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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Ashfall
by Mullin, Mike

Book list Alex, 15, is alone at home in Cedar Falls, Iowa, when his house collapses, as thick black ash falls from the sky. A supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park has erupted 900 miles away, all power is out, and the horrendous noise of the aftermath does not stop. Alex takes off through the never-ending darkness, stench, corpses, and tumult to try to find his family who had been vacationing. Along the way, he meets smart, tough Darla, an engineering whiz, and together they fight through the post-eruption world. The step-by-step survival journey may be too graphic for some, especially the detailed descriptions of filth, hunger, and injuries as the teens scavenge for food, water, and shelter; run from a brutal FEMA refugee camp; fight off looters; and witness unspeakable violence (a woman tells them she saw her husband roasted on a spit). This catastrophic vision is rooted in realism that is extended by a concludingnote about the story's scientific connections, and Alex's voice is right on, especially in his romance with fierce, angry Darla. Of course, a sequel is coming.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Alex, 15, is separated from his family when the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts. The eruption leaves his world in confusion, with no infrastructure and drifts of ash everywhere. He decides that he must leave his home in Iowa to seek out his family, who were traveling toward Pennsylvania when the explosion occurred. Alex uses his Tae kwon do skills to keep himself safe as he skis over the ash. Food is in short supply for everyone. Eventually he is taken in by Mrs. Edmunds and her daughter, Darla. When tragedy strikes, Alex and Darla must set out on their own to find safety and food. Not surprisingly, along the way, a romantic attraction develops between them. Ultimately, they must figure out how to survive in a refugee camp. The conclusion is satisfying, but unresolved enough to indicate the beginning of what appears to be a planned trilogy. The tough self-sufficiency of the two lead characters (Alex's Tae kwon do coupled with Darla's automotive prowess) adds to their appeal. The romance develops believably over the course of the book. Tautly paced and well researched, this is a high-action read-alike for fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It (Harcourt, 2006).-Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH (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 In this grim, postapocalyptic tale, the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, covering much of North America in volcanic ash and plunging the world into nuclear winter. Fifteen-year-old Alex Halprin refused a family trip to visit relatives in Illinois, so he's home alone in Iowa when the eruption occurs. After seeing a neighbor kill three looters, Alex heads east through falling ash, dropping temperatures, and torrential storms, hoping to find his family. Soon he's joined by another survivor, Darla Edmunds, with whom he falls in love. Debut novelist Mullin puts his characters through hell, depicting numerous deaths in detail ("Blam-Blam! His head pretty much burst, showering my legs with blood and bits of hair and skull and brain"). There's also cannibalism and a rape before the novel comes to a believable ending; "happy" is perhaps too much to ask for, but Alex does find a measure of stability. The book is well written and its protagonists are well-drawn, particularly the nontraditional and mechanically inclined Darla. Although more appropriate for older teens due to its violence, this is a riveting tale of survival. Ages 14-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Junonia
by Kevin Henkes

Publishers Weekly In this introspective story about a child's search for a rare shell, Henkes (Bird Lake Moon) again displays his ability to find profound meaning in ordinary events. Every year Alice Rice and her parents take a trip to Florida's Sanibel Island, but this year things are different. Some of the people Alice is looking forward to seeing are missing, and the neighboring cabin usually rented to a fun artist from New York is now occupied by a friend of Alice's mother, her new boyfriend, and his moody and disruptive six-year-old daughter. Swallowing her disappointment, Alice still believes that her vacation will be a success if only she can find the rare shell she most covets, the junonia ("After all, she was going to be ten. Finding a junonia would be the perfect gift"). Like her disappointments, Alice's discoveries aren't what she expects, but her understanding of people-both old friends and new acquaintances-deepens during the process. Readers will empathize with Alice's frustrations and relish her moments of joy. Images of the beach and the moving, meaningful interactions between characters will linger with readers. Ages 8-12. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 4-5-Alice Rice and her parents spend every February vacation on Sanibel Island, FL. But this year things are different: some of their friends cannot be there, and her mother's college friend Kate is coming with her new boyfriend, Ted, and his six-year-old daughter, Mallory. Trying to make the best of things, Alice is determined to do her usual shell-gathering, hoping this time to find a rare junonia shell, but Mallory disturbs her hoped-for idyll with her tantrums and clinginess. When a phone call from her mother, who has left her to live in France, causes the child to make a scene at Alice's 10th-birthday celebration, Kate and Ted decide to take her home. Alice, who has grown in understanding and empathy for Mallory, must also learn to deal with change and disappointment when she realizes that the junonia shell she finds on the beach was really purchased and placed there by a well-meaning neighbor. As in his previous novels, Henkes's omniscient narrator lends an air of detachment to the telling, even as he describes the action and Alice's feelings. Secondary characters are lightly drawn, descriptions of the island setting are lyrical, and the conflict is gentle, features that will appeal to some readers. Details of shell collecting, a two-page visual guide to shells mentioned in the book, and chapter heading sketches also add interest to this quiet, interior novel.-Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (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* Every year in February, Alice and her parents spend the week of her birthday on Sanibel Island, far from the Wisconsin winter. An only child, Alice revels in her family's comfortable traditions and routines, especially on Sanibel, where they visit the same grown-up friends, stay in the same cottage, and hunt for the same, elusive junonia shell. This year, though, Alice is turning 10, and her entry into double digits isn't the only change on the Florida horizon. A child raised among adults, Alice is mature and acquiescent yet comfortable enough in her childhood to resist the approach of adolescence. Henkes offers a quiet evocation of the simple jealousies and generosities of childhood, as Alice struggles to relinquish her position as perennial darling and try on the mantle of independence. Charming spot illustrations, many featuring beach motifs, begin each short chapter, adding to the palpable seaside atmosphere. The problems Alice faces are never more serious than the absence of a regular family friend or the presence of a tantrum-prone newcomer, but they are still deeply resonant. With tender observations and sensory details, Henkes creates a memorable young individual whose arcadian growing up is authentic and pitch-perfect.--Barthelmess, Thom Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Flesh And Blood
by Patricia Cornwell


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Dame Agathas Shorts
by Elena Santangelo


Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Independence Day
by Richard Ford

Publishers Weekly In this sequel to The Sportswriter, Ford follows his middle-aged American everyman, Frank Bascombe, through the transformative events of a Fourth of July weekend. (July)

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


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

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 Half the World in Light(University of Arizona Press)
by Juan Felipe Herrera

Library Journal Herrera has been honing his writing for 40 years, through 12 collections, so it's hardly surprising that it's so deep. Just how deep is for you to discover: open a page and your heart will break, or you'll bask in the wordplay, or you'll be charged by powerful political statement. This leading Chicano poet has something to tell us all; a cowinner of the NBCC poetry award. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

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


Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Sarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan