Shelf Awareness for Monday, January 30, 2023

Bloomsbury Publishing: I Must Be Dreaming by Roz Chast

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

Christy Ottaviano Books-Little Brown and Hachette: Hannah Sharpe, Cartoon Detective by Janet Tashjian, illustrated by Jake Tashjian

Andrews McMeel Publishing: The Mysteries by Bill Watterson and John Kascht


ALA's First In-Person LibLearnX

The American Library Association held the second (first in-person) Learning Library Experience (LibLearnX or LLX) conference this past weekend in New Orleans, La. During the opening main stage event on Saturday morning, ALA executive director Tracie D. Hall announced that the conference had a "registration of over 2,600 people," though she did not state whether this included virtual participants and exhibitors.

ALA president Lessa Kanani'opua Pelayo-Lozada discussed the Library Association's Unite Against Book Bans project, "a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship." In spring of 2022, ALA reported that there had been 729 challenges to library, school and university materials and services that represented challenges to 1,597 individual book titles (compared to 273 in 2020, 377 in 2019, 483 in 2018).

Nic Stone and Ibram X. Kendi

The featured speakers for the main stage event, Nic Stone and Ibram X. Kendi, spoke about their joint middle-grade work, How to Be a (Young) Antiracist (Kokila); the conversation was moderated by Nichelle M. Hayes, leader of the Center for Black Literature and Culture. While Stone and Kendi both have had their books challenged due to antiracist themes--Stone's Dear Martin and Kendi's collaboration with author Jason Reynolds, Stamped--Hayes focused on the importance of their book for young readers. The authors discussed how the book came to be (Stone said she stole the idea from Reynolds), its nonlinear format, Stone's four Cs of changemaking (cogency, compassion, creativity and collaboration) and the difficulty of reformatting and rewriting Kendi's book. Stone said Kendi gave her "creative license" to cut up the book and rearrange it. It's "the hardest thing I've ever done, but totally worthwhile," she said. "That's what Jason said," Kendi noted.

Nichelle M. Hayes, Nic Stone and Ibram X. Kendi

"Antiracism is more than just a discussion," Hayes said, "It's action.... Is it possible to become an antiracist society?" This, Kendi said, is why it's so important to get books like this one into the hands of young people. "In more cases than not," he said, "it was young people at the center of the movements, all the way back to the abolitionists." Young people are at the forefront "for one critical reason: courage. The question for them isn't danger. It's 'is it right or is it wrong.' This is the book I needed when I was a 15- or 16-year-old." Hayes then asked what adults can get from this book. By age three, Kendi said, "kids have an adult concept of race." Children need to be educated about this because, if they're not, they become adults who "are not interrogating race" who thus "see all these injustices as normal."

Book Bans
A panel held later that same day, "Books Bans, Libraries, and the Law: Standing Up to Library Censorship in Louisiana and Beyond," co-sponsored by Unite Against Book Bans, the Tulane Law First Amendment Clinic and the Freedom to Read Foundation, was designed to allow librarians to share experiences while also gaining information on their rights as individuals and librarians. Three Louisiana librarians spoke anonymously about the bans, challenges and attempts at censorship they have faced. These librarians have dealt with hijacked meetings; individuals taking over boards; rewritten collection development policy; challenges to displays and titles; focuses on "soft censorship" in the name of "protecting" the library's collection; LGBTQ+ literature being called "pornography"; and much more. One of the anonymous librarians also spoke to hope: "As librarians, you may sometimes feel powerless. But you can choose how you respond to these threats. You can stay silent, or you can speak up. You can hide books, or you can stand up for books."

Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom; Katie Schwartzmann, professor of the Practice and director of the First Amendment Clinic at Tulane University Law School; and Theresa Chmara, general counsel for the Freedom to Read Foundation, all spoke about the definitions and facts behind the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment, obscenity, child pornography and harm done to minors. At the conclusion of the panel, the three professionals opened the floor to questions from the librarians in the audience. Readers interested in learning more about the ALA's fight against censorship and book banning can find information on their Fight Censorship page. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Bloom Books: A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

International Update: Spanish Booksellers Face Rising Prices; Gunning Named BA's Membership Development Head

Spanish booksellers are preparing for rising book prices. The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that Spain "is among the countries where book pricing is fixed by law, and it is up to the publisher to determine a selling price of a title. Until now, book prices in the country have remained largely unaffected by the rising costs of book production--however, that is about to change."

According to the data obtained by El Independiente, Spanish booksellers expect that the price of most titles will rise by €2 or €3 (about $2.15 or $3.26) as soon as next month, with some already noticing a slow but steady price growth recently. 


The second episode has been released of Let's Talk Bookselling, RISE Bookselling's new podcast series showcasing themed conversations with experts in the field. Host Julie Belgrado discusses bookshop events with Oana Dobosi and Raluca Selejan, co-owners of La Dua Bufnite bookshop in Timisoara, Romania. La Dua Bufnite (which translates to the two owls) is known for its creative and resourceful initiatives to encourage people to read.


The Booksellers Association of the U.K. & Ireland has appointed Kate Gunning head of membership development. She will work alongside Pippa Halpin, who returns to her role as membership manager in February, and learning project manager Sheila O'Reilly.

In the newly created role, Gunning will take on overall strategic responsibility for BA Learning, while also overseeing all membership services, processes and communications; working on BA Group-wide initiatives with Batch and National Book Tokens; and running the Children's and Christian Bookselling Groups.

Before joining the BA last January as acting membership manager, Gunning worked for Waterstones for 13 years, including stints managing bookshops in Paris and London. She was subsequently the book buyer at Selfridges and then head of buying at Foyles. She moved into publishing in 2009, joining Random House (now Penguin Random House), where she was independent bookshops manager for 12 years.
"We are thrilled to be welcoming Kate to the BA team permanently, and to be creating this new role to foreground our essential work with BA Learning," said managing director Meryl Halls. "I'm also delighted that Kate will be furthering her excellent member relations work over the past year. Kate has a unique skill set, ranging from big corporate publisher, chain bookseller, freelancer and indie bookseller, and--as anyone who knows Kate will attest--has a gift for connections, a peerless work ethic, and knows the bookselling sector intimately."

"France's largest and most internationally well-known independent book shop, Librairie Mollat [Bordeaux], has a very popular Instagram account on which it often shares the delightful results of lining people up with carefully placed book covers," the Poke reported, sharing 17 of its favorites. --Robert Gray

GLOW: Scribner: The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer

Obituary Note: Ted Bell

Ted Bell

Author Theodore August Bell III--better known as Ted Bell--died on January 20 of an intracerebral hemorrhage. He was 76.

He wrote several series: the Alex Hawke spy thrillers and the young adult adventure series, Nick McGiver Adventures Through Time. Among his dozen Alex Hawke titles, Tsar dealt with the rise of the "New Russia," the return of the KGB and the new "Evil Empire"; Warlord revolved around a vendetta against the British royal family beginning with the 1979 murder of Lord Mountbatten; and Overkill deals with Vladimir Putin and the kidnapping of Hawke's son, Alexei.

Nick of Time was a World War II time-travel adventure novel that featured Nick McIver, Lord Richard Hawke, Archibald "Gunner" Steele, Kate McIver (Nick's younger sister), Commander Hobbes (Lord Hawke's colleague, a brilliant weapons designer), the murderous pirate captain Billy Blood, and his cohort Snake Eye.

Nick of Time's sequel was The Time Pirate, which dealt with the Nazi invasion of the Channel Islands and Nick McIver's role in George Washington's victory over Cornwallis at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781.

His work has been translated into 17 languages.

Before becoming a writer, Bell had a career in advertising, which began in 1976 when he joined Doyle Dane Bernbach as a junior copywriter. He became the youngest v-p at the company before becoming creative director at Leo Burnett Co., where he was named president and chief creative officer in 1986, at age 40. In 1991, Hall joined Young & Rubicam, London, as vice chairman and worldwide creative director. After 10 years at the creative helm of Y&R, he retired in 2001 to write full time.

In 2011-2012, Sir Richard Dearlove, former chief of MI6, sponsored Bell to become a visiting scholar at Cambridge University. He was named writer-in-residence at Sydney-Sussex College, Cambridge. In 2013, Bell gave the inaugural lecture for the exhibit "Spy: The Secret World of Espionage" at the Reagan Library in California.

Family said, "Ted was known for his creative talents, intelligence, wit, and sense of humor. He was a true Southern gentleman. He was loved by all his friends and family. He will be truly missed and always be remembered."

Shelf Awareness Job Board: Click Here to Post Your Job

Shelf Awareness Delivers Indie Pre-Order E-Blast

This past Wednesday, Shelf Awareness sent our monthly pre-order e-blast to more than 900,000 of the country's best book readers. The e-blast went to 920,148 customers of 216 participating independent bookstores.

The mailing features 11 upcoming titles selected by Shelf Awareness editors and a sponsored title. Customers can buy these books via "pre-order" buttons that lead directly to the purchase page for the title on each sending store's website. A key feature is that bookstore partners can easily change title selections to best reflect the tastes of their customers and can customize the mailing with links, images and promotional copy of their own.

The pre-order e-blasts are sent the last Wednesday of each month; the next will go out on Wednesday, February 22. Stores interested in learning more can visit our program registration page or contact our partner program team via e-mail.

For a sample of the January pre-order e-blast, see this one from Ghostlight Books, Spring Hill, Tenn.

The titles highlighted in the pre-order e-blast were:

So Shall You Reap by Donna Leon (Grove)
Birnham Wood by Eleanor Catton (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Sweet Enough by Alison Roman (Clarkson Potter)
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati (Sourcebooks Landmark)
I Will Find You by Harlan Coben (Grand Central)
The Real Work by Adam Gopnik (Liveright)
Lone Women by Victor LaValle (One World)
Go as a River by Shelley Read (Spiegel & Grau)
Hang the Moon by Jeannette Walls (Scribner)
Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Balzer + Bray)
The Knowing by Ani DiFranco, illustrated by Julia Mathew (Rise x Penguin Workshop)


Bookseller Moment: Bookends and Beginnings

Bookends and Beginnings, Evanston, Ill., is relocating from its iconic alley space, and this past weekend was its last in that special place. Owner Nina Barrett posted a video on Instagram, sharing the story of a sweet moment at closing time:  

"Saturday evening. We were about to close for our final day in the Alley, and then a little girl and her father appeared at the door. She had a gift card and a Pokémon book she desperately wanted, so we waited an extra few minutes. So touched to have her as our last customer in the beloved Alley store. And then we closed the door on our last nine years, and began to look toward our new Beginning."

Personnel Changes at Tuttle Publishing

Laura J. Ferguson has joined Tuttle Publishing as sales and marketing director. She has worked at Abrams Books, Simon & Schuster and Time Inc. Books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Henry Marsh on Fresh Air

CBS Mornings: Ibram X. Kendi and Nic Stone, authors of How to Be a (Young) Antiracist (Kokila, $19.99, 9780593461600).

Good Morning America: Jinger Duggar Vuolo, author of Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear (Thomas Nelson, $29.99, 9781400335817). She will also appear tomorrow on Tamron Hall.

Also on GMA: Maya Feller, author of Eating from Our Roots: 80+ Healthy Home-Cooked Favorites from Cultures Around the World (Rodale, $30, 9780593235089).

Fresh Air: Henry Marsh, author of And Finally: Matters of Life and Death (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250286086).

CBS Mornings: Marcus Stroman, author of The Grip (S&S/Aladdin, $17.99, 9781665916141).

Good Morning America: Jay Shetty, author of 8 Rules of Love: How to Find It, Keep It, and Let It Go (Simon & Schuster, $28.99, 9781982183066). He will also appear on the View and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Kelly Clarkson Show: Noah Galuten and Iliza Shlesinger, author of The Don't Panic Pantry Cookbook: Mostly Vegetarian Comfort Food That Happens to Be Pretty Good for You (Knopf, $35, 9780593319833).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Pamela Anderson, author of Love, Pamela (Dey Street, $30, 9780063226562).

Movies: It Ends With Us

Blake Lively (A Simple Favor) and Justin Baldoni (Jane the Virgin) will star in the film adaptation of Colleen Hoover's 2016 novel It Ends With Us, Deadline reported. The project is in development with Wayfarer Studios and Sony Pictures. Baldoni is also set to direct, with Christy Hall adapting the script. 

The novel was optioned in 2019 by Baldoni, whose directing credits include Clouds and Five Feet Apart, and Wayfarer Studios. They have been working with Hoover, who is consulting on the movie.

Books & Authors

Awards: Republic of Consciousness Longlist

The longlist has been announced for the 2022 Republic of Consciousness Prize, United States and Canada, which aims "to support small presses for their on-going commitment to work of high literary merit."

Lori Feathers, prize director, book critic and co-owner of Interabang Books, Dallas, Texas, said, "The quality of submissions for this, our inaugural year, was extraordinary. It says much about the novelty and creative range of small press literary fiction that we can highlight these superb, longlisted titles."

The prize fund for the awards is $35,000, of which $20,000 will be distributed equally among the 10 presses on the longlist. The remaining $15,000 will be split equally among the five titles on the shortlist, with half of it going to the press and half to the author. For a translated book, the press, author and translator will each share a third of the amount.

The shortlist will be announced March 14 and winner on March 28.

Book Review

Review: Zig-Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood

Zig-Zag Boy: A Memoir of Madness and Motherhood by Tanya Frank (W.W. Norton, $28.95 hardcover, 224p., 9780393531886, February 28, 2023)

Tanya Frank's candid debut memoir, Zig-Zag Boy, which builds on her essay that appeared in the New York Times in 2017, tells the wrenching story of her son's psychotic break and traces how life has changed for her family in the years since.

Frank is from London but in 2002 relocated to Los Angeles, where she lived with her wife and two sons. One night in the autumn of 2009, her younger son, Zach (whom she sometimes calls "Zigs"), then 19, started whispering his suspicions that he was being monitored by telephone wires and that his friends were actually Russian spies. Frank confirmed that he had not taken drugs, checked that his temperature was normal, and--when his agitation continued--took him to the emergency room. This turned into a 72-hour psych ward hold. It was the start of what has been a decade-plus mental health struggle.

At the time of his breakdown, Zach was studying at UCLA; his hobbies included playing the guitar, surfing and writing a novel. It was not so much his diagnosis--Psychosis NOS (Not Otherwise Specified), with a second opinion of paranoid schizophrenia--that hampered his independent living, but the fear, voices and unpredictable side effects of medications. In the years to come, he resumed his studies off and on and tried a variety of supported housing situations. Whenever he went off his meds, he relapsed into isolation and refused food. Frank came to dread phone calls from his girlfriend or officials.

The present-tense narration involves readers in an ongoing journey. The pace is brisk and the tone never gives in to self-pity. Regular life doesn't stop during a crisis; Frank weaves in the other challenges she was dealing with simultaneously, such as moving to Northern California and attending marriage therapy. She also compares mental health care in the U.S. and the U.K., where she and Zach returned temporarily. In both countries, she concludes, the system is broken.

When Covid-19 hit, travel restrictions exacerbated the difficulty of living between countries. Online support groups helped her family, and nature remained a solace and source of perspective--Frank had trained to be a docent at California's Año Nuevo State Park, where there is an elephant seal colony. She frames the book with depictions of the seal mothers' protectiveness, which contrasts with her feelings of powerlessness to save her son from his mental illness.

This is a bracingly beautiful account of learning to live with uncertainty in turbulent times. --Rebecca Foster, freelance reviewer, proofreader and blogger at Bookish Beck

Shelf Talker: Tanya Frank's wrenching debut memoir ranges between California and England and draws in metaphors of the natural world as she recounts a decade-long search to help her mentally ill son.

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