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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Far far away
by Tom McNeal

School Library Journal Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY (c) Copyright 2013. 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 *Starred Review* So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker's next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal's deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob's phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too.--Welch, Cindy 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 Book of Mistakes
by Corinna Luyken

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 3-It starts with a mistake, but page by page, one slightly too large eye, a wonky elbow, and feet a little too far off the ground transform and combine into a larger picture-one that not only is functional but also works perfectly. Illustrations rendered in ink, colored pencil, and watercolor are the focal point. They start small-just a circle, a few lines, a dot on the page, a subtle bit of color here and there-but they slowly grow, flowing across one page and onto the next before reverting back to a smaller image that begins to slowly grow again. Each page shows one small glimpse of the final picture, inviting readers to turn the page to see the rest. The simple text draws readers' attention to the illustrations, and thorough examination is rewarded with playful little details. This is a story about how mistakes can change us all for the better if we are brave enough to face them and march ahead. Readers will love following along as the small spots and smudges on each page change the work in fun and unexpected ways, and even younger readers will finish with fresh optimism and a new idea of what mistakes may become. VERDICT Children, especially fledgling artists, will want to pore over this volume one-on-one. A must-have for every library.-Maggie Mason Smith, Clemson University, SC Copyright 2017. 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 *Starred Review* An inkblot and a face with an eye that's too big are those mistakes? The juxtaposition of mistakes and opportunity is the through line of this original offering that gives children a new way to think about the creative process. Each turn of the oversize, snow-white pages adds a fresh detail to the ink painting slowly being constructed. As the minimal text notes, some are good ideas the glasses on the character's face, for instance. Others, like the extra-long neck, not so much. But as the artwork becomes more detailed, and bits of color, then more, are added here and there, it becomes clear that even the unintentional or the unappealing can be turned into embellishments that enhance the whole. Sometimes the mistakes fundamentally change the whole, but if children are open to getting off the beaten path, they can find themselves immersed in magical new endeavors. Luyken, a debut author, delves into her own creative process, providing images to ponder. The final few spreads, especially, can be the springboard for an interesting discussion of imagination. One thing's for sure: this will lead kids to see their own so-called mistakes in a new, more positive light.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Circe
by Madeline Miller

School Library Journal Circe, daughter of the sun god Helios, mightiest of the Titans, was a peculiar child who had few of the gifts the demigods enjoyed, and she was despised by her parents and numerous sisters for her deficits. What she lacked in godlike ability, though, she compensated for with a gift for herbology and witchcraft. When she is rejected by her first love, the mortal Glaucos-who pines instead for the beautiful nymph Scylla-Circe casts a spell that turns Scylla into a hideous sea creature. For her transgression, Circe is banished by Zeus to an island, where she survives alone until Odysseus, "son of Laertes, the great traveler, prince of wiles and tricks," lands upon her shores and is seduced by her. Drawing on the mythology of the classical world, Miller deftly weaves episodes of war, treachery, monsters, gods, demigods, heroes, and mortals into her second novel of the ancient world (after the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles). Prometheus and Medea are among those who also make an appearance here. VERDICT This absorbing and atmospheric read will appeal to lovers of Greek mythology.-Jane Henriksen Baird, formerly at Anchorage Public Library, AK Copyright 2018. 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 In her stirring follow-up to the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles (2011), Miller beautifully voices the experiences of the legendary sorceress Circe. The misfit daughter of the Greek sun god, Helios, her powers are weak and her speech too much like a mortal's. But her unexpected talents in witchcraft prove threatening to the Titans' realm, leading to her banishment to the remote island of Aiaia. There she resides, carefully perfecting her herb lore, until her solitude is disrupted by visitors both human and divine. With poetic eloquence (the days moved slowly, dropping like petals from a blown rose) and fine dramatic pacing, Miller smoothly knits together the classic stories of the Minotaur, the monster Scylla, the witch Medea (Circe's niece), events from Homer's Odyssey, and more, all reimagined from a strong-minded woman's viewpoint. Circe's potential rival, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, is another memorable character, and the novel speaks to women's agency, war's traumatic aftermath, and how strength emerges from emotional growth. This immersive blend of literary fiction and mythological fantasy demonstrates that the Greek myths are still very relevant today.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Book list In her stirring follow-up to the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles (2011), Miller beautifully voices the experiences of the legendary sorceress Circe. The misfit daughter of the Greek sun god, Helios, her powers are weak and her speech too much like a mortal's. But her unexpected talents in witchcraft prove threatening to the Titans' realm, leading to her banishment to the remote island of Aiaia. There she resides, carefully perfecting her herb lore, until her solitude is disrupted by visitors both human and divine. With poetic eloquence (the days moved slowly, dropping like petals from a blown rose) and fine dramatic pacing, Miller smoothly knits together the classic stories of the Minotaur, the monster Scylla, the witch Medea (Circe's niece), events from Homer's Odyssey, and more, all reimagined from a strong-minded woman's viewpoint. Circe's potential rival, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, is another memorable character, and the novel speaks to women's agency, war's traumatic aftermath, and how strength emerges from emotional growth. This immersive blend of literary fiction and mythological fantasy demonstrates that the Greek myths are still very relevant today.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Book list In her stirring follow-up to the Orange Prize-winning The Song of Achilles (2011), Miller beautifully voices the experiences of the legendary sorceress Circe. The misfit daughter of the Greek sun god, Helios, her powers are weak and her speech too much like a mortal's. But her unexpected talents in witchcraft prove threatening to the Titans' realm, leading to her banishment to the remote island of Aiaia. There she resides, carefully perfecting her herb lore, until her solitude is disrupted by visitors both human and divine. With poetic eloquence (the days moved slowly, dropping like petals from a blown rose) and fine dramatic pacing, Miller smoothly knits together the classic stories of the Minotaur, the monster Scylla, the witch Medea (Circe's niece), events from Homer's Odyssey, and more, all reimagined from a strong-minded woman's viewpoint. Circe's potential rival, Odysseus' wife, Penelope, is another memorable character, and the novel speaks to women's agency, war's traumatic aftermath, and how strength emerges from emotional growth. This immersive blend of literary fiction and mythological fantasy demonstrates that the Greek myths are still very relevant today.--Johnson, Sarah Copyright 2018 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Miller follows her impressive debut (The Song of Achilles) with a spirited novel about Circe's evolution from insignificant nymph to formidable witch best known for turning Odysseus's sailors into swine. Her narrative begins with a description of growing up the awkward daughter of Helios, the sun god. She does not discover her gift for pharmakeia (the art of using herbs and spells) until she transforms her first love, a poor fisherman, into a god. When he rejects her in favor of vain Scylla, Circe turns Scylla into a sea monster. Now considered dangerous, Circe is exiled to an island, where she experiments with local flora and fauna. After returning from a visit to Crete to help her sister give birth to the Minotaur, Circe is joined on the island by errant nymphs sentenced to do their penance in her service. By the time Odysseus's ship arrives, winding its way home from the Trojan War, Circe reigns over a prosperous household. Welcome guests enjoy her hospitality; unwelcome guests are turned into wild pigs. Neither the goddess Athena nor the deadliest poison known to man makes Circe flinch. Weaving together Homer's tale with other sources, Miller crafts a classic story of female empowerment. She paints an uncompromising portrait of a superheroine who learns to wield divine power while coming to understand what it means to be mortal. Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Having reinterpreted Homer's Iliad in her Orange Prize-winning The Song of -Achilles, Miller now turns her attention to the -Odyssey from the perspective of Circe, the sorceress who changed Odysseus's men into swine. The daughter of the sun god Helios and the nymph Perse, Circe is despised by her parents and siblings for her less-than-divine abilities. Seeking comfort in human companionship, she discovers her own special powers of witchcraft when she turns Glaucus, the mortal man she loves, into a sea god. But Circe's tranformation of Scylla, her rival for Glaucos's affections, into a monster, leads to her banishment to the deserted island of Aiaia. Over the centuries, she hones her magical skills while encountering some of the most famous figures in classical mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus, Medea, and, of course, the crafty Odysseus. Along the way, Circe evolves into the powerful witch feared by the Olympian gods. But after a lifetime of lonely immortality, is this enough for Circe? Her final act of transformation will move and surprise readers. VERDICT This beautifully written and absorbing tale of gods and mortals will delight Miller's many fans and have them reaching for Edith Hamilton's Mythology. [See Prepub Alert, 10/22/17; "Editors' Spring Picks," LJ 2/1/17.]-Wilda Williams, Library Journal Copyright 2018. 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.

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