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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Eleanor and Park
by Rainbow Rowell

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 When Aidan Became a Brother
by Kyle Lukoff

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—This well-illustrated and sweet family tale centers on the experiences of a transgender boy. Like Erica Silverman's Jack (not Jackie), this title portrays parental support and love between siblings. In this story, Aidan has not yet met the baby who will be his sibling, and that's what has him worried. Will the baby like sea horse or penguin-themed outfits better? If Aidan helps paint the nursery to look like the sky, maybe his new sibling won't ever feel trapped the way Aidan did in his old room, before his parents knew he was a boy. Aidan does everything he can to prepare (short of accepting his dad's offer to practice changing diapers), but his excitement shifts to anxiety. What if he's making mistakes and the baby also ends up feeling misunderstood? Lukoff (himself a transgender man) nails the nuances of Aidan's conflict, providing believable reassurance through Aidan's mom, who offers support specific to her son's experience and proves universally calming advice: "We made some mistakes but you helped us fix them….This baby is lucky to have you and so are we." Juanita's playful watercolors make great use of clothing patterns and nature motifs, airily fashioning the sunny world of Aidan's mostly brown-skinned family and their friends, while framing curious or intrusive strangers from a child's-eye view. VERDICT A much-needed and appealing addition to the picture book canon; both emotionally and visually satisfying.—Miriam DesHarnais, Towson University, MD

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

Book list Though assigned female at birth, biracial Aidan soon realizes he is actually a boy, one who dislikes his girl's clothes and pink bedroom. When he tells his parents that he is a trans boy, they lovingly rectify their errors. Upon renaming himself, Aidan gleefully explores ways of being a boy. Then he learns that his mom is pregnant, and he immediately becomes concerned that he might not be a good big brother. Since he doesn't know if the baby will be a boy or a girl, he searches for names that would fit either, and he is upset when people ask if he is excited by the prospect of a new brother or sister, and steadfastly announces he is simply excited to be a big brother. Though he knows he might make some mistakes, he understands that the most important thing is that he simply love his new sibling and so, when the baby is born (its sex is not given), he does. A trans man himself, Lukoff writes with authority and a loving spirit. Juanita's cheerful digital illustrations are a nicely harmonious match with the text, expanding it in meaningful ways. Together, the text and pictures create a heartfelt celebration of love that will be an ideal selection for trans children and for any who are expecting a new sibling.--Michael Cart Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Everyone thought Aidan was a girl when he was born, but Aidan knows that "he was really another kind of boy." "He felt like his room belonged to someone else. And he always ripped or stained his clothes accidentally-on-purpose." Finally, Aidan cuts his hair short, dons clothes that suit him better, and tells his parents ("It took everyone some time to adjust, and they learned a lot from other families with transgender kids like him"). #OwnVoices author Lukoff (A Storytelling of Ravens) writes with sensitivity and candor as Aidan takes his first steps toward claiming his identity. When his mother is expecting another child, Aidan excitedly prepares for his big brother role and seeks to welcome his sibling in a way that "could fit this new person no matter who they grew up to be." Juanita (Ta-Da!) illustrates with fine ink outlines and loose patterns, filling Aidan's revamped bedroom with cozy fabrics, and populating a family baby shower with balloons that spell out an inclusive, triumphant sign: "it's a baby." The creators' exploration of one transgender child's experience emphasizes the importance of learning "how to love someone for exactly who they are." Ages 5-6. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus A transgender boy anticipates his new job as a big brother by helping his parents prepare for his baby sibling's arrival.Aidan "felt trapped" in his old name, clothes, and room before he told his parents "what he knew about himself." Some girls never wore dresses, "but Aidan didn't feel like any kind of girl" because he was "another kind of boy." With his parents' support, he embraces his identity and takes on a new, important role, becoming a big brother. More than anything, he wants the baby to feel loved and understood. This picture book sets a new standard of excellence in transgender representation by centering the feelings of Aidan, a biracial (black and South Asian) transgender boy. Juanita's (Ta-Da!, 2018) digital illustrations have the look of ink and watercolor, and they bring the love in Aidan's family to life. Bright, mixed patterns in Aidan's clothes capture the vibrancy of his personality and his excitement to welcome a baby into the family. Lukoff (A Storytelling of Ravens, 2018) breaks away from binary language and stereotypical gender roles, highlighting within the text and in an author's note that there is more than one way to be a person of any gender. The hopeful message at the end emphasizes love and the importance of staying open to learning.Joyful and affirming, Aidan's story is the first of its kind among books for welcoming a new baby. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Horn Book Brown-skinned (possibly biracial) Aidan, who's transgender, knows how it feels to be misunderstood, so he wants to get things right for his new sibling. Lukoff's straightforward approach to Aidan's gender transition rings with authenticity, and he puts the child-centered story ahead of message. Celebrating the family's close, affirming relationship, Juanita's vibrant digital illustrations take cues from the text, which models how to avoid the male/female binary. (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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone
by Diana Gabaldon

Library Journal It's been seven long years since Written in My Own Heart's Blood, but at last here is the ninth entry in the enduringly popular "Outlander" series. Reunited 20 years after having been sundered by the Jacobite Rising in 1746, Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall now live in Revolutionary War-era North Carolina with daughter Brianna and her family. The backcountry seems remote, but with their tenants; loyalties split, Jamie and Claire know they can't avoid the war forever, and Brianna and husband Roger begin to wonder whether returning to the past to escape the dangers of the 20th century was the wisest plan. Meanwhile, Jamie's son, William Ransom, must come to terms with his paternity. The sixth Starz season of Outlander is filming, and there's talk of the seventh, so read ahead.

(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 Crossover
by Kwame Alexander

School Library Journal Gr 6-10-Twins Josh and Jordan are junior high basketball stars, thanks in large part to the coaching of their dad, a former professional baller who was forced to quit playing for health reasons, and the firm, but loving support of their assistant-principal mom. Josh, better known as Filthy McNasty, earned his nickname for his enviable skills on the court: ".when Filthy gets hot/He has a SLAMMERIFIC SHOT." In this novel in verse, the brothers begin moving apart from each other for the first time. Jordan starts dating the "pulchritudinous" Miss Sweet Tea, and Josh has a tough time keeping his jealousy and feelings of abandonment in control. Alexander's poems vary from the pulsing, aggressive beats of a basketball game ("My shot is F L O W I N G, Flying, fluttering.. ringaling and SWINGALING/Swish. Game/over") to the more introspective musings of a child struggling into adolescence ("Sit beside JB at dinner. He moves./Tell him a joke. He doesn't even smile..Say I'm sorry/but he won't listen"). Despite his immaturity, Josh is a likable, funny, and authentic character. Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.-Kiera Parrott, 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.

Book list The Bell twins are stars on the basketball court and comrades in life. While there are some differences Josh shaves his head and Jordan loves his locks both twins adhere to the Bell basketball rules: In this game of life, your family is the court, and the ball is your heart. With a former professional basketball player dad and an assistant principal mom, there is an intensely strong home front supporting sports and education in equal measures. When life intervenes in the form of a hot new girl, the balance shifts and growing apart proves painful. An accomplished author and poet, Alexander eloquently mashes up concrete poetry, hip-hop, a love of jazz, and a thriving family bond. The effect is poetry in motion. It is a rare verse novel that is fundamentally poetic rather than using this writing trend as a device. There is also a quirky vocabulary element that adds a fun intellectual note to the narrative. This may be just the right book for those hard-to-match youth who live for sports or music or both.--Bush, Gail Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Josh Bell, known on and off the court by the nickname Filthy McNasty, doesn't lack self-confidence, but neither does he lack the skills to back up his own mental in-game commentary: "I rise like a Learjet-/ seventh-graders aren't supposed to dunk./ But guess what?/ I snatch the ball out of the air and/ SLAM!/ YAM! IN YOUR MUG!" Josh is sure that he and his twin brother, JB, are going pro, following in the footsteps of their father, who played professional ball in Europe. But Alexander (He Said, She Said) drops hints that Josh's trajectory may be headed back toward Earth: his relationship with JB is strained by a new girl at school, and the boys' father health is in increasingly shaky territory. The poems dodge and weave with the speed of a point guard driving for the basket, mixing basketball action with vocabulary-themed poems, newspaper clippings, and Josh's sincere first-person accounts that swing from moments of swagger-worthy triumph to profound pain. This verse novel delivers a real emotional punch before the final buzzer. Ages 9-12. Agent: East West Literary Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog A Fine Balance
by Rohinton Mistry

Library Journal: In mid-1970s urban India-a chaos of wretchedness on the streets and slogans in the offices-a chain of circumstances tosses four varied individuals together in one small flat. Stubbornly independent Dina, widowed early, takes in Maneck, the college-aged son of a more prosperous childhood friend and, more reluctantly, Ishvar and Om, uncle and nephew tailors fleeing low-caste origins and astonishing hardships. The reader first learns the characters' separate, compelling histories of brief joys and abiding sorrows, then watches as barriers of class, suspicion, and politeness are gradually dissolved. Even more affecting than Mistry's depictions of squalor and grotesque injustice is his study of friendships emerging unexpectedly, naturally. The novel's coda is cruel and heart-wrenching but deeply honest. This unforgettable book from the author of Such a Long Journey (LJ 4/15/91) is highly recommended.-Janet Ingraham, Worthington P.L., Ohio

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publisher's Weekly: The setting of Mistry's quietly magnificent second novel (after the acclaimed Such a Long Journey) is India in 1975-76, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, defying a court order calling for her resignation, declares a state of emergency and imprisons the parliamentary opposition as well as thousands of students, teachers, trade unionists and journalists. These events, along with the government's forced sterilization campaign, serve as backdrop for an intricate tale of four ordinary people struggling to survive. Naive college student Maneck Kohlah, whose parents' general store is failing, rents a room in the house of Dina Dalal, a 40-ish widowed seamstress. Dina acquires two additional boarders: hapless but enterprising itinerant tailor Ishvar Darji and his nephew Omprakash, whose father, a village untouchable, was murdered as punishment for crossing caste boundaries. With great empathy and wit, the Bombay-born, Toronto-based Mistry evokes the daily heroism of India's working poor, who must cope with corruption, social anarchy and bureaucratic absurdities. Though the sprawling, chatty narrative risks becoming as unwieldy as the lives it so vibrantly depicts, Mistry combines an openness to India's infinite sensory detail with a Dickensian rendering of the effects of poverty, caste, envy, superstition,corruption and bigotry. His vast, wonderfully precise canvas poses, but cannot answer, the riddle of how to transform a corrupt, ailing society into a healthy one.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

CHOICE: A worthy successor to Mistry's award-winning Such a Long Journey , this wonderful, baggy, Dickensian narrative follows the fortunes of an independent widow, a college student, and two impoverished tailors who share a crowded apartment. The novel includes a large cast of memorable characters, whose stories range from brutal caste struggles in small villages to homelessness in flimsy shacks surrounding the sprawling city teeming with pavement dwellers, beggars, rent collectors, con men, and corrupt police. The novel's world is often cruel and unfeeling, but the characters struggle on, trying to achieve lives of dignity and meaning. Valmik (proofreader and sometime flack for a bogus guru) provides the novel's title: "The secret of life was to balance hope and despair." The Vishram Vegetarian Hotel cook tells the tailors, "You fellows are amazing.... Each time you come here you have a new adventure story." "It's not us; it's this city," replies the tailor, "a story factory, that's what it is, a spinning mill." Mistry's humorous and compassionate tangle of tales and characters is a story factory, too. And we listen spellbound to a master story spinner at work. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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