Also published on this date: Wednesday, July 27, 2016: Maximum Shelf: Ninth City Burning

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 27, 2016


St. Martin's Press: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Houghton Mifflin: Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me by Adrienne Brodeur

DC Comics: Heroes in Crisis by Tom King, art by Clay Mann

John Scognamiglio Books: The Long Flight Home by Alan Hlad

Harper Paperbacks: The Starlet and the Spy by Ji-min Lee

DC Zoom: The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid by Kirk Scroggs

Beach Lane Books: Fly! by Mark Teague

Sterling Children's Books: Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Quotation of the Day

DIESEL's John Evans on 'Reading & Vacations & Escapism'

"Reading and vacation, to me, were made for each other. You know, I think of all reading basically, by its very nature, is escapist, right? It's not actually happening to you. So it's always a little bit escapist from the everyday and the status quo, which is what people sort of want to do when they're on vacation. They want to escape from their everyday lives and escape from the work that they're normally doing. And reading is always that, no matter what you're reading."

--John Evans, co-owner of DIESEL, A Bookstore, with three stores in California, on NPR's All Things Considered, recommending "three books to take on your summer getaway."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (and More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky


News

AAP Sales: February Sales Jump

In February, total net book sales rose 4.2%, to $622.2 million, compared to February 2015, and represented sales of 1,205 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first two months of the year, total net book sales fell 3%, to $1.63 billion--because of January's 6.7% decline.

In February, all e-book categories, excluding university press e-books, continued to fall precipitously along with physical audiobooks. By contrast, downloaded audio had another solid month, with sales rising 44.4%. Except for children's/YA e-books, all children's/YA categories saw major sales gains during the month. Most adult categories, except for paperbacks, had sales drops; adult titles as a whole were down 6.6%.

 


Ecco Press: Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser


Harry Potter & the Cursed Child: Let's Get this Party Started!

The excitement is palpable among booksellers, muggles, wizards, witches and readers of all ages for Saturday's midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. (Note to booksellers: We invite you to send photos and anecdotes from your Harry Potter events to news@shelf-awareness.com so we can share them with our readers next week.) Here's just a sampling of the magic HP party potions brewing out there:

Earlier this week, we featured Scholastic staff members and their kids literally dancing in the street in Manhattan as they gathered for a Broadway Muggle Mob. With booksellers and librarians making their final preparations to celebrate the return of Pottermania, Scholastic has compiled a directory of release parties

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Barnes & Noble said Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I & II is the company's most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in 2007. Since its announcement in February, the book has been the #1 bestseller on BN.com's list and is expected to be the company's biggest book of the year. Stores across the country are currently preparing to host Countdown to Midnight Magic parties beginning July 30 at 8 p.m., leading up to the midnight release.

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The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (photo by Manuel Harlan)

The stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two, which has been in previews since June 7, opens July 30 at London's Palace Theatre, but the review embargo was lifted yesterday. The Bookseller reported that "the verdict is in" for the play, with reviewers hailing it as "a dazzling duel of light and dark" (the Guardian), "a triumph" (the Telegraph), and "a magical experience tailor made for the stage, filled to the brim with fan service" (the Independent). The reviews also noted that the "eighth story" was "tailor made for the theatre" (the Independent), with "thrill a minute stage craft" (the Guardian). The Financial Times praised "many stunning effects and several hair-raising moments." The New York Times said lead Jamie Parker "does Potter pain beautifully," Paul Thornley's Ron Weasley is "delightful" and Noma Dumezweni's Hermione Granger is "perfect."

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"Much like Hamilton in New York, the show has been generating more than its share of headlines," Playbill reported, adding that the New York Post had "published an unsourced report saying that producers Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender are seeking a theatre for a Broadway opening, 'possibly next season' after a North American premiere in Toronto. A Shubert Organization spokesperson said the company had no comment on the report."

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Simon Heafield, head of marketing and brand development at Foyles in the U.K., told the Guardian: "There are few events in the book world as big as the launch of a new Harry Potter story, in fact it's thanks to the original series that we started midnight openings. The first generation of J.K. Rowling's fans has now grown up, but their love of the books hasn't changed. With reviews of the play published this morning, excitement levels are reaching fever pitch and the pre-orders are flooding in."

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Readers Books in Sonoma, Calif., put up this display celebrating the birthdays this week of two Potters: Harry  and Beatrix.

In Australia, Libby Armstrong, owner of Beachside Bookshop in Avalon, told the Age that the store's first pre-order was from a 10-year-old, and the next from someone decades older: "The buzz of the new book has created a new reading rites of passage, bringing in parents who grew up on Harry Potter to buy the first book to start their young kids on the series."

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The script book will also go on sale at bookstores across India, where "Harry Potter fever is gripping the country," the Hindu reported. "From bookstores bedecked to mark the launch of the book, to fan events, parties and activities in bookstores and other popular hubs in each Indian metro, this is an experience like no other."


KidsBuzz for the Week of 06.24.19


Hachette Book Group Reorganizes Sales

Because of the addition of Perseus Book Group's publishing operations and "recent major changes in the retail/wholesale landscape," Hachette Book Group has reorganized its sales organization. These changes, the publisher said, "will allow us to sell HBG's wide range of excellent books in the most effective ways, across the entire range of formats, retail accounts, wholesalers, libraries, and jobbers."

The reorganization includes the addition of four Perseus Sales people:

Adam Schnitzer, executive director, online and digital sales and publisher liaison for all Perseus imprints, will oversee sales of all Perseus titles, physical and digital, to Amazon.

Marty Gosser, national account manager, will sell all Perseus titles to Barnes & Noble and B&N College.

Laura Shepherd, national account manager, will sell Perseus titles to Ingram, Baker & Taylor and Brodart.

Andrea Gochnauer, assistant national account manager, will sell to Amazon and assist Adam Schnitzer.

Several people are leaving the company:

Mike Heuer's position as executive director of field sales is being eliminated, and he will leave the company, effective August 1. He has been a part of the sales team for 20 years.

Maha Khalil, v-p, national accounts, and James Chan, national account manager, will leave the company at the end of the year.

Other promotions and hires as a result of the reorganization:

Digital and Online Sales: Ali Coughlin is promoted to director of online sales and will continue to handle physical and digital sales to Amazon.

Field/Independent Bookstore Sales: Elizabeth Guess is promoted to East Coast sales rep, and Lily Goldman is promoted to telephone sales rep/account marketing manager.

Client Services: the team has added Laura Fernandez as coordinator working on Hachette UK titles.

Special Markets: Sharon Huerta, formerly director of Canadian sales, is promoted to executive director of special sales, and Teuta Bakalli, who will be promoted to special sales coordinator.

Hachette plans to hire an international sales director; a sales manager in the Canadian office to replace Sharon Huerta; and a sales analyst.


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Changes at Tor and Forge

Tor Books is adding two associate publishers, one from inside the company and one from outside, and a new publisher for Forge Books. Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a 28-year Tor veteran, is now an associate publisher. Hayden has brought bestsellers John Scalzi, Cory Doctorow and Charlie Jane Anders, among others, to Tor. Devi Pillai, Tor's second new associate publisher, is the former head of the U.S. division of Orbit Books.

"I've watched Devi's work with admiration for a long time now; her qualifications are outstanding, and she'll be a great addition to our team," said Tor/Forge president and publisher Tom Doherty. "As we continue our 35-year commitment to adult SF and fantasy, Devi and Patrick will work alongside each other to oversee our numerous editors who work primarily in these twin genres."

Linda Quinton, former associate publisher and v-p of marketing for Tor/Forge, is the new publisher of Forge Books, whose authors include William R. Forstchen, Eric Lustbader, Douglas Preston, Patrick Taylor and Bruce Cameron. Quinton's old position is yet to be filled. Kathleen Doherty continues as publisher of Tor Teen and Starscape. She has spent 30 years growing Tor's YA and middle-grade market share.

"At a time when so many of our competitors are cutting back, consolidating imprints, and reducing staff, it's wonderful to know that Macmillan enthusiastically supports our plan for growth," says Doherty. "We will shortly be announcing further additions and promotions within our editorial staff. Here's to an amazing team that it's my privilege to lead into a great future."


Berkley: Man's 4th Best Hospital by Samuel Shem


Ingram Forms Ingram Academic Services

Ingram Publisher Services has created Ingram Academic Services, "a service customized for university presses and academic publishers," which Ingram is calling "the first joint initiative" following its purchase of Perseus's distribution businesses earlier this year.

Clients of Ingram Academic Services include Brookings Institution Press, Columbia University Press, Indiana University Press, Minnesota Historical Society Press, New York University Press, Princeton University Press, University of California Press, University of Regina Press and Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Ingram Academic Services will work with an advisory board comprised of university presses and academic publishers from around the world to enhance services and discover new opportunities.

"Ingram Academic Services is one of the first ways we've quickly combined the strengths of both Ingram and Perseus's distribution businesses to create greater value for our clients," said Sabrina McCarthy, v-p and general manager, Perseus Distribution Services. "We saw immediate opportunity to collaborate and join our expertise, services and passion for this market to create an unparalleled service with Ingram Academic Services."

In 2015, Perseus formed Perseus Academic, a division dedicated to university presses and other scholarly publishers that McCarthy headed. Its first client publishers were Princeton University Press, University of California Press and Columbia University Press.

"We are working for and with university presses and academic publishers, staying attuned to their needs, challenges and goals, so we may provide the right technology, tools and services to help them thrive and grow," said Heidi Sachner, v-p, Ingram Academic Services, Perseus Distribution.

"The new Perseus and Ingram Publisher Services collaboration captures not only the combined resources of two distribution giants, but the collective imagination of some of the most creative people in our business," said Peter J. Dougherty, director, Princeton University Press.


Obituary Note: John Gruen

John Gruen, a cultural critic "renowned for the vast breadth of his artistic net and the vast candor of his art-world memoir," died July 19, the New York Times reported. He was 89. Gruen wrote more than a dozen books, including several authorized biographies: The Private World of Leonard Bernstein; Menotti; Erik Bruhn, Danseur Noble; and Keith Haring.

His 2008 autobiography, Callas Kissed Me... Lenny Too! A Critic's Memoir, "offers a heady tour of New York's midcentury bohemian whirl, describing the author's eminent interview subjects; his eminent social circle (which included some of his interview subjects); and his eminent lovers (ditto: The 'Lenny' of the title is Bernstein, whose romantic liaisons with Mr. Gruen are noted in the book)," the Times wrote, adding that the memoir "also chronicles Mr. Gruen's warm, enduring marriage to the painter Jane Wilson, which lasted from 1948 until her death last year."


G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
The Truants
by Kate Weinberg

In Kate Weinberg's The Truants, set in East Anglian academia, three students, a seductive journalist and a charismatic professor fascinated by Agatha Christie are swept up and battered in a whirlwind of friendship and passion. Helen Richards, associate editor at Putnam, knew from the first page she wanted to introduce Weinberg's incredible debut novel to American readers. Her writing is "so potent--so delicious, so atmospheric and at times so heart-achingly vulnerable--that it creates a world all its own on every page. I found it impossible to drag myself away! It offers the best of two worlds: a seductive mystery wrapped in an unconventional coming-of-age story." She says everyone at Putnam is "obsessed with the dark vibe and the smart, juicy writing." Campus obsession, editor obsession, sales force obsession--all will surely be joined by reader obsession. --Marilyn Dahl

(Putnam, $26 hardcover, 9780525541967, January 28, 2020)

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Notes

Image of the Day: Mary-Louise & Elvis!

Last night, BookCourt, Brooklyn, N.Y., hosted a conversation between memoirists Mary Louise Parker (Dear Mr. You, Scribner) and Elvis Costello (Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink, Penguin), moderated by Jason Gots, at St. Francis College. After the packed event--which included an audience q&a and book signing--the actress and the musician posed holding each other's books.


Road Trip: Dubray's 'Refurbished Flagship Shop' in Dublin

Irish bookseller Dubray "has opened the doors to its newly refurbished flagship shop on Dublin's Grafton Street," the Bookseller reported in featuring a photographic tour of the location, which includes a "stunning" mural in the children's section by illustrator Chris Judge.

"I was so thrilled to be invited by the wonderful staff in Dubray to create artwork for their beautifully refurbished flagship shop," said Judge. "My piece fills the whole back wall of the children's section so it is a huge honor to have my artwork engage with children every day. I was very conscious of capturing the excitement and fun of reading for all ages and wanted to make something bright and airy, a scene that is an extension to the wonderful book space, something that you could almost step into."

Dubray managing director Maria Dickenson commented: "We are delighted to see our hard work come to fruition in Grafton Street. Our goal with the refurb was to showcase the energy, passion and enthusiasm that is inherent in the Dubray brand, and the customer response so far has been very positive. While there are still challenges to be faced in the trade, we felt it was time to invest in our flagship, and we are looking forward to the road ahead."


Personnel Changes at WaterBrook and Multnomah

Douglas Mann has joined WaterBrook and Multnomah as senior marketing manager.

Effective August 15, Jamie Lapeyrolerie will join WaterBrook and Multnomah as marketing manager.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doris Kearns Goodwin on Colbert's Late Show

Today:
Rachael Ray: Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn, co-author of Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling (Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $35, 9780544018464).

Tomorrow:

Nightly Show: Cass Sunstein, author of The World According to Star Wars (Dey Street, $21.99, 9780062484222).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author, most recently, of The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism (Simon & Schuster, $22, 9781416547877).


TV: American Gods; Les Misérables

The first trailer for American Gods, the highly-anticipated upcoming Starz series based on Neil Gaiman's book, "stars Ricky Whittle as Shadow Moon and Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday. The video also offered a brief but heavily stylized look at Crispin Glover," Deadline reported. The show that is slated for a January 2017 debut.

On a Comic-Con panel last week, "executive producer/showrunner Bryan Fuller introduced new castmember Kristen Chenoweth (she will play Easter) who showed up to join Gaiman, fellow EP/showrunner Michael Green, director David Slade and Whittle, McShane, Pablo Schreiber (Mad Sweeney), Yetide Badaki (Bilquis) and Bruce Langley (Technical Boy)," Deadline wrote.

"I think they're doing a remarkable job," Gaiman told Deadline. "The book itself exists almost entirely from Shadow's point of view. So one of the first things that we're doing is going we don't have to make a TV series that only exists from Shadow's point of view. We can watch what happens to Mad Sweeney. We can watch what happened to Laura before she died. We can watch what happened to Laura after she died. We can go off and do things with people. Stuff is happening. I think they've definitely taken the right approach in just how you open something like this up."

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Victor Hugo's Les Misérables "is set to make its television debut," Indiewire reported. The project is a co-production between BBC Studios and Lookout Point for BBC One in association with Weinstein Television. Andrew Davies (War & Peace) is writing the script.

"Les Miserables is a huge iconic title," Davies said. "Most of us are familiar with the musical version which only offers a fragmentary outline of its story. I am thrilled to have the opportunity of doing real justice to Victor Hugo at last by adapting his masterpiece in a six-hour version for the BBC, with the same team who made War & Peace."

Harvey Weinstein said Les Mis is one of his favorite musicals, but the miniseries will be "completely different and an intense and serious drama that will find contemporary relevance to what's going on in the world today."


Books & Authors

Awards: Man Booker Longlist; African Cookbook Winner

The 13-book longlist for the £50,000 (about $65,682) Man Booker Prize, announced today, consists of:

The Sellout by Paul Beatty (U.S.)
The Schooldays of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee (South African-Australian)
Serious Sweet by A.L. Kennedy (U.K.)
Hot Milk by Deborah Levy (U.K.)
His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet (U.K.)
The North Water by Ian McGuire (U.K.)
Hystopia by David Means (U.S.)
The Many by Wyl Menmuir (U.K.)
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh (U.S.)
Work Like Any Other by Virginia Reeves (U.S.)
My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (U.S.)
All That Man Is by David Szalay (Canada-U.K.)
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Canada)

Chair of judges Amanda Foreman commented: "This is a very exciting year. The range of books is broad and the quality extremely high. Each novel provoked intense discussion and, at times, passionate debate, challenging our expectations of what a novel is and can be... From the historical to the contemporary, the satirical to the polemical, the novels in this list come from both established writers and new voices. The writing is uniformly fresh, energetic and important. It is a longlist to be relished."

The Man Booker Prize shortlist will be unveiled September 13 and the winner will be announced on October 25.

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British Nigerian Lopè Ariyo won HarperCollins and Red Magazine's African cookbook competition "after 'delighting' the judges with her dishes and her writing," the Bookseller reported. Ariyo will be featured in Red Magazine's November issue as well as hosting supper clubs in September. Her book will be published by HarperCollins in summer 2017.

Grace Cheetham, publishing director at HarperCollins, said: "We all thought Lopè's food was exceptional. Fresh and contemporary, and full of vibrant flavours. And Lopè's food writing is wonderful. We're hugely looking forward to working with her to produce what we think will be a brilliant book."


Reading with... Kate Milford

photo: Daniela Volpi

Kate Milford has been a children's bookseller at the beloved Manhattan bookstore McNally Jackson for more than six years. She is the author of the National Book Award finalist and Edgar Award winner Greenglass House, as well as The Boneshaker, The Broken Lands and two crowd-funded companion novellas, The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrowne. Her forthcoming middle-grade nautical fantasy about the War of 1812 and the Napoleonic Wars in Europe, The Left-Handed Fate, will be released on August 23, 2016, by Holt. Milford lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with her family.

On your nightstand now:

It's a pile. Right now there are five books in it, I think. I just read Susan Tan's middle-grade debut, the forthcoming Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire, and I can't wait for this book to be on my shelves, both at home and at the bookstore where I work. There's Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard by Jonathan Auxier--I'm a big fan of Jonathan, and I'm so happy to be returning to the world of Peter Nimble. There are advance copies of two friends' books that I swiped from the bookstore: Tiffany Schmidt's Break Me Like a Promise and Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra's Shiny Broken Pieces. And there's pretty much always a book from Lev Grossman's Magicians trilogy on the bedside pile--at the moment, it's The Magician's Land. My friend Alicia got me hooked, and this has become the series I can just pick up and dip into whenever I feel like I need a particular kind of fantasy fix.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper and The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. I still re-read both of these every year. I can remember the anguish I felt when the Dark Is Rising series ended. It was my first experience with that particular feeling--that sense of loss at the story being over. Because I love winter fantasies, the second book in the series has always been my favorite. As for The Westing Game, we used to keep a copy in our family van--my parents liked going for long drives on the weekends, and there were books that lived in the van for entertainment on those trips. The Westing Game was one of them. I read it over and over, and I think my love for it is sort of tied up with memories of those drives with my family. These days, my son and I listen to the audio sometimes. He's barely three, too young to understand much of the story yet, but he finds Dr. Denton Deere's name hilarious, and he likes to point to smokestacks and chimneys and announce that "there's smoke coming from the chimney of the Westing House."

Your top five authors:

Impossible to answer. Today I think my top five are Ellen Raskin, John Bellairs, M.F.K. Fisher, Patrick O'Brian and Ray Bradbury. Out of the rotation today but maybe back in there tomorrow: E.T.A. Hoffmann, Joan Aiken, Jeanne Birdsall, Megan Whelan Turner, Italo Calvino, Ambrose Bierce, Arnold Lobel, Jeff VanderMeer... I'm not good at picking favorites. There are too many authors I love.  

Book you're an evangelist for:

Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. I wish I could give this book to everybody, kids and adults alike. The idea that, in addition to the dreams that we have for our futures, we also need to do something to make the world more beautiful? What a truly important message to pass on. And I mentioned it before, but I'll mention it again: Cilla Lee-Jenkins, Future Author Extraordinaire by Susan Tan, along with another debut middle-grade I was lucky enough to read early: Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley. I can't say enough about these two books. I am so in love with both of them: two very different tales about two very different kids, both trying to figure out who they are, where they fit into their families and their worlds, and how they want to be known and remembered. And both with so much heart and so much humor.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, which I subsequently fell in love with to a ridiculous degree.

Book you hid from your parents:

The only time I can remember hiding the fact that I was reading anything from my parents was when I was--I don't know, 13 or something?--and I discovered Jean M. Auel's The Valley of Horses on a bookshelf in our house. Pretty sure I never did read the whole thing, but certain sections were, shall we say, interesting. 

Book that changed your life:

Jeff VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen, because it really crystallized the idea of setting-as-character for me. The idea that a place could be so rich and fascinating that it's the main character of basically an entire series--this was world-changing for me at exactly the time that my career in kids' books was beginning. Then I think I read Jorge Luis Borges's Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius at about the same time. It was a magic cocktail.

Favorite line from a book:

I don't know if this is my actual favorite line, but the first one that came to mind is the one that's on a Post-it on my monitor: "It is not down in any map; true places never are." This is Moby-Dick's Ishmael, talking about the island home of his friend, the harpooneer Queequeg. For me, it's how I think about the city of Nagspeake, which is the setting of Greenglass House, Bluecrowne and The Left-Handed Fate.

Five books you'll never part with:

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis--can I count that as one since it's a boxed set? I still have my childhood copies in their little box. Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series (okay, they're not boxed so there's no excuse, but my husband and I both love them so much I'd not only never get rid of them, I'd consider upgrading our paperbacks to hardcovers). An 1811 copy of Baltimore Repertory, which was a birthday gift from my husband early in our relationship. Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land by Johnny Gruelle, which I loved as a kid and which my son has now fallen in love with, too. My copy of The Boneshaker, which Andrea Offermann signed and decorated with a beautiful, hand-drawn clockwork girl.

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

Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, if I could also read it again the way I read it the first time: in a hammock on a porch at a house on the beach in Nag's Head, North Carolina, with a cold beverage within reach and no reason to get up until dinnertime. Or it could be Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander under the same circumstances. At the moment, the hammock, the beach, the beverage and the reading time without other commitments are the key elements in this fantasy.


Book Review

Children's Review: They All Saw a Cat

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (Chronicle, $16.99 hardcover, 44p., ages 4-8, 9781452150130, August 30, 2016)

As a striped cat with a red collar and golden bell walks through the world, all sorts of other creatures see that cat through the lens of their own perception and, page by page, the cat transforms accordingly. It's an ingenious idea, gorgeously realized in Brendan Wenzel's (Some Bugs; Beastly Babies) author-illustrator debut, They All Saw a Cat.

From the child's perspective, the bell-collared cat is big and furry, with a friendly, cartoonish feline face and a long, ankle-circling tail, the purring all but audible. The child is petting the cat, the two are connected. The text is spare, but lilting: "The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws.../ and the child saw A CAT." On the next spread, "...the dog saw A CAT," and the scenario is not nearly as cozy this time. Here the cat is elongated, mostly limbs and tail, stealthy and suspicious. The cat's bell is huge compared to its body, as a keen-eared dog might perceive it. After a quick chase from a fox, whose fierce stare reduces it to a softly rounded, adorably edible scaredy cat, the feline resumes its more dignified cat shape and keeps on walking.

A bug-eyed goldfish sees the cat as a hugely magnified, blurry, yellow-eyed blob through the water of its fish bowl. A mouse sees a diabolical, sharp-toothed beast in a jagged sea of red and black, limbs and tail painted furiously with kinetic brushstrokes. A flea sits atop one cat hair in a field of pencil-scratched fur. A skunk goes eye to eye with the cat in a curvy, soft-focus composition of black and white.

Not only is each delightfully composed spread a dramatic commentary on the power of point of view--be it prey-to-predator or casual observer--but the artwork is a splendid showcase of eclectic styles and techniques. In the small print, the book says, "The illustrations in this book were rendered in almost everything imaginable, including colored pencil, oil pastels, acrylic paint, watercolor, charcoal, Magic Marker, good old number 2 pencils, and even an iBook." A cut-paper-collage cat near the end is a patchwork of all the animals' perspectives: "YES, THEY ALL SAW THE CAT!" says the text. Finally, the cat looks into a pond and sees its own distorted reflection in the swirly water.

Wenzel had some insights into the idea of perception while teaching art classes in Nepal, when children, to his dismay, would tell him they were bad at drawing. His view is that there are no bad drawings; every child's drawing of the same object is happily different, depending on their relationships and experiences with that object: "I quickly learned if you want to discover something unexpected about a subject, ask twenty eight-year-olds to sketch it!" he says.

And so we have They All Saw a Cat, a picture book that seems so light on its little cat feet but that goes right to the core of human experience. A keeper. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: A child, a flea, a dog, a bird (and more!) see the same cat through different eyes, and their eclectic perspectives make up this inventive picture book.


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