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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The crossover
by by Kwame Alexander

School Library Journal Gr 6-10-Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: ".when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering.. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile..Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal. (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.

Book list The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn't lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: "I rise like a Learjet-/ seventh-graders aren't supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!" Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh's trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys' father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9-12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) 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 Dont Touch My Hair!
by Sharee Miller

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Miller follows up Princess Hair with more follicle-related fun. Smiling bright, brown-skinned Aria happily shares the things she loves about her bouncy, beautiful hair. She receives plenty of compliments from others, too, which she enjoys-but she resolutely does not enjoy when people try to touch her hair without asking. In a series of amusing and increasingly wacky situations, Aria tries to flee from overly curious hands, first situating herself behind a shrub, then diving underwater with a mermaid, and even leaving Earth for the safety of space (where she is approached by two meddlesome aliens) all to no avail; everyone still wants to touch her hair! When she finally escapes notice, Aria feels lonely. She returns home, but she has something to say: "This is MY hair.please, just look and don't touch without my permission." Miller has managed to put an upbeat, silly spin on a relatable problem for many children that can be awkward and upsetting. Aria has an adventure, but more importantly, she is able to state her boundaries with others when it comes to physical contact. The book closes with examples of Aria saying both yes and no when asked about her hair, and those wishes being respected. Miller's bold mixed media art is a delight; each page brims with texture, from Aria's ebullient coils filling a spread to the zany houses of her bustling hometown. Young audiences will love pointing out each vibrant detail. VERDICT An engaging, colorful lesson in personal space that will shine whether read aloud or one-on-one.-Ashleigh Williams, School Library Journal © 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 Aria loves her soft and bouncy hair and so does everyone else. Aria avoids the intrusive hands of people who want to feel her tresses, with Miller's illustrations ably depicting the anxiety of being surrounded by people disregarding personal space. Aria imagines herself escaping in fantastic scenes where she encounters more creatures who also seek to touch her hair. Finally, she seeks refuge on an island, but gets lonely and reluctantly rejoins civilization. But when yet another person stretches toward her, Aria says, DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR! Aria acknowledges everyone's interest in her hair, and firmly states they can only touch with her permission. The diverse crowd of people around her look repentant, and thereafter, people ask to touch, and listen when Aria says no. This story can jump-start conversations about setting boundaries. Ink drawings with bright watercolors match the positive tone and humor of the story, and colored-pencil scribbles enhance the texture of Aria's hair. Aria is a character with a healthy self-image who demonstrates courage and grace in communicating with others.--Michelle Young Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Aria is an African-American girl who's proud of her showstopping hair "that grows up toward the sun like a flower." But people keep confusing admiration with acquiescence: strangers, she laments, "are so curious about my hair that they try to touch it without even asking for permission!" It feels like the entire universe has lost its sense of boundaries. In a series of wonderfully expressive, humorous cartoons that mix full-page and spot art, Aria imagines encountering underwater creatures, forest animals, and even aliens who reach for her curls while cooing, "How do you get it so big?" She contemplates hiding; she loses her temper ("That's it. That's enough. DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR!"). Then she resolves to set limits, and, in speaking up for herself, she begins to feel free, respected, and in charge of her own body again. Storytelling by Miller (Princess Hair) is frank, funny, and revelatory, with a beleaguered but never beaten protagonist with whom readers will instantly connect. And her book embraces audiences of all backgrounds, nudging them, in different ways, to a new level of understanding. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Michael L. Printz Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Bone Gap
by Laura Ruby

Book list *Starred Review* For all appearances, Bone Gap is a sluggish farming town that most people want to escape, a place with gaps just wide enough for people to slip away . . . leaving only their stories behind. That's what folks assumed happened when Roza disappeared from the state fair, but 17-year-old Finn knows better. He's the only one who sees her leave, but his description of her abductor that he moves like a shivering cornstalk doesn't help the police, and the people of Bone Gap resentfully believe that Finn helped the beloved girl disappear because she wanted to. She arrived just as enigmatically as she left: she appeared one night in Finn and Sean's barn, beaten and cagey and unwilling to see a doctor, but the brothers didn't leer at her like most men, so she stuck around. Even though the people of Bone Gap are suspicious of outsiders, they were quickly taken by the beautiful Polish girl with an uncanny feel for dirt and plants and livestock, but none so much as Finn's brother, Sean, who seems to lose a piece of himself when she disappears. Her departure drives a wedge between the brothers Finn feels like Sean isn't doing enough to look for her, and Sean thinks Finn is hiding something about the night she left. Most of Bone Gap sides with Sean, and Finn, who has always been strange, feels like more of an outsider than ever. Finn keeps searching, however, and odd-looking Petey, the fiery daughter of the local beekeeper, is the only who believes him. She's just as much of an outsider as Finn, especially after ugly, untrue rumors about Petey and a boy at a party spread in that pernicious small-town way. But in spite of the rumors, Finn is deeply drawn to her and her wide-set, bee-like eyes. Even after the strange way Finn stares at her, Petey still thinks he's beautiful. Their endearing romance is free of sticky sweetness, and together they discover that there's more to their town and Finn than meets the eye. It's the gaps in Bone Gap that give it its name, but there are no cliffs or ravines there. Rather, there are gaps in the world. In the space of things. Those gaps in the town are loose enough that a person can fall clear through to the other side of reality, and that's precisely where the cornstalk man took Roza. At first, he keeps her in a normal suburban house, but after she attempts an escape, she wakes up in a cavernous castle and later, a too-perfect re-creation of her village in Poland, all while the sinister cornstalk man waits for her, the most beautiful woman he's ever seen, to fall in love with him. Roza's history is full of such men. As a young girl in Poland, she was constantly pursued, but she soon realized that those men merely wanted to possess her, sometimes violently, for her beauty and nothing more. Her capture is a twisted version of a fairy tale, the kind that prizes a princess for her ethereal beauty and rescues her from a lifetime toiling in the soil. But Roza loves toiling in the soil, and when Finn plumbs the depths of the underworld to rescue her, he does so not as a brawny hero but as someone who believes in Roza's strength and independence. Ruby weaves powerful themes throughout her stunning novel: beauty as both a gift and a burden; the difference between love and possession; the tensions between what lies on the surface and what moves beneath; the rumbling threat of sexual violence; the brutal reality of small-town cruelties. She imbues all of it with captivating, snowballing magic realism, which has the dual effect of making the hard parts of the story more palatable to read while subtly emphasizing how purely wicked and dehumanizing assault can be. But in Ruby's refined and delicately crafty hand, reality and fantasy don't fall neatly into place. She compellingly muddles the two together right through to the end. Even then, after she reveals many secrets, magic still seems to linger in the real parts of Bone Gap, and the magical elements retain their frightening reality. Wonder, beauty, imperfection, cruelty, love, and pain are all inextricably linked but bewitchingly so.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 10 Up-It is a rare book that sits comfortably on the shelf with the works of Twain, McCullers, Conroy, Stephen King, and D'Aulaires' Greek Myths--rarer still that a novel combines elements of these authors together. Bone Gap does just this, to superb effect. We start with a boy named Finn and his brother, Sean. Sean is the classic hero: strong, silent, great at everything he does. Finn is a pretty boy whose otherworldly goofiness has earned him the nicknames Spaceman, Sidetrack, and Moonface. Along comes Rosza, a beautiful and damaged young woman, fleeing from some unknown evil. When she disappears, only Finn witnesses her abduction and he is unable to describe her captor. He is also unsure whether she left by force or choice. The author defies readers' expectations at every turn. In this world, the evidence of one's senses counts for little; appearances, even less. Heroism isn't born of muscle, competence, and desire, but of the ability to look beyond the surface and embrace otherworldliness and kindred spirits. Sex happens, but almost incidentally. Evil happens, embodied in a timeless, nameless horror that survives on the mere idea of beauty. A powerful novel.-Nina Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME (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 The Testaments
by Margaret Atwood

Publishers Weekly Atwood's confident, magnetic sequel to The Handmaid's Tale details the beginning of the end for Gilead, the authoritarian religion-touting dystopia where fertile single women (handmaids) live in sexual servitude. The novel opens in New England 15 years after the first novel ends. Aunt Lydia has become a renowned educator, an ally of Gilead's spy chief, and an archivist for Gilead's secrets. Ensconced in her library, Aunt Lydia recalls how she went from prisoner to collaborator during Gilead's early days. Now she is old and dying and ready for revenge. Her plan involves two teenagers. Gilead native Agnes Jemima is almost 13 when she learns her real mother was a runaway handmaid. Rather than marry, Agnes Jemima becomes an aunt-in-training. Sixteen-year-old Daisy in Toronto discovers she is the daughter of a runaway handmaid after the people she thought were her parents die in an explosion. Aunt Lydia brings the girls together under her tutelage, then sends them off to try to escape with Gilead's secrets. Since publication, The Handmaid's Tale has appeared as a movie, graphic novel, and popular miniseries. Atwood does not dwell on the franchise or current politics. Instead, she explores favorite themes of sisterhood, options for the disempowered, and freedom's irresistible draw. Atwood's eminently rewarding sequel revels in the energy of youth, the shrewdness of old age, and the vulnerabilities of repressive regimes. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Year of Billy Miller
by Kevin Henkes

Book list Billy Miller is starting second grade, and though his teacher, Mrs. Silver, tells the class it is the Year of the Rabbit, Billy's father tells him it will be the Year of Billy Miller. Billy isn't sure. He's even more worried when he gets off on the wrong foot his first day, but as the months go on, Billy begins to shine. There are some wonderful moments here: when Billy brings his teacher silver items coins, a paper clip, a little rabbit to show her he's a nice boy; when he agonizes over how to tell his father that Papa is a babyish name; and a triumphant ending when poetry and self-confidence intertwine. But the school year also seems rushed, and some intriguing characters, like the annoying Emma, are barely touched. Harkening back to writers of an earlier era, like Eleanor Estes, Henkes never compromises his language. Words like replicated, diligently, and frustrated appear and that's on just one page. Since this is so age specific, older readers might pass it by. That would be too bad, because this is a story with a lot of heart and sweet insights into growing up. Illustrations unseen. High-Demand Backstory: There's no more versatile producer of children's books working today than Henkes. Libraries, with great justification, are always interested in what he's up to now.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-The beginning of a new school year brings anxious moments for Billy Miller, a typical second grader at Georgia O'Keeffe Elementary School in a small Wisconsin town. His new teacher, Ms. Silver, uses chopsticks to hold her hair in place and know-it-all Emma Sparks is unfortunately one of his desk mates. Just as a school year is divided into quarters, the book is divided into four parts-"Teacher," "Father," "Sister," and "Mother"-each offering a new perspective on Billy's personality and development through his interactions with these well-developed characters. He begins the school year with a lump on his head from a family-vacation incident and navigates glitter homework fiascos, canceled sleepover plans, and sibling annoyances as readers see the year unfold through funny and often poignant situations. Billy himself might have been daunted by a book with more than 200 pages, but eager young readers will find this a great first chapter book to share or read solo.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH (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.

Publishers Weekly It's the Year of the Rabbit, according to Billy Miller's new second-grade teacher. It's also the year of several dilemmas for the boy, including the fear he might "start forgetting things" due to bumping his head while on vacation over the summer. Then there's the habitat diorama that Billy is assigned-the bat cave he creates doesn't turn out quite like he'd hoped. Henkes's (Junonia) gentle slice-of-life novel, divided into four sections, humorously examines these and other plights while capturing the essence of Billy's relationships with four significant figures in his life: his teacher (who he accidentally insults on the first day of school); his stay-at-home, struggling-artist father; his sometimes annoying, sometimes endearing three-year-old sister; and his mother, about whom Billy must compose a poem to be presented at the end of the school year. Each segment introduces a new conflict that Billy manages to resolve without too much fuss or torment. The book's clear structure, concrete images, and just-challenging-enough vocabulary are smartly attuned to emerging readers, and its warmth, relatable situations, and sympathetic hero give it broad appeal. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (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

Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Olive Kitteridge:
by Elizabeth Strout

Library Journal : In her third novel, New York Times best-selling author Strout (Abide with Me) tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories. Olive—a wife, mother, and retired teacher—lives in the small coastal town of Crosby, ME. A large, hulking woman with a relentlessly unpleasant personality, Olive intimidates generations of community members with her quick, cruel condemnations of those around her—including her gentle, optimistic, and devoted husband, Henry, and her son, Christopher, who, as an adult, flees the suffocating vortex of his mother's displeasure. Strout offers a fair amount of relief from Olive's mean cloud in her treatment of the lives of the other townsfolk. With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short story—telling trademark, she takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness. Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. For larger libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Coretta Scott King Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Remember: The Journey to School Integration
by Toni Morrison

Publishers Weekly : Assembling more than 50 photographs depicting segregation, school scenes and events prior to and following the 1954 Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, Morrison (Who's Got Game?) writes that "because remembering is the mind's first step toward understanding," her book is designed to take readers "on a journey through a time in American life when there was as much hate as there was love." She adds, she has "imagined the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the photographs to help tell this story." The photographs have a uniformly high impact. Some will be familiar: first-grader Ruby Bridges escorted by U.S. marshals from a newly integrated school; white adults' faces contorted with rage as they heckle black students. Against this disturbing backdrop, perhaps the most striking images are the rare moments of unguarded affection, as when a black girl and a white girl smile candidly at each other in a high school cafeteria. However, it's odd to see words invented for Ruby Bridges, who has told her own story elsewhere, and for other public figures; and not all the imagined words ring true (e.g., beneath a photo of three white teens wearing signs protesting the integration of their high school: "My buddies talked me into this.... These guys are my friends and friends are more important than strangers. Even if they're wrong. Aren't they?"). Odd, too, is the decision to put events that lead up to integration (the bus boycott, lunch counter protests) out of sequential order. In the end, the pairing of the fictional text with the historical photographs poses a problem: how much is the audience asked to "remember" and how much to "imagine"? All ages.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 3-8–This unusual blend of archival photographs, historical background, and fictional narrative brings to life the experiences and emotions of the African-American students who made the tumultuous journey to school integration. Dramatic, mostly full-page, black-and-white photographs make up the bulk of the book. An introduction sets the scene, and factual pages, consisting of several sentences, are scattered throughout. They explain the significance of the events, the trauma of racial conflict, the courage and determination of African Americans and their supporters, and the importance of remembering and understanding. With poignant simplicity and insight, Morrison imagines the thoughts and feelings of some of the people in the pictures. The wrenching, inspiring autobiographical school integration memoirs of first-grader Ruby Bridges (Through My Eyes [Scholastic, 1999]) and Little Rock Nine high school junior Melba Pettillo Beals (Warriors Don't Cry [Washington Square, 1995]) offer greater immediacy and convey a powerful message for future generations about the need for understanding, self-awareness, and self-respect. However, Morrison's reflective interpretation presents a gentler guide for younger readers. Appended are a chronology of "Key Events in Civil Rights and School Integration History"; "Photo Notes" that describe the actual date, location, and content of each picture; and a dedication that recalls the four young girls killed in the bombing of their Birmingham, AL, church in 1963. The provocative, candid images and conversational text should spark questions and discussion, a respect for past sacrifices, and inspiration for facing future challenges.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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