Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Atlantic Monthly Press: Those Opulent Days: A Mystery by Jacquie Pham

Feiwel & Friends: The Flicker by HE Edgmon

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Pumpkin Princess and the Forever Night by Steven Banbury

St. Martin's Griffin: Murdle: The School of Mystery: 50 Seriously Sinister Logic Puzzles by GT Karber

Carolrhoda Lab (R): Here Goes Nothing by Emma K Ohland

Allida: Safiyyah's War by Hiba Noor Khan

Ace Books: Servant of Earth (The Shards of Magic) by Sarah Hawley


Wi12: A Winter Institute Welcome

Starting today and for the rest of the week, we'll have a series of stories and notes about the American Booksellers Association's Winter Institute 2017, held this year in Minneapolis, Minn., which begins officially on Friday evening with a Welcome Reception and runs through next Monday. We'll also have our usual extensive coverage, beginning next week. Many of us will be at Wi12, and we hope to see you there!

Denver's Tattered Cover hosted the opening reception at last year's Winter Institute.

In its dozen years, the Winter Institute has consistently been as energizing as it is informative, and has become the single-most important event in independent bookselling in the country. Each year people wonder how the ABA can top itself, and each year the Winter Institute seems even more packed and electric than its predecessors. This year, the event has grown again, with 650 booksellers--a new high--and more authors and publishers. "The program's really strong, and participation's really good," ABA CEO Oren Teicher commented. "It's an event that's touched a nerve with our members and our publisher friends, and we're trying to be smart about tweaking it so it's not exactly the same." But at the same time, the association aims to maintain "the sense of community" among booksellers that is a hallmark of the Winter Institute.

Almost half of the 650 attending booksellers are first timers, Teicher added. "A lot of stores are repeats, but they're sending different people." The association has encouraged booksellers from new stores to attend as well, and many will be at the Winter Institute. Both of these trends are important because they'll only help indies be stronger. "In moments of honesty, booksellers who've been in the business a long time say that if they knew what they knew today after a year in business, they would have been far better off," Teicher said.

He is also delighted that so many of the new attendees, especially a lot from the new stores, are younger. "Ten years ago, if you looked out at the people at an ABA meeting," he said, "90% were the same age, of an age. That's flipped 180 degrees."


Highlights of this year's Winter Institute include an array of pre-conference events: a Paz & Associates workshop for new booksellers, tours of Twin Cities bookstores (a profile of one of those stores, the amazing Wild Rumpus, follows), an IndieCommerce Institute, an indie publishers meeting, and more.

Among speakers are novelist Roxane Gay, TV journalist Lesley Stahl and bookseller/author Ann Patchett. Paul Currie, the head of Foyles, will speak about how the long-established English bookseller has reinvented itself several times. (See our article from last year about Currie and many of Foyles' initiatives.) Highly recommended!

Sessions include more on the new localism, as well as the usual range of nuts-and-bolt subjects such as finance, the basics of dealing with sales reps, creating and maintaining a store brand and more.

PM Press: P Is for Palestine: A Palestine Alphabet Book by Golbarg Bashi, Illustrated by Golrokh Nafisi

Librarians Put the ALA in Atlanta

The American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in downtown Atlanta from January 19 to 24 had a dramatic backdrop: a torrential rainstorm, the presidential inauguration, the massive Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women, two basketball games, the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K run, plus the NFC Championship game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Green Bay Packers. Inside the Georgia World Congress Center, 6,079 librarians and other industry professionals, plus 2,916 publishers and other exhibitors, gathered to do their important work as the world cheered and jeered outside.

Patty Rosati, HarperCollins director of school & library marketing, with agent Rosemary Stimola.

Right up there, decibel-wise, with the shouts of marchers, runners and sports fans were the enthusiastic hurrahs of librarians rooting for their favorite children's and YA books at the Youth Media Awards on Monday morning--including titles winning Caldecott, Newbery, Printz and Coretta Scott King honors, and 15 other types of awards. In the crowded YMA auditorium there was a row of seats mysteriously reserved for "Lewis," leaving everyone buzzing about the possibility that Rep. John Lewis of Georgia's 5th District might show up. He didn't, but the book he co-created with Andrew Aydin and illustrator Nate Powell, March: Book Three (Top Shelf Productions)--the last of a graphic trilogy about his civil-rights activism--won an unprecedented four ALA awards that morning. (Lewis was at the conference, both speaking and signing books, however.) The complete list of Youth Media Awards winners is here; our interview with a thrilled Newbery winner Kelly Barnhill is here.

The Notable Children's Books committee at work.

ALA attendees and exhibitors worked and networked on the exhibit floor, in programs, in meetings and in closed-door sessions. One of the few awards committees that welcomes an audience (hello, curious editors) during their discussions is ALA's Notable Children's Books committee. The members choose dozens of titles from the entire year's offerings, and their final list of books, ranging in age from baby to age 14, is a wonderful, not-to-be-missed resource for teachers, librarians, book lovers and booksellers. Here is the list of books they discussed; their choices will be announced soon.

Engaging at the Best Fiction for Young Adults session.

Sometimes it's the small moments that make a conference memorable. In a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults session, a teenaged girl matter-of-factly stated that she had "compassion fatigue," given all the YA books that center around death and loss. Kwame Alexander inspired an auditorium full of people at the President's Program by saying we can disagree as long as we don't disengage; Connecticut librarian Stephanie Anderson raved about fantasy author Diane Duane in the food court below the CNN newsroom; editor Arthur Levine posed for a photo, kissing a book he loves, Emma Donaghue's The Lotterys Plus One; Newbery chair Thom Barthelmess's face lit up as he watched a YouTube video of a fifth-grade class's ecstatic, positively percussive response to his committee's medalist The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin); people had lively (disagreeing, not disengaging!) dinner conversations about whether children's books have a job to do.

It was a momentous weekend in Atlanta as the American Library Association made history of its own. --Karin Snelson, children's & YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Intermezzo by Sally Rooney

UConn Hartford's B&N Bookstore to Open Downtown

Rendering of UConn's downtown Hartford Barnes & Noble

A Barnes & Noble bookstore for the University of Connecticut's new downtown Hartford campus will occupy the ground floor of an apartment building on Front Street. The Courant reported that the university "has negotiated a lease for 11,000 square feet in Front Street Lofts for the bookstore, more than a decade after the last one closed in downtown." The board of trustees is expected to approve the 15-year lease Wednesday. Plans call for the bookstore, which will open before the fall semester, to be located across the street from the north side of the $140 million UConn campus complex now under construction.

"It will put people out on the street," said UConn President Susan Herbst. "We don't want to be a tomb where people come in, take classes, get something to eat and leave. This is as much about the revitalization of downtown Hartford."

Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore Is Moving

Sandra Gross and Dr. John Hutton, the "husband-and-wife entrepreneurial team that owns Brazee Street Studios, Sleepy Bee Café and Blue Manatee Children's Bookstore is building a new headquarters at 3094 Madison" in Cincinnati, WCPO reported, adding that "the iconic bookstore will relocate to a smaller space about a half block north of its current location."

The $1.2 million project includes first-floor retail space for the bookstore. "We're focusing on our core customer base, which is younger kids," said Hutton, a pediatrician who bought the former Blue Marble bookstore in 2001.

In a letter to friends and customers on the bookshop's website, Hutton wrote: "After 28 amazing years in our beloved literary ecosystem, the time for change has arrived. Faced with the ever-challenging ecology of brick-and-mortar bookselling, we must adapt and evolve. We are grateful to our loyal customers for your positive energies, story time zeal, and support of independent businesses that make communities like Oakley special. Without you, our mission to provide a sanctuary of imagination and togetherness for children and families celebrating the ritual of reading would not be possible. It is this mission that inspired my wife Sandy and me to revive and reinvent the former Blue Marble in 2001, and fueled by the same passion we will do so again, joined by an amazing and dedicated team of booksellers and ManaTeers, many of whom have been with us through changes massive and mini."

Minneapolis's Wild Rumpus: Animal Kingdom

"If I were going to be working 80-hour weeks, I wanted to be comfortable," said Collette Morgan, a founding owner and general manager of Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, Minn. Wild Rumpus is a 2,000-square-foot, primarily children's and YA bookstore with a singular twist: the store is home to a multitude of adopted and rescued animals and operates as something of a petting zoo.

"I decided from the beginning there had to be animals," recalled Morgan, who had worked for years at famed Minneapolis indie Odegard Books before opening her own store. The number and kinds of animals at Wild Rumpus have changed over the years, but the store currently has three cats, two rats, two doves, two chinchillas, a ferret, a chicken, a tarantula, a cockatiel and assorted fish. "I wanted to make it a comfortable place for me, and I knew kids would like that stuff, too. It was self-serving, but it worked out."

Being a kid's-focused bookstore, added Morgan, was also part of the plan from the beginning. She opened Wild Rumpus in 1992, after watching Odegard Books go out of business due to competition from Barnes & Noble and other chain stores (she bought her initial stock from Odegard's after it closed).

Collette Morgan and feathered friend

"At that time, I did not want to open a general-interest store against all of those big-box stores," explained Morgan. She wanted her store to have a definite focus on young readers, but also not be uncomfortable for teenagers and adults. And despite opening in what Morgan called "the worst of times," Wild Rumpus has thrived for the past 23 years thanks to its specialty focus and unusual draw.

All of the store's animals reside in Wild Rumpus around the clock, even outside of business hours. The chicken and cats are always roaming, while the other animals get taken out of their respective cages when the employees want to show them. Most of the animals, Morgan added, also get some time out of their cages every morning before the store opens, and all the animals that frequently interact with customers have places in store to which they can retreat if they feel bothered. Joked Morgan: "I have a space like that, too. It's called my office."

All of Wild Rumpus's employees receive animal training and take part in caring for the animals, and there is an animal coordinator on staff whose job is keeping track of veterinary appointments, ordering food and generally "pulling it all together." Budgeting for all of the animals' needs can be challenging, Morgan said. Her store uses four vets--a bird specialist, a lizard specialist, a general vet who handles most of the store's furred animals, and a ferret specialist--and feeding so many animals requires buying a lot of food.

"That's a pretty huge expense when you think of it," said Morgan, in terms of both money and time. "They're expenses that other stores don't have."

Wild Rumpus hosts plenty of author events and, as one might expect, many of the store's events are animal-focused. Morgan and her employees don't build events around any of the store's full-time residents, but they do sometimes bring in slightly more exotic animals. They've done a live horseshoeing at the store, and have also brought in a llama. And when the furred-animal vet visits, customers can watch.

At a few points over the years, Morgan has been unable to keep some animals that were adopted by the store. One of those was a young pot-bellied pig, whose previous owner had assured Morgan that the pig was litter-trained. The pig did not always stick to its training, which caused the store's cats to also abandon their litter boxes. The pig was eventually re-homed to the owner of a nearby quilt shop, and ended up growing to around 250 pounds. Another such animal was a beautiful macaw that grew hugely attached to Morgan. Whenever she was in the store, Morgan recalled, the parrot was fine. But whenever she left, the parrot began shrieking so loudly that it could be heard down the block.

"It wasn't good for browsing," added Morgan, dryly. "So we had to find someone."

Wild Rumpus has an inventory of some 35,000 titles, all new. The store does have a section of "recycled books," which are bought from children on store credit and re-sold at $1, but those aren't tracked as inventory. Though the store is children's focused, there is a strong YA section and a smattering of adult frontlist titles. As for non-book inventory, Wild Rumpus carries a selection of book-related plush toys and greeting cards, and Morgan has begun stocking a relatively small selection of turntables and vinyl. Although Wild Rumpus technically has a pet store license--Morgan couldn't legally keep ferrets, chickens and some other types of animals without one--none of the pets are ever for sale.

Said Morgan: "We're a pet store that only sells books." --Alex Mutter

Obituary Note: Larry Smith

Bookseller Larry Smith, described by author Cory Doctorow as "a mainstay and fixture of America's science fiction conventions (as well as many overseas events)," died January 20. He was 70. Doctorow noted that Smith was "someone I've conversed with dozens of times, and, like John Scalzi, I always made a point of signing his stock because I knew that anything I signed for Larry would go all around the nation."

On his blog, Scalzi observed: "It's fair to say that Larry and Sally were two of my favorite convention booksellers, not only because they always stocked lots of my books, but because they always stocked lots of everyone's books--there was always something good to read when you browsed Larry's shelves. He was also the bookseller I always made sure to sign stock at, since I knew he traveled far and wide and would take my books places I might not otherwise get to. He was cantankerous and opinionated and I always enjoyed talking to him. It's still hard to believe he's gone.

"My thoughts now are with Sally and his numerous friends, who will all miss him deeply. As for me, many of the books on my shelves were originally on his. I think I'll take one down tonight and read it in his memory, and with thanks."


Image of the Day: Veronica Roth Dons Women's March Hat

Monday night, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, Calif., hosted Veronica Roth at an offsite event with several hundred fans for the release of her new YA title, Carve the Mark (Katherine Tegen Books). For the event, she donned a pink pussyhat, in honor of the Women's March last weekend. Roth is pictured here with Sarah Enni, founder of the First Draft podcast, who interviewed her on stage.

PRHPS to Distribute No Starch Press

Effective August 1, Penguin Random House Publisher Services will sell and distribute globally No Starch Press. The publisher is currently distributed in the U.S. and Canada by O'Reilly Media.

Founded in 1994, No Starch Press, San Francisco, Calif., specializes in "geek entertainment" subjects such as hacking and computer security, open source, programming, LEGO and STEM. Among its bestsellers are Python for Kids, Hacking: The Art of Exploitation, Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, The LEGO Architect and the forthcoming The Hardware Hacker by Andrew "bunnie" Huang.

"For over 20 years our books have made technology more accessible as we strive to deliver carefully crafted titles that our readers want," No Starch Press founder Bill Pollock said. "We're thrilled to be working with PRHPS to bring our books to a wider market."

"No Starch Press fits uniquely in the PRHPS client portfolio," said Jeff Abraham, president of PRHPS. "They are a market leader in their category with significant growth potential. We are delighted to be working with them to expand their reach."

Media and Movies

Oscar Nominations: Books Are Ready for Their Close-Up

Four of the nine best picture nominations for this year's Academy Awards, which will be presented February 26, are based on books or are book-related. The impressive reading list of nominees in Oscar's marquee categories includes:

Lion, adapted from Saroo Brierley's memoir A Long Way Home: best picture, supporting actor (Dev Patel), supporting actress (Nicole Kidman), adapted screenplay (Luke Davies), cinematography (Greig Fraser)

Arrival, based on Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life": best picture, director (Denis Villeneuve), adapted screenplay (Eric Heisserer), cinematography (Bradford Young)

Fences, adapted from August Wilson's play: best picture, actor (Denzel Washington), supporting actress (Viola Davis), adapted screenplay (August Wilson)

Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly: best picture, supporting actress (Octavia Spencer), adapted screenplay (Allison Schroeder & Theodore Melfi)

Elle, based on the novel by Philippe Djian: actress (Isabelle Huppert)

Florence Foster Jenkins, inspired by Jasper Rees's biography: actress (Meryl Streep)   

Nocturnal Animals, inspired by the novel Tony & Susan by Austin Wright: supporting actor (Michael Shannon)

Silence, based on the novel by Shûsaku Endô: cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)

My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de Courgette), based on the novel Autobiographie d'une Courgette by Gilles Paris: animated feature

I Am Not Your Negro, inspired by James Baldwin's uncompleted manuscript Remember This House: documentary film

Life, Animated, based on the book by Ron Suskind: documentary film

Media Heat: Leigh Gallagher on NPR's Marketplace

NPR's Marketplace: Leigh Gallagher, author of The Airbnb Story: How Three Ordinary Guys Disrupted an Industry, Made Billions... and Created Plenty of Controversy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, 9780544952669).

Books & Authors

Awards: CWA Diamond Dagger

The Crime Writers' Association named Ann Cleeves this year's recipient of its highest honor, the CWA Diamond Dagger, which recognizes "authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre." She will be honored during the CWA's Dagger Awards ceremony in London on October 26. Previous winners of the CWA Diamond Dagger include P.D. James, John Le Carré, Dick Francis, Ruth Rendell, Lee Child, and Ian Rankin.

CWA chair Martin Edwards said Cleeves "is internationally renowned as the author of the series on which the very popular TV programs Vera and Shetland are based. But long before her television success, she worked hard writing hugely enjoyable crime novels and short stories. As well as publishing 30 books, she has been a passionate and effective advocate for libraries, while her generosity towards fellow crime writers as well as readers means that this news is sure to be widely welcomed."

Cleeves commented: "It's a huge honor to be recognized by my peers, the crime-writers whose books, friendship and support I've enjoyed for more than thirty years. I am privileged to have had such a happy career and I will always be grateful for the support of booksellers and forever indebted to the passion and expertise of librarians, without whom I wouldn't still be writing today."

Reading with... April Daniels

April Daniels graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in literature. She completed her first manuscript by scribbling a few sentences at a time between calls while working in the customer support department for a well-known video game console. Her debut novel, the YA superhero adventure Dreadnought (Diversion Books), was published on January 24, 2017.

On your nightstand now:

Just today I came back from the library with Bad Bishop by Irene Soldatos and Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I am heroically terrible at picking favorites, but if I had to, I'd pick Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, which I began rereading the moment I finished. This is the first book I can remember rereading at all, much less immediately.

Your top five authors:

Madeline Ashby, Antony Beevor, Holly Black, Warren Ellis, Glen Cook.

Book you've faked reading:

Virtually the entire literature curriculum at U.C. Santa Cruz. I was reading all the time, just not my assignments. Somehow I graduated with a fairly strong GPA. Depending on how you look at things, I'm either a terrible student or a really frighteningly good one.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Not a book, but a concept. (See above about my difficulty picking favorites--and Harry Potter does not need people sticking up for him.)

Authors must read nonfiction. The broader your understanding of the real world, the better your books will be. To an extent, this can only be done by living--by trying new things, stepping beyond your comfort zone and so on. But there are many things, especially with regard to historical events or activities you just won't have access to, that you can best learn about by reading.

Fiction is fun and I love it, and I would never say stop reading fiction, but if you want to be an author you need to be reading at least 50% nonfiction, and it should probably be higher than that. If you've got writer's block, nonfiction is how you unblock yourself. Conversely, if all you read is fiction--especially if all you read is the genre you work in--then your writing will become ever more inbred and flimsy. You'll notice this, and that will block you.

Read nonfiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Charles Stross's Saturn's Children. I think I've got to be the only person on Earth who actually liked the cheesy sex robot cover, but then again my judgment in these matters is notoriously suspect.

Book you hid from your parents:

I never had to do this. My mom was notably laissez-faire about what I read. As long as I was reading, she was happy. And how did I use this gift? I squandered it! I was such a goody two-shoes! Think of all the horrible things I could have been getting into behind her back, and I passed them all up! Don't be like me, kids! Be a delinquent while you still can! Once you're old it's not contraband, it's just trash!

Book that changed your life:

Julia Serano's Whipping Girl. Look, it's not perfect. And with almost a decade of hindsight, its flaws glare ever brighter. But you know, there aren't many books out there about being a trans woman that don't present it as some inevitable and inescapable tragedy. When I found this book, I was homeless, living in a very sketchy situation and completely at a loss about what I was going to do or how I was going to survive to the end of the year. Whipping Girl gave me a sense of dignity and hope that I could find a way to survive and prosper. So, uh, yeah. Recommended.

Favorite line from a book:

I can't repeat it here, my publicist would kill me.

Five books you'll never part with:

Over and over I tried to understand this question. Over and over I failed. I live a quarter mile from Powell's. Why limit myself to five?

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

The Black Company by Glen Cook. No other book electrified me the way this one did. It was everything I'd been missing in fantasy. The Lady remains my favorite character ever, and I loved this book so much that it broke me out of a two-year stretch of writer's block--I had to write something in response, I had to see if I could measure up. Of course I couldn't, but that's okay, because this book already exists.

What you would wish if you could wish for anything:

To have one of those cool full-body prosthetics from Ghost in the Shell. Maybe with, like, color-changing hair or something. That'd be badass.

Book Review

Children's Review: Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow, $16.99 hardcover, 320p., ages 9-12, 9780062414151, March 14, 2017)

Hello, Universe by Filipina American Erin Entrada Kelly (Blackbird Fly; Land of Forgotten Girls) is about the unlikely connections people make when they pay attention to the "letters" the universe is always sending.

Four middle-school-aged narrators' stories are woven, Shakespearean comedy-style, in a web of crossed paths. The wheels are set in motion for the four to collide when a bully named Chet Bullens tosses 11-year-old Filipino American Virgil Salinas's purple backpack (and guinea pig) into an abandoned well in the woods, leaving the horrified boy no choice but to climb down and rescue his pet. This unfortunate event on the first day of summer, fortunately, ends up bearing all sorts of unexpected fruit for Virgil and two of his girl classmates (the other two narrators): hearing-impaired biologist-to-be Valencia Somerset and Japanese American psychic Kaori Tanaka.

Kelly creates rich and distinctive characters by detailing their idiosyncrasies. Small and skinny Virgil struggles not only against the bull-like Chet, but also winces when his boisterous family reminds him of how introverted he is by calling him "Turtle." If he weren't so shy, he would love to befriend Valencia, a girl he admires in class. Valencia, though unsure whether she believes in a spiritual realm, sends small conversational prayers to Saint Rene, whom she discovered in a book her classmate gave her called Famous Deaf People from History: "I would have never given Roberta a book about Famous Blond People or Famous People Who Talk Too Much..." Valencia reflects, "but the good thing was that I found out about Saint Rene." This practical optimism is part of Valencia's social shell, which she uses to convince herself, "Alone is good. It's less trouble."

Twelve-year-old Kaori, the psychic and "reincarnated spirit of a 65-year-old freedom fighter," used to have only one client and that was Virgil: "I see you in a dark place," she warns him in her incense-filled spirit chamber. She's surprised when conscientious Virgil misses his follow-up appointment, which distracts her from her dream-interpretation session with her new client, Valencia. The two girls, joined by Gen, Kaori's little-sister assistant, decide to head into the woods with some special stones they think will help locate him. 

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the well, Virgil is starting to realize that his life is not unchangeable. He discovers his inner bayani (hero) when he faces Pah, the monster bird who rules darkness in his beloved grandmother's grisly Filipino stories. He emerges from his ordeal willing to face his other fears, which seem suddenly less significant in contrast to the dark well: "Being face-to-face with death made Chet seem so... ordinary. Boring, even." Will the impossible happen? Will Kaori, Valencia and Gen manage to find and rescue him?

The day's adventures play out like a condensed hero's journey, from tribulation to self-discovery. Through Kelly's playful, inventive plotting, Virgil, Valencia, Kaori and Chet all confront "the universe" in their own way. In the process, Kelly gives this hope to young readers: we can each discover our inner hero and transform even our toughest struggles by opening ourselves up to the mysteries of chance and reaching out to friends and loved ones. --Kristianne Huntsberger, writer, storyteller and partnership marketing manager at Shelf Awareness

Shelf Talker: In Erin Entrada Kelly's third novel, the lives of four middle-schoolers intersect when a bully tosses a boy's backpack into an abandoned well, not knowing there's a guinea pig inside.

Powered by: Xtenit