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Click to search this book in our catalog Scythe.
by Shusterman, Neal

Publishers Weekly In the future Earth of this grim novel from National Book Award-winner Shusterman (Challenger Deep), the digital cloud has transformed into the self-aware Thunderhead, whose benevolent totalitarian rule has turned the planet into a utopia. There's no poverty or crime, and everyone is guaranteed immortality. Well, almost everyone. Because babies are still being born, population growth must be limited. Thus evolved the Scythes, an organization whose members are charged with "gleaning" citizens at random. Sixteen-year-old Citra and Rowan are chosen by a Scythe named Faraday to train as apprentices. Neither likes the idea, but they're given no choice. Later, Citra becomes an apprentice to Curie, a legendary Scythe, but Rowan is apprenticed to Goddard, who kills for sadistic pleasure. Calling to mind Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas," Shusterman's story forces readers to confront difficult ethical questions. Is the gleaning of a few acceptable if it maximizes the happiness of all? Is it possible to live a moral life within such a system? This powerful tale is guaranteed to make readers think deeply. Ages 12-up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In a world where humanity has conquered death and a fraternity called Scythes are the only ones allowed to kill people in order to curb overpopulation, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch must cope with their newfound and terrible responsibilities as apprentices in killing. A brilliant and gripping sci-fi thriller that acutely explores the consequences of worldwide immortality and asks readers to think critically about the nature of morality. © 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* In the year 2042, humans conquered death. Now, in the postmortal society of MidMerica, people can live for millennia, either reanimated from fatal accidents or turning the corner when they get old by resetting themselves to a younger age. But Earth remains the only habitable planet and so exist the Scythes, tasked with keeping the population in check: those who a Scythe gleans stay dead. Citra and Rowan are two teenagers in this world, chosen to apprentice the Honorable Scythe Faraday (Scythes abandon their own names and take the names of historical innovators). Neither teen wants to learn the ways of a Scythe, and neither wants to begin gleaning lives, although Faraday tells them that, actually, only the uneager have any business accepting the mantle of a Scythe. The plot, which follows Citra's and Rowan's year-long apprenticeships, is certainly interesting enough: the two are both allies and competitors, as only one will be given the dubious prize of Scythedom, and there's an inevitable hint of forbidden love. More fascinating, though, are the questions that Shusterman raises in his exploration of this seemingly perfect future. Murdering teens are nothing new, but this is not the brave new world of The Hunger Games (2008). This society isn't a totalitarian regime masquerading as a paradise, nor is it a postapocalyptic wasteland. It's an actual utopia, a place where a sentient Cloud, known as the Thunderhead, has wiped out poverty, racial inequality, and mental and physical disease a place where lives are long and death, even with the Scythes, is virtually nonexistent. (The statistics: Everyone knows the chance of being gleaned in this or even the next millennium is so low as to be ignored.) The world is at peace and tragedy has been minimized and, honestly, it's kind of boring. There have been, of course, other future-facing books that deal with the eradication of death, like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005), and others that explore the bounds of immortality, as in Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting (1975), and this pairs wonderfully with both. But few endeavors ask the questions Shusterman faces head-on: in a world without death, what becomes of life? On a field trip of sorts, Faraday takes Rowan and Citra to a museum, and Rowan notes that postmortal art lacks the urgency and turbulence of art created before the eradication of death. Similarly, Scythes are required to keep journals, and frequent musings from Scythe Curie (The Granddameof Death) appear throughout the narrative. We are not the same beings we once were, she says. Consider our inability to grasp literature and most entertainment from the mortal age. To us, the things that stirred mortal human emotions are incomprehensible. Only stories of love pass through our postmortal filter, yet even then, we are baffled by the intensity of longing and loss that threatens those mortal tales. And then the more troubling question: If we are no longer human, what are we? Static and stale, for one. Many of Shusterman's secondary characters here come across flat and bland because their world has made them that way. There's no struggle, no desire, no vibrancy. It's not to say there's no tension in this world Citra and Rowan face increasingly higher stakes as they race toward the end of their apprenticeship. A rogue group of Scythes begins killing beyond their quota, corrupting the power they possess to take a life, and a sequel is heralded by the explosive ending. But the world around them spins contentedly on. Shusterman is no stranger to pushing boundaries. Scythe owes an obvious debt to Unwind (2007) and its sequels, and this succeeds as a sort of shadow companion to Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking trilogy: instead of exploring the ways in which men are monsters, this deals in what happens to men when there are no monsters. When our reach does not exceed our grasp, when comfort is more easily obtained than struggle, when our essential humanity doesn't burn out but becomes slowly irrelevant, what becomes of us? Readers will find many things in these pages. Answers to such unsettling questions will not be among them.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In a world in which humanity has conquered death (no aging, no disease, no poverty, no war), ruled by the Thunderhead, an omniscient evolution of today's cloud, Scythes are the only ones who are allowed to take a human life. They are considered to be the best humanity has to offer, and they roam the world "gleaning" people in order to keep the population in check. Scythes are treated like royalty and feared. The last thing Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch want is to become Scythes, but when they are chosen by Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices, they are thrown into a life in which they need to master the art of death. They prove to be apt pupils, but when Scythe Faraday mysteriously gleans himself and Citra and Rowan are apprenticed to two other fearsome Scythes, they will have to put their skills to the test against each other. Intertwined with the fascinating concept of humanity conquering death and the idea of Scythes is the prospect that perhaps this is not the ideal world in which to live. Humanity has perfected itself-so what does that leave it to accomplish? Shusterman starts off this series in dramatic fashion as he creates an engrossing world that pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. VERDICT A truly astounding, unputdownable read and a fast-paced beginning to an excellent sci-fi series. A must-have.-Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal © 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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Old Dog Baby Baby
by Julie Fogliano

Book list *Starred Review* Two picture-book luminaries pair up in this sweet story about a beloved old pet and a crawling baby. Rhyming text describes the elderly canine old dog tail / and old dog nose / one eye opened / two eyes closed ­dozing lazily beneath the kitchen table. An adorable baby crawls forward and gives it a full-body hug, inspiring the snoring dog to wag its tail joyfully. Baby pokes, squeezes, and explores with delight as the two happily roll on the kitchen floor. There are sloppy kisses for both, as the two cuddle together in sleepy satisfaction, dreaming away. Subtle details include an older sibling who is busy looking through a photo book of the dog's life from puppyhood to old age. The soft palette of pastel watercolors portrays the black-and-white dog and the red-cheeked baby, while splashes of red highlight the mother's shoes and the dog's licking tongue. Raschka's deceptively simple style perfectly captures the duo's movements and relates flawlessly with the understated text. Baby's big wide smile and oval yawns are aped by the old dog's even wider yawn, tempting listeners to emulate. When the two finally settle in affectionately together for a nap, it's, in a word, charming.--Gepson, Lolly Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-K-Those privileged to have known a mild-mannered dog, a martyr to baby love, a dog that will withstand any annoyance from an infant and still adore him, will appreciate this sweet story told in verse. Fogliano's spare, pitch-perfect rhymes capture the joyful meeting between a blond-haired diapered baby and a shaggy dog on the kitchen floor. Simple rhymes create the mood: "Baby hurry/baby wiggle/'puppy! puppy!'/baby giggle." The exploration is mutual: "Old dog sniffs/with old dog nose/baby fingers/baby toes" until they are down for the count, sleeping flat out on the floor. Raschka's illustrations add hilarity and an additional layer to the narrative. He includes different legs and shoes on the periphery of the page, and readers can guess who is entering and who is leaving the kitchen. The illustrator mirrors the minimalist verse with his simple brushstrokes of watery oranges, blues, and greens. VERDICT Great for preschool storytime or for one-on-one sharing.-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 A shaggy dog, gray and white with a spot over one eye, is snoozing on the kitchen floor. "Old dog dreams/ old dog twitches," writes Fogliano (When Green Becomes Tomatoes). "Old paw scratches/ old ear itches." In crawls a towheaded baby with bright pink cheeks, who throws back its head in delight when the dog proffers a sloppy kiss. They settle down for a co-nap, "old dog/ baby baby/ dreaming on the/ kitchen floor." There's another story underway, as well: the baby and dog are observed by an older sibling, who has been looking at photographs of the dog's puppyhood. Two women appear on the margins of the scenes, and a photograph reveals that all the characters are a family. Raschka's (The Death of the Hat) watercolor images-with their soft textures, intimate framings, and big, gentle shapes-have just the right mix of joy and melancholy. We can't stop the passage of time, Fogliano and Raschka seem to say, but we are fortunate in our loving relationships, each transcendent in its own way. Ages 2-6. Author's agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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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.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog River, Cross My Heart
by Breena Clarke

Library Journal: YA-Set in Georgetown, this poignant coming-of-age story begins with the drowning death of six-year-old Clara Bynum. Johnnie May, at 12, was supposed to be minding her the morning the children went down to the river, knowing they were not allowed to play near it, much less swim in it. The Bynums had come to Washington, DC, from North Carolina looking for a better life, and life for the colored in Georgetown in the 1920s was better: plenty of work and good schools for the children. But Johnnie May's independent spirit causes trouble from the beginning. She is always asking why-why couldn't she swim in the pool on Volta Place, right across from Aunt Ina's house? Why does she always have to mind her little sister and clean up after her? Johnnie May is a natural leader, and "knowing her place" is a struggle. The story, which follows the Bynum family and friends in Georgetown for about a year, ends in triumph as Johnnie May wins a swim meet held in the new pool built for black people. Much of the book describes Johnnie May's relationships with her mother, her relatives, and her friends, painting a revealing picture of a river, a family, and a community.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Debut writer and Washington, D.C., native, Clarke has written a novel as lyric and alternately beguiling and confounding as its title. It is the story of the drowning of a six-year-old child, and the tragedy's ramifications for her family and neighbors in the black area of Georgetown in 1925 D.C. Clarke's scene-building skills are the novel's strengths and occasionally its weaknesses, as each chapter is an intense set piece that sometimes provokes more questions than answers. The story is ultimately that of the effects of Clara Bynum's death on her 12-year-old sister, Johnnie Mae, who was babysitting Clara at the time she fell into the river. Johnnie Mae suffers guilt, fear and loss, endures dreams, imaginings and confusion as she sees visions of her sister everywhere: in a trauma-stung classmate who wears braids like Clara's, and the vapor from a boiling pot of green beans that resembles her sister's face. Against a felt, poignant and meticulously detailed panorama of the African-American (then called "colored") community of Georgetown, Johnnie Mae struggles to find her bearings, to cope with institutional and family expectations, and with puberty and race. Johnnie Mae ultimately derives strength from her element, the water, as she becomes a talented swimmer, but her parents Alice and Willie struggle with inextinguishable grief. From the first vivid description of the Potomac, liquid elements provide themes and narrative tension in this plangent coming-of-age story, granting the reader a necessary, if temporary, distancing from the blunt fact of a dead child. Indeed, Clarke's research about African-American Georgetown in the early 20th century revisits a time and place as intricate as any, but so remote from most memories that the historical details are fascinating footnotes to an era. While authorial asides are sometimes intrusive, this is a haunting story. Agent, Cynthia Cannell.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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