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Click to search this book in our catalog The Passion of Dolssa
by Berry, Julie

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old Provençal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. 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.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. 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 When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © 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 Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! We Are Growing!
by Mo Willems

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-An exciting thing is happening. The grass is growing! One blade grows tall, another grows curly, and two grow pointy. As these changes occur, the blades of grass declare what it is that makes them unique-all but one, that is. The last blade of grass has no distinguishing feature of note, and no matter how much the group wrack their brains, they can't figure it out. Then, the great equalizer, the lawn mower, comes along. It takes this event for the blade to discover his special quality. As for the rest, even though they are literally cut down, they are reassured that they will grow again. The empowering narrative can be applied to lessons regarding things like confidence, identity, and growing up. No matter the takeaway, the message is easily consumable, thanks to exaggerated characteristics, cartoonish actions, and a good sense of comedic timing. In this new series, Willems's popular characters share their favorite books, acting as the introductory and closing framework to the story. In this case, they have made an excellent choice. VERDICT Fans of Elephant and Piggie will devour this kooky easy reader, with its similar presentation and storytelling style.-Rachel Forbes, formerly at Oakville Public Library, Ontario, Canada © Copyright 2016. 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 *Starred Review* Willems' beginning-reader superstars share their favorite books with readers in the new series Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! In this melodramatic story, written and illustrated by Keller, several shoots of grass (and one surprise dandelion) grow and ponder their existence and the things that make them special. Each shoot recognizes its strength. But what about Walt? He's not the pointiest, tallest, silliest, or even the crunchiest! After the humorous conclusion, Elephant and Piggie chime in with a few giggle-inducing closing remarks. Short, declarative sentences are presented in well-placed, color-coded speech bubbles. Some of the -iest words (silliest, pointiest, etc.) could be tricky, but clever, plot-driven repetition and excellent visual-context clues will help readers decipher these words. The text, printed in a large and easy-to-read font, is always surrounded by generous white space, allowing new readers to easily navigate the layout. The colorful, cartoonish illustrations are full of expressive faces and entertaining interactions. Though Elephant and Piggie have completed their own adventures, it's wonderful to see them present this hilarious, thoughtful, and well-designed title.--Seto Forrester, Amy Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Lincoln's Last Trial
by Dan Abrams and David Fisher

Library Journal In a readable but sometimes fanciful book, Abrams (chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News; Man Down) and veteran author Fisher recount Lincoln's last major trial, in 1859, which they insist carried national political implications because of Lincoln's prominence following the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. In copious detail, they relate the murder trial in which Lincoln served as a defense counsel. The book is based on the trial transcript by politician Robert R. Hitt, a transcript that was discovered 30 years ago but has not been examined closely for what it reveals about Lincoln, the lawyer, until recently. Abrams and Fisher quote generously from Hitt's transcript to bring into sharp focus the witness-by-witness testimony and courtroom proceedings. They also provide instructive historical context on the development of legal practice, jury selection and duties, concepts of self-defense, courtroom pleadings, and Lincoln's recognized genius in cross-examination and closing arguments. However, the authors sacrifice credibility for readability by inventing musings and dialog by Hitt, Lincoln, and other principals. They never make a case for their hyperbolic subtitle; in fact, the trial was not Lincoln's last. Verdict A book that lets readers see Lincoln the lawyer in action but fails to prove its argument.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia © 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.

Library Journal In a readable but sometimes fanciful book, Abrams (chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News; Man Down) and veteran author Fisher recount Lincoln's last major trial, in 1859, which they insist carried national political implications because of Lincoln's prominence following the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. In copious detail, they relate the murder trial in which Lincoln served as a defense counsel. The book is based on the trial transcript by politician Robert R. Hitt, a transcript that was discovered 30 years ago but has not been examined closely for what it reveals about Lincoln, the lawyer, until recently. Abrams and Fisher quote generously from Hitt's transcript to bring into sharp focus the witness-by-witness testimony and courtroom proceedings. They also provide instructive historical context on the development of legal practice, jury selection and duties, concepts of self-defense, courtroom pleadings, and Lincoln's recognized genius in cross-examination and closing arguments. However, the authors sacrifice credibility for readability by inventing musings and dialog by Hitt, Lincoln, and other principals. They never make a case for their hyperbolic subtitle; in fact, the trial was not Lincoln's last. Verdict A book that lets readers see Lincoln the lawyer in action but fails to prove its argument.-Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia © 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 Legal affairs journalist Abrams and coauthor Fisher illuminate a key marker on Abraham Lincoln's path to the White House. By the summer of 1859, some of Lincoln's staunchest supporters urged him to seek the Republican presidential nomination, and Lincoln, a highly successful and prominent Illinois attorney who had attracted national attention in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, was definitely interested. So his agreement to act as defense attorney in a murder trial in Springfield carried considerable political risks. After several earlier altercations, Quinn Harrison fatally stabbed Greek Crafton. Harrison's father was a prominent Republican and friend of Lincoln. Lincoln and cocounsel Stephen Logan based their strategy on self-defense, though Illinois standards of self-defense were particularly restrictive, and the presiding judge, possibly a political enemy of Lincoln, excluded critical testimony. Still, Lincoln and Logan soldiered on, and Lincoln was particularly effective, mixing a folksy demeanor and a sense of outrage at the injustice of the proceedings. The transcripts reveal Lincoln at his best, fighting for a cause he believed in with brilliance and passion qualities that would serve him so well as president.--Freeman, Jay Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Eragon
by Christopher Paolini

Publishers Weekly: In the first volume in Paolini's planned Inheritance trilogy, 15-year-old Eragon discovers an odd blue gemstone while exploring an infamous stretch of forest. It is a dragon egg, fated to hatch in his care. Eragon quickly develops a psychic connection with the female dragon that emerges, whom he names Saphira ("His emotions were completely open to her mind, and she understood him better than anyone else"). Eragon narrowly escapes doom with Saphira's help, but the uncle who raised him is killed, setting up a robust revenge/adventure tale. The scope quickly expands: Eragon turns out to be the first of a new generation of Riders, a lodge of legendary dragon-riding warriors killed by the evil King Galbatorix. As a result, he becomes the focal point in a war between Galbatorix's forces and the resistance efforts of the Varden. Paolini, who was 15 years old himself when he began this book, takes the near-archetypes of fantasy fiction and makes them fresh and enjoyable, chiefly through a crisp narrative and a likable hero. He carries a substantial Tolkien influence-fanciful spellings of geographical names, the use of landscape as character, as well as the scale and structure of the story itself. But his use of language dispenses with the floral, pastoral touch in favor of more direct prose. The likeness does not end there: the volume opens with a detailed map of Paolini's world, and ends with a glossary and pronunciation guide for his invented language. An auspicious beginning to both career and series. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal: Gr 5 Up-Eragon, 15, is hunting for wild game when he witnesses a mysterious explosion. At the center of the blast radius he finds a polished blue stone marked with white veins. Brom, the village storyteller, has shown interest in it, so it is to him that Eragon turns when it starts squeaking, then wobbling, and then hatches into a majestic sapphire blue dragon. His decision to keep and raise Saphira starts him on an epic journey of Tolkienesque proportions that is only partially told in the 500 pages of this book. Eragon learns that the Empire's cruel and oppressive king will stop at nothing to get Eragon and Saphira to serve him. Training and traveling with Brom, the teen and dragon learn to work together in war and peace, using a combination of traditional fighting arts and magic. They encounter massive humanoid warriors with savage intentions and are befriended by Murtagh, a human warrior with mysterious ties to the Varden and the Empire. Eventually, they seek refuge with dwarves who harbor the Varden, who exist to free the Empire. Eragon does not approach the depth, uniqueness, or mastery of J. R. R. Tolkien's works, and sometimes the magic solutions are just too convenient for getting out of difficult situations. However, the empathetic characters and interesting plot twists will appeal to the legions of readers who have been captivated by the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy and are looking for more books like it.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA

Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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