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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Freakboy
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Publishers Weekly Debut novelist Clark uses free verse to write a gripping story about a complex topic: the challenges of growing up transgender or genderqueer. Brendan struggles with his occasional desires to be a girl; in her own series of poems, Brendan's devoted girlfriend, Vanessa, worries about why he is suddenly avoiding her. Meanwhile, transgendered Angel-whom Brendan meets near the teen center where Angel works-reveals her own painful journey; her intense story includes physical abuse and a hospital stay after being beaten up while working as a prostitute. Clark doesn't stray far from central theme (the back matter includes resources and further reading) as she empathically explores what it can be like to be a transgendered teen (for example, not every transitioning character considers sex-reassignment surgery to be important). The author emphasizes that there are no simple answers for her characters, especially Brendan, who wonders if the transgendered label even fits. At the same time, through Angel, she gives her story a current of hope: "Everyone feels like a freak/ until they make up their mind/ they're not." Ages 12-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When Brendan Chase types Want to be a girl into his Mac's search engine, one word pops up: transsexual. In Clark's raw, honest debut novel, told in verse, three voices capture a few experiences of teens on the transgender spectrum. Brendan is not one of those people / who's always wanted to wear a dress. / Who's always known / he should have been born female. Sex with girlfriend Vanessa, although confusing, feels good, and Brendan questions throughout whether or not he's trans. Fortunately, there's an angel in his life literally. Angel, trans without sex-reassignment surgery ( My junk doesn't dictate who I am ), fights against demons of her own and struggles to reconnect with her younger brother. She's a volunteer at Willows, a center for queer teens, and eventually introduces Brendan to terms like gender identity, gender attraction, genderqueer, and gender fluid. Meanwhile, the third voice belongs to Vanessa, a girl on the boy's wrestling team, who can't understand why her boyfriend, Brendan, is suddenly so distant. Unlike many novels that deal with one transgender character, this movingly explores so many gender identities, from the three main characters (each appears as a different font) to Angel's roommates. A must-have for library shelves, this will be popular with fans of Ellen Hopkins. Resources and further reading conclude.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Brandon, a high school wrestler, must face the fact that despite his best efforts he isn't as hyper-masculine as he feels he needs to be. Acceptance of his gender fluidity will prove to be his greatest challenge. Brandon's stepfather, a symphony conductor, appears to need regular validation of his manliness, and his mother undergoes breast enhancement surgery to appear, presumably, more womanly. Vanessa, Brandon's girlfriend, is also a wrestler; she feels she can only have a true win on the mat once her opponent lets go of the thought that she's a girl. When he's not aggressive enough in the ring, Brandon's coach calls him Brenda. Eventually, he meets Angel, an attractive young woman whose birth certificate reads "male." Angel-empowered, self-loving, and equipped to help others-can support Brandon to be at home in his body and in his craving for feminine expression. This book is a strong addition to LBGT and general collections as a compelling story for reluctant readers and an educational piece on a topic that needs discussion. The use of typography for emphasis is occasionally awkward and self-conscious, but overall this novel-in-verse presents a clear, realistic narrative in various voices. It succeeds in conveying the message that "you are not alone" to transgender youth while helping everyone else get a handle on these often-tortured teens. The author succeeds in her mission to foster "greater understanding and acceptance of gender's vast and lovely variation." -Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA (c) Copyright 2013. 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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABCs the Hard Way
by Patrick McDonnell

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-McDonnell's abecedarian tale takes a small scarlet cat on a breathtaking adventure. The clever tale-wordless except for two signs and one warning shout-begins when the feline notices his home's front door standing open and takes to the hills. He almost immediately comes upon a gape-mouthed Alligator, a climbing Bear, and an agitated Chicken along with a couple of other pursuers of the D and E variety. A chase begins with the cat leading his entourage through a day filled with ice and snow, a jungle, mountain peaks, and a potentially hazardous tumble off a high cliff. Humorous pen, ink, pencil and watercolor illustrations surrounded by copious white space are energetic and highly engaging for readers. The large letters of the alphabet appear near the top of the page and feature both capital and lowercase forms. While most illustrations offer a clear-cut answer to what each letter represents in the sequence, there are a few pages that require some thought; an answer key can be found at the end of the book. -VERDICT A brilliant caper that young learners will want to pore over! A must-purchase.-Maryann H. Owen, Children's Literature Specialist, Mt. Pleasant, WI © Copyright 2017. 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 This gloriously fun escapade from McDonnell follows the misadventures of the eponymous red cat, who dashes out the front door of his home, only to be set upon, almost instantly, by an alligator, bear, chicken, and dragon. The book is wordless, other than capital and lowercase letters that correspond to each new character or event, creating a guessing game for readers in the process. In one scene, the pursuers and pursued are slipping and sliding on a patch of ice for I; a page turn, and they're swinging from vines in a jungle. A king and his daughter get involved, parachutes manifest after a tumble off a cliff ("Nnnnnnnn Oooooooo!"), and there's even a bathroom break. It's teeming with visual wit, and McDonnell's cartoons illustrate the emotional dramas of the chase with telegraphic clarity. Ages 3-6. Agent: Henry Dunow, Dunow, Carlson & Lerner. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A little red cat runs away from home and begins an alphabetical adventure in this (nearly!) wordless picture book. A is an alligator who joins the cat, B is a bear, C a chicken, and D a dragon. After that, the party continues on through different landscapes, and, ultimately, the red cat ends up home and catching some well-deserved z's. Because of its wordless nature, readers can make up their own stories while also hunting for what represents the letter on the page. Although some are obvious, in some illustrations, there may be multiple answers, providing a great opportunity for vocabulary building. (Answers appear at the end.) McDonnell uses a combination of simple lines and a plain background to keep the focus on the action. His is a distinctive style, but the simplicity doesn't take away from the humor, and each character remains distinctive and filled with expression. Best to be shared one-on-one, though the format could inspire young authors and illustrators to try their own journeys through the alphabet.--Linsenmeyer, Erin Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Journey
by Aaron Becker

Publishers Weekly Becker develops concepts for film studios, and his wordless picture book debut reads like a cinematic tribute to Harold and the Purple Crayon. Drab sepia drawings introduce a lonely girl whose afternoon is jolted into life (and full color) when she uses a piece of red chalk to draw a door on her wall, walking through it into a lantern-lit forest with a winding river. Drawing a red boat, she drifts toward a breathtaking castle city whose gleaming turrets and domes promise adventure and intrigue. Yet she does not linger-she draws a hot-air balloon, takes to the air, and encounters a squadron of magnificent, steampunk-style airships manned by soldiers who have trapped a phoenix-like bird. Her release of the bird earns the ire of the airmen, the bird in turn rescues her, and a clever resolution leads the girl to a friend with his own magic chalk. Wonder mixes with longing as the myriad possibilities offered by Becker's stunning settings dwarf what actually happens in the story. Readers will be both dazzled and spurred on imagined travels of their own. Ages 4-8. Agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Educated
by Tara Westover

Book list To the Westovers, public education was the quickest way to put yourself on the wrong path. By the time the author, the youngest Westover, had come along, her devout Mormon parents had pulled all of their seven children out of school, preferring to teach just the essentials: a little bit of reading, a lot of scripture, and the importance of family and a hard day's work. Westover's debut memoir details how her isolated upbringing in the mountains of Idaho led to an unexpected outcome: Cambridge, Harvard, and a PhD. Though Westover's entrance into academia is remarkable, at its heart, her memoir is a family history: not just a tale of overcoming but an uncertain elegy to the life that she ultimately rejected. Westover manages both tenderness and a savage honesty that spares no one, not even herself: nowhere is this more powerful than in her relationship with her brother Shawn, her abuser and closest friend. In its keen exploration of family, history, and the narratives we create for ourselves, Educated becomes more than just a success story.--Winterroth, Amanda Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Library Journal Raised on a secluded family compound in Idaho, Westover was seven before realizing the biggest difference between her family and others was not their remote home, or their Mormon religion-but that "we don't go to school." Westover helped the family maintain a minimalist existence through construction, scrapping, and midwifery, no matter how many injuries she sustained. But when the author's wounds go untreated, leaving her mother mentally compromised and herself an object of abuse, cracks in her upbringing began to appear. Westover's brother Tyler is the first to leave home for college, later encouraging her to do the same. "There's a world out there, Tara...it will look a lot different once Dad is no longer whispering his view of it in your ear." Starting her academic career at Brigham Young University, Westover continued to earn academic achievements, including a PhD in history from Cambridge University. VERDICT Explicit descriptions of abuse can make for difficult reading, but for a student who started from a point of near illiteracy, Westover's writing is lyrical and literary in style. With no real comparison memoir, this joins the small number of Mormon exposés of recent years. [See "Editors' Spring Picks," p. 29.-Ed.]-Jessica Bushore, Xenia, OH © 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 A girl claws her way out of a claustrophobic, violent fundamentalist family into an elite academic career in this searing debut memoir. Westover recounts her upbringing with six siblings on an Idaho farm dominated by her father Gene (a pseudonym), a devout Mormon with a paranoid streak who tried to live off the grid, kept four children (including the author) out of school, refused to countenance doctors (Westover's mother, Faye, was an unlicensed midwife who sold homeopathic medicines), and stockpiled supplies and guns for the end-time. Westover was forced to work from the age of 11 in Gene's scrap and construction businesses under incredibly dangerous conditions; the grisly narrative includes lost fingers, several cases of severe brain trauma, and two horrible burns that Faye treated with herbal remedies. Thickening the dysfunction was the author's bullying brother, who physically brutalized her for wearing makeup and other immodest behaviors. When she finally escaped the toxic atmosphere of dogma, suspicion, and patriarchy to attend college and then grad school at Cambridge, her identity crisis precipitated a heartbreaking rupture. Westover's vivid prose makes this saga of the pressures of conformity and self-assertion that warp a family seem both terrifying and ordinary. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Splendors and Glooms
by Laura Amy Schlitz

Book list *Starred Review* A brooding, Dickensian novel with a touch of fantasy and a glimmer of hope, Schlitz's latest opens in London in 1860, when lonely Clara, the only remaining child in a doctor's grief-stricken household, attempts to celebrate her twelfth birthday. Grisini the puppet master is engaged to perform, along with the two orphaned children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, who serve as his assistants. Clara bridges the class divide to befriend the children. After kidnapping Clara for ransom, cruel Grisini disappears, leaving Lizzie Rose and Parsefall struggling to survive on their own. They make their way to the country house of a bewitched woman whose magical amulet gives her amazing powers while draining away her humanity. There they learn certain grisly secrets involving their cruel master, Clara's fate, and the wealthy witch, who seeks to control them all. The magic of the storytelling here lies in the subtle depiction of menacing evil. After working its way insidiously through the characters' lives, it is defeated by the children, who grow in strength and understanding throughout the novel. Vividly portrayed and complex, the characters are well-defined individuals whose separate strands of story are colorful and compelling. Schlitz weaves them into an intricate tapestry that is as mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Schlitz's Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2007) earned her a wide following, and librarians will be eager to see what she's up to next.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Anyone who thinks marionettes are creepy will have that opinion reinforced by this dark tale about three children at the mercy of an unscrupulous puppeteer and the witch who pulls his strings. Clara Wintermute asks her father, a wealthy doctor in 1860 London, to hire Professor Grisini and his Venetian Fantoccini to entertain guests at her 12th birthday party. Clara is stagestruck by the puppets and taken with one of Grisini's two assistants, the pretty, well-mannered orphan Lizzie Rose (the other assistant, Parsefall, is an urchin straight out of a Dickensian workhouse). After the puppet show, Clara disappears. Grisini is suspected, but he, too, vanishes. The fate of the three children becomes intertwined with Grisini's old flame, the witch Cassandra Sagredo. It's a fairly complicated plot, and although the pacing occasionally lags, Newbery Medalist Schlitz (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) delivers many pleasures-fully dimensional children, period details so ripe one can nearly smell them, and droll humor that leavens a few scenes of true horror. A highly original tale about children caught in a harrowing world of magic and misdeeds. Ages 9-13. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Victorian London could be a magical place: horse-drawn carriages, puppet shows, elaborate upper-class houses. Of course it could also be miserable: fog, filthy streets, shabby hovels where too many people live in too few rooms. Schlitz conjures both the magic and the mundane here. For Clara's 12th birthday, her parents hire a street performer to give a puppet show in their home. The puppeteer, Grisini, is so talented that he appears to be magical. His two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, are envious of Clara's home and all its comforts. Clara vanishes the night of the puppet show, and Grisini and his assistants are the prime suspects. Then Grisini disappears, and Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must seek out the missing girl, with the sinister and mysterious help of a wealthy old witch. Schlitz uses such evocative language that readers will practically smell dirty London and then be relieved by the crisp, cold air in the countryside around the witch's crumbling mansion. The characters are recognizable tropes: the witch is rotting from the inside out; the orphans may be dirty and ill-bred, but they have spirit and pluck; the little rich girl is actually sad and lonely; the skinny puppeteer and the overly dramatic landlady are recognizably Dickensian. Yet, they are so well drawn that they are never caricatures, but people whom readers will cheer for, be terrified of, or grow to like. The plot is rich with supernatural and incredibly suspenseful elements. Fans of mystery, magic, and historical fiction will all relish this novel.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT (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.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Cane River
by Lalita Tademy

Library Journal: First novelist Tademy turns fact (the story of her antebellum Southern family) into fiction.

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