Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 20, 2018: Maximum Shelf: An Unexplained Death

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Henry Holt & Company: Warrior Girl Unearthed by Angeline Boulley

Little, Brown Ink: The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich (a Graphic Novel) by Deya Muniz

Flatiron Books: Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature by Sarah Hart

Dundurn Press: Chasing the Black Eagle by Bruce Geddes

Amulet Books: Batcat: Volume 1 by Meggie Ramm

Berkley Books: The Comeback Summer by Ali Brady


Elizabeth Bogner New IBC Executive Director

Elizabeth Bogner

Elizabeth Bogner is the new executive director of the Independent Booksellers Consortium, effective immediately. She began her career as a bookseller at Cody's in Berkeley, Calif., and at Books & Co. in New York City. She then became the publisher liaison for the American Booksellers Association. After that, she moved into publishing, working for Bantam Doubleday Dell, Serpent's Tail, Harcourt Brace and Simon & Schuster. In recent years, she's been a freelance editor, book doctor and ghost writer.

She commented: "I am excited to be the executive director of the IBC, where I have the opportunity to promote and serve my first and most enduring love, independent bookselling."

The IBC is an information-sharing cooperative made up of 27 independent bookstores around the country. In April, longtime IBC executive director Lori Tucker-Sullivan announced that she was leaving to become program manager with the Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program in the Office of Economic Development at Wayne State University in Detroit, Mich.

G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams

Children's and YA Authors Call for 'No Kids in Cages'

On the eve of Children's Institute 6 in New Orleans, La., a group of 20 prominent children's and YA authors, including Marie Lu, Veronica Roth and Adam Silvera, have spoken out in protest against the Department of Justice's treatment of immigrant children and the separation of children from their families.

In an statement posted online on Monday, the group wrote: "We jointly and strongly condemn the inhumane treatment of immigrant children evidenced by the [DOJ] in the past week. We believe that innocent children should not be separated from their parents. We believe the 'Zero Tolerance' directive issued by Attorney General Jeff Sessions is cruel, immoral and outrageous. We believe the Department of Justice is engaging in practices that should be restricted to the pages of dystopian novels."

The authors have called for others to add their names to an online petition and make contributions to a group of organizations that includes the ACLU, the Florence Project and Kids in Need of Defense.

Within 24 hours the group had raised more than $42,000. By Tuesday afternoon, nearly 1,400 people had donated a combined $84,562, and a new goal of $125,000 has been set.

Blink: Come Home Safe by Brian G. Buckmire

Junot Díaz Cleared in MIT Investigation

Junot Díaz

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology investigation has cleared author and creative writing professor Junot Díaz to return to the classroom for the fall semester. The Associated Press reported that "the inquiry into Díaz's actions toward female students and staff yielded no information that would lead to restrictions on Díaz's role as a faculty member at the university in Cambridge."

Kimberly Allen, director of media relations for the university, said: "To date, MIT has not found or received information that would lead us to take any action to restrict Professor Díaz in his role as an MIT faculty member, and we expect him to teach next academic year, as scheduled."

Melissa Nobles, dean of MIT's School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and Edward Schiappa, section head for Comparative Media Studies/Writing, where Díaz is based, were involved in the internal investigation. They reached out to current students he had taught and had extensive conversations with Díaz and other professors.

Díaz has not commented on MIT's decision, but his agent, Nicole Aragi, told the Boston Globe: "I expected no less. And I'm expecting positive outcomes from any inquiries that test the allegations."

In May, at the Sydney Writers Festival in Australia, author Zinzi Clemmons questioned Díaz about his behavior toward her when she was a graduate student at Columbia. Other female writers stepped forward soon afterward to accuse Díaz of verbal abuse. The allegations spurred MIT to launch an investigation.

Díaz subsequently said he "took responsibility" for his past in a statement provided through his agent to the New York Times: "I am listening to and learning from women's stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement.... We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries."

The Boston Review, where Díaz has been a fiction editor since 2003, also concluded earlier this month that it would "continue their relationship with the author," WBUR reported, adding that in response, three of the magazine's poetry editors said they were "dismayed" and would be stepping down on July 1.

The Pulitzer Prize board is currently conducting an independent review of the allegations against Díaz, who stepped down as chairman but remains part of the organization.

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books: Welcome to the World by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

Amazon Eyes Upstate N.Y. for Distribution Center

After months during which town officials and developers in Schodack, N.Y., remained "tight-lipped on who would fill a 1 million-square-foot distribution center, Amazon was identified as the tenant Monday evening," the Times Union reported. The revelation occurred during a Town Planning Board meeting at which tenant representative Eric Murray confirmed Amazon is working with Scannell Properties to build a 1,015,740-square-foot space for a fulfillment center on 116 acres southeast of Albany.

Andrea Martone, a spokesperson for Scannell Properties, said: "It's too premature in the process to comment. They just don't want us to comment."

"If the project does go forward, Amazon is very careful to work with community partners," Murray said.

Last week, the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency, without disclosing who the prospective tenant might be, "said it planned to offer the developer a 50% cut on its property taxes over a 10-year period, a deviation from its typical property tax incentive plan," the Times Union wrote.

Obituary Note: Brad Steiger

Brad Steiger, bestselling author of books on paranormal and conspiracy topics, died May 6, shortly after completing the manuscript for his final book, Haunted: Malevolent Ghosts, Night Terrors, and Threatening Phantoms, his publisher, Visible Ink Press, reported. He was 82. Born Eugene E. Olson, he grew up on an Iowa farm, where a near-death accident changed his perspective on life when he was 11. This out of body experience eventually led him to research and write about all things "unexplained."

Steiger's first book, Ghosts, Ghouls and Other Peculiar People, was published in 1965. In the early 1970s, his weekly newspaper column, "The Strange World of Brad Steiger," was carried in 80 U.S. newspapers and publications around the world.

Steiger ultimately wrote or co-wrote more than 170 books, which have sold 17 million copies. He married Sherry Hansen in 1987 and together they wrote more than 50 books. Steiger's titles include The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings; Revelation: The Divine Fire; and (with Sherry Hansen Steiger) Conspiracies and Secret Societies: The Complete Dossier; and Real Aliens, Space Beings, and Creatures from Other Worlds.


Image of the Day: Booksellers on Parade

Children's Institute 6, in New Orleans, La., kicked off last night with an opening reception and the first CI costume contest ("come as your favorite kids' book character"). ABA CEO Oren Teicher welcomed everyone, noting that there were "300 booksellers attending, from 36 states--187 of them for the first time." The winners were chosen in a variety of categories, and prizes included gift baskets from publishers and a party for the winner's store. The conference continues with two full days of programming and numerous speakers, including Chelsea Clinton.

Red Emma's in Baltimore Is 'Expanding & Evolving'

Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, which announced recently that it is moving into a new space in Baltimore's Mt. Vernon neighborhood--where it first opened in 2003--spoke with Next City about the challenges the worker-owned business faced "the first time they were looking to finance a new, larger location for their bookstore and café space." By 2013, Red Emma's "had outgrown its original location, but because it is a worker cooperative, most financing entities didn't know how to engage," Next City wrote.

"Nobody would take a chance on us because they didn't understand what we were," said Kate Khatib, one of Red Emma's founding worker-owners. For its latest move, however, Red Emma's received financing from the Baltimore Roundtable for Economic Democracy, one of the local hubs for a national peer network of worker-cooperative lenders and incubators.

The new location is an indication of how the business continues to evolve. Next City noted that "as Red Emma's has grown and brought on new worker-owners, each shapes the business as they begin bringing their own perspectives, interests, and talents into the business." From a founding group of seven, Red Emma's now has 25 worker-owners, and the larger space will allow for 10 more worker-owners. A bar is also part of the plan.

"It's something we know that is needed," Khatib said. "Our worker-ownership is made up of a lot of people who are representing different identity groups that are often made to feel uncomfortable in mainstream spaces. So, one of the things we are really, really thinking a lot about, especially as we increase our alcohol component, is how do we create a bar that feels safe, that feels welcoming, that does not replicate many of the problematic and uncomfortable environments that many spaces do in other parts of the city."

Mel Gross, a newer Red Emma's worker-owner, observed: "It is really important to have spaces that make people question their everyday interactions with spaces, and with people, more importantly. So much of it is not having this coded language around who's allowed to be in a space and what you're allowed to do in a space.... We're trying to make something where the people who work [at Red Emma's] have a little bit more control, a little more capital to work with. But also, where this business can become a way to fundraise and distribute money and collect ideas and share conversations in a little bit more organized way than we're doing at the current location."

Personnel Changes at Chicago Press/Chicago Distribution Center

At the University of Chicago Press and the Chicago Distribution Center:

Saleem Dhamee has been promoted to director, client services & business operations. He has been with the Press and Center for 13 years. He has been senior client liaison manager at the Center, international sales manager and worked in the books marketing department

Latrice Allen has been promoted to manager, business metadata. She has worked at the Press and Center for 30 years, most recently as assistant customer service manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Stephen McCauley on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life (Flatiron Books, $25.99, 9781250122438).

TV: Llama Llama, Season 2

Netflix has ordered a second season of Llama Llama, Genius Brands International's animated series based on the popular children's books by Anna Dewdney, Deadline reported. Jennifer Garner leads the voice cast of the preschooler toon, which premiered in January in 20 countries. Netflix and Genius Brands also unveiled a pair of 30-minute Llama Llama specials, including one for Mother's Day.

"I love Anna Dewdney's award-winning, joyful Llama Llama books and am proud to voice Mama Llama on this very special series for Netflix.... I can't wait to get to work," Garner said.

Llama Llama's creators include director Rob Minkoff (The Lion King), director Saul Blinkoff (Doc McStuffins), showrunner Joe Purdy, art director Ruben Aquino (Frozen) and producers Jane Startz and Andy Heyward.

Books & Authors

Awards: Maxwell Perkins; Foreword INDIES Books

Sonny Mehta, chairman and editor in chief of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, is the recipient of the Center for Fiction's 2018 Maxwell E. Perkins Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Field of Fiction. The award recognizes "an editor, publisher, or agent who over the course of his or her career has discovered, nurtured, and championed writers of fiction in the United States" and is named after legendary Scribner's editor Maxwell E. Perkins.

Concerning Mehta, the Center wrote: "After beginning his career in London, Mr. Mehta moved to New York and joined Knopf in 1987. He is only the third head of that imprint since its founding more than a century ago, following Alfred A. Knopf and Robert Gottlieb. Under Mehta's watch, Knopf has published Toni Morrison, V.S. Naipaul, Alice Munro, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Richard Russo, Orhan Pamuk, Anne Tyler, Anne Rice, and Cormac McCarthy. He is the editor for Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Peter Carey, John Banville, Jo Nesbo, Carl Hiaasen, Rohinton Mistry, and James Ellroy, among others. And his successful launch of Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo helped usher in a new wave of bestsellers by Scandinavian thriller writers."


Winners were named for the INDIES Book of the Year Awards, which are sponsored by Foreword Reviews to "recognize the best books published in 2017 from small, indie and university presses, as well as self-published authors." You can view a complete list of the winners here.

Foreword editors also selected The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman & Beth Dooley (University of Minnesota Press) and The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (Grove Press) as the Editor's Choice winners in the nonfiction and fiction categories respectively. Patagonia was named publisher of the year.

Reading with... Tessa Fontaine

photo: Claire Marika

Tessa Fontaine's writing has appeared in PANK, Seneca Review, the Rumpus, Sideshow World and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is working on a PhD in creative writing at the University of Utah. She also eats fire and charms snakes, among other sideshow feats. The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, May 1, 2018) is her first book. She lives in South Carolina.

On your nightstand now:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I'm almost done with this one, and truthfully, I'd like to hide out for a few days so I can finish and then immediately reread it. A traveling symphony and band of Shakespeare performers journey together after a flu epidemic has wiped out most of humanity, and the novel amazingly weaves the stories of a handful of characters pre- and post-epidemic. I love the way the characters diverge and then reconnect, and how at the center of it all, this human need to perform and tell stories and see art connects people to one another.

The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair. My mom was a painter, but beyond that, she was a lover of colors, so I (have been forced to?) pay a lot of attention to color. This book gives little histories to 75 colors, with anecdotal stories about the ways we have revered them or used them or the mythos behind their naming, like Dragon's Blood, a shade similar to maroon, in whose description we get a brief history of dragon-sightings. I like to read this book before I go to bed, especially if I've been reading Shirley Jackson or something and have scared myself awake.

It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides by Jessica Lee Richardson. I've read this collection of stories before, but wanted to revisit this one story, "Not the Problem," about a lonely grandmother who befriends a family of talking spiders. The writing is so weird and beautiful, and it's fabulist in a way that makes it ring perfectly true. This book plays with short story forms in wild and wonderful ways.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Patchwork Cat by William Mayne, illustrated by Nicola Bayley. This illustrated book is the story of the cat Tabby whose favorite old quilt is thrown into the garbage. She follows it out and takes a nap on it, only to find she's been dumped into a truck and taken to the dump. She must carry the quilt in her little cat teeth on an arduous quest back home. The illustrations are so evocative--both gorgeous and emotional. I still perfectly remember the cat's pained face as she is dragging that blanket home, her furrowed eyebrows, her matted, garbage-laden fur--and also her determination. Apparently, I was so obsessed with reading this book at a friend's house when I was young that her parents just sent the book home with me one day. Persistence!

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. As a kid whose parents divorced when I was very young, the story of a boy flying between newly divorced parents whose plane crashes in the woods had the perfect emotional grounding. And then the real tale is about how he survives alone in the wilderness! It's great, with the kind of gore and terror that kids love--like the scene where Brian (still remember his name without looking it up, thank you very much) has to dive into the sunken plane to retrieve supplies and sees the bloated, drowned pilot still buckled in. Maybe I should blame more of my darkness on Gary Paulsen.

Your top five authors:

This is so hard to choose, so I'm going to qualify this by saying that this is my list of the moment:

Toni Morrison: her books have blown me away at every stage of my life that I've read them. Ok I'd probably always choose her.

Tana French: she both reveals so much in her books but also maintains mystery that makes her books so propulsive.

Jesmyn Ward: both Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing are two of the best novels I've ever read, and the collection The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race, which she edited, is dynamite.

Stephen King: he is, of course, the master of horror. One of his lesser-known books, Lisey's Story, is one of my favorites of all time. And On Writing is fantastically helpful and funny. When I need a treat or reward, I read King.

Robert Hass: I fell in love with Hass's poems when I was in high school, and they still strike me as some of the finest poetry I've ever read. They are not easy, but they are fairly accessible, and they are funny (like his poem about nose-picking called "Shame: An Aria," which is total genius), and sexy and smart and deep and happy and sad.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, but once someone told me it was foolish to be a writer without having read that book, so I said I had, and he asked me something about it, and I excused myself for the bathroom.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Lately, Things That Are by Amy Leach. This collection of essays begins with some subject matter from the natural world and through a series of amazing and unexpected leaps, connect disparate ideas and objects and animals in such a way so as to make me feel as if everything in the world is new again.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I have a collection of the old Oz series by L. Frank Baum (and then others, over the years), most of which I haven't read, but they have gorgeously illustrated covers. I have them in a glass case and display them like fine china.

Book you hid from your parents:

Somehow I got my paws on the techno-thriller The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton in third grade. It was a hard book to read--each page took me a long time to decipher--but I was so enthralled by reading something I probably wasn't supposed to be reading that I carried on until at least page 60, which took me probably two months.

Book that changed your life:

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. This is the first hardcover non-children's book I ever had, purchased at a reading of hers I accidentally stumbled into with my mom. We didn't have much money, and it was a big deal my mom bought me this book. I loved it first for that preciousness, and then once I read the book, I loved it like a limb. The language is poetic and stunning, there is sex and magic, and it absolutely changed what I, as a 12-year-old, thought was possible to make happen with words. I think it might be the moment that I knew I would never stop writing.

Favorite line from a book:

This line, from the poem "From Blossoms" by Li-Young Lee:

"There are days we live/ as if death were nowhere/ in the background."

I liked it so much I quoted it in the speech I gave at college graduation. It made me feel very wise.

Five books you'll never part with:

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski: so weird, so formally creative, so mysterious and compulsive. I treasure the object.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien: one of my favorites of all time. A circular, nonlinear book about war that blurs some interesting fiction/nonfiction lines.

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch: a stunning, heartbreaking memoir of loss and swimming and finding air with language that makes and then unmakes itself.

Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje: this is a near-perfect book. The imagined life of a New Orleans jazz musician we know very little about. It's written in fragments and operates like a mystery at times. So good.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell: this was another early favorite. It follows the story of a Native American girl learning to survive alone on an island. She is bold and brave and miraculous.

Though to be honest, this list really includes about a thousand books.

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

The Round House by Louise Erdrich. At the heart of this novel is a mystery--who attacked Joe's mother? But the book is far from simple. It's set on the edge of an Ojibwe reservation and dives deeply into questions of sacred spaces, land legality, spiritual travel, familial healing, racism, sexism and the moments when we cross our most important thresholds. In addition to the urgency and compulsion of the story, the writing is so, so, so damn good. It's a perfect mix of wanting to turn the page faster to know what happens and wanting to slow it all down to enjoy the ride. Erdrich is a wonder.

Book Review

Children's Review: Illegal

Illegal by Andrew Donkin, Eoin Colfer, illus. by Giovanni Rigano (Sourcebooks, $19.99 hardcover, 144p., ages 10-up, 9781492662143, August 7, 2018)

Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin and illustrator Giovanni Rigano, collaborators on the Artemis Fowl graphic novels, team up once again on the powerful, moving Illegal. Their middle-grade graphic novel is told in two timelines: "Nineteen months earlier" and "now." The book opens with "now": a "Seahawk Inflatable Rubber Dinghy. Maximum safe load 6 people. Currently carrying 14 passengers." The 14 people on this decrepit dinghy are hoping to reach safety in Europe. Razak, whom 12-year-old Ebo and his older brother, Kwame, met along the way, is, like the other people on board, angry--angry at the others, angry at the situation and angry at those who put them in this position: "They don't care if we die here in this boat. They already have our money. They cheated us on the gas and the boat. Even on the number of people. He should not be here."--referring to Ebo. There is no more fuel and no more water, and Ebo is just more weight and another thirsty mouth. Ebo tries to calm everyone down: "If we don't fight and tip over then soon we will reach our new home. People are rich there and will be ready to give us blankets and food. We have a long way to go. This is the beginning...."
Nineteen months earlier, Ebo's brother disappears from their village in Ghana, just like their older sister, Sisi, did years ago. Ebo knows his brother is going to Europe--where Sisi is presumably safely settled---and refuses to be left behind. He collects what's his ("not much") and heads out to find his brother. He has no money to pay his bus fare but is known in the village for his beautiful voice; he sings a crying baby to sleep and the driver allows him to stow away among the luggage on the roof.
Now: the boat begins filling with water. Ebo finds the rip and explains to the other passengers that, if they flip the boat over, they'll be safe. Even though none of them can swim, they survive. They "have no food, water, or gas. [They] are drifting on the tides, lost and alone." "We're going to die, aren't we?" Ebo asks his brother. "Don't say it," Kwame responds.
The narrative continues, moving back and forth through time, depicting every new, painful trial--murder, poverty, dehydration, repeated dehumanization--with sensitivity and nuance. Rigano's illustrations show the beauty of the unforgiving landscapes and the individuals desperately seeking a better life; Colfer and Donkin's text is deep and evocative. Illegal is not an easy read but the creators have made the story both approachable to and captivating for a young audience. With the timely subject material and backmatter dedicated to both the refugee experience and the art of creating a graphic novel, Illegal is sure to be a bookseller, librarian and teacher favorite. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness
Shelf Talker: The team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels collaborates again, for Illegal, a middle-grade graphic novel about a Ghanian boy's escape to Europe.

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