Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 22, 2022: Maximum Shelf: Ithaca

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 22, 2022

IDW Publishing: Arca by Van Jensen, illustrated by Jesse Lonergan

First Second: Family Style: Memories of an American from Vietnam by Thien Pham

Harvest Publications: The Dinner Party Project: A No-Stress Guide to Food with Friends by Natasha Feldman

Wednesday Books: Guardians of Dawn: Zhara (Guardians of Dawn #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Soho Crime: A Disappearance in Fiji by Nilima Rao

Shadow Mountain: Graysen Foxx and the Treasure of Principal Redbeard (Graysen Foxx, School Treasure Hunter) by J. Scott Savage


A Book Place Coming to Riverhead, N.Y.

A Book Place's future home.

Jocelyn Maningo Kaleita is planning to open A Book Place this summer at 469 East Main St. in Riverhead, N.Y. Northforker reported that the new bookstore will be located in the former Taste the East End boutique, next to Jerry and the Mermaid restaurant. 

"I've wrestled with the idea of having my own store for over a decade. It was never the right time," said Kaleita, adding that her first idea was to convert a step-up van into a mobile book truck, but as soon as she found one she liked, it had been sold. 

At the urging of family friend Jerry Dicecco, who owns the restaurant next door, "she was going to add a book wall to the existing gift shop on the site. After learning that the former tenant was moving on, she seized the opportunity," Northforker wrote. The 750-square-foot space has built-in shelves, lighting and furniture, exposed ceiling beams and white walls. 

In addition to nonfiction and fiction titles, she plans to feature a table of bestsellers and seasonal items. A section at the far end of the shop will showcase Long Island-inspired titles as well as the annual Long Island Reads selection. A large, interactive children's area is also planned. "I would really like the kids to have a space," Kaleita said. "If we don't cultivate their reading young, they're not going to be readers."

She credits Terry Lucas, the current library director on Shelter Island, with guiding her in her career. At 15, she started working at the Open Book, which Lucas owned and operated in Westhampton for more than a decade. "The reason why I want to do this--and who I am today--is because of her," Kaleita said.

Describing downtown areas as "the perfect landscapes" for bookshops, Kaleita said she is excited to get to know the community: "I'm not Amazon. My favorite part is handing somebody a book. A hidden gem, word-of-mouth book, and saying 'I really hope you enjoy this. Come back and let me know.' Books allow a connection you can have with somebody."

Blackstone Publishing: The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard

Folklore Books and More Opens in Pearisburg, Va. 

Folklore Books and More, which carries new books by local and regional authors, as well as used books and sidelines, opened recently at 101 South Main St, Pearisburg, Va. WSLS News reported that co-owner Santana Blevins said she and her husband "both have a passion for reading and want to share it with the community," with their main goal being "to offer a safe space for everyone."

"We want it to be a cool hangout spot for anybody so they can feel safe," Blevins said. "That's primarily why we used the rainbow behind our logo so that it would be inclusive."

In a recent Facebook post, the bookstore's owners noted: "We wanted to take a moment to thank everyone for making our first few weeks of business amazing! The outpouring of support we have received from the community has been amazing, and we are so glad to be providing great books to even greater people! My favorite thing about a great book is that you become invested in a group of characters whom you have never met before, but they feel like they have always been a part of your life by the time you finish reading the book (or entire series). 

"We were told something today that really epitomizes one of the reasons we desired to open a bookstore in our home county. One particular customer told us that she hadn't read much for a few years, but she decided last year she was going to start reading again by reading at least 12 books during the year. When she was asked what she wanted to do this morning, the first thing she said was to come to the new bookstore in town. Hearing this story this morning really made our day, and we are so glad to see the passion for reading that all of you have."

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: Little Monsters by Adrienne Brodeur

Ci10: Karen Walrond on Joy, Activism and Bookselling

Karen Walrond

"You all are amazing," said Karen Walrond, activist and author of The Lightmaker's Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy, addressing the crowd of children's booksellers during Tuesday morning's breakfast keynote at Ci10 in Phoenix, Ariz. "The fact that you guys open kids' minds to real life heroes and fantasy heroes and people who look like them who are heroes, and just expand their minds--I mean, y'all are my kind of people."

Discussing the origins of her book, Walrond recalled that she got an e-mail from Broadleaf Books inquiring about her writing a book about the "intersection of joy and activism." Walrond said yes, and then thought, "What the hell am I doing?" Though she'd attended some women's marches, participated in Pride events and even traveled to Africa with an NGO, she didn't consider herself an activist, imagining that an activist is "someone who gets tear-gassed" or "stands in front of tanks."

She decided that she'd interview a few people she considered "real" activists, including researcher and author Brené Brown and Tarana Burke, a founder of the Me Too movement. As she thought more about it, Walrond started to wonder why it was okay to call them activists, but not consider herself to be one.

She noted that she signed the book deal in March 2020, just as Covid-19 lockdowns began. When she started writing the book, "George Floyd was still alive" as was Breonna Taylor. In June, her publisher contacted her to say they were so sorry for making her write about activism and joy in a "dumpster fire of a year." But, Walrond continued, the experience was "actually a gift." With everything seeming so hopeless, it was extremely valuable to be able to speak to people who make it their life's work to make the world better.

"If I can write about joy and activism in 2020, there must be something there," she remarked. "There's something to it."

Walrond shared her definitions of joy and activism, explaining that joy is not the same thing as happiness. Joy is bigger and deeper than happiness, and can often be arrived at from pain and difficulty. As an example, she mentioned a woman giving birth--as soon as the baby's born, "all you feel is joy."

"It's the sort of thing you feel when you work really hard and you achieve something--you did what you said you'd do," she said. "Or when somebody comes into your stores and says thank you so much for what you did."

When one starts to think of joy as something that comes from meaning and purpose, she continued, "it doesn't seem that different from activism anymore." And speaking of activism, Waldron's new definition of an activist is "someone who is led by their values to purposeful action, in the hope of making the world brighter for others." And while activism can certainly include protesting, it is bigger than protest alone.

"I would argue it's what you guys do," Walrond said. "You guys, I would wager, got into this work because you believe in big concepts like literacy and education. You believe that books, when put in the hands of kids, can inspire them to dream big and do really big things. You're led by your values to brighten and broaden their horizons, so they can see people different from them and in so doing even learn something about themselves. And if that's not activism, I don't know what is."

Karen Walrond and Kim Hooyboer

Later in the session, after ABA education director Kim Hooyboer joined Walrond on stage, Walrond shared some tools for maintaining joy and sustaining one's self, pointing to community, gratitude, listening to yourself and having a "practice of celebrating." She also mentioned rest, remarking that if she could do the book over, she would actually include rest at the beginning.

"I really feel like rest is a tool of social justice. I really, deeply believe that," she said. "It's not just something that you do for restoration. You do it to gather the energy for work." --Alex Mutter


Ci10: Author Reception

The second day of the 10th Children's Institute featured plenty of panels, speakers, learning sessions and meetings, and ended with an author reception featuring picture book, middle-grade and YA authors and illustrators with new and upcoming titles.

Aya de León, author of Undercover Latina (Candlewick).

Random House Children's Books authors Julie Buxbaum (The Area 51 Files) and David Barclay Moore (Holler of the Fireflies).

Ruth Ohi (Blanket, Groundwood) and Carmen Agra Deedy (Wombat Said Come In, Margaret Quinlin Books/Peachtree)

Rex Ogle (Abuela, Don't Forget Me) and Derrick Barnes (Victory, Stand), both from Norton Young Readers.

HarperCollins authors Cynthia Leitich Smith (Sisters of the Neversea and Ancestor Approved, from the Heartdrum imprint) and Lisa Moore Ramée (MapMaker).

George M. Johnson Named Honorary Chair for Banned Books Week

George M. Johnson

Award-winning Black nonbinary activist and author George M. Johnson has been named honorary chair for Banned Books Week 2022, which will take place September 18-24 with the theme "Books Unite Us. Censorship Divides Us." The critically acclaimed--and frequently banned--writer's work includes their bestselling YA memoir All Boys Aren't Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), the third title on the American Library Association's Top 10 Most Challenged Books of 2021; and We Are Not Broken (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). 

"Like most of the books on the list, All Boys Aren't Blue was challenged for LGBTQ+ content, which is disproportionately targeted for censorship alongside works dealing with racism and racial identity," the Banned Books Week Coalition noted. "Several state legislatures have passed or are considering laws that would limit instruction related to LGBTQ+ identity and race. Johnson and many other authors addressing these issues are impacted, and students are harmed by the resulting censorship."

"Being the honorary chair for Banned Books Week is important to me because I know what it is like to grow up and not have stories about my own lived experience, nor the truth outside of an ahistorical context," said Johnson. "This is a fight for the truth that has always existed even if it rarely gets told. When the youth are empowered with stories about the experiences of others, they become adults who understand the necessity for equity and equality and have the tools to build a world the likes of which we have never seen."


Image of the Day: SRO in West Hollywood

Book Soup Bookstore, West Hollywood, Calif., hosted film producer David Winkler (son of Irwin Winkler) for the launch of his memoir, The Arrangement: A Love Story (Rare Bird Lit), which recounts his experience as a sugar daddy. Winkler and his editor, Devin, performed a reading from the book for a standing-room-only crowd.

Bookseller Moment: The Book Tavern

Posted by the Book Tavern, Augusta, Ga.:
" 'Where is your happy place? I feel happiest right here at my local bookstore with an iced coffee in my hand!' --@ren__reads. A great cup of coffee + a good book is one of our favorite combinations. Stay caffeinated, hydrated, and well-read this weekend (we can help you out with that last one!)."

Personnel Changes at Harlequin

In the Harlequin Trade Publishing publicity department:

Emer Flounders has been promoted to director of publicity.

Laura Gianino has been promoted to senior publicity manager.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ed Yong on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Ed Yong, author of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us (Random House, $30, 9780593133231).

Drew Barrymore repeat: Priya Krishna, co-author of Cooking at Home: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave) (Clarkson Potter, $35, 9781524759247).

Watch What Happens Live: Craig Conover, author of Pillow Talk: What's Wrong with My Sewing? (Gallery Books, $28.99, 9781982187484).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Werner Herzog, author of The Twilight World (Penguin Press, $25, 9780593490266).

Movies: This Time Tomorrow

Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect, Sisters) will direct and produce a film adaptation of Emma Straub's novel This Time Tomorrow, which was optioned by Lionsgate "following a competitive auction," Deadline reported. Straub is also co-owner of Books Are Magic bookstore in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

Joining Moore as producers are Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman, who will produce for Mandeville, with Alex Young executive producing. Straub will adapt her own novel for the screen.

"Emma's novel is tender and funny, life-affirming and poignant, sweet and nostalgic, deep and rich," said Erin Westerman, Lionsgate's president of production. "There's no relationship more fraught than that between parent and child, and it only gets more so as the years go by. Jason is the perfect director for this project--he can present the big, fascinating ideas and then drill down into the emotional center to change your whole perspective."

"I'm so excited to reteam with Lionsgate and Todd and Alex at Mandeville to bring Emma's extraordinary book to audiences," Moore said. "It's a hilariously funny, ingenious and deeply moving look at the way time is our most precious commodity, and how we spend it makes all the difference in who we become and how we are remembered."

Books & Authors

Awards: PEN Pinter Winner

Former Children's Laureate Malorie Blackman won the PEN Pinter Prize, which is awarded annually to "a writer of outstanding literary merit resident in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth who, in the words of Pinter's Nobel Prize in Literature speech, casts an 'unflinching, unswerving' gaze upon the world and shows a 'fierce intellectual determination... to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.' "

Blackman, the first children's and YA author to win the award, will be honored in a ceremony October 10 co-hosted by the British Library, where she will deliver an address. The prize will be shared with an International Writer of Courage who is "active in defense of freedom of expression, often at great risk to their own safety and liberty." The co-winner, selected by Blackman from a shortlist of international cases supported by English PEN, will be announced at the ceremony.

Ruth Borthwick, judge and chair of English PEN, said: "This is the first time the PEN Pinter Prize has been awarded to a writer for young people so you'd expect them to be exceptional. Malorie Blackman has transformed the world of writing for young adults. Her work never talks down, and her readers have responded by taking her to their hearts. Malorie has created dynamic imaginary worlds in which her protagonists are living with and challenging issues of injustice in a way that is totally engaging as she is above all a wonderful storyteller."

Prize judge Margaret Busby praised Blackman's "commitment to the fact that Young Adult reading, as well as exciting the imagination, can shape a lifelong ethical engagement with issues concerning social and political justice--such as racism and cultural difference... For more than two decades she has delivered visionary and challenging work that resonates far beyond the written page."

Judge Daniel Hahn added: "Encouraging young people to engage with political and social issues is vital work, and no one has done it better than Malorie Blackman. Many of her books raise ethical and moral questions, with narrative energy and an uncompromising honesty--usually presenting characters who find themselves in complex situations--challenging young readers to think and to question. A writer of serious commitment to her readers and to the power of stories."

Blackman said: "I am truly honored and more than a little stunned to be the recipient of the 2022 PEN Pinter Prize. I have long admired Harold Pinter for his courage and dedication to human rights and social justice and have always believed in the power of the creative arts to connect and communicate with others. I especially believe in the power of fiction to shine a spotlight on the truth and feel truly blessed that I predominantly write for the most discerning, honest audience--young adults and children. Thank you English PEN for considering me a worthy recipient of this award."

Reading with... Marie Myung-Ok Lee

photo: Adrianne Mathiowetz

Marie Myung-Ok Lee is the author of the novel Finding My Voice, recently reissued by Soho Press, and in 2023, Blackstone Publishing will release her Korean American-centered, non-neurotypical retelling of Of Mice and Men. She is a co-founder of the Asian American Writers' Workshop and at Columbia University she serves as Writer in Residence and faculty member at the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, as well as a lecturer at the School of the Arts. Her novel The Evening Hero (Simon & Schuster, May 24, 2022) took her 18 years to research and write. It follows an OB-GYN who immigrated to the U.S. after the Korean War and who has grown to question the assumptions of the American Dream.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

An epic tale of one man's journey from growing up in Korea, through war and into a seemingly uneventful American Dream.

On your nightstand now:

Skinship by Yoon Choi--it's an astonishing collection of linked short stories of Koreans mostly in middle age, with their past catching up to them, trying to get by in America. Like the best of Raymond Carver, these stories work with the intricate and intimate details, like the way in Korean culture food is used as an expression of love.

Also, Devil House by John Darnielle, but I'm listening to the audiobook. He not surprisingly has a fantastic and perfect voice for the narrator, but there are musical bonuses!

Favorite book when you were a child:

Fair Day, and Another Step Begun by Katie Letcher Lyle. It's a book no one's ever heard of and I read it way too young! I thought it was about horses; I completely missed the part about teen pregnancy. But I loved horses and read the book obsessively I think when I was eight. My immigrant parents were super pro books and didn't monitor or censor my reading at all.

Your top five authors:

George Eliot: Eliot is a very funny writer (even though the ending of The Mill and the Floss devastated me) and has such a generous but also exacting eye about human foibles. The Evening Hero was originally inspired by Middlemarch, with its look at small village life, prescribed gender roles, and doctors who try to do the right thing and are thwarted.

Sinclair Lewis: Main Street is such a perfect book about small-town life.

Gish Jen: I related to Jen's work as an Asian American of course. She was one of the first representatives of the Asian American author I had when I was trying to become a writer myself. But I think I related to her more as a humorous writer.

Dana Spiotta: Spiotta's novels are really hard to describe except to say they are very, very contemporary and probably will be a hundred years from now.

Flannery O'Connor: I don't know why, as a kid growing up in an all-white rural mining town in upper Minnesota, I was drawn to her short stories (I'm less into her novels), but perhaps there was something in her treatment of the grotesque, of hypocrisy--and her humor--that drew me to her.

Book you've faked reading:

I feel like I faked something recently, but it was more a tossed-off remark because I didn't need to give a pushy stranger who can't read body language and tone more of my cognitive resources--no judgment about the book!

Book you're an evangelist for:

Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong. I feel like that book has help buttress up my inner landscape.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn--who doesn't like a book with a shark on the cover that's not Jaws? Oh, and Rachel Khong's Goodbye, Vitamin.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't have to hide any books from my parents. They were always happy if I was reading.

Book that changed your life:

A Personal Matter by Kenzaburō Ōe: I read this before I had my son and I am curious how I'd look at it today, but a little scared to try.

Favorite line from a book:

"But when I got hurt, my mom was livid, as if I had maliciously damaged her property" --So ineffably Korean. From Crying in H-Mart by Michelle Zauner

Books you'll never part with:

Middlemarch (I own two copies).

The Bible--not because I'm Christian (I'm Buddhist) but because it was my dad's.

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

Any Flannery O'Connor short story. I found them astonishing and screamingly funny the first time I read them. Also, in "Good Country People," there's a character named Hulga, which was meant to be an exceedingly ugly, rare name but that name (and Helga) was very common in the Scandinavian-inflected rural area I came from, so as a little kid I felt like she was speaking directly to me.

Iris Murdoch's The Sea, the Sea and The Book and the Brotherhood. Regarding the latter, like with Middlemarch, they both have a plot about sort of the pomposity and self-importance of academia. I find that kind of funny because years later that's what I do for my day job; I guess that portrayal didn't dissuade me.

Other languages you read in:

I learned French in college and spent a summer studying in Paris. I had this idea that anyone who wanted to know about literature had to at least read the fundamentals in French. Then after all that, I remembered the only book I really enjoyed reading in French was Bonjour, Tristesse, which normal Parisians would sniff at and tell me was YA trash. And popular, which made it double trash. I could do without the literary snobbery. Right now I'm watching a lot of Korean cinema and TV and noticing that a lot of the nuances of the dialogue are missed in translation. I've enjoyed a lot of Korean literature in translation and wonder if I need to start reading in Korean. It would take a lot more to do that than to read in French. But I feel in general, for writers, you can't really understand how language works unless you have something to compare it with, which is another language.

Book Review

Children's Review: To Change a Planet

To Change a Planet by Christina Soontornvat, illus. by Rahele Jomepour Bell (Scholastic Press, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., 9781338628616, August 2, 2022)

"One person seems small, quiet, and insignificant," but two-time Newbery Honoree Christina Soontornvat (The Last Mapmaker; All Thirteen) gracefully illuminates how "when one person, and one person... become many" they "can change a planet." Soontornvat's sparse text packs a powerful punch and allows Rahele Jomepour Bell (Our Favorite Day of the Year) the space to construct sublime illustrations that deliver an equally effective blow. Author and illustrator tag team on their collaboration--in much the same way they encourage others to cooperate--and they deftly educate young readers about the lethal dangers of climate change.

Soontornvat's clean, straightforward prose about the global crisis makes this alluring picture book accessible to early readers. The heft of her message, though, has the potential to inspire all: "When many cars, many factories, and many cities let loose millions and billions and trillions [of carbon dioxide molecules], they trap and stifle, like a too-warm blanket." Soontornvat's words also lend themselves to a clever use of typography throughout the work: font size is altered to change emphasis, mirroring the themes of a "small, quiet single" and a "large, strong group."

The cogency of Bell's mixed-media illustrations cannot be exaggerated. The blend of realism (heartbreaking polar bears) and metaphor (a blanket covering Earth) portray the text succinctly. Her striking colors, rich detail and lush textures pull readers into both the planet's beauty (a star-filled night sky) and its devastation (a raging wildfire). Bell dares the audience not to feel an investment in the future after seeing it through her lens.

To Change a Planet includes a detailed author's note that contains well-researched responses to climate change questions ("What is causing climate change?" "What can we do to take action?"). The information on these pages can be used by educators and caretakers as a springboard for discussion with young readers. This picture book might be small and quiet, but it is anything but insignificant. Choice words and stellar art create the kind of reading experience that sticks with a person, that inspires one to believe they really can "change a planet." These pages will almost certainly breed future environmental activists. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: A Newbery Honor recipient smartly distills climate change down to the facts in this extraordinarily illustrated picture book that allows young readers to grasp the enormity of this global crisis.

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