Home
Calendar
Directory
News & Weather
Hot Titles
About Us

SCC Middle School Library

Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Challenger Deep
by Neal Shusterman

Publishers Weekly With lyricism and potent insight, Shusterman (Unwind) traces the schizophrenic descent and return of Caden Bosch, an intelligent 15-year-old and a gifted artist. His internal narratives are sometimes dreams, sometimes hallucinations, and sometimes undefinable, dominated by a galleon and its captain, sailing with an enormous, sullen crew to the deepest point of the Marianas Trench, Challenger Deep. The metaphor's not exactly subtle, but Shusterman finds unexpected resonance in its details-the tarry seams in the wood, the human ballast. External reality still registers: people around Caden run the gamut of humor, scolding, threats, and avoidance to pressure him into changing behavior he no longer controls. Shusterman has mined personal experience of mental illness with his son Brendan, whose line drawings mirror Caden's fragmentation in swirling lines eerily reminiscent of Van Gogh. It's a powerful collaboration, and crucial to the novel's credibility. As Caden says, "There is no such thing as a 'correct' diagnosis," and though his story doesn't necessarily represent a "typical" experience of mental illness, it turns symptoms into lived reality in ways readers won't easily forget. Ages 14-up. Agent: Andrea Brown, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Caden Bosch lives in two worlds. One is his real life with his family, his friends, and high school. There he is paranoid for no reason, thinks people are trying to kill him, and demonstrates obsessive compulsive behaviors. In his other world, he's part of the crew for a pirate captain on a voyage to the Challenger Deep, the ocean's deepest trench. There he's paranoid, wary of the mercurial captain and his mutinous parrot, and tries hard to interpret the mutterings of his fellow shipmates as they sail uncharted waters toward unknown dangers. Slowly, Caden's fantasy and paranoia begin to take over, until his parents have only one choice left. Shusterman's latest novel gives readers a look at teen mental illness from inside the mind of Caden Bosch. He is a credible and sympathetic character, and his retreat into his own flawed mind is fascinating, full of riddles and surrealism. Shusterman based the novel on his son's mental illness, and Brendan's input regarding his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder and psychiatric care makes the novel ring true. Teens, especially fans of the author's other novels, will enjoy this book. VERDICT This affecting deep dive into the mind of a schizophrenic will captivate readers, engender empathy for those with mental illnesses, and offer much fodder for discussion.-Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL (c) 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.

Book list *Starred Review* Award-winning author Shusterman returns to realistic fiction with a breathtaking exploration of one teen's experience with schizophrenia. Caden Bosch thinks there is somebody at his high school who wants to kill him. But that's not all. There are things happening outside of the typical space and time constraints that he can't understand. He feels at once all-powerful and frighteningly powerless. Caden slowly drifts away from friends and family and deeper into his mind, until his parents admit him to a mental hospital for further evaluation and treatment. Shusterman beautifully deploys dual narratives that become increasingly intertwined in this remarkable story. In addition to the grounded-in-reality narrative, he introduces another world, where Caden is out at sea with the Captain, a girl named Calliope, a parrot, and more. All of these characters eventually match real-world counterparts in the hospital and beyond. In confessional back matter, Shusterman explains his inspiration for this powerful story: his own son Brendan's experience in the depths of mental illness. Brendan Shusterman's illustrations, interspersed throughout, contribute significantly to the reading experience. With the increasing demand for understanding mental illness, this is a must-purchase for library collections. Haunting, unforgettable, and life affirming all at once. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: An author tour and powerhouse promotional plan will mean lots of attention for best-selling Shusterman's latest endeavor.--Barnes, Jennifer Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog All the Way to Havana
by Margarita Engle

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Accompanied by the vibrant onomatopoeia of an old rebuilt car, a brown-skinned boy travels with his family from their village in Cuba to the capital city, Havana, to celebrate the "zero-year birthday" of his cousin. The focus of this colorful picture book is on the car (nicknamed "Cara Cara"), one of Cuba's many mid-20th-century American vehicles maintained through constant tinkering. "Ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken-cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck." Award-winning poet Engle transports readers to Cuba through her lively verse, and Curato (author/illustrator of the "Little Elliot" series) does the same with his nearly photorealistic illustrations rendered in pencil, with digital color bringing out the bright tones of the tropics. Each spread includes endless detail, from the clothes hanging on the clothesline in the boy's backyard to Havana's beautiful architecture. The stars of the book, of course, are the 1950s cars, which Curato studied on a research trip to Cuba and depicts precisely in all their mixed-and-matched glory. While younger readers will simply enjoy the journey, older children may desire more information about the context of the story, some of which can be found in the author's and illustrator's notes. VERDICT A fun addition to the ever-popular genre of transportation picture books-this one with a unique perspective and message of perseverance.-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.

Publishers Weekly The pre-1959 American car, held together, as Engle (Lion Island) so evocatively writes, with "wire, tape, and mixed-up scraps of dented metal," has become a visual trademark of Cuba and testimony to its citizens' resilience and ingenuity. One of these cars, a bright blue Chevy Delray christened Cara Cara (because her aging, patchwork engine makes sounds "like a busy chicken-cara cara, cara cara, cluck, cluck, cluck") is the star of this contemporary story, taking the young narrator and his family from their rural home to a celebration with relatives in Havana. The masterly sense of place, color, and shape that make Curato's Little Elliot stories so touching proves perfect for a landscape that's larger than life. He and Engle chronicle Cara Cara's journey in loving detail as the family moves along the coast and into bustling city streets, giving readers glimpses into daily Cuban lives-newlyweds in a Dodge convertible, laundry hanging from balconies as "a sea breeze sings." It's a wonderful introduction to America's very nearby neighbor. Ages 4-8. Author's agent: Michelle Humphrey, Martha Kaplan Agency. Illustrator's agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Acclaimed Cuban American poet Engle here celebrates the persistence and ingenuity of Cubans, who have learned to make do in the face of poverty and scarcity. A young boy and his family prepare to travel from their rural home to Havana to celebrate the birth of a new cousin. Mama has baked a cake, and the gift is wrapped, but the family's 1953 Chevy, affectionately known as Cara Cara, is making horrible noises: Some of this island's old cars purr like kittens, but ours is so tired that she just chatters like a busy chicken. Papa lifts the hood, and father and son tinker until finally the car is roadworthy. So we purr cara cara / and we glide taka taka / and we zoom zoom. The party is festive and happy; the ride home smooth and sleepy. Engle's tone is upbeat throughout: she highlights modest country vistas, picturesque contemporary Havana, busy people going about their daily chores, and the profusion of noisy vintage cars. Curato's vibrant pencil and digital illustrations depict iconic images of Cuba small farms, city neighborhoods, and government buildings all in photographic detail. And while the antique cars may take center stage, the Cuban people also shine in their determination and resilience. A lyrical and beautiful offering that should help to humanize views of this island nation.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Sam and dave dig a hole.
by Mac Barnett

Book list Sam and Dave, each wearing baseball caps and wielding long-handled shovels, set out to dig a hole. How big a hole? We won't stop digging until we find something spectacular, says Dave, so off they go, digging ever deeper while their little dog follows their progress. A cross section of their dig reveals that Sam and Dave come awfully close to their prize, but they keep digging and missing treasure until they decide to take a nap, during which they tumble right through the earth. Their landing sets them right back on safe ground though, and that, of course, is pretty spectacular. Klassen's pebbly, earth-toned, colored-pencil and digital illustrations of Sam and Dave's dig are exaggerated to comic effect, especially when coupled with Barnett's dry, simple text. Subtle visual clues (the final absence of dirt on Sam's and Dave's clothes; a closing house that's just slightly different from the opening one) suggest there's more to the story than meets the eye, and canny little ones will likely be delighted by the beguiling ending. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: From I Want My Hat Back (2011) to The Dark (2013), New York Times best-selling Klassen's titles have made him a star of the moment.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Starred Review. Barnetts comic voice is at its driest as he recounts that quintessential American childhood activity-the digging of the giant hole. His deadpan prose mimics the declarative sentences of early readers: On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole. When should we stop digging? asked Sam. We are on a mission, said Dave. Klassens boys, with identical poker faces and glassy expressions, hold their shovels American Gothic-style, considering their next move. Cross-sections of earth show them further and further down, and comic tension erupts as readers see gigantic diamonds buried at intervals underground while Sam and Dave tunnel on, missing every one: So Dave went one way, and Sam went another. But they didnt find anything spectacular. Meanwhile, their dogs pursuit of a small bone leads further downward, possibly through the Earth and out the other side. They land in their own backyard again-or do they? Barnett and Klassen (Extra Yarn) dangle the prospect of fantastic subterranean treasure before readers, but leave them with an even greater reward: a tantalizingly creepy and open-ended conclusion. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-The winning picture book team that created Extra Yarn (HarperCollins, 2012) is back together in this understated, humorous, and charmingly perplexing tale. Sam and Dave, who are either identical twin boys or friends who look astonishingly alike and share a sartorial sensibility, set out to dig a hole in the hopes of finding "something spectacular." With shovels in hand, the boys (with an eager terrier looking on) begin to tunnel into the soil, but they just can't seem to find anything of interest. What works spectacularly is the clever play between words and pictures. As in Klassen's This Is Not My Hat (Candlewick, 2012), readers are in on a joke to which the characters are oblivious. Namely, that each time the boys change direction, they narrowly miss discovering increasingly enormous jewels hidden in the earth. The book progresses with each verso showing the boys' progress, while the recto features simple text, mostly dialogue between the practical but unlucky explorers. About halfway through, a spread reveals a diamond so large it can barely be contained on the page; it dwarfs the two boys and their trusty canine companion-but all for naught, since they decide to dig in a different direction. Exhausted and covered from head to toe in dirt, Sam and Dave decide to take a rest. Klassen's use of muted earth tones and uncomplicated compositions is paired well with Barnett's deadpan humor. As they nap in their hole, the dog continues to dig.until suddenly the trio is falling; they soon land in a place that looks an awful lot like home. Small details reveal that this house and its inhabitants are ever so slightly changed. Are they dreaming? On the other side of the world? In a different dimension? Readers will have to puzzle that one out for themselves.-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Daisy Jones & The Six
by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book list *Starred Review* Daisy Jones and the Six was the hottest rock band of the seventies; the sexy voice of Daisy Jones and the pleading tones of Billy Dunne were the soundtrack to countless sweltering summer nights. Yet fans had no idea of the chaos behind the curtain. Daisy and Billy, oozing raw attraction on stage, couldn't even look at each other as they walked off. When she wasn't singing or writing songs, wild child Daisy was popping pills. Billy's addiction was alcohol, until he met Camila and discovered a whole new kind of dependence. Graham, Eddie, and Warren loved the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, but Karen and Pete had other things on their minds. Framed as a tell-all biography compiled through interviews and articles, Reid's (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017) novel so resembles a memoir of a real band and conjures such true-to-life images of the seventies music scene that readers will think they're listening to Fleetwood Mac or Led Zeppelin. Reid is unsurpassed in her ability to create complex characters working through emotions that will make your toes curl. HIGH-DEMAND BACK STORY: Reese Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine is producing a 13-episode series for Amazon. Order accordingly.--Tracy Babiasz Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Breaking Stalins Nose
by Eugene Yelchin

School Library Journal Gr 5-7-Velchin skillfully combines narrative with dramatic black-and-white illustrations to tell the story of life in the Soviet Union under Stalin. Sasha Zaichik, the 10-year-old son of a member of the secret police, is bursting with pride because he is ready to become a Young Pioneer. He is equally excited that his father will be officiating at the ceremony. But then he watches as his father is taken away to prison, turned in by a neighbor vying for bigger living quarters. Sasha joins his peers in taunting Borka Finkelstein, their only Jewish classmate, even though readers sense that he doesn't really want to do it. The question of who is a good Communist underlies much of the plot. The book's intriguing title refers to Sasha's accidentally breaking the nose off a bust of Stalin. Borka, desperate to see his imprisoned parents, confesses to the action, with the hope that he will be taken to prison, too. Sasha does not admit his own guilt. Eventually disillusionment overtakes homeless Sasha as he waits in line to visit his father. Velchin's illustrations are filled with pathos and breathe life into the narrative. Though there are many two-dimensional characters, mostly among the adults, Sasha and Borka are more fully drawn. While the story was obviously created to shed light on the oppression, secrecy, and atrocities under Stalin's regime, Sasha's emotions ring true. This is an absorbing, quick, multilayered read in which predictable and surprising events intertwine. Velchin clearly dramatizes the dangers of blindly believing in anything. Along with Ruta Sepetys's Between Shades of Gray (Philomel, 2011), this selection gives young people a look at this dark history.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ (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.

Book list Growing up under Stalin, Sasha Zaichik, 10, lives with his widower dad and 48 others in a crowded apartment with one kitchen and one toilet. Sasha's dream is to be like his father, serving the great leader and working in the State Security secret police. Then his dad is arrested: did a neighbor betray him? At school, Sasha is recruited to report on anticommunist activity. The present-tense narrative is true to the young kid's naive viewpoint, but the story is for older readers, especially as the shocking revelations reach the climax of what torture can make you confess. Picture-book illustrator Yelchin was raised in post-Stalinist Russia in the 1960s and left the country when he was 27. In his first novel, he uses the child's innocent viewpoint to dramatize the heartbreaking secrets and lies, and graphite illustrations show the terrifying arrests of enemies of the people, even children, like Sasha's classmate. In an afterword, Yelchin discusses the history and the brutal regime that affected millions.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Picture book author/illustrator Yelchin (Won Ton) makes an impressive middle-grade debut with this compact novel about a devoted young Communist in Stalin-era Russia, illustrated with dramatically lit spot art. Ten-year-old Sasha lives with his father, a State Security secret policeman whom he worships (almost as much as he worships Stalin), and 46 others in a communal apartment. The story opens on the eve of the fulfillment of Sasha's dream-to become a Young Soviet Pioneer-and traces the downward spiral of the following 24 hours, as he resists his growing understanding that his beloved Communist state is far from ideal. Through Sasha's fresh and optimistic voice, Yelchin powerfully renders an atmosphere of fear that forces false confessions, even among schoolchildren, and encourages neighbors and family members to betray one another without evidence. Readers will quickly pick up on the dichotomy between Sasha's ardent beliefs and the reality of life under Stalinism, and be glad for his ultimate disillusion, even as they worry for his future. An author's note concisely presents the chilling historical background and personal connection that underlie the story. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Back Roads
by Tawni O'Dell

Library Journal: Harley Altmyer might be the only 20-year-old virgin in the small Pennsylvania coal town where he lives, but for sure he is the only one with custody of three younger siblings--a responsibility inherited when his mother killed his abusive father and went to prison for life. While he works two dead-end jobs to support his sisters, Harley lusts after a married neighbor, Callie Mercer. When Callie indicates that she's attracted to him, too, the resulting sexual fireworks set off a series of events with tragic consequences. First novelist O'Dell, a trained journalist and a former exotic dancer, knows a lot about raging hormones, and she clearly has a good deal of affection for Harley (which the reader will share). She is less comfortable, however, with the demands of plot and character development. The last third of the novel is unnecessarily convoluted and rests uneasily on characters who are too sketchy to support the pieces of plot that they're carrying. Once O'Dell learns how to harness the runaway energy she brings to fiction, she'll be a writer to read; until then, only large public libraries should consider this for purchase.

Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: Nineteen-year-old Harley is left to rear his three younger sisters after their mother is imprisoned for murdering their abusive father in this searing, hardscrabble Party of Five set in Pennsylvania mining country. Doubly resentful because his best friend is off at college, Harley spends his days slogging as a Shop Rite bagger and appliance-shop delivery person, coming home to cold cereal dinners prepared by six-year-old Jody. Harley is bitter about having to take over for his mother--"she still had us kids but we didn't have her"--and he can't shake the feeling that she prefers prison to their home life; a mystery lingers around his father's death. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Amber is sleeping her way through the town's teenage boys and flaunting her body in front of Harley; middle sister Misty, once her father's favorite and his hunting companion, practices shooting. Desperate for relief, Harley finds solace in rough but exhilarating encounters with married Callie Mercer, little Jody's best friend's mother, losing his virginity to her on a muddy creek bank and reveling in her sophisticated, sensitive words. But memories are stirring in his subconscious, and erotic dreams of the Virgin Mary metamorphose into nightmarish sexual visions. In his sessions with a court-appointed therapist, Harley edges closer to understanding his family's twisted dynamic, but it is only when the horrors of the present begin to catch up with those of the past that a series of shattering truths are revealed. By then it is too late for Harley to save everyone he loves, but in sacrificing himself, however hopelessly, he introduces a note of grace. O'Dell's scorching tale touches on all the tropes of dysfunctional families, but her characters fight free of stereotypes, taking on an angry, authentic glow. (Jan.)

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

Powered by: YouSeeMore © The Library Corporation (TLC)