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Skink—No Surrender.

Hiaasen, Carl (author).
Sept. 2014. 288p. Knopf, hardcover, $18.99 (9780375870514); Random, library edition, $21.99 (9780375970511); Random, e-book (9780307974068). Grades 7-10.
REVIEW. First published July, 2014 (Booklist). In his first novel aimed at teens, Hiaasen leaves behind middle-school bullying and veers this ecological mystery into the territory of online predators, with inimitable Hiaasen style. Richard’s cousin Malley is missing, and he fears that she’s in danger, despite her eventual calm phone calls and e-mails. When she drops a clue about having spotted the possibly extinct ivory-billed woodpecker, Richard knows she needs help and is giving him a clue. His sidekick on this sleuthing adventure is Skink, from Hiaasen’s adult fiction—a Vietnam vet, an ex-governor, and an ecological-crusading, road-kill-eating hermit. Eccentric doesn’t begin to describe him or the variety of objects he inserts in his empty eye socket. Skink and Richard make quite a dangerous and entertaining duo in a story that careens perfectly from one crazy situation to the next. The predator details are not described in intimate detail, leaving readers to imagine the realities for themselves, but the dangers of online relationships are clearly illuminated. Reluctant readers (especially guys) will surrender themselves to this page-turner. Cross your fingers that we haven’t seen the last of Skink!

HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With Skink showing up in teen territory, this YA debut from the number-one New York Times best-selling author has crossover potential. Stock up!

— Cindy Dobrez

School Library Journal

Guadalajara | Consider the Source
How can we bring high quality Spanish-language books into American libraries? The Guadalajara International Book Fair is one answer.

University of Illinois and Freedom to Read Foundation Offer Intellectual Freedom Course
The Freedom to Read Foundation and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are joining forces to offer an online graduate-level course “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship” for library and information science students around the country held August 26–October 10.

Soon to Be Famous Author Winner, School Librarian Joanne Zienty
Illinois school librarian and winner of the "Soon to Be Famous Author Project" with her book The Things We Save, has had a huge year—and it almost didn't happen.

Library Journal

Eric Foner, Seth Grahame-Smith, Edith Pearlman, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Jan. 2015, Pt. 3
Cohen, Roger. The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family. Knopf. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780307594662. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385353137. MEMOIR New York Times columnist Cohen, honored by the Overseas Press Club for his work as the paper’s Balkans bureau chief during the Bosnian War and in charge of the Pulitzer […]

Award-Winning Novelists from Rachel Cusk to Yu Hua | Fiction Previews, Jan. 2015, Pt. 3
Crummey, Michael. Sweetland. Liveright: Norton. Jan. 2015. 336p. ISBN 9780871407900. $24.95. LITERARY Winner of the Commonwealth Prize for Canada for his most recent work, Galore, Crummey sets his new work on an isolated Canadian island—so isolated, in fact, that the government has offered to resettle folks from the island’s one town, the ever-diminishing Sweetland, provided […]

Reading Hollywood (or Thereabouts) | Wyatt’s World
Lives are upended in Arts & Entertainments, Bloom's character-rich coming-of-age story, Grant's memoir illustrates the virtue of resilience, Harvey on the intimate power of film, and glitzy beach reading from Sohn.

Kirkus Reviews

Gravel On the Side of the Road
Book Cover Radish’s (A Grand Day to Get Lost, 2013, etc.) latest work of nonfiction is a collection of vignettes taken from her own life, from her self-conscious childhood to her days as wild child, hard-boiled reporter and devoted mother.
These stories offer a vast, eclectic array of experience, depicted with the grit and incisiveness of a journalist who’s covered brutal events such as domestic violence, murder and war. Radish’s prose is a joy—energetic, attitudinal, often hilarious and perfectly suited to the anecdotal form. Having met a man claiming to be Jesus, for example, Radish quips, “Well, I’m not dressed for this encounter.” Readers become well-acquainted with the author’s oft-espoused “fearless broad” philosophy, and she’s at her best when recounting experiences in which she takes center stage. In “The Little Girl and the Tomatoes,” for example, she describes a childhood job in which she picked tomatoes in stultifying heat and how it engendered her lifelong sense of tenacity. In “Paper Clips, Two-Sided Paper, My Penis Please,” Radish recounts, with equal parts dark humor and rage, attending the funeral of an editor who sexually assaulted her under the guise of mentorship. However, the essays about marginalized individuals are less convincing, as they present the people almost entirely through Radish’s own perception, projecting attributes, pasts and even afterlives onto them instead of describing their own lived experience. An encounter with writer Eudora Welty, for example, is less about the woman herself than about Radish’s visceral reaction to Welty’s presence and advice, and in “Soldier Boy,” the author recounts a brief encounter with a young soldier about to go to war, imagining a hypothetical trajectory of his life and a detailed scenario for his death.
A bold, rollicking work that often reveals more about the author than her subjects.

Book Cover

A lifelong ocean advocate and aquatic educator examines the biocentric and neurochemical wonderments of water.

Passionately dedicated to oceanic sciences, marine biologist and California Academy of Sciences research associate Nichols presents fieldwork largely focused on scientific experiments measuring the human brain’s electrical response to water. He astutely examines how the ocean, the color blue and regular human interaction with water significantly affect mood, attitude and energetic productivity, and he explores our evolutionary connection to water and the ways it inspires creative flow. On a personal note, Nichols admits to his own attraction to the water’s edge initiated when he brought his 18-month-old daughter along on an oceanside coastal trek from Oregon to Mexico. Factors such as DNA, biology and physical well-being can predispose one to an attraction to water, he writes, and as his numerous studies suggest, we tend to be at our happiest when surrounded by a natural environment, whether swimming, surfing or simply bathing, and “riverbanks, beaches, and lakefronts” play a large part in this accumulated state of blissfulness. This postulate is further proved by the consistent demand for premium-priced oceanfront property across the globe. But as seductively pristine as these waters are, Nichols warns, they also carry risk and a downside, as evidenced by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy and the environmentally devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A true voice for environmental advocacy, Nichols promotes the “Blue Mind” approach to conscious ecological conservation and fosters the Earth-friendly, interconnectedness expressed through his Blue Marble Project. In the book’s thought-provoking introduction, Celine Cousteau admits to being as irresistibly drawn to water as her grandfather Jacques was, yet she previously resisted the need to “explain the magic.” She now realizes that Nichols’ unique fieldwork and scientific scrutiny is necessary “to restore the health of the world’s water systems.”

A fascinating, fact-based report for aquaphiles and those at one with the tides.

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Newly independent readers with younger siblings will be sympathetic with Lulu Witch’s frustrations concerning Witch Baby and amused when her remedial potion and spell deliver unexpected results.

With Witch Baby around, Lulu does not get the attention she once did. Witch Baby gets all the presents, Mama Witch has no time to watch Lulu fly on her broom, and Daddy Witch is too busy to fix Lulu’s dollhouse. Everyone is focused on Witch Baby even when she does bad things. When Mama Witch asks Lulu to watch the baby while she runs an errand, Lulu sees her chance, finding a recipe for a magic brew to make her little sister disappear. At first the potion does not seem to work, but then Witch Baby is nowhere to be found. Lulu’s initial moment of triumph is quickly replaced by worry, then remorse. What will happen when Mama comes home? This reissue of O’Connor’s classic tale (originally illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully in 1986) has new illustrations by Sinclair with a retro feel, charming with comic details. Industrious mice scurry about many of the pages, worms crawl out of an overturned cauldron, and Mama Witch knits with freshly spun spider silk.

Share this well-designed story with those grappling with sibling issues or with a small group come October. Truly, it is a good title to pick up anytime. (Early reader. 4-8)

<July 2014>