Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 29, 2017: Maximum Shelf: Where Dead Men Meet

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 29, 2017


St. Martin's Press: Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Waste of Space (Moon Base Alpha) by Stuart Gibbs

St. Martin's Press: Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Shadow Mountain: Ashes on the Moor (Proper Romance Victorian Series) by Sarah M. Eden

St. Martin's Press: Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope

Other Press: Eventide by Therese Bohman

News

Bunch of Grapes Bookstore Moving 'Down the Street'

Bunch of Grapes' current location

In April, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore will be relocating to 23 Main Street in Vineyard Haven, Mass., from its current space at 35 Main Street, which the shop has occupied for five years. The Vineyarrd Gazette reported that the indie bookseller, which "has been a Main street mainstay since it opened in 1964, in its original location across the street," will remain open at its current location until April 8, and plans to reopen in the new space no later than May 1. The new layout will include adult books on the first floor, with gifts and children’s books on the second floor.

On Facebook yesterday, Bunch of Grapes posted: "Big news, big move! We'll see you all at our new location down the street!"


Disney-Hyperion: Willa of the wood by Robert Beatty


WNBA Pannell Award Nomination Deadline Nears

The deadline is approaching for this year's WNBA Pannell Award, sponsored by the Women's National Book Association and Penguin Young Readers Group and recognizing "bookstores that enhance their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading and books in children and young adults." One Pannell Award is given to a general bookstore and one to a children's bookstore. Nominations must be received by April 10.

Nominations can be made by customers, sales reps, store personnel or anyone who has been impressed with the work of a particular independent bookstore. There are two ways to nominate a bookstore for the WNBA Pannell Award:

  1. Complete the Online Nomination Form 
  2. E-mail WNBAPannell@gmail.com and include the following: name, e-mail address and phone number of person making the nomination; that person's connection to the nominated bookstore; a brief statement outlining the reasons for nominating the bookstore; contact information for the owner/manager of the nominated bookstore.

Each winner receives a $1,000 check and a framed, signed original piece of art by a children's illustrator during a presentation at the BookExpo Children's Book and Author Breakfast in New York City.


Soho Crime: Death Comes in Through the Kitchen by Teresa Dovalpage


Booksellers Share Sustainability Suggestions

Chris Morrow

"I think it's a really important issue for booksellers to be involved with," said Chris Morrow, co-owner of Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and a member of the board of the American Booksellers Association.

At Winter Institute 2017 in Minneapolis, Minn., in January, Morrow was part of the ABA's first-ever panel about climate change. The panel offered a variety of suggestions on how booksellers, whether they own their buildings or not, can make their shops more environmentally friendly. And, in later interviews, Morrow and Erica Bollerud, a bookseller at Books with a Past in Glenwood, Md., and Savage, Md., elaborated on those recommendations.

"We have a voice in this and a role to play in moving our society in the right direction," continued Morrow. "We're really running out of time." And it's a topic that's become all the more important because of the Trump administration's avowed aim of dismantling environmental regulations.

Solar panels on Northshire's roof

Morrow pointed to a variety of "low-hanging fruit" that any bookseller should be able to address, with lighting probably the easiest place to start. Morrow noted that at the Vermont store, he has switched from incandescents to fluorescents and finally to LEDs over the years. LEDs have advanced enough to give the right "warm" lighting for a bookstore, and though it varies from state to state, utilities sometimes provide rebates for energy-efficient lighting. Morrow also emphasized the importance of offering a robust selection of books on climate change and committing to making displays about climate change (the ABA is putting together a list of essential books about climate change that will be disseminated through Bookselling This Week). Morrow suggested that managers may want to encourage employees to carpool or take public transportation if available.

Erica Bollerud shared some suggestions of her own. Both locations of Books with a Past are in rented spaces, she said, which limits some options, but most booksellers should be able to buy energy-efficient lighting and appliances, recycle packaging and encourage the use of reusable or paper bags over plastic bags (at her stores, customers who bring in their reusable Books with a Past bags receive a 10% discount). Bollerud pointed out that physical space is itself a valuable asset: booksellers can offer their shops as meeting spaces for local environmental groups, host cellphone and ink-toner cartridge recycling stations for customers, and even allow CSA pick-ups at their stores to encourage buying more locally grown food. She also mentioned a personal fondness for stores that do deliveries by bicycle.

"This isn't feasible in the rural and suburban areas where our stores are located, but if it makes sense for your community and your staff, I think it's a great idea," she said.

Booksellers can also let their elected officials know that they care about these issues and offer support for existing bills or programs or propose new ones that help retailers save money and energy through sustainability measures. Bollerud suggested that this might be especially effective on the county and municipal levels: reaching out to mayors, chambers of commerce and any municipal sustainability staff could be worthwhile, especially if booksellers have examples of programs in other parts of the country that could be emulated.

She added that selling used books is a business practice inherently linked with sustainability, as an intact book is sequestered carbon. If that book winds up in a landfill, the carbon is then released. Both Books with a Past locations primarily sell used books, and Bollerud and her colleagues "devote a significant amount of staff time to finding a final resting place" for books that are donated but do not meet the store's quality standards for being resold. Such books are recycled, distributed to Little Free Libraries and churches, or donated to Better World Books.

Bollerud also shared some resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration, including the Small Business Sustainability Toolkit, the Green Business Guide and a guide to Sustainable Business Practices, along with the website for DSIRE, a searchable database of state incentives for renewables and efficiency.

Charging station at Northshire

At his store in Vermont, Chris Morrow has taken some steps available to those who own their building. About five years ago he installed solar panels on the roof. The panels were subsidized through a state program, but still expensive; today the technology is cheaper, though the availability of subsidies varies. The solar panels generate 10%-15% of the power Northshire Bookstore uses, and there's a monitor in the store's environmental section that customers can use to view how much electricity is being generated by the solar panels and what that means compared to oil usage. Morrow has spent "a fair amount of money" insulating the building, which can go a long way in conserving energy and lowering energy costs. Through a state program, Morrow has also installed charging stations for electric cars outside his store; it was done through the local utility, and he "didn't pay a cent."

Looking ahead, Morrow said that there was "no obvious place to go at this point" with regard to making improvements at his own stores, but he is on the ABA board and plans to encourage the association to run more education sessions on climate change. Speaking for himself, he said he plans to concentrate on raising awareness of the issue.

"It's beyond the store level right now for me," he said. "There's no more low-hanging fruit." --Alex Mutter


University of Nevada Press: Across America and Back: Retracing My Great-Grandparents' Remarkable Journey by Mary Ann Hooper


Amazon Enters Middle East Market with Souq.com Acquisition

Amazon will acquire Souq.com, an e-commerce company in the Middle East. The acquisition is expected to be finalized this year. Souq.com offers more than 8.4 million products across 31 categories and attracts more than 45 million visits per month, with operations in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

"Amazon and Souq.com share the same DNA--we're both driven by customers, invention and long-term thinking,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon senior v-p, international consumer. "Souq.com pioneered e-commerce in the Middle East, creating a great shopping experience for their customers. We're looking forward to both learning from and supporting them with Amazon technology and global resources. And together, we'll work hard to provide the best possible service for millions of customers in the Middle East."

Souq.com CEO and co-founder Ronaldo Mouchawar commented: "We are guided by many of the same principles as Amazon, and this acquisition is a critical next step in growing our e-commerce presence on behalf of customers across the region. By becoming part of the Amazon family, we'll be able to vastly expand our delivery capabilities and customer selection much faster, as well as continue Amazon's great track record of empowering sellers."

Mouchawar told Reuters that Amazon "is a great fit with us. We have a lot of common values and it is all about innovation, technology and the type of customer experience and thinking that Amazon has.... We will continue to invest in our segment and grow our markets." After the deal is closed, Middle East consumers "will be able to buy products available on Amazon.com through Souq.com, and Middle East merchants will have access to a wider market via Amazon's network," Reuters noted.


Shelf Awareness Giveaway: The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton


Obituary Note: David Storey

David Storey, "a novelist, playwright and screenwriter, best known for his 1960 debut, This Sporting Life, about Rugby League football, set in a Northern industrial city and based on his own experiences as a professional rugby player," died March 27, the Bookseller reported. He was 83. Storey's first book won the Macmillan Fiction Award and was adapted into a 1963 film. His second novel, Saville, won the Booker Prize in 1976. His other works include Flight into Camden and Pasmore, as well as plays The Restoration of Arnold Middleton, The Contractor, Home, In Celebration and The Changing Room.

Dan Franklin, associate publisher at Jonathan Cape, said Storey was "a delightful man." He worked with the author on one of his very last novels, A Serious Man, published in 1998, an experience Franklin described as a "privilege."

Three of Storey's works "were named best play by the New York Drama Critics' Circle, all within four years in the 1970s. He also earned two Tony nominations," the New York Times noted, adding that his plays have been performed in 60 countries.


Notes

Happy 50th Birthday, Reader's World Bookstore!

Congratulations to Reader's World Bookstore, Holland, Mich., which is celebrating 50 years in business. The Sentinel reported that current owner Lisa Hungerink has many fond memories of the shop; when she was growing up, "she used to stock the candy and greeting card shelves. There were the stacks of Sunday newspapers that were as tall as her."

"I remember sometimes running around here on Christmas day while my mom was busy getting ready for all the relatives to come over," Hungerink said. "My dad would take the kids here."

The bookstore was launched in 1967 by her grandfather, Chris DeVries, and her parents, Bob and Laurie Hungerink. "At the time, my grandfather and father were wholesale distributors of books, magazines and newspapers in the area," Lisa Hungerink said. "They had a warehouse full of books and they were bringing them to other stores so they decided that they might as well open their own bookstore."

The business has been in the family for half a century, "and even today, Lisa's mom Laurie, still works a few days a week.... Through the years, different family members have played a key role in the growth of the bookstore and pretty much every family member has worked at the store at some point," the Sentinel wrote.


Personnel Changes at Third Place Books

Wendy Ceballos

After 19 years at Third Place Books, which has three stores in Seattle, Wash., Wendy Ceballos is leaving her position as director of events and marketing to move to New York City to pursue her dream of "working and living in the heart of the book industry."

Third Place Books managing partner Robert Sindelar commented: "When people ask me how I am going to replace Wendy, the answer is very simple. I can't. Everywhere I look, I see her fingerprints on everything we do at all three of our stores. Her official job title doesn't cover half of what she contributes to our stores. She has been my right hand in all our endeavors these past 18 years we have worked together. She has been an invaluable collaborator, project manager, sounding board and friend. To say she will be missed in an enormous understatement."

Zak Nelson

Still, beginning in May, Zak Nelson will become manager of events and marketing. (Many of the management and operational aspects of Ceballos's job are being taken on by current Third Place staff members.) Nelson is a writer and reviewer with 20 years of experience in retail bookselling and trade publishing. His first bookselling job was at a Borders Books & Music, and he has worked at several indies as well as at Amazon Books. He has also overseen marketing and publicity at Heyday Books and handled publicity and online marketing at Ten Speed Press. Perhaps most important, he is a book reviewer for Shelf Awareness.

Ceballos and Nelson will work together during April.


Browsing Books Kinokuniya in New York City

The New York Business Journal browsed at Books Kinokuniya in New York City, which opened originally in Rockefeller Center in 1981, then moved to Sixth Avenue, across from Bryant Park, in 2007.

Over the past five years, the store has increased its selection of English-language books, which now account for 75% of book inventory and are on the first floor; Japanese-language books and comics, on the second floor, account for the rest. Nonbook merchandise includes Japanese gifts, pens, stationery and Japanese magazines. The second floor also features Café Zaiya, which sells a range of Japanese food and tea "and feels as if it belongs in Tokyo."

Manager Kotaro Takano said the increase in English-language titles was needed to appeal to a wider audience and boost revenue. That audience consists of "locals, tourists, and then fans of the Japanese culture and anime and comic books."

Lori Zarahn, the English-language book buyer, said that the store's Japanese clientele has changed somewhat, as it now appeals to second-, third- and fourth-generation Japanese Americans who reside in Queens, N.Y., and several New Jersey communities. "They may read Japanese, but they still want to buy their books in English," she said.

The 25,000-square-foot store also has a large back-office operation that exports academic Japanese books to college and high schools throughout the U.S.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Chris Hayes on the Daily Show

Tomorrow:
Good Morning America: Katey Sagal, author of Grace Notes: My Recollections (Gallery, $26, 9781476796710).

Daily Show: Chris Hayes, author of A Colony in a Nation (Norton, $26.95, 9780393254228).


Movies: Queen of the Desert; The Dunning Man

"Nicole Kidman embodies trailblazer Gertrude Bell--a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, political officer and spy for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th century--in Werner Herzog's upcoming drama Queen of the Desert," Deadline noted in featuring a trailer for the film starring Kidman, James Franco, Robert Pattinson and Damien Lewis.

Queen of the Desert, which was shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, had its world premiere at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and has since been released overseas. Deadline reported that Atlas Distribution Co. "had originally acquired the U.S. distribution rights and planned to have a wide release in fall 2015. It was later acquired by IFC Films and will be released in theaters and VOD on April 14."

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A clip has been released from Michael Clayton's new film The Dunning Man, "featuring a protagonist who faces the kind of real estate troubles that will make your home-hunting problems seem like a walk in the park." Based on Kevin Fortuna's short story collection of the same name, the movie stars James Carpinello and made its premiere at Cinequest earlier this month. The Dunning Man "will continue its festival run in the coming months," Indiewire noted. 



Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Literary; BTBA Longlists; Christophers

The Return by Hisham Matar (Penguin Random House) won the inaugural $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award during the PEN America Literary Awards ceremony Monday night in New York City. Other award winners announced at the event included:

PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature ($50,000): Adonis
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction ($25,000): Insurrections by Rion Amilcar Scott (University Press of Kentucky)
PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay ($10,000): The Girls in My Town by Angela Morales (University of New Mexico Press)

A complete list of 2017 winners is available here.

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The fiction and poetry longlists have been released for this year's Best Translated Book Award, sponsored by Three Percent and honoring "the best original works of international fiction and poetry published in the U.S. during the previous year." The longlists include books from 24 countries, writing in 15 languages, and published by 25 presses. Finalists for both categories will be announced April 18, with the winners named May 4.

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Twelve books for adults and young people will be celebrated May 16 at the 68th annual Christopher Awards, which are presented to authors and illustrators--as well as writers, producers and directors--whose work "affirms the highest values of the human spirit." This year's winning titles are:

Adults
Carry On: A Story of Resilience, Redemption & an Unlikely Family by Lisa Fen (Harper Wave)
The Hundred Story Home: A Journey of Homelessness, Hope & Healing by Kathy Izard (Grace Press)
Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips & My Son Taught Me About a Parent's Expectations by Ron Fournier (Harmony Books)
Operating on Faith: A Painfully True Love Story by Matt Weber (Loyola Press)
Pint-Sized Prophets: Inspirational Moments That Taught Me We Are All Born to Be Healers by Dr. Chuck Dietzen (Advantage Publishing)
Spaceman: An Astronaut's Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino (Crown Archetype)

Young People
Baby Wren and the Great Gift by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jen Corace (Preschool & up, Zonderkidz/HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
What Do You Do With a Problem? by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Mae Besom (Kindergarten & up, Compendium)
Ida, Always by Caron Levis, illustrated by Charles Santoso (6 & up, Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Ada's Violin by Susan Hood, illustrated by Sally Wern Comport (8 & up, S&S Books for Young Readers)
Soar by Joan Bauer (10 & up, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group)
Unbound by Ann E. Burg (YA, Scholastic)


Reading with... Eugene Ostashevsky

photo: Natacha Nisic

Eugene Ostashevsky is the author of The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi (New York Review Books, March 14, 2017), a poetry book about communication challenges affecting pirate-parrot relationships, and of The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza, a poetry book about rationalism. He also translated The Fire Horse: Children's Poems by Mayakovsky and Mandelstam and Kharms and Alexander Vvedensky's An Invitation for Me to Think, winner of the National Translation Award.

On your nightstand now:

I am now reading the proofs of Subsisters by the German poet Uljana Wolf, a bilingual edition with translations by Sophie Seita. I love language play, play between languages, and that's what Uljana does. Reflecting on her language as she writes--making her words mean double and sideways--lets her articulate things that are usually given to silence. And the translation is very inventive and smart also. It's going to be published by Belladonna, a feminist poetry press in New York.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was a child in Russia, in Petersburg (or rather in Leningrad, USSR), in the '70s. My mother would read me Kun's Legends and Myths of Ancient Greece. It was a heavy, old-fashioned volume with a ponderous Stalinist cover and illustrated on the inside with statues and vases that later, as an adult, I would recognize in the Vatican and the Louvre. Kun made me obsessed with the Greeks. I first read a full translation of the Iliad when I was eight or nine. Now I teach it, and I also teach other books I read at that age, so I guess they stunted my growth.

Your top five authors:

I love Rabelais because he has no idea what he is going to write when he starts writing. He makes stuff up as he goes along. He is perfectly fine with inconsistencies in characters and plot. I've learned from him that, if one of my characters drops dead and then reappears two poems later with no explanation, it's fine. I love Shakespeare and John Webster even more, but who doesn't? In general my tastes are still very Russian. Rabelais's Gargantua and Pantagruel was a children's book in Russia, the same with Don Quixote. But they were also touted by the Russian avant-garde because they did not conform to the conventions of psychological realism. So the Russian writers I value most and that I translated--Daniil Kharms, Alexander Vvedensky, Nikolai Zabolotsky--that's the kind of material they admired, and Zabolotsky even translated Rabelais. The world is nonlinear, why should literature be linear?

Book you're an evangelist for:

My deepest reading experience in the past two years is Katja Petrowskaja's Maybe Esther, a bestseller in Germany that is about to come out in English translation from HarperCollins. The author, who lives in Berlin, intended to write a memoir about her family in Kiev, but she wound up with an astonishing, eloquent and moving book about the traumas of the 20th century in that part of the world: of Stalinism, of the wars, especially World War II, and of the Holocaust. It's a book about language, and memory, and about putting on someone else's language while, incongruously, retaining your own memory that was formed by a different language and by a reality other to the one surrounding you now. I am not from Kiev, but I also grew up in the shadow of World War II. I read children's books about the blockade of Leningrad, I knew how much daily bread the members of each social group received. And now I also live in Berlin, in one of the Jewish neighborhoods where every building commemorates those deported from it. So Katja's book showed me how to own all that. But I also love her language. It is so polyphonic, she writes in German while thinking of words in Russian or English or other languages. Yet at the same time she does these complicated things very simply and very accessibly.

Another book I've been recommending left and right is Aneta Pavlenko's The Bilingual Mind, which is about, to simplify matters tremendously, why bilinguals believe they are different people in different languages.

Book that changed your life:

I can talk about a poem that changed my life. One day in my 20s, I was lying in my parents' basement and leafing through an old Oxford Book of English Verse, compiled by Helen Gardner. And there I came across Edward Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat." I didn't know it as a child because it hadn't been translated. It was a shock. I read it over and over. It felt like the only real poem in there, the only poem completely devoid of verbiage. And I'm including Milton and Donne and so on in the comparison. Today "The Owl and the Pussycat" could become anthemic, like "The Road Not Taken," because it talks about love without imposing gender stereotypes or even differences. But it has the word "pussy." Americans get really nervous if they have to say "pussy" around children. They think they will be thought perverts. My mom bought my daughter Una a bowl with the text of "The Owl and the Pussycat" printed around the rim, but they excised "O lovely pussy, o pussy my love!/ What a beautiful pussy you are." They just left it out. They were scared. We own a bowdlerized bowl.

Favorite line from a book:

Una keeps asking me to tell her stories, so one day I just started retelling her the Divine Comedy--I teach it, so it's in my head, but also she was born in Florence. The Divine Comedy is great for children. It can be told in installments, and it also lends itself to adaptation into, basically, "Dante and his Friend Virgil go to the Center of the Earth and Play with Dead People." And I alter details to make it more relevant to her. So when the Dante of the original crosses the frozen lake at the bottom of hell, he comes across two brothers who fought each other, and are now encased in ice with other people who betrayed family members. But I had Dante and Virgil go skating on the ice, and the dysfunctional siblings whose heads they stumbled over are Anna and Elsa from Frozen. I also tell her about how little Dante first met little Beatrice outside the gelateria off Ponte Santa Trinita, and the kind of gelato they ate--she had nine scoops!

Anyway, I deal with the Divine Comedy a lot, even outside class. And my favorite line ever is from the Purgatorio. Virgil, who has taken Dante through hell and up Mount Purgatory, is not allowed to go closer to God, because he is a pagan. Beatrice comes to take over. When Dante sees her, he is overwhelmed and blurts out, in Italian, the words that, in the Latin of the Aeneid, are Dido's: I recognize the signs of old fire, "conosco i segni de l'antica fiamma" in his case, "agnosco veteris vestigia flammae" in hers. (When Dido says it, it means "I know I am in love with Aeneas because I again feel what I felt with my late husband.") Dante quotes Virgil to Virgil but in his own language and applying to his own predicament--and then Dante turns to Virgil--but Virgil has vanished. He has returned to his place among the damned while Dante was panting over Beatrice. And Dante didn't even say goodbye to his teacher. Every time I read it, I get very emotional. It's as if that line sang to me personally about all the losses in my life but also about all the moments of recognition: the partial, dialogic rediscovery of what was lost forever in what came to be at hand.


Book Review

Children's Review: Goldfish Ghost

Goldfish Ghost by Lemony Snicket, illus. by Lisa Brown (Roaring Brook Press, $17.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 3-6, 9781626725072, May 2, 2017)

"Goldfish Ghost was born on the surface of the water in a bowl on the dresser in a boy's room." After staring at the ceiling of the "pleasant and familiar" room for a while, the upside-down goldfish drifts out the window to begin his quiet, solemn afterlife. He's learning that it's lonely being a ghost. He glides past raucous seagulls circling fishing boats ("Skree Skree") and a busy seaside town with shoppers and ice cream eaters and--look closely!--a boy buying a new goldfish from the pet store. Following "a rattly jeep full of loud music," he comes to a beach crowded with people--including a Victorian-era ghost couple strolling unseen among present-day castle-building, ball-throwing, metal-detecting beachgoers. In all these places, though, he can't find a friend. "It can be hard to find the company you are looking for." Returning eventually to his bowl, he finds that another goldfish--a live one--has taken his place. "She seemed nice enough, but she was not good company, and the moon called Goldfish Ghost back out the window." It's not until our solitary hero encounters another friendless soul--the ghost of a lighthouse keeper--that he finds the company he's been longing for.

Although the natural audience for Goldfish Ghost might be young readers who have recently lost loved ones, it should in no way be limited to this readership. It can be hard for anyone to find the company they are looking for, after all, and there's nothing like feeling "at home" with a friend.

Lemony Snicket is perhaps best known for his entertainingly dark Series of Unfortunate Events, so this gentle, meditative tale of a goldfish's hereafter may come as a surprise to readers expecting villains, orphans and tongue-in-cheek snark. Make no mistake, though; the quirkiness of the subject and its execution, so to speak, is all Snicket.

The true magic, though, comes with the harmonizing of author and illustrator's talents; Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown (The Airport Book) previously collaborated on The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming. Brown's India-ink-and-watercolor illustrations are reminiscent of 1960s and '70s picture books. It could be the muted blues and grays and golds, or the childlike pictures of people and animals, but the artwork will feel sweetly familiar to readers of a certain age. Details like the fish-centric books in the boy's room (One Fish, Two Fish, Swimmy, Amos and Boris) and the lively town packed with multicultural and multi-shaped and -sized pedestrians, invite lingering perusal. One of the most ethereal and affecting moments in recent picture books comes at the conclusion, when the lighthouse keeper takes Goldfish Ghost "in her quiet hands and placed him where the light had once shone for sailors at sea." The image of the upside-down ghostly white fish contentedly suspended in the center of the massive lighthouse lantern is unique and unforgettable. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Lemony Snicket and Lisa Brown team up in an unusual and moving picture book about what happens to a goldfish after he dies.


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