Also published on this date: Wednesday, April 14, 2021 Dedicated Issue: Denene Millner Books

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Random House Studio: Remember by Joy Harjo, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Oxford University Press, USA: Spring Reads

Chronicle Books: Tap! Tap! Tap!: Dance! Dance! Dance! by Hervé Tullet

Minotaur Books: The Golden Gate by Amy Chua

Charlesbridge Publishing: Glitter Everywhere by Chris Barton, illustrated by Chaaya Prabhat


Pittsburgh's Riverstone Books Buys Classic Lines Bookstore

Barbara Jeremiah, owner of Riverstone Books in the North Hills neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pa., announced that she is buying Classic Lines bookstore in Squirrel Hill. In an e-mail to customers, she wrote: "We are very excited to announce that Classic Lines in Squirrel Hill is becoming part of the Riverstone Books family. Dan Iddings, the owner of Classic Lines, has decided to retire and has chosen Riverstone to carry on the great work he has done in bookselling since opening his doors in 2014. We expect to open the doors in Squirrel Hill as our newest Riverstone Books location on May 17. Then we will have a Grand Reopening a bit later this summer."

Jeremiah added that she plans to build on the foundation laid by Iddings and his team by "bringing all of the things you love about Riverstone to our new location--online ordering with in-store delivery options, our Great Readers loyalty club, Riverstone Express subscriptions, an expanded children's section and more. And we will be right next to Commonplace Coffee!"  

Iddings told the Pittsburgh Business Times: "I am proud of the contribution Classic Lines has made to independent bookselling in Pittsburgh and to the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill. We've had a great time establishing and growing our business but it's time for me to retire, again. We are grateful for the support of our customers and neighbors, particularly in the time since Covid forced us to close our doors. It has been a privilege to serve Squirrel Hill and the entire East End community and I look forward to Riverstone taking our place to support readers of all ages."

Candlewick Press (MA): Have You Seen My Invisible Dinosaur? by Helen Yoon

Plaid Elephant Books to Open in Danville, Ky.

Kate Snyder plans to open Plaid Elephant Books, a children's bookstore, in downtown Danville, Ky., next fall. The Advocate-Messenger reported that Snyder had thought about starting a bookstore six or seven years ago, but the logistics were problematic and her children were still quite young. During the pandemic, however, "she had some time for introspection on what she wanted to do with her life, and the idea came up again" because she was missing community spaces and wanted to find a way to contribute.

Last fall, she participated in the CentreWorks LIFTOFF program, which teaches participants about entrepreneurship. "For me, that was really the catalyst for taking this idea from dream to plan," she said. "So, from all of that, I really developed this idea that a children's bookstore specifically might be a good fit for Danville.... And I think kids need space that is theirs. So not just one corner of the bookstore that has kids' books, but a space that is really entirely designed and focused and intended for children. There's something really powerful about that for kids, to know that they have space that is theirs."

Although she hasn't signed a lease yet, Snyder wants the space to be downtown, in the heart of the city: "I really wanted to be within that because that's part of the ethos of an independent bookstore, is that it's really woven into the fabric of the community, and so for me, downtown really felt like the place that this idea fit."

Noting that there had been a big learning curve because she has a communications background and only a little retail experience, Snyder told the Advocate-Messenger that because independent bookstores are a close-knit community, she was able to connect with bookstore owners throughout the country to help learn more about the business. 

Zibby Books: Super Bloom by Megan Tady

Jason Reynolds Named Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week

Jason Reynolds

Bestselling author Jason Reynolds has been named the inaugural honorary chair for Banned Books Week 2021, which will take place September 26-October 2. The National Coalition Against Censorship and fellow members of the Banned Books Week Coalition noted that "Reynolds's career reflects the Banned Books Week theme of 'Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us.' He is a tireless advocate for storytelling and young readers." 

Reynolds's books All American Boys (with Brendan Kiely) and Stamped (with Ibram X. Kendi) are among the American Library Association's Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2020, an annual list released during National Library Week. Several state legislatures are currently considering laws that would prohibit teaching related to antiracism and social justice, further reducing the availability of books by Reynolds and other authors addressing these issues. 

"I'm excited about being the inaugural honorary chair for Banned Books Week," said Reynolds. "More importantly, I'm excited about this year's theme, which is so simple, yet so powerful. What does it mean when we say, 'Books Unite Us'? It means that books are the tethers that connect us culturally. Stories ground us in our humanity; they convince us that we're not actually that different and that the things that are actually different about us should be celebrated because they are what make up this tapestry of life."

He added: "To censor a book is to damage the framework in which we live. Any time we eliminate or wall off certain narratives, we are not getting a whole picture of the world in which we live. And navigating the world in a way that is closed-off, closed-minded, is poisonous. It means that we limit our vocabulary, which complicates how we communicate with one another. We have to celebrate stories and ensure that all books have a space on the shelves and the opportunity to live in the psyches of our children, as they grow into the human beings who will inherit this wonderful place."

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: My Name Is Iris by Brando Skyhorse

B&N to Open Smaller Format Store in Coral Springs, Fla.

Barnes & Noble's former space in Coral Springs.

After a year's absence, Barnes & Noble is preparing a return to its old building on North University Drive in Coral Springs, Fla., the Sun Sentinel reported. The smaller format store will occupy about half of its former space at its longtime home in The Walk at University.

"It's good news for the community and good for the shopping center to have them back," said Charlie Ladd, president of Barron Real Estate in Fort Lauderdale, which represents The Walk's owner, Amera Group. Ladd said he expects the downsized version of Barnes & Noble to reopen sometime this fall.

B&N has been "absent from its original home--the 27,000 square foot building that anchors the upscale retail development on North University Drive--since moving out last February," the Sun Sentinel wrote. "The company had approached its landlords in 2019 as its lease was about to expire and explained that competition from digital media and online retailers like Amazon had eaten into its sales to the point it could no longer afford the rent for such a large store."

Amera had offered to subdivide the building to accommodate two tenants. and lease half back to B&N at a reduced price, but as the companies neared agreement on lease terms, the pandemic hit and forced B&N temporarily to shutter most of its stores. Last June, Ladd said Amera hoped the lease deal could move forward at some point as the pandemic's impact lessened.

Obituary Note: Peter Manso

Peter Manso, the journalist and author who wrote biographies of Marlon Brando and Norman Mailer and had key interviews with Edward I. Koch and Arnold Schwarzenegger, died last Wednesday at his home in Truro, Mass., the New York Times reported. He was 80 years old.

Manso wrote massive, painstakingly researched biographies of Brando and Mailer, both of which made extensive use of transcribed interviews. He worked for six years on Mailer: His Life and Times, which was published in 1985 and totaled 768 pages. It began as an authorized biography, with Manso and Mailer even sharing a house for a time on Cape Cod, but after the book's release they publicly sparred over Manso's portrayal of Mailer.

He spent eight years writing and researching Brando: The Biography, which was more than 1,000 pages long and was released in 1994. Manso's other books included Ptown: Art, Sex and Money on the Outer Cape, as well as Reasonable Doubt: The Fashion Writer, Cape Cod, and the Trial of Chris McCowen. The latter, about the murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington and the conviction of a man with a low IQ named Chris McCowen, got such a negative review in the Times that Manso wrote a 700-word letter in response and complained about it in interviews.

Manso wrote frequently for magazines, and his interviews with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Edward I. Koch had ramifications on their political careers. In a 1982 interview conducted by Manso that appeared in Playboy, Koch belittled suburban life and called rural America "a joke," comments that played a part in Koch losing the Democratic nomination for governor to Mario M. Cuomo.

In 1977, Manso published an interview with Schwarzenegger in Oui magazine, in which Schwarzenegger discussed drug use and group sex. While that interview resurfaced in 2003 and caused some embarrassment, it did not stop Schwarzenegger from becoming governor of California.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Pepper Teigen on the Kelly Clarkson Show

Kelly Clarkson Show: Pepper Teigen, co-author of The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom (Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 9780593137666).

TV: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone, an eight-part series based on Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse novels, premieres April 23 on Netflix. Produced by 21 Laps Entertainment (Stranger Things), the series stars Jessie Mei Li (as Alina Starkov), Archie Renaux (Malyen Oretsev), Freddy Carter (Kaz Brekker), Amita Suman (Inej), Kit Young (Jesper Fahey) and Ben Barnes (General Kirigan).

Books & Authors

Awards: Hugo Finalists; Christopher Winners, NYPL Young Lions Fiction Shortlist

DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the finalists for the 2021 Hugo Awards, Astounding Award for Best New Writer, and Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book, which can be seen here. Voting on the final ballot opens later this month and continues until November 19. The Hugo Award Ceremony takes place in December.


Twelve books for adults and young people have been honored with Christopher Awards, which are presented to authors and illustrators--as well as writers, producers and directors--whose works "affirm the highest values of the human spirit." This year's winning titles are:

After the Last Border by Jessica Goudeau (Viking)
Grace from the Rubble by Jeanne Bishop (Zondervan)
A Knock at Midnight by Brittany K. Barnett (Crown)
Nothing General About It by Maurice Benard, with Susan Black (Morrow)
Voyage of Mercy by Stephen Puleo (St. Martin's)
Wheels of Courage by David Davis (Center Street/Hachette)

Young People
Trying by Kobi Yamada, illustrated by Elise Hurst (preschool & up, Compendium)
Tiara's Hat Parade by Kelly Starling Lyons, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell (Kindergarten & Up, Albert Whitman & Company)
Fauja Singh Keeps Going by Simran Jeet Singh, illustrated by Baljinder Kaur (6 & up, Kokila/PRH)
Nacho's Nachos by Sandra Nickel, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez (8 & up, Lee and Low Books)
Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway (10 & up, Balzer + Bray/HC)
Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri (YA, Levine Querido)


The New York Public Library released a shortlist for the $10,000 Young Lions Fiction Award, presented annually to an American writer 35 years old or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories. The winner will be announced during a virtual event on June 17. This year's finalists are

Little Gods by Meng Jin
Pew by Catherine Lacey
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

Reading with... Atinuke

photo: Paul Musso

Atinuke is the Nigerian-born author of many books for children, including the Anna Hibiscus and No. 1 Car Spotter series. She started her career as an oral storyteller of tales from the African continent. Now she draws on her childhood memories to write about contemporary life in Nigeria. Atinuke is the author of three picture books illustrated by Angela Brooksbank: Baby Goes to MarketB Is for Baby as well as Catch that Chicken! In Too Small Tola (published by Candlewick Press), she introduces a chapter-book heroine who is every bit as mighty as she is small. Atinuke lives in Wales.

On your nightstand now:

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
Coming to England by Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Diane Ewen
100 Great Black Britons by Patrick Vernon and Angelina Osborne
The Oxford Companion to Black British History, edited by David Dabydeen, John Gilmore and Cecily Jones

I gobble up any modern Nigerian fiction that I can get my hands on. Also, I'm writing a children's book on Black British history, so I'm immersed in it right now.

Favorite books when you were a child:

Astrid Lingren's Karlsson on the Roof

Milly-Molly-Mandy Stories by Joyce Lancaster Brisley

The Magic Faraway Tree series as well as anything and everything else by Enid Blyton! That was what my mum could get her hands on for me in Nigeria in the '70s!

I wish I'd had the Katie Morag books by Mairi Hedderwick.

Your top five authors:

Right now...

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie--everything she writes is outstanding.

Sarah J. Maas--when I want to switch off and go to another world, I turn to SJM; like the best fantasy, so many of the lines describe how I feel!

J.R.R. Tolkien--his books have seen me through some of the worst times in my life!

Jon Klassen--I go back to his picture books again and again.

Astrid Lindgren--she's been a favorite for 50 years. 

Book you've faked reading:

Not going to admit to that!

Books you're currently an evangelist for:

The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Books you've bought for the cover:

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and A Story About Afiya by James Berry.

Books you hid from your parents:

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough and Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.

Books that changed your life:

The Color Purple by Alice Walker--the first book I read with Black people in it, and it literally changed my life.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez changed how I saw writing.

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy opened my mind to other possibilities.

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés changed how I saw stories.

Favorite line from a book:

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." --Gandalf in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series

I cling to this quote in times of need.

Six books you'll never part with:

The Stone Boy and Other Stories by Thich Nhat Hanh
Black and British: A Forgotten History by David Olusoga
The Mountain Is Young by Han Suyin
Anthills of the Savannah by Chinua Achebe
Frederick by Leo Lionni

Books to get me through hard times: 

(I'm cheating here coz I'll also never part with these!)

The Lord of The Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

Both the Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

New and Selected Poems, Volumes One and Two by Mary Oliver

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman

Current Favorite Picture Books:

Picture books are my favorite genre!

So Much! by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
Katie Morag and the Two Grandmothers by Mairi Hedderwick
No Matter What by Debi Gliori
That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown by Cressida Cowell, illustrated by Neal Layton

My current five favorite Nigerian books:

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Every Good Will Come by Sefi Atta
Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Book Review

Children's Review: Nia and the New Free Library

Nia and the New Free Library by Ian Lendler, illus. by Mark Pett (Chronicle Books, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 5-8, 9781452166865, June 1, 2021)

The Littletown Library had been around for so long that people almost forgot it was there. After a tornado blew through and "carried the whole thing away," residents weren't even sure they needed a new one. In the fanciful--yet eminently sensible--Nia and the New Free Library, one book-loving girl cooks up an imaginative plan, not only for rebuilding the missing institution, but for getting the entire town to value it as well.

Now that there's "an empty space where the library used to be," the builder thinks the town would be better off with another skyscraper, while the grocer is partial to a parking lot. The mayor sees no point in rebuilding, nor do the distracted mom and her son who get whatever they need online. The banker thinks it will cost too much, anyway. Only Nia misses the old Littletown Library, which she visited every week. After giving the matter some thought, Nia gathers "a desk and a chair. And a pencil and some paper. And a plate of orange slices for energy." She gets comfortable under her favorite tree and begins to write. Days later, Nia has created enough books to fill a little red wagon and she begins sharing this New Free Library with people in town. But the grocer thinks the words are wrong, and the distracted mom's son thinks the drawings are "terrible." So Nia gives out pencils. When the detective and the boat captain feel left out, they get pencils, too. And before long there are "enormous piles of freshly written books" that "spilled into the road and stopped traffic." Pretty soon "the entire town was lending a hand" to solve this new problem.

Ian Lendler (The Fabled Life of Aesop) deftly concocts a tale of kid-friendly activism, demonstrating how one small person might achieve outsize results by giving the whole diverse community a stake in the dream. His light touch is welcome, employing an upbeat tone and a smattering of playful literary references. The sketchy line work and pastel washes of Mark Pett (This Is My Book!) bring to mind the picture book art of David Small. His loosely defined panels give a graphic novel feel to some spreads, with the sequential art allowing the illustrations to propel the story forward. This inspired reimagining of the classic "Stone Soup" story shows how a positive project can bring people together. Nia and the New Free Library demonstrates how spreading the love of reading might well elevate an entire community. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: After a tornado carries off Littletown's library, Nia's plan for building a new one hinges on getting the whole town involved in this charming, kid-friendly take on grassroots activism.

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