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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.

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.

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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.

ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Moth
by Isabel Thomas

Book list Over Egnéus' truly engrossing collage illustrations, Thomas takes the complicated concept of evolution and distills it for young readers, using the ongoing story of the peppered moth. There are two variations of this moth one charcoal dark, the other paler and lightly speckled. Once, the speckled moths were more common; it was more difficult for the charcoal moths to camouflage themselves against the light-colored trees, and they were eaten by birds more frequently and did not survive to pass along their genes. But as the world became more industrial, pollution began to darken trees; now the charcoal moths blended in, and the speckled moths stood out. Charcoal moths grew in number, and the speckled moths almost disappeared. But the story continues, ending on a hopeful note: slowly, cities began to burn less coal, and the air grew cleaner. Trees grew less sooty. And the speckled moth population rebounded. Today, both kinds of moth can be found, and their species continues to adapt. From its striking silver-plated cover on, this is a stunner. The text, both poetic and informational, tells an evolution story while transmitting a gentle environmental message, and the artwork is detailed, at times alarming, and always captivating. Back matter provides further information on the moths and natural selection. A gorgeous blend of text and illustrations and a wonderfully successful introduction to nonfiction for younger readers.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2019 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Silvery, incandescent cover art will entice readers to this story of adaptation and the peppered moths of England. Thomas (the Little Guides to Great Lives series) introduces natural selection through a lyrical telling of the moth's history from the early 19th century on. The narrative recounts how the population of light peppered moths thrived, able to rest "on lichen-covered branches" until the Industrial Revolution, when dark peppered moths increased, owing to their ability to camouflage against polluted landscapes. ("A bird went hunting for a snack./ Now the world was darker./ Which moths were disguised?/ Which moths would survive?") Today, thanks to cleaner forms of energy, both variations "find places to hide and survive." Mixed media and digital illustrations by Egnéus (These Are Animals) show the mottled, wispy figures-the wing patterns resemble intricate tree silhouettes-against bold splashes of color and patterns. The elegant moth images can seem slightly at odds with the cartoonlike depictions of people and environs, but an evolving color palette (from light to dark and back to light) and dynamic juxtaposing of hues create a sophisticated effect. Back matter further defines the concepts presented in this eye-catching introduction to Darwinian evolution. Ages 6-10. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Horn Book In a shadowy (pre-industrial) wood, a peppered moth--its "speckled, freckled" patterns wonderfully detailed in Egnius's gorgeous mixed-media illustrations--attempts to survive; all-black moths stand out and are quickly eaten. But things change: with soot from nineteenth-century industrialization, the black moths are now hidden. Thomas deftly builds an easily understandable explanation of natural selection into the well-paced narrative. Back matter shows both variations of the peppered moth. (c) Copyright 2019. 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 Thomas presents the peppered moth as an emblem of natural selection, tracking its adaptations during the Industrial Revolution and beyond.The moth's striking salt-and-pepper scales, which enhanced its camouflage during daytime rests on lichen, became an impediment as late-19th-century industrial pollution prevailed. As lichens died and industrial soot blackened tree bark, the species' occasional dark moth's advantages resulted in an adaptation. With the light, speckled moths more easily spotted and eaten by prey, surviving dark moths procreated, dominating the species within a 50-year time span. In turn, the answering trend toward pollution mitigation swung the pendulum back. Lichens reappeared, soot-stained bark fell away, and the light moths' camouflage value reasserted itself, with both dark and light moths seen today. Thomas narrates this biological success story in past tense and simple, declarative prose. Egnus' lovely illustrationsin traditional mixed media and Photoshopprovide a stylized overview of the moth's adaptive journey. The bilateral symmetry of the peppered moth's wing coloration is ignored in favor of exquisite, dark umber-and-gray montages evoking dry-brushed ink blots and sun-dappled botanical silhouettes. Forest tableaux yield to industrialization's coal-powered factories and locomotives, Egnus' palette morphs from natural hues to rust-red and soot-blackand back, to today's tentative, hopeful blues. (Depicted humans are light-skinned and red-nosed.) An inspired choice for text type (Tom's New Roman) and a gorgeous, silver-embellished cover enhance the package. A fascinating story with striking visuals. (author's note) (Informational picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1—Thomas and Egnéus show how adaptation and natural selection work in the evolutionary process in order to change a species. In Great Britain, when industry heavily relied on coal, environmental factors affected the survival rates of the peppered moth, because predators could now see what was once camouflaged. The text and illustrations are clear and move at a steady pace with a summary in the back matter, which solidifies the content. Despite the lack of source material, the value of this text is high. Children will understand how the environment can change an animal's survival rate and the passing of its genetic information. Moths as a subject do not usually garner high circulation rates, but if this book is placed in a display, the cover will attract attention. The illustrations throughout are mixed media, but the cover literally shines: silvery moths against a night sky is an attention grabber. Originally published in Great Britain in 2018, this text will enhance any juvenile nonfiction collection. VERDICT Buy this title for its clear presentation.—Nancy Call, formerly at Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

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

Caldecott Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Flotsam
by David Wiesner

Publishers Weekly : Starred Review. Two-time Caldecott winner Wiesner (Tuesday; The Three Pigs) crafts another wordless mystery, this one set on an ordinary beach and under an enchanted sea. A saucerlike fish's eye stares from the exact center of the dust jacket, and the fish's scarlet skin provides a knockout background color. First-timers might not notice what's reflected in its eye, but return visitors will: it's a boxy camera, drifting underwater with a school of slim green fish. In the opening panels, Wiesner pictures another close-up eye, this one belonging to a blond boy viewing a crab through a magnifying glass. Visual devices—binoculars and a microscope in a plastic bag—rest on a nearby beach towel, suggesting the boy's optical curiosity. After being tossed by a wave, the studious boy finds a barnacle-covered apparatus on the sand (evocatively labeled the "Melville Underwater Camera"). He removes its roll of film and, when he gets the results, readers see another close-up of his wide-open, astonished eye: the photos depict bizarre undersea scenes (nautilus shells with cutout windows, walking starfish-islands, octopi in their living room à la Tuesday's frogs). A lesser fantasist would end the story here, but Wiesner provides a further surprise that connects the curious boy with others like him. Masterfully altering the pace with panel sequences and full-bleed spreads, he fills every inch of the pages with intricate, imaginative watercolor details. New details swim into focus with every rereading of this immensely satisfying excursion. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Starred Review. K-Gr 4–A wave deposits an old-fashioned contraption at the feet of an inquisitive young beachcomber. Itâ??s a â??Melville underwater camera,â?? and the excited boy quickly develops the film he finds inside. The photos are amazing: a windup fish, with intricate gears and screwed-on panels, appears in a school with its living counterparts; a fully inflated puffer, outfitted as a hot-air balloon, sails above the water; miniature green aliens kowtow to dour-faced sea horses; and more. The last print depicts a girl, holding a photo of a boy, and so on. As the images become smaller, the protagonist views them through his magnifying glass and then his microscope. The chain of children continues back through time, ending with a sepia image of a turn-of-the-20th-century boy waving from a beach. After photographing himself holding the print, the youngster tosses the camera back into the ocean, where it makes its way to its next recipient. This wordless bookâ??s vivid watercolor paintings have a crisp realism that anchors the elements of fantasy. Shifting perspectives, from close-ups to landscape views, and a layout incorporating broad spreads and boxed sequences, add drama and motion to the storytelling and echo the photographic theme. Filled with inventive details and delightful twists, each snapshot is a tale waiting to be told. Pair this visual adventure with Wiesnerâ??s other works, Chris Van Allsburgâ??s titles, or Barbara Lehmanâ??s The Red Book (Houghton, 2004) for a mind-bending journey of imagination.–Joy Fleishhacker, School Library Journal

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog An unnecessary woman
by Rabih Alameddine

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 All About Me!
by Mel Brooks

Kirkus The madcap director, actor, and comedian adds another arrow to his quiver with this spry memoir. Brooks (b. 1926) has been dining out on the anecdotes in this book for decades. One, which Johnny Carson devotees may recall, is when Sid Caesar, for whom Brooks wrote in the 1950s, held him outside a high-rise hotel window until Brooks stopped complaining about the smoke in the room. “Sid said, ‘Got enough air?’ ” Brooks recounts. “In a very calm voice I said, ‘Oh yes. Plenty! I’ve had enough.’ ” Another is the author’s affectionate ribbing of his late wife, Anne Bancroft: “I think one of the reasons I married Anne Bancroft was the fact that her real name was Anne Italiano and, boy, could she make spaghetti.” There’s lots of delightful material, even if it’s well rehearsed. For example, Brooks recalls how he changed his name from Melvin Kaminsky—“which would be a good name for a professor of Russian literature”—by painting his mother’s maiden name, Brookman, on the drums he played as a teenager and running out of room at “Brook,” with just enough space for the final letter. The author’s anecdotes about early life in Depression-era Brooklyn are charming, as are his notes on the dawn of TV. He also dishes nice dirt on the making of his films, some of which seemed to proceed by accident: Dustin Hoffman was to have starred in the original version of The Producers but instead won the lead in The Graduate. Enter Gene Wilder. Richard Pryor didn’t show for History of the World, so enter Gregory Hines, with whom star Madeline Kahn had worked. Peter Boyle and Marty Feldman (“he more or less sees out the sides of his face like a horse”) earned roles in Young Frankenstein via a right-place, right-time agent. And so on. Though the book is sometimes labored, if you want to know about the making of “the greatest farting scene in cinematic history,” here’s your source. Fans of Borscht Belt shtick and classic comedies will enjoy Brooks’ stroll into the past. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal Brooks is truly a legend of American comedy, and though it has taken him 95 years to write his memoir, it was certainly worth the wait. In a narrative filled with hilarious digressions, he discusses growing up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; serving in World War II; working as a writer on Your Show of Shows; meeting collaborators Carl Reiner, Anne Bancroft (to whom Brooks was married until her death in 2005), and Gene Wilder; creating Get Smart; writing and directing iconic films like Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein; and adapting his movie The Producers into a triumphant Broadway musical. Brooks has told many of these stories countless times over the years, but they remain as funny and endearing as ever, especially when presented in the full context of his life. It's a story told by an inveterate writer in a wonderfully conversational style, with a hint of childlike wonder at the things he's been able to experience and create, and a strong dose of humble bragging. But as Brooks himself would say, it's not bragging if it's the truth. VERDICT A must-read for fans of comedy, film, and theater.—Peter Thornell, Hingham P.L., MA

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

Publishers Weekly In this laugh-a-minute memoir, actor and producer Brooks (Young Frankenstein) looks back at his rise through Hollywood, gleefully doling out punch lines along the way. He begins with his childhood in Brooklyn, where he lived with his older brothers and mother (“my first comic foil, and enabler”) and at school slipped into comedy like a well-worn glove: “I ... allowed to hang around with the bigger kids because I made them laugh... you don’t hit the kid that makes you laugh.” Brooks recounts his early days as a writer on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the 1950s; appearing in 1962 on the very first Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, where he shared the stage with Groucho Marx, Joan Crawford, Rudy Vallee, and Tony Bennett; learning how to bend the truth, after he told producer Joe Levine that he cut a scene from the end of his Oscar-winning film The Producers (“On every movie... since then; I’ve often lied when the studio objected to something by saying, “It’s out!”); and taking a giant leap forward as a director by writing “the greatest farting scene in cinematic history,” in 1974’s Blazing Saddles. Studded with snickering asides and rapid-fire jokes, Brooks’s account of making it in show biz is just as sidesplitting as his movies. (Nov.)

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Book list The subtitle for Brooks' rose-colored autobiography could have been It's a Wonderful Life. Even events that might have distressed others get a positive spin. Left fatherless at an early age? More attention from his mother and doting older brothers. A stint in the army in his late teens in the closing days of WWII? An opportunity to hone his comedic chops. Every movie Brooks ever made was a hit (or at least broke even), and every cast and crew he worked with was the best. And maybe it's all true, because the ebullient Brooks' default position seems to be happy. It helps that he focuses on his career, so although his wonderfully talented wife, Anne Bancroft, is certainly mentioned, her death gets just a few sentences. He goes into depth about his own films and shows, but it would have been nice to hear more about the excellent movies his production company made, including The Elephant Man and My Favorite Year. Brooks is a national treasure who's not shy to admit it, and his laugh-filled memories mix with an optimism that fans will find almost contagious.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Brooks is legendary in comedy, TV, and film, and his upbeat memoir is just the sort of fun book many readers are seeking.

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

Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Criss Cross
by Lynne Rae Perkins

Horn Book Perkins's wonderfully contemplative and relaxed yet captivating novel, illustrated with her own perfectly idiosyncratic spot art, is a collection of fleeting images and sensations--some pleasurable, some painful, some a mix of both--from her ensemble cast's lives. Set in a 1970s small town, the third-person narrative floats back and forth between the often humorous, gradually evolving perspectives of its characters. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-The author of the popular All Alone in the Universe (HarperCollins, 1999) returns with another character study involving those moments that occur in everyone's life-moments when a decision is made that sends a person along one path instead of another. Debbie, who wishes that something would happen so she'll be a different person, and Hector, who feels he is "unfinished," narrate most of the novel. Both are 14 years old. Hector is a fabulous character with a wry humor and an appealing sense of self-awareness. A secondary story involving Debbie's locket that goes missing in the beginning of the tale and is passed around by a number of characters emphasizes the theme of the book. The descriptive, measured writing includes poems, prose, haiku, and question-and-answer formats. There is a great deal of humor in this gentle story about a group of childhood friends facing the crossroads of life and how they wish to live it. Young teens will certainly relate to the self-consciousnesses and uncertainty of all of the characters, each of whom is straining toward clarity and awareness. The book is profusely illustrated with Perkins's amusing drawings and some photographs.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY (c) Copyright 2010. 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 Gr. 6-9. This lyrical sequel to All Alone in the Universe (1999), a Booklist Editor's Choice, begins with one of many black-and-white drawings and a caption that reads, People move back and forth in this area like molecules in steam. As the title and caption imply, this story reads like a series of intersecting vignettes--all focused on 14-year-old Debbie and her friends as they leave childhood behind. Perkins writes with subtle, wry humor about perceptive moments that will speak directly to readers: universe-expanding crushes, which fill the world with signs and wonder ; scornful reappraisals of childhood things (Debbie's disdain for Nancy Drew is particularly funny); urgent concerns about outfits, snappy retorts, and self-image. Perkins adds many experimental passages to her straightforward narrative, and she finds poetry in the common exchanges between teens. One section of dialogue, written entirely in haiku, reads, Jeff White is handsome, / but his hair is so greasy. / If he would wash it--. A few cultural references set the book in the 1970s, but most readers will find their contemporaries in these characters. Best of all are the understated moments, often private and piercing in their authenticity, that capture intelligent, likable teens searching for signs of who they are, and who they'll become. --Gillian Engberg Copyright 2005 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-Fourteen-year-old Debbie and her friends spend time together listening to the radio, tanning in their backyards, and going to local concerts. Lynne Rae Perkins's 2005 Newbery Award-winning novel (Greenwillow, 2005) records a series of episodes and events that happen in the lives of Debbie, Hector, and their school friends. The teens are facing crossroads in their lives and must decide which path to choose. Listeners will relate to these likeable young people who reflect on both mundane and urgent concerns. Perkins's lyrical and humorous text comes to life with Danielle Ferland's competent narration. There is a sense of awe, delight, and joy in Ferland's reading which perfectly matches the tone of the book.-Wendy Woodfill, Hennepin County Library, Minnetonka, MN (c) Copyright 2010. 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 PW wrote that this 2006 Newbery Medal winner "captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence." Ages 10-up. (Jan.) (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

Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog River, Cross My Heart
by Breena Clarke

Library Journal YA-Set in Georgetown, this poignant coming-of-age story begins with the drowning death of six-year-old Clara Bynum. Johnnie May, at 12, was supposed to be minding her the morning the children went down to the river, knowing they were not allowed to play near it, much less swim in it. The Bynums had come to Washington, DC, from North Carolina looking for a better life, and life for the colored in Georgetown in the 1920s was better: plenty of work and good schools for the children. But Johnnie May's independent spirit causes trouble from the beginning. She is always asking why-why couldn't she swim in the pool on Volta Place, right across from Aunt Ina's house? Why does she always have to mind her little sister and clean up after her? Johnnie May is a natural leader, and "knowing her place" is a struggle. The story, which follows the Bynum family and friends in Georgetown for about a year, ends in triumph as Johnnie May wins a swim meet held in the new pool built for black people. Much of the book describes Johnnie May's relationships with her mother, her relatives, and her friends, painting a revealing picture of a river, a family, and a community.-Molly Connally, Kings Park Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Ten-year-old Johnnie Mae Bynum is haunted by the memory of her sister Clara, who drowned in the Potomac River at a point where the neighborhood children had been routinely warned against swimming. Five years older, Johnnie Mae had always been charged with Clara's care, so Clara's death stirs up guilt and confusion. Had she pushed Clara into the water or was she only guilty of neglect? The drowning changes the dynamics within the Bynum family, still coping with the move from South Carolina to the Georgetown area at the insistence of the mother, the strong-willed Alice Bynum, who wants opportunities for her children that she perceives exist in the North of the 1920s. Hence Alice both admires and fears Johnnie Mae's defiant resistance to segregated swimming pools, which chafes her own sense of racial injustice and political expedience. Clarke's first novel beautifully ties together themes of family tensions after the death of a child, a young girl's coming-of-age, and racial animosities in a small community. --Vanessa Bush

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

Publishers Weekly Debut writer and Washington, D.C., native, Clarke has written a novel as lyric and alternately beguiling and confounding as its title. It is the story of the drowning of a six-year-old child, and the tragedy's ramifications for her family and neighbors in the black area of Georgetown in 1925 D.C. Clarke's scene-building skills are the novel's strengths and occasionally its weaknesses, as each chapter is an intense set piece that sometimes provokes more questions than answers. The story is ultimately that of the effects of Clara Bynum's death on her 12-year-old sister, Johnnie Mae, who was babysitting Clara at the time she fell into the river. Johnnie Mae suffers guilt, fear and loss, endures dreams, imaginings and confusion as she sees visions of her sister everywhere: in a trauma-stung classmate who wears braids like Clara's, and the vapor from a boiling pot of green beans that resembles her sister's face. Against a felt, poignant and meticulously detailed panorama of the African-American (then called "colored") community of Georgetown, Johnnie Mae struggles to find her bearings, to cope with institutional and family expectations, and with puberty and race. Johnnie Mae ultimately derives strength from her element, the water, as she becomes a talented swimmer, but her parents Alice and Willie struggle with inextinguishable grief. From the first vivid description of the Potomac, liquid elements provide themes and narrative tension in this plangent coming-of-age story, granting the reader a necessary, if temporary, distancing from the blunt fact of a dead child. Indeed, Clarke's research about African-American Georgetown in the early 20th century revisits a time and place as intricate as any, but so remote from most memories that the historical details are fascinating footnotes to an era. While authorial asides are sometimes intrusive, this is a haunting story. Agent, Cynthia Cannell. (July)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Rebecca Caudill Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Ella Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine

Publishers Weekly : Levine's artful debut novel features a spunky heroine whose trials, all faced with admirable steadiness, give new twists to the classic Cinderella story. Ella is burdened with a curse (she cannot disobey a command), bestowed at birth as a gift from an addled fairy and this--plus the loss of her beloved mother--causes all sorts of troubles. Before her death, Ella's mother commands her daughter to keep the curse a secret--only the cook, Mandy, who is also a fairy, knows the truth. Although Mandy won't use what she calls "big magic," she does give Ella a magical book that, through glimpses of other people's correspondence, lets her see what is going on in the lives of her new friend, Prince Charmont, her soon-to-be stepsisters and her greedy father. Levine ably creates tension between the good and evil characters, throwing in an assortment of ogres, elves and gnomes. Young readers will be charmed by the budding romance between Ella and her prince and touched by her crippling fear of hurting the prince via the curse. After a humorous and inventive re-enactment of Cinderella's three appearances at the royal ball, the action concludes with a slightly skewed but happy ending. Although the pace of the story flags in spots, and the author never wholly engages a suspension of disbelief (Ella's escapes often come too easily--for example, when she tames ogres who want to make a meal of her), Levine provides a winning combination of memorable characters and an alluring fantasy realm that will leave readers with hopes of future tales of Ella and Prince Char. Ages 8-12.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 5-8--Cinderella meets Goody Two-shoes in this tale about a girl cursed by the "gift" of obedience. Ella is, nonetheless, a take-charge, intuitive heroine who, despite her love for Prince Char, learns how to just say, "no."

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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