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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Foolish Hearts.
by Mills, Emma

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Claudia is at the last party of the summer before senior year when she overhears the breakup of two girls and finds herself on the wrong side of prickly student Iris, who is difficult and knows just how to use her words as knives. Claudia herself has recently gone through a breakup with a young man who explains that he just "feels regular" with her (no sparks) and she has no desire to expose herself to any sort of further romantic drama. And yet drama is where she lands when she and Iris both have to work on the school's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream along with increasingly attentive, cute as a button, goofy Gideon. While Claudia's developing romance with Gideon is textbook high school hyperbole, the backdrop of her school interactions, family events, (including her sister's dangerous premature delivery), gaming, part-time job, developing interest in a hot new band, and personal growth in her circle of friends is exceptional and drives the story forward on a level beyond the average derivative teen novel. VERDICT Purchase where Shakespeare-centered and theater-inspired books, and Mills's earlier titles circulate well.-Susan Riley, Mamaroneck Public Library, NY 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.

Kirkus In Mills' (This Adventure Ends, 2016, etc.) latest, the beginning of senior year leads to new friendships and new love. When Claudia accidentally overhears the breakup of Iris and Paige, Prospect-Landower School for Girls' "cutest couple," no-nonsense Iris threatens to ruin her. Instead, Claudia and Iris strike up an unlikely friendship after a failed group project forces them to participate in the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Iris is Chinese-American, the other primary characters ambiguously described, suggesting a white default. Claudia, who previously hadn't bothered to make friends outside her childhood bestie, Zoe, begins to open herself to her peers. Chief among them is outgoing, kindhearted Gideon, a student at nearby all-male Danforth Prep. Even when Claudia lets herself believe that Gideon may actually be interested in her, a previous breakup makes her hesitant to pursue a new relationship ("It's just easier to never start something than to have to see it end"). Unfortunately, the story follows the tired popular-boy-falls-for-unpopular-girl trope; otherwise, however, the characters are wonderfully fresh and honest. Claudia narrates in funny, conversational first-person present as the plot meanders toward opening night of Midsummer, allowing time for Claudia's blooming relationships and self-confidence to develop. The course of true love never did run smooth, but in the case of these two lovers, the journey is worth your while. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Claudia, who generally flies under the radar at her all-girls school, isn't planning on being there for the difficult breakup of it-couple Paige and Iris. But alas, she hears every brutal word and is confronted by angry, difficult Iris Huang herself, who threatens to ruin her if Claudia breathes a word to anyone. It doesn't seem likely to be a problem Claudia's not much of a gossip, and her best friend goes to another school but as their senior year starts, Claudia keeps finding herself paired with Iris. When they're both forced to be a part of the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, they develop a tentative friendship against all odds. Even as her friendship with Iris blossoms, Claudia resists growing closer to Gideon, a boy involved in the show. Mills (This Adventure Ends, 2016) offers up another realistic depiction of teen relationships. Claudia's friendship with Iris takes center stage more than her budding romance with Gideon, and her pragmatic voice shines. A fun, thoughtful portrayal of different kinds of vulnerability.--Reagan, Maggie Copyright 2017 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly "Redemption arc?" asks Claudia's best friend, Zoe, curious about Claudia's unexpected new friendship with Iris, her private school's class president and infamous mean girl. It all starts when Claudia is forced to spend time with Iris for a class project, just as Iris is reeling from a breakup with her longtime girlfriend, Paige. Claudia discovers that Iris is more complicated and vulnerable than everyone assumes, and the evolution of their relationship-from enemies to intimate friends who respect and rely on each other-is compelling and real. Mills (This Adventure Ends) thoughtfully explores the nuances of all kinds of relationships, both friendly and romantic, via Claudia and her circle of friends. Also in the mix: Zoe is falling in love with Claudia's brother, Iris longs to get back together with Paige, and Claudia faces her own insecurities and hopes for a romance with popular Gideon. Through these friendship struggles and romances old and new, Mills evokes the high stakes and vast rewards of trust, intimacy, and honesty. Ages 14-up. Agent: Bridget Smith, Dunham Literary. (Dec.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Insecure high-school senior Claudia and hard-edged class president Iris are assigned to work on the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. As Iris regrets a break-up with her girlfriend and Claudia hopes for romance with a popular boy, an unlikely friendship evolves and expands. Told in Claudia's conversational voice, the novel's realistic characters tread familiar YA territory in a fresh, candid way. (c) Copyright 2018. 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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border
by Mitali Perkins

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—A story of family strength and unity overcoming fences along the Mexican/United States border. Las Posadas (Spanish for inns) is a celebration in Mexico and some Latin American countries that takes place over the nine days before Christmas. The holiday commemorates the search for shelter by Mary and Joseph on the eve of Jesus's birth. On one of those nine days, La Posada Sin Fronteras takes place on the Mexican/United States border between San Diego and Tijuana. Friends and families gather on both sides of the forbidding double fence waiting to catch a glimpse of each other and hopefully exchange some words. In this fictional account, the author makes the heartbreaking event accessible to young children. Two children and their mother prepare to go to the celebration. They haven't seen their grandmother in five years, and the children have made presents for her: Maria has knit a scarf, and little Juan has made a cardboard drawing. Unfortunately, when the time comes, the children are unable to give Abuela her presents. The spaces in the fence are too small, and, besides, it's forbidden to pass anything through the fence. Maria solves the problem by tying the drawing up with her knitting yarn and flying it over the fence like a kite, all with the guards' permission. VERDICT Another poignant piece to add to the current national discussion about the border. A must for any collection.—Lucia Acosta, Children's Literature Specialist, Princeton, NJ

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

Book list This touching contemporary story sensitively focuses on the U.S.-Mexican border and Mexico's cultural traditions in a heartwarming, informative, and hopeful way. Maria, Juan, and their mother are getting ready to visit Abuela on ""La Posada Sin Frontera,"" a celebratory day on which families on either side of the border are permitted to visit at the fence. In the warmth of anticipation, Maria and Juan make presents for Abuela, whom they haven't seen for five years, but in their excitement, they forget that they can't exchange anything through the fence. Perkins gently voices some of the challenges families can experience when they are separated by a border: physical limitations, time limits, and surveillance exacerbate the already difficult distance between loved ones. Maria's inventive solution to that distance will make readers cheer, and Palacios' warm illustrations in saturated colors make the scenes vibrant with feeling and quietly fold in informative visual details about the border and the family's cultural traditions. Pair this honest yet optimistic story with Yuyi Morales' Dreamers (2018).--Vivian Alvarez Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Kirkus A Christmas fairy tale set at the border wall.Mara and Juan get on a border-bound bus with their mother. They haven't seen Abuela in five years. Both children have made gifts: a knitted scarf from Mara and a drawing of Mary and Joseph on cardboard from Juan. Arriving at the annual Posada Sin Fronteras event (the Inn Without Borders), the children must wait their turn in order to have 30 minutes with Abuela. Touching pinkies through a metal grid, they exchange love and family news. When it's time to say their goodbyes, Mara starts feeding the scarf through the small holes in the fence. A border patrol officer intercepts and takes the scarf. "We can't let anything through the fence." Orchestrating the requisite Christmas "miracle" to convey howling Juan's gift to his grandmother occupies about half the book and veers into fantasy. The sister transforms her brother's artwork into a kite with the knitting needles MacGyver-ed into spine and cross spar. With the unlikely encouragement of the officers, Mara successfully flies the kite over both the primary and secondary border fences/wallswhich is against the law. To the triumphant shouts of the crowd on both sides of the border, Abuela gets her happy ending. Perkins' fictionalized account of the actual annual gatherings at San Diego's Friendship Park paired with Palacios' chirpy illustrations inadvertently belie the heartbreak and human suffering played out every year. What's "between us and Abuela"? The same thing that's between the U.S. and Mexicoan 18-to-30-foot-high double fence. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Perkins, a YA author making a powerful picture book debut, and Palacios (How to Code a Sandcastle) have created a story based around La Posada Sin Fronteras ("The Inn Without Borders"), a San Diego-Tijuana border wall tradition that occurs during the nine-day festival of Las Posadas (an afterword provides more background). Maria; her little brother, Juan; and their mother take a bus to the U.S. side to hear the Christmas story, sing carols, worship with other separated families, and have a fleeting face-to-face moment through the fencing with beloved Abuela, who has traveled from her Mexican village to see them for the first time in five years. "For a moment," Maria says, "the fences are invisible." But when Border Patrol won't let Juan give Abuela his drawing of Mary and Joseph ("Inns No rume" the picture reads), Maria takes matters into her own hands and cleverly flies it over the wall as a kite. Cartoon drawings emphasize the resilience of Abuela and her family as they navigate the border landscape, the impenetrable wall, and a situation that feels unfathomable-but is, unfortunately, all too based in reality. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Tom Lake
by Ann Patchett

Book list Lara’s three twentysomething daughters are back home in northern Michigan, thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown, just in time to harvest the cherries. Emily has already committed herself to the family orchard and farm and her other great love, neighbor Benny. Maisie discovers that she can continue her veterinarian studies by caring for their neighbors’ animals. Only Nell, an aspiring actor, is distraught because of their isolation, but all are ravenous for distraction as they work long hours handpicking cherries, so they insist that their mother tell them, in lavish detail, the story of her romance with a future megawatt movie star. Lara strategically fashions an edited version for her daughters, while sharing the full, heartbreaking tale with the reader. Patchett (The Dutch House, 2019) attains new dimensions of beauty and resonance as she elegantly needlepoints Lara’s life onto the template of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, the first play New Hampshire high-schooler Lara acts in, the play that catapults her to Hollywood, then to summer stock at Tom Lake in Michigan, where she comes under the spell of voraciously sexy and ambitious Peter Duke. As this spellbinding and incisive novel unspools, Patchett brings every turn of mind and every setting to glorious, vibrant life, gracefully contrasting the dazzle of the ephemeral with the gravitas of the timeless, perceiving in cherries sweet and tart reflections of love and loss.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Superlative storyteller Patchett, who recently added the National Humanities Medal to her many awards, is always a must-read for myriad fiction lovers.

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

Kirkus It’s time to harvest the cherries from their Michigan orchard, but the pandemic means that Joe Nelson; his wife, Lara; and their daughters, Emily, Maisie, and Nell, must pick all the fruit themselves. To lighten the lengthy, grueling workdays, and prompted by the recent death of world-famous actor Peter Duke, the girls press Lara to tell them about her romance with Duke at Tom Lake, a summer stock company in Michigan, and her decision to give up acting after one big movie role. Lara’s reminiscences, peppered by feisty comments from her daughters and periodic appearances by her gentle, steadfast husband, provide the foundation for Patchett’s moving portrait of a woman looking back at a formative period in her life and sharing some—but only some—of it with her children. Duke flashes across her recollections as a wildly talented, nakedly ambitious, and extremely crazy young man clearly headed for stardom, but the real interest in this portion of the novel lies in Patchett’s delicate delineation of Lara’s dawning realization that, fine as she is as Emily in Our Town, she has a limited talent and lacks the drive that propels Duke and her friend and understudy Pallas. The fact that Pallas, who's Black, doesn’t get the break that Duke does is one strand in Patchett’s intricate and subtle thematic web, which also enfolds the nature of storytelling, the evolving dynamics of a family, and the complex interaction between destiny and choice. Lara’s daughters are standouts among the sharply dawn characterizations: once-volatile Emily, now settled down to be the heir apparent to the farm; no-nonsense veterinarian-in-training Maisie; and Nell, the aspiring actor and unerring observer who anticipates every turn in her mother’s tale. Patchett expertly handles her layered plot, embedding one charming revelation and one brutal (but in retrospect inevitable) betrayal into a dual narrative that deftly maintains readers’ interest in both the past and present action. These braided strands culminate in a denouement at once deeply sad and tenderly life-affirming. Poignant and reflective, cementing Patchett’s stature as one of our finest novelists. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Patchett (The Dutch House) unspools a masterly family drama set in the early months of Covid-19. Lara and her husband live on a cherry orchard in northern Michigan, where they welcome their three adult daughters home to shelter in place. Emily, the oldest, is a young farmer who will inherit the family farm; Maisie is a veterinarian; and Nell, the youngest at 22, dreams of becoming an actress. They pass the hours picking fruit and listening to Lara tell the tale of her long-ago romance with “Duke,” a young actor who went on to become a major celebrity. Lara and Duke met during a summer stock production of Our Town, where she played Emily and he played her father, Editor Webb. Patchett alternates between present-day scenes of the cherry orchard and Lara’s younger years, including her brief foray as an actor in Hollywood, before an accident put a sudden end to her career. “There’s a lot you don’t know,” Lara tells Emily, Maisie, and Nell at the novel’s opening, and as Patchett’s slow-burn narrative gathers dramatic steam, she blends past and present with dexterity and aplomb, as the daughters come to learn more of the truth about Lara’s Duke stories, causing them to reshape their understanding of their mother. Patchett is at the top of her game. (Aug.)

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