Also published on this date: Monday, April 9, 2018: Maximum Shelf: The Shortest Way Home

Shelf Awareness for Monday, April 9, 2018

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Little Simon Chapter Books

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers: Little Simon Chapter Books

Thomas Nelson: A Very Dinosaur Birthday by Adam Wallace, illustrated by Christopher Nielsen

Other Press (NY): An Honorable Exit by Éric Vuillard, translated by Mark Polizzotti

Shadow Mountain: The Paper Daughters of Chinatown: Adapted for Young Readers from the Best-Selling Novel by Heather B. Moore and Allison Hong Merrill


Waterstones 'Likely' to Be Sold to Hedge Fund This Month

Waterstones will be sold to hedge fund Elliott Advisors "likely" by the end of April, the end of the U.K. bookstore chain's fiscal year, according to the Bookseller, which cited "a source with knowledge of the situation." Neither Waterstones nor Elliott Advisors has commented on the report.

Elliott Advisors is the U.K. arm of Elliott Management Corp., the investment management firm headed by Paul Singer, known for an interest in companies with heavy debt, for his financial support of the Republican Party and for his support of LGBTQ rights. Elliott Advisors is run by Singer's son Gordon Singer.

In January, Sky News reported that Elliott Advisors had made an offer for Waterstones and had a short period of exclusivity.

Waterstones has staged a turnaround in the last few years, but Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut, who bought Waterstones in 2011, apparently needs to raise cash because of the collapse last year of Russia's largest private bank, Otkritie, in which he was a major shareholder. Last year, Mamut asked N.M. Rothschild & Sons to advise him on strategic options for Waterstones, including a sale for £250 million (about $352 million), although speculation is that the price would be lower.

Under CEO James Daunt, who owns Daunt Books, which has nine shops in and near London, Waterstones became profitable in 2015, reversing years of poor results that had caused many to fear that the last major bookselling chain in the U.K. would go out of business.

Waterstones has some 275 stores in the U.K., Ireland and continental Europe.

University of California Press: Weed Rules: Blazing the Way to a Just and Joyful Marijuana Policy by Jay Wexler

Pannell Winners: Northshire Bookstore, Red Balloon Bookshop

Winners have been announced for the 2018 Pannell Awards, given by the Women's National Book Association and co-sponsored by the Penguin Young Readers Group to recognize "the work of booksellers who stimulate, promote and encourage children's and young people's interest in books." The winner in the general bookstore category is Northshire Bookstore, Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and the children's specialty bookstore winner is Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.

Nancy Scheemaker from Northshire commented: "I cannot think of a stronger form of encouragement for a young and growing bookstore. We are so grateful and so excited!" Jurors said the store is "one of the most energetic bookstores" and lauded its "passionate staff and year-round schedule of creative programs and events."

Holly Weinkauf from Red Balloon Bookshop said, "What an incredible honor for our talented and hardworking booksellers, as well as our community that has supported us for 34 years." Jurors cited Red Balloon for its "outstanding service to authors, children and the community."

The winning stores will each receive $1,000 and a piece of original art from a children's book illustrator, which will be presented at BookExpo's Children's Book and Author Breakfast on June 1.

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Eight Cousins Update: 'Starting to Reassemble'

Eight Cousins, Falmouth, Mass., is moving ever closer to reopening after its ceiling collapsed in January. The store's most recent update:

"If you've walked past the store this week, you've noticed that we're starting to reassemble. The office furniture is built. The old book cases arrived on Tuesday. Most of them are still in good condition; we will have to replace a few. The new register counter arrived on Wednesday. The new book cases arrived on Thursday. We moved all the computers back on Friday. The painters have been working hard all week.

"The major construction is complete and now we're working on the details. All the little things that feel small, but when added up take time, energy, and careful consideration.

"It definitely feels like our space again. Nevertheless, we have quite a bit of work still to do. The book cases are in the store, but are not at all organized. We have workspaces, but they are not yet conducive to accomplishing any work.

"We'll be moving quickly over the next few days to make sure that we're ready, because the books are coming."

Cottage Door Press Buying Parragon Rights

Cottage Door Press, which publishes children's books for the infant to preschool market, is buying "a substantial portion of worldwide intellectual property rights" of Parragon.

Parragon publishes children's books, toys, and gifts, including the Little Learners, Start Little Learn Big and Factivity series--in more than 25 languages and in more than 35 global markets.

"When Parragon announced its strategic decision to cease operations, we recognized our strong synergies and the unique opportunity to expand into new categories and markets," Cottage Door Press owner and founder Richard G. Maddrell said. "Parragon has built strong partnerships and an incredible collection of assets that we are honored to incorporate into our portfolio and carry on in the marketplace."

Obituary Note: William Prochnau

Journalist and author William Prochnau, "who wrote a critically acclaimed book, Once Upon a Distant War, about a handful of skeptical reporters whose early warnings that the United States wasn't winning in Vietnam went unheeded," died March 28, the New York Times reported. He was 80. Prochnau "often said he was proudest of his own reportage from Vietnam for the Seattle Times in the mid-1960s--work that apparently earned him a berth on President Richard M. Nixon's expanded enemies list."

Prochnau was also a reporter for the Washington Post and a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, where his article "Adventures in the Ransom Trade" was the basis for the movie Proof of Life. His novel Trinity's Child inspired the script of the film By Dawn's Early Light.

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Kai Bird described Once Upon a Distant War as the "classic account of the journalistic experience in Vietnam."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
Little Monsters
by Adrienne Brodeur
GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Little Monsters, Adrienne Brodeur's first book since her memoir Wild Game, is a tender, intelligent family saga. By placing her four protagonists in the summer of 2016, mere months before the election, Brodeur notches up the tension in a manner that couldn't be replicated at another time. On Cape Cod, the Gardners are each at a crossroads: patriarch Adam on the precipice of scientific discovery; son Ken at the intersection of tortured instincts; daughter Abby awaiting a momentous life change. Entering the fray is new mother Steph, whose connection to the Gardners remains initially unclear. The result is "a sophisticated, intelligent, juicy, beautifully written page-turner," writes Lauren Wein, v-p and editorial director of Avid Reader Press. Readers who also feel the repercussions of 2016 in contemporary life will find catharsis in Little Monsters, posited as perfect for readers of Ask Again, Yes and Commonwealth. --Lauren Puckett-Pope

(Avid Reader Press, $28 hardcover, 9781982198107, July 11, 2023)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Country Dark at Prairie Lights

Chris Offutt kicked off his tour for his first novel in 20 years, Country Dark (Grove Press), at Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, where he read to a full house. Offutt lived in Iowa City for many years while attending and teaching at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Pictured: Prairie Lights graphic designer Rose Persaud (l.) with Offutt.

Horizon Books' Reynolds: 'Anchor of Downtown' Traverse City

Amy Reynolds

Traverse City Business News showcased and had a q&a with Amy Reynolds, owner and acting CEO of Horizon Books, Traverse City, Mich., whom it called "the anchor of downtown." She joined the store in 1977 and has helped revitalize downtown. Our favorite answer of hers, in response to the question about her "professional joys":

"There is something different, every day. I love walking to work, greeting staff and customers and being surrounded by books. Whether I'm providing entertainment or information or knowledge, it's exciting and gratifying to match the perfect book to the reader. I do a lot of the sideline buying and love to 'go shopping' for the store."

Personnel Changes at Holt; Sourcebooks; Doubleday

Pat Eisemann has been promoted to v-p, executive director of publicity at Henry Holt adult books. She joined Holt in 2011 as director of publicity and was promoted to v-p, director of publicity in 2012.


Sara Hartman-Seeskin has been promoted to senior sales manager, rights and exports, at Sourcebooks. She was previously rights and exports manager.


Emma Joss has been promoted to associate publicist at Doubleday. She was formerly publicity assistant.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Todd S. Purdum on Fresh Air

Good Morning America: Connie Simpson, author of The Nanny Connie Way: Secrets to Mastering the First Four Months of Parenthood (Gallery, $17, 9781501184925).

Fresh Air: Todd S. Purdum, author of Something Wonderful: Rodgers and Hammerstein's Broadway Revolution (Holt, $32, 9781627798341).

The View: Tyra Banks, author of Perfect Is Boring: 10 Things My Crazy, Fierce Mama Taught Me About Beauty, Booty, and Being a Boss (TarcherPerigee, $27, 9780143132301).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Madeleine Albright, author of Fascism: A Warning (Harper, $27.99, 9780062802187). She will also appear tomorrow on the View and CBS This Morning.

Also on the Late Show: Giada De Laurentiis, author of Giada's Italy: My Recipes for La Dolce Vita (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9780307987228).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Tiffany Haddish, author of The Last Black Unicorn (Gallery, $26, 9781501181825).

Good Morning America: Joanna Coles, author of Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World (Harper, $25.99, 9780062652584).

Also on Good Morning America: Ian K. Smith, author of The Clean 20: 20 Foods, 20 Days, Total Transformation (St. Martin's Press, $25.99, 9781250182074).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Louie Anderson, author of Hey Mom: Stories for My Mother, But You Can Read Them Too (Touchstone, $26, 9781501189173). He will also appear on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Fox News's the Story with Martha MacCallum: Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, authors of Tiger Woods (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781501126420).

All Things Considered: Nafissa Thompson-Spires, author of Heads of the Colored People: Stories (Atria/37 INK, $23, 9781501167997).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Sebastian Maniscalco, author of Stay Hungry (Gallery, $25, 9781501115974).

Cumberbatch TV: Patrick Melrose; The Way of All Flesh

"Add the latest Patrick Melrose promo to the list of the year's best television trailers," IndieWire reported, adding that a new trailer for the five-part Showtime limited series "expertly charts the character's fractured psych. The rapid-fire editing style cuts between the past and present as we see Patrick's abusive father and how the character's childhood trauma still haunts his older self." Based on Edward St. Aubyn's books, the project stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Hugo Weaving and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Cumberbatch also executive produces.


Cumberbatch's production company SunnyMarch has pre-empted the television rights to Ambrose Parry's upcoming novel, The Way of All Flesh, the first book "in a new historical series set in the medical world of Edinburgh, Scotland, in the 1840s," Deadline reported. Ambrose Parry is the pseudonym for a collaboration between author Chris Brookmyre and consultant anaesthetist Marisa Haetzman, who "now plan to adapt the novel into a returning drama series but Cumberbatch is unlikely to star in this one," Deadline noted.

Claire Marshall, executive producer at SunnyMarch, said, "Marisa and Chris have crafted a brilliant world from the real lives of remarkable men and women who made their mark in the history books and changed the face of medicine. We are incredibly excited about expanding on the themes and characters to make a bold, ambitious and thrilling drama series about young, restless, and flawed junior doctors. It's a story about identity, sex and ambition shot through with a sense of modernity."

Books & Authors

Awards: Simpson Family; Christian Book

Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (Hogarth), has won the 2018 Simpson Family Literary Prize.

Joseph Di Prisco, chair of the Simpson Family Literary Project, commented: "Anthony Marra is one writer to hold very close to your heart. Something tells me people will be eagerly, rapturously reading him for decades and decades to come, and then some. Though every one of our finalists is beyond question a world-class talent, we are delighted to award the 2nd Annual Simpson Prize to the most marvelous Mr. Marra."

The $50,000 prize is awarded by the Simpson Family Literary Project, a partnership of the University of California, Berkeley, English Department and the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation, in association with the Contra Costa County Library. The Project fosters new literature, supports authors, and enhances the lives of readers, writers, educators, and students in diverse communities in California and the nation. The Project serves high-school age writers and supports a Writer in Residence program at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Foundation.


Some 58 finalists have been named in 11 categories for the 2018 Christian Book Award program, sponsored by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and can be seen here. Winners and the 2018 Christian Book of the Year will be announced May 1.

Book Review

Review: The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table

The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma's Table by Rick Bragg (Knopf, $28.95 hardcover, 512p., 9781400040414, April 24, 2018)

Readers need not identify as foodies to love the latest volume of family history from Pulitzer Prize-winner Rick Bragg (My Southern Journey: True Stories from the Heart of the South), which delves into the rich and varied history of culinary tradition that became his mother's table.

After her sons proved hopeless in the kitchen, Bragg's mother, Margaret, had no heir to her Alabama cooking, so Bragg offered to pass her knowledge on to the world. This collection of recipes and essays is a hymn to the roots of their family cuisine. If a peek into the inner workings of a rural Southern kitchen, complete with closely guarded recipes, isn't intriguing enough, Bragg begins with a summary of his mother's qualifications, explaining, "Since she was eleven years old, even if all she had to work with was neck bones, peppergrass, or poke salad, she put good food on a plate.... She cooked, in her first eighty years, more than seventy thousand meals."

In each chapter, Bragg recounts the family story behind an essential meal and concludes with recipes. He begins with his grandmother Ava, whose terrible cooking as a new bride starved Bragg's grandfather Charlie into summoning his own scoundrel of a father to live with them and show her the ways of salt pork and cat's-head biscuits. "The old man" and Ava locked horns with near-homicidal results, but as he tutored her in creamed onions, beans with ham bone and cornbread, they forge a kinship--call it True Grits. As time passes, Charlie and Ava's growing family must use the land, their garden and their meager stores to survive the Great Depression, often subsisting on dried beans, cornbread or less.

Bragg fills these tales of a family--who "would not... step over a dead body to get to the supper table. They would, however, drag one out of the middle of the road and leave it in the weeds to get back to the house on time if my grandma was frying chicken"--with hilarity, tender nostalgia and enough pork fat to give Emeril Lagasse the vapors. Bragg states early on that Margaret's cooking may not fit every diet. Bacon grease and lard figure prominently. Each recipe, however, deserves to be read for the affection and humor between Bragg and his mother, who views cooking from a book with heavy skepticism and never measures her ingredients. A testament to soul food, a part of Southern heritage "that binds us more than it shoves us apart," The Best Cook in the World makes for rib-sticking fare, indeed. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Shelf Talker: Famed for his family histories of rural Southern poverty, Rick Bragg divulges the secrets behind his mother's table, complete with recipes.

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