Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, June 21, 2013

Mariner Books: Briefly Perfectly Human: Making an Authentic Life by Getting Real about the End by Alua Arthur

From My Shelf

Fighting the Undead

With Max Brooks's bestselling World War Z now on the big screen (and starring Brad Pitt, no less), zombies are once again on everyone's mind. If you haven't already read World War Z, now's the time; Brooks's imagining of a world overrun by a zombie virus is incredibly detailed and hard to put down. Told as a series of interviews with those familiar with the zombie war--from witnesses of the first outbreaks in China to Russian soldiers attempting to fight the undead--the novel translates incredibly well to audio, with an all-star cast reading (see our review below).

If reading or listening to World War Z (or seeing it in theaters) has you convinced the zombie apocalypse is upon us, you can prepare. In The Zombie Survival Guide, Brooks offers readers "complete protection from the living dead," discussing everything from zombie psychology, motivators and behavior to the best ways to prepare your home for a long siege.

Want to take a more active approach to dealing with zombies? Joseph McCullough's Zombies: A Hunter's Guide, a slim, illustrated book, gives readers a guide to enemy strengths and motivations, key tactics for recognition and elimination, and an overview of weaponry and battle plans best used in fighting zombies. With historical background on zombie presence in past military conflicts, from the Thirty Years War to World War II, Zombies: A Hunter's Guide is the go-to guide for those wishing to go on the attack in the case of another zombie rising. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Sleeping Bear Press: A Kurta to Remember by Gauri Dalvi Pandya, Illustrated by Avani Dwivedi

The Writer's Life

Antonio Hill: From Translator to Novelist

photo: Jaume Recoder

Barcelona native Antonio Hill has spent more than a decade translating such authors as Jonathan Safran Foer and David Sedaris into Spanish. His first novel, The Summer of Dead Toys (see our review below), a thriller set in his hometown, was published in Spain in 2011. It's just been released in the U.S. Hill's second novel featuring Inspector Hector Salgado will be available in 2014.

The Summer of Dead Toys stars Barcelona detective Hector Salgado, an Argentinian by birth. Why did you decide to make Hector an Argentinian? 

It was a sudden choice. I wanted to talk about Barcelona, a city I know well (since I was born and have lived there most of my life) from the perspective of a foreign character. Because I also know Buenos Aires and a lot of Argentinian people of Spanish origin have moved to Spain in the last decades, the decision was fast. At the same time, being an outsider helped to reflect better Hector's personality: now that he's been left by his wife, he notices the city as beautiful, but not so welcoming as it had been before. He feels lonelier than if he had a whole family in the city, for example.

In The Summer of Dead Toys, teenager Marc Castells falls to his death out of a window. It's unclear whether it was accident, murder or suicide, and Hector is asked to "unofficially" question Marc's friends and family members. What was appealing to you about having a case that wasn't quite a case for Hector's first appearance?

Hector was more or less "suspended" at the beginning of the novel, so I needed a case that was not exactly a full case, or he could not have dealt with it. Marc's death is assigned to him more as a favor to his boss, who also wants to keep Hector busy and out of trouble. And I liked the idea that a "minor case" could hide so many twists and secrets. What starts as an "accidental death"--a boy who drank too much during a party and fell down out of a window--develops into a darker story that really started when that teenager was no more than a small child.

Hector's suspension happened because he beat an old man who was trafficking in young girls. The old man also dabbled in voodoo, which lends a bit of an uneasy edge to Hector's life. Do you see the aftereffects of this incident spilling over into future books?

Voodoo is a very appealing topic. It has a dark edge. It is something we, occidental and rational people, cannot understand completely. Of course, we don't believe in it; we think its power is more due to suggestion. So I thought it would be unsettling to combine a city as beautiful as Barcelona (sunny, warm, elegant, modern) with that kind of ancestral belief that most of us would dismiss as superstition. The effects of the incident spill over into Hector's life (as well as his relatives' lives) in very unexpected ways. I do not believe in the supernatural, and neither does Hector, but we both believe that there are evil people who will resort to anything to hurt you deeply.

Your next Hector Salgado novel, The Good Suicides, will be released in the U.S .in June 2014. Care to give a preview of the book?

The Good Suicides is Hector's second case, and it starts when he must deal with a violent death. Sara Mahler, the secretary of a pharmaceutical company CEO, gets killed after jumping (or being pushed) to the underground railway. There are a few peculiar facts around Sara's death, and the case gets more complex when Hector and his team discover that another employee of the same company (in this case an accountant) killed himself after murdering his wife and daughter a few months before. The Good Suicides explores a mystery set in a work environment: a place where we spend most of our daily life and where we establish relationships that are not as close as family or friends, but can become very intense for good and for bad (you must work for a boss you hate or near a person you secretly love, for instance). I thought a modern company--in this case a cosmetics lab--could be a great setting for a crime novel in the 21st century.

Hector has an enormous collection of classic movies, and movie references sprinkle the book. Does this reflect your own interests?

Definitely, yes. I love movies, but not only classic ones. I'd say Hector's taste is more classical than mine. For guys our age (Hector and I are both 40-something) cinema was very important: we grew up with Star Wars, we wanted to be Han Solo... now this has been changed by video games and the Internet, but when I was young, cinema was the big window to the world.

You've translated many English-language novels into Spanish. Did that help inspire you to start writing your own fiction?

Probably yes, although in an unconscious way. I have not translated many crime novels, for instance, but I always knew I would write a thriller or mystery novel someday. It was something I had in mind for years, and suddenly I thought it was the right time to do it. It was a "now or never" sort of thing. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Book Candy

Books as Gifts; Literary Restaurants; Romance Novel Shoes

"Books to give as gifts for every occasion" were recommended by Buzzfeed, which noted that books "make the best presents, unless the person you're giving them to is a horrible book-hating cave-monster and in that case why are you even giving them anything."


If you're feeling a little peckish for more than a good read, Flavorwire found "10 literary restaurants for hungry book nerds around the world."


The Telegraph found several examples of "graphic art inspired by Harry Potter."


Flavorwire showcased a selection of "famous authors' funniest inscriptions in their books."


NPR's Monkey See blog featured "the most awesome shoes in the universe," which are actually "heels, decoupaged with tiny copies of real romance novels, with pink trim at the sole."


Designer Antonella Di Luca's Citybook modular bookcase "can be configured just about any way you'd like, creating tons of bookcase variations that are an attractive alternative to the traditional square and rectangle shapes."

Book Review



by Rawi Hage

Like a stomach-churning midway octopus ride, Rawi Hage's Carnival is a swirl of oddballs, criminals, revolutionaries, whores and taxi drivers. An independent immigrant hack in a city much like Hage's Montreal, Fly knows his fellow drivers only by their car numbers and nicknames. Most are "spiders" who park at taxi stands waiting for business, while Fly is, of course, one of the "flies"--wanderers "who drive alone and around to pick up the wavers and whistlers." Raised in a circus by a bearded lady, he is comfortable with the misfits who prowl his city, particularly during the annual Carnival bacchanal. He also has an insatiable appetite for books, after acquiring the collection of a doctor who ministered to the freaks, a collection so large that it overwhelms his apartment with "towers of books... a tunnel of books [where] a carnival of heroes bounces from every corner."

Fly is a fine foil for Hage's funny and acerbic observations on everything from religious hypocrisy to aberrant sex--all told with a linguistic virtuosity and lusty bravado that echo James Joyce and Henry Miller. Told in short vignettes, Carnival is the novel of a city defined not so much by its citizens as by the whirling chaos of those who are only wandering visitors. Fly is an observant guide to this circus of humanity and knows that "after this grand act of life, nothing is left but the dust beneath the elephants' feet and the sound of monkeys' clapping." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: An immigrant cab driver's trenchant tour of his adopted city, as written by a two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee.

W.W. Norton, $25.95, hardcover, 9780393072426

Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story

by Thomas E. Kennedy

Terrence Kerrigan is beginning the second half of his life with little consolation, as he travels to Denmark to pour himself into his two remaining loves--drinking and research. So begins Kerrigan in Copenhagen: A Love Story, the third work in Thomas E. Kennedy's Copenhagen Quartet (after In the Company of Angels and Falling Sideways). Kerrigan's sole ambition is to write a guidebook to the Danish capital's bars, but the charm of a sharp, green-eyed research assistant adds an element of longing and sliver of possibility to his quest.

Lovers of Scandinavia and philosophy will both find joy in this meticulously detailed novel. It gives one the sense of wandering through another person's mind--and Kerrigan's mind is a crowded hall of quotations, music, poetry and, in what scarce space is left over, personal nostalgia. Through a lens of colloquial inebriation, he draws connections between such seemingly unconnected figures as Kierkegaard and Duke Ellington. As these observations reappear in new ways and are anachronistically connected, we can eventually see the faint outline of a brilliant analytical web.

Coursing below the noise of Kerrigan's endless internal narrative is his awareness that his true needs are painfully simple. He may have a near-encyclopedic knowledge of jazz and Danish history, but he would give anything for a second chance with his ex-wife or the affection of his research assistant. These desires are as urgent and elusive as the sense that some "ultimate existential conclusion" lies at the heart of modern theory. --Annie Atherton, intern at Shelf Awareness

Discover: A heartbroken, middle-aged intellectual seeks solace in writing a guidebook to Copenhagen's bar scene.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781620401095

Eleven Days

by Lea Carpenter

It's tough to earn the Trident badge of the Navy SEAL, but for real toughness, a medal should go to the single mother whose only child joins the SEALs. That is the premise of Lea Carpenter's memorable debut novel, Eleven Days--a story about smart, sensitive Sara who becomes pregnant at 19 with Jason. Five years after his birth, Jason's enigmatic military father "disappears," leaving Sara to raise their son alone.

She is a freelance editor of government documents who hopes to inspire Jason toward study in "English, business, law: the late 20th century's most glittery trifecta." Jason, however, is drawn first to the Naval Academy, then to the SEAL ideal of one who "did the right thing, did it quietly, and did it well." Eleven Days opens on the day that Sara is notified that Jason is missing from a sensitive, clandestine "no prisoners, no losses" mission.

Carpenter (a columnist for knows the details of Special Warfare training. As much as Eleven Days is the tale of Jason's military evolution, though, it is more Sara's story. Carpenter deftly chronicles her waiting: the rote gardening, the daily running, the mindless editing work, the sleepless nights trying to read--all to stem "the scope creep of her chaos." Sara must make peace with both the life her son chose and the life she has chosen for herself. Like any peace, that is not easy to achieve. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A powerful first novel about a young man's evolution into a Navy SEAL and his single mother's fears for his future.

Knopf, $24.95, hardcover, 9780307960702

Mystery & Thriller

Anonymous Sources

by Mary Louise Kelly

Anonymous Sources is a fast-paced adventure from an author who knows the international journalism scene: former NPR correspondent and occasional guest host of All Things Considered Mary Louise Kelly.

When young Thom Carlyle falls from the top of a Harvard bell tower to his death, the upper crust of American society is shocked. An Oxbridge-educated star athlete who was about to propose to his beautiful girlfriend, Thom seemed an unlikely candidate for suicide, but a drunken accident doesn't fit the bill, either. Gorgeous but troubled journalist Alexandra James smells murder, not to mention a story that could make her career.

However, while sneaking into crime scenes and wheedling information out of detectives may be Alex's forte, a trip to Cambridge, England, to chase a lead soon has her in over her head. Not only does she have to contend with Carlyle's jaded girlfriend and a young English lord who may not be what he seems, the deeper she digs, the closer Alex comes to uncovering a network of nuclear terrorists who don't want to be found. She must unravel the mystery and discover the terrorists' ultimate target, but if she isn't careful, she may find herself in the same crosshairs as Thom Carlyle.

Kelly's debut novel is intricate, heart-pounding and occasionally romantic. Tough and bright, Alex is nonetheless made vulnerable and easier to relate to by a traumatic past, and Kelly's years of journalistic experience show in a skillfully constructed thriller that genre fans will love. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Latah County Library District and blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: An exciting thriller from a former NPR intelligence correspondent pits a young journalist against a nuclear terrorist cell.

Gallery, $26, hardcover, 9781476715544

The Summer of Dead Toys

by Antonio Hill

In Antonio Hill's dark debut novel, The Summer of Dead Toys, Inspector Hector Salgado is in a tricky position. Though he's Argentinian by birth, he's been on the Barcelona police force for years. He's currently on probation, though, after beating an old man, Dr. Omar, who was complicit in the trafficking (and death) of a young African girl.

In addition to his professional problems, Hector's wife, Ruth, left him (for another woman) and Dr. Omar, who is involved in voodoo, made some threats that make Hector uneasy despite his professed atheism.

Luckily, Hector's boss still supports him and has set him unofficially to look into the death of teenager Marc Castells, who fell from his bedroom window--it's unclear whether it was an accident, suicide or murder. Teamed up with young, eager Leire Castro, Hector sets out to question Marc's friends and family members unobtrusively.

The Summer of Dead Toys delves into the nature of family and the lengths that people will go to protect those they love. Hector's increasing disquiet about the disappearance of Dr. Omar mingles with the surprisingly dark aspects of Marc Castells's apparently idyllic life. Leire Castro is hiding some secrets of her own, and the emerging partnership between Leire and Hector adds a needed comforting aspect to the sad story.

Hill has done an excellent job bringing Barcelona to life and creating a tense, intriguing mystery. Fans of international thrillers will be waiting eagerly for his next book to be translated into English. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: In this dark debut thriller set in Barcelona, an inspector on probation for beating a suspect unofficially investigates a death that may be murder.

Crown, $26, hardcover, 9780770435875

Enigma of China

by Qiu Xiaolong

Enigma of China is the eighth novel starring Chief Inspector Chen Cao, the Shanghai investigator who wanted to be a poet as a youth but was assigned by Communist officials to the police squad. It begins with Zhou Keng, the corrupt head of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee, found dead in his hotel room. The Communist Party quickly determines Zhou's death was a suicide, and Chen is expected to sign off on that--instead, he and his colleague Inspector Wei begin a quiet investigation.

Nothing much is uncovered until a beautiful young reporter brings Chen some enlightening information, and Wei is the victim of a hit and run. Wei's death confirms Chen's suspicions about Zhou, and he and the reporter start poking further into Zhou's secrets. But those secrets reflect badly on the Party, and the Party's image must be maintained at all costs. The lie of equality, in the face of the obvious extravagance of top Party officials, is preposterous, but Chen is expected to uphold it. And certain Party officials emphatically disapprove of Chen's recalcitrance about the investigation.

Chen's poetical musings about the world around him add a philosophical bent to this look at death and corruption in modern China. Qui Xioalong brings the suspicious nature of the Communist state to vivid life, clearly showing how much control the government holds over the Internet and every aspect of Chinese life. Fans of introspective mysteries won't want to miss Enigma of China. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: In Qui Xiaolong's eighth mystery, Inspector Chen must investigate a murder without antagonizing his Communist Party superiors.

Minotaur, $25.99, hardcover, 9781250025807

Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

by Neil Gaiman

When a man returns to the Sussex country town where he grew up, he is inexplicably drawn toward the house at the end of the lane where he met Lettie Hempstead, her mother and her grandmother. When he was seven, a lodger at his parents' house stole the family car, drove it to the nearby beach and committed suicide in it. That act released a terrible, ancient power, putting the young boy and his family in danger. Meeting Lettie and her wise and loving family is the only hope he has left to keep himself from utter and terrifying destruction.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman's first novel for adults since Anansi Boys (2005), shows his continuing power as a storyteller for any age. The subtle and elegiac tale manages to maintain its mystery while remaining grounded in reality. This is fiction as truth, in the way that all of Gaiman's best work exists in reality even while exploring the fantastic or otherworldly.

What matters in the end, really, is the journey that the narrator experiences. This man's time with the Hempsteads has affected him profoundly, disconnecting him from the ordinary and mundane. The events of the past are both real and unreal at the same time, a metaphor for the transition from child to adult, naiveté to wisdom and fantasy to reality. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A powerfully poignant story in which what the unnamed protagonist remembers may be exactly what happened--the most terrifying possibility of all.

Morrow, $25.99, hardcover, 9780062255655

Biography & Memoir

The Faraway Nearby

by Rebecca Solnit

In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit (A Field Guide to Getting Lost) takes what could have been a conventional memoir about an adult child confronting the advancing dementia of a mother with whom she's had a troubled relationship and turns it into a collection of impressive essays on empathy and the power of stories. This book overflows with Solnit's characteristically intriguing juxtapositions of ideas, drawn from a deep well of learning on a staggering range of topics, then filtered through the prism of her broad associative intelligence.

The improbable thread that unites these essays is the delivery of 100 pounds of apricots from a tree at her mother's home in the midst of her prolonged struggle with Alzheimer's disease. Like Proust's madeleine, the fruit "became a catalyst that made the chaos of that era come together as a story of sorts." Solnit's effort to deal with that fruitful overabundance propels her into a consideration of subjects that range from climate change to leprosy to cannibalism, many of them related at least obliquely to considering "the capacity to feel what you do not literally feel."

Disclosing that Solnit's essays consider figures as diverse as Mary Shelley, Che Guevara and Siddhartha Gautama only begins to hint at the breadth of her knowledge, presented in a style that's understated, not ostentatious. There's an unaffected quality to her prose that's always deployed in the service of telling a good story.

Solnit describes The Faraway Nearby as "the history of an emergency and the stories that kept me company then." The pain she experienced as her mother's condition deteriorated was all too real, but it requires a writer of her gifts to turn that suffering into art. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Solnit's mother's struggle with Alzheimer's disease inspires an intelligent collection of essays on the themes of empathy and the power of stories.

Viking, $25.95, hardcover, 9780670025961


A Journey Through Tudor England

by Suzannah Lipscomb

Part travel guide, part history, Suzannah Lipscomb's A Journey Through Tudor England introduces modern-day readers to 50 historical sites that remain worth seeing today--not just the surviving castles, cathedrals and tombs, but also museums, colleges and smaller locales such as the Elizabethan theater at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare.

Beginning in the greater London area, Lipscomb (1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII) sketches in historical details that bring each place to life for those unfamiliar with the stories behind the royal dynasty. (In some locations, there is little to "see" in a modern sense; the site of the Battle of Bosworth is a field, and Pontefract Castle, where Richard II is said to have made his last stand, today lies in ruins.) Lipscomb, a frequent presenter on television documentaries about the Tudor era, also includes several vignettes that shed light on the details of the nobility's day-to-day life.

For travelers, A Journey Through Tudor England is a handy guide to many English historical sites worth seeing whether or not one is a Tudorphile; for others, Lipscomb provides an engaging view of England as the Tudors saw it, lived in it and altered it. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

Discover: Fifty of the most memorable locations in Tudor history still accessible to the contemporary tourist.

Pegasus, $26.95, hardcover, 9781605984605


World War Z (Director's Cut)

by Max Brooks

Published in 2006, Max Brooks's World War Z took the world of zombie fiction by storm. Presented as a series of interviews with survivors of the "zombie war," the novel depicts a world much like our own--except that the human population has been devastated by a zombie virus, by starvation and by nuclear attack. Brooks's story brings up issues like the military strategy required to fight an enemy whose ranks grow as yours shrink; the power of fear of the unknown to turn neighbors against one another; and the role of patriotism when fighting a global enemy. His interviews span the world, from those who witnessed the first outbreaks in China to Americans fleeing north to Canada--as well as a group of Australian astronauts who watched the mounting horrors from orbit.

This second edition of the audio of World War Z offers a full-cast recording of the interviews. Though slightly abridged from the original text, it includes five hours of content that weren't in the original audiobook. Max Brooks reprises his role as the Interviewer, while an all-star cast of more than 40 actors join him--including Martin Scorsese, Alan Alda, Jeri Ryan, Common and Nathan Fillion. The diversity of voices and talents ensures a captivating retelling of a story that couldn't be boring if it tried. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: An extended audio edition of Max Brooks's novel of the world's first zombie war, with an all-star cast of interviewees ranging from Martin Scorsese to rapper Common.

Random House Audio, $25, 10 CDs, 12 hours, 9780804165730

Children's & Young Adult

The Pig on the Hill

by John Kelly

In this uplifting tale of unlikely friendship, a pig, seeking solace and a breathtaking vista in his home high above the valley, is crestfallen when a duck moves in to spoil his view--until he realizes what he'd been missing.

Author-artist John Kelly shows the wide-open space where Pig has built his home atop a grassy crest. The white smoke wafting from his chimney matches the snowy peaks of the mountain range and the cumulus clouds adrift over a river that winds its way through the peaceful scene. Pig bakes cakes, makes model planes and reads books while nibbling on chocolate: "His life was perfect." But one day, Pig opens the curtains, and a duck is standing there. "Beautiful day, isn't it?" says the duck. "Pig agreed, but secretly wished the duck would just go away."

Kelly plays with elements of the comic-book format to nicely pace the flow of the events and to play with perspective. On a full-page image of the duck playing drums, Kelly adds an inset of Pig holding up a clock that reads 2 a.m. and picking up the phone ("There were the normal disagreements"). Even though the humor borders on adult sophistication, both characters present a universal dynamic of opposites that--eventually--attract. They help each other out, and even build a bridge--literally and figuratively--between their houses.

Children will likely glom onto this tale of eccentric individuals who thrive as joined forces, and will also appreciate the way it plays with illustration and design elements. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A humorous picture-book depiction of an unlikely friendship between an adventurous duck and a stay-at-home pig.

Cameron & Company, $16.95, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781937359393

Siege and Storm

by Leigh Bardugo

This second entry in the Grisha Trilogy starts off right where Shadow and Bone ended and lives up its high standards. If you've not yet read the first book, be forewarned: there are spoilers in this review.

Mal and Alina are reunited but on the lam, after Alina thwarted the Darkling's efforts to take over the world and the power of the Fold. But before chapter one has ended, the Darkling returns, stronger than ever, with a newfound ability to create matter--creatures more terrifying than the volcra and more human in shape. In his quest for more power, the Darkling enlists Mal's skills as a tracker to find the legendary Rusalye, a white sea dragon that can serve to heighten Alina's power as a Sun Summoner. He blackmails Alina and Mal: if either one steps out of line, the Darkling will punish the other.

The author continues to build on the eerie chemistry between Alina and the Darkling, in which the heroine is both repulsed by and strangely drawn to this complex villain. Bardugo also introduces a new character into the mix, Sturmhond, a reckless, unpredictable fellow who purports to be a privateer and also a member of Ravka's ruling family. Even though he comes to Alina and Mal's aid and claims he wants what's best for Ravka, they suspect his motives. Bardugo continues to build out her world and build up the suspense. Readers will be eager for the trilogy's conclusion. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The second page-turning entry in the Grisha Trilogy, in which Leigh Bardugo continues to build out her world and build up suspense.

Holt, $17.99, hardcover, 448p., ages 12-up, 9780805094602

No Fits, Nilson!

by Zachariah OHora, illus. by Zachariah Ohora

Zachariah OHora, whose first charming picture book featured a noisy sleeper, Stop Snoring, Bernard, here zeroes in on a child grappling with her gorilla buddy's tendency for temper tantrums.

Nilson, a blue gorilla, and Amelia, sporting a cherry-red jumper, do everything together. However, Nilson struggles to stay calm in the face of  life's ups and downs. When Amelia accidentally hits Nilson's block building with her scooter, "Nilson throws the biggest, most house shaking-est fit ever!!" As blocks fly, his shape contorts to cover the entire two-page illustration. Both of them get a time-out at opposite ends of the room; Amelia quietly weeps. Amelia then tries to be proactive. When she sees her blue pal start to get upset, she says, "No fits, Nilson!" When his patience wears thin at the crowded post office, she whispers, "No fits, Nilson," and passes him her froggy coin purse as a diversionary tactic. Amelia's mom steps in to avert trouble on the train ("No fits, Nilson!"), with a promise of banana ice cream. When the tables turn and Amelia needs a tantrum intervention, Nilson returns the favor.

OHora wisely leaves Nilson's identity ambiguous--he could be a stuffed animal or an imaginary friend, allowing plenty of room for youngest children to find reassurance in the dynamic portrayed here. He also depicts Amelia's mom as an active participant in Amelia's friendship with Nilson, and a supporter of Amelia's efforts to aid Nilson in tamping down his anger before it's full blown. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A funny and thoughtful approach to intercepting tantrums before they're full-blown through the dynamics of a girl-gorilla friendship.

Dial, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 3-5, 9780803738522


Author Buzz

The Wild Card
(A Rivers Wilde Novella)

by Dylan Allen

Dear Reader,

"What if…?" is my favorite question to ask myself when I start writing a book. The answers that Cassie and Leo's story delivered were unexpected and heartwarming. Adding a heist and serendipitous reunion into the mix took my tried and true favorite trope, second chance, to a whole new level. Theirs is a classic case of right person/wrong time. Whether you're a Rivers Wilde newbie or expert, watching them overcome some pretty steep hurdles is a wild, thrilling, feel good ride.

I hope you love every word. xo,

Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: The Wild Card (A Rivers Wilde Novella) by Dylan Allen

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 16, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book


Kids Buzz

Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night

by Steven J. Simmons and Clifford R. Simmons
illus. by Ruth E. Harper

Dear Reader,

My newest and latest in a three-book series, Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night?, came from seeing the fascination so many kids have with the ocean and ocean creatures. How do a whale, octopus, dolphin, clownfish, great white shark and so many other undersea animals get their rest?

After all, they need to get their rest and sleep, just like all of us. So dive into this rhyming STEM picture book to encourage a love of nature and the environment--and under the covers for a great bedtime story.

"What do animals do when children are sleeping? Featuring creatures young children are likely to know, this book has the answers....[and] unusual nighttime facts are a plus." --Kirkus

Steve Simmons

KidsBuzz: Charlesbridge: Where Do Ocean Creatures Sleep at Night? by Steven J. Simmons and Clifford R. Simmons, illus. by Ruth E. Harper


Pub Date: 
April 16, 2024


Type of Book:
Picture Book

Age Range: 

List Price: 
$17.99 Hardcover

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