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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Winger
by Andrew Smith

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Smith takes readers inside the mind of Ryan Dean West, nicknamed Winger for his position on the rugby team of his tony private school. He's brilliant, immature (a 14-year-old junior), and anxious to prove himself to his teammates and especially to his crush, 16-year-old Annie. "You push things too far" advises his best friend and teammate Joey, who is gay and accepted for his honesty about it and his status as team captain. With only Joey, Annie, and the Tao of rugby to guide him, it's no wonder Ryan Dean has more than his share of missteps while trying to reinvent himself. Some are painfully awkward, and some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, especially his sponge bath by a hot nurse. The team's on-field camaraderie deteriorates into simmering hostility off the field, rife with drinking, crudeness, profanity, and constant verbal slurs. Still, readers will be shocked by a climactic violent act against Joey that leaves Ryan Dean changed forever. Smith's understanding of teen males is evident; nuances add depth and authenticity to characters that could have been cliches. However, Annie feels a bit idealized: one wonders what she sees in Ryan Dean. The pace moves quickly and holds readers' interest, punctuated by Bosma's charts and graphic-novel pages that cleverly depict the boy's hilarious inner turmoil. Readers don't need to know anything about rugby to appreciate this moving, funny coming-of-age novel.-M. Kozikowski, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY (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.

Publishers Weekly This brutally honest coming-of-age novel from Smith (Passenger) unfolds through the eyes of Ryan Dean West, a 14-year-old, rugby-playing junior at the exclusive Pine Mountain school. He's two years younger than his classmates, hopelessly in love with his best friend Annie, and stuck in Opportunity Hall, the residence reserved for the worst rule-breakers. As Ryan Dean struggles with football-team bullies, late-night escapades, academic pressures, and girl troubles, he also discovers his own strengths. Like puberty itself, this tale is alternately hilarious and painful, awkward and enlightening; Bosma's occasional comics add another layer of whimsy and emotion, representing Ryan Dean's own artistic bent. The characters and situations are profane and crass, reveling in talk of bodily functions and sexual innuendo, and the story is a cross between the films Lucas and Porky's, with all the charm and gross-out moments that dichotomy suggests. That's what makes the tragedy near the very end all the more shocking and sudden, changing the entire mood and impact of Ryan Dean's journey. The last-minute twist may leave readers confused, angry, and heartbroken, but this remains an excellent, challenging read. Ages 12-up. Agent: Laura Rennert, Andrew Brown Literary Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* After he opened a vein in YA lit with The Marbury Lens (2010) and then went completely nutso in Passenger (2012), about the only thing that Smith could do to surprise would be a hornball boarding-school romantic romp. Surprise! Well, sort of. At 14, Ryan Dean West is a couple years younger (and scrawnier) than the rest of the juniors at Pine Mountain. He is a plucky kid despite a tendency to punctuate his every thought with I am such a loser who stars in the rugby team due to his speed and tenacity. The rail ties of his single-track mind, though, are his exploits (or lack thereof) with the opposite sex, particularly his best friend Annie, who thinks he is adorable. In short, Ryan Dean is a slightly pervy but likable teen. He rates the hotness of every female in sight but also drops surprising bombs of personal depth on a friend's homosexuality, the poisonous rivalries that can ruin friendships, and his own highly unstable mix of insecurity and evolving self-confidence. Much of the story seems preoccupied with the base-level joys and torments of being a teenager, content to float along with occasional bursts of levity from some nonessential but fun minicomics by Bosma. But at its heart, it is more in line with Dead Poets Society, and by the end this deceptively lightweight novel packs an unexpectedly ferocious punch.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Alfie.
by Thyra Heder

Publishers Weekly Alfie is a pet turtle, and his new owner Nia, an African-American girl with braided hair and plenty of curiosity, tries hard to find ways to relate to him. "I taught him my wiggle dance and made him presents," she says, "but he didn't seem to notice." Nia's interest cools somewhat; then, on her seventh birthday, Alfie disappears. After a pause indicated by a spread with no text, the story resumes, now narrated by Alfie. It turns out that he's been paying more attention than anyone knew: "Nia taught me how to dance!" he explains. "She gave me presents! I had never been given presents." Hoping to find the perfect birthday gift for Nia, Alfie sets out on a shopping trip, and Heder's story really begins to shine as Alfie gets help from Toby (the family hound) and a snail in the backyard. Her watercolor spreads are carefully executed with few stylistic mannerisms; all the attention is directed toward the characters. It's a treat watching Alfie deliver Nia the perfect birthday present-albeit a little late. Ages 4-8. Agent: Stephen Barr, Writers House. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-A girl named Nia gets a pet turtle on her sixth birthday. She names him Alfie and the two of them spend a year together with Nia making every effort to include her pet in all her activities. But turtles will be turtles-not being the most playful or cuddly as pets go-and Nia loses interest. Then, on the morning of Nia's seventh birthday, Alfie goes missing. That's when the story changes from Nia's to Alfie's point of view, as the intrepid turtle goes on the hunt for the perfect gift for Nia's birthday. He first explores around the house, encountering the family dog, then ventures out onto the fire escape, down into the yard, and through a sandbox until he grows cold and tired. A friendly snail suggests that Alfie take a nap in the pond in the yard. Readers see the passage of time illustrated through the change in seasons from fall to winter and then spring, when Alfie wakes up from his "nap" and emerges from the pond just in time to celebrate what Alfie believes is Nia's seventh birthday. Readers will delight to see the two reunited and will notice that it is actually Nia's eighth birthday, as the number indicates on her birthday balloon. The beautiful ink-and-watercolor illustrations, which feature an African American child (and her family), offer readers lots of clues and thoughtful details. An author's note tells how the story is based on Heder's real-life pet turtle Alfie that she got when she was six. VERDICT A welcome addition to picture book collections perfect for one-on-one and small group sharing.-Megan Kilgallen, Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn 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.

Book list For her sixth birthday, Nia's delighted to receive a pet turtle, Alfie, and shares with him songs, stories, and little gifts. But lacking responses from Alfie, she starts losing interest, until, on her seventh birthday, she notices Alfie has disappeared but to where? Readers then get the story from Alfie's viewpoint as he relates both how happy Nia made him and why he's left his tank: to find her a special present. Eventually, after searching indoors and outdoors, as well as getting advice from a dog, a snail, and a fish, Alfie returns with the perfect gift, and a festive birthday is had. Nia's and Alfie's first-person descriptive accounts are extended by lovely, intricately detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations that artfully highlight the varying perspectives and amusing moments, as when Nia introduces Alfie to her toys. Although the concept of hibernation may need explaining (Alfie returns on what's revealed to be Nia's eighth birthday), overall, this is a charming story of the bond between child and pet.--Rosenfeld, Shelle Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Flotsam
by David Wiesner

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. Two-time Caldecott winner Wiesner (Tuesday; The Three Pigs) crafts another wordless mystery, this one set on an ordinary beach and under an enchanted sea. A saucerlike fish's eye stares from the exact center of the dust jacket, and the fish's scarlet skin provides a knockout background color. First-timers might not notice what's reflected in its eye, but return visitors will: it's a boxy camera, drifting underwater with a school of slim green fish. In the opening panels, Wiesner pictures another close-up eye, this one belonging to a blond boy viewing a crab through a magnifying glass. Visual devices—binoculars and a microscope in a plastic bag—rest on a nearby beach towel, suggesting the boy's optical curiosity. After being tossed by a wave, the studious boy finds a barnacle-covered apparatus on the sand (evocatively labeled the "Melville Underwater Camera"). He removes its roll of film and, when he gets the results, readers see another close-up of his wide-open, astonished eye: the photos depict bizarre undersea scenes (nautilus shells with cutout windows, walking starfish-islands, octopi in their living room à la Tuesday's frogs). A lesser fantasist would end the story here, but Wiesner provides a further surprise that connects the curious boy with others like him. Masterfully altering the pace with panel sequences and full-bleed spreads, he fills every inch of the pages with intricate, imaginative watercolor details. New details swim into focus with every rereading of this immensely satisfying excursion. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Starred Review. K-Gr 4–A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. Itâ??s a â??Melville underwater camera,â?? and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of-the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless bookâ??s vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesnerâ??s other works, Chris Van Allsburgâ??s titles, or Barbara Lehmanâ??s The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Once a year in the Protectorate there is a Day of Sacrifice. The youngest baby is taken by the Elders and left in the forest to die, thus appeasing the witch who threatens to destroy the village if not obeyed. Unbeknownst to the people, Xan, the witch of the forest, is kind and compassionate. When she discovers the first baby left as a sacrifice, she has no idea why it has been abandoned. She rescues the infants, feeds each one starlight, and delivers the shining infants to parents in the Outside Cities who love and care for them. On one occasion, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight along with starlight, filling her with glowing magic. Xan is smitten with the beautiful baby girl, who has a crescent moon birthmark on her forehead, and chooses to raise her as her own child. Twists and turns emerge as the identity of the true evil witch becomes apparent. The swiftly paced, highly imaginative plot draws a myriad of threads together to form a web of characters, magic, and integrated lives. Spiritual overtones encompass much of the storytelling with love as the glue that holds it all together. VERDICT An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.-D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH Copyright 2016. 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* Every year, the elders of the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to appease an evil witch though, in truth, it's a facade to subdue the populace. Xan, the witch in question, actually rescues each baby and finds families for them. One time, however, Xan accidentally feeds moonlight to the baby, which fills her with magic. Xan thereupon adopts her, names her Luna, and raises her with the help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. Luna's magic grows exponentially and causes such havoc that Xan casts a spell to suppress it until Luna turns 13. But the spell misfires, clouding Luna's mind whenever magic is mentioned, making proper training impossible. As the fateful birthday approaches, Xan fears dying before she can teach Luna everything she needs to know. Meanwhile, in the Protectorate, a young couple dares to challenge the status quo, a madwoman trapped in a tower escapes by way of paper birds, and a truly evil witch is revealed. Barnhill's latest, told in omniscient point of view, is rich with multiple plotlines that culminate in a suspenseful climax, characters of inspiring integrity (as well as characters without any), a world with elements of both whimsy and treachery, and prose that melds into poetry. A sure bet for anyone who enjoys a truly fantastic story.--Young, Michelle Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-In a vividly created fantastical realm, a baby is left in the forest, according to an annual tradition of sacrifice. Discovered by a kind witch, who mistakenly feeds the child moonlight, the girl grows up with a potent power she must learn to control. This swiftly paced and highly imaginative title expertly weaves myriad threads into a memorable story that will easily enchant readers. Copyright 2016. 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 Xan, a kindhearted witch, lives in the woods with an erudite swamp monster, Glerk, and a lovable "Perfectly Tiny Dragon," Fyrian. Every year she finds a new home for a baby the sorrowful people of the Protectorate leave in the woods on the Day of Sacrifice. One year, she accidentally "enmagicks" a baby with moonlight, so the three decide to raise her as their own, their Luna. But Luna's magic is strong, and before her 13th birthday, events unfold that will change everything she has known. Barnhill (The Witch's Boy) crafts another captivating fantasy, this time in the vein of Into the Woods. Via intricately woven chapters that follow Luna, her unusual family, the devious Grand Elder of the Protectorate, his honorable nephew and niece, the mysterious Sister Ignatia, and a sympathetic "madwoman" in a tower, Barnhill delivers an escalating plot filled with foreshadowing, well-developed characters, and a fully realized setting, all highlighting her lyrical storytelling. As the characters search for family, protect secrets, and seek truth, they realize that anything can happen in the woods-when magic is involved. Ages 10-up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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