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Showing posts from March, 2016

The Serpent King - Jeff Zentner

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Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.

Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.


At ALA Midwinter this year, I picked up this book from the Penguin booth. The cover intrigued me, and the …

Raymie Nightingale - Kate DiCamillo

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Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

This is a delightfully sweet and quiet book. I think Monica Edinger says it best in her review, noting DiCamillo's signature writing style:  In tight chapters that are sometimes barely three pages, cri…

Thanks for the Trouble - Tommy Wallach

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Parker Santé hasn’t spoken a word in five years. While his classmates plan for bright futures, he skips school to hang out in hotels, killing time by watching the guests. But when he meets a silver-haired girl named Zelda Toth, a girl who claims to be quite a bit older than she looks, he’ll discover there just might be a few things left worth living for.

I really enjoyed We All Looked Up, but I think I like Thanks for the Trouble even more! This is such a quick, charming story, but one with a lot of depth and some great philosophical and existential pondering. Parker meets Zelda, and suddenly he's a changed person. As he and Zelda get to know each other, Parker begins to realize that life may not be as pointless as he had begun to believe, and Zelda begins to question her (im)mortality and her desire to jump off the Golden Gate bridge. In many ways, this novel actually makes me think of Simone de Beauvoir's perhaps lesser know novel, All Men are Mortal, an examination of life t…

Tell Me a Tattoo Story - Alison McGhee (Author) and Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)

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A bestselling author-illustrator duo join forces to create a modern father-son love story. The father tells his little son the story behind each of his tattoos, and together they go on a beautiful journey through family history. There's a tattoo from a favorite book his mother used to read him, one from something his father used to tell him, and one from the longest trip he ever took. And there is a little heart with numbers inside—which might be the best tattoo of them all. Tender pictures by New York Times bestselling illustrator Eliza Wheeler complement this lovely ode to all that's indelible—ink and love.

This book is so lovely, and one that does not treat tattoos as indicative of rebellion or gang life. The father has some beautiful tattoos, illustrated in colourful and intricate detail by Eliza Wheeler. The images magnificently enhance Alison McGhee's story, highlighting the story behind each of the various tattoos. The little boy asks his father to explain the vario…

The Sculptor - Scott McCloud

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David Smith is giving his life for his art—literally. Thanks to a deal with Death, the young sculptor gets his childhood wish: to sculpt anything he can imagine with his bare hands. But now that he only has 200 days to live, deciding what to create is harder than he thought, and discovering the love of his life at the 11th hour isn't making it any easier!

This is a story of desire taken to the edge of reason and beyond; of the frantic, clumsy dance steps of young love; and a gorgeous, street-level portrait of the world's greatest city. It's about the small, warm, human moments of everyday life…and the great surging forces that lie just under the surface. Scott McCloud wrote the book on how comics work; now he vaults into great fiction with a breathtaking, funny, and unforgettable new work.

I found this beautifully crafted graphic novel to be just what I'd hope from First Second Books. It's complex, emotionally compelling, and captivating as an overall narrative. T…

The Wild Ones - C. Alexander London

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When a country raccoon used to a soft life winds up all alone in the big city, there's no telling what he'll do to survive -- and to save his fellow wild animals in the process.

Kit, a young raccoon, has lived his whole life under the Big Sky in the comfort of his parents' burrow. But when a pack of hunting dogs destroy his home and kill his parents, Kit finds himself in Ankle Snap Alley, a city in the midst of a turf war between the Wild Ones and the people's pets who call themselves The Flealess. There he follows the clues his parents left behind to uncover the secret that they died for–the existence of an ancient truce that gives Ankle Snap Alley to the Wild Ones. But The Flealess will stop at nothing to keep that secret buried forever–and Kit is in serious danger.
Perfect for fans of the Warriors, Spirit Animals, or Redwall series, this first book in the Wild Ones epic is sure capture young readers' imaginations and take them on a great adventure.


I honestly do…

Sea Change - Frank Viva

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One summer can change your whole life. As soon as school lets out, Eliot's parents send him to the very edge of the world: a fishing village in a remote part of Nova Scotia. And what does the small town of Point Aconi have to offer? Maggots, bullies and grumpy old men. But along the way, Eliot discovers much more—a hidden library, starry nights and a mysterious girl named Mary Beth. See Point Aconi through Eliot's eyes, as he finds that this place he never wanted to visit is becoming a home he doesn't want to leave.

Whether you know of Frank Viva from his work in the New Yorker, or from his picturebook Outstanding in the Rain, you know that his work is nothing less than unique and impressive. If you don't know any of Viva's work, I would encourage you to pick up this or any of his other work and discover his style for yourself. This book is perfect for such an introduction, as it contains his art as well as his delightful prose.
Eliot's tale is not an uncommon on…

Hour of the Bees - Lindsay Eager

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Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .

While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.



There's magic in the painted desert of New Mexico. T…