cover image Americus


MK Reed and Jonathan Hill. Roaring Brook/First Second, $14.99 (216p) ISBN 978-1-59643-768-5

In this charming tale, Reed and Hill offer a lovely valentine to readers and, especially, to librarians. Neil Barton is an outcast about to enter high school in the conservative small town of Americus. His life is made bearable by books%E2%80%94especially the fantasy series the Chronicles of Apathea Ravenchilde, the Huntress Witch%E2%80%94and the young adult librarian, Charlotte, who gives him a job and someone to talk to. Even those pleasures are threatened when some vocal members of the community begin a campaign to ban the Ravenchilde series, arguing they promote witchcraft and other illicit behavior. Soon all of Americus is involved in the battle, lining up on one side or the other, with Charlotte leading the charge for intellectual freedom. As Neil develops confidence through the fight, he also finds a circle of friends. Woven throughout are excerpts from the Ravenchilde story, echoing the theme of the struggle in Americus. Hill's black and white illustrations, full of clean, bold lines, fill the tale with a sense of drama and action, even when the characters are reading silently. Americus is ultimately a reminder of the small miracles a good book can conjure up, in individual lives and across communities. (Aug.)