Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Marvel Press: Okoye to the People: A Black Panther Novel by Ibi Zoboi, illustrated by Noa Denmon

Minotaur Books: The Shadow House by Anna Downes

Soho Crime: One-Shot Harry by Gary Phillips

Ballantine Books: The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice by Benjamin Gilmer


Image of the Day: Bookselling Grads

Last week on Amelia Island, Fla., 15 prospective booksellers graduated from the week-long workshop "Opening a Bookstore: The Business Essentials," co-sponsored by the American Booksellers Association and facilitated by the Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates. Learning about book industry best practices, e-books and what's involved in opening and operating a successful retail bookstore: (from back row, top to bottom of steps) Dana King, Terri Foley, Rita Collins, Patti Good, Richard McCutcheon, Glenda Childs, Heather Sprague, Rhonda McCutcheon, Tim Henderson, Kathy Funk, Erin Coo and Holly Davidson, with trainers Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Notes: E-Book Sales Per Capita; Borders Liquidators Race Clock

"Have you ever wondered where the most voracious e-book readers live?" asked Mark Coker of Smashwords, who crunched his company's data to see how "the states stack up against one another" and found that the "numbers are surprising, especially when you look at per capita consumption."

Coker used the 20,000 e-books Smashwords distributes to Barnes & Noble, whose reports break down sales by state. Looking at the numbers for December through February, he then employed population data from the recent U.S. census to determine "the final, coolest numbers of them all, a normalized measure of per capita e-book consumption for each state."

His top five states for per capita e-book consumption:

  1. Alaska     
  2. North Dakota
  3. Utah
  4. Wyoming
  5. Virginia

Conceding that he is not a statistician, Coker invited "the true statisticians among you to download my numbers as a starting point for further number crunching. For example, the U.S. Census Data page, where I gathered the population data, has other interesting data sets you can throw against my data, such as median household income, age of population (under 18, over 65), college education, home ownership rates, etc., so I encourage others to mine the data for more meaning."


Liquidators are racing the clock to sell the contents of more than 200 Borders stores scheduled for closure. Bloomberg reported the liquidation is being coordinated by Hilco Merchant Resources, which  "took an equal stake in the winning bid with Gordon Brothers Group, SB Capital Group and Tiger Capital Group. Under the contract, they assumed expenses, legal costs and tasks including shoveling snow, emptying trash and managing store employees. They agreed to pay Borders 85.75% of the 'cost value' of all merchandise, according to court papers. The estimated cost value is between $180.6 million and $204 million."

The liquidators must sell as much as possible before their contract expires April 30 to maximize profit. After that date, they "can sell stock to a non-retail customer, hang onto it and attempt to sell it later when liquidating other stores, or abandon it. They can't sell to wholesalers or bulk purchasers who may return Borders stock to publishers, and thus Borders's competitors," Bloomberg wrote, adding that Borders expects the store closings to bring in about $175 million for the chain's creditors.


While "conventional wisdom" might suggest that "multimedia content consumption is to be ceded to the iPad while plain old black-and-white e-book reading should go to e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle," Robert L. Mitchell argued in PC World magazine that the tablet may ultimately win this competition.

"The problem lies in the future of e-book content," Mitchell wrote, adding that "everyone seems to want an iPad these days. E-book reading is a subset of what an iPad or other tablet computer can do. But reading e-books is all that e-readers can do well. They're a one-trick pony."


Fast Company's Kit Eaton offered an alternative read on the current e-market. Responding to yesterday's reports that Barnes & Noble's Nook Color manufacturers had delivered three million units thus far (Shelf Awareness, March 28, 2011), Eaton asked, "With no competing device from Amazon, can the Nook steal the Kindle's throne?... If Barnes & Noble really is ordering Nooks by the millions, is planning a big headline-grabbing update in a few weeks, and is leveraging the price of its Nook Color as one of the most affordable large-screen Android tablets that costs half the iPad's price... can the Nook actually corner the e-reader market?"

Eaton noted that "since Amazon expects to have sold around 8 million Kindles (of all types) in 2010, and B&N only launched the Nook Color in late October 2010, it looks like the Nook is definitely moving in on Amazon's turf."


Today's New York Times looks at the impact the Bluford series--"a collection of 18 books about life at the fictional Bluford High School, written by a white man from the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia,"--is having on "its target audience: black and Latino urban middle and high school students who are struggling readers."

While the series is popular with students, educators expressed mixed feelings. Audra Robb, a staff developer at Columbia University's Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, said the books have "an appeal to kids who look and live in environments like the Bluford environment. When you can see yourself inside the book that you're reading, you don't feel so outside."

But Jane Bean-Folkes, a staff developer at the Reading and Writing Project, cautioned that while the series "gets the kids reading," the mature content and sensational covers were a concern. "Is it my favorite bit of literature? No."

Paul Langan, who developed the idea, wrote nine of the novels and has edited the others, said, "When you're a white guy and you’re writing a series of books for African-American teens, I think it generates a fair amount of questions. I'm not saying that I'm African-American, I'm definitely not. But the experiences that I've had have given me the ability to write stories that kids can relate to."

The Times reported that since the series debuted in 2001, "Bluford has been recognized by the Young Adult Library Services Association and other national organizations. Scholastic has attained limited rights to the series and has been publishing it, since 2007, alongside Townsend (charging $3.99). Scholastic says it has sold two million of the books; Townsend says it has sold or donated six million."


Obituary note: H.R.F. Keating, the mystery author who published more than 50 novels (many featuring the popular Indian Inspector Ganesh Ghote), died last Sunday, the Guardian reported. He was 84.


Paris comes to Massachusetts. The Daily Hampshire Gazette profiled White Square Fine Books & Art, Easthampton, Mass., and owner Eileen Corbeil, who modeled her bookstore after the legendary Shakespeare & Co. In her shop's window, Corbeil displays a large photo of Shakespeare & Co. founder Sylvia Beach and James Joyce, and, "in keeping with the refined look of a Parisian or London bookstore, the Corbeils painted the storefront black, with the shop's name spelled out in gold letters. Black leather couches, mission-style chairs, Oriental rugs, tall wooden bookshelves, and oak display cases fill the cozy interior."

"This is a browsing kind of place and there is an awful lot to see and digest. I want people to come in, look around, sit down and take their time reading," Corbeil said.


"A Tale of Two Bookshops" was told by the Laguna Beach Patch, which noted that Latitude 33 Bookshop and Laguna Beach Books have "survived by offering superior customer service, publications of local interest and special literary events."

Tom Ahern, owner of Latitude 33, has experienced a shift in his customer base from locals to tourists. "Before the recession, up until 2008, about 85% of his customer base consisted of locals, and 15% were tourists. That split is now closer to 50-50," the Patch noted.

"[Locals] don't come downtown as much any more," Ahern said. "We've lost a critical mass of individual residents. People work in other areas and shop where they work, not where they live." One method the bookshop utilizes to attract customers is the quick turnaround of orders. Ahern, who has six staff members working to order books, said a customer can "order a book in the morning, and it's available the following morning."

Lisa Childers, manager of Laguna Beach Books, said, "We're doing fine every year," attributing the shop's success to customer service and staff recommendations. "We provide a great degree of customer service to the customers and to the community," she said.


For its Fall 2011 collection, Penguin commissioned artist Jillian Tamaki to design hand-sewn covers of Jane Austen's Emma, Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden and Anna Sewell's Black Beauty for its Penguin Threads series. The Atlantic noted that Tamaki "sketched the illustrations before stitching these designs with a needle and thread. The final covers are sculpt-embossed, maintaining some of the tactile texture of the original threads designs."


NPR's What We're Reading series showcased Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag by Sigrid Nunez, What You See in the Dark by Manuel Munoz and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.


On Twitter, Canadian distributor Raincoast Books expressed understandable affection for "these branch-shaped bookcases by designer Olivier Dollé."


Book trailer of the day: Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart (Algonquin).


University of California Press: Savage Journey: Hunter S. Thompson and the Weird Road to Gonzo (1st ed.) by Peter Richardson

St. Louis: The Coolest City Now Has Its Own Bestseller List

Carl Lennertz, v-p of independent retailing at HarperCollins, waxes nostalgic about St. Louis, whose independents recently joined to form the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance (Shelf Awareness, February 18, 2011) and created an indie bestseller list for the area:


I have to admit I get emotional about St. Louis. No, it's not the arch or Albert Pujols's forearms or the concretes at Ted Drewes, which are the inspiration for St. Louis native Danny Meyer's shakes at New York City's Shake Shack.

No, it's the booksellers, even though I don't know half of them, but I once did, during some halcyon days--which are on their way back in that fine city.

You see, my first rep job was the St. Louis territory for Random House back in, gulp, 1980. My first bookseller friend ever was Joan DeMayo, the manager of Library Ltd. I'd go by the store every Saturday to lick my wounds after a week on the road. Joan, owners Alan and Terry Mittelman, and the whole staff took me in and made me feel at home.

So did Kris Kleindienst and Barry Leibman at Left Bank Books. Barry's retired, the gentle soul, but Kris is going strong as the store celebrates its 42nd birthday later this year!! Kris is one of the coolest booksellers ever.

Sandy Jaffe of Booksource was like a father to me, and a kinder man I do not know.

Paul Schoomer of Paul's Books took me for my first beer (yes, it's true) at Blueberry Hill. On the same street now is Vintage Vinyl--LP heaven (yes, I'm hopeless)--and now, Subterranean Books.

The ladies out in Webster Groves had a beautiful store and they compiled the bestseller list for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a paper that kept a book section going. And now Webster Groves is home to the dynamic duo, Niki Furrer and Melissa Posten of Pudd'nHead Books, active in author events in-store and offsite, just as Left Bank has been for years. BIG events hosted both of them; cool to see. And Vicki Berger Irwin of Main Street Books made our eight-word biography book with "Owning a bookstore, living the dream."

Why do I write you about this now, besides to tell you that you gotta go to St. Louis, for the bbq, revived Lacledes Landing, for Drewes and the Old Rock House (a GREAT folk and blues venue; saw the Subdudes there and danced the entire show; ouch), and for the amazing art museum? Because the bookstores of St. Louis are pulling together, on Facebook, and with a cool new bestseller list! (See below!)

I feel passionately that among the many things we need to cherish and encourage is the regionalism of accents, food, music... and book sales. The more varied the book choices based on local history and voice, the better for all.

For links to many things St. Louis from a Midwest boy-at-heart, go to publishinginsider.


Little Bigfoot: A Home Under the Stars by Andy Chou Musser

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Ann Beattie on KCRW's Bookworm

Today on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Dean Faulkner Wells, author of Every Day by the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi (Crown, $25, 9780307591043).


Tomorrow on NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Senator Bernie Sanders, author of The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class (Nation Books, $13, 9781568586847).

Also on Diane Rehm: Peter Godwin, author of The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316051736).


Tomorrow on KCRW's Bookworm: Ann Beattie, author of The New Yorker Stories (Scribner, $30, 9781439168745). As the show put it: "This collection, which spans the years 1974-2006, contains all of the Anne Beattie stories published in the New Yorker--from the very first one, accepted after 17 rejections. In this conversation, she recalls her debut and, as we explore some of the stories, we discover what makes her unique."


Tomorrow on Dr. Phil: Dan Abrams, author of Man Down: Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that Women are Better Cops, Drivers. Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else (Abrams Image, $17.95, 9780810998292).


Tomorrow on NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams: John Thorn, author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game (Simon & Schuster, $26, 9780743294034).


Movie: Poster for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Be afraid. Be very afraid. The movie poster for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 "features a stare down between bruised and battered Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)," Entertainment Weekly's Mandi Bierly observed. "I love it: Not only because the blood on Harry’s face reminds you that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is a war film, but because you can’t help but think of what this image would’ve looked like had it been Harry circa Sorcerer’s Stone and appreciate the man he’s become."


Books & Authors

Awards: Astrid Lindgren; Booker International; Oddest Title

Australian author and illustrator Shaun Tan won the 2011 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award--named for the creator of the Pippi Longstocking book series--and its prize of five million Swedish Krona (US$787,302), the richest children's book award in the world. It's been a good year for Tan thus far. Last month, he won an Oscar for the animated film adaptation of his book The Lost Thing.

The jury praised Tan as "a masterly visual storyteller, pointing the way ahead to new possibilities for picture books. His pictorial worlds constitute a separate universe where nothing is self-evident and anything is possible. Memories of childhood and adolescence are fixed reference points, but the pictorial narrative is universal and touches everyone, regardless of age.

"Behind a wealth of minutely detailed pictures, where civilization is criticized and history depicted through symbolism, there is a palpable warmth. People are always present, and Shaun Tan portrays both our searching and our alienation. He combines brilliant, magical narrative skill with deep humanism."


Finalists have been named for the £60,000 (US$96,138) Man Booker International Prize, which is awarded every two years to a writer for his or her achievement in fiction. The Telegraph reported that one of the nominees, John le Carré, asked to have his name withdrawn from consideration. In a statement issued by his publisher, le Carré said he was "enormously flattered" by the nomination, but "I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn."
Chair of judges Rick Gekoski responded: "John le Carré's name will, of course, remain on the list. We are disappointed that he wants to withdraw from further consideration because we are great admirers of his work."

The Man Booker International Prize winner will be named May 18 at the Sydney Writers' Festival and honored during an awards ceremony in London June 28. The 13 finalists are:

Wang Anyi (China)
Juan Goytisolo (Spain)
James Kelman (U.K.)
John le Carré (U.K.)
Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)
David Malouf (Australia)
Dacia Maraini (Italy)
Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)
Philip Pullman (U.K.)
Marilynne Robinson (U.S.)
Philip Roth (U.S.)
Su Tong (China)
Anne Tyler (U.S.)


Managing a Dental Practice the Genghis Khan Way by "former dentist" Michael Young won this year's Diagram prize for oddest book title of the year. BBC News reported that Young edged out 8th International Friction Stir Welding Symposium Proceedings for the award. Also on this year's shortlist were What Colour Is Your Dog?, The Italian's One-Night Love-Child, Myth of the Social Volcano and The Generosity of the Dead. Previous winners include Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes, Living with Crazy Buttocks, Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers, How to Avoid Huge Ships and Highlights in the History of Concrete.

"I am delighted that in economically troublesome times publishers the world over have continued to publish incredibly niche titles with powerfully obscure titles," said the Bookseller's Horace Bent.


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Monday and Tuesday, April 4 and 5:

Bossypants by Tina Fey (Reagan Arthur Books, $26.99, 9780316056861) is the former Saturday Night Live star's memoir and collection of "Special, Never-Before-Solicited Opinions."

I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions by Shirley MacLaine (Atria, $22, 9781451607291) chronicles the actress's opinions and philosophies.

She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey through Poem
s by Caroline Kennedy (Voice, $24.99, 9781401341459) explores the meaning of womanhood through the selected works of female poets.

I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark (Simon & Schuster, $25.99, 9781439180969) follows an interior designer who becomes the victim of a cruel identity thief.

One Hundred Names for Love: A Stroke, a Marriage, and the Language of Healing
by Diane Ackerman (Norton, $26.95, 9780393072419) is a memoir that explores the process of healing after a stroke.

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Marable Manning (Viking, $30, 9780670022205) investigates the life and death of the African American leader.

The House That Ruth Built: A New Stadium, the First Yankees Championship, and the Redemption of 1923
by Robert Weintraub (Little, Brown, $26.99, 9780316086073) explores an iconic year in New York Yankees history.

The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown, $27.99, 9780316069359) is the fourth crime thriller starring Mickey Haller, a Los Angeles lawyer who works out of his Lincoln Town Car.

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (Margaret K. McElderry, $19.99, 9781442403543) is book four in the YA fantasy series Mortal Instruments.

Elizabeth I: A Novel by Margaret George (Viking, $30, 9780670022533) is historical fiction about the last decades of the Virgin Queen's rule.

Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson (Morrow, $26.99, 9780061348150) is the latest culinary investigation with caterer Goldy Schulz.

Now in paperback:

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Berkley, $16, 9780425232200).

Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush (Scribner, $18, 9781439155219).

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead, $16, 9781594484803).


Seven New Seuss Stories

Here's "a story that NO ONE could beat," as Seuss himself put it in And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (his first children's book, published in 1937). A new book with seven original stories by the late great Theodor "Seuss" Geisel, originally published in magazines between 1950-1951, will be published for the first time in book form on September 27. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories (Random House, $15, 9780375864353, 72p., ages 6-9) will include "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga" (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear "with a single eyelash," according to the publisher); "Gustav the Goldfish" (an early version of A Fish Out of Water); "Tadd and Todd" (a tale of twins); "Steak for Supper"; "The Bippolo Seed" (involving a scheming feline and "an innocent duck"); "The Strange Shirt Spot" (purportedly the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and "The Great Henry McBride."

"We're like happy prospectors, having discovered a hidden vein of gold," said Kate Klimo, v-p and publisher of Random House/Golden Books Young Readers Group. The volume will feature an introduction by Charles D. Cohen, a Seuss scholar and collector, and the colors in the artwork, according to the publisher, will be "enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared." Long live Dr. Seuss!


Book Brahmin: Holly Black

In our review, Shelf Awareness called Holly Black's White Cat a "darkly brilliant launch to the Curse Workers series." The author possesses a gift for magnetically pulling you into fully imagined alternate worlds, whether it's one populated by Faeries (Tithe) or one in which outlawed curse workers can exact retribution with one ungloved touch. In the second book in the series, Red Glove (McElderry/S&S), 17-year-old Cassel uses knowledge he gained about his capabilities at the close of book one. Red Glove will be released on April 5, 2011.

On your nightstand now:

Right now I am in Mexico, where I have been for a month on a writing retreat, finishing my first draft of the third Curse Workers book (Black Heart). Unlike the usual disorganized heaps of books at home, I have only the small stack I was able to squeeze into my suitcase. For research, The Big Con by David Maurer. For inspiration, Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man. For pleasure, The Red Tree by Caitlin R. Kiernan, Jon Skovron's Misfit, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin and Just Kids by Patti Smith. I also have a manuscript of Sarah Rees Brennan's fabulous (but sadly secret) new book. 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Thomasina by Paul Gallico. I read it about a billion times. It left me with an enduring desire to meet witches in the forest and a great suspicion of cats. I loved it so much that I have named two stuffed cats and one living cat Thomasina. 

Your top five authors:

Oh, this question is so hard. Right now, off the top of my head, William Butler Yeats, Emma Bull, Ellen Kushner, Michael Moorcock and Tanith Lee. 

Book you've faked reading:

Lots and lots. But I always read them afterward, honest. 

Book you are an evangelist for:

I am a huge crazy fan of Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series. Each book made me gasp and broke my heart. They do exactly what my Platonic ideal of a sequel does--they make the reader rethink their assumptions of the previous book. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

Back in the '90s, I think I bought pretty much every book with a cover illustrated by Charles Vess or Thomas Canty. More recently, I bought Megan Abbott's adult mystery, Die a Little, because of the gorgeous noir cover and was so pleased to discover what a fantastic book it was. 

Book that changed your life:

It was one of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling--I no longer remember exactly which one it was, but I read it in college, lying on my stomach in the little apartment I was renting with my boyfriend. I was an English major, starting the second semester of taking education classes, with some thought to teaching high school English. I was a little nervous about it, because I am terrible at getting up early in the morning and also pretty shy, but it was a job that I could imagine myself doing.

I remember very vividly reading all these beautiful stories in The Year's Best and then reading the short biographies that came after them--and realizing, quite suddenly, that these people knew one another. I was struck by such an intense longing to know those people, to talk about stories and to get to be part of telling them, that I actually went right to the phone and changed all my classes, even though it was the middle of the night.

It really was that one book that made me screw up the courage to go to New York and get a job in publishing and try and become a published writer. 

Favorite line from a book:

There are so many that it's really hard to choose, but this is certainly one of my favorites. From Ellen Kushner's Swordspoint. "Let the fairy tale begin on a winter's morning, then, with one drop of blood new-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as the single spot of claret on the lace cuff." 

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

I think I would love to have the experience of rereading Brian Froud and Alan Lee's Faeries. I read it (and looked at the illustrations) when I was probably 11 or 12 and it both filled me with awe and also really freaked me out. It was probably the definitive moment when I became obsessed with folklore and what drove me to the library to read all the old vampire and werewolf and faerie lore that I could get my hands on.


Book Review

Children's Review: Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather by Jane Yolen (Wordsong, $17.95 Hardcover, 9781590788301, April 2011)

Birds often alight for only a moment, and it's difficult to get a close look at them without startling them aloft. Here Jane Yolen uses the poetic form and Jason Stemple the camera lens to capture a feathered creature's momentary pause--surveying the land from a tree branch, coasting in flight, strolling on a seashore--and allow us to examine them closely and consider them at length. Many of the birds in these 14 poems will be new to children (the cedar waxing, the marbled godwit), but they will see even familiar birds anew.

Yolen combines canny observations--often with a comic touch--along with characteristics unique to each species. A black-capped chickadee becomes "plump little fellow/ with your black cap on," and the poet emphasizes its hoarding instincts: "I will leave some seeds for you-free-free./ You can hide them all from me-me-me/ With your black cap on." She describes a cluster of Oystercatchers as "a bunch of windup toys,/ Oystercatchers on parade,/ Unafraid,/ Strutting out with a kleeping noise," while the photograph substantiates these claims. Their pink legs precisely aligned, the oystercatchers seem to strut in a "stiff parade." Some of the bird facts will come as a surprise. The eastern kingbird may "look like...  a modest minister," but doubles as "a spy, a guerilla/ a ninja of the air," for it will attack hawks and crows that come anywhere near its nest. Brief fact boxes explain the informational references without detracting from the poetry. And speaking of crows, "a mob of crows" (in attack behavior called "mobbing") will take on a bald eagle: "Democracy in beak and claw/ finds regal eagle's fatal flaw./ And is that legal? I don't know./ You'll have to ask a mobster crow." A standout photograph depicts a hooded merganser, an odd-looking diving duck, floating peacefully in the water. Stemple angled the camera in such a way that he trapped flecks of golden light in the ripples of the water, which draw out the birds mottled golden feathers and play up the "Navy stripes on [its] shoulder."

The mother-son team takes us along as guests on their birdwatching tour. They put into words and images a sense of wonder, but never take themselves too seriously. "Haiku for a Cool Kingfisher" goes like this: "Hey, girl, fish lover,/ Sitting on the dead gray tree,/ Love the blue Mohawk." Stemple's astounding photograph emphasizes its smoky blue "Mohawk" because of the tree carcass on which it perches. The tip of the wood bows out in a downward arc that beautifully plays up the shape of the kingfisher's tail feathers; the rust-colored tones where the arc connects with the tree's vertical thrust mimics the metallic feathers of the bird's belly. The blocks of text in the layout of the spread precisely match the bird's dominant smoky blue tones, including the Mohawk. The design of the book sets up tantalizing contrasts, as with the royal tern. The raucous tone of the poem, "Terns Galore," created through a cascade of synonyms, clashes enticingly with the serene feeling of the photograph, in which a lone tern coasts over a "packed colon[y]" of its peers. "At the seaside, terns galore,/ One tern, one tern, one tern more./ I tern. You tern./ My turn to fly, tern." It reads almost like a tongue twister, especially in the concluding lines: "Why, tern, why turn?/ Turning terns are all returning,/ There upon the shore." Then, in the endpapers, we see a ghosted image of the entire tern colony in flight. Breathtaking.--Jennifer M. Brown


The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Titles in St. Louis Last Week

The following were the bestselling books at independent bookstores in and around St. Louis, Mo., during the week ended Sunday, March 27:


1. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
2. Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock by Sammy Hagar
3. Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
4. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
5. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
6. It Gets Better by Dan Savage and Terry Miller
7. St. Charles: Then & Now by Vicki Berger Erwin and Jessica Dwyer
8. Getting Things Done by David Allen
9. Nobody's Princess by Jennifer Egan
10. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Kids and YA

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
3. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
4. Nurse, Soldier, Spy by Marissa Moss
5. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
6. Of Thee I Sing by Barack Obama
7. Impossible by Nancy Werlin
8. Lego Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary by DK
9. Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
10. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Reporting bookstores: Left Bank Books, Main Street Books, Pudd'nHead Books, Subterranean Books, Sue's News, the Book House.

[Many thanks to the St. Louis Independent Bookstore Alliance, the booksellers and Carl Lennertz!]


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