Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Storey Publishing: The Universe in Verse: 15 Portals to Wonder Through Science & Poetry by Maria Popova

Tommy Nelson: You'll Always Have a Friend: What to Do When the Lonelies Come by Emily Ley, Illustrated by Romina Galotta

Jimmy Patterson: Amir and the Jinn Princess by M T Khan

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

Blue Box Press: A Soul of Ash and Blood: A Blood and Ash Novel by Jennifer L Armentrout


Bookish Opens in King of Prussia, Pa.

Bookish, which opened in the King of Prussia Mall in King of Prussia, Pa., in June, will celebrate its grand opening throughout the weekend of August 20, wrote.

Store owners Scott and Becky Minor--who writes fantasy novels--carry a curated selection of new books, with an emphasis on new releases, special editions and local authors. In addition to books, the store sells greeting cards, candles, pins, framed literary quotes and other gift items. After the grand opening weekend, the store will be open for business seven days per week.

Local authors Carrie Anne Noble, Dimitry Elias Leger and Pam Halter, along with illustrator Kim Sponaugle, will stop by the store to help celebrate the grand opening. The first 100 customers who visit the store during the grand opening weekend will receive a free fantasy anthology published by the Minors.

Bookish has grown out of a pop-up store the Minors started in 2019 called The Book Den, which they operated in the court at the King of Prussia Mall between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve that year. 

Weldon Owen: The Gay Icon's Guide to Life by Michael Joosten, Illustrated by Peter Emerich

In-Person Events Return to NYC's Strand

For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began, Strand Book Store in New York City has started hosting authors for in-person events, Markets Insider reported.

The store is still doing primarily virtual events, with only two in-person events scheduled for the rest of August, and the bookstore is requiring proof of vaccination from both visiting authors and attendees. Events director Sabir Sultan told Markets Insider that for all upcoming in-person events the store is prepared to "switch to a virtual format" if necessary.

Sultan said virtual events lacked "the excitement of an in-person event" and noted that sales were uneven. Well-known authors could drive sales comparable to in-person events, but new or lesser-known authors generally struggled in that regard. He added that there will likely be a mix of in-person and virtual events going forward.

BINC: Do Good All Year - Click to Donate!

How Bookstores Are Coping: Responding to the Delta Surge

Lia Lent, co-owner of WordsWorth Books in Little Rock, Ark., reported that she and her team are once again wearing masks in-store and requiring customers to do the same, though everyone on staff is vaccinated and most of the store's customers are, too. The team made the decision shortly before the CDC issued its recent guidance recommending that even fully vaccinated people wear masks in public indoor settings.

"We're pitching it as, let's keep our children safe," Lent said. "We haven't had any pushback."

There are masks available at the door, which have been there throughout the pandemic, but people are now actually taking them, Lent noted. A lot of people arrive without masks of their own, and as a consequence the store is "going through them like crazy."

During the "giddy month or two" when things seemed to be getting back to normal, she recalled, the team started putting display tables and bookcases back onto the sales floor that they'd removed earlier in the pandemic. They've been removed once again to allow for easier distancing. In mid-July the store also held its first in-person author event in more than a year. While it went well, WordsWorth Books is not planning anything until at least October.

Asked how people have responded to the return of mask requirements and social distancing, Lent pointed to "two types of reactions": there are people who say they "can't believe we're doing this again," though they are still willing to put the masks back on, and there are people who say "at least we've done it before and we know what to expect."

To that end, WordsWorth Books is still set up to do curbside pick-up, online sales and home delivery, and Lent added that they already upgraded the store's ventilation and filtration systems. They have systems in place that would allow them to handle another shutdown, though they of course hope it doesn't reach that point.

"It's just kind of a crazy time," Lent remarked. "Everybody is wanting to be careful and wanting it to end."


At Tombolo Books in St. Petersburg, Fla., things are "fairly normal," reported store owner Alsace Walentine, and her customers have been "overwhelmingly supportive of our safety efforts throughout this crisis." 

Walentine and her staff, who are all fully vaccinated, are wearing masks "at all times inside the bookstore," and while they are not legally mandated for customers, shoppers generally have been following suit. Disposable masks are available for free and the team has put up signage at both store entrances stating the most recent CDC recommendations.

The majority of Tombolo's events are being held outdoors, with seats spaced six feet apart and masks required in the signing line. Occasionally the store holds small events indoors, such as book club meetings, with spaced seating and masks "strongly encouraged." --Alex Mutter

Harpervia: Only Big Bumbum Matters Tomorrow by Damilare Kuku

Tony Lutkus New President of Diamond Book Distributors

Tony Lutkus

Tony Lutkus has been named president of Diamond Book Distributors, a division of Diamond Comic Distributors, effective August 16.

Most recently, Lutkus was senior director, sales & marketing for Penguin Random House and earlier was international sales & marketing director for Hachette Book Group. He has more than 15 years of senior management and leadership experience in the publishing industry, including a decade of strategic development and plan execution in partnership with publishers to optimize product development, pricing, merchandising, digital advertising, social media, publicity and retail promotions.

Chuck Parker, president of Diamond Comic Distributors, said Lutkus "brings a stellar track record in the publishing industry as well as the background and expertise to help propel DBD into the next phase of growth."

Lutkus said, "Diamond Book Distributors represents the very best of independent graphic novel and manga publishers. I'm excited to lead an expert DBD team uniquely committed to serving publishers' needs, to strengthening the connection with booksellers, and to reaching readers across the globe."

Obituary Note: Margaret Hooks 

Margaret Hooks, author of "an acclaimed biography of Tina Modotti and of many studies of female artists and surrealists," as well as a journalist who reported from Mexico and Central America for the Irish Times and the Guardian, died July 19, the Guardian reported. She was 76. Her work as a journalist and human rights activist was commended by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú.

Hooks published eight books, primarily focused on topics or subjects related to women, art and artists, including Frida Kahlo: Portraits of an Icon; Surreal Eden: Edward James and Las Pozas; and her last book, Surreal Lovers: Eight Women Integral to the Life of Max Ernst, which analyzed the influence of Leonora Carrington, Gala Dalí, Peggy Guggenheim and others on the surrealist painter.

Her book Tina Modotti: Photographer and Revolutionary (1993) was lauded by the New York Times as "a definitive biography" of the Italian-American photographer. In the introduction, Hooks wrote that she was trying "to demythologize Modotti the legend, extricate her from the shadow of her lovers and locate the woman and the artist at the centre of her own history." 

Hooks "came to her career as an author initially through work as a human rights activist," the Guardian wrote, adding: "An avid reader in her strict Plymouth Brethren home and a rebellious spirit in her teenage years, Margaret decided against a university education, often joking later that she had attended the same alma mater as the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño--the 'Unknown University,' the title of the last of the volumes of Bolaño's poetry. She would later translate his work into English."

Jenny Rossiter, a friend and former development aid worker who met her in Mexico nearly 40 years ago, said of Hooks that "you could warm your hands on her Irish smile. She had extraordinary skills for tracking down stories and finding hitherto overshadowed artists, mainly women, to write about. The absence of a university degree or formal journalist training did not inhibit her--in fact it made more of a free spirit. She never retired and never got old."


Image of the Day: San Diego Proclaims 'Warwick's Day'

The San Diego [Calif.] City Council voted to proclaim August 9 "Warwick's Day," in honor of the bookstore's 125th anniversary and the role that Warwick's plays in the community. Pictured is Council District Representative Joe LaCava with Nancy Warwick, fourth-generation owner of the bookstore.

'Some of Kentucky's Oldest Independent Bookstores Are Still Standing'

"They faced the rise in big box retailers and Amazon's disruption of the bookselling industry. Still, more than 16 months into the Covid-19 pandemic, some of Kentucky's oldest independent bookstores are still standing," the Louisville Courier Journal reported in showcasing five indies with a combined 210 years in operation that "are run by the original owners--or a second generation carrying on the family business."

Costco Picks: Billy Summers

Robert Poole, Costco's book buyer, has selected Billy Summers by Stephen King (‎Scribner, $30, 9781982173616) as his pick for August. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, he writes:

"In his latest crime novel, king of horror Stephen King gives readers a complex and fascinating protagonist they can't help but root for as he takes on some very bad guys.

"Billy Summers is an assassin--the best in the business--but before he retires for good, he has one last job. What could go wrong? As readers quickly find out: just about everything.

"King weaves in elements of luck, fate, friendship and second chances in a novel that's one part road trip, one part war story and one part affectionate portrait of small-town America and the people who live there."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

BrocheAroe Fabian, the owner of River Dog Book Co., who joined Sourcebooks as a consultant in December 2020, has joined the publisher as marketing manager, with a focus on running the marketing strategies for the independent bookstore channel. Fabian will continue to own and run River Dog Book Co. and to take on some editorial and sensitivity reading freelance projects under Broche Consulting.

Anna Venckus has joined Sourcebooks as marketing coordinator.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mena Suvari on the View

The Talk repeat: Renée Felice Smith, co-author of Hugo and the Impossible Thing (Flamingo Books, $17.99, 9780593204634).

The View repeat: Mena Suvari, author of The Great Peace: A Memoir (Hachette Books, $28, 9780306874529).

TV: The Serpent Queen; One Word Kill

Beth Goddard (Manhunt) will be a series regular opposite Samantha Morton in Starz's The Serpent Queen, an eight-part period series based on Leonie Frieda's book Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France, Deadline reported. Alex Heath (Home) recurs in the series from writer and executive producer Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road), Francis Lawrence & Erwin Stoff. Stacie Passon will direct multiple episodes, including the premiere. The Serpent Queen is produced for Starz by Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment.


Holly Phillips (Get Even) is adapting Mark Lawrence's One Word Kill, part of the author's Impossible Times YA trilogy, as a TV series for The Cry producer Synchronicity Films and Wild Sheep, the production company set up by former Netflix executive Erik Barmack, Deadline reported. The two companies will co-produce the adaptation. One Word Kill "was first published in May 2019, followed by Limited Wish and Dispel Illusion later that year," Deadline noted.

Books & Authors

Eric Carle Museum to Host Virtual Honors Gala & Fundraiser

The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will hold its 2021 Virtual Carle Honors gala and fundraiser on September 23 to celebrate "the exceptional work that individuals and organizations have done to enrich the world of children's books."

"We are delighted to celebrate our honorees with this virtual celebration which anyone can join from anywhere," said Rebecca Miller Goggins, director of development at the museum. "During the pandemic, art and books have brought hope to so many people around the world. On September 23 we will go behind the scenes and celebrate the people who make those picture books possible."

The 2021 Carle Honors honorees are:

Artist: Raúl Colón, who "has inspired readers and illustrators alike with his exceptional artistry, unique techniques, and powerful stories of people who never give up on their dreams."

Angel: Every Child a Reader, represented by executive director Carl Lennertz, is the not-for-profit arm of the Children's Book Council that "creates and supports programs that strive to make the reading and enjoyment of children's books an essential part of daily life and a lifelong joy by providing free resources to all educators and parents to share with children and teens."

Bridge: Dennis M. V. David & Justin G. Schiller, founders of Battledore Ltd., "contributed pioneering scholarship in the field of children's literature and illustration and played seminal, behind-the-scenes roles as builders of many of the field's major research collections."

Mentor: Patricia Aldanam, founder of Groundwood Books, is "a renowned children's book publisher who has devoted her career to bringing new voices to picture books."

Reading with... Jerry Spinelli

photo: Elmore DeMott

At age 16, Jerry Spinelli finally capitulated to the reality that he could not hit the curveball and thus surrendered his dream of becoming a Major League shortstop. He traded in his bat for a pencil and began dreaming of life as a writer. Twenty-five years would pass before publication of his first novel, Space Station Seventh Grade. That was 38 books and 38 grand-/great-grandchildren ago. The newest one (novel, that is) is Dead Wednesday (Knopf Books for Young Readers). Spinelli lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, poet and author Eileen Spinelli.

On your nightstand now:

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. I read murder mysteries for fun and this is one of my favorites. It also has the rare distinction of being a book whose film is just as strong.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff. I never tired of my mother reading it to me. It probably gave me my first sense of "story."

Your top five authors:

Eileen Spinelli: When You Are Happy would be anybody's ticket to the Hall of Fame. But there are other gems: Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch; Feathers; Someday; Wanda's Monster; and more. While I was still floundering, years from publication, she had two poems in the Saturday Evening Post. She was a kid!

Loren Eiseley: My favorite author outside the family. And his day job was head of anthropology and history of science at the University of Pennsylvania. Rarely have writers written as well as this scientist. If you want the Big Picture, read Loren Eiseley. Among the lessons he taught me: even as we are, we are becoming.

Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov did it for me. It's my favorite novel ever. Every page trumpets, "LIFE!"

John Updike: Rabbit, Run was one of the few unassigned novels I read in college. To this aspiring writer, it was a revelation. He wrote with the precision of a surgeon, in one case (in another novel) splitting the sound of a vase breaking on a floor into three sections. Favorite quote from Of the Farm (narrator returning to his parents' home): "I found myself so abundantly memorialized it seemed I must be dead."

Michael Connelly: As I've said, I read murder mysteries for fun, and my go-to guy is Connelly. His prose doesn't sing. It's unadorned, frills-free. Blunt, concise and clear--like a police blotter.

Book you've faked reading:

Clarissa by Samuel Richardson. Early English Novel course at Gettysburg College. (Sorry, Dr. Pickering.)

Book you're an evangelist for:

When You Are Happy by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by Geraldo Valerio. Every bookcase and coffee table should have one. For its three main components--text, illustrations and message--I call it the World's Most Beautiful Book.

Book you hid from your parents:

There were no books to hide. As a kid, I read almost nothing but comic books and sports sections outside of class. This continued even after I decided to become a writer. Smart, huh?

Book that changed your life:

The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. In my ivory tower, I smugly believed a book could not possibly be both popular and well-written. This novel showed me otherwise.

Favorite line from a book:

"Consciousness collapses the wave function," from The Quantum Revelation by Paul Levy.

Five books you'll never part with:

When You Are Happy by Eileen Spinelli. It's only a 32-page picture book, but never before has so much humanity been packed into so few pages.

The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas. His words speak to me, sing to me. About once a year I read "Fern Hill" aloud to myself. I still haven't reached bottom.

Jean Giraudoux: Four Plays: Volume One. Ondine is my all-time favorite play, which is saying something since I've never seen it performed. For humanity, it rivals When You Are Happy. Besides Eileen herself, it was an inspiration for the Stargirl character.

The Outsider by Colin Wilson. For years this book was a kind of bible for me. When asked what I write about, I've always answered, "People." The Outsider is supremely insightful about people.

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes. Not many people know this unique novel, which puts the English language through paces seen nowhere else. How special is it? T.S. Eliot wrote two introductions to it at different times. It too partly inspired Stargirl.

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

Reversible Errors by Scott Turow. For the unlikely romance between attorney and disgraced judge.

Advice for young writers:

Write what you care about.

Book Review

Children's Review: Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick (Scholastic, $19.99 hardcover, 208p., ages 10-up, 9781338777246, September 21, 2021)

Kaleidoscope, a transcendent offering by Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret; Wonderstruck; The Marvels), is infused with different kinds of seemingly ordinary magics: time and space, friendship and love, science and fairy tale. Selznick's eighth work as an author and illustrator is formatted as a collection of 24 interconnected, nonlinear stories in which the whole vision is far greater than the sum of each of its gorgeous parts.

In the opening story, the first-person narrator turns 13 years old and makes off with a ship. They and their friend James sail "past the pillars of Hercules into the West Ocean." A fierce storm carries the pair to the moon, where they're enlisted to help the king in his battle against the sun. After "fighting among the stars for centuries," the narrator returns to Earth alone (James remains behind as the new King of the Moon), to find that only a few days have passed on Earth and they are being blamed for James's death. In the second story, the narrator is a giant who forms a friendship with the human boy James, a person "no bigger than the end of my finger." Though they don't speak the same language, the pair bond over books. And in the third, the narrator is a winged creature exiled to an island 300 years ago. When the narrator rescues a shipwrecked boy, they give the boy access to their personal library, where the boy finds that "everything that happens can be found" in one of the books. The boy learns that the island is really a "heartbroken giant" who "died at the edge of the sea... and for a hundred years the wind blew salt, and sand, and soil, and seeds across his giant body until it became a mountain." 

As Selznick himself says in his author's note, "certain themes and images... reappear... gardens and butterflies, apples, angels, fires, trees, friendships, islands, keys, shipwrecks, grief, and love." With them, the author has created a magical place where everything changes except, of course, those few things which stay constant. The relationship between the narrator and James is at the heart of all, and the deeply connected pair love--and are in love--in various ways throughout. Selznick's signature meticulous and heavily cross-hatched pencil illustrations, both abstract and realistic, grace the beginning and end of each brief story. This lovely, ethereal work hopefully makes a case for what the King of the Moon wisely proclaims: "without dreams, everything dies." --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger, and children's book author

Shelf Talker: Caldecott-winner Selznick offers a spellbinding, nonlinear portrait of intense friendship and love that transcends time and space.

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