Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Little Brown and Company: Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue

Flatiron Books: Where There Was Fire by John Manuel Arias

Carolrhoda Books (R): A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby

Minotaur Books: When I'm Dead: A Black Harbor Novel by Hannah Morrissey

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Phoebe's Diary by Phoebe Wahl

RP Mystic: Celebrate the Summer Solstice with RP Mystic

Shadow Mountain: Along a Breton Shore by Arlem Hawks


Ownership Changes for Northshire Bookstore

Northshire Bookstore, with locations in Manchester Center, Vt., and Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has announced a change in its ownership structure. In a Facebook post yesterday, the Northshire said that Cathleen Ihasz, Nicole Ihasz and Ashley Ihasz-Austin have acquired a majority interest in, and will be the new managing members of, the business. They assumed stewardship and operational control of both stores, as well as, the e-commerce site, effective September 26. 

"With the recent passing of his partner and wife Lu French, Clark French will be stepping back from his roles at the Northshire to focus on family," the announcement noted, adding that he will remain a stakeholder in the bookstore and "continue to serve as a trusted advisor and supporter through this transition and onward. Newly appointed director of operations Scott Austin will join Cathleen, Nicole and Ashley in support of the talented and long-standing senior management team and dedicated staff."

The Northshire Bookstore was founded in 1976 by Edward and Barbara Morrow. Chris Morrow, their son, later joined the business and became a co-owner. The Frenchs purchased Northshire from the Morrow family in April 2021.

"Bookstores are places of solace joy and energy and enthusiasm," Clark French told the Manchester Journal. "After several months thinking about this, I'm not the correct steward to convey that and take care of our customers and our staff in the proper way. The Ihasz famly, whom I've known for many years... [is] going to step into our shoes and run the stores the same way they have been run. There's no change in anything. It's really not a sale."

Part of the southern Vermont community for decades, the Ihasz family continue to maintain their family residence in Danby. The three sisters attended Manchester area schools, "love books and reading, have the fondest memories of the bookstore, and want to preserve the Northshire’s iconic legacy for future generations," the announcement said. "The sisters are uniquely positioned to combine their personal experiences and their strong collective business capabilities to maintain and expand the offerings of these independent bookstores. We thank you in welcoming this new team to the Northshire Bookstore family."

Sourcebooks Landmark: Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

San Diego's Meet Cute Romance Bookshop Hosts Grand Opening

Meet Cute Romance Bookshop hosted a grand opening celebration on Saturday at 4048 30th St. in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, Calif. KPBS reported owner Becca Title, a lifelong reader of the genre, said that during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, she had reflected on her next career steps and decided to quit practicing law to open a small bookstore in the city.

"It's the best selling genre in the United States. It has been for a very long time. It's a billion-dollar (per) year industry. I think people really underestimate that about it," Title noted, adding that her goal for Meet Cute is to create a vibrant space for romance readers to meet and bond over the books they love: "In a world where you can buy almost anything online, a physical storefront is really a place for communities to gather and that is something that the romance community looks for." 

The store will feature decorative displays that "highlight stories and authors often underrepresented in the genre. Title said she is also looking to direct more attention to these authors through book clubs and events," KPBS reported. 

Susan Lee, author of Seoulmates, observed: "When you have just a general bookstore, we're all fighting for space on shelves. Meet Cute is already committed to really showing off a diverse display and offerings of books, and I'm really excited about that. And I think that's exactly what we need."

For Title, the romance genre's appeal is about hope. "I personally prefer not to be put through the emotional wringer and then end up sad in the end," she said. "There's enough of that for me in the world. So I think it's a hopeful genre, and I think that's something that is really valuable especially now."

On the bookshop's website, Meet Cute describes itself as "a queer-owned, feminist bookshop focusing on genre romance. It's a place for romance readers (and the romance-curious) to meet up, hang out, and generally get nerdy about kissing books. We love books telling stories about people not often at the center of a narrative and even less frequently at the center of a happy one, finding joy and community and love. We've got contemporary, historical, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and YA romance as well as romantic suspense and mysteries. We've got stories that are swoony and zany and delightful. (And sometimes very angsty, but always, eventually, have a happy ending!)"

Rough Guides: The Rough Guide to Top LGBTQ+ Friendly Places in Europe (Inspirational Rough Guides) by Rough Guides

International Update: BA Launches Sustainability Grant Fund; France Sets Delivery Fee for Online Book Sales

The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has launched a £100,000 (about $107,900) Sustainability Grant fund to support booksellers in making tangible changes to reduce their environmental impact. BA members can apply for a Sustainability Grant for between £250 (about $270) and £1,000 (about $1,079) for a project to improve the sustainability of their business.

The initiative was introduced alongside a carbon calculator to help bookshops measure their carbon footprint to track change over time. The BA has also refreshed its Sustainable Bookselling Manifesto, and committed to making a number of changes within the association.
"At the BA we are acutely aware that all of us in the book industry need to make our business practices more sustainable," said managing director Meryl Halls. "However, we are also conscious that implementing change can come at a significant cost. We hope that by launching the BA Sustainability Grant Fund this will support our members in making impactful changes, while helping to reduce the cost to bookshops. We encourage members to share examples of best practice so that we can all work together towards a more sustainable future.
"The BA's Sustainable Bookselling Manifesto is very much intended as the start of a wider conversation amongst booksellers and beyond, and it is presented as a living document to which we welcome suggestions and recommendations."
Originally planned for launch at the BA Conference, the BA Sustainability Grant and Carbon Calculator have been announced ahead of the rescheduled BA Conference and Gardners Trade Show (October 30-31), "given the pressing need to take action on sustainability," the BA said.


France plans to impose a minimum delivery fee of €3 (about $3) on online book orders of less than €35 to level the playing field for independent bookstores struggling to compete against e-commerce giants, the government said on Friday. Reuters reported that a 2014 French law already prohibits free book deliveries, but "Amazon and other vendors such as Fnac have circumvented this by charging a token one cent per delivery. Local book stores typically charge up to  €7 for shipping a book."

Legislation was passed in December 2021 to close the one-cent loophole through a minimum shipping fee, but the law could not take effect until the government had decided on the size of that fee.

"This will adapt the book industry to the digital era by restoring an equilibrium between large e-commerce platforms, which offer virtually free delivery for books whatever the order size, and bookstores that cannot match these delivery prices," the culture and finance ministries said in a joint statement, adding that France will notify the European Commission of its plan and the minimum delivery fee will take effect six months after the EU grants approval.

The culture ministry also said the €3 fee--which includes taxes--could not be circumvented through customer loyalty programs or joint purchases of books with other items, though for orders worth more than €35 online vendors could still propose a one-cent delivery fee.

"The €3 delivery fee... is not dissuasive for book buyers and the €35 threshold will favor grouped orders, which is virtuous in environmental terms," the ministries said.

French bookstores association SLF said in a statement that the €3 fee is "insufficient, as it means bookstores will still sell at a loss when expediting books to customers. It called on the government to lower French post office fees for shipping books by bookstores," Reuters wrote.


Congratulations to Hungarian bookseller Bestsellers Bookshop in Budapest, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month and posted on Facebook: "Now and then... Did you know that Tony [Lang] bought the lease of a rundown grocery at auction (BKV = Belvárosi Közért Vállalat), which was restructured/refurbished using the services of an architect and then it took him the better part of a year to convince the 5th district mayor's office to grant a change of purpose from grocery to bookshop?"

Also highlighted were photos from "the very first year of the shop;" as well as two pics featuring "Olga, Tony, and Móni, the very first team of Bestsellers; and on the second one you may recognize the current team with Tony, Ibolya, Kriszta, Gábor, and Melinda (actually Máté is missing from the picture, he is with us for more than a year)." --Robert Gray

PRH Partners with The Word to Support #MarginsBooksellingMonth

Penguin Random House is partnering with The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary to support #MarginsBooksellingMonth, which was launched in October 2020 by The Word as a month-long celebration with the goal of uplifting and supporting independent bookstores owned and managed by booksellers from historically marginalized communities. During October and beyond, The Word and PRH will host a variety of author events. The Word will also host workshops for booksellers to explore new business models and create pathways for professional development and growth.

Viniyanka Prasad, founder and executive director of The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary, said, "As the number of banned books featuring BIPOC characters and LGBTQIA+ themes continues to rise, it is increasingly imperative to support culturally sensitive homes for these stories. Booksellers from historically marginalized communities play a crucial role in putting important stories into the hands of those who need them most. It is our honor to celebrate independent bookstores and booksellers across the intersections, and their important role in book publishing."

Jacqueline Updike, president of sales, Penguin Random House U.S., said, "At Penguin Random House, we are committed to lifting up underrepresented voices, and independent bookstores and booksellers from historically marginalized communities are such important partners in this work. It has been exciting to watch #MarginsBooksellingMonth expand its outreach and grow participation. We are thrilled to partner with The Word to recognize the vital work so many booksellers are doing on behalf of our books and authors."

Besides online events and workshops, #MarginsBooksellingMonth features an online map of participating booksellers. More than 100 bookstores and booksellers in nearly 40 states have signed up to receive bookmarks, pins, and window decals designed to help spark conversation and connection with readers in their communities. Additional sponsors for #MarginsBooksellingMonth include, Chronicle Books, and Reese's Book Club. To learn more, click here.

Applications Open for Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship


Applications are open for the fourth annual Carla Gray Memorial Scholarship for Emerging Bookseller-Activists, which was created in honor of the executive marketing director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who passed away suddenly in May 2017. Applications will be accepted through October 15. Interested booksellers can apply here

The winning bookseller will be awarded a year-long scholarship for professional development, which includes: travel and hotel for attendance to Winter Institute 2023, travel and hotel for attendance to their 2023 regional fall trade show, and a $1,000 stipend to fund a community outreach project. 

Presented by the Friends of Carla Gray Committee and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, the scholarship is intended to help a bookseller with fewer than five years of experience connect with other booksellers, publishers and authors to establish the long-term relationships that keep the book industry thriving.

"We're thrilled to continue Carla Gray's boundless celebration of books and people and book-people with this year's scholarship," said Jenna Johnson (Friends of Carla Gray Committee). "Now more than ever, it's so important for our new booksellers to be able to meet and learn from their colleagues at in-person events. In addition, the community projects previous recipients have spearheaded have been so inspiring; we can't wait to see what innovation the scholarship will enable for 2023. Eligible booksellers, please apply!"

Binc's executive director Pam French added: "The Binc Foundation continues to celebrate Carla's legacy and her unbound enthusiasm for books, bookstores, and the communities they come from through this wonderful scholarship and professional development opportunity. We look forward to seeing this year's applications and meeting the winner in person at Winter Institute in 2023." 


Q&A with Matt Sartwell of NYC's Kitchen Arts & Letters Bookstore

"Did you know that there are 16 dedicated cookbook stores across the United States and New York's Kitchen Arts & Letters is the oldest of them?" Total Food Service asked to introduce a q&a with managing partner Matt Sartwell, who has been with the store for more than 30 years. Among the highlights:

Tell us about your professional life before joining Kitchen Arts & Letters bookstore.
I was an editor at Penguin for about six years. I didn't work with food books: I kept cooking separate from the daily grind of marketing meetings and battles over acquisition budgets. But I was the guy who cooked for office parties. 

Who is your customer base and how do you select your offerings?
The biggest, most loyal part of our base is the professionals. Chefs, caterers, bakers. They need good books in a way that home cooks don't. Home cooks may love a new book, but professionals have to keep investing in their livelihood. They may come looking for practical information, like an innovative book on fish butchery, or they may want something that just makes them sit up and start thinking creatively after being in a rut. Imagine running a beverage program and having to develop new cocktails to keep up with all the pretty things people see on Instagram. The drinks may look great, but how do they taste and how practical are they for the height of service? Books are a path to problem-solving.

What trends in cookbooks have you seen over the years?
The most consistent is that cooks and books have become more adventurous. Books offer more detail, more science, more culture, and explore regions and traditions that were considered too offbeat a few decades ago. Another is that people want to be able to make things that they might have formerly bought, whether a restaurant is preparing its own house mustards and mixers, or curing its own salumi. Some of that change comes from the desire to reduce food waste, to be more sustainable, and more seasonal. And whether a restaurant is serving its own bread or prosciutto, or develops a signature cocktail built on an ingredient they ferment in-house, it's all about standing out from the competition.

IPG's Trafalgar Square Adds Eight Publishers

Independent Publishers Group has added eight new publishers to its Trafalgar Square Publishing division:

Thad for Arts, a publisher of books relating to the Middle East whose latest offering is a coffee table book on the Mosque of Madinah. (Effective January 1, 2022.)

Astar Publishing, which focuses on the photography of Adel Al Quraishi and his projects that portray the sights, sounds, people and events associated with Islam's holiest sites. (June 1, 2022.)

Salt Desert Media Group, which has two imprints: Pippa Rann Books Media, which focuses on material that nurtures the values of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity, and Global Resilience Publishing, which has the mission of exploring how global challenges can be addressed and resolved from a global point of view. (June 1, 2022.)

Step by Step, which specializes in creating high-quality novelty, board and picture books that help children improve their logical, expressive, and manual skills and develop inventiveness and creativity through play and learning. (September 1, 2022.)

Resilient Hedgehog, a children's publisher whose books deal with issues of mental toughness. (September 1, 2022.)

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, the world-renowned plant science and education center that publishes a range of titles, including botanical, environmental and horticultural interest books, as well as art and history books and children's titles. (October 1, 2022.)

Holmgard Press, the publisher of gamebook author Joe Dever's Lone Wolf fantasy series, which, since 1984, has sold more than 12 million copies internationally. (December 1, 2022.)

Quickthorn Press, a new independent publisher releasing inspiring, manageable and quick-to-read books on subjects that include sustainable crafts, making for wellbeing and personal resilience. (January 1, 2023.)

Personnel Changes at Mango Publishing Group

Gregory Brandenburgh has joined Mango Publishing Group's international rights and sales team. He has a 40-year career in publishing and was most recently v-p and Hampton Roads associate publisher at Red Wheel Weiser. Earlier he worked at Fleming H. Revell Company, Harper & Row, Harper San Francisco, Tuttle Publishing, Element Books, Fair Winds Press, and Harper Collins UK. He retired last December but was lured back out of retirement by Mango publisher Brenda Knight.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Hilary Mantel Remembered on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: the late Hilary Mantel remembered, including a 2012 interview.

Today Show: Gaby Dalkin, author of What's Gaby Cooking: Take It Easy: Recipes for Zero Stress Deliciousness (Abrams, $35, 9781419758867).

Good Morning America: John Kanell, author of Preppy Kitchen: Recipes for Seasonal Dishes and Simple Pleasures (S&S/Simon Element, $32.50, 9781982178376).

Watch What Happens Live: Kelly Ripa, author of Live Wire: Long-Winded Short Stories (Dey Street, $28.99, 9780063073302).

TV: The Mirror and the Light

The BBC adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novel The Mirror and the Light, the conclusion to her Tudor trilogy that began with Wolf Hall, will continue as a memorial to the beloved author, who died September 22. Variety reported that director and screenwriter Peter Kosminsky, who worked closely with Mantel on the first BBC/PBS series (combining the initial books in the trilogy, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies), had known Mantel for "many, many years."

"Quite apart from my personal sadness, I've also lost my main collaborator. So now we will have to continue this as a memorial to [Mantel], but also without the advantage of her guidance and advice," Kosminsky  said. "As we were putting that show together, I was constantly in touch with her and met her on a number of occasions asking her for advice. She was encyclopedic on the sources, and spent five years researching the subject before putting pen to paper, so if I needed any detail about a character or an event, or even about details like how they ate or removed their caps with a bow, she was the person to go to. A strong case can be made to say she was the greatest living writer in the English language."

He added that Mantel sent him 100-page instalments of The Mirror and the Light as she was writing the 2020 book, with an eye on getting the TV adaptation underway. The BBC confirmed its plans for the new series in 2019, when the book's publication was first announced. Mark Rylance is set to return as Cromwell, while Wolf Hall screenwriter Peter Straughan is also adapting the latest book.

"The script is largely written but now is exactly the moment we would have gone to Hilary to ask her input and thoughts, and from my point of view as a director, I would have sought her advice on certain specifics which would have allowed me to realize [her vision]," said Kosminsky, noting that at the moment the future of the series is a secondary concern: "A great light has gone out. The word 'great' is used very easily these days but nobody could dispute that it's an appropriate epithet for Dame Hilary Mantel. If you look at the scale of her achievements, the impact she's had, the breadth of her knowledge and reading.... She's someone whom people went to for thoughts and opinions on a variety of different novels and nonfiction works. People recognized her for the massive intellect as she was. It's hard to imagine a world without her."

Books & Authors

Awards: Stephen Leacock Humor Winner,  Scotiabank Giller Shortlist

Rick Mercer won the C$25,000 (about US$18,850) Stephen Leacock Medal for Humor, which honors "the best Canadian book of literary humor published in the previous year," for his memoir Talking to Canadians.

The other finalists, who each received C$4,000 (about US$3,015), were Mark Critch for An Embarrassment of Critch's and Dawn Dumont for The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour.


A five-book shortlist has been released for the C$100,000 (about US$75,400) Scotiabank Giller Prize, which recognizes excellence in Canadian fiction. Each of the finalists receives C$10,000 (about US$7,540). The winner will be named November 7. This year's shortlisted titles are:

Lesser-Known Monsters of the 21st Century by Kim Fu 
Stray Dogs by Rawi Hage 
We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama 
The Sleeping Car Porter by Suzette Mayr 
If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English by Noor Naga 

Reading with... Hua Hsu

photo: Devlin Claro

Hua Hsu is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a professor of literature at Bard College. He serves on the executive board of the Asian American Writers' Workshop and was a fellow at New America (formerly the New America Foundation) and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., with his family. His debut memoir, Stay True (Doubleday, September 27, 2022), is told with the wisdom, nostalgia, cultural ephemera and critical theory that has long characterized Hua's work in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Grantland and elsewhere.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

A story about friendship and duty, the arrogance (and limitless dreams) of youth, the obligation to keep driving until the mixtape is over.

On your nightstand now:

I tend to juggle five or six books at once, as I'm usually either reading voraciously or not at all. Right now, the books closest to me are: Paul Auster's Moon Palace and Vauhini Vara's The Immortal King Rao--worlds to sink into. Joy Williams's guidebook The Florida Keys, and Matthew Stearns's 33 1/3 book about Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation--because if I don't have the time/energy to sink into a world, I need something short that I can dip in and out of. And Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation, which I found on a neighbor's stoop recently. I remember seeing it around a lot when I was younger and had no idea what Prozac was.

Favorite book when you were a child:

What comes to mind at this very moment is How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. Like many people my age, I grew up wanting to be a comic book artist. At the very least, I thought I had good enough penmanship to be a letterer. I remember obsessing over this book, which was as much a manual for drawing physical forms as it was about how we show emotion through minute facial details, gestures and expressions.

Your top five authors:

Lucy Sante, Paul Beatty, Maxine Hong Kingston, whoever wrote the '90s zines Secret Asian Man, Greg Tate.

Book you've faked reading:

Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. I made the mistake of assigning this in a class, having never read it myself. To keep pace and stay ahead of my students, I basically skimmed it. Incredible opening line, though.

Book you're an evangelist for:

When I was working on my book, I sought out models for writing that bounced back and forth between scales--the everyday and the epic, the intimate and the global. Carolyn Steedman's Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives is an incredible study of British working-class culture. I believe Steedman is an academic historian of labor, and this is a really unusual and beautifully written book where she applies all these structural analyses of working class culture, domestic life, the relationship between labor and dignity, etc., to her own childhood. She toggles between her mother's upbringing in the '20s with her own in the '50s and reads her mother's sensibility (and her own childhood horizons) through these lenses that neither of them comprehended at the time. She's not sympathetic to her mother--some of it is quite withering--but she reckons with the forces that made her who she was.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I was walking down the street a few weeks back, and a gentleman who was trying to get people to sign up for an account at a local bank was also selling copies of his self-published book about the jazz visionary Sun Ra. I will buy anyone's self-published book about Sun Ra, but the cover was this fantastic image that remixed Pedro Bell's Afrofuturistic album covers from the '70s. It's called Sun Ra: Jazz Messiah by Mississippi Mahn, and it's a great book for anyone interested in Sun Ra, the prophetic thrust of black music and a genius.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't hide books from my parents, but I might have hidden from them the fact that I was slowly transferring their book collection into mine when I was a teenager.

Book that changed your life:

I randomly picked up Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces when I was a teenager who was getting into zines, music writing, alternate histories. I assumed it was a history of punk, which is why it was so confusing to me that it was also a history of surrealism and Dadaism, the Situationists, the U.S. free speech movement. It was associative and sprawling, and I'm still working my way through the reading/listening/viewing list that I jotted down while reading it nearly 30 years ago. I think what the book showed me as a young music critic was that you don't have to persuade someone why something is good--only why it is important.

Favorite line from a book:

"A feeling went through Wittman that nothing wrong could ever happen again--or had ever happened. It's very good sitting here, among friends, coffee cup warm in hands, cigarette. Together we fall silent as the sun shows its full face. The new day. Good show, gods. Why don't I, from now on, get up for every dawn? My life would be different. I would no longer be fucked up. I set out on more life's adventure with these companions, the people with whom I have seen dawn. My chosen family. We're about to change the world for the better." --Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey

Five books you'll never part with:

Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction
Greg Tate, Flyboy in the Buttermilk
Joan Didion, The White Album
Maxine Hong Kingston, Tripmaster Monkey
Mike Davis, City of Quartz

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

Willa Cather, My Ántonia.

Book Review

Children's Review: Frizzy

Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, illus. by Rose Bousamra (First Second, $21.99 hardcover, 224p., ages 8-12, 9781250259622, October 18, 2022)

Claribel A. Ortega (Witchlings) writes buoying books inspired by her Dominican heritage. She empathically takes on the timeless challenges of "good" and "bad" hair in Frizzy, gloriously depicted by debut illustrator Rose Bousamra.

Going to the salon every Sunday is "without fail" the "worst part of the week" for Marlene. But according to Mami--and to many of their Dominican American relatives--having her curly hair straightened is the only way to be "presentable." This week has been especially miserable, with two visits, all because Marlene's "perfect" cousin Diana is having her quinceañera. "The whole family will be there.... We have to make a good impression," Mami insists. All throughout the festivities, however, "everyone has jokes about [Marlene's] looks" except for Tía Ruby who, with her own magnificent curls, promises Marlene, "You don't always have to straighten your hair to look nice."

Back at school, Marlene gives best friend Camilla the party recap and the girls wisely recognize adult hypocrisy. Camilla suggests Marlene try taking her hair into her own hands with the help of online tutorials. The plan doesn't quite work--Marlene's hair becomes completely unruly--causing further exasperation from Mami and cruel bullying from other students.

Mami tries to explain why straight hair is more acceptable--"because it looks more professional"--but looking "our best" might be too high a price for Marlene. Unsure of what more she can do, Mami sends Marlene to Tía Ruby for the weekend. Ruby finally helps Marlene understand how "sometimes, the things we learn aren't right, but they're ingrained in us," including "hearing about good hair and bad hair every single day." Unlike Mami, Ruby has managed to break that cycle and is ready to teach Marlene the unstoppable power of being herself.

Ortega's novel is (of course) about so much more than hair. Tía Ruby gives Marlene deft lessons on multigenerational "anti-Blackness," inherited self-denial and family dysfunction--all appropriately presented by Ortega for the intended middle-grade audience. Bousamra's energetic panels are a vibrant delight, further enriched by evocative details that enhance the text: the bustling activity outside the salon and the delicious drama inside; the diversity of Diana's quince court; no shoes worn inside Camilla's house. Through warm, encouraging collaboration, creators Ortega and Bousamra underscore and celebrate the joys of being "beautiful in your own way." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: Author Claribel A. Ortega and artist Rose Bousamra's inaugural collaboration is an energetically inspiring middle-grade graphic novel about so much more than hair.

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