Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Legacy Lit: Madness: Race and Insanity in a Jim Crow Asylum by Antonia Hylton

Berkley Books: Daughters of Shandong by Eve J. Chung

Berkley Books: Bergman Brothers series by Chloe Liese

Wednesday Books: Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana

Little, Brown Ink: K Is in Trouble (a Graphic Novel) (K Is in Trouble #1) by Gary Clement

Fly Paper Products: Literary Gifts

William Morrow & Company: The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim


The Rabbit hOle Kids' Lit Museum & Bookstore Coming to Kansas City, Mo.

The Rabbit hOle, an immersive museum dedicated to children's books, will open March 12, 2024. Located in a 99-year-old renovated warehouse in North Kansas City, Mo., the Rabbit hOle has been designed to "provide visitors of all ages with radically immersive experiences to discover beloved titles from Goodnight Moon to Last Stop on Market Street," the founders noted. 

Rabbit hOle founders Pete Cowdin and Debbie Pettid.

In addition to "a literary wonderland featuring over 30 exhibits," the Rabbit hOle will also include a full-service bookstore, print shop, story lab, maker space, resource library, and discovery gallery. These areas will offer a variety of arts and literature-based programming, professional development workshops for educators, field trips and special events with authors and illustrators from around the country.

"Our inspiration has always been to create something beautiful for children," said co-founder and co-director Deb Pettid. "This is an intergenerational space built to connect people to children's books and their creators in fun and discoverable environments."

Pettid and co-founder/co-director Pete Cowdin began planning, fundraising, and building the Rabbit hOle nearly eight years ago after they closed their children's bookstore, the Reading Reptile.

"It hasn't always been easy to convey the scope and depth of the Rabbit hOle, and many people initially thought we'd lost our minds," Cowdin said. "But we know this will be one of the world's most beautiful and original children's museums in the country where the culture of reading and the wonder of books are celebrated everyday."

Attached to the 165,000 square-foot museum building is a state-of-art fabrication facility, where a team of artists design and build all of the Rabbit hOle's exhibits.

Author Jon Scieszka, a Rabbit hOle board member, said, "It takes incredible skill and heart to transform a two-dimensional picture book into three dimensions in ways that capture both the story and spirit of the book. Never before has anyone taken on a project of this magnitude solely devoted to the reading lives of young people and their families."

Memberships will go on sale on November 1. At that time, members will be able to reserve timed tickets, and tickets will go on sale for the general public on November 22.

Atria Books: The Other Valley by Scott Alexander Howard

MahoganyBooks Partners with DCA National Airport Retailer

MahoganyBooks, with stores in Washington, D.C., and Oxon Hill, Md., is partnering with The Goods @DCA, a new retail store located near Terminal D at DCA National Airport, to showcase a hand-picked selection of titles by Black writers as a "tribute to diversity, culture, and the power of literature to elevate the airport shopping experience."

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last weekend. MahoganyBooks posted on Instagram: "It's official OFFICIAL! Yesterday, The Goods @ DCA (National Airport), right here in D.C., held its ribbon cutting event. It's where our latest MahoganyBooks footprint is included and we are pumped about being part of the future of airport retail. Thank you the amazing @juanitabusybee who asked us to be part of this project and the entire Paradies and Airport Marketplace teams who came together to create the most dynamic blueprint for airport stores to come. Special love to the phenomenal @adr1600 [April D. Ryan] who said yes to booksigning and dropped everything to join us for this monumental moment. Thank you is not enough. And yes, Black books are all up in this place, and we are bout it bout it... and beyond grateful!"

Ramunda Young, co-founder and co-owner of MahoganyBooks, said, "Our goal is to transform the airport experience by providing travelers with an opportunity to engage with thought-provoking and culturally significant literature. Expanding the MahoganyBooks footprint represents our commitment to promoting diverse voices and stories that resonate with our customers."

Juanita Britton, the entrepreneur behind The Goods @DCA, commented: "What sets this collection apart is its uniqueness within the airport retail landscape. Many of the featured titles are not commonly found in airport stores worldwide, making this a rare opportunity for travelers to explore and acquire works that celebrate African American culture and creativity."

GLOW: Graphic Universe: Hotelitor: Luxury-Class Defense and Hospitality Unit by Josh Hicks

Drew Barrymore Dropped as National Book Awards Host

The National Book Foundation has rescinded its invitation to Drew Barrymore to host the National Book Awards on November 15, following the resumption of production of The Drew Barrymore Show despite the ongoing Hollywood writers strike. Although daytime talk shows are governed by a separate contract, several Drew Barrymore Show writers are members of the striking writers guild.

The AP reported that Barrymore "drew criticism from members of both guilds for crossing the picket line, and from Colson Whitehead, Alexander Chee and other authors who questioned whether she should remain as host of the National Book Awards."

Barrymore has not responded publicly to the National Book Foundation's decision, but posted on Instagram over the weekend that she was "making the choice to come back for the first time in this strike for our show, that may have my name on it but this is bigger than just me." She added, "I own this choice.... I want to be there to provide what writers do so well, which is a way to bring us together or help us make sense of the human experience.

The National Book Foundation's announcement said, "The National Book Awards is an evening dedicated to celebrating the power of literature, and the incomparable contributions of writers to our culture. In light of the announcement that The Drew Barrymore Show will resume production, the National Book Foundation has rescinded Ms. Barrymore's invitation to host the 74th National Book Awards Ceremony. Our commitment is to ensure that the focus of the Awards remains on celebrating writers and books, and we are grateful to Ms. Barrymore and her team for their understanding in this situation."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Come and Get It by Kiley Reid

International Update: Australia's Dymocks Hit by Data Breach; English Bookstore by Thalia Opens in Berlin

Australian bookstore chain Dymocks has warned customers of a potential data breach, Books+Publishing reported. In an e-mail to customers, Dymocks said it became aware on September 6 that "an unauthorized party may have accessed some of its customer records, prompting Dymocks to launch an investigation to assess what happened with cybersecurity advisers."

"While our investigation is ongoing and at the early stages, our cybersecurity experts have found evidence of discussions regarding our customer records being available on the dark web," the company said. "At this stage it is unclear which customers may be impacted. We are letting everyone know as soon as possible because the incident may affect customer records and we are committed to being open and transparent."

Noting that it does not hold or store customer financial information, Dymocks warned information that could have been compromised includes date of birth, postal address, e-mail address, mobile number, gender and membership details. The company advised customers to take several precautionary steps and said it will provide updated guidance as more information becomes available.


German bookstore chain Thalia has opened a dedicated English-language bookshop in Berlin. The Bookseller reported that a strong demand for English-language books in the country prompted the launch of the English Bookstore by Thalia, located in the Mall of Berlin, where it "ranks as a pop-up store but it is far removed from the short-term, provisional set-up usually connected with that name."

Occupying more than 2,000 square feet next to a Thalia branch store of slightly larger size, English Bookstore by Thalia will remain open for at least two years, according to sales director Johannes Brancke, who said, "English-language books are currently very popular in our shops, especially in an international environment as we see it in Berlin. By giving them more room in a dedicated space we are simply taking the next step."

According to Media Control, demand for English-language books in Germany is up, with general sales growing 6% so far in 2023 and fiction rising 11%. Berlin "has established itself as the leader of the pack with the English Bookshop by Thalia joining a handful of well-established English-language bookshops all reporting brisk trade," the Bookseller reported.


Italians buy three times as many books as they did 40 years ago. The European & International Booksellers Federation's Newsflash reported that a recent article from Giornale della Libreria "examined the changes in book purchases throughout the decades. The article dispels the myth that people buy fewer books than before--113 million printed copies in 2022 vs. 43 million in 1980.

"As they point out, this belief of decrease is due to a more fragmented structure of the market--15,790 titles were published in 1980, and 83,950 in 2023--making the average number of copies per title lower than before," Newsflash noted.


The Canadian Independent Booksellers Association's Meet Our Member series featured La Maison Anglaise, Quebec City's locally owned and independent English- and Spanish-language bookstore, which has recently expanded with a new location in Gatineau. CIBA spoke with owner Guy Dubois. Among the highlights of the q&a:

In addition to your wide selection of English-language books, I understand you also have a growing Spanish section. Has this always been an important area for you?
The interest for Spanish books started with the creation of Vision Trilingual Schools. We started developing this area of our business around 2008. By 2010 we saw growth in the Hispanic community in Quebec which helped us to develop that market. For the past five years, we have been working closely with the Quebec Libraries Network to develop a Spanish collection.

What do you love most about being an independent bookseller? 
Being an independent bookseller is really demanding at many levels, but it gives us a lot of autonomy. Being closer to your customers and to your business partners is a treat. Customers will bring you a wider knowledge of authors, books, and topics because they share your passion. They feel they are home and part of the family. --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Yoel Hoffmann

Yoel Hoffmann

Israeli author, editor, scholar, and translator Yoel Hoffmann died August 25. He was 86. New Directions, one of his U.S. publishers, shared the news of his passing "with great sadness," adding: "We loved Yoel and are honored to have published seven of his books. We are deeply saddened by this loss to literature and to everyone who knew Yoel Hoffmann. We take comfort in his glorious and beautiful work." 

Hoffmann was born in Brasov, Romania. While he was still a baby, his parents fled Europe, escaping the Nazis and reaching what was then the British Mandate of Palestine. His mother died soon after and his father placed him as an infant in an orphanage for some years. As a young man, he traveled to Japan, living for two years in a Zen monastery and studying with the monks. Hoffmann became one of the leading Western scholars of Zen Buddhism and of Japanese poetry (Japanese Death Poems and The Sound of One Hand: 281 Zen Koans with Answers are among his works), which he taught for many years at the University of Haifa.

His other books include Katschen & the Book of Joseph; Moods; Curriculum Vitae; The Heart Is Katmandu; The Christ of Fish; Bernhard; and The Shunra and the Schmetterling. Hoffmann was awarded the inaugural Koret Jewish Book Award, the Bialik Prize, and the Prime Minister's Prize.

"We want to take this moment to celebrate Yoel's extraordinary writing and to mourn our friend with a few words from his translator Peter Cole," New Directions noted. 

Cole wrote: "Word wafted in from Bangkok, from New York, from Tel Aviv: the sprite-like diviner of Hebrew had passed on, into the space between the lines of his matchless prose. Reading Yoel for the first time--and each time after that was a first time again--lifted me into a cloud of unknowing. His language struck me as a curious, off-kilter music, rendered, it seemed, from a complex alloy of distant and familiar tongues, or qualities of consciousness. In person, his wit and syncopated gentleness muted a deep-seated and somehow tectonic agitation, as if he were a loudspeaker Beuys had encased in felt. On the page, he seemed at once timeless and utterly of his moment, absolute in his whimsy and also sublime. His work created in me precisely the sort of attention required to enter it, which is maybe why I found it so magical. As reader and writer, translator and poet, I've loved riding his Moebius movement of mind and often sensed that, in some quintessentially Yoelian way, it was leading me toward the dark, original spark of the translation from which he himself had emerged."

From Curriculum Vitae, translated by Peter Cole: "The beauty of death and the violet colors accompanying it. Announcements that make nothing dawn on one, and the dawn itself rising from nowhere like a birthday present 365 days a year."


Image of the Day: Booktowne's Lunch with Karin Slaughter

BookTowne in Manasquan, N.J., celebrated the pub day for Karin Slaughter's After That Night (Morrow)--the latest installment in her bestselling Will Trent series--with a Literary Luncheon at the historic Manasquan Woman's Club.

American Writers Museum Honors Sourcebooks' Dominique Raccah

The American Writers Museum's annual OnWord benefit took place this week in Chicago. Among the honorees was Sourcebooks publisher and CEO Dominique Raccah, who received the Beyond the Page Award. Pictured: Maxwell Gregory, Madison Street Books; Dominique Raccah; and Mary O'Malley, Skylark Bookshop.

B&N's September Book Club Pick: Happiness Falls

Barnes & Noble has chosen Happiness Falls by Angie Kim (Hogarth) as its September national book club selection. In a live, virtual event on Tuesday, October 3, at 3 p.m. Eastern, Kim will be in conversation with Shannon DeVito, senior director of book strategy at B&N, and Miwa Messer, executive producer of B&N's Poured Over podcast.

For more information, click here.

B&T Publisher Services Adds Seven Publishers

Baker & Taylor Publisher Services will handle full sales representation and distribution with the following five publishers:

The Secret Mountain, a children's book publisher that combines original stories from around the world with carefully selected music to create distinct stories. Drawing on material from a range of world oral traditions, stories, and folk tales, these narratives are paired with music spanning multiple genres to create a virtual meeting place of cultures, artistic styles, and backgrounds. (Effective January 1, U.S.)

Bridge City Books, a newly formed imprint of PESI Publishing, a publisher of books for mental health professionals, such as treatment workbooks and self-help guides. Through Bridge City Books, PESI Publishing plans to reach a wider trade audience with six titles releasing in Spring 2024. (Effective January 1, U.S. and Canada.)

Energy Psychology Press, the publishing arm of the EFT Universe community that is dedicated to presenting the best ideas from the emerging fields of Energy Psychology and Energy Medicine. With 35 active titles and publishing up to 10 new titles per year, Energy Psychology Press's bestselling titles include The Genie in Your Genes and Mind to Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality. (Effective October 1, U.S. and Canada.)

New Paradigm Publishers, the publishing arm of Dwell Community Church, a 5,000-member church organization in Ohio. Backlist titles include Experience the Book of Acts and Walking in Victory, and a forthcoming Fall 2023 title is Identity: Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes. (Effective immediately, U.S. and Canada.)

Image Cascade, which specializes in reprints of classic young adult novels that were originally published from the 1940s to the mid-1960s. Never revised from the original editions, these "malt-shop novels" are nostalgic glimpses into post-World War II Americana. Popular series include the Beany Malone and Tobey & Midge Heydon books, while featured authors include Lenora Mattingly Weber and Rosamond du Jardin. (Effective immediately, U.S. and Canada.)

BTPS has also signed fulfillment-only agreements with the following two publishers:

Shine Early Learning, a provider of early childhood education and family engagement services for Head Start children and families across the country. Its mission is to eliminate the gaps between young children's inherent potential and their achievement in school and life. (Effective immediately, U.S. and Canada.)

Popular Book Company, the Canadian publisher of educational workbooks, with a growing presence in the U.S. It has 50 titles currently available in the U.S. market, including the Complete Math Success, Complete Curriculum Success, and 365 Fun Days series. (Effective October 1, U.S.)

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Matthew A. Cherry on the Today Show

Today Show: Matthew A. Cherry, author of Hair Love ABCs (Kokila, $8.99, 9780593695647).

Watch What Happens Live: Yvonne Orji, author of Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams (Worthy Books, $17.99, 9781546012689).

TV: The Fall of the House of Usher

Netflix has released the first trailer for The Fall of the House of Usher, the 8-episode limited series from creator Mike Flanagan based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe. Deadline reported that the show "follows ruthless siblings Roderick and Madeline Usher who have built Fortunato Pharmaceuticals into an empire of wealth, privilege, and power. But past secrets come to light when the heirs to the Usher dynasty start dying at the hands of a mysterious woman from their youth."

The project stars Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Mary McDonnell, Carl Lumbly, Mark Hamill, Michael Trucco, T'Nia Miller, Paola Nuñez, Henry Thomas, Kyleigh Curran, Samantha Sloyan, Rahul Kohli, Kate Siegel, Sauriyan Sapkota, Zach Gilford, Willa Fitzgerald, Katie Parker, Malcolm Goodwin, Crystal Balint, Aya Furukawa, Daniel Jun, Matt Biedel, Ruth Codd, Annabeth Gish, Igby Rigney, and Robert Longstreet. The Fall of the House of Usher premieres October 12.

Books & Authors

Awards: Ruth Lilly Poetry, Pegasus Criticism & Service Winners

Kimiko Hahn is this year's recipient of the $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, which is sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and presented to a living U.S. poet for their outstanding lifetime achievement. Hahn, along with the winners of the $7,500 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and the inaugural $10,000 Pegasus Award for Service in Poetry, will be honored in October at the Pegasus Awards ceremony in Chicago.

"Kimiko Hahn's poetry projects the soul and challenges the human spirit by inviting readers to explore the mysteries of science and nature," said foundation president Michelle T. Boone. "It's our privilege to acknowledge her decades of advancing poetry through her writing and teaching." 

The Pegasus Award for Service in Poetry, given in recognition of commitment and extraordinary work in poetry and the literary arts through administration, advocacy, education, publishing, or service, goes to Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, founders of Cave Canem, established in 1996 to remedy the underrepresentation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape. 

"The impact of Toi and Cornelius's work as mentors, collaborators, and advocates cannot be overstated," said Poetry magazine editor Adrian Matejka. "As a Cave Canem fellow myself, I have been the grateful recipient of their service to poetry and the path they've created for countless other Black poets."

Douglas Kearney will receive the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism, recognizing an outstanding book-length work of criticism published in the U.S. in the prior calendar year, for Optic Subwoof. The other finalists were Auden and the Muse of History by Susannah Young-ah Gottlieb, My Trade is Mystery: Seven Meditations from a Life in Writing by Carl Phillips, and Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne by Katherine Rundell. 

New Jacqueline Woodson Award for LGBTQ+ Children's/YA Literature

Jacqueline Woodson

The Publishing Triangle is adding the Jacqueline Woodson Award for LGBTQ+ Children's/YA Literature, which will honor outstanding works of literature geared toward children and young adults that explore themes related to LGBTQ+ experiences, identities, and issues. The award will highlight books that effectively address LGBTQ+ topics in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner, helping young readers better comprehend the diversity of human identities and relationships. The books may cover a range of subjects, from coming-out stories to LGBTQ+ historical narratives, from queer romances to explorations of gender identity and nonbinary experiences. The winner will be announced at the Publishing Triangle's awards ceremony next spring and will receive $1,000.

Woodson is the author of more than 30 books for young people and adults, including Another Brooklyn, Red at the Bone, and The Day You Begin. She received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2023 E.B. White Award, a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award, and was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Her memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and the NAACP Image Award. Her books for young readers include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After, Harbor Me, Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, After Tupac and D Foster, and Each Kindness. In 2018, she founded Baldwin for the Arts, a residency serving writers, composers, interdisciplinary, and visual artists of the Global Majority.

Reading with... Alicia Kennedy

photo: Israel Meléndez Ayala

Alicia Kennedy is a writer from Long Island in New York now living in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her newsletter, "From the Desk of Alicia Kennedy," where she publishes essays, cultural criticism, and recipes, has been mentioned in the New York Times, Vogue, the Washington Post, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Eater, and other publications. Her work has been published in Foreign Policy, Bon Appétit, W, SSense, and Harper's Bazaar. Her first book, No Meat Required: The Cultural History and Culinary Future of Plant-Based Eating (Beacon Press), is a fresh exploration of the history of American veganism.

Handsell readers your book in 25 words or less:

No Meat Required tells the story of plant-based eating in the U.S. over the last 50 years, from communes to wheatgrass-guzzling quacks to the punk Ina Garten.

On your nightstand now: 

I'm planning the menu for a small gathering to celebrate my book's release day, and the inspiration is coming from the Ottolenghi cookbook Extra Good Things.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The book I remember most vividly from childhood was Nobody Cares About Me! where Big Bird gets jealous of how much attention Ernie is getting while he's sick, so he pretends to be sick only to end up catching a cold himself. A good life lesson, but I think it stuck out to me because I found Big Bird's pouting visage on the cover such a departure from the cheerfulness of most children's entertainment.

Your top five authors:

Alejandro Zambra, Eileen Myles, Sarah Schulman, Aleksandar Hemon, Álvaro Enrigue

Book you've faked reading:

In college, I took a whole class on Charles Dickens because it fit well in my schedule, but I never read a word of Dickens for it (I had read some Dickens when I was younger) and got an A-. That said, I got an A- in Physics, too, without knowing what was going on.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I will never shut up nor stop thinking about Chilean Poet by Alejandro Zambra, his first lengthy work that takes everything fun and poignant about his shorter form books and blows it up perfectly. I hadn't fallen in love with characters to such a depth since I was an adolescent--or maybe just since I'd first read his Bonsai.

Book you've bought for the cover:

In middle school, I got my mom to buy me Microserfs by Douglas Coupland because I was attracted to its cover, and the sense that reading it would give me the sensation of being on the computer without getting yelled at for spending too much time on the computer (this was the late '90s, when we accessed AOL via dial-up). I was right, and I read it over and over and over, in the way you do when you only have so many books to read.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't have to hide books from my mom, because she bought me all my books, but I did get in trouble from Sister Dorothy in eighth grade when she opened my copy of Trainspotting. She wrote a note home about it, which I pretended was about Less Than Zero, because indeed it was less vulgar than Irvine Welsh's classic.

Book that changed your life:

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka in middle school. From the famous first line, I was blown away that this was even possible to do in writing.

Favorite line from a book:

"There could be no history without catastrophe; to outline a history, one had to narrate its disasters; to formulate one's position in the world, one had to define oneself in relation to the experienced catastrophes." --Aleksandar Hemon from My Parents: An Introduction.

Five books you'll never part with:

That seventh-grade copy of The Metamorphosis.
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño, read at another tender time when I needed to be reminded of what literature can do.
How to Eat by Nigella Lawson, to remind me of what good food writing is.
Best of Contemporary Mexican Fiction, because it's where I first read my favorite short story, "On the Death of the Author" by Álvaro Enrigue.
Heroines by Kate Zambreno, which has ragey notes in it from my late 20s that I don't want anyone else to read.

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

Ghosts by César Aira--or really any of his books, this was just the one I read first. Like when I first read Kafka, he rearranged what I thought possible to convey and accomplish in a short work. 

Book Review

Children's Review: The Puppets of Spelhorst

The Puppets of Spelhorst by Kate DiCamillo, illus. by Julie Morstad (Candlewick Press, $17.99 hardcover, 160p., ages 7-10, 9781536216752, October 10, 2023)

Five puppets find their connected but unexpected destiny in a richly told fairy tale by 2014 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo (Flora & Ulysses and The Tale of Despereaux).

Readers first meet the five puppets "jumbled together at the bottom of a trunk" with the word SPELHORST stenciled on its lid. The shopkeeper who owns them declares that the king, the girl, the boy, the owl, and the wolf are united by destiny. "The puppets must be purchased together or not at all... for they are in a story." The group is then shuttled from owner to owner in the (possibly) Victorian-era European land of Norendy. From the toy shop they go to a lonely old sea captain, then to a rag-and-bone man, and eventually to two girls, where the puppets are separated almost immediately by an array of tragicomic circumstances. "Some dark and terrible mystery has happened to the wolf," says the younger sister, after she herself wanders off and abandons the puppet. (We learn that the housemaid, mistaking it for squirrel skins, has tossed it out the window, where a fox absconds with it.) The others meet similarly astonishing fates. At times, as they wind up in cleaning buckets, treetops, or an apron pocket, it seems their shared destiny will never manifest. Savvy DiCamillo fans will know the story is a long way from finished, though, and that the five will find their way back to one another--with all the adventure that is their proper due.

DiCamillo has a knack for capturing the real sentiments of children (and puppets), foibles and all, in fantastical settings and circumstances. With The Puppets of Spelhorst, she introduces the Norendy Tales, a series of three novellas to be "linked by place and mood," each book illustrated in black and white by a different artist. In this delightful first story, Julie Morstad (Bloom: A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli) creates art that evokes a bygone era of cobblestone streets and parlor plays. Her elegant spot and full-page drawings contribute greatly to the sense of time and place and add a turn-of-the-century feel, such as that found in the works of E. Nesbit. The fanciful and funny tale is told from multiple points of view, allowing readers a clear view into each character's secret aspirations. As in all DiCamillo's stories, the pages are peppered with smart, wry humor, balanced with moving moments of flawed humanity. An absolute gem. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Kate DiCamillo's dazzling first title in the Norendy Tales trilogy is brimming with wit, whimsy, and heart as it follows five puppets fulfilling their thrilling shared destiny.

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