Shelf Awareness for Friday, September 27, 2013

Disney: Rogue Wave by Jennifer Donnelly

Perigee: Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden

Grove Atlantic: Richard Flanagan

Georgetown: Daigler and Warner

St. Martin's: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

Harper: Cane and Abe by James Grippando

Shadow Mountain: Kingdom & the Crown by Gerald N Lund

 

News

NetGalley Adds New Features for Indies

NetGalley has introduced a series of new features for indie bookstores and other professional readers. Beginning today, independent booksellers will be able to nominate books for the Indie Next program via NetGalley, which will also be supporting the American Booksellers Association's Indies Introduce Debut Authors program by introducing the selected titles to the NetGalley community.

"This collaboration acknowledges the role of indie booksellers in discovering great new reads, and provides more exposure for the Indie Next List," said Joy Dallanegra-Sanger, ABA senior program officer. "Thousands of independent booksellers already use NetGalley to access advance reading copies, so this is a natural evolution."

NetGalley also announced a series of new features for all members, who can now provide enhanced feedback about their intent to purchase a title, indicate how they will recommend a title, and provide star ratings. The member profile has been redesigned with the goal of making it easier for professional readers to provide information about how they review books, influence book sales, and connect with reading communities.

Company president Susan Ruszala said NetGalley's "imperative is to design programs and features that help professional readers be effective influencers, and provide more information to publishers about how early reading ignites buzz and promotes sales. We're delighted to work with the ABA to support the Indie Next list, and look forward to introducing future programs that give more indie booksellers access to advance reading copies."

Poisoned Pen: Question of Death by Kerry Greenwood

NEA Survey: More than Half of Adults Read a Book in 2012

In 2012, "more than half of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school," according to an initial report from the National Endowment for the Arts on its 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. A more comprehensive report will be available in 2014.

"One of the most important things we can do as the National Endowment for the Arts is to understand how our nation engages with the arts," said NEA senior deputy chairman Joan Shigekawa of the survey, which asked a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 and older if they had participated in five broad categories of arts activity last year: attending, reading, learning, making/sharing art, and consuming art via electronic media.

Key findings in the category "Reading Books and Literature":

  • More than half of American adults read a work of literature or a book (fiction or nonfiction) not required for work or school. However, adults' rates of literary reading (novels or short stories, poetry, and plays) dropped back to 2002 levels (from 50% in 2008 to 47% in 2012).
  • Older Americans (65-plus) now have higher rates of literary reading than any other adult age group.

KidsBuzz for the Week of 10.27.14

Stars Come Out for Eighth Annual Carle Honors

The luminaries of the children's book world were among the presenters and honorees at last night's celebration of the eighth annual Carle Honors at Guastavino's in New York City, a benefit for the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

L. to r.: Jerry Pinkney, Barbara Bader, Paul Zelinsky, Lynda Johnson Robb, Carol H. Rasco, Jon Scieszka, Rosemary Wells, Chris Van Allsburg, Erwin Baker (husband of Phyllis Fogelman Baker), Roger Sutton.

Angela and Tony DiTerlizzi served as joint emcees, explaining that 10 years ago they had moved from New York City to Amherst, timed for the opening of the Eric Carle Museum. Eric Carle, describing himself as "a man of few words and many pictures," told of a letter he'd once received from a boy in Texas saying, "I'd love to visit you, but I'm not allowed to cross the street." Carle thanked the audience for "crossing the street" to attend the celebration.

Horn Book editor Roger Sutton talks with Barbara Bader, whose articles he edited for 18 years.

According to Roger Sutton, editor-in-Chief of The Horn Book, the audience had three things to be grateful for when it comes to Barbara Bader, honoree in the "Bridge" category ("bring[ing] the art of the picture book to larger audiences"): first, her work as juvenile editor and president of Kirkus Reviews, second as author of American Picturebooks: From Noah's Ark to the Beast Within, and third, because "she's interested in everything." He cited examples of Bader's perceptive observations and verbal dexterity in her descriptions of Maurice Sendak's early work in Moon Jumpers, featuring "vaguely Picasso-like children prancing," through to a recent Horn Book article describing how Paul Zelinsky uses diverse palettes to create a unique mood in each of his books and the qualities in the illustrations that unify his work overall.

Barbara Bader said that receiving the Bridge award "feels like a homecoming to me." She spoke of the birth of American Picturebooks in Susan Hirschman's kitchen. She noted that the power of a picture book "hinges on the interdependence of pictures, words and design and the drama of turning the page," adding, "The possibilities are limitless."

Lynda Johnson Robb, Jon Scieszka and Carol H. Rasco.

One of the picture book creators Bader might cite as limitless, Paul Zelinsky, presented the Angel honor to Lynda Johnson Robb, founding board member of Reading Is Fundamental, and Carol H. Rasco, its president and CEO, and President Clinton's former Assistant for Domestic Policy. Robb, who got married in the White House while her father, Lyndon Johnson, was president, recalled that her mother told her, "With your life, do something that makes your heart sing." For Robb, that was working to get books into children's hands. She joked about being in full costume as Cowboy (Robb) and Octopus (Rasco), with Jon Scieszka, at the National Book Festival last weekend.

Although Phyllis Fogelman Baker, honored as a Mentor in last night's ceremony, could not be present, her husband, Erwin Baker, accepted on her behalf, quoting E.B. White from Charlotte's Web: "It is deeply satisfying to win a prize in front of a lot of people." Rosemary Wells remembered Fogelman's greeting whenever they met--"What have you got for me?"--along with the clicking of her four-inch heels and the knowledge gleaned from Fogelman's assistant that "if she's walking really fast, she must like this." Wells recited the lineage, from Ursula Nordstrom to Phyllis Fogelman to Anne Schwartz, Paula Wiseman, Arthur Levine and Regina Hayes.

Jerry Pinkney recalled meeting Fogelman in 1974 to work on Mildred Taylor's Song of the Trees. He credited her with leading the way in publishing African American authors and artists, such as himself, Taylor, Tom Feelings and Julius Lester, who also sent along remarks. Lester said he couldn't figure out why Fogelman would ask a man who'd written Look Out, Whitey! Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama! if he had any books for children, but he's "awfully glad she did." Their first project together was To Be a Slave, published in 1969.

Chris Van Allsburg with editor Margaret Raymo.

Jon Scieszka threaded together highlights from all of the previous presentations, saying that Chris Van Allsburg crossed the street as a Texas boy, got married in the White House and joined Scieszka in sporting a pair of four-inch heels, among other things. Then, in the spirit of Harris Burdick, Scieszka added, "Any of this intro may or may not be true. I don't even know if this is Chris Van Allsburg." One thing Scieszka knew to be true of the Artist honoree: "He changed everything that came after him in the picture book world.

Van Allsburg recalled that 34 years ago, he was awaiting publication of his first book, The Garden of Abdul Gasazi. "I'd already decided it wouldn't have a large audience," he admitted. He noticed that most children's books were designed to put readers to sleep right away. "I was more inclined to write a story that would keep them awake," he said. --Jennifer M. Brown

Other Press: The Fall by Diogo Mainardi

Bookseller on Affordable Health Care Act: 'Count Me In'

On his blog, Jarek Steele, co-owner of Left Bank Books, St. Louis, Mo., offered a 'small business response to Obamacare," noting that the indie bookstore "pays 100% of our full-time employees' health insurance premium.... I'll also let you in on another secret--by the end of this year, my bookstore will have paid $270,550 over the past five years for health insurance. Our group is (obviously) small; an average of 12 people are enrolled. Each bookseller's premium averages out to about $415 per month. We each have a $5,000 deductible....

"The message being blasted from the rooftops of opponents of Obamacare this week is that those figures I just gave you are precisely why Obamacare is unfair--that it will put a burden on individuals and small businesses like mine, and force us to increase what we spend on Health Care. They don't want you to know that many small businesses like mine actually think that having health insurance is an important aspect of having a functional, happier, healthier, more productive employee.... I'll write again after October 1, when I'm able to have a look at the exchange, but for now, for this small business in the reddest of all red states--count me in."

IPS: Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell

With 'New Tricks,' Ivan Doig Brings Sweet Thunder to Indies

Sweet Thunder, Ivan Doig's newest novel and 15th book overall, hit bookstores on August 20. Four days later, Doig celebrated the book's launch at Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds, Wash., with an event that drew close to 100 people. Edmonds Bookshop is just one of many indie bookstores, predominantly in the Pacific Northwest, with which Doig has enjoyed close, longstanding relationships over the course of his decades-spanning career--and with whom he continues to try new ways of promoting and selling his books.

"As a professional writer, I've needed a community of booksellers to put my work in the hands of a community of readers," Doig explained. "The inventiveness of indie booksellers has been a great asset throughout my career."

That career began in 1979 with the publication of This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind (Harcourt), a memoir of growing up in Montana among a family of ranch hands. The book went on to be nominated for the National Book Award, but even before its publication, Doig began courting area bookstores, "armed with galleys."

"Selling the book to the publisher is only half the battle," mused Doig. "You also have to sell it to the reading public. I operated under the writer's number one rule: no one is getting paid to read your stuff."

The author has consistently supported indies, and many indies have supported him. Together, they've concocted clever ways to promote events and add new twists to the traditional author signing. Prior to the August 20 event, for example, Edmonds Bookshop promoted the launch celebration by running pre-screening advertisements in a local, old-fashioned movie house.

"We had people lined up all around our store, practically out the front door," MaryKay Sneeringer, owner of Edmonds Bookshop, said. "Every time he has a new novel, Ivan comes by. There's a great, personal touch of remembering names and calling to plan events."

Doig also partnered with Seattle's University Bookstore to do a signing at a retirement community called the Hearthstone, and on September 19 he did the first Skype event of his career with the King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"I've been there many times," he said. "The King's English is one of my favorite bookstores. And I would keep going if parts of my body didn't want to get on an airplane anymore."

Doig signed bookplates in advance and sent them ahead to the King's English. During the event, Doig was projected from a laptop onto a big screen, and a chair was placed in front of the laptop. Attendees took turns sitting in the chair and asking Ivan questions, so they could speak to him directly. For his part, Doig read from Sweet Thunder and showed the audience pages from a picture book of a mining camp in Butte, Mont.

"He held picture books up to the camera and showed them to us," recounted Anne Holman, co-owner of the King's English. "He's got lots of really big fans out here; it was a great reading."

In late October, Doig will be kicking off Seattle's second annual Lit Crawl in an event at Town Hall. The event will be the last in the Sweet Thunder tour, which has already been full of firsts for the veteran author.

"My esteemed editor called it 'teaching an old Doig new tricks,' " he said dryly. "I guess I've accepted that pun." --Alex Mutter

Princeton Architectural Press: Worn Stories by Emily Spivack

BAM Gives Alabama School Library a 'Book Makeover'

On Wednesday, more than 30 Books-A-Million district managers from across the U.S. arrived at Rosalie Elementary School in the Jackson County town of Pisgah, Ala., with a surprise for librarian Amy Shankles, who had originally requested a $200 grant to buy books for her shelves.

WAFF News reported that BAM "decided they would make Shankles' dreams come true by sending her 1,000 books.... What Shankles didn't know was that more than 30 district managers would be giving her library a full makeover. Within an hour of their arrival, there were new computer monitors, e-readers, furniture and masses of books for the library." The school also received a $500 gift certificate, and each child went home with a new book.

"They already love to read, but I know that their excitement for reading is just going to be out of the roof," she said.

Notes

Image of the Day: Novel Novelists

"Novel Novels," one of the author sessions last weekend at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in New Orleans, was moderated by Ruth Breipohl of the Book Seller at St. Vincent's Hospital, Birmingham, Ala. (standing). Seated from left to right are Julie Cantrell (When Mountains Move), Tara Conklin (The House Girl), Deborah Coonts (Lucky Bastard) and Susan Gregg Gilmore (The Funeral Dress).

Cool Idea of the Day: P&P's 'Vox Populi'

Politics & Prose Bookstore, Washington, D.C., has launched Vox Populi, a "new semi-regular mini interview series, in which we ask a variety of customers, authors, politicians, community leaders, teachers, neighbors and any one else willing to talk to us, a selection of questions--from the serious to the possibly inane--related to books." First up is Howard Norman, author most recently of I Hate to Leave this Beautiful Place.
    
Our favorite question: "What is your favorite work with the name Howard in it?"

"I suppose (not that I have ever given this any thought, because I haven't) Howards End by E.M. Forster," Norman replied. "I enjoyed that novel immensely, though I have not read it in decades. But to stretch this a little, I'll mention a street address rather than a title. My beloved Robert Louis Stevenson (his collected letters in fifteen or so volumes is wonderful reading, an almost unprecedented epistolary travelogue) was born and for his first few years raised at No. Eight Howard Place, in Edinburgh."

Changing Hands Earns Best Bookstore Honor

Changing Hands Bookstore, Tempe, Ariz., "isn't just the best bookstore in the Valley. It's one of the best bookstores in the country," Phoenix New Times noted in reporting that the shop was named best bookstore in the annual Best of Phoenix awards. "That's not just because of the books. And we're not talking about the gift section, although that's awfully nice. It's the people. From founders Gayle Shanks and Bob Sommer down to the clerks at the cash register, we can't help smiling as we reluctantly end our bookstore experience and head off to run our other errands."

Andrew Smith Promoted at Little, Brown

Andrew Smith has been promoted to senior v-p, deputy publisher, executive director of new business development, at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. He joined the company seven years ago and has been deputy publisher.

Book Trailer of the Day: Mira Corpora

Mira Corpora, Jeff Jackson's debut novel (Two Dollar Radio).

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Sokolove on Weekend Edition

Tomorrow on NPR's Weekend Edition: Valerie Plame, co-author of Blowback: A Vanessa Pierson Novel (Blue Rider Press, $26.95, 9780399158209).

Also on Weekend Edition tomorrow: Michael Sokolove, author of Drama High: The Incredible True Story of a Brilliant Teacher, a Struggling Town, and the Magic of Theater (Riverhead, $27.95, 9781594488221).

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Sunday on NPR's Weekend Edition: Stephen Jimenez, author of The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard (Steerforth Press, $26, 9781586422141).

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Sunday on Meet the Press: Chris Matthews, author of Tip and the Gipper: When Politics Worked (Simon & Schuster, $29.95, 9781451695991).

TV: The Good Thief's Guide

ABC has given a "script commitment with significant penalty" to The Good Thief's Guide, a project from Bones creator and executive producer Hart Hanson and Andrew Miller based on the book series by Chris Ewan. Deadline.com reported that the show will feature "the charming and unpredictable Charlie Howard as he travels the world, blogging about his adventures... while stealing for fun and profit. Each season is set in a new exotic city and centers around one perfect heist that usually turns into a tangled web of lies and double crosses."

Books & Authors

Awards: Mailer Prize; Warwick; Harbourfront Festival

The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony announced the 2013 recipients of the Mailer Prize, given to writers "whose work over the years has challenged readers' perspectives on the world around them." During a benefit gala October 17, Maya Angelou will be honored for lifetime achievement and Junot Diaz for distinguished writing.

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Alice Oswald won the third £25,000 (about US$40,083) Warwick Prize for Writing for Memorial, marking the first time the award has been given to a collection of poetry, the Bookseller reported. Chair of the judges Ian Sansom praised Memorial as "a book that looks to the present as well as the past, which combines the personal with the political, and my fellow judges and I were thrilled by its imaginative and intellectual ambition."

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The International Festival of Authors announced that Alice Munro is this year's recipient of the $10,000 Harbourfront Festival Prize "for her contributions to Canada’s literary community and the next generation of talent," Quillblog reported. The prize will be awarded November 2 on the closing night of the festival in Toronto.

Book Brahmin: Kuwana Haulsey

photo: Cory Tyler

Kuwana Haulsey is the author of two novels, The Red Moon and Angel of Harlem. In 2007, the PEN/Faulkner Foundation named Haulsey one of three New Voices in American Literature. That year, Angel of Harlem was chosen as one of the New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age. The Blackboard Bestsellers organization awarded Angel of Harlem the Medal of Courage, a prize created specifically to honor the book. The Red Moon was chosen as a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year and was a finalist for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. Haulsey is an editor and freelance journalist. Her latest book is Everything I Needed to Know, I Learned from My Six Month Old (Viva Editions/Cleis Press, October 15, 2013). Haulsey lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons.

On your nightstand now:

Right now, I'm reading (or re-reading) Personal Power Through Awareness by Sanaya Roman; Blue Nights by Joan Didion; I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't) by Dr. Brené Brown; Spiritual Liberation by Michael Bernard Beckwith; Start Where You Are by Pema Chödrön. All joined together, there is a fantastic through-line in these books that has something to do with release, awareness, acceptance and transformation.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. I read this when I was very young, maybe nine or 10, but I couldn't put it down. I resonated with James Baldwin in a very intimate way. Of course, thinking back, it could be seen as problematic if you're nine years old and vibing with a hard drinking, chain-smoking, agnostic, mid-century cultural activist. Nah... I'm sure it was just fine.

Your top five authors:

Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, John Steinbeck, Pablo Neruda, Zakes Mda, Gabriel García Márquez, Khalil Gibran, Dr. Brené Brown and... I know I just named more than five, but I can't help myself! I'll try to stop here....

Book you've faked reading:

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I haven't really faked reading it. It's more like I've re-read the first five pages about 12 times. Somehow, I never got any further than that. But I have great hope that I will--one day.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston is such a phenomenal book. Again, I am a total sucker for language and Kingston's language is awe-inspiring. Her characters resonate in a spiritual way for me. It's like being in church. I teach this book in classes and pick it up to read randomly when I'm bored. I wish it was required reading for everyone, especially those who fancy themselves to be writers.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't think I've ever done that. I buy calendars and notepads with puppies and hearts and swirls on the covers. But not books. I think it would annoy me if the inside were not as arresting as the outside.

Book that changed your life:

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston changed the way I viewed literature. Her characters came alive for me in a way that I had never dreamed of before. Through Hurston, I got to feel what it was like to inhabit someone else's skin for a very short while. Also, Innocent Erendira by Gabriel García Márquez struck me in this way. This book of short stories is not necessarily referenced like his later works, but it was the first of his books that I ever read, and I was captivated from the first sentence. I have a very old, worn copy that is held together by packing tape and hope. But I will never get rid of it. Though I was very young when I first stumbled on his work, I immediately recognized the greatness of his language and the joy of magical realism.

Favorite line from a book:

"If God don't care no more about them than I do, then they's a ball lost in de tall grass," from Their Eyes Were Watching God, and "There is no such thing as undemonstrated understanding," from Invisible Supply: Finding the Gifts of the Spirit Within by Joel Goldsmith.

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

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck is angry and rich and confounding and heartbreaking and funny at times. It's one of those great books that actually deserves to be canonized.

Book that was your most challenging read:

I think Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss really changed the way I view relationships, purpose and potential. It's one of the things that made me begin to question and examine the contracts that I'd made and the relationships that I'd chosen to enter. I began writing about my relationship with my son (my first foray into full-length nonfiction) because of the insights that continued to occur to me when I realized that we had chosen each other. It's the exact opposite of when people say, "Babies don't choose to come here." I began to entertain the idea that we do, in fact, choose to come here for very specific reasons and with some very important lessons to teach.

Book Review

Review: Paradises

Paradises by Iosi Havilio, trans. by Beth Fowler (And Other Stories Press, $15.95 paperback, 9781908276247, October 15, 2013)

In the very first sentence of Paradises, Iosi Havilio disposes of the romantic lead of his first book, Open Door, by having him get run over while changing a tire by the side of the road. This sends Havilio's unnamed female narrator into a helpless downward spiral that will leave her fighting for survival with her young son in a Buenos Aires slum.

This fascinating narrator is a strangely passive woman unburdened by moral considerations, who casually injects herself with someone else's morphine and steals a baby iguana from the zoo. She's too passive to say no to her daffy friend's plan to steal the jewels of her boyfriend's rich parents. Though coming out of a four-year relationship with a man, all of her bonds now are with women. The novel is crowded with female characters, like Iris, the Romanian babysitter who gets the narrator a job at the zoo; or Tosca, an immense woman who needs an injection of morphine every morning and night.

But most of all, there's Eloisa, the sexually uninhibited young woman first seen in Open Door, a slim, messy tattooed blonde with a pearl stud in her tongue. This potty-mouthed pothead is Havilio's finest creation, and effortlessly dominates the novel. Effervescent, unpredictable Eloisa is able to vault instantly from apathy to rage, when she's not exploding off the page with laughter, shrieking in fury, deceiving, flirting, stealing, exploiting or partying shamelessly.

Havilio's passion lies with the powerless. An inexhaustible stream of eccentric, believable characters, the down-and-out, downtrodden marginal citizens of Buenos Aires, parades through his fiction. The plot is free-form at best, with parties erupting in the street, fistfights breaking out in restaurants and lost old friends appearing out of nowhere. Paradises is packed with quick, colorful sequences: Christmas Eve dinner in a crowded all-you-can-eat, a nightmarish subway journey in the heat, a fresh corpse hurriedly covered on the supermarket floor, a white-haired old man with his accordion singing about loving your neighbors and God.

"This place is hell," says the narrator's party-going best friend, taking in her wretched new living quarters. "Things turned out this way," the narrator replies, and that sums up Havilio's sense of the random momentum of life, the coincidences and unexpected conjunctions that can lead a mother to raise her son among dealers and thugs and still have hope for the future. --Nick DiMartino

Shelf Talker: Havilio's sequel to Open Door brings an unnamed female narrator and her girlfriend back to unpredictable, law-breaking life in a Buenos Aires slum.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: SIBA, NOLA & Banned Books Week

The topic came up last Friday, during an education session, "Be Prepared: What Booksellers Can Do to Defend Kids Books and the Freedom to Read," at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show in New Orleans.

Chris Finan, Lauren Myracle, Acacia O'Connor

Chris Finan, president of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, moderated a panel featuring Lauren Myracle, author most recently of Infinite Moment of Us and Shine, and Acacia O'Connor, coordinator of the Kids' Right to Read Project, co-sponsored by the National Coalition Against Censorship and ABFFE.

Early in the discussion, Finan announced that in Asheboro, N.C., the Randolph County Board of Education had voted 5-2 to remove Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man from high school libraries. Their ill-timed decision, just days before the launch of Banned Books Week, quickly gained international media attention. Two days ago, at a hastily called special meeting, the board voted 6-1 to rescind the ban.

Both Finan and O'Connor were actively involved in challenging the original decision. "I hope our letter to the board made a difference," Finan said Wednesday. "I'm sure the international media attention didn't hurt."

Last week, there was something of a reality check in hearing about the Asheboro ban during the SIBA panel, which explored censorship directed at YA books focusing on real world problems teens face. "There are a lot of people who are on our backs about YA books," Finan noted, citing as an example Meghan Cox Gurdon, whose 2011 Wall Street Journal piece, headlined "Darkness Too Visible," had targeted Myracle's work and who claimed "literary culture is not sympathetic to adults who object either to the words or storylines in young-adult books." Cox Gurdon "really ultimately blames us--authors, publishers, booksellers," Finan said.

Myracle recalled that she had "read about a third of it and then I yawned and put it down.... Did you really read the book as a reader or did you read it as a grownup who is worried about these things coming apart?" She also suggested the increasingly popular YA label itself may have prompted some adults in recent years to begin questioning whether certain books are "appropriate."

"Should a bookseller ever refuse to sell a kid a book?" Finan asked. Myracle did not hesitate in her response: "I do think there's a lot of guidance going on that is moving kids from YA to middle grade. What that does to me is beg the question 'What is obscene?' "

Booksellers should never be forced into the role of morality police, deciding which child is ready for which book, Myracle contended: "I think about the broad range of what kids are like at that age. I don't think we can make that guess. The only person who can make that guess is that kid's parent. You can't ever not sell a book to a kid."

She also offered some advice to booksellers about dealing with angry adults: "I would say 'step up.' They're angry because they're scared. They want their kids to be safe, to live in a bubble. I want that for my kids, too.... Remember that they're scared. Remember they want to be heard."

Finan introduced O'Connor as a person who "has to deal with the consequences" of attempts to ban books. She said that on the following Monday, "I'm going to be back at my desk," where she would be working on Asheboro's Invisible Man issue. "I refer to these challenges as a case. I'm a banned books caseworker.... If it gets to a school board level, that's where we can help.... It is much more likely for us to have success when I find out early on that this is happening. Once a book is removed, it is more challenging."

O'Connor noted that in many of cases, even when "the result is your child doesn't have to read [the book] it is never enough.... For whatever reason, there are more people who are vocal about their disagreement than are willing to stand up for those works."

She has also observed that supporters of controversial books are often vocal online, but do not necessarily show up at school board meetings or other public venues where potential bans are being debated. "And we all ignore school board elections," she added, noting that it is important to get involved early, taking action rather than relying on reaction.

Booksellers, O'Connor noted, can serve as a public "locus of the resistance. Stand as a light--this is where you can go to read freely," O'Connor advised.

Myracle closed the SIBA session by sharing examples of some of the brutal online criticism she has received, as well as a more positive reddit AMA exchange between herself and the "scared dad" of a young daughter, who wrote: "I fear that I won't be able to connect with her in any way, shape or form while she's connecting with people all over the world with the click of a button, much like I am right now, but in ways I can't fathom."

Describing him as "cool for not freaking out after reading some of the 'scarier' content on this post," she replied: "You know what you could do if you wanted? And what lots of dads (and moms) have told me they've done? They read my books themselves to get a glimpse into what their kids might be dealing with. Or they read the books with their kids and use them as convo starters.... How do I connect? I just... try. I love kids. Love teens. Find them so smart and interesting. I talk to them and respect them and don't let myself be afraid of them!"

The father's response: "This was exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks for replying. You just sold some books, madam!" --Robert Gray, contributing editor

KidsBuzz: The (Almost) Perfect Guide to Imperfect Boys by Barbara Dee
KidsBuzz: LUG: Dawn of the Ice Age by David Zeltser
KidsBuzz: Things to Remember by Janna de Lathouder

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