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"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted. You   should live several lives while reading it." 
--William Styron
Featured Book Lists
Book JacketMidnight in Europe
by Alan Furst
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781400069491 After a slow start, this spy thriller set in 1938 from Edgar finalist Furst (Mission to Paris) settles into a lazy pace, as it charts the attempts of two part-time arms dealers, Chistian Ferrar and Max de Lyon, to serve the Spanish Republic and its beleaguered army while most of the continent has its eye on Berlin. Every clandestine mission they undertake-a prolonged quest for cannons in Poland, a nifty operation to trick Russia out of field guns and antiaircraft weaponry in Odessa-is fraught with struggle, and the pro-Franco Nazi spy apparatus always seems one step ahead. A revolving cast of secondary characters leads several plotlines that peter out, heavy on atmosphere, light on action. As usual, Furst manages to capture the fragile, itinerant nature of European life during the interwar period, dropping in hints of the horror to come, but this is one of his less memorable efforts. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781400069491 *Starred Review* In 1937, the lights were going out in Europe, but jackbooted blackness had not quite swept the Continent. Through multiple novels, Furst has illuminated moments of reluctant courage and desperate love in a world teetering on the edge of destruction. He does so again here, and, as always, he does it exquisitely. We've met Furst's unwilling heroes before, typically in Paris, as they bask in the City of Light while turning away from the chaos in their homeland, whether Poland, Italy, or Germany. This time it's Spain, where a doomed war is already raging. Spanish emigre Christian Ferrar is a successful lawyer at an international firm, juggling his time between Paris and New York and happy to be far from the troubles in Spain. Yet, when he is approached to aid those supplying the Republican troops with arms, he is surprised to find himself complying. And so begins another tale of clandestine operations in which civilians step up, not out of idealism but out of the realization that history affords them no other choice. Furst is a master of mood, but, above all, he is able to show how the most personal of emotions love, especially drives the actions of men and women caught in a time of peril.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist
Book JacketCourage has no color: the true story of Triple Nickles
by Tanya Lee Stone
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780763651176 *Starred Review* Starting with a riveting opening that puts readers into the shoes of a paratrooper on a training flight, this large-format book offers an informative introduction to the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Known as the Triple Nickles, they were America's first black paratrooper unit. Though WWII brought increased racial integration to the military, the pace was painfully slow. This book traces the paratroopers' story through their training and their long wait for orders to join the fighting overseas-orders that never came. Instead, the Triple Nickles were sent to fight fires in remote areas of western states. Decades passed before the men were officially honored for service to their country. Written with great immediacy, clarity, and authority, Stone's vivid narrative draws readers into the Triple Nickles' wartime experiences. Many well-chosen quotes enhance the text, while excellent black-and-white illustrations, mainly photos, document both the men of the 555th and the racial prejudice on the home front. Adding another personal perspective, artist and writer Ashley Bryan, an African American veteran of WWII, contributes the book's foreword, a drawing, and a painting from the period. This handsome volume documents the sometimes harrowing, often frustrating, and ultimately rewarding experiences of the Triple Nickles.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780763651176 Gr 5 Up-A moving, thoughtful history of the the United States military's first black paratrooper unit. During World War II, African American soldiers were mostly relegated to service and security jobs, generally denied the same training and active-combat positions that were available to their white counterparts. Expertly woven together are two narratives: the large, overarching history of rampant racism in the U.S. military and the smaller, tightly focused account of a group of black soldiers determined to serve their country and demonstrate their value as soldiers. Readers are taken along on the emotional journey with the soldiers as they leapt forward from guard duty at The Parachute School into official paratrooper training, the first of its kind for blacks. They faced multiple setbacks as they encountered discrimination, some justified as "policy" and some that was more personal and insidious. Throughout the book, the courage and strength of these men is evidenced in their tireless quest to be the best at what they do, throwing themselves headlong into sometimes dangerous and terrifying training requirements. The photographs and the design of the book as a whole are a gift to readers. Rich with detail, the pictures not only complement the narrative, but also tell a stirring story of their own, chronicling the triumphs and frustrations of the soldiers as they pursued their dreams. Complete accessibility to a wide range of readers, coupled with expert research and meticulous care, makes this a must-have for any library.-Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780763651176 Stone (Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream) opens with an enticing question, "What is it like to jump out of an airplane?" The answer, which lets readers imagine doing just that as a paratrooper, will immediately draw them into this thorough story of the U.S. military's first black paratroopers. More than just an account of their endeavors during WWII, the narrative takes on a broader perspective as it contextualizes the story of the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion. Set against the entrenched racism of the 1940s, the nine chapters include asides about media stereotypes regarding African-Americans and how photographs of black soldiers were often left out of the military record. Myriad quotations from personal interviews and more than 100 b&w photos reveal the heroism and perseverance of these groundbreaking men. While they didn't see combat (they were instead sent out West to become smoke jumpers), Stone's final chapters reveal how the Triple Nickles' service helped integrate both the military and society at large. A captivating look at a small but significant piece of military and civil rights history. Ages 10-up. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book JacketAmelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
by Candace Fleming
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780375841989 Drawing on her training as a historian and her considerable writing talents, Fleming (The Great and Only Barnum, 2009) offers a fresh look at this famous aviatrix. Employing dual narratives straightforward biographical chapters alternating with a chilling recounting of Earhart's final flight and the search that followed Fleming seeks to uncover the history in the hype, pointing out numerous examples in which Earhart took an active role in mythologizing her own life. While not disparaging Earhart's achievements, Fleming cites primary sources revealing that Earhart often flew without adequate preparation and that she and her husband, George Putnam, used every opportunity to promote her celebrity, including soliciting funds from sponsors. The use of a gray-tone background for the disappearance chapters successfully differentiates the narratives for younger readers. Frequent sidebars, well-chosen maps, archival documents, and photos further clarify textual references without disturbing the overall narrative flow. Appended with a generous bibliography and detailed source notes, this is a book most libraries will want both for its fascinating story and as an illustration of how research can alter historical perspective.--Weisman, Kay Copyright 2010 Booklist
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780375841989 In a stirring account of an American icon, Fleming (The Great and Only Barnum) seeks to portray the Amelia behind the mythology-some of which, she explains, was perpetuated by Earhart herself. Chapters alternate between the tense search for the pilot's missing plane and a chronological progression through her life, complemented by b&w photographs and other materials smoothly incorporated into the book's crisp Art Deco-inspired design. Readers learn about Earhart's free-spirited early childhood, first inclinations toward flying, and other pursuits, which included medicine, writing, and fashion. An overview of the era's social and political climate, particularly as it pertained to women, should help readers grasp the significance of Earhart's accomplishments. Some anecdotes evidence a cutthroat nature (after Earhart and her husband have a fellow aviator's lecture tour canceled, the aviator recalls, "my friendship for Amelia quickly waned"). This honest depiction of Earhart's professional and personal life forms a complete portrait of a complex woman, making her final doomed flight (and a reproduction of a teenager's notebook transcription of what may have been Earhart's last radio transmission) all the more affecting. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375841989 Gr 4-7-Ho-hum history? Not in Fleming's apt hands. What could be a dry recitation of facts and dates is instead a gripping and suspenseful thriller. Even though readers likely know the end of the story, Fleming makes this book difficult to put down by moving between several accounts of Earhart's disappearance and her chronological life story. Quotes from primary sources are woven so seamlessly throughout that it seems as though the individuals involved are telling the story. The Art Deco-inspired book design and excellent black-and-white photographs help to transport readers back in time. Fleming has made a phenomenal woman accessible to a new generation of readers; she unapologetically shows Earhart as a real person and dispels the mythology surrounding her. Exploring more than just her famous flights, she introduces Earhart's other pursuits. Being a pilot in the early 20th century was prohibitively expensive and Earhart had to be a savvy businesswoman willing to try anything and everything to earn enough money to stay in the sky. With G.P. Putnam, a proficient publicist behind her, she not only influenced the future of popular culture, but also forged a path of opportunity for women to follow. Fame is a business, and Earhart and Putnam worked steadily to achieve it; the legend of Amelia Earhart is a testament to their hard work. This book is splendid. Hand it to everyone.-Heather Acerro, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780375841989 Gr 4-7-This captivating biography of a brave, talented, and savvy celebrity examines both the myths (some Earhart perpetuated herself) and the facts about a woman whose boundless ambition fueled her determination to fly around the world. This riveting look at an aviatrix who soared high in pursuit of her dreams is solidly grounded by impeccable scholarship, insightful writing, and well-chosen period photos. (Mar.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book JacketSmoky Night
by David Diaz
Book JacketThe Adventures of Sparrowboy
by Brian Pinkney

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1?Fretting over headlines in the newspapers he's delivering, Henry almost runs over a sparrow on the sidewalk. There's a flash of light, and suddenly, like his comic-strip hero Falconman, the boy is swooping through the skies fighting evil?or, at least, collaring a scary dog, rescuing a cat from a bully's clutches, and repeatedly snatching the temporarily flightless sparrow out of danger in the nick of time. Like newspaper comics, Pinkney's full-color scratchboard scenes are done in page-sized panels, with a minimum of text but maximum action, dramatized by swirling lines, wide gestures, and "THONK!" "ZAP!" sound effects. Henry's heroics will win readers over instantly; he may not save the world, but before he returns to Earth, he does make his suburban neighborhood "just a little better." That's a plausible goal for any actual or would-be superhero.?John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. 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 Though sobering front-page headlines worry a young paperboy, the comics?especially a strip called Falconman?lift him up. Quite literally, in fact. After Henry peruses a Falconman strip in which a magical falcon converts a police trooper into a superman by lending him the power to fly, the boy's bike collides with a similarly gifted sparrow. Suddenly airborne, the boy delivers his newspapers in flight while saving innocent neighbors from a menacing bully and his growling pooch. For the course of Henry's transformation, the book adopts a comic-strip format, accenting the boxed, action-filled pictures with brief, punchy text and a chorus of sound effects like "CHIRP!", "WHOOSH!" and "THONK!" In a final, satisfying coup, Henry comes to the rescue of the benevolent sparrow, vulnerable because it has temporarily relinquished its powers of flight to Henry, a development that readers will delight in discovering before the boy does. The plot unravels chiefly through Pinkney's (Max Found Two Sticks; see I Smell Honey, reviewed above) airy, motion-filled art, expertly rendered in scratchboard, transparent dyes and gouaches in creamy colors never before seen in a comic book. Clever quips and asides add humor and playful melodrama. Pinkney clearly had a blast creating this soaring story, and his high spirits are transferable to the reader?ZAP! Ages 4-9. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Ages 4^-8. One morning while on his route, Henry the paperboy accidentally collides with a sparrow and discovers that he can fly--just like Falconman, his favorite comic strip superhero. The newfound power of flight enables Henry--excuse me, Sparrowboy--to deliver his papers by--er, airmail and also to right a number of minor wrongs in the neighborhood. When things magically return to normal, "everything felt just a little better." Since Henry lives on Thurber Street, some adult readers may be reminded of Walter Mitty, but that connection is hardly necessary to enjoy this lighthearted lark. Pinkney combines his signature scratchboard technique with comic strip format and appropriate typefaces to create the illustrations that accompany this affectionate fantasy, which will leave its readers feeling "a little bit better," too. --Michael Cart

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

Book JacketStupid Fast
by Herback, Geoff
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781402256301 Adult author Herbach (The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg) delivers an alternately fascinating and awkward novel that sometimes seems to exist in denial of its own characters. Felton Reinstein's late puberty during his sophomore year turned him into an incredible runner, which has landed him on both the track and football teams. Socially isolated, he is resigned to a lonely summer with his unpredictable widowed mother and piano-prodigy younger brother. But things become complicated as Felton meets beautiful new girl Aleah, he is drawn into the football team's summer workouts, and his home life disintegrates. Herbach's story would be typical but for a narrative style that clearly paints Felton as developmentally disabled ("I sweated in my tight jeans because it was summer. I smelled the pee-smell of my own athlete's body"). This offers potential, but it's wasted by the denial practiced by practically everyone he deals with, including his mother (who, admittedly, has problems of her own). Instead of coming across as an actual element of his character, Felton's narrative voice reads as merely "quirky," and it creates issues that aren't adequately addressed. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781402256301 Everything changes for Felton Reinstein during his fifteenth year. A growth spurt and the discovery of latent athletic talent tilt how the world views the teen, who thinks of himself as a little slow on the uptake. Hitherto unpopular and the object of jokes, suddenly Felton, who narrates the story in a hyper, slightly astounded voice, is going out for football, taken under the wing of one of his school's more popular jocks. Meanwhile, a paper route leads him to meet (and become sweet on) a musical prodigy, whose father is a visiting professor at the local college. If all this weren't enough, things at home are falling apart: Felton's mom has a breakdown as she tries to face Felton's maturation and younger brother's persistent probe of their father's suicide many years earlier. Suffice it to say, nothing is quite what Felton thinks. In this struggling and often clueless teen, Herbach has created an endearing character coming to terms with his past and present in a small, well-defined Wisconsin town.--Cruze, Kare. Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781402256301 Gr 9 Up-In his sophomore year, Fenton Reinstein's voice drops, he begins to grow hair all over his body, and he becomes "stupid fast." Previously indifferent to sports, he instantly becomes a star sprinter and is touted as the next savior of the football team before he has ever played a down. All is not entirely well, however. Fenton's only real friend, Gus, has gone to Venezuela with his family for the summer, and he has to take over Gus's paper route, a job he hates. More ominously, the teen's always-quirky mother, Jerri, has retreated into her own world and has left Fenton and his sweet, needy younger brother, Andrew, to basically fend for themselves. Fenton is also haunted by the early-childhood trauma of discovering his father's body after the man committed suicide. When African-American teen piano virtuoso Aleah Jennings and her father move into Gus's house for the summer, things begin to look up for Fenton. After an awkward beginning, the two establish a relationship that has its ups and downs, but helps to sustain Fenton as his mother's mental illness rages out of control. He and his sibling finally find the courage to contact their father's mother, who turns out not to be the shrewish ogre their mother described, but a loving, responsible adult who sees the boys through their crisis. The novel has some loose ends and needless plot contrivances, but in the end Fenton's sarcasm, anxiety, self-doubt, thoughtfulness, and compassion carry the day and perfectly capture the voice of his generation.-Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book JacketSarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan
Book JacketSilent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants
by Katy Payne
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780684801087 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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780684801087 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
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780684801087 "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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book JacketCold Cold Heart
by Tami Hoag
Book JacketThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9781594489587 Having caught everyone's attention with his short stories, D!az offers a debut novel starring ghetto geek Oscar, whose family labors under a Fuk# (or curse) that delivers prison, tragic accidents, and, worst of all, bad luck in love. With a national tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9781594489587 Matthew Sharpe is the author of the novels Jamestown and The Sleeping Father. He teaches at Wesleyan University. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9781594489587 "*Starred Review* Díaz's gutsy short story collection Drown (1996) made the young Dominican American a literary star. Readers who have had to wait a decade for his first novel are now spectacularly rewarded. Paralleling his own experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic and New Jersey, he has choreographed a family saga at once sanguinary and sexy that confronts the horrific brutality at loose during the reign of the dictator Trujillo. Díaz's besieged characters look to the supernatural for explanations and hope, from fukú, the curse unleashed when Europeans arrived on Hispaniola, to the forces dramatized in the works of science fiction and fantasy so beloved by the chubby ghetto nerd Oscar Wao, the brilliantly realized boy of conscience at the center of this whirlwind tale. Writing in a combustible mix of slang and lyricism, Díaz loops back and forth in time and place, generating sly and lascivious humor in counterpoint to tyranny and sorrow. And his characters Oscar, the hopeless romantic; Lola, his no-nonsense sister; their heartbroken mother; and the irresistible homeboy narrator cling to life with the magical strength of superheroes, yet how vibrantly human they are. Propelled by compassion, Díaz's novel is intrepid and radiant."--"Seaman, Donna" Copyright 2007 Booklist
Book JacketPaddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha
by Roddy Doyle
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780140233902 Doyle's Booker Prize-winning novel, told from the perspective of Irish, working-class 10-year-old Paddy Clarke, was a seven-week PW bestseller. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved