes a chalk drawing on his driveway that features elements from her year and nods to the story cloth her family keeps that commemorates their journey to America. Although readers see the story cloth on the wall and at the end, what it details is never really explained, though a brief note on the copyright page describes what it is and who the Hmong people are. This is more of a relationship story, showing how Paj Ntaub engages with her brothers and grandmother and how neighboring families come together when sadness strikes. Kim's digital artwork using pastels, graphite, watercolors, and hand-scanned textures captures the warmth of family, the charm of changing seasons, and the depth of friendships.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Joseph Had a Little Overcoat
by Simms Taback

Publishers Weekly : As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coat--a button--and decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Pre-Gr 3-A book bursting at the seams with ingenuity and creative spirit. When Joseph's overcoat becomes "old and worn," he snips off the patches and turns it into a jacket. When his jacket is beyond repair, he makes a vest. Joseph recycles his garments until he has nothing left. But by trading in his scissors for a pen and paintbrush he creates a story, showing "you can always make something out of nothing." Clever die-cut holes provide clues as to what Joseph will make next: windowpanes in one scene become a scarf upon turning the page. Striking gouache, watercolor, and collage illustrations are chock-full of witty details-letters to read, proverbs on the walls, even a fiddler on the roof. Taback adapted this tale from a Yiddish folk song and the music and English lyrics are appended. The rhythm and repetition make it a perfect storytime read-aloud.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog David and Goliath
by Malcolm Gladwell

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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Horsewoman
by James Patterson and Mike Lupica

Library Journal In the No. 1 New York Times best-selling Chamberlain's The Last House on the Street, Kayla Carter is mourning the husband who died building their dream house in a North Carolina community as warnings from not one but two older women not to move into the house eventually lead to a story of prejudice and violence that rocked the community a half-century earlier (150,000-copy first printing). A librarian like her creator, debut novelist Jurczyk, Liesl Weiss is shocked to discover that a valuable manuscript has gone missing from The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections but is told not to raise a ruckus—but she starts investigating when a colleague goes missing as well. Getting readied for television by the BBC, May's debut novel, Wahala ("trouble"), features three British Nigerian women whose close friendship is blown to bits when a glamorous and ultimately venomous outsider insinuates herself into the group. In No. 1 New York Times best-selling Mitchard's The Good Son, Thea Demetriou must find a way to support her son emotionally when he returns home from prison after having committed a heinous crime. Patterson and Lupica join forces with The Horsewoman, the story of a mother and daughter who are both champion riders—and are up against each other in competitons leading to the Paris Olympics. In Shalvis's series starter, The Family You Make, Jane is dangerously stranded on a ski lift with Levi Cutler, who impulsively tells his parents by cellphone that she is his girlfriend—a charade she agrees to keep up when she finds herself falling for him and his warm, embracing family. Sorell follows up her well-rendered small-press debut, Mothers and Other Strangers, with Three Wise Women: an officious advice columnist and her two troubled adult daughters. In Steel's latest, a young woman who survived a neglectful childhood by hunkering down can remain Invisible no longer when her dream of becoming a film director unexpectedly puts her in front of the camera. Revisiting Perdita Street, the setting of Wiggs's beloved The Lost and Found Bookstore, Sugar and Salt makes love bloom between San Francisco baker Jerome "Sugar" Barnes and barbecue master Molly Salton, trying to forget an unhappy past in Texas.

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Kira-Kira
by Cynthia Kadohata

Horn Book Katie Takeshima's first-person voice is compelling and often quietly humorous as she describes her family's move from Iowa to Georgia and her older sister's subsequent struggle with lymphoma. Katie's shrewd descriptions of people make startlingly vivid this novel that captures both the specific experience of being Japanese American in the 1950s and the wider experience of coping with illness and loss. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

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

Kirkus Katie loves and admires her older sister, Lynn, only to lose her in this story that reads like a memoir about a Japanese-American family in the 1950s. Built around the loss of Lynn to lymphoma, it belongs to Katie and stays true to her perspective. The supporting cast of extended family and friends also fits within Katie's vision of life. Humor keeps the depth of sadness at bay as Katie reports events: "If a robber came to our apartment, I would hit him over the head with a lamp. So I didn't need a bank, personally." Starting out in Iowa, the family moves to Georgia; both parents work long hours in the poultry industry to buy and then pay for a house of their own. Kadohata weaves details of life for a Japanese-American family into the narrative along with Lynn and Katie's gradual acquirement of understanding of the dominant culture around them. The vivid writing and the portrayal of a most loving and honorable father lift this above the norm. "Kira-kira" is Japanese for glittering, and Kadohata's Katie sparkles. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 6-8-Katie's first word is "kira-kira," the Japanese word for "glittering," and she uses it to describe everything she likes. It was taught to her by her older sister, Lynn, whom Katie worships. Both girls have trouble adjusting when their parents move the family from Iowa to a small town in rural Georgia, where they are among only 31 Japanese-Americans. They seldom see their parents, who have grueling jobs in chicken-processing plants. Then Lynn becomes deathly ill, and Katie is often left to care for her, a difficult and emotionally devastating job. When her sister dies of lymphoma, Katie searches for ways to live up to her legacy and to fulfill the dreams she never had a chance to attain. Told from Katie's point of view and set in the 1950s, this beautifully written story tells of a girl struggling to find her own way in a family torn by illness and horrendous work conditions. Katie's parents can barely afford to pay their daughter's medical bills, yet they refuse to join the growing movement to unionize until after Lynn's death. All of the characters are believable and well developed, especially Katie, who acts as a careful observer of everything that happens in her family, even though there is a lot she doesn't understand. Especially heartbreaking are the weeks leading up to Lynn's death, when Katie is exhausted and frustrated by the demands of her sister's illness, yet willing to do anything to make her happy. Girls will relate to and empathize with the appealing protagonist.-Ashley Larsen, Woodside Library, CA (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. 6-12.atie Takeshima worships her older sister, Lynn, who knows everything and takes care ofatie while their parents are working long hours in their small Georgia town in the late 1950s. It's Lynn who showsatie the glittering beauty (kira-kira) of the stars and who preparesatie for the prejudice she will encounter as one of the fewapanese American kids in their school. But whenatie is 10, Lynn, 14, falls ill, and everything changes. Slowly the roles are reversed;atie becomes caregiver and does what Lynn has taught her. There's no surprise. It's clear that Lynn will die, andatie goes through all the stages of grief. The real story is in the small details, never self-consciously poetic but tense with family drama. In her first novel for young people,adohata stays true to the child's viewpoint in plain, beautiful prose that can barely contain the passionate feelings.ust as heart wrenching as the sisters' story is whatatie knows of her father's struggle, whether it's his backbreaking work in the factory or his love for his family. The quiet words will speak to readers who have lost someone they love--or fear that they could. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Set in the 1950s and '60s, Kadohata's moving first novel is narrated by a first-generation Japanese-American girl who moves with her family from Iowa to Georgia when their "Oriental foods grocery store" goes out of business. There, Katie and her family face hardships, including discrimination (she is ignored by the girls at school, for example), and the harsh conditions at the poultry plant where her mother works ("thugs" make sure workers do not gather so that they cannot organize). Katie's father often sleeps at the hatchery between shifts, and when their babysitter goes away, Katie and her brother must stay in the hot car outside the plant while their mother works. But it's her doting older sister Lynn's struggle with lymphoma that really tests her family. Katie's narrative begins almost as stream-of-consciousness, reflecting a younger child's way of seeing the world. But as she matures through the challenges her family faces, so does the prose. Kadohata movingly captures the family's sustaining love-Lynn and Katie secretly save their treat money for years so they can help their parents buy a house, and when ailing Lynn gets to pick the house, she chooses a sky blue one, because Katie as a "little girl,... had told her [she] wanted our first to be sky blue." The family's devotion to one another, and Lynn's ability to teach Katie to appreciate the "kira-kira," or glittering, in everyday life makes this novel shine. Ages 11-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly PW starred this Newbery winner, which is set in the 1950s and '60s and is narrated by a first-generation Japanese-American girl, saying, "The family's devotion to one another, and one sister's ability to teach her younger sister to appreciate the `kira-kira,' or glittering, in everyday life make this novel shine." Ages 10-14. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Best Way to Play
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 Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Hoot
by Carl Hiaasen

Publishers Weekly : With a Florida setting and proenvironment, antidevelopment message, Hiaasen (Sick Puppy) returns to familiar turf for his first novel for young readers. Characteristically quirky characters and comic twists will surely gain the author new fans, though their attention may wander during his narrative's intermittently protracted focus on several adults, among them a policeman and the manager of a construction site for a new franchise of a pancake restaurant chain. Both men are on a quest to discover who is sabotaging the site at night, including such pranks as uprooting survey stakes, spray-painting the police cruiser's windows while the officer sleeps within and filling the portable potties with alligators. The story's most intriguing character is the boy behind the mischief, a runaway on a mission to protect the miniature owls that live in burrows underneath the site. Roy, who has recently moved to Florida from Montana, befriends the homeless boy (nicknamed Mullet Fingers) and takes up his cause, as does the runaway's stepsister. Though readers will have few doubts about the success of the kids' campaign, several suspenseful scenes build to the denouement involving the sitcom-like unraveling of a muckity-muck at the pancake house. These, along with dollops of humor, help make the novel quite a hoot indeed. Ages 10-up.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 6-9-Packed with quirky characters and improbable plot twists, Hiaasen's first novel for young readers is entertaining but ultimately not very memorable. Fans of the author's adult novels will find trademark elements-including environmental destruction, corrupt politicians, humorous situations, and a Florida setting-all viewed through the eyes of a middle-school student. Roy Eberhardt has just moved with his family to Coconut Cove. He immediately becomes the target of a particularly dense bully who tries to strangle him on the school bus. Roy seems more concerned, however, with discovering the identity of a running, barefoot boy he spots through the window of the bus. Meanwhile, plans to build a pancake house on a vacant lot are derailed when someone vandalizes the construction site. The two story lines come together when Roy discovers that the runaway boy is disrupting the construction to save a group of burrowing owls. Roy must help his new friend, nicknamed Mullet Fingers, as well as fend off the bully and adapt to life in Florida. The story is silly at times but rarely laugh-out-loud funny, and there are several highly unlikely scenes. Also, it wraps up a little too neatly-Roy's classmates join him to protest the construction project, his father finds the missing environmental impact report, and the owls are saved. While Roy is a sympathetic protagonist, few of the other characters are well developed. Students looking for humorous, offbeat characters and situations will probably prefer Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998) or books by Daniel Pinkwater.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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