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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Stupid Fast
by Herback, Geoff

Publishers Weekly Adult author Herbach (The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg) delivers an alternately fascinating and awkward novel that sometimes seems to exist in denial of its own characters. Felton Reinstein's late puberty during his sophomore year turned him into an incredible runner, which has landed him on both the track and football teams. Socially isolated, he is resigned to a lonely summer with his unpredictable widowed mother and piano-prodigy younger brother. But things become complicated as Felton meets beautiful new girl Aleah, he is drawn into the football team's summer workouts, and his home life disintegrates. Herbach's story would be typical but for a narrative style that clearly paints Felton as developmentally disabled ("I sweated in my tight jeans because it was summer. I smelled the pee-smell of my own athlete's body"). This offers potential, but it's wasted by the denial practiced by practically everyone he deals with, including his mother (who, admittedly, has problems of her own). Instead of coming across as an actual element of his character, Felton's narrative voice reads as merely "quirky," and it creates issues that aren't adequately addressed. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Everything changes for Felton Reinstein during his fifteenth year. A growth spurt and the discovery of latent athletic talent tilt how the world views the teen, who thinks of himself as a little slow on the uptake. Hitherto unpopular and the object of jokes, suddenly Felton, who narrates the story in a hyper, slightly astounded voice, is going out for football, taken under the wing of one of his school's more popular jocks. Meanwhile, a paper route leads him to meet (and become sweet on) a musical prodigy, whose father is a visiting professor at the local college. If all this weren't enough, things at home are falling apart: Felton's mom has a breakdown as she tries to face Felton's maturation and younger brother's persistent probe of their father's suicide many years earlier. Suffice it to say, nothing is quite what Felton thinks. In this struggling and often clueless teen, Herbach has created an endearing character coming to terms with his past and present in a small, well-defined Wisconsin town.--Cruze, Kare. Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-In his sophomore year, Fenton Reinstein's voice drops, he begins to grow hair all over his body, and he becomes "stupid fast." Previously indifferent to sports, he instantly becomes a star sprinter and is touted as the next savior of the football team before he has ever played a down. All is not entirely well, however. Fenton's only real friend, Gus, has gone to Venezuela with his family for the summer, and he has to take over Gus's paper route, a job he hates. More ominously, the teen's always-quirky mother, Jerri, has retreated into her own world and has left Fenton and his sweet, needy younger brother, Andrew, to basically fend for themselves. Fenton is also haunted by the early-childhood trauma of discovering his father's body after the man committed suicide. When African-American teen piano virtuoso Aleah Jennings and her father move into Gus's house for the summer, things begin to look up for Fenton. After an awkward beginning, the two establish a relationship that has its ups and downs, but helps to sustain Fenton as his mother's mental illness rages out of control. He and his sibling finally find the courage to contact their father's mother, who turns out not to be the shrewish ogre their mother described, but a loving, responsible adult who sees the boys through their crisis. The novel has some loose ends and needless plot contrivances, but in the end Fenton's sarcasm, anxiety, self-doubt, thoughtfulness, and compassion carry the day and perfectly capture the voice of his generation.-Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT (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 Blackout
by John Rocco

Book list It's a scenario many kids are probably all too familiar with: a young boy wants to play, but older sis is gabbing on the phone, Mom is busy on the computer, and Dad is making dinner. When the power goes out, however, the family comes together to make shadow puppets on the wall, join the neighbors on the roof to admire the stars, and even head out front to the most idyllic city street you'll ever see. All good things come to an end, though. The power comes back on, and everyone immediately slips back into walled-off family units though the walls are a bit weaker now. Compositionally, this picture book bears a strong resemblance to Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen (1970), breaking some of the pages into comics-style panels and running a boxed narrative up top. Rocco's lustrous, animation-quality artwork somehow manages to get richer the darker it gets, and features one of the silkiest skies sinc. Van Gogh's Starry Night. A versatile reminder to take a break and invest in quality together time once in a while.--Chipman, Ia. Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-The view inside this family of four's duplex depicts what might be a typical night for them. The younger child is reaching for a board game, her older sister is talking on the phone, dad is cooking, and mom is working at the computer. When the girl tries to enlist the others to play the game with her, they're all too busy-until "The lights went out. All of them." It's a blackout! At first, the family members sit at the kitchen table with a flashlight and some candles; then they head up to the roof for a look at the bright stars against the dark cityscape; and, finally, they go down to the street, where there's a festive atmosphere of guitars playing, free ice cream, and an open fire hydrant. In the end, readers will see that simple pleasures and a spirit of togetherness can be enjoyed even when the electricity comes back on. The colorful pictures work beautifully with the book's design. Rocco uses comic-strip panels and a brief text to convey the atmosphere of a lively and almost magical urban landscape. Great bedtime reading for a soft summer night.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL (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.

Publishers Weekly Rocco's sublime account of a city blackout reveals a bittersweet truth: it sometimes takes a crisis to bring a family together. In a series of graphic novel-style panels, a small child tries to convince family members to play a board game one hot summer night, but they're all too busy. When the lights go out, though, the neighborhood comes alive and the whole family drifts up to the roof to look at the stars: "It was a block party in the sky." Rocco (Fu Finds the Way) gets everything right: the father's pained, sheepish smile when he says he has no time to play; the velvety dark and glowing candlelight of the blackout (as well as the sense of magic that can accompany one); and the final solution to the problem of a too-busy family (a private blackout, courtesy of a light switch). The high-energy visuals that characterize Rocco's other work get dialed back a little. In the most poignant spread, the family sits on the stoop, eating ice cream: "And no one was busy at all." It's a rare event these days. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-On a summer night in the city, the youngest member of a family finds that everyone is too busy to play with him. But when the lights go out, and everything shuts down, suddenly there's time for games and impromptu street and rooftop parties. Luminous, fluid artwork, filled with visual gags that extend the charming story, glows with warmth and humor. (July) (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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Mirette on the High Wire
by Emily McCully

Book list Ages 4-7. McCully has created a picture book in a totally different vein than that of Picnic [BKL Ap 1 84] or School [BKL S 1 87]. Set 100 years ago at a boarding house in Paris, the story features Mirette, the owner's young daughter. One day the great high-wire walker Bellini arrives to stay, and in fascination Mirette observes him practicing his craft. Curious and committed, Mirette begins studying with Bellini and quickly learns the tricks of the trade. She also discovers, however, that her teacher is stricken with fear and no longer performs. In refusing to accept this, she spurs Bellini to stage a comeback above the streets of Paris. McCully delivers an exciting outcome, and her gutsy heroine and bright, impressionistic paintings provide a very satisfying reading experience. ~--Kathryn Broderick

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

Publishers Weekly In this picture book set in 19th-century Paris, a child helps a daredevil who has lost his edge to regain his confidence. Many traveling performers stay at Madame Gateaux's boarding house, but Mme.'s daughter Mirette is particularly taken with one guest--the quiet gentleman who can walk along the clothesline without falling off. Mirette implores the boarder to teach her his craft, not knowing that her instructor is the ``Great Bellini'' of high wire fame. After much practice the girl joins Bellini on the wire as he conquers his fear and demonstrates to all of Paris that he is still the best. McCully's story has an exciting premise and starting point, but unfortunately ends up as a missed opportunity. Bellini's anxiety may be a bit sophisticated for the intended audience and, surprisingly, the scenes featuring Mirette and Bellini on the high wire lack drama and intensity. McCully's rich palette and skillful renderings of shadow and light sources make this an inviting postcard from the Old World. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

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

School Library Journal K-Gr 4-- Mirette's mother keeps a boardinghouse that attracts traveling performers . The girl is intrigued by one silent visitor, Bellini, who has come for a rest. She finds him next morning walking a high wire strung across the backyard. Immediately, she is drawn to it, practicing on it herself until she finds her balance and can walk its distance. But she finds the man unusually secretive about his identity; he was a famous high-wire artist, but has lost his courage. He is lured by an agent to make a comeback, but freezes on the wire. Seeing Mirette at the end of it restores his nerve; after the performance the two set off on a new career together. As improbable as the story is, its theatrical setting at some historical distance, replete with European architecture and exotic settings and people, helps lend credibility to this circus tale. Mirette, through determination and perhaps talent, trains herself, overcoming countless falls on cobblestone, vaunting pride that goes before a fall, and lack of encouragement from Bellini. The impressionistic paintings, full of mottled, rough edges and bright colors, capture both the detail and the general milieu of Paris in the last century. The colors are reminiscent of Toulouse-Lautrec, the daubing technique of Seurat. A satisfying, high-spirited adventure. --Ruth K. MacDonald, Purdue Univ . Calumet, Hammond, IN

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 Silkworm
by Robert Galbraith

Library Journal As we all know, Galbraith's first Cormoran Strike novel won great reviews but not great sales until it was revealed that Galbraith was actually J.K. Rowling. Wouldn't you know a famous novelist is at the heart of this second Strike outing. When Owen Quine disappears, his wife assumes that he's on one of his little escapades and asks Strike to find him and bring him home. But as Strike discovers, Quine has just finished a novel full of nasty portraits of people he knows, and one of them may have wanted to finish him off. Just announced but out in June. (c) Copyright 2014. 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.

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Publishers Weekly Park (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid- to late 12th-century Korea. In Ch'ul'po, a potter's village, Crane-man (so called because of one shriveled leg) raises 10-year-old orphan Tree Ear (named for a mushroom that grows "without benefit of "parent-seed"). Though the pair reside under a bridge, surviving on cast-off rubbish and fallen grains of rice, they believe "stealing and begging... made a man no better than a dog." From afar, Tree Ear admires the work of the potters until he accidentally destroys a piece by Min, the most talented of the town's craftsmen, and pays his debt in servitude for nine days. Park convincingly conveys how a community of artists works (chopping wood for a communal kiln, cutting clay to be thrown, etc.) and effectively builds the relationships between characters through their actions (e.g., Tree Ear hides half his lunch each day for Crane-man, and Min's soft-hearted wife surreptitiously fills the bowl). She charts Tree Ear's transformation from apprentice to artist and portrays his selflessness during a pilgrimage to Songdo to show Min's work to the royal court he faithfully continues even after robbers shatter the work and he has only a single shard to show. Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list Gr. 4-8. When the polite greeting in a society is "Have you eaten well today?' one may guess that subsistence is of prime concern. Surely no one in this twelfth-century Korean village is more accustomed to hunger than the orphan boy Tree-ear and his guardian Crane-man who is lame. They sleep under a bridge in summer and in a pit in winter, eating what they can forage in the woods or garbage piles. At the age of 12, Tree-ear becomes an assistant to the potter Min. A hard taskmaster to himself and the boy, Min is the maker of the finest celadon ware in Ch'ul'po, a village known for its pottery. When Min entrusts two precious pots to Tree-ear to deliver to Songdo, the boy must make his way across miles of unknown territory, relying on his courage and wits to prove himself worthy of Min's trust. This quiet, but involving, story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. --Carolyn Phelan

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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Meanest Thing to Say
by Bill Cosby

School Library Journal : K-Gr 3--Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers--but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.

Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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