Shelf Awareness for Thursday, May 18, 2023

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


Fighting Book Bans: PEN America/PRH/Authors/Parents Sue Florida School District & Board

Yesterday, PEN America, Penguin Random House, five authors--Sarah Brannen, George M. Johnson, David Levithan, Kyle Lukoff, and Ashley Hope Pérez--and two parents on behalf of themselves and their student children sued the Escambia County School District and School Board in Florida over book bannings and access restriction in the area's public school libraries.

Altogether nearly 200 books have been challenged in Escambia County, whose county seat is Pensacola and an area the plaintiffs described as "at the heart" of efforts in Florida to ban books coordinated with national book-banning groups. Ten books have been removed by the school board; five books were removed by district committees; and 139 books are restricted, often while "under review" for an indeterminate time, and require parental permission for a student to see the book.

In the lawsuit, filed in federal district court, plaintiffs said that the school district and school board have banned and restricted books based "on their disagreement with the ideas expressed in those books. They have repeatedly ignored their existing policies for review. In every decision to remove a book, the School District has sided with a challenger expressing openly discriminatory bases for challenge, overruling the recommendations of review committees at the school and district levels. These restrictions and removals have disproportionately targeted books by or about people of color and/or LGBTQ people, and have prescribed an orthodoxy of opinion that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments."

In particular, the First Amendment "bars a school district from removing books from school libraries, or restricting access to such books, based on political or ideological disagreement with the ideas they express." In ordering the removal of some titles against the recommendations of experts within the school district, "the School District and the School Board are depriving students of access to a wide range of viewpoints, and depriving the authors of the removed and restricted books of the opportunity to engage with readers and disseminate their ideas to their intended audiences. Such viewpoint discrimination violates the First Amendment."

As for the Fourteenth Amendment, the plaintiffs argue that the actions of the district and school board "violate the Equal Protection Clause because the books being singled out for possible removal are disproportionately books by non-white and/or LGBTQ authors, or which address topics related to race or LGBTQ identity. This is no accident. The clear agenda behind the campaign to remove the books is to categorically remove all discussion of racial discrimination or LGBTQ issues from public school libraries. Government action may not be premised on such discriminatory motivations."

The suit focuses in large part on the ongoing efforts of Vicki Baggett, a language arts teacher at the School District's Northview High School, to ban or limit access to particular titles, relying on national book banning organization's characterizations and recommendations. The plaintiffs cite a range of titles that have been banned, restricted, and/or are under review, including Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (because it includes "bestiality, nudity [and] crude language"), Draw Me a Star by Eric Carle (because it contains an image of a naked man and woman), and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (because of its depiction of a sexual assault, "horrific language," and "indoctrination").

The five author plaintiffs all have titles that have been affected by the bannings, restrictions, and reviews, including Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah Brannen; All Boys Aren't Blue by George M. Johnson; Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan; When Aidan Became a Brother and Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff; and Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez.

In addition, plaintiffs note that the defendants often cite Florida's "don't say gay" law for their bannings, but that applies only to classroom instruction, not libraries.

The plaintiffs are asking the court to require all the books at issue be returned to the shelves of the school libraries or retained in the libraries.

Speaking about the suit, Nihar Malaviya, CEO of PRH, said, "Books have the capacity to change lives for the better, and students in particular deserve equitable access to a wide range of perspectives. Censorship, in the form of book bans like those enacted by Escambia County, are a direct threat to democracy and our constitutional rights. We stand by our authors, their books, and the teachers, librarians, and parents who champion free expression. We are proud to join forces with our longtime partner PEN America."

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, commented: "Children in a democracy must not be taught that books are dangerous. The freedom to read is guaranteed by the constitution. In Escambia County, state censors are spiriting books off shelves in a deliberate attempt to suppress diverse voices. In a nation built on free speech, this cannot stand. The law demands that the Escambia County School District put removed or restricted books back on library shelves where they belong."

Author Ashley Hope Pérez added, "Young readers in Escambia schools and across the nation deserve a complete and honest education, one that provides them with full access in libraries to a wide range of literature that reflects varied viewpoints and that explores the diversity of human experiences. As a former public high school English teacher, I know firsthand how important libraries are. For many young people, if a book isn't in their school library, it might as well not exist."

Macmillan CEO Jonathan Yaged said, "Macmillan staunchly supports our author, George M. Johnson, PEN America, and all the plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Escambia County School District and Escambia County School Board, Fla. As future leaders of our democracy, children need and deserve access to the full breadth of who we are as Americans. The censorship of books is a direct attack on the founding principles of our country and our constitutional rights as citizens."

Sourcebooks Landmark: Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

Black Rock Books Opening in Bridgeport, Conn.

Black Rock Books will have a soft opening on June 10 at 3030 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport, Conn. The Connecticut Post reported that co-owners Emily Welch and Meagan Flynn "are working to open up a new chapter for their community." Their main focus is making sure the soft opening is successful before finalizing plans for a full launch.  

Flynn, who previously worked at Breakwater Books in Guilford, had talked about creating her own bookstore for years. Last Christmas, Flynn's brother-in-law gave her a tote bag with a logo for an imaginary store, "Black Rock Books." When Flynn showed it to Welch, a partnership was hatched. 

"Emily was like, 'You keep talking about this, when are you going to do it?' She was the one who said 'OK, when? OK, where? OK, how?' " Flynn said. "It feels special because Emily was one of the first people that I met when I moved to the neighborhood."

While the soft opening focuses on used books, the business will stock new books in the future, and may also offer monthly subscriptions and delivery services, depending on interest. The business plans to offer family-friendly events like book clubs, author speaking engagements and storytime hours. The owners noted that the bookstore is a good fit for Black Rock, helping fill a need for more local family-friendly spaces. 

"It's something that this community really needs and I have no doubt in my mind that they will support and welcome our store with open arms," Welch said. "It's not about making money so to speak... this is about getting the community together even more and reaching people.... There are a million things that have to get done before then. We are just hoping by June 10 we will have the walls painted, the shelves will be on the walls and we will have the right business licenses and insurance." 

Welch and Flynn are also funding part of the store through a GoFundMe campaign, which has raised more than $3,000 of its $20,000 goal thus far. Welch said the store will open regardless of the campaign, but they wanted to give the community a chance to contribute.

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

One More Page Books, Arlington, Va., 'Overwhelmed' by Community Support

In just over 10 days, One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., raised more than $36,000, thanks to an incredible surge of community support, ARLnow reported.

Earlier this month, store owner Eileen McGervey launched a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $35,000. That money, McGervey explained, was needed to ensure the bookstore's future in the face of rising rent and business costs, as well as a number of recent, unexpected expenditures including repairing both the plumbing and air conditioning and replacing half of the store's ceiling lights.

In just over three days, the campaign raised more than half of its goal, and within another week the campaign surpassed its initial goal. As of Thursday morning, the total stands at over $36,800 raised from more than 400 donors.

"We are overwhelmed with the response and the words of encouragement from our customers and the community," McGervey told ARLNow. "It is difficult to ask for help, and then to have such a rapid response is humbling."

McGervey noted that while most of the money will be going to things that are not "fun and exciting," any remaining funds might go toward "a few fun ideas for the store design."

This is not the first time the bookstore has turned to its community for help: in August 2019, One More Page Books launched a silent auction to help fend off a 30% increase in real estate taxes on its building. The auction ran from August 2 to August 18 and brought in more than $20,000, or about 101% of the bookstore's goal. The auction took place both online and in-store, with incentive items including a 12-month bakery subscription, original artwork by illustrator Richard Thompson, a manuscript consultation with novelist Alma Katsu, and much more.

Obituary Note: Gerald Rose 

Children's book illustrator Gerald Rose, whose picture books with his wife, Elizabeth, and authors such as Ted Hughes are enjoyed worldwide, died May 5 at the age of 87. The Guardian reported that Rose was the youngest winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustration in 1960 for Old Winkle and the Seagulls (written by Elizabeth Rose), when he was in his mid-20s and barely out of art school. He would go on "to become an influential artist in the field of children's picture books. His painterly, playful and gently anarchic artwork continues to be enjoyed around the world."

Rose was born in Hong Kong, where "the exotic flora and fauna of his childhood would form a regular theme in his work, most directly in a highly emotive autobiographical work for Cambridge University Press, Tiger Dreams (1996)," the Guardian noted, adding that the "childhood idyll was brutally curtailed when the Japanese swept into Hong Kong, and by 1942 the family was broken up," with Gerald, his sister, and mother taken to an internment camp for civilians while his father was interned at a military camp. Upon their release, the children were sent to live in Lowestoft in England. 

Eventually Rose enrolled in the Lowestoft College of Art, where he met Elizabeth Pretty, a fellow student. He received a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools in 1955, and his wife joined him in London to work as a primary school teacher. In addition to his studies, he also took a keen interest in the children's books Elizabeth would bring home.

Gerald and Elizabeth Rose then began their collaboration, and their first book, How St. Francis Tamed the Wolf, was published in 1958. The following year brought a second book, Wuffles Goes to Town, along with the Greenaway Medal-winning Old Winkle and the Seagulls

Rose also began teaching at Blackpool College of Art. In 1965, he was appointed to a teaching position at Maidstone College of Art, where he developed the highly successful BA illustration program, which he led until 1987. 

Along with the books with his wife, Rose illustrated the work of many other authors, including Ted Hughes's Nessie the Mannerless Monster (1964), James Joyce's The Cat and the Devil (1965), Paul Jennings's The Hopping Basket (1965) and The Great Jelly of London (1967), Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky and Other Poems (1968), and a number of Norman Hunter's Professor Branestawm titles (1981-83). Rose's own later picture books included The Tiger Skin Rug (1979) and the award-winning Ahhh! Said Stork (1986).


Image of the Day: Wohlleben Under the Trees

Mrs. Dalloway's Bookstore, Berkeley, Calif., presented Peter Wohlleben (left) discussing his new book, The Power of Trees (Greystone Books), with author Tom Barbash in, appropriately, the stunning Redwood Grove Amphitheater at the University of California Botanical Garden.

Cool Idea of the Day: Local Artists Sticker Machine

"You may have seen the wall of stickers in our store, but we also have a sticker machine specifically for local artists!" Under the Umbrella Bookstore, Salt Lake City, Utah, posted on Instagram. "The sticker machine is one of 40 in Salt Lake City and beyond. The stickers change every so often as new local artists submit their work, so all of the stickers are limited-edition. Each sticker is $1 and comes with a little bit of information about each artist. Currently, the machine features locals Bri Gawkoski, a collage artist, and Matthew Crane, a digital artist."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Lisa Damour on the Ezra Klein Show

Kelly Clarkson Show repeat: Meena Harris, author of Ambitious Girl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $18.99, 9780316229692).

Ezra Klein Show: Lisa Damour, author of The Emotional Lives of Teenagers: Raising Connected, Capable, and Compassionate Adolescents (Ballantine, $28, 9780593500019).

This Weekend on Book TV: Ginni Rometty

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Saturday, May 20
3 p.m. Andrew Diemer, author of Vigilance: The Life of William Still, Father of the Underground Railroad (‎Knopf, $30, 9780593534380). (Re-airs Sunday at 3 a.m.)

Sunday, May 21
8 a.m. Joan Biskupic, author of Nine Black Robes: Inside the Supreme Court's Drive to the Right and Its Historic Consequences (Morrow, $32.99, 9780063052789). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

9:05 a.m. James Lockhart, author of America: Underwater and Sinking (Koehler Books, $36.95, 9781646639083). (Re-airs Sunday at 9:05 p.m.)

10 a.m. Oscar Munoz, co-author of Turnaround Time: Uniting an Airline and Its Employees in the Friendly Skies (Harper Business, $32, 9780063284289). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

3:30 p.m. Brian Wong, author of The Tao of Alibaba: Inside the Chinese Digital Giant That Is Changing the World (PublicAffairs, $29, 9781541701656).

4:35 p.m. David Sax, author of The Future Is Analog: How to Create a More Human World (‎PublicAffairs, $29, 9781541701557).

5:30 p.m. Ginni Rometty, author of Good Power: Leading Positive Change in Our Lives, Work, and World (‎Harvard Business Review Press, $30, 9781647823221).

6:30 p.m. Gilbert Achcar, author of The New Cold War: The United States, Russia, and China from Kosovo to Ukraine (Haymarket Books, $22.95, 9781642599107).

Books & Authors

Awards: Nebula Winners; Miles Franklin Longlist

The 2022 Nebula Awards, sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and celebrating "the writers of the most outstanding speculative fiction works released in 2022," are:

Novel: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution by R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager)
Novella: Even Though I Knew the End by C.L. Polk (Tordotcom Publishing)
Novelette: "If You Find Yourself Speaking to God, Address God with the Informal You" by John Chu (Uncanny 7-8/22)
Short Story: "Rabbit Test" by Samantha Mills (Uncanny 11-12/22)
Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction: Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion by K. Tempest Bradford (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Ray Bradbury Nebula Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Everything Everywhere All at Once by Dan Kwan, Daniel Scheinert (A24, AGBO, IAC Films)
Game Writing: Elden Ring by Hidetaka Miyazaki, George R.R. Martin (FromSoftware, Bandai Namco)
The SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award: Robin McKinley
The Infinity Award: Octavia E. Butler (posthumous)
The Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award:
Cerece Rennie Murphy
Greg Bear (posthumous)
The Kevin J. O'Donnell, Jr. Service to SFWA Award: Mishell Baker


The longlist for the A$60,000 (about US$39,910) 2023 Miles Franklin Award, honoring "novels of the highest literary merit that tell stories about Australian life, shining a light on some of the country’s most accomplished writers," has been released and can be seen here. The shortlist will be announced on June 20, the winner on July 25.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, May 23:

Identity: A Novel by Nora Roberts (St. Martin's Press, $30, 9781250284112) follows a woman evading a murderous con artist she previously escaped.

Tom Clancy Flash Point by Don Bentley (Putnam, $29.95, 9780593422786) is the 10th thriller with Jack Ryan Jr.

Bad Summer People: A Novel by Emma Rosenblum (Flatiron, $28.99, 9781250887009) is a darkly funny murder mystery set on Fire Island.

Rogue Justice by Stacey Abrams (Doubleday, $29, 9780385548328) is the second thriller with Supreme Court clerk Avery Keene.

The Senator's Wife: A Novel by Liv Constantine (Bantam, $28, 9780593599891) is a psychological thriller about a D.C. philanthropist's potentially murderous employee.

The Shift: Change Your Perspective, Not Yourself by Tinx (Simon & Schuster, $27.99, 9781668007631) is a guide to romance and relationships.

On Our Best Behavior: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Price Women Pay to Be Good by Elise Loehnen (Dial Press, $28, 9780593243039) explores how modern behaviors are shaped by ancient ideas of sin.

The Art of Clear Thinking: A Stealth Fighter Pilot's Timeless Rules for Making Tough Decisions by Hasard Lee (St. Martin's Press, $29, 9781250281449) gives decision-making techniques.

You Can't Screw This Up: Why Eating Takeout, Enjoying Dessert, and Taking the Stress out of Dieting Leads to Weight Loss That Lasts by Adam Bornstein (Morrow, $32, 9780063230576) includes a foreword by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

All Good in the Hood by Dwayne Reed, illus. by Gladys Jose (Little, $18.99, 9780316461986) is a picture book about Juneteenth from "America's favorite rapping teacher."

The Luis Ortega Survival Club by Sonora Reyes (Balzer + Bray, $19.99, 9780063060302) features a young woman who finds community--and revenge--in a support group.

Cooking with Shereen--Rockstar Dinners! by Shereen Pavlides (Page Street Publishing, $23.99, 9781645679905).

The Heiress Bride by Madeline Hunter (Zebra, $8.99, 9781420150018).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

You Are Here: A Novel by Karin Lin-Greenberg (Counterpoint, $27, 9781640095434). "Karin Lin-Greenberg uses a failing mall as a symbol of our society in transition, showing us tragedy and hope. Disparate characters are brought together through the mall and learn to trust the people around them. A quietly powerful novel." --Hannah Harlow, Book Shop of Beverly Farms, Beverly Farms, Mass.

The Night Flowers: A Novel by Sara Herchenroether (Tin House Books, $26.95, 9781953534866). "A gripping and suspenseful debut. Take one cold case, two women who are determined to discover the truth, entwine them with the voice of the victim, and you have one unforgettable and powerful read." --Maxwell Gregory, Madison Street Books, Chicago, Ill.

Juniper & Thorn: A Novel by Ava Reid (Harper Voyager, $18.99, 9780062973177). "A gorgeous story influenced by one of the Brothers Grimm's darkest tales. At the center, two souls find a haven in each other while escaping evil worse than any monster under the bed. Juniper & Thorn is bewitching and utterly captivating." --Tarah Jennings, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, S.Dak.

For Ages 4 to 8
How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide by Ame Dyckman, illus. by Jennifer Harney (Little, Brown, $17.99, 9780316593298). "Hilarious! Take every warning you've ever been given as a child, from wait a full hour after eating before swimming to don't run with scissors, and you have this side-splittingly funny alternative to how dinosaurs went extinct." --Kathleen Carey, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, N.Y.

For Ages 10+
Opinions and Opossums by Ann Braden (Nancy Paulsen Books, $17.99, 9781984816092). "Ann Braden has done it again! I love Opinions & Opossums just as much as I love Flight of the Puffin. Agnes is my new hero. Braden has a way of writing for kiddos that respects them, celebrates them, and challenges them, all while making them laugh." --Christina Batten, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Mich.

For Teen Readers: An Indies Introduce Title
Where You See Yourself by Claire Forrest (Scholastic, $19.99, 9781338813838). "An utterly engrossing, fun senior year novel told through the eyes of a spunky teenager fighting for disability rights. I rooted for Effie to find her voice, to get the guy, and to go for the future that would make her happy." --Earl Dizon, Green Bean Books, Portland, Ore.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: Arca

Arca by Van Jensen, illus. by Jesse Lonergan (IDW, $16.99 paperback, 176p., 9781684059980, July 11, 2023)

Van Jensen (Two Dead) and Jesse Lonergan imagine a near-future dystopia in Arca, a sci-fi graphic novel with retro art and classic but updated themes. The Arca is a high-tech "vessel holding the last survivors of the human race." It is home to hundreds, and contains dozens of levels with everything its passengers need to survive, and creature comforts for a privileged few.

To maintain the careful balance of resources on the Arca, life is highly structured. Nothing is wasted and roles are carefully circumscribed. Those known as Citizens are the revered founders of the Arca, and the power they wield as former oligarchs is clear from the beginning. Citizens rely on Helpers, armed security personnel, to maintain order on the Arca. Settlers, young people under the age of 18, do all the work.

Persephone--"Effie"--is a Settler assigned as aide to one of the Citizens. She tends to his children and his household while her friends work in other functional areas like food and sanitation. By day, the Settlers are fed a stream of propaganda over loudspeakers, and at night they return to their tiny, continuously monitored bunks. Few question their roles, secure in knowing that when they turn 18, their chores will end and they'll "retire" to another area of the ship to live out the rest of their days in relative freedom.

Arca's creators aren't subtle in their depiction of this dystopia. Fairly early on, Effie begins unraveling the tangle of lies she's grown up with. It's upon finishing the book that the layers become clear, however, and readers will want to start over from the beginning to look for the clues Jensen and Lonergan drop along the way. While the plot mostly focuses on human interaction, the full-color artwork brings to life the setting with cleverly rendered machinery, living spaces, and even fake sunny skies.

Though it treads some familiar ground, Arca's critique of massive wealth and power inequality at the end of the world is timely. It's intentionally uncomfortable to read about the ways in which scientific advancements are combined with class oppression to benefit only those who have the most. Those excited to colonize Mars may want to take notes. Part mystery, part coming-of-age sci-fi adventure, Arca sits comfortably among books like Brave New World and The Giver. --Suzanne Krohn, librarian and freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: In this dystopian graphic novel, a young woman discovers the harrowing truth about the ship and post-apocalyptic society in which she lives.

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