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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 Blackout
by John Rocco

Book list It's a scenario many kids are probably all too familiar with: a young boy wants to play, but older sis is gabbing on the phone, Mom is busy on the computer, and Dad is making dinner. When the power goes out, however, the family comes together to make shadow puppets on the wall, join the neighbors on the roof to admire the stars, and even head out front to the most idyllic city street you'll ever see. All good things come to an end, though. The power comes back on, and everyone immediately slips back into walled-off family units though the walls are a bit weaker now. Compositionally, this picture book bears a strong resemblance to Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen (1970), breaking some of the pages into comics-style panels and running a boxed narrative up top. Rocco's lustrous, animation-quality artwork somehow manages to get richer the darker it gets, and features one of the silkiest skies sinc. Van Gogh's Starry Night. A versatile reminder to take a break and invest in quality together time once in a while.--Chipman, Ia. Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-The view inside this family of four's duplex depicts what might be a typical night for them. The younger child is reaching for a board game, her older sister is talking on the phone, dad is cooking, and mom is working at the computer. When the girl tries to enlist the others to play the game with her, they're all too busy-until "The lights went out. All of them." It's a blackout! At first, the family members sit at the kitchen table with a flashlight and some candles; then they head up to the roof for a look at the bright stars against the dark cityscape; and, finally, they go down to the street, where there's a festive atmosphere of guitars playing, free ice cream, and an open fire hydrant. In the end, readers will see that simple pleasures and a spirit of togetherness can be enjoyed even when the electricity comes back on. The colorful pictures work beautifully with the book's design. Rocco uses comic-strip panels and a brief text to convey the atmosphere of a lively and almost magical urban landscape. Great bedtime reading for a soft summer night.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL (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.

Publishers Weekly Rocco's sublime account of a city blackout reveals a bittersweet truth: it sometimes takes a crisis to bring a family together. In a series of graphic novel-style panels, a small child tries to convince family members to play a board game one hot summer night, but they're all too busy. When the lights go out, though, the neighborhood comes alive and the whole family drifts up to the roof to look at the stars: "It was a block party in the sky." Rocco (Fu Finds the Way) gets everything right: the father's pained, sheepish smile when he says he has no time to play; the velvety dark and glowing candlelight of the blackout (as well as the sense of magic that can accompany one); and the final solution to the problem of a too-busy family (a private blackout, courtesy of a light switch). The high-energy visuals that characterize Rocco's other work get dialed back a little. In the most poignant spread, the family sits on the stoop, eating ice cream: "And no one was busy at all." It's a rare event these days. Ages 4-8. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2-On a summer night in the city, the youngest member of a family finds that everyone is too busy to play with him. But when the lights go out, and everything shuts down, suddenly there's time for games and impromptu street and rooftop parties. Luminous, fluid artwork, filled with visual gags that extend the charming story, glows with warmth and humor. (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.

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog The Girl On The Train
by Paula Hawkins


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Dont Murder your Mystery
by Chris Roerden


Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
by Carson McCullers


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The orphan master's son : a novel
by Adam Johnson.

Publishers Weekly Johnson's novel accomplishes the seemingly impossible: an American writer has masterfully rendered the mysterious world of North Korea with the soul and savvy of a native, from its orphanages and its fishing boats to the kitchens of its high-ranking commanders. While oppressive propaganda echoes throughout, the tone never slides into caricature; if anything, the story unfolds with astounding empathy for those living in constant fear of imprisonment-or worse-but who manage to maintain their humanity against all odds. The book traces the journey of Jun Do, who for years lives according to the violent dictates of the state, as a tunnel expert who can fight in the dark, a kidnapper, radio operator, tenuous hero, and foreign dignitary before eventually taking his fate into his own hands. In one of the book's most poignant moments, a government interrogator, who tortures innocent citizens on a daily basis, remembers his own childhood and the way in which his father explained the inexplicable: "...we must act alone on the outside, while on the inside, we would be holding hands." In this moment and a thousand others like it, Johnson (Parasites Like Us) juxtaposes the vicious atrocities of the regime with the tenderness of beauty, love, and hope. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Imagine a society in which the official political story tells only of happiness and prosperity, yet personal experience reveals the opposite. Imagine the resulting internal dissonance and the ways in which people might reconcile such opposing forces. This is the experience offered by Johnson (Parasites Like Us) in his novel of modern-day North Korea. Following the path of the hero's journey, young Pak Jun Do moves from an orphanage into a life of espionage, kidnapping, and torture, only to be given a new identity as the husband of the Dear Leader's favorite actress. With references to the classic American film Casablanca, Johnson's narrative portrays his hero as he makes his way through a minefield of corruption and violence, eventually giving his all so that his loved ones might have a better life. VERDICT Readers who enjoy a fast-paced political thriller will welcome this wild ride through the amazingly conflicted world that exists within the heavily guarded confines of North Korea. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 8/15/11.]-Susanne Wells, M.L.S., Indianapolis (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.

Book list *Starred Review* Pak Jun Do lives with his father at a North Korean work camp for orphans. In a nation in which every citizen serves the state, orphans routinely get the most dangerous jobs. So it is for Jun Do, who becomes a tunnel soldier, trained to fight in complete darkness in the tunnels beneath the DMZ. But he is reassigned as a kidnapper, snatching Japanese citizens with special skills, such as a particular opera singer or sushi chef. Failure as a kidnapper could lead directly to the prison mines. But in Johnson's fantastical, careening tale, Jun Do manages to impersonate Commander Ga, the country's greatest military hero, rival of Dear Leader Kim Jong Il and husband of Sun Moon, North Korea's only movie star. Informed by extensive research and travel to perhaps the most secretive nation on earth, Johnson has created a remarkable novel that encourages the willing suspension of disbelief. As Jun Do, speaking as Ga, puts it, people have been trained to accept any reality presented to them. Johnson winningly employs different voices, with the propagandizing national radio station serving as a mad Greek chorus. Descriptions of everyday privations and barbarities are matter of fact, and Jun Do's love for Sun Moon reads like a fairy tale. Part adventure, part coming-of-age tale, and part romance, The Orphan Master's Son is a triumph on every level.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

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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, OH

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

Book list Payne is an acoustic biologist who, after studying the songs of whales, turned her attention to elephants, curious about their reputed ability to communicate with each other over vast distances. Even though her first experiments take place in a zoo, she senses a "kind of thrill in the air," and suspects that like whales, elephants create sounds too low for human detection. Payne travels to Kenya to test out her theory in the field and hooks up with a number of elephant experts, including Joyce Poole. Payne writes glowingly of the elephants she studies and succinctly chronicles her remarkable discoveries regarding their infrasound communications, but she is soon overwhelmed by the carnage wrought on allegedly protected herds by both poachers and park administrators. Forced to the conclusion that any and all interaction with wildlife is detrimental to their well-being, she turns her narrative into a candid and sobering discussion of our species' perverse relationship with the rest of nature. --Donna Seaman

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

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. (Aug.)

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

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National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
by Kai Bird

Publishers Weekly Though many recognize Oppenheimer (1904-1967) as the father of the atomic bomb, few are as familiar with his career before and after Los Alamos. Sherwin (A World Destroyed) has spent 25 years researching every facet of Oppenheimer's life, from his childhood on Manhattan's Upper West Side and his prewar years as a Berkeley physicist to his public humiliation when he was branded a security risk at the height of anticommunist hysteria in 1954. Teaming up with Bird, an acclaimed Cold War historian (The Color of Truth), Sherwin examines the evidence surrounding Oppenheimer's "hazy and vague" connections to the Communist Party in the 1930sAloose interactions consistent with the activities of contemporary progressives. But those politics, in combination with Oppenheimer's abrasive personality, were enough for conservatives, from fellow scientist Edward Teller to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, to work at destroying Oppenheimer's postwar reputation and prevent him from swaying public opinion against the development of a hydrogen bomb. Bird and Sherwin identify Atomic Energy Commission head Lewis Strauss as the ringleader of a "conspiracy" that culminated in a security clearance hearing designed as a "show trial." Strauss's tactics included illegal wiretaps of Oppenheimer's attorney; those transcripts and other government documents are invaluable in debunking the charges against Oppenheimer. The political drama is enhanced by the close attention to Oppenheimer's personal life, and Bird and Sherwin do not conceal their occasional frustration with his arrogant stonewalling and panicky blunders, even as they shed light on the psychological roots for those failures, restoring human complexity to a man who had been both elevated and demonized. 32 pages of photos not seen by PW. (Apr. 10) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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

Library Journal Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in the life, career, achievements, and trials of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the "father" of the atomic bomb. In 2004, there were two new biographies by significant science writers-Jeremy Bernstein's Oppenheimer: Portrait of an Enigma and David C. Cassidy's J. Robert Oppenheimer and the American Century. In addition to this current title, another is scheduled for publication in 2005, Abraham Pais and Robert Crease's Shatterer of Worlds: A Life of J. Robert Oppenheimer. This collaboration between writer Bird and English professor Sherwin is an expansive but fast-paced and engrossing work that draws its strength from the insights provided into Oppenheimer's thoughts and motives and the many anecdotes. The book's five parts cover his youth and education, his early career and dalliance with communism, the Manhattan Project, his return to academe and growing political influence, and, finally, his dealings with the FBI and eventual retreat from public life. The emphasis throughout is on Oppenheimer's personality and how he navigated the sociopolitical minefields of the era, with relatively less discussion of his scientific work. For a readable and well-researched biography of the man, this suffices quite well. However, with so many other biographies available, not to mention histories of the Manhattan Project, it provides little new information here. For general readers in larger public and academic libraries.-Gregg Sapp, Science Lib., SUNY at Albany Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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

Book list Robert Oppenheimer's work as director of the Manhattan Project--bringing hundreds of iconoclastic nuclear physicists together in the New Mexico desert to design and build the first atomic bomb--remains one of the most remarkable feats, both triumphant and tragic, of the twentieth century, but as this definitive biography makes clear, it was only one chapter in a profoundly fascinating, richly complex, and ineffably sad American life. Bird and Sherwin set the stage beautifully, detailing Oppenheimer's young life as a multidisciplinary child prodigy at the progressive Ethical Culture School in Manhattan. The young Oppenheimer was a tangled mix of precocity and insecurity--a far cry from the charismatic leader who would emerge at Los Alamos. Funneling more than 25 years of research into a captivating narrative, the authors bring needed perspective to Oppenheimer's radical activities in the 1930s, and they reprise the familiar story of the Manhattan Project thoroughly, though without attempting the scope and scientific detail of Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb 0 (1987) .0 Where Bird and Sherwin are without peer, however, is in capturing the humanity of the man behind the porkpie hat, both at Los Alamos and in the tragic aftermath, when Oppenheimer's tireless efforts to promote arms control made him the target of politicians and bureaucrats, leading to the revoking of his security clearance by the Atomic Energy Commission in 1954, during a hearing that the authors portray convincingly as a kangaroo court. That Oppenheimer both helped father the bomb and was crucified for lobbying against the arms race remains the fundamental irony in a supremely ironic story. That irony as well as the ambiguity and tortured emotions behind it are captured in all their intensity in this compelling life story. --Bill Ott Copyright 2005 Booklist

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

Choice Oppenheimer became one of the world's best-known physicists in 1945 when the public learned that he had successfully led the effort to design and construct the first nuclear fission bombs. He and other researchers worked hard after WW II trying to convince the government to place nuclear materials under international control. Oppenheimer lobbied against a program to produce a nuclear fusion bomb on the grounds that it would be massively destructive. In order to squelch his influence, some of his opponents instigated a hearing before a board of the Atomic Energy Commission; as a result, Oppenheimer lost his security clearance in 1954. He spent the rest of his career at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton, where he had been director since 1947. Writer Bird and Sherwin (English; American history, Tufts Univ.) offer this comprehensive biography based on analysis of masses of documentation and many interviews. Their book stimulates thinking about key issues--international control of nuclear materials, openness in science and politics, freedom of debate, and discussion of ideas--that are as important today as they were then. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All levels. M. Dickinson Maine Maritime Academy

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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

Publishers Weekly Through narrative that has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic, Perkins (All Alone in the Universe) captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence. There's Debbie, who makes a wish that "something different would happen. Something good. To me." There's Hector, who hears a guitarist and quite suddenly feels inspired to learn how to play the instrument. Then there's mechanical-minded Lenny who feels himself drawn to Debbie. The characters spend spring and summer wandering about their neighborhood, "criss crossing" paths, expanding their perspectives on the world while sensing that life will lead them to some exciting new experiences. (During a walk, Hector feels "as if the world was opening, like the roof of the Civic Arena when the sky was clear. Life was rearranging itself; bulging in places, fraying in spots.") Debbie forms a crush on a boy from California visiting his grandmother. Hector falls for a girl in his guitar class. Lenny hints at his feelings for Debbie by asking her on a date. All three loves remain unrequited, but by the end of the novel, Debbie, Hector and Lenny have grown a little wiser and still remain hopeful that good things lie ahead if they remain patient. Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, this book artfully expresses universal emotions of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Through narrative that has the flavor of stream-of-consciousness writing but is more controlled and poetic, Perkins (All Alone in the Universe) captures the wistful romantic yearnings of three friends on the brink of adolescence. There's Debbie, who makes a wish that "something different would happen. Something good. To me." There's Hector, who hears a guitarist and quite suddenly feels inspired to learn how to play the instrument. Then there's mechanical-minded Lenny who feels himself drawn to Debbie. The characters spend spring and summer wandering about their neighborhood, "criss crossing" paths, expanding their perspectives on the world while sensing that life will lead them to some exciting new experiences. (During a walk, Hector feels "as if the world was opening, like the roof of the Civic Arena when the sky was clear. Life was rearranging itself; bulging in places, fraying in spots.") Debbie forms a crush on a boy from California visiting his grandmother. Hector falls for a girl in his guitar class. Lenny hints at his feelings for Debbie by asking her on a date. All three loves remain unrequited, but by the end of the novel, Debbie, Hector and Lenny have grown a little wiser and still remain hopeful that good things lie ahead if they remain patient. Part love story, part coming-of-age tale, this book artfully expresses universal emotions of adolescence. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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