Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, July 11, 2014

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

From My Shelf

Happy Birthday, Malala!

Malala Yousafzai entered the world's consciousness on October 9, 2012, when a member of the Taliban shot her on her way to school in Pakistan. She had been speaking out about the right of all girls to an education. On her 16th birthday, July 12, 2013, which the UN Secretary proclaimed "Malala Day," she addressed 1,000 delegates to the UN Youth Assembly. She's the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Her book, I Am Malala (Little, Brown, 2013), tells her story (a version for young readers, written with Patricia McCormick, is coming in August from Little, Brown).

The photo-essay Every Day Is Malala Day by Rosemary McCarney, with Plan International (Second Story Press, $18.95) documents the impact Malala has made on children around the world. It shows girls in Peru writing letters, girls listening to Malala's recordings in El Salvador, girls in school uniforms in Nicaragua releasing balloons, and smiling girls in school hallways in Brazil. "People everywhere wondered why it was so hard for girls to have an education," reads the text. "But you and I know the answer," says the caption below a girl alone in a classroom in Myanmar. Hard realities come to light--a child bride, "poverty" in the Philippines and "violence" in Indonesia (shown in shadows that spare readers direct exposure).

But most photos show children standing strong, especially a powerful image of a girl in a schoolyard in Kenya: "[Y]ou have shown the world that these things will not stop you," says the caption, echoing Malala's words in her UN speech (excerpted in the book). "No one can stop us," Malala said to the UN delegation. "Our words can change the world. Because we are all together, united for the case of education.... One child, one teacher, one pen, and one book can change the world." May every day be Malala Day. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Jewish Book Council: 73rd National Jewish Book Award Winners

The Writer's Life

Stephanie Evanovich: Inner Naughty Girl

Stephanie Evanovich was always a late bloomer. She continued this trend by publishing her first novel at age 49, last summer's surprise hit, Big Girl Panties. So it's no surprise that Evanovich is doing things a little differently with her sophomore novel, The Sweet Spot (just published by William Morrow). It focuses on two characters from her debut novel, going back in time to trace the origins of the relationship between baseball star Chase Walker and sassy businesswoman Amanda Cole. But Chase's squeaky-clean image takes a hit when a naughty secret is revealed, testing his and Amanda's love. Jersey Girl Evanovich sat down with us to discuss her smart, steamy new novel that's sure to be a home run.

The Sweet Spot is a prequel to last summer's Big Girl Panties. What made you decide go all Phantom Menace instead of doing a sequel?

It was actually a decision based on the response to the supporting characters of Chase and Amanda Walker from Big Girl Panties. They started getting a following of their own. A prequel is very challenging so I decided to give it a shot.

The Sweet Spot is a baseball term and your main character, Chase Walker, is a famous baseball player. Are you a fan?

Absolutely. I'm a big big baseball fan. The New York Yankees are my team. Actually, Chase was a combination of several players who morphed into one perfect hero.

In the book, you've taken the somewhat taboo topic of spanking and mainstreamed it into a beach read.

Is that what I did?

Yes. What made you want to explore this topic?

I was watching the playoffs one year and there was an overabundance of butt slapping going on with the players. And I was like, there's no way these dudes don't take this home to their wives. It was hard and aggressive and I just started formulating the story from there. At the time my favorite team was full of cute little hunks that I couldn't stop looking at anyway.

In The Sweet Spot, Chase insists that in their relationship "he has complete physical control but Amanda has total control over him, mentally." How did you research the dynamics of such a relationship?

It's pretty easy given access to the web. When I first started researching it, it was 10 years ago. And now there's so much out there on spanking you could still research brand-new stuff... although I don't know what stone I may have left unturned.

Could such a relationship work in real life? Is there really a "slappily ever after?"

I think that relationships like that have worked throughout history and continue to do so in very healthy ways. With the added benefit of not being looked at as being so taboo as it may have been a few decades ago. All of a sudden women are letting their inner naughty girls loose... with pride.

Amanda is not your usual heroine. Much is made of her fantastic curves and voluptuous figure, which are met with nothing but praise and adoration from Chase. By creating this character, did you intentionally set out to change the perception of fuller-figured women as a desirable sex goddess?

No question--of course! Beauty has always come in all sizes and I felt that way for a long time. And some of the most beautiful women I've ever personally seen were size 14s or 16s. A man that attracts me has crazy swagger--swagger is a confidence that attracts anyone, and Amanda has that, too. I wanted her to be different from Holly (the heroine of Big Girl Panties). Amanda is healthy. Amanda has never thought there was anything wrong with her body. I love the first time when Chase and Amanda make love and he addresses her size. After that it's a non-issue. And that's exactly how I wanted it.

What is your advice to new writers starting out in this business?

My advice to authors just starting out is--stay positive, keep an open mind and never let a rejection daunt you from continuing to practice your craft. Not everyone is going to love your work and that's okay. At the end of the day, you write for you. 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place to write is my dining room table. But more important to me is when I write, which is very early in the morning, right before dawn. It's quiet and peaceful with the occasional bird chirping. I find I have the best focus between 5 and 9 a.m. I'm not a very good "public-place" writer. I think that might be because I get easily distracted and I love talking to people. Great for inspiration... rotten for the word count.

What can readers expect from you next?

I'm currently starting the first draft of my next book, about a naturally gifted football player who is need of some serious redemption. --Natalie Papailiou, author of blog MILF: Mother I'd Like to Friend

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

Book Candy

Harry Potter Plotter; Dragons in Literature

Open Culture showed "how J.K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter with a hand-drawn spreadsheet."


"As How to Train Your Dragon 2 roars onto the cinema screens," the Guardian featured a dragons in literature quiz.


"Great books come to life in these funny self-portraits" by Pierre Beteille that were collected by 500px ISO.


Noting that a "scandal is a thrilling topic for a book," Flavorwire recommended "10 irresistible books about juicy scandals."


Buzzfeed displayed "16 stunning minimalist necklaces inspired by famous authors."


Literary real estate: John Cheever's historic Ossining, N.Y., home, where he wrote "The Swimmer" and Falconer, among many other works, is on the market for $525,000, LoHud reported.

Book Review


The Visitors

by Sally Beauman

With The Visitors, Sally Beauman (Rebecca's Tale) transports readers back to Egypt in the 1920s, when explorers, archeologists and historians searched for uncovered tombs of Egyptian pharaohs and the riches they were thought to contain--a time of mystery and discovery for which no parallel exists today. The Visitors weaves together the imagined observations of Lucy, an 11-year-old girl traveling to Egypt with her guardian, and real historical characters, including Howard Carter and Lord Carnavon, two British men credited with the discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb.

Much of Beauman's novel is told in the elderly Lucy's recollections of her childhood travels, combined with her memories of her family life at the time. While the tales of faraway Egypt are far more interesting than the family politics of Lucy's life, the two narratives combine to present a full picture of Lucy and how her life has been shaped by the events she witnessed abroad. Her naïveté as a young girl stands in stark contrast to her full understanding of the enormity of the discovery of King Tut's tomb--and the secrets that surrounded that momentous event--as an adult.

The Visitors is large and ambitious, covering subjects as disparate as the legacy of grave robbers in ancient Egypt and the political tension between the local government and foreign archeologists. Though the great secret to which Lucy's story builds could potentially be lost in the sea of recollections about her family life, keen readers will find suspense, excitement and ambition in Beauman's nuanced, intriguing story. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: An ambitious novel set in 1920s Egypt, as archeologists explored ancient tombs in search of the prize of a lifetime.

Harper, $27.99, hardcover, 9780062302687

The Hour of Lead

by Bruce Holbert

The Hour of Lead is the story of growing up in the rugged highlands along the Columbia River in the first half of the 20th century. Raised in the area, Bruce Holbert (Lonesome Animals) knows the rough terrain well. His new novel is like Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove without the twinkle in Gus McCrae's eye or the wide-open plains. Instead, it follows Matt Lawson who, at age 12, loses both his twin brother and his father in a brutal snowstorm that buries the family ranch. When his only friend, his studious classmate Wendy, spurns his awkward romantic advances, he takes off on his own, making his way to Idaho by laboring on whatever ranch needs a hardworking hand. "Like a good skillet, dull and duty-bound," Matt becomes almost a second son to the patriarch of a large ranch whose own son is a disappointment. After a dozen years of hard work, violence, arson and bad weather, Matt returns home to marry Wendy and begin a family--only to have the sins of his youthful past follow him there.

Nothing comes easy in Holbert's version of the Old West. The women are caretakers and breeders who are tough enough to hack off their own afterbirth umbilicus and run a ranch alone. The men hunt, fight, drink--and kill when killing is called for. The primeval world of The Hour of Lead is one where "blood is thicker than water, but dirt trumps both." With rich historical detail and a driving narrative rhythm, Holbert has built a brooding novel of hard work, good luck and redemption. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kansas.

Discover: The story of a man forced to raise himself in the harsh climate and violence of early-20th-century Washington State.

Counterpoint, $25, hardcover, 9781619022928


by Jean Love Cush

When police officers close in on Malik Williams and his friends as they hang out on the street corner one afternoon, he follows his mom's lessons to a tee. His friends flee, but Malik raises his hands and obeys orders, only to be manhandled, thrown in the cruiser and hauled off to jail under an accusation of murder.

Though Philadelphia law mandates that teens accused of murder are sent to the adult jail for holding, a bomb threat at the facility forces the arresting officer to book Malik into the juvenile detention center. This positions Malik perfectly for human rights attorney Roger Whitford's cause: exposing the criminal justice system's racism.

Whitford's plan is to have the African-American teen male declared "endangered" by extending the Endangered Species Act. He believes they are under threat of extinction because of the biases against them, a defense that ignites a flurry of reactions and puts Malik and his mother, Janae, in the national spotlight.

A quick, engaging story, Endangered explores a serious social injustice through an empathetic character. The language is straightforward and easily accessible for even young-adult readers. Some skeptical readers may take issue with the simplification of this complex issue, and a greater challenge would have been making the argument with a less-sympathetic protagonist. However, debut novelist Jean Love Cush still manages to drive home the mortifying inequality plaguing the system. A stark reminder of the human inside the skin, regardless of color, Endangered has the potential to open up discussions that are long overdue. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: A human rights attorney uses the arrest of a black teen as his platform to fight for change.

Amistad, $24.99, hardcover, 9780062316233

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

by Mira Jacob

The daughter of Indian immigrants, watchful and quiet Amina Eapen grew up in the shadow of her brilliant but difficult brother, Akhil, until his sudden death left the family reeling. Now a wedding photographer in Seattle, Amina is struggling to enjoy her work while secretly longing to return to her former photojournalism career. When her mother calls, panicked because Amina's father has begun having long conversations with his dead relatives, Amina is only too happy to escape to her parents' house in Albuquerque. But as the days in her childhood home stretch into weeks, Amina realizes her father isn't simply hallucinating: his visions of deceased family members have their origins in an ill-fated trip to India when Amina was a child. As his hallucinations worsen, Amina must figure out how to reassure him as she navigates her own personal struggles.

Debut novelist Mira Jacob weaves a complex, layered saga of the immigrant experience, deftly illuminating the Eapens' ambivalence toward their homeland. Like many immigrant daughters, Amina is frustrated by her parents' expectations: grudgingly proud of her career success, they still hope she'll marry a good Indian man and settle down. Amina also longs to find love, but first she must deal with her lingering grief. Though at times her watchfulness slides into passivity, Amina quietly begins to take control of her life, even as she recognizes there are some things she can't change. Heartbreaking and often surprisingly funny, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a testament to the deep bonds of family and the importance of gaining the courage to move on. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: A heartbreaking, often wryly funny debut about grief, love and complicated relationships in an Indian immigrant family.

Random House, $26, hardcover, 9780812994780

One Plus One

by Jojo Moyes

British novelist Jojo Moyes (Me Before You) examines the different shapes of families and the widening gap between rich people and those who toe the poverty line in One Plus One.

Jess is a single mom and house cleaner for Ed, a tech whiz with his own company and two homes and cars. Suspended from his job while he awaits possible prosecution for insider trading, Ed decides to drive Jess, her two kids and "cow-sized" dog from England to Scotland so Jess's daughter can participate in the Math Olympiad. Tanzie is a 10-year-old math prodigy and if she wins the competition, the prize money would enable her to attend a top private school.

Due to Tanzie's carsickness, Ed has to drive below 40 mph, so the road trip takes several days and includes many mishaps. But the group starts developing deep feelings for one another, and their lives change in a variety of ways.

One Plus One contains a recurring element from Moyes's previous three novels published in the U.S.: a spirited woman with little money (or assets that actually belong to her spouse) meets a rich, successful or powerful man and ends up thawing his cynical heart. While it's admirable that Moyes gives voice to the have-nots, it'd be a nice departure for her next book to feature a female lead who doesn't need a man to provide or buy anything for her. That said, Moyes's characters are always multifaceted and sympathetic, and her plotlines unpredictable. One Plus One will induce chuckles and tears. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: An exploration of different types of families and the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Pamela Dorman/Penguin, $27.95, hardcover, 9780525426585


The Captive

by Grace Burrowes

Grace Burrowes (the Lonely Lords series) opens her new Regency series with a story of pain, love and redemption.

Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, returns to England after the Napoleonic Wars to find his duchess and infant son both dead. Captured and tortured by the French during the war and left with lasting mental and physical damage, Christian's only comfort is the hope of revenge. His dead wife's cousin Gillian, the widowed Countess of Greendale, insists Christian needs to put vengeful thoughts aside; his first priority should be his surviving child, Lucy, who refuses to leave her nursery and never speaks. But after the countess runs his household and soothes his emotional scars for a few days, Christian focuses on keeping compassionate, forthright Gillian beside him as long as he can--preferably forever.

Gillian has few tears to shed over her cruel husband's death and no interest in ever reentering the trap called marriage. Besides, the stern and regal Duke of Mercia could never be an option for an apparently infertile widow like herself. But with a sinking feeling, Gillian realizes their growing friendship and the feelings of intimacy from living under the same roof have turned into love. Even if she can find the courage to open her heart again, Christian's long-awaited chance at revenge could destroy them both.

The theme of captivity winds through the narrative not only in Christian's imprisonment, but in the fears and secrets that prevent each character from opening up to each other. Burrowes nimbly guides readers from darkness to healing and love in this promising beginning. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: An unusually dark and moving Regency-era love story between a tortured nobleman and a young widow.

Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, paperback, 9781402278785

Food & Wine

Organic: A Journalist's Quest to Discover the Truth Behind Food Labeling

by Peter Laufer

The inspiration for Organic began with a bag of walnuts from Kazakhstan and a can of black beans from Bolivia--both marked "organic" and sold at Trader Joe's. Peter Laufer, a journalist and professor at University of Oregon who has written about many issues, including animal rights (No Animals Were Harmed) and immigration (Wetback Nation), decided to find the source of his "beans and nuts." However, "This book is not a trashing of the Third World nor a condemnation of organics. I believe an organic diet is ideal and know that the First World is also rife with corruption.... This story is a quest. I want to know what this buzzword 'organic' really means.... It's time to advance the debate from 'Is organic better?' to 'Is what's sold as organic really organic?' "

While often unsettling, Organic also covers the truly conscientious farmers who continue to follow organic standards even after certification became cost-prohibitive. And Laufer is indeed able to find the organic black-bean farm in Bolivia; his experiences there bolster the reader's optimism as much as his own.

But these examples are unfortunately not the norm. Laufer credits the "counterproductive closed-door misanthropic policies of [for profit] Trader Joe's, Natural Directions, and Quality Assurance International" for prompting his exposé. In Organic, Laufer shines a bright light on the lack of transparency and inconsistency in regulation and enforcement of the term, the pervasive conflicts of interests (farmers and food processors must pay to be inspected and certified), and the comingling of conventional and organic products in the industry. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: What the word "organic" really means in your local market, which may inspire you to think twice about the label.

Lyons Press, $25.95, hardcover, 9780762790715

Biography & Memoir

The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle

by Francisco Goldman

Five years after the accidental death of his young wife, novelist and journalist Francisco Goldman (The Divine Husband) returned to her native Mexico City to walk the streets where they had once been happy lovers and stare down the high-speed chaos of the Mexican capital--and in so doing, wrestle with his grief. He had tried to shake his gloom by seeking professional therapy, drinking, spending time with friends and even writing an autobiographical novel about his loss (Say Her Name), but none of these could chase his profound funk. Remembering that he had vowed to live the rest of his life in her honor, he left New York City for el DF (the Distrito Federal, Mexico's equivalent of Washington, D.C.), where death seemed better understood amid the city's urban ambience of la ligereza (a kind of easy-going lightness) and "nobody, once, ever said anything about 'moving on.' "

The Interior Circuit is partly Goldman's chronicle of overcoming his sorrow in the young and hip neighborhoods of Condesa and Roma and getting his journalistic mojo back, but it is even more his take on the politics, complexity, romance and vibrancy of one of the great megacities of the world. He plugs straight into its "mysterious energy [that] seems to silently thrum from the ground, from restless volcanic earth... so much energy that in the late afternoons I don't even need coffee." It's no wonder he left New York to find his fresh start south of the border. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: A journalist explores Mexico's sprawling capital to relieve his sorrow and understand his late wife's birthplace.

Grove Press, $26, hardcover, 9780802122568

A Walk in the Clouds: 50 Years Among the Mountains

by Kev Reynolds

Kev Reynolds has tramped through the Himalayas, the Atlas mountains in Morocco, the Pyrenees and the Alps, and he hopes you'll follow him. Reynolds has written more than 50 guidebooks on hiking, trekking and mountaineering, including the five major trekking regions of Nepal. Now, with half a century of exploration under his belt, Reynolds looks back on his life in the rarefied mountain air.

In a little under 200 pages, Reynolds provides 75 short vignettes of his adventures in the crags of mountains and in the company of people he met along those snowy flanks. Upon finding a monk in the Himalayas, he notes, "The old man swayed gently to the rhythm of his prayers, which filled the room." The gentle nature of the title is a clue; readers shouldn't expect the harrowing alpine adventures of Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air or Joe Simpson's Touching the Void. Instead, these are simple tales of a man on foot quietly exploring the world and, in doing so, discovering a little about himself.

Given there are potentially a finite number of ways to describe a beautiful vista from a chilly summit, the stories can be slightly repetitive. But Reynolds has an undeniable love of the world's peaks and this infatuation is infectious: "We shared a common delight in the slumbering mountains and their gullies, the valley, the chaos of boulders at the foot of the screes...." It just may make readers want to strike out on their own, perhaps with Reynolds's new slim volume shoved in their pack. --Jonathan Shipley, freelance writer

Discover: A quiet amble through Earth's greatest mountain ranges with an amiable Englishman.

Beaufort Books, $24.95, hardcover, 9780825307324

Social Science

The Skeleton Crew: How Amateur Sleuths Are Solving America's Coldest Cases

by Deborah Halber

The digital age has unleashed a new breed of amateur detective: a dedicated group using the Internet to match missing people with unidentified human remains. These civilian volunteers comb vast databases for physical identifiers, dates and locations, hoping to match a body with a missing-persons report. The remains are often decades old, eluding identification despite law enforcement's best efforts or because of the insular, patchwork nature of the U.S. system of medical examiners and coroners. The Internet allows remains that might otherwise languish in storage to be seen in a new light and by fresh eyes; sometimes, through the work of cyber-sleuths, they can regain the human identity lost in often-horrific deaths.

Journalist Deborah Halber's debut book, The Skeleton Crew, explores these eccentric men and women who spend so much time and effort seeking justice for strangers. They are often compelled by a personal hunt for their own missing family members or because they were involved the discovery of human remains. Take rural Tennessean Todd Matthews, whose father-in-law discovered the badly decomposed body of a young woman dubbed "Tent Girl" in 1968. Matthews became obsessed with the girl's identity, sacrificing much of his time off from factory work to scour databases in his trailer's cramped computer room. In 1998, he finally matched Tent Girl with a missing woman, ending decades of uncertainty for her family.

Halber follows stories of other volunteers through a handful of exceptional cases, most still unsolved. Many of the details are gruesome and the search for justice inconclusive, but the journey is fascinating. Mystery and true crime readers will especially enjoy this book. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: These volunteers match unidentified human remains with missing-persons cases using the Web.

Simon & Schuster, $25, hardcover, 9781451657586

Children's & Young Adult

Ashley Bryan's Puppets: Making Something from Everything

by Ashley Bryan, Ken Hannon, photographer, and Rich Entel, photo editor

This beautifully designed picture book opens a window into how author-artist and craftsman Ashley Bryan (Can't Scare Me!) resuscitates found objects as expressive puppets.

"Ashley, what will you name me when my garment is complete?" the book begins, as Bryan holds high a puppet draped in a texture that resembles fur, its head a metallic gold. Stained-glass scenes dangle from the top of a pine window frame, and bundles of fabrics, yarn and other artistic ingredients top his workspace in orderly disarray, along with "treasures, washed in from the sea" surrounding Bryan's island home: shells, driftwood and glass polished by many waves. Next, Bryan introduces eight puppets made from his treasures, lined up as if for a curtain call in a double-page photo, the first of four such spreads. (Readers get the answer to the opening question with the final line-up.) Bryan presents storytellers such as Spider ("I'm Spider Anansi./ I spin without rest/ A close web of stories/ For cradle and nest"); creatures of the sea like Pepukayi, a frog wedded to a mermaid; and leaders such as Abayomi, "Ruler of People," who delivers a heartwarming message: "I stick up for others/ So all may live free;/ I'm grateful for antlers/ That stick up for me." The Spirit Guardian ends with inspiration: "When you close this book/ And look up,/ You'll see puppets everywhere."

Readers will be on the hunt for their own found objects, and will return to these pages over and over to see how Ashley Bryan breathed life into these marvelous characters. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The resourcefulness and imagination behind Ashley Bryan's puppets, sure to inspire children to create their own characters.

Atheneum/S&S, $19.99, hardcover, 80p., ages 4-up, 9781442487284


by Jude Watson

Jude Watson's (the 39 Clues series) middle-grade tale about a group of 12-year-olds determined to carry out a conman's final wish is by turns funny and suspenseful.

The novel opens with a flashback of a jewelry heist of cursed gems gone terribly awry. Two of the three thieves die, and the third gets a cryptic curse: "Before the passage of thirteen years, the two birthed together will die together." That surviving thief and conman is Alfred "Alfie" McQuinn. Flash forward to the present, and his son, March, watches Alfie fall off the roof in a botched burglary. Alfie lives long enough to give March a final clue: "Find jewels.... Stick. Rag." It doesn't take March long to discover that "jewels" is actually "Jules," the twin sister March never knew he had--Alfie had intentionally separated them to try to avoid the curse. Once March finds her, the twins get shipped off to a foster home where they meet bully Darius and tiny Izzy. If the skeptical March falls in too quickly with this crowd, readers will forgive him, as the quartet sets out to complete Alfie's life's work--and avenge his death.

Plot twists--such as the victim in that opening jewel heist becoming an unwitting ally--and dramatic backdrops (e.g., the blue whale at the American Museum of Natural History) make this a page-turner. Can the twins reverse the curse? Watson's nail-biting thriller takes readers through New York's diverse neighborhoods, and her likable heroes redeem their dark errands. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A noir-esque middle-grade tale of 12-year-olds carrying out a conman's final wish.

Scholastic, $16.99, hardcover, 272p., ages 8-12, 9780545468022

Hooray for Hat!

by Brian Won

In Hooray for Hat!, an act of kindness turns grumpy elephant into a friend who pays it forward.

Elephant wakes up very grumpy. Debut author-artist Brian Won indicates his hero's unpleasant mood: his light gray blanket and brown headboard, and a dark cloud over his head. Everything around him looks dull and dreary. When the doorbell rings, Elephant says, "Go away! I'm grumpy!" On the doorstep, he finds a box with a red ribbon, and inside is a multicolored, towering headpiece. "Hooray for hat!" Elephant cheers, with a smile on his face and rosy cheeks. The towering hat extends upward in many layers and holds a drink and a bird that pops out of a crown. Zebra, also grumpy with the telltale black cloud overhead, also cheers up when Elephant removes the top tier of his hat and places it on Zebra's head. "Let's show Turtle!" And on it goes until, one by one, Owl, Lion and Giraffe each receive an uplifting gift, and the cheer turns from "Hooray for hat!" to "Hooray for friends!"

Brian Won's colorful use of type (for "Hooray") emphasizes the celebratory mood and the infectious good spirits that move from one friend to the next. His animal characters look soft enough to cuddle. Children will be moved by Elephant's example to think about how they, too, can bring a smile to friends who may be having a "grumpy" day. Hooray for Brian Won, an author-artist to watch! --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A grumpy elephant is inspired by an act of kindness to become an agent for positive change.

Houghton Mifflin, $16.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9780544159037


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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