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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Leah on the Offbeat
by Albertalli, Becky

Book list *Starred Review* Leah Burke takes center stage in this sequel to Albertalli's Morris Award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015). It's senior year, and Leah's friends can't stop talking about college, prom, and long-distance relationships. Simon and Bram are as cute as ever, Leah's got college lined up, and goofy Garrett obviously has a crush on her. But Leah can't quite get into it. She feels like a third wheel (even at home, now that her mom is dating someone new); she doesn't really care about prom; and when her friend and bandmate says something racist, Leah's content to just break up the band and get on with her life. Plus, she's nursing a wicked crush on her friend Abby, and she's worried that if she does anything about it, she'll blow up their whole friend group let alone the fact that no one knows she's bi. Albertalli has a fantastic ear for voice, and it's beautifully on display in Leah's funny, wry, and vulnerable first-person narrative. She gets to the core of Leah's hang-ups about money, her body, her place among her friends, her reluctance to let anyone get too close, and her perfectionism without a trace of heavy-handedness, and she leavens the poignant emotional growth with snarky teen banter, hilarious mishaps, and swoonworthy (but never saccharine) romance. Everything Albertalli already did so well in Simon, she's improved upon here, and fans of the first book will be utterly smitten with Leah. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Perhaps you've heard of a little movie called Love, Simon? Your patrons certainly have. You'll probably want extra copies of this.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Horn Book Leah, Simon's friend from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, stars in a story of their friend group's last few months of high school. Leah, who hasn't told others she's bisexual, slowly falls for her once-estranged friend Abby but worries about a variety of repercussions. Frequently funny, this novel is also socially aware, addressing issues of race, class, and body image in addition to sexuality. (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 Leah Burke is perched on the precipice of change in the final months of senior year, before everyone in her diverse friend group scatters off to become their college selves. Leah, Simon Spier's best friend in Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (2015), takes center stage in this sequel. She knows she's bisexual, but she's only out to her mom, not her friends, not even to Simon, who is gay. Leah's cynical and socially awkward but also confident in herself. She's unapologetically fat. She's a talented artist and a ripper on the drums. She's also fierce when called for. When a white friend implies that their classmate Abby Suso only got accepted to her college because she is black, Leah, also white, calls out her bias directly (Abby is not present for this conversation), sparking a nuanced subplot on racism and white allyship. Mostly, though, senior year is characterized by Leah's aching crush on Abby, the oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-straight girlfriend of Leah's good friend Nick. When the prom-scene ending finally arrives, even the most Leah-worthy cynics will be rooting for her. With complex characters, authentic dialogue, and messy-but-beautiful friendships, this sequel is more than capable of standing on its own. A subversive take on the coming-of-age romance that will leave readers feeling like witnesses to a very special moment in Leah's life and filled with gratitude for sharing it. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Thank You, Omu!
by Oge Mora

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-In her apartment on the top floor, Omu (Igbo for queen) makes a tasty, thick red stew for her dinner. The smell wafts through her community, enticing neighbors to knock at her door to inquire about the delicious smell. A little boy is first, followed by a police officer, the hot dog vendor, and many other neighbors. Omu shares a bit of her stew with each person until she has none left for her dinner. When she hears the next knock, it is the visitors again, but this time with a feast to share with Omu. Even the little boy makes a contribution: a red envelope that conveys everyone's sincere gratitude. The richly textured and expressive collage illustrations were created with patterned paper and old-book clippings using acrylic paint, pastels, and markers. Mora has crafted a memorable tale of community and the unexpected rewards of sharing. VERDICT Children will enjoy this fresh, engaging story of friendship and community building, perfect for any group gathering. -Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at District of Columbia Public Library © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Publishers Weekly Omu (pronounced AH-moo, it's Igbo for queen), the matriarch of her city neighborhood, is making "thick red stew in a big fat pot." As the delicious scent-rendered as an undulating strip of paper-wafts through the neighborhood, a little boy drops by, then "Ms. Police Officer," and then a deluge of hungry humans that eventually includes the mayor. Mora, a major new talent making her debut as an author-illustrator, gives her book a rhythmic, refrainlike structure: There's a "KNOCK!" at the door, a moment of thought on Omu's part, the presentation of a bowl, and a hearty "Thank you, Omu!" in brightly colored capital letters. Dinnertime arrives, and a chagrined Omu discovers that she's given all her stew away ("There goes the best dinner I ever had!"). But she isn't sad for long. The stew eaters arrive en masse at her door with a bountiful potluck (the boy proffers a handmade thank-you note), and "together they ate, danced, and celebrated." This sweet story of inclusivity, gratitude, and delicious fellowship is also a feast for the eyes, with its warm colors and inventive mAclange of cut paper and other materials. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Omu (Nigerian for queen, but here grandma) enjoys cooking thick red stews for her evening meal. One day, while her pot simmers, a little boy knocks at her door, enticed by the delicious aroma. Of course Omu shares with him and later with others: a police officer, a hot dog vendor, a shop owner, a cab driver, a doctor, an actor, a lawyer, a dancer, a baker, an artist, a singer, an athlete, a bus driver, a construction worker, and the mayor! Predictably, the pot is empty when suppertime arrives, but Omu's friends give back with a feast that everyone enjoys. Mora's mixed-media collage art makes use of patterned papers and book clippings in addition to paints and pastels. She uses simplified forms to represent people and objects (somewhat reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats' style), well suited to this cozy, urban setting. Particularly effective is the white trail of steam from Omu's stew that travels through the neighborhood. A great choice for food-themed story hours, or for introducing the concept of sharing.--Kay Weisman Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog In One Person
by John Irving

Publishers Weekly Prep school. Wrestling. Unconventional sexual practices. Viennese interlude. This bill of particulars could only fit one American author: John Irving. His 13th novel (after Last Night in Twisted River) tells the oftentimes outrageous story of bisexual novelist Billy Abbott, who comes of age in the uptight 1950s and explores his sexuality through two decadent decades into the plague-ridden 1980s and finally to a more positive present day. Sexual confusion sets in early for Billy, simultaneously attracted to both the local female librarian and golden boy wrestler Jacques Kittredge, who treats Billy with the same disdain he shows Billy's best friend (and occasional lover) Elaine. Faced with an unsympathetic mother and an absent father who might have been gay, Billy travels to Europe, where he has affairs with a transgendered female and an older male poet, an early AIDS activist. Irving's take on the AIDS epidemic in New York is not totally persuasive (not enough confusion, terror, or anger), and his fractured time and place doesn't allow him to generate the melodramatic string of incidents that his novels are famous for. In the end, sexual secrets abound in this novel, which intermittently touches the heart as it fitfully illuminates the mutability of human desire. Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal What is "normal"? Does it really matter? In Irving's latest novel (after Last Night in Twisted River), nearly everyone has a secret, but the characters who embrace and accept their own differences and those of others are the most content. This makes the narrator, Bill, particularly appealing. Bill knows from an early age that he is bisexual, even if he doesn't label himself as such. He has "inappropriate crushes" but doesn't make himself miserable denying that part of himself; he simply acts, for better or for worse. The reader meets Bill at 15, living on the campus of an all-boys school in Vermont where his stepfather is on the faculty. Through the memories of a much older Bill, his life story is revealed, from his teenage years in Vermont to college and life as a writer in New York City. Bill is living in New York during the 1980s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and the suffering described is truly heart-wrenching. Irving cares deeply, and the novel is not just Bill's story but a human tale. VERDICT This wonderful blend of thought-provoking, well-constructed, and meaningful writing is what one has come to expect of Irving, and it also makes for an enjoyable page-turner. [See Prepub Alert, 11/28/11.]-Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA (c) Copyright 2012. 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.

Book list *Starred Review* Much of Irving's thirteenth novel is piquantly charming, crisply funny, and let-your-guard-down madcap in the classic mode of a Frank Capra or Billy Wilder film. This shrewdly frolicsome ambience is tied to the amateur theatrical productions that provide the primary source of entertainment in mid-twentieth-century First Sister, Vermont, a no-place-to-hide yet nonetheless secretive small town sporting a private boy's prep school. Here lives young, fatherless Billy, whose lumberman-by-day, actor-by-night Grandpa Harry plays women's roles with baffling authenticity. By the time Billy turns 13, he realizes that something sets him apart beyond his speech impediment and determination to become a writer, namely his crushes on the wrong people, including his future stepfather, teacher and Shakespeare scholar Richard, and Miss Frost, the tall, strong librarian who eventually proves to be the key to the truth about Billy's bisexuality and his biological father. Storytelling wizard that he is, Irving revitalizes his signature motifs (New England life, wrestling, praising great writers, forbidden sex) while animating a glorious cast of misfit characters within a complicated plot. A mesmerizing, gracefully maturing narrator, Billy navigates fraught relationships with men and women and witnesses the horrors of the AIDS epidemic. Ever the fearless writer of conscience calling on readers to be open-minded, Irving performs a sweetly audacious, at times elegiac, celebration of human sexuality. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Irving is always a huge draw, and this sexually daring and compassionate tale, which harks back to the book that made him famous, The World according to Garp (1978), will garner intense media attention.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Greenlights
by Matthew McConaughey

Kirkus All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book. “This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons. A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.This is an approach book, writes McConaughey, adding that it contains philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life. Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze; Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate. Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Tour, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memorieswhich line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerzs recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alrightof his debut in Richard Linklaters Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that hes an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaugheys prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock n roll, and chicks, and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more. Its clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting cardish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaugheys life and thought. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Scary Stories for Young Foxes
by Christian McKay Heidicker,

Book list Heidicker (Attack of the 50-Foot Wallflower, 2018) deftly transitions from YA to middle-grade fiction with his account of seven fox kits on the prowl for scary bedtime stories. Cute, right? Only if you find the anxious cowering of both kids and kits endearing. But for a certain type of reader those lost in a battered copy of Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark this is exactly the kind of book they're hunting for. The vulpine siblings venture into Antler Wood to find Bog Cavern, a place, their mother has cautioned, where an old storyteller lives who will tell them a story so frightening it will put the white in your tail. This is no exaggeration: the storyteller doles out two tales of two kits, Mia and Uly, who endure different horrors, from injuries to hunters' traps to rabid animals, eventually bringing their narratives together. Throughout, the stories are punctuated with unsettling black-and-white illustrations and pauses to momentarily shift the focus back to the original seven kits, effectively building suspense and providing momentary relief for the storyteller's audience. As the tensions and dangers build, the siblings' numbers dwindle as they slip away for the comfort of their den. Kids able to brave the harrowing adventures of Mia and Uly are in for a chilling roller coaster of a read.--Julia Smith Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly An ancient fox storyteller presents eight interwoven tales to seven intrepid fox kits in this inventive middle-grade debut by Heidicker (Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower). The kits’ eyes are opened to real-world trauma as they follow the harrowing journeys of Mia and Uly, two young foxes who encounter disease, humans, predators, hunger, separation, and loss. As each tale grows progressively darker, the kits must question their fearlessness and consider returning to the safety of their mother’s side. Heidicker ratchets up the tension as his protagonists encounter poisonous snakes, a rabies-like affliction called the yellow, an abusive fox father, author Beatrix Potter moonlighting as a taxidermist, light body horror, and more. Beguiling, intricate, black-and-white illustrations enrich the text, while the narrative framing device offers distance from the bleakness that Mia and Uly face. Heidicker presents but doesn’t fully develop themes of loss and anthropogenic change, and readers may gloss over them as they fly through the swiftly moving story. An entertaining read for those who enjoy spooky animal thrills. Ages 9–12. Agent: John M. Cusick, Folio Literary. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Two young foxes struggle to survive predators, the elements, and their families.In a frame, seven fox kits are eager to hear some scary stories. For "a story so frightening it will put the white in your tail," their mother sends them to "the old storyteller," an elderly fox in a cavern, who proceeds to spin a tale of vulpine horror. At first the stories seem unrelated; Mia is separated from her loving family, while Uly is exiled. Soon the kits' stories intertwine as the horrors they survive increase and multiply. After a rocky start prosewise (repetitive adjectives, slightly ornate descriptions), the story picks up, and the "scary stories" border on downright disturbing. There's domestic horrorMia survives an encounter with her beloved teacher, who's gone rabid, and Uly is terrorized by his sisters and father because he's disabled. Later Mia is trapped by Beatrix Potter, who murders animals after using them as inspiration for her stories, and Uly is attacked by a Golgathursh, "a whirlwind of scaly limbs." Ethereal sketches in what looks like charcoal add to the atmosphere, with appealing fox kits set against menacing backgrounds. The stomach-clenching fear and suspense are resolved by a happy ending, but some readerssensitive animal lovers especiallymay have a hard time reaching it. Similarly, the abuse that Uly faces from his family due to his disability may be painful to read.Dark and skillfully distressing, this is a story for the bold. (Horror. 9-14) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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