Also published on this date: Tuesday, January 25, 2022: Maximum Shelf: No Filter and Other Lies

Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, January 25, 2022

William Morrow & Company: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

Shadow Mountain: The Witch in the Woods: Volume 1 (Grimmworld) by Michaelbrent Collings

Hell's Hundred: Blood Like Mine by Stuart Neville

Delacorte Press: Last One to Die by Cynthia Murphy

Margaret Ferguson Books: Not a Smiley Guy by Polly Horvath, Illustrated by Boris Kulikov

Indiana University Press: The Grim Reader: A Pharmacist's Guide to Putting Your Characters in Peril by Miffie Seideman

St. Martin's Press: Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder by Kerryn Mayne


ALA's Youth Media Award Winners

Yesterday morning, at its virtual conference LibLearnX, the American Library Association held its 2022 Youth Media Awards, announcing the winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and Coretta Scott King Book Awards, among others.

The 2022 John Newbery Medal went to The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera (Levine Querido); the Randolph Caldecott Medal was given to Watercress, illustrated by Jason Chin and written by Andrea Wang (Neal Porter Books/Holiday House); and Firekeeper's Daughter by Angeline Boulley (Holt) won the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards were presented in four categories: Nikki Grimes received the Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award ("After more than 77 books, she has sealed her legacy by weaving poetry and novels in verse into an impressive body of work"); Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group) won both the King Author Award and King Illustrator Award; and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent went to Me (Moth) by Amber McBride (Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan).

[We'll feature interviews with many of the winners over the next week.]


Harper: Our Kind of Game by Johanna Copeland

Donna Barba Higuera: 2022 Newbery Medal Winner

Donna Barba Higuera

Donna Barba Higuera grew up in Central California and now lives in the Pacific Northwest. She has spent her entire life blending folklore with her experiences into stories that fill her imagination and to write picture books and novels. Higuera's first book, Lupe Wong Won't Dance, won a PNBA Book Award and a Pura Belpré Honor. The Newbery Medal-winning The Last Cuentista (from Levine Querido) is her second novel.

Congratulations! What an excellent morning--you're not only the 2022 Newbery Medal winner but also the 2022 Pura Belpré Children's Author Award winner. How are you feeling?

Quite frankly, I'm a bit shell-shocked at the moment. My poor nervous system has processed a lot of adrenaline over the past few days!

This year is ALA's official celebration of the 100th anniversary of the John Newbery Medal. What does it feel like to win the award? Does the anniversary make winning the award feel any different?

Yeah, 100th anniversary! No pressure at all. I don't think I've completely digested it all just yet. But for this to happen on the 100th anniversary of the Newbery Award's inception, the gravity of this honor is even more powerful, and one I will be processing for quite some time.

This is your second nod from the Pura Belpré committee, the first being an author honor in 2020 for Lupe Wong Won't Dance. How does it feel to be recognized two years in a row?

Lupe Wong Won't Dance and The Last Cuentista are two very different books, with two very different characters in two very different genres. So to have the Pura Belpré committee embrace both of them is huge as a writer. As writers, we worry so much about if the reader will connect with our characters and their stories. It tells me the committee found these two very different Latina girls and their vastly different journeys to be equally important.

Both your books were published during the pandemic. What has it been like to write during this time?

Thank you for asking this. No one has asked me this question. Writing has been challenging. I think it is for most writers currently. But for me, it has also been an escape. Life has been overwhelming for most of us, I think, in the past few years. We all need to find healthy outlets and that has been so difficult. Getting my mind to focus on writing instead of the outside world has been a disaster. But once I get there, I find my imagination takes me to other places, and it's a solace to me.

The Last Cuentista features a girl in the future working to keep her traditions strong. Is there something about this theme that you think particularly speaks to the children of today?

I believe contemporary children are more outspoken and unapologetic about what they love than they were when I was young. Maybe it was just me. But I remember feeling embarrassed and hesitant to share my love of science fiction and fantasy books (amongst other things) as a child.

Kids have been through a lot in the past few years. These times have been difficult, but many children seem stronger for it--or at least less willing to bend in their convictions. I've seen in my own children how they hold true to what they believe in and love. They are more willing to share all of themselves with others and accept others into their treehouse of trust.

What do you hope resonates most strongly from your novel?

For those of us that breathe the love of story and storytelling, that we must protect it with all of our being. I hope readers will see there are real threats to our oral traditions and beloved books and recognize that those who would erase our history do not just exist in a sci-fi novel.

Are you working on anything new?  

Yes! I wish I could share all the details. Very soon though. I'm having just as much fun with my new weird idea as I had with my previous books.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with Shelf Awareness readers?

I suppose that I hope we are all finding comfort in books. And I hope my book brings a bit of hope and solidarity to those of us whose hearts are made of story. --Siân Gaetano, children's/YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Chronicle Books: Life Wants You Dead: A Calm, Rational, and Totally Legit Guide to Scaring Yourself Safe by Evan Waite, Illustrated by Paula Searing

Angeline Boulley: 2022 Michael L Printz Award Winner

Angeline Boulley

Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, is a storyteller who writes about her Ojibwe community in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. She is a former director of the Office of Indian Education in the U.S. Department of Education. Boulley lives in southwest Michigan, but her home will always be on Sugar Island. The Printz Award-winner Firekeeper's Daughter (Holt Books for Young Readers) is her debut.

Wow! 2021 was a year for you--congratulations! Before this morning, Firekeeper's Daughter was already a 2021 Kids' Indie Next List title, a Time Magazine Best YA Book of All Time selection and is being adapted by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground. Now it's the Michael L. Printz Award winner, the William C. Morris Award winner and an American Indian Literature Award honoree in the young adult category. How are you feeling?

I am wonderfully overwhelmed. It feels like being on The Price Is Right showcase showdown and the announcer keeps saying, "But wait, there's more!"

I attended your speech at ALA and loved hearing about how long the ideas for your debut marinated in your head. What does it feel like to have made that book a reality and have it received with such love?

The idea for Firekeeper's Daughter was so potent. It always seemed bigger than me, and I wanted to do justice to this story. To have it received with such love feels special, especially when Indigenous readers tell me I got it right. 

How was that class on cooking meth? Did your research lead you anywhere else surprising?

The class on meth was eye-opening. I'd imagined a lab with beakers but learned about a method using a two-liter pop bottle. Mini meth "labs" can be hidden in bathrooms, industrial drums, car trunks and deer blinds. I researched so many topics: money laundering, the history of GPS, early 2000s fashion, math theorems, cryptocurrency, hallucinogenic mushrooms and hockey (of course).  

Will this book lead to another one?

I'm on deadline for my next book, which isn't a traditional sequel but has familiar faces and is set once again in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. It features an "Indigenous Lara Croft" raiding museums to reclaim ancestors' remains and sacred items. Of course, one of her heists goes very badly. 

The book sold a few months before the pandemic hit, meaning that you haven't been able to tour, meet with readers, attend conferences.... What has this process been like?

The authors who suffered were those whose books came out in spring and summer of 2020 when everything was canceled. By the time my book was published in March 2021, it was a full year into the pandemic. By then, the publishing world had pivoted to virtual events. I was able to connect with readers at in-person events following social-distancing guidelines this past summer, but nothing like the grand book tours I had imagined. Hopefully we can gather safely this year for some of those big events!

What do you hope readers take from Firekeeper's Daughter?

I hope readers see that we (Native Americans) are still here, and our stories are not relics of the past. Also, I hope readers want to read more stories with Indigenous characters so they can get a sense of the differences between and within Native communities.

Is there anything else you'd like to say to Shelf Awareness readers?

If you've read a book and love it, please rate, review and recommend it to others. Request titles by Native authors from your local public library. Those are free things readers can do to support emerging authors. Word of mouth is so impactful! --Siân Gaetano, children's/YA editor, Shelf Awareness

GLOW: Tundra Books: We Are Definitely Human by X. Fang

STEM-focused The Thinking Spot Opens in Wayzata, Minn.

The Thinking Spot, an all-ages bookstore dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, opened in Wayzata, Minn., late last year, the Eden Prairie Local News reported. Owner Rima Parikh stocks some 5,000 STEM-related titles and will start hosting author events early next month.

"My idea of making science accessible is not just with a bookstore," Parikh said. "It's a gathering place for those working in science and technology. I expect them to come here and educate others in the community about what they do and why."

Parikh left a lucrative corporate job to start The Thinking Spot. She explained that opening a bookstore had always been a dream, something she figured she'd do once she retired, but after the pandemic began she started to wonder, "why wait? If I want to do something, do it now."

She quit her job in April 2021 to focus on The Thinking Spot full-time. She spent most of last summer building the store's inventory, hand-picking books that are both fun to read and educational. She hopes her store will show people that science is neither difficult to understand nor exclusive.

"It's behind everything," Parikh told EPLN. "It doesn't mean that one has to be a chemical engineer or mechanical engineer to appreciate science."

The store's name comes from the Winnie the Pooh series, which was one of her children's favorites. "Winnie the Pooh would go to this pool, under a tree, where he would sit on a log and would just think. It was called 'Thinking Spot.' " That spot, Parikh added, always seemed a bit like a bookstore to her: "It was where one would dig deeper and take time to think."

Her science outreach efforts, meanwhile, were largely inspired by the science communication work of actor Alan Alda, particularly his books and podcast. Said Parikh: "I always wanted to make science accessible to everybody."

The Thinking Spot will start hosting events on February 5, with a visit from Ben Orlin, author of Math with Bad Drawings.

Harper: Sandwich by Catherine Newman

The Phoenix Bookstore, Laredo, Tex., Closing Next Month

The Phoenix Bookstore, a bookstore and coffee shop in Laredo, Tex., that made its debut in December 2019, will close permanently next month. In a Facebook post announcing the closure and thanking customers for their support, store owner Margie Govea said the bookstore's last day in business will be February 19. 

"I'm so thankful to all my book-loving family who supported my dream, you are the reason why we lasted as long as we did," she wrote. "It was my sincere pleasure to have shared my sanctuary with you and knowing what I know now, I would still do it all over again!"

She's booked a slate of events for the store's final few weeks, including Harry Potter Book Nights, and the store will continue to host its painting classes every Sunday until the last day of business.

Govea told the Laredo Morning Times that she was proud of what she and store co-owner Jose R. Cantu accomplished, and it was a pleasure to open a business that "inspired the love of reading in many."

The bookstore briefly shut down in 2020, but reopened after pivoting to a "contactless style" of business.

Obituary Note: Mameve Medwed

Mameve Medwed

Mameve Medwed, a novelist, critic and essayist whose novels included Mail and How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life, died December 26. She was 79. Noting that she had been praised by one critic as an author with a "light touch and irrepressible sense of humor," the Boston Globe reported that her characters often dwelled in Cambridge, Mass., as well as her home state of Maine, and that her own life "provided rich material for autobiographical essays, some of which she published in the Globe."

Medwed also championed writers whose work, like hers, makes people smile. "I would love to make a little campaign for the comic novel because I always feel that people who write funny stuff are considered sort of, you know, light--l-i-t-e--and are relegated to the children's table," she said in a 2015 interview with the Globe. "All of us who write comedy deal with the same stuff that the deep, heavy, dark people staring in the abyss deal with: love, friendship, death, sorrow, all those things. We just look at it in a skewed way."

Her novels, which also include Minus Me; Of Men and Their Mothers; The End of an Error; and Host Family, are "filled with humor and heartbreak" and established Medwed as "an author readers turned to for enjoyment," the Globe noted.  

Novelist Elinor Lipman, a friend of Medwed for decades, said, "We both sent each other everything. If I wrote a blurb, I sent it to her for her approval. We counted on each other, and it wasn't just the writing."

She "was unfailingly radiant," said longtime friend and author Stacy Schiff, adding that Medwed "set the gold standard in that respect. No one did friendship better, no one championed other people's books as did she."

Writer Stephen McCauley, a neighbor of Medwed in Cambridge, recalled that "she was extremely generous to all her writer friends," throwing parties whenever each one published a book. "That was very meaningful for all of us. She was a very loving person and was extremely modest and self-effacing, but at the same time I think she had this core commitment to her work and to helping other writers."

For years, Medwed taught writing at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education, "and knew well the challenges aspiring authors faced," the Globe wrote. Mail, her first novel, was published in 1997, the year she turned 55, which, as McCauley noted, perhaps "gave her that much more appreciation for the years of struggle and disappointment that people have, and maybe more appreciation, too, for her own success."


Personnel Changes at HarperCollins Children's Books

Aubrey Churchward has been promoted to senior manager, publicity at HarperCollins Children's Books. She was previously manager, publicity.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Imani Perry on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Imani Perry, author of South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon to Understand the Soul of a Nation (Ecco, $28.99, 9780062977403).

Tamron Hall: Justice Sonia Sotomayor, author of Just Help!: How to Build a Better World (Philomel, $17.99, 9780593206263).

Also on Tamron Hall: Rachel Lindsay, author of Miss Me with That: Hot Takes, Helpful Tidbits, and a Few Hard Truths (Ballantine, $26, 9780593357071).

TV: Saint X

Hulu is adapting Alexis Schaitkin's novel Saint X, giving an eight-part series order to the project from writer Leila Gerstein and director Dee Rees. Deadline reported that the drama, "which is told via multiple timelines and perspectives, explores and upends the girl-gone-missing genre. It's a show about how a young woman's mysterious death during an idyllic Caribbean vacation creates a traumatic ripple effect that eventually pulls her surviving sister into a dangerous pursuit of the truth."

Produced by ABC Signature, the project will be written and executive produced by Gerstein, the Hart of Dixie creator who was a consulting producer on The Handmaid's Tale. Rees (Mudbound) is directing and exec producing.
Deadline noted that Saint X "is Hulu's latest book adaptation following the likes of The Handmaid's Tale, Shrill, Little Fires Everywhere, Normal People and Nine Perfect Strangers as well as the upcoming series Conversations with Friends."

Books & Authors

Awards: Robert A. Heinlein Winner

Novelist and screenwriter David Gerrold has won the 2022 Robert A. Heinlein Award, which honors "outstanding published works in science fiction and technical writings that inspire the human exploration of space." Organizers cited Gerrold for his "body of work, including his emphasis on young adult space travel novels and inspired creation during Star Trek screenwriting. Hella (2020) is his most recent YA novel about space colonization."

The award will be presented May 27 during opening ceremonies for Balticon 56, the 56th Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention.

Book Review

Review: To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure and Dinner in Your Own Backyard

To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure, and Dinner in Your Own Backyard by Tamar Haspel (Putnam, $26 hardcover, 272p., 9780593419533, March 8, 2022)

Brimming with hilarious gardening anecdotes, To Boldly Grow: Finding Joy, Adventure and Dinner in Your Own Backyard by Tamar Haspel is an inspirational account of the author's improbable transformation from a city-dweller leading a life of the mind into an avid country gardener who built her own chicken coop, happy to roll up her sleeves and get dirty in pursuit of food-growing exploits. It is a metamorphosis filled with adventure, comedy and not a little drama that all began when Haspel challenged herself to consume at least one food item every day that she and her husband, Kevin, hunted or fished, gathered or grew themselves.

Haspel writes the James Beard Award-winning Washington Post column Unearthed. Having spent her career writing about what other people did with food, she decided 12 years ago to unleash her own "inner doer" after she and Kevin, a commodities trader with gardening experience, left Manhattan for a "shack on a lake" on Cape Cod. She planted kale, eggplants, cucumbers and tomatoes that tasted more delicious by virtue of being homegrown, and foraged for food, which led to raising chickens, ice fishing and hunting for venison.

As much as Haspel makes a compelling case for embracing one's inner hunter-gatherer, To Boldly Grow is also an intriguing glimpse into a successful marriage between two individuals with vastly different skills and the creative ways in which they tap into each other's strengths. Negotiation, compromise and humor form the pillars of a relationship that is tested in unusual ways, including the struggles of building a turkey plucker out of an old washing machine, learning to use a hammer and mistaking an igloo-shaped doghouse for a wood-fire oven insert.

Haspel combines advice for budding gardeners with incisive commentary on our food culture and the true meaning of self-reliance. "Learning to rely on ourselves to solve problems, rather than referring them to people who had solved them before, was the essence of our undertaking," she says, highlighting the happy interdependence and sharing of resources within their Cape Cod community.

Serving as a detailed six-part guide for readers who are considering food-gathering pursuits of their own and are curious about what it entails, Haspel's debut features all of the brilliant wit and lively storytelling that have made her a popular food and science writer. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this entertaining and practical guide to homegrown food, a journalist discovers the joys of gardening, keeping chickens and ice fishing after moving to Cape Cod from Manhattan.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Baby Steps Millionaires by Dave Ramsey
2. The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland
3. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
4. Juniper Hill by Devney Perry
5. Million Dollar Family Secrets by Kiana Danial
6. Can't Hurt Me by David Goggins
7. Baden by Sawyer Bennett
8. Desire After Dark by Various
9. Alpha's Revenge by Renee Rose and Lee Savino
10. Into the Fire: Books 1-4 by J.H. Croix

[Many thanks to!]

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