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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Freakboy
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Publishers Weekly Debut novelist Clark uses free verse to write a gripping story about a complex topic: the challenges of growing up transgender or genderqueer. Brendan struggles with his occasional desires to be a girl; in her own series of poems, Brendan's devoted girlfriend, Vanessa, worries about why he is suddenly avoiding her. Meanwhile, transgendered Angel-whom Brendan meets near the teen center where Angel works-reveals her own painful journey; her intense story includes physical abuse and a hospital stay after being beaten up while working as a prostitute. Clark doesn't stray far from central theme (the back matter includes resources and further reading) as she empathically explores what it can be like to be a transgendered teen (for example, not every transitioning character considers sex-reassignment surgery to be important). The author emphasizes that there are no simple answers for her characters, especially Brendan, who wonders if the transgendered label even fits. At the same time, through Angel, she gives her story a current of hope: "Everyone feels like a freak/ until they make up their mind/ they're not." Ages 12-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When Brendan Chase types Want to be a girl into his Mac's search engine, one word pops up: transsexual. In Clark's raw, honest debut novel, told in verse, three voices capture a few experiences of teens on the transgender spectrum. Brendan is not one of those people / who's always wanted to wear a dress. / Who's always known / he should have been born female. Sex with girlfriend Vanessa, although confusing, feels good, and Brendan questions throughout whether or not he's trans. Fortunately, there's an angel in his life literally. Angel, trans without sex-reassignment surgery ( My junk doesn't dictate who I am ), fights against demons of her own and struggles to reconnect with her younger brother. She's a volunteer at Willows, a center for queer teens, and eventually introduces Brendan to terms like gender identity, gender attraction, genderqueer, and gender fluid. Meanwhile, the third voice belongs to Vanessa, a girl on the boy's wrestling team, who can't understand why her boyfriend, Brendan, is suddenly so distant. Unlike many novels that deal with one transgender character, this movingly explores so many gender identities, from the three main characters (each appears as a different font) to Angel's roommates. A must-have for library shelves, this will be popular with fans of Ellen Hopkins. Resources and further reading conclude.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Brandon, a high school wrestler, must face the fact that despite his best efforts he isn't as hyper-masculine as he feels he needs to be. Acceptance of his gender fluidity will prove to be his greatest challenge. Brandon's stepfather, a symphony conductor, appears to need regular validation of his manliness, and his mother undergoes breast enhancement surgery to appear, presumably, more womanly. Vanessa, Brandon's girlfriend, is also a wrestler; she feels she can only have a true win on the mat once her opponent lets go of the thought that she's a girl. When he's not aggressive enough in the ring, Brandon's coach calls him Brenda. Eventually, he meets Angel, an attractive young woman whose birth certificate reads "male." Angel-empowered, self-loving, and equipped to help others-can support Brandon to be at home in his body and in his craving for feminine expression. This book is a strong addition to LBGT and general collections as a compelling story for reluctant readers and an educational piece on a topic that needs discussion. The use of typography for emphasis is occasionally awkward and self-conscious, but overall this novel-in-verse presents a clear, realistic narrative in various voices. It succeeds in conveying the message that "you are not alone" to transgender youth while helping everyone else get a handle on these often-tortured teens. The author succeeds in her mission to foster "greater understanding and acceptance of gender's vast and lovely variation." -Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA (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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Good Night Owl
by Greg Pizzoli

Publishers Weekly Pizzoli's picture books can feel a little like Twilight Zone light: a cat who wishes away his family (Templeton Gets His Wish), a car-racing dog who unexpectedly loses (Number One Sam), a crocodile who fears a watermelon is growing inside him (The Watermelon Seed). This story is no different as it introduces a blue owl whose attempts at slumber are repeatedly interrupted by an inexplicable "squeek!" Readers instantly see that a friendly gray mouse is the culprit, but Owl isn't so lucky. In an effort to locate the source of the noise, he clears the shelves of knickknacks and vinyl albums (he looks to be a fan of the Clash and Ramones), pries up the floorboards, and tears the roof off the house. Pizzoli's bright colors, mid-century modern details, and fuzzy outlines offer a zingy counterbalance to Owl's increasingly frazzled mental state. After reducing the house to rubble, Owl finally sees the mouse ("Owl smiled. He said, 'Good night, noise.'"), and the two curl up in bed to sleep. Is that what the mouse was after all along? Pizzoli leaves the answer to readers. Ages 3-5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list The author-illustrator of Geisel Award winner The Watermelon Seed (2013) offers another anthropomorphic look at a familiar childhood concern. Here Owl, nattily robed in pink, is preparing for bed in his well-appointed house when he hears a tiny squeak. Annoyed, he checks his door and empties his cupboard but finds nothing. As the squeaks continue, he becomes even more determined to uncover their source. He removes floorboards, takes down his roof, and tears apart his walls before finally noticing the noise maker, a tiny mouse. Pizzoli's friendly, pastel-hued artwork will reassure young listeners that all ends happily, despite the rampant destruction depicted. Owl's expressive eyes and simple lines effectively convey his increasing frustration, while the tiny gray mouse seems mostly to be looking for a friend. Although the scientifically inclined are likely to realize that nocturnal owls generally eat mice, most listeners will be amused by this over-the-top adventure. This makes a perfect companion to Pat Hutchins' classic Good-night, Owl! (1972) for story hours or bedtime sharing.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Owl is just beginning his bedtime routine when he hears an annoying squeak. Readers can see that a cheerful little mouse is responsible, but Owl remains clueless about its origins. His attempts at discovering where the noise is coming from not only are glaringly wrong but also cause him to do enormous damage to his home. When he thinks that the squeak is coming from under the floor, he pulls up every last floorboard. When he is certain that he has a "noisy roof," children witness a manic Owl destroying it with a sledgehammer. The stakes get higher and higher, as will the laughs and groans from readers, until he obliterates every inch of his domicile save his bed. It is at this point that Owl spies Mouse, and with that discovery, they both go happily to sleep. While the ending is quirky and feels abrupt, kids will be greatly amused by Pizzoli's latest effort. VERDICT Filled with big, colorful illustrations and amusing facial expressions, this is a lively addition for most collections and a definite storytime addition.-Amy Nolan, St. Joseph Public Library, St. Joseph, MI © 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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Waiting
by Kevin Henkes

Book list *Starred Review* A pig with an umbrella, a spotted owl, a puppy on a sled, a bear holding a kite, and a rabbit with a long accordion body. These five little toys look out a tall window at nothing much, waiting. Pig waits for rain; Owl, the moon; Bear, the wind; Puppy, the snow; and Rabbit just waits. One day they are joined by a round wobble of a cat. She tumbles over and out come nested cats of decreasing size, who join the friends on the windowsill to wait and watch. Quiet yet evocative, this is a lovely melding of artwork, design, and text. The pictures, executed in a soft palette of brown ink, watercolors, and colored pencils, get a suitable home on buff-colored pages. The thoughtful design begins on the jacket, where the window, its panes accentuated by a shiny gloss, allows the toys to view clouds reflecting altered views of their own images: Pig's umbrella floats through the sky, while the staid owl soars with wings spread. The short sentences of the text flow with the precision one would expect from a master picture-book creator like Henkes. Little ones, to whom each experience is new, will know what it's like to dream and wait. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Caldecott medalist and Newbery Honor Book author Henkes is a favorite among librarians and booksellers (and, of course, children). Any new book will spark demand from his fans.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-K-Five toys sit on a windowsill, each waiting for something. There's an owl with spots waiting for the moon, a pig with the umbrella waiting for the rain, a bear with a kite waiting for the wind, and a puppy on a sled waiting for the snow. And then there's a "rabbit with stars," content to simply look out the window. With an economy of words and gently repeating patterns, the text informs readers about the emotional ups and downs of this tiny band of friends: what makes them happy (getting what they've waited for), what makes them sad (when one of them goes away), and what surprises them (gifts, visitors, new friends.) Along with happiness and friendship, there are small moments of grief, anxiety, and existential wonder-all thoughtfully and authentically depicted with childlike honesty and optimism. On thick, creamy pages, Henkes uses brown ink with touches of watercolor and colored pencil in muted shades of pink, green, and blue to depict the softly rounded figures, shown small before the expanse of the four-paned window. Henkes varies the compositions with vignettes and a four-page wordless sequence showing the beautiful (a rainbow, fireworks) and sometimes scary (lightning) sights that the toys observe from the vantage point of their windowsill. The careful placement of the text and images establishes a leisurely pace, encouraging readers and listeners to slow down, examine the pictures, and discuss. Are these sentient little beings or are they moved and posed by an unseen child? Henkes leaves it up to readers to determine. VERDICT Waiting further cements Henkes's place alongside picture book legends like Margaret Wise Brown, Crockett Johnson, and Ruth Krauss, through his lyrical text, uncluttered yet wondrously expressive illustrations, and utmost respect for the emotional life of young children.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal © Copyright 2015. 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 Waiting can make anyone feel helpless and frustrated, so the five toylike knickknacks in Henkes's (Penny and Her Marble) story should be at their collective wits' end. Perched on a windowsill, this odd, diminutive crew-a pig with an umbrella, a bear with a kite, a puppy attached to a sled, a rabbit on an accordion spring, and an owl-have little volition of their own ("Sometimes one or the other of them went away, but he or she always came back"). But while their lives are spent waiting, their existence seems full and rich with meaning. Waiting reinforces their sense of identity: the pig waits for the rain and when it comes, "the pig was happy. The umbrella kept her dry." Waiting also connects them to each other: looking out the window together, "they saw many wonderful, interesting things," like frost on the windowpane or a sky lit up with fireworks. Henkes never tells readers explicitly what he's up to, and several incidents are wide open to interpretation-and that's what makes this enigmatic, lovely book intriguing and inimitable. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) © 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 All We Ever Wanted
by Emily Giffin

Book list New York Times bestselling author Giffin (First Comes Love, 2016) tackles the topics of race, sexual assault, and class in her latest. Nina Browning is the crème de la crème of Nashville high society beautiful, smart, and married to one of the richest men in the city. Raised in middle-class Bristol, Nina hopes that she has instilled humble values in her teenage son Finch values that her old-money husband appears to lack. But when Finch is accused of taking and sending an explicit photo of an unconscious Latina coed, Nina wonders if she has failed her son and, ultimately, herself. Using the points of view of Nina, Lyla (the girl in the photograph), and Lyla's father, Tom, Giffin weaves a story of what parents will do to protect their children, even if it's from themselves. But the story lacks authenticity and sincerity. The author's attempts to call out white privilege fall a little flat, which may disappoint new readers, though longtime fans will appreciate her beach-read style exploration of serious issues.--Wathen, LynnDee Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Library Journal The latest from Giffin (First Comes Love) tells the stories of Nina, a middle-aged, ultra-wealthy philanthropist, and 16-year-old Lyla, a scholarship student at the exclusive private school that Nina's son Finch attends. At a party, Lyla passes out drunk and an explicit, racially charged photo of her circulates. Finch is accused of taking the photo, resulting in his acceptance to Princeton being withdrawn. Sophomore Lyla has a crush on senior Finch and wants the whole thing dropped. Nina loves her son, but the situation brings up a long-buried memory of date rape from her university days, so she sympathizes with Lyla and contacts her and her single father, Tom. As the story unfolds, it is not clear who actually took the photo, who sent it, who is guilty, and who deserves loyalty. Along the lines of William Landay's Defending Jacob, with a parent who is horrified at what their child might have done but still loves them, the story delves further into sexual assault as well as issues of class and how much privilege accrues to the extremely wealthy. VERDICT A compelling family story that brings up plenty of issues ripe for book group discussions. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]-Jan Marry, Lanexa, VA © 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.

Publishers Weekly Giffin's stellar latest (following First Comes Love), set in Nashville, concerns the wealthy Brownings and the scandal that ensues when their Princeton-bound son Finch appears to have taken a racy photo of Lyla Volpe, a high school sophomore on scholarship at the prestigious Windsor Academy. Nina's husband Kirk grew up with money, and they're richer than ever now that he's sold his tech company. Though he's confident and charming, Nina's starting to question his character-especially when Kirk doesn't want high school senior Finch to face the consequences of the photo of Lyla unconscious and exposed at a party. Though it's not revealed until later in the book who took the photo, it gets widely spread around, and the fallout is substantial. Nina wants Finch to be a good person above all, and she bristles when she learns that Kirk tried to bribe Lyla's father, Tom, to drop the issue with the school. Nina tries to right things with Tom, a carpenter who also drives an Uber to make extra cash. Tom has a huge chip on his shoulder that's exacerbated by the stresses of single parenthood, but he finds himself liking Nina despite her wealth. Meanwhile, Finch starts dating Lyla and tells her that he's covering for the person who really took the photo. Things come to a head as Nina attempts to find out whether her son is honorable or as untrustworthy as his father. Giffin's plot touches on social class and misogyny while delivering an excellent page-turning story. This satisfying novel will appeal to readers looking for a nuanced, thoughtful take on family and social dynamics. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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...

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Pillars of the Earth
by Ken Follett

Book list A mystifying puzzle involving the execution of an innocent man is interwoven into this monumental story of medieval intrigue and ingenuity.

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

Library Journal A radical departure from Follett's novels of international suspense and intrigue, this chronicles the vicissitudes of a prior, his master builder, and their community as they struggle to build a cathedral and protect themselves during the tumultuous 12th century, when the empress Maud and Stephen are fighting for the crown of England after the death of Henry I. The plot is less tightly controlled than those in Follett's contemporary works, and despite the wealth of historical detail, especially concerning architecture and construction, much of the language as well as the psychology of the characters and their relationships remains firmly rooted in the 20th century. This will appeal more to lovers of exciting adventure stories than true devotees of historical fiction. Literary Guild dual main selection.-- Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly With this book, Follett risks all and comes out a clear winner, escaping the narrow genre of suspense thrillers to take credit for a historical novel of gripping readability, authentic atmosphere and detail and memorable characterization. Set in 12th-century England, the narrative concerns the building of a cathedral in the fictional town of Kingsbridge. The ambitions of three men merge, conflict and collide through four decades during which social and political upheaval and the internal politics of the church affect the progress of the cathedral and the fortunes of the protagonists. The insightful portrayals of an idealistic master builder, a pious, dogmatic but compassionate prior and an unscrupulous, ruthless bishop are balanced by those of a trio of independent, resourceful women (one of them quite loathesome) who can stand on their own as memorable characters in any genre. Beginning with a mystery that casts its shadow on ensuing events, the narrative is a seesaw of tension in which circumstances change with shocking but true-to-life unpredictability. Follett's impeccable pacing builds suspense in a balanced narrative that offers action, intrigue, violence and passion as well as the step-by-step description of an edifice rising in slow stages, its progress tied to the vicissitudes of fortune and the permutations of evolving architectural style. Follett's depiction of the precarious balance of power between monarchy and religion in the Middle Ages, and of the effects of social upheavals and the forces of nature (storms, famines) on political events; his ability to convey the fine points of architecture so that the cathedral becomes clearly visualized in the reader's mind; and above all, his portrayals of the enduring human emotions of ambition, greed, bravery, dedication, revenge and love, result in a highly engrossing narrative. Manipulating a complex plot in which the characters interact against a broad canvas of medieval life, Follett has written a novel that entertains, instructs and satisfies on a grand scale. 400,000 first printing; $400,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild main dual selection; author tour. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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