Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, November 16, 2021

William Morrow & Company: End of Story by A.J. Finn

From My Shelf

Great Gifts for Kids and Teens

As always, Shelf Awareness is excited to present our annual children's and YA gift issue. This holiday season, supply-chain issues have caused delays for all kinds of consumer goods--books included--and so we'd like to mention a couple more titles we'd hoped to review in this issue, but publication has been delayed (you can pre-order them at your local bookstore).

Black Artists Shaping the World (Thames & Hudson, $19.95) by Sharna Jackson with Zoé Whitley invites readers to celebrate 26 talented Black artists from around the globe who are creating exciting and important work in photography, painting, textiles and more. This inspiring, accessible collection praising Black people's contributions to art is an ideal gift for budding young artists.

Across the Rainbow Bridge: Stories of Norse Gods and Humans by Kevin Crossley-Holland and illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love (Candlewick Studio, $18.99) offers five bewitchingly told, dramatically illustrated tales featuring gods and ghosts who insinuate themselves into the affairs of Midgard, "the world inhabited by human beings, giants, and dwarfs." Crossley-Holland's superb storytelling is perfectly paired with Love's powerful acrylic paint, ink and pencil-on-board art, which invokes the outsize effect the inhabitants of these other worlds have on the people of Middle Earth.

In the rest of this issue, you'll find nonfiction, fiction, poetry, fantasy, realism and cooking and activity books that will appeal to children and teens. A number of them might tempt all ages: Amanda Gorman and Loren Long's Change Sings, Cynthia Cliff's Pie for Breakfast and She's on the Money by Andrea Hall and Li Zhang. And really, the supply-chain issues are no joke--get your books and get 'em soon. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Jewish Book Council: 73rd National Jewish Book Award Winners

Book Candy

Concept Art for Jodorowsky's Dune

"Rare book featuring the concept art for Jodorowsky's Dune goes up for auction (1975)." (via Open Culture)


Atlas Obscura explored "how scholars cracked a Medieval alchemist's secret code."


Merriam-Webster looked up "11 words used to great effect by Edgar Allan Poe."


Jane Austen's house "secures future with funding to restore roof," the Guardian reported.


CrimeReads investigated "drug smugglers, Miami outlaws, and the mad quest to sell 'Hemingway's Picasso.' "

Sleeping Bear Press: Junia, the Book Mule of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, illustrated by David C. Gardner

Book Review

Children's & Young Adult

M Is for Melanin: A Celebration of the Black Child

by Tiffany Rose

Being Black is equated with jubilance in M Is for Melanin. Author/illustrator Tiffany Rose's debut is an abecedary of proclamations demonstrating why Blackness is a source of pride and strength: "F is for FRESH. Our people make something out of nothing and make it look good. YOU ARE NO EXCEPTION." The children Rose depicts are all Black, rendered in various skin tones. These subtle but noticeable differences, alongside variations in hair texture and styles, provide a level of visual authenticity.

M Is for Melanin is a positive, culturally relevant title with an affirming nature that will be an exceptional read-aloud as well as an excellent solo read in its picture-book format. A dynamic and empowering work for children. --Rachel Werner, author and teaching artist at Hugo House, Lighthouse Writers Workshop and The Loft Literary Center

little bee books, $8.99, board books, 30p., ages 3-6, 9781499812053

Poems from When We Were Very Young

by A.A. Milne, illus. by Rosemary Wells

Rosemary Wells (My Very First Mother Goose) introduces A.A. Milne's 1924 classic When We Were Very Young to a new generation of young readers by sweetly illustrating 12 of Milne's superb poems. The prolific author/illustrator uses her signature style to fashion the poems into mini dramas that feature animals, humans and a gentle palette. Small vignettes introduce the characters and objects in each piece, such as "James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree" about a little boy who is so worried about his mother that even the royal family becomes concerned.

All Wells's stories are humorously depicted, complete with speech bubbles that beg to be read aloud. British standbys, like the red phone booths, double-decker buses and the London skyline, make appearances, and "Old-Fashioned Words" appear in a glossary. This collection displays the incredible talent of both Milne and Wells and will surely be fun for adults and children to read together. --Melinda Greenblatt, freelance book reviewer

Norton Young Readers, $19.95, hardcover, 80p., ages 4-8, 9781324016533

Your Mama

by NoNieqa Ramos, illus. by Jacqueline Alcántara

Your Mama, written in the style of a "your mama" joke, is a dynamic picture book affirmation of love, adoration and acknowledgement for mothers as both caretakers and individuals.

NoNieqa Ramos (Hair Story; The Truth Is) uses lyrical English text dusted with Spanish words (hermanos, almuerzo) that brings to life their Latinx culture and the multifaceted nature of motherhood. The ups and downs are captured through various experiences, good and bad: emergency room trips, sharing knowledge and mother and child enjoying each other's company on road trips, at dinner and playing dress up. Illustrator of The Field and Freedom Soup Jacqueline Alcántara's vibrant, tattoo-inspired illustrations boldly complement Ramos's text. The collaboration is an energetic display of admiration for the hard work, love and dedication of mothers. --Kharissa Kenner, children's librarian, Bank Street School for Children

Versify/HMH, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781328631886

Change Sings: A Children's Anthem

by Amanda Gorman, illus. by Loren Long

Young poetry fans will be delighted with this inspiring anthem to progress by inaugural Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, with uplifting illustrations by Loren Long (the Otisseries).

"I can hear change humming/ In its loudest, proudest song./ I don't fear change coming, and so I sing along," proclaims the narrator, a child with deep brown skin and natural hair strumming an acoustic guitar. The child embarks on a transformative journey across a community, recruiting other kids with musical instruments and saying, "I don't make a taller fence,/ But fight to build a better bridge." The band of children form a rollicking, soulful procession culminating at a defunct local market, which they revitalize. Finally, they gather in triumph with other community members around a three-story-high mural that immortalizes their band, emblazoned with the words "We are the change." Give this dynamic, galvanizing chorus to young activists for a dose of affirmation. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth experience manager, Dayton Metro Library

Viking Books for Young Readers, $18.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780593203224


by Fabio Napoleoni

In Dragonboy, the first in a proposed picture book series about an empathic and imaginative boy, Fabio Napoleoni turns a Maurice Sendak-style adventure into an ode to true friendship. Dragonboy, a smiling, round-headed kid in a dragon costume, sets off on a journey across seas, forests and fields with his pals, cat, yeti, sloth and dragon. The group makes incredible discoveries along the way: a ball of string! Daisies! A new friend! Napoleoni's acrylic paint on wood panels art is charming and packed with fun details for keen-eyed readers: Who can find Dragonboy's real name? And do those stuffed animals flopped around the bedroom make a surprise appearance elsewhere? Landscapes and characters are softly rounded, reflecting the oh-so-gentle messages of kindness and understanding throughout. What a terrific gift for young adventurers! --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9780316462167

Our Table

by Peter Reynolds

Violet is the only one in her family who has not abandoned the ritual of sitting down for meals at the table. Full-spread images in a glum purple-and-black palette reveal her dining alone while her father watches TV, her mother texts and her brother plays video games. Violet "dreamed of a time when family and friends would gather at the table," which Peter H. Reynolds (The Dot; The Word Collector) depicts in a series of cozily hued vignettes: gathering food with her father, setting the table with her brother while her parents cook. The longer the table goes unused, the more it shrinks, until Violet finds a way to bring her family members back together in the dining room. The pages blossom into joyous full color, showing the family's shades of warm brown skin and purple/black hair, as they "come together, to share stories once again." --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness

Orchard/Scholastic, $17.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781338572322

Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids

by Cynthia Cliff

Sugary confections make fair breakfast fodder in a playful picture book packed with approachable recipes for aspiring bakers. Hazel delights in baking with her dad and, seeing that they could share their bounty, recruits friends to contribute sweets for a bake sale at their school's fair. "It will be just like a fancy bakery, but run by kids!" Hazel declares.

Double-page spreads each feature a different friend of Hazel's on the left with their recipe addition--such as Caramelized Upside-Down Banana Cake and Easy Jam Tarts--on the right. Cheerful detailed and inclusive illustrations reflect a range of family structures and cultural heritages, and the global cuisine even accommodates some special diets by including a vegan and a gluten-free treat. Add one eager baker and this sweet story is a recipe for success. --Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf

Prestel Junior, $16.95, hardcover, 40p., ages 5-9, 9783791374604

How to Find What You're Not Looking For

by Veera Hiranandani

Eleven-year-old Jewish girl Ari courageously searches for her own voice in How to Find What You're Not Looking For, a tender middle-grade historical novel from Newbery Honor author Veera Hiranandani (The Night Diary).

It's 1967 and the United States Supreme Court has legalized interracial marriage. Ari's older sister, Leah, elopes with her Indian boyfriend; the sisters' parents respond by disowning her. Ari, who has difficulty writing, misses Leah as both sister and support--Leah has always helped Ari finish schoolwork when writing became too physically painful. When Ari's new teacher brings in a typewriter, she hopes that one of her immediate concerns might have a solution. Ari soon discovers the power and freedom of poetry, and unloads all the grief, anxiety, joy and hope she's been holding in.

Hiranandani, who writes entirely in second person, places the reader squarely in Ari's shoes, creating a vivid reading experience perfect for tween fans of realism. --Kyla Paterno, freelance reviewer

Kokila/Penguin, $17.99, hardcover, 384p., ages 8-12, 9780525555032

Maker Workshop: 14 Amazing Projects You Can Make Today

by Alison Buxton

Albert Einstein meets Martha Stewart in Alison Buxton's Maker Workshop: 14 Amazing Projects You Can Make Today, an inspired activity book for aspiring scientists and dedicated young crafters. The projects, which are broken into five sections (Bionic Bots, Home Helpers and so on), are tagged "basic" (e.g., Solar Night Light), "intermediate" (Light-Up Greeting Card) or "advanced" (Walking Robot). Each section concludes with a relevant science-themed spread, some tackling big questions that may be nagging at little readers ("What is glue?"). The activities consist of simply worded steps and corresponding color photos, many with exclamation-pointed prompts ("Glue!"; "Bend!"; "Stick!"; "Snip!"). Maker Workshop reads as though Buxton, founder and director of the U.K.'s STEAM Works, can barely contain her excitement--and no wonder: she has crafted a really cool book. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Welbeck Children's, $14.95, hardcover, 112p., ages 8-12, 9781783126446

She's On the Money

by Andrea Hall, illus. by Li Zhang

In her author's note, Andrea Hall observes that the few women whose likenesses have appeared on currency throughout history "overcame obstacles, broke barriers, and achieved greatness"; She's On the Money capably recaps the stories of 15 such gutsy women (or at least what is known about them). Spreads devoted to each subject--among the better known are Sacagawea, Maria Montessori, Helen Keller, Indira Gandhi and Eva Perón--include biographical text, (genuinely) fun facts about money and Li Zhang's elegantly expressive illustrations of the bills and coins exhibiting the profiled women's faces. As for getting more women on currency going forward, one Egyptian ruler inadvertently makes a good case for electing more women to public office: "Cleopatra appears on currency because she put herself on it." --Nell Beram, freelance writer and YA author

Albert Whitman, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 7-10, 9780807573426

Me (Moth)

by Amber McBride

Amber McBride's debut novel is written in a series of stunning, interconnected free-verse poems. Her words dance across the pages with the elegance of her ballerina protagonist, Moth, a teen girl grieving the death of her mother, father and brother. As a child, Moth's grandfather taught her how to work Hoodoo; she strives now to use this magic to soothe her loss. Sani, the son of a Navajo healer, lives with his mother and abusive stepfather in the town to which Moth has relocated. The  teens, both struggling to find their place in the world, run away on a road trip together. Moth's and Sani's belief systems blend as their hearts meld, culminating in an epic climax. Me (Moth) is a rich, soul-stirring gift for any young adult. Parents will likely want to read this one as well--if they can pry it away from their teen. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Feiwel & Friends, $18.99, hardcover, 256p., ages 13-up, 9781250780362

Crazy Horse and Custer: Born Enemies

by S.D. Nelson

Young history buffs will be fascinated by this detailed examination of two notable warriors from the mid-19th-century U.S. conflicts between the country's Indigenous inhabitants and the descendants of European settlers.

S.D. Nelson, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, juxtaposes the stories of two long-time enemies: Crazy Horse, a Lakota man named Light Hair at birth, who grew up to become a tribal chief, and United States Army officer George Armstrong Custer. The parallel presentation of the men's actions and their perspectives of the events that lead to their final confrontation is as gripping as any novel. Nelson incorporates a variety of stunning art--including his own ink, colored-pencil and acrylic paint illustrations--such as pieces that mimic the Lakota's use of ledger-style cultural images. Crazy Horse and Custer is a thoughtful approach to the flesh-and-blood adversaries that aims to identify the truth within the myths that have grown up around them. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

Abrams Books for Young Readers, $19.99, hardcover, 144p., ages 10-14, 9781419731938

Briar Girls

by Rebecca Kim Wells

In a captivating, queer retelling of Sleeping Beauty, teenager Lena is cursed with the power to kill through touch. Lena is exhausted by living within her father's tight constraints and she is fearful the witch responsible for her terrifying ability will return to kill her. Then Lena meets the blood mage Miranda, who promises to help rid her of the curse. Lena quickly falls for Miranda and, in exchange for the mage's help, embarks on a quest to awaken a sleeping princess who can liberate a deadly forest known as the Silence from its evil rulers. "I might die within the Silence," Lena thinks, "but if I stayed here, I would surely die standing still."

Briar Girls by Rebecca Kim Wells (Shatter the Sky; Storm the Earth) is an anthem for queer female self-discovery in fantasy form. Lena harnesses her inner strength and intellectual prowess to escape victimhood and gain her agency. --Kieran Slattery, freelance reviewer, teacher, co-creator of Gender Inclusive Classrooms

Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $18.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 12-up, 9781534488427

Girlhood: Teens around the World in Their Own Voices

by Masuma Ahuja

What began as a series by journalist Masuma Ahuja for The Lily (a product of the Washington Post) expands here into the enlightening Girlhood. Ahuja gathers "colorful and rich" accounts of 30 girls from 27 countries that reveal similar themes: longing for adventures, big dreams, growing pains and figuring out individual identities. Girlhood, in too many places, means being "silenced or policed," but Ahuja underscores examples of everyday empowerment. In addition to the girls' photos and diary entries originating from homes near and far--Argentina, Kazakhstan, Vanuatu, Sweden, Mongolia and, perhaps most poignantly, Afghanistan before the U.S. withdrawal--Ahuja provides important context about country, community and circumstances. With a billion-plus girls in the world, a comprehensive collection isn't possible, but Ahuja provides readers with what she hopes is "representative of a vast range of girls' experiences." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Algonquin Young Readers, $16.95, paperback, 256p., ages 12-up, 9781643750118

Iron Widow

by Xiran Jay Zhao

Xiran Jay Zhao's gripping debut novel introduces readers to Huaxia, a world inspired by historical China, where Chrysalises--giant mecha suits modeled off mythical creatures--battle alien invaders. Young men pilot the Chrysalises with female "concubine-pilots," usually "consuming the girls' [mind] and killing her" in the process. After a Chrysalis pilot murders her sister, 18-year-old Zetian seeks revenge by offering herself up as a concubine. Zetian then shocks the world when she kills her male pilot through their mental link, revealing herself to be a rare and deadly Iron Widow. Huaxia's government pairs Zetian up with Li Shimin, a powerful yet controversial pilot, to control her abilities. But Zetian has other plans: "Justice. Change. Vengeance. Power."

Iron Widow is an exciting, action-packed sci-fi story and a scathing indictment of patriarchal culture. Zetian is a ruthless yet sympathetic antiheroine whose determination to overturn the status quo, where women are "born to be used and discarded," will earn readers' compassion. -- Alanna Felton, freelance reviewer

Penguin Teen, $17.99, hardcover, 400p., ages 13-up, 9780735269934


Author Buzz

Visions of Flesh and Blood:
A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium

by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Dear Reader,

Today is the release of VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD, the Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium, and I am so excited that you finally get to see and read it!

I saw the love you had for Miss Willa, watched how following along with all the series twists and turns brought you joy, and thought... wouldn't it be nice to have a book to help with that, yet give even more new stuff?

So, my publisher and I came up with a plan. It included loads of stunning art commissions, strategic disclosures, and brand-new material. When it all came together, it was even better than I imagined.

VISIONS OF FLESH AND BLOOD is so much more than a series bible. It's a journey and a work of art. A collector's item for sure!


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: Visions of Flesh and Blood: A Blood and Ash/Flesh and Fire Compendium by Jennifer L. Armentrout with Rayvn Salvador

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
February 20, 2024


List Price: 
$7.99 e-book

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