Also published on this date: Wednesday, October 26, 2016: Kids' Maximum Shelf: The Sun Is Also a Star

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 26, 2016


HarperCollins: On a Magical Do-Nothing Day by Beatrice Alemagna

Johns Hopkins University Ptess: Playboys and Mayfair Men by Angus McLaren / A Year of Writing Dangerously by Keith Gandal

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Prague Sonata by Bradford Morrow

Balzer & Bray/Harperteen: I Love You Like a Pig by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

Quotation of the Day

Alice Hoffman: Booksellers 'Made All the Difference'

photo: Deborah Feingold

"Independent booksellers have supported me from the beginning of my writing career, and the bookstores I've loved have changed my life, first as a reader, and then as a writer. I'm so grateful for that support. My early books were always supported by independent bookstores even when they weren't selling very many copies. Booksellers who hand-sold my novels made all the difference. Two of my favorite independent bookstores are visited by the characters in Faithful, but there are so many that have been my salvation. I can't imagine living in a town where there wasn't an independent bookstore."

--Alice Hoffman, whose latest novel Faithful is the #1 Indie Next List pick for November, in a q&a with Bookselling This Week

AuthorBuzz: Indie Bookstore Readers


News

American Paul Beatty Wins Man Booker Prize

Paul Beatty
(photo: Hanna Assouline)

Last night in London, Paul Beatty won the £50,000 (about $60,953) Man Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Sellout, becoming the first American author to win the award in its 48-year history. U.S. authors became eligible in 2014. In March, The Sellout (FSG hardcover; Picador paperback) won this year's National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction.

Beatty "was overcome by emotion as he accepted the award," the Guardian reported. He told the audience: "I don't want to get all dramatic, like writing saved my life... but writing has given me a life." The Guardian added that Beatty "did not call his book a satire, he said, but was happy for it be described that way." 

Chair of judges Amanda Foreman commented: "Fiction should not be comfortable. The truth is rarely pretty and this is a book that nails the reader to the cross with cheerful abandon... that is why the novel works.... While you're being nailed, you're being tickled. It is highwire act which he pulls off with tremendous verve and energy and confidence. He never once lets up or pulls his punches. This is somebody writing at the top of their game."

Calling the winning title a "novel for our times," particularly in the context of the Black Lives Matter movement, Foreman observed that The Sellout "is one of those very rare books: which is able to take satire, which is a very difficult subject and not always done well, and plunges it into the heart of contemporary American society with a savage wit of the kind I haven't seen since Swift or Twain. It manages to eviscerate every social taboo and politically correct nuance, every sacred cow. While making us laugh, it also makes us wince. It is both funny and painful at the same time."

Frances Gertler, Web editor at Foyles bookshops, described The Sellout as brave and funny: "It takes a bit of getting into but once there, you don't want to leave. A smart satire with a memorable narrator."


Zondervan: To Wager Her Heart (Belle Meade Plantation) by Tamera Alexander


Notes from Frankfurt 2016

"This strange idea that it's us vs. the Americans hasn't played out," said Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, during a panel discussion at the Frankfurt Book Fair last week about the role of national and international literary prizes in the publishing industry. Wood talked about the opening of the Man Booker Prize to any novel written in English and published in the U.K., regardless of the country of origin, and the fear expressed by many people at the time of the announcement  that this would allow American writers like Jonathan Franzen or Donna Tartt to win year after year. Franzen and Tartt, Wood said, have not been shortlisted in years they were eligible, and she asserted that the Booker should be viewed as more of an international than national prize.

Wood noted that there were only two Americans on the shortlist this year (Otessa Moshfegh and Paul Beatty, who won the award), and they give, if anything, "evidence to the diversity of publishing." She added: "What readers get in the U.K. is books from all over the world. It is a much better reflection of how people read."

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photo: Frankfurt Book Fair

During a meeting of the European and International Booksellers Federation at Frankfurt last Thursday, Jan Orthey, owner of Luenebuch, Buchhandlung am Markt in Lueneburg, Germany, discussed the creation of a pilot project providing a free, same-day delivery option to his customers. Through an agreement Orthey has with the local postal service, if a customer orders an in-stock book any time before 4 p.m., it will be delivered to the customer's home between 7 and 9 p.m. Orthey said that he would like to extend this program to other Lueneburg retailers and create the slogan "Lueneburg delivers," and added that retailers should "make sure the customer has VIP status with us that they don't have elsewhere."

When asked about the profitability of the program, Orthey acknowledged that its real purpose was marketing. "The big online shops do free shipping, so we don't have the chance to say we take money for this," said Orthey. "We do same-day delivery as marketing. We can't earn money by sending a single book by car at night to the customer. But it works quite well for us, for marketing."

In Lueneburg, Orthey has also been instrumental in creating a Buy Local association of city retailers that has very strict acceptance criteria and is marked by a seal of quality. "By giving a quality promise reflected by this seal, this logo, customers can rely on this," explained Orthey. "Customers can expect first-class retail. The expectation should be much higher than the average of what other retailers offer."

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According to Alex Schade, commercial manager of the Nederlandse Boekenbon (the Dutch Book Token), booksellers in the Netherlands will soon have an app called Readr. Through it, booksellers will be able to sell books directly to their customers, start loyalty and communication programs, share event schedules and create their own book-related content. The app will have a soft launch on October 31 before going live in early 2017. Eventually, the app will allow users to do price comparisons (even though the Netherlands has fixed book prices), see the actual stock in bookstores, and be able to gift books and create wishlists.   Schade said that for booksellers to sign up, there is a one-time fee of €100 (about $109) and a monthly charge of €75 ($82).

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Opening of the Dutch-Flemish Pavilion with (l.) King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and King Philippe of Belgium (photo: Alexander Heimann/Frankfurt Book Fair)

At the 38th annual International Supply Chain Seminar at Frankfurt, organizer EDItEUR celebrated its 25th anniversary. The group has been celebrating a string of anniversaries: last year, it marked the 50th anniversary of standard numbering. Next on the agenda possibly: the 10th anniversary in 2017 of the introduction of the 13-digit ISBN.

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International Supply Chain Seminar keynote speaker Ruth Jones, director of business development at Ingram in the U.K., spoke about technology and competition, saying that the book industry has "to perform in the marketplace" and has done very well. "I haven't worked with a more engaged or networked group of people in last five years."

She noted that one of the biggest changes in retail is the "empowerment of consumers," the creation of a "me economy," adding, "I expect a lot as a consumer. I expect the thing I want and choice in the thing I want.... I'm very particular about what I'm looking for." And once she's found the thing she wants or wants what's been suggested, her expectation is that "I can make that purchase seamlessly. That's the crux of the issue."

The "me economy" and "the rise of personalization" have led to an explosion of print-on-demand and personalized books. "People pay more money for those books than if they were just generic cookbooks or love poetry books," she added.

Jones suggested that the book supply chain could be like a "wildflower meadow," different from a garden, where "no one is governing it," and different flowers, grass, and wheat can take over. "I think that's what people looking for," she said. "They're looking for the unusual. They know where the vanilla books are. They want a place to buy books and the other things they want."

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David Walter

David Walter of Nielsen Book discussed the company's new surveys of metadata usage, an update on its 2012 survey, which used a variety of methods to find that--while not considering other factors--a correlation between higher sales and "the best and fullest metadata." The strongest correlation is in fiction.

Walter said that one of the most important bits of metadata is a cover image, which is particularly important, Walter said, for children's books and fiction. Besides basic metadata, including title and author information, pub date, format, ISBN, prices and subject category, descriptive metadata such as an author biography and reviews helps, too. Keywords such as character names, locations, associated organizations, broader terms, addition information on themes, related titles or authors is also helpful.

The key purpose of enhanced metadata, Walter stressed, is "to maximize discoverability when people are searching for titles."

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Also at the International Supply Chain Seminar, Ronald Schild, the head of MVB, the Börsenverein company that is responsible for the German version of Books in Print, buchhandel.de, Börsenblatt magazine and other products and services, discussed how MVB is helping introduce electronic data interchange and other improvements to Brazil's book industry, which lacks the infrastructure common in Western book markets. After his comparison of German and Brazilian book industry statistics, Carlo Carrenho of Brazil's PublishNews, commented, "That's the best explanation of why Germany beat Brazil 7-1 [in the 2014 World Cup semifinal]." The crowd roared. --Alex Mutter and John Mutter


Roundabout Books Sets Halloween Opening in Bend, Ore.

Roundabout Books, a new bookstore and café in Bend, Ore., will launch October 31 with a Halloween Open House event at its NorthWest Crossing location, the Source Weekly reported, adding that a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony has been scheduled for November 8.

"I've wanted to become more involved in the community for some time and I see so much potential in NorthWest Crossing as there are no bookstores on this side of town," said owner Cassie Clemans. "With Roundabout Books I hope to create a place that is comfortable and welcoming where people can gather, while filling my dream of owning a bookstore."

Roundabout Books "will offer a selection of best sellers, literature, nonfiction and other genres, along with young adult and children's books. A few literary themed gifts will also be for sale. The small café includes comfortable seating, a full espresso bar, wine, beer and light fare for patrons," the Source Weekly wrote.


AAUP on the Move

The central office of the Association of American University Presses has moved to 1412 Broadway, Suite 2135, New York, N.Y. 10018. The main phone number remains 212-989-1010, but staff members have new direct lines, listed here.

The AAUP said that the move is "a culmination of improvements to the Association's infrastructure and workflows, undertaken to better serve the strategic goals of the Association in a landscape of changing technology and increasing collaboration. The new space offers both more robust networking capacity and flexible meeting space to accommodate program needs."

Earlier this month, the Book Industry Study Group moved to the same building.


Obituary Note: Steve Dillon

British comic-book artist Steve Dillon, "considered a master of his craft by colleagues" and known for "a deeply expressive, often humorous style that leapt off the page," died October 22, the New York Times reported. He was 54. Dillon was best known as co-creator of Preacher, "a long-running series, recently adapted for television, about three companions who literally search for God," the Times wrote.

Novelist and comic-book writer Warren Ellis said Dillon's "pages were as fluid as camerawork, as efficient and composed as theater. Everything breathed." Dillon started working in comics at age 16 for Marvel U.K., and in 1992 teamed with Ennis on Hellblazer, establishing a rapport that "led to Preacher, another Vertigo series, in 1995." Preacher won a Will Eisner Comic Industry Award for best continuing series in 1999.

In a tribute on NPR, Etelka Lehoczky wrote: "Over his career, cut short far too soon, Dillon proved again and again that comics for adults can be as thought-provoking as they are emotionally potent. And if you aren't an adult quite yet, they might even help you survive high school."



Notes

Image of the Day: Have a Seat

Bookshop Santa Cruz, celebrating its 50th anniversary next week, has donated three benches to the City of Santa Cruz, Calif., to create reading spots for kids and families in public playgrounds. The final bench, at San Lorenzo Park, was dedicated yesterday. The celebration included a formal ribbon cutting and an arts project for kids to describe what reading means to them.

Left to right: Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Matthews; Michelle Williams, executive director of the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County; bench designer Tom Ralston; artist Terra Dawson; and Casey Coonerty Protti, owner of Bookshop Santa Cruz.


Moravian Book Shop: 'Oldest Continuously Operated Stores'

In a piece headlined "10 of the Oldest Continuously Operated Stores from Around the World," Mental Floss showcased a bookstore in the U.S.:

"Founded in 1745, the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is the oldest continuously operating bookstore in America (the Bertrand Bookstore in Portugal opened 13 years earlier, and is generally considered the oldest in the world). While the Moravian started out as a place to buy and print religious texts, it changed with the times, and now sells every book under the sun out of its (significantly expanded) 15,000 square foot shop. Bookstore employees say the shop sometimes feels haunted by its lengthy past--literally. Rumor has it, a friendly ghost haunts the shop, occasionally reminding employees to turn off appliances they've left running."


Dubiously Cool Idea of the Day: The 'Scream Room'

"Visitors to a bookshop in Cairo are being invited into a dark, soundproof room to scream at the top of their lungs in an effort to relieve their frustrations and escape from the stresses of daily life," Reuters reported. The new "scream room" in Cairo's The World's Door bookshop "is equipped with a full drum kit allowing customers to let go of their worries through deafening screams." Owner AbdelRahman Saad, who offers each visitor 10 free minutes inside the private scream room, "believes it is the first room of its kind in the Middle East."


Personnel Changes at Stanford, Simon & Schuster

New members of the marketing and sales department at Stanford University Press:

Marketing manager Stephanie Adams
Sales and exhibits manager Kate Templar
Publicist Ryan Furtkamp
Marketing/publicity assistant Kendra Schynert
Marketing/sales assistant Linnie Greene

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Janine Perez has been promoted to digital marketing coordinator from marketing assistant at Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ian Scheffler on NPR's Morning Edition

Tomorrow:
NPR's Morning Edition: Ian Scheffler, author of Cracking the Cube: Going Slow to Go Fast and Other Unexpected Turns in the World of Competitive Rubik's Cube Solving (Touchstone, $26, 9781501121920).

Today: Elise Strachan, author of Sweet! Celebrations: A My Cupcake Addiction Cookbook (Atria Books, $35, 9781501142222).

Watch What Happens Live: Abbi Jacobson, author of Carry This Book (Viking, $25, 9780735221598).

Movies: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Lily James (Downton Abbey, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies) will star in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, based on the bestselling book by Annie Barros & Mary Ann Shaffer, Deadline reported. Directed by Mike Newell from a script written by Don Roos & Tom Bezucha, the film's producers are Mazur/Kaplan Company's Paula Mazur and Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan; alongside Blueprint Pictures' Graham Broadbent and Pete Czernin. Filming is set to begin in the U.K. next spring.

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has been a project of tremendous passion for us, and we are thrilled to be bringing it to screen with filmmaker Mike Newell attached and Lily James, our consummate Juliet," said Mazur.

Ron Halpern, Studiocanal's executive v-p, international productions & acquisitions, added that the studio "is thrilled to be partnering with Mazur/Kaplan and Blueprint Pictures to bring Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to the big screen. We have always admired Mike Newell as a director and it would be an honor to finally work with him. Lily James is the perfect actress to bring this incredible character to life."


Books & Authors

Awards: Governor General's Literary

Madeleine Thien won the Governor General's Literary Award in the fiction category for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. The Canada Council for the Arts announced winners in 14 English- and French-language categories. Each winner receives C$25,000 (US$18,725), with the winning publishers getting $3,000 to support promotional activities.

Canada Council director and CEO Simon Brault commented: "2016 is an excellent vintage for the GG Awards--full-bodied, nuanced, and sure to satisfy the palates of a discerning public eager to discover new and meaningful worlds. Once again, we have the privilege of celebrating the power of literature to question who we are and what we aspire to be. Our thanks to the authors and to the publishers who have accompanied them in their creative process and brought their works to life."


Reading with... Barbara Barnett

photo: Cilento Photography

Barbara Barnett's debut novel is The Apothecary's Curse (Pyr, October 11, 2016). Barnett is the publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics magazine and the author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D. She is the president of the Midwest Writers Association, has a degree from the University of Illinois in biology/chemistry and has worked as a microbiologist.

On your nightstand now:

So, so many books on that overburdened nightstand! Barren Cove by Ariel S. Winter. Ben Elton's Time and Time Again. Just finishing Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Always on my nightstand is Betsy Lerner's The Forest for the Trees: An Editor's Advice to Writers, which has kept me nicely grounded on the road to publication. I have it near to keep close her wonderful advice to authors about "magical" thinking--those dreadful thoughts we have when things aren't proceeding quite as swiftly as we imagine they should.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I devoured the entire Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series by Betty MacDonald. I was enchanted by the magic, the humor and the wisdom. Then, when I was 10 or so, I discovered my brother's stash of Ian Fleming James Bond novels and Mad magazines. I was hooked, and childhood ended.

My real go-to reading when I was a kid was The World Book Encyclopedia. Yes, I was a nerd, even then, and it instilled in me a love of research (of anything and everything) that has always stayed with me. My mother was so amused by my penchant for the thing, she would generally answer any question I'd ask her by telling me to "go look it up in the World Book." I did.

Your top five authors:

The hardest question in this interview. There are so many, and the list keeps changing. Right now that would be Ray Bradbury, Kazuo Ishiguro, Philip K. Dick, Jonathan Lethem, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Book you've faked reading:

La Nausée (Nausea) by Jean-Paul Sartre for a class in French literature. I bought the Cliffs Notes and aced the exam. But I'm not proud of it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I'm always telling people to read Kim Stanley Robinson's Science in the Capitol series: Forty Signs of Rain, Fifty Degrees Below and Sixty Days and Counting. Written more than 10 years ago, it's a brilliant cautionary tale about the confluence of politics, science and global warming. It's also a compulsive read, especially for science geeks, policy wonks and politics nerds (I am all three). The science is front and center, to me the hallmark of great science fiction. The message is scary, and unfortunately becoming more science fact than fiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I've actually never bought a book for its cover, but a beautiful, complex cover design propels me to look beyond it. One of my favorites is the Van Gogh-esque mural created when the three volumes of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy are placed side by side (1965 Ballantine edition).

Book you hid from your parents:

Easy question: Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence. They never did find out (or so I imagine), because I expect had she uncovered it beneath my pillow, Mom would have confiscated it for herself!

Book that changed your life:

Abraham Joshua Heschel's God in Search of Man? (all of his writings, actually): "Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement... get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually." This is the root of curiosity, of discovery, of research, of our understanding of the universe and our place in it. Heschel's writings on it daily inform my worldview and my writing. Hopefully, I've managed to infuse my fictional characters with this strong Heschel-ian sense of wonder and awe.

Favorite line from a book:

"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." --The Sign of the Four by Arthur Conan Doyle. To me (and in my humble opinion), it's an acknowledgement that sometimes we can't get to the truth (or discovery) inhibited by blinders and biases. It is only by being open to the possibilities, however improbable.

Is it magic or science? A ghost or a delusion? A monster or a medical anomaly, for the moment, beyond our understanding? And for all of its Holmes-the-rational-man empiricist vibe, Doyle's quote jibes rather nicely with my worldview of radical amazement.

I love this idea, whether in the context of the Sherlock Holmes canon or way beyond, and have explored it in my own writing. Doyle (or maybe Sherlock himself) has whispered that line in my ear throughout my career as an author.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Science of Life by H.G. Wells and Julian Huxley, 1931 edition. By the most enduring of science fiction writers, this classic biology text always reminds me that science and science fiction are often but a hair's-breadth apart.

Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre--my first (and favorite) encounter with the moody-brooding Byronic hero. I've practically memorized it by now!

My dog-eared copy of Franz Kafka's 1925 novel The Trial, whose impossible labyrinthine dystopia from which there is no escape defined the genre long before Ray Bradbury and Philip K. Dick.

Joseph Heller's Catch-22. One of my favorite novels of all time, combining smart, rapid-fire writing (think Aaron Sorkin in novel form), biting dialogue and a sharp commentary on war, bureaucracy and insanity.

Finally, Charles Dana's Household Book of Poetry, which I pilfered from my parents' house when I moved from home. It's an enormous early 20th-century anthology of poetry, and it was there I first discovered as a kid the rhythm of language and my love of Coleridge, Wordsworth and so many others.

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

Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. I had to read The Fellowship of the Ring in high school as if it was a mythology textbook. Yuck. Although I've read Tolkien many times since with much pleasure, that first time robbed the reading experience of all its fun and magic. I want it back!

What makes a compulsive read for you:

The movie has to start playing in my head. Images pop and a character just grabs me by the gut or makes my heart skip a beat. I have a weakness for dark knights in tarnished armor. (I love reading about them, watching them on screen--and writing about them.) The writing has to be vivid, smart, filled with crisp dialogue and evocative settings, well-considered prose. Rich and textured--and deeply atmospheric. And the promise of a little romance (think Jane Eyre, not Fifty Shades of Grey) never hurts. When I struggle with finding "it" to read, that's when I pick up the pen (or my laptop!).


Children's Books: America, America

"History is a vast early warning system," quipped Norman Cousins. Election Day in the United States is almost here, the perfect time to dive into American history with children.

Miss Paul and the President by Dean Robbins, illus. by Nancy Zhang (Knopf, $17.99, hardcover, 9781101937204, 40p., ages 4-8, September 6, 2016)
"Alice Paul hurried up and down Pennsylvania Avenue in a purple hat. She wanted to make everything perfect for her parade. A parade no one in Washington, D.C., would ever forget!" The year was 1914, and 8,000 women assembled at Woodrow Wilson's White House to fight for women's right to vote. The unstoppable Alice Paul was behind it all. This lively, well-paced, dynamically illustrated picture-book biography tells of Paul's parade, her meeting with President Wilson (who did not get the apology he expected for the disruption), her founding of the National Woman's Party, and her clever brand of mischief-making that landed her in jail but helped get the job done in time for the 1920 election.

Around America to Win the Vote by Mara Rockliff, illus. by Hadley Hooper (Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 9780763678937, 40p., ages 5-8, August 2, 2016)
On April 6, 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke set out from New York City in a small yellow car with a small black kitten to drive 10,000 miles across America, all to make speeches about women's suffrage. The road trip--wonderfully captured in Hooper's playful retro style--had the usual mishaps (blizzards and bullet-dodging), but its highlights included an "all-yellow lunch" in South Carolina (yellow was the color of the suffragette movement) and a circus parade in Georgia. The daring duo closed their cross-country loop in New York City on September 30, 1916, returning to a big welcome and a big yellow cake.

My Washington, DC by Kathy Jakobsen (Little, Brown, $18.99, hardcover, 9780316126120, 40p., ages 6-9, September 6, 2016)
A must-have for any child bound for the United States capital, My Washington, DC is fireworks-worthy. The enthusiastic narrator, a girl named Becky, shares fun facts and brief anecdotes about the city's top attractions, all illustrated with Jakobsen's fascinating, meticulously detailed paintings "done in oil on canvas, with small amounts of ink and acrylic gold for the gold-leaf highlights." Inviting maps on the inside covers lead into Union Station (count the eagles and stars!), Capitol Hill, the Library of Congress, the National Archives (the jacket is a poster of the Bill of Rights), the National Museum of Natural History, the White House (including a menagerie of presidential pets and a mesmerizing cross-section showing room interiors) and beyond.

Commander in Cheese: The Big Move (A Stepping Stone Book) by Lindsey Leavitt, illus. by A.G. Ford (Random House, $4.99, paperback, 9781101931127, 112p., ages 6-9, May 31, 2016)
Two mouse siblings, Ava and Dean Squeakerton, live in the White House, a historic landmark with "two hundred years of mouse memories, stories, and hiding. Lots of hiding." In this early reader series debut, it's not only inauguration day, it's moving day for President Caroline Abbey, her husband and children. The Big Move harkens back to Mary Norton's The Borrowers when Ava sips her juice from a ChapStick cap, and she and Dean embark on a dangerous quest to find a Lego ("much cooler than Lyndon Johnson's toenail clippers") for their Treasure Rooms. Leavitt seamlessly weaves presidential history into her engaging narrative, while Ford's winning illustrations make the story scamper and squeak to life. Next up in the series: Oval Office Escape.

50 Things You Should Know About American Presidents by Tracey Kelly (QEB Publishing, $15.95, flexibound, 9781609929367, 80p., ages 10-13, February 23, 2016)
This flashy, splashy, yet straightforwardly written reference walks readers through presidential history, from George Washington to Barack Obama, devoting a colorful, energetically designed double-page spread to each. Every entry features a brief biography, career highlights, historical context and fast facts, along with plentiful photographs, maps and other illustrations. Presidents are grouped into historical categories: "A New Nation," "Westward Expansion and the Civil War, "Expansion and Power," "The World at War," "The Space Race" and "International Diplomacy," with at-a-glance descriptions of each era. An eye-catching, accessible jumping-off point to further studies of U.S. history.

American Presidents Activity Book by Joe Rhatigan, illus. by Anthony Owsley (MoonDance Press, $7.95, paperback, 9781633221116, 144p., ages 8-12, September 1, 2016)
A pencil, a smattering of knowledge of American history and some basic curiosity are all children will need to enjoy this challenging activity book based on the 44 U.S. presidents that, happily, leaves room for President #45. "Do you know who served as president for just over twelve years? Or how about the president who served thirty-two days? How about the president who died after eating a Fourth of July treat?" American Presidents answers these questions and poses many more in crossword puzzles, poetry "Fill in the Blanks," anagrams, "Two Truths and a Lie" and some creative drawing challenges, too. Answers in the back!

Your Presidential Fantasy Dream Team by Daniel O'Brien, illus. by Winston Rowntree (Crown, $13.99, paperback, 9780553537475, 272p., ages 10-up, June 28, 2016)
"Whether you're forming an action team to defend the planet or just putting together a group of presidents to pull off some kind of grand scheme, every good team needs Brain, Brawn, a Loose Cannon, a Moral Compass, and a Roosevelt," writes O'Brien in his introduction to this unabashedly opinionated reference book with suitably over-the-top black-and-white illustrations. On Andrew Jackson: "He wasn't always a lunatic, of course, he aged into it, like a fine wine, fermented with poison and stirred with an ax." On Nixon: "Fun Fact: Nixon is literally the only president I don't want to hang out with." O'Brien includes only late presidents, because living ones are still busy fulfilling their potential, and hopes he is offering "a better, cooler, and COMPLETELY INSANE version of history" to America's youth. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness


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