Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Gallery Books: The Lion Women of Tehran by Marjan Kamali

Other Press (NY): Deliver Me by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles

Two Trees: Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing and Bookselling in the 20th Century edited by Buz Teacher and Janet Bukovinsky Teacher

Atlantic Monthly Press: I Cheerfully Refuse by Leif Enger


Plenty, Downtown Bookshop in Cookeville, Tenn.: New Location, New Name

Plenty's current location

Plenty on Spring bookstore, Cookeville, Tenn., will be moving to a new space following a week of celebrations at its current store on West Spring St. The festivities will conclude this Saturday--Independent Bookstore Day--with the team dressing up as Alice in Wonderland characters to mark the transition to a new location at 48 West Broad St. 

Scheduled to reopen on the weekend of May 12 under the name Plenty, Downtown Bookshop, the new space will continue to feature a curated selection of new books for all ages, as well as author, book club and reading events; and locally made gifts. 

"We've been so well loved by our customers," said store manager Ashley Michael. "Many are offering to help us with the move and that is just heartwarming evidence that we have something special here."  

Manager Ashley Michael

The decision to relocate was prompted by a flaw in the underground water system in front of the store that has led to periodic water problems inside the West Spring St. location since the store was launched last October by founders Lisa and Dave Uhrik, who are also the owners and operators of retail display company Franklin Fixtures

A registered nonprofit, Plenty on Spring has had a strong community response, with memberships and enthusiastic workshop and book club participation, according to Dave Uhrik, who said, "Through our manufacturing work with Franklin Fixtures, where we make shelves for bookstores, Lisa and I have a front-row seat to the difference small bookshops across the country are making. We wanted to add to the other great things going on in our downtown."

Lisa and Dave Uhrik at the new store.

The move will take the bookshop to Broad Street, where the business is again finding collaborative neighbors, Lisa Uhrik noted. "This was such a tough decision. We love the Spring Street space and didn't want to leave our good neighbors in the great Arts District that is developing. But the water issue is right in front of our door and can't be resolved quickly. We plan to continue to partner with businesses there for events."

The new Plenty in progress.

She added: "We hope to continue to bring attention to the water issue on Spring Street so that new businesses can thrive there. Luke Eldridge and the City Council, as well as our own Public Works department, have been actively supportive and recognize that it will be complicated to resolve, involving the state and multiple entities. It will take sustained focus and some time for this to be fixed, and hopefully in the interim, we can continue to support and build all the downtown businesses through collaboration."  

Noting that the store will be moving next to Jamie's Eats & Sweets, near Glass Tangerine, Mission 931, Harper's Rare Books & Collectibles and the reopening Backroom Bistro, manager Ashley Michael said, "All of our new neighbors, along with the great restaurants, will work well with the new books we have at Plenty. Already we've had such good support: Emma Crabtree at Glass Tangerine helped us create a new brand and look; Jamie Lankford is offering supportive discounts at Jamie's Eats & Sweets for people who show their purchases from Plenty; and Lewis Matheney at Harper's was actively supporting us in taking the space he had cultivated as Harper's Soundstage before he started expanding across the street."

Lisa Uhrik observed: "Now, the tale is one of survival and constant sail adjustments. We had hoped to have a tea room, but ironically the water pressure in the flooding store will not be adequate. The good news is that we have elevated a problem in the underground system that will be fixed over the next 3-10 years and facilitate growth of our community. And that we're moving to a much 'hotter' spot in terms of foot traffic.

"I thought I knew things about owning a bookstore from all the folks I've worked with and helped and learned from over the years. I guess I did know some things. But there are many things that sink more deeply when felt--like weathering losses and low traffic and the kind of love that comes from being in community with other book lovers. It's transformative."

Neal Porter Books: Angela's Glacier by Jordan Scott, illustrated by Diana Sudyka

Looking Forward to Independent Bookstore Day

In just a few days, nearly 1,100 independent bookstores around the U.S. will participate in Independent Bookstore Day 2023. This year's festivities will not only mark IBD's 10th anniversary but also be the largest Indie Bookstore Day to date. Author Celeste Ng is this year's IBD Ambassador, and indies in all 50 states will take part.

“This 10th anniversary of Independent Bookstore Day, independent bookstores and their communities have a lot to celebrate," said American Booksellers Association CEO Allison Hill. "Indie bookstores survived and even thrived during the pandemic despite incredible challenges, and they continue to play an important and special role in their communities"

Below is a look at some Indedendent Bookstore Day plans.

From April 24-30, will put more than 1,000 audiobooks on sale for $5 or less, and on IBD, 250 of's bookstore partners will be hiding a Golden Ticket in their stores. Customers who find the ticket will receive 12 free audiobooks.

In Washington, D.C., the Indiearth Book Crawl began on April 22 and will run through April 29. Seventeen D.C. indies are involved in the crawl, which aims to celebrate and support local businesses as a practice of environmentalism. Digital passports are available that feature profiles of each participating store along with a portrait of the storefront done by D.C.-based artists.

Each store page in the passport lists the nearest WMATA metro station and/or Capital Bikeshare docks, and participants are encouraged to walk, bike, or take the metro to visit each bookstore. Bookstore customers can get their passports stamped at each store and document their crawls with the hashtag #indiearthdccrawl.

Nearly 30 stores are taking part in the inaugural Georgia Indie Bookshop Hop, which began last Saturday and will run until April 30. Spearheaded by Brave + Kind Bookshop in Decatur, the Bookshop Hop follows the success of the Atlanta Indie Bookstore Crawl that took place last fall.

Book lovers can print a map themselves or pick one up from any of the participating stores, and by submitting receipts for purchases made during the crawl they will be entered to win a variety of prizes (customers will have until May 1 to submit their receipts, and can submit only one receipt per participating store). The bookstore hop will conclude with a party at Eagle Eye Book Shop in Decatur, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.


The Seattle Bookstore Day Passport Challenge is returning this year, and once again readers have one week to visit all 27 participating stores in the Seattle, Wash., area. The challenge begins on April 29 and will run until May 8; bookstore customers who receive stamps from every store will receive a Bookstore Day Champion Stamp Card, good for a one-time 25% discount at each store. Customers who do not visit all 27 can still receive a single-use 25% off coupon if they collect five or more stamps. More details, and a list of participating stores, can be found here.

Main Point owner Cathy Fieback in the store's remodeled children's section.

Main Point Books in Wayne, Pa., is celebrating its 10th anniversary on IBD, as well as a recent renovation that added 1,000 square feet of retail space to the bookstore. Owner Cathy Fiebach and her team will host more than 25 local authors for meet-and-greets, and the festivities will include free books, visits from surprise guests, children's goody bags and more. The expansion has allowed Main Point to grow its children's section and create additional space for events.

In Cambridge, Mass., Porter Square Books is bringing back an IBD tradition not seen since before the pandemic--the Great Bookseller Independent Bookstore Day Bakeoff. In addition to the general IBD celebrations, several Porter Square booksellers will be "offering up their confections" for customers to sample and judge. Everyone will be able to sample the baked goods while supplies last, and shoppers can then vote for a winner. All of the participating booksellers will be sharing their recipes, and customers will likely be able to find those recipes in cooks "right there on the shelf." The winning bookseller will receive "one year's bragging rights."

Bookshop West Portal will host llamas at its IBD celebration.

For the first time in years, Bookshop West Portal in San Francisco, Calif., is celebrating IBD with Llamapalooza. From 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Saturday, llamas from Circle Home in Sonora, Calif., will be visiting the bookstore's courtyard. Along with the llama visit, there will be a storytime session in the morning, treats from local restaurants, giveaways, a raffle, and more.

Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Ravenna, and Seward Park, Wash., will celebrate IBD with prize wheels, "staff picks" from local authors, craft stations, free baked goods, and chances to win a $25 gift card. At the Lake Forest Park store, author Kobi Yamada will lead a special storytime session.

For Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minn., IBD festivities include chalk drawing, scratch-off prizes, and a visit from author Max Brallier (The Last Kids on Earth), who will be in conversation with Drew Brockington. Later, Ben Costa and James Parks, creators of the Dungeoneer Adventures series, will stop by to sign copies of their books while customers can take part in a Dungeoneers-themed scavenger hunt.

GLOW: Avid Reader Press: The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley

ABFE Panel: How to Combat Book Bans

At the American Booksellers for Free Expression virtual panel Local Organizing to Combat Book Bans yesterday--Right to Read Day--panelists stressed that booksellers, writers, educators, librarians, and others need to organize locally in addition to nationally in large part because book banners have organized locally; that ever more bookstores should participate in Banned Books Week; that lawsuits work in some cases but not always, and First Amendment protections help in these battles; that bookstores should have policies and maybe even forms for people who object to the books they stock and events they hold; that booksellers can act as resources for concerned readers. They also reminded participants that the book bannings are part of larger, ongoing effort aimed at large swaths of Americans, particularly GLBTQ people, Blacks, and others. The panel was moderated by David Grogan, director of ABFE, and Ray Daniels, the ABA's chief communications officer.

Chris Finan

Chris Finan, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship and former head of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, provided some historical perspective, pointing out that this round of book banning is different and more difficult to fight than the last major round, in the 1980s. "Then there was more legislation" while now the challenges come "school district by school district." Still, recent developments have been positive, "allowing us to fight toe to toe," including the formation of Unite Against Book Bans initiative. UABB is supported by more than 70 national organizations and provides ways "to put people together at the local level because that's where the battle's being fought." He called it similar in approach to the effective organizational structure used by Moms for Liberty to ban books. Fina advised booksellers who become aware of censorship in the community to contact NCAC: "We will work with you."

Samiya Bashir

Samiya Bashir, executive director of Lambda Literary, said, "For my folks, this is personal. They're coming after us directly and deliberately. Our voices are to be shut down... This is one leg of ongoing attacks against us as people." It is important, she continued, for everyone to share and hear "from us and our stories," citing the example of the Lambda Literary's Writers in Schools program under which queer and trans writers visit New York City schools and discuss their books with students, who receive free copies of the books. "We know that troubles people because to have that conversation, where you are humanized, where you are normal, where you're a person that is dealing with life just like everyone else, takes down the walls." The bans, by contrast, aim to make "people afraid to even think about reading a book."

Zoe Perzo

Zoe Perzo, content coordinator at the ABA and a former librarian, lives in Louisiana, where the legislative session just opened "with the same censorship bills we're seeing everywhere else." She said that based on her library experience, she recommends booksellers act as "a catalyst" for customers and patrons upset about book bannings, and steer them to appropriate groups and, if possible, make suggestions about contacting anti-book banning groups, creating and signing petitions, writing legislators, etc. She also recommended that booksellers have some kind of policy in place--and even a form to fill out somewhat like the forms many libraries have for book challenges. Sometimes people seeking to ban books in libraries or bookstores show up angry and looking for a fight. Booksellers should remain calm and have them fill out a form and ask for specifics. The process can defuse the situation somewhat, she said.

Vera Eidelman

Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, noted that while lawsuits are one tool to fight book bans, they're not necessarily the best. She cited the importance of the First Amendment's right to receive information, which everyone has, including the right of students in schools to get access to information. The key Supreme Court decision in this area found that "schools cannot restrict or remove books from school library shelves because of political animus or because they disagree with the ideas contained inside of the books." Patrons in public libraries generally have stronger First Amendment rights, while in bookstores the question comes down to what is protected speech, but usually the standard is even higher.

Several of the panelists recounted current or past fights against book bans. Finan noted that many schools have pulled books in violation of their own policies that govern such actions. Last year, NCAC sent between 50 and 60 letters protesting violations of those policies. "It's a real cat-and-mouse game we're playing."

David Grogan

Grogan noted that the ABA had sent a call to action to Texas booksellers to write to legislators to protest several bills, particularly one that calls for companies, including bookstores, that supply books to libraries in Texas to use a rating system for each title. More than 1,000 e-mail messages were sent in opposition to the bills, and one legislator received 347 messages against the bills.

Panelists and participants agreed on the importance of Banned Books Week, which will be held this year October 1-7. Finan called for a "maximum effort" to get every bookstore to participate "to make as big an impression as possible."

Ray Daniels

Bashir likewise urged that Banned Books Week be made "larger and louder," perhaps by changing the focus each day so, for example, one day there would be talk about the banning of queer books, then another day the emphasis would be on the banning of Black books.

Daniels noted that Bookselling This Week is working on a Banned Books Week special issue.

Several people supported the idea of a campaign about how particular books saved readers' lives, and Grogan urged booksellers to sign an ABFE petition in opposition to book bans and challenges.

Soho Crime: Ash Dark as Night (A Harry Ingram Mystery) by Gary Phillips

Obituary Note: Kate Saunders 

Kate Saunders

Kate Saunders, a prize-winning novelist, journalist and critic "whose many achievements emerged despite a life of suffering and loss," died April 21, the Guardian reported. She was 62. Saunders initially worked as an actor, joining the National Theatre in 1983, an experience that inspired her second novel, Storm in the Citadel (1989), and the third of her detective novels, The Mystery of the Sorrowful Maiden (2021). 

By the age of 26, she won a Betty Trask prize with her first novel, The Prodigal Father (1986), which launched a career that produced more than 20 novels for adults and children, ranging from historical romance to detective stories to children's books. A columnist for the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Express, She, and Cosmopolitan, she also judged the 1990 Booker Prize and the 2007 Women's Prize.

Saunders became a regular contributor to radio and TV, but that changed "when she gave birth in 1993 to her only child, Felix, and learned on the same day that she had multiple sclerosis," which was kept secret from all but her immediate family, the Guardian noted. She signed up to write five historical romances, starting with her epic Night Shall Overtake Us (1993), which was a bestseller, "but equally good was one of her wittiest romantic comedies, Bachelor Boys (2004)."

Her children's series, The Belfry Witches, which began with A Spell of Witches (1999), was made into a BBC TV series. Saunders also co-wrote Catholics and Sex (1992) with Peter Stanford, then editor of the Catholic Herald, and they later presented a TV series based on the book.

Increasingly frail, Saunders still produced several children's books, including Beswitched (2010), Magicalamity (2011), and The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop (2012). She was also a contributor to the 2016 authorized Winnie-the-Pooh sequel, The Best Bear in All the World

After her 19-year-old son committed suicide, however, the "shock and grief of this brought on the deterioration of Kate's MS, which went from relapsing-remitting to advancing, and could no longer be kept secret. It was now that she wrote her masterpiece, Five Children on the Western Front, published by Faber in 2014, and, as she put it, 'the book of my life,' " the Guardian wrote.

That book won the 2014 Costa children's book award, and was shortlisted for the Guardian and Carnegie prizes for children's literature. Her novel The Land of Neverendings was also shortlisted for the 2019 Carnegie medal. She published a detective series about a Victorian archdeacon's widow, Mrs. Rodd, starting with The Secrets of Wishtide (2016). Her last children's book, A Drop of Golden Sun, will be published by Faber in 2024.

"Kate's friendship, kindness, courage and wit illuminated many lives," Amanda Craig wrote in the Guardian. "Conversations with her would encompass everything from feminism and literary fiction to leftwing politics, always punctuated by robust laughter."


IBD Spirit Week: #PlaidDay

Heather and Kelly of the Gamble House Bookstore, Pasadena, Calif.

Independent Bookstore Day Spirit Week continued yesterday with #PlaidDay. Among the booksellers participating:

Pete & Freddy's Pages Aplenty Small-Town Bookstore, Mentone, Ind.: "Day 2 of #IndependentBookstoreDay #SpiritWeek is PLAID! I've always been partial to plaid and I imagine this plaid is as bada$$ as May's Book Club Read the graphic novel Welcome Back, Vol. 1. I haven't started it yet, but I will soon! Who is getting excited about Saturday?!? Definitely show off your plaids and current reads so I can feature you in the shop's story!"

Valley Bookseller, Stillwater, Minn.: "It's time to get your PLAID on to celebrate #IndieBookstoreDay. Play along (i.e., show us your pretty plaid on Tuesday) and get 10% off ONE new book!"

My Sister's Books, Pawleys Island, S.C.: "Bess is sporting her plaid today! Are you? This is Spirit Week. Each day has a new theme, as we countdown to Indie Bookstore Day!"

At Red Balloon Bookshop

Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, Minn.: "It’s day 2 of #BookstoreSpiritWeek leading up to Indie Bookstore Day and today is #PlaidDay !! The unofficial uniform of booksellers and lumberjacks alike."

Ferguson Books, Bismarck, N.Dak.: "P L A I D   D A Y! Each day leading up to Indie Bookstore Day this coming Saturday, we have a theme!! If you participate and show an employee your apparel, you get a FREE ARC (Advanced Reading Copy)!!! Be the one to read that future bestseller before everyone else!!"

Boswell Book Company, Milwaukee, Wis.: "Today is Plaid Tuesday, so here's a now and then photo set. Conrad and Madi in their haunted Victorian era, and the Conrad and Madi of yore, twinning once again. (Second picture from February 2020!)"

S&S to Distribute the Collective Book Studio

Effective July 1, Simon & Schuster will handle sales and distribution for all formats worldwide for the Collective Book Studio.

Founded by Angela Engel in 2019, the Collective Book Studio, Oakland, Calif., is a partnership publisher that produces high quality lifestyle, food, gift, and children's books.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Gretchen Morgenson on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Gretchen Morgenson, co-author of These Are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs--and Wrecks--America (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982191283).

Good Morning America: Sunny Hostin, author of Summer on Sag Harbor: A Novel (Morrow, $30, 9780062994219).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert repeat: Prince Harry, author of Spare (Random House, $36, 9780593593806).

TV: Emperor of Ocean Park

MGM+ has given a 10-episode series order to an adaptation of Stephen L. Carter's 2002 novel Emperor of Ocean Park. Deadline reported that the project comes from Shameless writer Sherman Payne, John Wells Productions and Warner Bros. Television.

The book was preemptively optioned by Warner Bros., John Wells Productions, and Gaylord Films in 2001. A film adaptation was previously in the works from Stephen Schiff and Carl Franklin, while Katori Hall developed the project as a pilot for Fox in 2015, Deadline noted.

"Emperor of Ocean Park is much more than a murder mystery," said Michael Wright, head of MGM+. "While it is an engrossing whodunit in its own right, it also explores important themes of middle-and-upper-class Black identity, making it an outstanding addition to MGM+'s slate of engaging and thought-provoking original series."

Sherman Payne, showrunner and executive producer, commented: "Stephen L. Carter's bestselling novel set a new standard for stories about power, race, politics, and wealth. It's exceedingly rare to see Black people depicted in these settings, and I believe viewers of all backgrounds will be entertained by our portrayal of the extraordinary Garland clan and the intrigue that engulfs them. I'm overjoyed to partner with John Wells Productions, Warner Bros., and MGM+ to bring this remarkable mystery to the screen."

Books & Authors

Awards: NYPL Young Lions Fiction, Women's Prize for Fiction Finalists

The New York Public Library released a shortlist for the $10,000 Young Lions Fiction Award, presented annually to an American writer 35 years old or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories. The winner will be announced at an award ceremony on June 15. This year's finalists are:

When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar
Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou
Brother Alive by Zain Khalid
The Book of Wanderers by Reyes Ramirez
All Day Is a Long Time by David Sanchez


The shortlist for the 2023 Women's Prize for Fiction has been announced. The winner will be announced June 14. The shortlist:

Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris
Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell
Pod by Laline Paull
Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Reading with... Aden Polydoros

Aden Polydoros is the author of young adult fantasy and horror. His gothic fantasy, The City Beautiful, won the Sydney Taylor Book Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Award, the National Jewish Book Award, the Cybils Award, and the 2022 World Fantasy Award. His middle-grade fantasy, Ring of Solomon, is now available from Inkyard Press.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

After accidentally summoning the king of demons with a secondhand ring, Zach becomes entwined in a centuries-old conflict that may spell doomsday.

Favorite book when you were a child:

As the youngest child in the family, I found myself reading my older siblings' books. My favorite books were the Goosebumps and Nancy Drew series. I can see my love for horror and mystery filtering into what I write today. As a reader, some of my greatest pleasures in reading horror, mysteries, and thrillers came from trying to unwind and solve the puzzle at the story's core. As an author, I find myself getting a similar thrill from constructing a plot that has those same elements of storytelling.

Your top five authors:

This is a tricky one. Although I'm constantly expanding my favorite author list, I have to admit, it's hard to relinquish the place in my heart devoted to the authors I loved as a teen: Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Angela Carter, and Alice Hoffman. These authors shaped me as an author, and although my interests and tastes have shifted in the years since, I still find myself influenced by their works and the impact their writing had on me as a youth. My newest favorite author is Andrew Joseph White.

Book you've faked reading:

Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist. It was the honors English book in ninth grade, and I don't think I ever actually finished it for that class. Knowing Arizona's educational standards, and the way that book would have been taught, I think that was a good thing. Coming back into it later, as an adult, and reading for curiosity and research, gave me a different perspective, particularly on the handling of Fagin's character.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Definitely Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White. I utterly adored this book. It's lingered with me since I read an ARC. More recently, thinking about the book and the themes of resistance and survival at the plot's core reignited my passion to continue writing and advocating for queer and Jewish readers. With the recent transphobic legislation and the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes and rhetoric, I feel like that book in particular is such an empowering story for trans, queer, and marginalized youth.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Extasia by Claire Legrand. I find the cover so compelling. There is something so eerie about the color scheme and the girl's expression. While I haven't had a chance to read the book yet, I can already tell from the cover and blurb that I'm going to love it. I've always been drawn to cinematic and atmospheric covers, like those you would see on a movie or video game, and Extasia hits those perfect notes.

Book you hid from your parents:

To be entirely honest, my parents never controlled my reading. By the time I was in third grade, I was reading at an eighth-grade level, and by fifth grade, I had moved into adult horror and thrillers. I'm glad that my reading wasn't supervised or censored, since that allowed me to read more complex books very early on and gave me the language skills that would later aid me as an author.

Book that changed your life:

Intensity by Dean Koontz, because it was one of the first books I read by him, and the protagonist's behavior during her predicament has lingered with me and given me strength during the times I needed it. The book was dark, violent, and had a plot that left me tied to every word, but it was the themes of survivorship, resilience, and healing that resonated with me at the time. Those messages have stayed with me to this day.

Five books you'll never part with:

There are so many books I adore, but these have to be the ones (aside from others I've mentioned by my favorite authors) that I'll keep coming back to over and over again.

A Far Wilder Magic by Allison Saft, with its lush, exquisite world-building and deep characterization. I adored the alchemy system in the book and the way that Saft draws Jewish history and folklore. The banter between the characters is also fantastic.

White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi is a spellbinding and beautifully written gothic horror novel that explores the history of British colonialism, nationalism, and trauma through its portrayal of a sentient haunted house.  

Hell Followed with Us by Andrew Joseph White for obvious reasons.

The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter. I fell in love with this horror anthology that reimagines fairy tales and folklore. The way that Carter juxtaposed such lush, sensual language with horrific imagery has deeply influenced my own writing as a gothic horror author.

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman. While it's not his most well-known book, I absolutely adored the way that he used the setting and world to reflect the main characters' trauma and emotional state.

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

Lisey's Story by Stephen King. It's probably my favorite book of his, and I can still remember reading it in one night, during a hot and listless summer in my teens.

Book Review

Children's Review: The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish

The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish by Chloe Savage (Candlewick, $18.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781536228519, June 6, 2023)

Debut author and illustrator Chloe Savage dives into the wonders of the Arctic in a delightful marine adventure featuring female scientist Dr. Morley. Savage pairs her narration with playful ink-and-watercolor illustrations that are so detailed that the reading experience can be as much of an exploration as Morley's search for the jellyfish.

Morley's life ambition is to find the giant Arctic jellyfish, which has been theorized but never seen. The determined Dr. Morley and her dedicated crew have researched and planned for years. Now they are ready. They bundle up in warm clothes, stock the boat, and set sail "on their adventure to the northernmost tip of the world." They encounter "a majestic pod of narwhals," "a curious pod of beluga whales," and "playful orca." They experience the aurora borealis, brutal cold, and the ice shelf. But the team cannot find the primary objective of their expedition. The giant Arctic jellyfish, though, adorably appears just out of sight during every step of the journey: peeking over the ice, floating underwater, gazing at the northern lights from behind the ship.

The art, silky and fluid as a jellyfish, that graces the pages of this endearing picture book leverages perspective to emphasize the vastness of the Arctic as well as the depth of the chilly waters they are exploring. A glacier above the water dwarfs a polar bear; below, the iceberg descends into darker and darker waters. Additional details--like socks, hats, and pants drying on a rope across the boat deck, or a snowman erected on the bow--enhance both a feeling of frigid cold and spirited fun. Minute illustrated features inside the ship give readers oodles of things to investigate: food, clothes, tools, all manner of amusing elements. One can't help but imagine being a member of this crew.

Savage creates through text and art a grand adventure perfect for young explorers. The Search for the Giant Arctic Jellyfish is an excellent picture book venture. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Shelf Talker: A marine adventure takes a scientist and her team into the icy waters of the Arctic to search for a mysterious sea creature.

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