FORGED BY FIRE by Sharon M. Draper
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"A touching story, burdened by contrivances. (Fiction. 12-14)"
An African-American boy grows into a decent man, a loving brother, and a steadfast son despite the cruelties of his childhood in this latest novel by Draper (Tears of a Tiger, 1994, not reviewed, etc.). Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 26, 1996

"With attractive full-color photographs, the book is visually appealing, but many worthy facts founder in faulty contexts. (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-12)"
A slim, glossy discussion of endangered species that lacks the scientific precision and adequate documentation to be effective. Read full book review >

HAUNTS by Angela Shelf Medearis
FANTASY
Released: Dec. 15, 1996

"Warn all but intrepid readers not to start on this collection after sundown. (Short stories. 10-12)"
Medearis (Treemonisha, 1995, etc.) makes careful additions to five goosebump-raising tales, which are all either set in rural Texas or have a Southern flavor: A widow's moldering husband rises again for one "Last Dance at the Dew Drop Inn"; with the help of a mysterious dog, Lilly rescues her brother Freeson from the weirdly compelling "Fiddler Man"; an encounter with a headless horseman leaves two sisters "Scared Silly"; and a drought-stricken small town gets more water than it bargains for from "The Rainmaker." Read full book review >
A SHOOTING STAR by Sheila Solomon Klass
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Annie tells her life story to her future husband, or the description of the quiet of her mind when she aims her gun—that are utterly convincing. (Fiction. 10-12)"
From the author of Kool Ada (1991), a fictional glimpse of Annie Oakley that combines elements reminiscent of Wilder's Little House on the Prairie and Burnett's story of The Little Princess. Read full book review >
THE GHOST BY THE SEA by Eileen Dunlop
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Some heavy-handed foreshadowing—extraneous in a plot that gallops along as this one does—mars the story; otherwise, this is a real winner in the spook sweepstakes. (Fiction. 8-14)"
When Robin, 10, is sent to live with her grandmother while her critically injured brother is in the hospital, she soon finds that Granny's house, Culaloe, has a mysterious history. Read full book review >

HEY DAD, GET A LIFE! by Todd Strasser
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"1158, etc.). (Fiction. 10-12)"
Kelly and her little sister Sasha share a secret: Their father has come back from the dead—and, like an invisible genie, he's eager to grant their every wish. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"The parts may be more memorable than the sum, and adult characters more sharply drawn than the young ones, but Rachel's uncertainties and anxieties are explored with a sure touch, and the setting is totally convincing. (Fiction. 12-15)"
As with Keillor's Lake Wobegon monologues, this tale of a Wisconsin teenager meeting adolescence head-on wanders amiably past daydreams, a vivid—sometimes unruly—cast, and the ups and downs in a very small town. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"The grouping of memoirs around general topics leads to some natural disjointedness, but overall this is a good summation of the successful assimilation of Cubans into—and their contributions to- -American culture. (chronology, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14)"
This entry in the Hooblers' American Family Album series (The Jewish American Family Album, 1995, etc.) begins with an introduction by Oscar Hijuelos, who notes, ``where there are Cubans, there will be much warmth, life and amazing energy.'' A collection of oral histories and memoirs grouped by topic offer firsthand accounts of ``The Old Country,'' ``Coming to the United States,'' ``Ports of Entry,'' ``A New Life,'' ``Putting Down Roots,'' and ``Part of the United States.'' Readers will learn about the quincea§era, the celebration of a young woman's 15th birthday, how immigration to the US broke down the extended Cuban family, once the strongest force in that society, and how Desi Arnaz became the first famous Cuban American. Read full book review >
NECESSARY ROUGHNESS by Marie G. Lee
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Nov. 30, 1996

"Yet even if the lessons are not as precisely realized as those in Lee's previous books, this is still a strong and intelligent novel. (Fiction. 10-14)"
Football is the central metaphor for how a Korean family confronts life, death, and assimilation in this gritty and moving novel by Lee (Saying Goodbye, 1994, etc.). Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Nov. 30, 1996

"His recitation of statistics regarding current handgun sales within the US and his subsequent appeal to the basic humanity of young readers are the book's best lessons of all. (Nonfiction. 8-12)"
Meltzer (Hold Your Horses!, 1995, etc.) presents a sobering overview of the tools and techniques of battle, from prehistoric times to the present, in an intelligent, direct, and necessarily brief style: The subject is so immense that he doesn't spend too much time on any particular topic. Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: Nov. 29, 1996

"If there were more books like this, social studies would be everyone's favorite subject. (Short stories. 9-12)"
Four short stories about different periods in Texas history, each designed to highlight a style (or styles) of dwelling and tell how it was a product of—and how it influenced—its time and place. Read full book review >
HER PIANO SANG by Barbara Allman
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 9, 1996

"Haas's black-and-white illustrations feature unusual compositions and fit the text well. (bibliography, index) (Biography. 8-12)"
Clara (Wieck) Schumann was surrounded by music her entire life; her father devoted himself to grooming her as a concert pianist, and she became a virtuoso performer, playing her first concert at age nine. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >