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I Was Here.

Forman, Gayle (author).
Jan. 2015. 288p. Viking, hardcover, $18.99 (9780451471475). Grades 9-12.
REVIEW. First published October 15, 2014 (Booklist). Eighteen-year-old Cody’s best friend, Meg, has committed suicide, and Cody is determined to discover why and how it could be that she didn’t sense what Meg was contemplating. As she begins her investigation, she meets a young musician, Ben, with whom Meg was obsessed but who rejected her. How responsible might he have been for Meg’s death? How will Cody deal with his growing presence in her own life? And what is the meaning of the strange, encrypted message she discovers on Meg’s computer? At first Cody finds more questions than answers, but she is dogged in her pursuit of knowledge and gradually comes ever closer to the startling truth. Suicide has always been a subject in YA literature, and to her credit, Forman handles it sensitively and gracefully, raising important issues of the ethics and morality of the subject. The combination mystery and love story is sure to reach a wide readership and excite essential discussion.

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the big-budget film adaptation of Forman’s best-seller If I Stay (2009) still lingering in theaters, this latest offering should generate massive teen interest.

— Michael Cart

School Library Journal

Rosen Publishing Acquires Nonfiction Children’s Publisher Enslow
Today, Rosen Publishing announced its acquisition of nonfiction children and young adult book publisher Enslow Publishers, Inc.

Games Make Inroads into the Classroom
Digital games are establishing a strong presence in K–8 classrooms, according to a study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. Almost three quarters of 700 U.S. teachers surveyed use digital games for instruction.

The True Cost of Free Internet Services | Next Big Thing
We must be willing to pay for Internet products that enhance learning.

Library Journal

Penguins and Back Pain and Military Dogs Oh My! | Science & Technology Reviews
Of the many books on perennially popular penguins, this is far and away the best; an invaluable work to those facing the onset of back pain and the dizzying range of treatment choices; proof of the intensity of the human-animal bond.

Best Sellers: Books Most Borrowed, October 2014
The Heist steals the top spot from The Goldfinch; Unbroken breaks back into No. 1.

Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying: Another Big Read Opportunity for Libraries
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has expanded its Big Read library with the addition of its first nonfiction selection, Edwidge Danticat’s Brother, I’m Dying, a National Book Critics Circle Award winner and National Book Award finalist published in 2007. In this family memoir, Danticat recounts being raised by her uncle Joseph in Haiti […]

Kirkus Reviews

Book Cover

Inspired by a photograph showing a family of three, the man wearing horizontal stripes, the woman vertical, and the child a checkered shirt, this whimsical debut picture book challenges the limits of ultradesigned books for children.

The characteristics and preferences of the pinheaded protagonists are illustrated in bold geometric black and white on strong, flat background colors. Mister Horizontal, predictably, loves the smooth, gliding motions of rollerblading and sailing. Miss Vertical prefers dizzying aerial adventures; she “loves launching herself into orbit and looping through the air.” Mister Horizontal likes to bend and stretch, (which action confusingly causes his stripes to be vertical on the page.) Miss Vertical, the thrill seeker, loves high-wire acrobatics, elevators, bungee jumping, rockets, skyscrapers and balloons. Mister Horizontal, more down-to-earth, prefers the desert, the ocean, ants marching in straight lines, lounging, napping and gardening. The book’s ulterior motive is suddenly revealed at the end, in a question: “Now what do you think… / …their child will love?” And there is their child, wearing a checkered shirt, just like the boy in a closing photo. Witty, clever, elegantly designed but certainly not touchy-feely, this book is a somewhat strained synthesis of graphic illustration, seemingly designed to teach the concept of orientation in conjunction with an analysis of personality traits.

Eye-catching though it is, it is unlikely to displace more traditional, warmer offerings on this subject. (Picture book. 5-8)

Book Cover

In his first official assignment as a detective, a small-town lawman is jolted way out of his comfort zone with a complex case that stretches halfway across the world.

Judd Wheeler, the police chief of sleepy little Prosperity, North Carolina, answers a call about a juvenile troublemaker named Spud Corliss and finds himself flat on his back, victim of the young offender's marksmanship. Fast-forward two months, and Judd, who narrates in an amiable first person, returns to the job a little shakily. Childhood friend Kent Kramer, now the mayor, again suggests Judd take on a detective role as well, sweetening the offer with the title Chief Detective. The timing is ideal, and Kent’s an earnest charmer; Judd accepts. His first case is a disappearance at a property handled, as it happens, by Kent. Roger Guthrie and his wife, Natalie, have been married for three years. Previously a widower, he works for a nearby bank and she's from Russia, both bits of information Judd finds worthy of further investigation. Roger's boss, Albert York, reports recent erratic behavior, and neighbors heard loud arguments between the couple. When Judd requests info on Natalie from Immigration, he gets a visit from slick Homeland Security Agent Jack Cantrell, a clear signal that sets Judd on the trail of an international criminal. Judd's full plate becomes overstuffed with the surprise reappearance of an old nemesis named Sean “Shug” Burch.

Helms' third Judd Wheeler procedural (Thunder Moon, 2011, etc.) has an appealing transparency and an easy rhythm, turning the reader into a sidekick in Judd's methodical probe.

Book Cover

A fire in a mosque provides new ways to put the sorely tried Sgt. Joe Burgess of the Portland Police Department to ever more challenging tests.

There’s not much Burgess can tell about what’s happened. He knows there’s a fire at the mosque because a brave and resourceful foster child, Jason Stetson, tells him about it while it’s still blazing. He knows that someone locked a young woman and a baby in a closet and left them to die—a wish all too completely fulfilled in the infant’s case. He knows the surviving young woman, lying in a hospital bed at Maine Medical Center, is too traumatized to say a word and that Imam Muhamud Ibrahim has ordered his followers, many of them family members, not to say anything either. And he knows that the mosque has become the center of a violent power struggle that’s entangled unsavory Kimani Yates, whose visit to the hospital terrifies the mute young woman with good reason; William “Butcher” Flaherty, the eye-patched Iron Angel biker whose business with the imam remains shadowy; and property mogul Addison Westerly, whose shell company owns the mosque he’s been at pains to distance himself from. But “the meanest cop in Portland”  (Redemption, 2012, etc.) doesn’t know how the pieces of this jigsaw fit together or who the dead baby is or how to resolve the racial and cultural tensions that swirl around the mosque or even how to keep his live-in lover, Chris Perlin, and his suddenly growing family safe from the fallout.

As usual, Flora pours on the intensity for both her police detective and his fans in this criminal, legal and moral maze whose center is clearly a locked closet in a burning mosque but whose boundaries remain frustratingly hazy even at the fade-out.

<October 2014>