Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Random House Studio: Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Oxford University Press, USA: Spring Reads

Chronicle Books: Tap! Tap! Tap!: Dance! Dance! Dance! by Hervé Tullet

Minotaur Books: The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

Charlesbridge Publishing: Glitter Everywhere by Chris Barton, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat


HMH to Publish Some Amazon Titles

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will distribute in North America print versions of all adult titles published by Amazon's East Coast Group, which is headed by Larry Kirshbaum and will begin releasing titles this fall. The books will appear under Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's new New Harvest imprint.

The Kirshbaum operation is publishing narrative nonfiction, literary fiction, business books and children's/YA. Its authors include Tim Ferriss, Penny Marshall, Deepak Chopra and James Franco.

Under its Mariner imprint, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has published some books from Amazon's Seattle imprints and will continue to do so.

"We have had great success with previous Amazon titles, including The Hangman's Daughter, and we are thrilled to add New Harvest titles to the HMH list," said Bruce Nichols, senior v-p and publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's adult trade division.

Kirshbaum said the distribution agreement "enables us to broaden our distribution and get our books into more readers' hands."

Candlewick Press (MA): Have You Seen My Invisible Dinosaur? by Helen Yoon

Edgartown Books to Close

David and Ann LeBreton, co-owners of Edgartown Books, Edgartown, Mass., plan to close their 10-year-old bookstore on Martha's Vineyard later this winter. The Vineyard Gazette reported that the LeBretons own the building and will rent the space.

"We want to move away from the bookselling business. It's been a wonderful experience, and this just seemed like the right time," said LeBreton. "We would love to see somebody sweep in and put a bookstore in there. It's all set up for it."

The decision leaves Bunch of Grapes, Vineyard Haven, as the only bookshop remaining on the island, but LeBreton noted that he still believes there is room for two shops despite the challenges faced from Amazon: "For a bookstore on an island like the Vineyard, to do 60% of your business three months, I don't think we are that badly affected. Our Martha's Vineyard bookstore core audience is still in place."

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

Winter Institute 7: Indie Press Spotlight

At the final breakfast of the Winter Institute last week, John Evans, co-owner of Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland, Malibu and Brentwood, Calif., thanked the booksellers for such a big morning turnout, considering the many distractions New Orleans offers.

Evans gave a special nod to those who made merry at an Absinthe party sponsored by MP Publishing and an '80s dancing extravaganza at One Eyed Jack's spearheaded by the tweets of Random House's Ruth Liebmann. "I see a green haze back there," said Evans. "I wonder what time you got in." Then he got down to business, observing that "as booksellers," there is a certain "indie wavelength we share" with independent publishers.

Seven Stories publisher Dan Simon said it is a "great time for independents" with a "return to editorially driven quality books." In April, Seven Stories releases The Graphic Canon, Vol. 1: Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons, edited by Russ Kick. Calling Kick a "true Renaissance man," Simon said the three-volume project brings together "great comic artists with the great literature." More than 130 graphic artists are featured in the comprehensive reimagining of literature.

"Like a lot of you in this room, I was an English major," said Simon. As such, he said he often felt great works were often "entombed." These reinterpretations, he said, "remind us that these are books with guts, that are very earthy and human."

After thanking booksellers for supporting its past titles and its new Tonga imprint, Europa's Michael Reynolds presented Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman, a novel about a young American engineer overseeing a railroad in East Africa, to be released at the end of the month. "I knew I'd take it this book to Winter Institute as soon as I read it," said Reynolds. "And it doesn't even have an awkward title, " he added, nodding to its bestselling Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barberry.

Chelsea Green's Michael Weaver took a lighthearted swipe at his company's image, saying that he would take to calling most of its authors "tireless activists," as he presented works by two who clearly fit that bill: Michael Shuman (Local Dollars, Local Sense, Feb.) and Sandor Ellix Katz (The Art of Fermentation, May). Chelsea Green hopes to partner with booksellers to create local events for the former and welcomes an introduction by Michael Pollan in the latter.

The only nonprofit literary distributor in the country, Small Press Distribution offers titles that help indie booksellers have inventory that distinguishes them from chain stores, said the company's Meg Taylor. Among the works she highlighted: The Modern Predicament, essays by George Scialabba (Pressed Wafer), with a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, which gets to the "core of relevant current events" against the backdrop of the Occupy movement, and the Dorothy Publishing Project, a initiative publishing works of fiction and "near fiction" by (mostly) women writers, including Renee Gladman. "A black, lesbian poet writing fiction?" Taylor asked. "That's really SPD for you."

Tin House is known for translations and passion projects, and among the books Nanci McCloskey highlighted were: No One by Gwenaelle Aubry, with an introduction by Rick Moody, a "fictional memoir" by a daughter about a father with bipolar disorder; and Welcome to Paradise, the prize-winning book by Mehi Binebine, translated by Lulu Norman, which McCloskey said contained "the most shocking ending" she has read in "recent history."

Albert Whitman is known for publishing "issues books for children," and author Alison Formento and illustrator Sarah Snow follow up the success of This Tree Counts! with These Bees Count!, exploring the environmental ramifications of hive collapse. Margaret Coffee also promised Whitman would deliver a prequel to the Boxcar Mysteries that "explains how they got in the boxcar in the first place" and How to Be Friends with a Dragon by Valeri Gorbachev, because you never know when you'll need the "do's and don'ts" of dragons.

Children were not left out of the indie press picks at WI7. Neil Sedaka and son Marc have a new book coming form Charlesbridge in February, Dinosaur Pet, which revisits his hit song "Calendar Girl." Charlesbridge's Donna Spurlock also featured David McPhail's forthcoming Pig Pig Meets the Lion, by "the master of hilarious details," and Bambino and Mr. Twain by Priscilla Maltbie, about a special cat who might have enriched Samuel Clemens's old age.

Finally, in a Winter Institute first, Richard Mason, author of History of a Pleasure Seeker (Knopf, Feb.), presented his Orson & Co., a creator of digital apps, which he called a "groundbreaking advance in storytelling." While some booksellers wondered why an app publisher was part of the program, others were curious about how Orson's "digital originals" are distinguished from other book apps. The website previews the expansion of History of a Pleasure Seeker beyond the page.

From the indie press world to the indie bookseller world, Evans concluded: "There's lots to talk about." --Bridget Kinsella


GLOW: Avid Reader Press: My Name Is Iris by Brando Skyhorse


Image of the Day: Obviously Taken

Last night DIESEL, A Bookstore, Santa Monica, Calif., hosted the first signing for Taken by Robert Crais (Putnam), the 15th book in the Elvis Cole/Joe Pike series. Crais gave out 15 T-shirts to fans, many of whom happily had their picture taken with the author.


A New Bookseller's On-the-Job Education

Among some of the amusing 25 things learned on the job by the owner of a used bookstore:

"8. If you put free books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they're really free, no matter how many signs you put out. Someone else will walk in and ask if everything in the store is free.

"21. A surprising number of people will think you've read every book in the store and will keep pulling out volumes and asking you what this one is about. These are the people who leave without buying a book, so it's time to have some fun. Make up plots."

Check out the full list on

Book Sales: Near Record Price for Rare Audubon Edition

An extremely rare first edition of John James Audubon's The Birds of America was sold for $7.9 million at auction in New York City to a private American collector, Reuters reported. Francis Wahlgren, Christie's international head of books and manuscripts, said this was the third-highest price ever paid for a printed book at auction.

Media and Movies

Oscar's Reading List: Adaptations Dominate Nominees

Six of the nine best picture nominations for this year's Academy Awards, which will be presented February 26, are based on books, comprising an impressive reading list in Oscar's major categories:

Hugo, based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret, was nominated for best picture, best director (Martin Scorsese), best adapted screenplay (John Logan) and led the field with 11 nominations.

Moneyball, based on the book by Michael Lewis, was nominated for best picture, best actor (Brad Pitt), best supporting actor (Jonah Hill), best adapted screenplay (Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin) and earned six total nominations.

The Descendants, based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings, was nominated for best picture, best director (Alexander Payne), best actor (George Clooney) and best adapted screenplay (Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash).

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, was nominated for best picture and best supporting actor (Max von Sydow).

The Help, based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett, was nominated for best picture and best actress (Viola Davis), and garnered a pair of supporting actress nominations (Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer).

War Horse, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, was nominated for best picture and had six nominations overall.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, based on John Le Carré's novel, was nominated for best actor (Gary Oldman) and best adapted screenplay (Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan).

My Week with Marilyn, based on the book by Colin Clark, was nominated for best supporting actor (Kenneth Branagh) and best actress (Michelle Williams).

Albert Nobbs, based on the novella by George Moore, was nominated for best actress (Glenn Close) and best supporting actress (Janet McTeer).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, based on the novel by Stieg Larsson, was nominated for best actress (Rooney Mara).
And what about that lifetime achievement Oscar for film adaptations of J.K. Rowling's books? Entertainment Weekly noted the Academy Award invisibility cloak that was cast over Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (which only garnered nominations for art direction, makeup and visual effects) might be considered surprising, "especially since it was passed over for a nomination not only in the best picture race, but in most major categories. While 2003's The Return of the King, the final installment in the Lord of the Rings saga, was rewarded with the best picture statuette, it seems there will be no lifetime achievement award for the beloved and wildly popular Harry Potter series."

Media Heat: Elmore Leonard on Imus

This morning on Imus in the Morning: Elmore Leonard, author of Raylan (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062119469).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power (Basic Books, $26, 9780465029549).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Annie Leibovitz, author of Pilgrimage (Random House, $50, 9780375505089). As the show put it: "A wild ride of a conversation! Annie Leibovitz's first photo book of objects and landscapes, Pilgrimage, is a triumphant array of iconic images: Abe Lincoln's top hat, Thoreau's bed frame and Emily Dickinson's white dress. We talk about her opinions on capturing light, digital imagery and the art of distilling time."


Tomorrow on NPR's Talk of the Nation: Meg Keene, author of A Practical Wedding: Creative Ideas for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration (Da Capo Lifelong Books, $16, 9780738215150).


Tomorrow night on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell: RoseMarie Terenzio, author of Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss (Gallery, $25, 9781439187678).

Books & Authors

Awards: Costa Book of the Year

After a "fierce debate" among the judges, Andrew Miller's novel Pure was named winner of the £30,000 (US$46,685) Costa Book of the Year Award yesterday. The eight-member panel "was sharply divided" between Pure and Now All Roads Lead to France: The Last Years of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis, Reuters reported.  

Chair of judges Geordie Greig said that the Costa overall prize is difficult to judge because it pits the five winners of disparate genres against one another. The other category winners were debut novel Tiny Sunbirds Far Away by Christie Watson, poetry collection The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy and children's book Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

"It feels like you're comparing bananas and chicken curry," Greig said, adding that the task is akin to "a hockey player being judged against a free-style swimmer."

Chris Raschka and the Art of Rehearsal

On Monday in Dallas, the 2012 Caldecott Committee awarded Chris Raschka's A Ball for Daisy (Schwartz & Wade/Random House) its top prize. The picture book stars a dog named Daisy who lives in the moment, an apt heroine for a book creator whose artwork exudes spontaneity.


I'm thrilled of course! I'm totally unprepared for it, unaware and all those things.

In your interview on NPR Monday, you said the inspiration for A Ball for Daisy came when your son, then four, lost his ball to a dog. Many of your books deal with a mood or feeling. Does it take time to figure out how to convey that elusive quality?

They do often begin with a particular emotion at a particular time. Finding out how to put it into book form can take a long time. In this case, it took many years. I did make the initial dummy right around then. It's quite similar to what we ended up with, but initially I had only Daisy, so you'd just see hands coming in from the side or from above, and then slowly I brought in the girl who owns Daisy. I think that made it more concrete.

We see the world as Daisy does, full of feet and hydrants and the lower trunks of trees.

That was always my intent, to push the grownups and people up high or away, and keep it centered on the viewpoint of a little dog. Sort of incidentally, in retrospect, when I introduced the idea of a new ball, I realized that dogs are colorblind. Maybe I should have done this book in black-and-white.

Have you always wanted to work on a wordless book? Though you've done some with minimal text--Yo! Yes? has only 34 words.

I think at that time [while working on Yo! Yes?] the notion of a wordless book was in my mind. When I decided to do this particular idea from the point of view of a dog, it made sense to keep it wordless. A wordless book has its own challenges, especially challenges in pacing and movement. I always had in the versions I'd done some full spreads, some vignettes, but my original version had more spreads. Lee Wade suggested I put in a few more moments.

We loved the eight-panel spread of Daisy's meltdown after the ball bursts.

Ah, "the stages of grief" page. That was always for me the lynchpin of the book. That's always been in the book from the beginning.

You've tackled many different topics, but your artwork consistently maintains a feeling of spontaneity. How do you do that? We saw no pencil marks.

There are no pencil marks, not that there's anything wrong with pencil marks, but it is completely immediate. I do a lot of what my friend Vladimir Radunsky calls "rehearsing." I rehearse it and rehearse it and then do the finished work. It's kind of a mental trick I have to play on myself. Sometimes I think I should use really cheap paper. Oddly enough, if I don't use really good watercolor paper, oftentimes I fake it. Watercolor paper does help focus my attention. That's not to say I don't throw out a painting. I did a book called Fishing in the Air by Sharon Creech. I painted the same picture on the front and the back of each piece of paper. And it got me a little more relaxed. Sometimes when I sketch, I do four paintings of the same thing at the same time. You have to let it be loose and know you'll throw away three-quarters of them.

It looked as if you used ink only for Daisy's eyes, nose, mouth, paws and collar. Did you ink those in first? Or do you start with watercolors and then ink in?

The ink comes last. First is this wet on wet. Then the gray that is Daisy and the girl and some other elements. That's Chinese ground ink, which is kind of soft and sometimes brownish or bluish. Then the other color moments. The last thing is the heavy opaque--either the red of the ball or the black of Daisy's mouth and eyes and collar. I consciously try to paint with all parts of the brush at once, so the tip and the fat part of the brush are doing valuable work at all times. I so often forget that. I so often focus on the tip and think, "I'll fix what's going on at the other end of the brush later." But if I really focus on the whole brush at once, that's when it really works. I'm doing a book right now for Robie Harris, and I'm using oil crayons. I'm trying to get myself to use them the same way I use a brush.

Do you have a dog?

I grew up with dogs, but I don't have one now--I'm not sure I want that getting out.  I love lurking at the edges of a dog run. The real model for Daisy I saw come into a bar on 104th Street, very much like Daisy but a little scruffier. She cracked me up, that dog that day. The first Daisy was brown, but this dog that walked into the bar was white.

Do you like the structure of a 32-page picture book?

That's the great thing about picture books. You have a structure and you can push at the boundaries. If the boundaries are gone, it can deflate. It's like the three-minute song. I think that's why poetry so often works well with picture books. Poems are very heightened, usually a single emotion or a single idea that's conveyed or made vivid in 32 pages or 14 lines.

It's interesting that you released Seriously Norman!, your first novel and your book with the most words, the same year that you released A Ball for Daisy, your first book with no words. Were you working on them both at the same time?

Yes, in fact, very much at the same time. Doing the novel is a whole new world for me, but in some ways it's similar in the shaping. It's just with a novel you have to read the whole thing to see the shape of it. With a picture book, you can lay it all on the floor. In other ways, I think it's easier. There's only one way to write the word "dog" and there are so many ways to paint a dog. --Jennifer M. Brown


Book Brahmin: Alene Moroni

Alene Moroni is manager of collection development at the King County (Wash.) Library System, the 2011 Gale/Library Journal Library of the Year. KCLS circulated more than 22 million items in 2010. Moroni coordinates collection planning for the organization, leading a team of seven librarians and selecting titles for the popular Choice Reads shelves of current paperback releases in KCLS's 46 library locations. In addition, she is a yoga teacher, tea drinker, bicyclist, cat lady and moviegoer; she can often be found thrift shopping for clothes and chasing her cats around the house begging for affection.

On your nightstand now:

All the half-read conclusions of historical romance family sagas that I can't bear to see end: Johanna Lindsey, Kasey Michaels, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh. Along with the Position of the Day Playbook from 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Family Sabbatical by Carol Ryrie Brink and A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt. 

Your top five authors:

Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway, Sarah MacLean, Jennifer Crusie, Robert B. Parker. 

Book you've faked reading:

I don't know where to start with this one, as I fake reading almost anything that isn't a Regency historical romance. Many good readers' advisors fake reading everything, dipping in just enough to get the information necessary to connect readers with books effectively. I will confess to having written a paper using the Cliffs Notes of Oliver Twist in university if you promise not to tell my mother.

Book you're an evangelist for:

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. Read it. That is all.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I don't buy a lot of books for myself, but buy lots and lots and lots of books for libraries. I'm a sucker for sparkly things like the embedded jewels on the covers of those -ologies books, but am put off by movable parts as they don't wear well under heavy use.

Book that changed your life:

I gave a copout answer to this on Twitter a few months ago--"all of them, for the time I spent in their pages." It's a copout, but it's true.

Favorite line from a book:

It's hard to say. I love "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," but not so much because it relates to A Tale of Two Cities, but more that it evokes the whole feeling of being 15 and starting to realize there was more to books than just reading them, more to the world than the evening news, more to life than I'd imagined even in my vivid little mind, than that it's necessarily the best line ever written. Also, do plays count? If so, then "Exit, pursued by a bear" from Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale.

Book you most wish you could read again for the first time:

See above: favorites and evangelism.

Most recent "crossover" book:

In spite of claiming to read only Regency historical romances, I do love a gritty crime story now and again. Mo Hayder is the best writer you've never heard of for this type of thing.


Book Review

Children's Review: Extra Yarn

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-up, 9780061953385, February 1, 2012)

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen knit together a story of a girl named Annabelle who transforms her town with her gifts, and the abundance that grows from her generosity.

"On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled with yarn of every color." So begins Barnett's (Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem) gently humorous and uplifting tale. Annabelle knits a sweater for herself and for her dog, Mars, and "there was still extra yarn." When a boy named Nate makes fun of her and Mars ("You two look ridiculous," he says), Annabelle replies, "You're just jealous." Though he denies it, "it turned out he was." Nate and his pooch, sporting sweaters, look less mean and downright contented. Barnett's turn of phrase becomes a refrain of sorts, as Annabelle's boundless bounty of yarn becomes legendary, and she wraps classmates, townsfolk and even buildings in colorful wool. A greedy archduke tries to buy the box of infinite wool for upward of $1 million, but Annabelle turns him down. And when he plots to steal the box, he gets his just deserts.

Klassen's sepia-toned illustrations of wooden-plank fences, birch trees and clapboard houses make the rainbow-colored makeovers pop. He connects the sweater-clad villagers with a hanging colorful thread, as if he did not lift his paintbrush except to turn the page. It acts as a subtle metaphor for the common thread of Annabelle's kindness, which connects them all. Fans of Klassen's I Want My Hat Back who feared the fate of the rabbit in that book will be pleased to see the bear and rabbit standing side by side, snug in their sweaters. Barnett and Klassen prove that a heartfelt homemade gift can nearly always warm a hard heart. --Jennifer M. Brown


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