Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Yen Press: The God of Nishi-Yuigahama Station by Takeshi Murase, Translated by Guiseppe Di Martino

Peachtree Publishers: Erno Rubik and His Magic Cube by Kerry Aradhya, Illustrated by Kara Kramer

Beacon Press: Kindred by Octavia Butler

Inkshares: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel

Tundra Books: On a Mushroom Day by Chris Baker, Illustrated by Alexandria Finkeldey

Simon & Schuster: Register for the Simon & Schuster Fall Preview!

St. Martin's Press: Sacrificial Animals by Kailee Pedersen


Grand Opening: NOLA's Baldwin & Co. Bookstore & Coffee Shop

Baldwin & Co. bookstore and coffee shop, located at 1030 Elysian Fields Ave., New Orleans, La., recently celebrated its grand opening. reported that last Saturday, owner D.J. Johnson "walked out of his new bookstore and coffee shop Baldwin & Co., greeted friends and well wishers arrayed in front and cut a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the next phase of a development he is gradually building at the corner of Elysian Fields and Saint Claude avenues." The first phase of the project was NOLA Art Bar, a combination art gallery and lounge.

"This is a place for people to come and engage in interpersonal conversation," said Johnson, who named the business after the writer and activist James Baldwin, and has a mission built on community outreach, education and what he calls the "growth mindset.... To pick up a book and choose education over entertainment, pick conversation over texts." Baldwin & Co. will be a hub for literacy programs, book clubs and other outreach efforts.

The setting is "a conversation piece, even an art piece," wrote. "A honeycomb pattern of black tile contrasts with bare floorboards. Counters with seats for two jut from the brick walls. James Baldwin's face, painted on the spines of old books, looks out from the display shelves stocked with new ones, ranging from literature and business to history and children's books. The verses of the Langston Hughes poem 'I, Too' line another wall. At the back of the shop, there's an audio studio, encased in glass between wood beams, equipped with gear for recording podcasts, another way to keep the conversations going."

On opening day, there was a line of people eager to visit, a brass band played and city officials made the rounds. "But even in the days before Johnson cut the ribbon to officially open, there were already signs of what Baldwin & Co. could be," noted. "As soon as the construction paper came off the windows, offering a glimpse of the gleaming, colorful space, neighbors started coming in, eager to learn what was next."

"This is about giving back to the community, which has given so much for me," Johnson said.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

Arundel Books, Seattle, Wash., Opens in New Home

Arundel Books in Seattle, Wash., moved into a new space last Saturday at 322 1st Ave. S, in an historic building dating back to 1900. The new space is larger than the previous location in Pioneer Square and is open seven days per week from noon to 6 p.m. The building originally housed the Capitol Brewing and Malting Company, which later became the Olympia Brewing Company, and was home to a gallery called Flury & Co. for decades 

Arundel was founded in 1984 as an art and poetry publisher and in 1987 began selling rare and out-of-print books. Now Arundel Books has a full retail bookstore and an affiliate publisher called Chatwin Books, as well as a book printing and binding operation.

GLOW: Torrey House Press: Life After Dead Pool: Lake Powell's Last Days and the Rebirth of the Colorado River by Zak Podmore

Wi16: All You Need Is Love

During Winter Institute 16 last week, a panel of independent booksellers from around the country convened to discuss the benefits of carrying romance novels and ways booksellers can make their stores more welcoming to romance readers, and suggested LGBTQ+ romances they love.

Amanda Toronto, bookseller at WORD Bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y., moderated the discussion, which included Mariana Calderon, store manager at Second Star to the Right in Denver, Colo., Jenny Cohen, co-owner of Waucoma Bookstore in Hood River, Ore., and Rebecca Speas, bookseller at One More Page Books in Arlington, Va.

Cohen began by offering some insight into the financial benefits of carrying romance, noting that the genre constitutes a massive, growing market, and she explained that her store's first foray into the genre was with Fifty Shades of Grey. Acknowledging that it wasn't everyone's favorite example of the genre, Cohen noted that it "was a good example of money." The store didn't have a romance section before Fifty Shades, and the section that they put it in saw its sales increase by 3,200%. Many customers who bought Fifty Shades wanted more of the genre, which led to the creation of a romance section that has seen huge increases in sales year over year.

Calderon reported that her store is primarily a children's bookstore, but those "children come with adults, usually." Last year the store created a "teeny tiny" romance section to coincide with Bookstore Romance Day, and the small, highly curated selection does very well. When it comes to handselling romance books in a children's bookstore, Calderon said you sometimes have to "think creatively" about it, and the number one thing that she's had success with is telling customers that every book has a "guaranteed happy ending." Especially during the pandemic, once customers hear that a book will make them happy, they "snap it up."

Speas said her store "loves our romance readers so much," adding that romance fans are voracious readers and very loyal customers. When her store first started carrying romance, it launched a romance book club, which quickly became one of the store's favorites. Romance readers face a lot of snobbery, she continued, so making them feel welcome and making your store judgment free is crucial to bringing in those customers. On the subject of queer romance in particular, she pointed out that so much of literary culture is "incredibly eager to sell queer pain and queer tragedy," while queer romance depicts queer "joy and passion and pleasure."

The bookseller portion of the panel concluded with each of the panelists recommending some queer romance titles. Cohen suggested the graphic novel Heartstopper by Alice Oseman and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Speas pointed to Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert and The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian, while Calderon recommended The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune and Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance by S.W. Searle. The panelists also created an Edelweiss catalog containing other romance recommendations.

The second half of the session featured a roundtable discussion among authors of queer romance, with David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy) moderating. The panelists included Dahlia Adler, author of Cool for the Summer; Alyssa Cole, author of How to Find a Princess; Casey McQuiston, author of Red, White, & Royal Blue; Paul Rudnick, author of Playing the Palace; Phil Stamper, author of The Gravity of Us; and Aiden Thomas, author of Cemetery Boys.

The authors offered queer romance recommendations of their own, with Stamper suggesting Can't Take That Away by Steven Salvatore; Rudnick recommending The Swimming Pool Library by Alan Hollinghurst; Adler pointing to You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson; McQuiston mentioning The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite; Thomas advocating for We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia; Levithan suggesting Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender; and Cole recommending the authors E.E. Ottoman and Katrina Jackson. --Alex Mutter

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

International Update: British Bookshops to Reopen in April, Aid for German Bookstores & Publishers

At Drake the Bookshop, Stockton-on-Tees

Booksellers are expressing cautious optimism regarding the news that bookshops in England can expect to re-open beginning April 12, according to U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's new roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions, the Bookseller reported. In a briefing on Monday, Johnson said the re-opening of "non-essential" stores will occur in two months time, as part of later stage in a phased strategy by the government.

The Booksellers Association will prepare a re-opening social media campaign and re-issue the shop safety kits that were delivered to shops last summer. Managing director Meryl Halls said: "We are pleased to have a date to aim for for the re-opening of bookshops in England, however distant April might still feel to us in February. With the falling death and hospitalization numbers, and the increasingly heartening news about vaccination efficacy, it feels like booksellers can let themselves see a little chink of hope.

"We will also, of course, be seeking clarity on the government guidance and support available to our members, of whatever size--and sharing that with booksellers. The BA will shortly be announcing a recovery project for bookshops to help them through this--hopefully--final re-opening, and we know that our members, resilient and robust as they are, will embrace the return to the high street, and to safely re-opening their bookshops and reinforcing their importance to the books ecosystem."

Layla Hudson, director of Round Table Books, observed: "We're taking things very cautiously now, based on the data that's already existing from previous lockdown, so we are keeping an eye on things--maybe thinking about opening towards the end of April, beginning of May, depending on how things go with the schools opening in March. We need to make sure our staff are as safe as possible before we start going back in."

Nic Bottomley, owner of Mr. B's Emporium, Bath, noted that "having a date to work towards quite a way out is a really good thing. Would I like it to be sooner? Of course, we'd love it from the perspective of being keen to normalize, but I don't think anyone wants to rush out of this lockdown into another one. It's refreshing to a degree that this time the government have given credit to the public and business owners for being able to understand the concept of a date that is contingent on something. We will start planning for [reopening], but there are a few more weeks of lockdown trading before that."

Blackwells' CEO David Prescott said "the sooner we can get everybody back safely in our shops, both staff and customers, the better for everybody." Waterstones COO Kate Skipper noted: "Clearly we all hope that this will be the last need for a lockdown and if the lifting of restrictions are kept in-step with the cheering vaccination rates then there is much cause for optimism."

Bookshops in Scotland are also expected to reopen in April, the Bookseller reported. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said stay-at-home rules should be lifted April 5, with retail starting to open up; this would begin with an extension of the definition of essential retail and the removal of restrictions on click and collect. She had previously branded bookshops "essential" retailers and allowed them to offer click-and-collect service during lockdown. The Bookseller cautioned that "it is not clear yet if they will be allowed to reopen at this point."

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said an order to stay at home could end in three weeks with the possibility that some non-essential shops could reopen then. Northern Ireland's restrictions will not be reviewed until March 18.


German culture minister Monika Grütters has promised at least €50 million (about $60.7 million) in new aid for German bookstores and publishers to help them "avoid the worst," according to Alexander Skipis, head of the Börsenverein, the German book industry association, as reported in an interview in Börsenblatt.

Skipis said that during a long conversation with Grütters last week, he outlined the difficulties faced by German booksellers in the current second hard lockdown, which began last December at the height of the holiday season. He also called for "a quick opening for bookstores," not only for financial reasons but also for "cultural-political reasons. During a time when society is mentally burdened by lockdown measures and the threats of the pandemic, the nearly complete lack of any cultural offerings--browsing and having books recommended in a bookstore, for example, but also visits to museums and theaters--is unacceptable considering that the danger of an infection when following hygiene protocols is extraordinarily small."

He added that Grütters is "fighting like a lion" for the cultural world and is doing everything in her power to allow bookstores to open as soon as possible.

Asked about the association's Frankfurt Book Fair, Skipis said that "because of the continuing uncertain situation, 2021 threatens to be an uncalculable risk for the fair." Grütters, he said, understands that a financial safeguard needs to be made this year "to be sure a book fair remains possible" in the future.

Besides carrying over €2 million (about $2.4 million) from last year in state aid that would have gone to a reduction in booth prices (and will be applied in the same way this year), Grütters promised an additional €5 million ($6 million) to support the fair in 2021.


In Thailand, Bangkok's leading bookstore chain B2S has opened a new branch in the heart of the city: B2S Think Space at Central Chidlom, on the sixth floor of Central Group's flagship department store. TimeOut reported that the store is "aptly designed with mirror ceilings and the curvy contour that both visually expand the entire space. The bookshelf tunnel, however, is the show-stopping highlight for a highly creative snap for your Instagram." --Robert Gray

HarperFocus Launches Harper Muse Imprint

HarperCollins Focus is launching Harper Muse, an imprint that will focus on women's fiction, historical fiction and Southern fiction with stories that "resonate with Millennial and Generation X readers." Harper Muse is headed by v-p and publisher Amanda Bostic, and headquarters are in HarperCollins Focus's Nashville, Tenn., location.

Harper Muse will release three titles in 2021 and seven in 2022. The imprint's debut title, to be published this fall, is Once Upon a Wardrobe by Patti Callahan, a historical novel set in 1950 that will be Callahan's 16th published novel. Harper Muse has signed other authors including Ariel Lawhon, Kristina McMorris and Susan Meissner.

"Stories have a profound ability to connect people--especially in the fragmented world we find ourselves in today," Bostic commented. "We want Harper Muse to be a place where readers can escape with novels that offer hope and encouragement throughout the day--the kind of stories that continue to run through your mind days after you have put the book down."

Obituary Note: Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, distinguished American poet, artist and founder of City Lights Booksellers and Publishers in San Francisco, died February 22. He was 101 years old. In a tribute, City Lights noted that Ferlinghetti "was instrumental in democratizing American literature by creating (with Peter D. Martin) the country's first all-paperback bookstore in 1953, jumpstarting a movement to make diverse and inexpensive quality books widely available. He envisioned the bookstore as a 'Literary Meeting Place,' where writers and readers could congregate to share ideas about poetry, fiction, politics, and the arts. Two years later, in 1955, he launched City Lights Publishers with the objective of stirring an 'international dissident ferment.' [His own Pictures of the Gone World] was the first volume of the City Lights Pocket Poets Series, which proved to be a seminal force in shaping American poetry."

Ferlinghetti in front of City Lights, c. 1955

Ferlinghetti continued to write and publish new work until he was 100 years old. "For over 60 years, those of us who have worked with him at City Lights have been inspired by his knowledge and love of literature, his courage in defense of the right to freedom of expression, and his vital role as an American cultural ambassador," City Lights wrote. "His curiosity was unbounded and his enthusiasm was infectious, and we will miss him greatly. We intend to build on Ferlinghetti's vision and honor his memory by sustaining City Lights into the future as a center for open intellectual inquiry and commitment to literary culture and progressive politics. Though we mourn his passing, we celebrate his many contributions and give thanks for all the years we were able to work by his side."

Paul Yamazaki, City Lights buyer and a close friend, told Hoodline that while Ferlinghetti's death is a huge loss, he hopes people can celebrate his life: "That's what he would want. As we are all aware, it was quite a life. It's like the sun and moon, and it's going to affect us for a long, long time in a really positive way.... As the years have passed, what was always important to Lawrence was that we continue the tradition at City Lights that has been established over the last 68 years. That's what we are going to do."

Nancy Peters, co-owner and retired executive director of City Lights, told the San Francisco Chronicle: "It was my good fortune to have worked closely with him for more than 50 years. We've lost a great poet and visionary. Lawrence--never Larry--was a legend in his time and a great San Franciscan."

Ferlinghetti's many poetry books include A Coney Island of the Mind, which was published in 1958 and has never gone out of print, with a million copies released in a dozen languages. His final book, the novel Little Boy, was published a week before his 100th birthday.

The Chronicle wrote that "his greatest contribution to the world of letters was as co-founder of City Lights, a paperback bookstore and propeller of the San Francisco Renaissance in poetry." As a publisher, one of his first books was Allen Ginsberg's Howl & Other Poems (1956), which was introduced at the famed Six Gallery reading on Fillmore Street in October 1955.

"Lawrence Ferlinghetti kicked open the door to free up publishing in this country," said San Francisco novelist Herbert Gold. "He risked a great deal for a lot of books that are now considered classics."

In a 2018 Chronicle interview, Ferlinghetti said of San Francisco: "It seemed like it was still the last frontier, which it isn't anymore. I mean, in 1951, it was a wide-open city, and it seemed like you could do anything you wanted to here. It was like there was so much missing that if it was going to be a real city, there was so much that it had to get, that it didn't have. And, for instance, as far as bookstores go, all the bookstores closed at 5 p.m. and they weren't open on the weekends. And there was no place to sit down. And there was usually a clerk on top of you asking you what you wanted.... And so the first thing I realized, there was no bookstore to become the locus for the literary community. It's really important if you're going to have a literary community, it has to have a locus."

From Ferlinghetti's "The World Is a Beautiful Place":

Yes the world is the best place of all
for a lot of such things as
making the fun scene
and making the love scene
and making the sad scene.

As Michael Barnard of Rakestraw Books, Danville, Calif., commented: "Today is a sad scene."


Image of the Day: Once Upon a Winter Day

This month Vermont ski resort Mad River Glen is inviting kids to participate in a StorySki event based on Liza Woodruff's picture book Once Upon a Winter Day (Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House). Large laminated spreads from the book are displayed along the ski slope. Here, a young skier admires a page from the book.

Cool Winter Idea of the Day: Island Fever Reliever

"Have you heard about the Island Fever Reliever by KVOK?" asked the Islander Bookshop, Kodiak, Alaska. "It’s like Christmas in Kodiak only happening now; contest runs from Feb. 22 to March 16! Simply stop into the bookstore or any other participating business in town and receive a stamped entry with each purchase! The winner receives two roundtrip tickets anywhere Alaska Air flies and $500 of spending money! This has us already checking out all those dusty from the pandemic travel books and language flash cards!"

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

At Sourcebooks, Mike Zuccato has been promoted to v-p, e-commerce and online marketing, and will oversee domestic and international online sales, as well as the company's e-commerce sites. He heads a newly expanded e-commerce and online marketing department that combines personnel and resources from the previous e-commerce and digital marketing teams.

In addition, Kavita Wright has also been promoted to director, online marketing; Katia Herrara has been promoted to senior manager, e-commerce and performance marketing; and Morgan Vogt has been promoted to online marketing specialist.

The company has also hired Trent Harmon as online sales manager. He was formerly lead buyer and senior content manager for Ingram.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Tim O'Brien on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Tim O'Brien, author of Dad's Maybe Books (Mariner Books, $16.99, 9780358362784).

NPR's Morning Edition: Michaeleen Doucleff, author of Hunt, Gather, Parent: What Ancient Cultures Can Teach Us About the Lost Art of Raising Happy, Helpful Little Humans (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982149673).

Andrea Mitchell Reports: Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, authors of Dare to Make History (Radius Book Group, $26.99, 9781635767278).

TV: Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins Series

Amblin Television will develop a series based on Walter Mosley's character Easy Rawlins, who has appeared in 15 novels and short stories. Deadline reported that Sylvain White (The AmericansAmazing Stories) will direct the pilot episode and exec produce. Mosley's latest Easy Rawlins novel, Blood Grove, released earlier this month.

The series will center on "Easy, a Black World War II Army veteran turned hard-boiled private eye. The show will be set in 1950s Los Angeles and will honor the great traditions of storytelling in the detective genre, while also exploring the racial inequalities and social injustice experienced by Black people and other people of color," Deadline wrote.

Previously, John Wells attempted an Easy Rawlins series at NBC in 2011; USA Network also attempted a version seven years earlier. Denzel Washington starred as Easy Rawlins in the 1995 film Devil in a Blue Dress.

Books & Authors

Awards: Audie Finalists; CWA Diamond Dagger

Finalists in the 25 categories of the 2021 Audie Awards, including the Audiobook of the Year and the Audie Award for Young Adult, have been announced by the Audio Publishers Association and can be seen here. Winners will be revealed during the virtual Audie Awards Gala on March 22 at 9 p.m. Eastern and will stream live.


Martina Cole is the recipient of the 2021 CWA Diamond Dagger, which is sponsored by the Crime Writers' Association and recognizes "authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre." 

Noting that the "long-reigning Queen of Crime Drama is a publishing powerhouse," the CWA said Cole has written 25 novels, 17 of which reached #1, and her books have collectively spent more than four years on bestseller charts. Cole is also a passionate advocate for prisoner rehabilitation and visits prisons to give writing classes.

"It means so much to me to be receiving this prestigious award from my peers at the CWA," Cole said. "I can't believe it's nearly 30 years since Dangerous Lady was published--some people dismissed me as an Essex girl and a one-book wonder--but as one of my favourite songs goes: 'I'm still here!' "

CWA chair Linda Stratmann commented: "We are delighted to award the Diamond Dagger to a crime-writing legend."

Maxim Jakubowski, honorary CWA vice-chair, added: "A much-overdue reward for a major crime author who has often been overlooked by the critical establishment. Martina has single-handedly created a new crime genre and brought so many new readers on board, and has always been a vocal supporter of her fellow writers in word and deed."

Reading with... Tod Goldberg

photo: Linda Woods

Tod Goldberg is the author of The Low Desert: Gangster Stories (Counterpoint, February 2, 2021) and more than a dozen other books, including Gangsterland and Gangster Nation. He is also the cohost of the podcast Literary Disco and founded and directs the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts at UC Riverside. He lives in Indio, Calif., with his wife, Wendy Duren.

On your nightstand now:

My nightstand looks like a triage unit. I'm always reading a dozen books at once, and there's often little bits of ephemera stuffed in each one--Post-It notes if I'm reviewing it for print or on Literary Disco; whatever I can find to use as a bookmark (so, sometimes, you know, used Lactaid-capsule sleeves, for instance)--and it'll sometimes be months before I return to something.

Right now, I've got Jericho Brown's The Tradition marked up (if you underline everything, should you just stop underlining?); Ben Ehrenreich's Desert Notebooks opened to page 27; the manuscript pages for my friend Susan Straight's new book (which you'll love, whenever it comes out); Elmore Leonard's Swag, which I'm re-reading because it gives me joy, and man, do we need some joy. And Stephen Graham Jones's The Only Good Indians, which is scaring the crap out of me.

Favorite book when you were a child:

There was a pop-up book called The Adventures of Super Pickle by Dean Walley I was quite fond of. It was about a pickle that was a superhero. For a long time, I thought I dreamt this book up, but the Internet tells me I can have a like-new copy for just $77.

Your top five authors:

Let's go by genre, shall we?
Crime Fiction: Elmore Leonard
Dying Mill Town Fiction: Richard Russo
Short Fiction: Alice Munro
Dead Canadians Who People May Have Forgotten About: Robertson Davies
Poet: Matthew Zapruder

Book you've faked reading:

Moby-Dick. Look, I know how it ends. I know how it starts, too. Isn't that enough?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Columbine by Dave Cullen. I contend that Columbine is the single-most important book of nonfiction of the 21st century, not merely because it explores a school shooting, but also because it presages the rise of media distrust, the onset of conspiracy theories and the very nature of evil--both the banality of it and niche online celebration of it. All the ills of the 21st century are found in Cullen's exhaustive examination. Plus? It's simply great journalism.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson--the old paperback which had this splashed across the cover: "You see--I had to destroy them!" I saw this in a used bookstore when I was 16 and was smitten.

Book you hid from your parents:

Well, this has less to do with content and more to do with action: When I was about 10, my local library refused to let me check out Of Mice and Men, because it was "too adult" for me. So, I stole it. I still have it, in fact. If the Walnut Creek branch of the Contra Costa Library is looking for their copy, missing since 1981, they can come looking for it. Come on by.

Book that changed your life:

Turns out, that stolen copy of Of Mice and Men! Reading that book was the most emotional reading experience of my young life and, in many ways, charted a path toward how I would write about criminals and men with guns for the next 40-ish years.

Favorite line from a book:

"I'm a detective and expecting me to run criminals down and let them go free is like asking a dog to catch a rabbit and let it go. It can be done, all right, and sometimes it is done, but it's not the natural thing." --The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

Five books you'll never part with:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. The one I stole. Because now it's a thing.

My signed copy of Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard, my favorite of all his novels. Even though he signed it to "Tom" instead of Tod. I mean. I can change my name.

The signed copy of Murther and Walking Spirits by Robertson Davies I found in a tiny used bookstore in some woebegone port in Alaska. Best 12 bucks I ever spent.

All of the signed copies of my friend Barbara Seranella's books. She passed away in 2007 and when I get sad thinking about her, I open those books up and there she is, alive again.

My signed copy of Bruce Springsteen's memoir Born to Run. Tramps like us, baby.

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

When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz. That book shook something loose in me.

Book you've read and re-read multiple times:

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien. The first time I read this book, inexplicably, was on my honeymoon in 1998. How had I lived 27 years without reading it previously? I don't know. But I've made up for it by constantly re-reading it by virtue of assigning it to my students in both fiction and nonfiction classes and each time, the pieces within this book change for me. I can't tell you how many times I've found something new in "How to Tell a True War Story" and then pondered how I'd missed it before. A book of profound insight into violence, war and the nature of this human race.

Book Review

Children's Review: Summertime Sleepers

Summertime Sleepers: Animals That Estivate by Melissa Stewart, illus. by Sarah S. Brannen (Charlesbridge, $16.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-7, 9781580897167, April 27, 2021)

Employing her splendid talent for making science cool, Melissa Stewart (Can an Aardvark Bark?) introduces young readers to creatures that go dormant not through the winter, but during the summer. Hibernation is a well-known concept; estivation less so; Stewart aims to change that. Her enthusiasm for these unfamiliar snoozers, combined with stunningly realistic watercolor illustrations by Sarah S. Brannen (illustrator of Stewart's Feathers: Not Just for Flying), make summer sleepers the superstars in the charming nonfiction picture book Summertime Sleepers: Animals that Estivate.

The main text offers general groupings of animals that estivate: "Some hard-shelled creatures climb up high for a nap.../ ...while others doze underground." Then, in secondary narratives, specific critters take the spotlight: "When the days grow long and hot, land snails cling to tree branches and seal their shells shut. Their heart rates slow, and they barely breathe as they wait for cooler days." To offer even more information for eager learners, a black-and-white logbook page appears amid the lush colors of the illustrations. The page includes the animals' scientific names, sizes and detailed sketches an observer might record while watching them.

Fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals all appear on the pages of Stewart's ode to summer sleepers. They live in locations around the globe: mountains in Pakistan, rivers in Germany, swamps in Florida. And each adds a distinctive twist to the dormancy state, like the mangrove killifish that "jump across land, flipping head-over-tail, until they find a hollow log" or the pixie frog, which slumbers in a cocoon that it eats at the end of estivation. The facts are fascinating and fun, luring readers further and further into the curious concept of sleeping through the summer. End matter caps off this marvelous book, with "More About Animals that Estivate" and additional reading suggestions.

Brannen's art is as captivating as the information it illuminates. The lifelike depictions include vital intricacies--variegated shading on the shells of the snails, wisps of whiskers on the yellow-bellied marmot--as well as a sense of depth and texture. The illustrations are not only incredibly enjoyable, they're accurate and informative. Summertime Sleepers is a gem that should spark children's interest in science, in the world around them and in the joy of learning. And what better bedtime reading than a book that features everyone sleeping? --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: Melissa Stewart and Sarah Brannen team up again in this dazzling picture book about the wonders of animals that sleep not through the winter, but through the summer.

Powered by: Xtenit