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Library on Wheels: Mary Lemist Titcomb and America’s First Bookmobile

Sharlee Glenn. Abrams, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2875-4

This handsomely designed, well-researched biography pays homage to Mary Titcomb, librarian and founder of the first bookmobile in the U.S. From a poor New Hampshire family, Titcomb doesn’t take no for an answer as she pursues her education and then delivers books to a large rural Maryland population in 1905. Her library’s first horse-drawn book wagon is mistaken for a “dead wagon” until she has the wheels and door panels painted a “bright, cheery red to avoid any confusion with a hearse.” Numerous black-and-white photographs, articles, letters, postcards, and other archival documents are combined in scrapbooklike assemblages on goldenrod, blue, and antique white pages. The back matter includes a photographic timeline of bookmobiles through the decades, as well as a lengthy author’s note explaining how Glenn (Just What Mama Needs) worked to secure a headstone for Titcomb’s unmarked grave in the same Sleepy Hollow cemetery where several famous New England authors, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, lie buried. A select bibliography and index are also included. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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One Day a Dot: The Story of You, the Universe, and Everything

Ian Lendler, illus. by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. First Second, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-244-6

Lendler (Saturday) tells a creation story based on evolutionary biology, using the “dot” of the title to refer both to things in the sky (“One of these new dots—the third one from the sun—was a very special shade of blue”) and to microscopic organisms (“The green dot was lonely”). In a style evocative of a documentary film, Paroline and Lamb’s silkscreenlike artwork in quiet earth tones portrays the progression of creatures from simple to complex. When Lendler gets to dinosaurs (“land-fish”), catastrophe strikes: “Then one day a dot fell out of the sky.... The explosion turned the whole sky red.” All the land-fish disappear, but mammals flourish, giving way to humans, who boast something new—“a big brain.” Fur-clad hunters evolve into a contemporary biracial couple celebrating the birth of their child: “They had families. They had you.” Lendler ends with a final puzzle: “There was one question that they could not answer... Where did that first dot come from?” Spirited debates are sure to follow. Ages 4–8. Agent: Tanya McKinnon, McKinnon McIntyre. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Stay Sweet

Siobhan Vivian. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5232-8

Vivian (The Last Boy and Girl in the World) serves a delectable mixture of ice cream and romance in this story about a small-town girl whose life revolves around her summer job at an ice-cream stand. After working for four years at Meade Creamery, Amelia is excited and nervous when the elderly owner, Molly Meade, promotes her to “head girl.” But on Amelia’s first day as manager, Molly dies, leaving the business to her grandnephew Grady, a college student with big changes in mind. As Amelia finds herself falling for Grady, she tries to uphold Meade Creamery traditions without alienating him. Meanwhile, the rest of the employees seem more interested in shirking their duties than saving the shop. Inserting passages from Molly Meade’s diary into her book, Vivian deftly parallels the woman’s WWII romance and trials as a young entrepreneur with Amelia’s story, adding an extra layer of intrigue and suspense. While evoking the warmth of rural life and employee comradeship, Vivian writes an empowering novel for young women with big dreams. Ages 14–up. Agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Losers Bracket

Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-222006-6

Annie Boots, a skilled hoops player, feels like she lost the biological family lottery. Her mother is an addict, her father is absent, and her older sister is a 19-year-old mother, with no means of support and a troubled five-year-old son named Frankie. Where Annie did luck out is in foster care, having been placed with a well-to-do family. But even that situation is fraught because Pop, a control freak, is mostly interested in Annie for the reflected glory that her athletic accomplishments bring, and Annie continually defies him by refusing to give up on her biological relatives. Then Frankie goes missing, and the story veers toward solving the mystery of his disappearance. Crutcher, whose background as a mental health counselor has long informed his fiction, occasionally lets his characters slip into psychobabble (one teen refers to Frankie’s “maladaptive behaviors”). Even so, his expertise gives the narrative, about the harsh realities of what happens when kids are failed by both their parents and the state, its authenticity. Ages 14–up. Agency: Darhansoff & Verrill. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Furyborn

Claire Legrand. Sourcebooks Fire, $17.99 (512p) ISBN 978-1-4926-5662-3

This fantasy trilogy opener from Legrand (Foxheart) introduces teenagers Rielle Dardenne, a Celdarian, and Eliana Ferracora, a Venteran. Many Celdarians are able to magically control a single element, but Rielle can secretly manipulate all seven. According to legend, this means she is either the Sun Queen, who can save the world, or the Blood Queen, who can destroy it. When Rielle reveals her talent by single-handedly saving the crown prince from invaders, the king imposes a series of deadly trials designed to test her strength and prove her loyalty. A millennium later and a continent away, assassin Eliana ponders the source of her preternatural healing abilities while hunting insurgents for the Empire. When her mother vanishes, Eliana offers tactical assistance in exchange for information, thus altering the course of her future. Action and steamy romance abound, but character development takes a back seat to worldbuilding and an excessively complicated mythology. Legrand cleverly intertwines her protagonists’ seemingly discrete storylines, which unfold in alternating chapters, but her plot is overstuffed; a conclusion lacking resolution or closure will leave invested readers eager for the next installment. Ages 14–18. Agent: Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary Agency. (May)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Puddin’

Julie Murphy. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99. (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-241838-8

Clover City High School in Texas has a clear social hierarchy: football on top, dance team members next, then everyone else. Junior Millie Michalchuk, who also appeared in Murphy’s Dumplin’, may be a lifer at fat camp, but that doesn’t mean she buys into how the world sees her. Callie Reyes dates a football player and is on course to become dance team captain. The girls’ paths rarely cross. Then the dance team loses its funder, a gym owned by Millie’s uncle, and its members break in and trash the business. When a sulky Callie starts working at the gym, Millie models not just friendship and forgiveness, but also tough-love examples of how to treat people. Through the girls’ alternating perspectives, Murphy develops their aspirations and struggles: Millie isn’t sure how to pursue her dream of being a TV anchor; Mexican-American Callie experiences stereotyping and yearns for friends, not frenemies. Murphy convincingly and satisfyingly portrays how their one-step-forward-two-steps-back bonding process helps them go for what they want rather than what others think is possible. Ages 13–up. Agent: John M. Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (May)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say

Leila Sales. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-38099-1

When 17-year-old former National Spelling Bee champion Winter Halperin tweets about the latest winner—a 12-year-old African-American girl—she finds herself in the middle of a maelstrom. Not only is she vilified as a racist, but one of her best friends, Jason, an African-American, cuts off ties. Winter is stripped of everything that she believes is important: her championship title, her college acceptance, and her belief that she is a “good girl.” Determined to right the wrong, she enrolls in Revibe, a five-week boot camp that helps those who have made epic errors in judgment (and were crucified for it online) find a path to forgiveness. Sales (This Song Will Save Your Life) tackles a thoroughly modern problem, and she is careful to stay within the gray, neither condoning Winter’s explanation nor fully embracing the meaningless apology. A nuanced approach to how the internet encourages the dehumanization of users gives this novel its realistic tone and serves as a strong warning to teens (and their parents). Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Inkwell Management. (May)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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Sky in the Deep

Adrienne Young. Wednesday, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-16845-0

Drawing on Viking history and lore, debut author Young crafts an exciting, at times heart-wrenching story centered around 17-year-old Eelyn, her Aska clan, and their centuries-old war with the Riki. Every five years, the clans meet at Aurvanger to fight because of a perceived disagreement between their respective gods, Sigr and Thora. Eelyn watched her brother, Iri, die in battle, and now she wants to avenge him. But when she is attacked by Fiske, a Riki warrior, Iri steps in to save his sister: Iri has not only survived, but he has joined the enemy. Determined to figure out why Iri abandoned her clan, Eelyn seeks Fiske out on the battlefield and is taken prisoner. Once in the Riki village, Eelyn realizes that perhaps the two clans aren’t so dissimilar and begins to question the war. Young’s often poetic writing (“The cliff jutting up from the water like a wall. Green moss climbing down it in long, bright strands”) forms a stark juxtaposition with her vivid descriptions of battle and bloodshed, creating a clear picture of the brutality of war. Ages 12–up. Agent: Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Fall of Grace

Amy Fellner Dominy. Delacorte, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-101-93623-8

All that 16-year-old Grace Pierce can think about is the photo of her mother, Janelle, that she plans to submit to a national photography contest. But Grace’s golden life is shattered when her mother is accused of stealing millions from the Family Fund, a hedge fund that she managed. When Janelle is confronted with the charges, she has a stroke and falls into a coma. Grace insists that her mother is innocent, but members of the community, many of whom invested in the Family Fund, think otherwise, and Grace is a convenient target for their ire. Hoping for solace, Grace leaves Phoenix for the mountains of Colorado, but to her chagrin, her brooding classmate, Sam Rivers, whose family lost everything to the scheme, comes along for the ride. On a mountain trail, Grace and Sam must rely on each other to survive, and Grace is forced to confront the question of whether she ever really knew her mother at all. Dominy (Die for You) writes with raw emotion, exploring the impact of revealed family secrets through the lens of a daughter’s fierce love. Although there are no easy answers, Grace’s growing self-acceptance allows the story to end on a hopeful note. Ages 12–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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The Diminished

Kaitlyn Sage Patterson. Harlequin Teen, $18.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-335-01641-6

First in a duology, Patterson’s sprawling debut follows two teenagers living very different lives. As Queen Runa’s favorite nephew, Ambrose “Bo” Trousillion is likely to succeed her as ruler of the Alskad Empire. Obedience “Vi” Abernathy is a foundling who is feared by the public and treated like a slave. In their society, twins who split a conscience are standard, so both Bo and Vi are considered oddities: Bo because he is an only child, and Vi because her twin perished in infancy and, unusually, she has yet to succumb to grief or lose her mind. The two seem fated to remain strangers until a shocking revelation places them both in the crosshairs of the Suzerain religious order and its assassins. After a slow start dense with worldbuilding, Patterson settles into a character-driven narrative that champions self-determination and condemns xenophobia. The key twist connecting the two main characters is obvious, but the story is no less entertaining for it, and it’s easy to root for the couples Patterson has crafted. Ages 12–up. Agent: Brent Taylor, Triada US (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/16/2018 | Details & Permalink

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