Children’s books

“Hello, I’m Here!” by Helen Frost, photography by Rick Lieder

The collaborative mastery of Frost’s poetry and Lieder’s photography has been captivating readers since the 2012 publication of “Step Gently Out,” which invites young readers to closely observe the wonder of the small creatures who share our world. In their fifth book together, Frost and Lieder continue to celebrate the natural world, this time with the story of a sandhill crane family welcoming a new chick. The text and photographs compel readers along on the curious chick’s usually unseen discoveries and experiences. Recommended for ages 3 to 8.

“To Night Owl From Dogfish” by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

“You don’t know me,” reads the subject line of the email from one 12-year-old girl to another. She goes on to explain that their dads have fallen in love with each other and are planning to send the girls off to summer camp together. Determined not to be friends, much less sisters, the girls put their heads together to derail the romance that threatens the status quo. Hilarious, heart-warming and full of charming (if quirky) characters, this is a fast-paced, almost cinematic read told through emails and letters. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

Teen books

“Zenobia” by Morten Dürr, illustrated by Lars Horneman

As encouraged by her beloved mother, young Amina thinks often of the ancient warrior queen Zenobia in order to inspire the courage she needs to survive in war-torn Syria. With great sensitivity, few words and evocative illustrations, this graphic novel tells an emotionally devastating story of the humanity behind the headlines. Reminiscent of “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s groundbreaking graphic novel set during the Holocaust, the heartbreak of Amina’s brief life will stay with readers long after the book is closed. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

“Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc” by David Elliott

Elliott poetically re-creates the famous saint’s own voice and those of the other characters in her story, including the saints previously heard by Joan alone. Her sword and the stake she is burned at, along with other significant objects, are aptly given concrete shape. Elliott counterpoints these voices with actual quotes from Joan’s Trial of Condemnation and subsequent Trial of Nullification (held 10 years after her death). Also included are medieval poetic forms Joan herself might have heard. These various forms combine to illuminate a story whose broad outlines are well-known, but will contain some surprises for most readers. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

Adult books

“The Lost Man” by Jane Harper

The sparse and searing Australian outback is more than a backdrop in this perceptive and atmospheric puzzle. Two brothers have traveled hours to meet near the fence line that divides their properties. Their middle brother is dead at their feet, a victim who knew better than to leave himself vulnerable to the viciously hot, arid, vast landscape of the cattle ranch from which the family wrests their meager living. The brothers must come to terms with their own deep flaws, misinterpretations of character-defining events and close-held family secrets on the twisting, satisfying path to solve the mysterious death.

“The Witch Elm” by Tana French

This engrossing crime story with elusive solutions has much more to say about humanity, with all its weakness and capacity for self-deception, than the typical whodunit. It is a deep dive into an intricately drawn, continuously revealing character study that is not for the impatient reader. The pace is more archaeological dig than race to the finish line, but the careful reader will find it worth the considerable attention it requires. The author’s Dublin Murder Squad books are also highly recommended.

— Julie Bowers, Deschutes Public Library community librarian

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