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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Lark
by Porter, Tracey

Publishers Weekly Neither character-driven nor plot-driven, middle-grade author Porter's first YA novel is a message-driven story about three teenage girls who have suffered at the hands of men. The 16-year-old title character has been stabbed, raped, and left to die of hypothermia in the woods near her home. Her voice alternates with those of two friends, Nyetta and Eve, who are coping with their own betrayals by men in their lives (Nyetta's father abandoned her family; Eve was molested by a coach). Lark, meanwhile, faces further victimization after her death-she will, like other murdered girls, be imprisoned forever in a tree if no one truly acknowledges what happened to her. It's neither clear what supernatural agency would inflict such a fate nor why the acknowledgement of law enforcement is insufficient, but Eve and Nyetta must come to terms with their own lives, and with Lark's death, for all three to move on. Porter (Billy Creekmore) develops strong, distinct voices for each girl, but they are the flat characters of a parable. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list After a kidnapping, brutal assault, and rape, 16-year-old Lark is left bound to a tree and dies of exposure in a snowstorm. Eve, once Lark's best friend, was the last person to see her alive and struggles to find the right way to react. Nyetta, a younger girl Lark once babysat, is visited by Lark's plaintive ghost. If Lark can't convince someone to look at her and bear witness to her wounds, she will be trapped in the tree, unable to move on into the afterlife. Nyetta is troubled by Lark's demands and forms an unlikely friendship with Eve and Eve's boyfriend, Ian, to find a way to help Lark go. In this sparse and poetic novel, Lark's ordeal is depicted briefly but with enough detail that it may be difficult for sensitive readers. Ultimately, though, this is a haunting addition to th. dead gir. genre that treats the survivors' emotions, guilt, and pain gently and with a great deal of understanding.--Booth, Heathe. Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Lark Austin is only 16 when she is kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Her former best friend, Eve; her former babysitting charge, Nyetta; and Lark herself take turns telling this poignant story. Lark gets trapped in limbo, becoming a part of the tree where, her arms tied behind her, she was left to die. She begins to communicate with Nyetta, begging for her help in order to be set free. Eve is still recovering from being molested by her swim coach, which has caused her to withdraw from everyone around her. Nyetta is homeschooled, living primarily with her unemotional mother, and has no one with whom to really connect. The girls are all looking for someone to hear them. Readers may initially be reminded of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), but the story takes its own path at once. The concise narrative holds deep and honest emotions as the characters go through the stages of dealing with Lark's untimely and gruesome death. An excellent addition to YA collections.-Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, Camden, 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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Bluebird
by Bob Staake.

Book list *Starred Review* With only a few hues of blue, a rainbow of steely grays, and a set of geometric shapes, Staake's wordless picture book explores friendship, wildlife, sacrifice, death, and hope. A young boy's drab world of loneliness gets a splash of color when he meets a perky bluebird. They share a cookie, get ignored by a pickup soccer game, and play in a pond before wandering into an ominous woods. There a squad of bullies turns the day into a tragedy, with the bird lying lifeless on the ground. An uplifting bit of magic closes the story, and the boy is comforted as the bird is reunited with the clouds and sky. In a mix of full-page artwork and small scenes arranged in sequential panels, Staake works out an impressive range of emotion, from the serene whimsy of cloud gazing to the cruel pointlessness of death, in his distinctive circle-and-square-based artwork. Without use of a single word (outside of a few pieces of signage to place the story in a New York-style city), this book raises all kinds of simple profundities for kids to question, ponder, imagine, and discuss.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly In this wordless story, a shy boy finds a winged mentor in a cheery bluebird. The bird helps the boy perk up after a rough day at school and then connects him to some friendly children at a sailboat pond. But when bullies kill the bird-a truly shocking moment-the story sheds its simple yearning and wishfulness (with the bird as a kind of feathered fairy godmother) and deepens into an eloquent affirmation of love, faith, and the persistence of goodness. Staake (Bugs Galore!) propels his story forward with steady assurance, using a largely gray palette, geometric shapes, and comics-style framing. He vividly evokes a Manhattanlike landscape that's overwhelming, yet full of potential, and he gives full visual voice to the boy's emotions; there are several moments when Staake stops the action and lets his audience savor how the bird has transformed the boy. It's possible (though not necessary) to attach the suggestion of an afterlife to the final pages, but believers and skeptics alike will find something deeply impressive and moving in this work of a singular, fully committed talent. Ages 4-8. Agent: Gilliam Mackenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 2-5-Staake's ability to digitally compose and contrast shapes for a pleasing geometric balance, aesthetic effect, and narrative purpose has never been stronger than in this wordless title about a heroic bird. Readers follow its flight past a New York City skyline filled with cones, pyramids, and rectangular prisms. Vertical lines are punctuated with stylized circular trees, heads, iris shots, clocks, etc. The sky and bird are indeed blue, but the lonely boy with the large, round head is dark gray; shades of gray comprise much of his world. White and black, used symbolically, complete the palette. The warbler notices the boy with the downcast eyes being mocked as he enters school. Afterward, the two play hide-and-seek, share a cookie, sail a toy boat together-in short, they become friends. Tuned-in readers will note the dedication to Audubon, examples of his art, the clock brand "Icarus," and other subtle thematic supports. Conflict arises when they enter Central Park, which is ominously dark, and bullies attempt to steal the boat. When one of them hurls a stick, the bird blocks it and falls, lifeless. As the child cradles his friend, the background brightens and a brilliantly colored flock lifts the pair into the clouds, where the creature fades from view as the boy waves good-bye. With echoes of Disney-Pixar's Up and William Joyce's The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (S & S, 2012), this is an apt fable for our time as we seek to help children develop empathy, curb aggression, and sense hope.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2013. 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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Song and Dance Man
by Stephen Gammell

Publishers Weekly In this Caldecott winner, Grandpa relives his vaudeville days for an adoring audience--his grandchildren. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough

Library Journal McCullough (John Adams; 1776) effectively blends impeccable writing with historical rigor and strong character definition in his biography of Wright brothers Wilbur, the abstract thinker and introvert; and Orville, the extrovert and hands-on doer. They had limited formal education, with the author instead attributing his subjects' success to industry, imagination, and persistence, as seen in their early enterprises as newspaper publishers, printers, and bicycle salesmen in Dayton, OH. Credit is also accorded to their widowed father, Bishop Milton Wright, as well as their sister Katharine for their support of "Ullam" (Wilbur) and "Bubs" (Orville). Highlights of McCullough's narrative include his discussions of the Wrights' innovative conception of wing-warping as a means of flight control; the brothers' first controlled, powered, and sustained heavier-than-air human flight at Kitty Hawk, NC, on December 17, 1903; the issuance of the Wright flying machine patent #821,393 on May 22, 1906; the Ohioans' ongoing search for markets abroad; and the elder Wright's perfect flying demonstrations at Le Mans, France, even as Orville was nearly killed in a similar performance before army brass at Fort Myer, VA. The author closes with the incorporation of the Wright Company, patent infringement suits filed against competitor Glenn Curtiss, and the deaths of Wilbur (1912), Milton (1917), Katharine (1929), and Orville (1948). VERDICT A signal contribution to Wright historiography. Highly recommended for academicians interested in the history of flight, transportation, or turn-of-the-century America; general readers; and all libraries.-John Carver Edwards, formerly with Univ. of Georgia Libs. © 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.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
by Laura Amy Schlitz

Book list *Starred Review* The author of A Drowned Maiden's Hair: A Melodrama (2006), Schlitz turns to a completely different kind of storytelling here. Using a series of interconnected monologues and dialogues featuring young people living in and around an English manor in 1255, she offers first-person character sketches that build upon each other to create a finer understanding of medieval life. The book was inspired by the necessity of creating a play suitable for a classroom where no one wanted a small part. Each of the 23 characters (between 10 and 15 years old) has a distinct personality and a societal role revealed not by recitation of facts but by revelation of memories, intentions, and attitudes. Sometimes in prose and more often in one of several verse forms, the writing varies nicely from one entry to the next. Historical notes appear in the vertical margins, and some double-page spreads carry short essays on topics related to individual narratives, such as falconry, the Crusades, and Jews in medieval society. Although often the characters' specific concerns are very much of their time, their outlooks and emotional states will be familiar to young people today. Reminiscent of medieval art, Byrd's lively ink drawings, tinted with watercolors, are a handsome addition to this well-designed book. This unusually fine collection of related monologues and dialogues promises to be a rewarding choice for performance or for reading aloud in the classroom.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2007 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Schlitz (The Hero Schliemann ) wrote these 22 brief monologues to be performed by students at the school where she is a librarian; here, bolstered by lively asides and unobtrusive notes, and illuminated by Byrd's (Leonardo, Beautiful Dreamer) stunningly atmospheric watercolors, they bring to life a prototypical English village in 1255. Adopting both prose and verse, the speakers, all young, range from the half-wit to the lord's daughter, who explains her privileged status as the will of God. The doctor's son shows off his skills ("Ordinary sores/ Will heal with comfrey, or the white of an egg,/ An eel skin takes the cramping from a leg"); a runaway villein (whose life belongs to the lord of his manor) hopes for freedom after a year and a day in the village, if only he can calculate the passage of time; an eel-catcher describes her rough infancy: her "starving poor [father] took me up to drown in a bucket of water." (He relents at the sight of her "wee fingers" grasping at the sides of the bucket.) Byrd, basing his work on a 13th-century German manuscript, supplies the first page of each speaker's text with a tone-on-tone patterned border overset with a square miniature. Larger watercolors, some with more intricate borders, accompany explanatory text for added verve. The artist does not channel a medieval style; rather, he mutes his palette and angles some lines to hint at the period, but his use of cross-hatching and his mostly realistic renderings specifically welcome a contemporary readership. Ages 10-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Schlitz helps students step directly into the shoes-and lives-of medieval children in this outstanding collection of interrelated monologues. Designed for performance and excellent for use in interdisciplinary history classrooms, the book offers students an incredibly approachable format for learning about the Middle Ages that makes the period both realistic and relevant. The text, varying from dramatic to poetic, depending on the point of view, is accompanied by historical notes that shed light on societal roles, religion, and town life. Byrd's illustrations evoke the era and give dramatists ideas for appropriate costuming and props. Browsers interested in medieval life will gravitate toward this title, while history buffs will be thrilled by the chance to make history come alive through their own voices.-Alana Abbott, James Blackstone Memorial Library, Branford, CT Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

Library Journal In this novel of breathtaking virtuosity, Franzen, whose debut, The Twenty-Seventh City, chronicled corruption and decline in St. Louis, MO, presents the dysfunctional Lambert family. Enid Lambert's husband, Al, a retired engineer, is going downhill fasthis Parkinson's disease is so bad that he has trouble sitting in a chair. The rest of the family isn't doing much better. The oldest son, Gary, a banker, is depressed and suicidal; Chip has just been fired from his teaching job; and Denise, a superstar chef at a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, is sexually involved with both her boss and his wife. The family is experiencing a series of lifestyle corrections analogous to sudden downturns in the stock market, and Enid tries to rebound by hosting an old-fashioned Christmas at their Midwestern home. From this soap opera premise, Franzen constructs a brilliant novel of ideas that compares the emerging postmodern America (East Coast) to the quickly disappearing traditional America (Midwest), with digressions on railroad history, pharmacology, post-glasnost politics, culinary trends, celebrity culture, and Wall Street. Wisely, Franzen pitches the book not as a polemic but as a farce, and the result is laugh-out-loud funny. Best of all, everything neatly dovetails, so that each digression seems immediately relevant to the main story. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.]Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Library Journal As her husband's health deteriorates, Enid faces the disappointments in her life including her three grown children. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list Ferociously detailed, gratifyingly mind-expanding, and daringly complex and unhurried, New Yorker writer Franzen's third and best-yet novel aligns the spectacular dysfunctions of one Midwest family with the explosive malfunctions of society-at-large. Alfred's simple values were in perfect accord with the iron orderliness of the railroad he so zealously served, but he is now discovering the miseries and entropy of Parkinson's disease. His wife, Enid, who has filled every cupboard and closet in their seemingly perfect house with riotous clutter in an unconscious response to her hunger for deeper experience, refuses to accept the severity of Alfred's affliction. Gary, the most uptight and bossiest of their unmoored adult offspring, is so undermined by his ruthlessly strategic wife that he barely avoids a nervous breakdown. Chip loses a plum academic job after being seduced and betrayed by a student, then nearly loses his life in Lithuania after perpetuating some profoundly cynical Internet fraud. And Denise detonates her career as a trendy chef by having an affair with her boss' wife. Heir in scope and spirit to the great nineteenth-century novelists, Franzen is also kin to Stanley Elkin with his caustic humor, satiric imagination, and free-flowing empathy as he mocks the absurdity and brutality of consumer culture. At once miniaturistic and panoramic, Franzen's prodigious comedic saga renders family life on an epic scale and captures the decadence of the dot-com era. Each cleverly choreographed fiasco stands as a correction to the delusions that precipitated it, and each step back from the brink of catastrophe becomes a move toward hope, integrity, and love. Donna Seaman

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

Publishers Weekly If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.) Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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

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