Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Harper Perennial: Barely Functional Adult: It'll All Make Sense Eventually by Meichi Ng

Berkley Books: In the Garden of Spite: A Novel of the Black Widow of La Porte by Camilla Bruce

Candlewick Press (MA): Stink and the Hairy, Scary Spider by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

Scholastic Press:  The Captive Kingdom (the Ascendance Series, Book 4) by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Big Picture Press: Maps: Deluxe Edition by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska

Candlewick Press: Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away by Meg Medina, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez

Disney-Hyperion: The Mirror Broken Wish (Mirror #1) by Julie C. Dao

News

BookExpo Online: Librarians Advise Their Readers (and One Another)

Yesterday, which BookExpo devoted to library education, an afternoon online panel of readers' advisory and collection development experts inspired conversation of value not only to librarians but also to booksellers and educators: "A Novel Re-Opening: Readers' Advisory After Coronavirus."

Stephanie Anderson, assistant director of selection for BookOps, which serves the New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library, talked about how, even before Covid-19, there had been a "huge shift" to digital collections rather than hard copies of books, and that "suddenly it's the only way to engage with the collection." Her challenge was to reach the many NYPL branch librarians who weren't as aware of how to conduct virtual events and e-book loans; she and her colleagues made it a priority to give virtual training and support to those librarians. Grappling with a new work flow also became urgent: How can librarians track which books are getting the most usage? E-books and e-audiobooks are more expensive than physical books, so how do you manage budgets in light of increased demand? How do you track "requests to purchase" when colleagues are scattered? She offered a number of ideas.

One of the advantages to BookExpo's virtual programming this year was librarians' ability to use the "chat" function in Zoom to "crowdsource" ideas in real time (these are preserved in the online archive). They offered ideas about how they tracked their own "requests for purchase" and affirmed how much more expensive e-books are than hardcovers for collections.

Clockwise from top l.: Stephanie Anderson; Gregg Winsor; David Wright; Rebecca Vinuk; moderator Katie Stover, director of readers’ services at the Kansas City (MO) Public Library; and Veronda Pitchford.

Veronda Pitchford, assistant director for the Califa Group, a consortium of 230 libraries in California, discussed the importance of "libraries knowing what people need and read," and that readers' advisory helps them do that. She believes libraries play a key role: "Libraries introduce readers to books and authors they later go on to buy, developing lifelong readers and learners every day." Pitchford also described libraries as a place of "community and comfort."

David Wright, Reader Services Librarian for the Seattle Public Library, emphasized the importance of "form-based readers advisory," in which readers fill out a form for the library about their interests. This can be as simple as "Which authors have you enjoyed? Which haven't you liked? What are you in the mood to read next?" and can be in a paper or online form. The aim is to connect with patrons and make them feel heard, while collecting data for collection development.

Gregg Winsor, a reference librarian for Readers' Advisory at Johnson County (Kansas) Library, talked about how readers' advisory had always been conducted "where they lived," with displays and such in the branch. Now they must do more outreach. He has been hosting book parties on Facebook Live, featuring storytimes with five or six booktalks grouped by theme, while another librarian monitors the live "chat," responding to patrons in real time. Patrons also make recommendations to each other. Winsor talked about how the librarian's role has moved from "gatekeeper to facilitator."

How do readers find "read-alikes" when bestseller e-books often have long "hold" queues? Rebecca Vnuk, executive director of LibraryReads, discussed the resources she has available, and the importance of offering alternative titles to patrons when they can't come in and browse the "new release" shelves. She suggested printing out monthly lists of recommendations and including them with every curbside pick-up. LibraryReads is also offering training in Readers Advisory for free.

This prompted an explosion of ideas and recommendations in the "chat": make a "Your Next 5 Reads" list; call patrons who may not have Internet access and talk to them about books and what they need; recommendations of favorite Instagram and podcast book sources. This community of librarians were living examples of the need to connect, whether with their patrons or their peers. --Jennifer M. Brown


University of California Press:  Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels by Tony Keddie


BookExpo Online: Audiobooks & Consumer Behavior

"The exciting thing about audiobooks for a while has been that we've seen significant growth. In fact, we've seen seven years of double-digit growth in both dollar and unit sales," said Michele Cobb, executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, to open BookExpo Online's Virtual Education Series session "Audiobooks & Consumer Behavior." Joining her in the Zoom discussion were Chris Lynch from Simon & Schuster, Cathy Forrest of HarperCollins and Michael Anderle from LMBPN.

(Clockwise from top left): BookExpo's Matt Wasowski, Michele Cobb, Cathy Forrest, Michael Anderle, Chris Lynch

Cobb shared key data points from APA's 2020 Consumer Survey, conducted by Edison Research, which found that for those who listened to at least one audiobook during the past year, the mean number was more than 8, compared to just under 6.8 in 2019. Among these listeners, 51% are making "new" time to listen to audiobooks and consuming more titles; 44% of consumers 18 and up have listened to an audiobook; and 21% of listeners consume 10 or more audiobooks per year. In terms of age, 52% of all audiobook listeners are under 45 years old, with 57% of frequent listeners in that age category as well.

Forest noted that the new study lines up with research she is doing for HarperCollins, adding: "We really appreciate the APA conducting this research on behalf of members on a yearly basis because it gives us a benchmark, and that's going to be especially important this year as we look to the medium and longer term impacts of Covid and lockdown on audiobook listener behavior."

The APA survey showed increased library usage. "We've seen, going from 6.8 to 8 books a year is encouraging in terms of the increase in listening," Lynch observed. "We haven't necessarily seen the same increase in purchasing, so we know that some of that increased listening is happening in the library market."

There is also a growing market for shorter audiobooks, with 43% of purchasers saying they would buy an audiobook that is one to three hours long. Just over 60% have listened to a podcast in the past month.

The APA survey found that audiobook consumers place a high priority on quality of narration and prefer a professional voice actor to the author as narrator. Regarding listening preferences by audiobook genre, mysteries/thrillers/suspense continues to be most popular (37%, up from 27% in 2018 and 31% in 2019), followed by history/biography/memoir at 14% and science fiction/fantasy at 11%.

Smartphones were the primary audiobook listening device, but smart speakers are making their presence felt, with 43% of respondents saying they listen most often at home versus 41% in the car. According to the study, 60% of respondents indicated they own a smart speaker and 46% of smart speaker owners have used it to listen to an audiobook (up from 31% in 2019).

As Covid-19 alters work habits for so many people, Lynch said smart speakers are going to "make it easier for people who are at home and are no longer commuting to continue to listen." He also said the devices are becoming a key player for children's audiobooks.

People are open to discovering new ways to listen, Anderle added. "As we go back to work, what's going to happen is they're going to retain what they have... and bring back up what they had before.... I'm looking forward, as we capture more people, as they go younger and want to keep those stories going all throughout their day."

Looking to the future, Forest said, "We're extremely excited about where things are going. It's a challenging time, but a very exciting time." --Robert Gray


GLOW: Erewhon: The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk


Cuppa Tahoe Opens in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

Cuppa Tahoe, a combination café and bookstore, opened this past weekend in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., the Tahoe Daily Tribune reported.

Owner Sandra Santané told the newspaper that she was influenced by cafes she and friends frequented in Holland, where she grew up, where "they would play board games, socialize, sip on drinks like coffee and tea, and get small snacks. These cafés were where collaboration, connections and ideas sprouted."

Such a "special experience" was missing in South Lake Tahoe, she said. The connection made with a printed book is "magic," she continued.

"For those who want to read a book while enjoying a cup of coffee, Cuppa has 'read me' shelves that include the classics and the latest novels," the Tahoe Daily Tribune observed. "In front of the fire on a funky green velvet couch, she created a cozy space to unwind and get lost in a story."

Under California pandemic rules, Cuppa Tahoe was allowed to open on Saturday, although the conference room and co-working space can't open until phase 3. Santané has social-distancing guidelines at the door that include sanitation, and has added optional plexiglass walls to create barriers between people.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Little Threats by Emily Schultz


How Bookstores Are Coping: Masking Up to Reopen

At Novel Bay Booksellers

In an apparently endless series of challenges facing indie booksellers during the Covid-19 crisis, one of the more recent dilemmas concerns masking up. While most bookstores during the reopening phase are requiring masks for both staff and customers, they must also prepare for negative reactions in the current political climate.

In a Vt. Digger commentary by Vermont House Rep. William Notte (D., Rutland City), manager of Phoenix Books in Rutland, called upon Gov. Phil Scott to make masks mandatory for customers in retail establishments during his emergency order.

"All the evidence we have been given makes clear that masks are an effective way to slow the transmission of Covid-19," Notte wrote. "They are an excellent tool in continuing to flatten the curve, especially as Vermont begins to reopen under your watch. My store is still working on getting as many safety measures in place as possible and we plan to reopen our doors to walk-in customers on May 26. When we do open, I am requiring everyone entering the store wear a mask. This requirement is for the safety of my staff, of my customers, and is in the best interests of my community.

"I have no qualms about enforcing this rule when I am working and firmly explaining to people as they come in that wearing a mask is a requirement for joining us in the store. But I am currently not in the bookstore many days as serving as a representative takes up most of my hours. I feel very strongly that my staff should not be forced to fight this battle....

"I know you wish for the use of masks to gain acceptance through educational efforts, but it is impossible to deny that for some masks have taken on deep-seated political meaning.... When the requirement to wear a mask originates with my store and not a state mandate that lessens its authority and unfortunately turns it into a personal disagreement between my staff and any individual who refuses to wear one. This will diminish compliance with an important effort to continue to curb the spread of Covid and unnecessarily direct personal ire towards my staff.

"While no action will ensure compliance by a defiant few, a gubernatorial mandate requiring masks be worn in retail businesses during your emergency order would protect innumerable Vermonters from potentially catching Covid-19 and serve to protect retail workers from negative reaction by buffering them from the decision-making process. This important action needs to originate with your office. Retail workers throughout the state should not be forced to fight this battle for you."

---

Leslie Lanier, owner of Books to Be Red, Ocracoke, N.C., posted: "The first thing I want to say is thank you to all of you that have shopped at Books to be Red this past week. I appreciate it more than I can say. If you shopped with me it meant you either had a mask or I gave you a mask and you put it on. I know how hot, itchy, and aggravating they are. Believe me, I know. This picture shows a lot of the masks that are mine, a few are home being washed. I change them up during the day because I don't like wearing just one for a 6 or 7 hour stretch. Did I mention they are hot, itchy, and aggravating?...

"I understand that there are hundreds of opinions about masks and believe it or not I respect yours. I thought long and hard about what my shop would be during the pandemic time. For my shop, you need to wear a mask and wear it correctly. I have one I will give you if you don't have one. Let me get that out of my mouth before you storm off. If you don't choose to wear one, no hard feelings. I hope you will shop here another time. I have had health care professionals applaud me for requiring masks and gripe at me for requiring masks. Clearly, there are hundreds of opinions. Yes, I know you DON'T have Covid-19. I don't either but neither of us really know who we have all been hanging around. Thank you, enjoy your visit to the island. We are happy everyone is here."

---

How about mask incentives? At Novel Bay Booksellers, Sturgeon Bay, Wis., "when you buy one of our book masks and wear it to shop at Novel Bay Books, you get 10% off your purchase. Same discount when you wear our logo T-shirt to shop. Many, many thanks to the 60+ people who purchased masks and/or T-shirts!!! Thanks Megan for modeling!"


Peachtree Publishing Company: The Candy Mafia by Lavie Tidhar, illustrated by Daniel Duncan


Obituary Note: Robb Forman Dew

Robb Forman Dew

Robb Forman Dew, who wrote fiction, memoirs, essays, criticism, and cookbooks, died on May 22 at age 73.

Dew was perhaps best known for her debut novel, Dale Loves Sophie to Death, which was published in 1981 and won the American Book Award for a first novel in 1982. The book's title was taken from graffiti on a bridge on a rural road and was one of several of Dew's works that drew on the life and culture of small-town central Ohio.

Dew continued to explore domestic life in her following work. Her trilogy--The Evidence Against Her (2001), The Truth of the Matter (2005), and Being Polite to Hitler (2011)--was set in fictional Washburn, Ohio, and was her crowning achievement. Her other works of fiction included The Time of Her Life (1984) and Fortunate Lives (1992). She also published two nonfiction works: A Southern Thanksgiving: Recipes and Musings for a Manageable Feast (1992) and The Family Heart: A Memoir of When Our Son Came Out (1994).

A resident of Massachusetts much of her adult life, Dew was born into a storytelling tradition and grew up in Louisiana and Ohio--and described herself as "deeply, gratefully, and inescapably Southern." She added: "I've always felt that the only way we can define our history is through stories."


University of California Press: A People's Guide to the San Francisco Bay Area, Volume 3 by Rachel Brahinsky, Alexander Tarr, Bruce Rinehart


Notes

Kidlit Coronavirus-fighting Ideas: New J.K. Rowling, Preschool Graduations and More

Yesterday, J.K. Rowling began releasing The Ickabog, her first non-Harry Potter book for children. The Ickabog, which Rowling describes as a "stand-alone fairy tale," will be published for free in installments on this website over the next seven weeks, a chapter (or a few), at a time. She wrote, "The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power. To forestall one obvious question: the idea came to me well over a decade ago, so it isn't intended to be read as a response to anything that's happening in the world right now. The themes are timeless and could apply to any era or any country."

Rowling is also inviting kids to provide illustrations for possible inclusion in the print version of The Ickabog, due out in November from Scholastic. Rowling will donate her royalties from the book to help people who have been affected by the coronavirus.

As virtual school lets out for summer break, plenty of organizations and individuals have held online ceremonies for the upcoming graduates. Penguin Young Readers created a celebratory video for preschool graduates featuring authors and illustrators such as Rafael Lopez, Chelsea Clinton, Dan Santat, Vanessa Brantley-Newton and Ibram X. Kendi. Penguin's middle school YouTube channel offers a new weekly series from authors and artists of Penguin's illustrated middle grade titles that incorporates reading, writing and drawing.

Author/illustrator Brian Floca has created "Keeping the City Going," a video for young people that is an explanatory homage to the people who are keeping "the city" (Brooklyn, N.Y., specifically) running. The drawings in the video will be available for purchase and all funds raised will be donated to charity. Mac Kids continues to post virtual story times and HMH has begun #HomewithHMH, a Sunday free e-newsletter with "ways to keep... kids busy at home while we are adapting to the changing landscape." Anyone interested in receiving the newsletter can sign up here.

The ABC Children's Group at ABA launched the summer reading program "Give Me Summer, Give Me Books!" Instead of a "reading challenge, this year's program offers young bookstore customers a reading journal that invites them to slow down and explore their love of reading." Booksellers can visit BookWeb's marketing assets section to download promotional materials. PJ Library, "an organization that sends free books to more than 225,000 children across North America each month" is offering quarantined families a number of on- and offline activities, such as "read-alouds, dance party music and must-hear podcasts" on its resource page.

Peter Wohlleben, author of bestselling The Hidden Life of Trees, is leading a guided walk in the forest and q&a on Greystone Kids' Facebook Live on Wednesday, May 27, at 1 p.m. EST. And the Harper Stacks Facebook page has a series of videos available for young viewers featuring authors and illustrators like Elizabeth Acevedo and Tobly McSmith.

--Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

Cool Idea of the Day: Faster Bookplate for Indies

What does an author do whose book tour was canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic? Neal Bascomb, author most recently of Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress, and a Legendary Car Beat Hitler’s Best (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), signed and sent more than 6,000 bookplates to approximately 1,200 indie bookstores across the U.S. and Canada.

"A bookstore in Los Angeles (Autobook-Aerobooks) that I was scheduled to speak at suggested I sign some bookplates that they created from the jacket," Bascomb said. "They went like hotcakes. Separately, the owner of Wild Geese Bookshop in [Franklin,] Indiana also asked for some plates. This spurred the idea for me to send bookplates to every independent across the country. Yes, to sell Faster, but also to give readers an added incentive to buy at their local indie shop."

Among the other indies taking Bascomb up on his offer were Country Bookshelf in Bozeman, Mont.; the King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, Utah; Between the Covers, Harbor Springs, Mich.; and Gathering Volumes, Wooster, Ohio.


Chalkboard: Grass Roots Books & Music

Grass Roots Books & Music, Corvallis, Ore., shared a photo of its latest sidewalk chalkboard message, which reads: "Browsing our store, 6 feet apart, find a new tale to open your heart. Sanitize hands before touching a book, thank you so much for taking a look!!! So excited to be open for browsing!!!"


Video: Melville Housebound Interview Series

For the new series Melville Housebound, Dennis Johnson, co-publisher at Melville House, is interviewing colleagues in the book trade to discuss how the coronavirus lockdown has affected their lives and businesses. In the inaugural episode, he spoke with Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, co-owner of Brooklyn's Greenlight Bookstore, and Akashic Books publisher Johnny Temple. In the second episode, Johnson interviewed Danny Caine, owner of the Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kan.; and Gary Lovely, buyer at the Book Loft in Columbus, Ohio.


Media and Movies

Media Heat: Michael Osterholm on the View

Today:
Fresh Air: James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art (Riverhead Books, $28, 9780735213616).

Tomorrow:
KCRW's Bookworm: Andre Naffis-Sahely, editor of The Heart of a Stranger: An Anthology of Exile Literature (Pushkin Press, $16.95, 9781782274261).

The View: Michael Osterholm, co-author of Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs (Little, Brown Spark, $17.99, 9780316343756).


TV: Anatomy of a Scandal

David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) and Melissa James Gibson (House of Cards) are collaborating on Anatomy of a Scandal, a six-part anthology series based on the novel by Sarah Vaughan, Deadline reported.

Directed by S.J. Clarkson (Succession, Jessica Jones), the first season would be based on the 2017 book, with future seasons focusing "on different scandals in an anthology format that has echoes of A Very English Scandal," Deadline noted.

Kelley and Gibson will write, showrun and executive produce Anatomy of a Scandal, which is housed at Liza Chasin's 3dot productions and Bruna Papandrea's Made Up Stories. The project, which will be made in the U.K., was meant to go into production this year, but there are now question marks over when filming can begin due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.



Books & Authors

Awards: Griffin Poetry Winner

Sarah Riggs's translation (from the French) of Time by Etel Adnan, and Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough were the international and Canadian category winners respectively of the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize, which honors "first edition books of poetry written in, or translated into, English and submitted from anywhere in the world." They each receive C$65,000 (about US$46,455), with the other finalists awarded C$10,000 (about US$7,145) each. Riggs will take 60% of the prize and Adnan 40%. The annual gala presentation was canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Reading with... Shawn Wong

Shawn Wong is the author of the novels Homebase and American Knees, the latter of which was adapted into the feature film Americanese. He has edited six multicultural literary anthologies, including Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers, which has just been reissued in a third edition by the University of Washington Press for its 45th anniversary. Wong is a professor of English and Cinema & Media Studies at the University of Washington. A reprint of Eat a Bowl of Tea by Louis Chu (1961) is the inaugural title from the Shawn Wong Book Fund, which supports books at UW Press in Asian American literature and Asian American studies.

On your nightstand now:

The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh (Tin House). When you read this book, you surrender to her narrative voice.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Chin Ling, the Chinese Cricket by Alison Stilwell. She was the daughter of General Joseph Stilwell. My mother knew her, and she signed a copy of the book for me. I still have it. Also, the Boris Karloff recording of Peter and the Wolf used to scare me to death as a kid, but I would put it on the record player over and over.

Your top five authors:

Kay Boyle, the great American writer who was my mentor and teacher at San Francisco State College.

Frank Chin, the first published Asian American author I ever met--in 1969 when I was 19.

John Okada, author of No-No Boy, whose 1957 novel I found in a used bookstore in 1970 when I was trying to be a novelist myself and looking for my Asian American literary history. My 50-year relationship with this novel was documented recently in the New York Times, the New Yorker and on several websites, bringing new attention to this important novel.

Ishmael Reed, who befriended me in the late '60s and eventually published my first novel, Homebase, when no other company would publish it.

Erin Malone, poet, and my wife. Everybody needs to read her work and be guided by her voice.

Book you've faked reading:

As an undergraduate English major at Berkeley, I faked reading Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. My professor was about 150 years old and he used to read from the book or his lecture notes in a monotone for the entire class. I think he might have been a peer of Spenser.

Book you're an evangelist for:

I just started my own book series, Shawn Wong Books, with the University of Washington Press and our first publication partnership is the 1961 classic novel by Louis Chu, Eat a Bowl of Tea, about post-World War II New York's Chinatown. We hope to publish more classic Asian American works of literature in the future.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Straight Man by Richard Russo. I bought this book after reading the blurbs on the cover. People kept telling me it was one of the funniest books they've ever read. It's about a lowly creative writing professor who becomes chair of his English department. At the time I read it, I was transitioning from being director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Washington to becoming chair of the English department. I thought it would be a good "owner's manual" to guide me.

Book you hid from your parents:

My parents both died at a young age, so I think the only books I hid from them were comic books I would read with a flashlight in bed when I was supposed to be asleep, or I would listen to broadcasts of the SF Giants on my little transistor radio with an earpiece. The era of Willie Mays.

Book that changed your life:

I read You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe when I was in high school and it made me want to be a writer, because who doesn't love all that angst and pain as a teenager?

Favorite line from a book:

It's not really a line, but my photo is in Ishmael Reed's novel, Mumbo Jumbo. I'm also a character named Paul Wong in Karen Yamashita's novel I Hotel and a character appropriately named Shawn Wong in Kay Boyle's novel The Underground Woman. I've always loved my part in literary history trivia like those moments.

Five books you'll never part with:

This House of Sky by Ivan Doig. After reading this, you think you belong in Montana and you're a member of Doig's family. I was fortunate to have gotten to know him and every time I was with him, I was in awe of the guy.

King Lear. I read this several times from high school through college and then saw a production of the play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in London in the '80s where there were no sets, a bare stage and only beige-colored costumes. It was so enthralling to watch as a stage production, it was as if I never read the play and didn't know the outcome.

Books I either read to my son or listened to on tape, such as James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, Pecorino Plays Ball by Alan Madison, and books by James Howe about Harold the dog, Chester the cat, and the vampire rabbit Bunnicula.

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

Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. The World According to Garp by John Irving. Two books you need if stranded on a desert island or quarantined in the middle of pandemic.


Book Review

YA Review: Burn Our Bodies Down

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power (Delacorte Press, $18.99 hardcover, 352p., ages 14-up, 9780525645627, July 7, 2020)

Relationships are at the heart of Rory Power's creepy thriller about three generations of women who bear an uncanny resemblance to each other.

Margot Nielsen has always done the best she can to make a life for herself "inside the mess of [her] mother's head." She would "give anything to know what happened to leave her like this. As long as it's not waiting to happen to [Margot]," that is. Her mother is quick to fight, quick to flinch away from affection and so deeply involved with the secrets in her own mind that Margot mostly fends for herself. Mother and daughter look so much alike--down to the same streaks of gray at their temples--that Margot wonders where her mother came from, but Jo won't open up. " 'Nobody but you and me,' " her mother often repeats, "like a curse [they] can't shake."

Even so, Margot's been tucking cash under her mattress, hoping to escape life in Calhoun. She's tried to leave, but without "another shot at family," there's nothing to run to. That is, until she pays a visit to the Heartland Cash for Gold pawnshop to buy back some items her mother pawned. She discovers an old Bible with a photo tucked inside, and there's a phone number on the back. Margot immediately calls, and Vera Nielsen, her grandmother, picks up. Margot sneaks out that very night and hitches a ride to Phalene, a town three hours away.

In Phalene, she's surprised that everyone seems to know exactly who she is. She meets rich, entitled Tess, who, along with friend Eli, offers to show Tess the way to Fairhaven, her grandmother's farm. They race over, hearing a report that "somebody lit the Nielsen farm on fire again." But before they can get to the house, Margot spots something in the cornfield along the road. She goes in to explore and pulls out a dead girl--a dead girl who is wearing Margot's face.

In her sophomore novel, Power (Wilder Girls) drives the dark investigation into one family's twisted roots with strong, suspenseful writing and pitch-perfect touches of horror. Margot, emotionally battered yet determined to find out where she came from, is compellingly tough when it counts, while Gram, who both embraces Margot and keeps her at arm's length, makes a worthy foil. The growing sense that something is dreadfully wrong will keep readers plowing through the pages of this eerie and unnerving tale of empowerment. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Shelf Talker: In this dark YA thriller, Margot, who grew up with her look-alike mom, searches for the family she's never known.


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