Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, May 29, 2015


Doubleday Books: Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby

From My Shelf

Little Brown and Company: The Store by James Patterson

Vintage Books & Anchor Books: Reading Group Center Book Club Giveaway

Literature & Libations

With one hand firmly grasping a trusty cocktail recipe book, like PDT Cocktail Book (Sterling, $24.95), Death & Co. (Ten Speed, $40) or The 12 Bottle Bar (Workman, $14.95), I've been perfecting my own bartending technique. And there's nothing quite like a fresh, cool drink enjoyed while reading on a sunlit deck in summertime. Here are several of my recent favorite cocktail and book pairings:

Rosemary Tom Collins (rosemary-infused gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and seltzer, over ice in a Collins glass): the bitter herb infusion complicates this classic's light, tart effervescence, making it the perfect companion for the genealogical and paranormal investigation Hannah Nordhaus documents in American Ghost (Harper, $25.99). History twisted by legend makes for the best haunting stories, and folklore often associates rosemary with remembering the dead.

Rattlesnake (rye, lemon juice, agave syrup and egg white in an absinthe-rinsed coupe): I love drinks with a frothy whip on top. They're often rich, mesmerizing cocktails and this one, with its whisky base, carries a powerful bite, one not dissimilar to the vibrant, luxurious verse in Parneshia Jones's book Vessel (Milkweed, $16). Sip both of them slowly; savor them.

Champs-Élysées (cognac, lemon juice, green chartreuse, simple syrup, angostura bitters in a chilled coupe): known for its many delightful attractions, the thoroughfare in Paris from which this drink derives its name is perfectly analogous to the curious and varied flavors swirling in the glass. In perhaps an artless pairing on my part, it makes sense to be enjoyed with sensual, tempting story of Édouard Manet's muse in Paris Red (Norton, $24.95), a novel by Maureen Gibbon. Sultry and intense, their pleasures are plentiful.

Of course, while enjoying a book, there is no wrong libation to sip. Whatever suits your mood will do just fine, and mine tends toward the old fashioned. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness


Nation Books: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi


Book Candy

More Summer Reads

Flavorwire unveiled "17 unrepentantly trashy beach reads for 2015." Buzzfeed asked: "What new book should you read this summer?" Bustle found "9 memoirs that will keep you laughing from Memorial Day to Labor Day (and beyond)." And USA Today recommended "25 hot books for summer."

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In its slide show "the other worlds of fairy tale," the Guardian offered a peek at the British Academy and Folio Society exhibition of fairy tale illustrations from all over the world.

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Besties! Bustle considered "16 female literary characters who would totally be BFFs if only their storylines would have crossed."

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"Have books, need room." Buzzfeed featured "18 times Tumblr understood your bookshelf problems."


Matchup by Gayle Lynds


The Writer's Life

Book Brahmin: Marissa Moss

Writer-illustrator Marissa Moss has sold more than four million copies of her Amelia's Notebooks, a mash-up of middle-grade novel and illustrations in a composition-style cover. In 2013, Moss launched a small press called Creston Books, which specializes in children's books, and this month she publishes Amelia's Middle-School Graduation Yearbook (Creston Books). She lives in Berkeley, Calif.

On your nightstand now:

Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, about his tour of Europe and the Middle East, absolutely hilarious. I'm reading him for reference for the book I'm working on now, and loving every page. I'm also enjoying Rosemary Wells's On the Blue Comet (I thought she only wrote picture books, and it was a surprise to discover her middle-grade novels). Plus, I just finished Jacqueline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming.

Favorite book when you were a child:

That's probably a tie between Dr. Seuss's The Cat in the Hat, which I loved for the Cat's mischief-making--or really any Dr. Seuss book; I learned to love language through his rollicking rhymes--and Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach. I savored the illustrations by Nancy Ekholm Burkert as much as the magical words. And again, it's tough to pick which Roald Dahl book. I loved them all!

Your top five authors:

This is an impossible question, but the writers who I've read over and over again, the ones where the language lives on inside of me are a smaller list. If forced, I'd say: Shakespeare, Vladimir Nabokov, J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss. And Kenneth Grahame, for The Wind and the Willows, illustrated by E.H. Shepard, another book I loved for the drawings as much as the text.

Book you've faked reading:

Ulysses by James Joyce. Has anyone read the whole thing?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Bongo Fishing by Thacher Hurd. It's his first middle-grade novel and laugh-out-loud funny. I love his characters, especially the aliens who are like "ordinary midget grandparents." Thacher is enormously talented and this book deserves to be better known.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I picked up the first Harry Potter book because of the gorgeous cover art by Mary Grandpré. Luckily, the story lived up to the art.

Book that changed your life:

I think all good books change your life, at least a little. They give you experiences you wouldn't otherwise have or provoke you to ask questions you hadn't thought of. You live more deeply when you read. But the books that have the most profound effects are those you read as a child. I felt empowered by the successes of Dahl's underdog heroes--yes, weak children can come out on top, even in a world controlled by irrational adults! I devoured a lot of science fiction/fantasy as a kid and loved the "what if" questions they asked (and answered). I was a big Ursula Le Guin and J.R.R. Tolkien fan.

Favorite line from a book:

Again, I have many favorites, but I collect great first sentences and then share them with kids when I give writing workshops. One of the best is "Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say they were perfectly normal, thank you very much." (From the first Harry Potter book.) We talk about what gives the sentence that ineffable quality of voice--and whether we believe that Mr. and Mrs. Dursley are at all normal, which, of course, we don't.

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

Dante's Divine Comedy. The first time I read it, from the Inferno to Purgatory, to Heaven, I had this incredible sense of first suffering with the sinners, then slogging through Purgatory, and as I got to Heaven, the air seemed clearer, purer. I was carried along on this spiritual journey into the rarefied glory of Heaven. It was astonishing that Dante could create that sensation just from words. I've tried re-reading it, but although the writing is still brilliant, it's a different experience, knowing what's coming. I can re-read the Inferno and still enjoy how Dante gets revenge on all his enemies, but the ascent to Heaven can't be recaptured. And maybe that's the way it should be.

Which authors have most influenced you?

Lynda Barry has been a huge influence, especially when I started the Amelia books. Her visceral memory of her childhood encouraged me to write about mine with the same kind of ordinary details. That's what sparked the first Amelia's Notebook.

I've also drawn a lot from funny writers. Writing humor is hard, but you can definitely learn from how other people do it. I love the humor in Christopher Paul Curtis's books, in Louis Sachar's Wayside School Books, and in everything James Marshall has written and illustrated.


Melville House Publishing: The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer


Book Review

Fiction

Life #6

by Diana Wagman


In Life #6 by Diana Wagman (Spontaneous; The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets), a middle-aged woman replays her past as she confronts her own mortality after a recent cancer diagnosis. Fiona is almost 50 years old and a part-time tour guide at the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, Calif., stuck in a struggling marriage with an out-of-work, bitter journalist. She decides to contact her ex-boyfriend Luc and arrange a rendezvous with him in Newport, R.I., the site of their tumultuous and near fatal nautical adventure 30 years ago. Along the way, she ponders her five close brushes with death--a drug overdose, rape, nearly being run over by a car while playing in a pile of leaves, breaking through the windshield of a car, a beating by her mother's boyfriend--and the life she would have lived if not for the heartbreak of Luc's heroin addiction. The 19-year-old Fiona molded Luc into a Greek myth, and it is the older Fiona who must contend with the reality her mythmaking has created in defining the next stage of her life. "We suffer personal deaths, little bits of ourselves that pass away," writes Wagman. "The seas get rough and the tides turn."

Wagman alternates between first-person present and third-person past tenses in retelling Fiona's story, contrasting regret against youthful naiveté, wistfulness and longing against fear of the unknown. Her references to Greek mythology, particularly Odysseus' ill-fated travels, and Hero and Leander's tragic love interrupted, are woven cleverly into the narrative to coincide with Fiona's emotional turmoil, elevating Life #6 well beyond mere beach read. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: A middle-aged woman diagnosed with cancer looks back on a life that was altered by a sailing tragedy 30 years earlier.

Ig Publishing, $16.95, paperback, 9781632460035

Counterpoint Press: A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton


Mystery & Thriller

Dry Bones

by Craig Johnson


In the 11th novel of Craig Johnson's mystery series, beloved Absaroka County, Wyo., sheriff Walt Longmire investigates the death of Danny Lone Elk. At first blush, it appears to be an accidental drowning. However, the recent discovery on Danny's property of what may be the largest ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton leaves Walt with a sense that it might have been foul play.

Adding to the challenges of ascertaining whether Danny's death was murder or not, the archeological treasure instigates a battle over who possesses the legal rights to "Jen," so named for the scientist who initially discovered the prehistoric vestige. The Lone Elk family, High Plains Dinosaur Museum, Cheyenne tribal council and State of Wyoming all scramble to establish their claims, which leads to a rib-tickling circus-like atmosphere in the small town of Durant, complete with the slogan "Save Jen!"

Even though Johnson's protagonist enforces the law in the least populated county in the least populated state in the country, the series continues to be fresh and innovative. In Dry Bones, Johnson accomplishes this through a "sixty-five-million-year-old cold case" with current social and political implications, as well as via vibrantly complex characters.

Devoted series fans won't feel a sense of déjà vu in Dry Bones, but they will easily identify Johnson's tendency toward innovative imagery ("my brain felt like it was bouncing around like a sneaker inside a washing machine"), crack dialogue, humor and a strong sense of place. Absaroka's maker brings dem bones to life, and readers are sure to rejoice. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: Sheriff Walt Longmire and his quirky staff investigate the death of a Cheyenne Indian that may be tied to a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton.

Viking, $27.95, hardcover, 9780525426936

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan


And Sometimes I Wonder About You

by Walter Mosley


In 2009, when Walter Mosley launched his Leonid McGill detective series, there was some question as to how well the historical ambience of his Los Angeles and the in-your-face investigative style of his Easy Rawlins would travel to a new protagonist in contemporary New York City. With And Sometimes I Wonder About You (his fifth McGill novel, after All I Did Was Shoot My Man), Mosley proves that his talent and feel for the city streets--their violence, outsiders, racism, sex and chicanery--travel just fine. McGill is a short, mid-50s PI with a checkered criminal past, a pugilist's big hands, friends in high and low places, and a tendency to find trouble when a pretty woman catches his attention.

In this book, his wife, Katrina, has been institutionalized after a suicide attempt; his long-time girlfriend, Aura, has told him to stay away out of respect for Katrina's struggles; and a ravenous new young client, Marella, gives him all the bedroom action he can handle. Since running off with her big-bling engagement ring, Marella is hiding from her former fiancé's hired thugs who have been threatening her life to get it back. Meanwhile, McGill's adopted son, Twill, is in danger from a subterranean juvenile crime ring, led by a ruthless gangster, Pied Piper. And a laid-off accountant needs protection from Boston assassins because of the seedy dirt he accidentally uncovered about their wealthy boss's son. McGill sums up his predicament: "There were three groups of killers after me or mine and three women I had feelings for. None of these people stayed in the right place or were likely to wait their turn." Bodies pile up, wrongs are righted, lessons are learned. When Mosley's good, he's really good. And Sometimes I Wonder About You is one of his good ones. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Mosley's fifth Leonid McGill mystery features plenty of New York City crime and McGill punishment to keep readers going late into the night.

Doubleday, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385539180

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Mother of Eden

by Chris Beckett


Hundreds of "wombtimes" after the events of Dark Eden, the descendants of two stranded astronauts have multiplied and spread across the face of their sunless world. Civilization is divided into two kingdoms: the followers of John Redlantern, who first broke the rules of Family by leaving Circle Valley; and the followers of David, who hunted John with Eden's first soldiers.

Starlight Brooking lives in Knee Tree Grounds, an island fishing village famed for its boat-making skills. Knee Tree villagers are neither Johnfolk nor Davidfolk, but descendants of Jeff, a friend of John who sought an isolated spot to escape the conflict engulfing Eden. That isolation prompts wanderlust in Starlight. She and a few friends journey to a Davidfolk trading post to sell boats and see "Veekle," the crashed spaceship John Redlantern found at the end of Dark Eden.

There she meets dashing Greenstone Johnson, heir apparent to New Earth, a kingdom of Johnfolk across the ocean called Worldpool. Starlight is seduced by Greenstone's stature and wealth of a strange metal. Greenstone is similarly smitten. He offers Starlight the chance of a lifetime: to travel back across the ocean with him, to become queen of New Earth.

Mother of Eden is a satisfying sequel. Chris Beckett uses the intoxicatingly imaginative world of Eden for the allegorical exploration of issues like class, religion and gender roles. Readers who have already read Dark Eden will enjoy returning to Beckett's bioluminescent world. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: Humankind has spread across sunless Eden, bringing all the follies of civilization with it.

Broadway Books, $15, paperback, 9780804138703

Archangel

by Marguerite Reed


Xenobiologist Vashti Loren has tried to move beyond the tragic death of her husband four years ago by taking rich hunters into the wilds of Ubastis, a carefully managed colony planet that only selected people are allowed to populate. But sometimes it's not enough to hide from the past.

Loren also studies the predators she hunts, scanning their physical and genetic makeup to add to the general knowledge of the planet's ecosystem. She spends her off time raising her young daughter, Bibi, and participating in Ubastis council meetings. When her longtime friend Moira smuggles a male soldier (a BioEngineered ASsault Tactition, or "Beast") onto the planet as part of a larger plan to fight against unwanted colonization, Vashti's past, including the horrific death of her husband, comes back to haunt her. It's uncertain she can keep it together long enough to find the truth behind recent events.

Vashti is one of the few trusted with deadly weapons in this vegetarian, violence-averse society. Does her need to put herself in harm's way show some sort of death wish? Will she be killed when on safari by one of the massive carnivores she hunts? Will she save Ubastis from Earth's over-colonization plans? Will she discover her husband's true wishes for the future of their planet before it's too late?

Author Marguerite Reed's first full-length novel, Archangel, presents readers with a fully formed, well-considered universe populated by believable characters and with a strong yet flawed female hero science fiction fans will love rooting for. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A thought-provoking story about intelligent human beings who try to rise above their own emotional distress to create the best society they can, even with the rest of humanity against them.

Arche Press, $16, paperback, 9781630230111

Food & Wine

Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World's Greatest Tea

by Jeff Koehler


Darjeeling tea is a lot like fine wine. For most people, the flavor is so light they aren't able to truly taste it unless they've worked hard at refining their palate. Although Darjeeling is rarely drunk in its home country, tea enthusiasts claim that it is the best tea on earth (that's certainly the reason why it's the most expensive). In Darjeeling, food and travel writer Jeff Koehler (Spain) takes a magnifying glass to the practice and history of growing the tea, tracing a line from the early efforts of British colonizers to create a staple crop on the edge of the Himalayas, to the modern plantations in a brutal battle with climate change and the industrialization of India's economy.

The book is a quick primer about the British in India, a guide to the cultivation of tea and even provides recipes at the end. Koehler manages to touch on all aspects of Darjeeling without ever coming across as didactic or plodding. By quoting tea traders, plantation owners and connoisseurs, he gives the tea trade (especially the aspects run by native Indians) ample room to share its voice, which is particularly affecting in the chapters discussing how changes in climate and agriculture practices have made growing tea in the region so difficult in the 21st century. The book is probably best for foodies, but anyone with an interest in India or international trade will find Darjeeling a light (pun intended) read. --Noah Cruickshank, marketing manager, Open Books, Chicago, Ill.

Discover: An illuminating history of the greatest tea on earth.

Bloomsbury, $27, hardcover, 9781620405123

Biography & Memoir

Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering

by Rosemarie Freeney Harding, Rachel Elizabeth Harding


With Remnants: A Memoir of Spirit, Activism, and Mothering, Rosemarie Freeney Harding (1930-2004) leaves a legacy of spiritual wisdom and rich cultural history. Co-written with her daughter, Rachel Elizabeth Harding, an assistant professor of Indigenous Spiritual Traditions at the University of Colorado, the book recounts their family's lineage from enslavement in Georgia to a vibrant black community in Chicago, and back to the South again, where they were influential in the civil rights movement. After years as a social worker, Rosemarie became a lifelong activist, founding Mennonite House (one of Atlanta's first integrated community centers), traveling to Nicaragua to support nonviolent resistance to U.S. interference, and visiting Tibet, where she learned how the Dalai Lama embodied Buddhist teachings in the face of Chinese persecution. She was deeply interested in world religions, and attributed her work to her spiritual roots--a blend of Christianity and Southern folk mysticism, with traces of other indigenous beliefs.

Remnants can be read in many ways: as a discussion of spirituality through the lens of the African American experience; as a guidebook for aspiring activists; as a compelling argument for a more compassionate, community-minded world; as a tribute to mothering in all its forms; and, amid all of these, the story of one person's life. It is the sort of book one could return to in times of need, finding solace in the memories, poems, short fiction and dreams Rosemarie and Rachel use to tell their fascinating story. --Annie Atherton

Discover: The memoir of civil rights activist Rosemarie Freeney Harding, co-written with her daughter, Rachel Elizabeth Harding.

Duke University Press, $24.95, paperback, 9780822358794

Last Man Off: A True Story of Disaster and Survival on the Antarctic Seas

by Matt Lewis


In 1998, Matt Lewis signed on as the scientific observer for a South African deep-sea fishing boat, the Sudur Havid. It was his first job since graduating as a marine biologist. The 38-man crew was headed to the Southern Ocean during the Antarctic winter in search of the large Patagonian toothfish, more commonly known as Chilean sea bass.

What unfolds in crisp and descriptive prose is a harrowing account of life at sea for the men on that crowded, old ship, which had seen better days. Lewis includes comprehensive details about the process of baiting and setting the miles-long fishing line, followed by a look at the collection and processing of toothfish, which are flash frozen at sea. He also offers fascinating scientific observations of the many other types of fish that the vessel catches, as well as the flocks of birds he sees so far out at sea. He juxtaposes this with passages about the men he's been sailing with for several months, making them solid and identifiable characters. And then, when disaster strikes, he speeds up the pace so that readers wind up in a can't-turn-the-page-quick-enough marathon to find out what the next giant wave brings for these heroic men. For those who enjoyed Moby-Dick or The Perfect Storm, Lewis has written a great addition to the library of books that pit men against the sea. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: An on-the-edge-of-your-seat true story of a fishing boat disaster.

Plume, $17, paperback, 9780147515346

Nature & Environment

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness

by Sy Montgomery


Readers who think of the octopus as only a sea-dwelling monster or a seafood delicacy should prepare to be astounded by naturalist Sy Montgomery's (The Good Good Pig) peek into the lives of these reclusive, intelligent creatures.

The moment she met a giant Pacific octopus called Athena at the New England Aquarium, Montgomery fell in love. She knew the basics about octopuses--they can change their color, regrow limbs, taste chemicals through their skin, squeeze through quarter-sized holes, lift 30 pounds with a single sucker, and engage in play and problem-solving behaviors--but wanted to know more. Although Athena died of old age soon after their meeting, the "alien's kiss" of her tentacles so captivated Montgomery that when a new octopus arrived, she continued visiting and formed relationships with aquarium staff as well as their eight-legged charges. In her quest better to understand the world of these graceful invertebrates, Montgomery eventually became certified to dive to meet octopuses in French Polynesian coral reefs and the Gulf of Mexico, attended the Seattle Aquarium's Octopus Symposium and spent countless hours with octopuses Octavia, Kali and Karma at the New England Aquarium.

Montgomery's enthusiasm for her subject is contagious. Always lyrical and at times almost worshipful, her descriptions of her encounters with these charming cephalopods and their surprising capabilities will make readers fall hard for an animal many regard with horror--and long to walk arm in arm, in arm, in arm. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: A naturalist's quest to understand the mysteries of the intelligent and elusive octopus.

Atria, $26, hardcover, 9781451697711

House & Home

Knit Wear Love: Foolproof Instructions for Knitting Your Best-Fitting Sweaters Ever in the Styles You Love to Wear

by Amy Herzog


Even for experienced knitters, sweater knitting can be riddled with pitfalls. Less forgiving than hats or scarves, and demanding significant amounts of time and yarn, sweaters require a commitment. And the custom-fit aspect of a sweater pattern can be intimidating: so many numbers to crunch, with no guarantee of a perfect fit. In her second book, Knit Wear Love, clothing designer Amy Herzog continues to demystify sweater knitting by offering a range of customizable patterns and practical tips.

Herzog (Knit to Flatter) begins by showcasing eight broad styles: vintage, classic, modern, sporty, bohemian, romantic, casual and avant-garde. She asks readers to think about their "sweater personalities" and which type of sweater suits their taste. Then, she offers eight "meta-patterns" spanning a range of popular sweater silhouettes. Each pattern can be customized to fit several style types or embellished with distinctive details. (All eight patterns are also offered in a range of sizes, reflected in the body types of the models who appear in the book.)

Herzog's patterns include ample diagrams, schematics and fill-in-the-blank worksheets to help readers visualize their perfect sweater--whether it's a classic cardigan, a bold striped pullover or a sporty vest. In the book's introduction, Herzog asserts, "Fashion, in our real lives, is about clothing that drops seamlessly into our daily experiences, that's creative, fits us perfectly, and is intimately personal." With Knit Wear Love, readers can design and knit sweaters that fit them--and Herzog's criteria for everyday fashion--to a T. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Knitwear designer Amy Herzog's second book demystifies the process of knitting a custom-fit, flattering sweater.

Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, $24.95, paperback, 9781617691393

Children's & Young Adult

I Am Princess X

by Cherie Priest, illus. by Kali Ciesemier


In her first novel for young adults, Cherie Priest (Boneshaker) introduces Libby Deaton and May Harper, who unite to create the comics character Princess X. The story quickly becomes a gripping mystery after Libby mysteriously disappears and May becomes obsessed with finding her.

Libby and May meet in fifth grade at recess. Libby begins doodling with chalk. When a younger child asks Libby to draw a princess, May suggests, "Give her a sword," and Princess X is born--a brave girl who can combat ghosts as well as human villains. Then, at age 13, Libby and her mother are in a crash that lands them in Seattle's Salmon Bay. But Libby is missing from the car, and May's recurring dream suggests she escaped--despite the later discovery of a body bearing Libby's waterlogged ID.

Three years later, May spies a sticker with Princess X on it. Could Libby still be alive? May hires a computer hacker named Trick to help her, who turns out to be a Princess X groupie, and shows May Princess X's secret web comics. The more May reads, the more convinced she is that Libby is alive.

In a clever innovation, Priest seamlessly integrates Kali Ciesemier's comics within the prose narrative. Each new episode of Princess X reveals further clues and a terrifying reality for their creator. Ciesemier's portrait of Princess X achieves a sense of both anxiety and bravery. Priest demonstrates that creative teamwork of the kind shared by Libby and May leads to an intimate knowledge of one's collaborator. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Cherie Priest's first YA novel combines the mystery of a missing person case with comics panels that reveal clues to her whereabouts.

Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, $18.99, hardcover, 240p., ages 14-up, 9780545620857

Wherever You Go

by Pat Zietlow Miller, illus. by Eliza Wheeler


Pat Zietlow Miller's (Sophie's Squash) elegant text urges adventure yet assures readers that they can go home again. Eliza Wheeler (Miss Maple's Seeds) visualizes a gorgeous golden-hued road trip, over hill and dale, bridges and streams, as the bike-riding rabbit hero strikes out and makes friends along the way.

Miller's second-person narration keeps the rabbit's gender neutral, allowing all readers to identify with the rabbit: "If you yearn for the ocean or wish for a stream,/ roads bring you closer to reaching your dream." Wheeler augments the journey theme with a series of double-page scenes that show the rabbit's approach on the left, and departure on the right; so we see an owl flying while carrying a valise and making eye contact with the rabbit on the left, and by the right-hand page, the owl is traveling in the rabbit's bike basket. The serpentine route allows readers easily to find the rabbit from the front and side views. The two acquire mouse passengers headed downstream in a boat, then part ways a bit later. Wheeler alters the perspectives, as the rabbit and owl wave from a bridge to the mice in their boat below. While the narrative headings (e.g., "Roads...reach"; "Roads...merge") call attention to themselves, the rest of the text smoothly integrates the metaphors of travel.

Children will enjoy searching for the rabbit on each spread, while adults will appreciate the sage nuggets (e.g., on life's bridges: "Choose to cross over./ Follow your heart"). Just the book for graduates of lower elementary school right up through college. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: An elegant picture book ideal for graduation, urging adventure while assuring readers that they can go home again.

Little, Brown, $17, hardcover, 32p., ages 8-up, 9780316400022

How to Draw a Dragon

by Douglas Florian


Rhyming couplets offer a diverse cast of child artists advice in Douglas Florian's (Poem Runs: Baseball Poems and Paintings) tongue-in-cheek picture book.

A child pulls a slumbering dragon, snoutfirst, through his neighborhood in a red wagon, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. "Drawing dragons isn't hard. Drag a dragon to your yard," says the accompanying text, which opens the book. A swirl of green paint indicates grassy rings around homes surrounded by picket fences, while gray and yellow pastels mark the sidewalks and roadways. Collage elements include a snail and peacock. The rhyming couplets continue in the next yard, belonging to a boy carrying a T-square, colored pencils and other tools ("Dragons may be large in size. You'll need lots of art supplies"). In the third scene, however, a pink dragon in a circle, like an overlarge napping kitten, rests on a rooftop as a child draws from a perch on the dragon's back ("Dragons, when they wake, are grumpy./ and their heads are rather bumpy"). Florian varies the color schemes and perspectives: a girl sketches within a dragon's mouth; a redheaded boy draws another's claw as the dragon, in turn, draws the boy. One girl holds an umbrella to deflect a dragon's sneeze, while another boy toasts marshmallows in a dragon's fire. Always, the children draw and sketch.

The culminating foldout spread delivers a lovely surprise that reinforce's art's ability to capture a moment for posterity. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A gallery of dragons, introduced in rhyming couplets and drawn by a cast of child artists.

Beach Lane/S&S, $17.99, hardcover, 42p., ages 4-8, 9781442473997

The Boy Who Saw
by Simon Toyne
ISBN-13: 978-0062329752
William Morrow
07/04/2017


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Simon Toyne
 

In THE BOY WHO SAW and your other thrillers, there is a richness to the atmosphere, to your descriptive passages. Is that a priority in your writing? 

“I do work very hard on the language because I think it’s as much part of the enjoyment of reading as following the story and a key part of the storytelling. Writing for TV, which I did for nearly 20 years, is all about structure and dialogue so you never get to exercise your descriptive muscles as far as languages goes, which was one of the reasons I wanted to try writing novels. But whenever I describe things in my books, I always try and do it in the most efficient way possible so as not to get in the way of the story or the pace, which are paramount in thrillers. For setting, I normally make a place up so that I can have free license with it.  For this book though I felt I needed to anchor it in reality as much as possible because of the theme of learning the lessons of history, so I used a town in France called Cordes-sur-Ciel, which I know very well as I live there for some of the year.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

ALSO FEATURED ON THE the big THRILL…
 

DEADFALL by LINDA FAIRSTEIN: In the 19th in the Alexandra Cooper series, the assistant DA teams up with two police officers after the shocking killing of a major public figure, but her investigation takes her deep into the dangerous predator spheres of the city, from civic zoos to the highest offices in city government. Read more at The Big Thrill.

EXILE by JAMES SWALLOW: The bestselling author returns with his protagonist Marc Dane in an action thriller that takes readers from vicious Serbian gangs to disgraced Russian generals and vengeful Somali warlords, as Dane sees a disaster coming and struggles to be the one who can stop it in time. Find out more here.

SEEING RED by SANDRA BROWN: New York Times bestseller Brown tells a story of a TV journalist on the trail of a big story, an exclusive interview with a shadowy hero who led survivors to safety out of a bombed hotel. But getting the story puts her in greater danger than she ever thought possible. Learn more at The Big Thrill.

THE GOOD DAUGHTER By KARIN SLAUGHTER: In her new novel of psychological suspense, Slaughter delivers a cold-case file story sure to grip readers: 28 years after her mother was killed and her father left devastated in a small town, a lawyer faces violence in her town again, and memories of a shocking truth. Visit The Big Thrill for more. 

DARK LIGHT DAWN by JON LAND & FABRIZIO BOCCARDI: In this supernatural thriller about a global epidemic, a man who built a life for himself as a Navy SEAL finds himself in the middle of a rogue rescue operation leading to a sinister apocalyptic plot. Read more here.

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