Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Algonquin Young Readers: the Beautiful Game by Yamile Saied Méndez

Berkley Books: Books that will sweep you off your feet! Enter Giveaway!

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber


Stores Plan for Independent Bookstore Day

The rescheduled Independent Bookstore Day 2020 is less than two weeks away--Saturday, August 29--and bookstores around the country have solidified their plans for the annual celebration of bookselling. More than 600 stores are participating this year, and Washington Nationals pitcher Sean Doolittle is this year's IBD ambassador.

IBD has put together a full day of virtual events. The first half of the schedule is packed with children's, middle-grade and YA events and includes drawing classes, author talks and genre discussions. The second half of the schedule focuses on adult books. The penultimate event is a panel discussion about Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of Covid-19, the anthology edited by Jennifer Haupt and meant to benefit independent bookstores. The day's final official event is a talk featuring authors and past IBD ambassadors Tayari Jones, Lauren Groff and Emma Straub.

Throughout the month of August, is asking bookstore customers to share short videos explaining why their local bookstores and are important to them. When readers submit their videos, they receive one free audiobook credit, and on IBD, Libro will share a selection of those videos on the company's blog. Creators who have their videos featured on the website will receive the choice of a $100 gift card to their local indie or a 12-month audiobook membership.

Last year, indie bookstores in Brooklyn, N.Y., teamed up for the first Brooklyn Bookstore Day, which featured, among other things, a bookstore crawl with prizes for customers who shopped at multiple Brooklyn stores on IBD. Due to the pandemic, plans have, of course, had to change, and this year more than 15 Brooklyn bookstores are offering an exclusive Bookstore Day 2020 design that will be available on T-shirts, mugs and tote bags. Purchases can be made through Bonfire and items will be shipped directly to customers. Proceeds from all the sales will be divided equally among participating bookstores, after Brooklyn artist Ping Hatta's commission.

Hatta had already created a design for Brooklyn Bookstore Day 2020 that was meant to be used on this year's passports. She collaborated on that design with Maggie Pouncey, owner of Stories Bookshop, which closed in July. Hatta repurposed the design to be printed on items and sold directly to customers.

In Plainville, Mass., An Unlikely Store Bookstore and Cafe is hosting a virtual event with author Allison Crotzer Kimmel and illustrator Joanie Stone. The pair will introduce Unbeatable Betty, their new picture book biography of Betty Robinson, who was the first female gold medalist at the 1928 Summer Olympics. Brook Doire, Robinson's granddaughter, will join the discussion as well.

And at Vroman's in Pasadena, Calif., graphic novelist Ed Brubaker will be in conversation with author Joe Hill to discuss Brubaker's newest graphic novels Cruel Summer and Pulp (both with art by Sean Phillips). The event is ticketed, and the cost of the ticket includes a hardcover copy of either Cruel Summer or Pulp, which will be mailed to attendees after the event.

Blackstone Publishing: Rogue Community College: A Liberty House Novel by David R Slayton

AAP Sales: Down 'Only' 4.1% in May

Reflecting another full month when much of the country was under stay-at-home orders or business was otherwise limited because of the Covid-19 pandemic, total net book sales in June in the U.S. fell 4.1%, to $1.38 billion, compared to June 2019, representing sales of 1,361 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. For the first half of the year, total net book sales were down 4.2%, to $5.75 billion.

June's sales decline of 4.1% was an improvement over May's drop of 12.1%, and trade sales did especially well during the month. In June, trade sales rose 24.4%, to $700.3 million, and were up 2.8%, to $3.6 billion, for the first half of the year. Also in June, trade hardcover sales rose 35.2%, to $227.6 million, and trade paperbacks rose 22.9%, to $248 million. E-book sales were especially strong in June, with sales up 39%, to $110.3 million, and children's/YA e-book sales jumped 132.5%, to $14.6 million.

By contrast, non-trade areas, such as K-12, higher ed and professional books had sales declines in June.

Sales by category in June 2020 compared to June 2019:

Children's Book Shop in Mass. Crowdsources $27K

Among the bookstores that have launched crowdsourcing campaigns during the Covid-19 pandemic is the Children's Book Shop, Brookline, Mass., whose GoFundMe campaign has raised nearly $28,000. The store easily met its initial goal of $15,000, and raised it to $25,000 after the positive feedback from the community. The campaign is still open.

The Children's Book Shop, which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2017, noted when it launched the campaign in late April, "We've weathered plenty of ups and downs in those more than 42 years--apart from the economic downturns and increased competition from online retailers, in the last few years alone, we've dealt with longtime store owner Terri Schmitz breaking her leg in 2018, the closing of our main wholesaler last year, and now a global pandemic. It's been a pleasure and a privilege to serve as your local independent children's bookstore and to watch your families grow through the years. We've been so happy to give back to our community by working with local schools, teachers, and librarians, donating to local causes, collecting book donations for Reach Out and Read, and sponsoring our annual poetry contest for children in grades K through 8 every year for 24 years and counting! Now, as difficult as it is for us to do, we must turn to our community and ask for your help....

"Funds given to this campaign will help keep the book shop afloat in Brookline Village, where there are already so many empty storefronts and where we have seen so much business turnover over the years. We don't want to be a part of that turnover! We DO want to ensure that we will be financially able to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so. Any and all donations we receive will go directly to covering the necessary operational costs of the business. This includes mortgage payments, payroll, utilities, publisher expenses and invoices, and website fees. Your donation ensures that when we do reopen, it will be with the same booksellers you've come to know and love. While the future of this global crisis remains uncertain, this campaign will help support the Children's Book Shop both in the short term and in the months to come."

After reaching its goal, the store thanked contributors, writing in part, "We will never be able to fully express how grateful we are for the donations, shares, Bookshop and gift certificate orders, and the many kind comments that reminded us why we do this--so we can keep helping our community find the perfect books for years and years to come."

Obituary Note: Kari Lynn Dell

Kari Lynn Dell

Kari Lynn Dell, author of the Texas Rodeo romance series, died last Friday, August 14, at the age of 57, after a battle with cancer, according to her publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Dell was a finalist for a Romance Writers of America's RITA award in 2018 for the third book of her Texas Rodeo series, Tougher in Texas. The sixth, and final, book in the series, Relentless in Texas, was published in late June. Dell was a third-generation ranch-raised cowgirl, horse trainer and Canadian Senior Pro Rodeo Association Breakaway Roping champion.

Mary Altman, senior editor at Sourcebooks Casablanca, said, "Kari's extraordinary resolve and dedication to writing were remarkable, as was her impressive will to write incredible books while quietly doing what she had to do to treat this terrible disease. The Texas Rodeo series is complete, and we are grateful to have these beautiful books--full of hard-won happily ever afters, laughter, stubborn hearts and stubborner horses--with us always as lasting reminders of Kari's extraordinary talent. It brings us comfort to know we can always crack open the covers of her novels and hear her inimitable voice again."

G.L.O.W. - Galley Love of the Week
Be the first to have an advance copy!
A Forty Year Kiss
by Nickolas Butler
GLOW: A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler

A Forty Year Kiss by Nickolas Butler is a passionate, emotionally complex love story that probes tender places within the heart and soul. When 60-somethings Charlie and Vivian--married then divorced in their 20s--reunite after four decades, they are swept up by the very best of what their romantic relationship once offered. "Anyone who has ever thought about what might have been will find this book fascinating," says Shana Drehs, senior editorial director at Sourcebooks Landmark. "The story is a brilliant exploration of a second chance at love, always realistic but never saccharine." As Charlie and Vivian build a bridge from past to present, their enduring love paving over potholes, Butler (Shotgun Lovesongs) raises questions about how life changes people--or does it?--and delivers another heartening, unforgettable novel. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

(Sourcebooks Landmark, $27.99 Hardcover, 9781464221248, 
February 4, 2025)


Shelf vetted, publisher supported


Image of the Day: Books That Wouldn't Exist Without the Post Office

This display window at Women & Children First, Chicago, Ill., is "devoted to epistolary novels and other books that wouldn't exist without the USPS. We also included a selection of cards and pens!"

Mountaineers Books to Distribute the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Mountaineers Books has become the exclusive distributor of books and maps published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).

Founded in 1925, the ATC is a nonprofit with headquarters in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and a mission of protecting and managing the Appalachian Trail and surrounding 250,000 acres of public lands in cooperation with an array of federal, state, and local agencies. The ATC has published guidebooks, maps, and other materials related to the Appalachian Trail for nearly 90 years, handling its own fulfillment from the start and expanding its network since the 1970s, until the operation outgrew its resources and program priorities.

ATC president and CEO Sandra Marra commented: "Partnerships have always been the lifeblood of the Conservancy and its work, from volunteer-centered clubs of all sizes to large national conservation organizations to Cabinet-level federal agencies. We look forward to a long and enduring partnership with the Mountaineers as we evolve the model for our publishing and sales programs."

Tom Helleberg, publisher of Mountaineers Books, said that the ATC and the Mountaineers are "kindred organizations with common missions and a shared understanding of how a robust publishing program can bring new audiences to the outdoors. The ATC's authoritative guides to the country's iconic long trail are a natural fit alongside Mountaineers Books titles in our sales and distribution channels."

Mountaineers Books's other distribution clients include Green Trails Maps, Colorado Mountain Club, Adventure Cycling Association, and American Alpine Club.

Personnel Changes at Workman Publishing

Amanda German has been promoted to assistant gift sales manager for all Workman Publishing Co. imprints. She has been gift sales coordinator and sales assistant. Earlier she was a lead bookseller in the children's department at Barnes & Noble.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Leah Penniman on NPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge

NPR's To the Best of Our Knowledge: Leah Penniman, author of Farming While Black (Chelsea Green, $34.95, 9781603587617).

Books & Authors

Awards: German Book Prize Longlist

A longlist of 20 novels has been selected for the €25,000 (about $29,830) German Book Prize, Börsenblatt reported. The jury will announce a shortlist of six titles on September 15, and the winner will be named on October 12 in a ceremony during the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Hanna Engelmeier, one of the judges, said that the list included many "overwhelming realistic" novels that are "(auto)biographical stories" with historical themes. The longlist also includes novels that are dedicated to "recent debates about identity politics" and novels that experiment and break up the traditional form of the novel.

Reading with... Jessica J. Lee

photo: Ricardo Rivas

Jessica J. Lee is a British-Canadian-Taiwanese author and environmental historian, winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize Emerging Writer Award, and founding editor of the Willowherb Review. Her second book, Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts, is available now from Catapult.

On your nightstand now:

I recently stacked all of my to-be-read pile next to my bed, so there are about 12 books right now! Of these I'm reading Rose Lu's wonderful book of essays, All Who Live on Islands, K-Ming Chang's Bestiary, and am most looking forward to Chia-Chia Lin's The Unpassing.

Favorite book when you were a child:

This is a toss-up between Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry (I was obsessed with horses and riding) and a picture book called Old Black Witch by Wende and Harry Devlin, because it was about a woman who ran a run-down b&b (one of my dream jobs) and included an extraordinary recipe for blueberry pancakes!

Your top five authors:

This is constantly shifting, so I find it helpful to think in categories or moods. For transporting environmental storytelling: Anna Tsing. For stunning poetry and prose: Nina Mingya Powles. For riveting distraction: Ben Aaronovitch, whose Peter Grant novels are endlessly fun. For depth of feeling/days when I need a cry: Rowan Hisayo Buchanan. For atmosphere: Daphne du Maurier.

Book you've faked reading:

At risk of sounding like a true nerd: I can't think of one. For many years, I forced myself to finish every book I started and ploughed through a lot of "classics" because I thought that was what I was meant to do. And I was examined on a lot of them during my Ph.D., so couldn't really fake it! I'm much gentler on myself these days, so unfinished books are really piling up!

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Stolen Bicycle by Wu Ming-Yi. It's a rich tapestry novel I will never tire of reading--attentive to the natural world, memory and place, with a nuanced story of a son and a father. Darryl Sterk's English translation of the book renders the interplay between Mandarin and Taiwanese to stunning effect.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada. The cover was designed by Harriet Lee Merrion, who also designed the cover for my book, Two Trees Make a Forest. I should say it's a fascinating story, too.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't hide books, but my parents definitely showed surprise at my choices. My mother, who grew up under martial law in Taiwan, was beyond surprised that I was allowed to own and read Marx and Engels's The Communist Manifesto, for example.

Book that changed your life:

Art and Engagement by Arnold Berleant. It transformed my thinking about the world, the environment and the senses.

Favorite line from a book:

Richard Mabey's work on plants is easily the best contemporary nature writing, and this line from Weeds has inspired me endlessly: "How and why and where we classify plants as undesirable is part of the story of our ceaseless attempts to draw boundaries between nature and culture, wildness and domestication. And how intelligently and generously we draw those boundaries determines the character of most of the green surfaces of the planet."

Five books you'll never part with:

H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. The Country and the City by Raymond Williams. Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong. I have a battered copy of The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot that I'm rather sentimental about.

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

Probably an odd choice given recent months, but I've long thought about how engulfed I was by my first reading of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Best music for reading and writing:

Broken Twin's EP Hold on to Nothing.

Book Review

Children's Review: Skunk and Badger

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illus. by Jon Klassen (Algonquin Young Readers, $18.95 hardcover, 136p., ages 8-12, 9781643750057, September 15, 2020)

Things start out badly for accidental roommates Skunk and Badger and only get worse in this sweet (though occasionally stinky) story featuring an all-new literary theme--badger meets skunk, badger loses skunk, badger gets skunk back. Amy Timberlake writes with whimsical humor reminiscent of A.A. Milne, Arnold Lobel and Kenneth Grahame, which is reinforced by Jon Klassen's splendid illustrations. Working together, they build a world that is both authentic and fantastically original.

When curmudgeonly Badger, a rock scientist doing "Important Rock Work" in his Aunt Lula's borrowed brownstone, opens the door to find a suspiciously friendly skunk with "too much slick in [his] stripe, too much puff in his tail," he quickly shuts the door, hoping the fellow will go away. He doesn't. Skunk, like Badger, has been offered a room in Aunt Lula's row house. He's eager to move in and make things cozy. (The illustration of Skunk snuggled up in a beanbag chair, reading by lamplight, is cozy beyond measure.) Badger, though attached to the persnickety solitariness of his trade, is tugged inexorably toward Skunk's charming ways: candles and mismatched cloth napkins at breakfast, chickens for friends and talk of "Quantum Leaps" and rocket potatoes.

Skunk and Badger--like so many of their literary odd-couple predecessors--take a while to truly connect. In fact, thanks to an excruciating pileup of prejudice and miscommunication, the two only overcome the biggest bumps in their road to friendship as book one in the proposed trilogy comes to a close. Luckily, Edgar Award winner and Newbery Honoree Timberlake (One Came Home; That Girl Lucy Moon) and Caldecott and Greenaway medal-winner Klassen (This Is Not My Hat; Extra Yarn; Sam and Dave Dig a Hole) have no intention of letting this hard-won friendship fade away. 

Badger's idiosyncrasies and Skunk's cheerfulness mask deeper issues of loneliness, neglect and isolation. "Not everyone wants a skunk," Skunk says when the two meet. And Badger's repeated pushing-away of connections and of troublesome thoughts about his own behavior hint at a history of awkward social encounters. Timberlake takes the most human of dynamics--unrelated roommates--and applies it to a pair of lovably flawed, furry protagonists. Klassen's scratchy black-and-white illustrations are warm and inviting, reassuring readers that, in spite of differences, even when the worst possible things are said, sometimes an apology is all it takes for a Quantum Leap to happen. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Reclusive Badger and gregarious Skunk struggle to connect as new roommates--boundaries are crossed, hurtful things are said--in this charming, funny and touching trilogy opener.

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