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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Noggin
by John Corey Whaley

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 My Grandma and Me
by Mina Javaherbin

Book list The author reminisces about her grandmother, with whom she spent a childhood in Iran. Short vignettes fondly describe mundane activities: waking up together for namaz (Islamic prayer), collecting bread from the delivery boy, visiting their Christian neighbors next door. Little Mina plays hopscotch with her friend while their grandmothers knit together a usefully inclusive note, as most of the memories revolve around Islamic tradition. Mina helps her grandma craft long, veiling chadors, and during Ramadan she playfully pretends to join in the fasting. Yankey's mixed-media illustrations will transport readers to an idyllic twentieth-century Iran, recalling the style of Persian art, with dusty, muted colors and intricately patterned rugs. A sweet tranquility is evoked in all the elements, touched by a gentle melancholy when Mina and her friend imagine their grandmas together in heaven. While this book presents a relationship in a specific cultural context, a subtle message of interreligious peace and unity shines through, supported by the memories' emotional universality, through which young readers will learn empathy and cultural understanding.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Grandparents can have an enormous effect on their grandchildren and books that showcase such relationships are always welcome. The Iranian grandmother here has endless patience and love for her little granddaughter. When Grandma swept, the child swept; when Grandma prayed, the girl prayed; and when Grandma cooked, her granddaughter did as well. She follows her around daily, mirroring everything she does. The love and kindness the child receives is satisfying and speaks to the bond between the two characters. Some of their interactions are specific to their culture, such as fasting during Ramadan and donning their chadors and walking together to the mosque. The illustrations are created using a soft, inviting palette that incorporates tile and rug patterns particular to Iran. This book offers both windows and mirrors into a warm and loving familial relationship and will be appreciated by a wide range of young readers. VERDICT A lovely book for anyone looking for intergenerational stories for one-on-one or group sharing.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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

Publishers Weekly “When I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.” Thus begins Javaherbin’s narrative tribute to her Iranian grandmother, which affectionately sweeps the reader into the heart of their daily relationship. Readers follow along as the two say namaz at dawn, buy bread to share with their neighbors, sew chadors, and share a meal during Ramadan. In blues, roses, and golds, Yankey’s exquisite mixed-media illustrations relay details: Persian designs, dreams of space travel, baskets of bread hoisted from the street. Together, the narrative and images result in a deeply personal story that offers a broader portrait of a tender familial experience. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Love, childhood adventures, religion, and tradition are the centerpieces of this book about the author and her late grandmother, with whom she grew up in the same household in pre-revolutionary Iran.The narrator joins her grandmother, whom she loves dearly, in everything as she goes about her day. When grandma sweeps, she does too; when grandma wakes up for prayer at dawn, she does too; and when grandma sews herself a chador, she helps, even if nominally. The delicately lined illustrations gracefully evince both the mundane and the magic in the details of the narrator's everyday life as a child: the boy delivering towers of bread on his bike; Ramadan meals with her grandma, both at home and at the mosque; and playtime with her friend Annette while both of their grandmothers chat, knit blankets, and drink coffee. This sweet story is intermingled naturally with details about Iranian and Islamic traditions and values and supported by such visuals as an easy mix of traditional and Western attire and thoughtful inclusion of Persian design elements. It peaks in a moment of solidarity between the two grandmothers, each praying for the other to go to heaven, but via their different Muslim and Christian religions: a poignant, inclusive note. In its celebration of specific manifestations of universal love, this is highly recommended for families and educators, Muslim and non- alike, looking to teach children about Islam.A deep and beautiful book modeling grandmothers as heroines. (Picture book. 4-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Doctor Sleep
by Stephen King

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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Horse
by Geraldine Brooks

Kirkus A long-lost painting sets in motion a plot intertwining the odyssey of a famed 19th-century thoroughbred and his trainer with the 21st-century rediscovery of the horse’s portrait. In 2019, Nigerian American Georgetown graduate student Theo plucks a dingy canvas from a neighbor’s trash and gets an assignment from Smithsonian magazine to write about it. That puts him in touch with Jess, the Smithsonian’s “expert in skulls and bones,” who happens to be examining the same horse's skeleton, which is in the museum's collection. (Theo and Jess first meet when she sees him unlocking an expensive bike identical to hers and implies he’s trying to steal it—before he points hers out further down the same rack.) The horse is Lexington, “the greatest racing stallion in American turf history,” nurtured and trained from birth by Jarret, an enslaved man who negotiates with this extraordinary horse the treacherous political and racial landscape of Kentucky before and during the Civil War. Brooks, a White writer, risks criticism for appropriation by telling portions of these alternating storylines from Jarret’s and Theo’s points of view in addition to those of Jess and several other White characters. She demonstrates imaginative empathy with both men and provides some sardonic correctives to White cluelessness, as when Theo takes Jess’ clumsy apology—“I was traumatized by my appalling behavior”—and thinks, “Typical….He’d been accused, yet she was traumatized.” Jarret is similarly but much more covertly irked by well-meaning White people patronizing him; Brooks skillfully uses their paired stories to demonstrate how the poison of racism lingers. Contemporary parallels are unmistakable when a Union officer angrily describes his Confederate prisoners as “lost to a narrative untethered to anything he recognized as true.…Their fabulous notions of what evils the Federal government intended for them should their cause fail…was ingrained so deep, beyond the reach of reasonable dialogue or evidence.” The 21st-century chapters’ shocking denouement drives home Brooks’ point that too much remains the same for Black people in America, a grim conclusion only slightly mitigated by a happier ending for Jarret. Strong storytelling in service of a stinging moral message. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list With exceptional characterizations, Pulitzer Prize–winner Brooks (The Secret Chord, 2015) tells an emotionally impactful tale centering on the life and legacy of Lexington, a bay colt who became a racing champion in mid-nineteenth-century America. Present at the horse’s birth is Jarret, an enslaved groom on Dr. Elisha Warfield’s vast Kentucky farm, and man and horse develop an enduring bond. Jarret’s nuanced conversations with traveling equestrian artist Thomas Scott are mutually enlightening. Through Jarret and his father, a free Black man and expert horse trainer, readers encounter a wide range of racial injustices. This perennially and tragically relevant theme extends into the twenty-first century via Theo, a Nigerian American PhD art student. His path intersects with Jess, an Australian-born scientist at the Smithsonian, after Theo saves an old equestrian portrait discarded by his neighbor. Among the most structurally complex of all Brooks’ acclaimed literary historical novels, the narrative adroitly interlaces multiple eras and perspectives, including that of 1950s New York gallery owner Martha Jackson, who appears midway through. From rural Kentucky to multicultural New Orleans, Brooks' settings are pitch-perfect, and the story brings to life the important roles fillled by Black horsemen in America’s past. Brooks also showcases the magnificent beauty and competitive spirit of Lexington himself.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Best-selling and highly regarded Brooks is always a draw, but this many-faceted story of a champion racehorse, art, and hidden Black history will attract even greater interest.

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

Library Journal In this powerful story from the Pulitzer Prize-winning Brooks, an enslaved groom named Jarrett leads the bay foal he's bonded with to record-shattering racing victories across the 1850s South. During the Civil War, the two meet up dangerously with an itinerant artist who's won fame with his many paintings of the stunning racehorse. A gallery owner in 1950s New York becomes fascinated with the paintings, but it's not until 2019 that a Nigerian American art historian uncovers the true story of the horse and groom and links up with a Smithsonian scientist who's studying the horse's bones to learn the secret of its extraordinary endurance. Based on the true story of a racehorse named Lexington and sure to attract a wide range of readers.

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

Publishers Weekly Pulitzer winner Brooks returns after The Secret Chord with a fascinating saga based on the true story of a famous 19th-century racehorse. In 2019, Theo Northam, a Black graduate student in Washington, D.C., finds a discarded equestrian painting that he decides to research for a Smithsonian magazine article. Meanwhile, Jess, a bone specialist at the Smithsonian, gets a call about an old horse skeleton that’s been stored in the museum’s attic. Jess and Theo end up meeting, but first Brooks takes the story to 1850s Lexington, Ky., where Jarret Lewis, an enslaved boy, is the groom for a promising colt that his father, Harry, a freedman, has trained. But then the horse, Lexington, is sold and the new buyer sends him along with Jarret to a Mississippi plantation with ruinous consequences. In 1853, Lexington and Jarret end up in New Orleans, where the horse thrills the racing world, and Jarret hopes to buy his freedom, while back in contemporary D.C., a romance blossoms between Jess and Theo. While Brooks’s multiple narratives and strong character development captivate, and she soars with the story of Jarret, a late plot twist in the D.C. thread dampens the ending a bit. Despite a bit of flagging in the home stretch, this wins by a nose. Agent: Kristine Dahl, ICM. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Pulitzer Prize winner Brooks writes historical fiction (People of the Book; March), but she also writes about our endless fascination with, and abuse of, power. Here, power is literally embodied in Lexington, one of the most successful race horses in history and around whom this novel is centered. Moving across three centuries, the story is told through Jarret, the horse's enslaved handler in the late 1850s; Martha, a gallery owner specializing in horse paintings in the 1950s; Jess, an osteologist interested in the horse's skeleton; and Theo, a budding art historian who comes to possess a painting of the horse in 2019. Brooks illuminates Lexington's illustrious racing history while also detailing the profit reaped from the horse's abilities, likeness, and bones. This history is paralleled with the historical erasure of Jarrett's contributions to the horse's prowess and success. Once again, Brooks probes our understanding of history to reveal the power structures that create both the facts and the fiction. VERDICT Brooks has penned a clever and richly detailed novel about how we commodify, commemorate, and quantify winning in the United States, all through the lens of horse racing. Highly recommended.—Joshua Finnell

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Higher Power of Lucky
by Susan Patron

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.

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