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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Lark
by Porter, Tracey

Publishers Weekly Neither character-driven nor plot-driven, middle-grade author Porter's first YA novel is a message-driven story about three teenage girls who have suffered at the hands of men. The 16-year-old title character has been stabbed, raped, and left to die of hypothermia in the woods near her home. Her voice alternates with those of two friends, Nyetta and Eve, who are coping with their own betrayals by men in their lives (Nyetta's father abandoned her family; Eve was molested by a coach). Lark, meanwhile, faces further victimization after her death-she will, like other murdered girls, be imprisoned forever in a tree if no one truly acknowledges what happened to her. It's neither clear what supernatural agency would inflict such a fate nor why the acknowledgement of law enforcement is insufficient, but Eve and Nyetta must come to terms with their own lives, and with Lark's death, for all three to move on. Porter (Billy Creekmore) develops strong, distinct voices for each girl, but they are the flat characters of a parable. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list After a kidnapping, brutal assault, and rape, 16-year-old Lark is left bound to a tree and dies of exposure in a snowstorm. Eve, once Lark's best friend, was the last person to see her alive and struggles to find the right way to react. Nyetta, a younger girl Lark once babysat, is visited by Lark's plaintive ghost. If Lark can't convince someone to look at her and bear witness to her wounds, she will be trapped in the tree, unable to move on into the afterlife. Nyetta is troubled by Lark's demands and forms an unlikely friendship with Eve and Eve's boyfriend, Ian, to find a way to help Lark go. In this sparse and poetic novel, Lark's ordeal is depicted briefly but with enough detail that it may be difficult for sensitive readers. Ultimately, though, this is a haunting addition to th. dead gir. genre that treats the survivors' emotions, guilt, and pain gently and with a great deal of understanding.--Booth, Heathe. Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Lark Austin is only 16 when she is kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Her former best friend, Eve; her former babysitting charge, Nyetta; and Lark herself take turns telling this poignant story. Lark gets trapped in limbo, becoming a part of the tree where, her arms tied behind her, she was left to die. She begins to communicate with Nyetta, begging for her help in order to be set free. Eve is still recovering from being molested by her swim coach, which has caused her to withdraw from everyone around her. Nyetta is homeschooled, living primarily with her unemotional mother, and has no one with whom to really connect. The girls are all looking for someone to hear them. Readers may initially be reminded of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), but the story takes its own path at once. The concise narrative holds deep and honest emotions as the characters go through the stages of dealing with Lark's untimely and gruesome death. An excellent addition to YA collections.-Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, Camden, NJ (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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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Anya's Ghost
by Vera Brosgol

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Anya is a Russian girl who wants to fit in with her American classmates. She falls down a well and meets a ghost named Emily, who was murdered. They become friends and promise to help one another. Emily helps Anya get closer Sean, a boy she likes. In return, Anya promises to help solve Emily's 90-year-old murder. The story is rather dark and at times darkly humorous, especially when Anya fantasizes about Sean. It gets even darker when Anya realizes that Emily has been concealing a very dangerous truth about herself. Anya's character is not always sympathetic-she cheats on tests, she is often rude to her friends, and she refuses to help another Russian student because he's too "fobby" (Fresh Off the Boat). But her interactions with Emily and Sean change her and help her to evolve into a character whom readers can admire. The artwork is made up of clean, cartoony lines, reminiscent of that in Hope Larson's Mercury (S & S, 2010). The mix of mystery, horror, and the coming-of-age theme combined with the appealing graphic style will make Anya's Ghost an ideal choice for reluctant teen readers.-Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library (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.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Anya, a Russian immigrant, just wants to blend in at her high school. She meets a ghost, who seems friendly at first, but once Emily's secrets are revealed, things take a surprising turn. This fantastic debut graphic novel has an atmospheric palette and clean, dramatic cartoon lines. (July) (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.

Library Journal Anya Borzakovskaya has a mouthful of a name and a head full of angst. While her single mom, a Russian immigrant, studies for citizenship and cooks greasy syrniki pancakes, Anya obsesses about her weight and tries to fit in at her not-so-ritzy private school. Then she falls down a well, where she meets a ghost who wants to be her BFF. The transparent, dead Emily helps Anya cheat on tests, coaches her on looking hot, and encourages her crush on dudely dreamboat Sean. But what starts off as a hunky-dory super-natural buddy story takes a clever twist when Anya discovers Emily's darker side and Sean's seamier side-and manages to see through both of them. VERDICT This is a YA magical realist tale with adult appeal, featuring imperfect characters who can still use their smarts and decide to take the right course. And while it's all about empowerment, the story is also wonderfully creepy and entertaining. The Moscow-born Brosgol effectively uses two-toned art with halftones, far better than the many indie artists who overuse gray scale and textures. A YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens nominee.-M.C. (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 And The Good News Is . . .
by Dana Perino


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog She Walks These Hills
by Sharym McCrumb

Library Journal A tale of an escaped convict from Edgar Award winner McCrumb.

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

School Library Journal YA?Mystery and folklore are skillfully blended in this contemporary Appalachian tale. Driving the plot are ``Harm'' (Hiram) Sorley, an aging prisoner suffering from recent memory loss, who receives a spiritual message to escape from prison and return home to North Carolina; history grad student Jeremy Cobb, who wants to hike the trail used by Katie Wyler in the late 1700s when she escaped from Indians who held her captive; and members of the sheriff's department who search for both of these men. Strong females also figure prominently in this title, not the least of whom is Katie Wyler, dead over 200 years, whose spectral image helps several characters. Assisting Sheriff Arrowwood is his newest deputy, Martha Ayers, who's determined to prove she can rise above the lot of dispatcher. When all these folks converge beside a burning trailer home, more than one mystery is solved. McCrumb's rich use of dialect, accompanied by both physical description of and folklore about the mountains, combine to produce an evocative, haunting story. This novel defies stereotypical mystery elements, offering instead a complete melange of character study, plot, and setting.?Pam Spencer, Chapel Square Media Center, Fairfax County, VA

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

Publishers Weekly In 1779, Katie Wyler, 18, was captured by the Shawnee in North Carolina. The story of her escape and arduous journey home through hundreds of miles of Appalachian wilderness is the topic of ethno-historian Jeremy Cobb's thesis-and the thread which runs through the third of McCrumb's ballad novels (after The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter). As Cobb begins to retrace Katie's return journey, 63-year-old convicted murderer Hiram (Harm) Sorley escapes from a nearby prison. Suffering from Korsakoff's syndrome, he has no recent memory: old Harm is permanently stuck in the past. Hamelin, Tenn., police dispatcher Martha Ayers uses the opportunity to convince the sheriff to assign her as a deputy. One of her first duties is to calm a young mother who, angry at her inattentive husband, is threatening her baby with a butcher knife. Ayers and the sheriff must also warn Harm's ex-wife Rita that he has escaped. Acting as a kind of narrative conscience is a local deejay, a ``carpetbagger from Connecticut,'' who sees Harm as a folk hero from another era. Deftly building suspense, McCrumb weaves these colorful elements into her satisfying conclusion as she continues to reward her readers' high expectations. Mystery Guild selection; author tour. (Oct.)

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 Here on Earth
by Alice Hoffman


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Master of the Senate
by Robert A. Caro

Choice This third volume of a projected four-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson examines his two Senate terms. Whereas the first two volumes (The Path to Power, CH, Apr'83, and Means of Ascent, CH, Oct'90) portrayed an ambitious, ruthless, unremitting quest for power, this massive work examines Johnson in power. The result is more flattering, if only by degree. Caro shows Johnson's humanity, but also explores how earlier patterns blossomed in the Senate: Johnson nurtured relationships with older powerful men (Georgia Senator Richard Russell, acknowledged leader of the Southern Democrats); enlarged the authority of his office (majority leader); and humiliated adversaries (liberals Leland Olds of the Federal Power Commission and Senator Paul Douglas). Long digressions (traditional Senate power relationships, and Richard Russell's background) frame the Senate of the 1950s, where Johnson's superb legislative talents balanced northern liberal aspirations against Southern Democratic seniority and solidarity, and finally came to bear on civil rights. Convinced that Senate approval of a civil rights bill would legitimate his presidential candidacy, Johnson engineered approval of the 1957 Civil Rights Act, but allowed the bill to be eviscerated to gain Southern Democratic acceptance. Caro's achievement is extraordinary, although his focus on civil rights affords only cursory treatment of the period after 1957. All collections. A. J. Dunar University of Alabama in Huntsville

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly As a genre, Senate biography tends not to excite. The Senate is a genteel establishment engaged in a legislative process that often appears arcane to outsiders. Nevertheless, there is something uniquely mesmerizing about the wily, combative Lyndon Johnson as portrayed by Caro. In this, the third installment of his projected four-volume life of Johnson (following The Path to Power and Means of Ascent), Caro traces the Texan's career from his days as a newly elected junior senator in 1949 up to his fight for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960. In 1953, Johnson became the youngest minority leader in Senate history, and the following year, when the Democrats won control, the youngest majority leader. Throughout the book, Caro portrays an uncompromisingly ambitious man at the height of his political and rhetorical powers: a furtive, relentless operator who routinely played both sides of the street to his advantage in a range of disputes. "He would tell us [segregationists]," recalled Herman Talmadge, "I'm one of you, but I can help you more if I don't meet with you." At the same time, Johnson worked behind the scenes to cultivate NAACP leaders. Though it emerges here that he was perhaps not instinctively on the side of the angels in this or other controversies, the pragmatic Senator Johnson nevertheless understood the drift of history well, and invariably chose to swim with the tide, rather than against. The same would not be said later of the Johnson who dwelled so glumly in the White House, expanding a war that even he, eventually, came to loathe. But that is another volume: one that we shall await eagerly. Photos. (Apr.) Forecast: Both volumes one and two had long stays on PW's bestseller list, and those readers will flock to volume three, especially with the aid of a first serial in the New Yorker, a feature in the New York Times magazine, a 16-city author tour and undoubtedly ubiquitous review coverage. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list The obvious question about the third volume in Caro's dynamic, definitive biography of LBJ, following its award-winning predecessors, The Path to Power (1982) and Means of Ascent (1990), is: Does it live up to the profound success of the earlier volumes? The answer is a resounding yes. Caro now covers Johnson's career in the U.S. Senate (1949-61), where, remarkably quickly, he rose to majority leader. We primarily remember LBJ as the president confounded by the Vietnam War. But what Caro so authoritatively yet so rousingly shows us is Johnson's unprecedented and unsurpassed talent for leading the Senate exactly where he wanted it to go. And where he wanted it to go was, most significantly, in the direction of civil rights legislation; he laid the groundwork, with the Civil Rights Act of 1957, for the even greater civil rights legislation he secured from Congress during his presidency. What Caro also achieves so fully and compellingly is not only an understanding of Johnson's power and the psychological compulsions behind the accumulation and exercise of it but also an awareness of the U.S. Senate's moribund state, which it had slipped into decades before Johnson walked into the chamber. He succeeded in turning the upper house into a force to be reckoned with within the structure of the federal government. With first serial rights sold to the New Yorker, this is the biography of the season, and librarians should expect to order more than one copy. --Brad Hooper

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

Library Journal Lyndon Johnson's 12 years in the Senate (1949-61) were his happiest years, according to his wife, Lady Bird Johnson. They are the subject of this long-awaited third volume of Caro's biography, following The Path to Power (1982) and Means of Ascent (1990). Johnson was indeed the master of the Senate, becoming the youngest elected majority leader after only one term. His ruthless fight for power, which Caro focused on in his previous books, is present here. However, his goals, Caro notes, were not only selfish: he led the fight to break the reactionary Southern bloc, which allowed for the passage of the 1957 Civil Rights Act. This watered-down voting rights bill was significant as the first civil rights bill passed in 80 years, setting the precedent for the major civil rights legislation passed during Johnson's presidency. Caro praises Johnson as a great champion of all people of color and devotes much of the book to his evolution from an active participant in the racist Southern Caucus to a true believer in civil rights. While Robert Dallek's two-volume Flawed Giant and Lone Star Rising remain the best scholarly appraisal of Johnson, no other author narrates as gracefully Johnson's complexities, contradictions, and the people and events that contributed to them. Highly recommended for all libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/01.] Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners 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 Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants
by Katy Payne

Library Journal : In this mixture of personal saga, social commentary, and scientific research, Payne researches elephants' use of infrasound (sound below human hearing) to communicate over long distances. She describes the research she undertook in Kenya and in Zimbabwe, a country that condones elephant culling. Dreadfully, most of the elephants she studied there were destroyed in a 1991 cull. She found this extremely distressful, withdrawing from her own research for a time. Upon returning to Zimbabwe, she faced more sorrow; three of her research associates had been killed in a plane crash. Most of the events of the book happened prior to 1992; perhaps just now Payne is able to write of them. Peppered with commentary, criticism, and catharsis, her book is neither pure natural history nor pure autobiography. Still, it offers interesting background reading for elephant followers. Acceptable for larger public libraries and large natural history collections.

Nancy J. Moeckel, Miami Univ. Lib., Oxford, Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

Publishers Weekly : "I was hearing faint sounds that might have been overtones of stronger sounds that the elephants, but not I, could hear." In a chronicle that effectively blends memoir with the drama of scientific discovery, Payne (Elephants Calling), an acoustic biologist at Cornell, describes her role in the discovery of infrasonic communication between elephants. As she does so, she recounts her 13 years' study of African elephants--observing their social and family structures and behaviors, including the digging of wells. A scientist's respect for the elephants, "my gray friends," and for the native scouts informs her work. Payne writes, "You appreciate the value of silence when you watch elephants at night.... Every animal in the herd listens when the herd is listening. To use silence so well: if I could choose for people one attribute of elephants, I'd choose this." Payne can be passionate, especially regarding the issues of poaching and the harvesting of ivory, and she is convinced that any decision about ivory harvesting must take into account both the experience of elephants themselves as well as the historic relations between indigenous peoples and wild animals. Payne believes that "[i]n such a world animals reveal things to each other, and even occasionally to people like me: their attention to us is commensurate with ours to them." This book will make a wonderful addition to the library of any animal lover or of anyone fascinated by intra- and interspecies communication. Maps and drawing by Laura Payne.

Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon
by Julie Phillips

Publishers Weekly Journalist Phillips has achieved a wonder: an evenhanded, scrupulously documented, objective yet sympathetic portrait of a deliberately elusive personality: Alice Sheldon (1915-1987), who adopted the persona of science fiction writer James Tiptree Jr. Working from Sheldon's (and Tiptree's) few interviews; Sheldon's professional papers, many unpublished; and the papers of Sheldon's writer-explorer-socialite mother, Phillips has crafted an absorbing melange of several disparate lives besides Sheldon's, each impacting hers like a deadly off-course asteroid. From Sheldon's sad poor-little-rich-girlhood to her sadder suicide (by a prior pact first shooting her blind and bedridden husband), Sheldon, perpetually wishing she'd been born a boy, made what she called "endless makeshift" attempts to express her tormenting creativity as, among others, a debutante, a flamboyant bohemian, a WAC officer, a CIA photoanalyst, and a research scientist before producing Tiptree's "haunting, subversive, many-layered [science] fiction" at 51. Sheldon masked her authorship until 1976, and afterward produced little fiction, feeling that a woman writing as a man could not be convincing. Through all the ironic sorrows of a life Sheldon wished she hadn't had to live as a woman, Phillips steadfastly and elegantly allows one star, bright as the Sirius Sheldon loved, to gleam. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

Book list Over the course of an abbreviated but prolific 20-year career, the late James Tiptree Jr. earned a well-deserved place in the pantheon of sf with a series of brilliantly original tales featuring a distinctive, apocalyptic flavor. Stories such as The Girl Who Was Plugged In and The Women Men Don't See have become staples of sf anthologies and university literature classes. Despite frequently featuring well-rounded female protagonists, Tiptree kept his true, female identity as Alice B. Sheldon (1915-87) a closely guarded secret until relatively late in her life. Phillips' long-overdue biography probes the mystery behind Sheldon's clandestine lifestyle while mapping out the many adventurous turns in her continuously reinvented identity as she changed roles from graphic artist and CIA agent to psychologist and award-winning author. Beginning with Sheldon's childhood spent tagging along to Africa with her mother, noted travel writer Mary Bradley, Phillips follows Alli from her formative years in a Swiss girls' school to her years working in a Pentagon subbasement to, finally, her almost whimsical turn as an sf author and eventual, premeditated suicide with her husband. Phillips draws on extensive interviews with surviving relatives and literary colleagues as well as Alli's revealing letters to write a compelling, sympathetic portrait of one of speculative fiction's most gifted and fascinating figures. --Carl Hays Copyright 2006 Booklist

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

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog When You Reach Me
by Rebecca Stead