Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Harper: Only Killers and Thieves by Paul Howarth

Mira Books: Rosie Colored Glasses by Brianna Wolfson

Little Brown and Company: The Which Way Tree by Elizabeth Crook

Bloomsbury: Reign the Earth by A.C. Gaughen

Soho Crime: The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Shadow Mountain: Christmas Jars Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

News

Image of the Day: Spaceheadz United

Last Friday at Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif., Scieszka family authors and their books' illustrators put on their best Major Fluffy Hamster routine--and costumed customer Jessica Karp won a live hamster in a raffle. Here from l.: Steven Weinberg, illustrator of To Timbuktu; Casey Scieszka, author of To Timbuktu and daughter of Jon Scieszka; Karp; Shane Prigmore, illustrator of Spaceheadz; and Jon Scieszka, author of Spaceheadz.

Photo: Maureen Palacios


Sourcebooks Jabberwocky: The Very Very Very Long Dog by Julia Patton


Notes: LBF Honor for Mehta; Indie Bookstore Goes Solar

Sonny Mehta, editor-in-chief of Alfred A. Knopf and chairman of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, will be given the Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing by the London Book Fair next month, the Bookseller.com reported. The award, which "celebrates an individual's career dedication to breaking down borders in international publishing," is sponsored by SBS Association and in association with the Publishers Association.
 
"I am honored to accept this award from the organizers of the London Book Fair and flattered to be following in the footsteps of such distinguished past recipients," said Mehta. "As I see it, my job has always been to champion the work of the authors I publish. And so, on this occasion, I would like to sincerely thank all the writers who have become such an important part of my life, both personally and professionally."

Gail Hochman, president of the Association of Authors' Representatives and LBF advisory board member, said that Knopf "has long been a leader in publishing books of lasting quality, and at its helm Sonny Mehta has been steadily an international tastemaker, innovative publisher, and believer in the power of the written word."

Author Kazuo Ishiguro added: "I know I am only one of many, many authors around the world applauding this recognition of Sonny's magnificent and trail-blazing contribution over the decades.... He's been an unfailing friend to the writers he's believed in, and he has permanently changed and shaped the culture we now work in for the better."

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Nice! Antigone Books, Tucson, Ariz., which calls itself "a zany bookstore with a feminist slant," has gone solar and now gets all of its power from solar panels. The store says, "We are the first 100% solar powered bookstore in the United States!" 

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Cool idea of the day. First Books & Books opened a store in the Cayman Islands--a location we still believe needs onsite inspection. Now the store has come up with another venture we want to cover: it's co-sponsoring a film and literary cruise August 2-14 that sails from Amsterdam to St. Petersburg with stops in Stockholm, Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tallin (Estonia) and Berlin (with a little land travel involved). On board the Celebrity Constellation: Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad, who will lead a tour of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and discuss its role in her novel; her husband, poet and actor Cliff Dean; and Shelly Isaacs, film expert and commentator who will host a series of contemporary and classic foreign films that will be shown during the cruise. Books & Books hopes to co-sponsor two cruises a year, owner Mitchell Kaplan said.

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Congratulations to Cathy Jesson, co-owner of the Black Bond Books stores in British Columbia, who has won the Business Person of the Year award by the Chamber of Commerce in South Surrey/White Rock, where Black Bond has two stores and its head office.

The Chamber wrote: "With the onslaught of 'big box' stores and the advent of e-books and the Internet, Cathy and her business partner, Mel Jesson, have made a conscious effort to adapt the business to meet the needs of the book buying consumer. While Cathy loves mentoring her booksellers, she strongly believes in giving management ownership of their individual stores--a philosophy that has worked in this family-run business since 1963. Black Bond Books regularly donates to schools and fundraisers, as well as the Feed the Mind initiative, which provides free books to community food bank clients."

The original store opened in Manitoba nearly 50 years ago, and Black Bond Books now has 12 locations in B.C. and the third generation of family is involved in the company.

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Like many of his indie colleagues, Pete Mulvihill of Green Apple Books, San Francisco, Calif., "isn't about to dance on any store's grave, big or small, but he isn't crying either," KULR-TV reported.

"We weren't huge fans of their aggressive expansion," said Mulvihill. "They knocked a lot of independent stores out of business. That said, we're still here, as are I think 40 bookstores in San Francisco and 200, 250 in northern California.... People are surviving. We still have 500 people walk through the doors everyday, even though they can find some of the things online cheaper.... I think people, especially in the Bay area realize if they don't shop at their mom and pop store, be it a hardware store or a book store or anywhere else, they are going to disappear."

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To kick off the new updated, expanded and revised Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book by Jeff Kinney, which goes on sale May 10, Abrams's Amulet Books is sponsoring a Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Comics Contest.

Readers up to 16 years old may enter by mailing in an original cartoon. One lucky winner will receive $500; a signed library of Wimpy Kid books; and $1,000 for the school or public library of his or her choice. Kinney will announce the winner at ALA in New Orlean on June 25.

This new edition includes the only published full-color comics by Kinney, including the collected cartoons of Greg Heffley and Rowley, as well as Rowley's own journal. With more than 47 million books in print in the U.S. since the publication of the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid book in April 2007, the books have also been sold in more than 30 countries. The 2010 movie adaptation of Diary of a Wimpy Kid grossed more than $60 million; the second movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, hits theaters on March 25.

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The organizers of National Reading Group Month are inviting publishers to participate in the Great Group Reads 2011 program, a resource for book clubs and reading groups to plan discussions; and for bookstore and library recommendations. Titles are selected on the basis of their appeal to reading groups. The selection committee focuses on under-represented gems from small presses and lesser-known midlist releases from larger houses, looking for books with strong narratives and fully realized characters.

Preliminary submission guidelines:

  • Genre: fiction (novels, novellas, short stories) and memoir published between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2011
  • Submissions: limited to two titles per publisher or imprint
  • Format: all eligible, including trade paper reprints published within the designated timeframe
  • Restrictions: previously submitted titles are ineligible

The selection committee will read from April through July, with the final decision to be made early- to mid-August and formal announcement made to media outlets early- to mid-September. Titles for consideration should be submitted on or before Friday, March 18. Publishers are asked to contact Roz Reisner, Great Group Reads Coordinator, at roz@thereisners.net (subject line: Great Group Reads 2011).

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A bookstore sidelines favorite for many years, Moleskine is about to explore new product territory. In April, the company will launch a Giulio Iacchetti-designed collection of bags, pencils, pens, reading glasses, computer cases, a rechargeable reading light and an e-reader stand for "the modern-day nomad." The Writing, Travelling and Reading collections will be presented April 11 during the Salone del Mobile in Milan, and in May at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York.

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"Can you be a devoted reader and not care much about books as objects?" asked Ian Crouch in "Confessions of a Book Slob" on the New Yorker's Book Bench blog. Citing an Apartment Therapy post last year offering five tips on caring for books, he confessed that "sometime in the past few years, I’ve gone from someone who cared for his shelves--organizing books by author and theme (if never alphabetically) and standing back from the clean rows with arms crossed in satisfaction--to an inattentive owner, as likely to re-shelve a book where it belongs, or even to find it a shelf, as I am to attend to other optional matters of household hygiene."

Crouch does not necessarily see hope for himself in the comparably pristine world of e-books: "I suspect that though my Kindle, Nook, or Cranny (surely out soon from someone) would not suffer the indignity of bite marks, it would likely be dinged, scuffed, and scratched within days of being taken out of the box."

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Books-as-dominoes video of the day. The Huffington Post featured the latest in tumbling tomes, created for Library Ireland Week.

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Nominations are now open for the 2011 Forbes Fictional 15, the magazine's annual ranking of the richest fictional characters. Last year, Twilight's Carlisle Cullen topped the list with an imaginary net worth of $34.1 billion. Other literary frontrunners were Artemis Fowl (11th with $1.9 billion) and Jay Gatsby (14th with $1 billion). To qualify, candidates must be "an authored fictional creation, a rule which excludes mythological and folkloric characters. They must star in a specific narrative work or series of works. And they must be known, both within their fictional universe and by their audience, for being rich," Forbes wrote.

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To celebrate Pancake Day yesterday, the Guardian featured a Pancake Day children's books quiz "to find out how much of a taste for pancake stories you have."

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This week's not-so-elementary literary mixtape is for Sherlock Holmes. Flavorwire wrote that legendary sleuth "delights in chaos and can’t bear to be strangled by regulations or even, sometimes, moral codes--though he is a patriot--and prefers to spend his time thinking about the task at hand, solving it by any means necessary and puffing on his signature pipe. Here’s what we think Holmes would ponder, intuit, and call things 'elementary' to."

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Book trailer of the day: My Name Is Not Alexander by Jennifer Fosberry (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), which shows the process of creating one of the illustrations from pencil to print.

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Ali McCart, owner of Indigo Editing & Publications, has added Kristin Thiel as a new business partner. In addition to editing services, Indigo runs the annual Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing Contest, publishes the quarterly Ink-Filled Page literary journal and hosts monthly writing workshops. McCart said the new partnership will allow Indigo to further develop these endeavors while still catering to its expanding client base.


Siglio Press: The Stampographer by Vincent Sardon


Inside the Secret Garden Bookshop

Since Christy McDanold purchased the Secret Garden Bookshop in Seattle, Wash., in 1995, change has been a constant factor in the store's success.

One of the first modifications came not long after the ink had dried on the contract. Within weeks of taking ownership McDanold had to find another location for the Secret Garden, then a well-established, nearly 20-year-old children's bookstore. She left behind the city's Greenlake section to set up shop in the Ballard neighborhood, in time for a fast-approaching signing with the late Madeleine L'Engle that had been arranged by the previous owner. Five years later, the Secret Garden moved to its current locale in downtown Ballard.

"When you buy a store that has been beloved and has a certain status in the community, you have a responsibility to meet people's expectations," McDanold said. "But you also have to put your imprimatur on it in some way." While relocating the Secret Garden the second time, she decided to transform it into a general interest bookstore. Inventory is divided equally between adult and children's titles. "In fact, we're carrying more children's books than ever," McDanold said. "It's a bigger space, and the store has grown in the years I've owned it."

Carrying a wider array of books means more options for events. In addition to hosting children's writers (Jon Scieszka is making an appearance tonight), the Secret Garden has offerings for grown-ups, too. Novelist Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, was a recent guest.

A store employee had been handling author appearances along with bookselling duties. After her departure several years ago, McDanold hired a full-time events coordinator, Suzanne Perry. Having someone dedicated to scheduling and promoting events "has made a big difference," noted McDanold. "At this point I would say that events of all kinds, whether they're author appearances, conferences or our relationship with the local library, are crucial to the store's survival. That's growing, while traffic in the store is pretty stagnant."

Along with a continued effort to bring new customers into the store and encourage area residents to shop local, McDanold is focused on cultivating partnerships with outside organizations. "Books are in every single kind of store you can imagine. Gas stations sell Harry Potter. We need to look for more opportunities to take the books where the people are," she said. The store co-hosts an ongoing event series with a nearby library, conducts book fairs at schools and churches, and sells books at conferences like one next month for a chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The store also partners with the Seattle Children's Theatre and the Intiman Theatre.

The American Booksellers Association "had a seminar called 'the 2% solution.' That's the truth. It really isn't one big sweeping thing you can do that changes everything. It's lots of little things," said McDanold. Other changes at the Secret Garden--which had an increase in profits in 2010--have included stocking more sideline items and, as of this past December, selling e-books via the store's website. Next up: trading an outdated inventory system that McDanold jokingly called "your grandfather's Cadillac" for a slick new model.--Shannon McKenna Schmidt

 


PuddleDancer Press: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, 3rd Edition: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships by Marshall B. Rosenberg


Media and Movies

Media Heat: David Brooks on NPR's Diane Rehm Show

Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Meg Meeker, author of The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity (Ballantine, $25, 9780345518064).

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Tomorrow on KRCW's Bookworm: Ralph Sassone, author of The Intimates (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24, 9780374176976). As the show put it: "Ralph Sassone, a first novelist, on the vicissitudes of--what else--the first novel. Writing it (it took him about fifteen years to finally complete one); getting it published (he wanted to agree to all changes rather than meet his intimidating editor); the whole enchilada, and more."

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: David Brooks, author of The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (Random House, $27, 9781400067602).

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Tomorrow on Talk of the Nation: Rachel Hadas, author of Strange Relation: A Memoir of Marriage, Dementia, and Poetry (Paul Dry Books, $16.95, 9781589880610).

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Tomorrow night on a repeat of the Late Show with David Letterman: Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, author of A Shore Thing (Gallery, $24, 9781451623741).

Also on the Late Show: Judah Friedlander, author of How to Beat Up Anybody: An Instructional and Inspirational Karate Book by the World Champion (It Books, $17.99, 9780061969775).

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Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Jeff Greenfield, author of Then Everything Changed: Stunning Alternate Histories of American Politics: JFK, RFK, Carter, Ford, Reagan (Putnam, $26.95, 9780399157066).

 


Freeform: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Television: Hobgoblin at HBO

Authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman will co-write and executive produce a drama series for HBO, tentatively titled Hobgoblin. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the "potential series centers on a group of magicians and con men who use their skills at deception to battle Hitler and his forces during World War II." Le Grisbi Productions' John Lesher and Adam Kassan will also be executive producers on the project.

 


Danny Boyle on Book-to-Film Adaptations

Award-winning director Danny Boyle, whose résumé of films adapted from books includes Trainspotting, The Beach, Slumdog Millionaire (based on the novel Q&A) and 127 Hours (based on Between a Rock and a Hard Place), spoke with Word & Film about the delicate art of adaptation. Some highlights from the interview:

"The wonderful thing you get with a book is inner life. And you're not going to be able to cover all of that in a movie. You're going to have to select and do so brutally sometimes. But you do get an inner life, which the writer has created for you. Or in this case Aron Ralston is recording back to you what it was like for him to be in that canyon and that gives you a wonderful grounding to go from creatively....

"An original screenplay will never have the intensity of the spotlight that the novelist has turned on the characters. You also get that wonderful thing which is a reference point. The actors, the director, and the writer can take pause and turn to the reference point, which is the book. There is an exhilaration with an original screenplay as well, which is that it's created to give you the median. And it doesn't confuse its storytelling obligations."

 


Books & Authors

Books for a Better Life Winners

Monday night at the 15th annual Books for a Better Life Awards: (from l.) Scott Manning of Scott Manning & Associates; Jamie Colby, co-winner of the wellness category for Back to Life After a Heart Crisis; Dr. Nancy Snyderman, author, NBC News chief medical editor and Hall of Fame inductee; Daphne Rose Kingma, winner of the spiritual category for The Ten Things to Do When Life Falls Apart; Jamie Raab, executive v-p of Hachette Book Group, publisher of Grand Central Publishing and Hall of Fame inductee; Dr. Srinivasan S. Pillay, winner of the motivational category for Life Unlocked; Dr. Marc Wallack, co-winner of the wellness category for Back to Life After a Heart Crisis; and Mary Catherine Bateson, winner of the psychology category for Composing a Further Life.

Other winners of the awards--sponsored by the Southern New York Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society--who were not pictured, were:

Childcare/Parenting: Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown

First Book: The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Green: Eaarth by Bill McKibben

Inspirational Memoir: Breaking Night by Liz Murray

Personal Finance: The New Good Life by John Robbins

Relationships: Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

 


Awards: Commonwealth Writers' Prize

The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, which recognizes "ground-breaking works of fiction from across the globe," has named its 2011 regional prize winners. The overall Best Book and Best First Book choices will be honored at the Sydney Writers’ Festival on May 21. The regional prize winners are:

Africa
Best Book: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna (Sierra Leone)
Best First Book: Happiness is a Four-letter Word by Cynthia Jele (South Africa)

Caribbean and Canada
Best Book: Room by Emma Donoghue (Canada)
Best First Book: Bird Eat Bird by Katrina Best (Canada)

South Asia and Europe
Best Book: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (U.K.)
Best First Book: Sabra Zoo by Mischa Hiller (U.K.)

South East Asia and Pacific
Best Book: That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott (Australia)
Best First Book: A Man Melting by Craig Cliff (New Zealand)

 


Book Brahmin: Téa Obreht

Téa Obreht was born in Belgrade in 1985 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1997; she now lives in Ithaca, N.Y. Her writing has appeared in the Atlantic, Harper's, Zoetrope, the Guardian and the New York Times, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She was named by the New Yorker as one of the "20 best American writers under 40." Her first novel, The Tiger's Wife, was published by Random House March 8, 2011.

 

On your nightstand now:

Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. For a long time, it seemed that whenever I told someone where I was born, they ended up recommending this book. It was finally delivered to my house via forklift--it's something like 1,200 pages--and has lived on my nightstand for a long time now because it has so often been a portal to other books of which I am reminded, and must immediately reread, while I read it.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Hodgeheg by Dick King-Smith. It's about a little English garden hedgehog called Max, whose quest for safe passage across a neighboring busy street leads to a run-in with a bicycle and a temporary speech impediment that causes him to reassemble words. I'm told that, after I read this book, I was insufferably difficult to understand for several weeks. I still say "hodgeheg" whenever I see one of those African pygmy hedgehogs, which draws many puzzled gazes from pet store personnel.

Your top five authors:

My method for determining this was to go through and find the authors of whose books I have multiple copies and (sometimes) first editions, often stashed in different locations around the house. Apparently, they're Ernest Hemingway, Roald Dahl, Mikhail Bulgakov, Gabriel García Márquez and Isak Dinesen.

Book you've faked reading:

Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. We moved around a lot when I was a child, and I somehow always managed to arrive at a new school just as my classmates had finished reading it, but were not yet over the bulk of discussing it. I attended more wrap-up roundtables on Huckleberry Finn than I care to admit; this later enabled me to join in conversations about the book without ever having actually seen a page of it, but it also obliterated any urgency I had to pick it up myself.

Book you're an evangelist for:

A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan. I was assigned this book in my senior year fiction workshop at USC, and did not expect to like it because the cover disturbed me. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I blazed through the better part of it in one sitting (I was sitting in a 100-member lecture class on Asian art at the time), and afterwards I didn't sleep for days. I have forced the book on friends, colleagues and students--most of them are now as rabid about it as I am.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. I love the illusion of this cover, the way it's suited to the book, and all this on top of the fact that the writing itself is as gorgeous as its cover.

Book that changed your life:

Sheila Burnford's The Incredible Journey. I came across this book in the school library when I was growing up in Egypt, and borrowed it so often in succession that it came home with me one day for good. I remember feeling so much older than I was while I read it--probably because, although the plot follows three animals as they make their way across the Canadian wilderness, it wasn't necessarily intended to be a children's book.

Favorite line from a book:

"The old man was dreaming about the lions." When it comes to Hemingway's writing, I have always found myself drawn more to his short stories than his novels. But I can't conceive of a more perfect ending than the final line of The Old Man and the Sea. It refers to an image that shows up briefly, only in passing, and pretty early in the text, and over which the reader could feasibly glaze without giving it a second thought. When the lions reappear, they transform the old man's struggle and loss completely.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I was too young to understand the book fully when it was gifted to me many years ago, and often wish I had begun to read it at a time when I might have come at it from a different angle. This did not prevent me from falling in love with it; I reread it often now, and for me it's one of those magical books that hits you with something new every time.

 



Book Review

Children's Review: Me... Jane

Me... Jane by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $15.99 Hardcover, 9780316045469, April 2011)

Patrick McDonnell's picture-book debut, The Gift of Nothing, starred the characters from his comic strip, Mutts. Mooch the cat gives Earl the dog a present that can't be bought: friendship. In a strip he created on June 5, 2007, striped cat Jules explains how he gets through his "compassion fatigue": "My autographed copy of Dr. Jane Goodall helps," says Jules. The Jane Goodall Institute wanted to showcase it on its Web site, which led to McDonnell and Goodall's eventual meeting.

With the economy and eloquence of a poem, McDonnell creates a picture-book biography of the seeds planted in Goodall's childhood that led to her life's work. "Jane had a stuffed toy chimpanzee named Jubilee," the book begins. A pair of adult arms breaks in from the right margin to place Jubilee in young Jane's hands. This is the only time the artwork depicts the physical presence of any other human being. Ever after, it's just Jane and Jubilee. In the ink-and-watercolor illustrations, McDonnell endows Jubilee with as much personality as Jane does. The chimp sits next to Jane at her desk, and pokes his head through the hatch of Grandma Nutt's chicken coop. Together, girl and chimp hide in the coop and observe a chicken laying an egg. "It was a magical world full of joy and wonder, and Jane felt very much a part of it," says the text. As Jane and Jubilee lie on their backs in the green grass, the chicken and chicks observe them.

McDonnell repeats this theme of Jane and Jubilee completing a circle with nature. After a scene of Jane and Jubilee at her desk, McDonnell presents a reproduction of a spread from Jane's childhood notebook. Her detailed drawings and list of questions reveal her close observation and capacity for awe. McDonnell's build to the book's climax sneaks up on you with its emotional intensity: in a vignette on the right-hand page, Jane sits in a tree next to Jubilee, reading books about Tarzan of the Apes ("in which another girl, also named Jane, lived in the jungles of Africa"). The pair appears in the identical situation in the next spread's vignette, except that the foliage on their tree has changed, and animals from Africa roam below ("Jane dreamed of a life in Africa, too...."). By the next page turn, a lush African landscape overtakes the entire spread, as Jane and Jubilee swing from vines, and an actual chimpanzee watches them from the treetops. Then it's back to her real-life routine. Jane falls asleep next to Jubilee, and on the next page, a young woman with a signature golden ponytail "awake[s] one day..."--for the first time without her childhood chimp companion--"her dream come true," and McDonnell ends with a photograph of Goodall reaching toward a real chimpanzee. The subtle layering of words and images make that moment of connection feel predestined.

Readers who go on to explore other biographies about Goodall, including her own writing, will discover how faithfully McDonnell has adhered to the facts of her childhood. The formation of the Alligator Society (from which the notebook reproduction is taken) was just one early indicator of her respect for nature and what would become a lifelong dedication to its preservation. They will also come to discover how impossible Goodall's dream might have seemed--for a woman in her era to pursue any career, but particularly a life alone in the bush. What McDonnell gives children with this book is a portrait of a life's work that began in childhood play. He shows young people that their own interests deserve to be pursued and explored, and that they lead to a life filled with meaning.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


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