Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio

Quotation of the Day

Keys to Book Biz Resilience: Demographics & Legal Downloads

"The resilience of the book business may be because of demographics. Like jazz, which is less prone to illicit downloads than hip-hop, books cater to older, less Internet-savvy customers. Publishers also avoided the recording industry’s mistake of wasting precious time suing customers and have rightly focused on promoting cheap and easy ways for them to download books legally."

--From "Read On," an editorial in the New York Times.


Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan


Notes: Scrapping B&N's Nook 3G; Snowbound E-Handselling

The rumor mill is spinning regarding Barnes & Noble's Nook 3G e-reader. Based on "hard evidence from within B&N," Engadget reported the device "is being discontinued, with sales to seemingly continue until stock is exhausted," and noted the company "is encouraging retail partners to not send out any bulk orders for the Nook 3G, as there simply won't be sufficient quantities to fulfill those orders."

While such a move would reduce B&N's Nook line to two models--the Nook Wi-FI and the Nook Color--PC magazine wrote that the "news comes just after Barnes & Noble announced it has sold 650,000 subscriptions on the Nook Newsstand, and an earlier boast that the Nook (all models) is the company's best-selling product ever. If the Engadget report is true, presumably both developments were due to the Nook Color, announced in October."

A B&N spokesperson wouldn't comment on Engadget's claim, but told PC magazine "3G sold out during the holiday season so there is plenty of demand for it."

Electronista suggested that the Nook 3G "may also have been the victim of the e-reader's increasing role as a secondary reader. Many iPad owners have e-readers as well, and many buying competing readers like the Kindle have now skewed either towards the cheaper Wi-Fi models or else towards color readers and tablets."

Cnet News offered a conservative response, pointing out that "it would seem odd for Barnes & Noble to discontinue the 3G/Wi-Fi version of the Nook and tell customers they could only get the Wi-Fi-only version. The fact is, Amazon offers both a 3G/Wi-Fi Kindle and Wi-Fi-only Kindle, and Barnes & Noble would most likely continue to offer models that compete with what Amazon's got."


Cool winter e-handselling idea of the day: In an e-mail newsletter sent yesterday to "snowbound customers," R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., featured a selection of "great reads for a cold day, all under $15!" and suggested that this "is going to be the perfect week to snuggle up to a great book and let the wintery weather pass us by. While we always prefer to visit with you at the store, if getting in your car and braving the slush seems too daunting, not to worry. You can still find tons of great e-books online for immediate download to your iPad, Nook, Android, laptop--everything except the Kindle! And for many e-books, our prices match Amazon's and Barnes & Noble's."


David Gaunt, owner of gleebooks in Sydney, has been appointed a Member of the Order of Australia "in recognition for his services to the arts," the Northern District Times reported. Gaunt is a former v-p of the Australian Booksellers Association and was a foundation board member of the Sydney Writers' Festival from 1998 to 2003. Gleebooks has been named bookseller of the year five times.

"I have great people that I work with and rely on, and that has allowed me to have more free time to be involved in Australian literature and promote good writing," he said. "There is no point in being a bookseller if you are not going to go that extra yard and connect readers with authors and promote literature."


"India's booming publishing market is proof of the physical book's staying power," participants at Asia's DSC Jaipur Literary Festival told Reuters, which reported that "hundreds of book lovers attended a debate on the fate of printed books in the sun-drenched grounds of a former palace as part of the free five-day event."

"Books matter more in India than anywhere else we publish them," said John Makinson, chairman and CEO of the Penguin Group. He also noted that "the pressure on physical bookshops in countries like the United States--where bookseller Borders Group Inc. is in talks to secure a $500 million credit line--doesn't exist in India, adding that books have a key role to play in Indian society," Reuters wrote.

"In India books define and create the social conversation," Makinson said. "In China, the books that sell well are self-improvement titles. Popular books in India are of explanations, explaining the world. The inquisitive nature of India is unique."


The Indiebound app was one of the "coolest book apps for reading, getting free e-books and organizing a digital library" featured by the Huffington Post, which asked, "Are book apps books, or something else? It's like being at the birth of a new form. We love books, but these apps are getting pretty cool."


Gangsta reader. The New Yorker's Book Bench blog showcased Julian Smith's portrait of a reader with 'tude in his video "I'm Reading a Book," which offers an intense biblio-threat: "Don’t you eva interrupt me while I’m reading a book!"


What are they reading at the Sundance Film Festival? A Huffington Post slide show featured celebs and their books, including Twilight star Chaske Spencer picking up a copy of Steve Berry's The Emperor's Tomb. The Good Books Good Cause literacy campaign donated books to the gifting suites.


Flavorwire offered some helpfu DIY tips regarding what to do with your books after the Internet apocalypse: In "preparation for the fast-approaching day when physical books will be completely obsolete, we’ve prepared a DIY guide to how you can turn your dusty old doorstops into useful, functioning household items."


"On one occasion, Woolf went shopping for a book she was meant to review after losing her original copy. When told at a bookstore that they weren’t stocked with this particular book, she grew angry and caused a scene. Woolf found the supposedly lost copy of the book in her bag when she returned home." This is just one of "59 Things You Didn't Know About Virginia Woolf" featured by Flavorwire.


Concerning Borders's sales of its Day by Day Calendar business to Calendar Holdings, mentioned yesterday: some of the Day by Day kiosks will continue to operate until mid-February.


Book trailer of the day: Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French (Doubleday).


Laurence Hughes is joining the Free Press as associate director of publicity. He has held senior publicity positions at HarperBusiness/Collins, NAL and Dell/Delacorte. Most recently, he has worked as an independent publicity consultant.



Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Wi6: A Practical E-Book Discussion

When Google eBooks launched in December, independent booksellers applauded the American Booksellers Association's alliance with the tech giant that promised to make member stores players in the e-book game. But many questions remain for booksellers, so it was no surprise that the two sessions billed as "a practical discussion" of e-books were packed last week at the Winter Institute.

ABA's Matt Supko, who moderated the bookseller panel, cited a figure in a Verso survey of consumers: 81% of respondents said they'd buy e-books from indie bookstores if pricing is competitive, but noted "a real recognition issue" when it comes to consumers seeing bookstores as a convenient source of e-books.

Jill Miner of Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, Mich., told attendees: "If you feel like a deer in headlights, then I am your elected representative on this panel." Clark Kepler, whose Kepler's Books and Magazines is located in Menlo Park, Calif., the heart of Silicon Valley, called himself "the canary in the coal mine" when it comes to e-books. And Paul Hanson of Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, Wash., put the metaphors aside and talked about what his store has done to get out front of the e-book wave.

Last fall, Eagle Harbor started to host "community conversations" and "technology petting zoos" to help its customers understand e-books and the devices. The store invited experts--including Adobe, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble employees (who also happen to be customers)--to facilitate philosophical discussions about e-books. "It was very even-handed," he said. "We stressed the information more than an agenda." 

Eagle Harbor customers gasped when they discovered how little the store made from an e-book sale of The Autobiography of Mark Twain ($2.50 per copy in the example on a handout). They also were surprised that Amazon and B&N have been subsidizing e-book sales to underprice the competition. "In the end, the conversation naturally led them to say, 'there's no way I'm buying a Kindle,' " Hanson reported.

Five years ago, loyal customers and a group of investors stepped in to keep Kepler's from going out of business. But now, "we've seen our customers who want to be loyal to us not be loyal," said Kepler. Some 25% of Kepler's customers use e-readers. "Everybody and their brother has an iPad now," he added. 

Like other booksellers, Kepler's is working to publicize that it sells e-books on its website, and it spotlights the Google eBooks logo. Kepler also plans to borrow Apple's genius bar idea, and make sure his employees are expert facilitators of e-book purchases. 

After the launch of Google eBooks, Miner had every employee at Saturn Booksellers download an e-book from the store's website. "Once they did it, they were a lot more comfortable talking about it to customers," she said.  

Saturn is in rural county with a population of about 20,000 that skews older. Miner sent out e-mail blasts and took out newspaper ads before Google eBooks launched, inviting her customers to come and talk to her about e-books and e-readers that many of them wanted to buy or would be getting as holiday gifts. "I let them know we are a resource," she said.

Miner suggested the ABA use handouts to help members be more e-book aware, including a "1-2-3" on the various devices. She also suggested IndieCommerce offer a free e-book for customers to download to demonstrate how easy it is to buy from indie booksellers. 

During the q&a session, a bookseller suggested that bookstores can do all the things they are good at with print books--like staff picks and personalized customer service--with e-books as well. Hanson said that for every e-book sale Eagle Harbor makes, a personalized message is generated through IndieCommerce. Of course, there are still glitches to be worked out with Google.

Bundling--selling several formats of a book simultaneously--came up, but Kepler called this a publisher decision. When someone suggested a buy-back program for Kindles, Hanson quickly remarked, "Get those guns off the street!"

All joking aside, Hanson said he tells customers that with e-readers, we are still in a "Betamax moment." But even if one device has yet to become dominant, e-books are not going away and booksellers want to be ready to have practical discussions about them with their customers. "ABA's heard a great need for more materials" to promote websites and train staff and employees on e-books and e-readers, Supko said. "That's a big part of ABA's education this year."--Bridget Kinsella


Old Books on Front St.: Extreme Makeover

When Old Books on Front St. in Wilmington, N.C., reopened this past December in a new location, it marked the end of a dramatic, 11-month odyssey for owner Gwenyfar Rohler.

In January 2010, the building that housed the store was condemned by the city and had to be vacated within 30 days--and more than 175,000 books moved into a nearby storage facility.

Some 300 people turned out to lend a hand, even rolling book-laden shelves-on-wheels down the street.

"I call it the Miracle on Front Street," said Rohler. "I thought we might have 30 or 40 people come, and that if we started at seven or eight in the morning we might have half the books out by the end of the day." But by mid-afternoon the job was done, and the laborers headed to the brewery across the street where they were treated to beers on the house.

The building's doomed fate was a blessing in disguise of sorts. With increasing rent, Rohler had decided it was time to purchase a building to house the used bookstore. She was considering making an offer on the current space when she got the news that it had been condemned. "Somebody upstairs was looking out for me and did not let me make an offer," said Rohler. "So this began the most exciting and frustrating year."

After looking at "every piece of available commercial real estate in Wilmington" and settling on one, Rohler received a phone call from the city's mayor, who was selling a c. 1910 building that had been in his family for decades (it housed a soda fountain during Prohibition). A complete renovation of the two-story Front Street building included adhering to guidelines established by Wilmington's Historic Preservation Commission, of which her father is a member. An ornately pattered tile floor "was the only thing worth saving. I refer to it as my quarter-of-a-million-dollar floor," said Rohler.

In addition to recycling bookshelves from the previous storefront, 2,000 feet of new shelving was constructed--some of it with wood from the set of a film that had wrapped. The Wilmington area is a major filmmaking center, and Rohler sells and rents books for use in television shows and movies.  

"The film industry in an incredible boon for us. It's what really pays the bills, and we move heaven and earth for them. If they call and need something by seven the next morning, I'll stay up all night to make it happen," said Rohler. The store recently supplied 30 feet of business and economic books for the TV show One Tree Hill and a selection of titles for the feature film Bolden, about jazz musician Charles "Buddy" Bolden. "We actively work on these relationships," noted Rohler. "But when you need 60 feet of books, hardback, pre-1930, in the color scheme of red, brown and black, we're your only game in town."

Construction materials for the renovation were purchased from a family-owned lumber yard and a hardware store in town. Rohler writes a column called "Live Local, Live Small" for the alternative weekly encore magazine. "As a small business owner, I have made a commitment not to buy anything off the Internet, from a chain store or a chain restaurant," Rohler said. Her column documents her experiences shopping local.

Rohler is also the author of Your Health Is in Your Kitchen: Why Momma Made Chicken Soup and The Promise of Peanuts: A Real-Life Fairy Tale, a picture book about the invention of a peanut sheller used in developing countries to fight hunger and aid commerce. (The device was created by Rohler's husband, Jock Brandis, a former film technician and humanitarian, and proceeds from the book benefit the nonprofit Full Belly Project.)

Old Books on Front St. is now in its third location since opening in 1982, all of which have been on downtown Wilmington's main thoroughfare. When bookshop founder Dick Daughtry retired in 2007, he approached Rohler and her family--longtime patrons of the store--about buying the business. "In retrospect, he had been dropping broad hints for a while," said Rohler.

After its extreme makeover, the store now has a separately owned and operated cafe, Sugar on Front St., with lunch counter-style seating; a staging area for events; and Rohler's "dream storage space" on the second floor, along with a rental apartment. Another intriguing feature is a jukebox programmed with literary-themed recordings. Customers can purchase or use store credit to hear selections like Hamlet's soliloquy; poems read by Shel Silverstein, Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg; and songs sung by Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

When it came time to restock the shelves at Old Books on Front St.'s new locale, there was yet again no shortage of helping hands. Some turned out a second time, along with first-timers who previously had been out of town or couldn't lift heavy boxes.

"For our community to rally around us the way they have has created a feeling of investment for many people that they did not have before," said Rohler. "They'll come to us before a chain or online because they helped us move and have an incentive for our success. It's quite a gift."--Shannon McKenna Schmidt


Media and Movies

Media Heat: The Winter of Our Disconnect

This morning on the Today Show: Susan Maushart, author of The Winter of Our Disconnect: How Three Totally Wired Teenagers (an a Mother Who Slept with Her iPhone) Pulled the Plug on Their Technology and Lived to Tell the Tale (Tarcher, $16.95, 9781585428557).


Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Steve Harvey, author of Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep, and Understand a Man (Amistad, $24.99, 9780061728990).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture (Harper, $25.99, 9780061711527).


Tomorrow on Fox's John Stossel: David Eisenhower, co-author of Going Home to Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969 (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781439190906).


Tomorrow on the View: Dr. Mehmet C. Oz, co-author of YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy (Free Press, $14.99, 9781416572374).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Brian Greene, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos (Knopf, $29.95, 9780307265630).


And the Oscar Goes to... Books

Four of the 10 best picture nominations for this year's Academy Awards, which will be presented February 27, are based on books. Adaptation has once again proven to be an Oscar-pleasing formula in the major categories:

The Social Network, based on The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich, was nominated for best picture, best director (David Fincher), best actor (Jesse Eisenberg) and best adapted screenplay (Aaron Sorkin).

127 Hours, based on Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, was nominated for best picture, best actor (James Franco) and best adapted screenplay (Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy).

True Grit, based on the novel by Charles Portis, was nominated for best picture, best director (Joel Coen and Ethan Coen), best actor (Jeff Bridges), best supporting actress (Hailee Steinfeld) and best adapted screenplay (the Coen brothers).

Winter's Bone, based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, was nominated for best picture, best supporting actor (John Hawkes), best actress (Jennifer Lawrence) and best adapted screenplay (Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini).


As part of its Shooting Script series, Newmarket Press will publish the screenplays next month for two other movies that drew significant Oscar attention in major categories: The King's Speech earned 12 nominations, including best picture, best director (Tom Hooper), best actor (Colin Firth), best supporting actor (Geoffrey Rush), best supporting actress (Helena Bonham Carter) and best original screenplay (David Seidler). The Kids Are All Right was nominated for best picture, best actress (Annette Bening), best supporting actor (Mark Ruffalo) and best original screenplay (Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg).

There is also a movie tie-in book from Sterling: The King's Speech: How One Man Saved the British Monarchy by Mark Logue and Peter Conradi.


Word & Film did a little "spelunking" of the Oscar nominations and highlighted several deserving movies that were snubbed, including book-to-film adaptations of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The Ghost Writer by Robert Harris and I Love You Phillip Morris by Steve McVicker; as well the original screenplay for Please Give, which will also be published next month by Newmarket's Shooting Script series.

While voicing approval of the best adapted screenplay nominees, Word & Film noted that "some Oscar handicappers will likely scold the Academy for overlooking Aaron Stockard, who adapted The Town from Chuck Hogan’s novel Prince of Thieves. Either way, there is no runt in this litter."


Television: POE

CSI: Poe. Well, not quite, but ABC has greenlighted the hour-long drama pilot POE, "a crime procedural that follows Edgar Allan Poe as the world's first detective, using unconventional methods to investigate dark mysteries in 19th-century Boston," the Hollywood Reporter wrote. Chris Hollier is the scriptwriter and will serve as supervising producer, with Dan Lin as executive producer.


Movies: The Perks of Being a Wallflower; The Hunger Games

Emma Watson (Hermione in the Harry Potter films) and Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief) are in talks to co-star in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, based on Stephen Chbosky's novel. Chbosky will direct his own script, with Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich and Russell Smith producing, Variety reported.


Lionsgate has set a March 23, 2012 release date for The Hunger Games, director Gary Ross's adaptation of the first novel in the trilogy by Suzanne Collins. A cast has not yet been named. Variety reported that Lionsgate "acquired the feature rights in 2009 and set the project up with Nina Jacobson at her Color Force banner with Collins adapting her own novel."


Books & Authors

Awards: Costa; DBW Publishing Innovation; Dilys Shortlist

Jo Shapcott's poetry collection Of Mutability, written after her treatment for breast cancer, was the surprise winner of the £35,000 (US$55,362) Costa book of the year award, besting Edmund de Waal's memoir The Hare With the Amber Eyes, a "firm favorite in the literary world--and among the bookies," the Guardian reported.

Chair of judges Andrew Neil said "a clear majority" of the jurors voted for Of Mutability and praised it as "very special and unusual and uplifting.... so accessible, and the subject matter was so relevant that if any poetry book could capture the spirit of life in 2011, this would be it."

The Costa book of the year shortlist also included category winners The Hand that First Held Mine by Maggie O'Farrell (novel), Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace (children's book) and Witness the Night by Kishwar Desai (first novel).


Winners of the inaugural Publishing Innovation Awards were honored during the opening ceremony of the Digital Book World 2011 Conference + EXPO in New York City this week. The awards recognize the best e-books and book apps based on their merits in the areas of origination, development, production, design, and marketing. This year's category winners are:

Fiction: Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition (PadWorx Digital Media)
Nonfiction: Logos Bible Software (Logos Bible Software, Inc.)
Children’s: A Story Before Bed (Jackson Fish Market)
Reference:  Star Walk for iPad (Vito Technology Inc.)
Comics: Robot 13 (Robot Comics)


The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association's nominees for this year's Dilys Award, given annually to the mystery titles of the year which the member booksellers most enjoyed selling, are:

Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill (Soho)
The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton (Minotaur)
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane (Morrow)
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Once a Spy by Keith Thomson (Doubleday)
Savages by Don Winslow (S&S)

The Dilys Award is named in honor of Dilys Winn, founder of the first specialty bookstore of mystery books in the United States. The award will be presented at the Left Coast Crime convention in March.


Book Brahmin: Bradford Morrow

Bradford Morrow is the author of numerous acclaimed works of fiction and poetry, including Ariel's Crossing and Giovanni's Gift. His latest work is The Diviner's Tale (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, January 20, 2011). He is the founder of the literary magazine Conjunctions, which he has edited since 1981. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2007 and is a professor of literature at Bard College in New York.


On your nightstand now:

I'm reading Barry Cooper's Beethoven for research; Gulliver's Travels to check in with a favorite forebear; and Karen Russell's Swamplandia! because I know she'll help me overcome my fear of alligators.

Favorite books when you were a child:

Dr. Seuss, A. A. Milne, and Dumas's The Three Musketeers were early favorites, and I still own my childhood copies. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, illustrated by the great Jules Feiffer, was my adolescent life-changer. I mean, please, is there anything more scary-meaningful than Milo's quest for Rhyme and Reason?

Your top five authors:

This question's always impossible. Here's my list for today. Five authors who started writing a generation or two ago whose work I love are William Gaddis, Thomas Bernhard, Cormac McCarthy, William Gass, John Ashbery. Five contemporaries whose work I adore are Elizabeth Hand, Brian Evenson, Richard Powers, the aforementioned Karen Russell and the late David Foster Wallace, but this is just the listing tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Book you've faked reading:

I don't know that I've ever faked reading a book, but some years ago gave up faking liking The Great Gatsby. I know I'm seriously in the minority on this, but there it is.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The answer to this used to be Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy before All the Pretty Horses graduated him from cult status to fame and fortune. These days I recommend Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop to anyone who hasn't read it. Well-known as she is, I still think she's wildly underappreciated.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I've bought many a New Directions book with cover design by Alvin Lustig because I loved his evocative abstractions. I wasn't buying books or anything else back in 1934, but I definitely would have picked up Henry Roth's Call It Sleep if I'd been alive back then, published by the long-gone Robert O. Ballou, with the wraparound painting by Stuyvesant Van Veen. Astonishing evocation of downtown New York, with barflies wearing bowlers, a fancy floozy, a construction worker sitting on a skyscraper girder, kids playing marbles on the street, and other urban images. It's far and away my favorite dust jacket of the 20th century. Any book with an E. McKnight Kauffer jacket also rules.

Book that changed your life:

The Recognitions, William Gaddis. And then his JR changed it some more.

Favorite line from a book: "My cow milks me"--Emerson's Journals.

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

Tristram Shandy and Beckett's trilogy. And Emerson's "Self-Reliance." Oh, and to read Catcher in the Rye for the first time again would be such a joy. And To the Lighthouse. Just goes on and on.

Book Review

Children's Review: Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children

Spinster Goose: Twisted Rhymes for Naughty Children by Lisa Wheeler (Atheneum Books, $16.99 Hardcover, 9781416925415, March 2011)

What child could resist a title like this? Everyone knows Mother Goose, but what of her spinster sibling who deals summarily with "naughty children" in a few choice soliloquies of her own?

Mother Goose, dressed in cheery checks and polka dots, introduces her severe-looking sister in the first poem as headmistress of a school "well designed/ to deal with uncouth urchins/ who have manners unrefined." Sophie Blackall (Big Red Lollipop; the Ivy and Bean books) lines up a handful of guilty-looking students, including an owl-headed boy and lamb-faced girl, and a pig-tailed human emitting a cloud of flatulence. Lisa Wheeler (Boogie Knights) sets up comical contrasts between the classic Mother Goose rhymes and the Spinster send-ups. The old standard ("Old Mother Goose,/ When she wanted to wander,/ Would ride through the air/ On a very fine gander") becomes "Old Spinster Goose/ never wanted to wander./ Instead, built a school,/ which is seated down yonder."

Slightly older children already familiar with the rhymes will most appreciate Wheeler's originality in such rhymes as "The Ditchers," starring Jack and Jill who have "ditch[ed] a boring class." In the second stanza, "When Jack fell down and broke his crown,/ Jill went to get the nurse./ Old Dame Dodd patched up his nod/ but that's when things got worse." Blackall pictures Old Dame Dodd as a Florence Nightingale–style frog, holding balloon-headed Jack and Jill by their necks. Across the gutter on the same spread in "The Bully," Georgie Porgie, rather than "kiss the girls," instead "poked preschoolers,/ took their ball./ Picked on people, weak and small." The artist casts George Porgie as a bulldog and dresses the preschoolers in union suits striped to resemble prison garb. She pulls the separate vignettes together by painting the preschoolers' ball the same blue as Jack's balloon head, and thus unifies the entire spread. A new spin on Mary with her little lamb as "The Fibber" ("Mary had a little lamb./ She said it was a horse./ But anyone with eyes could see/ it was a lamb, of course") and a hilarious satire of "Monday's Child" as the basis of a detention hall-studded cast of seven for the verse "Student of the Week" ("Monday's child insulted the tutors./ Tuesday's child hacked all the computers") are simply delicious. On the other hand, Mother Goose fans may be less likely to cotton to a rendition of "Baa Baa Black Sheep" ("The Swearer") that aces the first verse, then strays from the form by the third stanza.

Lesser-known rhymes such as "See Saw Margery Daw" often make terrific fodder for new interpretations: "Chew-chaw, Margery Daw./ This girl is a gum chewing master." The bubble-gum climax ("Oops!/ Too bad it exploded") culminates in Blackall's portrait of stunned Margery's face coated in tiny gobs of coagulated pink gum. Taking all of the 27 verses in sum, this is a stellar collection that will have children chanting in unison by the second or third read-through. Sure to become a dog-eared favorite.--Jennifer M. Brown


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