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Book List

Beautiful Moon: A Child's Prayer.

Bolden, Tonya (author). Illustrated by Eric Velasquez.
Nov. 2014. 32p. Abrams, hardcover, $16.95 (9781419707926). PreS-Grade 2.
REVIEW. First published November 15, 2014 (Booklist). A young African American boy realizes that he has not said his prayers. As he climbs out of bed, he spots the moon gleaming in the sky. From there this book, with heartfelt simplicity, uses the moon as a beacon for those across the city in need of prayer. Among them are a woman resting on a park bench, trying to keep warm; a businessman on a train, worrying about his daughter fighting overseas; and a hospital patient gazing out his window, wishing for sleep. Though the boy cannot see any of these people, he prays for them instinctively in his thoughts for people with no homes, for wars to end, for the sick to be healed, and for those who are hungry to be fed. Then he prays for his family, for those close to him who make his own life so happy, and he prays that tomorrow he will remember to pray. This oversize volume is a beautiful weaving of word, art, and spirit. Bolden’s restrained but eloquent text is matched by Velasquez’s dark, almost brooding paintings. These nighttime scenes reveal people at their lowest—hungry, sad, afraid. Yet just the intention behind the boy’s words has a soothing effect. The palette brightens whenever people are shown helping, providing food or reading a story to children. A good starting place for discussion, this will give youngsters a sense of those in need as well as what’s worth praying for.— Ilene Cooper

School Library Journal

Tennessee School District’s Tech Policy Blocks Students’ Constitutional Rights, ACLU Says
A Tennessee parent and the ACLU claim that a school district’s tech policy, which students much sign to participate in activities on campus computers, violates free speech and compromises student privacy.

Jacqueline Woodson and Ursula K. Le Guin Shine at the National Book Awards Ceremony
Highlights of the National Book Awards ceremony on November 19 included speeches by Young People’s Literature Winner, Jacqueline Woodson, and Distinguished Contribution to American Letters medalist, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Behind the Scenes: The 2014 SLJ Best Books List
An inside look at how the SLJ book review editors chose the 70 Best Books of 2014. View a slideshow of our favorite titles and download a printable version of the list.

Library Journal

Jane Austen, Aretha Franklin, Anjelica Huston, Anne Lamott | Arts & Humanities Reviews, November 15, 2014
A must-read for Huston fans, a range of heartfelt journalistic and spiritual writings from Lamott, Ritz's compelling record of the life of a musical titan, a comprehensive overview of the many iterations of the Jane Austen oeuvre.

Art as a Career, Vintage & Winter Knits, Modern Mountain Homes | Crafts & DIY Reviews, November 15, 2014
A useful resource for emerging artists and creative people of all ages; a fun survey of 20th-century fashion; beyond-the-basics designs for jewelry makers; building experts on hemp concrete, or hempcrete; newly constructed homes in mountain settings.

David Nicholls | LibraryReads Author
A LibraryReads top pick for November, an LJ Best Book of 2014, a Man Booker long-listed treat for everyone: David Nicholls’s Us is all that and more.

Kirkus Reviews

IN THE SHADOW OF ZION
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Travel down some of the lesser-known roads to Jerusalem with an expert guide.

Few books that claim the power to radically change the reader’s worldview deliver on that promise. This informed investigation of several unexplored avenues of Jewish history actually does it. By examining six seldom-discussed attempts to settle a Jewish state outside of Israel, Rovner (English and Jewish Literature/Univ. of Denver) shows how the world might have looked had any of these plans come to fruition. Had the Jewish homeland developed in Angola, Suriname or Grand Island, New York—all considered candidates at one time—how might Jewish history, and world history, have turned out differently? The author meticulously follows in the footsteps of the visionary authors, rabbis and politicians who led hopeful expeditions to far-flung corners of the globe on just such a quest. Rovner writes clearly and precisely, providing a solid historical and geographical context, which he intersperses with personal narratives from his own travels that offer more intimate looks at the landscape and cultures of these countries. Scholars familiar with Jewish history will appreciate the author’s impressive scholarship, while mainstream readers could easily become overwhelmed by a text that is supported by nearly 100 pages of notes and bibliographical references. Similarly, a newcomer to the topic might not make the leap from religious Zionism to geographic territorialism as quickly as Rovner does. Unremarkable landscape photographs sprinkled throughout the book are perhaps an attempt to draw in more casual readers, but their generic vistas seem at odds with the detailed academic character of the writing. Nonetheless, for those interested in Jewish history, Rovner provides ample evidence for his thought-provoking argument that one success among these varied visions might have changed global geography forever.

A conceptually challenging intellectual history of the global search for a Jewish homeland.

A BILLION WAYS TO DIE
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What is it with people? Whoever it is that’s trying to kill Arthur Cathcart just won’t quit.

Now that he’s avenged himself on the triggerman who widowed and nearly executed him, Cathcart, a tech researcher of many names, just wants to be left alone to cuddle with his ladylove, blackjack dealer Natsumi Fitzgerald (Cries of the Lost, 2013, etc.). Their Caribbean idyll ends when their sailboat, Detour, is boarded by a crew of ruffians who snatch them in the dead of night, carry them off, lock them up in another craft, and demand that Cathcart tell them where “it” is. They don’t know Cathcart’s name; he has no idea what "it" is; nobody’s willing to be the first to talk. The stalemate is broken when Cathcart and Natsumi awaken from drugged sleep back at their marina, shaken but alive and determined to figure out who kidnapped them and why. The search leads Cathcart to the usual scenic locations (Puerto Rico, Miami, Switzerland, suburban Connecticut) and, thanks to the research of his reluctant collaborator, Strider the Data Thief, deep into the bowels of the Société Commerciale Fontaine, where his undercover job as one Martin Goldman gives him a chance to show his researching chops before the inevitable blowup. Cathcart soon realizes the malign forces he’s tracking are also tracking him, and the disappearances of successive bank accounts he shares with Natsumi persuade him that “our security seemed to erode faster than our awareness could increase.”

After the brilliance of his debut (Dead Anyway, 2012), Cathcart’s third adventure shows an increasing tropism toward proficient but forgettable rounds of cat-and-mouse byplay punctuated by the occasional action scene.

THE LAST BEACH
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A clarion call for a change of policy that prioritizes the preservation of beaches over property rights.

In this follow-up to The World's Beaches: A Global Guide to the Science of the Shoreline (2011), Pilkey (Emeritus, Geology/Duke Univ.) and Cooper (Environmental Sciences/Univ. of Ulster) warn that shoreline development is already endangering our beaches. They explain how the natural relationship between sand and ocean waves—countervailing processes of erosion and reconstruction of sand dunes and beaches—is already being hindered by sea walls and jetties constructed to protect human activity. The authors cite projections that by the year 2100, due to climate change, global sea rise will likely exceed 3 feet, and all beachfront development will stop unless it is “protected on all sides by massive seawalls.” The cost would be prohibitive for what would be a temporary fix, since the naturally flexible dynamic of resanding would be disrupted, and sand transported from other locations would deplete beaches elsewhere. “[W]aves can cause cliffs to collapse and push huge boulders around as if they were pebbles,” write the authors, “and yet beaches made up of tiny sand grains persist” because they are continually replenished by ocean deposits. Sea walls and jetties are already hindering this replenishment, as are river dams, which limit the deposit of mud and pebbles that would otherwise be carried into the ocean. The effects of pollution make the situation even worse—not only due to the dumping of waste material into the oceans, but by the failures of sewage facilities under flood conditions. Vehicles driven over the sand, littering, shore drilling and sand mining also cause massive problems, destroying the beaches still in place and compromising the natural shoreline ecology.

The authors deliver a message to be heeded: “We must view the beach as a sacred and resilient yet strangely fragile natural environment to be protected at all costs.”

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