Also published on this date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016: Kids Maximum Shelf: Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Harper Voyager: Dragon Rider (Soulbound Saga #1) by Taran Matharu

Albatros Media: Words about Where: Let's Learn Prepositions by Magda Gargulakova, illustrated by Marie Urbankova

Blackstone Publishing: Ordinary Bear by C.B. Bernard

St. Martin's Griffin: One Last Shot by Betty Cayouette

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Page Street YA: The Final Curse of Ophelia Cray by Christine Calella


Bookstore Sales Jump Again, Up 9.7% in April

April bookstore sales jumped 9.7%, to $757 million, compared to April 2015, according to preliminary estimates from the Census Bureau. This marked the eighth month in a row that bookstore have risen, following a gain of 10.7% in March, 7.2% in February, 3.8% in January, 9.6% in December, and rises of nearly 7% in September and October and 7.5% in November.

For the year to date, bookstore sales have risen 6.8%, to $3.84 billion.

Total retail sales in April rose 2.9%, to $451 billion. For the year to date, total retail sales have risen 3.5%, to $1,725 billion.

Note: under Census Bureau definitions, the bookstore category consists of "establishments primarily engaged in retailing a general line of new books. These establishments may also sell stationery and related items, second-hand books, and magazines."

HarperOne: Be a Revolution: How Everyday People Are Fighting Oppression and Changing the World--And How You Can, Too by Ijeoma Oluo

Hastings Entertainment Files for Chapter 11

After several years of substantial losses, Hastings Entertainment, which operates 126 superstores in medium-sized markets that sell new and used books in the multimedia merchandise mix, has voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with its parent company and several sister companies, the Wall Street Journal reported. Hastings is seeking a buyer for its stores.

Other companies that are part of Draw Another Circle, Hastings's owner, are also in trouble: MovieStop, Hastings's movie retailing division, is already in liquidation, and SP Images, which distributes merchandise licensed by Major League Baseball, the National Football League and other organizations, is for sale.

Hastings President Jim Litwak said in a release that the company needs "an additional cash infusion to complete our remerchandising strategy" and is hoping for "an asset sale to a well-capitalized purchaser," reportedly within 30 days. In a letter posted on the company's website, he added that Hastings has halted game rentals and its buyback program, and is no longer accepting or honoring customer deposits for future movie purchases. Its gift cards will expire on July 13.

In 2014, Hastings lost $10.9 million on revenue of $420 million. Last year, losses grew to $16.6 million and sales slumped to $401 million. The company's debts include some $80 million in secured loans and $59 million in trade bills.

The Journal commented: "A declining market for physical movies, music, books and games hurt Hastings's revenues, as online sources of entertainment began to dominate. A cost-cutting campaign and emphasis on product lines such as children's products, comics and hobbies weren't enough to reverse the trend."

Founded in 1968, Hastings merged in 2014 with subsidiaries of National Entertainment Collectibles Association, a major supplier to Hastings of movie, book and video game merchandise and collectibles that was wholly owned by Joel Weinshanker. With the merger, which created Draw Another Circle, longtime Hastings head John H. Marmaduke left the company.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Taos Book Gallery Hosts Grand Opening

Taos Book Gallery, a new bookstore at 117-A Kit Carson Road in Taos, N.Mex., that showcases books and artwork, will host its grand opening this Saturday with author signings, readings and other events.

Mike Butler, co-owner of the shop with his wife, Mary Jane, told the Taos News that they moved from Colorado a year ago "intending to relax and enjoy" the city. "We did--but soon our creative juices started flowing again, and Taos Book Gallery is the result."

"Browsers will find many new books on Taos, western art and history," he said. "Used books will also be a staple here.... A bookstore that carries only new books just can't make it because so many new books are purchased digitally. People still love to come into bookstores, though, and find that special treasure. That's why we're here. It's always great to get the physical book into someone's hands."

The couple "first got into bookselling in 1977 with the Avalanche Bookstore in Durango," the Taos News wrote. After four years, they sold the store and moved to Denver, where Butler managed the Colorado Historical Society Museum Store and later became an administrative manager with Denver Parks and Recreation.

He is also the the author of five books published by Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. The latest, High Road to Taos, will be launched during the store's grand opening. Taos Book Gallery also features Mary Jane Butler's figurative sculptures, created from sticks, bones, fabric and found items.

Snow Goose Bookstore in Stanwood, Wash., to Close

Snow Goose Books & Frames, Stanwood, Wash., is closing. In a letter to friends and customers on its website, co-owners Tom Bird and Kristine Kaufman, who purchased the business in 1998, expressed sadness that "the time has come for us to say a fond farewell. Despite our best efforts, we have not been able to find someone to take over the reins here.... Although we will still be here into the month of June, we want to take this time to say a huge 'thank you' for all your support over the years. You welcomed us when we first arrived, you helped us move (twice, that's two separate thank yous), you got us through the Great Recession, you made us a part of your lives. And you've given us the best job in the world--sharing books we love with people who love books."

Mourning the impending loss of the town's bookstore, Stanwood Camano News columnist Jeremiah O’Hagan wrote: "I've spent my life aswirl in words, and bookstores have been a constant--shopping in them, going to readings in them, comparing them. The best ones warehouse an area's literary culture. For all the years I've been around town, I've counted Snow Goose among the surprisingly great shops.... Books mirror our dreams and aspirations and insecurities. Our fantasies. It's intimate to let someone into your reading life, and to frequent a bookstore is to trust the persons running it. So far, no one is buying Snow Goose. Bird and Kaufman have cut prices 30% and are selling everything, even the shelves. I--we all--wish them the best in retirement, though I can't help wondering, What is a town without a bookstore?"

Obituary Note: Gregory Rabassa

Gregory Rabassa, "a translator of worldwide influence and esteem who helped introduce Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar and other Latin American authors to millions of English-language readers," died Monday, the Associated Press reported. He was 94. Describing him as "an essential gateway to the 1960s Latin American 'boom,' " the AP noted that he "worked on the novel that helped start the boom, Cortazar's Hopscotch, for which Rabassa won a National Book Award for translation. He also worked on the novel which defined the boom, Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, a monument of 20th century literature."

"He's the godfather of us all," said acclaimed translator Edith Grossman. "He's the one who introduced Latin American literature in a serious way to the English-speaking world."

In 2001, Rabassa received a lifetime achievement award from the PEN American Center for contributions to Hispanic literature. He was presented a National Medal of Arts in 2006 for translations which "continue to enhance our cultural understanding and enrich our lives."


Image of the Day: The Misadventures of Max Crumbly

A festive school visit on June 9, organized by bbgb Books in Richmond, Virginia, helped launch a new series from Dork Diaries author Rachel Renée Russell. The debut title is The Misadventures of Max Crumbly: Locker Hero (Simon & Schuster), starring a boy braving the scariest place he's ever been: South Ridge Middle School. Here, the Max Crumbly creators visit Bettie Weaver Elementary School in Midlothian, Va. Top row: Jenny Maslink, library assistant; Lara Ivey, librarian; Bottom row: Erin Russell, Rachel Renée Russell, Nikki Russell. (Erin and Nikki are co-writers/illustrators with Rachel on the Dork Diaries and Max Crumbly books.) (Photo: Faye Bi)

Lost, then Found: Community Bookstore's Cat

"The feline heart of literary Park Slope is back at home," DNAInfo noted in reporting that Tiny the Usurper, the cat that has lived in Brooklyn's Community Bookstore for the past seven years, "went missing Monday night but was back at the store Tuesday evening." The missing kitty saga was chronicled on Tiny's personal Instagram feed.

"He's back at the store safe and sound," said co-owner Ezra Goldstein, adding that news of the missing cat "went so viral that a woman we know on First Street saw a notice on Park Slope Parents, spotted an unfamiliar cat in her backyard, and gave us a call.... We are extremely attached to him. He's integral to our identity. He's better known than any of us, that's for sure."

Staffer Michael Bender noted that Tiny has returned to his usual spot, "flopped over the keyboard" at the store.

Riverhead Table Goes West

About a year ago, Glory Anne Plata, senior publicist at Riverhead Books, came up with an idea that married her passion for books and her passion for food in a way she thought would add to the conversation about Riverhead books and involve in a collaborative way the publisher's authors and friends from the literary and culinary worlds. Called Riverhead Table, the inaugural event took place last winter at the New York City home of a Riverhead staffer: a dinner inspired by and designed to celebrate The Paying Guest by Sarah Waters.

Dinner guests: (l.-r.) radio host Michael Krasny; Books Inc's Michael Tucker; author T.J. Stiles; Book Passage's Elaine Petrocelli; author of the evening Janis Cook Newman; and the host, novelist Scott James.

"Since then, our monthly gatherings have flourished to include the participation of our authors--including Marlon James, Meg Wolitzer and Emma Straub--plus exciting partnerships with local restaurants," Plata said. Riverhead posts pictures from the Riverhead Table events--including the book-inspired menus--on its social media platforms.

When Janis Cooke Newman, whose novel A Master Plan for Rescue was published in paperback in May, heard about Riverhead Table, she immediately asked her publisher if she could bring the event west to the San Francisco Bay Area. (They had been almost exclusively held in New York.) Riverhead said yes.

Like many people in the Bay Area book community, Newman wears several literary hats--novelist, founding coordinator of Litquake's Lit Camp for aspiring writers and a member of the Castro Writers Cooperative, a group of writers who share working space. Her association with the Co-op helped Newman find a venue--the newly renovated home of Co-op cofounder and novelist Scott James (aka Kemble Scott) and his husband, Jerry Cain (a Silicon Valley figure long associated with Facebook).

A Master Plan for Rescue focuses on the unlikely intersection of an 11-year-old New York City boy who loses most of his sight after his mother’s death, which coincides with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and a tragic love story set in war-torn Berlin. Newman planned the menu around Rebecca's dream of escaping Berlin--the kind of meal that could have been served in a Paris bistro.

Newman is all smiles as she serves.

The 26 dinner guests included bookstore owners Elaine and Bill Petrocelli (Book Passage) and Margie and Michael Tucker (Books Inc.); Calvin Crosby and Ann Seaton from the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association; authors Frances Dinkelspiel (Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and Arson in the Vineyards of California), Cristina Garcia (King of Cuba), Michelle Richmond (Golden State) and T.J. Stiles (who just won his second Pulitzer, for Custer's Trials); and members of the media Jane Ciabattari (NBCC and LitHub), Evan Karp (San Francisco Chronicle) and Michael Krasny (host of KQED's Forum and author of the forthcoming Let There Be Laughter: A Treasury of Great Jewish Humor and What It Means).

No stranger to author dinners, Michael Tucker noted that Riverhead Table, which allows the author to choose the culinary fashion that best suits it, puts a new spin on the all-important "one-on-one" that helps get booksellers excited about a book. "There's nothing like it," he said, adding that the event reaffirms how the quality of a book is nicely digested in talking with others about it.

For Newman, who has already seen a boost via her guests' social media posts, the event presented an unusual way to "promote a book without feeling like a book promotion." --Bridget Kinsella

Book Trailer of the Day: I'm a Brilliant Little Black Boy

The trailer forI'm a Brilliant Little Black Boy by Joshua B. Drummond and Betty K. Bynum, illustrated by Brian McGee (PaperUp Publishing/Dreamtitle Publishing), features spots by Denzel Washington, Samuel Jackson, Vin Diesel, Omari Hardwick, Blair Underwood, Michael Ealy, Raphael Saadiq, Hill Harper, Drumma Boy, Malik Yusef, Henry Simmons and more--all of whom encourage young black boys to "be brilliant."

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Freddie Prinze Jr. on Conan

Fresh Air: David Daley, author of Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy (Liveright, $26.95, 9781631491627).

Ellen: Alison Sweeney, author of Opportunity Knocks: A Novel (Hachette Books, $14.99, 9780316261609).

Conan: Freddie Prinze Jr., author of Back to the Kitchen: 75 Delicious, Real Recipes (& True Stories) from a Food-Obsessed Actor (Rodale, $27.50, 9781623366926).

Movies: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Domhnall Gleeson will play Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne and Margot Robbie the author's wife in Goodbye Christopher Robin, Deadline reported. Directed by Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) from a script by Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions) and Simon Vaughan (War and Peace), the project "gives a glimpse into the relationship" between the beloved children's author and his son, "whose toys inspired the magical world of Winnie the Pooh. Along with his mother Daphne, and his nanny Olive, Christopher Robin and his family are swept up in the international success of the books," Deadline wrote.

"I am delighted to be collaborating with Frank Cottrell Boyce to tell the remarkable and poignant story of the family behind the creation of Winnie the Pooh," said Curtis. "We are assembling a wonderful cast, headed by two actors I am longing to work with--Domhnall Gleeson and Margot Robbie."

Books & Authors

Awards: Forward Poetry Shortlist

Finalists have been named for the £15,000 (about $21,173) Forward Prize for Poetry and the £5,000 (about $7,057) Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, which are "dedicated to heralding fresh new voices as well as commemorating famous names." Winners will be announced September 20. This year's shortlisted books are:

Best collection
Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo
The Blind Roadmaker by Ian Duhig
Considering the Women by Choman Hardi
Falling Awake by Alice Oswald
Say Something Back by Denise Riley

First collection
Disko Bay by Nancy Campbell
Distance by Ron Carey
Tonguit by Harry Giles
Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson
Wife by Tiphanie Yanique

Book Brahmin: Bob Shacochis

photo: Mace Fleeger

Bob Shacochis's first collection of stories, Easy in the Islands, won the National Book Award for First Fiction, and his second collection, The Next New World, received the Prix de Rome. He is also the author of the novel Swimming in the Volcano, a finalist for the National Book Award, and The Immaculate Invasion, a work of literary reportage that was a finalist for the New Yorker Literary Award for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year. The Woman Who Lost Her Soul won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Shacochis is a contributing editor for Outside, and his op-eds on the U.S. military, Haiti and Florida politics have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. His collection of travel writing, Kingdoms in the Air, is published by Grove Press (June 7, 2016).

On your nightstand now:

A heap, starting with a trio of radioactive books essential for researching my new novel, based on events that took place during Argentina's Dirty War: the first, Nunca Más, is the report of the novelist's Ernesto Sábato's commission to investigate the 30,000 people, mostly students, disappeared during the so-called war. It is a self-described report from hell. The second, The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior by the journalist Horacio Verbitsky, is as powerful and provocative as any novel ever written. The third is Children of Cain by Tina Rosenberg, one of America's best and underappreciated journalists. A fourth book, an honorary member of this group, is John le Carré's The Little Drummer Girl, because I can't write my own novel without being inspired by le Carré's extraordinary prose and storytelling. At the bottom of the heap you'll find the manuscript for Perfume River, Robert Olen Butler's wintery new novel about Vietnam vets, and the galleys for Peacekeeping, Mischa Berlinski's second novel, which I recently reviewed for the Washington Post. Also, my wife just finished Anthony Doerr's All The Light We Cannot See and, after electrifying me by reading the last page out loud, she reached across the bed to hand me the book, which I had no other recourse but to park on the floor. I wish I had a bigger nightstand.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Although my mother never earned her high school diploma until I was in high school, she spent her girlhood as a voracious reader, and I spent my boyhood reading her hand-me-down copies of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. But the first book that really slammed into me when I was a kid, during the Camelot days of the Kennedy administration, was T.H. White's The Once and Future King. The book shimmered with all the magic I felt in the presence of the Kennedys, who attended the same church as my family did when I was growing up.

Top five authors:

Let's stay with the living. Off the top of my head: Joan Didion, Hilary Mantel, Richard Powers, Adam Johnson, Jennifer Egan. Just ask, and I'll give you 50 more.

Book you've faked reading:

Well, who hasn't faked James Joyce? But my answer, with apologies to my former student Tom Bissell, is Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. Wallace was, for his generation, the overactive voice of youth, which worked splendidly for his journalism, but I think I'd have to be a hell of a lot younger to appreciate his novels, except his very first one, The Broom of the System.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Surely you mean books (plural), yes? And surely you'd publish the 100,000 words of my proselytizing? For many years, the book that was the focus of all my writerly religion was Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. During my 20s and 30s, I don't think I would even let you be my friend unless you kissed its cover. Then in my 40s I read it a fifth time and thought, oops, I don't think I better do that again. "Groovy" was not aging well.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I adore great cover art, and I'm thrilled, honestly, mostly, to see a visual artist's interpretation of my own work. That said, I don't ever remember buying a book just because of its cover.

Book you hid from your parents:

Mein Kampf? You didn't have to hide books in my house. You had to hide your cigarettes. Even my father was lazy about hiding his Playboy magazines.

Book that changed your life:

More precisely, it's not books that change your life, but reading itself, and into that template you can, over a lifetime, insert many, many books that keep growing and changing and refining your sensibilities. Or not. I know more than a few good readers who are bad actors. Anyway, to answer in the spirit of the question, the book that finally seduced me across the threshold, from reader to wannabe writer, was J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man, which electrified me with its delicious wickedness, but more than that, made me understand for the first time the beckoning playfulness of style, the shape-shifting possibilities of voice.

Favorite line from a book:

The last line of Russell Banks's Continental Drift: "Go, my book, and destroy the world as it is."

Certainly a last line that must somehow find its way into your heart as a writer, not a responsibility or a command but an article of Whitmanesque faith.

Five books you'll never part with:

The ones I lent out to friends that never came back to me. Where did my beloved copy of Thornton Wilder's The Bridge of San Luis Rey ever end up? It's still out there, wandering the world. I miss it so. Maybe one day it will meet up and have a beer with my first-edition copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

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

Speaking of the Latin boom, The Kingdom of This World by the Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, one of the founding fathers of magical realism. Carpentier is a writer who can teach you, as a writer, to run naked through the universe.

Children's Books: America the What?

A squid for president? Lady Liberty on the loose? As July 4 approaches, Shelf Awareness takes the opportunity to trumpet six children's books that explore the ins and outs of this giant and complex country.

President Squid by Aaron Reynolds, illus. by Sara Varon (Chronicle, $16.99, hardcover, 9781452136479, 44p., ages 4-8, March 1, 2016)
No giant squid has ever been president before, but that doesn't keep this enthusiastic, hot-pink cephalopod from proclaiming, "I WILL BE THE GREATEST PRESIDENT THAT EVER LIVED!" Why not? He looks fabulous in a tie ("VERY presidential"), has the biggest house ever, is famous, does all the talking and, as he says "there's nobody bossier than me!" (The publisher swears this is fiction.) It's not until the squid stops bragging and helps a little sardine that his audience starts listening to him. Don't get too excited about that moral, though, because in the end the bloviating pink squid decides he'd rather be king than president. "All the power! None of the work!" This hilarious satire won't be lost on older readers, nor the silliness on younger ones.

Lady Liberty's Holiday by Jen Arena, illus. by Matt Hunt (Knopf, $17.99 hardcover, 9780553520675, 40p., ages 5-8, May 10, 2016)
Even the Statue of Liberty needs a vacation. But her friend, Moe the pigeon, worries she won't make it back to New York City in time for the Fourth of July. The 151-foot-and-one-inch-tall green lady traipses across America in sandals, uses the Florida Keys as stepping-stones and, "At the Grand Canyon, for once in her life, Lady Liberty felt small." Her journey across America's majestic landscapes is captured in grand, comical, wonderfully textured pencil-and-paint illustrations, and she does make it back in time for Independence Day fireworks, thanks to Moe. By book's end, young readers will have a better grasp on Lady Liberty's history, and they'll never look at her the same way again.

We Came to America by Faith Ringgold (Knopf, $17.99 hardcover, 9780517709474, 32p., ages 5-8, May 10, 2016)
Caldecott Honor artist Faith Ringgold's (Tar Beach) first book since 2002 is an illustrated poem about the immigrants who shaped the country and "[m]ade America great." The poem begins, and then echoes, "We came to America/ Every color, race, and religion,/ From every country in the world." In this celebratory picture book, bold, bright, folk art-flat paintings reflect the people's history, hardship, songs, stories, music, food, art--and fashion, past and present--that weave into the country's fabric.

America's Tea Parties: Not One but Four! by Marissa Moss (Abrams, $19.95 hardcover, 9781419718748, 56p., ages 8-12, April 5, 2016)
Not everyone knows that three other tea parties happened at about the same time as the Boston Tea Party--in Philadelphia, New York and Charleston. The colonists' determination to protest the high tea taxes imposed by Britain inched them that much closer to the American Revolution. "It all started with seven ships and 2,202 chests of tea," begins Marissa Moss's vivacious nonfiction narrative; a handsome design, maps and abundant illustrations help tell the tale.

Awesome America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the History, People, and Culture by Katy Steinmetz (Liberty Street/Time for Kids, $24.95, hardcover, 9781618931498, 208p., ages 8-12, May 31, 2016)
There are 319 million people in the United States, living on nearly 3.8 million square miles of land. The photo-laden, statistic-riddled Awesome America is a colorful, appealingly designed, energetic primer on all things America. This hefty book shows how America has changed through the centuries and includes sections on the U.S. government, presidents, first ladies and states. It also explores the documents that molded American democracy ("Really Important Pieces of Paper") and introduces "Great Americans" such as Thomas Edison, Amelia Earhart, Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez. A browser's delight.

All You Need Is a Pencil: The Totally Hilarious All About America Activity Book by Joe Rhatigan, illus. by Anthony Owsley (Imagine/Charlesbridge, $7.95 paperback, 9781623540760, 144p., ages 8-11, May 17, 2016)
This fun, funny activity book--and a pencil--is all any child needs for a long plane ride or a rainy day. Trivia about America takes the shape of puzzles, word games, even a "Hinky Pinky" crossword (Spoiler: "Barack's mother" is "Obama mama"). Along the way, kids are invited to sketch their version of "America's national monster," draw facial hair on selected presidents (then, "see if you'd vote for them"), design U.S. currency, strategize an unusual presidential campaign, and more. Answers in the back!

--Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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