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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Out of the Easy
by Ruta Sepetys

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Against a vivid 1950s New Orleans backdrop, 17-year-old Josie Moraine is caught between the harsh reality of her negligent, prostitute mother's lifestyle and her desire to escape to a new life. Josie is smart, resourceful, and determined. Her support group includes Willie, the shrewd brothel madam who recognizes Josie's potential; Cokie, Willie's kind and devoted driver; Patrick, who runs the bookshop where Josie works; Charlotte, an upscale acquaintance who encourages Josie to join her at Smith College; and Jesse, the handsome motorcyclist neighbor who has eyes only for Josie. When a mysterious death leads police to Josie's mother and abusive boyfriend, the teen is drawn into the investigation and into an underworld of threats, violence, and retribution. After her mother skips town, Josie is targeted to repay her debt to a powerful criminal boss. As she tries to handle mounting adversity on her own, she struggles with fear, desperation, and her conscience. Stealing from Willie or hooking up with a wealthy john seem her only choices for survival. Overwhelmed, she reveals her predicament to Willie, who saves her in a final act of generosity. Josie's narrative features a Dickensian array of characters; the mystique, ambience, and language of the French Quarter; a suspenseful, action-packed story; and a coming-of-age realization that personal decisions ultimately shape one's future. With dramatic and contextual flair, Sepetys introduces teens to another memorable heroine.-Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Sepetys follows her debut, Between Shades of Gray, with another taut and charged historical novel, though the setting-the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1950-is a world apart from that of her previous book. Living and working in a bookshop, 17-year-old Josie Moraine dreams of attending college-anything to get away from her mother, a prostitute with Hollywood dreams and a knack for getting involved with the worst men. When Josie becomes involved in a high-profile murder investigation, she becomes even more entrenched in her circumstances. The sensual yet rigidly class-based setting is a real standout, and Sepetys has also built a stellar cast, which includes Willie, a strident but generous madam; Charlie Marlowe, the bookshop's owner; and a pair of potential love interests for Josie. Readers will find Josie irresistible from the get-go ("The only reason I'd lift my skirt is to pull out my pistol and plug you," she tells a guy early on) and will devour the sultry mix of mystery, historical detail, and romance. Ages 14-up. Agent: Writers House. (Feb.)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list In a radical departure from her first novel, Between Shades of Gray (2011), Sepetys' second is partially set in a 1950s New Orleans brothel where Josie's mother works as a prostitute. Humiliated, the 18-year-old fears she is destined for nothing more than a crummy life skirting the New Orleans underworld. That underworld looms larger when a murder occurs and it appears Josie's mother may be complicit. Josie's dream is to go to Smith College, but even if she is admitted, how will she pay for it? Meanwhile, she finds herself attracted to two very different young men: her best friend, clean-cut Patrick, with whom she works at his father's bookstore, and quietly mysterious biker Jesse. Complicated? You bet! Sepetys' latest strongly evokes 1950s radio soap operas, but despite over-the-top emotional pitch and stereotypical characters, this is nevertheless a page-turner that noir romance fans will gobble up like popcorn shrimp. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The legions of fans that Sepetys earned with her best-selling debut novel will all be lining up for this.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Thinker: My Puppy Poet and Me.
by Eloise Greenfield

Horn Book Greenfield presents poems from new puppy Thinker's and young owner Jace's points of view. The two philosophize about poetry and life while getting to know each other. The poems range from free verse, sometimes with well-paced internal rhyme, to more structured rhyming poems. Abdollahi's bright paper collages show a joyful, brown-skinned family, in a welcome addition to the too-small canon of lighthearted animal fantasy (and poetry) featuring children of color. (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.

Publishers Weekly In a poetic narrative first published in the U.K., a boy's dog is much more than a friendly pooch-like his owner, Jace, he's a poet: "They named me Thinker, and I knew/ this was the place to be." Jace and Thinker communicate in non-rhymed verses. "When I recite my poems,/ I make music," Jace says. But even though Jace loves exchanging poems with Thinker at home, he fears how others might react if they heard him recite poetry. Abdollahi illustrates in evocative collage using handmade paper, capturing the feel of Jace's bustling community. Coretta Scott King Award-winner Greenfield sensitively conveys Jace's anxiety about being perceived as different, and his realization that being true to one's self is the best bet-for kids and dog poets, too. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Sixteen narratively connected verses feature a poetic dog, Thinker, and his seven-year-old rhymester human, Jace. Thinker's poems explore how he got his name, the mysteries of the universe, his desire to go to school, and his difficulties remembering not to declaim in the presence of humans outside his family. The pooch mostly succeeds until Pets' Day, when he spontaneously recites a jingle for Jace's class, prompting all the other pets to demonstrate their own special talents as well. Greenfield's poems are short, varied (many are free verse, but some are haiku and others rap), and mostly delivered from the dog's perspective. Abdollahi's mixed-media collage artwork features handmade and hand-colored papers that are inspired by the environment. The papers are particularly adept at conveying textures and shading, and while figures are stylized, the art works well both close up and from a story hour distance. Jace and his family are African American, and his neighborhood is nicely diverse. Appended with a note about the poems from Greenfield, this should encourage young wordsmiths.--Kay Weisman Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Kirkus A puppy gets a new home and a new family while learning to communicate.When 7-year-old Jace receives a new pet dog, he picks out the perfect name for a puppy who believes he is a poet. "We'll name you Thinker,' yes, I think / that that's the name for you." Jace, too, is a poet. "When I recite my poems, / I make music." Not permitted to attend school with Jace, Thinker spends time at home with Jace's little sister, Kimmy, and visits with his twin, who lives nearby. At last, it's "Pets' Day at school," but Jace doesn't want his poet puppy to speak. As Thinker knows, he's afraid "his friends will say / he's a weird kid, with a weird pet." Despite his best effort not to, Thinker recites a poembut all the other pets join in with their own special talents, to the delight of the teacher, students, and even Jace. Greenfield brings her vast experience to this delightful piece of poetic whimsy that celebrates the powers of poetry, family, and friendship. Jace's family is African-American while neighbors and schoolmates are pictured as diverse. The poems are primarily free verse, but there are haiku and rap as well. Iranian illustrator Abdollahi uses expressive handmade and -colored paper collages to complement the mood. The light and liveliness of the pictures are eye-catching and appealing, and the color palette is warm and rich, further enhancing the poetry. A good way to introduce the youngest readers to extended narratives in verse. (Picture book/poetry. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 1-2-What if your dog could speak human words? When Jace and his family want to name their new puppy "something cute," the dog objects. "Uh-uh! No way! No way!/I'm deep and I'm a poet. No!/A cute name's not OK." Naming him Thinker, Jace, who is a poet, shares his ideas about poetry with the pup. The improbable--even goofy--premise plays out as an entertaining, empathetic story and congenial poetry lesson through Greenfield's skilled writing. Abdollahi's fine use of cutting tools with hand-crafted papers produce simple, attractive characters and scenes. The title suggests that Jace will be the narrator, but Thinker takes center stage most of the time. Greenfield favors free verse that moves easily along, recounting Thinker's days and his eventual visit to Jace's school for Pets' Day. There is one haiku and a small rhymed verse along the way, and Thinker closes his stirring class visit and the book with a rap. Greenfield's short concluding commentary on poetry writing, free verse, and rap invites readers to also write their own poems. Modest in size, the narrative will work best with an early grade range for personal enjoyment, read-aloud, and discussion. It could also serve nicely in teaching both art and poetry writing in older classes. VERDICT A well-crafted title that is wide in appeal and possibilities for use.-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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Outside In
by Deborah Underwood

Kirkus Outdoors is part of people all the time, even when they're indoors."Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us," opens the text. The premise that nowadays humans sometimes forget about Outside is belied so thoroughly and passionately by the illustrations that it barely registerswhich works just fine in this love letter to nature. From opening spread to closing, nature is all-encompassing. Derby uses watercolors, powdered graphite, and thread or flower stems soaked in ink to paint full-bleed scenes bursting with dampness and leaves, branches and sticks, and qualities of light so various that they evoke different seasons and different weathers all at once. Outdoors, watery paint describes hanging branches or rain; leaves look liquid; large orange patches are treetops but evoke flower petals. Indoors, sunlight beams through glass panes to set a watery, purple-black hallway quietly aglow. Bits of dense color saturation and keen, crisp, sometimes prickly edges pierce, delineate, and offset the bountiful, wet, organic swaths. Outside "sings to us with chirps and rustles and tap-taps on the roof"; it "beckons with smells: sunbaked, fresh, and mysterious"; we feel it "in the warm weight of our cats and the rough fur of our dogs." The child character embraced by Outside (when both outdoors and in) has peach skin and long, straight, dark hair.Lushness without sweetnesswild, darkly romantic, and exquisite. (Picture book. 3-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly “Once/ we were part of Outside/ and Outside was part of us/ There was nothing between us,” begins Underwood (Ducks!) in plainspoken lines. “Now/ sometimes even when/ we’re outside.../ we’re inside.” Derby (How to Walk an Ant) portrays this tension in a gentle series of illustrations that mix gauzy, muted tones and textures with punctuations of color. The pictures follow a small child and family, visualizing moments, indoors and out, when “outside reminds us” of its abiding presence. Inside, “flashes at the window” illuminate a hallway, a window-side transformation exemplifies nature’s “slow magic tricks,” a tiny snail sneaks in on a bunch of kale, and rooftop serenades include “chirps/ and rustles/ and tap-taps on the roof.” Even when the girl sits (“in wooden chairs,/ once trees”) or stands at the bathroom sink (“rivers come inside”), the outdoors communicates its presence, requesting attention. In the final pages, the child and a cat step outside into a feathery, vibrant landscape—a moving reminder that nature’s beckoning need not go unrequited. Ages 4–7. Author’s agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Lovely, expressionistic art and poetic prose invite readers to contemplate nature’s mystique and its role in everyday life, which is often taken for granted or goes unnoticed. The opening scenes set the pensive tone—“Sometimes even when we’re outside . . . / we’re inside. / We forget Outside is there”—while Derby’s illustrations show a road surrounded by trees, followed by a girl in close-up, inside a car. In her home, the girl’s experiences highlight how Outside makes itself known, such as when birds are silhouetted against a window, or is interwoven into daily indoor life, from the food we eat to what we wear (“Outside cuddles us / in clothes, / once puffs of cotton”). Ultimately, the girl heads outdoors, drawn to explore what’s there. Through an evocative mix of aqueous washes and richer, more saturated tones, the color-washed, loose-brushed illustrations capture a sense of nature’s intrigue, delights, and influence. While the lyrical text and concepts may be a bit too abstract or esoteric for younger children, the presentation and approach may still inspire reflection about interconnectedness in the natural world.

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

Horn Book The intersection of outside and inside is creatively explored in this reflection on nature and its gentle persistence and ever-presence. The story begins in nature, as a young girl explores an impressionistic forest. "Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us. There was nothing between us." After a few page-turns, the girl is riding in a car, with contemplative text observing, "Now sometimes even when we're outside...we're inside. We forget Outside is there." But the outside always makes itself known in subtle and miraculous ways. Airy and translucent jewel-hued watercolors create a luminous canvas for powdered graphite details that delineate how the Outside sneaks In. From the sunlight that "flashes through the window" to the "warm bread and berries" on the kitchen table to the "wooden chairs, once trees," the natural world organically weaves its way into the girl's home, creating daily rhythms ("Outside shows us there is a time to rest and a time to start fresh") and routines ("a spider seeking shelter, a boxelder bug in the bath"). Visible brushstrokes and splashes create texture, reflecting the outside's raw, sensory, and uninhibited beauty -- a beauty that (on the last spread) summons the girl out of her house and into the golden outdoors, reminding readers of the majesty that is always there, waiting just outside. (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.

School Library Journal K-Gr 3—In this exquisite tale, the wonders of nature are revealed to be all around us if we just take the time to notice and appreciate them. Spare, lyrical text offers a fable-like depth of insight: "Once we were part of Outside and Outside was part of us. There was nothing between us. Now, sometimes even when we're outside… we're inside." Derby's luminous watercolor illustrations evocatively show this disconnection: A little girl, buckled into a car seat, seems unaware of the scenery passing by her. "Outside" is an ebullient character, and tries to capture the child's attention by singing to her with "chirps and rustles and tap-taps on the roof," and with "slow magic tricks" like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis. Outside also makes its way inside, as seen in the nourishing berries on the kitchen counter, on the cotton T-shirt the child wears, and as a morning sunlight–streaming natural alarm clock. Ever patient, Outside waits and whispers, "I miss you," until the little girl rediscovers the world outside her window. VERDICT This gorgeous celebration of nature is a stirring invitation to play.—Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ont.

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Killing Jesus: A History
by Bill O'Reilly

Publishers Weekly Bill O'Reilly and Dugard team up again for the third installment in their series on the murders of major cultural and historical icons. This time around, the authors deliver a thorough account of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by the Romans. With years of broadcasting experience, O'Reilly is the perfect choice to narrate his own work, which he did for the two previous audio editions in the series. O'Reilly's familiarity with the text is clear, and he reads it seamlessly in a powerful voice that captures listener attention. However, at times, his clipped cadence and emphatic reading may wear on listeners. Still, the many fans of these extremely popular audiobooks will likely enjoy his narration and engaging subject matter. A Henry Holt hardcover. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Beautiful World, Where Are You
by Sally Rooney

Publishers Weekly Rooney (Normal People) continues her exploration of class, sex, and mental health with a cool, captivating story about a successful Irish writer, her friend, and their lovers. Alice Kelleher, 29, has suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of her work’s popularity. After moving from Dublin to a small seaside town, she meets Felix, a local with a similar background—they both grew up working-class, and both have absent fathers—who works in a shipping warehouse. She invites him to accompany her to Rome, where he falls in love with her but resents what he takes to be her superior attitude. Meanwhile, in Dublin, Alice’s university friend Eileen Lydon works a low-paying literary job and explores her attraction to a childhood friend who seems to return her feelings but continues seeing other women. Alice and Eileen update each other in long emails, which Rooney cleverly exploits for essayistic musings about culture, climate change, and political upheaval. Rooney establishes a distance from her characters’ inner lives, creating a sense of privacy even as she describes Alice and Eileen’s most intimate moments. It’s a bold change to her style, and it makes the illuminations all the more powerful when they pop. As always, Rooney challenges and inspires. Agent: Tracy Bohan, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Two erudite Irishwomen struggle with romance against the backdrop of the Trump/Brexit years. Eileen and Alice have been friends since their university days. Now in their late 20s, Eileen works as an editorial assistant at a literary magazine in Dublin. Alice is a famous novelist recovering from a psychiatric hospitalization and staying in a large empty rectory on the west coast of Ireland. Since Alice’s breakdown, the two have kept in touch primarily through lengthy emails that alternate between recounting their romantic lives and working through their angst about the current social and political climate. (In one of these letters, Eileen laments that the introduction of plastic has ruined humanity’s aesthetic calibration and in the next paragraph, she’s eager to know if Alice is sleeping with the new man she’s met.) Eileen has spent many years entangled in an occasionally intimate friendship with her teenage crush, a slightly older man named Simon who is a devout Catholic and who works in the Irish Parliament as an assistant. As Eileen and Simon’s relationship becomes more complicated, Alice meets Felix, a warehouse worker who is unsure what to make of her fame and aloofness. In many ways, this book, a work of both philosophy and romantic tragicomedy about the ways people love and hurt one another, is exactly the type of book one would expect Rooney to write out of the political environment of the past few years. But just because the novel is so characteristic of Rooney doesn’t take anything away from its considerable power. As Alice herself puts it, “Humanity on the cusp of extinction [and] here I am writing another email about sex and friendship. What else is there to live for?” A novel of capacious intelligence and plenty of page-turning emotional drama. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead

Book list *Starred Review* If this book makes your head hurt, you're not alone. Sixth-grader Miranda admits that the events she relates make her head hurt, too. Time travel will do that to you. The story takes place in 1979, though time frames, as readers learn, are relative. Miranda and Sal have been best friends since way before that. They both live in a tired Manhattan apartment building and walk home together from school. One day everything changes. Sal is kicked and punched by a schoolmate and afterward barely acknowledges Miranda. Which leaves her to make new friends, even as she continues to reread her ratty copy of A Wrinkle in Time and tutor her mother for a chance to compete on The $20,000 Pyramid. She also ponders a puzzling, even alarming series of events that begins with a note: I am coming to save your friend's life, and my own . . . you must write me a letter. Miranda's first-person narrative is the letter she is sending to the future. Or is it the past? It's hard to know if the key events ultimately make sense (head hurting!), and it seems the whys, if not the hows, of a pivotal character's actions are not truly explained. Yet everything else is quite wonderful. The '70s New York setting is an honest reverberation of the era; the mental gymnastics required of readers are invigorating; and the characters, children and adults, are honest bits of humanity no matter in what place or time their souls rest. Just as Miranda rereads L'Engle, children will return to this.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2009 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Miranda lives in 1978 New York City with her mother, and her life compass is Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. When she receives a series of enigmatic notes that claim to want to save her life, she comes to believe that they are from someone who knows the future. Miranda spends considerable time observing a raving vagrant who her mother calls "the laughing man" and trying to find the connection between the notes and her everyday life. Discerning readers will realize the ties between Miranda's mystery and L'Engle's plot, but will enjoy hints of fantasy and descriptions of middle school dynamics. Stead's novel is as much about character as story. Miranda's voice rings true with its faltering attempts at maturity and observation. The story builds slowly, emerging naturally from a sturdy premise. As Miranda reminisces, the time sequencing is somewhat challenging, but in an intriguing way. The setting is consistently strong. The stores and even the streets-in Miranda's neighborhood act as physical entities and impact the plot in tangible ways. This unusual, thought-provoking mystery will appeal to several types of readers.-Caitlin Augusta, The Darien Library, CT (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.

Publishers Weekly Twelve-year-old Miranda, a latchkey kid whose single mother is a law school dropout, narrates this complex novel, a work of science fiction grounded in the nitty-gritty of Manhattan life in the late 1970s. Miranda's story is set in motion by the appearance of cryptic notes that suggest that someone is watching her and that they know things about her life that have not yet happened. She's especially freaked out by one that reads: "I'm coming to save your friend's life, and my own." Over the course of her sixth-grade year, Miranda details three distinct plot threads: her mother's upcoming appearance on The $20,000 Pyramid; the sudden rupture of Miranda's lifelong friendship with neighbor Sal; and the unsettling appearance of a deranged homeless person dubbed "the laughing man." Eventually and improbably, these strands converge to form a thought-provoking whole. Stead (First Light) accomplishes this by making every detail count, including Miranda's name, her hobby of knot tying and her favorite book, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. It's easy to imagine readers studying Miranda's story as many times as she's read L'Engle's, and spending hours pondering the provocative questions it raises. Ages 9-14. (July) (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 Back Roads
by Tawni O'Dell

Library Journal: Harley Altmyer might be the only 20-year-old virgin in the small Pennsylvania coal town where he lives, but for sure he is the only one with custody of three younger siblings--a responsibility inherited when his mother killed his abusive father and went to prison for life. While he works two dead-end jobs to support his sisters, Harley lusts after a married neighbor, Callie Mercer. When Callie indicates that she's attracted to him, too, the resulting sexual fireworks set off a series of events with tragic consequences. First novelist O'Dell, a trained journalist and a former exotic dancer, knows a lot about raging hormones, and she clearly has a good deal of affection for Harley (which the reader will share). She is less comfortable, however, with the demands of plot and character development. The last third of the novel is unnecessarily convoluted and rests uneasily on characters who are too sketchy to support the pieces of plot that they're carrying. Once O'Dell learns how to harness the runaway energy she brings to fiction, she'll be a writer to read; until then, only large public libraries should consider this for purchase.

Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Nineteen-year-old Harley is left to rear his three younger sisters after their mother is imprisoned for murdering their abusive father in this searing, hardscrabble Party of Five set in Pennsylvania mining country. Doubly resentful because his best friend is off at college, Harley spends his days slogging as a Shop Rite bagger and appliance-shop delivery person, coming home to cold cereal dinners prepared by six-year-old Jody. Harley is bitter about having to take over for his mother--"she still had us kids but we didn't have her"--and he can't shake the feeling that she prefers prison to their home life; a mystery lingers around his father's death. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Amber is sleeping her way through the town's teenage boys and flaunting her body in front of Harley; middle sister Misty, once her father's favorite and his hunting companion, practices shooting. Desperate for relief, Harley finds solace in rough but exhilarating encounters with married Callie Mercer, little Jody's best friend's mother, losing his virginity to her on a muddy creek bank and reveling in her sophisticated, sensitive words. But memories are stirring in his subconscious, and erotic dreams of the Virgin Mary metamorphose into nightmarish sexual visions. In his sessions with a court-appointed therapist, Harley edges closer to understanding his family's twisted dynamic, but it is only when the horrors of the present begin to catch up with those of the past that a series of shattering truths are revealed. By then it is too late for Harley to save everyone he loves, but in sacrificing himself, however hopelessly, he introduces a note of grace. O'Dell's scorching tale touches on all the tropes of dysfunctional families, but her characters fight free of stereotypes, taking on an angry, authentic glow. (Jan.)

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

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog The Giver
by Lois Lowry

Publishers Weekly : In the ``ideal'' world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are ``released''--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also ``released,'' but with no fanfare. Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment--the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory--he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society's collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. With a storyline that hints at Christian allegory and an eerie futuristic setting, this intriguing novel calls to mind John Christopher's Tripods trilogy and Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. Lowry is once again in top form--raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers. Ages 12-14.

Copyright 1993 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 6-9-- In a complete departure from her other novels, Lowry has written an intriguing story set in a society that is uniformly run by a Committee of Elders. Twelve-year-old Jonas's confidence in his comfortable ``normal'' existence as a member of this well-ordered community is shaken when he is assigned his life's work as the Receiver. The Giver, who passes on to Jonas the burden of being the holder for the community of all memory ``back and back and back,'' teaches him the cost of living in an environment that is ``without color, pain, or past.'' The tension leading up to the Ceremony, in which children are promoted not to another grade but to another stage in their life, and the drama and responsibility of the sessions with The Giver are gripping. The final flight for survival is as riveting as it is inevitable. The author makes real abstract concepts, such as the meaning of a life in which there are virtually no choices to be made and no experiences with deep feelings. This tightly plotted story and its believable characters will stay with readers for a long time. --Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

Copyright 1993 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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