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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Close to Famous
by Bauer, Joan

Publishers Weekly Bauer (Peeled) tweaks a familiar recipe in this heartwarming novel about a determined girl who faces adversity with humor, heart-and cupcakes. A recent sixth-grade graduate (by the skin of her teeth), Foster McFee lands in tiny Culpepper, W.Va., with her mother after the two of them hightail it away from Mom's abusive, Elvis-impersonator boyfriend in Memphis. Foster has already known her share of tough times: her soldier father was killed in Iraq, and she's been struggling through school, unable to read. But Foster's dream of having her own show on the Food Network is a powerful force, and she takes comfort in baking and in emulating her favorite TV chef. With the help of kind and quirky locals, including a former movie star, Foster makes friends, earns fans for her cupcakes, and even begins to conquer her reading difficulties. Bauer skillfully brings readers to the heart of Culpepper with rich depictions of a contemporary small town and its residents and rhythms. The characters' eventual triumphs are the type that this author's fans eat up. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Foster McFee is a supremely talented baker and dreams of being a famous television chef like Sonny Kroll, star of her favorite show on the Food Network, but she has already had to face some major challenges in her life. After her father's death in combat in Iraq, she and her mother, a talented singer, have had a hard time financially, and ultimately they are forced to leave Memphis in order to escape her mother's abusive Elvis-impersonator boyfriend. Worst of all, Foster is unable to read because of a learning disability. When she and her mother accidentally end up in Culpepper, WV, Foster finds some unlikely supporters among the tiny town's eccentric residents, including a boy with no camera who dreams of being a documentary filmmaker and a famous retired actress who lives in seclusion on the outskirts of the community. Thanks to them and to her own perseverance, Foster is able to work toward her dream of making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time. The story is fast paced, and readers will be rooting for likable and gutsy Foster, who expresses her views on life in baking metaphors. The quirky residents of Culpepper are equally believable and appealing. Youngsters will find this story tastier than a batch of Foster's triple chocolate cupcakes.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, 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.

Book list Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother leave Memphis in the middle of the night, fleeing the mother's abusive boyfriend. Foster has a severe learning disability, a pillowcase full of mementos of her dead father, and a real gift for baking. When she and her singer mother relocate to a tiny, rural West Virginia town, they discover a friendly and welcoming population of delightfully quirky characters. Foster finally learns to read from a reclusive, retired movie star; markets her baked goods at Angry Wayne's Bar and Grill; helps tiny but determined Macon with his documentary; and encourages her mother to become a headliner rather than a backup singer, all the while perfecting her baking technique for the time when she gets her own cooking show like her TV idol, Sonny Kroll. Bauer gently and effortlessly incorporates race (Foster's mother is black; her father was white), religion, social justice, and class issues into a guaranteed feel-good story that dodges sentimentality with humor. Readers who want contemporary fiction with a happy ending will find it here.--Carton, Debbie 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 Jefferson's Sons: A Founding Father's Secret Children
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-This well-researched fictional look at the lives of the sons of Thomas Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings echoes with the horrors of slavery and the contradictions within the author of the Declaration of Independence and an admired champion of liberty. Bradley depicts Sally Hemings as a determined woman who accepts her role as a slave and secret lover of the president while she focuses on the promised freedom for her children. The story is told mainly by her three sons, Beverly, Madison, and Eston. Hemings never allows her children to forget that they are slaves while they live at Monticello and makes sure that they are aware of slavery's repulsiveness, despite their somewhat special status. She plans to have her light-skinned son Beverly and daughter Harriet go out in the world and "pass" as white people, but this will require that they never acknowledge her or their darker family members again. Eventually financial difficulties grow, and Jefferson is forced to sell many possessions, including 130 slaves. Maddy and Eston are given their freedom at the age of 21, but Sally Hemings was never set free. Bradley's fine characterization and cinematic prose breathe life into this tragic story.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, 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.

Book list Don't you ever call him Papa. This gripping novel captures the viewpoints of the young children President Thomas Jefferson fathered with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. Growing up in a cabin at Monticello, the children are told not to mention their father. The president is kind to Sally's oldest son, Beverly, and encourages him to play the violin. Jefferson promises the children they will be freed at 21. Beverly and his sister, Harriet, look white. Could they pass? But what about their brother, Maddy, who is dark-skinned? Could they leave him behind? The detailed history may overwhelm some readers. But told from the children's naive viewpoints, first Beverly's, then Maddy's, then that of little Peter, another young slave who is beloved by the Hemings family, the young innocents' elemental questions raise fundamental issues for the reader. How could founding father Jefferson sell off Maddy's best friend? What does it mean, all people are created equal?--Rochman, Hazel 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 What If?
by Randall Munroe


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog The Black Heart Crypt: A Haunted Mystery
by Chris Grabenstein

Book list Gruesome, hilarious, and truly scary, the latest entry in the prizewinning Haunted Mysteries series about Zack, 11, is a great read-aloud for Halloween. In fact, that is when it is set, on the night when ghosts gets special powers and the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Zack and his friends dress up as killer bees, and from the school bus to a family crypt in the cemetery ( totally creepy but totally cool ), they encounter demons, including ghosts of gangsters with scores to settle. Zack, who loves his stepmom, is terrified when his dead birth mother returns as a dybbuk demon: Does she want to harm him or make amends? The story is set in contemporary New England, and the characters rely on cell phones and texting to communicate, but the horror is timeless. Caught up in the fast-paced action, kids will want to share the irreverent commentary, including the occasional gross-out rhyme: There's one little worm that's very shy / Crawls in your stomach and out your eye. --Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Zack, 13, is still seeing spirits. and they see him. He has more or less come to terms with them, though, and he thinks that he has defeated the worst the spirit world could throw at him. But that was before the spell was broken, releasing 13 ghosts, the entire Ickleby clan. Zack's family moved the Icklebys' coffins and imprisoned their spirits decades ago. Now, with the curse broken and their ancestor offering up his body for possession, they have the ability to exact their revenge on Zack for his family's deeds. This novel speeds along at a breakneck pace, hauling readers along as Zack and his friends (and his dog, Zipper) attempt to dodge and defeat the vengeful, rather inept, spirits. The action-packed short chapters and vivid imagery will make this book an easy sell to young teens and reluctant readers, even if they haven't read the previous books in the series.-Heather Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, AL (c) Copyright 2012. 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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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Book of Ruth
by Jane Hamilton


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Annals of the Former World
by John McPhee

Choice Well-known writer McPhee's book has impressive depth in its understanding, explaining, and illustrating of the geological evolution of a cross section of North America, centered along the 40th parallel. Five chapters (termed "books") are included, four of which were published previously in the 1980s and early '90s. These original contributions deal with the geology and geologists involved with various parts of the US: the "Basin and Range" area of the western US (book 1); "In Suspect Terrain" (book 2); "Rising from the Plains" (book 3); and book 4 "Assembling California." The final book, "Crossing the Craton," deals largely with the early geological history of what we now call North America. Thus, sections of book 5 include portions on such topics as the "Oldest Rocks," the "Archean Craton," and "The Andean Margin of Kansas." An intriguing and deeply fascinating tale that McPhee tells effectively, this book can be read with benefit by interested lay persons through professional geologists. List of maps; extensive, 30-page subject and geographic index. All levels. J. T. Andrews; University of Colorado at Boulder

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A feast for all John McPhee fans, this major book incorporates some of the author's best work on geology into a comprehensive tour de force. Those familiar with McPhee's writing on the subject of geology will know that his narrative includes not only scientific theory but also portraitures of his geologic guides. While the majority of this material has appeared in the New Yorker and in books such as Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain and Rising from the Plains, the collection, which includes 20,000 new words, is much more than a recycling of past writing. As McPhee says, "The text has been meshed, melded, revised, in some places cut, and everywhere studied for repetition." McPhee's many fans won't be disappointed with the high-quality descriptive portraits of geologists, their work and theories. Since the writing follows McPhee's previous works and not any set geography or geologic logic, the author has provided what he calls a "Narrative Table of Contents," which not only describes each section in turn but the theories discussed in it. In this near flawless compilation of ambitious and expansive scope, McPhee's personalized style remains consistent and triumphant: "Ebbets Field, where they buried the old Brooklyn Dodgers, was also on the terminal moraine. When a long-ball hitter hit a long ball, it would land on Bedford Avenue and bounce down the morainal front to roll toward Coney Island on the outwash plain. No one in Los Angeles would ever hit a homer like that." 25 maps, not seen by PW. (June)

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

Library Journal McPhee is the most celebrated contemporary writer on North American geology, and Annals is his magnum opus, combining edited and revised sections from previous works with two new essays. (LJ 5/1/98)

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 The Best Paper Airplanes You'll Ever Fly
by Klutz Guides


National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog The Warmth of Other Suns
by Isabel Wilkerson

Publishers Weekly Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done. (Sept.) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dear Mr. Henshaw
by Beverly Cleary

Publishers Weekly This amusing, often touching series of letters from Leigh Botts to a children's book author he admires again demonstrates Cleary's right-on perception of a kid's world. Ages 8-12. (Aug.)

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