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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Freakboy
by Kristin Elizabeth Clark

Publishers Weekly Debut novelist Clark uses free verse to write a gripping story about a complex topic: the challenges of growing up transgender or genderqueer. Brendan struggles with his occasional desires to be a girl; in her own series of poems, Brendan's devoted girlfriend, Vanessa, worries about why he is suddenly avoiding her. Meanwhile, transgendered Angel-whom Brendan meets near the teen center where Angel works-reveals her own painful journey; her intense story includes physical abuse and a hospital stay after being beaten up while working as a prostitute. Clark doesn't stray far from central theme (the back matter includes resources and further reading) as she empathically explores what it can be like to be a transgendered teen (for example, not every transitioning character considers sex-reassignment surgery to be important). The author emphasizes that there are no simple answers for her characters, especially Brendan, who wonders if the transgendered label even fits. At the same time, through Angel, she gives her story a current of hope: "Everyone feels like a freak/ until they make up their mind/ they're not." Ages 12-up. Agent: Tracey Adams, Adams Literary. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When Brendan Chase types Want to be a girl into his Mac's search engine, one word pops up: transsexual. In Clark's raw, honest debut novel, told in verse, three voices capture a few experiences of teens on the transgender spectrum. Brendan is not one of those people / who's always wanted to wear a dress. / Who's always known / he should have been born female. Sex with girlfriend Vanessa, although confusing, feels good, and Brendan questions throughout whether or not he's trans. Fortunately, there's an angel in his life literally. Angel, trans without sex-reassignment surgery ( My junk doesn't dictate who I am ), fights against demons of her own and struggles to reconnect with her younger brother. She's a volunteer at Willows, a center for queer teens, and eventually introduces Brendan to terms like gender identity, gender attraction, genderqueer, and gender fluid. Meanwhile, the third voice belongs to Vanessa, a girl on the boy's wrestling team, who can't understand why her boyfriend, Brendan, is suddenly so distant. Unlike many novels that deal with one transgender character, this movingly explores so many gender identities, from the three main characters (each appears as a different font) to Angel's roommates. A must-have for library shelves, this will be popular with fans of Ellen Hopkins. Resources and further reading conclude.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Brandon, a high school wrestler, must face the fact that despite his best efforts he isn't as hyper-masculine as he feels he needs to be. Acceptance of his gender fluidity will prove to be his greatest challenge. Brandon's stepfather, a symphony conductor, appears to need regular validation of his manliness, and his mother undergoes breast enhancement surgery to appear, presumably, more womanly. Vanessa, Brandon's girlfriend, is also a wrestler; she feels she can only have a true win on the mat once her opponent lets go of the thought that she's a girl. When he's not aggressive enough in the ring, Brandon's coach calls him Brenda. Eventually, he meets Angel, an attractive young woman whose birth certificate reads "male." Angel-empowered, self-loving, and equipped to help others-can support Brandon to be at home in his body and in his craving for feminine expression. This book is a strong addition to LBGT and general collections as a compelling story for reluctant readers and an educational piece on a topic that needs discussion. The use of typography for emphasis is occasionally awkward and self-conscious, but overall this novel-in-verse presents a clear, realistic narrative in various voices. It succeeds in conveying the message that "you are not alone" to transgender youth while helping everyone else get a handle on these often-tortured teens. The author succeeds in her mission to foster "greater understanding and acceptance of gender's vast and lovely variation." -Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA (c) Copyright 2013. 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
Click to search this book in our catalog The Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-George Washington, or "GW" for short, may look like a sweet, innocent classroom hamster, but little do the second graders at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School know that he's the inventor of the Sunflower Seed Slingshot and the Rodent Catapult Transportation Device, both of which are going to help him and his fellow inmates-Barry the rabbit (serving time in first grade) and Biter the world's toughest guinea pig (doing a stint in kindergarten)-escape to freedom. Unfortunately, when GW finally liberates his rodent pals, a gang of surly mice threaten their plans. Jamieson, author and illustrator of Roller Girl (Dial, 2015), here presents a giggle-worthy tale for younger readers and those just venturing into graphic novels. Easy-to-follow panels, complemented by several spreads, explode off the page with her bright and cheery palette. Visual humor abounds, from GW's gallant attempts at sword fighting with the mouse leader (using a broken piece of uncooked spaghetti) to Biter's confession that, while in kindergarten, she's found a way to channel her anger issues through meditation. VERDICT Hand this charmingly goofy graphic novel to chapter book readers who enjoy Dav Pilkey's works, Cyndi Marko's "Kung Pow Chicken" series (Scholastic), and Geoffrey Hayes's "Benny and Penny" books (TOON.)-Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal 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* For the hamster known as George Washington (GW, for short), there is no greater prison than the second grade classroom. For three months, GW has been plotting and scheming, waiting patiently for things to fall into place so he can finally break free from the joint. It takes some effort to convince fellow prisoners Barry and Biter to join him they actually seem to like it there but a well-laid guilt trip does the trick. On the brink of freedom, the three rodents run up against the biggest obstacle of all, Harriet the mouse. She and her minions have a taste for destruction, but will GW have a change of heart and stop Harriet's mad plan to ruin the school? Told with a wickedly sharp sense of humor, Jamieson's latest delivers a madcap adventure that is sure to please young readers. The hilariously expressive rodents guarantee laughs from page one with plenty of slapstick humor and pointed one-liners. Jamieson makes excellent use of a variety of panel sizes to maximize the action, and the liberal use of bright color adds extra visual punch.--Hayes, Summer Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The House in the Night
by Susan Marie Swansonk

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. Using only a few graceful words per page to illuminate the dark, this bedtime gem shines its light clearly on things that matter—a home filled with books, art, music and ever-present love. Krommes's (The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat Called Fish) astonishing illustrations are so closely intertwined with the meticulous text that neither can be isolated without a loss of meaning. The book begins, intriguingly, Here is the key to the house./ In the house burns a light./ In that light rests a bed./ On that bed waits a book. That book takes the child reader up into the skies and back home again, to sleep (dark in the song, song in the bird, / bird in the book, book on the bed). Krommes's black-and-white scratchboard illustrations are as delicate and elegant as snowflakes, and she uses a single color, a marigold, to bring warmth to both home and stars. This volume's artful simplicity, homely wisdom and quiet tone demonstrate the interconnected beauty and order of the world in a way that both children and adults will treasure. Ages 3–6. (May)

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

School Library Journal : Starred Review. PreS-Gr 1—Inspired by traditional cumulative poetry, Swanson weaves a soothing song that is as luminescent and soulful as the gorgeous illustrations that accompany her words. A journey both humble and epic begins with a key to a house. "Here is the key to the house./In the house burns a light./In that light rests a bed…." In the bedroom of the house, a girl reads a book in which a bird "breathes a song…all about the starry dark." Swanson's poem then takes readers on a flight across the night sky to the realm of the moon and sun, then back along the path to the key that marked the beginning of the journey. Krommes's folk-style black-and-white etchings with touches of yellow-orange make the world of the poem an enchanted place. Patches of light and shadow give shape to the darkness, while smiling celestial bodies populate the potentially lonely night with their friendly warmth. This picture book will make a strong impression on listeners making their first acquaintance with literature. It is a masterpiece that has all the hallmarks of a classic that will be loved for generations to come.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI

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 Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (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.

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