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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog The Big Crunch
by Hautman, Pete

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-June has attended six schools in the last four years and is once again the new kid, this time at a Minnesota high school. First on her agenda: find some friends and a boyfriend. Wes broke up with Izzy just before school started and he doesn't want another girlfriend, but after seeing June, he can't get her out of his mind. June meanwhile starts dating Wes's best friend. Wes is in a fog. A chance encounter with her sparks a romance between the two. But before it even has a chance to get started, it's time for June to move again. Told from June's and Wes's alternating points of view, this book follows their romance through the four seasons. With rapid-fire dialogue and plenty of sappy language, the author nails the confused, self-absorbed teen characters obsessed with first love. However, the plot falls flat by focusing too closely on what love feels like instead of building a story.-Shawna Sherman, Hayward Public Library, CA (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 Showing his range, Hautman (How to Steal a Car) writes a love story that's affecting despite, or perhaps because of, its ordinariness. Wes and June know each other, vaguely, from high school, but become better acquainted when he accidentally gives her a black eye. Both teens are prone to introspection. June is constantly on guard because her father's job requires the family to move often; Wes cleans out the garage when too much thinking leads to insomnia. When the two overcome obstacles to become a couple, they fall hard. Hautman's depiction of this is both sensitive and realistic-"I can't breathe when I look at you," Wes tells June-and the use of scientific imagery adds metaphorical heft to an otherwise run-of-the-mill romance (to everybody but Wes and June, of course). As she expected, June's father pulls up stakes again, and the lovers try to carry on with texting and telephone calls, leading to frustration and bad decisions. Readers who need nonstop action must look elsewhere, but those who make it to June's final declaration will arrive with a lump firmly lodged in their throats. Ages 13-up. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* When June starts her junior year of high school in Minneapolis, she isn't looking for love. Thanks to her management-consultant dad's constantly shifting positions, this is June's sixth new school in four years, and she's learned to guard against getting attached. Then she literally crashes into classmate Wes at a convenience store, and what begins with a black eye for June and a head bump for Wes turns into a true, deep romance that the teens try to sustain after June's dad moves the family once again. As in Lynne Rae Perkins' novels, this story's delight lies in the details. National Book Award-winning Hautman writes with wry humor and a comic's sense of juxtaposed phrases and timing. From guys' lunchroom conversations ( How come you didn't just go online for your porn, says Wes to a friend who excavates an old Penthouse from his neighbor's recycling bin) to June's father's corporate mantras of self-control and forward thinking, the dialogue is refreshingly honest, particularly in the bewilderingly urgent, awkward exchanges that fuel the attraction between June and Wes. Hautman skillfully subverts cliches in this subtle, authentic, heart-tugging exploration of first love, but his sharp-eyed view of high-school social dynamics and the loving friction between parents and teens on the edge of independence is just as memorable.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen

Book list Klassen, who illustrated Caroline Stutson's Cats' Night Out (2010), pens his first story in this odd, and oddly charming, picture book. A bummed-out bear asks if other animals have seen his lost hat. The fox knows nothing. Neither does the frog. Or the rabbit who is wearing a pointy red hat. No luck with the turtle, snake, or armadillo either. Kids will probably be squirming in their seats at this point, just dying to tell the bear what he missed three page turns ago, but then a reindeer jogs Bear's memory by asking what the hat looks like (red, pointy). He runs back to confront the rabbit, and when a squirrel asks him later if he has seen a hat-wearing rabbit, Bear is all innocence: I haven't seen any rabbits anywhere. I would not eat a rabbit. Don't ask me any more questions. This is, obviously, a dark turn, but there is no denying that the devious humor is right at a child's level. He is a bear, after all; we should be happy he didn't gobble up the rest of the cast.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly In his first outing as an author, Klassen's (Cats' Night Out) words and artwork are deliberately understated, with delectable results. Digitally manipulated ink paintings show a slow-witted bear asking half a dozen forest animals if they've seen his hat. Unadorned lines of type, printed without quotation marks or attributions, parallel the sparse lines Klassen uses for the forest's greenery. Most of the answers the bear gets are no help ("What's a hat?" one animal asks), but the rabbit's answer arouses suspicion: "I haven't seen any hats anywhere. I would not steal a hat. Don't ask me any more questions." In a classic double-take, the bear doesn't notice the hat on the rabbit's head until several pages on: "I have seen my hat," he realizes, wide-eyed. Readers with delicate sensibilities may object to the implied conclusion ("I would not eat a rabbit," the bear says stoutly, his hat back on his head, the forest floor showing signs of a scuffle), but there is no objecting to Klassen's skillful characterizations; though they're simply drawn and have little to say, each animal emerges fully realized. A noteworthy debut. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 1-3-Readers may be too young to know Nixon's famous line, "I am not a crook," but they'll surely figure out that someone here is not telling the truth. Bear has lost his hat and asks various creatures if they have seen it, with pronounced civility. Snake goes offtrack (and will also throw inattentive listeners offtrack) by announcing he's seen a blue and round hat. Rabbit vigorously denies having seen anything like it, despite evidence to the contrary. Armadillo asks, "What is a hat?" Bear is flung into despair until a young deer asks, "What does your hat look like?" Bear starts to describe it and immediately realizes he has seen it. The following page is painted red with anger. Readers realize they have seen it, too! Bear confronts the culprit and what happens next is a matter of interpretation. Violence is implied, but only indirectly. The Chinese ink illustrations are understated and stylized, and the pages are a natural sandy hue throughout. The dialogue is not in quotations but in contrasting colors. Wisps of grass, rocks, small branches, and specks of dirt compose the setting. Read aloud, this story will offer many sublime insights into how young readers comprehend an illustrated text that leaves out vital information, and will leave young sleuths reeling with theories about what just happened.-Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City (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 A Dangerous Place
by Jacqueline Winspear


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Chasing Vermeer
by Blue Balliett

Publishers Weekly Puzzles nest within puzzles in this ingeniously plotted and lightly delivered first novel that, revolving around the heist of a Vermeer painting, also touches on the nature of coincidence, truth, art and similarly meaty topics. Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay become friends in sixth grade at a school operated by the University of Chicago (Balliett taught at the University's Lab Schools), both of them independent thinkers excited by their maverick teacher, Ms. Hussey. For reasons unknown to her students, the teacher asks her class to ponder the importance of letters (the epistolary sort) and to mull over Picasso's ideas about art as "a lie that tells the truth." Readers have the edge on the characters, being privy to an enigmatic letter sent to three unidentified persons outlining a centuries-old "crime" against a painter's artistic legacy. These mysteries deepen exponentially when someone steals a Vermeer masterpiece and holds it hostage, demanding scholarly redress for misattributions within Vermeer's small oeuvre. The art mystery and the crisp intelligence of the prose immediately recall E.L. Konigsburg, but Balliett is an original: her protagonists also receive clues through dreams, pentominoes (math tools with alphabetic correspondences), secret codes (including some left to readers to decipher) and other deliberately non-rational devices. Helquist (the Lemony Snicket books) compounds the fun with drawings that incorporate the pentomino idea to supply visual clues as well. Thick with devilish red herrings, this smart, playful story never stops challenging (and exhilarating) the audience. Ages 8-12. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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

Book list Gr. 5-8. The Westing Game, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler--how exciting to find a book that conjures up these innovative, well-loved titles. That's exactly what Balliett does in her debut novel, which mixes mystery, puzzles, possibilities, and art. The story is set in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood at the University of Chicago's Lab School, where Balliett was a teacher. There, outsiders Petra and Calder become friends as they try to find out what happened to a missing Vermeer painting. That's really all the plot one needs to know. More important are Balliett's purpose in writing and the way she has structured her story. The former seems to be to get to children to think--about relationships, connections, coincidences, and the subtle language of artwork. To accomplish this, she peppers her story with seemingly random events that eventually come together in a startling, delightful pattern. The novel isn't perfect. It glides over a few nitty-gritty details (how did the thief nab the picture), and occasionally the coincidences seem more silly than serendipitous. However, these are quibbles for a book that offers children something new upon each reading. Adults who understand the links between children's reading and their developing minds and imaginations will see this as special, too. Helquist, who has illustrated the Lemony Snickett books, outdoes himself here, providing an interactive mystery in his pictures. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Fans of Ellen Raskin's The Westing Game (Dutton, 1978) and E. L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (Turtleback, 1967) will welcome this novel about two classmates determined to solve the mystery of a missing painting. Brainy 12-year-olds Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay attend the University of Chicago Laboratory School where their teacher's unorthodox methods make learning an adventure. When Vermeer's A Lady Writing disappears on its way to exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, the two overcome their adolescent awkwardness and let their friendship bloom, pooling their talents to rescue the masterpiece and expose the thief. Many elements play a role in unraveling the secrets surrounding the crime: Calder's set of pentominoes; his encoded correspondence with his friend Tommy about a missing boy named Frog; and Petra's intuitive communing with the woman in the painting, all augmented by the unusual ideas presented in a strange old book that Petra has found. Balliett also provides lots of plot twists and red herrings along the way. Helquist's atmospheric black-and-white illustrations add to the fun, incorporating clues to a secret message, the answer to which can be found on the publisher's Web site. Puzzles, codes, letters, number and wordplay, a bit of danger, a vivid sense of place, and a wealth of quirky characters enrich the exciting, fast-paced story that's sure to be relished by mystery lovers.-Marie Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY Copyright 2004 Reed 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 The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

Library Journal In this novel of breathtaking virtuosity, Franzen, whose debut, The Twenty-Seventh City, chronicled corruption and decline in St. Louis, MO, presents the dysfunctional Lambert family. Enid Lambert's husband, Al, a retired engineer, is going downhill fasthis Parkinson's disease is so bad that he has trouble sitting in a chair. The rest of the family isn't doing much better. The oldest son, Gary, a banker, is depressed and suicidal; Chip has just been fired from his teaching job; and Denise, a superstar chef at a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, is sexually involved with both her boss and his wife. The family is experiencing a series of lifestyle corrections analogous to sudden downturns in the stock market, and Enid tries to rebound by hosting an old-fashioned Christmas at their Midwestern home. From this soap opera premise, Franzen constructs a brilliant novel of ideas that compares the emerging postmodern America (East Coast) to the quickly disappearing traditional America (Midwest), with digressions on railroad history, pharmacology, post-glasnost politics, culinary trends, celebrity culture, and Wall Street. Wisely, Franzen pitches the book not as a polemic but as a farce, and the result is laugh-out-loud funny. Best of all, everything neatly dovetails, so that each digression seems immediately relevant to the main story. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.]Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Library Journal As her husband's health deteriorates, Enid faces the disappointments in her life including her three grown children. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list Ferociously detailed, gratifyingly mind-expanding, and daringly complex and unhurried, New Yorker writer Franzen's third and best-yet novel aligns the spectacular dysfunctions of one Midwest family with the explosive malfunctions of society-at-large. Alfred's simple values were in perfect accord with the iron orderliness of the railroad he so zealously served, but he is now discovering the miseries and entropy of Parkinson's disease. His wife, Enid, who has filled every cupboard and closet in their seemingly perfect house with riotous clutter in an unconscious response to her hunger for deeper experience, refuses to accept the severity of Alfred's affliction. Gary, the most uptight and bossiest of their unmoored adult offspring, is so undermined by his ruthlessly strategic wife that he barely avoids a nervous breakdown. Chip loses a plum academic job after being seduced and betrayed by a student, then nearly loses his life in Lithuania after perpetuating some profoundly cynical Internet fraud. And Denise detonates her career as a trendy chef by having an affair with her boss' wife. Heir in scope and spirit to the great nineteenth-century novelists, Franzen is also kin to Stanley Elkin with his caustic humor, satiric imagination, and free-flowing empathy as he mocks the absurdity and brutality of consumer culture. At once miniaturistic and panoramic, Franzen's prodigious comedic saga renders family life on an epic scale and captures the decadence of the dot-com era. Each cleverly choreographed fiasco stands as a correction to the delusions that precipitated it, and each step back from the brink of catastrophe becomes a move toward hope, integrity, and love. Donna Seaman

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

Publishers Weekly If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.) Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog The looming tower
by Lawrence Wright

Book list Wright, a talented New Yorker0 staff writer with a diverse portfolio and a long-standing personal interest in the Middle East, was on the al-Qaeda beat within hours of the 9/11 attacks. The product of his efforts is more deeply researched and engagingly narrated than nearly all of the looming stack of books on Osama bin Laden and his cohorts published in the past five years. The events are familiar: this account begins with theorist Sayid Qutb, covers the trajectories of bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, and culminates with Mohammed Atta and the collapsing Trade Center. But Wright's interview--fueled, character-driven approach captures both the complexity of individual actors--Qutb's alienation, for example, and bin Laden's struggle for legitimacy--as well as the fluid internal dynamics of the often covert terrorist organization. The tragic centerpiece of the book, familiar to New Yorker0 readers, is Wright's sensitive portrayal of John O'Neill, the deeply flawed working-class FBI gumshoe from New Jersey who may have been the only American to fully understand the al-Qaeda threat before 9/11. Wright seems to have found his calling: a perceptive and intense page-turner, this selection and Peter Bergen's The Osama bin Laden I Know0 (2006) should be considered the definitive works on the topic. --Brendan Driscoll Copyright 2006 Booklist

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

Library Journal Wright (fellow, Ctr. on Law & Security, NYU Sch. of Law; Twins) goes back-way back-to 1948 to dissect the personal influences and political radicalization that would lead to al Qaeda's attack on America. Delving into the tangled roots of Egyptian political dissenters, he carefully draws out the biographical background of Osama bin Laden's number two man, Dr. Ayman-al-Zawahir, who was notable for being implicated in the plot to assassinate Anware Sadat and later became a key figure in Islamist groups as he allied with bin Laden. The matter-of-fact story of the founding of al Qaeda is almost an afterthought as Wright's narrative follows bin Laden in his business and terrorist ventures from Saudi Arabia to Sudan to Afghanistan. A chilling counterpoint to the story of this growing organization is what little attention was paid to the trickle of information that made its way to Western intelligence agencies. While illustrating the CIA and FBI responses, or lack thereof, to the emerging threat of Islamist terrorism, Wright attempts to tie in an important law-enforcement figure, John O'Neill. At one time a counterterrorism agent for the FBI who deeply understood the global nature of bin Laden's threat, O'Neill ironically perished on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. The thrust of O'Neill's story, however, does not merge well with the rest of the book (for a closer look at O'Neill, see Murray Weiss's The Man Who Warned America). However, Wright's research is exemplary, including dozens of primary-source interviews and first-person perspectives, and he provides welcome insight into the time line leading up to 9/11. Recommended for large libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/06.]-Elizabeth Morris, Illinois Fire Svc. Inst. Lib., Champaign Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

Choice Wright is a staff writer for The New Yorker magazine, has published several previous works on a variety of subjects, and has lived and taught in the Middle East. The current study provides a well-written, dispassionate history and analysis, meticulously researched, of the series of events and personalities over a lengthy period of time that culminated in 9/11. Wright examines the impact of secularism, "Americanism," Israel, and the growing influence of radical Islam. Rival radical Islamic thinkers from Egypt to the Gulf States influenced the formation of Al Qaeda as a distinct group. The importance of such thinkers as Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, and Osama bin Laden are carefully reviewed. This study will put to rest the notion that Islamism is characterized simply by nihilistic fanaticism, or a monolithic movement. Personal rivalries as well as doctrinal disputes are described alongside the progress and setbacks of the Islamists' cause. Also critical is the appraisal of how various American agencies and intelligence professionals view the threat. Unusual in a trade book, endnotes, bibliography, and list of interviewees are included. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduates through faculty. M. Slann Macon State College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Library Journal New Yorker staff writer Wright profiles four men intimately involved with 9/11: al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, FBI counterterrorist chief John O'Neill, and Prince Turki al-Faisal, head of Saudi intelligence. With a three-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

Publishers Weekly Wright, a New Yorker writer, brings exhaustive research and delightful prose to one of the best books yet on the history of terrorism. He begins with the observation that, despite an impressive record of terror and assassination, post-WWarII, Islamic militants failed to establish theocracies in any Arab country. Many helped Afghanistan resist the Russian invasion of 1979 before their unemployed warriors stepped up efforts at home. Al-Qaeda, formed in Afghanistan in 1988 and led by Osama bin Laden, pursued a different agenda, blaming America for Islam's problems. Less wealthy than believed, bin Laden's talents lay in organization and PR, Wright asserts. Ten years later, bin Laden blew up U.S. embassies in Africa and the destroyer Cole, opening the floodgates of money and recruits. Wright's step-by-step description of these attacks reveals that planning terror is a sloppy business, leaving a trail of clues that, in the case of 9/11, raised many suspicions among individuals in the FBI, CIA and NSA. Wright shows that 9/11 could have been prevented if those agencies had worked together. As a fugitive, bin Ladin's days as a terror mastermind may be past, but his success has spawned swarms of imitators. This is an important, gripping and profoundly disheartening book. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Scientific America Young Readers Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Hidden under the Ground: The World beneath Your Feet
by Peter Kent

Book list Gr. 3^-6. Although the text may not go very deep, the illustrations certainly do, as Kent takes us to places both literal and figurative beneath our Nikes. On each double-page spread he treats a kind of underground with brief introductory text, a sidebar of interesting factoids, and something to look for (answers are at the back). For example, "Animal Underworld" illustrates moles, badgers, foxes, and rabbits and asks how many rabbits are in the picture. Kent travels from the mystical underworld (a hell that owes something to Bosch and Dante) to medieval dungeons to a village of caves in Sicily to city sewers, subways, and cables. Mining and the bunkers of the cold war are also noted. Digging tools, from the mole's jaws to tunnel borers, are illustrated, and so are a few "subterranean celebrities" such as Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor (note the initials), who was born on the Bakerloo Underground line in London. British and American measures are given. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

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

Publishers Weekly Kent (A Slice Through a City) poses a fascinating questionÄjust what, exactly, lies underground beneath our feet?Äand gives a playful, if somewhat slapdash, answer in this picture book for older readers. He begins with a brief introduction that discusses why humans throughout the ages have tunneled under the earth and a page of one-paragraph descriptions of "Subterranean Celebrities" (both historical and mythological). What follows are 11 double-page spreads that present details about underground environments that have existed for centuries (animal and human homes, tombs, mines and dungeonsÄeven legendary "Afterlife Underworlds"), as well as more modern subways, city service systems and nuclear bomb bunkers. Many of the spreads' brief stage-setting introductions include overly broad generalizations and the occasional awkward phrase, and history buffs may wish for dates in several of the factoids (e.g., on the same page, King Wenceslaus's life span is given [903-935], but the completion date of the Mount Cenis railroad tunnel is not). But curious readers are likely to forgive these flaws in their eagerness to pore over Kent's humorously detailed, small-scale subterranean scenes. He invites readers' scrutiny with each spread's picture search ("Rabbits breed like... rabbits. How many rabbits can you find in this picture?") and offers answers at the book's close. Captions and sidebars provide factual tidbits both informative and amusing. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

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

School Library Journal Gr 3-5-This easily read and highly pictorial work on a variety of underground landscapes suffers from a flaw common to many foreign imports when it comes to animal life. Similar-looking species may have widely divergent lifestyles when an ocean intervenes. The segment on the "Animal Underworld" depicts a colony of European rabbits (Oryctolagus) living in a communal burrow, or warren, and Eurasian badgers (Meles) in a clannish tunnel system called a sett. American badgers (Taxidea) are loners except during the mating season, and most American rabbits (Sylvilagus) live their entire lives above ground. Aside from that problematical display, Kent's cartoon drawings are appealing and informative and contain Waldoesque elements of searching for rats in a dungeon and enumerating the kings, queens, and knights in a Medieval European vision of hell. Sidebars present extra information on such topics as "Grave Facts" and "Safety in Shelters" (where there is a caption error). While certainly fun to peruse and aimed at a much younger audience than Christie McFall's straightforward America Underground (Cobblehill, 1992; o.p.) and David Macaulay's more tightly focused, top-notch Underground (Houghton, 1976), the variances in the section on subterranean animal life and such overly simplified statements as cave creatures are "...blind because there is no light, so they don't need eyes..." should give one pause.-Patricia Manning, formerly at Eastchester Public Library, NY

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National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
by Anne Fadiman

Library Journal Award-winning reporter Fadiman has turned what began as a magazine assignment into a riveting, cross-cultural medicine classic in this anthropological exploration of the Hmong population in Merced County, California. Following the case of Lia (a Hmong child with a progressive and unpredictable form of epilepsy), Fadiman maps out the controversies raised by the collision between Western medicine and holistic healing traditions of Hmong immigrants. Unable to enter the Laotian forest to find herbs for Lia that will "fix her spirit," her family becomes resigned to the Merced County emergency system, which has little understanding of Hmong animist traditions. Fadiman reveals the rigidity and weaknesses of these two ethnographically separated cultures. In a shrinking world, this painstakingly researched account of cultural dislocation has a haunting lesson for every healthcare provider. Highly recommended for all collections.?Rebecca Cress-Ingebo, Fordham Health Sciences Lib., Wright State Univ., Dayton, Ohio

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

Publishers Weekly When two divergent cultures collide, unbridgeable gaps of language, religion, social customs may remain between them. This poignant account by Fadiman, editor of the American Scholar, of the clash between a Hmong family and the American medical community reveals that among the gaps yawns the attitude toward medicine and healing. The story focuses on Lia Lee, whose family immigrated to Merced, Calif., from Laos in 1980. At three months of age, Lia was diagnosed with what American doctors called epilepsy, and what her family called quag dab peg or, "the spirit catches you and you fall down." Fadiman traces the treatments for Lia's illness, observing the sharp differences between Eastern and Western healing methods. Whereas the doctors prescribed Depakene and Valium to control her seizures, Lia's family believed that her soul was lost but could be found by sacrificing animals and hiring shamans to intervene. While some of Lia's doctors attempted to understand the Hmong beliefs, many interpreted the cultural difference as ignorance on the part of Lia's parents. Fadiman shows how the American ideal of assimilation was challenged by a headstrong Hmong ethnicity. She discloses the unilateralness of Western medicine, and divulges its potential failings. In Lia's case, the two cultures never melded and, after a massive seizure, she was declared brain dead. This book is a moving cautionary tale about the importance of practicing "cross-cultural medicine," and of acknowledging, without condemning, differences in medical attitudes of various cultures. (Oct.)

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

School Library Journal YA?A compelling anthropological study. The Hmong people in America are mainly refugee families who supported the CIA militaristic efforts in Laos. They are a clannish group with a firmly established culture that combines issues of health care with a deep spirituality that may be deemed primitive by Western standards. In Merced, CA, which has a large Hmong community, Lia Lee was born, the 13th child in a family coping with their plunge into a modern and mechanized way of life. The child suffered an initial seizure at the age of three months. Her family attributed it to the slamming of the front door by an older sister. They felt the fright had caused the baby's soul to flee her body and become lost to a malignant spirit. The report of the family's attempts to cure Lia through shamanistic intervention and the home sacrifices of pigs and chickens is balanced by the intervention of the medical community that insisted upon the removal of the child from deeply loving parents with disastrous results. This compassionate and understanding account fairly represents the positions of all the parties involved. The suspense of the child's precarious health, the understanding characterization of the parents and doctors, and especially the insights into Hmong culture make this a very worthwhile read.?Frances Reiher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA

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

Book list The Lee family had suffered much in Laos and Thailand before coming to the U.S. and settling in Merced, California, among an already large Hmong population. Fadiman explores relations between young Lia Lee, her parents, and various physicians. She brings Hmong culture vividly to life and shows how naturally misunderstandings arise when American health-care providers deal with Hmong patients and their families. For example, the Hmong feel that soul strings must be tied around parts of the body when the individual is endangered; American nurses understandably but insensitively cut off these dirty ties. Fadiman's brief history of the Hmong also explains Lia's parents' desire to be independent and in charge, in the process filling a gap in many a reader's knowledge. Her book has a scope much broader than that of a medical case history, and it could well spark discussion of such questions as whether an immigrant lacks intelligence if she cannot express herself quickly and clearly in English and whether a foreign culture is always inferior. --William Beatty

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

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Midwife's Apprentice
by Karen Cushman