traces the dramatic ups and downs of a
female professional baseball player trying
to prove her worth. Jill Cafferty’s plans to
attend Stanford are put on hold after she gets
drafted to pitch for one of the Pittsburgh
Pirates’ minor league teams. Already a
media darling, Jill gains even more fame
after accepting the offer. Living away from
home with a host family, she often feels
lonely and homesick despite having been
taken under the wing of a fellow player.
And there are a number of people, including
some of Jill’s new teammates, who would
like nothing more than to see her fail.
Beyond giving an insider’s view of baseball
players’ daily routines and lives, White
(the President’s Daughter series) offers a
credible portrait of a young woman breaking
traditional gender boundaries while being
scrutinized by the entire nation. Although
some of the storyline is predictable, well-defined characters will draw readers in,
and the open-ended conclusion will leave
them contemplating how far Jill’s talent
might take her. Ages 13–up. Agent: Jennifer
Laughran, Andrea Brown Literary. (Feb.)
; We Are Okay
Nina LaCour. Dutton, $17.99 (240p)
Over the winter holidays, college
freshman Marin opts to remain in an
empty dorm in New York rather than go
home to California. The reasons she
decides to stay gently unfold one layer at a
time, in an introspective novel that power-
fully explores her solitude and conflicted
emotions against the backdrop of a stormy,
icy winter. Marin’s temptation to burrow
under the covers and “stay in bed all day”
has to be put on hold when an old friend,
Mabel, comes for a visit. As Mabel
attempts to persuade Marin to return to
San Francisco (at least for a while), Marin
is forced to confront the past she is trying
and ended with
the death of
taker grandfather and the exposure of dis-
turbing secrets. Through Marin’s memo-
ries and cautious conversations with
Mabel, LaCour (Hold Still) conjures a
moving portrait of a girl struggling to
rebound after everything she’s known has
been thrown into disarray. Ages 14–up.
Agent: Sara Crowe, Pippin Properties. (Feb.)
; The Secret Project
Jonah Winter, illus. by Jeanette Winter. Beach
Lane, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-6913-5
Secrets seldom come grimmer than in
this unsettling tale, which describes the
Los Alamos nuclear lab and the creation of
the atomic bomb. The mother-son team
behind Diego and other picture book biographies pairs an informational tone with
simmering ambiguity. Their story opens
on “a peaceful desert mountain landscape,”
where a coyote howls, an artist (Georgia
O’Keeffe) paints, and a Hopi man carves a
kachina doll. After the government commandeers a private school, “the most brilliant scientists in the world” arrive to take
up nighttime research, their twilit activities contrasting with sunny New Mexico
settings in ochre, pink, violet, and sage.
Jonah Winter repeatedly refers to
“shadowy figures” at work on a mysterious
“Gadget,” and Jeanette Winter pictures
them as anonymous, steel-gray silhouettes. When the men gather in a bunker to
test the Gadget, the narration disappears.
In a chilling wordless sequence with a
drab, light-sucking background, a white-gold and blood-red mushroom cloud blossoms, followed by an empty spread in
glossy black. An author’s note explains
what happened next. Sure to spark conversation about ethics and the use of nuclear
weaponry, this powerful book demands a
wide readership. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)
Isaac the Alchemist:
Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
Mary Losure. Candlewick, $19.99 (176p)
In this charming biography of Isaac
Newton (1642–1727), Losure ( Wild Boy)
posits that “this last sorcerer—this
greatest of all alchemists—was the same
man who banished magic from the scientific world.” Portrayed as an uncommonly
I’ll Hug You More Laura Duksta, illus. by
Melissa Iwai. Sourcebooks Jabberwocky,
ISBN 978-1-4926-2618-3, Jan.
Noodles’ and Albie’s Birthday Surprise
Eric Bennett, illus. by Milanka Reardon. Penguin
Place, ISBN 978-0-692-78885-1, BookLife
By Your Side Kasie West. Harper Teen,
ISBN 978-0-06-245586-4, Jan.
Carve the Mark Veronica Roth. HarperCollins/
Tegen, ISBN 978-0-06-234863-0, Jan.
The Crystal Ribbon Celeste Lim. Scholastic
Press, ISBN 978-0-545-76703-3, Jan.
Dreadnought April Daniels. Diversion,
ISBN 978-1-68230-068-8, Jan.
Frostblood Elly Blake. Little, Brown,
ISBN 978-0-316-27325-1, Jan.
; Gorilla Dawn Gill Lewis, illus. by Susan Meyer.
Atheneum/Dlouhy, ISBN 978-1-4814-8657-6, Jan.
Our Own Private Universe Robin Talley.
Harlequin Teen, ISBN 978-0-373-21198-2, Jan.
The Wearle Chris D’Lacey. Scholastic Press,
ISBN 978-0-545-90018-8, Dec.
inquisitive, albeit reclusive, thinker
with a secret addiction to alchemy (not
an unusual preoccupation in a period
when the borders between science and
magic were uncertain), Newton may
have written as many as a million words
regarding alchemy, papers he kept while
destroying many related to his revolutionary work in other fields: mathematics,
optics, and what is now called physics.
Interspersing engrossing chapters about
alchemy (but largely ignoring the last
third of Newton’s life), Losure uses a
light touch to trace his childhood
endeavors, his rise from student to professor at Cambridge’s Trinity College,
his prickly relationship with other scientists in the Royal Society (Newton
became a member in 1672), and the
publication of his masterpiece, Philosophiae
Naturalis Principia Mathematica, in 1687.
Period images and afterwords with curi-osity-spiking headings such as “Stinks,
Bangs & More Chymical Secrets” bring
additional depth and interest to this
study of Newton’s surprising pursuits.
Ages 10–up. (Feb.) ;