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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Close to Famous
by Bauer, Joan

Publishers Weekly Bauer (Peeled) tweaks a familiar recipe in this heartwarming novel about a determined girl who faces adversity with humor, heart-and cupcakes. A recent sixth-grade graduate (by the skin of her teeth), Foster McFee lands in tiny Culpepper, W.Va., with her mother after the two of them hightail it away from Mom's abusive, Elvis-impersonator boyfriend in Memphis. Foster has already known her share of tough times: her soldier father was killed in Iraq, and she's been struggling through school, unable to read. But Foster's dream of having her own show on the Food Network is a powerful force, and she takes comfort in baking and in emulating her favorite TV chef. With the help of kind and quirky locals, including a former movie star, Foster makes friends, earns fans for her cupcakes, and even begins to conquer her reading difficulties. Bauer skillfully brings readers to the heart of Culpepper with rich depictions of a contemporary small town and its residents and rhythms. The characters' eventual triumphs are the type that this author's fans eat up. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Foster McFee is a supremely talented baker and dreams of being a famous television chef like Sonny Kroll, star of her favorite show on the Food Network, but she has already had to face some major challenges in her life. After her father's death in combat in Iraq, she and her mother, a talented singer, have had a hard time financially, and ultimately they are forced to leave Memphis in order to escape her mother's abusive Elvis-impersonator boyfriend. Worst of all, Foster is unable to read because of a learning disability. When she and her mother accidentally end up in Culpepper, WV, Foster finds some unlikely supporters among the tiny town's eccentric residents, including a boy with no camera who dreams of being a documentary filmmaker and a famous retired actress who lives in seclusion on the outskirts of the community. Thanks to them and to her own perseverance, Foster is able to work toward her dream of making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time. The story is fast paced, and readers will be rooting for likable and gutsy Foster, who expresses her views on life in baking metaphors. The quirky residents of Culpepper are equally believable and appealing. Youngsters will find this story tastier than a batch of Foster's triple chocolate cupcakes.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, 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 Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother leave Memphis in the middle of the night, fleeing the mother's abusive boyfriend. Foster has a severe learning disability, a pillowcase full of mementos of her dead father, and a real gift for baking. When she and her singer mother relocate to a tiny, rural West Virginia town, they discover a friendly and welcoming population of delightfully quirky characters. Foster finally learns to read from a reclusive, retired movie star; markets her baked goods at Angry Wayne's Bar and Grill; helps tiny but determined Macon with his documentary; and encourages her mother to become a headliner rather than a backup singer, all the while perfecting her baking technique for the time when she gets her own cooking show like her TV idol, Sonny Kroll. Bauer gently and effortlessly incorporates race (Foster's mother is black; her father was white), religion, social justice, and class issues into a guaranteed feel-good story that dodges sentimentality with humor. Readers who want contemporary fiction with a happy ending will find it here.--Carton, Debbie 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 The Elephant Scientist
by Caitlin O'Connell and Donna M. Jackson

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-O'Connell traveled to Africa in 1992 to observe wild animals; the trip turned into a job offer to study elephants at Etosha National Park; the text focuses on the scientists' work, findings, and problems encountered. The authors offer an outstanding look at new discoveries about elephant communication and how this knowledge can be used to slow the animal's slump into extinction. Combined with stunning full-color photographs by the scientists, the elephants' world is brought to the forefront. Readers enter the researchers' camp to see their setup, fieldwork, and takedown in action. They will learn how elephant anatomy and hierarchy work together to aid in communication. Children will be interested in O'Connell's growing interest in science, how family and teachers encouraged her, and her efforts to protect these threatened animals. This amazing presentation is a must-have for all collections.-Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA (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 After studying entomology, researcher O'Connell observed elephants in Africa and noticed that the large mammals were behaving strangely, like the small insects she had previously studied. Both would freeze and lean forward, leading her to wonder if the elephants, like the insects, were sensing vibrations through their feet. She worked with other scientists to identity the vibration-sensitive cells in elephants' feet and trunks that enabled to them to hear sounds transmitted through the ground. Illustrated with many well-captioned, color photos, this eye-catching book provides a sometimes fascinating look at O'Connell's work with elephants in America and in Namibia. Not only the book's subject, O'Connell is also listed as its coauthor, yet the text refers to her in third person and quotes her extensively. The presentation concludes with brief lists of recommended books, DVDs, and websites; a glossary; and selected source notes, though without links to particular passages or pages in the text. This intriguing volume from the Scientists in the Field series will interest readers of Downer's Elephant Talk (2011).--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand

Library Journal The author of Seabiscuit now brings us a biography of World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini (b. 1917). A track athlete at the 1936 Munich Olympics, Zamperini became a B-24 crewman in the U.S. Army Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific in 1943, he spent 47 days in a life raft, then was picked up by a Japanese ship and survived starvation and torture in labor camps. Eventually repatriated, he had a spiritual rebirth and returned to Japan to promote forgiveness and healing. Because of the author's popularity, libraries will want this book both for general readers who like a good story and for World War II history buffs; however, it's not essential reading for those who read Zamperini's autobiography, Devil at My Heels, with David Rensin, in its 2003 edition. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/10.] (c) Copyright 2010. 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 From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life-whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen "Phil" Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the "theater of cruelty" that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright-his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a "soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture." And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, "there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path...." The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to "gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body") against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. (Nov.) -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed, even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This departure from the author's previous best-seller will nevertheless be promoted as necessary reading for the many folks who enjoyed the first one or its movie version.--Green, Roland Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Stormbreaker
by Anthony Horowitz

Publishers Weekly : Readers will cheer for Alex Rider, the 14-year-old hero of British author Horowitz's spy thriller (the first in a projected series). When his guardian and uncle, Ian, is mysteriously killed, Alex discovers that his uncle was not the bank vice-president he purported to be, but rather a spy for the British government. Now the government wants Alex to take over his uncle's mission: investigating Sayle Enterprises, the makers of a revolutionary computer called Stormbreaker. The company's head plans to donate one to every secondary school in England, but his dealings with unfriendly countries and Ian Rider's murder have brought him under suspicion. Posing as a teenage computer whiz who's won a Stormbreaker promotional contest, Alex enters the factory and immediately finds clues from his uncle. Satirical names abound (e.g., Mr. Grin, Mr. Sayle's brutish butler, is so named for the scars he received from a circus knife-throwing act gone wrong) and the hard-boiled language is equally outrageous ("It was a soft gray night with a half-moon forming a perfect D in the sky. D for what, Alex wondered. Danger? Discovery? Or disaster?"). These exaggerations only add to the fun, as do the creative gadgets that Alex uses, including a metal-munching cream described as "Zit-Clean. For Healthier Skin." The ultimate mystery may be a bit of a letdown, but that won't stop readers from racing through Alex's adventures, from a high-speed bike chase to a death-defying dance with a Portuguese man-of-war. The audience will stay tuned for his next assignment, Point Blanc, due out spring 2002. Ages 10-up.

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

School Library Journal : Gr 5-9-Alex Rider's world is turned upside down when he discovers that his uncle and guardian has been murdered. The 14-year-old makes one discovery after another until he is sucked into his uncle's undercover world. The Special Operations Division of M16, his uncle's real employer, blackmails the teen into serving England. After two short weeks of training, Alex is equipped with several special toys like a Game Boy with unique cartridges that allow it to scan, fax, and emit smoke bombs. Alex's mission is to complete his uncle's last assignment, to discover the secret that Herod Sayle is hiding behind his generous donation of one of his supercomputers to every school in the country. When Alex enters Sayle's compound in Port Tallon, he discovers a strange world of secrets and villains including Mr. Grin, an ex-circus knife catcher, and Yassen Gregorovich, professional hit man. The novel provides bang after bang as Alex experiences and survives unbelievably dangerous episodes and eventually crashes through the roof of the Science Museum to save the day. Alex is a strong, smart hero. If readers consider luck the ruling factor in his universe, they will love this James Bond-style adventure. With short cliff-hanger chapters and its breathless pace, it is an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Warning: Suspend reality.-Lynn Bryant, formerly at Navarre High School, FL

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

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