Featured Book Lists
ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog A Heart in a Body in the World
by Caletti, Deb

Book list Gr. 5-8. Igus' prose poems and Wood's evocative paintings combine to give a succinct overview of African American music. A useful time line sets the social context, and brief paragraphs describe the various types of music, from African origins and slave songs through ragtime; the blues; big band, bebop, and cool jazz; gospel; rhythm and blues; and the contemporary sounds of rock, hip-hop, and rap. Igus effectively uses snippets from song lyrics to communicate both a feel for the music itself and a sense of how the various styles played to the emotions of the musicians and their fans ("From the basements to the rooftops, / I see the cool tones of modern jazz / escape the city heat"). Wood's paintings are equally suggestive. Mixing modernist and primitive styles and using color nicely to communicate musical style and tone, her art not only complements the text but vivifies it. Audience may be a problem: the supportive text is too sophisticated for younger readers to grasp themselves, and the format may alienate some older readers. Perhaps best used in a junior-high classroom with audio accompaniment, this striking book, in the hands of a creative teacher or librarian, could give kids a feeling for the majesty, creativity, and continuity of African American music. (Reviewed February 15, 1998)0892391510Bill Ott

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

Kirkus The collaborators on Going Back Home (1997) return with a stunning history of African-American music. They begin 500 years ago, on the African continent, chronicle the slave trade, and document the work songs and spirituals of American slaves. The blues, ragtime, jazz, gospel, R&B, rock, funk, rap, and hip hop all come under scrutiny in free-verse poems that incorporate lyrics about and the rhythms of every style. In addition, Igus has added a brief description of each musical movement and a terrific timeline noting highlights of African-American history--both musical and more general information--which roots the whole book in a broader context. Wood's vibrant paintings are based in historical detail, and resonate with emotion. The color choices, postures of the figures, as well as the expressions on their faces, reflect various aspects of African-American music; the pictures broadcast joy, innovation, and exuberance in the face of systematic oppression. A child hidden in each scene adds a nice piece of personality for readers to interpret. Stylish and lively design pulls it all together into an absorbing, attractive package. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Moth
by Isabel Thomas

Book list Over Egnéus' truly engrossing collage illustrations, Thomas takes the complicated concept of evolution and distills it for young readers, using the ongoing story of the peppered moth. There are two variations of this moth one charcoal dark, the other paler and lightly speckled. Once, the speckled moths were more common; it was more difficult for the charcoal moths to camouflage themselves against the light-colored trees, and they were eaten by birds more frequently and did not survive to pass along their genes. But as the world became more industrial, pollution began to darken trees; now the charcoal moths blended in, and the speckled moths stood out. Charcoal moths grew in number, and the speckled moths almost disappeared. But the story continues, ending on a hopeful note: slowly, cities began to burn less coal, and the air grew cleaner. Trees grew less sooty. And the speckled moth population rebounded. Today, both kinds of moth can be found, and their species continues to adapt. From its striking silver-plated cover on, this is a stunner. The text, both poetic and informational, tells an evolution story while transmitting a gentle environmental message, and the artwork is detailed, at times alarming, and always captivating. Back matter provides further information on the moths and natural selection. A gorgeous blend of text and illustrations and a wonderfully successful introduction to nonfiction for younger readers.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Silvery, incandescent cover art will entice readers to this story of adaptation and the peppered moths of England. Thomas (the Little Guides to Great Lives series) introduces natural selection through a lyrical telling of the moth's history from the early 19th century on. The narrative recounts how the population of light peppered moths thrived, able to rest "on lichen-covered branches" until the Industrial Revolution, when dark peppered moths increased, owing to their ability to camouflage against polluted landscapes. ("A bird went hunting for a snack./ Now the world was darker./ Which moths were disguised?/ Which moths would survive?") Today, thanks to cleaner forms of energy, both variations "find places to hide and survive." Mixed media and digital illustrations by Egnéus (These Are Animals) show the mottled, wispy figures-the wing patterns resemble intricate tree silhouettes-against bold splashes of color and patterns. The elegant moth images can seem slightly at odds with the cartoonlike depictions of people and environs, but an evolving color palette (from light to dark and back to light) and dynamic juxtaposing of hues create a sophisticated effect. Back matter further defines the concepts presented in this eye-catching introduction to Darwinian evolution. Ages 6-10. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book In a shadowy (pre-industrial) wood, a peppered moth--its "speckled, freckled" patterns wonderfully detailed in Egnius's gorgeous mixed-media illustrations--attempts to survive; all-black moths stand out and are quickly eaten. But things change: with soot from nineteenth-century industrialization, the black moths are now hidden. Thomas deftly builds an easily understandable explanation of natural selection into the well-paced narrative. Back matter shows both variations of the peppered moth. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Thomas presents the peppered moth as an emblem of natural selection, tracking its adaptations during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.The moth's striking salt-and-pepper scales, which enhanced its camouflage during daytime rests on lichen, became an impediment as late-19th-century industrial pollution prevailed. As lichens died and industrial soot blackened tree bark, the species' occasional dark moth's advantages resulted in an adaptation. With the light, speckled moths more easily spotted and eaten by prey, surviving dark moths procreated, dominating the species within a 50-year time span. In turn, the answering trend toward pollution mitigation swung the pendulum back. Lichens reappeared, soot-stained bark fell away, and the light moths' camouflage value reasserted itself, with both dark and light moths seen today. Thomas narrates this biological success story in past tense and simple, declarative prose. Egnus' lovely illustrationsin traditional mixed media and Photoshopprovide a stylized overview of the moth's adaptive journey. The bilateral symmetry of the peppered moth's wing coloration is ignored in favor of exquisite, dark umber-and-gray montages evoking dry-brushed ink blots and sun-dappled botanical silhouettes. Forest tableaux yield to industrialization's coal-powered factories and locomotives, Egnus' palette morphs from natural hues to rust-red and soot-blackand back, to today's tentative, hopeful blues. (Depicted humans are light-skinned and red-nosed.) An inspired choice for text type (Tom's New Roman) and a gorgeous, silver-embellished cover enhance the package. A fascinating story with striking visuals. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1—Thomas and Egnéus show how adaptation and natural selection work in the evolutionary process in order to change a species. In Great Britain, when industry heavily relied on coal, environmental factors affected the survival rates of the peppered moth, because predators could now see what was once camouflaged. The text and illustrations are clear and move at a steady pace with a summary in the back matter, which solidifies the content. Despite the lack of source material, the value of this text is high. Children will understand how the environment can change an animal's survival rate and the passing of its genetic information. Moths as a subject do not usually garner high circulation rates, but if this book is placed in a display, the cover will attract attention. The illustrations throughout are mixed media, but the cover literally shines: silvery moths against a night sky is an attention grabber. Originally published in Great Britain in 2018, this text will enhance any juvenile nonfiction collection. VERDICT Buy this title for its clear presentation.—Nancy Call, formerly at Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog I'll give you the sun
by by Jandy Nelson

School Library Journal 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.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly 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.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *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

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Dark Hours
by Michael Connelly

Publishers Weekly In bestseller Connelly’s stellar fourth novel featuring LAPD Det. Renée Ballard (after 2019’s The Night Fire), Ballard leads the way on two separate cases: the shooting death of Javier Raffa, a former gang member, and the search for a pair of serial rapists dubbed the Midnight Men. A recovered bullet connects the Raffa shooting to an old case of Connelly’s main series lead, Harry Bosch. Though Bosch is retired, he willingly helps out and ends up playing a key role in investigating both cases. Meticulous about actual police procedure, Connelly makes the fundamentals of detective work engrossing while providing plenty of suspense and action, including one genuinely shocking scene of violence involving Ballard. He also excels at imbuing his narratives with social commentary, a talent showcased in this entry, which opens with Ballard and her reluctant police partner, Lisa Moore, parked near a homeless encampment on New Year’s Eve 2020 (“It had been a bad year with the pandemic and social unrest and violence”). Along the way to a surprising, even hopeful ending, Connelly avoids polemics while exploring such issues as internal disaffection among the police (including Ballard’s ambivalence about her career), misogyny and domestic violence, and the political divide that resulted in the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol. This is a masterpiece. Agent: Philip Spitzer, Philip G. Spitzer Literary. (Nov.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal On a raucous New Year's Eve in Hollywood, a friendly neighborhood auto shop owner lies dead in the midst of a street party, and LAPD Detective Renée Ballard quickly determines that he was not killed by a stray bullet among those traditionally shot skyward in celebration as midnight chimes. She also sees connections to an unsolved murder once investigated by the legendary detective Harry Bosch, and soon they are teaming up to solve the cases together. With a 750,000-copy first printing.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Meet today’s LAPD, with both good and bad apples reduced to reacting to crimes defensively instead of trying to prevent them, unless of course they’re willing to break the rules. New Year’s Eve 2020 finds Detective Renée Ballard, survivor of rape and Covid-19, partnered with Detective Lisa Moore, of Hollywood’s Sexual Assault Unit, in search of leads on the Midnight Men, a tag team of rapists who assaulted women on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve without leaving any forensic evidence behind. The pair are called to the scene of a shooting that would have gone to West Bureau Homicide if the unit weren’t already stretched to the limit, a case that should be handed over to West Bureau ASAP. But Ballard gets her teeth into the murder of body shop owner Javier Raffa, who reportedly bought his way out of the gang Las Palmas. The news that Raffa’s been shot by the same weapon that killed rapper Albert Lee 10 years ago sends Ballard once more to Harry Bosch, the poster boy for retirements that drive the LAPD crazy. Both victims had taken on silent partners in order to liquidate their debts, and there’s every indication that the partners were linked. That’s enough for Ballard and Bosch to launch a shadow investigation even as Ballard, abandoned by Moore, who’s flown the coop for the weekend, works feverishly to identify the Midnight Men on her own. As usual in this stellar series, the path to the last act is paved with false leads, interdepartmental squabbles, and personal betrayals, and the structure sometimes sways in the breeze. But no one who follows Ballard and Bosch to the end will be disappointed. A bracing test of the maxim that “the department always comes first. The department always wins.” Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list The fourth Renée Ballard and Harry Bosch novel is the best yet, both because Ballard has evolved into one of crime fiction's richest, most complex characters and because Connelly takes an unflinching look at policing in the post–George Floyd era. Still working LAPD's graveyard shift, Ballard is trying to survive the traditional New Year's Eve "rain of lead"—celebrants firing guns into the air, oblivious to where the bullets come down—when a man is killed at an outdoor party, not from a deadly raindrop, it quickly becomes apparent, but from an assailant's gun. After establishing a link between this murder and a decades-old killing on which the retired Harry Bosch worked, Ballard turns to Bosch, who takes a low-key mentoring role, for help. Meanwhile, though, she has another, equally difficult case: tracking a pair of serial rapists who have been terrorizing women in various Hollywood neighborhoods. Ballard's determined efforts to "get of my ass and work cases" (long a Bosch mantra) have earned her all variety of enmity from both supervisors and fellow cops, especially when the murder case points toward a former cop. Sadly, staying on your ass and out of trouble has become the department's unofficial policy. As always, Connelly salts the story with intriguing details of how detectives follow a convoluted investigative trail, but here he adds a deeply troubling subtext: Can good cops survive in a system so deeply broken?

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt De La Pena

Publishers Weekly Like still waters, de la Peña (A Nation's Hope) and Robinson's (Gaston) story runs deep. It finds beauty in unexpected places, explores the difference between what's fleeting and what lasts, acknowledges inequality, and testifies to the love shared by an African-American boy and his grandmother. On Sunday, CJ and Nana don't go home after church like everybody else. Instead, they wait for the Market Street bus. "How come we don't got a car?" CJ complains. Like many children his age, CJ is caught up in noticing what other people have and don't have; de la Peña handles these conversations with grace. "Boy, what do we need a car for?" she responds. "We got a bus that breathes fire, and old Mr. Dennis, who always has a trick for you." (The driver obliges by pulling a coin out of CJ's ear.) When CJ wishes for a fancy mobile music device like the one that two boys at the back of the bus share, Nana points out a passenger with a guitar. "You got the real live thing sitting across from you." The man begins to play, and CJ closes his eyes. "He was lost in the sound and the sound gave him the feeling of magic." When the song's over, the whole bus applauds, "even the boys in the back." Nana, readers begin to sense, brings people together wherever she goes. Robinson's paintings contribute to the story's embrace of simplicity. His folk-style figures come in a rainbow of shapes and sizes, his urban landscape accented with flying pigeons and the tracery of security gates and fire escapes. At last, CJ and Nana reach their destination-the neighborhood soup kitchen. Nana's ability to find "beautiful where he never even thought to look" begins to work on CJ as the two spot people they've come to know. "I'm glad we came," he tells her. Earlier, Nana says that life in the deteriorated neighborhood makes people "a better witness for what's beautiful." This story has the same effect. Ages 3-5. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list CJ and his nana depart church and make it to the bus stop just in time to avoid an oncoming rain shower. They board the bus, and while CJ is full of questions and complaints (why don't they have a car? why must they make this trip every week? and so forth), Nana's resolute responses articulate the glories of their rich, vibrant life in the city, as presented by the bus' passengers and passages. A tattooed man checks his cell phone. An older woman keeps butterflies in a jar. A musician tunes and plays his guitar. At last the pair arrive at the titular destination and proceed to the soup kitchen where, upon recognizing friendly faces, CJ is glad they came to help. Robinson's bright, simple, multicultural figures, with their rounded heads, boxy bodies, and friendly expressions, contrast nicely with de la Peña's lyrical language, establishing a unique tone that reflects both CJ's wonder and his nana's wisdom. The celebratory warmth is irresistible, offering a picture of community that resonates with harmony and diversity.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

School Library Journal K-Gr 2-After church on Sundays, CJ and his nana wait for the bus. It's a familiar routine, but this week CJ is feeling dissatisfied. As they travel to their destination, the boy asks a series of questions: "How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?" "Nana, how come we don't got a car?" "How come we always gotta go here after church?" CJ is envious of kids with cars, iPods, and more freedom than he has. With each question, Nana points out something for CJ to appreciate about his life: "Boy, what do we need a car for? We got a bus that breathes fire." These gentle admonishments are phrased as questions or observations rather than direct answers so that CJ is able to take ownership of his feelings. After they exit the bus, CJ wonders why this part of town is so run-down, prompting Nana to reply, "Sometimes when you're surrounded by dirt, CJ, you're a better witness for what's beautiful." The urban setting is truly reflective, showing people with different skin colors, body types, abilities, ages, and classes in a natural and authentic manner. Robinson's flat, blocky illustrations are simple and well composed, seemingly spare but peppered with tiny, interesting details. Ultimately, their destination is a soup kitchen, and CJ is glad to be there. This is an excellent book that highlights less popular topics such as urban life, volunteerism, and thankfulness, with people of color as the main characters. A lovely title.-Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN (c) Copyright 2014. 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.

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Poisonwood Bible
by Barbara Kingsolver

Library Journal: It's been five years since Kingsolver's last novel (Pigs in Heaven, LJ 6/15/93), and she has used her time well. This intense family drama is set in an Africa on the verge of independence and upheaval. In 1959, evangelical preacher Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters from Georgia to a village in the Belgian Congo, later Zaire. Their dysfunction and cultural arrogance proves disastrous as the family is nearly destroyed by war, Nathan's tyranny, and Africa itself. Told in the voices of the mother and daughters, the novel spans 30 years as the women seek to understand each other and the continent that tore them apart. Kingsolver has a keen understanding of the inevitable, often violent clashes between white and indigenous cultures, yet she lets the women tell their own stories without being judgmental. An excellent novel that was worth the wait and will win the author new fans. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/98.]--Ellen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly: In this risky but resoundingly successful novel, Kingsolver leaves the Southwest, the setting of most of her work (The Bean Trees; Animal Dreams) and follows an evangelical Baptist minister's family to the Congo in the late 1950s, entwining their fate with that of the country during three turbulent decades. Nathan Price's determination to convert the natives of the Congo to Christianity is, we gradually discover, both foolhardy and dangerous, unsanctioned by the church administration and doomed from the start by Nathan's self-righteousness. Fanatic and sanctimonious, Nathan is a domestic monster, too, a physically and emotionally abusive, misogynistic husband and father. He refuses to understand how his obsession with river baptism affronts the traditions of the villagers of Kalinga, and his stubborn concept of religious rectitude brings misery and destruction to all. Cleverly, Kingsolver never brings us inside Nathan's head but instead unfolds the tragic story of the Price family through the alternating points of view of Orleanna Price and her four daughters. Cast with her young children into primitive conditions but trained to be obedient to her husband, Orleanna is powerless to mitigate their situation. Meanwhile, each of the four Price daughters reveals herself through first-person narration, and their rich and clearly differentiated self-portraits are small triumphs. Rachel, the eldest, is a self-absorbed teenager who will never outgrow her selfish view of the world or her tendency to commit hilarious malapropisms. Twins Leah and Adah are gifted intellectually but are physically and emotionally separated by Adah's birth injury, which has rendered her hemiplagic. Leah adores her father; Adah, who does not speak, is a shrewd observer of his monumental ego. The musings of five- year-old Ruth May reflect a child's humorous misunderstanding of the exotic world to which she has been transported. By revealing the story through the female victims of Reverend Price's hubris, Kingsolver also charts their maturation as they confront or evade moral and existential issues and, at great cost, accrue wisdom in the crucible of an alien land. It is through their eyes that we come to experience the life of the villagers in an isolated community and the particular ways in which American and African cultures collide. As the girls become acquainted with the villagers, especially the young teacher Anatole, they begin to understand the political situation in the Congo: the brutality of Belgian rule, the nascent nationalism briefly fulfilled in the election of the short-lived Patrice Lumumba government, and the secret involvement of the Eisenhower administration in Lumumba's assassination and the installation of the villainous dictator Mobutu. In the end, Kingsolver delivers a compelling family saga, a sobering picture of the horrors of fanatic fundamentalism and an insightful view of an exploited country crushed by the heel of colonialism and then ruthlessly manipulated by a bastion of democracy. The book is also a marvelous mix of trenchant character portrayal, unflagging narrative thrust and authoritative background detail. The disastrous outcome of the forceful imposition of Christian theology on indigenous natural faith gives the novel its pervasive irony; but humor is pervasive, too, artfully integrated into the children's misapprehensions of their world; and suspense rises inexorably as the Price family's peril and that of the newly independent country of Zaire intersect. Kingsolver moves into new moral terrain in this powerful, convincing and emotionally resonant novel. Agent, Frances Goldin; BOMC selection; major ad/promo; author tour.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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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