Cathy Jacobus' Picks 2009

Finding Susie
In this autobiographical tale by the former US Supreme Court Justice, young Sandra finds herself hoping “this will be the year when Mother and Dad will let me have a pet…” Over the summer, she attempts to tame several wild animals, including a tortoise, rabbit, coyote, and baby bobcat. Sandra’s efforts to make each her ideal pet are described in calm language that effectively advances the story and conveys a sense of the supportive environment in which the author was raised. When, inevitably, each animal must be set free, a loving adult is present to cushion the blow. At long last, Sandra meets the vivacious Susie, a little dog perfectly amenable to domestic life. We’re glad for them both! Tom Pohrt’s illustrations capture the stark beauty of the Sonoran Desert, and give expression and individuality to an exceptional family.
Journey of Dreams
Among the catalysts to a lifelong love of reading, being fortunate enough to experience a really good book when you're young is high on the list. Journey of Dreams is a really good book. It’s the story of 13-year-old Tomasa and her family, their tradition-rich lives in the Guatamalan highlands, and their community. It’s also the story of what can happen to a family, to a community, when a government turns on its own people, as Guatamala’s did in the 1980’s. Faced with extermination, Tomasa’s family undertake a perilous journey away from their home and north to an uncertain future. Along the way, they endure horrific experiences and devastating set backs. They also meet true heroes – ordinary, brave individuals willing to help despite personal risk. The details of the journey make this a gripping story. Marge Pellegrino’s expressive, poetic writing makes it art. What an amazing tool language is in the hands of a gifted writer! Journey of Dreams accurately relates a tragic episode of history, and makes it accessible to readers of all ages. Without sentimentality, it teaches that hope, love, and generosity can withstand evil. Fortunately, it accomplishes this in sublime language that can only encourage readers to read more, in hopes of finding another such book.
Last Night I Sang to the Monster: a Novel
Zach believes that God must have written, "sad" on his heart at birth. Sadness, nurtured by alcholic, clinically-depressed parents and a psychotic, abusive brother, is all he's known. At age 18, Zach is bright, sensitive, and and addicted. When tragedy strikes and Zach finds himself in rehab with a case of amnesia, it's a torturous climb back to memory, acknowlegement, and life. Benjamin Lire Saenz has written a deeply moving, poetic story of a damanged young man, so worth saving, and the people around him who support the effort.
Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish
Delightful jacaranda-wood carvings by Quirino and Mártin Santiago guide us on an exploration of opposites in this charming bilingual book. “Asleep, Dormido, Awake Despierto…” the meaning of its simple text is augmented by engaging, often comic, animal forms. The Santiago’s carvings convey much more than a sense of opposites; exuding such personality and character that children and their adults will also have the opportunity to explore such concepts as silly, sly, alert, scary, and … art.

About Cathy Jacobus

Jacobus is a reference librarian with the Pima County Public Library. While she enjoys working with people of all ages, she is a particular fan of children and teens, and the literature written for them. Her interests include weaving, lap-swimming, and the eternal quest to coax her Labradors to behave on walks.

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