Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, July 25, 2014

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

From My Shelf

Summer Reading Reminiscences

A few weeks ago, Shelf Awareness ran an article about a summer reading round-up with five great Southern bookstores, and one question struck me in particular: Looking back at your life of reading, do you have one book in particular associated with a certain summer?

When I think of summer reading, I think of childhood--wasn't it always sunny then? I would get up early, take a blanket, a book and an apple out onto the lawn, and plop down next to a pale pink climbing rose. There I'd read until it got too hot or my mom called me to come inside. I remember reading the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books there, and Dr. Doolittle, and Enid Blyton's The Adventure Series (Kiki the parrot!).

I asked a few other people about their summer books. Cindy Heidemann, PGW sales rep, said hers is from the summer she was 12: "I read War and Peace and it colored the entire month of July. I saw Cossacks and Russian nobility dressed for balls and the threat of Napoleon everywhere I looked. Natasha and Andrei were more real to me than my family. I should read it again."

Kristin McConnell, Shelf Awareness sales manager, chose Watership Down, the summer before fourth grade: "It was the perfect book to read in the orchards during a week at Grandma's house." Our children's editor, Jennifer Brown, recalls getting lost in The Thorn Birds the summer before 10th grade, and "then having an argument with my (beloved) 10th-grade English teacher about my belief that it was 'literature.' Was it so different from The Scarlet Letter, I wondered--a man of the cloth getting involved with a laywoman. Ah, how innocent I was then. But it was the start of my journey to loving all kinds of literature and the need for 'fluff' as well as the weighty stuff."

We'll bring you more summer reminiscences in the upcoming weeks.... --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

Sleeping Bear Press: When You Go Into Nature by Sheri M Bestor, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

The Writer's Life

Ace Atkins: The Story of the Returning Soldier

Ace Atkins, Jay E. Nolan
photo: Jay E. Nolan

Ace Atkins is a former journalist who received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for a series of articles investigating an old unsolved murder. He has written more than a dozen novels, among them the Quinn Colson series, about an Army Ranger who returns from Iraq and Afghanistan to become sheriff of his native Tibbehah County, Miss. (The author also resides in Mississippi with his family.) The fourth in the series, The Forsaken, was released July 24.

Atkins was also chosen by the Robert B. Parker estate to continue the late author's popular series about famed private eye Spenser. The latest installment, Robert B. Parker's Cheap Shot, was published in May.

Some nonfiction writers say they have a hard time writing fiction because they'd have to make everything up from scratch, while some fiction writers say they struggle with writing nonfiction because they have to stick to the facts and can't shape the story to their liking. You've done both. Which form do you find easier?

I don't think I really came into my own as a writer until I started to blend the two for my novels. My first four books were somewhat surreal, and it wasn't until I started using my background as a reporter in my fiction that my stories took on an added dimension. My fifth novel, White Shadow, really changed everything for me in my writing style and approach to novels. I work much in the same way now with my Quinn Colson books.

That much said, I also still write stories for magazines, and the challenge--and the fun--is the hunt for the truth and those little details.

For novels, I take a huge amount of inspiration from the filmmakers of late '60s and early '70s and their commitment to realism. I don't like to write characters; I like to write about people. I don't really have a favorite. I enjoy alternating between fiction and reporting with the challenges and pleasures of each.

The Forsaken, Ace AtkinsWhy did you decide to write about the plight of the American soldier returning home after being at war?

My longtime editor at G.P. Putnam asked me to consider developing a series character in contemporary times. Coming off four novels based on true stories set long ago, I was searching for someone specific to the South, where I live, and who offered an exciting story to play out in future books.

This was in 2010, after nine years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. By this time, you're talking about many thousands of young people who served their country--sometimes on multiple tours--returning home in big numbers. I kept on running across a lot of guys like Quinn in Mississippi. Some of them were friends in town who served in the [National] Guard; some, professional soldiers you'd meet here and there, once at a playground while our kids played together. The story of the returning soldier is as old as The Odyssey and as contemporary as the Billy Jack movies. It just seemed a perfect fit for these times and deep Mississippi.

The voice of the Spenser novels is different from the one in the Quinn Colson series. After you finish a book for one series, how much down time do you allow for the mental shift before you start work on the other series? Do you ever find one voice bleeding into the other?

That's probably the toughest challenge I have. Spenser is unique and the style of the books is much different than my own. I probably have a harder time getting into the Spenser books because I'm thinking, "What would Robert B. Parker do?" With Quinn, there isn't that added level of mental gymnastics.

Writing Quinn is as easy as slipping into a pair of well-worn cowboy boots. I usually take off a week or two to adjust. Listening to a different soundtrack--Spenser's jazz to Quinn's classic country--certainly helps.

You've said you write the Spenser novels in the spring and summer, so logic says you write the Colson books in the fall and winter. Is that a conscious decision to write the grittier novels when days are colder and darker?

That's a great question! But it's not my decision. It's just how the production schedule falls. But no doubt some of the ominous feeling in the Quinn books comes from the lonely winters down South. It's hard to be too brooding over a nice spring or summer day in Oxford, Miss., or in Boston.

Readers' reactions to the Colson novels have included relief that your characters are multifaceted instead of caricatures. What are some of the biggest misconceptions you've seen in stories about the South?

Wow. That would take all day. I'm not a real fan of the way the South is portrayed in movies or TV. We always fall somewhere between Steel Magnolias and Mississippi Burning. As you'll see in The Forsaken, I'm not an apologist for the Deep South's rotten history. But as far as the New South, I like to show the complexity of the people. It goes back to what I learned from my favorite authors and those filmmakers from the 1970s. You write about the real stuff, not those redneck stereotypes. (Although I must admit some people I come across are even too wild for a comedy routine or my books.)

William Faulkner is among your influences, and characters in the Colson series even have Faulknerian names like Bundren and Varner. If the Colson books were taught in schools, what would be the course overview and the topics and themes you'd expect to see covered?

I've been fortunate to have some of my books taught in high school and college courses. For the Quinn novels, I think there's much to discuss on the classic journey of the hero (along with studies on Joseph Campbell, who is a big part of my work), redemption, race, religion and, mainly, hypocrisy and greed. One thing that never changes in the South is the evil that rules when good men and women do nothing. I admire anyone, like Quinn and Lillie, who challenge an old and ingrained system.

What's happening with the Quinn Colson TV pilot script you wrote with your wife, Angela?

The project is being developed with veteran Hollywood director/producer Jeremiah Chechik [Burn Notice; Chuck]. The process can be long and slow and we have a high level of hope the stories can be translated intact. All of us want to see a faithful telling of the Quinn stories and the world of Tibbehah County.

You have a complete John D. McDonald collection, including a novelization he wrote of a Judy Garland movie. If you were to write a book based on a movie, what would it be?

I'd like to do a novelization of 1973's White Lightning. It's a classic Southern action film with so many elements I love. I continue to draw a lot of inspiration from this film. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Book Candy

Book Tour of the U.S.; Fictional Teenage Rebel Quiz

Noting that "the easiest way to discover what makes this country tick, in ways both maddening and beautiful, is to read some books," Flavorwire hosted a "nonfiction tour of America: 50 books for 50 states."


How old was S.E. Hinton when she published her first novel, The Outsiders, in 1967? To celebrate the author's 66th birthday, the Guardian featured a teenage rebels in fiction quiz, asking: "You got a problem with that?"


Sound advice from NPR and Juan Vidal for the imbibing reader: "Bars, especially the ones I read in, are gifts. They're warm and brooding, and if you go early enough, it can be just you, a bartender, and enough open space to react to plot twists without judgment."


"The best/freakiest dictionary promotional video from the '70s you've ever seen" was unearthed by Mental Floss, which noted: "It involves bear suits, chemistry sets, psychiatrists' couches and a Trailways bus," among other things.


Bustle gathered "13 dysfunctional literary couples who should have broken up."


Bookshelf highlighted Karn Design's Suste 177 Bookcase, which "charms with its simple, modern shape that pairs pure white with the veins of ash wood."

Book Review


Elegy on Kinderklavier

by Arna Bontemps Hemenway

Elegy on Kinderklavier, a debut collection of stories from Arna Bontemps Hemenway, marks the beginning of a promising career for a gifted young writer whose work has been included in both the Best American Short Stories and Best American Nonrequired Reading anthologies.

These remarkable tales circle around absence and loss, often using the Iraq War as a catalyst. In "The Half-Moon Martyrs' Brigade of New Jerusalem, Kansas," a young woman examines her culpability in a long-since-passed act of cruelty as she remembers the summer her small town turned against the local army recruiter. "The IED," an astounding story in slow motion, examines each nanosecond that follows after a young man steps on a land mine, from his involuntary kinetic and physiological reactions to the flashbacks that reveal the entirety of a life almost lived. In the title story, a father watches his young son lose a battle with brain cancer while his emotional distance from his own wife increases; the story of the couple's relationship pivots around the boy's prize toy, a child-sized keyboard, which never gets played.

Closely observed and elegiac, these stories keep a tight focus on the narrative present, with vivid and sometimes shocking descriptions of the moment their characters' lives are altered. Hemenway pays close attention to physical landscapes--as familiar as Kansas or as exotic as the Middle East--weaving them together so seamlessly that the stories begin to feel otherworldly. This collection is worth reading slowly, paging carefully through each beautiful, lyrical story that captures the disorienting aftermath of loss. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: A debut collection of fable-like stories about characters haunted by loss, from an award-winning young graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Sarabande Books, $15.95, paperback, 9781936747764

Mystery & Thriller

The Book of Life

by Deborah Harkness

Picking up where book two of the All Souls trilogy (Shadow of Night) left off, Deborah Harkness's The Book of Life reunites readers with witch Diana Bishop, her vampire husband, Matthew Clairmont, and their many friends and enemies. After traveling through time in the previous novel, Diana and Matthew are back in the present at his ancestral home, Sept-Tours, where they are horrified to learn that Emily, Diana's aunt who was also a witch, has died.

The witch-vampire couple must also contend with Matthew's family, who distrust Diana. As their visit wears on, Diana learns more about her husband's past, that he is more than a "scientist, vampire, warrior, spy, and prince" and that his blood rage flows through the veins of others. Her in-laws, meanwhile, ponder the incredible and seemingly impossible fact that Diana is pregnant with Matthew's twins. If it's true, Baldwin claims, "they'll be the most hated--and the most hunted--children the world has ever known. Creatures will be baying for their blood."

Firedrakes, daemons, a tree that grows in the living room and a house that produces strange objects swirl around the couple as they travel to Connecticut, France and Italy in search of answers to the questions that have chased them through the centuries. Unfamiliarity with the preceding volumes may make this a confusing read for newcomers; start at book one, as the entire trilogy is a delightful plunge into the world of magic, witches and vampires, where love breaks all rules and happy endings are possible. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Secrets and mysteries revealed in the satisfying conclusion of the All Souls Trilogy.

Viking, $28.95, hardcover, 9780670025596

Wayfaring Stranger

by James Lee Burke

It's the early 1930s, and young Weldon Holland lives on his grandfather Hackberry's ranch while his father is gone, looking for work. Trespassers in a 1932 Chevrolet Confederate challenge Weldon and Grandfather, and the confrontation ends with Weldon firing a shot through the back windshield at Bonnie Parker, Clyde Barrow and two of their associates. This interaction casts a long shadow over the rest of Weldon's life.

His story resumes in 1944; Weldon, a second lieutenant, digs Sgt. Hershel Pine out of a collapsed foxhole after an attack in the Ardennes, and together they rescue Rosita, a beautiful Spanish Jew, from an abandoned death camp. The three cross enemy territory, lose toes to frostbite, fight tuberculosis and are eventually separated. After the war, Weldon finds and marries Rosita, and Hershel turns up on Grandfather's Texas ranch.

Together they establish the Dixie Belle Pipeline Company, building a minor oil empire. But the old money in Houston's exclusive River Oaks neighborhood is offended--by their success and their humble upbringings, and particularly by Rosita's heritage. And thus enter two of Burke's favorite subjects: the evil lurking in the everyday, and the hero's struggle to repress the evil within himself.

James Lee Burke (Feast Day of Fools; Creole Belle) creates convincing characters on the sides of both right and wrong, and through them writes a compelling American history. Perhaps more than any of Burke's previous work, Wayfaring Stranger is not a mystery. It's a tender love story, proving yet again his versatility and skill in creating gorgeous, luscious, painful stories of the American experience. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: A beautifully composed, sweeping historical epic of war and the American dream.

Simon & Schuster, $27.99, hardcover, 9781476710792

Science Fiction & Fantasy

New Frontiers: A Collection of Tales about the Past, the Present, and the Future

by Ben Bova

Octogenarian Ben Bova is still going strong. He's written more than 120 works of science fiction and fact, has won the Hugo Award six times, and has edited both Analog and Omni magazines over his long career. It's no surprise, then, that his latest collection of short speculative fiction, New Frontiers, is full of interesting characters and fascinatingly scientific settings. Bova explores ideas with ease, like how to make a golf course on the moon, or what might happen to terminally ill people rich enough to pay for a trip to a better future via cryogenic sleep.

In "The Question," humanity takes too long to respond to a time-sensitive request sent by an alien intelligence from beyond the moon's orbit; a rogue astrophysicist sends out an unofficial plea for help. Bova puts a modern spin on the real story behind 101 Arabian Nights--starring some cleverly disguised members of the Science Fiction Writers of America--in "Scheherazade and the Storytellers," and then tackles the implications of personal conflict in virtual reality in both "Duel in the Somme" and "Bloodless Victory."

Brilliant in every diverse concept, these stories are also a callback to an earlier era of science-fiction storytelling, when men were men, and women were bright and capable (but always beautiful). They deal with humanity's place in the universe, both interpersonal and extra-solar. Each story has a kernel of scientific truth and extrapolation in them, like the best of golden age of science fiction. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A collection of new short sci-fi works with a wonderfully classic feel, full of wonder, charm and scientific discovery.

Tor, $25.99, hardcover, 9780765376442

Biography & Memoir

My Two Italies

by Joseph Luzzi

Upon visiting Rome, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley described two Italies--one "sublime" and the other "odious." That contradiction is the driving force behind Joseph Luzzi's compelling historical memoir. Luzzi (Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy) believes "two Italies" reside inside himself: his childhood experience as an Italian American whose family immigrated from the south of Italy, and his adult devotion to studying the cultural realm of northern Italy. Duality shapes the author's impressions of the north-south Italian divide, the poor and the powerful, morality and corruption, hunger and satiety (literal and figurative) and love and hate.

The story examines the origins of Luzzi's poor, Calabria-born parents, their dramatic exile and immigration to the U.S. and the author's childhood, in which he longed to assimilate. Luzzi later developed a fervent desire to study all aspects of Italy in order to understand his family's history--and to reconcile personal tragedy in his own life. Throughout the narrative, he delves into the works of Dante and Botticelli, and politicians like Mussolini and Berlusconi. He compares these icons to contemporary depictions of Italians (e.g., Jersey Shore, The Sopranos) to round out his portrait of Italian culture, past and present, which made--and often unmade--his family. "Our pride in our ancestors grows with the distance we set between them and ourselves," Luzzi writes. "I was Italian and American--a little of each, yet not fully either." The complicated relationship of the "old country" contrasted against the modern world will enlighten readers to an Italy glimpsed with passion and sensitivity from the inside out. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A moving, deeply personal portrait of Italy from a professor of Italian at Bard College.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23, hardcover, 9780374298692

The Removers: A Memoir

by Andrew Meredith

In 1990, when Andrew Meredith was 14 years old, his family fell apart. The downfall was caused by his 50-year-old father, a teacher fired from Pennsylvania's La Salle College after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a female student. The scandal and its lasting impact on Meredith's mother and sister, and the author, bind this powerfully drawn, often wrenching debut memoir. His father later found work as a "remover"--someone who takes away the bodies of people who died in their own homes--and the story of Meredith's experiences working alongside him becomes the central thread and metaphor for the dissolution of his family.

A remover is "paid to be invisible.... We are men made to be forgotten." Fortunately for the reader, however, Meredith never forgets incidents from his life; he vividly recall details from his often gruesome, sometimes exhilarating experiences handling corpses while grappling with his bitterness toward a man who broke his heart.

Meredith's fluid, unabashed prose is delivered in a stream-of-consciousness style interspersed with scenes of how he floundered for 15 years after high school. He worked a job he didn't want, taking 10 years to finish college, and endured a series of failed romantic relationships. After ultimately moving to California, Meredith missed his hometown--the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia. Might his work with the dead have been his true professional calling, his salvation? Meredith's circuitous journey of self-discovery will fascinate those interested in the mysteries of life and death. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A coming-of-age memoir about a young man who tries to make sense of his life by working with the dead.

Scribner, $24, hardcover, 9781476761213


The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London

by Judith Flanders

In The Victorian City, social historian Judith Flanders (The Invention of Murder) reminds us Charles Dickens was a journalist before he was a novelist. The London that stands at the hearts of his novels--so vibrant that it's almost a character in its own right--is not only a work of the imagination but the reportage of a great observer. From his first works to his last, Dickens recorded and reinvented the people of London's streets and the world they inhabited. His earliest readers recognized the jokes behind his often-sly accuracy; today, the lines between imagination and observation are less clear.

Using both Dickens's novels and a wide range of other contemporary accounts, Flanders attempts to look at the streets of London as they existed from 1812 to 1870, a period of tremendous transformation and growth. (The title Victorian City is a conscious misnomer. As Flanders points out, the great recorder of Victorian London spent almost half his life under the rule of Victoria's uncles.) Beginning with workers making their way through the city in the early morning and ending with the seedy side of Victorian nightlife, Flanders provides a detailed picture of both familiar and unfamiliar aspects of life in 19th-century London: markets, prisons, gin palaces, brothels, slums (known as "rookeries"), the mail stage and hackney cabs, and the health problems caused by overflowing cemeteries and overflowing cesspools. The Victorian City, filled with squalor, social injustice, larger-than-life characters and expansive prose, is Dickensian in every sense of the word. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: An engaging exploration of the city and social conditions that inspired Dickens's novels.

Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99, hardcover, 9781250040213


The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream

by Dan Washburn

A reporter and managing editor for the Asia Society, Dan Washburn takes his title, The Forbidden Game, from the fact that though golf is "officially" banned in China, it is unofficially experiencing a significant boom. Chinese golfer Shanshan Feng recently won the LPGA Championship, making her the first person from her country to ever win a major tournament. A 14-year-old Chinese amateur, Guan Tianlang, became the youngest to ever qualify for a major tournament--the Masters. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the opening of China's first course and this is the inaugural season of the PGA China Tour.

Few in China can afford to play and the game is still against the law, yet golf grows in popularity. Even China's president, Xi Jinping, is rumored to have played. Washburn profiles three men to help tell his story about "golf's shift to the East": Zhou Xunshu is one of China's first professional golfers, a young man who has used the game to help him realize his "Chinese Dream"; American Martin Moore's career building courses in China shows how greedy government officials can be handled, how eccentric course owners' egos can be managed and how to avoid the "Beijing golf police"; and Wang Libo, a lychee farmer on Hainan Island, has gambled his family's future on the success of a new, huge golf resort built next door to his farm.

Washburn's extensive research and his breezy, reporter's style make this insightful book both educational and delightful. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

Discover: The insights golf offers into how China is enhancing its global stature.

Oneworld, $18.99, paperback, 9781851689484

Travel Literature

Travels with Casey

by Benoit Denizet-Lewis

Journalist Benoit Denizet-Lewis (American Voyeur) didn't think his dog Casey liked him much. So when they set off on a four-month cross-country journey in an RV to explore the bond between Americans and their dogs, he also hoped to explore and nurture a more personal connection with his travel companion.

During their excursion, Denizet-Lewis and Casey visited dog parks, shelters, conventions, even the Westminster Dog Show. They spent time with dog walkers, pet psychics, trainers and a doga teacher (that'd be yoga for dogs). The encounters are a mixed bag of entertainment, encouragement and heartbreak, from the New Yorker in Tompkins Square Dog Park who "just got out of a mental hospital, actually" to the homeless 19-year-olds in Washington State who always make sure their dogs eat before they do.

Interspersed in this travelogue, Denizet-Lewis shares research, history and geography connected to the locations he visits, including the Navajo Nation reservation where he encounters "rez dogs." His journalistic training enables him to ask educated (and sometimes probing) questions, rather than simply react emotionally, as when he asks the founder of PETA why the organization seems willing to do anything for attention.

Emotion still plays a strong role in the book, however; Denizet-Lewis's love of dogs is evident in the empathy, respect and compassion he exhibits for all the canines and their humans. Denizet-Lewis ultimately discovers that the bonds he set out to explore are both complicated and simple, like the creatures they connect. Whether dog lovers or simply individuals interested in America's obsession, readers will find Travels with Casey enlightening, eye-opening and fun. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: What happens when a journalist takes his lab-mix on a four-month road trip to explore the nation's love of dogs.

Simon & Schuster, $26, hardcover, 9781439146934

Reference & Writing

Globes: 400 Years of Exploration, Navigation and Power

by Sylvia Sumira

Globes, by professional globe-restorer Sylvia Sumira, is a history of globe-making from the late-15th through the late-19th centuries, when globes were used as educational tools, scientific instruments and status symbols. It is also breathtakingly beautiful.

The first two sections of the book are scholarly articles in which Sumira considers not only who made globes, but why and how. The first piece, "A Brief History of Globes," is clearly for specialists. The second will fascinate anyone who has wondered how these specialized artists wrap a flat map around a ball; she provides a step-by-step description of the construction of printed globes from the process of forming a papier-mâché sphere around a mold to the challenges of fitting 2-D printed sections (triangular pieces called gores) around the 3-D object.

The text is almost irrelevant next to the photographs of 60 historic globes, most of them from the collection of the British Library. They range in rarity from an unusual hand-painted globe made in 17th-century China to mass-produced globes from the end of the 19th century. Sumira includes printed gores drawn by master cartographers, templates for self-assembled paper globes to be made as inexpensive educational aids for children, tiny pocket globes, elaborate clockwork globes, celestial globes that map the heavens and an oddly modern 19th-century teaching globe that folds up like an umbrella. The brief essays that accompany the photographs consider each object both in terms of its provenance and historical context and also as a work of art.

Certainly worth a spin, Globes will grab the imagination of anyone fascinated by maps. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: An inside-out look at historic globes by one of the world's foremost restorers.

University of Chicago Press, $45, hardcover, 9780226139005

Children's & Young Adult

Little Green Peas: A Big Book of Colors

by Keith Baker, illus. by Keith Baker

After teaching youngest readers how to navigate the alphabet (LMNO Peas) and to count (1-2-3 Peas), Keith Baker's little green heroes now introduce them to colors.

A summery spread of "BLUE" kicks off the proceedings, with each letter in a slightly different texture or pattern, as well as a slightly different hue. One letter looks as if it were sponged in an aqua tone, another in an indigo shade shows subtly mazelike patterns. The text--"Blue boats, blue seas, blue flags, and..."--in thick black letters, introduces green pea sailors and flag wavers, whose props pick up on the word's diverse tones. A turn of the page completes the sentence: "little green peas." The characters swim, snorkel, build sand castles and wave from the deck of a luxury liner (as in the earlier books, a ladybug appears on each spread). An internal rhyme holds each line together, as the little green peas move into autumn ("Red fences, red trees, red kites, and.../ little green peas"), winter ("Purple mountains, purple skis, purple mittens, and.../ little green peas") and a standout for spring: "Green vines, green leaves, green sprouts, and.../ baby green peas." Readers will easily spot the babies, with each pod carefully guarded by at least one adult pea, while the gardener peas water the sprouts and sport waterproof boots, showing how to tend their offspring.

Once again, Baker models a busy community of little green peas working and playing together. He ends on a humorous note for "White/Black." Read the book to discover his clever twist. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Keith Baker's third book starring his irresistible little green peas.

Beach Lane/S&S, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781442476608

Like No Other

by Una LaMarche

In Una LaMarche's (Five Summers) romantic, illuminating novel, a power outage in a Brooklyn, N.Y., hospital brings together two 16-year-olds who dwell in the same geographical area yet live in different worlds.

Eastern Parkway separates Devorah Blum and her Chabad-Lubavitch community from the rest of society. When her sister Rose's baby arrives prematurely, Devorah accompanies Rose and Rose's husband, Jacob, to the hospital. Her brother-in-law's long absence sends Devorah searching for him in the cafeteria--but then the elevator goes out, and she finds herself alone with Jaxon, an African American boy her age. As Devorah considers just how many rules she's breaking (most of all yichud, as Devorah explains it, "Plop two teenagers in a confined space, let them get to talking, and sooner or later the conversation will go to a sinful place..."), she also begins to realize how others might see her. And she feels an attraction for this kind stranger. Their alternating first-person narratives reveal that they both know a relationship between them could cause problems in their families. Still, they defy the odds and plan to meet again.

LaMarche takes readers into two families with loving parents and siblings and makes plain the taboos that Devorah most blatantly, and Jaxon insidiously, breaks, including lies to cover up their plots to spend more time together. The author creates a connection between them as authentic as their bonds to their families, and through that tension crafts an engrossing novel that raises searching questions about fate and free will. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Two teens whose idealistic wish to be together--despite their very different backgrounds--motivates them to attempt the seemingly impossible.

Razorbill/Penguin, $17.99, hardcover, 352p., ages 12-up, 9781595146748

A Library Book for Bear

by Bonny Becker, illus. by Kady MacDonald Denton

There are books that ease the transition for the first day of school, so why not for a first visit to the library? The creators of A Visitor for Bear team up for another adventure that's sure to inspire lines to sign up for a library card.

Mouse shows up at Bear's house and announces, "We are off!" Bear had agreed to accompany his friend to the library, but he's having second thoughts. He indicates the mantel above his fireplace where six books sit spine-out (he holds a seventh in his paw) and replies, "I have all the books I need right here." But Mouse insists, "Oh, there are many delightful books in the library." Are there ever! "In the library were more books than Bear had ever thought there could be," writes Becker. MacDonald's watercolors depict endless shelves, each with an icon as a key to the contents (a person for biography, a baseball bat for sports, etc.). As Bear slouches miserably, clutching his roller skates as if he can't wait to leave, Mouse searches for the "perfect" book for Bear. After inspecting books about rocket ships, wooden canoes and dancing pickles, Bear's words of rejection climb in volume until he's shushed by someone attending the storytime hour on the other side of the stacks.

MacDonald gracefully chronicles Bear's body language as he shifts from resistance against Mouse's suggestions to the seduction of storytime, where the librarian reads about a "Very Brave Bear." Let's just say that by book's end, Bear's mantel is full. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Another charming book about Bear and Mouse that's sure to have children clamoring for a trip to the library.

Candlewick, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 3-6, 9780763649241


Author Buzz

Dragon Kiss
(A Dragon Kings Novella)

by Donna Grant

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the Dragon Kings! I'm thrilled to bring you DRAGON KISS. The world of the Dragon Kings keeps expanding, and this story brings us Alasdair and Lotti, a powerful couple who have overcome all odds to find love. But a deadly enemy intends to rip them apart.

I can't wait for you to fall in love with Alasdair and Lotti as I have.


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Dragon Kiss (A Dragon Kings Novella) by Donna Grant

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 9, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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