Shelf Awareness for Friday, October 19, 2018

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


PRH Merging Random House and Crown Publishing Group

Gina Centrello
photo: Sigrid Estrada

The Crown Publishing Group is merging with Random House and will be led by Gina Centrello, president and publisher, who has headed the Random House division. With the change, which is effective immediately, Maya Mavjee, president and publisher of Crown, is leaving the company at the end of December, after helping with the transition.

Emphasizing that Random House and Crown will "retain their distinct editorial identities," Madeline McIntosh, CEO of Penguin Random House U.S., who announced the merger in a memo to staff, said that the move was necessary because "bringing together these two highly complementary category portfolios with strong editorial leadership in their respective fields allows for more cross-pollination in our efforts to reach readers."

She noted that the general market is "evolving in some fundamental ways. Book discovery and buying patterns continue to shift, resulting in growth opportunities in the nonfiction categories in which Crown in particular already has a strong foothold: food, lifestyle, health, wellness, business and Christian. To further pursue this growth, we will need to do two things simultaneously. First, we must expand and strengthen the expert publishing teams who are specialized in and dedicated to each category.

"Second, we must invest even more aggressively in title-level and scaled marketing programs, capabilities, and partnerships. This will ensure that we not only maximize the sales for each individual book, but also keep pace with consumer trends.

"Both Crown and Random House have been keenly aware of these market opportunities and have been applying their impressive creative and entrepreneurial energies to meet them. I am confident that, teamed together, with joined talents, resources, and strengths, as a united division they will be able to move even more quickly and effectively."

McIntosh said Centrello's leadership skills--"collaborative, nurturing, and strategic"--will help the merged division "to reach an even higher bar of achievement for their authors." In addition, "Aside from their well-earned reputations for excellence in all aspects of publishing, the imprints in the Random House group have garnered accolades for their innovative marketing programs and capabilities; those can now be applied to the benefit of the Crown list. Crown, in turn, has already built expertise in effectively engaging consumers across their portfolio of authors, and they contribute exposure to markets outside of our New York epicenter with their publishing operations in California and Colorado. Together, the group will be able to offer its authors and readers even more robust service and selection across literary and commercial fiction, and narrative and category nonfiction, than ever before."

McIntosh thanked Mavjee profusely for "her role in building and leading Crown these past nine years" and said, "her mark and legacy with Crown and Penguin Random House are indelible...

"Both during her thirteen-year tenure running Doubleday Canada and in her nine years at the helm of Crown, Maya has brought her heart, her business acumen, her taste and her curiosity to bear in the service of great publishing. In Canada, she turned Doubleday into a robustly profitable publisher, established successful new imprints, broadened the scope of the trade paperback lists, and edited and acquired new and established bestselling and prize-winning authors, including Giller Prize-winning authors Vincent Lam, David Adams Richards, and M.G. Vassanji.

"During her time at Crown, she again accomplished a financial turnaround, creating a more profitable structure while simultaneously elevating Crown’s brand identity and its reputation with publishing partners. Under her leadership, Crown published bestselling and award-winning authors, including two presidents--President Obama and President Bush--and two Pulitzer Prize winners--Tom Reiss and Matthew Desmond--as well as Susan Cain, Ernest Cline, Gillian Flynn, Ina Garten, Erik Larson, Anthony Marra, Yotam Ottolenghi, Rebecca Skloot, Martha Stewart, and Andy Weir. Among her many signal achievements was the acquisition of Becoming by Michelle Obama and the future memoir by President Obama."

Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

Wishing Tree Books Opening in Spokane, Wash., Next Spring

Wishing Tree Books, a children's bookstore with an emphasis on literacy, diversity and acceptance, will open next April in Spokane, Wash., Bookselling This Week reported.

Owner Janelle Smith and her husband, Ivan Smith, intend to make events a major part of their store, and plans are already in the works for Independent Bookstore Day, Children's Book Week and National Poetry Month celebrations. They are looking to partner with a local Buddhist temple for monthly storytime sessions focused on compassion and kindness, and with a children's yoga and mindfulness group for yoga classes.

"Everything in our lives has aligned to make this the perfect time," Smith told BTW. "Our kids are older, our 'village' is super supportive, and the community is large enough."

Smith also has plans for a variety of literacy-promoting programs, including one called Neighborhood Reads that will seek to get the whole neighborhood reading and discussing the same book, as well as book groups hosted in partnership with organizations like the Odyssey Youth Movement, which helps local LGBTQ youth.

Smith has been a bookseller at several other stores, including the Children's Corner Bookshop in Spokane, where she started her career, and Auntie's Bookstore, where most recently she was the children's manager. Smith reported that since leaving the latter store last year and deciding to open a store of her own, she's received a ton of support from other indies.

Tegan Tigani, bookseller at Queen Anne Book Company in Seattle, Wash., and her husband have invested in Wishing Tree, and they've purchased the house in which the store will reside once renovations are done. And in fact, another indie bookseller, Melissa Demotte, owner of the Well-Read Moose in Couer d'Alene, Idaho, helped her find that house.

"I've wanted my own children's bookstore almost my entire life," Smith said. "I was probably 14 when I started making lists of books I would carry and events I would hold."

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

New Owner for Books & Mortar in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Jenny Kinne is the new owner of Books & Mortar, Grand Rapids, Mich. Two years after Jonathan Shotwell and Christopher Roe founded the bookstore, they announced Wednesday in a letter to customers that the business had been sold to Kinne, a former staff member who will assume ownership of the store, effective November 1.

"At the onset of our business venture, we always knew Books & Mortar was going to be a start-up project for us," Shotwell and Roe recalled. "We are starters, entrepreneurs, visionaries and creators. We know ourselves well enough to always be on the lookout for the sustainers who can come alongside us and eventually take over for the long haul; so goes the life of a true entrepreneur."

Their plan was always "to find our sustainer in year three, four, or five, but the universe has sent us our sustainer early and we are responding by welcoming her along for the ride.... Jenny's love for books, her progressive values, and her commitment to organizing the community for positive social change was a perfect fit for the store as an employee and, as an owner, will sustain the well known ethos of Books & Mortar long into the future."

Christopher Roe, Jenny Kinne and Jonathan Shotwell.

Noting that Grand Rapids is her hometown, Kinne wrote that she is "extraordinarily honored to lead Books & Mortar into its next chapter here in Grand Rapids. I have worked alongside Christopher and Jonathan for the past year as Bookseller Jenny, soaking up as much of their wisdom, kindness and book smarts as possible. I cannot imagine two better visionaries and mentors to look up to as I step into this exciting space."

In addition to her role at the bookshop, she works for the Michigan League for Public Policy. "In fact, I have spent most of my young adult life pursuing a career in public policy and advocacy," she said. "Making the decision to leave my public policy career in order to run Books & Mortar is tough for me. I am deeply passionate about studying public policy and working to change our political system. Thankfully, Christopher and Jonathan have embraced this passion of mine, and they have demonstrated how political activism can become an integral part of a bookstore's mission."

Shotwell and Roe concluded their letter by observing: "As we have said from day one, the true testament to this community is not in Jonathan & Christopher for creating and operating this bookstore, but in you, the people, who have proven that this community deeply cares for a progressive, independent bookstore and will stop at nothing to see it remain a vibrant and robust fixture in our community. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for two of the most magical and formidable years of our lives. Your endless support over these past two years and your continued support of Jenny means more than you will ever know. Keep reading, keep resisting, and keep repeating."

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Ferguson Books Adding Second Location in N.Dak.

Ferguson Books & More, Grand Forks, N.Dak., will host a grand opening celebration November 10 for its second location, at 413 East Broadway Ave. in downtown Bismarck. Both stores carry used and new titles, as well as toys and other gift items.

"We have had a wonderful response from both downtown leaders and book customers from the Bismarck/Mandan area, and quite frankly, have been asked to locate here for many years," said co-owner Dane Ferguson.

Since last spring, Ferguson Books has featured pop-up shops around the tri-state area, including a stop in Bismarck during the summer, which Ferguson described as "a smashing success--one that made us realize we need to be in this market fulltime."

Obituary Note: Todd Bol


Tod Bol

Todd Bol, founder and executive director of the Little Free Library who "spent much of the last decade working towards his vision of a world where neighbors know each other by name, and everyone has access to books," died October 18. He was 62. LFL noted that he "was heartened by the network of more than 75,000 Little Free Library stewards around the world dedicated to literacy and community." LFLs now exist in 88 countries.

In 2009, Bol "hammered together the first Little Free Library. Then he built a movement around it," the Star Tribune wrote, adding that he "believed the now-ubiquitous little boxes of books--and the neighbors who cared for them--could change a block, a city, the world. So he brought them to front yards all over, often installing them himself."

"He was always looking at how the world could be a better place and believed that people were really how to achieve that," said Margret Aldrich, who wrote The Little Free Library Book. "He never got tired of seeing someone's Little Free Library. Every Little Free Library was his favorite Little Free Library. He genuinely loved this movement and the people behind it."

In a recent interview, Bol reflected on the power of the little libraries and the people behind them: "I can give you thousands of examples of people doing things across the globe, fixing their neighborhood one book, one child at a time."

Bol's younger brother, Tony, told MPR: "He has always used the phrase, he's a social entrepreneur. And the Little Free Libraries are more like a movement than a market. He's more in the creating mindset than the selling mindset.... He just loved the thing so much, and he resonated joy as he talked about it. It was infectious and that worked."

His legacy will endure. In a statement, LFL board chairman Monnie McMahon said the board and senior staff "are pursuing an interim plan to provide continuity of organizational oversight.... Staff, partners, and close business associates of the organization are being informed of changes that may affect them, but daily activity is little-changed. Tony Bol will be taking on some of Todd's public relations and other responsibilities. The organization's staff and board are deeply appreciative of Todd's leadership and good work and are carrying forward his vision of a strong and expanding book-sharing network in his memory."


Image of the Day: Honoring Ms. Burton

Goddard Riverside Community Center and Book Culture on Manhattan's Upper West Side hosted author Susan Burton in conversation with Pulitzer Prize winner James Forman, Jr., about her memoir, Becoming Ms. Burton, winner of the 2017 Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Social Justice Book Prize. Pictured: (l.-r.) Ellen Adler, publisher of the New Press; Forman; Burton; and Susan Macaluso, director of community arts programs for Goddard Riverside.

Bookshop Halloween Display: Loganberry Books

Harriett Logan, owner of Loganberry Books in Shaker Heights, Ohio, shared a photo on the shop's Facebook page of her courageous efforts as "Chief Spider-Master" to hoist "Nellie up to the skylight in preparation for Halloween and the Haunted Bookshop. PS: Any literary whiz kids know why she’s called Nellie?"

Bookshop Poster of the Day: Bunch of Grapes Bookstore

"You're gonna need a bigger book club." On Facebook, Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, Vinyard Haven, Mass., shared an entertaining photo of a poster promoting its in-store book group by retooling a line from the movie Jaws (most of which was filmed on Martha's Vineyard), noting: "After many false starts, much discussion, and endless notes, the Bunch of Grapes book club is launching NEXT Monday--one week from today!! We will be discussing SING, UNBURIED, SING, so come grab a copy for 20% off and join us at 5 p.m. on October 22. (And if you've already read it, please come join the discussion!)"

Consortium Adds National Association for the Education of Young Children

Consortium Book Sales and Distribution will distribute book titles by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), effective November 3.

NAEYC, Washington, D.C., promotes "high-quality early learning for all young children, birth through age eight, by connecting early childhood practice, policy, and research [and supports] all who care for, educate, and work on behalf of young children."

The association has published books for more than 80 years, focusing on research-based titles that support effective teaching and learning for children. Books include Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children Through Age 8; Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves; and Ethics and the Early Educator. It also publishes consumer-oriented research-to-practice books such as Making and Tinkering with STEM: Solving Design Challenges with Young Children and Big Questions for Young Minds: Extending Children's Thinking. Key forthcoming titles include Serious Fun: Guiding Play to Extend Children's Learning; Spotlight on Young Children: Advancing Equity and Embracing Diversity; The Essentials: Developmentally Appropriate Technology Practice in the Classroom; and Families + Educators Building Great Relationships that Support Young Children.

Julie Schaper, v-p, Ingram Publisher Services-Consortium, said that the association's "influential books for educators and parents serve a vital role in the early learning landscape, and complement our list of award-winning presses."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: David and Nic Sheff on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: David Sheff and Nic Sheff, authors, respectively, of Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction (Eamon Dolan/Mariner, $16.99, 9781328974716) and Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines (Atheneum, $13.99, 9781534436572). Both books are the basis for the film Beautiful Boy, which opened last week.

MSNBC's Weekends with Alex Witt: Nina Burleigh, author of Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump's Women (Gallery, $28, 9781501180200).

TV: The Hypnotist's Love Story; Dorian

ABC is developing a drama series based on Liane Moriarty's novel The Hypnotist's Love Story. Deadline reported that the project "hails from Heather Graham (Half Magic), who co-stars and executive produces; writer Katie Wech (Jane the Virgin); ABC Studios; and studio-based Mandeville Television."

Graham "has been the driving force behind the project," Deadline added, noting that she "brought the book to Mandeville and ABC Studios after meeting with several producers. The pitch was then honed at the studio and sold to ABC."


The CW network is developing a series based on Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.” Variety reported that Dorian will be "a comedic spin on the classic story. It follows a woman who made a deal with the devil 50 years ago to remain young and has spent the subsequent decades living selfishly and without consequences. As the downsides of eternal youth finally land on her, Dorian is ready to grow up and age gracefully, but, to do so, she'll have to make amends for half a century of bad behavior."

Writer and executive producer Marisa Coughlan heads the project, with Len Goldstein also executive producing. Warner Bros. Television will produce.

Books & Authors

Awards: Readings New Australian Fiction

Jennifer Down has won the 2018 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction for Pulse Points, a collection of 14 short stories. The judges called the book "an elegant and accomplished work of fiction" that stood out for "its emotional maturity and complexity."

Chair Ellen Cregan added: "'All of the stories in this collection are examples of the extent to which empathy can be employed in fiction. Down looks at human emotion under a microscope in each of these stories, but always does so with care and compassion."

Pulse Points will be published in the U.S. by Text Publishing November 6.

Reading with... John Freeman

photo: Deborah Treisman
John Freeman is the editor of Freeman's, the literary biannual of new writing published by Grove. He's also the author of Maps, a collection of poems, and How to Read a Novelist, as well as several anthologies on inequality in the U.S. The former editor of Granta, he lives in New York and teaches at New York University and the New School. His work has been published in the New Yorker and the Paris Review and been translated into more than 20 languages.
On your nightstand now:
Sabrina by Nick Drmasco, a beautiful and disquieting graphic novel about a missing girl and the spectacle of suffering. We consume each other's pain these days in the U.S. and for the first time I've found a book that dramatizes how that is done, what this diet does to us. I'm also rereading View with a Grain of Sand, poems by Wislawa Szymborska; I love the way her poems are like tidy garden mazes, you get lost just enough in their clean, clear pathways to come back chastened, renewed.
Favorite book when you were a child:
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. I wanted to be stuck on a planet with talking animals; I wanted a tree with crazy, never-ending roots; I loved the feeling of mystery and melancholy that spun off this book like dark lights.
Your top five authors:
Tomas Tranströmer, for poems that are both part of a search and the destination of that search; Barry Lopez, for seeing the world in its own terms, from Alaska to the forests of Japan; Toni Morrison, for her endless understanding of (and forgiveness of--aren't they the same thing?) human nature; Hafez, for inventing how to talk about love; and Haruki Murakami, for a jazz-like improvisational sense of play, even about the most serious things.
Book you've faked reading:
The Bible--I was forced to read it. Then I stopped.
Book you're an evangelist for:
I'm really sorry, I cannot reduce it to one. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat, which seems to me The Dubliners of Our Times; The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota, for the unbearable beauty of those sweeping narratives; Arctic Dreams by Barry Lopez, for telling us what the loss of the environment is doing to our imagination; and Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz, for cracking open a city and a family like it was nothing.
Book you've bought for the cover:
Naked Lunch--it turned out to be far more organized than the contents.
Book you hid from your parents:
Anaïs Nin's Delta of Venus, which described in great detail sex acts I was learning about in school; only she gave me the idea they might one day be enjoyable.
Book that changed your life:
There are several, including Wuthering Heights, which made me a reader, and 1984, which made me realize ethics are always related to narrative. But mostly I think of Memories Look at Me, a little book by Tomas Tranströmer, the last book he published, after having a stroke that left him aphasic the last 25 years of his life. He doesn't try to tell his life like a movie reel, nor does he retrieve anything as if it should be of value. His recollections are shards, beautiful, tender and strange, like life feels.
Favorite line from a book:
" a rich armor worn in the heat of day, that scaldst with safety." --Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part II. It reminded me that ego and vanity and so much else do not at all make us safe, very little does actually.
Five books you'll never part with:
A first edition of Giovanni's Room, which I bought with all my savings in the world in 1996, back when NYC was lousy with signed copies of his books, he'd been so forgotten; the copy of William Carlos Williams's The Doctor Stories my dad bought me 30 years ago, when he thought I'd be a physician; my ratty old City Lights paperback of Kaddish, Allen Ginsberg's poem about his mother; Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich's masterpiece of a novel; The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller, a novel of such exquisite beauty and pain and which reminds how love is the only thing that redeems us from the worlds we make.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Anything by Mahmoud Darwish, to read poems which are songs and poems at the same time is the best kind of shock.

Book Review

Review: Late-Life Love

Late-Life Love: A Memoir by Susan Gubar (Norton, $25.95 hardcover, 272p., 9780393609578, November 13, 2018)

In her early 70s, moving with her beloved older husband to a more manageable apartment, editor and critic Susan Gubar (Memoir of a Debulked Woman) turned to literature and the arts to find stories of romance and devotion in old age. Late-Life Love combines criticism with her memoir of the persistent love in her marriage, despite the pains and humiliations of advanced age.
In most works of art, love has been traditionally tied to youth. After a certain age, women in particular are supposed to give up romantic love and focus all their affection on younger generations. "This terrible and terribly influential belief that Eros hates old people seems to be intensified by a lens of ageism that presents people beyond their prime as fearful, garrulous, foolish, solipsistic, or doddering; as useless, isolated, or exploitable--characteristics that crowd out the idea of older people as loving or longing for love."
Couples who meet late in life, as Gubar met her husband, are her first subject. After a certain age, most people have learned a few things about love and relationships, but also carry emotional baggage and deep-set loyalties to family and places. Untrustworthy bodies, anxiety about lost looks and fear that the time left may be too short can all act as obstacles to new love. Some of her other themes are the revival of early infatuations, the exhausting work of caretaking, "the sense of an ending that saturates the powerful affections of love in later life" and lechery as a futile defense against decline and death. A daunting list, but she shows that, for those lucky enough to have a loving partner, passion, kindness and mutual interests can overcome all these difficulties.
Works she considers include poems by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Donald Hall, the opera Fidelio, Ovid's Metamorphoses, Samuel Beckett's play Happy Days and novels by Gabriel García Márquez, Toni Morrison, Marilynne Robinson, Philip Roth and John Updike. Between them, she manages her husband's care, quilts, remembers past moments of romance and reports new ones, and attends a cancer support group for herself. They lose old friends, accept the support of family and make the most of what they still have together. The fictional couples she has collected here "extol--amid the ordeals of aging--the mutuality and reciprocity, the passion and compassion at the heart of tender relationships in later life." --Sara Catterall
Shelf Talker: Stories of romantic love in old age from literature and the arts intertwine with a thoughtful memoir of the author's resilient marriage.

Deeper Understanding

Robert Gray: On the Book Path--Heartland Fall Forum 2

"People often ask me, 'How is it that, in the midst of things, you're writing about joy?' " poet Ross Gay (The Book of Delights: Essays, Algonquin, February) said during the Tasting Notes Dinner at this year's Heartland Fall Forum. "And my response is always--and certainly relative to events now--along the lines of: There's nothing more important than thinking about and writing about and meditating on what you love. So, this book is kind of a gesture toward that, or an exercise in cultivating the possibility of delight, building the possibility of delight."

The ongoing chronicle of my fall bookseller trade show path is a bit like that, too. I listened.  Amazing conversations occurred everywhere I turned--with booksellers, authors, publishers--on a bustling trade show floor, around dining tables and in the lobbies and corridors of the historic Depot in Minneapolis. I love--I delight--in hearing everyone's takes regarding our complicated world of books, though I tend to keep most of these exchanges confidential. I learn so much more that way.

I can say that what I heard was a generous dose of optimism about the Heartland Fall Forum and the future of indie bookselling, seasoned with a measure of caution about the future in general. So many good words--enlightening and educational, inspiring and, well, just damn delightful--were in the air at Heartland; more than enough to share, including these:

"How Not-So-Big Stores Can Act Big" panel: (front l. to r.) Daley Farr of Milkweed Books, Minneapolis; Riley Jay Davis of Common Good Books, St. Paul; Wendy Sheanin of S&S; (back l. to r.) Eric Obenauf of Two Dollar Radio, Columbus, Ohio; Kelly Estep of Carmichael's Bookstore, Louisville, Ken.

At one of the education sessions, Two Dollar Radio co-founder Eric Obenauf observed: "We had been talking about opening up a storefront [in Columbus, Ohio] for several years before the 2016 election, but that was the fuel, the impetus to actually get out into the community and try to plant a flag and say this is what we're for, to engage in conversations in the community not just about books. About what's happening in the world. And ideally not feel so alone."

I heard author Kate DiCamillo (Louisiana's Way Home, Candlewick) express her gratitude to booksellers "for what you do putting books in readers' hands. I wouldn't be sitting up here without handselling. So I'm deeply grateful to you.... I feel like it matters now more than ever what we do and it's always a good thing to remind ourselves of."

"Fun & Games" panel: (l. to r.) Aman Winslow, Erik Winslow, Zoe Malinchoc of Fair Trade Books, Red Wing, Minn.; Grant Alden of of CoffeeTree Books, Moorehead, Ken.; Zach Matelski of McLean & Eakin Bookstore, Petoskey, Mich.

In a first--at least for me--Zoe Malinchoc of Fair Trade Books in Red Wing Minn., brought two customers, Aman and Erik Winslow, to Heartland for a "Fun & Games" education session. The couple have an extensive private collection of vintage board games and partner with the bookshop to help run its community family board game nights. Aman noted the events allow participants to "get to know the different people in the community at the same time and develop more of a relationship with them.... It becomes like a community center where everybody can get together and relax and have fun."

During the session "How Not-So-Big Stores Can Act Big," Wendy Sheanin, v-p, independent retail sales at Simon & Schuster, left no doubts about her position: "I don't care what size your store is. I care how big your mouth is. And I mean that in the best way.... how passionate you are.... how you care about my books and how you champion them to your customers and how you tell us."

Daley Farr of the 600-square-foot Milkweed Books in Minneapolis noted that "part of what's been successful for our store is just really leaning in to the personality you have.... What we're able to offer that no one else can, even in a town with as many lovely bookstores as we have, is our particular personalities and mix of titles and so we're really trying to extend that impression."

Ron Koltnow, retired Penguin Random House sales rep and author of Barberton Fried Chicken: An Ohio Original (The History Press, Nov. 19) in his publisher's Heartland Fall Forum booth. The team: (l. to r.) Beth Pickens, Erin Ownes, Koltnow, Katie Parry

At the Tasting Notes Dinner, Chicago's Women & Children First co-owner Lynn Mooney introduced Nina Barrett, author of The Leopold and Loeb Files (Agate Midway) and owner of Bookends and Beginnings in Evanston, Ill.

"I was so happy to hear that Lynn was introducing me, because I have this long involvement with Women & Children First, which is where I learned everything I needed to know to open an independent bookstore," Barrett said. "I began what would become my bookselling career at the same time that I began my writing career and it was mainly to combat the isolation of writing that I started moonlighting a day or two a week at Women & Children First.... When the chance presented itself to open Bookends and Beginnings, I jumped at it. So I feel very privileged and honored to be here tonight with you, my tribe, my peeps, and I know firsthand that you can't handsell every single book in your store, but that when you do decide to put the awesome magic and power of bookselling behind a book, you can create miracles."

Sophie Blackall, illustrator of Winnie's Great War (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut, kept poetry on the radar during the Children's Author Breakfast by reading Gwendolyn Brooks's "Book Power," which includes the lines:

In all this willful world
of thud and thump and thunder
man's relevance to books
continues to declare.

Then she said: "I am delighted to be here in the Heartland with fellow authors and illustrators who dream up stories that feed and cure and chortle and collide; with publishers who help us turn them into books; with booksellers who help those books find their way into the arms of readers..."

Good words indeed. Next week, my book path crosses a bridge between the Heartland and the Rockies.

--Robert Gray, contributing editor (Column archives available at Fresh Eyes Now)

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