Also published on this date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016: Maximum Shelf: Dodgers

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scholastic Press: Future Hero by Remi Blackwood

Sourcebooks Explore: Black Boy, Black Boy by Ali Kamanda and Jorge Redmond, illustrated by Ken Daley

Berkley Books: Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne; A Dash of Salt and Pepper by Kosoko Jackson; Astrid Parker Doesn't Fail by Ashley Herring Blake

Soho Crime: Cruz by Nicolás Ferraro, translated by Mallory N. Craig-Kuhn

Ace Books: Station Eternity (The Midsolar Murders) by Mur Lafferty

St. Martin's Press: Maame by Jessica George


Berkley Joins Putnam & Dutton Under Unified Management

At Penguin Publishing Group, the Berkley imprint will join Putnam and Dutton under unified management as part of the "further organizational evolution of our publishing program," wrote Madeline McIntosh, president of the Penguin Publishing Group, in a memo to staff. "This new structure will allow all three imprints to most effectively respond individually and in tandem to the changing market for popular fiction in all formats. As we face contracting shelf space for mass market paperbacks and ever-more-intense digital competition, this publishing team's unified approach will be able to better align back-end support functions and processes." Mass market sales have steadily declined over the past several years, the main casualty of digital books.

The three imprints will maintain their individual publishing directions and identities--each with a separate, dedicated editorial, marketing and publicity department--while Berkley's managing editorial, production editorial and production departments will become more closely integrated with those serving the rest of the publishing group.

Last year, Putnam and Dutton were brought together with a joined senior leadership team as Penguin "moved from a format-specific publishing and sales structure to one that allows the publishing and sales teams to commit to a book across its entire life cycle," McIntosh noted. The publisher had also consolidated the formerly separate Berkley and NAL publishing programs at the time.

Ivan Held
(photo: Megan Maloy)

Putnam, Dutton and Berkley will be led by Ivan Held, president. Now reporting to him are Claire Zion, v-p, editor-in-chief at Berkley, and Raymond Garcia, v-p, publisher of Celebra. Continuing to report to Held in an expanded capacity is Christine Ball, v-p, deputy publisher, overseeing marketing and publicity for the group.
Leslie Gelbman, president, Berkley Publishing Group, is leaving the company at the end of the month. McIntosh noted that Gelbman's "contributions to this company since joining Putnam Berkley nearly 27 years ago are legendary and indelible." Rick Nayer, Berkley v-p, associate publisher and "an anchoring presence at Berkley throughout his 37 years with the company," will also be leaving.

Disney-Hyperion: Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things by Maya Prasad

Bookseller Launches Bibliotherapy Service

As a bookseller for the The Morris Book Shop, Lexington, Ky., Alison Courtney loved putting the right book in a customer's hands. Late last year, Courtney turned this passion into BiblioRemedy, a bibliotherapy service available online or in-person. Bibliotherapy is a form of expressive therapy, like music or art therapy, designed to help people overcome personal problems and decrease stress.

"Bibliotherapy allows me to [recommend books] on a more intimate and in-depth level than a short interaction in the bookstore," Courtney said. Her gift for matching readers with the right book comes from a lifetime love of the written word, through working at a library in middle school to teaching, writing, editing, and finally bookselling.

BiblioRemedy offers three packages. For $115, customers get a 45-minute consultation, in-person, over the phone or via Skype; a 'prescription' for 5-7 books within 72 hours; and a followup appointment. For $75, Courtney will meet customers in-person at Morris Book Shop for a more informal 20- to 30-minute conversation and book recommendations. Both options receive a one-time 20% discount for books purchased from Morris Book Shop, thanks to owner Wyn Morris, with whom Courtney parted on good terms. For $45, BiblioRemedy will provide personal book shopping for a list of family and friends, gift wrapping included.

Courtney had hoped to launch the site by last September, but design issues kept it from going up until just before Thanksgiving. Thus far, most of her clients have been women in their 30s and 40s, though her most recent customer was a 15-year-old whose session was a gift from her father.

AuthorBuzz for the Week of 06.27.22

Newbery Winner Matt de la Peña: Writing About the Culture of 'Have-nots'

Earlier this week, at the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards in Boston, it was announced to the world that Matt de la Peña (Mexican WhiteBoy; The Living; The Hunted) is the winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal for his writing in the picture book Last Stop on Market Street (Putnam), illustrated by Christian Robinson (Leo: A Ghost Story; Gaston; Josephine). De la Peña lives in Brooklyn, but he spoke with Shelf Awareness from Minnesota, where he's currently teaching at the Low-Residency MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Hamline University.

photo: Heather Waraksa

Congratulations, Matt! It's a big day for Last Stop on Market Street--it's a Newbery Medalist, a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. Were you awake when the Newbery committee called you this morning?

I was not awake. The weird thing is that I had stayed up until 3:30 in the morning working on a draft for my new YA book. The Newbery committee called at 4:30 [Minneapolis time]. When the phone rang I thought, oh my gosh, maybe our book got a Caldecott Honor or something, but it was the chair of the Newbery. I was shocked, and I think I threatened to kiss him and all the members of the committee. This is a picture book, and I just never in my wildest dreams, even for half a second, thought about the word Newbery.

As you know, it's rare for a picture book to be chosen by the Newbery committee. How did you collaborate with illustrator Christian Robinson? Did the story come first, or the artwork?

This is interesting. I was kicking around ideas for a picture book--obviously I was going to use diverse characters, that's the focus of my career--then my agent sent me a link to the blog of a young illustrator named Christian Robinson and asked me what I thought of his work. And I loved it so much. It was the heart of a city, but done with whimsy. My agent asked if there was anything there that could be a story, and I immediately gravitated to this one illustration of a little boy on the bus with his grandmother. That's the strange genesis of this book. I talked to my agent today, and I think I threatened to kiss him, too.

So, the boy in that illustration was African American?

Yes. But I'm more focused on class than race, based on what I remember growing up on the border, near San Diego. In New York where I live now, everyone rides the bus, but in southern California the bus is working class. I write about the culture of the "have-nots" in all my books.

Did you have a close relationship with your grandmother?

Yes--she was, outside of my parents, the most important person in my universe. I dedicated probably my most important novel Mexican WhiteBoy to her. I'm a mixed person, and one of the things about being mixed is that sometimes you feel like you're not Mexican enough. She was the Mexican in me. I wanted to be accepted by her blood. She was a huge part of my growing up.

CJ asks his grandmother, "How come we gotta wait for the bus in all this wet?" And she tells him, "Trees get thirsty, too," and asks him to look at the tree drinking up water with a straw. He doesn't see it. How would you describe the dynamic of the grandmother and the boy, CJ, to someone who hasn't read the book?

I would just say that CJ doesn't know how to see the magic of his existence. He doesn't look in the mirror and see "beautiful." Not just when he's looking at his face, but when he's looking at his world. The grandmother is teaching him to see how beautiful he is. And she's using magical ideas to show him that.

Often in picture books it's the children teaching adults to slow down and find the beauty in the things around them... but here it's the other way around. Do you see a lot of kids like CJ who need a little nudging in this direction?

I see it all the time. I'm lucky.... Because of my novels, I go into a lot of underprivileged schools across the country. I'm face to face with a lot of kids who ask me, "Why would you come to this school?" I say, "I have to tell you it's because your world is amazing and beautiful." I almost have to prove to them they are worthy of having an author come to visit them.

The characters on the bus are wonderful. I love the old woman in curlers who has butterflies in a jar and the tattooed guy. Any back story on any of those characters?

I'll tell you one little thing that no one realizes. Originally the story was about a boy who'd lost one or both of his parents. And so... I dropped that part. I focused on him learning how to see his world differently. But I left one thing in there, a little echo. When CJ is listening to music, he starts to see things when he closes his eyes. One of the things he sees is a family of hawks together--and that was him imagining himself with a nuclear family.

Was it an easy decision to have the boy speak informally, as in "Nana, how come we don't got a car?"

This is the most important decision I think I had to make. The story felt very organic. Some people asked me if writing a picture book was a huge shift for me, after the novels, but really, for me, it's going back home. I started out, before I was published, writing spoken-word poetry, so I wrote this book that way. In spoken-word poetry, I would never clean up the language. I only report what I hear. To me, there's a musicality in what some consider broken English, and I think it's poetry.

How did you get started as an author?

I was writing all this poetry but I never showed it to anybody all through high school. In college I entered a contest of spoken-word poetry and I won. Recognition makes you believe a little bit more. It creates a little crack in your impostor syndrome. And you think, maybe I could do this. I thought... I'm used to being poor. I'm the guy for this.

Were you a reader as a child? Any favorite authors?

No, not at all. I was a basketball player. Nobody in my family has even been to college. I thought maybe I could afford college if I got a basketball scholarship. It wasn't until I went to college that I fell in love with literature. Sometimes reluctant readers have just one book they reread dozens of times, and for me it was Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street. I wasn't a big reader, but I did fall in love with that book.

Anything else you'd like to tell Shelf Awareness readers?

The thing I heard that hit me the hardest and made me a little emotional today was that this was the first time a Hispanic won the Newbery Medal, even though it's a group of people who've been writing forever. It feels like in a way I was collecting an award for all of us.

We're taught how to view ourselves in the media--when you look at TV and in movies--and too often, in general, a young kid isn't thinking, "I'm the hero of this kind of story." This book shows kids they can be the hero of the story. Here's a book with a kid who lives where you live and has a grandma like you have and takes the bus like you do. And it has a Newbery sticker on it. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Blackstone Publishing: Beasts of the Earth by James Wade

Eric Shoup Named Scribd's New COO

Eric Shoup

Eric Shoup has joined Scribd as its chief operating officer. On the company's blog, co-founder and CEO Trip Adler noted that Shoup "has deep experience in product and general management, business development and marketing of leading consumer technology brands, including eBay and Eric's experience at one of the largest consumer subscription sites makes him a natural fit for Scribd, where his responsibilities will include managing and scaling the company's overall operations and growing our subscriber base."

Penn State University Press: The Seven Democratic Virtues: What You Can Do to Overcome Tribalism and Save Our Democracy by Christopher Beem

Amazon Adds Another Campus Pickup Point

Amazon plans to open one of its staffed package pickup points on the University of Pennsylvania's campus, in Philadelphia, this spring. The 3,558-square-foot space will be located in 1920 Commons.

In addition to Amazon@Penn, the online retailer's staffed pickup locations now include Amazon@Purdue, Amazon@UMass, Amazon@IslaVista and Amazon@Cincinnati, as well as confirmed agreements to open two more locations in 2016 with the University of California, Davis and the University of California, Berkeley.

"The preference by today's students for online shopping has led to a significant increase in deliveries," said Marie Witt, v-p of business services at Penn. "When we looked closely at the shipping activity, we discovered that almost half of all packages delivered to Penn student mail rooms were from Amazon."

Obituary Note: Jewel Kats

Toronto children's author Jewel Kats, who wrote 11 books and created Fairy Ability Tales, "which reimagined fairy tales to star a protagonist with a disability or chronic illness," died January 7, CBC News reported. She was also the inspiration for Harper Lodge, "a recent addition to Archie Comics and the first character with a disability."

On her website, Kats had written about what she would like to see in her obituary: "I hope to leave my literary footprints on this planet as a disabilities advocate. During my lifetime, I’ve dedicated a lot of time towards disability awareness through the power of my pen. I hope to be acknowledged for my contribution in helping to create an inclusive society. Someone please notice! (Insert: Laughter)."

Her publisher, Victor Volkman, said, "Even reading the manuscripts could bring tears to my eyes--the sheer pluck of the hero or heroine and nobility of spirit, starting from a situation where most of us would just give up."


Image of the Day: Aldous Huxley by the Beach

The iconic image of Aldous Huxley on the day he ingested mescalin in 1953 set the stage at Laguna Beach Books, Laguna Beach, Calif., when author Allene Symons (r.) talked about her new book, Aldous Huxley’s Hands: His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science (Prometheus Books). With Symons is Danielle Bauter of Laguna Beach Books.

'Coziest Independent Bookstores' in Austin

Noting that "bibliophiles can find Utopia right under their noses," Pulsr explored 'Austin's coziest independent bookstores," describing them as "havens for people who love to get lost among the pages."

The booksellers profiled include BookPeople ("When you come into this bookstore, it's hard to make it a quick trip."), BookWoman ("thrives on its dedication to literature and art"), Brave New Books ("keeps up its reputation as Austin's most cutting edge retailer") and Malvern Books  ("wants its guests to read off the beaten path").

Personnel Changes at Sasquatch, Open Road

At Sasquatch Books:

Gary Luke has been named chairman and chief executive officer. He has been publisher.
Sarah Hanson has been named president and chief operating officer and joins the company's board.
Dodie Arney has been named v-p, chief financial officer.


Paola Crespo has joined Open Road Integrated Media as a marketing coordinator focusing on genre fiction. Previously she was a publicity assistant at Penguin Random House.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Elizabeth Strout on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Elizabeth Strout, author of My Name Is Lucy Barton (Random House, $26, 9781400067695).

The Late Late Show with James Corden: Gillian Anderson, co-author of A Dream of Ice: Book 2 of the EarthEnd Saga (Simon451/Simon & Schuster, $25, 9781476776552).

TV: Anne; My Mad Fat Diary

Hulu has acquired exclusive streaming VOD rights to three seasons of the International Emmy-nominated British comedy-drama series My Mad Fat Diary, a "coming-of-age show turning on an overweight, funny and music-mad 16-year-old in the mid-'90s Lincolnshire, at the height of the Britpop era," Variety reported. The series is based on Rae Earl's book My Fat, Mad Teenage Diary.


CBC has greenlit Anne, an eight-episode adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery's classic Anne of Green Gables. reported that the project was "created, written and exec produced by Emmy winning Breaking Bad alum Moira Walley-Beckett. Northwood Entertainment's Miranda de Pencier is also exec producing along with with Alison Owen and Debra Hayward's UK-based Monumental Pictures." Production is scheduled to begin this spring for a 2017 airdate in Canada.

"Anne's issues are contemporary issues: feminism, prejudice, bullying and a desire to belong," said Walley-Beckett, "The stakes are high and her emotional journey is tumultuous. I'm thrilled to delve deeply into this resonant story, push the boundaries and give it new life."

Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Finalists

Three finalists have been named for the $20,000 Story Prize, which honors the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction. The winner will be announced March 2 in New York City. This year's shortlisted titles are:

There's Something I Want You to Do by Charles Baxter (Pantheon)
Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (Random House)
Thirteen Ways of Looking by Colum McCann (Random House)

Book Brahmin: Sunil Yapa

photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Sunil Yapa holds a bachelor's degree in economic geography from Penn State University and an MFA from Hunter College. The biracial son of a Sri Lankan father and a mother from Montana, Yapa has lived around the world, including Greece, Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, China and India, as well as London, Montreal and New York City. His debut novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, is published by Lee Boudreaux Books (January 12, 2015).

On your nightstand now:

How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh. On my coffee table: Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World. On the table where I drink my tea: Notes on the Assemblage by Juan Felipe Herrera. On my phone for subway reading and waiting in line at the barbershop: anything by Dennis Lehane. On my desk: The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale.

Favorite book when you were a child:

When I was seven or eight, my favorites were anything by Roald Dahl: Danny, the Champion of the World, The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and, in particular, The BFG, not because I remember any of the plot--I don't--but because the giant was so big, and so surprisingly friendly it was a kind of revelation. Also he bottled dreams and blew them gently into people's ears with a trumpet.

When I was 11 or 12, I became paranoid and my favorites were no longer about farts and dreams, they were about telekinesis, covert operations and the all-too-real dangers at home: Firestarter by Stephen King, Clear and Present Danger by Tom Clancy and The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.

Your top five authors:

Michael Ondaatje: He is from Sri Lanka, like my father, and yet his first book was about a jazz player in New Orleans. I felt like that gave me permission to write about whatever I loved. Or hated. Or was confused by.

Don DeLillo: When I am exhausted by language and all books seem devoid of magic--just black letters on white paper--I return to Underworld. Consistently ranked 1 or 2 among the best American novels of the last 100 years, DeLillo's masterpiece narrates across gender, race, class, age and geography to paint one of the most beautiful, compelling and finely crafted portraits of late 20th century America. I don't know if the word for DeLillo's language is "gorgeous" (chiseled?), but I can open this book anywhere and fall into a dream of sound.

Cormac McCarthy: I am less interested in the blood and guts and apocalyptic violence of McCarthy's most famous books, Blood Meridian, The Road, No Country for Old Men, and much more interested in the attention to small kindnesses in the mean world of his border trilogy. People offering lunch, the simple kindness of food, a boy saving a wolf. The second of the trilogy, The Crossing, ends in what is for me one of the most heartbreaking and true scenes in modern literature. Maybe I'm just a sucker for stray dogs in the rain.

Gabriel García Márquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude, most definitely (the yellow butterflies!). Love in a Time of Cholera, sure. But The General in His Labyrinth, wow! This novel about the last seven months of the life of Simón Bolívar, the general who liberated Latin America from Spain, is one of the most powerful novels I've ever read. It helps one to realize the tremendous power of the novel as a tonic for history, that even the great Simón Bolívar is a more complicated man (and at times pathetic, at times sad, at times petty and demanding) than history would have us believe.

William Faulkner: I've never been able to read a Faulkner novel starting from page one. I have to open them in the middle and start from there, and when I reach the end, I just go back around to the beginning and read until where I originally started. Fortunately, with Faulkner, it doesn't seem to matter. Absalom, Absalom! Go Down, Moses. As I Lay Dying. The Sound and the Fury. The granddaddy of multiple narrator novels (all apologies to James Joyce) and stream-of-consciousness (apologies to Virginia Woolf), Faulkner is the modern master that most moves me.

Tina Fey: Bossypants is like a manual for how to be a decent human being in the 21st century. In short, funny, engaging chapters, Tina writes like a rock star who doesn't believe that hype.

Book you've faked reading:

Tolstoy? He wrote some awesome stuff, but I just can't get into the translation--you know?

Book you're an evangelist for:

Bluets by Maggie Nelson.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

Oh! And Franny and Zooey. Also by J.D. Salinger.

Book that changed your life:

Drown by Junot Díaz. And Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Book that changed how you felt about what novels can do:

Grendel by John Gardner. The most compassionate portrayal of a Danish monster I've ever read. I think this book started my compulsion to root for the bad guy. Or maybe that was the first Die Hard.

Book you hid from your parents:

Stolen copy of the Kama Sutra. It was theirs. Gross!

Novel that you keep shelved among the poetry books because you consult it for the same reasons you consult your poetry books:

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson.

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

Libra by Don DeLillo.

Book that burned the hair from your head:

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain.

Favorite line from a book:

"Here comes loneliness applauding itself all the way down the street." --Dancer by Colum McCann

Books that you are reading while hoping for your next project:

M Train by Patti Smith, Hold Still by Sally Mann, El Salvador by Joan Didion and Conquest of the Useless by Werner Herzog.

Book Review

Children's Review: Pax

Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illus. by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, $16.99 hardcover, 304p., ages 9-12, 9780062377012, February 2, 2016)

Although 12-year-old Peter didn't name his beloved pet fox Pax after the Latin word for "peace," his instincts were canny. A war over water rights, "a human sickness," has swept the country, and Peter's father enlists in that war. Just before Peter is sent to stay with his grandfather, his intractable father forces him to release Pax--the orphan kit he's raised for five years--into the wild. Crushed and filled with regret, Peter promptly leaves his grandfather's home and begins what he estimates to be a week-long, 200-mile trek to find his fox, presumably by the side of the remote road where he and his father abandoned him. He and Pax are one, inseparable, and that is all that matters.

Pax, too, is desperate to find "his human." Author Sara Pennypacker (the Clementine series, Summer of the Gypsy Moths) gives the two protagonists--Peter and Pax--equal play by allowing them alternating chapters. What's unusual about the way she gives Pax his say is that she vividly imagines the world of a creature who lives by his senses. When Pax encounters another fox in the woods, he "drew in her scent--as familiar as his own, but also exotic." He communicates with the mistrustful vixen, not in human voice, but with a mammalian sixth sense: "The scent is my boy's. Have you seen him? Pax shared the most important features of his human--the naked round ears; the towering legs, so improbably long that Pax always feared he would topple over when he ran; the black curled hair that grew to different lengths, then became short again." Pax needs his boy: "His boy would feed him." But when days go by and the boy does not return, Pax's obsession with finding him is shared with the desperate need to survive in the war-torn, coyote-haunted landscape.

Inevitably, Peter and Pax, both out of their element, experience heartrending adventures of self-discovery. After breaking his foot, Peter stumbles upon a one-legged hermit named Vola who lives in a log cabin in the woods, a part Creole, part Italian former soldier with PTSD who is unable to forgive herself for her part in the war in the Middle East. Vola is not pleased to have a 12-year-old runaway land on her doorstep, nor is Peter happy to be beholden to a woman who casually wields a carving knife as she sets down the law of her house: "Let's start this story off with the truth. That's the rule around here." Still, as Peter heals and strengthens himself in the weeks ahead to continue his search for Pax, he and Vola wend their way toward each other--and their own truest selves--in a form of healing that goes beyond broken bones.

Set somewhere in the near future in a Western country like the U.S., this strikingly original novel with illustrations by Caldecott artist Jon Klassen takes on a multitude of weighty subjects: loyalty, anger, memory, grief, trust and truth. Anyone who's ever experienced the feeling of being "two but not two" with an animal will feel the agony of Peter and Pax's separation, and the even deeper ache of the truth each learns about himself. Serious, poignant and thrilling, Pax will stay with every reader long after the final page is read, with lingering thoughts--but no doubts--about the effects of war and "pax" on every living being. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: Separated by war, 12-year-old Peter and his pet fox, Pax, embark on life-changing quests to find each other again.

AuthorBuzz: St. Martin's Press: Corinne by Rebecca Morrow
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