“Aviator’s Wife: A Novel” by Melanie Benjamin – “Talented historical novelist Benjamin has a knack for picking intriguing, if somewhat obscure, women in history and making them utterly unforgettable. Told from the perspective of Anne Lindbergh, wife of the famed aviator Charles, her third novel (after The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb) doesn’t disappoint. When Anne first meets Colonel Charles Lindbergh in 1927 he’s a hero, world-famous after completing his cross-Atlantic flight; Anne is a simple college girl living in the shadow of her radiant older sister Elisabeth. To everyone’s surprise, then, it’s Anne who catches Charles’s eye. And so begins their enthralling journey together. Intimately depicting their marriage of duty and partnership in the air, as well as the horrific kidnapping and murder of first child Charles Jr., this is less love story than voyeuristic glimpse at one of the 20th century’s most captivating men through the eyes of the woman who knew him best. In true Benjamin style, it’s Anne who captures us all in this exquisite fictional take on an iconic marriage.” — Agent: Melanie Jackson, the Melanie Jackson Agency. (Feb.). 402p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013
“Andalucian Friend” by Alexander Soderberg – “a tale of cutthroat mob bosses and the extraordinary lengths to which they will go to one-up one another. Unwittingly (and unwillingly) at the center of the action is Sophie, a nurse and single mom whose charitable instincts toward her patient–the leader of a crime ring–could wind up costing her the thing she values most in life: her teenage son. Told largely in flashback, the story takes place to a great degree in Sweden, but the electrifying final chapters are set in Spain’s Costa del Sol, culminating in a car/motorcycle gunfight that just begs for a film adaptation. Soderberg writes exceptionally well-drawn and sympathetic characters, demonstrates an easy familiarity with diverse European locales, and has the chops to move a story along with the best of them. All in all, The Andalucian Friend is yet one more compelling reason to read Scandinavian suspense novels, some of the finest in the genre today.” — BOOKPAGE, c2013.
“Fever” by Mary Beth Keane – “In this compelling historical novel, the infamous Typhoid Mary is given great depth and humanity by the gifted Keane… Irish immigrant Mary Mallon is eager to better her station in life and unafraid of hard work. When she is finally made a head cook, she is hired by some of the best families in Manhattan but unwittingly leaves a trail of disease in her wake. A “medical engineer” ultimately identifies her as a healthy carrier of typhoid fever and quarantines her on North Brother Island, where she is separated from her lifelong companion, Alfred Briehof, and forced to live in isolation. She is released three years later under the condition that she never cook again. But her inability to understand her condition, her passion for cooking, and the income she had become used to all conspire to lure her back into the kitchen. Keane not only makes of the headstrong Mary a sympathetic figure, she also brings the New York City of the early twentieth century to teeming life, sweeping readers into the crowded apartment buildings, filthy bars, and dangerous sweatshops of Upper Manhattan. Most movingly of all, she tells a great love story in depicting Mary and Alfred’s flawed but passionate relationship. A fascinating, often heartbreaking novel.” — Wilkinson, Joanne. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“The Fifth Assassin” by Brad Meltzer – “National archivist Beecher White (The Inner Circle, 2011) returns in another heart-pounding thriller set in Washington, D.C. As if he were spinning plates, Meltzer balances almost too many characters’ stories simultaneously: the evil president who is about to be assassinated; the elusive first love, Clementine, and her insane father, Nico; and Marshall, suspected killer and Beecher’s wounded childhood friend. Also in the mix are four seemingly random murders modeled on presidential assassinations and a secret spy ring initiated by George Washington. Beecher narrates sections of the story as he races from crime scenes to hospitals and even to Camp David, setting a frantic pace that will leave readers breathless and tense. Interlaced with Beecher’s narration are short snippets in an omniscient voice that matter-of-factly yet chillingly describes the killer, who calls himself the Knight and wears a white plastic mask. As the story nears its climax (Will there be a fifth presidential assassination?), we are still guessing about the Knight’s identity and his bizarre motives. This roller-coaster car should come with a seatbelt!.” — Baker, Jen. 384p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“In One Person” by John Irving – “Prep school. Wrestling. Unconventional sexual practices. Viennese interlude. This bill of particulars could only fit one American author: John Irving. His 13th novel (after Last Night in Twisted River) tells the oftentimes outrageous story of bisexual novelist Billy Abbott, who comes of age in the uptight 1950s and explores his sexuality through two decadent decades into the plague-ridden 1980s and finally to a more positive present day. Sexual confusion sets in early for Billy, simultaneously attracted to both the local female librarian and golden boy wrestler Jacques Kittredge, who treats Billy with the same disdain he shows Billy’s best friend (and occasional lover) Elaine. Faced with an unsympathetic mother and an absent father who might have been gay, Billy travels to Europe, where he has affairs with a transgendered female and an older male poet, an early AIDS activist. Irving’s take on the AIDS epidemic in New York is not totally persuasive (not enough confusion, terror, or anger), and his fractured time and place doesn’t allow him to generate the melodramatic string of incidents that his novels are famous for. In the end, sexual secrets abound in this novel, which intermittently touches the heart as it fitfully illuminates the mutability of human desire.” — Agent: Dean Cooke, the Cooke Agency. (May). 448p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Iron King” by Maurice Druon – “This first book in a seven-part historical series that chronicles the beginnings of the Hundred Years’ War and the fall of the Capetian kings sets the foreboding mood and relentless slow-march tempo that drives the characters forward to their dooms or noble destinies. At its heart is the French monarch, Philip the Fair (1268-1314), grandson of Saint Louis, who rules with an iron fist; it’s his persecution of the Knights Templar, including burning its Grand Master at the stake, that sets the stage for his downfall. Adding to the intrigue is Druon’s marvelous depiction of the swirl of those lives that move around him. The Iron King can be only as strong as those who serve him, after all. VERDICT Seasoned with sex, betrayal, brutal warfare, cold pragmatic calculating, and curses from the lips of martyrs dying at the stake, this tale cuts a memorable swath through the reader’s imagination. The flavor of the times, the smells, sounds, values, and superstitions give this work a fine readability as well as a sensation of reality. With an introduction by George R.R. Martin, who cites this French epic series as an influence on his Game of Thrones, Druon’s acclaimed work (first published in 1955) will find an audience with fans of historical fiction and Martin.” — Russell Miller, Prescott P.L., AZ. 368p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“The Lower River” by Paul Theroux – “Theroux (Hotel Honolulu) draws on personal experience and literary antecedents (think Heart of Darkness) for his latest adventurous tale. Ellis Hock, 62, has a marriage in shambles, an estranged daughter, and a failing business. Hoping to escape the modern world and put his money and time to good use, he leaves Massachusetts for a place rich with fonder memories—a village in the Lower River district of Malawi, where Ellis served with the Peace Corps for four years in his 20s. But Malabo is not the quaint community that he left decades ago—the people are more suspicious and reticent. Perhaps interaction with Western NGOs has changed them, or maybe it’s just that Hock’s youthful optimism has dimmed with age. But the village remembers him—the mzungu who doesn’t fear snakes—and Hock finds himself ensnared in a situation far more complex than anything he expected. A somewhat slow exposition and occasional repetition aside, Theroux successfully grafts keen observations about the efficacy of international aid and the nature of nostalgia to a swift-moving narrative through a beautifully described landscape.” — Agent: Jin Auh, the Wylie Agency. (May). 336p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“O’Brien’s” by Peter Behrens – “Behrens makes it clear early on in his latest historical novel that the O’Brien men are a restless group. What follows is the story of railroad magnate Joe O’Brien and his marriage and family, from the late nineteenth century in the Canadian wilderness to John F. Kennedy’s run for president. Behrens chooses illuminating segments of the characters’ lives to present, skipping years to the next significant period and switching the focus to different family members without losing the thread of the story. The novel is an epic along the lines of Middlesex in the way it follows a family through time and examines the results of their actions. Also the author of the award-winning novel The Law of Dreams (2006), Behrens keeps dialogue at a minimum, instead exploring the internal lives of the characters amid richly imagined surroundings. A brooding novel, engrossing in its scope and detail, The O’Briens keeps sight of the family’s personal stories amid the larger history of much of the twentieth century.” — Thoreson, Bridget. 400pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Private Berlin” by James Patterson – “At Private, an investigative firm that has an office in Berlin, one of its agents has disappeared. Now, the Private team is taking a look at the cases Chris Schneider was working on for clues to his disappearance. Their investigation leads them to an abandoned Nazi slaughterhouse where their hope vanishes. Someone very dangerous and depraved is at work in Berlin and he’s just getting started.” — Private (Grand Central Publishing) series, 448pp.,
“Until the End of Time” by Danielle Steel – “Steel’s two-part story of reincarnation and everlasting love will satisfy fans of gentle romance and women’s fiction. In the 1970s, famous fashion-show producer Jenny falls in love with lawyer Bill, and they marry, despite his family’s objections. Bill decides to attend divinity school, and they end up living in Wyoming after a church offers Bill a position. There tragedy strikes. In the second story, Amish Elizabeth takes care of her widowed father and brothers while secretly writing a book at night. Bob is an independent publisher looking for a winning read. They fall in love and struggle to be respectful of her father and Amish traditions while seeking to publish the book and be together. Could it be that Elizabeth and Bob are Jenny and Bill come back to life for a happier ending? This gentle, inspirational story is very different from Steel’s usual style, but her loyal readers will enjoy it just the same, as will anyone looking for a clever and sweetly dramatic romance.” — Alessio, Amy. 336p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“A Week in Winter” by Maeve Binchey- “Located in western Ireland on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, Stone House is run down and neglected. When Chicky Starr decides to buy the property and turn it into a hotel, the town thinks she’s gone crazy. The project brings unexpected peace and understanding to Chicky and her staff, and after months of tireless work, Stone House is ready for business. The first out-of-towners arrive with disappointment, disgrace, and doubt, but nearly all experience a catharsis on the cliffs and trails and in the gardens that can be found in the surrounding countryside. Verdict Written in a style similar to that in Whitethorn Woods, this title features Binchy’s unsurpassed storytelling as she weaves together the lives and experiences of her characters. Finished shortly before Binchy’s death in 2011, this final offering will please many of the author’s fans, … this tale of love, friendship, redemption, growing up, and moving on is a lovely swan song for the beloved author.” — Vicki Briner, City Coll. Lib., Fort Lauderdale, FL. 320p. LIBRARY JOURNAL, c2013.
“Good Cop” by Brad Parks – “This is the fourth outing for Carter Ross, the New Jersey newspaper reporter with a strong sense of justice, a passion for journalism, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Carter is awakened early one morning by a phone call from his boss, who orders him to follow up on a cop killing. Carter visits the widow and learns a lot about the victim, none of which makes sense when he is later told that the cop took his own life. The widow is adamant that her husband was murdered, but when her preacher pulls his support from the investigation, Carter knows something is up. He keeps digging, despite being shot at, while his current flame and previous girlfriend complicate his life further. Meanwhile, there is another story line involving gun smuggling that eventually intersects with the cop killing, making for a thoughtful look at gun laws in New Jersey that, in light of the Sandy Hook massacre, becomes even more compelling and disturbing. This is a tautly written page-turner with charm and humor, a terrific combination that is sure to appeal to David Rosenfelt and Janet Evanovich fans.” — Alesi, Stacy. 352p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel” by Jonathan Kellerman – “The only clue to a buried baby’s identity is a vintage Duesenberg. The new owners of the fixer-upper Victorian in LA’s posh Cheviot Hills area are appalled when a storm reveals an old metal hospital box containing the skeleton of a dead baby in their yard. The LAPD’s Milo Sturgis, who catches the case, drags along his pal, consulting psychologist Alex Delaware (Victims, 2012, etc.). Tracking down former house tenants turns up a pediatric nurse often visited late at night by someone driving a rare Duesenberg, whose ownership leads to a late doctor with severe war wounds who may have provided abortions back in the days before Roe v. Wade. The case is further complicated when another baby, more recently buried, is found in a nearby park with a woman, possibly its mother, lying dead nearby. Would a serial killer space his crimes over 50 years apart? Would he even have the appetite for murder so many years later? The new infant’s bones have been picked clean by flesh-eating beetles, then coated with beeswax. The woman turns out to be a missing nanny whose last job was for superstars Prema Moon and Donny Rader, now sequestered on their vast estate with their four adopted kids. The couple’s marriage is a sham, their estate manager turns up with a bullet in his head, and another of their nannies has also departed without notice. After Alex tails Prema, she decides that she’ll pay $300 for a 45-minute session with him, and that lets loose a three-hankie tale of marital woe that ends with Milo and a forensic crew surrounding the film stars’ living complex. Too slick, too generous with coincidences and too cute by far. One pet pooch in particular is so endearing she ought to be in a Disney movie.” — 400pg. KIRKUS MEDIA LLC, c2013.
“Six Years” by Harlen Coben – “In the prologue to this Kafkaesque stand-alone from bestseller Coben (Stay Close), Jake Fisher, a political science professor at Lanford College in Massachusetts, promises the love of his life, Natalie Avery, to leave her and the man she’s about to wed, Todd Sanderson, alone. For six years Jake keeps his promise, until he sees Todd’s obituary, flies to the deceased’s Palmetto Bluff, S.C., funeral, and finds that the widow is not Natalie. This is merely the first of many shocks. He later gets the brush-off from Natalie’s sister, and when he tries to revisit the retreat in Kraftboro, Vt., that Natalie was attending when they fell in love, he’s told there is (and was) no such place. Surprising secrets among Jake’s friends and colleagues propel him on a trail of violence and labyrinthine deception. Coben has achieved greater suspense in other thrillers, but this ranks among his strangest and most ingenious plots. 5-city author tour. Agent: Lisa Erbach Vance, Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (Mar.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Suspect” by Robert Crais – “Expect the expected in this stand-alone crime thriller from Shamus Award-winner Crais (The Two Minute Rule). Maggie, a weapon-detecting German shepherd who was seriously traumatized in Afghanistan after an IED killed her human partner and she was shot by a sniper, is struggling as a new member of the LAPD K-9 Platoon. LAPD officer Scott James–who was traumatized after unidentified gunmen killed his partner, Stephanie Anders, and seriously wounded him–makes it his mission to get past Maggie’s defenses to make her functional again. An attractive female detective assists James after his own return to form enables him to take a more active role in investigating who gunned down Anders. Dog lovers who believe the animals are superior to humans in every way will find this lukewarm tale of redemption inspiring.” — Author tour. Agent: Aaron Priest, Aaron M. Priest Literary Agency. (Jan. 22). 320p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012
“Touch and Go: A Novel” by Lisa Gardner – “This no-holds-barred stand-alone from Thriller Award-winner Gardner opens with the brutally efficient kidnapping of the Denbe family–father Justin, wife Libby, and 15-year-old daughter Ashlyn–from their exclusive Back Bay townhouse. Law enforcement officials who get quickly involved include corporate investigator Tessa Leoni (from 2011’s Love You More) and series lead Boston Det. Sgt. D.D. Warren (Catch Me, etc.). When the trail leads out of state, New Hampshire county cop Wyatt Foster and FBI special agent Nicole Adams get on the case. Gardner effectively alternates between the physical and emotional disintegration of the family under the pressure of their captivity and the efforts of Leoni and company to dig into the secrets of Denbe Construction, its key employees, and its finances, as well as to locate the Denbes. The suspense builds as the action races to a spectacular conclusion and the unmasking of the plot’s mastermind.” — Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Feb.). 400p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012
“The Second Atlas of Breeding Birds of Vermont” edited by Rosalind B. Renfrew – “”This beautiful and comprehensive atlas will be an essential reference for land managers, birders, and anyone who cares about the nature of Vermont. Revealed in these pages are trends and changes, even a few surprises, in bird populations during the last few decades.” — (David Sibley, author and illustrator of The Sibley Guide to Birds )
“Duct Tape Parenting: A Less is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible & Resilient Kids” by Vicki Hoefle – “Moher of five and professional parenting educator Hoefle shares the secrets to her success in dealing with typical behavioral problems in this hard-to-put-down, Adlerian Psychology-based parenting manual. She claims her method will improve relationships and create independent, thoughtful, resilient, and, of course, well-behaved children. But how to accomplish this feat? Stay calm, say nothing, have “radical faith” in your children. In other words, the titular duct tape is for the parents, not the kids. Calling attention to problematic behavior, Hoefle says, makes a harmless weed grow into something much worse: a long-term attention-getting scheme, or a deep-seated personality trait. As long as it’s not a dangerous behavior or situation, Hoefle suggests that parents ignore it. When siblings fight, when a child is caught stealing, or when kids stall and slow down the morning, sit back and see what happens when you say nothing at all. Hoefle’s strategy, which is an extreme form of natural consequences parenting, may seem irresponsible to some, but it clearly comes from the heart and is full of helpful tips even for those who find themselves in disagreement with the book’s main assertion. And perhaps the proof is in the pudding–Hoefle did survive five kids, sanity intact.” — (Aug.). 224p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Future: Six Drivers of Global Change” by Al Gore – “Former Vice President Gore draws links and offers cautionary advice for individuals and governments alike in this exhaustive, historically-grounded argument about six concepts that he believes will exert the greatest influence on humanity’s future. The global economy, the proliferation of the Internet and intelligent machines, a shift in the balance of global power, unsustainable growth and consumption, the rise of biotechnology, and the relationship between man and Earth’s ecological systems are the broad areas explored here. With echoes of his previous books’ calls for restrained consumption and the reestablishment of a “healthy and balanced relationship” between humanity and the natural world, Gore (The Assault on Reason) makes the seemingly contradictory argument that a properly restrained democratic capitalism “can serve the world better than any other economic system.” Particularly interesting sections cover the effect of the Internet and the globally-integrated economy on cultural and national identity, the potential for advances in biotech to disrupt “the ecological system within our bodies,” and possibilities for combating global warming. Gore’s strengths lie in his passion for the subject and in his ability to take the long view by putting current events and trends in historical context, and they outweigh the dry tone and occasionally contradictory arguments.” — Agent: Andrew Wylie, The Wylie Agency. (Feb.). 592p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Gun Guys: A Road Trip” by Dan Baum – T”o explore America’s gun culture, Baum,…traverses the country talking to gun owners, shooting instructors, gun advocates, gun control supporters, and even a former gang member who used a gun to kill someone. As a “stoop-shouldered, bald-headed, middle-aged” Jewish Democrat, Baum isn’t your typical gun owner, but he admits to having an “obsession” with guns and has one on his person for much of his road trip. Crisscrossing America he finds a lot of inconsistencies, like gun owners who think the government is coming for their guns despite the fact that “guns laws were getting looser everywhere” or gun control groups pushing for new legislation without understanding how guns work or the historical ineffectiveness of gun control. Though he tries to find diversity among the gun owners he interviews, many just spout antiliberal dogma or “play the role of victim,” so these encounters become repetitive. It’s when the tone of the book shifts from travelogue to narrative, with stories like those of Tim White, who “used a gun in his criminal undertakings”; Rick Ector, an industrial engineer who turned gun carrier after a mugging; and Brandon Franklin, a young New Orleans man who was shot while trying to defend the mother of his children, that Baum’s skill as a writer and journalist is revealed. Overall, this is a very balanced accounting of both sides of America’s gun issue, and while Baum doesn’t have all the answers, his solution that both sides come together to promote gun safety is both admirable and prudent. Baum can be lauded for trying to find an accommodating solution to the problem of guns, but no doubt gun lovers and gun haters both will vehemently disagree with him.” — (Mar.). 336p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Black Russian” by Vladimir Alexandrov – “Born in Mississippi, in 1872, to former slaves, Frederick Bruce Thomas became rich and famous “against all odds,” but Alexandrov is the first to discover just how high the stakes were. In this magnetically appealing, unforgettable biography, Alexandrov tracks Thomas as he works his way cross-country as a waiter, bellhop, and personal valet, then takes “the extraordinary step” of sailing to Europe in 1894. Thomas thrived in the absence of racism in France, Germany, and Italy, then settled in Russia, a land of nearly no people of African descent, where he achieved international renown as a brilliantly innovative and strategically charming nightclub owner. He married a German woman and started a family, but as the world went to war and the Bolsheviks came to power, questions about Thomas’ citizenship became dangerously complicated. Exiled and destitute in volatile Constantinople, he worked his way up again, bringing the first black jazz musicians to Turkey. But swindlers, an outraged ex-wife, a racist American diplomat, and political unrest landed him in debtors’ prison, where he died at 55 and was promptly forgotten. In his assiduously researched, prodigiously descriptive, fluently analytical, and altogether astonishing work of resurrection, Alexandrov provides uniquely focused accounts of racial struggles in America and decadence and bloodshed in Europe and Russia while insightfully and dynamically portraying a singular man.” — Seaman, Donna. 336p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor – “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, born poor in the South Bronx and appointed to the federal bench as its first Hispanic justice, recounts numerous obstacles and remarkable achievements in this personal and inspiring autobiography. Her path to the highest court in the land was rife with difficulties, but it wasn’t circuitous–from an early age, Sotomayor was determined to become a lawyer. To reach her goal she overcame diabetes, the language barrier (her Puerto Rican family spoke Spanish at home), the early death of her beloved alcoholic father, and–in the academic and professional worlds–the disparaging of minorities. In some respects, her story–that of a second-generation immigrant rallying familial support, educational opportunities, and plenty of ambition and discipline to realize the American dream–is familiar, but her extraordinary success makes her experience noteworthy. Sotomayor is clear-eyed about the factors and people that helped her succeed, and she is open about her personal failures, foremost among them an unsuccessful marriage. Regardless of political philosophies, readers across the board will be moved by this intimate look at the life of a justice. 16 pages of photos.” — Agent: Peter Bernstein, Bernstein Literary Agency. (Jan. 16). 320p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“American Experience: Death and the Civil War”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Dexter Season 2”
“Downton Abbey: Season 3”
“Games of Thrones: Season 2”
“Life of Pi”
“Sound of Music”
“Bella Loves Bunny” by David McPhail
“500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” by Dr. Seuss
“Adele & Simon” by Barbara McLIntock
“Arabella Miller’s Tiny Caterpillar” by Clare Jarrett
“Back to Front and Upside Down” by Claire Alexander
“Creepy Carrots” by Peter Brown
“Each Kindness” by Jacqueline Woodson”
“The Fantastic Jungles of Henri Rousseau” by Michelle Markel
“Infinity and Me” by Kate Hosford
“Lemonade in Winter” by Emily Jenkins
“Llama, Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney
“Looking at Lincoln” by Maira Kalman
“Max’s Chocolate Chicken” by Rosemary Wells
“Ollie” by Olivier Dunrea
“Overboard” by Sarah Weeks
“Picture a Tree” by Barbara Reid
“Sleep Like a Tiger” by Pamela Zagarenski
“Take Me Out to the Yakyu” by Aaron Meshon
“There’s Going to be a Baby” by John Burningham
“This is Not My Hat” by Jon Klassen
“Tuesday” by David Wiesner
“We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” by Michael Rose
“The Big,Big, Big Book of Tashi” by Anna & Barbara Feinberg & Kim Gamble – “Imported from Australia, this rollicking omnibus unites seven books, many of them bestsellers Down Under, and their popularity is easy to understand. A boy named Jack describes his new friend, Tashi, who arrives one day on the back of a swan from a magical country populated with giants, dragons, ghosts and all sorts of other things that go bump in the night. Tashi mesmerizes Jack (and Jack mesmerizes his parents) with tales of his exploits about outwitting a succession of deliciously horrible villains (‘I’ll pluck out your nose hairs, one by one,’ a bandit threatens Tashi. Sometimes Tashi tells a story, to Jack; sometimes Jack recounts a Tashi adventure to his parents. In an amusing role reversal, Jack’s parents hang breathlessly on their son’s every word (‘So tell us,’ Jack’s father says. ‘After Tashi tricked those giants and teased the bandits, how did he meet these ghosts?’), and the dialogue between the storyteller and his audience invisibly tightens the narrative tension. Teasers end each tale (‘ So that’s the end of the story,’ said Jack sadly. And everyone was safe and happy again.’ Yes,’ said Tashi, that is, until the bandits arrived’ ‘). Appearing one or two to each page, Gamble’s playful b&w drawings are an integral part of the fun, making this outsize volume a prime choice for shipping to summer camp with newly independent readers. Best of all, the answers to those cliffhangers are only a turn of a page away.” — Ages 6-10. 448pg. (May) CAHNERS PUBLISHING, c2002.
“Boy on Cinnamon Street” by Phoebe Stone – “Grades 6-8. Louise and the quirky cast of characters in this novel will win your heart. When Louise receives a letter from a secret admirer, she automatically assumes it’s from the pizza delivery boy. Louise and her best friend Reni set out to get his attention, but this is only a distraction in Louise’s life. There are suppressed memories regarding the death of her mother, her abandonment by her father, and the fact that she will never be tall. Through it all, Reni’s brother stands on the side, as do Louise’s grandparents. The plot is somewhat predictable, but readers will enjoy figuring things out before Louise. This is a lovely, leisurely read for a long afternoon.” — Esther Keller, JHS 278 Marine Park, Brooklyn, New York. ABC-CLIO, INC., c2012
“Center of Everything: A Novel” by Linda Urban – “Ages 9-12. The poignancy that characterized Urban’s A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Hound Dog True is also present in this novel about wishes and regret. Months after her grandmother’s death, 12-year-old Ruby Pepperdine composes a winning essay honoring her New Hampshire town’s namesake: Capt. Cornelius Bunning, inventor of the doughnut. Ruby should be ecstatic that she gets to read her essay in front of the whole community on Bunning Day, but her mind is on other things, especially how she didn’t listen to her grandmother’s final words before she died. Ruby thinks that maybe if she wishes hard enough, “everything will be back to how it is supposed to be,” but making a wish the right way is a tricky business. In a story whose winding plot echoes the doughnut shape that fascinates Ruby, Urban traces how Ruby discovers connections among dissimilar phenomena, including the nature of relativity, everyday sounds, and being part of a community. Ruby’s large imagination and even bigger heart are beautifully evoked as the sixth-grader finds a way to keep the memory of her grandmother alive.” — (Mar.). 208p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Jinx” by Sage Blackwood – “Grades 4-7. Nearly abandoned in a forest by his stepfather, young orphan Jinx lands, instead, in the home of a wizard, Simon. There Jinx, who has always had an ability to see others’ feelings in colors and symbols, develops the ability to communicate with the forest’s trees. But after Simon performs a spell, Jinx loses his capacity as an emotional seer. Setting out into the forest to look for a counterspell, Jinx joins company with a girl and a boy, both of whom are suffering under their own curses. In this expertly paced, beautifully written book, Blackwood elevates familiar fantasy elements with exquisitely credible characters who inhabit a world filled with well-drawn magic and whimsy–witches travel by butter churn, for example. Rounding out the exciting story are terrifying dangers, delightful bouts of wordplay, and vivid settings that will appeal to readers’ imaginations, senses of humor, and desire for fair play. … this exciting, thought-provoking debut will leave readers eager for follow-up adventures.” — Goldsmith, Francisca. 368p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2013.
“Mighty Miss Malone” by Christopher Curtis – “Responding to readers’ pleas that he write a book with a female main character, Curtis traces the path that led Deza’s family to homelessness. It’s 1936 in Gary, Ind., and the Great Depression has put 12-year-old Deza’s father out of work. After a near-death experience trying to catch fish for dinner, Roscoe Malone leaves for Flint, hoping he’ll find work. But Deza’s mother loses her job shortly after, putting all the Malones out on the street. As in his previous books, Curtis threads important bits of African-American history throughout the narrative, using the Joe Louis-Max Schmeling fight to expose the racism prevalent even among people like the librarian who tells Deza that Louis is ‘such a credit to your race.’ Though the resolution of the family’s crisis is perhaps far-fetched, some readers will feel they are due a bit of happiness; others will be struck by how little has changed in 75 years for the nation’s have-nots.” — (Jan.) 320pg. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2011
“One for the Murphys” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt – “Ages 10–up. When 12-year-old Carley Conners is put into foster care, she is angry and distrustful of the picture-perfect Murphy family. Carley’s mother is in the hospital after a savage beating by Carley’s stepfather, and while Carley has forgotten some details of that night, she partly blames herself for what happened. Mrs. Murphy works hard to gain Carley’s trust, and Carley comes to love her foster mother deeply. Life with the Murphys contrasts with Carley’s old life of poverty with a mother who often dismantled her confidence. At times melodramatic and perhaps overly emotionally manipulative, Hunt’s debut novel is nothing if not a tearjerker—scenes at home with the Murphy family, as well as those in which Carley builds a tentative friendship at school, are undeniably affecting. Hunt’s writing is strong and her characters well-developed and believable; if Carley’s narration and frequent quips sometimes read as too polished, readers will still be drawn into this story of a girl’s struggle against the ingrained belief that she is undeserving of kindness and generosity.” — Agent: Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (May). 240p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Shadow on the Mountain” by Margi Preus – “Ages 10-14…. Preus (Heart of a Samurai) delivers a riveting story about teenage freedom fighters in WWII Norway. Espen and the other members of his soccer team hope to continue to enjoy the game they love following the Nazi invasion, but both Espen’s teammates and rivals are soon pulled into the resistance movement as rations are cut and their families assaulted. Espen is drafted to be a courier for the resistance, while his younger sister, Ingrid, starts sneaking ration cards to starving Norwegians. Preus ably develops a large cast of characters, rendering them with persuasive vulnerabilities and showing how each is transformed by the war. Espen’s skiing missions for the resistance combine the thrilling aspects of an outdoor adventure story with political peril and the threat of violence. An author’s note with photographs of the real-life inspiration for Espen, Erling Storrusten (as well as appendices on code breaking and invisible ink), bring the truth behind the powerful story into startling focus.” — Agent: Stephen Fraser, Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency. (Sept.). 286p. Web-Exclusive Review. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Bomb: The Race to Build and Steal the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon” by Steve Sheinkin – “Ages 10-up. In his highly readable storytelling style, Sheinkin … weaves together tales of scientific and technological discovery, back-alley espionage, and wartime sabotage in a riveting account of the race to build the first atomic weapon. The famous (Robert Oppenheimer) and infamous (spy Harry Gold) headline an enormous cast of characters, which also includes Norwegian resistance fighter Knut Haukelid, whose secret wartime missions prevented Hitler from acquiring an atom bomb. B&W portraits of key players appear in photo-montages that begin each of the book’s four sections. Sheinkin pulls from numerous sources to supply every chapter with quotations that swiftly move the narrative forward. Suspenseful play-by-play moments will captivate, from the nuclear chain reaction test at the University of Chicago to the preparations for and dropping of the first bomb over Hiroshima. In a “genie out of the bottle” epilogue, details of the Cold War’s escalating arms race and present-day weapons counts will give readers pause, especially Sheinkin’s final thoughts: “It’s a story with no end in sight. And, like it or not, you’re in it.” A must-read for students of history and science.” — (Sept.). 272p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Darwin” by Alice McGinty – “Ages 6-9. Darwin and the natural world that fascinated him come into clear focus in this picture-book biography that pairs accessible text with handsome woodcut art. Tinted with watercolors, Caldecott Medalist Azarian’s (Snowflake Bentley) illustrations convey the era in which Darwin lived and his devotion to his work (a humorous scene shows Darwin and his brother fleeing the shed where they conducted chemistry experiments, as green gas billows out). Especially compelling are Azarian’s depictions of the young naturalist’s five-year voyage aboard the HMS Beagle; he’s seen excavating fossils and encountering rare species on the Galapagos Islands. McGinty (Thank You, World) includes excerpts from Darwin’s correspondence and notebook entries, which illuminate his private concerns and self-questioning. The author also effectively incorporates Darwin’s thoughts into her own writing; after the publication of The Origin of the Species, he ‘braced himself for the worst. Would people say his work was not complete? Would they believe he was speaking out against the church?’ These complementary narratives provide a solid portrait offering insight into Darwin’s inner self as well as his accomplishments.” — (Apr.). 48pg. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2009.
“Fairy Ring: or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World” – by Mary Losure – “Ages 10–up. In 1920, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published photographs in the widely read Strand magazine that he believed proved the existence of fairies. The pictures had been taken a few years earlier by two cousins, nine-year-old Frances Griffiths and 15-year-old Elsie Wright. Tired of adults teasing them about Frances seeing fairies, Elsie borrowed her father’s camera and produced photos showing the girls interacting with dainty winged creatures in the valley behind Elsie’s house. After experts declared the pictures genuine and Conan Doyle’s article appeared, it wasn’t long before events spiraled out of control and led to a myth that lasted more than 60 years. Losure’s first book for children details the events that led the girls to their fame and adds the personal recollections of those involved from their own later writings. Accompanied by the famous photos, the story is written in an accessible narrative style that includes the attitudes of the time and explains historical items like the use of hatpins and how cameras of the period worked. An intriguing glimpse into a photo-doctoring scandal well before the advent of Photoshop.” — (Mar.). 192p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012.
“Hilda and the Bird Parade” by Luke Pearson – “Ages 6-up. Following the events of Hilda and the Midnight Giant,…tiny blue-haired Hilda and her mother are settling into the fictional town of Trolberg. It’s a far cry from their idyllic mountain home: Hilda’s mother is nervous about letting her daughter roam free, and the local kids’ idea of a good time is to pull pranks on neighbors and throw rocks at birds. When a large, black bird is left injured and amnesiac after being hit by one such rock, Hilda tries to help it remember how to fly as well as find her own way home. Although Trolberg initially seems grim (down by the docks, the bird scares Hilda with a story about a rat king, to which she responds, “You can’t remember who you are but you can remember that?”), Pearson shows how Hilda’s optimism, curiosity, and self-assuredness help her make the most of this unfamiliar new setting. The reds, golds, and blues in the palette (Hilda’s signature colors) hint at the way her outlook transforms the town from intimidating and rundown to a place where magical, wonderful things can happen.” — (Apr.). 44p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2013.
“Molly by Golly! The Legend of Molly Williams, America’s First Female Firefighter” by Dianne Ociltree – “Ages 7-10. Ochiltree and Kemly share the little-known story of Molly Williams, an African-American woman who, in the early 1800s, went from cooking for New York City’s volunteer firefighters to battling blazes alongside them as the first female firefighter. The men of Fire Company No. 11 adore Molly’s hasty pudding and apple tansey, but when a fire breaks out during a blizzard, she races outdoors to warn the neighborhood, then helps haul out the pumper engine, carry buckets, and combat the fire. Kemly’s snow-streaked illustrations show Molly as a woman of determination and strength, and a sense of both danger and heroism radiates from the story.” –(Sept.). 32p. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, c2012
“Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World” by Sy Montgomery – “Grades 4-8. It isn’t easy to describe how the mind of someone with autism works, but Montgomery’s biography effectively breaks the disorder down for a younger audience while introducing the extraordinary life of activist Temple Grandin. When Grandin was a child, she was withdrawn and unable to communicate. In 1950, at the age of three, she received an unheard-of diagnosis: autism. Grandin’s mind thinks visually, in pictures, much the way it is believed that animals think. As such, she is empathetic to their needs and has advocated for the humane treatment of livestock by redesigning cattle facilities to be cruelty-free
“The World’s Greatest Lion” by Ralph Helfer – “Grades 1-3. A lion cub–who would later be known as Zamba–lost both of his parents in a fight with an intruder on the African grasslands. After escaping “the brute” and being rescued, Zamba was sent to the Africa U.S.A. ranch where, under animal behaviorist Ralph Helfer’s care, he grew so gentle that he earned starring roles in Hollywood, eventually becoming the well-known mascot of MGM Studios, or “Leo the Lion.” However, it was not until a flood threatened the animals at the ranch that Zamba really earned his nickname, “world’s greatest lion.” This picture book reunites the creators of The World’s Greatest Elephant (2007) with mixed results. Helfer’s attempts to get inside Zamba’s head–“Zamba didn’t know quite what to make of the small, cramped space”–stretch the boundaries of truth, and there’s no author’s note to help sort fact from fiction. But Caldecott Honor-winning Lewin (Peppe the Lamplighter, 2004) fills his spreads with glorious images of African animals, highlighting the bonds that can unexpectedly form between different species. Kelley, Ann. 40p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Beyond Courage; The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust” by Doreen Rappaport – “Grades 7-12. With all the shelves of Holocaust books about the millions lost in the genocide, this is one of the few histories to focus in detail on Jewish resistance across Europe–those who fought back and saved others. The intricate deceptions are as compelling as the confrontations, and the underground escape stories make for thrilling adventure. The horror of what was left behind is always present: the ghettos, the camps, the transports, the Jews who did not support armed resistance, and those who did not get away, including some who fled to forests and starved to death or were murdered by their anti-Semitic neighbors. In addition to the chapters on the Warsaw Ghetto and Theresienstadt, there are also lots of lesser-known accounts of incredible resistance. In the Vilna Ghetto, arms were hidden in the library, the cemetery, in walls, and in wells. Always there are stories of the survivors’ guilt, as with a man who left his mother to die alone. The uncluttered book design helps make the detailed history accessible, with spacious type on thick, high-quality paper and portraits, photos, and prints on every page, all meticulously documented in extensive chapter notes and a bibliography. That many young people played important roles in the resistance is a special draw for YAs. An important addition to the Holocaust curriculum.” – Rochman, Hazel. 240p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Dodger” by Terry Pratchett – “Grades 8-12. On a stormy night in early Victorian London, an able young man named Dodger rises from the sewers in response to a scream, fights off two thugs, and rescues a damsel in distress. Dodger continues to rise throughout the novel, as his love for the mysterious lady motivates this tosher (scavenger for lost coins and other treasures in London’s sewers) to elevate himself and leads him to a closer acquaintance with a string of historical figures, including Dickens, Disraeli, and ultimately, the queen and her consort. While most writers would be well advised not to include such characters in their books, Pratchett manages to humanize them without diminishing them or throwing the story off-kilter. However lowly Dodger’s origins, he remains the most memorable character in the book. Living by his wits and unencumbered by conventional morality, this trickster hero expertly navigates the underbelly of his city as he carries out a bizarre scheme resulting in justice and mercy. The temptation to quote sentences, whole paragraphs, and possibly entire chapters is almost irresistible, because the pleasure of reading the novel is in the language as much as in the characters and well-researched period setting. Often amusing, this Victorian romp of a novel is lovingly crafted and completely enjoyable.” — Phelan, Carolyn. 368p. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2012.
“Matched” by Allie Braithwaite Condie – “Gr. 9-12. ‘Do not go gentle into that good night.’ Cassia’s feelings of security disintegrate after her grandfather hands her a slip of paper just before his scheduled death at age 80. Not only does she now possess an illegal poem, but she also has a lingering interest in the boy who fleetingly appeared on her viewscreen, the one who wasn’t her match, the man she will eventually marry. What’s worse, she knows him–his name is Ky, and he is an orphan from the Outer Provinces. How could she love him as much as Xander, her match and best friend since childhood? The stunning clarity and attention to detail in Condie’s Big Brother-like world is a feat. Some readers might find the Society to be a close cousin of Lois Lowry’s dystopian future in The Giver (1993), with carefully chosen work placements, constant monitoring, and pills for regulating emotional extremes. However, the author just as easily tears this world apart while deftly exploring the individual cost of societal perfection and the sacrifices inherent in freedom of choice.” — Courtney Jones. 384pg. AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, c2010.