Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima

Take a Storytime Adventure into the World of Jessie Sima

Quotation of the Day

Children's Literature: 'Foundations of the Imaginative Life'

"I believe that children's literature lays the foundations of the imaginative life of a people, and that every child deserves to have access to a reading haven.... Literature plays a unique role in helping us to interrogate who we are as a society; it has the power to make us understand what it means to be human, and it offers us that most subversive of things--pleasure."

--Author and publisher Siobhán Parkinson, who has been named
Ireland's first children's laureate, in the Guardian

 

 


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Perfectly Pegasus by Jessie Sima


News

Notes: Kindle Book Updates; Specialty Bookshops in Cambridge

Amazon's ability to update books on its Kindle e-book reader "could be used both for good and bad purposes," the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog suggested, noting that the company occasionally sends Kindle customers messages "letting them know that an e-book they had purchased 'contained some errors that have been corrected.' The notes come with an offer from Amazon to wirelessly download an updated version of the book--with the owners' permission."

"I've had goofs in my hardcovers in the past, but we were never able to fix them until the next printing or edition, and no way to get the changes to people who had already bought the book,” said F. Paul Wilson, author of An Enemy of the State, a book in which there had been an error during the process of converting to Kindle format.

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Harvard Square's "oft-overlooked specialty bookstores" were showcased by the Harvard Crimson, which advised readers "to peruse the city’s streets and read between the buildings."

"There are probably less than 10 places in the country that could do what I do in Cambridge,” said John C. Petrovato, owner of Raven Used Books, where the strongest section is philosophy. "I don’t fetishize about books in the same way other people do; for me, the book is really about the content. It’s not really about the first edition."

Patrick Carrier, co-owner of the Globe Corner Bookstore--which specializes in books for travelers--takes "great delight in people finding interesting and obscure books on our shelf. There’s a tremendous amount of effort that we [put] into it, and it only works if interesting customers come in and find interesting things."

Schoenhof’s Foreign Books "claims eager Harvard language students, eccentric expatriates, cultured intellectuals, and former First Lady Laura Bush among its patrons," the Crimson wrote. 

"There’s no other place now in this area, in New England--probably in the country--that we’d be able to survive, especially given the challenges independent bookstores face nowadays," said Daniel Eastman, the bookshop’s general director.

For poetry readers, Grolier Poetry Book Shop is legendary. Owner Ifeanyi A. Menkiti said his decision to purchase the shop in 2006 "was more like a labor of love. If you had money to invest, the last thing you really wanted to do was put it into a bookstore.… There’s so much that poets can do so we can accelerate the voices together. That’s what got a crazy old man with the bookstore, when everyone is running away from it."

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Sadly, Great Northwest Bookstore, the Portland, Ore., store that was severely damaged by fire May 2 (Shelf Awareness, May 3, 2010), is being torn down and all the books ruined by water are being removed, beginning today, and will be pulped, according to the Oregonian.

Owner Phil Wikelund said that he has no insurance on the building. "With the level of loss I have sustained, my ability to maintain stock and a business place will be greatly limited."

Wikelund plans to host a benefit and book sale to address the cost of demolishing the building. He has also created an account to help in the effort, called Phil's Fire Fund, located at the On Point Community Credit Union. The address is P.O. Box 3750, Portland, Ore. 97208.

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The Google book settlement breaks international laws and treaties, according to Cynthia Arato, a lawyer representing authors in New Zealand, Italy, Austria and other countries. Arato wrote that the agreement "eviscerates copyright owners exclusive rights" to approve the reproduction of their books, Bloomberg reported.

The deal "would violate an internationally respected copyright treaty from 1886 and allow exceptions for copyright holders in Australia, Canada and the U.K. that run counter to a World Trade Organization accord," Arato argued.

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Bookstore bucket brigades are springing up everywhere. In the wake of Clinton Book Shop's team effort last weekend (Shelf Awareness, May 11, 2010), an e-mail newsletter from the Annapolis Bookstore, Annapolis, Md., sent out a call to customers for help moving inventory today to the shop's new location: "Join us for a Book-It-Brigade.... Bring your red wagon, your biceps, or send your hard working garden gnome.... Many hands make light work.... We'll be sending boxes down the street to our new location at 35 Maryland Avenue. Pizza Party afterwards!"

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Book designers were asked by the Guardian to explain why books "are routinely given completely different covers abroad, often with baffling results."

For example: "What possible discussions took place in Germany, for instance, when publishers first received the manuscript for Martin Amis's House of Meetings--a novel that describes the misery of life in a Russian gulag--and set to work on a cover that featured six figures body-popping in the windows of a modern apartment block? What prompted Italian book designers to give junior wizard Harry Potter a hat shaped like a mouse, and why did the French opt against the monochrome design that jacketed Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything Is Illuminated in the U.K. and the U.S., concocting instead a watercolor of somebody fondling a woman's breasts?"

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Iran's Writers Association issued a statement reporting that a number of prominent publishing houses have been banned from the Tehran Book Fair. According to Radio Free Europe, licenses of several publishers have been cancelled and some publishers have been summoned by security officials.

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Obituary note: Comic book illustrator Frank Frazetta died Monday. He was 82. In his obituary, the New York Times called Frazetta "an illustrator of comic books, movie posters and paperback book covers whose visions of musclebound men fighting with swords and axes to defend scantily dressed women helped define fantasy heroes like Conan, Tarzan and John Carter of Mars."

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The San Francisco Chronicle showcased "10 Books to read for Asian Pacific American History Month."

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Goal-oriented reading. In anticipation of this summer's World Cup, the New York Times featured a reading list of the year's best soccer books.

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NPR's What We're Reading list this week includes The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis, Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush, The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern and Walk in My Shoes: Conversations Between a Civil Rights Legend and His Godson on the Journey Ahead by Andrew Young and Kabir Sehgal.

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The U.S.'s next top former-supermodel-turned-author could be Tyra Banks, who signed a deal with Delacorte Press for a series of fantasy novels about the modeling world. Reuters wrote that Banks will write three books and has already finished the first, Modelland, "about a teen girl in a make-believe society at an academy for exceptional models called Intoxibellas."

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Everything you know about "siphon" is wrong. The Guardian reported that "surely the most persistent scientific howler in the history of the English language" is the fact that dictionaries have cited atmospheric pressure rather than gravity as the primary force at work in siphoning liquids.  

Dr. Stephen Hughes, a physics lecturer at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, discovered the error while doing research. "An extensive check of online and offline dictionaries did not reveal a single dictionary that correctly referred to gravity being the operative force in a siphon," he said.

 


Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima


BEA Preview: IDPF Digital Book 2010

The International Digital Publishing Forum is sponsoring IDPF Digital Book 2010 on Tuesday, May 25, a one-day conference at the Javits Center. Topics range from broad e-overviews to digital nuts and bolts. For a full program, click here.

Among the panels:

Welcome to the E-book Revolution, the opening session, 8:30-9 a.m. will review e-book events of the past year and impact of IDPF's ePub standard. Speakers include the executive director and officers of the Forum and conference moderator Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive.

From 9 to 9:45 a.m., Tyler Ruse of LibreDigital, Daihei Shiohama of Voyager Japan and Michael Tamblyn of Kobo offer "success stories from around the world" at the Global Digital Book Community panel.

From 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., a panel called Taking the "Agency Model" Out for a Spin: New E-book Rules of the Road for Publishers looks at the agency model of selling e-books, made famous earlier this year with the introduction of the iPad. Participants include digital distributors and e-book resellers: Erica Lazzaro of OverDrive, Bob LiVolsi of BooksOnBoard and Andrew Weinstein of Ingram Content Group.

From 2:15 to 3 p.m., the panel consisting of Matt Shatz of Nokia, Corey Podolsky of enTourage Systems and Peter Balis of Wiley will make predictions for next year and beyond. At a time when "hundreds of new devices, business models, and supply channels will be competing for their share of the billion dollar book market next year," including next generation Smartphones, netbooks tablets, and other media devices and innovations, the panel will present a few entries that should be winners.

Workshop sessions address, among other topics, e-book sales and marketing and how editors and authors can work together to create "powerful e-books."


Image of the Day: Book & Author & Doggie Party

Last Friday at the Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, Mass.: Susannah Charleson, author of Scent of the Missing: Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), signed books with her Golden Retriever partner, Puzzle (lower left), and bookseller Lesley Van Kirk.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Game from Where I Stand

Today on Fresh Air: Doug Glanville, author of The Game from Where I Stand: A Ballplayer's Inside View (Times Books, $25, 9780805091595/0805091599).

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Tomorrow morning on Good Morning America: Jane Buckingham, author of The Modern Girl's Guide to Sticky Situations (Avon, $19.99, 9780061776359/0061776351).

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Tomorrow morning on Fox and Friends: Laura Bush, author of Spoken from the Heart (Scribner, $30, 9781439155202/1439155208).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Gail Sheehy, author of Passages in Caregiving: Turning Chaos into Confidence (Morrow, $27.99, 9780061661204/0061661201).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Sam Lipsyte, author of The Ask (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25, 9780374298913/0374298912). As the show put it: "A comic wild card, Sam Lipsyte explains why, in the midst of all his scandalous anger and shenanigans, it's the shape of a great sentence that keeps his interest in writing fiction at fever pitch."

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Tomorrow night on the Daily Show: Ian Bremmer, author of The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations? (Portfolio, $26.95, 9781591843016/1591843014).

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Tomorrow night on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson: Dave Barry, author of I'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood (Putnam, $24.95, 9780399156502/039915650X).

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Tomorrow night on Jimmy Kimmel Live: Beth Ostrosky Stern, author of Oh My Dog: How to Choose, Train, Groom, Nurture, Feed, and Care for Your New Best Friend (Gallery, $25.99, 9781439160299/1439160295).



Movies: Night Train to Lisbon; Twilight's Money Issues

Bille August (Goodbye Bafana) will direct Night Train to Lisbon, an adaptation of Pascal Mercier's novel, which has sold 2.5 million copies worldwide, including two million in German-speaking territories, Variety reported. Filming is set to begin later this year on location in Portugal.

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Money issues are delaying the announcement of the final Twilight film project, which will reportedly be split into two parts. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Summit Entertainment "is close to finalizing agreements with leads Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner, all of whom will get big raises to return for a fifth installment of the vampire romance saga."

Director Bill Condon is also on board, but "Summit is having a harder time locking in some of the franchise's secondary characters. Deals for Peter Facinelli (who plays Carlisle Cullen) and Billy Burke (Bella's father, Charlie Swan) are done, but we're told the actors who play the Cullen kids (especially Kellan Lutz and Ashley Greene) are trying to sink their teeth into bigger paydays that, at least at this point, the studio behind the billion-dollar franchise is unwilling to provide. 'We may have a situation where one of them is thrown out on the street to make a point,' says a source close to the dealmaking," the Hollywood Reporter wrote.

In another cost-cutting move, Summit is also considering a location move to Louisiana. The first installment was shot in Portland and the second two in Vancouver and Italy. 

 


Music: Muse on Twilight Saga: Eclipse Soundtrack

"Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)" by Muse, Stephenie Meyer's favorite band, is the first song confirmed to be on the Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack album. Rolling Stone reported that "the soundtrack is available for pre-order on Amazon, and Twi-hards have already pushed the release to Number 25 on the current Amazon Music Bestsellers list without even knowing the rest of the track list."

 



Books & Authors

Awards: Children’s Choice Book Awards; Rea Award

Winners of the third annual Children's Choice Book Awards--a component of Children's Book Week--were announced by the Children's Book Council (CBC), in association with the CBC Foundation, last night at a gala event in New York City.

James Patterson was named author of the year for Max, a Maximum Ride Novel (Little, Brown), and Peter Brown won the illustrator of the year for The Curious Garden (also Little, Brown).

Award-winning titles included Lulu the Big Little Chick by Paulette Bogan (Bloomsbury USA) in the k–2 category; Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf/Random House) in the 3rd–4th grade category; Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renée Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster) in the 5th–6th grade category; and the teen choice was Catching Fire (The Second Book of the Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Press).

Children and teens nationwide cast more than 115,000 votes at bookstores, school libraries and at BookWeekOnline.com. The awards ceremony was hosted by Mo Willems, winner in the k–2 category last year.

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Mary Robison has won the $30,000 Rea Award for the Short Story, given annually for making a "significant contribution to the discipline of the short story form." Robison is the author of four story collections. The Associated Press reported that judges Andrea Barrett, Amy Hempel and Jayne Anne Phillips praised her stories for "their lean, cool ferocity and their wry takes on people in pivotal moments."

 


David Almond and the Art of Transformation

British author David Almond received the 2010 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award at the Bologna Book Fair in March. With his first novel, Skellig, published in the U.S. in 1999, he introduced the strange bird- or angel-like being of the title, whom young Michael and his new friend, Mina, nurse to health. The author has continued to link otherworldly and real present-day events in books such as Kit's Wilderness, set in a shuttered mining town in which the children's make-believe game of "Death" takes on haunting overtones; Heaven Eyes, which stars a ghostlike girl with webbed hands; and Clay, in which two boys play god with a creature made from clay. Almond has also written a collection of autobiographical vignettes, Counting Stars, and picture books, his most recent being The Boy Who Climbed into the Moon (Candlewick, $15.99, 9780763642174/0763642177, 128 pp., ages 8-12, April), illustrated by Polly Dunbar. Here David Almond talks about his life and work.

The Hans Christian Andersen Award jury cited your "unique voice as a creator of magic realism for children." Do you think of your approach to storytelling as magic realism?


Well, that phrase has been used various times over the years; as soon as someone tries to categorize your work, you resist it. I'm certainly influenced by Marquez and Borges and Calvino, so I can't throw off that label entirely. But for me, the primary thing about my books is the realism. They're straightforward, ordinary people in ordinary places, but inside them are extraordinary things.

With your first novel, Skellig, you introduce that idea of the real and the magical co-existing. Did you know that you would write a novel when you began that story?

I'd written short stories for adults and one adult novel rejected by every single U.K. publisher, then stories again. When I started Skellig, I didn't know what it was. I knew it was a short novel, and in the first few pages I realized it was for children. It wasn't planned at all.

Was Felling, the coal-mining town of your childhood, the inspiration for Kit's Wilderness?

It was, definitely. When I was growing up, all the mining was finished by then, but we used to play by the coal mines, next to the monument to the 1812 pit disaster. The landscape is very like the landscape of County Durham, which is just beyond Felling.

In both Skellig and Kit's Wilderness, you have a character who acts as a kind of conduit between the present and this other world--Mina served that role for Michael in Skellig, and Allie does that in Kit's Wilderness.

Mina was a total surprise to me when she came into the book--she arrived unannounced. I didn't plan to write her, she came from somewhere in the depths of my imagination. She was the most important character in Skellig, and a muse for me as I was writing the book. Allie in Kit's Wilderness also developed to my surprise, her dancing and her lightness, and the way she connected the real and the magical world. I suppose what they both do is make the boys whole. Without them, the boys wouldn't be as strong, wouldn't be able to tell the story.

In your books, storytelling almost seems to be a means of survival, for Heaven Eyes especially, but also for Michael in Skellig, and Kit in Kit's Wilderness. Do you think storytelling is important to childhood?

Writing a book is like growing up. You only find the story by looking back at it. It's like exploring and discovering and finding the means to go forward as a child, which is very much like story to me. I do think that stories are fundamental to human experience and human society. Particularly in Kit's Wilderness I was deliberately exploring that. Story holds us all together and takes us forward into the future.

In your more recent books illustrated by Polly Dunbar, you've revisited some of your signature themes--but with a lighter touch. Does your daughter have something to do with that?

Yes! I read many picture books with her, and I realized that there are so many fantastic authors and illustrators in that area. When I wrote My Dad's a Bird Man, my daughter was seven or eight. I was disturbed by the way the market was rushing toward YA books and leaving behind kids of that age. Picture books for me were a way to write differently, lighter and faster, stripping away the narrative--and to be funny! When Clay came out, a review said, "David Almond is obviously devoid of hope...." That surprised me because I thought Clay was rather funny. That spurred me to write My Dad's a Bird Man.

You thought Clay was funny? I found the character of Stephen horrifying.

I thought Stephen was horrifying, too. The darkness dominates. The great thing about kids is they accept stories in all sorts of forms, and I'm always challenging myself to move in different ways. I wrote the story [for My Dad's a Bird Man], and Shoe Baby is so lovely, I said [to my publishers], "Oh, it would be great to have Polly Dunbar do it." I had the feeling that her vision would somehow match mine.

Your essay "Angel of the North," for the Guardian, tells how two boys showed you the way to transform Skellig into an opera. What is it like for you to hand over your story for someone else to interpret?

It's great. You work with someone you trust, just like working with Polly [on the picture books], you trust her to do fantastic stuff. When I did Skellig for the stage, I learned so much about the story from watching the actor act it out. I love the process of collaboration and transforming story into different forms. The Skellig play is coming to the New Victory [in New York City] in March 2011.

Your next book is My Name Is Mina. What brought you back to her?

Ever since Skellig came out, people have said, "Will there be a sequel?" And I thought, there's no way to do a sequel. But when the 10th anniversary edition came out, Beverly Horowitz at Random House said, "We'd like a little something extra to include." And I thought, "I'll write a couple pages of Mina's notebook," and it was as if Mina said, "Oh come on, it's taken so long." So My Name Is Mina is a prequel. It finishes at the point where she meets Michael for the first time. When people ask me, "Who's your favorite character?," Mina is the one I kept thinking of.

In your books, you grapple with the paradoxes of being human, the tension between creation and destruction, morality and religion--especially in Clay.

You don't choose your subjects or your themes, they come and get you. Ever since Skellig, all those oppositions, dark and light, the problems of morality and religion, it's almost like the stories are ways of working out these things. To do it for children seemed natural because these questions are very close to children, and especially adolescents. What happens to us after death? I think it's like that for children when you're growing up; the questions you ask are the big questions.

It does seem as though we lose track of the big questions when we enter adulthood, doesn't it?

Because we realize that the questions are unanswerable. There's a tendency to turn away from them, to say they're boring or beyond solution. One of the things about writing for children is you look at the world through their eyes, and the world remains astonishing. I haven't got a clue what it is, and it seems to me more and more beautiful, but more and more unanswerable.--Jennifer M. Brown



Shelf Starter: Cro-Magnon

Cro-Magnon: How the Ice Age Gave Birth to the First Modern Humans by Brian Fagan (Bloomsbury Press, $28, 9781596915824/ 159691582X, March 2, 2010)

With all the recent publicity about DNA samples indicating that some Neanderthals may have interbred with modern humans (Cro-Magnons), these are opening lines of a book we want to read:

Four dots move along a riverbank in a black and gray Ice Age landscape of 40,000 years ago, the only sign of life on a cold, late autumn day. Dense morning mist swirls gently over the slow-moving water, stirring fitfully in an icy breeze. Pine trees crowd on the riverbank, close to a large clearing where aurochs and bison paw through the snow for fodder. The fur-clad family moves slowly--a hunter with a handful of spears, his wife carrying a leather bag of dried meat, a son and daughter. The five-year-old boy dashes to and fro brandishing a small spear. His older sister stays by her mother, also carrying a skin bag. A sudden gust lifts the clinging gloom on the far side of the stream. Suddenly, the boy shouts and points, then runs in terror to his mother. The children burst into tears and cling to her. A weathered, hirsute face with heavy brows stares out quietly from the undergrowth on the other bank. Expressionless, yet watchful, its owner stands motionless, seemingly oblivious to the cold. The father looks across, waves his spear and shrugs. The face vanishes as silently as it had appeared.

As light snow falls, the family resume their journey, the father as always watchful, eyes never still. During the climb to the rock shelter, he tells his children about their elusive, quiet neighbors, rarely seen and almost never encountered face-to-face. There had been more of them in his father's and grandfather's day, when he had seen them for the first time. Now sightings are unusual, especially in the cold months. They are people different from us, he explains. They do not speak like we do; we cannot understand them, but they never do us any harm. We just ignore them....

Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals: this most classic of historical confrontations, sometimes couched in terms of brutish savagery versus human sophistication, has fascinated archaeologists for generations. On the one side stand primordial humans, endowed with great strength and courage, possessed of the simplest of clothing and weaponry, seemingly incapable of fluent speech, with only limited intellectual powers. On the other are the Cro-Magnons, the first anatomically modern Europeans, with articulate speech, innovation, and all the impressive cognitive abilities of Homo sapiens. They harvest game large and small effortlessly with highly efficient weapons and enjoy a complex, sophisticated relationship with their environment, their prey, and the forces of the supernatural world. We know that the confrontation ended with the extinction of the Neanderthals, perhaps about 30,000 years ago. But how it unfolded remains one of the most challenging and fascinating of all Ice Age mysteries. --selected by Marilyn Dahl



Book Review

Children's Review: The Space Between Trees

The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams (Chronicle Books, $17.99 Hardcover, 9780811871754, June 2010)



A murder mystery propels the plot of Katie Williams's first novel, but the assured writing and the psychologically penetrating portrait of the two main characters play equally strong parts in this page-turner. Each Sunday morning, 16-year-old narrator Evie times her morning paper delivery so that she lays down the last paper at just about the time Jonah Luks pulls up in his pick-up truck. His job is to collect dead animals from the Hokepe Woods. "He is assembled so correctly," Evie thinks. She stores up the details of their encounters so she can report back to what she calls "the Whisperers" ("pastel sweaters, home-packed lunches, unpierced earlobes, and unbreached hymens") at school on Monday. Evie does not consider the Whisperers friends, "but in the cafeteria, I've got to sit somewhere." That Sunday morning, however, something else takes precedence: Jonah finds a dead human body in the Hokepe Woods. Evie learns that her classmate and childhood friend Elizabeth "Zabet" McCabe has been murdered.

Williams perceptively captures the swirl of conflicting thoughts and actions that accompany such a violent event in this quiet, affluent neighborhood. Evie, as a "renter" and outsider, finds herself drawn to Hadley Smith, Zabet's best friend and leader of the "so-called bad girls" at Chippewa High. Evie discovers that Hadley doesn't think of her bad-girl crowd as friends, either ("They suck," she whispers to Evie). The author demonstrates how this unlikely pair is drawn together by their grief and loneliness. Just a few days past the funeral, Evie notes as she walks the hallways at school, "Already people are letting Zabet's death fade like the facts from last week's test." Hadley entices Evie to join her on the edge. They attend a party with college boys they don't know; Hadley emerges from the smokers' field off campus with mysterious bruises and scratches. She convinces Evie to begin a list of suspects for Zabet's murder, suggesting they take matters into their own hands. Hadley is as frightening as she is magnetic, but Evie is desperate to keep this first-time best friend, and Evie's mix of naiveté and intelligence make Hadley's grip on her all the more believable. In the end, solving the mystery takes a back seat to handling Hadley, who becomes as terrifying to Evie as the threat of any murderer at large. Gripping.--Jennifer M. Brown



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