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May 2012
Tracing Stars

Tracing Stars
Erin E. Moulton

A second star for Erin E. Moulton's TRACING STARS, from Booklist!

Tracing Stars. By Erin E. Moulton. (Philomel 9780399256967). (STARRED)
Moulton’s (Flutter, 2011) lovely sophomore novel is set in coastal Plumtown, which, with its Main Street and quaint businesses, feels like small-town USA. Against this idyllic backdrop, readers meet spirited Indie Lee Chickory—expert fish-face maker and Pisces star wisher—who has two plans for her post-fifth grade summer: to find her lost pet golden lobster, the Lobster Monty Cola, and to become the best Chickory she can be—in other words, someone who won’t embarrass her popular older sister, Bebe. To accomplish the latter, Indie joins her sister’s theater company as a set helper to punk teenager Sloth; for the former, she builds an ocean lookout using the front and back ends of a fishing boat with the help of nerdy, nice Owen Stone. The construction efforts feel like a somewhat implausible undertaking, but the characters’ intentions—and universal kid problems—are completely authentic. Can you remain friends with a boy even though everyone tells you he is a loser? Can you stand up to your “same-blood, same-bones sister”? Can wishing on stars bring miracles? This timeless story perfectly captures the growth that summer affords kids when, after endless days and nights, they emerge truer versions of themselves. Readers won’t soon forget Miss Indie Lee Chickory.— Ann Kelley
 

Congratulations, Erin!

—Joan

We

We've Got a Job
Cynthia Levinson

Cynthia Levinson's WE'VE GOT A JOB gets a fourth star from SLJ!

Gr 7 Up–This photo-essay stands out for its engrossing content, excellent composition, and riveting use of primary-source material. Covering the history of the Birmingham Children’s March from inception to full impact, Levinson traces the stories of four young people between the ages of 9 and 15 in 1963. Audrey Hendricks, Washington Booker III, Arnetta Streeter, and James Stewart came from very different segments of the city’s black community, but all risked their lives and spent time in jail to fight for their freedom. Tracing their different routes to activism and melding it beautifully into the larger history of race relations in Birmingham and in the American South, the author creates a multidimensional picture of the times and the forces at work. Interviews with the four principals, one of whom died in 2009, give the narrative power and immediacy. Reproductions of period photos, notices, and documents provide additional insight. The map of downtown Birmingham, with locations mentioned in the text delineated, is a great help in placing both photos and text in a landscape. With a helpful list of abbreviations, excellent source notes, photo credits, a fine bibliography, and a comprehensive index, this a great research source, but it’s also just plain thought-provoking reading about a time that was both sobering and stirring. Recommended for middle and high school library collections to stand together with Charlayne Hunter-Gault’s To the Mountaintop (Roaring Brook, 2012), Ann Bausum’s Marching to the Mountaintop (National Geographic, 2012), and Larry Dane Brimner’s Black & White: The Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene “Bull” Connor (Boyds Mills, 2011).–Ann Welton, Helen B. Stafford Elementary, Tacoma, WA

Congratulations, Cynthia!

—Erin

You might know Laurie Boyle Crompton as the author of the forthcoming FANGIRL (Sourcebooks, 2013), but today she has some additional exciting news to celebrate in a completely different direction: a brand new book deal with a brand new publisher.
 
ADRENALINE tells the story of seventeen-year-old Dyna, who comes from a family of risk-takers and gets her thrills like she lives her life: as fast, as hard, and as much as possible. And then disaster strikes, and everything in Dyna’s life changes. Forced to reacquaint herself with a world she thought she knew, Dyna faces a struggle between risk and safety, between giving up and living life to the full, between the boy who just wants to protect her and the one who is pushing her out of her comfort zone.
 
This story is told in lovely, luscious prose, mixed with free verse narrative. Right from the first page I fell in love with Dyna, and I know each of you will too! ADRENALINE was sold to Margaret Ferguson of Margaret Ferguson Books/Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, with a tentative publication date of early 2014.
 
Congratulations, Laurie!

—Joan

The Wicked and the Just

The Wicked and the Just
J. Anderson Coats

J. Anderson Coats' THE WICKED AND THE JUST does it again! A star from Shelf Awareness!

The voices of two female narrators sweep readers along in this gripping debut novel set in 13th-century Wales, tightly controlled by the English.

Cecily deserves a life of luxury, especially after she and her widower father were cast out of her uncle's home when he returned from war. She orders Mistress Tipley and Gwenhwyfar about as if she were head of the household. But Cecily doesn't realize that the local English-appointed government usurped the homes and household goods of the Welsh to set up English burgesses like Cecily's father. As the English to bend the Welsh to their will, the Welsh have other ideas about reclaiming what's rightfully theirs. And while Cecily tries to amass pretty dresses befitting a burgess's daughter, Gwinny fights to keep her ailing mother alive and her brother safe from harm.

The title comes from Cecily's growing awareness of the injustices incurred by innocent Welsh citizens, and Gwinny's slow thaw where "my brat," as she calls Cecily, is concerned. "Justice for those who deserve it," Cecily says while pulling a prank on a power-hungry official. Debut novelist Coats creates a harrowing picture of life as two cultures clash. Through the keen observations and sharp wit of Cecily and Gwinny's first-person narratives ("God save me from being a shrewish harridan when I'm grown," thinks Cecily about her highborn neighbors), we see they're more alike than different. Their senses of humor leaven the life-or-death circumstances in which they find themselves. Riveting. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor 

Congratulations, J!

—Joan

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy
Robin (R. L.) LaFevers

Tucked into the May issue of Family Circle magazine (circulation 3.8 million!) is a happy surprise—a terrific review of Robin LaFevers's Grave Mercy. 

It's a bit hard to read here, so here's the review in full: "If your teen thinks she’s got it rough, introduce her to Ismae. Living in 15th-century Brittany, Ismae narrowly escapes marriage by heading to a convent. But these nuns serve the dark arts: Ismae is trained to be an assassin and schooled in the use of poisons and female persuasion. Then she meets her (love) match in the charming but enigmatic Duval. A rollicking historical romance with a formidable female protagonist bound to win the hearts of teenagers -- and maybe moms too!"

Gotta love that little rowr for moms at the end! Congratulations, Robin!

—Erin

Happy May Day from EMLA! We're adding to our banner of spring 2012 books! Check out these new May titles and enjoy the sunshine!

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt introduces Carley, a foster kid taken in by the Murphy family, and how they subsequently change her life, published by Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin.

Tracing Stars by Erin E. Moulton is a story of the sea and a missing lobster, but also about peer pressure and learning to make friends, published by Philomel/Penguin.

We wish these books into readers' hearts!

—Erin 



The Wicked and the Just

The Wicked and the Just
J. Anderson Coats

Yes, folks, it’s true: J. Anderson Coats—or Jillian to those of us in the know—has been awarded a THIRD starred review for her phenomenal YA debut, THE WICKED AND THE JUST! Here’s what School Library Journal had to say about the book:

Set in 13th-century North Wales 10 years after the English takeover, this is an instantly gripping story of injustice spawned by subjugation. Cecily, an English girl, tells readers from the outset that her life has been ruined now that she has been uprooted to live among “savages,” as she calls the Welsh. Gwenhwyfar is a servant to Cecily, who assumes that she is to be the lady of the house and demands to be treated accordingly. Gwinny resents Cecily, referring to her throughout her narrative as “the Brat.” Fleshed-out, multidimensional characters breathe life into this little-known period. Coats’s cinematic prose immerses readers in medieval life as she vividly depicts the animosity between the Welsh and the English. Though both young teens are strong and opinionated, they feel victimized, and their determination and will to survive are clearly voiced. While Cecily is cruel to Gwinny at times, she also expresses occasional compassion for her and intercedes anonymously to help her and her family. Even in her haughtiness, Cecily disdains her father’s fawning to impress those in power and is disapproving when he reduces promised wages to Welshmen by half. Gwinny also shows some compassion for Cecily when she saves her from a potentially bad match with a scoundrel. This debut novel reverberates with detail, drama, and compassion. The appended historical note is helpful; it’s unfortunate that there is no glossary of unusual terms. Fans of Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice (1995) and Catherine, Called Birdy (1994, both Clarion) will surely be drawn to this unique story.–Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ

Hooray, Jillian!
 
—Joan