“Americanah” by Chimamanda Adichid – “…Americanah, tells the story of Ifemelu, a confident, beautiful Nigerian who immigrates to America. In her new home, Ifemelu struggles to adapt and to survive financially. But she makes it through college, starts an acclaimed blog about race, and wins a fellowship to Princeton. All the while she’s haunted by memories of her former boyfriend, Obinze. Soft-spoken and introverted, Obinze immigrates to London where he ekes out an uncertain existence before being deported. Back home, he becomes wealthy as a property developer. When Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, her old feelings for him are revived, and the pair find themselves in the grip of passion. Both are forced to make difficult decisions about the future. Adichie’s dramatic, sweeping narrative functions as an emotionally riveting love story, as a profound meditation on race and as a revealing exploration of the immigrant experience. It succeeds–beautifully–on every level. ” –Julie Hale. 608pg. BOOKPAGE, c2014.
“Auschwitz Escape” by Joel C. Rosenberg – “The strong religious conviction evident in Rosenberg’s previous novels (Damascus Countdown), which were focused on the Middle East and Muslim-Western relations, is reflected in his latest book–a work of historical fiction, about a heroic escape from the Nazis. Luc, a French pastor, who is sentenced to the Auschwitz death camp for helping Jews, joins forces with Jacob, a Jewish man sent to the camp after his attempt to hijack a train bound for Auschwitz fails. Together they plan to escape to tell an unbelieving world about the Holocaust. During the escape, the two form a strong bond, learning about each other’s faith and doubts. When Jacob questions why Luc has joined the Resistance, the pastor responds, “The real question is ‘Why aren’t all the Christians here?’ ” Rosenberg has done what he does best: create believable characters set in a political milieu and also in religious context, acting on conviction or exploiting religion for selfish or evil ends. This is Rosenberg’s most deeply moving work to date.” — Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Mar.). 484p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Claire of the Sea Light” by Edwidge Danticat – “In interlocking stories moving back and forth in time, Danticat weaves a beautifully rendered portrait of longing in the small fishing town of Ville Rose in Haiti. Seven-year-old Claire Faustin’s mother died giving birth to her. Each year, her father, Nozias, feels the wrenching need to earn more money than poor Ville Rose can provide and to find someone to care for Claire. Gaelle Lavaud, a fabric shop owner, is a possible mother for the orphaned child, but she is haunted by her own tragic losses. Bernard, who longs to be a journalist and create a radio show that reflects the gang violence of his neighborhood, is caught in the violence himself. Max Junior returns from Miami on a surreptitious mission to visit the girl he impregnated and left years ago and to remember an unrequited love. Louise George, the raspy voice behind a gossipy radio program, is having an affair with Max Senior, head of the local school, and teaches the ethereally beautiful Claire. Their stories and their lives flow beautifully one into another, all rendered in the luminous prose for which Danticat is known.” — Bush, Vanessa. 256p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Night Broken” by Patricia Briggs – “In the winning eighth urban fantasy (after Frost Burned) featuring coyote shapeshifter and car mechanic Mercy Thompson, Briggs adds Canary Islands mythology and garden-variety jealousy. Mercy is mated to Adam, the Alpha of the Tri-Cities werewolves. Adam’s human ex-wife, Christy, seeks refuge with the pack to evade a dangerous stalker: volcano god Guayota. She soon begins playing on the sympathy of others to undermine Mercy’s place in the pack. At the same time, a dangerous Gray Lord of the Fae sets a deadline for Mercy to return the walking stick she previously borrowed from the Fae and entrusted into the elusive Coyote’s care. Between visits to imprisoned prophet Gary Laughingdog, whose importance grows along with the story, Mercy must fend off Guayota, who has pyrotechnic abilities and frightening red-eyed attack dogs. Briggs continues to surprise and intrigue readers with Mercy’s inventiveness and intuition under duress.” — Agent: Linn Prentis, Linn Prentiss Literary. (Mar.). 352p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson – “Centuries have passed since the Radiant Knights protected the world of Roshar from the evil of the Desolation. Their heroic deeds have long been overshadowed by stories of their betrayal, which in turn have faded into myth. The nation of Alethkar has been mired in a war to avenge the assassination of its king. The system of power used by the Radiant Knights is largely misunderstood and untapped, and yet an ancient evil stirs. Sanderson… creates an interesting world with a novel system of magic, but the best part of this series launch is the compelling, complex story of Dalinar, Kaladin, and Shallan as they struggle through emotional, physical, and moral challenges. Verdict Sanderson is a master of hooking the reader in the first few pages, and once again he doesn’t disappoint. ” — William Baer, Georgia Inst. of Technology, Atlanta. 1008pg. LJ Xpress Online Review. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2010.
“William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back” by Ian Doescher – “The saga that began with the interstellar best seller William Shakespeare’s Star Wars continues with this merry reimagining of George Lucas’s enduring classic The Empire Strikes Back.
Many a fortnight have passed since the destruction of the Death Star. Young Luke Skywalker and his friends have taken refuge on the ice planet of Hoth, where the evil Darth Vader has hatched a cold-blooded plan to capture them. Only with the help of a little green Jedi Master—and a swaggering rascal named Lando Calrissian—can our heroes escape the Empire’s wrath. And only then will Lord Vader learn how sharper than a tauntaun’s tooth it is to have a Jedi child.
What light through Yoda’s window breaks? Methinks you’ll find out in the pages of The Empire Striketh Back!” — Amazon.com
“Winter Ready: Poems” by Leland Kinsey – “Winter Ready is a 96-page collection of new poems by a Vermont-based writer who draws from his impressive repertoire of observations and physical landscape of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to bring to the reader poems with universal meaning and at times a painful acuity. Kinsey opens the collection perched up high on the chimney top, working and observing his surroundings, and throughout the book, he never really gets down-he chronicles a people and a place and a time-and keeps the hard work of writing poetry hidden in the seeming effortless verse that is often funny and poignant, yet always sharp and clear. In this new collection by a renowned Vermont poet, the setting is the same, but the voice rings true to the people and the land they inhabit, always respectful of the native peoples who came before and the awesome power of a glacier that carved a path in its wake. These poems evoke a fully realized view of the world the poet inhabits, an awareness of labor and its changing nature. The book moves through poem after glowing poem, evoking natural history, flora and fauna, with a place-based and focused attention.” — Baker & Taylor
“Words of Radiance” by Brandon Sanderson “The readers of Sanderson’s The Way of Kings (2010) may have been waiting for him to return to the Stormlight Archives… The world of Roshar is still very close to being a character in its own right (one thinks of Dune), as Sanderson has used the room afforded by a book of this size to build it in loving detail, including the fierce storms that make civilized life difficult even in peacetime. But the humans and the humanoid Parshendi are still fighting, although Brightlord Kholin is leading an army deep into enemy territory. His sister, Jasnah, is with him, seeking a legendary lost city that her student, Shallan, believes may hold the key to victory. Far below the level of the high command, the rising young slave warrior, Kaladin, learns that the Parshendi have a counterstrategy in preparation, one that portends the destruction of the world unless he can become the founder of a new order of the legendary Knights Radiant. Many readers will find Shallan and Kaladin the most absorbing of the major characters because they have the most to lose, but the characterization is on the whole as meticulous as the world-building. A very impressive continuation.” — Green, Roland. 1090p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Almost Criminal” by E. R. Brown – “Tate MacLane is too smart for his own good, a sort of misguided prodigy. Prematurely graduated from high school, he was tossed out of university (“socialization issues”). Now 17, he’s working at a coffee shop in Wallace, British Columbia, a “hopeless corner of nowhere,” and dreaming of finding a way to get back to Vancouver and back to school. Along comes Randle Kennedy, a marijuana grower. Until the drug is legalized, he’s growing medical weed, and the Canadian cops tend to be lenient if they know you’re in the medicinal side of the business. But make no mistake: Randle’s a drug dealer. And young Tate is now working for him. When Tate discovers the truth about the life he’s wandered into, he knows it will take more than his keen intellect to get him out safely. Tate is a fresh narrative voice, and Randle, who could have been a fairly stereotypical drug-dealing villain, has surprising depth; he’s even a weird sort of father figure for young Tate. If you took a gritty crime novel and a coming-of-age story and squashed them together, you might get something very close to this fine book.” — Pitt, David. 296p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“City of Darkness and Light” by Rhys Bowen – “It’s lucky number 13 for this lively addition to the award-winning Molly Murphy series. After their New York home is bombed, police captain Daniel Sullivan packs wife Molly and young son Liam off to Paris to stay with friends. Newly retired from the detective business, Molly lands in the middle of another mystery when her expat hosts aren’t in their Paris apartment to receive her. Her only clue to their whereabouts is a recent letter that mentions a pending introduction to the artist Reynold Bryce. But, quelle horreur, Bryce has just been murdered! Inquiring of artists in turn-of-the-century Paris, Molly meets Pablo Picasso, Gertrude Stein, Mary Cassatt, and Edgar Degas. (All while finding trustworthy child care for her still-nursing son and getting up to speed on the Dreyfus affair.) Molly is a smart, feisty heroine who admirably defends her investigation to a very skeptical Surete. Though placed a decade or so earlier, this breezy historical mystery will appeal to fans of Carola Dunn’s Daisy Dalrymple and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs.” — Keefe, Karen. 320p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Fallen Women” by Sandra Dallas – “Dallas plumbs the lives of so-called fallen women in 1885 Denver as she ably reveals the ties, sturdy as well as tenuous, that bind two sisters and test the memory of their relationship after one of them is found murdered in a brothel. When Beret Osmundsen, a wealthy New York socialite, arrives in Denver after she receives the news of her sister Lillie’s death, she believes she is prepared to find the truth. Instead, she is led down a path of lies, treachery, and confusion that threatens to undermine everything she has ever believed in. Detective Mick McCauley helps Beret negotiate the serpentine twists encircling the life and death of the sister Beret realizes she didn’t really know at all. As she forges ahead in her determination to see the truth uncovered and justice served, Beret must deal with scandalized relatives who would love to see the situation entirely disappear, the ugliness so readily displayed by a so-called civilized society, and her own conflicting views and emotions. Sure to be snapped up by era fans as well as Dallas’ loyal readership.” — Trevelyan, Julie. 320p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Frog Music” by Emma Donoghue – “During the scorching summer of 1876, Jenny Bonnet, an enigmatic cross-dressing bicyclist who traps frogs for San Francisco’s restaurants, meets her death in a railroad saloon on the city’s outskirts. Exotic dancer Blanche Beunon, a French immigrant living in Chinatown, thinks she knows who shot her friend and why, but has no leverage to prove it and doesn’t know if she herself was the intended target. A compulsive pleasure-seeker estranged from her “fancy man,” Blanche searches desperately for her missing son while pursuing justice for Jenny, but finds her two goals sit in conflict. In language spiced with musical interludes and raunchy French slang, Donoghue brings to teeming life the nasty, naughty side of this ethnically diverse metropolis, with its brothels, gaming halls, smallpox-infested boardinghouses, and rampant child abuse. Most of her seedy, damaged characters really lived, and she not only posits a clever solution to a historical crime that was never adequately solved but also crafts around Blanche and Jenny an engrossing and suspenseful tale about moral growth, unlikely friendship, and breaking free from the past. ” –Johnson, Sarah. 416pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Murder in Murray Hill” by Victoria Thompson – “Thompson convincingly portrays late-19th-century New York City in her 16th Gaslight mystery, but she has put her male lead, NYPD Det. Sgt. Frank Malloy, into an awkward spot. Toward the end of the previous entry, 2013’s Murder in Chelsea, Malloy learned that he was going to inherit a fortune. Once word reaches Malloy’s police colleagues of his imminent windfall, he realizes his job is on the line. At police headquarters, Chief O’Brien fires him, saying, “You’re a good man, but millionaires aren’t cops.” Malloy, who was in the midst of a missing-persons case involving women who answered a personal ad in the newspaper, manages to keep his hand in as a private investigator. While Malloy may be on track to follow this new career path in future installments, Thompson will have some work to do to make this scenario plausible.” — Agent: Nancy Yost, Nancy Yost Literary Agency. (May). 304p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Natchez Burning” by Greg Iles – “Much more than a thriller, Iles’s deftly plotted fourth Penn Cage novel (after 2008’s The Devil’s Punchbowl) doesn’t flag for a moment, despite its length. In 2005, the ghosts of the past come back to haunt Cage–now the mayor of Natchez, Miss.–with a vengeance. His father, Dr. Tom Cage, who has been an institution in the city for decades, faces the prospect of being arrested for murder. An African-American nurse, Viola Turner, who worked closely with Tom in the 1960s and was in the end stages of cancer, has died, and her son, Lincoln, believes that she was eased into death by a lethal injection. Tom refuses to speak about what happened (he admits only that he was treating Viola), which prevents Cage from using his leverage as mayor to head off charges. The mystery is inextricably interwoven with the violence Natchez suffered in the 1960s, including the stabbing of Viola’s brother by Ku Klux Klansmen in a fight. The case may also be connected to the traumatic political assassinations of the decade. This superlative novel’s main strength comes from the lead’s struggle to balance family and honor.”– Agents: Dan Conaway and Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (May). 800p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“NYPD Red 2” by James Patterson – “After being called to a horrible crime scene in Central Park involving a brutally murdered woman on a carousel, Zach and Kylie, detectives with the elite NYPD Red, must uncover the killer while public pressure builds and personal and professional secrets hang in the balance.” — Baker and Taylor
“Ripper: A Novel” by Isabel Allende – “Bestseller Allende (The House of the Spirits) successfully tries her hand at a mystery, which features an unlikely team of sleuths united by an online mystery game named after the infamous Whitechapel murderer. High school senior Amanda Martin is the games master for a group that includes her grandfather, Blake Jackson; a wheelchair-bound New Zealand boy with the online persona of a Gypsy girl named Esmeralda; and a 13-year-old boy with a high IQ who calls himself Sherlock Holmes. Amanda persuades her cohorts to investigate real-life crimes in 2012 San Francisco, starting with the murder of Ed Staton, a school security guard. A month earlier, Amanda’s astrologer godmother predicted that San Francisco would suffer a bloodbath. The prophecy seems more credible when other murders follow Staton’s. While this genre outing isn’t as memorable as the author’s more groundbreaking fiction, her facility with plotting and pacing will keep readers turning the pages.” — Agent: Carmen Balcells, Carmen Balcells Agency. (Feb.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Wilson” by A. Scott Berg – “This won’t replace John Milton Cooper Jr.’s superb 2009 biography of the United States’ 28th president (Woodrow Wilson), and one could argue that Berg’s isn’t needed so soon after Cooper’s; other than two caches of papers belonging to Wilson’s daughter Jesse and his physician, nothing significantly new about him has been learned in the past four years. Notwithstanding, Berg … has written a lively, solid book. It’s more digestible than Cooper’s scholarly tome, and Berg does a better job of capturing Wilson’s personality. Before he occupied the Oval Office, Wilson served as president of Princeton; Berg–like Cooper–is an alumnus of the university, and is generally sympathetic to the man (he puts much emphasis on Wilson’s love for his two wives and characterizes him as a passionate lover as well as a determined leader), while taking a more critical stand against his racial views and policies, his handling of the League of Nations, and of the secrecy that surrounded his late-presidency illness. Most importantly, Berg presents Wilson’s failure to win the world over to his post-WWI vision as a personal and national tragedy. He’s right, but Berg’s likening of Wilson’s life to biblical stages is overkill (chapter titles include “Ascension,” “Gethsemane,” etc.). Fortunately, the theme of tragedy–while nothing new–binds the book and lifts it above more conventional biographies.” — Agent: Lynn Nesbit, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Sept.). 832p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013
“How Many Ways Can You Make Five?: A Parent’s Guide to Exploring Math with Children’s Books” by Sally Anderson – “Explore connections between math and everyday life with your child! The activities in How Many Ways Can You Make Five? link popular children’s books—which you are probably already reading with your child—with easy, fun-filled activities you can use to explore important math concepts like mapping, following directions, noticing patterns, and finding shapes.” — Amazon.com
“Jesus: A Pilgrimage” by James Martin – “Inviting readers of “deep faith or no faith” to meet the Jesus he loves, Martin weaves stories of his Holy Land pilgrimage, undertaken to explore the Gospels, with scholarship, analysis, and personal reflections. The noted Jesuit,… balances faith and reason in the classic Catholic tradition as he ponders the meaning of significant events in Jesus’s life. Martin’s broad knowledge of current academic work informs his imaginative exploration of possible answers. Dismissing the common “rationalizing tendency” toward the Gospels, he emphasizes that Jesus, at once both human and divine, is “not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.” His commitment to a traditional Christian understanding provides a bracing counterpoint to recent studies of the historical Jesus and non-canonical gospels. Martin communicates a joyful faith in God’s healing and the ultimate hope offered by the Resurrection. Throughout, vivid details of his search in blistering heat for holy sites both authentic and dubious anchor this complex, compelling spiritual testimony. “You’ve met my Jesus,” he concludes. “Now meet your own.” (– Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History” by Nicholas Basbanes – “Like silk and gunpowder, paper was invented by the ancient Chinese. In this peripatetic account of all things paper, from the ancients to the present, journalist Basbanes (Every Book Its Reader) follows paper’s trail as it slowly reached the West by way of the Silk Road, arriving in Europe almost 1,000 years after its invention (it didn’t get to England until 1494). But Basbanes isn’t just interested in paper’s conventional and specialized history. His aim is to show how the material has penetrated all aspects of our lives (books, stamps, money, blueprints, packaging, and so on). Each episodic chapter takes the author on visits to the people who paper our lives, from industrial titans to craftspeople rediscovering ancient modes of making paper to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at ground zero tasked with preserving a record of that single day. VERDICT An unhurried book that will be enjoyed not only by bibliophiles, librarians, and archivists but by many readers engaged by the study of the past and present. Stewart Desmond, New York. 448p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Race Underground: Boston, New York, and the Incredible Rivalry That Built America’s First Subway” by Doug Most – “Most … depicts the highly charged competition between Boston and New York in trying to construct the first underground “subway” railroad in late 19th-century America. It is a remarkably well-told story filled with villains, heroes, and events of the Gilded Age. Adding more heat to this intercity rivalry were brothers Henry Melville Whitney of Boston and William Collins Whitney of New York, who managed to push their own cities into successfully modernizing their transportation systems. Boston emerged the victor on September 1, 1897, with a system admittedly on a much smaller scale than initially envisioned. New York’s planned subway was, of course, much larger, taking longer to build, while plagued with misfortune (54 workers and civilians died during its construction) before it finally opened on October 27, 1904. While many books have been written about New York City’s subway, few have documented Boston’s herculean accomplishment in beating New York. Most deserves credit for setting the historical record straight. VERDICT This felicitous tale of American ingenuity and perseverance serves as a useful reminder today of our past commitment to improving our infrastructures as we now face the challenge of stopping their deterioration. Recommended for readers in American urban history and specialists in urban transportation. ” — Richard Drezen, Jersey City. 352p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
ADULT AUDIO BOOK
“Target” by David Baldacci – “…Earl Fontaine, a terminally ill Alabama death row prisoner, plans one last killing that will personally affect CIA hit man Will Robie and his fellow agent, Jessica Reel. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., the U.S. president authorizes an operation to assassinate a foreign leader. Evan Tucker, the head of the CIA, recommends Robie and Reel, whose recent exploits have earned them the CIA’s highest medal, for the job. When that mission is scrubbed, Robie and Reel end up attempting a dangerous incursion into North Korea to rescue a couple of prisoners from the notorious Bukchang labor camp, a move that results in North Korea deciding to retaliate against the U.S. on its own territory. In unsparing detail, Baldacci depicts the brutal conditions in the North Korean camp, in particular their impact on 25-year-old Yie Chung-Cha, a prisoner groomed as a deadly assassin.” — Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Apr.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“Dexter Season 6”
“Dexter Season 7”
“Fast and Furious 1-5 Bundle”
“Fast and Furious 6”
“Saving Mr. Banks”
“Sherlock Season 2”
“Twelve Years a Slave”
“State of Wonder:Goldberg Variations”
“Dork Diaries 7: Tales from a Not-So-Glam TV Star” by Rachel Renee Russell – “Nikki’s juggling a lot this month. A reality TV crew is following Nikki and her friends as they record their hit song together, plus there are voice lessons, dance practice, and little sister Brianna’s latest wacky hijinks. Nikki’s sure she can handle everything, but will all the excitement cause new problems for Nikki and Brandon, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki goes?” — Amazon.com
“From Head to Toe” by Eric Carle
“I Love to Eat: Deluxe Touch and Feel (Spanish & French Edition)” by Amelie Graux
“A Lion in Paris” by Beatrice Alemagna
“Bad Bye Good Bye” by Deborah Underwood
“Breathe” by Scott Magoon
“Clara’s Crazy Curls” by Helen Poole
“Deep in the Sahara” by Kelly Cunnane
“Duck & Goose Go to the Beach” by Tad Hills
“A Giraffe and a Half: 50th Anniversary Edition” by Shel Silverstein
“Have You Seen My Dragon?” by Steve Light
“Jacob’s New Dress” by Sarah Hoffman
“Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me” by Daniel Beaty
“Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back” by Shel Silverstein
“Miss You Like Crazy” by Pamela Hall
“Moo” by David LaRochelle
“The Most Magnificent Thing” by Ashley Spires
“My Bus” by Byron Barton
“The Numberlys” by William Joyce
“Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes” by Eric Litwin
“Pigeon Needs a Bath” by Mo Willems
“Quick as a Cricket” by Audrey Wood
“Tap the Magic Tree” by Christie Matheson
“Time Together: Me and Dad” by Maria Catherine
“Trouper” by Meg Kearney
“Velveteen Rabbit, or How Toys Become Real” by Margery Williams
“What’s Your Favorite Animal?” by Eric Carle
“Better Nate than Ever” by Nat Federle – “Grades 5-8. In this funny and insightful story, the dreams of many a small-town, theater-loving boy are reflected in the starry eyes of eighth-grader Nate. When Nate hops a Greyhound bus to travel across Pennsylvania to try out for the Broadway-bound musical based on the movie E.T., no one but his best friend, Libby, knows about it; not his athletic brother, religious father, or unhappy mother. Self-reliant, almost to an inauthentic fault, he arrives in Manhattan for the first time and finds his way into the audition with dramatic results, and when his estranged actress/waitress aunt suddenly appears, a troubled family history and a useful subplot surface. Nate’s emerging sexuality is tactfully addressed in an age-appropriate manner throughout, particularly in his wonderment at the differences between his hometown and N.Y.C., “a world where guys . . . can dance next to other guys who probably liked Phantom of the Opera and not get threatened or assaulted.” This talented first-time author has made the classic Chorus Line theme modern and bright for the Glee generation.” — Medlar, Andrew. 288p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Counting by 7’s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan – “Grades 7-10. In a voice that is frank, charming, and delightfully odd, Willow Chance narrates the strange and heartbreaking circumstances that lead her to find an offbeat, patchwork quilt of a family. As an adopted, self-identified “person of color,” precocious genius Willow unabashedly knows that she is different, but her parents love and support her idiosyncrasies, such as wearing her gardening outfit to school, her preoccupation with disease, her anthropological curiosity about her peers, and her obsession with the number seven. That self-assuredness shines through Willow’s narrative and becomes crucial to her survival after the unexpected death of her parents, which makes Willow a prime candidate for life in a group home–an environment that could be disastrous for an unusual child like her. Luckily, she finds new friends who are compelled to protect her: Mai and her family, who live in the garage behind the nail salon they own, and Willow’s slouch of a guidance counselor, Dell. Sloan (I’ll Be There, 2011) has masterfully created a graceful, meaningful tale featuring a cast of charming, well-rounded characters who learn sweet–but never cloying–lessons about resourcefulness, community, and true resilience in the face of loss.” — Hunter, Sarah. 384p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Fortunately the Milk” by Neil Gaiman – “…Gaiman has tried to write the only book anyone will need, ever, packing into it every adventure story written in the past 300 years. The book seems to include every plot on TVTropes.org. There’s a time machine. There are “wumpires” and pirates. The story is simple: A father goes to the store to buy milk. The only trouble is, he’s kidnapped by aliens, and by the end of the book, he’s being threatened by dancing dwarfs. Sometimes the book feels like a personal bet between the writer and the illustrator: “But can you draw this?” Young is always up to the challenge, no matter what gets thrown at him. He makes pirates look both dangerous and adorable. But once in a while, readers may wish that the author would stop throwing things. The best scene in the book is brief and quiet. The father asks a time-traveling stegosaurus where all the dinosaurs went. “The stars,” professor Steg says. “That is where we will have gone.” Frenetic as the story is, it’s hard not to love a novel that borrows equally from Calvin and Hobbes and The Usual Suspects. If you read only one book this year, a story with dancing dwarfs is always a wise choice. ” — (Adventure. 8-12). 128pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2013.
“Golden Boy” by Tara Sullivan – “Grades 8-12. Born albino in a Tanzanian village, Habo suffers virulent prejudice for his pale skin, blue eyes, and yellow hair, even from his own family. At 13, he runs away to the city of Dar-es-Salaam, where he thinks he will find more acceptance: there are even two albino members of the government there. He finds a home as an apprentice to a blind sculptor who knows Habo is a smart boy with a good heart, and he teaches Habo to carve wood. But Habo is being pursued by a poacher who wants to kill him and sell his body parts on the black market to superstitious buyers in search of luck. Readers will be caught by the contemporary story of prejudice, both unspoken and violent, as tension builds to the climax. Just as moving is the bond the boy forges with his mentor, and the gripping daily events: Habo gets glasses for his weak eyes, discovers the library, and goes to school at last. The appended matter includes a Swahili glossary and suggestions for documentary videos.” — Rochman, Hazel. 368p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Half a Chance” by Cynthia Lord – “Grades 4-6. Lucy and her parents have no sooner moved to their new home, idyllically located on a New England lake, than her professional-photographer father is off on a work trip for the summer. As he leaves, Lucy learns from him about a photo contest for kids and decides to spend the summer working on winning it. As the days and weeks pass, Lucy makes friends with the boy next door, learns to kayak, joins in the community’s watch of nesting loons, and stays focused on taking photos that fulfill her father’s advice to make sure the picture implies a story. Lucy seems like a blandly average preteen character, but she comes into focus when she makes a concerted effort to help her elderly neighbor, whose awareness of the world around her is beginning to slip away with the onset of some kind of dementia, to see and enjoy what she loved in the past. Like in the author’s award-winning Rules (2006), the theme of self-discovery is offered here through a quietly disclosed character.” — Goldsmith, Francisca. 224p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“Last But Not Least Lola Going Green” by Christine Pakklala – “Lola Zuckerman is always last—ding-dong, Z-for-Zuckerman last. What this means, of course, is that Lola has to win first place in her class’s “Going Green” contest. And she’ll need to beat Amanda Anderson—always first, and more importantly, her ex-best-friend! In this laugh-out-loud story with unforgettable characters—the first in an ongoing series about Lola’s travails—Lola’s out to prove that while she may be last, she is certainly not least!” — Amazon.com
“Menagerie” by Tui T. Sutherland – “Logan and his dad have moved to sleepy Xanadu, Wyoming, in hopes of discovering the whereabouts of Logan’s missing mother. The name of the town is no coincidence, for within its boundaries lies a secret zoo of mythical creatures operated by a direct descendant of Kubla Kahn. Logan’s classmate Zoe Kahn is in a pickle because six baby griffins have escaped under her watch, and she is going to be in big trouble if they don’t all end up back in their enclosure. Logan and Zoe, along with their friend Blue, cleverly (and secretly) set out to track down the griffins and figure out who let them escape in the first place. Full to bursting with animated fantasy creatures, such as a histrionic phoenix who erupts into flame whenever no one pays him enough attention and a pair of haughty, passive-aggressive unicorns, this silly, delightful story begs to be read aloud. Thanks to a cliff-hanger ending and a brand new mystery on the horizon, animal lovers will eagerly anticipate more Logan and Zoe adventures.” — Hunter, Sarah. 288p. Booklist Online. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin” by Liesl Shurtliff – “In The Kingdom, one’s name is full of meaning and power, and young Rump is sure that his is incomplete. Just before his mother died in childbirth, she only managed to utter, “His name is Rump….” And so Rump grows up with his grandmother, mining the mountain for specks of gold for their greedy king and suffering ridicule for his name. Shurtliff’s world-building is inventive and immediately believable: gnomes rush about delivering messages they have somewhat memorized, gold-craving pixies are flying and biting nuisances, and wise witches live in the woods, as does a band of huge smelly trolls. All the elements of the original story are here-the greedy miller, the somewhat dimwitted daughter, and Rump’s magical ability to spin straw into gold-but Shurtliff fleshes out the boy’s backstory, developing an appealing hero who is coping with the curse of his magical skills while searching for his true name and destiny. This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor.” — Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT. 264p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Saturday Boy” by David Fleming – “Ages 10-up. Eleven-year-old Derek has been having a rough time, both at school and at home, since his helicopter pilot father returned to Afghanistan with the Army “eight months, one week, and four days” ago. Derek’s mother is struggling with worried exhaustion, and his former best friend Budgie is antagonizing Derek at every opportunity. Derek relies on the comforts of his father’s letters, his wild imagination, his favorite superhero show, and his rehearsals for the school play (along with his crush Violet), but when his deepest fears are realized, Derek is forced to navigate a tumult of complex emotions and reevaluate what he values most dearly. Fleming’s debut skillfully depicts how the stresses of loss and other forces beyond one’s control test the bonds of family and friends; Derek’s relationship with his mother is especially honest and tender. The weight of the tragic, topical events is tempered by moments of laugh-out-loud humor and Derek’s energy and resilience as he muddles through the uncertainty of grief.” — Agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (June). 240p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013
“Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible … on Schindler’s List” by Leon Leyson – “Grades 4-7. This powerful memoir of one of the youngest boys on Schindler’s list deserves to be shared. Leon Leyson grew up in Poland as the youngest of five children. As WWII breaks out, Leyson’s ingenuity and bravery, combined with the kindness of strangers and a bit of serendipity, save his life, time and again. The storytelling can at times meander, and the various reflections of his life in Poland during the war can result in a certain patchiness, but Leyson’s experiences and memories still make for compelling reading about what it was like to suffer through the Holocaust.” — Thompson, Sarah Bean. 240p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius” by Jan Greensberg – “Greenberg and Jordan bring to life George E. Ohr, a 19th-century American potter largely unknown today and not especially successful in his own day. George Ohr proclaimed himself the “Greatest Art Potter on Earth.” From the wild-eyed and mustachioed portrait on the cover to the artist’s own words sprinkled throughout the text in boldfaced, oversized typefaces, Ohr’s eccentricities and his penchant for self-promotion are clearly presented. What is not made clear is why Ohr’s work is considered great. What makes a George E. Ohr vase sell at auction nowadays for $84,000, and is he really America’s greatest art potter? Certainly his work is whimsical, as demonstrated by the many full-color photographs of Ohr’s work–vases tilting like leaning towers, a teapot with a spout like an open-mouthed serpent, and all manner of wrinkled, twisted and squashed vessels. … The backmatter …. is interesting, including information about the Frank Gehry-designed museum that houses the Ohr collection and lessons in “How to Look at a Pot” and how to use a potter’s wheel. A fascinating introduction to an innovative artist…”– KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2013.
“The President Has Been Shot: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy” by James Swanson – “Gr 6 Up. S…The event is not depicted as dry, textbook history, but rather as a horrifying and shocking crime. Full- and double-page photographs of President Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald, and stills from the famous Zapruder film-which captured the assassination in real time-breathe emotion into the work. Kennedy’s and Oswald’s backgrounds are illuminated as the narrative descends toward their tragic connection. A well-illustrated map of Dealey Plaza detailing the President’s route clarifies the position of relevant buildings and features at the time of the assassination. This book is graphic with respect to both images and verbage. Swanson provides a compelling case for Oswald as a lone gunman, arguing against the various and popular conspiracy theories. A diagram of the infamous “magic bullet” illustrates how a single bullet could cause multiple wounds for both JFK and Governor Connally. Despite the great number of books on Kennedy’s assassination, this volume stands out for its gripping storytelling style and photographic documentation.” — Jeffrey Meyer, Mount Pleasant Public Library, IA. 288p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt” by Doreen Rappaport – “Gr 2-5–…Roosevelt stands tall in American history, but his childhood was one of serious illness that kept him bedridden for long periods of time. He became an avid reader and yearned for the life of the adventurers he read about. “Teedie,” as he was called, longed to explore the wilderness and yearned to be a “fearless” man like his heroes. From his early political career through the challenges of his presidency, this book chronicles how he became that fearless leader. He confronted injustice head-on and promised a “Square Deal” to all citizens, opposed many special business interests, including the use of child labor, and sought to protect the nation’s wildlife and preserve its beauty. The highs and lows of both his personal and public life are presented here, including the death of his beloved wife, his experience as a soldier with the “Rough Riders,” and being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. Rappaport breathes life into her subject in a way that is sure to spark the interest of the most reluctant reader. Her choice of quotations defines the man’s lively personality and charisma, and Payne’s softly shaded artwork highlights his facial expressions and dramatically captures the robust emotion, good humor, and unstinting courage that are the hallmarks of the 26th president. Concisely written and yet poetic, this is a first purchase for every library. ” — Carole Phillips, Greenacres Elementary School, Scarsdale, NY. 48p. SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Beyond the Stones of Machu Picchu: Folk Tales and Stories of Inca Life” by Elizabeth Conrad VanBuskirk – ““Beautifully illustrated and sensitively told, these delightful tales and stories introduce us to the natural and supernatural worlds of the high Andes, where animal and human families dwell under the protective gaze of the Apus (mountain spirits). Traditional tales of Fox, Condor, and Bear are subtly interwoven with the author’s stories of daily life. As young people learn to weave, herd sheep, and meet the challenges of a rugged mile-high landscape, they experience the same frustrations and joys as any child . . . An intimate portrait of ancient Quechua customs and beliefs that have survived the forces of change for at least a thousand years.” —Carol Karasik, author, The Turquoise Trail: Native American Jewelry and Culture of the Southwest
“Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles: America’s First Black Paratroopers” by Tanya Lee Stone – “Grades 5-9. Starting with a riveting opening that puts readers into the shoes of a paratrooper on a training flight, this large-format book offers an informative introduction to the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Known as the Triple Nickles, they were America’s first black paratrooper unit. Though WWII brought increased racial integration to the military, the pace was painfully slow. This book traces the paratroopers’ story through their training and their long wait for orders to join the fighting overseas-orders that never came. Instead, the Triple Nickles were sent to fight fires in remote areas of western states. Decades passed before the men were officially honored for service to their country. Written with great immediacy, clarity, and authority, Stone’s vivid narrative draws readers into the Triple Nickles’ wartime experiences. Many well-chosen quotes enhance the text, while excellent black-and-white illustrations, mainly photos, document both the men of the 555th and the racial prejudice on the home front. Adding another personal perspective, artist and writer Ashley Bryan, an African American veteran of WWII, contributes the book’s foreword, a drawing, and a painting from the period. This handsome volume documents the sometimes harrowing, often frustrating, and ultimately rewarding experiences of the Triple Nickles.” — Phelan, Carolyn. 160p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Firefly July: A Year of Very Short Poems” by Lita Judge – “Ages 6-9. Never more than six or seven lines long–and some are just a few words–each poem in Janeczko’s (A Foot in the Mouth) spirited anthology celebrates an aspect of the seasons. Evocative and accessible, they make excellent prompts for classroom poetry exercises. “What is it the wind has lost,” ask poets Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, “that she keeps looking for/ under each leaf?” Sweet’s (Little Red Writing) artwork is marvelously varied. In some spreads, the animals and people are drafted in thoughtful detail, while in others her line is loopy and spontaneous. Dragonflies and crickets blink with flirtatious cartoon-character eyes in one scene, while fireflies and their haunting light are painted with meditative calm in another. Beach towels are striped in hot colors; fog in a city is rice paper glued over a collage of tall buildings. William Carlos Williams’s red wheelbarrow and Carl Sandburg’s little cat feet appear along with lesser-known works. Even Langston Hughes’s poem about a crowded subway sounds a note of hope: “Mingled/ breath and smell/ so close/ mingled/ black and white/ so near/ no room for fear.” (Mar.). 48p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2014.
“How Big Were Dinosaurs?” by Lita Judge – “Grades K-2. … Judge (Bird Talk, 2012) … applies her masterful technique to her favorite extinct animals. Creatures like Velociraptor and Argentinosaurus are drawn side-by-side with living species, contextualizing their scale. Meanwhile, delightfully silly interactions among the creatures enliven the fun. Judge’s always noteworthy artwork is spectacular: the delicately mottled watercolors admirably depict musculature and texture, while the posture and expressions of the animals could not be more full of life and personality if they had been drawn from living specimens. …How Big Were Dinosaurs? pulls back to show the entire animal in context. Super stuff about super creatures, large and small.” — Willey, Paula. 40p. Booklist Online. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“My Mother Goose: A Collection of Favorite Rhymes, Songs and Concepts” by David McPhail – “Ages 2-5. McPhail’s familiar shaggy-haired toddlers and friendly animals lend themselves to this grouping of more than 60 Mother Goose rhymes. The verses flow naturally into one another. For “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake,” a bear baker prepares to put a cake (marked with a “B”) in the oven. On the following page, for “Simple Simon,” a ginger-haired boy requests a pie from an alligator baker. Elsewhere, “Little Bo-Peep” leads into the similarly ovine “Baa, baa, black sheep,” and two bouncing children, “Jack be nimble” and “Little Jumping Joan,” share a spread. Short sections also introduce basic concepts that include shapes, colors, getting dressed, and methods of transportation. McPhail’s welcoming world of anthropomorphic animals and adventurous children is as distinctive and cozy as ever.” — Agent: Faith Hamlin, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Oct.). 96p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“A Walk in Paris” by Salvatore Rubbino – “Preschool-Grade 3. …this large-format picture book follows a girl and her grandfather as they tour Paris together. From the market at Place Maubert, they stroll the boulevards to Place Saint-Michel and cross the River Seine to Notre-Dame Cathedral. After a bistro lunch, they pass by the Pompidou Center, the Louvre, and into the Tuileries Gardens. As darkness falls, they watch a light show at the Eiffel Tower, a fitting end to their day. Each double-page spread offers at least one new view of Paris, from a broad cityscape to a close-up of pastries in a shop window. Supplementing the journey story, notes in tiny type carry additional information. A stylized, highly simplified map of Paris appears on the front endpapers, while on the back, the same map is strewn with tickets, coins, souvenirs, and a brief index. Mixed-media illustrations capture the feel of the city while retaining Rubbino’s breezy and highly appealing style. Pure pleasure for armchair travelers.” — Phelan, Carolyn. 40p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2014.
“You Are My Little Bird “
“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell – “Grades 9-12. Right from the start of this tender debut, readers can almost hear the clock winding down on Eleanor and Park. After a less than auspicious start, the pair quietly builds a relationship while riding the bus to school every day, wordlessly sharing comics and eventually music on the commute. Their worlds couldn’t be more different. Park’s family is idyllic: his Vietnam vet father and Korean immigrant mother are genuinely loving. Meanwhile, Eleanor and her younger siblings live in poverty under the constant threat of Richie, their abusive and controlling stepfather, while their mother inexplicably caters to his whims. The couple’s personal battles are also dark mirror images. Park struggles with the realities of falling for the school outcast; in one of the more subtle explorations of race and the other in recent YA fiction, he clashes with his father over the definition of manhood. Eleanor’s fight is much more external, learning to trust her feelings about Park and navigating the sexual threat in Richie’s watchful gaze. In rapidly alternating narrative voices, Eleanor and Park try to express their all-consuming love. You make me feel like a cannibal, Eleanor says. The pure, fear-laced, yet steadily maturing relationship they develop is urgent, moving, and, of course, heartbreaking, too.” — Jones, Courtney. 320p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline — “Young Wade Watts takes refuge in the OASIS, the ‘globally networked virtual reality’ that nearly all of humanity relies on. It’s 2044, the year before the Singularity futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts will inextricably unite humans and computers. Life on earth is bleak and sinister, thanks to failure to avert global warming and the oil crisis. An orphan, Wade lives in the Stacks, a vast slum comprising trailers piled in precarious towers, but keeps to his hideout, where he attends school online, plays video games, and sends his avatar, Parzival, to visit with Aech, his only friend. Fanboys (2009) screenwriter Cline brings his geeky ardor for 1980s pop culture to his first novel, an exuberantly realized, exciting, and sweet-natured cyberquest. Wade/Parzival, Aech, a droll blogger calling herself Art3mis, and two Japanese brothers embark on a grandly esoteric and potentially life- changing virtual Easter egg hunt and end up doing battle with a soulless corporation. Mind-twisting settings, nail-biting action, amusing banter, and unabashed sentiment make for a smart and charming Arthurian tale that will score high with gamers, fantasy and sf fans, and everyone else who loves stories of bumbling romance and unexpected valor.” — Donna Seaman. 384pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2011.
“Reality Boy” by A. S. King – “Grades 9-12. Seventeen-year-old Gerald became infamous at age five, when he took a dump on his family’s kitchen table for the whole reality-TV viewing public to see. A network TV nanny came in to help Gerald be less of a problem child, but the cameras didn’t catch what Tasha, his older sister and tormentor, was doing to him and his other sister, Lisi, or his mother’s constant defense of her eldest daughter at the expense of her youngest children. And so Gerald continued to rage on. Though years of anger-management training and a boxing-gym regimen have helped him gain better control, his future still feels limited to jail or death. The narrative, though striking and often heartbreaking, is disjointed in places, namely with Gerald’s grand plan to run away to the circus. However, this is still a King novel, and the hallmarks of her strong work are there: magical realism, heightened emotion, and the steady, torturous, beautiful transition into self-assured inner peace. Like Gerald, it’s wonderfully broken.” — Jones, Courtney. 368p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.