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Click to search this book in our catalog The crossover
by by Kwame Alexander

Book list *Starred Review* Publishers say that historical fiction is a hard sell, and books with religion at their core are few and far between. Kudos, then, to Berry (All the Truth That's in Me, 2013) for creating a sweeping saga that not only deeply entwines both but also dissects its characters' humanity as it looks at the often troubling beliefs that underlay their actions. The story-within-a-story begins in 1290. A friar is gathering papers and testimonies that will show how the inquisitions here on the border of France and Spain were God's holy work. But one tale troubles him, so much so that he begins to stitch the strands together, and that is where the main story begins. Botille is a sassy teenager who makes money in her seaside village of Bajas by matchmaking. A disruptive childhood and a drunken father has bound Botille and her sisters closely together, but their lives are good: Plazensa runs the tavern, Botille makes her matches, and Sazia tells fortunes with uncanny accuracy. To the north, in Tolosos, there is another girl, Dolssa. Aristocratic by birth and a mystic by the grace of God, she spends her days with her beloved, Jesus, who wraps her in his murmurs and consumes her with his love. That much love cannot be contained, and Dolssa begins telling others how much her beloved cherishes all people. The simplicity of her message is seen by the inquisitors as a threat to the church, a devil's deception, and there is only one place it can end: in a public burning. Miraculously, Dolssa escapes the pyre. She wanders until she meets Botille, who saves and shelters her. This beautifully crafted plot would be enough on its own, but Berry does so much more. First, she establishes a convincing setting, in part by peppering the dialogue with Old ProvenÁal language. Using many voices, some of which, including Botille and Dolssa, relate their own stories, she picks beneath words and actions to expose the motives of the heart, revealing how lofty ideas can turn into terrorizing actions, and how fear and self-preservation can make friends and neighbors turn on one another. Yet despite the book's gravity, Berry also manages to infuse her story with laughter and light welcome surprises. The final surprise awaiting readers at the book's conclusion adds yet another layer to the storytelling. Also at the book's end, Berry has included a wealth of back matter, a glossary, a list of characters (possibly of more help if placed at the book's beginning), and an author's note explaining the roots of the religious discord, inquisitions, and wars, and touching on such female mystics as Hildegard of Bingen, who is referenced in the novel. The beauty of historical fiction is that it brings to life long-ago times and places even as it shows how hopes, fears, and dreams remain constant across the ages. The strength of religious-centric novels is their revelation of the myriad ways people grapple with their faith and spirituality. The Passion of Dolssa's rich brew will leave readers thinking about all of these things, even as it profoundly influences their own struggles and questions.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2016 Booklist

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

Horn Book A (fictional) Catholic mystic, Dolssa de Stigata, escapes being burned as a heretic in 1241 France; mostly, this is the story of Botille, an enterprising young matchmaker from a tiny fishing village who rescues Dolssa. Botille's spirited character, the heart-rending suspense of events, and the terrifying context of the Inquisition in medieval Europe all render the novel irresistibly compelling. Historical note appended. Bib., glos. (c) Copyright 2016. 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.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-This magnificent tale is set in post-Crusades 13th-century France. A pious young noblewoman blessed with the gift of healing, Dolssa de Stigata is judged a heretic by the Roman Catholic Church and sentenced to burn at the stake. Forced to watch her beloved mother burn first, Dolssa is surprised when someone cuts the ropes binding her hands and feet and implores her to run. Driven into hiding from the churchmen dispatched to track her down, Dolssa is found nearly dead from starvation and exhaustion by a young tavern keeper and matchmaker, Botille, who vows to protect the young heretic despite the danger posed to herself and her family. Unlikely allies, the girls unwittingly put an entire village at risk in their effort to stand up for their beliefs. The account is told in alternating voices by Dolssa, Botille, and Arnaut d'Avinhonet, a Dominican friar. This lush and compelling book is enhanced by brilliant narration by Jayne Entwistle, Allen Corduner, and Fiona Hardingham. Lucky listeners will be haunted by their voices long after the book concludes. VERDICT Highly recommended for all junior high and high school audio collections. ["An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries": SLJ 3/16 starred review of the Viking book.]-Lisa E. Hubler, Charles F. Brush High School, Lyndhurst, OH © Copyright 2016. 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.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Botille is a matchmaker in the small seaside town of Bajas in medieval France. She struggles to run the family's tavern and keep her sisters and herself afloat. Dolssa is a young woman with a secret that she can't help but share-her lover is God, and she speaks to him regularly. When the two young women cross paths, both deep friendship and mortal peril await them. A beautifully rendered portrait of a little-known portion of history, this work is a meticulously researched piece of fiction. Yet it is not just in the accurate details that the novel shines. The strength and humanity of the almost entirely female set of characters are inspiring and well drawn. The panic and suspicion of post-Inquisition France is omnipresent, giving the story of a supposed heretic a constant edge of danger. As the novel slips in and out of magical realism, readers will be transported into Dolssa and Botille's world. VERDICT An expertly crafted piece of historical fiction, Berry's latest is a must for middle and high school libraries.-Erinn Black Salge, Saint Peter's Prep, Jersey City, NJ © Copyright 2016. 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 A girl matchmaker in 13th-century southern France meets a mystic on the run from the Inquisition. A generation after the horrors of the Albigensian Crusade, the elders are still broken by memories of entire towns put to the sword, but the younger folk, such as Botille and her sisters, focus on the present. After a childhood on the run, the sisters seek stability in poverty-stricken Bajas: brewing ale, telling fortunes, and helping their neighbors. Bajas is depicted through a scattering of third- and first-person viewpoints (but primarily Botille's) as a town where all look out for one other as a matter of course, where goodness is found in prostitutes, fishermen, hustlers, and drunks. Bajas' generosity is challenged when Botille discovers Dolssa, an injured, spirit-shattered girl on the run. Dolssa's a convicted heretic for speaking publicly of her intimate relationship with "her beloved...Senhor Jhesus." She trails miracles like bread crumbs, from a never-emptying ale jug to repeated uncanny cures. The villagers venerate her, but the arrival of the Inquisitionin a world where branding and burnings are mild punishments compared to recent historyputs their goodness to the test. The slow build reveals Botille as a compelling, admirable young woman in a gorgeously built world that accepts miracles without question. The medieval Languedoc countryside is so believably drawn there's no need for the too-frequent italicized interjections in Old Provenal that pepper the narrative. Immersive and mesmerizing. (character list, historical note, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fantasy. 14-17) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Two young women-Botille, a tavern wench, and Dolssa, a noblewoman possibly in communion with God-form a deep bond in a world that seeks to destroy them. Berry has reimagined 13th-century France with vigor, from the small intricacies of daily village life to the brutal ruthlessness of the Inquisition. Readers looking for a work steeped in female friendship, mysticism, and blood, with extensive back matter to boot, will be well rewarded. © Copyright 2016. 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.

Publishers Weekly When Botille Flasucra finds Dolssa de Stigata lying on a riverside close to death, she takes the stranger to her family's tavern. Botille, a young matchmaker, and her sisters nurse Dolssa back to health in secret-a Dominican friar obsessively hunts Dolssa, whom he condemned as a heretic to be burned at the stake. The year is 1241 in Provensa (now Provence), where the aftereffects of the Albigensian Crusade have led to an inquisition meant to rid the Christian world of heretics. Dolssa, however, feels called to heal the sick in the name of her beloved Jhesus, and her miracles eventually bring danger to the small town of Bajas. Berry (All the Truth That's in Me) again delivers an utterly original and instantly engrossing story. Drawing from meticulous historical research (highlighted in extensive back matter), she weaves a tense, moving portrait of these two teenage girls and their struggle to survive against insurmountable odds. Love, faith, violence, and power intertwine in Berry's lyrical writing, but Botille's and Dolssa's indomitable spirits are the heart of her story. Ages 12-up. Agent: Alyssa Eisner Henkin, Trident Media Group. (Apr.) © 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 My Grandma and Me
by Mina Javaherbin

Book list The author reminisces about her grandmother, with whom she spent a childhood in Iran. Short vignettes fondly describe mundane activities: waking up together for namaz (Islamic prayer), collecting bread from the delivery boy, visiting their Christian neighbors next door. Little Mina plays hopscotch with her friend while their grandmothers knit together a usefully inclusive note, as most of the memories revolve around Islamic tradition. Mina helps her grandma craft long, veiling chadors, and during Ramadan she playfully pretends to join in the fasting. Yankey's mixed-media illustrations will transport readers to an idyllic twentieth-century Iran, recalling the style of Persian art, with dusty, muted colors and intricately patterned rugs. A sweet tranquility is evoked in all the elements, touched by a gentle melancholy when Mina and her friend imagine their grandmas together in heaven. While this book presents a relationship in a specific cultural context, a subtle message of interreligious peace and unity shines through, supported by the memories' emotional universality, through which young readers will learn empathy and cultural understanding.--Ronny Khuri Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2—Grandparents can have an enormous effect on their grandchildren and books that showcase such relationships are always welcome. The Iranian grandmother here has endless patience and love for her little granddaughter. When Grandma swept, the child swept; when Grandma prayed, the girl prayed; and when Grandma cooked, her granddaughter did as well. She follows her around daily, mirroring everything she does. The love and kindness the child receives is satisfying and speaks to the bond between the two characters. Some of their interactions are specific to their culture, such as fasting during Ramadan and donning their chadors and walking together to the mosque. The illustrations are created using a soft, inviting palette that incorporates tile and rug patterns particular to Iran. This book offers both windows and mirrors into a warm and loving familial relationship and will be appreciated by a wide range of young readers. VERDICT A lovely book for anyone looking for intergenerational stories for one-on-one or group sharing.—Joan Kindig, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA

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

Publishers Weekly “When I was growing up in Iran, my grandma lived with us. I followed her everywhere. When she swept, I swept. When she cooked, I cooked. When she prayed, I prayed like her, too.” Thus begins Javaherbin’s narrative tribute to her Iranian grandmother, which affectionately sweeps the reader into the heart of their daily relationship. Readers follow along as the two say namaz at dawn, buy bread to share with their neighbors, sew chadors, and share a meal during Ramadan. In blues, roses, and golds, Yankey’s exquisite mixed-media illustrations relay details: Persian designs, dreams of space travel, baskets of bread hoisted from the street. Together, the narrative and images result in a deeply personal story that offers a broader portrait of a tender familial experience. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kirkus Love, childhood adventures, religion, and tradition are the centerpieces of this book about the author and her late grandmother, with whom she grew up in the same household in pre-revolutionary Iran.The narrator joins her grandmother, whom she loves dearly, in everything as she goes about her day. When grandma sweeps, she does too; when grandma wakes up for prayer at dawn, she does too; and when grandma sews herself a chador, she helps, even if nominally. The delicately lined illustrations gracefully evince both the mundane and the magic in the details of the narrator's everyday life as a child: the boy delivering towers of bread on his bike; Ramadan meals with her grandma, both at home and at the mosque; and playtime with her friend Annette while both of their grandmothers chat, knit blankets, and drink coffee. This sweet story is intermingled naturally with details about Iranian and Islamic traditions and values and supported by such visuals as an easy mix of traditional and Western attire and thoughtful inclusion of Persian design elements. It peaks in a moment of solidarity between the two grandmothers, each praying for the other to go to heaven, but via their different Muslim and Christian religions: a poignant, inclusive note. In its celebration of specific manifestations of universal love, this is highly recommended for families and educators, Muslim and non- alike, looking to teach children about Islam.A deep and beautiful book modeling grandmothers as heroines. (Picture book. 4-9) 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 Mosquito Bowl
by Buzz Bissinger

Publishers Weekly Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) effortlessly combines sports and military history in this gritty account of a football game played by U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal in December 1944. Noting that no other branch of the military attracted more college gridiron stars, Bissinger spotlights, among others, Notre Dame captain George Murphy and the University of Wisconsin’s two-time All-American end, David Schreiner. After months of trash-talking between these and other former collegiate football players in the 4th and 29th regiments of the 6th Marine Division on Guadalcanal, the two sides squared off on the parade ground in T-shirts and dungarees, playing a hard-fought game that devolved into a bloody brawl among the “dirt and pebbles and shards of coral.” The football action is vivid but brief, as the game turned out to be “two hours of life that turned into death several months later,” when 15 of the 65 Marines who played in the Mosquito Bowl were killed and 20 more wounded during the Battle of Okinawa. The book excels in its sweeping yet fine-grained portraits of how these Marines got to Guadalcanal and in the harrowing descriptions of Pacific Theater combat, including the bloody fight for Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa. This is a penetrating tale of courage and sacrifice. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Football is war. That is mainly what Bissinger (Friday Night Lights) reminds readers of in his new account of a forgotten moment during World War II. The Mosquito Bowl was a Christmas Eve football game between two regiments of the U.S. Marine Corps that happened in 1944. Of the 65 marines that played that day, 20 men were or would be drafted by the NFL. Within months, 15 of the players would lose their lives during the invasion of Okinawa. Twenty others would be wounded. The author takes readers onto the battlefield the same way he previously took them onto the gridiron. He introduces the men who led the fighting, both on the field and in the Pacific Theater, before creating a compelling narrative of a marine's life in Guadalcanal and during the invasion of Okinawa. Fans of Bissinger's previous books will find a rich character-driven narrative about two of the dirtiest and deadliest battlefields of World War II. VERDICT Bissinger has found a way to merge sports with World War II to give readers a heartbreaking narrative of what many young men went through in the last days of World War II. Highly recommended.—John Rodzvilla

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

Kirkus A uniquely focused World War II history interweaving military heroics and college football.Many books describe the consequential Battle of Okinawa in 1945, but this one deserves serious attention. Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, makes good use of his sports expertise to deliver a vivid portrait of college football before and during WWII, when it was a national obsession far more popular then professional leagues. He recounts the lives and families of a group of outstanding players who made their marks before joining the Marines to endure brutal training followed by a series of island battles culminating in Okinawa, which many did not survive. The author, whose father served at Okinawa, offers illuminating diversions into Marine history, the birth of amphibious tactics between the wars (they did not exist before), the course of the Pacific war, and the often unedifying politics that guided its course. To readers expecting another paean to the Greatest Generation, Bissinger delivers several painful jolts. Often racist but ordered to accept Black recruits, Marine leaders made sure they were segregated and treated poorly. Though many of the athletes yearned to serve, some took advantage of a notorious draft-dodging institution: West Point. Eagerly welcomed by its coaching staff, which fielded the best Army teams in its history, they played throughout the war and then deliberately flunked out (thus avoiding compulsory service) in order to join the NFL. In December 1944 on Guadalcanal (conquered two years earlier), two bored Marine regiments suffered and trained for the upcoming invasion. Between them, they contained 64 former football players. Inevitably, they chose sides and played a bruising, long-remembered game, dubbed the Mosquito Bowl. In the final third of the book, Bissinger provides a capable account of the battle, a brutal slog led by an inexperienced general who vastly underestimated his job. The author emphasizes the experience and tenacity of his subjects, most of whom were among the 15 killed.College football and World War II: not an obvious combination, but Bissinger handles it brilliantly. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Kirkus A uniquely focused World War II history interweaving military heroics and college football. Many books describe the consequential Battle of Okinawa in 1945, but this one deserves serious attention. Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, makes good use of his sports expertise to deliver a vivid portrait of college football before and during WWII, when it was a national obsession far more popular then professional leagues. He recounts the lives and families of a group of outstanding players who made their marks before joining the Marines to endure brutal training followed by a series of island battles culminating in Okinawa, which many did not survive. The author, whose father served at Okinawa, offers illuminating diversions into Marine history, the birth of amphibious tactics between the wars (they did not exist before), the course of the Pacific war, and the often unedifying politics that guided its course. To readers expecting another paean to the Greatest Generation, Bissinger delivers several painful jolts. Often racist but ordered to accept Black recruits, Marine leaders made sure they were segregated and treated poorly. Though many of the athletes yearned to serve, some took advantage of a notorious draft-dodging institution: West Point. Eagerly welcomed by its coaching staff, which fielded the best Army teams in its history, they played throughout the war and then deliberately flunked out (thus avoiding compulsory service) in order to join the NFL. In December 1944 on Guadalcanal (conquered two years earlier), two bored Marine regiments suffered and trained for the upcoming invasion. Between them, they contained 64 former football players. Inevitably, they chose sides and played a bruising, long-remembered game, dubbed the Mosquito Bowl. In the final third of the book, Bissinger provides a capable account of the battle, a brutal slog led by an inexperienced general who vastly underestimated his job. The author emphasizes the experience and tenacity of his subjects, most of whom were among the 15 killed. College football and World War II: not an obvious combination, but Bissinger handles it brilliantly. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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