One Step Behind

This is an Inspector Wallander novel by Henning Mankel.  Wallander is feeling his age and fears he is losing his edge.  Three young people are shot while having a woodland midsummer picnic, dressed in wigs and costumes of the 18th century.  The bodies had been buried, then several weeks later recovered, and the picnic scene re-staged.

The police department is missing one of their own (due back from vacation) who is found shot to death in his apartment.  Was his vacation spent delving into the young people’s disappearance?  Wh0 sent postcards, indicating the trio was on a trip?  Why was the fourth of the trio not at the picnic?

Wallander has these flashes of insight that are just out of reach of meaning anything until a few chapters later.  He is always sleep deprived and in this book he is on his way to becoming a diabetic.  He really needs to take better care of himself – unless Mankel intends for the series to end.  I liked this book – could have used a little more editing.

Ned Vizzini

The death recently of this talented author caught many by surprise. I wonder if the people closest to him were as surprised by his suicide or saw it coming? Vizzini was 32 when he died December 19th. He has just come out with a new book co-authored with Chris Columbus- a title planned to be the first in a new series. His “Teen Angst…Naaah,” “It’s Kind of A Funny Story,” and the latest “House of Secrets,” all reflected a talented young writer. The Times obit said he leaves behind a wife and young child.

“My Happy Life” by Rose Lagercrantz

A new children’s title that is not a typical picture book nor a typical chapter book. At 134 pages, it has a black and white sketch/picture on every page. It tells the story of a young girl starting kindergarten. Dani (short for Daniela) lives with her father and cat. She is worried about making friends at her new school. The first few days are sad for her, but shortly she meets Ella and the two become good friends. They sit together in class and at lunch. They have playdates and sleepovers. Then the bad news: Ella is moving away. This is the end of Dani’s ‘happy life,’ or so she thinks. She misses her friend terribly and nothing seems to go right anymore. The book ends on a happy note when the two friends arrange to meet on school holiday. Recommended.

“Counting By 7’s” by Holly Goldberg Sloan

12 year-old Willow Chance is a genius. Her whole life is about to change. In a tragic accident that leaves the adopted girl an orphan, she has nowhere to put down permanent roots. This is difficult for a girl obsessed with gardening and medical conditions. She connects to a Vietnamese girl in her school whose family takes her in. She changes everyone she meets, from the taxi driver to Dell Duke, the school counselor who cannot seem to be able to put Willow Chance in one of his convenient categories. She hasn’t given up. She’s given in to what her future must be. And lucky for her, a lot of people recognize her unique qualities. Recommended

2014 YSS Spring Conference

The NYLA YSS Spring Conference will be held on April 4, 2014 @ the Crown Plaza in White Plains. Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of the Horn Book and author Steve Sheinkin will be the featured guest speakers, and if you haven’t heard Steve Sheinkin speak before, you need to attend the conference. He is so modest and self-effacing and tells such great stories about his trials and tribulations he’s suffered while writing his books. The workshops seem interesting too; I’ll leave the brochure @ the ref desk. Here is the link for more information.