Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Poisoned Pen Press: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

From My Shelf

Joe Ide's IQ

Mulholland Books has just published IQ, a crackerjack debut mystery by Joe Ide. Our reviewer (below) said: "Mystery fans should hunt down IQ; Isaiah and his sidekick Dodson are a hilarious urban version of Holmes and Watson... the story is also gritty and tragic and melancholy, just like life where IQ lives." Isaiah Quintabe, aka IQ, lives in East Long Beach, Calif. He's fiercely intelligent, and takes care of problems in the neighborhood, for money or just a homemade casserole. Joe Ide's personal story is as eccentric as his protagonist's.

Joe Ide
photo: Craig Takahashi

Ide grew up in South Central Los Angeles in a depressed, primarily African American neighborhood. He "lived between cultures. Not white, not black, and about as Japanese as macaroni and cheese. As most of my friends were black, I unconsciously assumed their speech, musical tastes, style and attitude, but in the end I was never quite convincing as a black kid who happened to be Japanese. Nevertheless, the facade served me well. It gave a kid who felt he didn't belong a semblance of an identity; a way to face the world and not be afraid."

His first real job was teaching elementary school: "I belatedly discovered I didn't really like kids. I lasted one semester. In the ensuing years, I went from job to job, too restless to make anything a career. Through it all, I wanted to write." He worked on projects for most of the major studios, but none were ever made. "It became so frustrating and demoralizing I left the business. It was at that point I decided to write my debut novel, IQ. The main character is a high school dropout who isn't physically intimidating and doesn't fit in. He lives in a depressed neighborhood rife with crime and gangs. He also has a history of drifting from job to job, possesses Sherlockian powers of deduction and vanquishes his enemies with just intelligence. Go figure."

What I figure is that I can't wait for the next installment.

--Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers


The Writer's Life

Reading with... Angela Palm

photo: Greg Perez Studio

Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here (Graywolf, August 16, 2016) and winner of the 2014 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. Palm's writing has appeared in EcotoneBrevity, DIAGRAM, Essay DailyPaper Darts and elsewhere. She lives in Vermont.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta. It's a quirky, artsy, multi-voiced book about women in '70s and '80s film. Right up my alley.

A House of My Own by Sandra Cisneros. I've always had an affection for Cisneros's writing, her singular voice. The book has Bible-thin pages. That's probably not a coincidence.

What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell. This book explores desire by degrees, gay cruising, and the resulting relationships in Sofia, Bulgaria. It's an indulgent read in the best way--long, block paragraphs without any quotation marks that go on for pages at a time, capturing perfectly the somewhat off-the-record, yet fully realized, nature of the men's interactions. I adore it.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read this as soon as it came out, but it's an important book to revisit. To place next to your bed and keep seeing as you wake. To keep checking yourself against.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Just as Long as We're Together by Judy Blume. It answered questions I was too timid to ask anyone. It was more friend than book.

Your top five authors:

Anne Tyler, because I love the way her characters' personalities drive the plot, rather than the plot driving the characters.

Rachel Kushner, because she writes the way I think. Mostly, I love the way she crafts the relationship between art and politics, between life and creativity.

Don DeLillo for his insights into very specific technological moments in time. His portrayal of the future's infringement on the present is always on point.

Susan Sontag for her critical prowess.

A new favorite is Dana Spiotta. I recently discovered her work and have since read her growing oeuvre with much affection.

Book you've faked reading:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Often described as "readable," the 800-plus-pager is definitely unreadable for me. I can carry on many a conversation about it, though. Also, Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. I'm sorry.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill. It tells a somewhat simple story--a marriage on the rocks after a baby, and then an affair--in an entirely new way, reading like a book-length essay of sorts. I love when nonfiction and fiction can't give each other up. This book is their lovechild.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I'm not impulsive in this way. I almost always buy for content. But the cover of Jonterri Gadson's new book of poems, Blues Triumphant, moved me in a way that lingers just as much as the poems within its pages. Sometimes I sit and look in wonder at the cover, a portrait of a beautiful black girl wearing white paint on her face and a fancy dress.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't hide books; I hid things in books. I knew my parents would not be likely to open one. I cut out the centers of a few of them and turned them into little boxes for stowing secrets, an idea that I believe came from a Nancy Drew book.

Book that changed your life:

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, which I read when I was 16. This was my first real understanding of social activism. It agitated me and ignited me. Mostly, though, it showed me how little I knew about the real world. That there were entire communities and struggles and causes that I had no knowledge of, entire histories that had been glossed over or omitted from my education and my experience. After this book, I became very interested in America's untold stories, its misunderstood populations, its erasures--from the mole people of New York's abandoned subways to Appalachian mountain communities to skid row to communes to prisons.

Favorite line from a book:

"Maps are magic. In the bottom corner are whales; at the top, cormorants carrying pop-eyed fish. In between is a subjective account of the lie of the land.... Fold up the maps and put away the globe. If someone else had charted it, let them. Start another drawing with whales at the bottom and cormorants at the top, and in between identify, if you can, the places you have not found yet on those other maps, the connections obvious only to you." --Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson

Five books you'll never part with:

Bluets by Maggie Nelson.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.

Song of Soloman by Toni Morrison. This is the first novel, after many years of novel reading, that really blew my mind.

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. My copy is heavily annotated and I like to flip through it and re-read the marginalia, which has preserved the spirit and contemplation of my 20-year-old self.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. This book made me want to write a book. It made me want to live life in all of its messiness and echoed my concerns about the unclear partitions between the roles of lover, mother, artist, intellectual, wife and so forth.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Bluets by Maggie Nelson. To have an intellectual and emotional reading experience at the same time is something to be cherished, but you can never re-create that first read, that seismic crack in your brain's tectonics.

Book Candy

Boo-kish Halloween Costumes

More Halloween ideas: Buzzfeed asked fans to "show us your best 'Harry Potter' Halloween costumes"; while Bustle offered "10 creepy Halloween costume ideas from books" and "unique Halloween costume ideas for couples who love to read."


Electric Lit explored "11 of the greatest fictional parties ever."


Lit fashion: Quirk Books shared "Miss Peregrine DIY hair and makeup" tips.


Headline of the day: "Wonder Woman named U.N. girls' empowerment ambassador," the Guardian reported.


Slate asked the "funniest living writers choose the funniest books in the world."

Great Reads

Rediscover: My Life in France

Julia Child (1912-2004), famed cookbook author and TV chef, brought French cuisine to American tables with Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961). Her subsequent cooking show, The French Chef, made her a household name, and forever changed the flavor of American culinary culture. Her fame never fully ebbed, though it experienced a posthumous revival with Julie Powell's blog-turned-book, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, which became a film starring Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia in 2009.

My Life in France, published two years after Julia Child's death with the help of her journalist great-nephew, Alex Prud'homme, chronicles the formative French years of Child's life, a period that would transform her from someone with little interest in cooking into "Our Lady of the Ladle," as she was dubbed by TIME magazine. The book begins with Child's epiphany moment, a lunch of sole meunière (pan-fried fish with brown butter sauce) served in Rouen, on the way to her husband's post in Paris with the USIA. Child's journey gets only tastier from there: cooking classes at Le Cordon Bleu, an eating club with two future co-authors, and reflections on her rise to fame. This savory book is back in the spotlight: on October 4, Knopf published Prud'homme's The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act (9780385351751), a "sequel in spirit" to My Life in France (Anchor, $16, 9780307277695). --Tobias Mutter

Book Review


The Motion of Puppets

by Keith Donohue

With The Motion of Puppets, Keith Donohue (The Boy Who Drew Monsters) evokes a bizarre underworld with an array of mythological references in a story of lovers seeking reunion. Newlyweds Kay and Theo Harper have come to Quebec for the summer, where she works as an acrobat in a cirque and he wrestles with a work in translation between semesters teaching French literature in New York City.

A puppet shop in Quebec's Old City draws Kay's attention daily, but the door is always locked, the lights off. One night, when returning from a party after midnight, she fears she is being followed and, finding the door unlocked for once, slips inside. Theo contacts the police when she does not return home, but no trace can be found of her. The rest of The Motion of Puppets alternates between their two experiences. Theo searches Quebec all summer for his wife, then returns to New York City and his work, distracted and mourning. Meanwhile, Kay adjusts to new circumstances: she has become a puppet.

This dreamy, sinister novel alludes widely to history, literature and legend. Theo's translation project is a biography of the photographer Eadweard Muybridge, whose work involved scientific knowledge of human and animal locomotion. Most pointedly, however, Kay's predicament is a reference to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Orpheus misses his wife so terribly that Hades agrees to let her leave the underworld and return to life with him, under one diabolical condition.

An engrossing novel of love, fancy and enchantment, The Motion of Puppets offers a perfectly wrought moodiness, detailed settings and an unsettling plot. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: This reworking of the myth of Eurydice features a woman locked in a world of sentient puppets.

Picador, $26, hardcover, 272p., 9781250057181

El Paso

by Winston Groom

Alabama novelist and historian Winston Groom (Forrest Gump) combines his love of history with a mature talent for well-paced storytelling in El Paso. Set along the United States/Mexican border in the early 20th century, El Paso is the saga of a Boston railroad baron's financial slide as he tries to save his family's business and its vast cattle ranch in the state of Chihuahua in the face of the nascent uprising of Mexico's populist revolution. Pitting the fictional John "Colonel" Shaughnessy and his adopted orphan son, Arthur, against the popular Mexican bandit Pancho Villa, El Paso has the drama, coincidence and class intrigue of Dickens's Great Expectations in a setting reminiscent of Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove. Reflecting the historical zeitgeist, Groom scatters archival tidbits throughout his story--the engineering of single-wing airplanes, railroad technology and economics, Aztec mysticism and the Colonel's political nemeses: "the infernal federal income tax, Mexico, socialism, unionism, anarchism, trustbustingism, notions of alcohol prohibition and women's suffrage."

In Groom's capable hands, this history mixes easily into what is at its core a story of family, class warfare, loyalty and the violence of revolution. It is the story of the United States on the cusp of world dominance, with themes of immigration, wealth, self-determination and entitlement balanced against a strong sense of compassion and fairness. The nexus is the border city of El Paso. In Groom's imagined history, both sides of the Rio Grande have their dangers and rewards. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Set along the Mexican/U.S. border, El Paso mixes history with a Dickensian story of family wealth, class conflict and the Mexican revolution.

Liveright, $27.95, hardcover, 496p., 9781631492242

Today Will Be Different

by Maria Semple

What does a restless, middle-aged wife and mother--a graphic artist and renowned animator of a legendary cartoon--have in common with a Catholic-turned-atheist hand surgeon to the stars; a makeup-wearing third grader named Timby, who got his name from an autocorrect spelling of the name Timothy; a frustrated poet who works at Costco; and a dog named Yo-Yo? They are the cast of quirky characters created by Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette?) in her comic third novel, Today Will Be Different.

Semple sets Today Will Be Different in the supposed "least religious city in America," Seattle, where scatterbrained, middle-aged Eleanor Flood--resettled from New York--narrates her angst. She feels stalled in her life, unfulfilled and failing those she loves. She wakes one morning and vows, determinedly, to live in the moment and be her "best self." As on any other day, she makes breakfast for her doctor husband and drops Timby off at his progressive, politically correct elementary school before going to her weekly private poetry lesson. But Eleanor's noble quest to reinvigorate her life goes awry when, during the course of one day, she's faced with a string of mishaps--starting with Timby faking a sickness at school--which snowballs when she comes face-to-face with a former employee, an "ingratiating wannabe... sweaty ass-kisser" she fired 10 years earlier, who is now a famous, accomplished artist.

With a strong narrative voice, fast pace and her signature wit, Semple cleverly spins another raucously funny story wound around deeper implications about the unexpected ways life teaches us to find meaning. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A restless wife and mother tries to reboot her life only to have her quest go awry.

Little, Brown, $27, hardcover, 272p., 9780316403436

The Angel of History

by Rabih Alameddine

Jacob, the aging Arab American poet in The Angel of History, has kept company with death for years, watching every close friend he has known wither away in the AIDS epidemic. Now Death is holding court with Satan and a host of saints in Jacob's San Francisco apartment, the poet's fiendish cat Behemoth their only audience, as Jacob flees in search of his sanity. In the spirit of Mikhail Bulgakov's satirical masterpiece The Master and Margarita, Rabih Alameddine (An Unnecessary Woman) conjures an elegiac comedy with aplomb, his incantations rich with sincerity and irreverence.

Born Ya'qub to the young Yemeni maid of a wealthy Lebanese family, the illegitimate child of the couple's son, the poet knows strife from the beginning: seeing his mother degraded in a brothel, being stripped of his dignity by nuns at his Catholic school, his heritage and sexuality stirring hatred in the hearts of Americans. These memories, prompted by Satan, flash through Jacob's mind against his will as he waits to see a psychiatrist.

Alameddine is an entrancing storyteller. As endearing as he is ribald, Jacob is the remnant of a generation lost to illness, shouting at oblivious young gay men, "How can you not know your history... how can you allow the world to forget us... the grand elision of queer history?"--even as he would like nothing more than to unlearn his own painful past. The Angel of History is outstanding, a novel that leaves a lasting mark. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Satan and Death consider the tragedies that one gay Arab American poet has faced in his life.

Atlantic Monthly Press, $26, hardcover, 304p., 9780802125767

Mystery & Thriller


by Joe Ide

Joe Ide blasts onto the crime fiction scene as one of the most exciting voices in recent years, introducing readers to engaging protagonist Isaiah Quintabe in IQ.

Isaiah may be a high school dropout, but his intelligence is off the charts. He sees details others don't, and uses inductive--the opposite of deductive--reasoning to find missing items or resolve situations for his neighbors in East Long Beach, Calif. At first his clients pay him in food or goods, but as his reputation grows, Isaiah graduates to gigs that pay in money.

His latest client is rap star Black the Knife, real name Calvin Wright, who believes someone is out to kill him. Wright refuses to leave his mansion, while his manager desperately needs the rapper in the studio to finish his latest album. Isaiah is hired to solve the case, to make Wright feel safe going outside again, and discovers there is in fact a killer hunting the artist, one who has chilling methods and has never failed to slay his prey.

Mystery fans should hunt down IQ; Isaiah and his sidekick, Dodson, are a hilarious urban version of Holmes and Watson. One can hear the characters talking in their lively, rhythmic dialogue, and the descriptions paint vivid pictures: "Miss Myra wondered if Ed was auditioning for a part in a movie about rednecks with his Hitler haircut and Mr. Potato Head ears." Besides providing laugh-out-loud moments, the story is also gritty and tragic and melancholy, just like life where IQ lives. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

Discover: An unconventional detective searches for a killer trying to murder a rap star.

Mulholland Books, $26, hardcover, 336p., 9780316267724

The Trespasser

by Tana French

Tana French's sixth novel, The Trespasser, revisits the burgeoning careers of Dublin Murder Squad Detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran, introduced in The Secret Place. As atmospheric and intricate as French's past work, this engrossing mystery succeeds in both style and plot. Fans and new readers alike will be captivated.

Conway and Moran are partners now, and in the opening pages, they are assigned what looks like yet another boring domestic homicide: a beautiful young woman has been killed, apparently in a fit of passion during a romantic dinner at home. A little too perfect, she "looks like Dead Barbie," and her apartment "like it was bought through some Decorate Your Home app." But most disturbingly, Conway is sure she's seen the vic somewhere before. As the case unfolds, the partners find wider-reaching connections than they'd bargained for.

French's fans will recognize the hallmarks of her mystery novels: intense interior struggles; a potent undercurrent of class tensions; a case that appears to have a mind of its own; and a victim whose personality haunts those who are seeking justice. French offers layers of possible betrayal, hypothetical events and convoluted stories, even an upheaval in Conway's private life that echoes an element of the case at hand. More than 400 pages pass by almost without blinking, as The Trespasser's momentum presses forward to a finish that staggers Conway and Moran as much as it does the reader. This is a complex, compulsively readable novel; French keeps getting better and better. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: Tana French surpasses herself with character nuance and plot twists in her sixth gritty murder mystery set in Dublin.

Viking, $27, hardcover, 464p., 9780670026333

Biography & Memoir

American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant

by Ronald C. White

Ulysses S. Grant's reputation nosedived in the 20th century, but a new generation has begun to rehabilitate his legacy. Historian Ronald C. White (A. Lincoln) combines exemplary scholarship and storytelling in American Ulysses, a monumental and well-illustrated re-evaluation of an extraordinary character, life and career.

White begins with the strong influence on Grant of the Puritan "priority of the community over the individual." His father was a slavery opponent and successful tanner; his mother was kind, pious and reserved. Grant was a sensitive, introverted child, patient, hardworking, studious and athletic. He hoped to teach mathematics, but ended up in the Mexican-American War, where he became default commander of a company mid-battle and won his first victory. He was promoted to captain, but after several failed business ventures and years of separation from his beloved wife, Grant resigned his commission and went home broke. The outbreak of the Civil War made him re-enlist as a clerk, and he rose to become one of the greatest generals in U.S. history. After the war, he reluctantly accepted an appointment as Secretary of War and then was "forced into" running for president, refusing to campaign because "he believed it unseemly to talk about himself."

Through detailed objective evidence, White explores how Grant's character laid the foundation for both his achievements and his humiliations. He tells of the "extraordinary long-running drama" between Grant and his equally skilled adversary Robert E. Lee, his occasionally successful attempts to champion African Americans, Indians and Jews, and his adventurous world travels with his wife--brilliantly conveying the life of a national hero. --Sara Catterall

Discover: This is a monumental and inspiring biography of the often misunderstood and underappreciated general and president Ulysses S. Grant.

Random House, $35, hardcover, 864p., 9781400069026

Political Science

Things That Can and Cannot Be Said: Essays and Conversations

by John Cusack, Arundhati Roy

Things That Can and Cannot Be Said is a slim, complicated volume. On its surface, the essay collection offers an account of Edward Snowden's 2014 meeting with John Cusack (star of High Fidelity and board member of the Freedom of Press Foundation), Arundhati Roy (author of The God of Small Things) and Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971). Things That Can and Cannot Be Said is less about Snowden's 2013 decision to leak classified NSA data than it is about the context of that decision, offering a statement on the surveillance state as it relates to war and peace in the 21st century.

"Through our conversations," writes Cusack, "I became very aware that what gets lost, or goes unsaid, in most of the debates around surveillance and whistleblowing is a perspective and context from outside the United States and Europe." Cusack's essays set up the need for this context, and Roy provides it with her reflections on her experiences living in India and traveling around the world. The collection bounces back and forth between the works of both writers as it builds to its crescendo: a transcript from their 2014 meeting with Snowden and Ellsberg. "It definitely cannot not be written about... because the world is a millipede that inches forward on millions of real conversations." Things That Can and Cannot Be Said is an unapologetically radical account of several such real conversations aiming to do just that: inch the world forward. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: This collection of essays recounts and expands on conversations between John Cusack, Arundhati Roy, Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden about the state of surveillance in the 21st century.

Haymarket Books, $10.95, paperback, 106p., 9781608467174


Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town

by S.L. Price

Veteran Sports Illustrated writer S.L. Price (Pitching Around Fidel; Heart of the Game) captures a microcosm of the 20th-century United States, as the town of Aliquippa, in western Pennsylvania, flooded with people in search of economic opportunity, and the generations that followed discovered the potential jackpot of athletic prowess. Playing Through the Whistle is the rich history of the Poles, Croats, Ukrainians, Serbs, Italians and African Americans who worked in the huge Jones & Laughlin steel mill and played ball for Aliquippa High School. Price takes us through the century's wars; the groundbreaking 1930s labor and 1960s civil rights legislation; and Aliquippa's unparalleled string of National Football League stars, including Mike Ditka, Ty Law, Tony Dorsett, Sean Gilbert and Darrelle Revis. If the growth of Jones & Laughlin created this melting pot, Price suggests, "Sport is where the melt in the pot began."

The "Quips" still play their games in "The Pit," built in 1937 when the town was growing--and it's still "sacred space, a bubble that gang conflict and crime almost never penetrate." But Jones & Laughlin closed the mill in 1988, and Aliquippa is barely holding on with a population now under 10,000 and the possibility of the high school merging with that of a neighboring community. Price dramatically chronicles the town's rise and fall: the early union labor strife, war sacrifices, segregation, race riots, drugs, the economic recession. Through it all, Aliquippa keeps hammering out football stars. Football may be all they have, and the Quips' future NFL aspirants are coached never to give up--to keep playing through the whistle. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Playing Through the Whistle is an omnibus modern history of the United States as played out in the football ethos of small town Aliquippa, Pa.

Atlantic Monthly Press, $27, hardcover, 400p., 9780802125644


Garden Flora: The Natural and Cultural History of the Plants in Your Garden

by Noel Kingsbury

"Every garden plant comes from somewhere. It will have ancestral species growing on a mountainside or deep within a forest, or be part of some great remaining grassland.... But when were these plants introduced into cultivation? Where, when and how did we end up with the range of cultivars we currently have down at the garden centre or nursery?" Noel Kingsbury (New Small Garden) is a British garden designer and the author of many volumes on various aspects of gardening. This is not a book on how to cultivate these plants, but rather an overview of the most widely grown genera of European and U.S. gardens.

He glances at their origins, natural habitats, evolution, ecology, ornamental culinary and medicinal uses, their history of cultivation and their introduction to Europe. More than 130 entries are dedicated to specific genera and a few broader categories, such as asters and ferns. Kingsbury provides a well-organized introduction that also acts as a glossary, laying out his terms and concepts. There is also a long list of recommended further reading organized by author, and (unfortunately) a poorly constructed index. Beautiful color illustrations, many of them full-page, accompany the entries, reproductions of engravings, paintings, prints, photographs and garden catalogue art. Garden Flora is a light, beautifully produced reference work that would make a lovely gift for quick histories of favorite garden plants, or as a jumping-off point for further research. --Sara Catterall

Discover: A beautifully illustrated reference book covers the origins, ecology and history of popular garden plants.

Timber Press, $40, hardcover, 368p., 9781604695656

Children's & Young Adult

When the Sea Turned to Silver

by Grace Lin

Once again, Newbery Honor author Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; Starry River of the Sky) takes readers on a spellbinding journey to an ancient China where myths may entertain mortals or leap to life among them.

"When the sea turned to silver and the cold chilled the light of the sun," Pinmei, the shy young granddaughter of Amah the Storyteller, hears trouble coming in the howl of the unusually fierce winter and the concerned murmurings of visitors to their home on the Never-Ending Mountain. The cruel new Tiger Emperor has villagers kidnapped to work as slaves and will only release them in exchange for a "Luminous Stone That Lights the Night." When the Emperor's soldiers kidnap Amah from her stone hut, Pinmei and a mysterious, bold neighbor boy named Yishan undertake a perilous journey to the City of Bright Moonlight on a gamble that it houses a Luminous Stone. In their travels, the two brave friends make allies of humans and otherworldly beings from Amah's stories. Gradually finding her own voice with forthright Yishan as her model, Pinmei discovers in folklore the will and means to stand against a tyrant.

Lin studs her narrative with folk tales, like pearls. Underwater kingdoms, dragons, a boy made of ginseng root, and a magic paper that answers questions by moonlight weave in and out of legend and reality. Her jewel-toned illustrations glow from the pages, evoking fine embroidery in their intricacy. When the Sea Turned to Silver will stand triumphantly alongside its sister novels in delighting anyone who appreciates a winning adventure or monument to folklore. --Jaclyn Fulwood, lead librarian at Del City Public Library, Okla.

Discover: Grace Lin, author of the Newbery Honor-winning Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, writes another beautiful combination of adventure narrative and folk tale.

Little, Brown, $18.99, hardcover, 384p., ages 8-14, 9780316125925

The Lost House

by B.B. Cronin

"Grandad promised to take his grandchildren to the park today./ But he needs some help getting ready./ He's lost a few things." It's no wonder that Grandad, a dapper and mustachioed bulldog, has misplaced his socks, shoes, house keys, even his false teeth, because his splendidly overstuffed house is crammed to its lofty ceilings with curiosities, artwork, furniture and collectibles. His two grandpuppies--and by extension, readers--are charged with finding what Grandad has lost, item by item, and this none-too-easy seek-and-find challenge is the core of The Lost House by B.B. Cronin, an award-winning illustrator originally from Dublin, Ireland. Needless to say, the trio never quite makes it to the park.

It's a delight to wander through Grandad's eccentric house of fascinating, slightly insane rooms, from the magenta mezzanine to the shiny red kitchen and green greenhouse. Each gorgeous room and its eclectic contents are all awash in one color, some so neon as to inspire rapid blinking: "In the pink drawing room, there are pairs of galoshes and plenty of glass lamps./ There should also be a pair of Grandad's glasses in here. Where are they?" Readers can flip to the title-page spread to see what each item looks like. Cronin's minimal text is noteworthy, too--lively, often alliterative and occasionally poetic. A glorious world of oddities, sly winks and red herrings, The Lost House is a find. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: In this extraordinary seek-and-find picture book, readers must help two grandpups round up their bulldog Grandad's belongings before they can go to the park.

Viking, $18.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 3-7, 9781101999219

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