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by Gantos, Jack

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

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by Simms Taback
Publishers Weekly : As in his Caldecott Honor book, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Taback's inventive use of die-cut pages shows off his signature artwork, here newly created for his 1977 adaptation of a Yiddish folk song. This diverting, sequential story unravels as swiftly as the threads of Joseph's well-loved, patch-covered plaid coat. A flip of the page allows children to peek through to subsequent spreads as Joseph's tailoring produces items of decreasing size. The author puts a droll spin on his narrative when Joseph loses the last remnant of the coat--a button--and decides to make a book about it. "Which shows... you can always make something out of nothing," writes Taback, who wryly slips himself into his story by depicting Joseph creating a dummy for the book that readers are holding. Still, it's the bustling mixed-media artwork, highlighted by the strategically placed die-cuts, that steals the show. Taback works into his folk art a menagerie of wide-eyed animals witnessing the overcoat's transformation, miniature photographs superimposed on paintings and some clever asides reproduced in small print (a wall hanging declares, "Better to have an ugly patch than a beautiful hole"; a newspaper headline announces, "Fiddler on Roof Falls off Roof"). With its effective repetition and an abundance of visual humor, this is tailor-made for reading aloud. All ages. (Oct.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Pre-Gr 3-A book bursting at the seams with ingenuity and creative spirit. When Joseph's overcoat becomes "old and worn," he snips off the patches and turns it into a jacket. When his jacket is beyond repair, he makes a vest. Joseph recycles his garments until he has nothing left. But by trading in his scissors for a pen and paintbrush he creates a story, showing "you can always make something out of nothing." Clever die-cut holes provide clues as to what Joseph will make next: windowpanes in one scene become a scarf upon turning the page. Striking gouache, watercolor, and collage illustrations are chock-full of witty details-letters to read, proverbs on the walls, even a fiddler on the roof. Taback adapted this tale from a Yiddish folk song and the music and English lyrics are appended. The rhythm and repetition make it a perfect storytime read-aloud.-Linda Ludke, London Public Library, Ontario, Canada

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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by Lynne Rae Perkins

Publishers Weekly Through narrative that has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic, Perkins (All Alone in the Universe) captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence. There's Debbie, who makes a wish that "something different would happen. Something good. To me." There's Hector, who hears a guitarist and quite suddenly feels inspired to learn how to play the instrument. Then there's mechanical-minded Lenny who feels himself drawn to Debbie. The characters spend spring and summer wandering about their neighborhood, "criss crossing" paths, expanding their perspectives on the world while sensing that life will lead them to some exciting new experiences. (During a walk, Hector feels "as if the world was opening, like the roof of the Civic Arena when the sky was clear. Life was rearranging itself; bulging in places, fraying in spots.") Debbie forms a crush on a boy from California visiting his grandmother. Hector falls for a girl in his guitar class. Lenny hints at his feelings for Debbie by asking her on a date. All three loves remain unrequited, but by the end of the novel, Debbie, Hector and Lenny have grown a little wiser and still remain hopeful that good things lie ahead if they remain patient. Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, this book artfully expresses universal emotions of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Through narrative that has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic, Perkins (All Alone in the Universe) captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence. There's Debbie, who makes a wish that "something different would happen. Something good. To me." There's Hector, who hears a guitarist and quite suddenly feels inspired to learn how to play the instrument. Then there's mechanical-minded Lenny who feels himself drawn to Debbie. The characters spend spring and summer wandering about their neighborhood, "criss crossing" paths, expanding their perspectives on the world while sensing that life will lead them to some exciting new experiences. (During a walk, Hector feels "as if the world was opening, like the roof of the Civic Arena when the sky was clear. Life was rearranging itself; bulging in places, fraying in spots.") Debbie forms a crush on a boy from California visiting his grandmother. Hector falls for a girl in his guitar class. Lenny hints at his feelings for Debbie by asking her on a date. All three loves remain unrequited, but by the end of the novel, Debbie, Hector and Lenny have grown a little wiser and still remain hopeful that good things lie ahead if they remain patient. Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, this book artfully expresses universal emotions of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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by Ian McEwan

Publishers Weekly The 1989 Children Act made a child's welfare the top priority of English courts-easier said than done, given the complexities of modern life and the pervasiveness of human weakness, as Family Court Judge Fiona Maye discovers in McEwan's 13th novel (after Sweet Tooth). Approaching 60, at the peak of her career, Fiona has a reputation for well-written, well-reasoned decisions. She is, in fact, more comfortable with cool judgment than her husband's pleas for passion. While he pursues a 28-year-old statistician, Fiona focuses on casework, especially a hospital petition to overrule two Jehovah's Witnesses who refuse blood transfusions for Adam, their 17-year-old son who's dying of leukemia. Adam agrees with their decision. Fiona visits Adam in the hospital, where she finds him writing poetry and studying violin. Childless Fiona shares a musical moment with the boy, then rules in the hospital's favor. Adam's ensuing rebellion against his parents, break with religion, and passionate devotion to Fiona culminate in a disturbing face-to-face encounter that calls into question what constitutes a child's welfare and who best represents it. As in Atonement, what doesn't happen has the power to destroy; as in Amsterdam, McEwan probes the dread beneath civilized society. In spare prose, he examines cases, people, and situations, to reveal anger, sorrow, shame, impulse, and yearning. He rejects religious dogma that lacks compassion, but scrutinizes secular morality as well. Readers may dispute his most pessimistic inferences, but few will deny McEwan his place among the best of Britain's living novelists. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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