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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Sun is Also a Star.
by Yoon, Nicola

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 A Map into the World
by Kao Kalia Yang

School Library Journal Gr 2–5—The world can be a lonely and confusing place, but with the right companionship, it can be more easily navigated. Paj Ntaub and her Hmong family move into a new house with a swing and a garden, just in time to welcome her new baby twin brothers into their home. Her family befriends the elderly couple across the street, often waving back and forth, especially when things are overwhelming inside the houses. Over the winter, the man's wife dies, and when the weather again turns warm, Paj Ntaub executes a brave and insightful plan to reach out to her grieving neighbor. Written in a simple style with lyrical phrases peppered throughout, the heartfelt narrative allows readers to appreciate the depth the child's musings. The endpapers showcase a story cloth depicting how the Hmong people came to America. Beautiful, detailed illustrations are rich in color, texture, and emotion, lifting the story off the page; an emotional ending will leave tears in the eyes of some readers. VERDICT This is an excellent addition to elementary school libraries, especially as an enhancement to selections about intergenerational love and acceptance, and immigration stories about bridging cultures.—Mary Lanni, formerly at Denver Public Library

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

Horn Book A Hmong American family--mother, father, Tais Tais (grandmother), and little girl--moves into a cozy house across the street from a loving elderly couple, Bob and Ruth. The girl's twin baby brothers are born; the seasons pass; the outdoor landscape changes; and in wintertime Ruth dies. When spring comes, Bob takes his seat on the "special bench" that he and Ruth had shared; it's clear that he is grieving, and the little girl uses her skill with sidewalk chalk--and her great compassion--to brighten up his outlook and their neighborhood. Yang's story is an understated (if somewhat sentimental) snapshot of family life over the course of a quietly transformative year. The text is straightforward and spare, with touches of lyricism ("The house across the street looked empty. The gingko trees reached for the sky with their thin fingers"). Culturally specific details are naturally incorporated into the text and into the textured, delicate-lined, digitally created illustrations. A brief glossary on the copyright page explains that the protagonist's name, Paj Ntaub, is both a girl's name and the word for the traditional needlework often used to create story cloths like the one hanging on the family's wall (also shown in close-up detail on the endpapers), "which visually represent and document the experiences of the Hmong people across time, including families' journeys as refugees. (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 A young Hmong American girl shares the small things of wonder that make up her world.When Paj Ntaub moves into a new green house with big windows with her family, the garden grows with "tomatoes, green beans, and a watermelon as round as my mother's belly." Soon, the green house becomes their house. Paj Ntaub helps "Tais Tais hang the special story cloth about how the Hmong got to America." She exchanges waves with her neighbors Bob and Ruth, an elderly white couple even older than Tais Tais. And changing seasons usher in life and death. In gentle prose, Yang's picture-book debut explores nature, community, and connection. Twin brothers are born amid the summer bounty in the garden. On a snowy, cold morning, loss arrives, and bare gingko trees "[reach] for the sky with their thin fingers" against the new emptiness of the house across the street. When the world becomes green again, Paj Ntaub draws together these connections in a neighborly gesture of comfort. Using digital graphite, pastels, watercolor, and scanned handmade textures, Kim brings detailed dimension to the green house and the world around it. Alternating perspectives capture the expansiveness of the outside as well as the intimacy of Paj Ntaub's observations.Contemplative, curious, and kind. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Yang (The Song Poet for adults), a Hmong writer making her picture book debut, offers a story about a girl who notices things. Young Paj Ntaub (both a girl’s name and a term that nods to needlework tellings of Hmong experiences) moves with her family to a green house and helps to hang their story cloth “about how the Hmong got to America” on the wall. When her twin baby brothers cry too loudly, her father takes her outside, where they wave to their elderly neighbors, Bob and Ruth. In lovingly detailed spreads, Kim, making her U.S. debut, draws all the things that Paj Ntaub sees: gingko leaves (“yellow like apricots”), winter snow, a worm. When Ruth dies in the winter, and Paj Ntaub notices Bob grieving come spring, she chalks a wealth of previously regarded details on his driveway—“a map into the world,” she explains. Though age separates them, Paj Ntaub’s accounting of everyday details reaches Bob—and gives voice to the child’s experience, too. A distinctive story that weaves together threads of family life, community and culture, the natural world, and the power of stories. Ages 7–8. (Oct.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A year brings many changes to a Hmong girl's world. Paj Ntaub and her family move to their house in the summer, when her mother's belly is round with twins and the garden is flourishing. Across the street live Ruth and Bob, an elderly couple with whom they exchange friendly waves. The seasons change, twins are born, and Ruth dies. To comfort Bob, Paj Ntaub makes a chalk drawing on his driveway that features elements from her year and nods to the story cloth her family keeps that commemorates their journey to America. Although readers see the story cloth on the wall and at the end, what it details is never really explained, though a brief note on the copyright page describes what it is and who the Hmong people are. This is more of a relationship story, showing how Paj Ntaub engages with her brothers and grandmother and how neighboring families come together when sadness strikes. Kim's digital artwork using pastels, graphite, watercolors, and hand-scanned textures captures the warmth of family, the charm of changing seasons, and the depth of friendships.--Ilene Cooper Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Never Go Back
by Lee Child

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.

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The House In The Pines
by Ana Reyes

Publishers Weekly The summer before Maya, the heroine of Reyes’s intriguing if flawed debut, entered college, 17-year-old Aubrey West, her best friend from high school in Pittsfield, Mass., dropped dead while talking to Maya’s then boyfriend, Frank Bellamy. While Aubrey’s death was ruled accidental, Maya was sure that Frank killed Aubrey, but she had no way of proving it. Now, eight years later, Maya is living in Boston with a new boyfriend and is trying to kick her addiction to the medication she’s been secretly taking to cope with the trauma of Aubrey’s death. One sleepless night, while watching a trending YouTube video, Maya sees a young woman fatally collapse while sitting across the table from Frank in a diner. Convinced that Frank has somehow murdered another victim, Maya returns home to Pittsfield to search for answers, which may just lie in the cabin in the woods where Frank used to entertain Maya and Aubrey. Well-developed characters and a nice balance between the main narrative and the backstories draw the reader in, but the action builds to an implausible and disappointing ending. Reyes shows enough talent to suggest she can do better next time. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Union Literary. (Jan.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal When Maya sees a YouTube video of a young woman dropping dead before a mysterious man named Frank, just as Maya's best friend did before this same man seven years previously, she returns to her Berkshires hometown to uncover the source of Frank's baleful influence. A buzzing debut.

(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 Hello, Universe
by Erin Entrada Kelly

Book list *Starred Review* Four middle-schoolers' fates intertwine one summer in Kelly's (The Land of Forgotten Girls, 2016) touching tale of friendship. Scrawny, taciturn Virgil Salinas can generally be found caring for his guinea pig and avoiding neighborhood bully Chet Bullens. The only people he feels comfortable around are his lola (his Filipino grandmother) and his Japanese American friend Kaori, who fancies herself a psychic. Kaori's quirky self-confidence is a foil to Virgil's insecurities, and when he comes to her for help befriending a girl in his class, Valencia Somerset, she can't wait to consult her star chart. For her own part, Valencia struggles with nightmares after being rejected by her best friend, and the fact that she's deaf hasn't made finding new friends easy. When she spots Kaori's business card on a notice board, she makes an appointment to discuss her troubling dreams. That very day, Virgil goes missing, and Valencia joins Kaori's search for the boy. Chapters alternate between the four kids' perspectives, infusing the story with their unique interests, backgrounds, beliefs, and doubts. Lola's hilariously grim Filipino folk stories weave in and out of Virgil's mind, ultimately giving him the courage to stand up for himself; and rather than holding her back, Valencia's deafness heightens her perceptiveness. Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 3-7-The universe comes together unexpectedly when a unique set of circumstances cause four tweens to cross paths. Central to the story is Virgil, an 11-year-old Filipino American whose grandmother, Lola, helps him to come out of his shell and face the world. When Virgil and his pet guinea pig, Gulliver, end up trapped in a well in the woods at the hands of a bully, Chet, it is up to the stars to align before it's too late. Coming together like spokes on a wheel, everyone converges in the woods-Valencia, a Deaf girl on whom Virgil has a crush; Kaori, an adolescent fortune-teller and free spirit; Kaori's sister, Gen, her jump-roping apprentice; a feral dog Valencia has befriended; and a snake, which is the only thing Chet fears. Unlikely friendships are formed and heroism abounds as the group of young people try to find their way in the world. Plucky protagonists and a deftly woven story will appeal to anyone who has ever felt a bit lost in the universe. VERDICT Readers across the board will flock to this book that has something for nearly everyone-humor, bullying, self-acceptance, cross-generational relationships, and a smartly fateful ending.-Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA © 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.

Horn Book Virgil is bullied by classmate Chet, who calls him "retardo." Valencia feels like an outsider because she's deaf. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic. When Chet drops Virgil's backpack into an abandoned well, Virgil gets stuck trying to retrieve it; Kaori and Valencia investigate Virgil's whereabouts. Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain, the children's inner lives are distinctive. (c) Copyright 2017. 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.

Publishers Weekly Kelly (The Land of Forgotten Girls) offers up a charming novel about a serendipitous friendship that forms among a trio of sixth graders after a bully's heartless act brings them together. Virgil Salinas, an immensely shy 11-year-old, lives in the shadow of his boisterous family, struggles in school, and wants little more than to hang out with his guinea pig, Gulliver, and friend, Kaori Tanaka, a self-proclaimed psychic. Virgil's classmate Valencia, who is ostracized at school because of her near deafness, longs for a friend for the summer and hopes that Kaori's psychic powers might help her vanquish her recurring nightmares. Instead, Kaori enlists Valencia's help to rescue Virgil after he fails to show up for a scheduled meeting. Kelly rotates among the viewpoints of Kaori, Virgil, Valencia, and neighborhood bully Chet, who contribute their own distinct stories, voices, and challenges. Infused with humor and hope, this book deftly conveys messages of resilience and self-acceptance through simple acts of everyday courage. Readers will be left inspired to tackle life's fears head-on. Ages 8-12. Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Virgil is bullied by classmate Chet, who calls him "retardo." Valencia feels like an outsider because she's deaf. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic. When Chet drops Virgil's backpack into an abandoned well, Virgil gets stuck trying to retrieve it; Kaori and Valencia investigate Virgil's whereabouts. Told in alternating perspectives of the three kid-heroes and one villain, the children's inner lives are distinctive. (c) Copyright 2017. 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.

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