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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Darius the Great is Not Okay
by Khorram, Adib

Publishers Weekly First-time author Khorram's coming-of-age novel brings to life the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of a culture steeped in tradition. After learning that her Iranian father is ailing, high school sophomore Darius's mother decides to take the family to visit her father and relatives in Iran. Suffering from chronic depression and bullied at school in America, Darius isn't sure how he'll fare in a country he's never seen. It doesn't take him long to adjust as people welcome him with open arms, however, especially after he meets Sohrab, his grandparents' teenaged neighbor, who invites him to play soccer and quickly becomes Darius's first real friend ever. While the book doesn't sugarcoat problems in the country (unjust imprisonment and an outdated view of mental illness are mentioned), it mainly stays focused on the positive-Iran's impressive landscape and mouthwatering food, the warmth of its people-as it shows how a boy who feels like an outcast at home finds himself and true friendship overseas. Ages 12-up. Agent: Molly O'Neill, Waxman Leavell. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Darius is a bullied American teenager dealing with numerous stigmas. His mom is Persian and his "‹bermensch" dad is white. He is overweight. He takes medication for depression. He is a devotee of artisanal tea, Star Trek (all seasons), and Tolkien. And there is an unspoken awareness that Darius is gay. He is certain that he is a constant disappointment to his father who also takes antidepressants, which they both consider a weakness. When his family travels to Iran to see his mother's parents because his grandfather (Babou) is dying, Darius experiences shifting perceptions about the country, his extended family, and himself. Debut author Khorram presents meticulous descriptions and explanations of food, geography, religion, architecture, and English translations of Farsi for readers unfamiliar with Persian culture through characters' dialogue and Darius's observations. References to Tolkien, Star Trek, and astronomy minutiae, on the other hand, may be unclear for uninitiated readers. Despite the sometimes overly didactic message about the importance of chronic depression treatment, Darius is a well-crafted, awkward but endearing character, and his cross-cultural story will inspire reflection about identity and belonging. VERDICT A strong choice for YA shelves. Give this to fans for Adam Silvera and John Corey Whaley.-Elaine Fultz, Madison Jr. Sr. High School, Middletown, OH © 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.

Book list Darius Kellner has more than his share of teen troubles to manage: racist bullies, clinical depression, complications with his father, and feeling like a misfit. So he does not expect much when his family travels to Iran to visit his maternal grandparents. Darius is a keen observer of life and very much aware of his emotional mechanisms. He is loving, sensitive, and a connoisseur of tea: steeping, drinking, sharing with family. He views the world through analogies to Star Trek and the Lord of the Rings trilogy in ways that are sometimes endearing and other times cumbersome. The trip to Iran opens new places of tenderness as Darius connects with people, places, and history that feel simultaneously familiar and new. But most significant is his friendship with Sohrab, which is tinged with an intimacy that suggests it is something more than platonic. This is a refreshing bildungsroman and an admirable debut novel that will leave readers wanting more. Hand to readers of Sara Farizan's Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel (2014) and soul-searching teens.--Amina Chaudhri Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Rough Patch
by Brian Lies

Book list *Starred Review* Farmer Evan, portrayed as a fox in overalls, has a dog. Constant companions, they enjoy playing games, taking hikes, and working in the garden. But after the dog's death, Evan feels that nothing will be quite the same and so hacks his beloved garden to bits. Time passes. Weeds move in, and he lets the itchy, spiky-looking ones stay. He begins to tend a prickly vine, which eventually produces an enormous pumpkin. Feeling an old, familiar sense of excitement, Evan hauls his pumpkin to the local fair, where he enjoys the food, the games, and talking with old friends. His pumpkin wins him a prize: $10 or a puppy. He drives home with a new companion. Spare and beautifully phrased, the story is well told in the text. But Evan's emotions are most vividly conveyed in the artwork, created with acrylics, oils, and colored pencils. In the graveside scene, a shadow literally falls over Evan, while on the facing page, the phrase and nothing was the same appears on a light gray background, encroached by looming, chaotic darkness. Lies' rich colors and expressive use of light are evident throughout this picture book, which acknowledges grief and delivers a hopeful message with subtlety, empathy, and eloquence.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 2-5-Lies taps into the powerful nature of love, loss, grief, and hope in his latest picture book. Evan, a fox, and his dog are best friends and in a series of acrylic, oil, and colored pencil vignettes, they are shown attending a fair, playing games, and, most important, working in Evan's meticulously groomed garden. These loving scenes are abruptly cut short by a large spread of white space with spare text stating: "But one day, the unthinkable happened." On the opposing page, white space surrounds a grieving Evan as he mourns the loss of his dog. In his grief, Evan destroys the garden that reminds him so much of his friend and weeds grow in its place. When a pumpkin vine sneaks into the garden, Evan allows it to take root and with it, hope returns. With lyrical figurative language, Evan transitions from being devastated by heartache to a being willing to step back into the world again. With his pumpkin, Evan rejoins his friends at the fair. Although it's not the same without his best friend, he enjoys himself again and even wins a prize for his pumpkin. His prize and the hope of all those who suffer love's loss is a chance to love again with a new puppy. While best suited for independent readers or shared moments during a loss, this poignant picture book provides an exquisite depiction of grief and hope. VERDICT A remarkable first selection for all libraries and a helpful guide for children and adults who are going through their own rough patches.-Rachel Zuffa, Racine Public Library, WI © 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 The polished, jaunty spreads that open this story by Lies (Gator Dad) give little hint of the deep emotion to come. Evan, a fox, cuts a handsome figure in his overalls and wire-rimmed spectacles, and he and his beloved black-and-white dog are always together. They drive in Evan's red farm truck and play games, "But what they loved the most was working in Evan's magnificent garden," a lush, fertile enclosure studded with neat trellises. Then, two terrible things happen: Evan's dog dies-readers see the fox slumped over the hound's body-and in his grief, Evan destroys his garden, swinging a hoe that fells the plants and snaps the trellises in two. The story of how Evan finds his way through his grief rings true, and Lies's atmospherically lit, exquisitely drafted paintings will absorb readers as they trace Evan's journey through mourning. Some sensitive readers may draw back from tragedy this stark, but others will be fascinated by Evan's mysterious world, in which pumpkins grow into prize-winning behemoths and rubber boots come specially made for fox feet. Ages 4-8. Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog So You Want to be President
by David Small

Publishers Weekly : HThis lighthearted, often humorous roundup of anecdotes and trivia is cast as a handbook of helpful hints to aspiring presidential candidates. St. George (Sacagawea; Crazy Horse) points out that it might boost your odds of being elected if your name is James (the moniker of six former presidents) or if your place of birth was a humble dwelling ("You probably weren't born in a log cabin. That's too bad. People are crazy about log-cabin Presidents. They elected eight"). She serves up diverse, occasionally tongue-in-cheek tidbits and spices the narrative with colorful quotes from her subjects. For instance, she notes that "Warren Harding was a handsome man, but he was one of our worst Presidents" due to his corrupt administration, and backs it up with one of his own quotes, "I am not fit for this office and never should have been here." Meanwhile, Small (The Gardener) shows Harding crowned king of a "Presidential Beauty Contest"; all the other presidents applaud him (except for a grimacing Nixon). The comical, caricatured artwork emphasizes some of the presidents' best known qualities and amplifies the playful tone of the text. For an illustration of family histories, Small depicts eight diminutive siblings crawling over a patient young George Washington; for another featuring pre-presidential occupations, Harry Truman stands at the cash register of his men's shop while Andrew Johnson (a former tailor) makes alterations on movie star Ronald Reagan's suit. The many clever, quirky asides may well send readers off on a presidential fact-finding missionDand spark many a discussion of additional anecdotes. A clever and engrossing approach to the men who have led America. Ages 7-up. (Aug.)

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 4-8-Curious tidbits of personal information and national history combine with humorously drawn caricatures to give this tongue-in-cheek picture book a quirky appeal. "There are good things about being President and there are bad things about being President." So begins a walk through a brief history of facts, successes, oddities, and mishaps. For example, most readers won't know that William Howard Taft weighed over 300 pounds and ordered a specially made bathtub. Small's drawing of a naked Taft being lowered into a water-filled tub by means of a crane should help them remember. Another spread depicts a men's shop where Andrew Johnson (a tailor) fits Ronald Reagan (an actor) for a suit while Harry Truman (a haberdasher) stands behind the counter. While the text exposes the human side of the individuals, the office of the presidency is ultimately treated with respect and dignity. A list of presidents with terms of office, birthplace, date of birth and death, and a one-sentence summary of their accomplishments is provided. This title will add spark to any study of this popular subject.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Becoming
by Michelle Obama

Library Journal Obama embodies the American dream, overcoming barriers of race, class, and gender to become one of the most influential leaders of our times. Though we stood witness to her husband’s historic ascent to become the first black U.S. president, this memoir reveals surprising, intimate details that shaped news stories and public perception. We learn how Obama struggled with the same challenges many people of color or marginalized groups face, including self-doubt—at times asking, “Am I good enough?” Yet her courage, determination, and resolve—molded by her parents, extended family, and friends—lifted her to achieve: first as an undergraduate at Princeton University, then as a law student at Harvard University, followed by her professional career in corporate law, government, and the nonprofit sector. VERDICT The audiobook may seem daunting with 19 hours of listening, but Obama’s narration moves the story quickly as it captivates. Her familiar voice personalizes the story and emotionally draws listeners deeper. The only negative for the audiobook is that it omits the photos in the print version.—Gladys Alcedo, Wallingford, CT © Copyright 2019. 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 former first lady looks back on an unlikely rise to the top while navigating issues of race and gender in this warmhearted memoir. Obama's narrative is the story of an African-American striver, born to a working-class family in a Chicago ghetto, who got Princeton and Harvard degrees and prominent jobs in law and public relations, attended at every step by the nagging question, "Am I good enough?" ("Yes I am," she answers). It's also about her struggle to keep husband Barack's high-powered political career from subsuming her identity and the placid family life she preferred to the electoral frenzy-she disavows any desire for public office herself-while she weathered misgivings over work-life balance and marital strains that required couples' counseling. Becoming the first lady ratchets up the pressure as Obama endures the Secret Service security bubble, has every public utterance and outfit attacked by opponents, gets pilloried as a closet radical, and soldiers on with healthy-food initiatives. Obama surveys most of this with calm good humor-"infuriating" Republican obstructionism and Donald Trump's "misogyny" draw her ire-while painting an admiring, sometimes romantic portrait of Barack and evoking pathos over her parents' sacrifices for their children. There are no dramatic revelations and not much overt politics here, but fans of the Obamas will find an interesting, inspiring saga of quiet social revolutions. Photos. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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 The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

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, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms