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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The crossover
by 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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The Grasshopper & the Ants
by Jerry Pinkney

Book list A personable grasshopper wearing a straw boater and a leggy ant in an acorn hat square off over the joys of relaxing versus the honest pursuit of hard work in this familiar Aesop's fable. While an army of industrious ants scurry through the forest, collecting seeds and leaves for the winter, Grasshopper would rather sing in his own one-insect band. The color palette changes as the seasons pass, from the blossoms of spring, to the greens of summer, the rusts of autumn, and eventually the sparkles of first snow. Happy ants are inside their tree, while the foldout shows Grasshopper forlornly sitting on his snow-covered drum in the cold. The well-known moral? Don't put off for tomorrow what you can do today! Caldecott Medal-winning Pinkney's vibrant watercolors portray the lushness and beauty of the natural world in extraordinary detail while conveying the power of music through stunning visual art. Another winner to follow his other renditions of Aesop's fables, The Tortoise & the Hare (2013) and The Lion & the Mouse (2009). HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pinkney's lush style and Aesop's timeless fables are an award-winning combination.--Gepson, Lolly Copyright 2015 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Fans of Pinkney's Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse and his other lively re-tellings may wonder how he will treat this fable, which ends ominously for the grasshopper. They need not worry. He begins by populating a lush, leafy world with ants carrying food, giving the insects expressive faces while drawing them with scientific accuracy. The grasshopper, wearing a straw boater, performs on an assortment of musical instruments. "Why labor so long?" he chirps. "It's summertime.... Come join me in making music!" Autumn comes, then winter blows in; the grasshopper sits miserably in the snow, wrapping two sets of arms around himself to keep warm. He begs food from a family of ants, but they turn him away. A remarkable gatefold spread reveals the ants' underground dwelling, their stores of food and cozy woodstove shown in cross-section. While Aesop condemns the grasshopper's inability to put off gratification, Pinkney suggests that the world is better when everyone can follow his or her own gifts. The world needs good planners, but it needs artists, too. Ages 3-6. Agent: Sheldon Fogelman, Sheldon Fogelman Agency. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-Grasshopper arrives on the cover with bass drum and cymbals on his back, concertina between his midlegs, and forelegs strumming his banjo. "Why work so hard?" he sings to some busy ants. "It's spring and time to go fishing." But the ants, gathering food for winter, have no time to relax. In summer, the ants decline Grasshopper's invitation for a leafy picnic and some music, and his fall solicitation to "come dance and sing!" in the "playground of leaves" finds no takers. When snowflakes fall, Grasshopper builds a "snow-hopper," then sits freezing with forelegs and midlegs crossed over vest-covered abdomen, while the ants can be seen knitting, stoking the fire, and caring for their young in a cozy tree trunk home. Eventually invited inside by the Ant Queen, fun-loving Grasshopper gladly shares his musical talents with the amiable colony, then sits down to songs, tea, and cookies with the queen. Full-page vivid watercolor paintings bustling with natural activity and fanciful detail flow through the hues of the seasons, ending in the spare whiteness of winter. Fine line pencil-drawn strings and frets on his banjo, intricate snowflake shapes, the lace of a dragonfly's wings, and the colorful flow of musical bars all demonstrate Pinkney's painstaking concern with detail. So does the way a small bit of leafy scenery on the lower front flyleaf blends perfectly into the spring woodland greenery on the endpapers. VERDICT A lively and engaging version of a favorite Aesop fable.-Susan Scheps, formerly at Shaker Public Library, OH (c) Copyright 2015. 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.

British Crime Writers' Assoc.
Click to search this book in our catalog Irene:
by Pierre Lemaitre

Book list *Starred Review* The newest Camille Verhoeven title to be published in the U.S. is actually the first in the dark and complex French series. Verhoeven is a commandant in Paris' Brigade Criminelle. He compensates for his small stature (four-feet, eleven-inches tall) with an enormous intellect (although he is short of temper, too). He is only able to let his guard down at home, where his pregnant wife, Irčne, is expecting their first child. But a grisly case is keeping him at the office most nights a serial killer the press is calling the Novelist is re-creating some of the most brutal crime scenes from classic mysteries. Verhoeven's team is tearing apart a recent murder-scene tableau and looking into cold cases to find similarities to well-known crime novels. Verhoeven is able to establish communication with the killer by appealing to his literary leanings. These letters reveal the scope of the killings and hint at what the killer is plotting as his masterpiece. Alex (2013), Lemaitre's first novel to be translated into English, won the CWA International Dagger Award for best crime novel of 2013. Verhoeven is a one-of-a-kind detective, and Lemaitre does an excellent job surrounding him with characters who demand their share of the limelight. Not for the faint of heart, this gritty thriller will appeal to fans of Chelsea Cain, for the grisly details, and Fred Vargas, for the French setting and iconoclastic sleuth.--Keefe, Karen Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Lemaitre's chilling first novel, the second to appear in the U.S. featuring Commandant Camille Verhoeven after 2013's Alex, finds the Parisian policeman enjoying the professional and personal contentment he never knew was possible. He and his squad are a well-oiled machine, but more importantly, he is happily married to Irčne, who is pregnant with their first child. But a murder of unfathomable brutality, followed by another, puts Camille's career on the line. The murderer, nicknamed the Novelist by the press, appears to be reenacting scenes from crime novels. As the killings escalate, scrutiny of Camille by Philippe Buisson de Chevesne, a journalist with a personal vendetta against him, adds to his woes. Lemaitre slowly reveals the cracks in Camille's police team while dismantling the detective's life at home. The plot is unfailingly intriguing, though some readers may wish Lemaitre had lavished less grisly detail on the crime scenes. (Dec.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Starred Review. French literary sensation Lemaitre earned comparisons to Stieg Larsson (and a 2013 CWA International Dagger Award) with Alex, a gruesome and twisty mashup of police procedural, thriller, and psychological horror. Its newly translated predecessor might be even better. (Though Alex is Lemaitre's first book translated into English, Irene originally introduced his protagonist, diminutive investigator Camille Verhoeven of the brigade criminelle of Paris.) The hook is irresistible: Verhoeven's on the trail of a serial killer who stages grisly murder scenes that pay homage to famous books. Dubbed "The Novelist," the killer decapitates prostitutes a la American Psycho, butchers a woman in the style of The Black Dahlia, and dumps a body along a river in echoes of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo's Roseanna. But Lemaitre's own crime story is hardly predictable, as he pushes the pulse-quickening plot toward an ingenious-and shocking-finale. VERDICT Know any Euronoir readers who can stomach ultraviolence? This is the book for them. Just be aware that the "Camille Verhoeven" trilogy works best in chronological order, as some of the dark surprises here are spoiled by its previously released sequel.-Annabelle Mortensen, Skokie P.L., IL (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.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog This one summer
by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki

Publishers Weekly Rose and Windy, friends for two weeks every summer in nearby Ontario lake cottages, have hit early adolescence. Rose, a bit older, has knowledge and polish that tubby, still-childish Windy lacks, and Windy sometimes bores her. Yet Windy's instincts are often sound, while Rose is led astray by an infatuation with a local convenience store clerk. As Rose's parents' marriage founders and the taunts of local teens wake her to issues of social class, Rose veers between secret grief and fleeting pleasure in the rituals of summer. Jillian Tamaki's exceptionally graceful line is one of the strengths of this work from the cousin duo behind Skim. Printed entirely in somber blue ink, the illustrations powerfully evoke the densely wooded beach town setting and the emotional freight carried by characters at critical moments, including several confronting their womanhood in different and painful ways. Fine characterization and sensitive prose distinguish the story, too-as when Rose remembers the wisdom a swimming teacher shared about holding his breath for minutes at a time: "He told me the secret was he would tell himself that he was actually breathing." Ages 12-up. Agent: Sam Hiyate, the Rights Factory. (May)? (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Picture Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Cold Feet
by Cynthia DeFelice

School Library Journal Gr 3-6-This ghost story for the strong of stomach features a bagpiper by the name of Willie McPhee. Hard times have forced him to seek a place where people can afford his entertainment. Months pass. His boots are "more holes than leather." Alone, hungry, and tired, he trips on what he soon realizes is the frozen body of a man whose boots are too fine to leave behind. He can't remove them until he drops the man's leg, which then snaps in two. Carrying the boots (and feet within them) tied around his neck, Willie seeks shelter on a farm, only to be told by the inhospitable owner to sleep in the barn with the cow. In the morning, Willie plays a trick on his mean-spirited host and places one foot in the cow's mouth, the other beside her. The shocked farmer quickly buries the feet, and when Willie reappears to play his pipes on the grave, the man and his wife take off, never to be seen again. Later that night, as Willie enjoys the cozy warmth of the farmhouse, a footless stranger appears at the door. So ends the tale. DeFelice's language, tone, and pacing capture the essence of the oral tradition while Parker's dark and stylized watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations reflect the playfully somber mood of the story. This is a yarn meant to amuse as well as frighten, and it succeeds at both.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly DeFelice and Parker (previously paired for The Dancing Skeleton) join forces again, this time to polish up a Scottish ghost story. When ragged, penniless Willie McPhee, "the finest bagpipe player in all of Scotland," stumbles across a dead man in the forest one snowy night, he helps himself to the boots. Unfortunately the man's feet come with them, snapping off when Willie tugs on the frozen legs. But "a poor man must be practical, after all," and Willie carries off the boots (and feet). Later he decides to play a trick on a heartless farmer who grudgingly sends him to the barn when he asks for shelter: Willie arranges the now-thawed feet to make it appear that their cow has eaten him. The horrified farmer and his wife quickly bury the evidence, but when Willie comes out of hiding and pipes a farewell tune atop the "wee small grave," they flee, thinking him a ghost. In the end, a bona fide ghost does appearDto Willie. DeFelice pitches this deliciously eerie tale in the kind of cadence and language that make for a grand read-aloud (e.g., the near-shoeless Willie goes "flip-flap, flip-flap, flip-flap down the road"), and she neatly preserves the regional flavor ("Och! They were fine-looking boots, they were!"). Beautifully set off by the understated book design, Parker's watercolors rank with his finest. The blotted impressionistic colors and scrawled lines are both edgy and amusing, while the cool gray tones create an appropriately chilly backdrop for the spooky antics. Ages 5-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gr. 2^-4. In this picture book for older children, DeFelice retells an old Scottish legend based on the "trickster tricked" theme. Willie McPhee, the finest bagpipe player in Scotland, is forced to travel far from home to find paying customers. He spends so many months on the road that "his boots [are] more holes than leather." He manages to get by in summer, spring, and fall, but he suffers when winter comes. One day, when he's nearly frozen, he stumbles over a dead body in the forest--a body with a nice pair of boots. Temptation leads to grotesque action. The eerie ending is a fine twist, and Parker's watercolors, depicting a misty Scottish landscape, are well suited to the ghostly story. The book may appear to be for young children, but the grisly theme is better suited to older ones. --Connie Fletcher

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Darth Vader and Son
by Jeffrey Brown

Publishers Weekly When the first Star Wars film conquered the world in 1977, no one could have possibly foreseen it going on to become such an ubiquitous part of our cultural heritage. Now even parenthood can be viewed through the filter of the Sith lord Darth Vader. Jeffrey Brown (Incredible Change-Bots) crashes headlong into George Lucas's galaxy far, far away with endearing, funny-and fully licensed-results. A series of full-page gag cartoons focusing on the "what if?" of Darth Vader raising a four-year-old Luke Skywalker, the book twists father/son moments into scenarios within the Star Wars playground. For instance, the addition of a wailing little Luke turns the Bounty Hunter scene into, as one bounty hunter's thought balloon puts it, Awkward!" Trick-or-treating, toy shopping, a day at the zoo, and more are rejiggered with a lighthearted, charming tone. However, the book also provides ample proof that adding a babysitting Darth Vader to any Star Wars situation makes it gently humorous. Brown's signature scratchy style is embellished with full color and stripped-down likenesses. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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