|ALA Best Books for Young Adults|
by Melanie Crowder
School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Written in verse, this novel is loosely based on the life of Clara Lemlich Shavelson, the leader of New York shirtwaist strike of 1909. Clara and her family are Jewish Russians who flee the anti-Semitism of turn-of-the-century Russia to find a better life in America. However, Clara still experiences gender and religious oppression in New York. She is unable to gain the education she desires, because she is forced to work in a sweatshop, and she can't rise above her given status as an immigrant worker because foreign women are taught only rudimentary English. But "Inside I am anything/ but fresh off the boat./ I have been ready for this/ possibility/ all my life," Clara declares, and she proves that she has the audacity to do the impossible for a female and a Jew: organizing a woman's union and ultimately having her voice heard. The verse form of the narrative lends lightness to an otherwise bleak topic and moves the story along quickly, while artful formatting of the text creates and sustains mood. This book stands alone in its topic and time frame, with only Michelle Markel's picture book Brave Girl (HarperCollins, 2013) as a nonfiction companion. With historical notes, interviews with Clara's family members, and a glossary of Yiddish terms, Audacity is an impactful addition to any historical fiction collection.-Brittany Staszak, Glencoe Public Library, IL (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.
|ALA Notable Books for Children|
| ||Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village|
by Fang Suzhen
Publishers Weekly Taiwanese author Suzhen writes honestly, even starkly, about the death of a grandparent and the suffering that precedes it. Xiao Le (he's very young, with baby cheeks and a beloved toy truck) hasn't visited Grandma in some time, and he's initially frightened to see her. Little by little, Xiao Le's fear turns to sympathy: "My truck will sleep with you, Grandma," he says. This is the last time he and his mother will see Grandma. Soon after, his mother tells him, "Grandma has left Perfume Village and moved into heaven." Suzhen conveys with tenderness the way Xiao Le understands his mother's grief and thinks of ways to comfort her: "Look, Mom, Grandma has turned on the light!" he says when the moon comes out. A wooden translation hobbles the story ("It had been a long time since he saw her"), but Danowski's (The Forever Flowers) exquisitely executed artwork redeems it, especially her intimate portraits of mother and son. While the book's audience is likely to be small, readers who discover it will find that Danowski's work eases its difficult moments. Ages 4-8. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
|Caldecott Medal Winners|
| ||The Invention of Hugo Cabret|
by Brian Selznick
Publishers Weekly Selznick's unique, visually arresting illustrated novel is transformed into an equally unique audiobook-plus-DVD presentation here. The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret-orphan, clockmaker's apprentice, petty thief and aspiring magician-and how a curious machine connects him with his departed father and pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies is full-bodied material for Woodman. The narrator dives in, reading with both a bright energy and an air of mystery-befitting the adventurous plot. Listeners will likely cotton to Woodman's affable tone and be fascinated by all the unusual elements here, including the sound-effects sequences (footsteps, train station noises) that stand in for Selznick's black-and-white illustrations, which appear like mini-silent movies in the book. Selznick himself takes over as host on the making-of style DVD, in which he divulges his love of film and his inspiration for the book, discusses (and demonstrates) his drawing technique and even performs a magic trick. The "chapters" of his interview are interspersed with excerpts from the audiobook, as he explains how the recording was a translation of both his words and pictures to sound. This inventive audio-visual hybrid will be a welcome addition to both home and classroom libraries. Ages 9-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Gr 3-6-Brian Selznick's atmospheric story (Scholastic, 2007) is set in Paris in 1931. Hugo Cabret is an orphan; his father, a clockmaker, has recently died in a fire and the boy lives with his alcoholic Uncle Claude, working as his apprentice clock keeper in a bustling train station. When Hugo's uncle fails to return after a three-day absence, the boy decides it's his chance to escape the man's harsh treatment. But Hugo has nowhere to go and, after wandering the city, returns to his uncle's rooms determined to fix a mechanical figure-an automaton-that his father was restoring when he died. Hugo is convinced it will "save his life"-the figure holds a pen, and the boy believes that if he can get it working again, it will deliver a message from his father. This is just the bare outline of this multilayered story, inspired by and with references to early (French) cinema and filmmaker George Melies, magic and magicians, and mechanical objects. Jeff Woodman's reading of the descriptive passages effectively sets the story's suspenseful tone. The book's many pages of pictorial narrative translate in the audio version into sound sequences that successfully employ the techniques of old radio plays (train whistles, footsteps reverberating through station passages, etc.). The accompanying DVD, hosted by Selznick and packed with information and images from the book, will enrich the listening experience.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
|Newbery Medal Winners|
| ||Splendors and Glooms|
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Book list *Starred Review* A brooding, Dickensian novel with a touch of fantasy and a glimmer of hope, Schlitz's latest opens in London in 1860, when lonely Clara, the only remaining child in a doctor's grief-stricken household, attempts to celebrate her twelfth birthday. Grisini the puppet master is engaged to perform, along with the two orphaned children, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, who serve as his assistants. Clara bridges the class divide to befriend the children. After kidnapping Clara for ransom, cruel Grisini disappears, leaving Lizzie Rose and Parsefall struggling to survive on their own. They make their way to the country house of a bewitched woman whose magical amulet gives her amazing powers while draining away her humanity. There they learn certain grisly secrets involving their cruel master, Clara's fate, and the wealthy witch, who seeks to control them all. The magic of the storytelling here lies in the subtle depiction of menacing evil. After working its way insidiously through the characters' lives, it is defeated by the children, who grow in strength and understanding throughout the novel. Vividly portrayed and complex, the characters are well-defined individuals whose separate strands of story are colorful and compelling. Schlitz weaves them into an intricate tapestry that is as mysterious and timeless as a fairy tale. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Schlitz's Newbery Medal winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (2007) earned her a wide following, and librarians will be eager to see what she's up to next.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly Anyone who thinks marionettes are creepy will have that opinion reinforced by this dark tale about three children at the mercy of an unscrupulous puppeteer and the witch who pulls his strings. Clara Wintermute asks her father, a wealthy doctor in 1860 London, to hire Professor Grisini and his Venetian Fantoccini to entertain guests at her 12th birthday party. Clara is stagestruck by the puppets and taken with one of Grisini's two assistants, the pretty, well-mannered orphan Lizzie Rose (the other assistant, Parsefall, is an urchin straight out of a Dickensian workhouse). After the puppet show, Clara disappears. Grisini is suspected, but he, too, vanishes. The fate of the three children becomes intertwined with Grisini's old flame, the witch Cassandra Sagredo. It's a fairly complicated plot, and although the pacing occasionally lags, Newbery Medalist Schlitz (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) delivers many pleasures-fully dimensional children, period details so ripe one can nearly smell them, and droll humor that leavens a few scenes of true horror. A highly original tale about children caught in a harrowing world of magic and misdeeds. Ages 9-13. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Victorian London could be a magical place: horse-drawn carriages, puppet shows, elaborate upper-class houses. Of course it could also be miserable: fog, filthy streets, shabby hovels where too many people live in too few rooms. Schlitz conjures both the magic and the mundane here. For Clara's 12th birthday, her parents hire a street performer to give a puppet show in their home. The puppeteer, Grisini, is so talented that he appears to be magical. His two orphaned assistants, Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, are envious of Clara's home and all its comforts. Clara vanishes the night of the puppet show, and Grisini and his assistants are the prime suspects. Then Grisini disappears, and Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must seek out the missing girl, with the sinister and mysterious help of a wealthy old witch. Schlitz uses such evocative language that readers will practically smell dirty London and then be relieved by the crisp, cold air in the countryside around the witch's crumbling mansion. The characters are recognizable tropes: the witch is rotting from the inside out; the orphans may be dirty and ill-bred, but they have spirit and pluck; the little rich girl is actually sad and lonely; the skinny puppeteer and the overly dramatic landlady are recognizably Dickensian. Yet, they are so well drawn that they are never caricatures, but people whom readers will cheer for, be terrified of, or grow to like. The plot is rich with supernatural and incredibly suspenseful elements. Fans of mystery, magic, and historical fiction will all relish this novel.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2012. 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|
| ||Pillars of the Earth|
by Ken Follett
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. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms
: 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.
Copyright 1989 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms