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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 Let the Children March.
by Monica Clark-Robinson

School Library Journal K-Gr 3-The youth of the Birmingham civil rights movement take center stage in this historical picture book. Clark-Robinson narrates from the voice of an unnamed girl, using simple language to tell the story of the momentous events surrounding the arrest and jailing of hundreds of children protesting racial segregation. The narrator states bluntly, "There were so many things I couldn't do." Much of the text will provoke questions and important conversations between children and adult readers. The experiences of segregation are sensitively depicted by Morrison. A playground behind a tall sharp fence sets the stage, while portrait-quality oil paintings of the children and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. fill the rest of the pages. The defiance, determination, and passion comes through clearly on the faces of the figures. An afterword and author's and illustrator's notes provide additional information, as does a cleverly illustrated time line on the endpapers. VERDICT A highly readable historical account which deserves a place on picture book and nonfiction shelves alike.-Clara Hendricks, Cambridge Public Library, MA 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 Nearly 55 years ago, an antisegregation march that came to be known as the Children's Crusade was instrumental in pushing President Kennedy and Congress to adopt the Voting Rights Act. That historic event is chronicled here in a semifictional narrative from the perspective of one of the young participants in Birmingham in 1963. Bolstered by Dr. King's assurances, the children endure snarling dogs, water hoses, and jail, emerging exhausted but undefeated. Morrison's lush oil paintings illustrate Clark-Robinson's terse descriptions, bringing to life the determination of the marchers, the brutality of the police, and the stifling heat of the packed jail cells without sugarcoating the reality. This remarkable story remains relevant today as young readers think about their roles in the ongoing struggle for justice. Teachers who use this book might scaffold it with additional resources that teach about the intensive planning and organization that went into this and other activist campaigns.--Chaudhri, Amina Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Clark-Robinson's stirring debut unfolds through the resolute voice of a (fictional) African-American girl participating in the 1963 Children's Crusade, during which young residents of Birmingham, Ala., marched to protest segregation. "Dr. King told us the time had come to march," the girl explains. Her parents can't risk losing their jobs, so she, her brother, and thousands of their peers volunteer to serve as "Dr. King's army" ("This burden, this time, did not have to be theirs to bear"). Morrison's dynamic oil paintings viscerally expose the protesters' courage and fear, as well as the anger of white onlookers and police who sic dogs on the marchers and blast them with hoses before locking many in jail. The children's refrains ("Singing the songs of freedom, one thousand strong we came") are displayed like banners across the pages, emphasizing collective strength in the face of brutal violence. The narrator's conclusion, "Our march made the difference," serves as a powerful reminder for today's readers about their own ability to fight for justice and equality. Ages 6-9. Author's agent: Natalie Lakosil, Bradford Literary. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Jan.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog This one summer
by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

Publishers Weekly Rose and Windy, friends for two weeks every summer in nearby Ontario lake cottages, have hit early adolescence. Rose, a bit older, has knowledge and polish that tubby, still-childish Windy lacks, and Windy sometimes bores her. Yet Windy's instincts are often sound, while Rose is led astray by an infatuation with a local convenience store clerk. As Rose's parents' marriage founders and the taunts of local teens wake her to issues of social class, Rose veers between secret grief and fleeting pleasure in the rituals of summer. Jillian Tamaki's exceptionally graceful line is one of the strengths of this work from the cousin duo behind Skim. Printed entirely in somber blue ink, the illustrations powerfully evoke the densely wooded beach town setting and the emotional freight carried by characters at critical moments, including several confronting their womanhood in different and painful ways. Fine characterization and sensitive prose distinguish the story, too-as when Rose remembers the wisdom a swimming teacher shared about holding his breath for minutes at a time: "He told me the secret was he would tell himself that he was actually breathing." Ages 12-up. Agent: Sam Hiyate, the Rights Factory. (May)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Trick Mirror
by Jia Tolentino

Publishers Weekly New Yorker contributor Tolentino debuts with a sharp, well-founded crackdown on the lies of self and culture in these nine original, incisive reflections on a hypercapitalist, internet-driven age that "positions personal identity as the center of the universe." While some essays peel back personal self-delusions-such as by recalling, in "Always Be Optimizing," how taking barre classes for fitness gave her the "satisfying but gross sense of having successfully conformed to a prototype" -others comment on broader cultural movements with frightening accuracy, for instance noting in "Pure Heroines" that "bravery and bitterness get so concentrated in literature, for women, because there's not enough space for [women] in the real world," or that the election of Donald Trump represents the "incontrovertible, humiliating vindication of scamming as the quintessential American ethos." The collection's chief strength is Tolentino's voice: sly, dry, and admittedly complicit in an era where "the choice...is to be destroyed or to morally compromise ourselves in order to be functional." While the insights aren't revelatory, the book's candid self-awareness and well-formulated prose, and Tolentino's ability to voice the bitterest truths-"Everything, not least the physical world itself, is overheating"-will gain Tolentino new fans and cement her reputation as an observer well worth listening to. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In her debut, New Yorker writer Tolentino turns a critical eye on herself and, in doing so, highlights the troubling images reflected in current American culture. These essays examine reality TV, physical optimization, rape culture, and more, and pieces about constructing identity on the Internet—from Geocities to Twitter trolling to the scam of the Fyre Festival—are especially timely and affecting. Tolentino's take on these topics is dark—the word nightmare is often used to describe the depressing effects of social media—and the author finds that an overriding theme is the desire to be seen, even if the image isn't always positive. Overall, she highlights how people must ignore the rot of the world in order to function day to day, which might be the most sinister thing of all. The book is thoroughly researched, and nearly every page contains a revelation about contemporary culture. Tolentino's writing is just personal enough to put a human aspect to her points, so that readers feel them intimately, and she admits her own unseemly qualities with the same attention by which she examines the rest of the world. The final essay on marriage lags behind what is otherwise a cutting, brilliant collection. VERDICT An incisive collection that cements Tolentino as one of her generation's greatest cultural critics.—Katy Hershberger, School Library Journal

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life
by Asheley Bryan

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Using real documents from an estate appraisal dated July 5, 1828, Bryan has created beautiful portrait paintings for 11 people who were named and priced as property on the Fairchildses' estate (the documents are reproduced fully in the endpapers and in segments throughout the work). Relying on narrative poetry to explore each figure's inner and outer life, Bryan gives voice to their history, their longing for freedom, and their skills as artisans, cooks, musicians, carpenters, etc. Each person has two visual portraits, with each accompanied by a poem (on the opposite page). Collaged historical documents of slave auctions fill the negative space of the first portrait frame. The second portrait depicts that person in a private dream, often a dream for safety, family, community, or the freedom to create. Peggy, a self-taught expert herbalist and cook for the Fairchildses, knows that although she works hard, everything goes to the estate. She dreams of her Naming Day ceremony and her parents calling to her, "Mariama! Mariama!" Each portrait reflects the role of song, call-and-response, ceremony, spirituality, community, and griots in living a double life-doing what was demanded while keeping close in their hearts the "precious secret," the constant yearning for freedom. Expertly crafted, these entries will deeply resonate with readers. Referenced in the poems are slave independence in Haiti, the drinking gourd, the North Star, and songs such as "Oh, by and By," "This Little Light," and "Oh Freedom." VERDICT A significant contribution to U.S. and African American history that will elicit compassion and understanding while instilling tremendous pride. A must-purchase for all collections.-Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, MA 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 Using a document from 1828 that lists the value of a U.S. landowner's 11 slaves, Bryan (Sail Away) creates distinct personalities and voices for each, painting their portraits and imagining their dreams. He starts with the wife of the slave owner, who felt her husband was good to their slaves ("He never hired an overseer"). But it's quickly clear that "good" slave ownership is an oxymoron: "I work hard-all profit to the estate," their cook Peggy observes. Bryan shows that the enslaved had secret lives of their own: "Years ago blacksmith Bacus and I/ 'jumped the broom'-/ the slave custom for marriage. No legal form for slaves." They cherish their traditions, call each other by their African names ("I am Bisa, 'Greatly Loved'?"), dream of escape, and long for freedom. His portraits show the men, women, and children gazing out at readers, the contours of their faces traced as if carved from wood, while strong rhythmic outlines mimic stained glass, echoing the sense of sacred memory. There are few first-person accounts of slaves, and these imagined words will strike a chord with even the youngest readers. Ages 6-10. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Documents related to an 1828 estate sale that included, along with hogs and cows, the names and prices of 11 individuals, were the genesis of this tribute to the lives, talents, and community of generations of those who were treated as property and whose humanity was disregarded. Bryan's expressive portrait art allows readers to peer into the faces of these men and women, while his poems unmask their hopes and aspirations. 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* Inspired by a document appraising the value of 11 enslaved people (along with livestock and cotton) in an estate for sale in the antebellum South, this exceptional book presents the imagined faces and voices of individuals whose society, against all reason, regarded them as less than human. Each person appears in a four-page section, opening with a page of free-verse text opposite a riveting head-and-shoulders portrait with a grim collage background of slavery-related documents. A banner reveals the person's appraised value, master-imposed slave name, and age. In the text, these individuals introduce themselves, their roles on the estate, and the skills (cooking, blacksmithing, sewing) they take pride in. On the second double-page spread, a verse text offers more personal reflections on their African roots, their love of family, and their dreams, while a more detailed, colorful painting expresses their heritage, their strength, and their rich inner lives. Their humanity shines through, showing the tragedy of their status and the gross absurdity of assigning prices to people. Longing for freedom is a constant theme, made all the more poignant by the appraisal document's date: 1828, decades before emancipation. Clean and spare, the verse brings the characters to life, while in the radiant artwork, their spirits soar. Rooted in history, this powerful, imaginative book honors those who endured slavery in America.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

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

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