Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Piecing Me Together
by Watson, Renee

Book list Who owns the river and the line, and the hook, and the worm? wonders Jade, a scholarship kid at Portland's prestigious St. Francis High. Through her first two years of school, she's had to balance her home life in a poor neighborhood with her life at a school populated mostly by rich white kids. When offered a mentorship for at-risk girls (which includes a full college scholarship), she jumps at the opportunity to learn how to be a successful black woman. However, she soon suspects that her mentor, Maxine, may only have a superficial understanding of Jade's challenges and that there may be things Jade can teach her. Watson is unafraid to show Jade as a young woman who is resilient and mature for her age, but also plagued by self-doubt. The book itself is a balancing act between class, race, and social dynamics, with Watson constantly undercutting stereotypes and showing no fear in portraying virtues along with vices. The book's defiance of a single-issue lens will surely inspire discussion and consideration.--Suarez, Reinhardt Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-High school junior Jade is an "at-risk" student from a rough neighborhood in Portland, OR. She is also a talented collage artist, and she attends an elite private school on scholarship. More than anything, she wants to go on a study abroad week offered at her school to use her Spanish skills. Instead, she is given an invitation to join Woman to Woman, a mentorship program for young women like her: poor and black. Her mentor, Maxine, is from a more privileged background, and Jade doesn't see what she can learn from her. But in spite of her early resistance to Maxine, Jade begins to open up and gain confidence, and, eventually, she is able to express the importance of her family, her community, and her art. The two strong female characters and the ways in which they struggle with and support each other form the center of this tale. Most young people will relate to Jade's search to find her voice and learn to advocate for herself in appropriate ways. The lack of a romantic lead may leave some young teen readers disappointed, but there is a real, refreshing strength in a fully fleshed-out female character whose story is her own. This is a memorable novel that demonstrates that a happy ending doesn't require a romantic subplot. VERDICT This unique and thought-provoking title offers a nuanced meditation on race, privilege, and intersectionality. A first purchase for YA collections.-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH 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 Jade Butler, an African-American artist-in-the-making, lives with her mother in Portland, Ore., and travels by bus to private school, where she is both grateful for and resentful of the opportunities presented to her. In short, poetic chapters, Jade ponders her family, school, and neighborhood relationships, wondering where she fits in: "How I am someone's answered prayer but also someone's deferred dream." Watson (This Side of Home) weaves collage imagery throughout the story as Jade ruminates over historical figures such as York, the slave who traveled with Lewis and Clark, and distressing current events, including police violence against a neighborhood girl: "I am ripping and cutting. Gluing and pasting. Rearranging reality, redefining, covering, disguising. Tonight I am taking ugly and making beautiful." Jade's narrative voice offers compelling reflections on the complexities of race and gender, class and privilege, and fear and courage, while conveying the conflicted emotions of an ambitious, loyal girl. Teeming with compassion and insight, Watson's story trumpets the power of artistic expression to re-envision and change the world. Ages 12-up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Jabari Jumps
by Gaia Cornwall

Publishers Weekly An African-American boy works up the courage to leap from the high dive in Cornwall's warm and genuine debut. "I'm a great jumper... so I'm not scared at all!" announces Jabari as he arrives at an outdoor city pool with his father and sister. "Looks easy," he adds as he watches kids jump from the towering board, but "when his dad squeezed his hand, Jabari squeezed back." With understated humor and plenty of understanding, Cornwall reveals Jabari's transparent excuses for delaying his ascent up the ladder: he must think about what "special jump" he will do, take a "tiny rest," and stretch. Finally, after words of encouragement from his patient father, Jabari makes the climb and braves the jump, a sequence viewed from various perspectives that amplify his accomplishment. A daunting gaze downward, past Jabari's toes that curl around the edge of the board, makes the water look incredibly far away, and when seen from behind, he seems as high up as the skyscrapers in the distance. It's a lovely, knowing account of a big "first" in a child's life. Ages 4-8. (May) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-An African American boy and his baby sister and father head to an urban community pool. Jabari has completed his swim lessons and tests and is ready to jump off a diving board. In his zigzag swim trunks and swim goggles, the boy tells his dad that diving looks easy. But when he stands at the ladder and looks up, up, and up at the diving board, he starts stalling for time, saying that he has other things to do before he can make the big leap. His father reassures him that it is OK to be scared, encourages him to take deep breaths, and tells him that he might just be surprised. With renewed determination, Jabari climbs the ladder and jumps into the pool. He's flying and splashing and sinking down and swimming back up and he's done it! Jabari is a great jumper. Just enough conversational text accompanies each illustration, including several smaller vignettes on a single page that help build suspense. Mixed-media images in serene muted colors, high-rise buildings above the tree line, and the intriguing addition of faded newsprint accents strengthen the urban feel of the illustrations. VERDICT Jabari's story will help assuage the fears kids experience when faced with a new and daunting adventure. A terrific seasonal storytime read-aloud that's perfect for one-on-one sharing.-Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services 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.

Book list Jabari has decided: today is the day he will jump off the high dive. But when he and his father and sister arrive at the pool, he's suddenly not quite so sure. He gets in line, but then lets the other kids go ahead of him. He gets halfway up the ladder, but then scurries back down to do stretches. His father lets him know it's OK to be scared, and before Jabari knows it, he has jumped off the high dive with a huge, satisfying splash. This is a small, well-told story about a child working up the courage to do something difficult. The dialogue and text are straightforward and make a nice pairing with the creatively chosen angles for the illustrations. One particularly effective full-page illustration is from Jabari's point of view, standing on top of the diving board and looking down past his tiny brown toes to the blue rectangular pool below, truly capturing the book's pivotal moment. In all, a welcome piece for any summertime collection.--Worthington, Becca Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The adventures of Beekle : the unimaginary friend
by Dan Santat

Publishers Weekly On an island of imaginary friends waiting "to be picked by a child and given a special name," one friend-he's adorably pudgy, and wears a paper crown-resolves to wait no longer. He sets sail in a small boat, but the sea serpents and whales he encounters are not nearly as daunting as the real world, which is gray and pedestrian: "No kids were eating cake. No one stopped to hear the music." At last, his human appears: she's a geeky, mop-headed girl who likes to draw. A sweet sequence shows the two shifting and blushing next to each other; she turns to him with his new name: "Beekle." He's overjoyed. Santat (Crankenstein), a versatile and talented illustrator, ranges wide, drawing underwater ocean scenes, grim cityscapes, and appealing alien creatures. The third-person retelling weighs the story down somewhat-there's no conversation-and the pace drags as Beekle's search has more obstacles than it needs to. Affirming thoughts abound ("thinking about his friend gave him the courage to journey on"), but fans may miss the cracked humor of Santat's more irreverent work. Ages 3-6. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list In this picture book, imaginary friends are born on a distant island, where they await their real-life kid friends to dream them up and name them. One surprisingly expressive pudgy white blob gets sick of waiting, so he hops in a boat and embarks on an adventurous voyage to the real world, departing on a sunny sea next to a rainbow-scaled dragon and arriving in a gray, dingy city harbor. Once he reaches his destination, a fortuitous breeze brings him to bespectacled Alice, who names him Beekle, and it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. It's unclear why Beekle is so unimaginary, since the only thing that sets him apart is his initiative, but that's an easily forgivable quibble. Santat's plush illustrations fill each two-page spread with beautiful, varied layouts and a kaleidoscope of tones. Whether he's lost amid a sea of black pants-legs, lonely on top of a bare tree, or joyful at discovering the loopy, colorful world of vivacious children with vivid imaginations, Beekle's journey is lovely.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-How long would you wait and how far a journey would you make to find your truest friend? Born on an island for imaginary friends, Beekle waits to be "imagined by a real child." He waits and he waits, but his turn never comes. Filled with impetuous courage, Beekle does the unimaginable and heads out across deep waters until he reaches the real world. He finds that life there is so harried that no one notices him. Eventually, as he waits at the top of a star-leafed tree, a small girl with a friendly face calls out to him with a picture in her hand. They learn to be friends, share adventures and snacks, joke, "and together they did the unimaginable." Santat's attention to detail in the mixed-media illustrations shares a child's eye for laughter and movement on full-bleed spreads with strategically placed text. Gazes of wonderment, broad smiles, and changes in perspective ensure an easy transition from page to page. Beekle's round white visage and taped orange paper crown are immediately identifiable in each scene, a sharp contrast to his surroundings against variations of dark neutrals on a city street or the brightly colored dragons of a child's imagination. Like Beekle's new friend, there's something here that feels just right as an "unimaginary" friendship creates a joyous, recognizable bond. A terrific addition to any library.-Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

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

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 exposs 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.

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.

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 Inside Out and Back Again
by Thanhha Lai

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-A story based on the author's childhood experiences. Ha is 10 when Saigon falls and her family flees Vietnam. First on a ship, then in two refugee camps, and then finally in Alabama, she and her family struggle to fit in and make a home. As Ha deals with leaving behind all that is familiar, she tries to contain her temper, especially in the face of school bullies and the inconsistencies of the English language. She misses her papaya tree, and her family worries about friends and family remaining in Vietnam, especially her father, who was captured by Communist forces several years earlier. Told in verse, each passage is given a date so readers can easily follow the progression of time. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Ha's perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction. Even through her frustration with her new life and the annoyances of her three older brothers, her voice is full of humor and hope.-Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD (c) Copyright 2011. 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* After her father has been missing in action for nine years during the Vietnam War, 10-year-old H flees with her mother and three older brothers. Traveling first by boat, the family reaches a tent city in Guam, moves on to Florida, and is finally connected with sponsors in Alabama, where H finds refuge but also cruel rejection, especially from mean classmates. Based on Lai's personal experience, this first novel captures a child-refugee's struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free-verse poems, H's immediate narrative describes her mistakes both humorous and heartbreaking with grammar, customs, and dress (she wears a flannel nightgown to school, for example); and readers will be moved by H's sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast who spends lunchtime hiding in the bathroom. Eventually, H does get back at the sneering kids who bully her at school, and she finds help adjusting to her new life from a kind teacher who lost a son in Vietnam. The elemental details of H's struggle dramatize a foreigner's experience of alienation. And even as she begins to shape a new life, there is no easy comfort: her father is still gone.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Narrating in sparse free-verse poems, 10-year-old Ha brings a strong, memorable voice to the immigrant experience as her family moves from war-torn South Vietnam to Alabama in 1975. First-time author Lai, who made the same journey with her family, divides her novel into four sections set in Vietnam, "At Sea," and the last two in Alabama. Lai gives insight into cultural and physical landscapes, as well as a finely honed portrait of Ha's family as they await word about Ha's POW father and face difficult choices (awaiting a sponsor family, "...Mother learns/ sponsors prefer those/ whose applications say Christians.'/ Just like that/ Mother amends our faith,/ saying all beliefs/ are pretty much the same"). The taut portrayal of Ha's emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. A series of poems about English grammar offer humor and a lens into the difficulties of adjusting to a new language and customs ("Whoever invented English/ should be bitten/ by a snake"). An incisive portrait of human resilience. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Ten-year-old Ha and her family flee Saigon and struggle to make a new life in Alabama. Told in verse, the story features a spirited child who misses her homeland and faces bullies, unfriendly people, and perfectly horrid American food. A tender tale, leavened with humor and hope. (Mar.) (c) Copyright 2011. 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 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