Also published on this date: Wednesday, October 1, 2014: Kids' Maximum Shelf: The Accidental Highwayman

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Viking: The Bookshop: A History of the American Bookstore by Evan Friss

Pixel+ink: Missy and Mason 1: Missy Wants a Mammoth

Bramble: The Stars Are Dying: Special Edition (Nytefall Trilogy #1) by Chloe C Peñaranda

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout

Charlesbridge Publishing: The Perilous Performance at Milkweed Meadow by Elaine Dimopoulos, Illustrated by Doug Salati

Minotaur Books: The Dark Wives: A Vera Stanhope Novel (Vera Stanhope #11) by Ann Cleeves


Amazon: Kid Gloves for Ryan Book; Disney Settlement?

Amazon, HachetteAmazon special treatment for national politicians?

The e-tailer, which has no qualms about seeking government grants and contracts, urging the Justice Department to sue competitors and expanding influence in Washington through Jeff Bezos's purchase of the Washington Post, is apparently playing favorites in its battle with Hachette.

The New York Times details Amazon's unusual approach to Rep. Paul Ryan's new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea, published by Twelve. At first, the title by the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2012 received the usual Amazon treatment for Hachette publications: no advance orders were allowed, and when the book was published August 19, only the audio version was listed as available.

Then Congressman Ryan complained on CNBC's Squawk Box on August 20, saying that the treatment of his book was "a very frustrating thing" and that "clearly Amazon is making kind of a power play here." Asked if Amazon was a monopoly, he said, "I don't know the answer to that question," adding that "if I were just a private citizen I would voice one straight opinion."

Soon thereafter, The Way Forward was clearly listed on Amazon and discounted competitively, which is a rare thing for most Hachette titles these days.


In a related story, Disney and Amazon "appear to be close" to resolving their nearly two-month-long dispute over terms, the Wall Street Journal reported, as indicated by Amazon quietly offering Disney DVDs for preorder again. The Journal emphasized that it's "unclear whether the two companies are finalizing a new long-term deal or have simply progressed far enough that Amazon was willing to make a concession."


Dominic Myers

Dominic Myers, former managing director of Waterstones, has become the head of Amazon Publishing in Europe, "with a brief to launch new European offices," the Bookseller reported, noting that Myers will be located in the company's headquarters in Luxembourg and "charged with managing Amazon's publishing operations in the U.K. and Germany, as well as the expansion plans."

Myers headed up Waterstones in the two years before the HMV Group sold it to Alexander Mamut in 2011, at which point James Daunt was appointed managing director. He most recently worked as a non-executive director for Anobii, which became E-books by Sainsbury's.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

New Owners for Best of Books in Oklahoma

Julie Hovis and Kathy Kinasewitz have sold Best of Books, Edmond, Okla., to Joe, Nan and Elena Hight, the Oklahoman reported.

Hovis and Kinasewitz have owned Best of Books for nearly 23 years and are retiring. Joe Hight worked at the Oklahoman for more than 25 years before moving to Colorado. There he was editor of the Gazette in Colorado Springs. He decided to return to Oklahoma after nearly two years because he and his wife wanted to return to their home state.

Joe Hight is the store's new president. His wife, Nan Hight, is the store's secretary. Elena Hight is v-p and general manager of day-to-day operations.

GLOW: Milkweed Editions: Becoming Little Shell: Returning Home to the Landless Indians of Montana by Chris La Tray

The Bookcase in Wayzata, Minn., to Close

bookcase wayzata closingThe Bookcase, Wayzata, Minn., will close October 18 after more than 50 years in business. In a letter to customers and friends posted on the store's Facebook page, owner Charlie Leonard made the announcement "with a great deal of sadness, disappointment and regret," adding: "This has not been an easy decision to make, but the challenges that we have faced--especially over the last couple of years--have become insurmountable. Changing shopping habits and the physical reality of the redevelopment and road construction that have been ongoing in downtown Wayzata for several years now have caused a dramatic drop in sales. It was a drop that we hoped we could weather--as we have a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm for what the 'new' Wayzata is going to look like in a few years. But, in the end, we can no longer afford to stay in business. It's that simple."

Leonard noted that while he has owned of the Bookcase for about six years, he has been working at the store since he was in college more than 16 years ago: "The Bookcase has been a part of my life for nearly my entire life, and having to be the person to make the decision to end it has been very painful."

Although the closing is "not a happy ending," Leonard wrote that "we all know that happy endings can sometimes seem too contrived and unfulfilling. So perhaps it's a fitting ending, because maybe the moral of the story is meant to challenge us in such a way that we will be a little different--perhaps a little better--the next time around."

The Bookcase's closing "feels like the death of an old friend," St. Paul author William Kent Krueger told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "At its heart, the Bookcase has been the essence of what a reading community is all about, a place where we've come together. We should look on this as we might the disappearance of a star from the sky. If we're not careful, that whole sky will soon be dark."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Four Weekends and a Funeral by Ellie Palmer

PRH Canada Moving Distribution to U.S.

Penguin Random House Canada plans to shift its distribution to the U.S. early next year. Quillblog reported that Penguin Canada "will no longer distribute its books from Pearson's distribution and operations center in Newmarket, Ontario." Effective February 2015, all Penguin Canada books will be distributed, along with Random House of Canada's imprints, out of PRH's warehouses in Westminster, Md., and Crawfordsville, Ind.

Osprey Sells Imprints Watkins, Angry Robot & Nourish

Osprey Publishing Group has sold imprints Watkins, Angry Robot and Nourish to U.S. entrepreneur Etan Ilfeld, the Bookseller reported, adding that all staff will keep their jobs following the sale.

Etan Ilfeld

Ilfeld also owns Watkins Books in London and is editor-in-chief of the Watkins Mind Body Spirit magazine. "Following the acquisition, he plans to form Watkins Media Limited, which will include magazine publishing, his bookshop and mobile app development," the Bookseller wrote.

"My ambition is to grow the Watkins brand into a diverse media company with inspirational books at its core," Ilfeld said. "Nourish's focus on wellbeing through food and drink makes it a natural fit with Watkins, and as a die-hard sci-fi fan, I'm thrilled about purchasing Angry Robot."


Image of the Day: Little Elliot's Big Day at Copperfield's

Last week, Copperfield's Books in Petaluma, Calif., hosted Mike Curato, author and illustrator of the picture book Little Elliot, Big City (Holt), for a full day of school visits, followed by an in-store author meet-and-greet (complete with cupcakes, a favorite of Little Elliot). Mike Curato is pictured here with Patty Norman of Copperfield's. 

Happy 40th Birthday, Town House Books & Cafe

Congratulations to Town House Books & Café, St. Charles, Ill., which celebrated its 40th anniversary recently. The Beacon-News reported that "longtime St. Charles resident David Hunt has always loved books. After majoring in music and working in his family's business, Hunt decided to take a chance on his dream of owning a bookstore."

"It was my go-to bookstore growing up," Hunt said of the shop he purchased in 1992 from founder Marilou Kelly. Though she "happily turned over the reins, she was not ready to leave Town House Books and stayed on until her retirement a few years ago. Sadly, Kelly passed away in July," the Beacon-News wrote.

Town House Books shared birthday celebration photos on its Facebook Page, and noted that Kelly's "dream for this bookstore continues even through the present tumultuous times in the book publishing and retail world. Thanks to our loyal customers we are still standing strong and hope to continue on for years to come in the spirit of independent bookselling!"

'Athens Power Rankings': Avid Bookshop's Janet Geddis

Janet Geddis, owner of Avid Bookshop, Athens, Ga., made Flagpole magazine's latest "Athens Power Rankings" for "cheerfully fighting the good fight against our Amazonian overlords." The top five list, which also included University of Georgia football player Todd Gurley and the rock band R.E.M., ranks "the top movers and shakers in the Classic City each week."

Personnel Changes at Highlights for Children

Mary-Alice Moore has been named v-p, publishing strategy and product development at Highlights for Children, a newly created position. She has been with the company for five years, most recently as v-p, editorial director, for book publishing.

Book Trailer of the Day: Best to Laugh

Best to Laugh: A Novel by Lorna Landvik (University of Minnesota Press), in which the stand-up comedian author plays Madame Pepper, Fortune Teller to the Stars, to offer solid reading advice to her clients.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lynn Sherr on Colbert

Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Tom Shroder, author of Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal (Blue Rider Press, $27.95, 9780399162794).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Dylan Landis, author of Rainey Royal (Soho Press, $25, 9781616954529). As the show put it: "Dylan Landis' novel Rainey Royal is a series of chronological short-stories following the lives of three vulnerable, precocious girls as they pass through adolescence in 1970s New York City. Landis' title-character, Rainey, takes the cake here. Lacking normal parental love, she finds purpose through her allure as a woman. It seems her very magnetism drew Landis to her: she first appeared in Landis' prior book Normal People Don't Live Like This, and one gets the sense Landis isn't through with her, or she isn't through with Landis. As such, Landis' readers are the recipients of her deep knowledge of her characters: her job, she says, is to lend them a voice."


Tomorrow on the Wendy Williams Show: Lara Spencer, author of Flea Market Fabulous: Designing Gorgeous Rooms with Vintage Treasures (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $25.95, 9781617690952).


Tomorrow on Ellen: Mario Lopez, co-author of Just Between Us (Celebra, $26.95, 9780451470232).


Tomorrow on Tavis Smiley: Martin Wolf, author of The Shifts and the Shocks: What We've Learned--and Have Still to Learn--from the Financial Crisis (Penguin Press, $35, 9781594205446).


Tomorrow night on the Colbert Report: Lynn Sherr, author of Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space (Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781476725765).

Movies: Inherent Vice Trailer

inherent vice trailerWarner Bros. has released the first official trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's Inherent Vice, based on the Thomas Pynchon novel, reported. The film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Josh Brolin, Benecio Del Toro, Katherine Waterston, Jena Malone and Eric Roberts. Inherent Vice opens December 12.

Books & Authors

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen: Digging a Hole

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen's first collaboration, Extra Yarn, earned a Caldecott Honor. Barnett has also collaborated with Jon Scieszka on Battle Bunny, illustrated by Matthew Myers, and written a number of picture books as well as his Brixton Brothers series of detective novels. Klassen won the 2013 Caldecott Medal for his book This Is Not My Hat, and also illustrated Lemony Snicket's The Dark. Here Barnett and Klassen discuss their collaboration on the tale of two brothers who seek the "spectacular" and find themselves in a situation, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole (Candlewick, October 14), reviewed below.

Mac Barnett
(photo: Sonya Sones)

Mac, you've said that Extra Yarn began with an image in Jon's portfolio. Was that the case with Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, too?

Mac Barnett:
I did write Extra Yarn with Jon in mind. [For this book,] we were having breakfast together in L.A. and we were talking about digging a hole. Anytime I do a picture book, for me to get excited about it, it needs a visual element. Jon started sketching on a napkin on the spot.

And did you come up with the idea of the type matching the ground level at that point, too?

Jon Klassen:
That was the hook for me, that the type would go down with the hole. We tried to go linear, but it worked better for the type to go where the brothers are. It was a happy accident that happened in the beginning, wasn't it Mac?

MB: Yes, I think it was an accident. We wanted to keep it nice and punchy at the beginning, and once you establish some trust and a rhythm, then you have more of a chance to have a longer text.

Those were the elements we got excited about. That ending was there from the start, too, not how it would be executed, but that they'd land in a place that looked similar but was a different place than where they started. I went off [from the diner] and wrote the manuscript but then, kind of unusually, we came back together. We worked super closely on this one.

Jon Klassen

How closely did you work?

: Jon and I tend to open up an audio link between our computers during the day. We did it while Jon was doing the rough for the book. Sometimes he'd have a visual idea he loved that the text didn't really support, so I'd create text that he wanted to have happen.

JK: Because so much was going on outside--in the dirt--we needed to keep in contact about it. Since the ending was so hooked up to all that stuff, it needed to talk to the other stuff. We had to keep digging together.

Was the dog always part of the story?

: The dog initially was left at the top, the way the cat is now. The camera showed that they'd dug and were about to fall through with their own weight. As soon as we brought the dog down, and knowing the things that were there, it really unlocked a lot of stuff.

MB: It changed everything. I thought, "This is it! The dog's coming along!"

JK: Of course, the dog wants to come along, and the cat stays behind and says, "You guys are crazy." If it's just them and they fall through, then it feels like a dream, and it might not have happened at all. The idea that the dog would prompt the breakthrough at the bottom, and with the dog being awake the whole time, we know they're experiencing it.

MB: The dog's an intensifier, rather than a double beat. He intensifies the frustration. When I read this aloud to kids, there's more shouting than with any other book. "NOOOO. I can't believe they missed all those gems!" The dog's saying, "There is a gem right here."

Are Sam and Dave brothers? We noticed after several rereadings that the animal cookies are wrapped in "their" grandfather's kerchief.

: That's the moment you learn their relationship. It's inferential. Jon said, to me, "These guys seem like brothers." I really liked that. The only thing keeping them from being brothers was the pronoun "his" for the grandfather's kerchief.

JK: It cleans up the universe a little for us, too. This way they live in the same house. As little detail as there is in the words, there's a complex relationship, one's leading the other. When I was little, I was sensitive to that kind of thing, as far as who's in charge and who's not in charge. Brothers are always dynamic, it's always changing, and it's such an interesting relationship.

MB: One of the big moments is that page turn where they've gone in two different directions around the gem, and that wasn't initially in the text, and Jon drew it and said, "Look at this one." I was so worried, I just didn't know if our guys would split up. We talked about it over the course of two days. It would be scary for them. It felt like a big deal. It just has to be a big deal for them, too. That seemed like a good reason to do it. That moment with Sam having a hand on Dave's shoulder--everything about their relationship is in that piece of art.

Jon, what made you decide not to show mouths on Sam and Dave?

: I avoid mouths a lot of times. When characters have dialogue, you're pinpointing a moment a little too exactly. It's hard to parse between your sensibilities and the story. I like the moments between the action. You rarely see the kids digging; they're always sitting, having dug. If you have them digging, you wonder where the pile of dirt is. If you don't show that happening, it doesn't come up as much.

MB: Time is an issue, too. For the book trailer, Jon and I dug a hole. It takes a long time; it's a lot of work. That's part of the illustrator's job, too. In Extra Yarn, when you turn the page and someone who wasn't wearing a sweater is wearing a sweater, each page turn allows for the passage of time. The mouths fit into that same rationale.

Let's talk about the ending. How do kids react when you read this to them?

: If I read it in front of a big group, the kids notice the tree first. It will spread from those few kids across the class. They'll point out all the differences they see. I'll say, "What do you think happened?" Usually the first thing kids say is, "They've entered a different dimension," "They've gone through a portal," or "They've approached Sam's house." It's a book about noticing and not noticing. Really it's a feeling we're trying to create.

JK: it gets interesting as soon as kids are asked to explain what happened. I like the idea of a kid looking at it by themselves, and maybe the second or third time it might come as a neat shock, that someone did this on purpose: "Welcome to the secret of the book." It's not really a secret. The apple tree at the beginning gets a full page; the pear tree gets a full page [at the end], too. I like the idea of a kid flipping back and forth and comparing them.

MB: When I was little, I liked mystery, ambiguity--it's what I've always loved in books. Literary ambiguity, mystery, lingering questions, these are things that kids are more willing to accept than adult readers. --Jennifer M. Brown

Awards: Thurber; Maine Readers' Choice; Kirkus Prize

2014 Thurber winner John Kenney (l.) with Dan Zevin, winner of the 2013 Thurber Prize for Dan Gets a Minivan.

John Kenney has won the 2014 Thurber Prize for American Humor for Truth in Advertising (Touchstone). The $5,000 prize was announced and presented last night at Caroline's on Broadway in New York City.

Meg Wolitzer, one of the judges, said of Truth in Advertising: "Readers need not ever have walked into an ad agency or watched a single episode of Mad Men to appreciate the wit, accuracy and punch of this smart novel. Satire can be hard to maintain over the course of a novel, but Kenney keeps the reader engaged and surprised."


The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt has won the second annual Maine Readers' Choice Award, sponsored by the Maine State Library and the Maine Library Association and intended to increase awareness and reading of adult literary fiction.

The Maine Readers' Choice Award Committee Committee, comprised of 20 librarians, booksellers, literacy advocates, reviewers and writers, picked four finalists. The winner was voted on by readers in Maine, who were encouraged by Maine libraries and booksellers to read the finalists over the summer months. 


Finalists have been announced in three categories for the inaugural Kirkus Prize, founded by Kirkus Reviews to recognize outstanding writing by authors whose books have earned a Kirkus Star in the categories of fiction, nonfiction or young readers' literature. The winners, each of whom receives $50,000, will be named October 23 in Austin, Tex. The 2014 Kirkus Prize shortlisted titles are:

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt (S&S)
Euphoria by Lily King (Atlantic Monthly Press)
All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu (Knopf)
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton (Houghton Mifflin)
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach (Algonquin)
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (Riverhead)

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (Bloomsbury)
Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch (Yale University Press)
The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert (Holt)
The Lagoon: How Aristotle Invented Science by Armand Marie Leroi (Viking)
Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (Harvard University Press)
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (Spiegel & Grau)

Young Readers' Literature
Picture Books:
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet (Eerdmans)
Aviary Wonders Inc.: Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual by Kate Samworth (Clarion)
Middle Grade:
El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amulet/Abrams)
The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos (FSG)
Young Adult:
The Story of Owen, Dragon Slayer of Trondheim by E.K. Johnston (Carolrhoda Lab)
The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell (Scholastic)

National Book Foundation: '5 Under 35'

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2014 "5 Under 35" honorees, recognizing five young fiction writers, as chosen by previous National Book Award winners and finalists:

Yelena Akhtiorskaya, Panic in a Suitcase (Riverhead, July 2014). Selected by Aleksandar Hemon, 2008 National Book Award finalist for The Lazarus Project.
Alex Gilvarry, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant (Viking, January 2012). Selected by Amy Bloom, 1993 National Book Award finalist for Come to Me.
Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin, March 2014). Selected by Andrea Barrett, 1996 National Book Award winner for Ship Fever and Other Stories.
Valeria Luiselli, Faces in the Crowd (Coffee House, May 2014). Selected by Karen Tei Yamashita, 2010 National Book Award finalist for I Hotel.
Kirstin Valdez Quade, Night at the Fiestas (Norton, March 2015). Selected by Andre Dubus III, 1999 National Book Award finalist for House of Sand and Fog.

They will be honored November 17--at the start of National Book Awards Week--during a celebration at powerHouse Arena in Brooklyn hosted by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, acclaimed musician and author of Mo' Meta Blues. Ben Greenman, an editor at the New Yorker and author most recently of The Slippage, will DJ, MC and moderate a conversation among the young writers.

Book Brahmin: Anjali Mitter Duva

Anjali Mitter Duva
photo: Michael Benabib

The daughter of an Indian father and an American mother, Anjali Mitter Duva grew up in Paris, France. After completing a graduate program in urban studies at MIT and launching a career in infrastructure planning, she found the call of storytelling too great to resist. A switch to freelance writing and project management allowed her more time for her own creative pursuits. Additionally, she is a cofounder of Chhandika, an organization that teaches and presents India's classical storytelling kathak dance. In delving into the dance's history, Duva found the seeds of a quartet of novels; Faint Promise of Rain (She Writes Press, October 7, 2014) is the first.

On your nightstand now:

There are usually three books: one on the craft of writing, the next book for the fifth-grade book club I run and, then, typically, a novel. At the moment, the first is Janet Burroway's Writing Fiction, a book so filled with gems on writing that I pick it up now and then just for a nibble, a couple of pages of insights I'll then let work their way into my brain for a while. The second is The Alchemyst by Michael Scott. I've been running a book club for kids for the past year and a half. For the summer selection, I eased up a bit on the type of topics we usually cover (including some heavy stuff like oppression and immigration and loneliness) and assigned the first book of a series, Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Some of the kids devoured all six books by midsummer, so I need to catch up on the first one before our next meeting. And the third book right now is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which I just finished--a powerful, at times devastating, read.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Oh, so many! But Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh definitely stands out. How not to love that spunky, geeky kid with her notebook, a house with a dumb waiter and a character named Ole Golly?

Your top five authors:

This is tough. I'll rephrase to "five of my favorite authors" and narrow down to books originally written in English and authors with multiple books: Rohinton Mistry, Barbara Kingsolver, Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison and John Irving.

Book you've faked reading:

None. I can fake a base layer of knowledge in various fields, but I've never been the type of person who could show up for class and write an essay on a book I hadn't read. I wish I could--college would have been more fun that way--but I just don't have it in me.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Saskiad. No one I mention it to has ever heard of it. It is thought provoking, complex and highly literary in its references, and it has a very compelling 12-year-old girl as the protagonist... written by a man, Brian Hall. Be advised, though: although billed as a coming-of-age story, it is definitely not a read for anyone under 18 or so. A lot of dark material.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Having recently been involved in the process of designing a cover, I pay close attention to such things. But the truth is, I have such a long list of books to buy based on recommendations or reviews that I tend not to buy simply for the cover.

Book that changed your life:

The works of Émile Zola. I grew up in France, and as a teen was introduced to his works in class. Many of my classmates found them a drag--filled with the harsh realities of the working class in 19th-century Paris and its surroundings--but I loved them. What drew me to Zola's works was his brilliant portrayal of Paris as more than just a setting for his stories, but rather a many-tentacled monster, a complex creature with appetites. I didn't realize it at the time, but these books ignited in me a fascination with networks, infrastructure and urban planning. Many years later, I recognized this interest and attended MIT for a master's degree in city planning. My experience there, the people I met, the neighborhood I lived in, all transformed my life.

Favorite line from a book:

"There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you still get the same soaking." --Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Which character you most relate to:

My life bears little resemblance to the story in Claire Messud's The Last Life, but the protagonist, Sagesse LaBasse, and I have a similar background, straddling three countries: France and the U.S. (Massachusetts in particular) for both of us, and then Algeria for her, and India for me.

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

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I'm amazed at the skill with which Niffenegger weaves this story in nonlinear fashion. Haunted now by the ending of the actual story, I could never reread it with the same sense of discovery.

Book Review

Children's Review: Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780763662295, October 14, 2014)

same and dave dig a holeIn this funny, deadpan adventure from the team behind Extra Yarn, two boys and their dog set out to dig a hole and wind up in a place they'd never expected.

Jon Klassen's characteristically earth-toned artwork sets the stage. Two boys walk out from a porch where a red tulip blooms, and their pet cat with a red collar stays behind. A rooster-shaped weather vane points in the direction in which they're headed. One boy sports a blue baseball cap, dungarees and a knapsack; the other wears a red cap and khakis, and they each balance a shovel over the left shoulder. Their brown spotted pooch leads the way. They pause near an apple tree: "On Monday Sam and Dave dug a hole." When the shoveling lands them waist-high in a hole, Sam wonders, "When should we stop digging?" Dave answers, "We won't stop digging until we find something spectacular." At two body lengths below ground, a cutaway view reveals a perfectly diamond-shaped pink gem hidden in the ground beneath the apple tree. The dog sniffs toward the treasure. "We need to keep digging," Dave says. Their red-collared cat peers down into the hole as the boys descend; the dog continues to sniff toward the diamond below the apple tree; and the top of another, even larger diamond becomes visible directly under them.

Klassen plays with perspective on the next page. Ground level is no longer visible; readers see only a deep shaft of light where the boys sit, pausing for some animal cookies wrapped in their grandfather's kerchief. The dog continues to dig downward toward the larger diamond, now less than a foot beneath them. But Dave thinks, "we should dig in another direction." Barnett's deadpan text will have children yelling, "No, no, dig down!" Yet Sam agrees, "Yes.... That is a good idea." This vaudevillian line of dialogue continues as Dave suggests they split up. Each time, Klassen reveals a little more of the steadily escalating joke. Their fork in the path reveals a still larger undiscovered diamond (the dog, of course, digs unsuccessfully in its direction). This is an exercise in suspending disbelief, which children will gladly undertake. (Where does the dirt go? How many hours have elapsed?)

As the now dirt-covered boys nap, the dog at last finds a buried treasure. As he closes in on it, the world turns topsy-turvy. "Sam and Dave fell down,/ down,/ down...." So long do they fall that they come clean and look as they did when they started. "That was pretty spectacular," says Dave upon their soft landing. The dog may be the only one with buried treasure, but the boys have certainly experienced something spectacular. But wait, look carefully at that cat, that porch, that tree in the yard. The boys' lives are forever changed by their adventure. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: Two brothers and their dog go on a topsy-turvy treasure-seeking adventure that changes their lives forever.

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