Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Henry Holt & Company: Mihi Ever After (Mihi Ever After #1) by Tae Keller, illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez

Berkley Books: River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

Oxford University Press, USA: The World According to Proust by Joshua Landy

Chronicle Chroma: Bob Willoughby: A Cinematic Life by Bob Willoughby

Charlesbridge Publishing: Forever Cousins by Laurel Goodluck, illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Tor Teen: The Luminaries by Susan Dennard


Howard Retiring, Lellos to Be Publisher at Algonquin Young Readers

Elise Howard
Stacy Lellos

Elise Howard, founding publisher of Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Workman Publishing, is retiring, effective May 1. She will be succeeded by Stacy Lellos. Along with taking on the role of AYR publisher, Lellos will continue to serve as publisher of Workman Children's books and report directly to senior v-p and WP publisher Dan Reynolds. 

Howard joined the company in 2011 as founding editor and publisher of AYR after WP founder Peter Workman and former Algonquin publisher Elisabeth Scharlatt created the new imprint. Howard published her first list in the fall of 2013. Among the AYR books she edited is The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, 2017 winner of the Newbery Medal. Before joining Algonquin, Howard was senior v-p and associate publisher at HarperCollins Children's Books.

Reynolds commented: "Under Elise's direction, both as publisher and editor, and with her core team of editors, AYR books have won Lambda, Publishing Triangle, Amelia Bloomer, Carter Woodson, Edgar Allan Poe, Rainbow List, Schneider Family, NYPL, CPL, Bank Street, Horn Book Fanfare, Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, and PW Best of the Year awards. It is an amazing achievement to build an imprint from scratch; these accolades only reinforce the commitment to quality, depth of experience, instincts about her readers, and belief that books can change people and the world that Elise brought to her work."

Lellos, who will become publisher on May 2, observed: "The types of books Algonquin Young Readers publishes will be a natural complement to the types of children's books Workman publishes, and we're excited about what it will mean to leverage Workman's extraordinary strength in the trade and curriculum markets to help take AYR to a new level. I spent much of my career in the world of children's fiction, and I'm thrilled to shepherd AYR's storytelling, which helps children understand the world and the many ways to be part of and even shape it."

Scribe Us: Our Members Be Unlimited: A Comic about Workers and Their Unions by Sam Wallman

International Update: 'Vibrant' Start for BCBF; Malaysian BA Objects to Government-Backed Online Sales Platform

The Bologna Children's Book Fair "got off to a 'vibrant' start Monday, with publishers feeling positive and reporting full schedules for their rights teams, despite Brexit complications and the absence of some international publishers," the Bookseller reported.

Though they regretted the absence of publishers from the U.S. and Asia, the publishers who spoke to the Bookseller said they were continuing to meet virtually with people in those territories, as well as other contacts who could not attend in person. Complications arising as a result of the U.K. no longer being part of the EU was a common complaint among publishers, but "by and large, the mood was very positive."

Bloomsbury group rights director Stephanie Purcell said, "Just being at the fair makes such a difference compared to a virtual book fair. It's really brought back to us how being here and touching the book makes such a huge difference." Hachette Children's Group CEO Hilary Murray-Hill agreed: "Virtual selling has definitely got a place... but there is a general underlying consensus that meeting in person is really, really important."

At this year's fair, the European and International Booksellers Federation launched a partnership with the BBPlus, an international arm of BCBF, to host a group of European booksellers at the important industry event. "Building on the RISE Bookselling program, we invited eight booksellers to join the fair, establish new connections across the continent and improve knowledge sharing across borders," EIBF noted.


The Malaysian Booksellers Association has asked the prime minister and Education Ministry (MoE) to stop a government body's plans to operate a book-buying platform with a private firm, "claiming that this is a monopoly imposing 20% commission charges and which would end up killing off booksellers," the Malay Mail reported. 

"Our stand is very clear, Majlis Buku Kebangsaan Malaysia [the National Book Council of Malaysia], as a government entity, should not be involved in business, or become the middleman to gain profits," said Mak Chee Kin, v-p of the MBA. "And in fact, actually their role is to help promote the book industry as a whole and to cultivate the reading habit. That is their main role. But instead of doing that, they are involving themselves into business and they are killing the booksellers."

Some members of MBA were invited by the MBKM for a briefing on January 26 to introduce and to conduct a registration drive for a new platform called Bukuku. Mak said MBKM--which is under the MoE--had apparently formed a joint venture with a start-up called Dropee to create a Business to Government (B2G) platform for the MoE to buy books. The five book trade associations in Malaysia were, however, not consulted by MBKM or Dropee about the new platform.

The MBA listed 10 reasons why it was objecting to Bukuku, noting that the platform "invites book publishers to upload title listings directly in the platform alongside booksellers like us. This creates a direct access for publishers to market buyers, bypassing the traditional and well-established route.... Entrepreneurship will die in the book industry as we cannot sustain if the new business model is implemented. Many booksellers would have to close shop because a lot of us rely on government purchases to supplement normal retail income.... When MBKM forces an entire buyer market to purchase on a single platform, this is monopoly/cartel activity." 

Mak said: "We are appealing for help from the minister of education and the honourable prime minister to intervene and stop such unhealthy plans to kill the booksellers. Such a monopoly platform should not be allowed to operate with the collusion of a government agency. Free market bookselling must continue to prevail for the betterment of the small-time booksellers who depend on schools for survival and to feed their family."

The MKBM responded this week with a two-page statement to the Malay Mail


Amazon Australia will open a 50,000-square-foot sorting center at Goodman Group's Amaroo Business Park in Craigieburn, Melbourne, this year. The site will be the company's first dedicated sorting center in the country. Amazon described the facility as "nearly the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground oval."

The Craigieburn Sort Centre is Amazon's fifth operations site in Victoria. launched in Australia in December 2017.


British Bookseller the Stripey Badger Bookshop, Grassingon, was closed Tuesday while the town was being filmed as Darrowby for the third series of All Creatures Great and Small. "Here we are being transformed into G F Endleby. Tomorrow the veggies will be out," the bookshop posted, adding on Wednesday: "So here we are. Filming series 3 of #allcreaturesgreatandsmall has begun in Darrowby #Grassington. The vegetables at G F Endleby have never looked better." --Robert Gray

Flyaway Books: The Coat by Séverine Vidal, illustrated by Louis Thomas

Registration Opening for Professional Bookseller Certification Program's Second Inventory Management Module

Registration for the second Inventory Management Module of the Professional Bookseller Certification Program opens at 1 p.m. Eastern this Friday, March 25. The module is designed to teach owners and/or store buyers how to select and order the new book inventory that will sell best for their particular store; how and when to order direct from publishers for better discounts, how to maintain cash flow via returns, turns and budgets; how to integrate marketing and merchandising into your buying process so that carefully selected inventory actually sells; and how to analyze and improve the buying process over time.

The class has two tracks of participation. The certification track has attendance, homework and final project requirements. An inventory management certificate demonstrates that participants have mastered the course material and met the objectives. The audit track is designed for store owners and experienced buyers interested in learning best inventory management practices, but who may not have the time or need to fulfill the certification requirements. The syllabus can be reviewed here.

The fee for the Inventory Management course is $350, due at registration. Scholarships, which would be awarded after successfully completing the course, may be available from regional booksellers associations. This class is limited to 50 people and is held on Zoom on Wednesdays, from April 27 through August 10, 7-8:30 p.m. Eastern. Jill Hendrix of Fiction Addiction, Greenville, S.C., is dean of the course. To register and for more information, click here.

PNBA Holiday Catalog 2022

Sidelines Snapshot: Chocolates, Stickers, Stuffed Animals and Cards

Wendy Morton Hudson, owner of Nantucket Bookworks and Mitchell's Book Corner in Nantucket, Mass., reported that chocolates and other food items have been doing incredibly well since Nantucket Bookworks "doubled down" on them in 2021. Chocolates, particularly those made by Tony's Chocolonely, "went bonkers," with Hudson even saying that "chocolates are the new socks." They make great impulse buys, she continued, and she praised her buyer who "goes down rabbit holes" to find small producers with ethical business practices. Other popular snack items include Sparkle Syrup from Runamok and giant, oversized peanut butter cups from CB Stuffer

On the subject of buying, Hudson said that over the last couple of years websites like Faire and Bulletin have been a "game changer." With the extended dating they offer, they make it "so easy" to try new vendors. Some 30%-40% of Nantucket Bookworks' business has always been sidelines and nonbook items, and the team used to rely on visiting gift shows twice per year to find new vendors. Now "anyone can do it." Mitchell's, on the other hand, carries relatively few sidelines, though the store has done really well with products from Rifle Paper Company.

Asked about some of her store's perennial favorites, Hudson answered that JellyCat stuffed animals are always popular, as are reading glasses and certain card lines. She remarked that "every store wants to have something local and special," and for Nantucket Bookworks that includes handmade sailor bracelets. In addition to JellyCat, popular children's items include MaiLeg toys and Steiff stuffed animals.

Hudson added that her store hasn't been hugely affected by supply-chain issues with sidelines, even during the holidays, though the busiest time of the year for Nantucket Bookworks is the summer, which may have helped.


Dana Welshans, owner of Snowbound Books in Marquette, Mich., said her store doesn't do a ton of sidelines, but journals and notecards are very strong sellers. She uses Faire heavily in sourcing those items and tries to rotate her stock often, placing smaller orders from a "ton of different places." 

Fly Paper Products, Ann Arbor, Mich., is a frequent source, and she added that bookmarks and magnets are also popular. Those magnets all "have to do with literacy, reading and authors," and she makes sure all her sidelines are book-related. Asked about supply-chain issues, Welshans said she has experienced them, but because she doesn't rely on any one vendor, it is easy to pivot, get something from another source and wait.


At Bettie's Pages in Lowell, Mich., stickers, book art from Cecelia Rose, cocktail kits from InBooze and bookish headbands are the store's best selling nonbook items at the moment, store owner Nicole Lintemuth reported. A favorite new find is a line of headbands from Leopard & Lotus that are bookish and progressive themed--Lintemuth said she can "barely keep them in stock."

Asked about perennial favorites, Lintemuth said stickers are the best "hands down," and popular brands include Big Moods, Turtle's Soup and Liv Lyszyk Prints. Some customers, she added, stop in on a regular basis just to check out the new sticker collection. On the subject of supply-chain issues, Lintemuth remarked that the store has been fairly lucky to have had only slight delays; working with mostly small, local creators helped the store avoid a lot of the biggest issues. --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Susan Doran  

Susan Doran

Susan Doran, associate director, production at Macmillan, died March 17. In a message to staff, director of production Raymond Ernesto Colón wrote: "If you had the opportunity to know and collaborate with Susan, you know how kind, earnest, and committed she was. Susan's absence will be felt throughout the industry as she has touched the lives of many--from authors to illustrators, colleagues to vendors, publishers to editors."

After starting her career in reprints at E.P. Dutton and Dial Books for Young Readers, Doran joined FSG in 1990 as production manager, working on picture books and novels and launching her nearly 32-year-long career at Macmillan. 

During that time, Doran worked with such notable creators as Peter Sís and Uri Shulevitz, and worked on at least seven Caldecott Honor Books, including A Place Inside of Me by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Noa Denmon; Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper; Grandpa Green by Lane Smith; and, most recently, 2021's Caldecott Medal winner We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade.

"She had a keen eye for color and cared deeply for the authors with whom she collaborated," Colón noted.


Ky.'s Plaid Elephant Books Receives 'Heart on Fire' Award

Congratulations to Plaid Elephant Books in Danville, Ky., which received the "Heart on Fire" award from Heart of Danville, recognizing a business whose innovation and creativity enhance downtown. On Facebook, owner Kate Snyder, who opened the children's bookstore last September, posted: "I wanted to take a minute to reflect back MY appreciation to the Heart of Danville for their incredible efforts to make downtown Danville a vibrant place to live, work, and play.

"People associate the Heart with fun events and parties, but the real work happens behind the scenes. Plaid Elephant Books would not be here without the efforts of the Heart of Danville: They scouted our location and suggested it as a possibility. They connected me with the landlord. They got us historical renderings of what the facade used to look like, making it possible to restore the 3rd Street entrance. They coordinate the merchant events and promotions that bring people downtown to shop."

Personnel Changes at Tom Doherty Associates

At Tom Doherty Associates:

Sarah Reidy has been promoted to v-p, executive director, publicity. She joined TDA in November 2018 and previously held publicity positions at Simon & Schuster, Other Press, Soho Press and Penguin.

Renata Sweeny is being promoted to assistant director of marketing.

Saraciea Fennell is being promoted to senior publicity manager.

Caro Perny is being promoted to senior publicity manager.

Rachel Taylor is being promoted to senior marketing manager.

Jordan Hanley is being promoted to senior marketing manager.

Becky Yeager is being promoted to senior manager, ad/promo and marketing.

Desirae Friesen has been promoted to publicity manager.

Angie Rao is being promoted to ad/promo junior designer.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Thomas Fisher on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Thomas Fisher, author of The Emergency: A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER (One World, $27, 9780593230671).

Drew Barrymore Show: Amy Schumer, co-editor of Arrival Stories: Women Share Their Experiences of Becoming Mothers (The Dial Press, $28, 9780593230282).

Movies: Where the Crawdads Sing

Sony’s 3000 Pictures released a trailer and new photos for Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the bestselling novel by Delia Owens, Deadline reported. Directed by Olivia Newman, the film stars Daisy Edgar-Jones (Normal People), Taylor John Smith (Sharp Objects), Harris Dickinson (The King’s Man), Michael Hyatt (Snowfall), Sterling Macer, Jr. (Double Down) and David Strathairn (Nomadland). 

Lucy Alibar (Beasts of the Southern Wild) adapted the screenplay, with Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter producing, and Betsy Danbury and Rhonda Fehr serving as executive producers. Where the Crawdads Sing is slated for release in theaters on July 15.

Books & Authors

Awards: Dublin Literary, Arabic Fiction Shortlists

A shortlist has been released for the €100,000 (about $109,145) Dublin Literary Award, sponsored by Dublin City Council to honor a single work of fiction published in English. The finalists, nominated by librarians worldwide, features authors who are French, Irish, Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg (Alderville First Nation, Canadian), New Zealander and Nigerian. The winner will be named May 19, as part of the opening day program of International Literature Festival Dublin. This year's shortlisted titles are: 

Remote Sympathy by Catherine Chidgey (New Zealander)
At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop (French), translated from the French by Anna Moschovakis
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (Nigerian)
The Art of Falling by Danielle McLaughlin (Irish)
Noopiming: The Cure for White Ladies by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson (Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg)
The Art of Losing by Alice Zeniter (French), translated from the French by Frank Wynne


The shortlist has been announced for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Each of the six shortlisted authors will receive $10,000, and the winner, who be announced on May 22, will receive an additional $50,000.

The shortlisted titles are:

Cairo Maquette by Tarek Imam (Egypt)
Rose's Diary by Reem al-Kamali (UAE)
Dilshad by Bushra Khalfan (Oman)
The Prisoner of the Portuguese by Mohsine Loukili (Morocco)
The White Line of Night by Khaled Nasrallah (Kuwait)
Bread on the Table of Uncle Milad by Mohamed Alnaas (Libya)

Chair of judges Shukri Mabkhout commented: "The six novels represent a strikingly diverse range of topics and forms around identity and freedom. Some of them took us on a journey to the past, inspired by the aspirations and struggles of people living in various regions across the Arab world. They depicted the endeavours of marginalized, oppressed or forgotten individuals throughout history, as they sought to forge and change their destinies. Other novelists on this shortlist portrayed freedom from various angles, such as the freedom of imagination to reconstruct a reality in which fantasy and truth intertwine, the freedom of expression and creativity in the face of visible or hidden oppression, and the freedom of individual identity."

Reading with... Ben Okri

photo: Mat Bray

Ben Okri is a playwright, poet, novelist and short story writer. His novel The Famished Road won the 1991 Booker Prize for Fiction. In 2019, the BBC chose his novel Astonishing the Gods as "one of the 100 novels that shaped our world." He is also the author of Prayer for the Living, The Freedom Artist and many others. His new book for children and adults is Every Leaf a Hallelujah (Other Press, February 22, 2022), a story that echoes climate activist Greta Thunberg's message that "no one is too small to make a difference."

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

Every Leaf a Hallelujah is an environmental fable for all ages. A love letter to nature. A tale of courage and the power of action.    

On your nightstand now:

À la recherche du temps perdu, volume 3, by Marcel Proust. This is a novel about re-capturing the memories of a life, a novel about illusions, and one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.

Fences, a play by August Wilson, part of a great project to capture the African American experience in the 20th century.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Arabian Nights. This is one of the most magical books to read at any age. I devoured it as a child and it continues to breathe its strange enchantments on my life and art.

Your top five authors:

Homer: one of the great fountains of Western narrative

Shakespeare: so great he belongs to all of us

Cervantes: one book and from it a whole literature

Emily Dickinson: love her strangeness, clarity, paradox

Christopher Okigbo: one book of poems, Labyrinths, but what a fractal experience. His prophecy was in capturing the truth of what he felt.

Book you've faked reading:

Have always been happy to own up to not having read some important books. I have deliberately saved many of them to read later. A lot of beautiful works to look forward to reading.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Don Quixote by Cervantes. Now acknowledged to be one of the three greatest novels ever written. This is a book that changed my life. I was one person before, but a different person after having read it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This tale of love and dangerous illusions, written with some of the most shimmering prose of the 20th century, continues to inspire book cover designers since its first fascinating outing in 1926. The cover of the copy I bought is all gold, and very fitting.

Book you hid from your parents:

Never had to. They were just delighted that I loved reading.

Book that changed your life:

Don Quixote. It is the story of a man who spent his life reading and one day decides to live adventures rather than read them. A masterpiece among masterpieces.

Favorite line from a book:

"My soul looks back and wonders how I got over."
It's the opening line from the introduction to James Baldwin's collected essays, The Price of the Ticket. So much of Baldwin is implied in that line, the music, the courage, the wistfulness.

Five books you'll never part with:

Rare 19th-century edition of Don Quixote.
Rare 19th-century edition of the King James Bible.
An English first edition of Hemingway's In Our Time.
A signed first edition copy of Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah.
A first edition proof copy of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses.

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

The Wanderer, or Le Grand Meaulnes, by Alain-Fournier. A magical novel by a Frenchman who died young in the First World War. It is a tale of love and adolescence, the possible inspiration for The Great Gatsby, and a book by which to determine who can really be your friend.

Book Review

Children's Review: Little Houses

Little Houses by Kevin Henkes, illus. by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780062965721, May 10, 2022)

In Kevin Henkes's books, children often long to make a connection with others. In Penny and Her Song, a young mouse is desperate to share a catchy tune with her parents. In Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, another young mouse (no relation) can't wait to show off her fabulous new purple accessory at school. But in Little Houses, Henkes and Laura Dronzek's poetic, meditative picture book, the nameless young (human) narrator is happy to keep her marvelous discovery to herself--or at least between herself and the reader.

When she visits her grandmother's beach house, the narrator feels as though she's being summoned by the ocean: "Sometimes I think someone/ is calling me./ But it's just the waves/ coming in, going out./ A whisper or a roar./ I run up and down to meet them." While the girl and her grandmother are on the beach looking at shells, Grandma reminds her that shells are little houses--"and that," explains the narrator, "gets me thinking." She mulls over how different each shell is (one has "brown spots/ like freckles") and wonders who lives inside them--or is it ghosts? When her grandmother remarks at "things we cannot see," the narrator imagines all the sea life that's out of sight--"Fish as big as cars,/ creatures whose names I don't know,/ lost toys,/ lost coins,/ lots of lost things/ that were cried over."

In his plot-driven picture books, Henkes presents stories that conclude with clarity and understanding. Little Houses offers a series of reflections by a narrator who--and the young reader may find this reassuring--considers the expedition itself as rewarding as finding answers: "I'd like to know/ what a pelican thinks of a sandpiper/ and if a snowy egret has ever seen snow./ So right now, I'll walk up and down/ the beach/ looking for little houses/ and thinking about everything I don't know."

Dronzek, who has previously collaborated with Henkes on other great-outdoors-themed titles (When Spring Comes, Summer Song and more), paints with a sumptuous nautical palette and favors bold, plainly defined imagery. While she is sufficiently awed by the animal kingdom to render birds and sea life realistically, not even a staunch naturalist would begrudge her the occasional smiling pelican or adorable ultra-wide-eyed octopus. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Shelf Talker: In this poetic, reassuring picture book meditation, a girl is swept up in wonderment after her grandmother reminds her that the shells on the beach are tiny houses.

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