Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Zonderkidz: The Smallest Spot of a Dot: The Little Ways We're Different, the Big Ways We're the Same by Linsey Davis, illustrated by Lucy Fleming

From My Shelf

Every Picture Tells...

The homes of American presidents range from the iconic Monticello and Mt. Vernon to the grand summer retreats of the Kennedys and the Bushes to the modest homes of Truman and Carter. In The House Tells the Story: Homes of the American Presidents (David R. Godine, $40), artist Adam Van Doren presents portraits of 15 homes he found intriguing. As his friend David McCullough writes in the foreword, "with his eye for architecture and the human element, not to say his distinctive sense of humor, Adam... sees them anew, and consequently, so do we."

Van Doren introduces each house with a somewhat formal depiction, but the appeal comes from his correspondence with McCullough. Each multiple-page letter is a series of delicate watercolors, with words written over, under, around or sometimes directly on the art. In the letters and renderings, Van Doren explores "what makes [the men] human." He takes note of the lovely grounds at Mt. Vernon while describing the slave quarters, whose inhabitants did not "have the luxury of taking a break under a tree, or relaxing briefly on the grass."

Woodrow Wilson's home in Washington, D.C., is a trove of personal touches: the grand piano his daughter played, an old movie projector--Wilson was a fan of silent moves--and a set of canes he used in his last years. Jimmy Carter's childhood home in Plains, Ga., is a Sears Roebuck bungalow, with an outhouse, a windmill and railroad tracks across the way. Carter recalls hearing the freight trains pass through twice a day--he liked to count the cars.

In order to paint the Bush home in Kennebunkport, Maine, Van Doren decided to locate on a breakwater. His pencil and brushes would fall into crevices, and stooping over, he had to make sure he didn't trip and drift out to sea, "ending up like some casualty in a Winslow Homer scene."

The House Tells the Story tells many. As publisher David Godine says, "The reader gets to visit [the homes] personally, without the gloss of bureaucratic puffery." --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

Arcade Publishing: On Wine-Dark Seas: A Novel of Odysseus and His Fatherless Son Telemachus by Tad Crawford

The Writer's Life

Benjamin Johncock: The Drama of Flight

photo: Nick Tucker

Benjamin Johncock is the recipient of an Arts Council England grant and the American Literary Merit Award and writes for the Guardian. He lives in Norwich, England, with his wife, daughter and son. His first novel, The Last Pilot, follows test pilot Jim Harrison and his wife, Gracie, through a transformative period in American history, from the end of World War II up through the Cold War and the development of the space race. Our review is below.

Tell us about the conflict at the heart of your novel.

The Last Pilot is about a marriage in crisis. Jim is trained to deal very tightly with his emotions--that is essential for him to stay alive--but at the same time he is in a situation at home where he cannot maintain a healthy marriage. Gracie is laid back, but a no-nonsense sort of woman. In a lot of ways, she is Jim's equal during a time when men may not have seen their wives as equals. Jim respects that, but Gracie needs more from him. As much as he wants to be there, or thinks he is there for her, he really isn't, and that brings them to a crisis point. Jim begins to experience mental health issues that he is ill-equipped to deal with, and so that plays out against a backdrop of international conflict and the space race.

You seem to be an aviation aficionado.

I have a real interest in flying. Sometimes I think I would like to take flying lessons, but then I realize how totally bad of a pilot I would be. I'm quick to panic and can't handle a lot of things at once [laughs]. When I was four years old, we had a book at home that my dad would read to me about the Apollo missions, called Moon Flight Atlas by Patrick Moore. What captured me wasn't the rockets--like my son is obsessed with now--it was the men. These men were so cool and in control of their emotions. They didn't fluster or panic, they just worked out a problem until it was fixed. They were all childhood heroes, and that stayed with me for a long time.

Later in life, I was ill with an anxiety disorder, much like Jim has in the book. I wasn't able to write, but as I came around I started writing again and I went back to these childhood heroes, these men who were so controlled emotionally, unlike me, who was just a mess. There was a real connection there for me and I wanted to explore that.

How did you do research for this book?

Actually, there was not a lot of heavy research because I just love this stuff so much. I was sad at a certain point in editing when I realized I wasn't going to be able to just sit around and read about this all day. I have been incredibly lucky, there has been so much documented--so many films, biographies, there's a huge wealth of materials. The problem was there was too much, in some respects.

I loved reading astronauts' autobiographies, biographies and ghost-written books. The wonderful thing about an autobiography being ghosted is that you get a seasoned journalist asking questions, recording interviews, and typing it all up in the astronaut's words. That gives you an amazing sense of their tone of voice, personality, the way they think, the way they talk--more so than if they'd written it themselves. There is a real sense of voice coming out, so I would immerse myself in those books. Archival footage, transcripts and flight recordings as well. I wanted to be as accurate as I could be. It was really enjoyable, a lot of it was concurrent with the writing.

What was it like being a British author writing a debut set in the U.S.?

Before I sold the book, I never gave it much thought. Actually, when Picador was first interested in the manuscript, they assumed that I lived in Norwich, Connecticut, not Norwich, England. Then I said, well, maybe this is quite unusual. I had written some short stories that were set in the States as well. There is something wonderfully exotic about the U.S. that I find deeply appealing. Britain to me, by comparison, is so dreary. I can't get the same spark of romance and adventure. There's just something about the States, something about the variety of locations. I'm just drawn to it all the time.

Cape Canaveral, the early days of NASA, the space program, test flights in the barren Mojave Desert: How much fun did you have writing about these things?

It was great! There are similarities in some respects between the barrenness of the Mojave and the barrenness of the Cape. I like the fact that there was a frontier at Muroc in the late '40s pushing the envelope and there was a frontier at the Cape pushing the limits of space exploration. I liked the thought of people on the edge.

Your sparse prose unfolds dramatic scenes with clarity and allows the underlying sadness of your main characters, Jim and Grace, to resonate. Reading The Last Pilot, I was struck by an excellent balance between clear language, narrative tone and stark imagery. Tell us about how you write.

I left out as much as I could. I would write a draft by hand, set it aside, then copy it out again and edit in the space between the two. It made me think a lot deeper about the prose. Everything was up for grabs, everything was forced to justify itself. I found that more effective than writing on a computer. Then, of course, I would type it up and go through the more traditional read-through of a printed draft and make more changes.

There were certain things I wanted to do with the sentences, I wanted to make them as taut as possible. You can sometimes write a sentence that is, say, 15 words long. Then you realize that five words in that sentence can be struck out. Hopefully this produced an effect where the reader is reading what I left out and filling the gaps themselves, and by doing that what I am producing is a tighter connection between me and the reader. The more intimate the connection, the more effective the story will be, the more resonance it will have.

What's the literary scene like in Norwich and in England as a whole?

Norwich has only recently become one of six of the UNESCO world heritage sites for literature. There are so many authors here, you bump into them on the way into town. A local publisher, Galley Beggar Press, published A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride. They are based across the street from me, I can see them from my front garden. The university has a famous creative writing program that has seen the likes of Ian McEwan, Kazuo Ishiguro, D.W. Wilson, so many wonderful writers. It's fantastic. There's a lot going on in many other key areas of the country as well. It's an exciting time to be living and writing in Norwich. --Jarret Middleton, author and freelance editor

RP Mystic: Magic, Diversified

Book Candy

Booksellers Recommend; 10 Questionable Superheroes

Two great booksellers--Cathy Langer, lead buyer for the Tattered Cover in Denver, and Nicole Magistro, owner of the Bookworm in Edwards--offered "10 great summer reads" on Colorado Public Radio.


David Solomons, author of My Brother Is a Superhero, chose his "top 10 superheroes of questionable ability."


Bustle shared "11 pieces of absolutely terrible advice on love and relationships from classic literature."


At the Africa Writes literature and book festival in London, Buzzfeed asked 21 book lovers to share their favorite African writers.


Check out Luís Azevedo's video essay Bibliophilia--Books in the Films of Wes Anderson.

Great Reads

Rediscover: Middle Passage by Charles Johnson

Originally published in 1990 and winner of the National Book Award in Fiction, Middle Passage by Charles Johnson begins in 1830s New Orleans, where Rutherford Calhoun, a newly freed slave and "irrepressible rogue," is desperate to escape bill collectors and the schoolteacher who wants to marry him. Unaware of its illegal mission, he stows away on the Republic, a slave ship that is sailing to Africa to seize members of a legendary tribe, the Allmuseri, and plunder cultural artifacts. The trip becomes, the publisher says, "a voyage of metaphysical horror and human atrocity, a journey which challenges our notions of freedom, fate and how we live together. Peopled with vivid and unforgettable characters, nimble in its interplay of comedy and serious ideas, this dazzling modern classic is a perfect blend of the picaresque tale, historical romance, sea yarn, slave narrative and philosophical allegory."

The New York Times Book Review called Middle Passage "a novel in the honorable tradition of Billy Budd and Moby-Dick." Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, calls the book "a classic of American literature.... It is destined to be discovered again and again by new generations seeking artistic expressions of literary, social, and political American-ness."

In honor of Middle Passage's 25th anniversary, Scribner is releasing a special edition today in an updated Classics paperback edition that features a new introduction by critic Stanley Crouch.

Book Review


In the Country: Stories

by Mia Alvar

It's a rare book that can transport the reader so wondrously between such disparate places--a Manhattan office tower and a Manila shack, an American bedroom and a Bahrain dinner party. Mia Alvar's debut story collection, In the Country, boasts such magic in a wholly immersive chronicle of immigrant and émigré experiences from Southeast Asia to upper-crust Boston. In these captivating, tightly hewn pieces, which occasionally share references with one another, Alvar carves herself a niche as a talented and exciting new voice in American literature.

It's difficult to place a finger on In the Country's alchemy, where each story's charm is equal parts rich surface details--the textures and colors of a Manila slum, the scents wafting from a Filipino dinner party in Bahrain--and the strong emotional undercurrents that propel each character. As interior lives go, the figures in each of Alvar's stories could easily drive an entire novel: the wayward American model in "Legends of the White Lady," the heartbreakingly stoic immigrant who cleans Manhattan office buildings in "Esmeralda."

Alvar builds these stories detail by detail, so deftly that a reader finds herself in foreign, fully realized places without knowing just how she arrived. The nature of enchantment is that the viewer can't discern the sleight of hand, only the astonishing result. By this metric, Mia Alvar is a new sort of literary wizard. --Linnie Greene, freelance writer

Discover: Richly textured short stories recount the experiences of immigrants, émigrés and wayward souls in the Philippines, Bahrain and the United States.

Knopf, $26.95, hardcover, 9780385352819

The Star Side of Bird Hill

by Naomi Jackson

Naomi Jackson's debut novel, The Star Side of Bird Hill, centers on two young girls living in Brooklyn in 1989: Dionne, a 16-year-old who has just discovered makeup and boys, and her sister, Phaedra, a 10-year-old tomboy. When their mother is unable to care for them, the sisters are sent to spend the summer with their grandmother Hyacinth in Bird Hill, Barbados. The trio makes an unlikely family unit. Dionne is most interested in young love and testing the limits of her independence; Phaedra would spend her days climbing trees and exploring Bird Hill if allowed; and Hyacinth must balance the demands of two young girls with her role as the town's midwife.

"Hyacinth just wanted to know that she could shift her weight to one side and it wouldn't be just the air and the force of her will holding her up, but the support of her family too," writes Jackson. Watching these three characters find their way to that support reveals the heart of The Star Side of Bird Hill--riveting in its story of family and love, and all the more so because of the nuanced differences Jackson has so skillfully written into each of her characters.

The Star Side of Bird Hill is many things: a coming-of-age novel, a story of place and immigration, a portrait of broken and hardened hearts. But at its core it is a story about the power of family and the importance of belonging--even when that belonging comes in the most unexpected of places. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A debut novel about two Brooklyn sisters who spend the summer with their grandmother in Barbados and the unlikely family they find there.

Penguin Press, $25.95, hardcover, 9781594205958

Love May Fail

by Matthew Quick

Matthew Quick has made accessible art out of lifting flawed, ordinary folks from unfortunate circumstances and giving them a grand stage on which to earn redemption. Love May Fail continues this trend; his misfits wrestle with destiny and faith in their attempts to find the inherent goodness in people, and the title--a melancholy quote delivered at the beginning of Kurt Vonnegut's Jailbird--captures the struggles each character endures.

Portia Kane is approaching 40, a trophy wife who has just caught her pornography director husband with a younger woman. After destroying his prized cigar collection and nearly shooting him, Portia returns to her hometown in Camden County in southern New Jersey. On her flight, Portia, in a drunken stupor, is befriended by a terminally ill nun who offers emotional support. Portia reconciles with her mother, a socially challenged hoarder, and reconnects with old high school classmates--Danielle Bass, a single mother with a young son, and her brother Chuck, a former heroin addict and aspiring teacher. Danielle tells Portia that Nate Vernon, their inspiring English teacher, has suffered a traumatic beating by a student. Reminded of the nun's advice, Portia reaches out to the suicidal Nate.

With a rescue dog named Albert Camus and a decades-long allegiance to Mötley Crüe, Portia, Chuck and Danielle aspire to something extraordinary. Love May Fail is about loss, redemption and the good that is possible after failed beginnings. Quick's flawed but sincere characters will resonate in readers' minds long after the last page has been turned. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: Misfits seek redemption through faith, destiny and a shared interest in literature and the '80s.

Harper, $25.99, hardcover, 9780062285560

The Last Pilot

by Benjamin Johncock

In the early days of the space program, a talented test pilot and his wife struggle to save their marriage after the unexpected death of their young daughter.

Jim Harrison is one of the best pilots in the postwar United States. He risks his life testing rocket engines over the Mojave Desert at death-defying speeds. When the space race picks up, fueled by the Cold War, Jim is torn between earning a seat on one of the first manned space flights heading to the moon and dealing with the toll the death of his daughter has taken, hoping to salvage his failing marriage to Gracie while still being able to fly.

Johncock depicts dangerous test runs above Muroc, Calif., in the '50s, and Florida's Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral in the '60s; these early days of NASA and manned space flight provide stark imagery for a story full of simple but mind-boggling consequences. The deceptively plain language allows for moments of emotional vulnerability and reflection to come through: "You ever had the feeling the future's become the past while you were busy being scared? she said. Mac looked at her. All the damn time, he said. She looked away."

Written in sparse, quick prose that balances sadness and action, The Last Pilot is a stunning debut that is as engrossing and profound as it is entertaining. --Jarret Middleton, author, freelance editor

Discover: A well-crafted debut about a test pilot struggling to keep himself and his marriage together during the space race.

Picador, $26, hardcover, 9781250066640

Charlie Martz and Other Stories: The Unpublished Stories

by Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty) writes characters like no one else. Their reasoning is sometimes opaque, they often act in contradictory ways and they always make a lasting impression.

In "Confession," a priest in an Old West town tries to decide which moral action to take: distribute stolen money for works of the church that would benefit the poor, or return it to its rightful owner, a known criminal. It's a seemingly simple choice, but the holy man must wrestle with his own worldliness before making his decision.

"Evenings Away from Home" could be a movie, it's so sharply drawn, so impeccably moody. A family man and art director from Detroit meets a hip freelance photographer in the warmth of Arizona. Young local airline stewardesses are ready and willing to pose for the photographer, but the married art director's moral fiber is put to the test when he is given a chance to meet one young woman at the pool late at night. How he decides to conduct himself and the repercussions of his connection with the photographer are not what readers might expect .

According to the introduction by Leonard's son Peter, the author wrote these 15 stories in the 1950s while he worked at an advertising agency for Chevrolet. Even before he mastered the dialogue and gritty style he's most known for, he was able to evoke subtle tones and achingly beautiful moods like none other. These are exceptional stories written by an artist at work and at play, learning his craft with each entry. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Early strong and distinctive stories by Elmore Leonard, as he begins to learn his craft.

Morrow, $25.99, hardcover, 9780062364920

Biography & Memoir

Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles

by Bert Ashe

Twisted is part memoir, part history and part cultural critique. Bert Ashe (From Within the Frame), associate professor of English at the University of Richmond in Virginia, takes readers on a personal journey through his desire to grow dreadlocks, while investigating what they mean in American culture. Ashe focused on dreads for reasons that would take him decades to understand fully, but he feared that he would undermine the power of this distinct hairstyle. Would he be able to keep its "expansive, multilevel cultural resonance" or was he too conservative?

People project onto dreadlocks an assortment of cultural and historic biases and prejudices, and for some, the act of growing them becomes a kind of performance piece--a public presentation and platform of associated political ideologies. Ashe's tension is rooted in a sense of separate authentic selves: the responsible, mainstream black scholar whose life experiences fit the white American mold, and the radical intellectual who questions authority and takes pride in his identity as a black man. Through the exploration of dreadlocks, Ashe navigates race in what he calls "post-integration" United States. Dreadlocks are a counter to assimilation--permission to escape from white society.

This book is a personal stand, an anthem and a love song to dreadlocks. Ashe's story is one of yearning written with poetic frankness. Twisted aims to unsettle, discomfit and ultimately strip readers of previously held convictions. Ashe has a delightful, sometimes dark sense of humor, an academic's intimate curiosity and an obsessive's focus, all of which combine to make Twisted a joy to read. --Justus Joseph, bookseller at Elliott Bay Book Company

Discover: One man's fascinating and fraught journey to grow dreadlocks in hopes of stepping outside of himself in a culture of assimilation.

Agate Bolden, $15, paperback, 9781932841961

Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records and the Transformation of Southern Soul

by Mark Ribowsky

In the 1960s, when African American music accelerated its climb out of the vinyl pigeonhole known as "race music," it was primarily pulled up by two very different recording studios. In the northern big city of Detroit, Berry Gordy, Jr., created Motown and promoted his artists' carefully produced style with an iron fist and relentless focus on publicity and profits. In the smaller, southern river city of Memphis, Jim Stewart and his sister, Estelle Axton, bootstrapped the Stax Studio out of a neighborhood record store with the local house band Booker T. and the MGs.

With acts like Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye and the Supremes, Motown was the clear powerhouse--until 20-year-old Otis Redding blew away Stax guitarist and producer Steve Cropper, belting out two songs he had written himself. As Mark Ribowsky describes that night in Dreams to Remember, Redding didn't have any arrangements for the band and had only one directive: "Just gimme those church things." His voice did the rest, and Memphis soul music was born, with Stax studios as its "Soulsville" home.

Redding's career was at its peak just six months before the plane crash that took his life, when he closed the second night of the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival. Standing out among the Summer of Love line-up that included Janis Joplin and the Who, Redding stole the show with his rousing finale of "Try a Little Tenderness." Ribowsky's meticulous biography makes it clear that Arthur Conley's 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music" (co-written by Redding) got it wrong. James Brown wasn't "the king of them all, y'all." Otis was. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Otis Redding's too-short career and climb to the top of the soul music pyramid in the 1960s, when music and race relations were in turmoil.

Liveright, $27.95, hardcover, 9780871408730

The Seven Good Years: A Memoir

by Etgar Keret

The Seven Good Years is the first book of nonfiction by Israeli writer Etgar Keret (Suddenly, a Knock on the Door). It is not a traditional narrative memoir, but a series of short anecdotal essays organized by year, bookended by the birth of his first child and the death of his beloved father. Each essay could stand alone, but together they form an impressionistic record of his life and worldview in this period of time.

Keret writes in a clean, conversational tone filled with dry humor, pursuing thoughts and ideas that sprawl out in unpredictable and deceptively natural directions. The absurdity and insecurity of life is his dominant theme. His wife gives birth at a hospital as it fills with victims of a terrorist attack. His mother points out the similarity between Angry Birds and religious fundamentalist terrorism. War becomes a tool for negotiating his phone bill and an excuse to postpone home repairs. He and his wife lie on a highway shoulder with their son, trying to make a fun game out of a rocket attack. The child of Holocaust survivors, Keret contemplates his Jewish and Israeli identity as he travels in Europe and the U.S. Anxiety and family love motivate him to look past his laziness, trivial pleasures and impulsive anger, and explore the moral implications of ordinary events. As his wife says: "Our life is one thing, and you always reinvent it to be something else more interesting. That's what writers do, right?" --Sara Catterall

Discover: An Israeli author's impressionistic, humorous essays about family, history, daily life and war.

Riverhead Books, $26.95, hardcover, 9781594633263

Business & Economics

How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy

by Stephen Witt

Toward the end of the 20th century, the music business was still relying on its utter control of artists and their output, but at the same time, the technology that would eventually break the industry's hold on music consumers began to flourish.

The MP3 format, along with portable music players like the iPod, ever-increasing bandwidth on the Internet and people like Dell Glover, who worked at a Universal Music CD pressing plant, came together to cause the downfall of the album-oriented popular music industry.

Stephen Witt's How Music Got Free follows this perfect storm of invention and business reality. Witt traces the aspirations of the German audio engineers who invented MP3, as well as the 2,000-plus album leaks that Dell Glover caused as a mid-level supervisor over a 10-year period at a pressing plant in North Carolina. Equally important are the stories of Doug Morris, the savvy music executive who was able to stay employed while the industry fell apart under him, the world's largest music company in the late 1990s, and the gifted pirates who kept the FBI and corporate music interests off their trail for a good long time.

How Music Got Free is a fascinating peek behind the scenes of a worldwide cultural phenomenon that blew apart the music business structure while at the same time creating a new one in which no one company holds all the cards (though a few of them still hold plenty). --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: An engaging account of how the music industry had to change in order to survive, thanks to the efforts of a few technologically savvy people from diverse backgrounds.

Viking, $27.95, hardcover, 9780525426615


Modern Romance

by Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg

Aziz Ansari, best known for his fast-talking, sarcastic, hip role in the sitcom Parks and Recreation, turns his comedic talent to the subject of courtship and love in Modern Romance. Ansari has teamed with New York University sociologist Eric Klinenberg (Heat Wave) to explore the dos and don'ts of today's dating scene, particularly the benefits and pitfalls of online dating, using online surveys, in-person focus groups from Los Angeles, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and Qatar, interviews and personal experience using apps like Tinder, Facebook and Twitter.

Most mid-20th century singles were content to find companions "good enough" for marriage from their own community, but many modern singles are defined by the "soul mate" revolution--the desire to find the perfect person, even one halfway around the world. The methods employed by modern singles have also changed, creating new challenges. As Ansari relates, finding romance is hard, especially given the interconnectedness of a person's presence on social media. Dating is also complicated, both by human nature and by the fact that today's singles tend to hold out for something better that may come along a few swipes of the screen later.

Modern Romance is wicked and witty, slapstick in its silliest moments, but completely serious in its efforts to dissect the intricacies of our romantic lives. What Ansari and Klinenberg discover is that underlying goals of the dating game have changed, and that a one size solution won't fit all when it comes to modern romance. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: The benefits and pitfalls of technology in modern romance, and how finding the perfect partner in today's world is harder than ever.

Penguin Press, $28.95, hardcover, 9781594206276

Children's & Young Adult

The House that Jane Built

by Tanya Lee Stone, illus. by Kathryn Brown

In this inspiring picture book biography, Tanya Lee Stone (Courage Has No Color) traces the making of an American hero, from her innate wish for justice as a child to her role in its fulfillment as an adult.

At six, Jane Addams realized that "not everyone lived like her family did" and vowed to "find a way to fix the world." During a trip to Europe as a young woman, she visited London's Toynbee Hall, the first settlement house, where well-off people lived alongside the less affluent. She became determined to replicate the idea and founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889. Kathryn Brown's pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations blend humor and realism: a woman in an apron waves a rolling pin at a child absconding with a baguette. Many of her neighbors' houses had no running water, so Jane installed a public bath. She convinced a wealthy man to donate land for a playground. Images of happy children playing on swings balance the dire situations at home. Jane set up a morning kindergarten and after-school clubs so children wouldn't be unsupervised. By 1907, the Hull House had grown into 13 buildings; Brown's half-tone panel illustrations, orbiting a full-color stage, offer windows into many of them (children performing, making music, drawing, baking). Endnotes attribute all direct quotes and mention Addams as the first American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1931.

Children will see that they, like Jane Addams, can realize their dreams of helping to better the world. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The inspiring story of Jane Addams's founding of Chicago's Hull House, the realization of her childhood dream.

Christy Ottaviano/Holt, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 6-9, 9780805090499


by Daniel Miyares

This wordless picture book celebrates unsupervised play, as a boy steps outside to float his boat in a rainstorm.

Like the child, readers first spy a newspaper--and its potential. The boy begins folding, then emerges from the house decked out in a yellow slicker, matching cap and rain boots, and holding a paper boat. Daniel Miyares (Pardon Me) wordlessly references the title when the boy holds the boat aloft; it seems to float atop the points of a picket fence. When the sky darkens and the rain starts, the boy at first tries to keep his boat dry. A full-bleed double-page spread shows the futility in this attempt, as the thickly painted raindrops nearly block out the yellow of his slicker. As the storm abates, the boat sets sail on a newly formed pond; readers see the reflection of neighborhood rooftops on its surface. A sequence of the boy puddle-jumping conveys the water's depth and current. Miyares creates a climax when the boat goes through a grate, leaving a trail of bubbles as it sinks into a black, seemingly fathomless void. The boy's feeling of defeat comes across in his bent body language and the crestfallen look he gives to his parent. After a blow-dry, a cup of hot chocolate and another page from the newspaper, the boy has a new vehicle to try out. (Hint: It, too, floats.)

Step-by-step directions on the endpapers show readers how to make the newspaper toys and invite them to play along with the young hero. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A child's rainy day adventure, using only a newspaper and a bit of ingenuity.

S&S, $17.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781481415248


Author Buzz

The Marriage Auction
(Season One, Volume One)

by Audrey Carlan

Dear Reader,

What would you do for 3 Million Dollars? Would you auction yourself off for marriage to the highest bidder, sight unseen? Four women did… and this is their story.

Arranged marriages. A woman on the run. Family drama. Twins vying for the same bride. It's all part of the deal when you enter into The Marriage Auction.

Read the phenomenon that has been the #1 story across Amazon's new Kindle Vella serialized reading platform for over a year! With close to two million reads already, The Marriage Auction promises a spicy, romantic, thrilling adventure, with forced proximity, taboo undertones, found family, and four loves stories that will fill your heart to bursting.

These are the types of love stories that will stay with you for years to come. Happy reading, friends!


Available on Kobo

Blue Box Press

Pub Date: 
January 24, 2023


List Price: 
$5.99 e-book

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