Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, July 1, 2020

William Morrow & Company: Polostan: Volume One of Bomb Light by Neal Stephenson

Shadow Mountain: The Legend of the Last Library by Frank L Cole

Atlantic Monthly Press: The Elements of Marie Curie: How the Glow of Radium Lit a Path for Women in Science by Dava Sobel

Ace Books: Dungeon Crawler Carl by Matt Dinniman

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: The Millicent Quibb School of Etiquette for Young Ladies of Mad Science by Kate McKinnon

Annick Press: Bog Myrtle by Sid Sharp

Minotaur Books: Betrayal at Blackthorn Park: A Mystery (Evelyne Redfern #2) by Julia Kelly


Temporary Restraining Order Issued Against President's Niece's Book; S&S Fights Back

Yesterday, a New York judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking publication of a book by President Trump's niece until a hearing on July 10, the New York Times reported. The book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, is scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on July 28. The hearing July 10 is intended to decide whether the book violates a nondisclosure agreement Mary L. Trump apparently signed in 2001.

In an affidavit filed with the court yesterday, S&S CEO Jonathan Karp called the effort to stop publication of the book a violation of S&S's "First Amendment right to publish." He said, too, that the company has already printed "approximately 75,000" copies of the book, "thousands of which have already been shipped," on a schedule set far in advance of the effort to block publication. Now because so many copies of the book have been shipped to chains, indies and online retailers, "Simon & Schuster no longer maintains control of the copies of the Book."

S&S CEO and president Jonathan Karp.

He emphasized that "many revelations" in the book have been published in the media already, including that Mary L. Trump was the primary source for the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times story "Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father," published on October 2, 2018; has information about the President's "fraudulent tax schemes"; and contends that her father's death from alcoholism occurred in part because Donald Trump and his father had "neglected him at critical stages of his addiction."

President Trump and his brother Robert S. Trump have charged that their niece--whose father was the late Fred Trump Jr.--signed a nondisclosure agreement in connection with a 2001 lawsuit over the will of Fred Trump, the president's father and Mary L. Trump's grandfather, who died in 1999 and left only a small cash bequest to Mary L. Trump and her brother, Fred Trump III.

Last week, Robert S. Trump had tried to block the book in the Queens County, N.Y., Surrogate's Court, where Fred Trump Sr.'s estate was filed, was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. He then filed in the Supreme Court of Dutchess County in New York.

Theodore J. Boutrous, a lawyer for Mary L. Trump, said, "The trial court's temporary restraining order is only temporary, but it still is a prior restraint on core political speech that flatly violates the First Amendment. We will immediately appeal. This book, which addresses matters of great public concern and importance about a sitting president in an election year, should not be suppressed even for one day."

S&S added: "We are disappointed that the Court has granted this Temporary Restraining Order. We plan to immediately appeal this decision to the Appellate Division, and look forward to prevailing in this case based on well-established precedents regarding prior restraint."

Charles Harder, a lawyer for Robert S. Trump, said, "We look forward to vigorously litigating this case, and will seek the maximum remedies available by law for the enormous damages caused by Mary Trump's breach of contract and Simon & Schuster's intentional interference with that contract. Short of corrective action to immediately cease their egregious conduct, we will pursue this case to the very end."

In his affidavit filed yesterday, S&S CEO Jonathan Karp also noted that when signing the contract, Mary L. Trump indicated that there were no impediments to publication. He added that she also revealed early on to S&S that she was the primary source for the 2018 New York Times story.

Karp commented: "Learning that, and knowing that no litigation resulted from the Times article, we were entirely confident in Ms. Trump's ability to tell her story regarding her own family given that over a year before she had worked closely with the Times to tell key elements of this story. We did not learn anything about Ms. Trump signing any agreement concerning her ability to speak about her litigation with her family until shortly after press broke concerning Ms. Trump's Book about two weeks ago, well after the Book had been accepted, put into production, and printing had begun. And we never saw any purported agreement until this action was filed against Ms. Trump and Simon & Schuster."

Karp also recounted that the company was interested in publishing the book "because we believed that it would address issues of profound importance to our country, with critical insights concerning the President of the United States, his formative years, and his family's financial dealings (which have been the subject of intense scrutiny by the press)." It won an auction on May 14, 2019, that "nine or ten" other publishers participated in.

Karp observed, too, that "in my over 30 years working in book publishing, I am not aware of a book that was ever enjoined and censured from the public for any reason, including those most recently articulated by the federal government in connection with John Bolton's book. Simon & Schuster is one of the preeminent publishing houses in the country with an unparalleled reputation for publishing works of great import to society. Any order granting an injunction would impose substantial and irreparable damage to Simon & Schuster's ability to publish a work addressing issues of national importance to this country and the public's right to read the work. This harm is heightened by the fact that news of the anticipated publication is widespread, which, in turn, is further proof that the public is interested in the newsworthy information in the Book."

Running Press Kids: Your Magical Life: A Young Witch's Guide to Becoming Happy, Confident, and Powerful by Amanda Lovelace

WordPlay to Open in Wardensville, West Va.

Marlene and Tom England, co-owners of Curious Iguana bookstore and Dancing Bear Toys and Gifts in Frederick, Md., will open WordPlay later this summer at 50 W. Main Street in Wardensville, West Va. They "have been planning WordPlay since 2018 and are excited to become part of the Wardensville community," according to the new store's website.

A post on WordPlay's Facebook page noted that the Englands "may look familiar since they've been spending a lot of time in the Wardensville area over the last two years. (Some of WordPlay's best ideas were hatched over coffee at the Lost River Trading Post!).... Marlene's roots run deep in West Virginia. She grew up in Berkeley County, and her dad was born and raised near Slanesville in Hampshire County. Marlene has many fond memories of family vacations at Lost River State Park and is thrilled to be returning to the West Virginia hills.

"WordPlay will blend the best of the two Frederick shops into an independent bookstore with an extra helping of fun. In addition to new books for all ages, WordPlay will offer games, puzzles, art and science kits, and other products that promote creativity, learning, and family fun."

G.P. Putnam's Sons: William by Mason Coile

The Author Shoppe Opens in Hattiesburg, Miss.

The Author Shoppe, an independent bookstore offering books, beer, coffee and art from local artists has opened in Hattiesburg, Miss., WDAM reported.

Co-owners Allison Chestnut and Murph and Erin Little had originally planned for a soft opening in March, during a local event called Hubfest, which would have seen some 20,000 people visit downtown Hattiesburg. That was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, so the trio had to wait until May 8 to open.

"Allison always wanted to own a bookstore since she was six years old," Murph Little, who is a writer, told WDAM. "She wanted to have a place where her friends would never leave. My wife wanted a place to make Hattiesburg a little more beautiful, she wanted to give to Hattiesburg in the artistic scene. I selfishly wanted to create a community of readers and writers."

They are planning for a formal grand opening in August.

PubWest Names Interim Executive Director(s)

PubWest has named Forté Business Consulting, a team of three "experienced and talented professionals," to act as its interim executive director team and "help shepherd our organization into the new era."

The primary contact is Michele Cobb, in New York, who is executive director of the Audio Publishers Association, who has two partners, Janet Benson, in Connecticut, and JoAnna Laskas, in California, who will all work together. Forté Business Consulting provides PR, sales, marketing and business development services for the publishing industry.

They replace Kent Watson, who stepped down earlier this month after 13 years as executive director.

Obituary Note: Felicity Bryan

British literary agent Felicity Bryan, who founded her eponymous agency 32 years ago, died June 21. She was 74. The Bookseller reported that "two days before she died she received an MBE, having been recognized in the New Year Honors for services to publishing over the last 48 years, and [recently] the Washington Post renamed the Laurence Stern Fellowship, now known as the Stern-Bryan Fellowship, in her honor." Among the authors she worked with were Karen Armstrong, Rosamunde Pilcher, Edmund de Waal, Iain Pears, Diarmaid MacCulloch and Mary Berry.

Her family wrote in a statement: "In the last few months Felicity has shown more clearly than ever why so many have loved and admired her. Her courage and resilience that have been called on so many times in her life have been manifest in the calm and realism with which she faced her final illness, and in the happiness she said she felt in recent weeks.... She has taken great care to ensure that her authors will be well looked after by her colleagues at Felicity Bryan Associates, and when already very ill she started a series of weekly e-mails about authors' newly-published books whose launches were adversely affected by Covid. She took particular pleasure in the hundreds of messages of farewell, written from the heart by friends and colleagues."

Penguin Random House chair Gail Rebuck praised her as a "literary agent extraordinaire" and an "effervescent bundle of energy [and] enthusiasm matched by deep intelligence [and] strategic insight. She cherished her authors, her family [and] adored her chosen career. How we shall miss her unique spirit. She was one of the greats."

Alexandra Pringle, Bloomsbury's executive publisher, said she was a model for "how women could and should work together. Felicity Bryan always reminded me of a hummingbird--iridescent, vivid, swift, diminutive. We loved her for all she brought to our world: her enthusiasms and her acuity, her sense and her tenacity, her lipstick and her hats, her joie de vivre and the pleasures she got from a good deal. She showed us how women could and should work together--and how, in the end, nothing matters more than our authors. She shall be very, very much missed."


Image of the Day: Sir Terry Scratchett Says 'Mask Up!'

Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio, Tex., the new independent founded by author Jenny Lawson, was hoping to open before the shutdown but is still closed to the public, and is offering curbside pick-up. When the store does manage to open up, there's a friendly cat, Sir Terry Scratchett, ready to remind all visitors to mask up.

Happy 15th Birthday, Little Shop of Stories!

Congratulations to Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga., which is marking its 15th anniversary today with an "(incredibly subdued) celebration" due to Covid-19 restrictions, noted Dave Shallenberger, co-owner with Diane Capriola.

The store's journey began in March 2004, when Capriola hit "send" on an e-mail that "went out to everyone she knew." It opened: "For those of you who didn’t know this, I have had the dream of opening up a children's bookstore in Decatur for years. Unfortunately, with three crazy kids, doing this on my own is an impossibility at this time in my life. However, I believe that if I had a partner or partners to join me in this endeavor, a children’s bookstore in Decatur would thrive and be supported and embraced by the community. So... I'm looking for a business partner (or partners), which is why I have emailed you. If there is anyone out there with a similar interest to be a small business owner, or if you know of anyone who might be, please let me know."

The rest is bookselling history, including a major roadblock that occurred on March 17, 2020. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, Little Shop had to close to customers and began taking orders online, through e-mail and over the phone, offering free home delivery, curbside pickup and shipping.

On May 28, however, "amid the heavy gravity of the times, a little lightness. For the second time, Little Shop of Stories was presented with the Pannell Award in the children's specialty bookshop category for "a mix of creativity and knowledge, knowing just the right thing for the customer and helping them to make readers out of their little ones as they keep returning" and for "terrific outreach to the community. Clever décor in store, specific spaces like a Harry Potter area, Goodnight Moon room, lots of comfy seats around, and illustrators' works on walls."

Store manager Justin Colussy-Estes said at the time: "We are thrilled that Little Shop of Stories has been awarded the 2020 WNBA Pannell Award. What a gift to be given right now. We have not had a customer in our store for two months. Our methods have had to change, but our mission has not: to foster empathy, creativity, and bravery in children through books. The children will return. The visits and the story times and the parties and the camps... they’ll be back. Until then, we wish love, safety, and hope to all of our readers and fellow booksellers. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Our hearts are full today."

Music Video: 'Local Gay Bookstore'

Singer/songwriter Eric Himan "offered a sweet tribute to the collective history of our 'Local Gay Bookstore,' " the Bay Area Reporter noted in featuring a music video with Himan singing a tune that "explains how, before the Internet and social media (and even after their arrival), LGBT people have relied on bookstores for decades to find more than books, but community and a sense of our identity and collective history."

Himan said, "With Pride month coming to close and the world devoid of many Pride festivities this year, I was extremely nostalgic for the gay bookstores I grew up with and grew up performing at as I was becoming a singer/songwriter. These stores educated me on what it meant to be gay. They taught me about others within my own community that I wasn't aware of when I came out. They provided me a safe space to share my music and perform as an out artist. I am forever grateful to them and wanted to show my respect for them with this song."

The music video features a gay bookstore book nook/shelf insert created by Himan's husband, Ryan Nichols. The Bay Area Reporter wrote that the "structure, less than a foot tall, includes miniature books by LGBT authors such as Augusten Burroughs, James Baldwin, Alice Walker and Langston Hughes. Many fun surprises are throughout with covers of popular LGBTQ+ magazines, movie posters, and newspapers. Artwork on the walls are also an homage to past LGBTQ+ visual artists."

Media and Movies

International Literary Properties Sets First-Look Deal with BBC Studios

After recently acquiring rights to 12 notable author estates, International Literary Properties has set a first-look deal with BBC Studios. Deadline reported that under the agreement, "both BBC Studios Production and its portfolio of independent producers will have the opportunity to explore the intellectual property owned and managed by ILP for screen adaptation."

ILP currently holds the rights for a number of authors, including Georges Simenon, Eric Ambler, Margery Allingham, Edmund Crispin, Dennis Wheatley, Robert Bolt, Richard Hull, George Bellairs, Nicolas Freeling, John Creasey and Michael Innes as well as 20% of Evelyn Waugh’s estate.

"This first look deal with BBC Studios provides ILP with the perfect global creative partner to promote Britain’s heritage in literature and re-discover these classic works through modern adaptations for a global audience," said ILP U.K. chair Hilary Strong. "BBC Studios and its partner scripted production companies provide us with a very exciting opportunity to not only fast-track these works into production, but to make them with the high-end production values they deserve.... We look forward to developing the production partnerships this deal promotes."

Mark Linsey, CCO for BBC Studios, added that his company "exists to champion the very best of British creativity, telling stories which resonate with audiences around the world. Literary classics are timeless, and in the right creative hands can be adapted to feel contemporary and of the moment. We look actively for partnerships and collaborations which showcase British talent at its finest, and we’re excited about the creative opportunities that this deal provides, both for BBC Studios Production and our portfolio of independent producers."

TV: Half Way Home

Hugh Howey's novel Half Way Home "is in the works for the small screen," Deadline reported, adding that Alex Kurtzman's Secret Hideout and CBS Television Studios have optioned rights to the book to develop as a TV series. Howey will executive produce alongside Heather Kadin and Alex Kurtzman of Secret Hideout, the CBS Television Studios production company behind the Star Trek television franchise. Aaron Baiers will co-executive produce.

Howey also is the author of Sand, which is currently in development as a series at Amazon Studios; Beacon 23, which is currently in development at AMC; Wool and Machine Learning. Deadline noted that he "began his writing career while working in an independent bookshop, penning stories in his spare time. His seventh published work shot up the charts and has allowed him to write full-time. For the past five years, he's been living aboard a catamaran and writing while sailing around the world. His works have been translated into dozens of languages and have been published in over 40 countries."

Books & Authors

Awards: Commonwealth Short Story Overall Winner

Indian author Kritika Pandey was named overall winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and will receive £5,000 (about $6,265) for her unpublished work "The Great India Tee and Snakes," which explores forbidden love, and the relationship between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man, set against the backdrop of a tea seller's stall.

Chair of judges Nii Ayikwei Parkes said Pandey's work "is a gut-punch of a story, remarkable because, in spite of its fraught subject matter, it never neglects the beauty of the world in which the story unfolds. Kritika Pandey infuses the tale with empathy and balance, allowing the characters to inhabit themselves fully, while dragging the narrative to its inevitable end. It's a story that asks important questions about identity, prejudice and nationhood, using metaphors with devastating effect, while still brimming with its author's revelry in the possibilities of language. Its charged conclusion is all the more shocking given that most of it is set at a tea seller's stall and its energy derives from a few looks between a boy and a girl. My fellow judges and I loved the story when we first read it, and love it more each time we read it."

Pandey commented: "I've experienced every possible emotion ever since I received the news. At times, I'm overwhelmed with joy, gratitude, and a sense of fulfillment or reeling with disbelief. At other times, I’m devastated by the fate of my fictional characters who seem all too real to me, a feeling compounded by the tragedies presently unfolding around us. However, more than anything else, this prize strengthens my will to write. It tells me that all those days when I lock myself in my room to stare into a computer screen, unsettled and unsure, might just be a worthwhile way of engaging with the world. It reminds me that I must, therefore, continue to inquire into the human condition, to make sense of existence, to listen carefully, to resist, and to hope."

Reading with... Victor del Árbol

Victor del Árbol was born in Barcelona in 1968 and was an officer of the Catalan police force from 1992 to 2012. As the recipient of the Nadal Prize, the Tiflos Prize, and the first Spanish author to win the Prix du Polar Européen, he has distinguished himself as a notable voice in Spanish literature. His novel A Million Drops was named a Notable Book of the Year by the Washington Post. His newest novel, Breathing Through the Wound, will be published by Other Press on July 7, 2020.

On your nightstand now:

I use my nightstand to keep books I cannot carry with me because of their weights. In this moment, there is A Treatise on Colour by Nicolas de Staël, who is one of my favourite painters. The tragic and wonderful life of this French painter of Russian heritage always fascinated me, as did his absolute dedication to the world of colors. Staël wrote that "landscape is only a state of the spirit." Without a personal view, no landscape can exist.

Favourite book when you were a child:

White Fang by Jack London. It was a gift from my paternal uncle. He was the only one who deeply realized my passion for reading. I used to dream I would become an adventurer, and I wanted to be as free as the main character of the novel: the wolf. Jack London taught me that I could not tell the future, since things always go in their own way, whatever the reason. Therefore, I learned to fight in order to build my own destiny, instead of waiting for things to happen.

Your top authors:

I do not focus on authors' work itself, since it is always different. Rather, I care about how they impact the culture and thinking of their time. That's why my top authors are: Albert Camus, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Gabriel García Márquez, and John Steinbeck. All of them have all the artistic qualities and ethical principles I would like to represent in my work, and in my own life, too.

Book you've faked reading:

I never felt a particular emotional tie with the postmodernist novel, nor with the surrealist avant-garde. Ulysses by James Joyce is especially hard for me to accept, and I do not love some of the short stories by Borges.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The book I used to give as a present and recommend, my favourite book, is The Stranger by Albert Camus. It teaches us that people need something to believe in, in order not to sink into darkness and despair. Without a purpose, people cannot find any meaning in life.

Book you've bought for the cover:

A very old edition of Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio. I found it in a bookstore selling old books in Milan. I was attracted to its fun and provocative engraving.

Book you hid from your parents:

Opus Pistorum by Henry Miller. Pure erotic literature, a path through those perversions everyone speaks about in their private spheres, but no one would dare to confess in public. My parents didn't know what the book was about. Anyway, to maintain some sort of decency, I didn't read it when they were around. Actually, I was afraid of their possible questions.

Book that changed your life:

Doubtless Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. It represents an incessant coming and going between reality and fiction. It is the keystone of the Spanish literature. Miguel de Cervantes goes beyond the knightly novel by defining his book as "son of understanding." It allows readers to feel like this is a pretty new book, even today.

Favourite line from a book:

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, or a hell of heaven." This sentence appears in Paradise Lost, one of the greatest poems by John Milton.

Five books you'll never part with:

A book titled Requiem for a Spanish Peasant by Ramón J. Sender. It was my first literary "prize" when I was 14.

Writing Is Living by José Luis Sampedro is my literary bible.

Rayuela by Cortázar: I bought it when I was 19, lived in Paris and dreamt of becoming a writer.

An illustrated edition of Othello by William Shakespeare

Finally, El Romancero Gitano by Federico García Lorca. This one reminds me of the very first time I read García Lorca in Granada.

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

I would love to read again for the first time One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez to feel again, for the first time, that the wonder was blooming in my heart. To feel once again all the mysteries of life in my hand. "He didn't really care about death, but about life, and so the feeling he felt when he pronounced the sentence was not a feeling of fear, but of nostalgia."

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, July 7:

Dewey Defeats Truman: The 1948 Election and the Battle for America's Soul by A. J. Baime (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $30, 9781328585066) chronicles the 1948 presidential election.

The Golden Thread: The Cold War and the Mysterious Death of Dag Hammarskjöld by Ravi Somaiya (Twelve, $28, 9781455536542) explores the possible murder in 1961 of UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld.

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy by Larry Tye (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $36, 9781328959720) is a biography of the infamous senator based on newly released records.

Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson (Liveright, $26.95, 9781631496844) looks at the modern marriage of plutocratic economics with right-wing populism.

Memoirs and Misinformation: A Novel by Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon (Knopf, $27.95, 9780525655978) is a semi-autobiographical novel about an actor in a slump.

Members Only by Sameer Pandya (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25, 9780358098546) finds an Indian-American man in trouble after making a racist joke.

Outsider: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250142894) is the 12th book starring Police Chief Kate Burkholder.

The Patient by Jasper DeWitt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $23, 9780358181767) follows a young psychiatrist who tries to treat a dangerous mental patient.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24, 9780358216773) is the memoir of a pseudonymous writer.

Rockaway: Surfing Headlong into a New Life by Diane Cardwell (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26, 9780358067788) is the memoir of a woman who learned to surf at Rockaway Beach in New York.

Faith by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, $18.99, 9780062899651) is the YA origin story of an original plus-sized superhero.

The Princess Will Save You by Sarah Henning (Tor Teen, $17.99, 9781250237422) is a YA take on The Princess Bride in which the princess must rescue her stable boy.

Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos (Tin House Books, $16.95, 9781947793750).

One to Watch: A Novel by Kate Stayman-London (Dial Press, $17, 9780525510444).

IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

From last week's Indie bestseller lists, available at, here are the recommended titles, which are also Indie Next Great Reads:

The Lost Diary of Venice: A Novel by Margaux DeRoux (Ballantine, $27, 9781984819482). "This narrative contains two different love stories, centuries apart, that are connected by both art and ancestry. It's hard to say which I preferred: the modern tale of an almost-reclusive book restorer and an artist client unhappy in his marriage, or the story from Renaissance Venice of the client's ancestor, a respected artist and a beautiful courtesan to one of the city's leading luminaries. Woven together, they form an intriguing tapestry of love, family, history, and art." --Tanya Parker Mills, The Book Bungalow, St. George, Utah

The Second Home: A Novel by Christina Clancy (St. Martin's Press, $26.99, 9781250239341). "While reading The Second Home, you can taste the saltwater of both the ocean and the tears of familial pain. Christina Clancy has written a beautiful story of family and the bonds that can be broken and somehow repaired again. The characters and location are so well-written, you'll feel like you've vacationed on the Cape for years with the Gordon family. Fans of Jane Hamilton and We Were the Mulvaneys will love The Second Home." --Nancy Baenen, Arcadia Books, Spring Green, Wis.

In West Mills: A Novel by De'Shawn Charles Winslow (Bloomsbury, $16, 9781635575286). "In West Mills is a beautiful and cohesive debut. Reminiscent of Janie Crawford in Their Eyes Were Watching God, Winslow has written the character of Knot Centre, a woman who speaks her mind--for better or for worse--and who is passionate, intelligent, and stubborn to a fault. The events of the novel take place from the 1940s to the 1980s, allowing readers to watch as fateful decisions and their consequences play out for the city's citizens. In such a small town, secrets weigh heavy and threaten to tear people apart, but Winslow's writing is exuberant and full of life. His characters are never fully taken under by their sorrows--a rarity in literature today." --Margaret Leonard, Dotters Books, Eau Claire, Wis.

For Ages 4 to 8
A Family for Louie by Alexandra Thompson (Putnam, $17.99, 9781984813213). "Louie is a dog with taste, and his daily restaurant outings are all a dog could ever want... right? But there's one thing missing: a family to share his feast with. It's not so easy to find a family that shares his sophisticated diet, or one that operates at the same pace as Louie. He considers giving up, but then he finds a very special young person who might be just right. Adorable, humorous, and classy. I would love to go to brunch with this little buddy!" --Andrew King, University Book Store, Seattle, Wash.

For Ages 9 to 12
Five Things About Ava Andrews by Margaret Dilloway (Balzer + Bray, $16.99, 9780062803498). "Ava Andrews is starting her sixth-grade year alone. Struggling with both a crippling anxiety and heart condition, she is lost without her best friend beside her. Somehow, she finds herself in an improvisation group and, perhaps more surprisingly, part of a grassroots activist movement to save a historic community. This book shows just how strong you can be when you believe in yourself, your passion, and your potential!" --Lindsey Howard, Lark and Owl Booksellers, Georgetown, Texas

For Teen Readers
We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez (Philomel, $18.99, 9781984812261). "This tale will grab you, get under your fingernails, and not let go, so vivid is the story of these three friends on a harrowing journey to save themselves. This story is ripped from the headlines and extraordinary in its depiction of kids running from their country's violence, depredation, and hopelessness. The sometimes-unspeakable events are also tempered with the hope and humanity of kind people along the way. Traveling from Honduras to the promised land of the U.S., your eyes will be opened and your heart will plead for our nation to see these children and treat them with compassion." --Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, Calif.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Children's Review: Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Mejia (Rick Riordan Presents, $16.99 hardcover, 368p., ages 8-12, 9781368049177, August 4, 2020)

The latest entry in the Rick Riordan Presents imprint introduces a reworking of the Mexican La Llorona myth. In Tehlor Kay Mejia's compelling Paola Santiago and the River of Tears, the title character is a precocious tween who eschews her single mother's beliefs in the supernatural for the fact-filled certainty of science.

The skeptical middle-schooler is part of an inseparable trio that includes the more affluent Emma Lockwood as well as Dante Mata, her next-door neighbor and possible crush. When Emma misses their stargazing meet-up at the Gila River one evening and the authorities don't take their hunch that something's wrong seriously, Paola and Dante resolve to find her in the Arizona desert. Things start to get weird when Dante's grandmother arms them with a magical chancla (house slipper), shopping bag and Florida water. One by one, Paola comes face-to-face with all of the legends that her overprotective but flighty mother had taught her about--chupacabras, La Mano Pachona and La Llorona herself, the ghost of a woman who murdered her children and was cursed to wander the riverbanks for eternity in search of their bodies and looking for her next victim. But Paola's quest to save Emma keeps pushing her forward. The pair meet an army of lost children who have been fighting off the mythical monsters, reunite with a classmate who supposedly drowned in the river the year before and are guided by a sarcastic, ghostly girl who might have ulterior motives for helping them.

Mejia's middle-grade debut follows the Rick Riordan series formula: a driven and conflicted heroine, a trio of tightly knit friends, a fate-of-the-world plot and immersive mythology that introduces some readers to a different culture and welcomes other readers into their own cultural history. She also imbues this series opener with vulnerability and fierceness--Paola is an often angry girl who bucks up against her mother's traditions. She's tired of being short on money because her mother accepts IOUs or eggs as payment for her curandera (healing) and tarot services. She's angry at Dante, who has been slowly pulling away from their group to join the cooler soccer team. She's angry at the local police officer who discredited her theories about Emma's disappearance because of the color of her skin and her socioeconomic status--and at the shame she felt when he treated her with disdain. This anger often propels Paola on her hero's journey. 

The author adeptly showcases not only details about Mexican American culture, but also weaves in the protagonist's love for science and problem-solving. Clever chapter headings add humor in between harrowing scenes, and duplicitous characters will keep readers guessing as to whom to trust. There are moments where Paola's triumph is truly in doubt, and other instances when the villains are almost sympathetic. Love is the saving grace here. Paola's love for her friends is key to her survival. But a mother's love--in all of its fierceness and fury--is what drives the narrative forward. --Shelley Diaz, supervising librarian, BookOps: New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library 

Shelf Talker: This Mexican American mythology-infused adventure starring a smart-alecky tween will delight middle-grade fantasy readers and fans of Rick Riordan's series.

Powered by: Xtenit