Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 13, 2006

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

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

HarperOne: I Finally Bought Some Jordans: Essays by Michael Arceneaux

Tor Nightfire: Ghost Station by S.A. Barnes

Severn River Publishing: Covert Action (Command and Control #5) by J.R. Olson and David Bruns

Scholastic Press: Heroes: A Novel of Pearl Harbor by Alan Gratz


Notes: More Borders in Malaysia; ABA Set for Melbourne

Berjaya Books, the Borders franchisee in Malaysia, is opening its third store, in a mall in Penang, today. Berjaya plans to open seven more Borders over the next five or six years, according to the Edge Daily. The 60,000-sq.-ft. Kuala Lumpur store is the largest Borders in the world; the new store and future ones are more in the 20,000-sq.-ft. range.

Manager Janice Yong told the paper that the company is positioning Borders "to become a lifestyle store where the environment is cosy, warm, lively yet serene so that customers will keep coming back to us." Berjaya is bolstering its stock of business, self-help, fiction and manga titles.


Congratulations to, mentioned today in a feature in the Wall Street Journal's Personal Journal on "Blogs for Shoppers," Web sites with gift suggestions. "This site is brimming with resources for book lovers like monthly book-review newsletters and a blog with highlights from the latest industry conferences and other news. The reviews and suggestions are compiled by a team of some 75 volunteers and organized by the site's editor, Carol Fitzgerald, a former marketing services director at magazine publisher Conde Nast Publications."


Here's a solid reco. The Australian Booksellers Association has set the dates for its 2007 annual conference and exhibition: it will be held June 17-19 at the Hilton on the Park in Melbourne. Dates for the Australian Book Industry Awards haven't been set, but no worries, they are scheduled to be held the same weekend. For more information on the conference, go to the ABA's Web site.


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

Town Seeks Bookstore, Must Be Independent, Energetic

Haddonfield, N.J., which has 12,000 people and is 15 minutes from Philadelphia, is looking for an independent bookstore "to enhance their downtown business district," the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association reported.

Haddonfield has "outstanding demographics, one of the best school districts in the state, parents who care deeply about education and a growing population of young families. Not to mention the fact that virtually every woman in town over the age of 25 is in some kind of book group!" Lisa Hurd, retail coordinator for the town, wrote to NAIBA. There is a Barnes & Noble 20 minutes away; Haddonfield's Cabbages and Kings bookstore closed some five years ago.

The Partnership for Haddonfield, a business improvement district for which Hurd works, offers "significant financial incentives to targeted stores [which would include a bookstore] that take the form of rent subsidies and fit-out grants." For more information, check out and and contact Hurd at or 856-220-7363.

Harpervia: Behind You Is the Sea by Susan Muaddi Darraj

Holiday Hum: Giving and Getting at the Book Barn

Last month the Book Barn in Leavenworth, Kan., received an early holiday gift. The store was selected as the winner in a contest held by Peachtree Publishers to promote the publication of Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon and illustrated by Henri Sorensen. The Book Barn won a free concert by McCutcheon--a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and musician--for the community. The event is scheduled to take place in April. "It was wonderful, and we were shocked and surprised when we won," said Bob Spear, who owns the Book Barn with his wife, Barbara.

According to Peachtree, the contest recognizes an independent bookstore "for exceptional community involvement. . . . The Book Barn reached out to the residents in the military town of Leavenworth, KS (pop. 35,000) in ways that best exemplify the spirit of Christmas in the Trenches." McCutcheon's book, which comes with a CD of songs and a reading of the tale, recreates the Christmas Truce of 1914, when during World War I, British and German soldiers spontaneously laid down their arms and celebrated Christmas together on the battlefield.

The Spears' efforts in their town have included organizing book drives for soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as hosting free interactive educational events at the store on topics such as the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and World War II.

The seasonal spirit seems to have influenced sales at the Book Barn, where holiday-themed titles are among the top sellers. "That's not always the case," said Spear. Nearly 20 books are on display in a section of the store where volumes are rotated to tie in with holidays such as Valentine's Day or Easter. "We find it reminds people that a holiday is coming up," said Spear. "It's a strange phenomenon we've noticed over the years."

Two children's fiction titles are among the holiday-themed handsells--The Blacksmith's Gift and The Orphan's Promise, written by local author and former Hallmark executive Dan T. Davis. Other titles in the category recommended by Spear (who describes them on his blog Bob's Book Blurbs) include The Polar Express and Madeline's Christmas, along with classics such as The Little Match Girl and A Child's Christmas in Wales. Also selling strongly at the Book Barn is the children's series Discover America State by State, a 51-volume alphabetic tour of the United States from Sleeping Bear Press.

Here is a sampling of some of Spear's recommended titles:
  • The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. "This is a soul-touching hoot about the family of community thugs who take over the Christmas pageant at church and give it a very different perspective."
  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado and illustrated by Liz Bonham. This "nativity story about a crippled lamb who cannot go with the other sheep to a different pasture and is left behind to warm the Christ Child upon his birth is a touching favorite for young children. It teaches we all have worth and purpose, even if we don't yet know what they are."
  • Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick. "Incredible" with "startling and beautiful" photos. In this winter wonderland of a book, wildlife photographers Carl Sams and Jean Stoick capture the reactions of animals and birds to the snowman who appeared in their midst after a storm.
  • A Cup of Christmas Tea and A Memory of Christmas Tea by Tom Hegg and illustrated by Warren Hanson. "Unless you hate having your heartstrings tugged," Spear recommends these two books. "Both are about the benefits and importance of communicating with older and younger generations, reliving old memories and making new ones."

The Book Barn held a Christmas open house on December 2 with two local authors headlining the festivities: Lisa Harkrader and Marci Penner. Harkrader's latest book is the teen fiction title Airball: My Life in Briefs, a take on The Emperor's New Clothes set in a small Kansas town. Marci Penner is "the guru of places to go in Kansas," said Spear. Her book The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers is a popular gift-giving choice among the Book Barn's customers who perhaps are looking to inspire recipients to follow in Penner's footsteps. Penner spent two years logging more than 40,000 miles to discover interesting, out-of-the-way places across the state.

Attendees at the open house were served homemade chili and other fare, and people who spent $10 or more received a free Christmas ornament. Between signings, customers were treated to live jazz with Spear on guitar and his musical partner playing the violin.

The Book Barn is expecting its share of last-minute shoppers this week rather than the last few days leading up to Christmas. "We're almost at the peak, and it's already starting to taper off a bit," said Spear. "Because we have so many people here aligned with the military, people buy gifts early and ship them out."--Shannon McKenna

University of California Press: The Accidental Ecosystem: People and Wildlife in American Cities by Peter S. Alagona

Media and Movies

Dreamgirls Tie-Ins Ready to Sing

Dreamgirls, the film based on the Broadway musical and starring Jamie Foxx and Beyonce Knowles, clears its throat in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco this Friday, December 15, then goes into wide release on December 25. Newmarket Press has two tie-ins, with official pub dates tied into the movie's opening in two weeks:

Dreamgirls: The Movie Musical
($29.95 hardcover 1557047456, $19.95 paperback 1557047375) has more than 200 photographs by David James, interviews with director Bill Condon, his cast and crew and essays by Martin Gottfried and Cheo Hodari Coker. The book explores the production of the film, Michael Bennett's Broadway musical and the Motown revolution that inspired both as well as offers a sampling of concept paintings, costume sketches and set designs illustrating how the filmmakers brought the Broadway show to the screen.

Dreamgirls: Collector's Program ($11.95, 1557047588). This 48-page paperback has more than 150 illustrations, features cast portraits, illustrated musical numbers, crew credits. This title will be given to moviegoers at the shows in the select markets.

Media Heat: Cooking, Politics, History, What to Wear?

The Book Report, the weekly AM radio book-related show organized by Windows a bookshop, Monroe, La., will feature two author interviews on today's show, which has the theme "fading communities":
  • William J. Cobb, author of Goodnight, Texas (Unbridled Books, $24.95, 1932961267)
  • Stacy Mitchell, author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America's Independent Businesses (Beacon Press, $24.95, 0807035009)

The show airs at 8 a.m. Central Time and can be heard live at; the archived edition will be posted this afternoon.


This morning on MSNBC, Michele Wucker, author of Lockout: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right (PublicAffairs, $25.95, 1586483560), debates Pat Buchanan on immigration.


Today on the Martha Stewart Show: chef Rick Bayless, whose most recent cookbook is Rick and Lanie's Excellent Kitchen Adventures: Chef Dad--Teenage Daughter--Recipes and Stories (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $29.95, 0810982587).


Today on NPR's Fresh Air: newly re-elected Rep. Rahm Emanuel, co-author of The Plan: Big Ideas for America (PublicAffairs, $19.95, 1586484125).


Today on the View: New York Times columnist Frank Rich, author of The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth from 9/11 to Katrina (Penguin Press, $25.95, 159420098X).


Today on the Oprah Winfrey Show: a re-broadcast featuring fashion guru Stacy London, host of TLC's What Not to Wear and author of Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body (Three Rivers Press, $18.95, 0307236714).


Today on WAMU's Diane Rehm Show: Adriana Trigiani, author of Home to Big Stone Gap (Random House, $25.95, 1400060087).


Tonight on the Colbert Report: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (S&S, $19.95, 0743270754).

Book Review

Mandahla: 100 Caterpillars Reviewed

100 Caterpillars: Portraits from the Tropical Forests of Costa Rica by Jeffrey Miller (Belknap Press, $39.95 Hardcover, 9780674021907, May 2006)

This is a book to give to someone you want to impress with your keen gift-selecting skills--it will fascinate, delight and dazzle. People who didn't know they would be interested in caterpillars (of all things!) will become converts, entranced by the alluring names--Syssphinx mexicana, Cocytius lucifer, Adelpha celerio--and, above all, the extraordinary photographs. The caterpillars in this collection are found in Costa Rica, in the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, a World Heritage Site where the authors and gusaneros (caterpillar collectors and raisers) have been working for years. The caterpillars are aposematic, meaning they either warn predators away (or mimic the warning signs) by being poisonous, distasteful or painful to the touch; they are correspondingly resplendent in design. The photographs are accompanied by species accounts and images of the moths or butterflies these entrancing caterpillars become.
Dirphia avia is a wintry-looking confection of pomegranate red and ice white legs whose body sports snowflake-like appendages. As beige and brown adults, they have a garlic-like odor and are "so well protected chemically that if one is dropped in an army ant swarm, there is immediately an ant-free area around the moth." Xylophanes juanita has thoracic false eyespots that are striking, but the lavender and orange body with a purple jester's cap on one end is even more so. Guava trees are the home to Nystalea collaris, a deep coral colored caterpillar with a distorted body shape that looks like a torn leaf. The luminous green and fat Morpho polyphemus constructs a nest of leaves in which to rest, and its color pattern "seems to have been evolutionarily designed to avoid being noticed by a bird that has hastily torn into the mass of leaves and silk in search of any type of prey." Eudomia colubra is velvety black with jeweled markings that look like a suspension bridge. Lepidodes gallopava brings to mind a fuzzy green terrier, and when handled behaves like a piece of rotten wood, since "[its] goal in life simply not to be seen."
Some are, admittedly, creepy-looking, like the boa-ish Hemerplanes triptolemus or the cobra-ish Dynastor darius ("resembles some blob of dead plant tissue that has fallen into the dark abyss"), or the mummy-like Phocides lilea, with its scary false eyespots ("Go ahead, stare at that face and convince yourself that those are just random color patterns and not really a face with glaring eyes . . . wanting to make a lunch out of you."). Some are amusing--Manduca pellenia has a green and white striped body with a whimsical tail horn and looks almost cuddly. Manduca rustica, a relative, is blue, aqua and lavender, and resembles a pantomime horse on parade. Memphis pithyusa is a green and black caterpillar whose body is covered with little stars and planets. The tiny Calydna sturnula has a stunning pompadour of balloon setae, which secrete a chemical defense against predators. Fuzzy Trachon felderi, coral, black and white, is "absurdly gaudy and presumably possessed of a gallant stinging or toxic trick" and the utterly wild Morpho peleides looks like it was formed by a bickering committee (but then becomes a beautiful iridescent blue butterfly).
In Mary Oliver's poem "Great Moth Comes from His Papery Cage" she writes, "He is beautiful now, and shivers into the air/as if he has always known how,/who crawled and crawled, all summer./He has wide wings, with a flare at the bottom./ The moon excites him. The heat of the night excites him." After experiencing this book, you may be quoting poetry, too.--Marilyn Dahl

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