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Fantasy League.

Lupica, Mike (author).
Sept. 2014. 304p. Philomel, hardcover, $17.99 (9780399256073). Grades 5-8.
REVIEW. First published September 1, 2014 (Booklist). Usually a football book is about whether or not the kid makes the team—and the problems that follow. So it’s refreshing that those issues are only a part of 12-year-old Charlie Gains’ story. See, Charlie is known as the Brain, because he is a football stats genius. He understands which players should be playing where and why. This makes him great at fantasy football; then reality comes center stage. His best friend, Anna, is the granddaughter of Joe Warren, the man who has brought NFL football back to Los Angeles. But the team, the Bulldogs, haven’t done much, and Joe’s son, the GM, is being blamed. Enter Charlie, who loves the team and soon comes to love Joe Warren as the father and grandfather he never had. Charlie shares his massive football knowledge with Joe, and soon players are being recruited at Charlie’s suggestion. Couple this with the fact Anna has turned Charlie into something of a podcast celebrity, and suddenly Charlie is catnip for the media. That’s great until things start to go wrong. There’s a lot of football here: pro and fantasy teams and Charlie’s own Pop Warner career. Veteran sportswriter Lupica handles it all very well. However, it’s the heart and depth he adds to the story depicting Charlie’s relationships with a sterling cast of characters that make this unique. This Moneyball story with kids is on the money.— Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal

Playing With the Narrative | SLJ Spotlight
These teen fiction titles stretch the limits with twists on the traditional narrative.

Arapahoe High School Unveils New Library and Park
Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado, rebuilds its library and gets a new outdoor commons, after a tragic high school shooting last December.

‘Tactile Picture Books’ Creates 3-D Print Titles for Blind Children
A new project out of the University of Colorado is harnessing 3-D printing technology to make picture books accessible to visually impaired children.

Library Journal

Cancer Gene Blues: Seven Titles for October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast cancer is all about the numbers: the infamous one in eight lifetime probability of a diagnosis, the number of lymph nodes removed, gene mutations 1 and 2, risk factor percentages, even how old one should be to start screenings.

Reading Out Summer | Wyatt’s World
Get ready for one last reading extravaganza of summer books—from why Almond is Against Football to Penny's beautifully set Long Way Home to Straub's wry and delightful Vacationers

Audiobooks from Berry, Greene, Jio, & Riley | Xpress Reviews
Cotton Malone saves the United States, one for business and political philosophy, mid-century Seattle according to Jio, a century-spanning drama from Riley

Kirkus Reviews

Book Cover

Thomas Browne, fifth-grade teacher from Palacio’s best-selling Wonder (2012), returns in a companion volume offering a collection of inspiring precepts.

Precepts are “words to live by, to elevate the soul, that celebrate the goodness in people,” and Mr. Browne uses them to teach such classical virtues as wisdom, justice, courage and temperance. He believes his students are still kids, “so why should we let you roam wild in the uncharted territory of middle school without just a little bit of guidance?” At the beginning of each month, Mr. Browne writes a new precept on the board, students copy it in their notebooks, discuss it in class, and write paragraphs and essays inspired by the precepts. This volume includes a year’s worth of Mr. Browne’s precepts chosen from 10 years of teaching, as well as some submitted by young people in a contest held by the author. Each precept is credited, and most take up one page; occasional variations in background and typeface keep the visual presentation moderately interesting. Though the cumulative effect of so many inspiring words can be deadening, like being trapped in a Hallmark card shop, the intention is good, and Mr. Browne’s essays at the end of each month add a much-needed adult perspective on the need to guide young people in the ways of kindness and empathy.

A big collection of inspiring words that will appeal to the legions of fans awaiting more wonder in their lives. (acknowledgments, list of contributors) (Anthology. 8-12)

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A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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The mother of a mentally ill son who suffered from uncontrollable rages proves to be a powerful advocate for children with mental illness and their families.

When Long worked at Boise State University, she maintained a Facebook blog to which she posted anonymously. In December 2012, when she learned about 20-year-old Adam Lanza's murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, she was fearful for her son's future. Until then, she had kept details of her son's violent episodes secret from friends and co-workers due to the stigma attached to mental illness. After the Sandy Hook episode, she shared her cry for help in a blog post in which she revealed her own circumstances: “In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.” Her post went viral and was subsequently published by Boise State’s online journal Blue Review with the title, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” This led to a highly viewed Huffington Post repost and invitations to appear on national talk shows. In her book, Long cites statistics that estimate the extent of mental illness in children to be “one in five children in the United States,” many of whom have few opportunities for treatment. She writes of the toll this takes on parents and her own yearslong struggle to get effective treatment for her son and how, after exhausting other options, she was forced to turn to the juvenile justice system for help. The author reviews advances in diagnosing childhood mental illness and unraveling the “complex cocktail of genetic predisposition, environmental facts, and family dynamics” that contribute to mental illness in children and adolescents. Only in 2013 was Long’s son diagnosed with bipolar disorder, compounded by problems of sensory integration.

A searing indictment of the lack of affordable care available for the treatment of mentally ill adolescents.

<August 2014>