Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Random House Books for Young Readers: Lights, Camera, Middle School! (Babymouse Tales from the Locker #1) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Greenwillow Books: Nothing by Annie Barrows

Time Inc. Books: BookExpo Events

Wednesday Books: I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin

Bloomsbury: BookExpo Titles

Little, Brown and Company: The Futilitarians: Our Year of Thinking, Drinking, Grieving, and Reading by Anne Gisleson

News

Image of the Day: Prognosticating Cat

Shades of Paul the Octopus, who picked World Cup winners last year.... Mabel, the bookstore cat at Mabel's Fables Bookstore, Toronto, Ont., emphasizes the store's current favorite cat book. Via the bookstore's Eleanor LeFave, Mabel recommends a cat on every book cover for increased sales. Good-looking humans must however, be positioned only in the background.

Photo: bookseller Shanti Liverpool



Flatiron Books: Book Expo Galley Giveaway


Sales: Bookstore Sales Fall 4.6% in January


January bookstore sales fell 4.6%, to $2.189 billion, compared to January 2010, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau.

Total retail sales in January rose 7.4% to $345.2 billion compared to the same period a year ago.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, bookstore sales are of new books and do not include "electronic home shopping, mail-order, or direct sale" or used book sales.

 


Auzou: ALA Annual 2017


Notes: HMH's O'Callaghan Resigns; Borders Gets Extension

Barry O'Callaghan, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt since 2009, resigned yesterday, just over a year after the company underwent major debt restructuring (Shelf Awareness, February 23, 2010). The Wall Street Journal reported that CFO Michael Muldowney will serve as interim chief executive until the board selects a permanent successor. O'Callaghan will remain a senior advisor to the company.

"He’s just pursuing other ventures," HMH spokesman Joseph Blumenfeld told the New York Times. "It’s been a year since our financial restructuring, which he led, and he made the determination that it was time to do something different."

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Borders Group has an additional three months--until mid-September--to negotiate new store leases, according to Reuters, which reported on proceedings yesterday in bankruptcy court.

Borders lawyer David Friedman expressed satisfaction with the ruling by the judge, saying in court, "We hope to emerge [from bankruptcy] either through a sale or a plan well before this date." The timing is similar to that mentioned late last week by Borders CEO Mike Edwards.

The judge also approved in large part Borders's bankruptcy financing terms. The $505 million bankruptcy package led by General Electric mostly represents debt from before the bankruptcy filing, but also $30 million to $60 million in new financing.

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Recent speculation about free Kindles in the future (Shelf Awareness, March 8, 2011) ramped up again with Amazon's announcement that its e-reader will be sold in the United Kingdom by Best Buy U.K. as well as Carphone Warehouse, which "will be offering the Kindle with a twist, too: people taking out two-year contracts on selected handsets will be able to get the wi-fi Kindle free of charge, with the 3G model costing £15 [US$24]," paidContent.org reported.

The bundling move "also plays on another Kindle theme we’ve been seeing of late. There has been speculation over how and whether Amazon would use its hefty distribution machine to get the Kindle into more hands at big discounts, potentially even giving it away free to people as a way of getting them to buy other Amazon services," paidContent.org added. "One observer, John Walkenbach--perhaps channeling Edgar Cayce--has even gone so far as to predict the month when it will go free: November 2011."

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Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved legislation barring the FBI from using the Patriot Act to search bookstore and library records unless they relate to a suspected terrorist or someone known to the suspect. Now the bill, USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act of 2011 (S. 193), moves to the Senate floor where it will be brought to a vote sometime before the end of May, when several provisions of the Patriot Act will expire. The Campaign for Reader Privacy--representing librarians, booksellers, authors and publishers--is urging its supporters to ask their senators to support S. 193.
            
The House also considered Patriot re-authorization last week at the Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee hearing on Crime. On February 18, the House defeated a floor amendment offered by Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.) that banned the use of the Patriot Act to search bookstore and library records. The vote, 196-231, was closer than many expected. Thirty-two Republicans voted for the measure. When Bernie Sanders introduced the same amendment in 2005, it attracted only 27 Republican votes.

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Congratulations to Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville and Downers Grove, Ill., and John Eklund, who have won Publishers Weekly's Bookseller of the Year and Rep of the Year awards, respectively.

Anderson's, which includes ABCFairs and Two Doors East, dates back to 1875, when the current owners' great great grandfather opened a pharmacy that also sold books. Current co-owner Becky Anderson is v-p of the American Booksellers Association and has been nominated to be president for a term starting at BookExpo America--pending her likely election by members.

John Eklund is a rep for Harvard, Yale and MIT presses and lives in Milwaukee, Wis. He earlier was a bookseller and buyer for Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops and blogs at Paper Over Board.

The winners will be subject of stories in PW's April 25 pre-BEA issue and will be honored at a ceremony during BEA.

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Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco, Calif., is moving at the end of April and aims to find another space that it will occupy temporarily. Then, after Busboys & Poets, which has several combined restaurants, event spaces and community gathering spots in Washington, D.C., (Shelf Awareness, November 2, 2010) opens a San Francisco branch, Modern Times will move there and sublease space and hold events. In one of its capital sites, Busboys & Poets hosts Teaching for Change's Busboys & Poets Bookstore. Busboys & Poets will open a San Francisco branch in a year at the earliest.

In an e-mail, Modern Times said that "sharing event programming and costs [with Busboys & Poets] would allow us to help host bigger authors on the radical and progressive left while still being able to support local authors, open mics and community events. We believe that this partnership offers us our best chance to grow in a more sustainable direction and remain a community space and resource in the Mission."

Nearly 40 years old, Modern Times has been in its current location 20 years. When it last moved, it expanded and became a full service new bookstore, a model that "is no longer workable as the book industry changes and smaller, more focused independent stores survive," the store said. "Modern Times is committed to being a place where the radical and progressive communities of San Francisco and particularly the Mission can find the books, space and events that interest them."

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Nantucket Bookworks' owner Wendy Morton Hudson has a big announcement on her shop's Facebook page: "Check it out! Bookworks is going to be the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind, signed-by-many-authors, bright orange Mini Cooper! [Shelf Awareness, July 27, 2010]. I'm buying it from Penguin Putnam to be our new Bookworks-a-GoGo mobile."

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Early score on Twitter for Mendham Books, Mendham, N.J.!

Via e-mail, Twitter and its website, the bookstore has begun promoting signed copies of books in advance of author events. Already on one of its first plays, it's gained a lot of yardage: the store has sold more than 100 copies of Play Like You Mean It by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan, who will sign them when he makes an appearance at the store May 5. Many of the sales were from a tweet that was retweeted on several Jets fan sites.

Mendham Books lists such possibilities for signed books on its Indie Commerce website thanks to Sean Concannon who helped owner Tom Williams. The site now has an "autographed books" page and is also offering signed books from past events.

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Judging a cover by its book. In the Atlantic, Charlotte Strick, art director of Faber & Faber and the paperback line at FSG, shared a few trade secrets about the creative process behind those enticing covers.

"Every three months or so, we gather together," she wrote. "In our hands, launch meeting packets still hot off the copy machine. Our editor-in-chief sits at the head of the double-long conference table, and introduces us, the weary and largely bespectacled, to the newest crop of books. Over the years I've found that most editors describe their hopes and dreams for their future covers in the same ways. Please make them look 'hip,' 'sexy,' and--oh yes!--'fresh, too'! Our job as jacket designers is to keep reinterpreting these well-worn requests.... We cross our fingers and toes and say silent prayers to the design gods in the hopes that our babies don't end up in the recycling bin--or, worse, that the chosen design is the one we like the least."

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Writerscast.com's David Wilk speaks with Phil Ollila, chief content officer of Ingram Content Group, about what Ollila called an "exciting time in the book industry." Ingram's goal: "No matter the form of the book, whether it be printed or digital or a digital file that turns into a print file on demand, we're in position to help publishers push all their content through all the new distribution networks."

For an interesting conversation about getting books, er content, from writers to readers in the digital age, click here.

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Adventure Journal profiled Paul Winer, owner of Reader's Oasis Bookstore, Quartzite, Ariz., noting that "visitors to the bookstore immediately notice the wide selection of cool, used books, magazine, ephemera, local memorabilia, and the attire of the manager. Paul is a nudist who wears footwear, a hat, glasses, necklaces, and specially-made covers for his... well... see the photo. He's a hell of a nice guy with a welcoming attitude and great stories to tell. If you're ever driving on I-10 to Los Angeles, stop by and meet him. Just keep those eyes high."

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For Jacket Copy's feature "9 ways of looking at earthquakes through literature," David Ulin noted: "For as long as we have experienced seismicity, we have written about it, going back to the Book of Acts. Below are nine works (one for each of this most recent earthquake's points of magnitude) that channel both our terror and our awe."

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Two signings were canceled this week at Borders bookstores in Chicago for Frank Calabrese Jr., author Operation Family Secrets: How a Mobster's Son and the FBI Brought Down Chicago's Murderous Crime Family, after a man left a threatening voicemail message warning about "rats" signing books, the Sun-Times reported.

Spokeswoman Mary Davis said Borders "felt the threat was legitimate given the controversial nature of the content of Mr. Calabrese's book."

Instead, Calabrese made his first public appearance after the death threat at Elmhurst College, accompanied by "a stone-faced security guard Tuesday, and a pair of campus cops were also on hand," according to WLS-TV.

"It could be somebody that just wants to do something to me just to prove something," he said. "I don't believe it's anybody left in organized crime because that's not how we were taught to do things."

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Obituary note: Biographer Hazel Rowley, "whose subjects ranged from a neglected Australian writer to a famous African-American one, and from a distinguished pair of French philosophers and their romantic entanglements to a distinguished American presidential couple and their (possible) romantic entanglements," died earlier this month, the New York Times reported. She was 59.

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Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here, recommended "Wilderness Tales to Awaken Your Natural Spirit" for NPR's Three Books series, including The Call of the Wild by Jack London, The Wilding by Benjamin Percy and McTeague: A Story of San Francisco by Frank Norris. 

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The Parlor Mob's "Can't Keep No Good Boy Down" is just one of the songs that Pip, Charles Dickens's "classic social climbing orphan... would pine, preen, and suffer to," according to Flavorwire's literary mixtape for the protagonist of Great Expectations.

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Here's a reading tool that hasn't been digitally replicated yet: the home library ladder. Modern Residential Design showcased various options, observing: "The rise of the e-book reader is bound to lead to a counter wave of bibliophilia. As digital music lent an aura of authenticity and desirability to vinyl records, so digital books will fuel a contrasting passion for books and libraries, driven partly by nostalgia and partly by new awareness of the things libraries can offer that e-readers and digital archives can't. The accessory du jour will be the home library ladder."  

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Book trailer of the day: Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege by Will Potter (City Lights Publishers), about the FBI using anti-terrorism resources to target environmentalists and animal rights activists.

 


G.P. Putnam's Sons: A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light by Eleanor Brown


Obituary Note: Edward W. Knappman

Edward W. Knappman, longtime president of the literary agency New England Publishing Associates (NEPA), died on Thursday, March 10. He was 67 and had a MRSA infection of unknown origin--an infection resistant to antibiotics.

Only last year, Knappman and his wife, Elizabeth Frost-Knappman, sold NEPA to Roger Williams, managing director of the Publish or Perish Agency, and retired.

Before launching NEPA 20 years ago, Knappman was publisher and executive v-p of Facts on File, where, among other things, he moved the company from subscription services to reference book publishing and launched Facts on File's British operation.

Knappman also was an author; his titles included Great American Trials, Great World Trials, Sex, Sin and Mayhem: Notorious Trials of the 1990s and American Trials of the 20th Century.

In his 20s, Knappman was involved in the civil rights and antiwar movements. He went to the Deep South to help register black voters and was press spokesman for the Kennedy/Fulbright Committee, which sought to block President Johnson's renomination in 1968.

Contributions in memory of Edward W. Knappman can be made to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

 


Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Roald Dahl Challenge


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Carlos Fuentes on KCRW's Bookworm

This morning on the Today Show: Jeff Kinney, author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, and the cast of the movie of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, which opens Friday, March 25.

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Tomorrow morning on the Today Show: Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After: Saving Your Marriage When the Fairytale Falters (Running Press, $22.95, 9780762439010).

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Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana: Five Sisters, One Remarkable Family, and the Woman Who Risked Everything to Keep Them Safe (Harper, $24.99, 9780061732379).

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Tomorrow on Piers Morgan: Gary Vaynerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy (HarperBusiness, $24.99, 9780061914188).

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Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: part one of a two-part series with Carlos Fuentes, author of Destiny and Desire (Random House, $27, 9781400068807). As the show put it: "The great Mexican writer modestly confides that yes, he has completed a new novel but it's really the same story, just with new characters. He elaborates: all stories are the same--the same global myths illustrating the same human truths."

 


Television: Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story

The Daily Mail featured photos from the Vancouver set of Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story, a Lifetime network movie starring Poppy Montgomery (Without a Trace). The first scenes for the unauthorized biopic re-create the novelist's "first ever public reading of the debut Harry Potter novel, The Philosopher's Stone in 1997.... Filmed inside a bookstore, locals were allowed to shop during the shoot as Poppy delivered her first lines."

Rowling's publicist told the Vancouver Times Colonist: "I can confirm that the biopic Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story is unofficial and not authorized. We cannot comment further." The movie is scheduled to be screened on Lifetime later this year.

 


Movies: A Captain's Duty

Tom Hanks will play Richard Phillips in a film adaptation of A Captain's Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, which chronicled Phillips's experience as the cargo ship captain who gave himself up as a hostage to Somali pirates to keep his crew from having to leave the ship with them.

Deadline.com reported that "The Social Network team of Scott Rudin, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti and Kevin Spacey are producing the film. Hanks sparked to a draft recently turned in by The Hunger Games scribe Billy Ray. Elizabeth Cantillon is supervising for Sony Pictures."

Hanks is currently working with Rudin on Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer's novel.

 



Books & Authors

Awards: PEN/Faulkner Fiction; Orange Prize; Children’s Choice

Deborah Eisenberg's The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg won the $15,000 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. "From the first to the last of her collected stories, Deborah Eisenberg demonstrates her sharp intelligence, literary inventiveness, and her clear understanding of human interconnectedness as it exists in isolation," said judge Laura Furman. "Eisenberg's reader often has the feeling that her characters don't quite understand either who they are or how they got themselves into their present fix. The struggle of her characters to create a whole life from the shards of their experience and emotions forms the moral core of Deborah Eisenberg's work."

Eisenberg will be honored along with the other shortlisted authors--Jennifer Egan for A Visit from the Goon Squad; Jaimy Gordon for Lord of Misrule; Eric Puchner for Model Home and Brad Watson for Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives--on May 7 during a ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.

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The Independent has the £30,000 (US$48,216) Orange Prize for Fiction longlist here. The shortlist will be announced April 12, with the winner named June 8.

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On May 2 at the Lighthouse in New York City, winners of the Children's Choice Book Awards will be announced live during the annual gala to kick off Children's Book Week (May 2-8). From now through April 29, kids will be able to cast their votes for their favorite books, author and illustrator at bookstores, schools, libraries and online at www.BookWeekOnline.com. This year's finalists, as determined by more than 16,000 children and teens, are:

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott (Walker)
Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson (Scholastic)
How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)
Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby (Putnam/Penguin)
Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld (Little, Brown)

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year
Babymouse #12: Burns Rubber by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Random House)
Bad Kitty vs. Uncle Murray: The Uproar at the Front Door by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods & Heroes by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda (Candlewick)
Finally by Wendy Mass (Scholastic)
Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf)

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
Big Nate: In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce (HarperCollins)
It's a Book by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook/Macmillan)
The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) by Rick Riordan (Disney-Hyperion)
Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix/Scholastic)
Zebrafish by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision (Atheneum/S&S)

Teen Choice Book of the Year
Burned (House of Night, Book 7) by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast (St. Martin's Griffin/Macmillan)
Fang (A Maximum Ride Novel) by James Patterson (Little, Brown)
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)
Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Book 5) by Richelle Mead (Razorbill/Penguin)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Dutton/Penguin)

Author of the Year
Cassandra Clare for Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1) (McElderry/S&S)
Suzanne Collins for Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) (Scholastic Press)
Jeff Kinney for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (Amulet/Abrams)
Stephenie Meyer for The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown)
Rick Riordan for The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, Book 1) (Disney-Hyperion)

Illustrator of the Year
Robin Preiss Glasser for Fancy Nancy and the Fabulous Fashion Boutique (HarperCollins)
Loren Long for Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters (Knopf)
Nancy Tillman for Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan)
David Wiesner for Art & Max (Clarion/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Mo Willems for Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins)

The author and illustrator of the year finalists were selected by the CBC and CBC Foundation from a review of bestseller lists with an emphasis on Bookscan.

 


Book Brahmin: Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is the author of 18 novels, including Firefly Lane, True Colors and Winter Garden. A lawyer turned writer, she is the mother of one son and lives with her husband in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. Hannah's latest novel, Night Road (St. Martin's Press, March 22, 2011), is a story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

 

On your nightstand now:

I'd like to make it sound as if I have a nice, neat, manageable stack of books on my nightstand, but the truth is that I have piles of books along the wall beside my bed. Most of the books are research for the novel I'm currently working on; a few, though, are my treat to myself after a long day at work. The top of the list right now: Swamplandia by Karen Russell, The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman and Unbroken by Laura Hilderbrand.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Hmmm... I'd have to say Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was my favorite novel as a young girl; as a young adult, The Lord of the Rings stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Your top five authors:

I have a very eclectic reading taste--I love thrillers, horror, mystery, literary fiction, historical fiction. Everything. I have a lot of favorite classic and contemporary authors. So I think for the purposes of this question, I'll name the contemporary authors whose body of work rarely fails to entertain, enlighten or move me. These are the authors I buy without even knowing what the book is about: Stephen King, Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Pat Conroy, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, J.K. Rowling.

Book you've faked reading:

Madame Bovary. I've never actually faked reading it, but I've tried to read it several times and never finished. I still have it on my "someday" list.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Harry Potter series (not that J.K. Rowling needs the help), but I am constantly trying to get adults to read the books. When I hear, "I don't read fantasy," or "that's a kids' book," I go crazy. I am absolutely in awe of the feat that J.K. pulled off in those books. The planning, the characterizations, the connections at the end, and then all that emotion. Magic.

Book you've bought for the cover: 

I don't think I've ever bought a book for the cover. Certainly it's the cover that draws my attention first with an unknown author, but after that, it's all about the first page and the story synopsis.

Book that changed your life:

That's an easy one: The Lord of the Rings. 

Favorite line from a book:

It's a tie. "My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call." This is from Pat Conroy's Prince of Tides. The second, not surprisingly, comes from The Lord of the Rings: "Mr. Frodo, I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well." It's a simple line, but the emotion contained within it is powerful enough to bring tears to my eyes every time.

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

Wow. This is one of the best, most interesting questions I've ever been asked. Of course there are so many classic choices, books that you read before you were really ready to understand the majesty and power of the prose. Of the classics, I would have to say To Kill a Mockingbird. It is probably my favorite novel of all time, and I would love to get to know Scout and Boo all over again. I'd also kill to read Harry Potter's conclusion again. It would be great not to know who lived or died and how it all ended; I'd love to be poised over those pages again for the first time, soaking it all up, hurtling toward the end. Perhaps this time I'd slow down....

Which of your novels would make the best movie:

I sound so wishy-washy, having two answers for everything question. In this case, I'd say it's a dead heat between Winter Garden and Night Road. Winter has all that lovely, terrible World War II Russian history that would look so beautiful on screen. Night Road is such a compelling story, with a timely theme and a really powerful message. I think it would great for teenagers to watch this movie--or read this book--with their parents. So I guess I'd have to say both. 

Novel you'd most like to read in its original language:

Anna Karenina. When I was researching and writing Winter Garden, I fell completely in love with the Russian poets and writers. I was stunned to discover how much difference there was in the content based on the various translations.

 


Book Review

Children's Review: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Katherine Tegen Books, $17.99 Hardcover, 9780062024022, May 2011)

In her debut novel, Veronica Roth creates an engrossing coming-of-age story set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, recognizable only by the former Sears Tower and Hancock Building. Narrator Beatrice Prior has grown up in the Abnegation faction, where her father serves as a council member. Now that she is 16, Beatrice, along with her peers, must choose one of five factions to make their home. The teens first submit to an aptitude test, which demonstrates to them the faction best suited to their character traits. At a Choosing ceremony, they ultimately pick for themselves the faction in which they wish to serve.

The factions were established "to eradicate those qualities... believed responsible for the world's disarray." Each faction performs a different role: Abnegation, with its emphasis on selflessness, provides political leaders and distributes food to the factionless; Amity attracts the counselors and caretakers; Candor upholds the law; Erudite supplies the teachers and researchers; and Dauntless guards the boundaries of society. During the aptitude test, the teens take a "simulation serum" and experience lifelike situations in which they have to act quickly. Beatrice's test results are inconclusive; she could go with any of three factions. Tori, who administered her test, tells Beatrice she is "Divergent.... Being a Divergent is extremely dangerous," she says. She warns Beatrice not to confide her test results to anyone.

Roth shows glimmers of Beatrice's fascination with Dauntless from the first pages, their reckless leaps from a moving train, their black attire and tattoos as compared with her own plain haircut and gray uniform. So the heroine's decision to leave her family, while difficult, is not a surprise. Instead, the surprises come from the new trappings "Tris" takes on in Dauntless and her process of figuring out which parts of her old self she wishes to keep and what she wants to shed. No neatly contained compartments or factions can guide her in the journey. As she puts it, "At least [in the Dauntless compound], I know exactly where I stand, which is on unstable ground." As the guards of society's borders, the Dauntless initiation is violent and sometimes mentally abusive. Tris finds unexpected stores of physical strength as well as mental stamina. She also discovers that compassion comes from unexpected corners--as does cruelty.

Early on, Tris's father hints at a growing rift between the factions. "Valuing knowledge above all else results in a lust for power," he says. As tension escalates between Erudite--to which Tris's brother, Caleb, defected--and Abnegation, where their father is still a leader, Tris's mother gives her a cryptic message to convey to Caleb: "Tell him to research the simulation serum." This leads Tris to uncover a plot that could derail their society's underpinnings and end in death for many. At the same time, she develops feelings for a fellow Dauntless. In a faction that values facing down one's fears, intimacy may be her greatest fear of all: "I never thought I would need bravery in the small moments of my life. I do." Like Katniss in The Hunger Games, Tris must find her own moral compass. To her astonishment, Tris discovers that bravery and selflessness are "often... the same thing." This taut, thought-provoking novel asks teens to consider what they value most about their own society--and themselves.--Jennifer M. Brown

 


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in Florida Last Week

The bestselling books at independent bookstores in Florida during the week ended Sunday, March 13:

1. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
2. Bringing Adam Home by Les Standiford
3. Night Vision by Randy Wayne White
4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
5. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
6. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
7. Swamplandia by Karen Russell
8. The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
10. How We Age by Marc Agronin, M.D.

Reporting bookstores and their handselling favorites:

Book Mark, Neptune Beach
Vero Beach Book Center: The Revenge of the Radioactive Lady by Elizabeth Stuckey-French
Inkwood Books, Tampa: Wingshooters by Nina Revoyr
Books & Books: So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

[Many thanks to the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]

 


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