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Ill give you the sun
by by Jandy Nelson

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780803734968 Starred Review. Gr 9 Up-A resplendent novel from the author of The Sky Is Everywhere (Dial, 2010). Fraternal twins and burgeoning artists Jude and Noah are inseparable until puberty hits and they find themselves competing for boys, a spot at an exclusive art school, and their parents' affections. Told in alternating perspectives and time lines, with Noah's chapters taking place when they are 13 and Jude's when they are 16, this novel explores how it's the people closest to us who have the power to both rend us utterly and knit us together. Jude's takes are peppered with entries from her bible of superstitions and conversations with her grandmother's ghost, and Noah continuously imagines portraits (complete with appropriately artsy titles) to cope with his emotions. In the intervening years, a terrible tragedy has torn their family apart, and the chasm between the siblings grows ever wider. Vibrant imagery and lyrical prose propel readers forward as the twins experience first love, loss, betrayal, acceptance, and forgiveness. Art and wonder fill each page, and threads of magical realism lend whimsy to the narrative. Readers will forgive convenient coincidences because of the characters' in-depth development and the swoon-worthy romances. The novel's evocative exploration of sexuality, grief, and sibling relationships will ring true with teens. For fans of Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl (St. Martin's, 2013) and Melina Marchetta's realistic fiction. See author Q&A, p. 152.- Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780803734968 Twins Noah and Jude are inseparable until misunderstandings, jealousies, and a major loss rip them apart. Both are talented artists, and creating art plays a major role in their narratives. Both also struggle with their sexuality-Noah is gay, which both thrills and terrifies him, while Jude is recovering from a terrible first sexual experience at age 14, one of two important reasons she has sworn off dating. Nelson (The Sky Is Everywhere) unravels the twins' stories in long chapters that alternate between their perspectives. Noah's sections are set when the twins are 13, Jude's at age 16, giving readers slanted insights into how their relationship deteriorated and how it begins to mend. The twins' artistic passions and viewpoints suffuse their distinctive voices; Noah tends toward wild, dramatic overstatements, and Jude's world is wrapped up in her late grandmother's quirky superstitions and truisms. Readers are meant to feel big things, and they will-Nelson's novel brims with emotion (grief, longing, and love in particular) as Noah, Jude, and the broken individuals in their lives find ways to heal. Ages 14-up. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780803734968 *Starred Review* When Noah's mom suggests that he and his twin sister, Jude, apply to a prestigious arts high school, he is elated, but Jude starts simmering with jealousy when it becomes clear that their mother favors Noah's work. Noah soaks up the praise, though a little callously, happy to hone his painting skills and focus on the guy across the street, who could be more than a friend. Fast-forward three years, and everything is in pieces. Their mother has died in a car crash, and Noah, who wasn't accepted to art school, has given up painting, while Jude, who was accepted but is no longer the shimmering, confident girl she once was, is struggling in her sculpture class. All her clay forms shatter in the kiln; is her mother's ghost the culprit? Determined to make a piece that her mother can't ruin, Jude seeks out the mentorship of a fiery stone carver (and his alluring model, Oscar). Nelson structures her sophomore novel brilliantly, alternating between Noah's first-person narrative in the years before the accident and Jude's in the years following, slowly revealing the secrets the siblings hide from each other and the ways they each throw their hearts into their artwork. In an electric style evoking the highly visual imaginations of the young narrators, Nelson captures the fraught, antagonistic, yet deeply loving relationship Jude and Noah share.--Hunter, Sarah Copyright 2014 Booklist
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The Great Pet Escape
by Victoria Jamieson

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781627791069 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.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781627791069 *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
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The Lion the Mouse
by Jerry Pinkney

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316013567 PreS-Gr 3-The African Serengeti forms the backdrop for a lion that captures a rodent and-for reasons left for readers to ponder-releases it. His decision is rewarded, and the value of even the smallest creature is recognized in this stunning Caldecott winner rendered in expressive watercolors. A visual feast. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316013567 *Starred Review* The intricate lion's face that crowds the cover of Pinkney's latest folktale adaptation is unaccompanied by any title or credits, and that is entirely appropriate there are no words inside, either. Through illustration alone Pinkney relates the well-known Aesop fable of the mouse who is captured by a lion, only to be unexpectedly released. Then, when the lion finds himself trapped by hunters, it is the mouse who rescues him by gnawing through the twine. Pinkney bends his no-word rule a bit with a few noises that are worked into the art ( Screeeech when an owl dives; Putt-Putt-Putt when the hunters' jeep arrives), but these transgressions will only encourage young listeners to get involved with read-along sessions. And involved they will be how could they not get drawn into watercolors of such detail and splendor? Pinkney's soft, multihued strokes make everything in the jungle seem alive, right down to the rocks, as he bleeds color to indicate movement, for instance, when the lion falls free from the net. His luxuriant use of close-ups humanizes his animal characters without idealizing them, and that's no mean feat. In a closing artist's note, Pinkney talks about his choice to forgo text.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316013567 Other than some squeaks, hoots and one enormous roar, Pinkney's (Little Red Riding Hood) interpretation of Aesop's fable is wordless-as is its striking cover, which features only a head-on portrait of the lion's face. Mottled, tawny illustrations show a mouse unwittingly taking refuge on a lion's back as it scurries away from an owl. The large beast grabs and then releases the tiny creature, who later frees the lion who has become tangled in a hunter's snare. Pinkney enriches this classic tale of friendship with another universal theme-family-affectingly illustrated in several scenes as well as in the back endpapers, which show the lion walking with his mate and cubs as the mouse and her brood ride on his back. Pinkney's artist's note explains that he set the book in Africa's Serengeti, "with its wide horizon and abundant wildlife so awesome yet fragile-not unlike the two sides of each of the heroes." Additional African species grace splendid panoramas that balance the many finely detailed, closeup images of the protagonists. Pinkney has no need for words; his art speaks eloquently for itself. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316013567 PreS-Gr 3-This story starts on the cover with the glorious, golden countenance of a lion. No text is necessary to communicate the title: the direction of the beast's gaze and the conflicted expression on his tightly cropped face compel readers to turn the book over, where a mouse, almost filling the vertical space, glances back. The endpapers and artist's note place these creatures among the animal families of the African Serengeti. Each spread contributes something new in this nearly wordless narrative, including the title opening, on which the watchful rodent pauses, resting in one of the large footprints that marches across the gutter. In some scenes, Pinkney's luminous art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, suggests a natural harmony, as when the cool blues of the sky are mirrored in the rocks and acacia tree. In other compositions, a cream-colored background focuses attention on the exquisitely detailed and nuanced forms of the two main characters. Varied perspectives and the judicious use of panels create interest and indicate time. Sounds are used sparingly and purposefully-an owl's hoot to hint at offstage danger or an anguished roar to alert the mouse of the lion's entrapment. Contrast this version with Pinkney's traditional treatment of the same story (complete with moral) in Aesop's Fables (North-South, 2000). The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Ketchup Clouds
by by Annabel Pitcher

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780316246767 Gr 8 Up-Sitting alone in her shed, "Zoe" writes letters to a Death Row inmate in Texas, confessing her belief that she's responsible for the death of a boy in her British town. Since he's a murderer, too, she believes he should understand her feelings of guilt and regret. Using a pseudonym and a fake address, Zoe tells her pen pal how she met and developed crushes on two brothers, Max and Aaron, and how things went terribly wrong. All but the last section of the book is told entirely through her letters, which chronicle her physical relationship with Max, her burgeoning crush on Aaron, and her interactions with the dead boy's mother. Her narrative also describes her dying grandfather, squabbling parents, deaf youngest sister, and a middle sister who's reporting increasingly serious bullying problems at school. As her correspondent's execution date nears, Zoe approaches her story's denouement. The twist on a familiar epistolary format is interesting if somewhat overstretched, and transitions between past and present are sometimes unclear. A subplot about Zoe's mother's work/life balance issues seems somewhat too adult, but the ambiguity of the dead boy's identity keeps readers turning pages. Overall, this title will be enjoyed by teens seeking edgy, realistic fiction with elements of romance and suspense.-Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780316246767 Pitcher (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) delivers a taut epistolary novel about a British teenager who writes to a Texas death row inmate and confesses her guilt in a murder: "You killed someone you were supposed to love and I killed someone I was supposed to love, and we both understand the pain and the fear and the sadness and the guilt and the hundred other feelings that don't even have a name in all of the English language." Though the writer invents her name, Zoe, there's nothing false about her one-way letters that gradually reveal her turbulent and destructive romance with two brothers, Max and Aaron, which ends in a death. Pitcher (who won the 2013 Waterstone's Children's Book Prize for this novel) thrusts Zoe into charged situations (her parents' strain over her deaf sister and her father's unemployment heighten the conflict), and Zoe's guilt casts a chill on her relationship with the boys' mother. Zoe's introspective and surprisingly humorous voice will strike a chord with readers as they dwell on the space between guilt and innocence. Ages 12-up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780316246767 *Starred Review* Pitcher, author of the well-received My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece (2012), delivers a novel that is by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. Here, 15-year-old Zoe writes to a Death Row inmate in Texas. She empathizes with him and wants to share her story after all, she killed someone, too. From the garden shed of her home in England, Zoe (not her real name) pens lengthy letters to Stuart Harris offering snapshots from the previous year: how she met a boy with beautiful brown eyes named Aaron; how, before their feelings for each other were verbalized, she kissed, and then dated, his brother, Max; how Aaron and Zoe kept up the facade of Max and Zoe to protect Max. But one of the brothers ends up dead this much we know but we don't know which one, or how Zoe was involved, until the very end. The suspense is palpable, and Zoe's voice is witty and introspective as she explores issues relating to family, grief, and love. With each new letter, Zoe writes more familiarly, addressing Mr. Harris as My dearest Stu and signing with Love, as the clock counts down to the inmate's execution day. While there are a couple of missteps at the very end including an anticlimactic family revelation there's no denying the emotional resonance of this bittersweet novel.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist
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The Adventures of Sparrowboy
by Brian Pinkney

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780689810718 PreS-Gr 1?Fretting over headlines in the newspapers he's delivering, Henry almost runs over a sparrow on the sidewalk. There's a flash of light, and suddenly, like his comic-strip hero Falconman, the boy is swooping through the skies fighting evil?or, at least, collaring a scary dog, rescuing a cat from a bully's clutches, and repeatedly snatching the temporarily flightless sparrow out of danger in the nick of time. Like newspaper comics, Pinkney's full-color scratchboard scenes are done in page-sized panels, with a minimum of text but maximum action, dramatized by swirling lines, wide gestures, and "THONK!" "ZAP!" sound effects. Henry's heroics will win readers over instantly; he may not save the world, but before he returns to Earth, he does make his suburban neighborhood "just a little better." That's a plausible goal for any actual or would-be superhero.?John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780689810718 Though sobering front-page headlines worry a young paperboy, the comics?especially a strip called Falconman?lift him up. Quite literally, in fact. After Henry peruses a Falconman strip in which a magical falcon converts a police trooper into a superman by lending him the power to fly, the boy's bike collides with a similarly gifted sparrow. Suddenly airborne, the boy delivers his newspapers in flight while saving innocent neighbors from a menacing bully and his growling pooch. For the course of Henry's transformation, the book adopts a comic-strip format, accenting the boxed, action-filled pictures with brief, punchy text and a chorus of sound effects like "CHIRP!", "WHOOSH!" and "THONK!" In a final, satisfying coup, Henry comes to the rescue of the benevolent sparrow, vulnerable because it has temporarily relinquished its powers of flight to Henry, a development that readers will delight in discovering before the boy does. The plot unravels chiefly through Pinkney's (Max Found Two Sticks; see I Smell Honey, reviewed above) airy, motion-filled art, expertly rendered in scratchboard, transparent dyes and gouaches in creamy colors never before seen in a comic book. Clever quips and asides add humor and playful melodrama. Pinkney clearly had a blast creating this soaring story, and his high spirits are transferable to the reader?ZAP! Ages 4-9. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780689810718 Ages 4^-8. One morning while on his route, Henry the paperboy accidentally collides with a sparrow and discovers that he can fly--just like Falconman, his favorite comic strip superhero. The newfound power of flight enables Henry--excuse me, Sparrowboy--to deliver his papers by--er, airmail and also to right a number of minor wrongs in the neighborhood. When things magically return to normal, "everything felt just a little better." Since Henry lives on Thurber Street, some adult readers may be reminded of Walter Mitty, but that connection is hardly necessary to enjoy this lighthearted lark. Pinkney combines his signature scratchboard technique with comic strip format and appropriate typefaces to create the illustrations that accompany this affectionate fantasy, which will leave its readers feeling "a little bit better," too. --Michael Cart
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Steve Jobs: Insanely Great
by by Jessie Hartland

School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307982957 Gr 8 Up-Hartland ably captures the many facets of entrepreneur and innovator Steve Jobs in this graphic biography. Jobs's entire lifespan is here, from his precocious childhood tinkering to his determination to see his final product, the iPad, through before his untimely death. In between, Hartland portrays Jobs in all his geeky, passionate, difficult glory. This work doesn't shy away from Jobs's demanding, perfectionist side, but it also portrays his delight in the "perfect product": an odd mixture that Hartland describes as Jobs's "reality distortion field." Apple is, of course, center stage, and readers will find the graphic representation of the evolution of various Apple products helpful. Hartland also covers Jobs's ouster from Apple in 1985, his development of the NeXT computer, and his work with Pixar. Throughout, panels depicting the latest technology (for instance, color TVs and digital watches in the late 1970s, cordless phones and the Sony Walkman in the 1980s) provide readers with a feel for competing products. The artwork is deceptively simple, at first blush appearing like the doodles of an average teenager, but these loose, expressive illustrations are detailed and convey large amounts of information. VERDICT Luddites and iFans alike should find this volume an illuminating introduction to Jobs's life and the recent history of consumer electronics.-Eric Norton, McMillan Memorial Library, Wisconsin Rapids, WI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780307982957 Gr 5-8-A recounting of Jobs's life story is distilled through the context of the technological development that Apple helped advance. Loose and scrabbly artwork with handwritten narration makes the story accessible and informal. Jobs is portrayed as motivated to explore new challenges and readers are encouraged to innovate their own world accordingly. © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780307982957 Harland brings the style of simple drawings paired with easy-to-digest facts she used in her first novel, Bon Appétit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child, to a breezy yet thorough illustrated biography of Apple pioneer Jobs. Beginning with his literal birth and following through the important moments of his life, Harland's take is both engaging and educational, though not especially demanding of the reader. The black and white art is unrefined but pleasant and contributes to the overall tone, which is effortlessly charming without being terribly enlightening or revealing. Harland uses the page layouts to full advantage, with maps, diagrams and call-outs galore. Though it's certainly informative for all ages, some readers will yearn for something with more depth and complexity in its execution, even as they whiz through the Richard-Scarry-for-grown-ups pages. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780307982957 Recently, there have been a multitude of biographies about Steve Jobs; author and illustrator Hartland adds to the collection with a unique yet informative look at the subject in this graphic biography. Covering his formative years challenging authority, to his time founding and then re-creating Apple, Hartland explains his life and the technology of his time while not shying away from Jobs' many eccentricities and erratic behaviors. Although there is always a smile drawn on Jobs' face, Hartland shows his many frustrations with technology, his anger toward his coworkers, and his hurt over his eventual cancer diagnosis. But her prose never judges his intentions or motives; she simply states the facts, providing a thorough history of a complex man. Hartland's signature squiggle style and handwritten text create a disarming, intimate view of the subject, as does the lack of any color. Like Job's innovative designs, her approach is sleek and simplistic, covering just what is needed while still standing out from the competition.--Blenski, Peter Copyright 2015 Booklist
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Camino Island
by John Grisham


Wolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk


Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
by Jordan Sonnenblick

Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780439755207 "This insightful debut novel charts the way a talented 13-year-old drummer's life changes when his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia," according to PW. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Hidden under the Ground: The World beneath Your Feet
by Peter Kent

Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780525675525 Gr. 3^-6. Although the text may not go very deep, the illustrations certainly do, as Kent takes us to places both literal and figurative beneath our Nikes. On each double-page spread he treats a kind of underground with brief introductory text, a sidebar of interesting factoids, and something to look for (answers are at the back). For example, "Animal Underworld" illustrates moles, badgers, foxes, and rabbits and asks how many rabbits are in the picture. Kent travels from the mystical underworld (a hell that owes something to Bosch and Dante) to medieval dungeons to a village of caves in Sicily to city sewers, subways, and cables. Mining and the bunkers of the cold war are also noted. Digging tools, from the mole's jaws to tunnel borers, are illustrated, and so are a few "subterranean celebrities" such as Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor (note the initials), who was born on the Bakerloo Underground line in London. British and American measures are given. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780525675525 Kent (A Slice Through a City) poses a fascinating questionÄjust what, exactly, lies underground beneath our feet?Äand gives a playful, if somewhat slapdash, answer in this picture book for older readers. He begins with a brief introduction that discusses why humans throughout the ages have tunneled under the earth and a page of one-paragraph descriptions of "Subterranean Celebrities" (both historical and mythological). What follows are 11 double-page spreads that present details about underground environments that have existed for centuries (animal and human homes, tombs, mines and dungeonsÄeven legendary "Afterlife Underworlds"), as well as more modern subways, city service systems and nuclear bomb bunkers. Many of the spreads' brief stage-setting introductions include overly broad generalizations and the occasional awkward phrase, and history buffs may wish for dates in several of the factoids (e.g., on the same page, King Wenceslaus's life span is given [903-935], but the completion date of the Mount Cenis railroad tunnel is not). But curious readers are likely to forgive these flaws in their eagerness to pore over Kent's humorously detailed, small-scale subterranean scenes. He invites readers' scrutiny with each spread's picture search ("Rabbits breed like... rabbits. How many rabbits can you find in this picture?") and offers answers at the book's close. Captions and sidebars provide factual tidbits both informative and amusing. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780525675525 Gr 3-5-This easily read and highly pictorial work on a variety of underground landscapes suffers from a flaw common to many foreign imports when it comes to animal life. Similar-looking species may have widely divergent lifestyles when an ocean intervenes. The segment on the "Animal Underworld" depicts a colony of European rabbits (Oryctolagus) living in a communal burrow, or warren, and Eurasian badgers (Meles) in a clannish tunnel system called a sett. American badgers (Taxidea) are loners except during the mating season, and most American rabbits (Sylvilagus) live their entire lives above ground. Aside from that problematical display, Kent's cartoon drawings are appealing and informative and contain Waldoesque elements of searching for rats in a dungeon and enumerating the kings, queens, and knights in a Medieval European vision of hell. Sidebars present extra information on such topics as "Grave Facts" and "Safety in Shelters" (where there is a caption error). While certainly fun to peruse and aimed at a much younger audience than Christie McFall's straightforward America Underground (Cobblehill, 1992; o.p.) and David Macaulay's more tightly focused, top-notch Underground (Houghton, 1976), the variances in the section on subterranean animal life and such overly simplified statements as cave creatures are "...blind because there is no light, so they don't need eyes..." should give one pause.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Slam
by Walter Dean Myers

Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780590486675 Gr. 8^-12. On the basketball court, 17-year-old Greg "Slam" Harris is in control. His disciplined body does what he tells it, the ball becomes an extension of his arms, and his powerful legs allow him to elevate above the chaos at ground level. Off the court, however, order is elusive and elevation rarely possible: his grandmother is in the hospital, possibly dying; he has trouble fitting in at the predominantly white high school he attends; his grades are sinking ever lower; and his best friend from the neighborhood may be dealing crack. We've heard this story many times before, but Myers does a good job of rescuing his characters from stereotype. His descriptions of Slam on the court, feeling the ball's grain on his fingertips as his hands clear the rim, use crisp details, not flowery language, to achieve their muscular poetry, and Myers is equally vivid in relating the torment Slam feels as he stares at a page of indecipherable algebra formulas. Although Myers' message about one's responsibility for making life's hard choices occasionally feels a bit forced, rather than growing naturally from the story, he wisely avoids the heavily inspirational, Rocky-style finale common to so many sports novels. "Sometimes I think you guys are just heartbreaks waiting to happen," Slam's girlfriend Mtisha tells him at the end, providing a sobering coda to this admirably realistic coming-of-age novel. --Bill Ott
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780590486675 A love of basketball isn't necessary to enjoy this gritty, feelingly told tale, but it would certainly help. Myers (The Glory Field) uses contemporary urban black locutions to relay his narrator's view of the mean streets of Harlem, as well as describe some heart-thumping hoop action in a novel that, like most good sports stories, is about more than just sports. "I can hoop," says Slam. "Case closed.... You can take my game to the bank and wait around for interest." Grandiose fantasies of his future as a millionaire NBA star?or maybe a millionaire movie producer?are about all that he has on his mind, even though he is on his way to flunking out of the magnet high school he just transferred to, his grandmother is dying, his father is out of work and hitting the bottle again and his oldest friend appears to be dealing crack. Only when he is playing basketball does Slam know what moves to make and how to relate to the people around him. The rest of the time he stumbles, alienating his mother, girlfriend, teachers, even his coach and teammates. But, as the plain-speaking assistant coach tells him, "Everybody is in the game off the court," and Slam finally realizes that it's his attitude, not other people, that holds him back. Enduring truths, winningly presented. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780590486675 Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Greg, nicknamed Slam because of his ability on the basketball court, is the narrator of this street-wise novel. He is one of a small number of blacks who attends the Latimer Arts Magnet School in the Bronx. Though a junior, this is his first year at Latimer; he has problems keeping his grades up, and his basketball coach and some teammates resent his playing style. Along with these struggles, Slam faces some typical teenage woes with the opposite sex, his younger brother, etc., as well as some more serious concerns-a father who drinks too much, drugs on the streets, and a good friend heading for big trouble. Slam's battles both on and off the court parallel one another, demonstrating that easy resolutions to difficult problems are rare. As the book reaches its climax, the young man begins to realize that he needs to approach life like he does basketball, which is a possible start in the right direction. Plenty of high-intensity basketball action and street lingo from the "hood" will appeal to reluctant readers. Once again, Myers produces a book that reinforces his standing as a preeminent YA author. Booktalk this title along with James Bennett's Squared Circle (1995) and David Klass's Danger Zone (1996, both Scholastic) to basketball-minded teens.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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