Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Roaring Brook Press: Juniper's Christmas by Eoin Colfer

From My Shelf

Art to Enjoy at Home

One thing I didn't realize how much I'd miss in this year of staying home and staying alone as much as possible is art. I used to visit museums frequently, but circumstances have made that difficult. Sure, there's a lot of art on the Internet, but the screen creates a distance that tends to diminish scope and color and overall effect. So, I have grown to appreciate the visually arresting power of art books, and tend to pore over them, engrossed by color and image, as well as the context provided by expert editorial contributors. These don't have to be massive, expensive monographs to be enjoyable, either.

For example, Kusama: The Graphic Novel by Elise Macellari (Laurence King, $19.99) is a graphic biography that captures her life and aesthetic with vibrancy and grace. The avant-garde pop artist has taken the world by storm, and there is much to love and learn through this accessible interpretation of Kusama and her work.

Another that caught my eye recently is Karlheinz Weinberger: Together & Alone (The Song Cave, $29.95), a collection of newly unearthed photographs by an underappreciated gay Swiss artist. The plates showcase his preoccupation with both collective and individual performances of masculinity, clothed and unclothed. Artist Collier Schorr describes, in her well-considered introduction, the photos as having a casual intimacy that offers a poignant glimpse beyond the posturing.

Finally, I can't get over the lush photography found in San Francisco's Chinatown by Dick Evans and Kathy Chin Leong (Heyday, $40). I had to cancel a trip I'd planned there for the spring, so in a way, this brought a bit of the Bay to me, with exquisite photos of food, people, clothing, costumes and more. Like all these books, it's a little something to enjoy until it's safe to engage with the world more fully. --Dave Wheeler, associate editor, Shelf Awareness

BINC: Read Love Support Campaign

The Writer's Life

Reading with... Dewaine Farria

photo: Iryna Farria

Dewaine Farria's writing has appeared in the New York Times, CRAFT, War on the Rocks, The Rumpus and the Southern Humanities Review. He is a co-editor at the Maine Review. Farria holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an MA in International and Area Studies from the University of Oklahoma. As a U.S. Marine, Farria served in Jordan and Ukraine, and worked for the United Nations, with assignments in the North Caucasus, Kenya, Somalia and Occupied Palestine. Tobias Wolff selected his debut novel, Revolutions of All Colors (Syracuse University Press, October 15, 2020), as the winner of Syracuse University's 2019 Veterans Writing Contest.

On your nightstand now:

I just finished George Pelecanos's The Man Who Came Uptown. I always fly through Pelecanos's novels and this was no exception--great characters, gritty situations, and absolutely Elmore Leonard-level dialogue. Whenever someone brings up the subject of white authors writing modern Black American vernacular, I mention the dialogue in "String Music" from Pelecanos's short story collection, The Martini Shot.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia series. My fourth grade teacher, Ms. Chandler (a wonderful woman who, of all my former teachers, is most responsible for my love of fiction), organized a class field trip to see the play. It took me seeing the Black Panther film a few years ago to realize just how important the fantasy landscapes of Narnia, Middle Earth and Camelot had been for me as a child. I'm glad my kids can add Wakanda--a radically reimagined African kingdom--to that list.

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin
Sebastian Junger
Toni Morrison
Joyce Carol Oates
George Orwell

Book you've faked reading:

The Bible.

Also, once in an airport I bought a copy of Bridget Jones's Diary and carefully tore off the paperback's cover because I was embarrassed to be seen reading it. Does that count? I thoroughly enjoyed Helen Fielding's novel, by the way.   

Book you're an evangelist for:

Dispatches by Michael Herr. Some of the best American writing on war ever done.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple. Molly Crabapple has illustrated some of the most important stories of this decade--from the Ferguson riots to Guantanamo Bay--and remains one of the most influential visual artists of our time. Crabapple compared the process of transforming Hisham's photos and verbal descriptions into illustrations with "downloading memories." Many of Crabapple's more fantastic illustrations--including Brothers of the Gun's cover image of Tareq, a sniper hardened on the battlefield against ISIS forces, playing his knock-off Russian rifle like a violin--depict more truth than would be possible in other mediums.

Book you hid from your parents:

I'm happy to report that I never felt compelled to hide a book from my parents.

Book that changed your life:

God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens.

Favorite line from a book:

From James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room:

"When Giovanni wanted me to know that he was displeased with me, he said I was a 'vrai américain'; conversely when delighted, he said that I was not an American at all; and on both occasions he was striking, deep in me, a nerve which did not throb in him. And I resented this: resented being called an American (and resented resenting it) because it seemed to make me nothing more than that, whatever that was; and I resented being called not an American because it seemed to make me nothing.

Five books you'll never part with:

Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
Tribe by Sebastian Junger
On Writing by Stephen King
Bloods--Black Veterans of the Vietnam War: An Oral History by Wallace Terry
On Boxing by Joyce Carol Oates

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

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. I could use those deep belly laughs right now.

Zest Books (Tm): Nearer My Freedom: The Interesting Life of Olaudah Equiano by Himself by Monica Edinger and Lesley Younge

Book Candy

Christmas Cheer

Author Jenny Colgan suggested the "coziest comfort reads to curl up with this Christmas" for the Guardian.


Mental Floss revisited "12 spirited facts about How the Grinch Stole Christmas."


A look back: Smithsonian magazine considered the question: Why do people tell ghost stories on Christmas?


Mini Maldon Books: "We've been restoring this dolls house for a while, and whilst we can't take part in the annual Christmas Fayre, we'll be turning on the lights in this little bookshop," Bookshelf noted.


Check out the New York Public Library's "Top Checkouts of 2020."

Great Reads

Rediscover: Marvin Bell

Poet Marvin Bell, the first Poet Laureate of Iowa, a National Book Award finalist and professor of literature, died on December 14 at age 83, publisher Copper Canyon Press reported. His poems were known for "mining the intersection of philosophy and poetry," and they brought "meaning and discovery to daily life." His work featured a recurring character known as the Dead Man, an all-knowing trickster who addresses "the joys as well as the catastrophes of the personal and the political." Bell taught at the Iowa Writers' Workshop for 40 years and was the Flannery O'Connor Professor of Letters when he retired in 2005. He held a BA from Alfred University, an MA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Iowa. He was named the state's first ever Poet Laureate in 2000.

Bell wrote more than 20 volumes of poetry over the course of his career. He published his first collection, Things We Dreamt We Died For, in 1966 with the Stone Wall Press. His 1977 collection Stars Which See, Stars Which Do Not See, was a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry. Bell's most recent volume, Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems, was published in 2019 by Copper Canyon ($24).

Book Review


Rest and Be Thankful

by Emma Glass

The opening pages of Rest and Be Thankful find the protagonist, a pediatric ICU nurse named Laura, working urgently to resuscitate a baby. It's a powerful scene; her arms are beyond tired, but she dare not pause, knowing that each compression could mean everything--or nothing--for the tiny patient. For her second novel, Emma Glass (Peach) has chosen to highlight Britain's nursing profession through the intimate thoughts and emotions of a young woman teetering on the edge of a physical and mental breakdown, her story portrayed through hypnotic, soulful prose and immersive dream sequences.

As demanding as her job is, Laura's home life offers no reprieve. Her first-person narrative addresses her live-in boyfriend who no longer loves her. We learn intimate details about their ragged relationship, but he remains a distant, unnamed figure, an enigma at the exploded center of her universe. With him Laura is needy, unsure of herself, stumbling, her internal screams unheard. In contrast, at the London hospital where she spends nightly 12-hour shifts, she is confident in her work, a respected colleague, sought out by distraught parents for her compassion. With a three-day break around the corner, Laura just has to make it through a grueling week before she can let herself fall apart.

Glass, a pediatric nurse, brings bold descriptive power to her writing, offering a shockingly realistic sensory experience for readers blissfully unfamiliar with the haunting heartache of a children's ICU ward. --Shahina Piyarali, reviewer

Discover: This mesmerizing portrait of a young nurse's unraveling at a children's hospital in gritty London is written in a rhythmic stream of consciousness.

Bloomsbury, $18, hardcover, 160p., 9781526601070

Mystery & Thriller

Premeditated Mortar

by Kate Carlisle

Cozy mystery author Kate Carlisle (Shot Through the Hearth) has earned faithful readers with her creation of Shannon Hammer, a hardworking contractor and handywoman, who lives in the northern California coastal town of Lighthouse Cove. Shannon, who's single, has suffered her share of rotten dates and has been saved by the comfort of caring friends and neighbors. Over seven novels, she's restored a rundown Victorian home, renovated an old lighthouse and converted a mansion into housing for the homeless. She participated in a home and garden tour, was a guest on a home repair TV show and attended a global humanitarian conference on eco-living. While architecture and renovation details are hallmarks of each novel, so, too, is murder.

In Premeditated Mortar, Shannon is hired by best friend Jane to renovate a dilapidated mental asylum. Jane wants to turn part of the property into a five-star hotel and resort. During the project, Shannon and her team face protestors and opposition from a former doctor and one-time asylum patients. Chilling secrets from the past are unearthed when a corpse is discovered behind a hidden, blocked-off brick wall within the abandoned hospital. Shannon, her close-knit friends and her current beau--thriller writer Mac, who is also an investor in the renovation deal--are cornered into danger while trying to solve the murder mystery.

A well-drawn cast of likable, small-town characters and well-spun plotting continue to expand the appeal of Carlisle's suspenseful series--adapted for Hallmark Channel--that, this time, proves scarier than ever. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: In this stirring cozy mystery, a female building contractor discovers a corpse while renovating a historic mental asylum.

Berkley, $7.99, mass market paperbound, 304p., 9781984804419

The Opium Prince

by Jasmine Aimaq

In her extraordinary fiction debut, The Opium Prince, Afghan Swedish academic and communications expert Jasmine Aimaq, who lives in Canada, combines elements of literary thriller, sociopolitical exposé and historical witnessing. The Afghan people lived in relative--albeit tense--balance between the 1973 coup d'etat that ousted the monarchy and the 1978 assassination of President Mohammed Daoud Khan, which led to ongoing, unending wars. Appointed director of Kabul's USADE (United States Against the Drug Economy), Daniel Sajadi returned to his birth country with his U.S. education, his California wife, their diplomatic immunity--and stepped into the shadow of his late father, an Afghan hero.

What should have been a celebratory anniversary getaway becomes a pivotal tragedy when Daniel's Mercedes fatally hits nine- (or maybe 10) year-old Telaya. Her nomad Kochi parents aren't sure of her age, but her father insists, "She was the only thing of value in my life." The power of the Sajadi name saves Daniel from the police, but emboldens the mysterious Taj, a powerful figure in the local opium supply chain, to make uncompromising demands that threaten not only Daniel's existence, but the safety of many innocent others. The morality play begins.

Aimaq skillfully parallels Daniel's and Taj's lives--one utterly advantaged, the other destitute but determined. Both are relentlessly haunted by Telaya's death, one crippled by guilt, the other loss. Determining right and wrong quickly becomes impossible, perhaps even interchangeable, as Aimaq deftly confronts foreign aid, global drugs, foreign privilege, cultural entitlement, family loyalty and legacy, against the backdrop of two strangers whose future becomes inextricably, horrifically entangled. Who triumphs--or even just survives--is never guaranteed. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: The accidental death of a young girl engenders a dangerous, manipulative relationship between a privileged NGO director and desperate a opium khan in late-1970s Afghanistan.

Soho Crime, $27.95, hardcover, 384p., 9781641291583

The Last to See Her

by Courtney Evan Tate

In Courtney Evan Tate's slyly plotted thriller The Last to See Her, the supposedly close bond between two sisters is revealed to be a fraying knot of emotions and betrayals when one vanishes during a late-night walk in New York City.

At the beginning, The Last to See Her evokes a soap opera-like Lifetime movie situation. Successful romance writer Genevieve "Gen" Tibault is going through a contentious divorce from her unfaithful lawyer husband, Thad, though he continues to deny any affair. She tells her sister, Meghan "Meg" McCready, that she plans to move from Chicago back to their hometown of Cedarburg, Wis., even though she hasn't lived there and only seldom visited for 18 years. Meg, a highly respected surgeon who also lives in Chicago, believes the move is hasty, but encourages Gen to join her in New York City where she is attending a physicians' conference. After a great dinner together and more than a few drinks, Gen disappears blocks from their hotel, wearing Meg's jacket.

The search for Gen reveals a lifetime of jealousy that continues to undercut the sisters' twisted relationship. Tate skillfully, slowly uncovers their mutual bitterness. Often capricious, Gen envies Meg's solid marriage to Joe, a blue-collar worker, their adorable five-year-old and her career, while believing that Meg resents the glamorous, carefree life of an accomplished writer. The sisters and Thad have intersecting secrets as readers' allegiances shift among each character. Unreliable narrators allow obsessions and lack of trust to rule their actions.

Domestic suspense and clever twists punctuate The Last to See Her, the third novel under the name of Tate, the pseudonym for prolific romance writer Courtney Cole. --Oline H. Cogdill, freelance reviewer

Discover: Two sisters' seemingly close relationship is put under the microscope when one disappears in this slyly plotted thriller.

Mira, $17.99, paperback, 352p., 9780778309413

In League with Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Sherlock Holmes Canon

by Laurie King and Leslie Klinger, editors

Following in the tradition of anthologies of tales inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's famed detective, In League with Sherlock Holmes, led by its editors Laurie King and Leslie Klinger, gathers together 15 Sherlock-esque short stories by beloved mystery and thriller writers. In Tess Gerritsen's "What My Father Never Told Me," Moriarty's daughter, prompted by her father's mysterious death, begins to uncover a generational network of secret keepers. Derek Haas's "Benchley" flips reader expectations by having a witness teach the detective a thing or two about how to read a crime scene. And in Brad Parks's memorable "A Scandal on the Jersey Shore," an unlikely sleuth needs to get her best friend off the hook for killing her cheating boyfriend.

Most of the page-turning mysteries include characters with direct lineage to the Holmes/Watson duo, but all the stories feature the genre's most beloved tropes. From detail-oriented detective work to dramatic reveals, these tales are full of classic mystery pleasures while never feeling stale or predictable. In fact, the collection's best stories offer surprises in the shape of the detective, who isn't always the person one might think. Whether the shop-owning witness in "Benchley," the ditsy New Jersey blonde in "A Scandal on the Jersey Shore," or a stand-up comedian in Joe Hill's graphic short story, the detectives in these tales delight by showing up in unanticipated forms. Nevertheless, each story provides that truly cathartic moment when every detail clicks into place and readers' own close attention is rewarded. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: Wildly entertaining and endlessly satisfying, these short stories scratch the detective itch for hardcore fans while offering unexpected twists and distinctive characters. 

Pegasus Crime, $25.95, hardcover, 368p., 9781643135823


How to Catch a Queen

by Alyssa Cole

With How to Catch a Queen, the first entry in a projected series called Runaway Royals, Alyssa Cole (When No One Is Watching) has created a glamorous romance. How to Catch a Queen is set in the fictional African kingdom of Njaza. Njaza is isolated from Thesolo, the kingdom central to Cole's Reluctant Royals series, and has long been ruled as a strict patriarchy, led by King Sanyu and his fierce adviser, Musoke. But Sanyu I is dying, and the two old men hatch a scheme for Sanyu II to marry Shanti Mohapi of Thesolo as soon as possible.

Njazan culture allows the king to divorce his wife after four months and continue his search for a "true queen." Sanyu I had dozens of wives, and Sanyu II has grown up suspicious of women. With only four months to get to know her new husband, Queen Shanti is desperate to bring change to Njaza, where women are expected to remain silent and not get involved in government. As Shanti and Sanyu slowly build a tentative relationship, Sanyu will have to face down Musoke, who is determined that nothing will change in Njaza, even if the people are crying out for change, and a new king has taken the throne.

Delving into matters of colonialism, economic independence, patriarchy and gender roles, How to Catch a Queen is a thoughtful romance. But it also includes lighthearted moments as Shanti helps Sanyu shed his anxieties, and embrace the possibilities of their future. How to Catch a Queen combines fairytale glamour with modern sensibilities in the best possible way, making for an enjoyable romance. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: In this intriguing romance, a new queen has four months to change the heart of her difficult husband, while revolution simmers in their African kingdom.

Avon, $7.99, mass market paperbound, 384p., 9780062933966

Food & Wine

Even Better Brownies: 50 Standout Recipes for Every Occasion

by Mike Johnson

Even Better Brownies, the debut cookbook by attorney and baking blogger Mike Johnson, boasts delicious, diet-busting dessert recipes, smart baking advice and mouth-watering photographs (also by Johnson). That's right, Johnson is an attorney, baker, blogger and photographer. It's no wonder that he says these appealing recipes were chosen for both their taste and their ease. Johnson designed the cookbook for those with active lives. He picked ingredients that are affordable and easy to find, and recipes with short prep-times.

"Brownies don't require a lot of ingredients," Johnson writes, "so, the ones you use should be really great." He advises nixing baking chocolate and using higher-end chocolate bars you'd eat on their own. His upbeat solution to overbaked brownies is to slather them with frosting. If they're beyond eating, just crumble them into ice cream. The most tempting brownie recipes include peanut butter cornflake crunch, peppermint mocha, malted chocolate, dulce de leche, bourbon-pecan and his Kitchen Sink Brownies with pretzels, potato chips, peanut butter cups and Oreos. For those in need of moderation, he has a recipe for Small-Batch Brownies, made in a loaf pan. Johnson also strays from the confines of brownies to include recipes for blondies (made with brown sugar instead of cocoa), cookies that can be turned into bars, cheesecake bars, no-bake bars and fruit bars. "Everyone knows a dessert with fruit in it basically makes it a healthy treat," he writes.

Even Better Brownies is a tasty indulgence for bakers at all levels of experience and written with a jaunty sense of humor. --Kevin Howell, independent reviewer and marketing consultant

Discover: Popular baking blogger Mike Johnson's debut collection offers delicious dessert recipes, pithy advice and mouth-watering photos.

Page Street, $19.99, paperback, 144p., 9781645670926

Biography & Memoir

Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic

by Kenya Hunt

In Kenya Hunt's Girl Gurl Grrrl: On Womanhood and Belonging in the Age of Black Girl Magic, 20 compelling essays divulge the troubling reality that Black women live and the obstacles they surmount to carve a place in society.

Hunt expresses how, to simply exist, Black women work harder. "White people aren't expected to slay all day," she explains. By contrast, Black children learn to be "twice as good" to enjoy similar success. Black excellence itself is often reduced to a trend. Inclusivity after Black Panther was called the "Wakanda Effect," implying the culture's "moment" would end. Other entries highlight Hunt's personal battles with racism: receiving lesser maternal care than white mothers, being asked to speak for all Black American women as a transplant to London, getting rejected by Airbnb hosts when "booking while Black." Guest writers discuss clashing constructs of beauty within and outside the Black community, parenting Black children in a world unsafe for them, the erasure of Black lives and the tiring toll of projecting a palatable identity.

Overarching the collection's evocative commentary on belonging is a vitalizing sisterhood. These arresting voices speak urgently of community--of thriving among "skinfolk and kinfolk" and of thrillingly expressing Black pride against a backdrop of inequality. While #BlackGirlMagic has come to celebrate the exceptional, Hunt reminds that the hashtag originated to empower the ordinary. By sharing how everyday Black women resist, persist and uplift one another, Hunt inspires the world to see them, and see them equally. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer

Discover: This piercing collection illuminates what it means to be a Black woman amidst inequality, racism, modern activism and social media.

Amistad, $26.99, hardcover, 256p., 9780062987648

Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother's Letter to Her Son

by Homeira Qaderi, trans. by Zaman Stanizai

During the 985 nights since she was cleaved from her then 19-month-old, still-breastfeeding son, Homeira Qaderi managed to escape her native Afghanistan and eventually settle in California. Her son, now four, has been told his mother is dead. With this haunting memoir, Dancing in the Mosque: An Afghan Mother's Letter to Her Son, Qaderi literally, indelibly writes the proof of her existence into being.

Her grandmother warned her "that one of the most difficult tasks that the Almighty can assign anyone is being a girl in Afghanistan." Qaderi's family arranged her wedding at 17, allowing her to escape the fate of most teen girls--to be forcibly, miserably married to Taliban members. Accompanying her husband and family to Tehran proves to be a turning point: "In Afghanistan, a good woman was defined as a good mother. In Iran, a good woman could be an independent and educated woman." Qaderi earns multiple degrees, with her husband's encouragement, including her Ph.D., and finds her voice as a published author and activist. Returning to Kabul, she becomes that "good woman" when she gives birth to Siawash, but the "man's world" that is Afghanistan transforms her husband into a cowardly oppressor who demands a second wife. Her refusal to accept his decrees results in divorce via a single text. Siawash was snatched from her arms as he slept.

Qaderi's debut title is deftly translated by fellow Afghan professor and writer Zaman Stanizai. Raw, honest, humble, Qaderi renders her excruciating loss into words and stories that help her live, keep her connected and never lose hope for a miraculous reunion. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: Living in exile in California thousands of miles from her only child, an Afghan mother claims her voice with the lasting hope that someday her words and stories will reach her precious son.

Harper, $26.99, hardcover, 224p., 9780062970312


The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization

by Roland Ennos

When thinking about stages of human progress and development of materials, phrases such as the Bronze Age and the Iron Age might come to mind, but in The Age of Wood, professor of biological sciences Roland Ennos (Trees) challenges readers to consider the importance of wood to the progress of human civilization.

Ennos writes: "This book is a new interpretation of our evolution, prehistory, and history," and he hopes to "show that looking at the world in this fresh wood-centered way... can help us make far more sense of who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going." He centers his approach as a biomechanic to look at how the unusual material properties of wood have had an underlying impact on other technologies, which have depended on the relative strengths of wood in mechanical production across history. He uses his own areas of expertise to consider primatology, engineering, architecture, archeology, history, carpentry, anthropology, geology and conservation studies, from prehistory to the present, and he engagingly argues that what society needs now is to reassess and reframe its relationship to this particular natural resource.

Ennos at times sidetracks into extended discussions of other materials, and extends an arguably Euro-centric lens to most of his interpretations of humanities and social science discussions. The blend of hard science and social sciences provides an accessible argument that wood as a material remains central to human development and to the continuation of human society today. -- Michelle Anya Anjirbag, freelance reviewer

Discover: Professor of biological sciences Roland Ennos offers a convincing interdisciplinary look at how wood as a material and natural resource has shaped human history and development.

Scribner, $28, hardcover, 336p., 9781982114732

Children's & Young Adult

Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid

by Victoria Tentler-Krylov

Victoria Tentler-Krylov celebrates the creative vision and life's work of a pioneering architect in her winning picture-book biography, Building Zaha: The Story of Architect Zaha Hadid.

From an early age, Zaha Hadid recognized beauty in form. She built upon her love of both art and math as she moved from Baghdad to Beirut then London in pursuit of formal training as an architect. Accruing admirers but facing skeptics at every turn, Zaha overcame obstacles presented by her gender and originality to create innovative building designs that now stand in countries around the world. "Zaha dreamed big and defied convention," breaking down barriers in her field with each ingenious structure she built.

Tentler-Krylov, an architect, conveys clear respect and admiration for Zaha. Fluid watercolor and digital illustrations befit a story about design by varying in scale and perspective; a handful of double-page, full-bleed spreads provide a pleasing contrast to Tentler-Krylov's use of white space, emphasizing Zaha's utterly singular vision. Every story element projects movement: a swirling font, vague references to time and text incorporated into building elements. A touching author's note, timeline and bibliography are included.

This affectionate biography honors a tenacious woman who tackled with exuberance a male-dominated discipline. Tentler-Krylov appreciatively recounts Zaha's unswerving faith in her own ability and vision, as well as Zaha's legacy of both intellectual ideals and the realization of inventive designs. While Zaha's work may be abstract to some young readers, this impressive author/illustrator debut could inspire creative young readers to pursue concrete STEM goals--fitting for a groundbreaker's biography. --Kit Ballenger, youth librarian, Help Your Shelf

Discover: This engaging picture-book biography celebrates architect Zaha Hadid's groundbreaking work, persistence and creative vision.

Orchard Books, $18.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-8, 9781338282832

Good Night, Sleep Tight

by Esther van den Berg

A gazillion wee details fill this cheery and absorbing picture book about bedtime in a bug hotel.

As bedtime storybooks go, the pattern in Good Night, Sleep Tight is comfortingly familiar: a narrator goes through a series of steps before tucking in for the night. The magic here is in the details. Ladybug Dot carries a clipboard from room to room, making sure everyone is on target for bedtime. Has Dung Beetle taken his bath? Check. Stick Bug donned her pajamas? Check. Fly brushed teeth? Check.

Dutch illustrator Esther van den Berg, who previously illustrated Such a Library!: A Yiddish Folktale Re-imagined, has a bold and droll artistic style that features bright colors and figures with exaggerated attributes. Readers may want to linger in each guest's room, finding something new and sometimes giggle-worthy with repeated viewings of the digital illustrations. Fly has a framed print of a steaming pile of poop with a couple of flies (relatives, perhaps?) hovering above. Boots rest on a leaf doormat. Dung Beetle's bathtub is a teacup. There's more scatological humor in the bathroom where Pill Bug and Dot pee before bed. A child's illustration of a bearded pirate in a pink dress adorns Bookworm's walls, where Dot looks at books on Bookworm's sardine-can bed.

A sweet surprise--one final thing to check off the list before they all go to sleep--brings this fun book to a satisfying close, even if the Dutch-born author missed the opportunity to end with "Good night, sleep tight... don't let the bedbugs bite!" --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: In a comical addition to the bedtime book canon, residents of a delightfully ramshackle bug hotel go through their bedtime rituals, overseen by a checklist-happy ladybug.

Clavis Publishing, $18.95, hardcover, 32p., ages 3-7, 9781605375885

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