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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Pearl
by Knowles, Jo


ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Over and Under the Snow
by Kate Messner

Book list Gliding through the woodland on skis, a girl and her father watch for signs of animals. A squirrel's tail flashes red as he disappears down a crack in the snow. A fox steps into view. Guided by her father, the child becomes increasingly aware of the secret kingdom beneath the snow, where voles pass through tunnels, bullfrogs sleep in mud, and a queen bee hibernates in the ground. A few appended pages offer more information about the animals mentioned and recommend books and websites for further reading. Neal's artwork, mixed media with digital elements, uses the white snow to isolate images of the people, animals, and trees within the natural setting. Cutaway views show what is happening beneath the snow as well as on its surface. Reminiscent of linocut prints, the illustrations have a retro look that suits Messner's precisely worded, effective story. A good choice for winter reading, this quiet but eye-opening picture book could heighten a child's awareness of the natural world.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly Straddling the informative and the evocative, this lovely study of the ways animals spend the winter in a "secret kingdom under the snow" combines Messner's (Sea Monster's First Day) graceful prose ("Over the snow, the fire crackles, and sparks shoot up to the stars. I lick sticky marshmallow from my lips and lean back with heavy eyes") with debut illustrator Neal's quiet, woodcut-like portraits of the snowy forest. A human father and daughter are tiny figures in a field of white, cross-country skiing past fir trees and glimpsing the occasional animal, while other creatures are visible in cutaway views below ground ("Under the snow, a queen bumblebee drowses away December, all alone. She'll rule a new colony in spring"). The rhythm of the girl's discoveries balances thoughtful discovery with moments of muted excitement, as when she skis downhill, then watches a fox pounce on a mouse ("His paws scratch away to find the mouse he heard scritch-scritch-scratching along underneath"). Unvarnished pages and an elegant layout enhance the sense of magic in a natural world just out of view. Includes an afterword and bibliography. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-A girl spends the day with her father skiing through the woods. As they proceed through the wintry landscape, he tells her about the secret kingdom of animals under the snow. He explains how a red squirrel and shrew move through cracks and tunnels, and how deer mice stay warm in their nests by covering themselves with feathers and fur. When the sky is light, the voles, beavers, and chipmunks gather food to eat, but as the sky grows darker, the queen bumblebee, bullfrogs, and black bear are shown sleeping in enclosures under the snow. Aboveground, the child and her dad are joined by the mom and have a bonfire, complete with cocoa and hot dogs sizzling on pointed sticks, before going to bed to dream about the secret kingdom under the snow. Throughout the book, Neal's crisp, clean mixed-media illustrations cleverly provide above- and belowground views, and Messner's back material will educate children about the subnivean zone and animal adaptations. Some of the uses for snow (entertainment, warmth, camouflage, shelter) can be discussed after reading this book.-Tanya Boudreau, Cold Lake Public Library, AB, Canada (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Rumor
by Elin Hilderbrand


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Youve Got Murder
by Donna Andrews

Publishers Weekly In a detour from her first three outings featuring the delightful Meg Langslow (Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, etc.), Andrews pulls her quirky new sleuth, Turing Hopper, from cyberspace. Turing, named for AI pioneer Alan Turing, is an AIP Artificial Intelligence Personality and the star of a vast number of research programs housed at Universal Library (UL) in Crystal City outside Washington, D.C. Turing's personalized banter with her customers is so down to earth she seems almost real, and she herself begins to believe she's becoming sentient. When her programmer, Zach Malone, mysteriously disappears, Turing suspects foul play and explores every avenue within her capabilities to find him. Needing human aid, she asks Tim Pincoski, UL's "Xeroxcist," and Maude Graham, secretary to a UL executive, for help. Programming an investigation takes Turing beyond her limited form and all three into corporate espionage, danger and murder. UL surveillance cameras are everywhere, and Turing's capacity to invade files and data in almost every area scarily evokes Big Brother. Without a doubt, this is a unique effort executed with great skill. The high-tech investigation, Turing's plan for herself and her ruminations about becoming almost human are sure to engage computer buffs everywhere. Fans looking for the lighthearted, humorous romps of the author's earlier books, however, may be disappointed. (Apr. 2) Forecast: Blurbs from the disparate likes of biographer Daniel Stashower, regionalist Earlene Fowler and Edgar-winner Steve Hamilton should help propel this unusual entry from Agatha and Anthony awards-winner Andrews onto genre bestseller lists. The loss of some cozy readers could be more than made up for by a crossover boost from SF fans at home with computer technology. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Drowning Ruth
by Christina Schwarz

Library Journal Why did Ruth's mother, Mathilda, drown on that fateful night in 1919 and Ruth survive? That is the central question that this novel sets out to answer. Mathilda's sister, Amanda, who has been nursing soldiers in Milwaukee (it is right after World War I), has returned to the family farm in rural Wisconsin. Mathilda and Ruth are there to help her return to a normal life. Yet a year later, Mathilda's husband returns from the war to find his wife drowned and his sister-in-law raising his daughter. So continues the tale through 1941, as we watch Ruth grow up and try to remember what happened that winter night. Along the way, Ruth befriends Imogene, who has a closer connection to the family than Ruth can imagine. The story is recounted partly through flashback and moves from first-person to third-person narrative. What results is a gripping tale of sisterly rivalry, family loyalty, and secret histories. Already optioned for a film by Miramax, to be directed by Wes Craven, this first novel is an engrossing read. Recommended for all public libraries.DRobin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list With all the realism of a Victorian morality play, this much-hyped first novel plays the tropes of dark family ties and darker family secrets, tied to a particular place. In Milwaukee, Amanda has been nursing soldiers home from World War I, but she returns, neurasthenic and tight-lipped, to the family farm on a lake. Her sister Matilda's husband, Carl, is off at war, and Mandy fits into Mattie's life with a fierce attachment to her and to her baby daughter, Ruth. But as the story moves back and forth in time, we learn that Mattie drowned in the lake one icy night; that Ruth remembers but Mandy denies her memories; and that Mandy has been mother to Ruth, filling her longing to have someone of her own. Carl's memories of his wife grow weak and suspicious; as Ruth gets older, other secrets Mandy holds grow in sinister importance. The tale is narrated in many voices and from multiple points of view, with every plotline and small detail coming round again. Unfortunately, the writing is stiff, and the armature of the plot is all too visible. Wes Craven may have a fierce old time turning this into a movie--rights have been optioned--but it isn't nearly of the intensity of, for example, Beth Gutcheon's More Than You Know [BKL F 15 00]. Buy as demand requires. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

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

Publishers Weekly "Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale. Agent, Jennifer R. Walsh at the Writers Shop. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Teen People and Mango Book Club main selections; film rights optioned by Miramax, Wes Craven to direct; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, the U.K., Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. (Aug.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

School Library Journal YA-A wonderfully constructed gothic suspense novel set on a stark Wisconsin farm in 1919. The story goes backward and forward in time and is told by Amanda, her niece Ruth, and an omniscient narrator. The ties that bind the two women are as fragile as they are fierce and have their origin in the relationship of two sisters, Amanda and her sister Mattie, Ruth's mother. The narrative begins with Amanda as she recounts her childhood and the responsibility she came to feel for her younger sister and the parents who favored her younger sibling. Amanda finally wrests herself away from home to become a nurse, but her independence is short-lived. Overwhelmed and sickened by the care of the wounded, and heartsick over the love of a married man, she suffers a nervous breakdown and seeks solace by returning to the farm to help Mattie care for her tiny daughter as they await the return of Mattie's husband from World War I. But tragedy follows with Mattie's mysterious drowning during a winter blizzard and guilty lies soon engulf Amanda and threaten to change the lives of several others in the small rural community. A compelling complex tale of psychological mystery and maddeningly destructive provincial attitudes.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Fairfax, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Slavery by another name : the re-enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II
by Douglas A. Blackmon.

Publishers Weekly Wall Street Journal bureau chief Blackmon gives a groundbreaking and disturbing account of a sordid chapter in American history-the lease (essentially the sale) of convicts to "commercial interests" between the end of the 19th century and well into the 20th. Usually, the criminal offense was loosely defined vagrancy or even "changing employers without permission." The initial sentence was brutal enough; the actual penalty, "reserved almost exclusively for black men," was a form of slavery in one of "hundreds of forced labor camps" operated "by state and county governments, large corporations, small time entrepreneurs and provincial farmers." Into this history, Blackmon weaves the story of Green Cottenham, who was "charged with riding a freight train without a ticket," in 1908 and was sentenced to "three months of hard labor for Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad," a subsidiary of U.S. Steel. Cottenham's sentence was extended an additional three months and six days because he was unable to pay fines then leveraged on criminals. Blackmon's book reveals in devastating detail the legal and commercial forces that created this neoslavery along with deeply moving and totally appalling personal testimonies of survivors. "Every incident in this book is true," he writes; one wishes it were not so. (Mar.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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

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Scientific America Young Readers Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Children Just Like Me: Celebrations
by Anabel Kindersley

School Library Journal Gr 2-6?A rich, multicultural look at holidays around the world. The celebrations are arranged by season and include: Christmas in Germany, Halloween in Canada, Hanukkah in the U.S., Diwali in India, Hina Matsuri in Japan, and Egemenlik Bayrami in Turkey. Each holiday is shown on a two-page spread with a large photograph of a featured child or children and many smaller captioned photographs of the festivities and the culture. A preface by Harry Belafonte in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF opens the book. It is a superb addition to country/cultural teaching units, and also makes a wonderful lead-in to writing, art, and creative-drama activities used to teach holidays. An enjoyable visual experience.?Stephani Hutchinson, Pioneer Elementary School, Sunnyside, WA

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


National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog Hirohito and the Making of Modern Japan
by Herbert Bix

Book list Most postwar histories have portrayed Emperor Hirohito in one of two ways: a shy, hands-off monarch who preferred marine biology to affairs of state or a pacifistic but weak ruler who was dragged by militarists into a war of conquest against his better judgment. Bix has written extensively on Japanese history and is currently a professor in the graduate school of social sciences at Tokyo's Hitotsubasbi University. In this provocative and disturbing work, he paints a far more complex portrait of Hirohito. Aided by newly available material from Japanese archives, Bix convincingly asserts that the emperor was deeply involved in most aspects of the Pacific war, from start to finish, and he voiced few objections to the most brutal outrages of his military. It is particularly disturbing to see how the cocoon of lies spun around Hirohito has been used by conservative and especially reactionary politicians in Japan to advance their nationalistic agenda. This book will undoubtedly cause a storm of controversy, especially in Japan. However, it is a vital contribution to an ongoing and critical debate. --Jay Freeman

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

Publishers Weekly Bix penetrates decades of "public opacity" to offer a stunning portrait of the controversial Japanese emperor, "one of the most disingenuous persons ever to occupy the modern throne." Hirohito ascended to the Japanese throne in 1926 (at the age of 25) and ruled until his death in 1989. Bix closely examines his long, eventful reign, concentrating on the extent of the emperor's influence-which was greater than he admitted-over the political and military life of Japan during WWII. Bix's command of primary sources is apparent throughout the book, especially in the voluminous endnotes. From these sources, the author, a veteran scholar on modern Japanese history, draws a nuanced and balanced portrayal of an emperor who did not seek out war, but who demanded victories once war began and never took action to stop Japan's reckless descent into defeat. Bix makes Hirohito's later career intelligible by a careful exposition of the conflicting influences imposed on the emperor as a child: a passion for hard science coexisted with the myths of his own divine origin and destiny; he was taught benevolence along with belief in military supremacy. These influences unfolded as Hirohito was drawn into Japan's long conflict with China, its alliance with the fascist states of Europe, and its unwinnable war against the Allies. The dominant interest of the Showa ("radiant peace") Emperor, Bix convincingly explains, was to perpetuate the imperial system against more democratic opponents, no matter what the cost. Bix gives a meticulous account of his subject, delivers measured judgements about his accomplishments and failures, and reveals the subtlety of the emperor's character as a man who, while seemingly detached and remote, is in fact controlling events from behind the imperial screen. This is political biography at its most compelling. Agent, Susan Rabiner. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Single Shard
by Linda Sue Park

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In this tale of courage and devotion, a single shard from a celadon vase changes the life of a young boy and his master. In 12th-century Korea, the village of Ch'ulp'o is famous for its pottery. The orphan Tree-ear spends his days foraging for food for himself and Crane-man, a lame straw weaver who has cared for him for many years. Because of his wanderings, Tree-ear is familiar with all of the potters in the village, but he is especially drawn to Min. When he drops a piece Min has made, Tree-ear begins to work for him to pay off his debt, but stays on after the debt is paid because he longs to learn to create beautiful pots himself. Sent to the royal court to show the king's emissary some new pottery, Tree-ear makes a long journey filled with disaster and learns what it means to have true courage. This quiet story is rich in the details of life in Korea during this period. In addition it gives a full picture of the painstaking process needed to produce celadon pottery. However, what truly stands out are the characters: the grumpy perfectionist, Min; his kind wife; wise Crane-man; and most of all, Tree-ear, whose determination and lively intelligence result in good fortune. Like Park's Seesaw Girl (1999) and The Kite Fighters (2000, both Clarion), this book not only gives readers insight into an unfamiliar time and place, but it is also a great story.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Park (Seesaw Girl) molds a moving tribute to perseverance and creativity in this finely etched novel set in mid- to late 12th-century Korea. In Ch'ul'po, a potter's village, Crane-man (so called because of one shriveled leg) raises 10-year-old orphan Tree Ear (named for a mushroom that grows "without benefit of "parent-seed"). Though the pair reside under a bridge, surviving on cast-off rubbish and fallen grains of rice, they believe "stealing and begging... made a man no better than a dog." From afar, Tree Ear admires the work of the potters until he accidentally destroys a piece by Min, the most talented of the town's craftsmen, and pays his debt in servitude for nine days. Park convincingly conveys how a community of artists works (chopping wood for a communal kiln, cutting clay to be thrown, etc.) and effectively builds the relationships between characters through their actions (e.g., Tree Ear hides half his lunch each day for Crane-man, and Min's soft-hearted wife surreptitiously fills the bowl). She charts Tree Ear's transformation from apprentice to artist and portrays his selflessness during a pilgrimage to Songdo to show Min's work to the royal court he faithfully continues even after robbers shatter the work and he has only a single shard to show. Readers will not soon forget these characters or their sacrifices. Ages 10-14. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gr. 4-8. When the polite greeting in a society is "Have you eaten well today?' one may guess that subsistence is of prime concern. Surely no one in this twelfth-century Korean village is more accustomed to hunger than the orphan boy Tree-ear and his guardian Crane-man who is lame. They sleep under a bridge in summer and in a pit in winter, eating what they can forage in the woods or garbage piles. At the age of 12, Tree-ear becomes an assistant to the potter Min. A hard taskmaster to himself and the boy, Min is the maker of the finest celadon ware in Ch'ul'po, a village known for its pottery. When Min entrusts two precious pots to Tree-ear to deliver to Songdo, the boy must make his way across miles of unknown territory, relying on his courage and wits to prove himself worthy of Min's trust. This quiet, but involving, story draws readers into a very different time and place. Though the society has its own conventions, the hearts and minds and stomachs of the characters are not so far removed from those of people today. Readers will feel the hunger and cold that Tree-ear experiences, as well as his shame, fear, gratitude, and love. A well-crafted novel with an unusual setting. --Carolyn Phelan

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

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