Monthly Archives: November 2017

Pope Francis: The People’s Pope by Beatrice Gormley

Pope Francis: The People’s Pope by Beatrice Gormley. September 26, 2017. Aladdin, 272 p. ISBN: 9781481481410.  Int Lvl: 5-8; Rdg Lvl: 7.2; Lexile: 1100.

Bea Gormley tells the story of Pope Francis, known as the People’s Pope, who has humbly said, “My people are poor and I am one of them.”

Ordained as Pope on March 13, 2013, Pope Francis became the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Known worldwide for his great humility and approachability, he is the first citizen from the Americas, the first non-European, and first Jesuit priest to be named Pope.

Gormley explores Bergoglio’s, his given surname, early years, growing up as the eldest of five children of Italian immigrants in Argentina, working as a chemical technician before venturing in the priesthood as a Jesuit novice. He went from Bishop to Archbishop to Cardinal—and gained a reputation for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism, and a commitment to social justice, which stands to this day.

Named Person of the Year by Time magazine in December 2013, Pope Francis remains outspoken in support of the world’s poor and marginalized people, and he has been involved actively in areas of political diplomacy and environmental advocacy.

Part of series: Real-Life Story

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Violence, Mass murder, Kidnapping, Torture, References to sexual abuse

 

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2017)
Pope Francis’ life story.  Pope Francis is the first non-European, Jesuit man to be ordained as leader of the Roman Catholic Church. This biography takes middle-grade readers on Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s spiritual and physical journey toward the papacy. Gormley charts Bergoglio’s spiritual development well, beginning with his grandmother, who sparked in him the importance of faith at a young age, and moving from there as political turbulence roiled Argentina. The author provides plenty of context for Argentina’s political and social discord but never loses focus on her subject. While Argentina’s story is important to Bergoglio’s history, it never overwhelms the man. Pope Francis’ reputation as the “People’s Pope,” a man honest about his background, interests, and past, helps the author paint a picture of her subject as a well-rounded, well-intentioned man. There are no grave missteps or shady secrets to reveal here, just a man who always did what he thought was best for the people around him and used his faith as his guide. It is a bit long-winded. The 257 pages of main narrative really hold only about 175 pages of essential story. The “and then this happened” structure of standard biographies is certainly felt, and while that works well for an educational text for children using this for a school project, those looking for a ripping yarn about the pope may want to keep looking. A serviceable biography that will serve the student who chooses Pope Francis as a subject well. (timeline, sources, photos) (Biography. 10-14)

About the Author

Born in Glendale, California, Beatrice grew up in Southern California. After graduating from Pomona College, she worked in publishing near San Francisco. There she met and married Robert Gormley, and they moved to Massachusetts. They have two daughters.

Since age 9 Beatrice had wanted to become a writer. But it wasn’t until after her children were born that she really focused on her writing. In 1981 her first book, Mail Order Wings,was published. Since then she’s written many popular novels and biographies for young people. Her most recent books are Friends of Liberty, a novel of the Boston Tea Party, and the biography Nelson Mandela: South African Revolutionary.

Her website is www.beatricegormley.com

Around the Web

Pope Francis on Amazon

Pope Francis on Goodreads

Pope Francis on JLG

Pope Francis Publisher Page

Advertisements

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre

Us, In Progress by Lulu Delacre. August 29, 2017. HarperCollins, 256 p. ISBN: 9780062392145.  Int Lvl: 3-6; Rdg Lvl: 3.2; Lexile: 740.

Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.

In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.

Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Guns, Mild language, Discrimination, Violence, Prejudice

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 3-7. Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Delacre offers up 12 short stories, beautifully written with candor, honesty, and perfect brevity, that explore what it means to be a Latinx in the U.S. today. These finely wrought and uniformly well-written stories, many based on true incidents, portray the wide range of cultural and geographic diversity within the Latinx community. They feature both male and female main characters and cover topics such as police abuse, the prevalence of prediabetes in the Latinx population, and the misconception that all Latinos are dark-skinned and poor. Many of the stories deal with community dynamics—how an unassuming member can make an indelible impression, Saturday school language classes, and bullying and family dysfunction—while others address larger social issues, such as guardianship related to deportation and immigration, unaccompanied minors crossing borders, and the 2012 DREAM Act. Delacre illustrates as well, providing a gorgeous mixed-media portrait of each story’s main character, and a glossary of Spanish words and phrases, organized by story, concludes the book. Delacre’s lyrical writing perfectly expresses what the characters are experiencing, and each story’s ending is honest and satisfying, if sometimes open-ended—much like real life. A collection not to be missed.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
This collection opens with “The Attack,” an all-too-timely account of a young Latino man with a disability being mistreated by the police. The twelve tales are all based on true events, appended with notes that explain where Delacre first learned of them and citing the article that informed each piece. The deliberate voice and close focus on each fictionalized protagonist turns each headline into a relatable story. At the beginning of each tale, Delacre includes intricate mixed-media character portraits, purposely unfinished, pencil drawings layered between pierced rice paper and incorporating newspaper clippings from her original sources. She also pairs each story with a refran; these sayings are translated in the back matter, which also includes a glossary of Spanish terms. The collection presents stories about health (in “Selfie,” Marla attempts to improve her pre-diabetic condition through cycling); about young people feeling shame over their parents’ jobs (“Burrito Man”); parents being deported (“Band-Aid”); and siblings who are undocumented (“The Secret”). In contrast, in “90,000 Children,” a twelve-year-old Latino boy aspires to be a Border Patrol agent. Delacre’s collection challenges existing misconceptions by giving readers an intimate and varied look into what it is like to be young and Latino in the United States today. sonia alejandra rodriguez

About the Author

Three-time Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre has been writing and illustrating children’s books since 1980. Born and raised in Puerto Rico to Argentinean parents, Delacre says her Latino heritage and her life experiences inform her work. Her 37 titles include Us, In Progress: Short Stories About Young LatinosArroz con Leche: Popular Songs and Rhymes from Latin America, a Horn Book Fanfare Book in print for over 25 years; and Salsa Stories, an IRA Outstanding International Book. Her latest picture book ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado; Olinguito, from A to Z! Unveiling the Cloud Forest has received 20 awards and honors including an NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor and an ALA Notable for All Ages. Delacre has lectured internationally and served as a juror for the National Book Awards. She has exhibited at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art; The Original Art Show at the Society of Illustrators in New York; the Museum of Art of Puerto Rico and the Museum of Ponce in Puerto Rico among other venues.

Her website is www.luludelacre.com

Around the Web

Us, In Progress on Amazon

Us, In Progress on Goodreads

Us, In Progress on JLG

Us, In Progress Publisher Page

The Dire King by William Ritter

The Dire King by William Ritter. August 22, 2017. Algonquin Young Readers, 352 p. ISBN: 9781616206703.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 730.

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push the earth and the otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve daily mysteries in New Fiddleham, New England—like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why the undead are appearing around town.

Sequel to: Ghostly Echoes

Part of series: Jackaby (Book 4)

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Video Review

Reviews

Kirkus Reviews starred (June 15, 2017)
A paranormal private investigator and his clever companion make a last stand against the forces of chaos in this fourth and final book. As an assistant to eccentric detective/seer R.F. Jackaby, Abigail Rook experiences magic, mysteries, and romance. A “lady of science and reason” who accepts the supernatural, Rook prizes her madcap American adventures over her comfortable yet confining British childhood, but she finds her new home threatened by war. As a wave of racist attacks turns their whimsical house at 926 Augur Ln. into a cryptozoological asylum, Jackaby, Rook, and resident ghost Jenny Cavanaugh take a new case and uncover a bigger conspiracy. Hunting mythical talismans, the trio discovers the veil between the mundane world and that of the Annwyn (fae) weakening and the Unseelie armies of the Dire King gathering. Jackaby is a delightful supernaturalist Sherlock, but Rook carries the story, narrating with dry wit, alliteration, and an appreciation for the absurd; faced with war, bureaucrats, and a diabolical life-sucking machine, Rook frets about a potential proposal from her Om Caini (lycanthropic) swain, Charlie. Ritter sets his story in a geographically nonspecific, slightly steampunk 1890s New England port city. It’s helmed by a trio of white protagonists but offers a pointed and timely message about pluralism and the value of bridges over barriers. A humorous, energetic, action-packed, and magical conclusion. (Fantasy. 12-adult)

School Library Journal (August 1, 2017)
Gr 7 Up-The fourth and final book in the series sees Abigail Rook, Jackaby’s assistant, take the lead in this preternatural mystery. Previous familiarity with the characters is advised but is not necessary to follow the plot. In 19th-century New Fiddleham, New England, a mysterious threat from the ostensibly dead Dire King endangers everyone when the veil between this world and the fairy world, Annwyn, threatens to fall. Jackaby and Abigail are joined by a multitude of supernatural creatures, including Miss Rook’s shape-shifter boyfriend Charlie and housemate/ghost Jenny who is working on her ability to become corporeal with somewhat mixed results. The group ventures between worlds trying to figure out if the Dire King has returned, or if someone has picked up his mantle. Mayor Spade has also declared war on supernatural creatures; no one is safe in this fast-paced tale. The main characters struggle in battle and with figuring out what their future holds, which leads to an unpredictable conclusion. Though the overall plot is a fairly straightforward whodunit mystery, twists and turns provide for action-packed pages. Events that have been heavily foreshadowed throughout will come to fruition in a satisfying ending that offers tantalizing hints of the characters’ fortunes. This will most appeal to series fans and those who enjoy teen detective novels like A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro or Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star. VERDICT A strong purchase where the series is already popular.-Rebecca Greer, Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative, FL

About the Author

William Ritter is an Oregon author and educator. He is the proud father of the two bravest boys in the Wild Wood, and husband to the indomitable Queen of the Deep Dark. The Dire King is the fourth and final book in his acclaimed New York Times bestselling Jackaby series.

His website is rwillritter.wordpress.com

Around the Web

The Dire King on Amazon

The Dire King on Goodreads

The Dire King on JLG

The Dire King Publisher Page

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey

Afterlife by Marcus Sakey. July 18, 2017. Thomas & Mercer, 309 p. ISBN: 9781477848470.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD.

An instant Wall Street Journal bestseller. Soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

Between life and death lies an epic war, a relentless manhunt through two worlds…and an unforgettable love story.

The last thing FBI agent Will Brody remembers is the explosion—a thousand shards of glass surfing a lethal shock wave.

He wakes without a scratch.

The building is in ruins. His team is gone. Outside, Chicago is dark. Cars lie abandoned. No planes cross the sky. He’s relieved to spot other people—until he sees they’re carrying machetes.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Claire McCoy stands over the body of Will Brody. As head of an FBI task force, she hasn’t had a decent night’s sleep in weeks. A terrorist has claimed eighteen lives and thrown the nation into panic.

Against this horror, something reckless and beautiful happened. She fell in love…with Will Brody.

But the line between life and death is narrower than any of us suspect—and all that matters to Will and Claire is getting back to each other.

From the author of the million-copy bestselling Brilliance Trilogy comes a mind-bending thriller that explores our most haunting and fundamental question: What if death is just the beginning?

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language, Violence, Strong sexual themes, Murder, Cannibalism, Gore

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Sakey began his career with a series of smart, compulsively readable thrillers about more or less ordinary Chicagoans wrestling with personal problems and the zeitgeist, and getting into potentially fatal trouble. But with Brilliance (2013) and the Brilliance series that followed, he stepped brilliantly into the realm of speculative fiction. Afterlife is a deep dive into the unknowable. Chicago is being terrorized by a preternaturally lethal sniper, and FBI agents Will Brody and his lover, Claire McCoy, are desperate to end the terror. But Will is murdered by a bomb in an abandoned West Side church. Claire is bereft, but the dead Brody finds himself wandering the streets of a Chicago populated only by people armed with clubs, axes, and swords. Some threaten him, but Will encounters a group of people who lead him to their refuge. Meanwhile, Claire kills the sniper but dies in the effort. The couple are reunited, and they conclude that being together in the afterlife isn’t bad—except for the “eaters,” dead people who have learned that killing makes them stronger. Even worse, the sniper is organizing eaters into an army. Afterlife is simultaneously a beautiful love story, a grim tale of apocalyptic conflict, and an opportunity for an insightful writer to ruminate on the eternal verities. Great appeal across genres.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 15, 2017)
When two FBI agents are killed in the line of duty, they discover death isn’t at all what they imagined.Sakey (Written in Fire, 2016, etc.) follows up his incredible Brilliance trilogy with an otherworldly stand-alone thriller about a subterranean war between gods and monsters. The book opens with a story about a young boy in a cannibalistic horror scene on a ship at sea circa 1532. Then the book cuts to the present day, where FBI Agent Claire McCoy is leading a task force hunting the sniper terrorizing Chicago. She’s also newly in love with fellow agent Will Brody. But when Brody runs down the sniper, Simon Tucks, he’s killed instantly by a bomb. For Claire, that should have been the end of Will Brody, and yet….Next, Brody awakens in an ethereal version of Chicago leached of color and deprived of technology. His new companions explain that this is the Echo, a kind of purgatory for souls killed suddenly, violently. Unfortunately, this fate also falls upon Claire when Simon Tucks kills her in a suicide bombing, reuniting them even in death. From here, Sakey spins out an ambitious mythology that mixes horror, police procedural, and tense action with big questions about the nature of existence. In this new world, Eaters kill other people all over again to gain their life force. There is also a race of Elders, most notably our cannibal Edmund, who have lived hundreds of years by torturing the living. “All the random, inexplicable brutalities,” Sakey writes. “The school shooters and psychotic Uber drivers. The mothers who drowned their children. The serial killers with their duct tape and their butcher knives. The maniacs who fired round after round into crowded nightclubs, pausing only to reload. The atrocities for which there was no answer.” It’s a disturbing book born in dark times but one in which Sakey employs all his storytelling gifts to craft a noodle-bender of the first order. A love story enmeshed in a twisty thriller that peels back the universe to see what lies beneath.

About the Author

Marcus Sakey is the bestselling author of nine novels, including the Brilliance Trilogy, which has sold more than a million copies.

His novel Afterlife is soon to be a major motion picture from Imagine Entertainment and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. His novel Good People was made into a film starring James Franco and Kate Hudson.

Marcus lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. His website is www.marcussakey.com

Around the Web

Afterlife on Amazon

Afterlife on Goodreads

Afterlife on JLG

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. September 5, 2017. Flatiron Books, 375 p. ISBN: 9781250077738.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 920.

Frozen meets The Bloody Chamber in this feminist fantasy reimagining of the Snow White fairytale 

Sixteen-year-old Mina is motherless, her magician father is vicious, and her silent heart has never beat with love for anyone―has never beat at all, in fact, but she’d always thought that fact normal. She never guessed that her father cut out her heart and replaced it with one of glass. When she moves to Whitespring Castle and sees its king for the first time, Mina forms a plan: win the king’s heart with her beauty, become queen, and finally know love. The only catch is that she’ll have to become a stepmother.

Fifteen-year-old Lynet looks just like her late mother, and one day she discovers why: a magician created her out of snow in the dead queen’s image, at her father’s order. But despite being the dead queen made flesh, Lynet would rather be like her fierce and regal stepmother, Mina. She gets her wish when her father makes Lynet queen of the southern territories, displacing Mina. Now Mina is starting to look at Lynet with something like hatred, and Lynet must decide what to do―and who to be―to win back the only mother she’s ever known…or else defeat her once and for all.

Entwining the stories of both Lynet and Mina in the past and present, Girls Made of Snow and Glass traces the relationship of two young women doomed to be rivals from the start. Only one can win all, while the other must lose everything―unless both can find a way to reshape themselves and their story.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Mild sexual themes, Alcohol

 

Reviews

Booklist starred (October 15, 2017 (Vol. 114, No. 4))
Grades 9-12. Lynet has grown up in the shadow of her mother, Emilia, who died giving birth to her—or so she was told. In reality, she’s the product of dark magic: her heartbroken father asked a magician, Gregory, to make him a daughter out of snow in the image of his late wife, the queen. Lynet chafes under her father’s expectations that she emulate the mother she’s never known; instead, she idolizes her steely stepmother, Mina, who’s always treated Lynet with tenderness, despite believing that she’s incapable of love, thanks to the glass heart her father, Gregory, gave her as a child. Alternating between Lynet’s and Mina’s perspectives, Bashardoust gracefully illustrates their fraught relationships with their fathers and each other and builds captivating tension between love and ambition. Mina’s calculating efforts to gain power by marrying Lynet’s father are in sharp contrast to the tenderness she feels for Lynet, while Lynet’s reluctance to become queen transforms once she recognizes her own considerable power. Drawing from both Snow White and the Snow Queen, this beautifully wrought novel offers plenty of fairy tale wonder, but Bashardoust resists the most common tropes; instead, she tells a story where women save each other with their own ingenuity, bravery, and love, and power and compassion can exist hand in hand. Compellingly flawed characters, vivid world building, and pitch-perfect pacing make this utterly superb.

Kirkus Reviews starred (July 1, 2017)
Magic, mother-daughter conflict, and the quest for self-identity are given a dark and fantastical treatment in this chilling feminist adaptation of the “Snow White” fairy tale.Bashardoust sets her debut novel in a kingdom cursed with eternal winter, which serves as a pointed metaphor for the physical beauty that is currency and curse for both Lynet, the beloved daughter of King Nicholas, and Mina, the neglected daughter of an infamous magician who eventually becomes Lynet’s “wicked” stepmother. The narrative, which alternates between the characters’ points of view, unites them with a mutual feeling of objectification. Both women are shaped and magically controlled by their fathers, who are also their creators, the insidiousness of which the story fully explores. Well-developed, strong female characters abound, from the tree-climbing Lynet (whose skin is olive-brown) and golden-brown Mina, a sympathetic survivalist queen, to a court surgeon and a royal ancestor whose maternal grief is powerful enough to eternally banish springtime from the northern kingdom. The author’s rich fantasy landscape incorporates the fairy tale’s traditional iconography while providing her with room to create a new story emphasizing the shallowness of a male-dominated society that places a ruinously high premium on beauty at the expense of female individuality. The decisive clash is between mother and daughter, but misogyny is the narrative’s true destructive force. A hauntingly evocative adaptation that stands on its own merits. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

About the Author

Melissa Bashardoust received her degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, where she rediscovered her love for creative writing, children’s literature, and fairy tales and their retellings. She currently lives in Southern California with a cat named Alice and more copies of Jane Eyre than she probably needs. Girls Made of Snow and Glass is her first novel.

Her website is www.melissabashardoust.com

Around the Web

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on Amazon

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on Goodreads

Girls Made of Snow and Glass on JLG

Girls Made of Snow and Glass Publisher Page

The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner

The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner. June 6, 2017. Sky Pony Press, 378 p. ISBN: 9781510712485.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 700.

In a world where music is magic, the echoes can kill you.

Chester has been traveling from village to village, searching for his kidnapped father. One night while fiddling to earn a few coins, he accidentally connects to the Song—the music that fuels every aspect of the world. It’s illegal to interact with the Song—only a licensed Songshaper may bend music to his will—and when Chester is caught, he’s sentenced to death.

But just before the axe is about to fall, someone in the crowd—a member of the infamous Nightfall Gang—stages a daring rescue, whisking Chester into the Hush, a shadowy nightmare mirror-world where Music can be deadly and Echoes can kill.

Susanna, captain of the Nightfall Gang has been watching Chester. She needs his special talent to pull off an elaborate plan. And she’ll risk everything to succeed. Even Chester’s life.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Homophobia, Religious fanaticism

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (June 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 19))
Grades 8-11. Music is the vehicle for magic in Chester’s world, where the elite are trained to be songshapers, who run society and guard against untrained magicians. Though of poor background, and therefore limited training, Chester possesses a strong natural connection to the Song, which eventually leads to his arrest for heresy. As he stands on the gallows, the killing blade moving toward his neck, the world suddenly stills and Chester is whisked away to become a member of the notorious Nightfall Gang, whose mission is a revenge-based strike at the heart of the Conservatorium. The Australian author’s world tends toward steampunk, although machinery is not the focus of this imaginative tale of loyalty and commitment. Additionally, conversation pertaining to environmental consequences arises toward the story’s end, part of a surprise twist about the book’s setting and the meaning of reality. At times the main character’s navel gazing is repetitive, but his angst is balanced by the lively members of the Nightfall Gang and a touch of romance.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 1, 2017)
Chester Hays has been on the road for months, searching for his vanished father.The 17-year-old plays his fiddle in return for room and board, but one night at a Hamelin saloon, he’s caught tapping into the Song, the source of life in a world where Music is magic and only licensed Songshapers are allowed to connect to “the heartbeat of the world.” His punishment for committing this blasphemy: death. Fate intervenes when the ambiguously “tan” Chester is rescued from the chopping block by the infamous Nightfall Gang. There’s mercurial, burly, white cowboy Sam; white lesbian Dot, an inventive Songshaper; foppish, brown-skinned lady’s man Travis; and pale-skinned, trouser-wearing redhead Susannah, their headstrong captain. This group of teenage, Robin Hood–esque outlaws travels in their echoship through the Hush, a terrifying distorted parallel reality formed from excess Music and populated by deadly Echoes. The Nightfall Gang may hold the clues to Chester’s father’s disappearance, but the only way he’ll find out is to go along with a very dangerous plan that might cost Chester his life. The story is beautifully paced as it unfolds one tantalizing, shocking detail at a time. Masterfully drawn details are so crisp, so tangible, that readers will be surprised they can’t just reach out and touch this rich world. A steampunk-tinged fantasy adventure with plenty of breath-holding action. (Fantasy. 12-18)

About the Author

Skye Melki-Wegner has been a saleswoman, an English tutor, and a popcorn-wrangler. In addition to writing fiction, in her spare time she devours a ridiculous amount of caffeine and fantasy literature. She lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Her website is www.skyemelki-wegner.com

Around the Web

The Hush on Amazon

The Hush on Goodreads

The Hush on JLG

The Hush Publisher Page

Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif

Daring to Drive: A Saudi Woman’s Avakening by Manal al-Sharif. June 13, 2017. Simon & Schuster, 289 p. ISBN: 9781476793023.  Int Lvl: AD; Rdg Lvl: AD; Lexile: 990.

A ferociously intimate memoir by a devout woman from a modest family in Saudi Arabia who became the unexpected leader of a courageous movement to support women’s right to drive.

Manal al-Sharif grew up in Mecca the second daughter of a taxi driver, born the year fundamentalism took hold. In her adolescence, she was a religious radical, melting her brother’s boy band cassettes in the oven because music was haram: forbidden by Islamic law. But what a difference an education can make. By her twenties she was a computer security engineer, one of few women working in a desert compound that resembled suburban America. That’s when the Saudi kingdom’s contradictions became too much to bear: she was labeled a slut for chatting with male colleagues, her teenage brother chaperoned her on a business trip, and while she kept a car in her garage, she was forbidden from driving down city streets behind the wheel.

Daring to Drive is the fiercely intimate memoir of an accidental activist, a powerfully vivid story of a young Muslim woman who stood up to a kingdom of men—and won. Writing on the cusp of history, Manal offers a rare glimpse into the lives of women in Saudi Arabia today. Her memoir is a remarkable celebration of resilience in the face of tyranny, the extraordinary power of education and female solidarity, and the difficulties, absurdities, and joys of making your voice heard.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language; Mild sexual themes

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (May 15, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 18))
In 2011, Manal Al-Sharif was arrested and jailed for driving a car in Khobar, Saudi Arabia. Her imprisonment attracted international attention to the country’s restrictions on women. Manal’s memoir chronicles her evolution from a fiercely religious young woman into a champion of women’s rights and the face of the Women2Drive movement. Though there is no legal statute barring women from driving, Saudi culture enforces strict customs that force women to rely on hired drivers and male relatives to get around. Without reliable transportation, many women are unable to work, run basic errands, or even seek medical attention in emergencies. After her arrest, Manal was slandered in the national press, received death threats, and was denounced by religious leaders. In addition to her driving, Manal’s experiences as a young woman highlight the many other barriers for women, such as the requirement to have a male guardian’s permission for most decisions. Her memoir is an intimate look at life for women growing up in Saudi Arabia and the challenges of seeking major social change.

Kirkus Reviews (April 1, 2017)
Inside the walls of segregation and oppression dictating the lives of Saudi women.Arrested and imprisoned for “driving while female” in Khobar, Saudi Arabia, in 2011, Saudi author and activist al-Sharif, formerly an information security expert at the Aramco oil company, chronicles her long path to feminist activism within a deeply conservative Islamic culture. From forced circumcision at age 8, condoned by her largely uneducated parents, to extreme segregation between the sexes in her poor community of Mecca, including separate entrances, covered windows, high walls, and the necessity for a guardian or close male relative to accompany women anywhere and sign any legal documents, the author found emancipation very gradually, a process she compares to the experience of those involved in the American civil rights movement. Indeed, in Saudi Arabia, the dictates of religious culture, rather than law, were and are iron-clad regarding women; al-Sharif required the permission of her father to pursue everything from education at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah (considered a scandalously “liberal, progressive city”) to her first job at Aramco (the only IT woman employed during her 10 years there) to marriage. The author’s decision to drive emerged from a long frustration with getting around via hired drivers and costly taxis, as all Saudi women were consigned to do: in a kind of perverse logic, al-Sharif had bought a car for her hired driver to use. Yet after a liberating work trip in America, where she got an actual license, she convinced her brother to help her drive and sympathetic women friends to video the great moment behind the wheel, which led to her arrest and harassment by the religious police. Ultimately, al-Sharif’s appalling conclusion is that, in her country, “if you want to race with men, you’d have to do it with your hands and legs cut off.” An intimate and powerful book from what is hopefully only the first of many Saudi voices to speak out.

About the Author

Manal al-Sharif is a women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia who was imprisoned in 2011 for driving a car. She has been lauded by Foreign PolicyTimeForbes, and the Oslo Freedom Forum. Daring to Drive is her first book.

 

Teacher Resources

Manal al-Sharif TED Talk

Daring to Drive Reading Guide

Around the Web

Daring to Drive on Amazon

Daring to Drive on Goodreads

Daring to Drive on JLG

Daring to Drive Publisher Page

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore. September 19, 2017. Kathy Dawson Books, 453 p. ISBN: 9780803741492.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 740.

If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Mild sexual themes

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist (August 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 22))
Grades 9-12. When Jane receives an invitation to attend a gala at the island mansion Tu Reviens, she accepts—not because she wants to go, but because her adored (and recently deceased) Aunt Magnolia made her promise to visit Tu Reviens if she ever got the chance. Bizarre personages and events fill the palatial home, including art theft, kidnapping, a secret organization, flirtations, and seemingly impossible twists of fate, all of which the impetuous Jane faces with a devoted basset hound sidekick. It’s the story’s structure, however, that’s most noteworthy, as Cashore (Graceling, 2008) applies the concept of a multiverse to Tu Reviens, following Jane down five possible paths during her stay. Yet, it’s not until the second half of the book, where things go increasingly off the rails, that the story truly blossoms. Art forms a constant backdrop to the narrative, and in all versions of Jane’s story, she finds respite from her grief and uncertain future through artistic expression. Creation, compassion, and choice repeatedly emerge as themes in this ambitious, mind-expanding novel.

Horn Book Magazine (September/October, 2017)
When her guardian, Aunt Magnolia, dies, Jane is left untethered and financially insecure. Then Kiran, an old acquaintance, invites Jane to Tu Reviens (“you return”), Kiran’s family’s island mansion. Aunt Magnolia had told Jane unequivocally that “if you’re invited to Tu Reviens, go.” So Jane ends up at the exotic mansion, a place where staffers are not what they say they are, and the wealthy patriarch is a depressive recluse. What’s going on? Jane wonders, watching the household prepare for a gala party and noting the priceless Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Brancusi works on display. Then the story splits into five alternate scenarios. As Jane follows first one inhabitant and then four others in parallel narratives, she moves from the romantic confection the novel first seems to multiverses of surreality, science fiction, art theft, and Espions sans Frontieres (Spies Without Borders). The clues to the story’s fantastical nature are playful and sly. As scenarios multiply, the story becomes light on character development and rather plot-heavy, but Cashore’s glee, wit, and inventiveness are unflagging. With its references to works ranging from Doctor Who to Rebecca to Winnie-the-Pooh, this is pleasantly peculiar and unpredictable. deirdre f. baker

About the Author

Kristin Cashore grew up in northeast Pennsylvania and has a master’s degree from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. She lives in the Boston area. Her epic fantasy novels set in the Graceling Realm—GracelingFire, and Bitterblue—are all New York Times bestsellers and have won many awards and much high praise, including picks as ALA Best Books for Young Adults, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Booklist Editors Choice, and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. In addition, Graceling was shortlisted for the William C. Morris Debut Award and Fire is an Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner.

Her website is kristincashore.blogspot.com

Around the Web

Jane, Unlimited on Amazon

Jane, Unlimited on Goodreads

Jane, Unlimited on JLG

Jane, Unlimited Publisher Page

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Solo by Kwame Alexander. July 25, 2017. Blink, 464 p. ISBN: 9780310761839.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 640.

When the heart gets lost, let the music find you.

Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Sexual innuendo, Mentions of drug use, Mentions of underage drinking

 

Author Interview

Related Videos

Reviews

Booklist starred (May 1, 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 17))
Grades 9-12. Blade Morrison begins his story by disclosing, “I am / the wretched son / of a poor / rich man.” Master storytellers and poets Alexander (The Crossover, 2014) and Hess (The Day I Met the Nuts, 2009) have joined forces to pen a rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll. The only things 17-year-old Blade can count on as the wealthy but neglected son of famously erratic rock god Rutherford Morrison are his soulful guitar ballads and his girlfriend, Chapel. When Rutherford disappoints Blade one time too many and they end up fighting, Blade’s sister reveals a long-guarded family secret. Suddenly the music leaves him; when Chapel is no longer there to anchor him either, Blade sets out to discover more about his own past. A mix tape of classic rock hits guides him from Los Angeles all the way to the small village of Konko, Ghana, where a delay in his journey brings him unexpected fulfillment. Scattered throughout the novel in verse are some of Blade’s original rock ballads, though every poem feels like a song, pulsing with Alexander’s signature lyrical style. Blade ends up finding much more than what he expects: self-discovery, community, and a deeper understanding of what family means.

Kirkus Reviews starred (May 15, 2017)
The 17-year-old son of a troubled rock star is determined to find his own way in life and love.On the verge of adulthood, Blade Morrison wants to leave his father’s bad-boy reputation for drug-and-alcohol–induced antics and his sister’s edgy lifestyle behind. The death of his mother 10 years ago left them all without an anchor. Named for the black superhero, Blade shares his family’s connection to music but resents the paparazzi that prevent him from having an open relationship with the girl that he loves. However, there is one secret even Blade is unaware of, and when his sister reveals the truth of his heritage during a bitter fight, Blade is stunned. When he finally gains some measure of equilibrium, he decides to investigate, embarking on a search that will lead him to a small, remote village in Ghana. Along the way, he meets people with a sense of purpose, especially Joy, a young Ghanaian who helps him despite her suspicions of Americans. This rich novel in verse is full of the music that forms its core. In addition to Alexander and co-author Hess’ skilled use of language, references to classic rock songs abound. Secondary characters add texture to the story: does his girlfriend have real feelings for Blade? Is there more to his father than his inability to stay clean and sober? At the center is Blade, fully realized and achingly real in his pain and confusion. A contemporary hero’s journey, brilliantly told. (Verse fiction. 14-adult)

About the Author

Kwame Alexander is a poet, educator, and New York Times Bestselling author of 21 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children, the Coretta Scott King Author Award Honor, The NCTE Charlotte Huck Honor, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, and the Passaic Poetry Prize. Kwame writes for children of all ages. His other works include Surf’s Up, a picture book; Booked, a middle grade novel; and He Said She Said, a YA novel.

Kwame believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his PAGE TO STAGE Writing and Publishing Program released by Scholastic. A regular speaker at colleges and conferences in the U.S., he also travels the world planting seeds of literary love (Singapore, Brazil, Italy, France, Shanghai, etc.). Recently, Alexander led a delegation of 20 writers and activists to Ghana, where they delivered books, built a library, and provided literacy professional development to 300 teachers, as a part of LEAP for Ghana, an International literacy program he co-founded.

His website is www.kwamealexander.com.

Around the Web

Solo on Amazon

Solo on Goodreads

Solo on JLG

Solo Publisher Page

Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds

Poe: Stories and Poems by Gareth Hinds. August 1, 2017. Candlewick Press, 120 p. ISBN: 9780763681128.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 960.

In a thrilling adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known works, acclaimed artist-adapter Gareth Hinds translates Poe’s dark genius into graphic-novel format.

It is true that I am nervous. But why will you say that I am mad?

In “The Cask of Amontillado,” a man exacts revenge on a disloyal friend at carnival, luring him into catacombs below the city. In “The Masque of the Red Death,” a prince shielding himself from plague hosts a doomed party inside his abbey stronghold. A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition, faced with a swinging blade and swarming rats, can’t see his tormentors in “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” a milky eye and a deafening heartbeat reveal the effects of conscience and creeping madness. Alongside these tales are visual interpretations of three poems — “The Raven,” “The Bells,” and Poe’s poignant elegy to lost love, “Annabel Lee.” The seven concise graphic narratives, keyed to thematic icons, amplify and honor the timeless legacy of a master of gothic horror.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Mild language, Violence, Alcohol, Smoking, Bloody images

 

Book Trailer

Reviews

Booklist (July 2017 (Vol. 113, No. 21))
Grades 8-11. Veteran illustrator Hinds breathes vivid life into seven of Edgar Allan Poe’s most well-known stories and poems in his latest adaptation. Faithfully preserving the gothic tone of the original texts, from the macabre endpapers filled with symbols of death to the twisted anguished faces found throughout its pages, the author never shies away from the darkness found there, instead distilling Poe’s fascination with madness, death, and terror into single haunting images: a sliver of lamplight shines on a milky blue eye in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and a shadowy black raven haunts a solitary figure reminiscent of Poe in its namesake poem. Color is used to full effect in each story; the garish colors of an ill-fated party foreshadow impending doom, while the saturated red surrounding a man about to die only serves to heighten the emotional intensity. Title pages include a key to the main themes and year of publication, while an author’s note provides an overview of Poe’s life and insight into each story and poem. A welcome addition for fans of graphic horror.

Horn Book Magazine (November/December, 2017)
Graphic novelist Hinds (The Odyssey, rev. 11/10; Macbeth, rev. 3/15) continues his tour through the classics as he takes on the work of Edgar Allan Poe, adapting three poems (“Annabel Lee,” “The Bells,” and “The Raven”) and four stories (“The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and “The Tell-Tale Heart”). A “Poe Checklist” at the beginning enumerates a dozen common themes and tropes (e.g., “creepy animals,” “premature burial”), and the title page for each entry lists those that are pertinent. As always, Hinds’s adaptations lean heavily on the original language of the text with an eye toward accessibility for the modern reader and an understanding that the illustrations will carry a good portion of the narrative. Hinds’s varied illustrations are a good match for Poe’s atmospheric blend of horror and mystery. The pictures are often dark and shadowy, but color is used judiciously throughout to great effect; “The Masque of the Red Death” has abundant flourishes of red, for example, while “The Raven” is in black and white. Striking imagery, too, catches the eye and the imagination. The final spread of “The Bells” looks up into a bright full moon to see not just the church bell but also the ghouls looking like veritable gargoyles come to life. An appended author’s note gives general background on Poe and additional insight into each story or poem. jonathan hunt

About the Author

Gareth Hinds is the acclaimed creator of the graphic novels Macbeth, The Odyssey, Beowulf, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and King Lear. Gareth Hinds lives near Washington, D.C.

Her website is www.garethhinds.com

Around the Web

Poe: Stories and Poems on Amazon

Poe: Stories and Poems on Goodreads

Poe: Stories and Poems on JLG

Poe: Stories and Poems Publisher Page