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Click to search this book in our catalog Billy Summers
by Stephen King

Publishers Weekly Ex-Army sniper turned hit man Billy Summers, the protagonist of this tripwire-taut thriller from MWA Grand Master King (Later), who views himself as “a garbageman with a gun,” decides his 18th assassination will be his last. But he rightly smells something fishy in the promised $2 million payout and runs rogue when things go south with his employers. Matters get complicated when a rape victim whose life he saves becomes his confidante and a participant in his plans to get even. King meticulously lays out the details of Billy’s trade, his Houdini-style escapes, and his act to look simpler than he is, but the novel’s main strength is a story within a story: as he preps for months in the small town “east of the Mississippi and just south of the Mason-Dixon Line” where the hit will happen, Billy, masquerading as a novelist, writes his lightly fictionalized autobiography, which grows more candid as it inches closer to current events and illustrates a line he remembers from a Tim O’Brien interview that fiction “was the way to the truth.” This is another outstanding outing from a writer who consistently delivers more than his readers expect. Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill. (Aug.)

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Kirkus The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller.Hes not a normal person. Hes a hired assassin, and if he doesnt think like who and what he is, hell never get clear. So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun whos been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War whos seen friends blown to pieces; hes perhaps numbed by PTSD, but hes goal-oriented. Hes also a readerZolas novel Thrse Raquin figures as a MacGuffinwhich sets his employers wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend hes a writer while hes waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldnt be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, theres a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. Its no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young womanAliceafter shes been roofied and raped. Billys revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: He doesnt know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks its good, King writes of one days output. And good that its awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because thats a writers thought. Billys art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over. That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billys battered copy of Zolas book plays a part, too.Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus The ever prolific King moves from his trademark horror into the realm of the hard-boiled noir thriller. “He’s not a normal person. He’s a hired assassin, and if he doesn’t think like who and what he is, he’ll never get clear.” So writes King of his title character, whom the Las Vegas mob has brought in to rub out another hired gun who’s been caught and is likely to talk. Billy, who goes by several names, is a complex man, a Marine veteran of the Iraq War who’s seen friends blown to pieces; he’s perhaps numbed by PTSD, but he’s goal-oriented. He’s also a reader—Zola’s novel Thérèse Raquin figures as a MacGuffin—which sets his employer’s wheels spinning: If a reader, then why not have him pretend he’s a writer while he’s waiting for the perfect moment to make his hit? It wouldn’t be the first writer, real or imagined, King has pressed into service, and if Billy is no Jack Torrance, there’s a lovely, subtle hint of the Overlook Hotel and its spectral occupants at the end of the yarn. It’s no spoiler to say that whereas Billy carries out the hit with grim precision, things go squirrelly, complicated by his rescue of a young woman—Alice—after she’s been roofied and raped. Billy’s revenge on her behalf is less than sweet. As a memoir grows in his laptop, Billy becomes more confident as a writer: “He doesn’t know what anyone else might think, but Billy thinks it’s good,” King writes of one day’s output. “And good that it’s awful, because awful is sometimes the truth. He guesses he really is a writer now, because that’s a writer’s thought.” Billy’s art becomes life as Alice begins to take an increasingly important part in it, crisscrossing the country with him to carry out a final hit on an errant bad guy: “He flopped back on the sofa, kicked once, and fell on the floor. His days of raping children and murdering sons and God knew what else were over.” That story within a story has a nice twist, and Billy’s battered copy of Zola’s book plays a part, too. Murder most foul and mayhem most entertaining. Another worthy page-turner from a protean master. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Sparrow
by Moon, Sarah

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Fourteen-year-old Sparrow Cooke is believed to have nearly taken her own life on her school's roof. She begins to see a therapist. The teen refuses to open up during her initial sessions with Dr. Katz, but the therapist slowly gets through to Sparrow by introducing her to rock music. However, Sparrow wants to fly away from dealing with issues, such as the death of her favorite school librarian Mrs. Wexler, the loss of her kindergarten best friend Chocolate, popular mean girls like Monique, nearly flunking the eighth grade, her inability to socialize with other kids, and her distance from her mom. Their relationship becomes more strained after a parent-teacher conference with Sparrow's teachers. With Dr. Katz's help, the girl's world is opened up and she gets the opportunity to attend the Gertrude Nix Rock Camp for Girls for the summer. She reluctantly leaves her comfort zone and befriends three unlikely dorm mates. Readers will quickly identify with this protagonist; Sparrow speaks to those who may have difficulty dealing with loss, making friends, and feeling alienated. Librarians will appreciate the nod to the Brooklyn Public Library and the significant role Mrs. Wexler played in Sparrow's life. Moon brilliantly weaves the intersections of race, class, sexual orientation, body image and women's contributions to rock and pop music histories into the narrative. Rock music fans will love the homage to the diverse artists, musicians, and bands within the genre. VERDICT This novel will inspire readers to find their own voices through literary and musical expression. A good choice for most YA collections.-Donald Peebles, Brooklyn Public Library © 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 When eighth-grader Sparrow wakes up in the hospital, she can't convince the doctors or her mother that she wasn't attempting suicide on the roof of her school. Once she starts seeing her therapist, she reveals that when she experiences anxiety, she becomes a real sparrow and flies with other birds. Moon's debut novel deftly normalizes therapy and prioritizing one's mental health. In lyrical, minimalist prose that resounds with authenticity, Moon tracks Sparrow's relatable experience with trauma and anxiety. The recurring therapy sessions never come across as manufactured or heavy-handed, nor do they present a singular, correct way to cope with anxiety. After opening up to her therapist, Sparrow takes a brave step and enrolls in a month-long music camp. There she finds unexpected validation and a community of women who build her up. An elegantly told and important novel about learning to cope, live, and be happy with depression and anxiety.--Kling, Caitlin Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Lets Scare Bear
by Yuko Katakawa.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1—Based on a form of Japanese storytelling, this visually engaging story loses a bit of logic in translation but retains a lot of appeal. Mouse, Fox, Spider, and Snake are about to feast on delicious manju cakes, when Bear passes by and they decide to scare him. Each animal tries and fails, until Bear reveals that his only fear is manju cakes. The animals throw their cakes into his cave and wait. Eventually, Bear emerges, stating "It's scary how much I love manju cake," leaving the animals to go make new cakes. The reasoning for scaring bear is flimsy at best, and his slick trick may be lost on young readers. Nevertheless, the text is brief and well paced, with a folklorish storytelling style that reads aloud well with nary a wasted word. The mixed-media, mostly full-bleed illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Rohmann's work, with heavy outlines, saturated backgrounds, and expressively faced animals. Bear is enormous and dominates the pages, and spider weaves commentary with her silk. Katakawa makes great use of perspective and movement, encouraging page turns and effectively drawing the eye. Fox and Bear each display some pretty scary toothy snarls, but the rest of the illustrations are in good fun. VERDICT While the story line is slim, the arresting visuals and nicely cadenced text make this an excellent candidate for storytimes. Most libraries will want to add it to their shelves.—Amy Lilien-Harper, Wilton Library, CT

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

Book list With his sharp claws and ferocious teeth, Bear is known as the biggest, bravest animal in the forest. He scares the other woodland creatures, but is there anything that can frighten Bear himself? In her charming debut, author-illustrator Katakawa answers this question as four forest inhabitants Fox, Mouse, Snake, and Spider try to scare the unflappable bear. After several funny, failed attempts leave the smaller critters at wits' end, Bear admits the one thing that scares him very much: manju cake, a sweet treat that the other creatures have been enjoying without him. But can they actually scare him with this new information? The answer comes with a fun surprise, along with a lesson about friendship, bullying, and bravery. This lighthearted tale is a twist on a classic story from the Japanese oral tradition of rakugo, making for a delightful read-aloud. Mixed-media illustrations add energy to the excitement, and the delectable subject may have children demanding a manju cake before the end.--Emily Graham Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Katakawa makes a spirited debut, employing a panoply of visual styles. As she explains in her author's note, the story is based on "Manju Kowai" ("Scared of Buns") a classic from rakugo, the Japanese storytelling tradition. Mouse, Snake, Spider, and Fox are just sitting down for tea when Bear imperiously thumps through the forest. At Mouse's suggestion, the friends decide to "scare Bear," but they fail miserably (Mouse is a total washout at delivering a commanding "Boo!"). Then Bear reveals the one thing he fears: manju cake, the Japanese bun stuffed with sweet filling. "Don't even mention it!" Bear says, and as the smaller creatures look on in amazement, he covers his eyes and quakes with fear before skulking off to his cave. The smaller creatures promptly hurl all their manju cakes into the cave (Snake knocks one in with its head, soccer-style) and wait for the inevitable surrender. Bear emerges, patting his belly, smacking his lips, and looking anything but frightened. "It's scary how much I love manju cake," he says. Yes, the big guy wins this one, but readers should be tickled by Bear's willingness to play the fool for the sake of a yummy treat. Ages 4-8. Agent: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book As they enjoy afternoon tea, including sweet manju cakes (steamed buns filled with red bean paste), four woodland-creature friends decide to scare a bear passing by. All their tactics fail--until the bear ‘admits’ his deepest fear: manju cake. The animals lob the cakes into the bear's cave and are surprised by the bear's pleased reaction. The mixed-media illustrations reward close inspection with clever details. Based on ‘Manju Kowai’ or ‘Scared of Buns,’ a story from the Japanese oral storytelling tradition of rakugo. (c) Copyright 2021. 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.

Kirkus Four friends take turns trying to scare Bear.Mouse, Fox, Snake, and Spider love manju cake, a Japanese steamed bun with sweet filling. As they're about to enjoy a manju feast, Bear thumps by. Seeing as Bear is the biggest and bravest animal around, the four friends decide to scare him. Fox goes first, baring his sharp teeth, but Bear just flashes his teeth back. Spider, Snake, and Mouse follow with their tricks, but nothing can scare Bear. Finally, Bear says only one thing scares him: manju cakes. While Bear hides in his cave at the very thought, the four friends attempt to scare Bear one last timebut Bear plays the best trick of all. Katakawa's debut picture book is a funny tale of silly scare tactics and tricks. Based on a classic Japanese rakugo tale called "Manju Kowai," Katakawa's telling emphasizes cute animals and a one-line lesson that sharing may be better than scaring. The friendly, cartoon illustrations are bold and lively. Using digital drawing techniques, Katakawa adds movement and depth to the images as well as small details (Snake's spectacles, Mouse's overalls, Spider's web-written dialogue) that add fun and context to the short text. A fun twist on a tale from Japanese oral storytelling tradition, great for reading aloud. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Nana in the city
by by Lauren Castillo

Publishers Weekly "I love my nana," a boy explains, "but I don't love the city." She greets him with a hug, but he's still nervous. "The city is busy," he says (crowds press in). "The city is loud" (a whistle shrieks). "The city is filled with scary things" (the boy shrinks from a homeless man holding out a cup). "It is no place for a nana to live," he concludes. While he sleeps, nana knits him a gift-a big red cape. A series of vignettes shows him wearing it the next morning, striking delighted poses. With new courage, the boy discovers a city he hasn't seen before-one full of life, wonder, and pretzels for homeless men: "It is the absolute perfect place for a nana to live," he decides. Castillo (The Troublemaker) examines childhood anxiety and the crucial love of grandparents with sensitivity, while her portraits of the city's challenges are honest and affectionate. It deserves a place on the shelf of classic New York City picture books. Ages 4-8. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list When a little boy arrives in a big city to stay with Nana in her new apartment, he is overwhelmed and scared by the noise, the crowds, and the new experiences, from subway trains to panhandlers to graffiti. That next morning, though, he feels brave in the red cape Nana has knitted for him brave enough to venture out with her to explore. Now confident, he embraces new experiences and finds the city filled with extraordinary things! The short, simple text reads aloud well, and the watercolor artwork extends the narrative's tone and content beautifully. Strong, expressive black lines define the characters and settings, while autumn colors and interesting textures help bring the images to life. Children will want to linger over the busy urban scenes, discovering for themselves what might scare or excite the boy, while watching his body language convey his initial fears and his later engagement with all that he sees. A rewarding picture book with a vibrant setting.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2014 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-Nana's young grandson is excited about staying with her, but her new apartment is in the city, which, according to him, is "busy," "loud," and "filled with scary things." Nana, however, thinks the city is "bustling, booming, and extraordinary," and the next day, she takes him out to experience the sights and sounds for himself. Soon, the boy discovers that "busy" can be fun as he romps through Central Park, which is filled with people appreciating a fine fall day. "Loud" is actually enjoyable as he listens to street musicians and sees a fellow break-dancing to recorded music. By day's end, he comes to realize that the city is "filled with extraordinary things" and is "the absolute perfect place...to visit." While the child's account is related in brief text, the watercolor illustrations tell readers much more. They see him initially hang back as his grandmother leads him into the cavernous subway, hold hands over his ears and grimace at construction and traffic noises, and cling to Nana as a street person approaches her for money, which later becomes for him a friendly encounter when she offers the man a pretzel. Dark, graffiti-filled scenes change to a spread dominated by reds and yellows as the boy points in wonder to the lights, buildings, and bustle of the city at day's end. This is a fine example of how firsthand experience can overcome initial fear. Pair it with Lilian Moore's celebration of the city in Mural on Second Avenue (Turtleback, 2013).-Marianne Saccardi, formerly at Norwalk Community College, CT (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.

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