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May 15, 2013 BOOKLIST
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The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, by Robert A. Caro (Knopf)
“Wedged between LBJ’s triumphant Senate career and his presidency, this fourth volume in Caro’s acclaimed Years of Lyndon Johnson series addresses the failed presidential campaign of 1960, the three frustrating years as vice president, and the transition between the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. . . . Political wonks, of course, will dive into this book with unbridled passion, but its focus on a larger-than-life, flawed but fascinating individual—the kind of character who drives epic fiction—should extend its reach much, much further.” —Bill Ott, Booklist, April 15, 2012
The Lower River, by Paul Theroux (Houghton)
“The only time Ellis Hock felt truly alive was as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi. When his marriage and the store both fail, Hock returns to the small village of Malabo on the Lower River with a bag of cash and the hope of starting again. . . . In this hypnotically compelling fiction, Theroux wrestles with questions of good intentions and harsh reality, addressing what may be the central conundrum of Africa: our own influence is the very thing that makes it impossible for us to ‘save’ it. And what does saving it mean, anyway? A gripping and vital novel that reads like Conrad or Greene—in short, a classic.” —Keir Graff, Booklist, March 1, 2012
The Fairy Ring; or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World, by Mary Losure (Candlewick)
“Frances Griffiths is 9 in 1917, the year she goes to live in Cottingley, England, with her 15-year-old cousin, Elsie. One day, on a lark, the girls mount some of Elsie’s fairy paintings to sticks, and pose with them for a few pictures. The resulting sequence of events changes their lives forever. Losure’s elegant and charmingly formal prose makes palpable the girls’ loss of control as their hoax spreads ever wider. Frances and Elsie keep their secret until they are elderly, but their lie is not based in foolery—for them, it is the bond of friendship that is magical.” —Daniel Kraus, Booklist, March 1, 2012
Dodger, by Terry Pratchett (Harper)
“On a stormy night in early Victorian London, an able young man named Dodger rises from the sewers in response to a scream, fights off two thugs, and rescues a damsel in distress. . . . Living by his wits and unencumbered by conventional morality, this trickster hero expertly navigates the underbelly of his city as he carries out a bizarre scheme resulting in justice and mercy. . . . The pleasure of reading the novel is in the language as much as in the characters and well-researched period setting. . . . This Victorian romp is lovingly crafted and completely enjoyable.” —Carolyn Phelan, Booklist, October 15, 2012
Youth Picture Book
Extra Yarn, written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen (HarperCollins/Balzer and Bray)
“Annabelle lives in a black-and-white world, where everything is drab, drab, drab. So imagine her surprise when she finds a box filled with yarn of every color. Armed with the yarn and knitting needles, she makes herself a sweater, but after she finishes, she finds that she has extra yarn left over. . . . Klassen uses ink, gouache, and digital illustration to fashion Annabelle’s world out of geometric shapes, set against dark, saturated pages, and against white as the town comes to colorful, stitched life. Quirky and wonderful, this story quietly celebrates a child’s ingenuity and her ability to change the world around her.” —Ann Kelley, Booklist, December 15, 2011
The Dust Bowl (PBS)
“Similar in format to other Ken Burns documentaries, this mesmerizing two-part production delves beneath the surface to explore the causes and long-range effects of the decade-long Dust Bowl, the worst sustained environmental disaster in U.S. history. The film tells of tremendous hardships but also demonstrates the fortitude, perseverance, and resiliency of those who survived. A must-have for all video collections.” —Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist Online, December 10, 2012
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein; read by Morven Christie and Lucy Gaskell (Bolinda)
“The horror of WWII as seen through the eyes of double-agent Verity is believably captured in this superb audio. Like Verity, Christie hails from Scotland, and her accent and tones match Verity’s pain and conflict as she wrenchingly recalls her experiences. Gaskell is equally masterful playing Verity’s best friend, Maddie (code name Kitty Hawk), a fearless British pilot.” —Shari Fesko, Booklist, January 1 & 15, 2013.
Dictionary of African Biography, edited by Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Oxford)
“This huge undertaking contains more than 2,100 entries covering all periods of African history, from the first humans through the twenty-first century, and all regions of the continent. Entries range from 200 to 3,000 words, and each is followed by a list of related entries as well as a bibliography of articles for further reading. The scope is wide and deep. . . . The DAB is a major achievement . . . it is thorough and well edited, and the material is easy to access, making the set worthy of inclusion in all public or university libraries.” —Steve Stratton, Booklist, March 15, 2012