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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Far far away
by Tom McNeal

School Library Journal Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY (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.

Book list *Starred Review* So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker's next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal's deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob's phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too.--Welch, Cindy Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog A Hungry Lion; or, A Dwindling Assortment of Animals.
by Lucy Ruth Cummins

School Library Journal K-Gr 3-With its macabre humor and delightfully scribbly illustrations, this tale is sure to delight a wide audience of children. Using a metafiction style, the author starts the book with "Once upon a time, there was a hungry lion, a penguin, a turtle, a brown mouse, those two rabbits, etc.," but must stop and repeatedly revise the list as the bevy of animals slowly dwindle to one smugly grinning lion and "that turtle." With several surprises, and some truly extraordinary full-page illustrations, this story winds itself to a laugh-out-loud ending that will tickle the unconventional funny bone. VERDICT Highly recommended for any library, sure to be a favorite read-aloud.-Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA © 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 It's all very peaceable kingdom at the beginning of this ostensibly placid story. The ingenuous narrator introduces a self-possessed lion (marvelously drawn in rough pencil, charcoal, and a vigorous application of markers) and 13 cute animals, including "a pig, a slightly bigger pig, a woolly sheep, a koala, and also a hen." Though described as "hungry," the lion does not seem particularly threatening, but as the animals start euphemistically "dwindling," questions arise. Still, the narrator soldiers on, struggling to keep up as Cummins, an S&S art director making her debut as author-artist, keeps readers guessing-it's fitting that a book with as many "Once upon a time" beginnings as this one has more then one potential ending, some happier than others. Cummins's dizzy meta-tale has just enough wink and cheek to assure readers that it's all in good fun, and her visual style-sketchbook playful, slyly spiking sweet-seeming scenes with moments of menace and fear-should leave them hungering (in a nice way) for her next book. Ages 4-8. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Meet one hungry lion and its menagerie of animal friends. Or are they friends? One by one, these animals disappear, while the lion remains hungry. Perhaps the lion is to blame, but could there be another explanation for these rapidly disappearing critters? Cummins' enjoyably repetitive text and droll illustrations give each animal a personality, despite their pending departure, from the stand-out sauciness of the lion to the affable nature of the ever-present turtle. The stark backgrounds play this up and allow each character to stand out. Of course, it's the brazen lion that drives the story: he gets in the reader's face, taking up the whole page with his loud red mane and cunning eyes, and seems curiously reserved throughout the ordeal. What's revealed is that the other animals have been preparing a birthday cake for the lion pretty great, right? Well, Cummins has a hilariously dark twist (two, actually) still to come. When this devilish book ends, there will, indeed, be only one animal left standing.--Dittmeier, Amy Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

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 Bobby Kennedy
by Chris Matthews

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Doll Bones
by Holly Black

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-At 12 years old, lifelong friends Zach, Poppy, and Alice are ferociously clinging to their childhoods. Using old Barbies, pirate action figures, dolls from Good Will, and their imaginations, they have created an exciting world of characters in an elaborate game. Figuring heavily in their plotline is the Queen, an antique doll of bone china that belongs to Poppy's mother and is strictly off-limits to the kids. She's also incredibly creepy. When Zach's dad throws away his action figures, the boy is so devastated that he ends the game abruptly, leaving the girls hurt and confused. Shortly thereafter, Poppy reveals that the Queen is made of the bones of a dead girl named Eleanor who has been communicating with her at night. The doll appears to be filled with Eleanor's ashes, and she has promised Poppy that she will make their lives miserable if they don't journey to Ohio, find her grave, and bury her properly. After much persuading, Zach and Alice agree to the journey. The Queen gets scarier and scarier as unexplained events begin to occur along the way. Black has created protagonists who readers will care about, and amusing secondary characters, like a pink-haired librarian and a crazy bus passenger who seems to be able to see Eleanor. This novel is a chilling ghost story, a gripping adventure, and a heartwarming look at the often-painful pull of adulthood. Black-and-white illustrations actually tone down the scare factor a little, making this a perfect starter story for budding horror fans.-Mandy Laferriere, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX (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.

Book list *Starred Review* A trio of adolescents goes on a quest to satisfy the demands of a ghost. Sounds like standard middle-grade fare, but in Black's absolutely assured hands, it is anything but. Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing the same make-believe game for years, one involving pirates and mermaids and, of course, the Great Queen a creepy, bone-china doll at Poppy's house. Then Poppy reveals that she's been haunted by a girl whose ground-up bones lie inside the Great Queen, so the doll must be properly buried. Begrudgingly, the three agree to play one last game and hope against hope for a real adventure, the kind that changed you. With heart-wrenching swiftness, Black paints a picture of friends at the precipice of adulthood; they can sense the tentative peace of youth that is about to be demolished. The tightly focused, realistic tale bladed with a hint of fairy-tale darkness feels cut from the very soul of youth: there is no sentimentality, no cuteness, only the painful, contradictory longing to move forward in one's life without leaving anything behind. Stories about the importance of stories ( Maybe no stories were lies, thinks Zach) don't come much more forthright and affecting than this one. Wheeler's sketches ameliorate some of the tension and dread not a bad thing. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Black's best-selling Spiderwick Chronicles pave the way for this powerful stand-alone, which comes with an author tour, in-theater promos, and more.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Zach plays with dolls. Never mind that they're action figures, heroes in a wild, improvisational saga he acts out with friends Poppy and Alice. Never mind that he's a solid student and rising basketball star. Zach is 12, and his father has decided this must stop. While Zach's at school, the dolls go to the dump, and Zach is left with only rage. He quits the game, but Alice and Poppy haul him out for one more quest: a bus trip to lay to rest the Queen, a bone china doll that Poppy swears is made from the bones of a murdered girl. Another crazy quest from Poppy's fertile brain? Or could this ghost story be real? The wonderfully eerie doll, the realism of the kids' improbable logic, and the ache underlying every character's actions create as much a state of existential anxiety as narrative tension. Black captures the adolescent sense that things are about to explode before they get explained. And it's a darn good adventure, too. Ages 10-14. Author's agent: Barry Goldblatt, Barry Goldblatt Literary. Illustrator's agent: Jennifer Rofe, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (May) (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 The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

Library Journal: It's been five years since Kingsolver's last novel (Pigs in Heaven, LJ 6/15/93), and she has used her time well. This intense family drama is set in an Africa on the verge of independence and upheaval. In 1959, evangelical preacher Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters from Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire. Their dysfunction and cultural arrogance proves disastrous as the family is nearly destroyed by war, Nathan's tyranny, and Africa itself. Told in the voices of the mother and daughters, the novel spans 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the continent that tore them apart. Kingsolver has a keen understanding of the inevitable, often violent clashes between white and indigenous cultures, yet she lets the women tell their own stories without being judgmental. An excellent novel that was worth the wait and will win the author new fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/98.]--Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour.

Copyright 1998 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 Brown girl dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson

Book list *Starred Review* What is this book about? In an appended author's note, Woodson says it best: my past, my people, my memories, my story. The resulting memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson's preadolescent life into art, through memories of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family. Small things ice cream from the candy store, her grandfather's garden, fireflies in jelly jars become large as she recalls them and translates them into words. She gives context to her life as she writes about racial discrimination, the civil rights movement, and, later, Black Power. But her focus is always on her family. Her earliest years are spent in Ohio, but after her parents separate, her mother moves her children to South Carolina to live with Woodson's beloved grandparents, and then to New York City, a place, Woodson recalls, of gray rock, cold and treeless as a bad dream. But in time it, too, becomes home; she makes a best friend, Maria, and begins to dream of becoming a writer when she gets her first composition notebook and then discovers she has a talent for telling stories. Her mother cautions her not to write about her family, but, happily, many years later she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-"I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins" writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, "as the South explodes" into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the "colored" were treated in the North and South. "After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio." She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother's insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH (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.

Publishers Weekly Written in verse, Woodson's collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author's perspective of America, "a country caught/ between Black and White," during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah's Witnesses, her grandmother's religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: "Who could love/ this place-where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them." The writer's passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson's ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family. Ages 10-up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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