Also published on this date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021: Maximum Shelf: House of Sticks: A Memoir

Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Union Square Kids: Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave, illustrated by Tom de Freston

Tor Teen: Into the Light by Mark Oshiro

Peachtree Teen: Junkyard Dogs by Katherine Higgs-Coulthard

Blackstone Publishing: The Wisdom of Morrie: Living and Aging Creatively and Joyfully by Morrie Schwartz and Rob Schwartz

Neal Porter Books: All the Beating Hearts by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Cátia Chien

Quotation of the Day

'For Me, the Store Is a Real Anchor in All of the Best Ways'

"For me, the store is a real anchor in all of the best ways. I feel better when I'm there, being able to have some things that feel normal and routine.... We love books and we love people.... I want to convey a sense of optimism, that we will be okay, and we are in it for the long haul. We feel very fortunate to be where we are."

--Elizabeth Goodrich, co-owner of Thank You Books, Birmingham, Ala., in an series marking the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 reaching the state  

G.P. Putnam's Sons: Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline


William & Mary Bookstore Relocating

William & Mary Bookstore, which is operated by Barnes & Noble College, will relocate off campus to a new space in the Triangle Building at 601 Prince George St., Williamsburg, Va., ahead of the fall semester. The current bookstore will close in mid-June. After renovation, the new store will offer W&M merchandise and gifts, as well as a limited selection of trade books. Textbooks will be available to purchase or rent online through the bookstore website.

"The move reflects W&M Bookstore's continued adaptations to the sale and delivery of university textbooks and course materials while recognizing the value of in-person shopping for W&M merchandise and supplies," said Cindy Glavas, director of William & Mary Auxiliary Services.

Bookstore general manager Susan Lemerise added: "Though we know this location is a change for our customers, they can be assured that--no matter where we are located--we will continue to provide the same great service they have come to expect from their William & Mary Bookstore."

Michele Mixner DeWitt, Williamsburg's economic development director, noted that Prince George Street "has seen impressive growth and redevelopment over the past decade. The bookstore adds yet another attraction to bring people to that section of downtown Williamsburg and provides an opportunity to reimagine the space on Duke of Gloucester Street."

GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

How Bookstores Are Coping: Optimism and Concern; Promising Outlook

Community Book Center in New Orleans, La., has been open to browsing since June of last year, reported store owner Vera Warren. There is a 10-customer limit, all staff and customers must wear masks and practice social distancing, and customers have to sanitize their hands before entry.

Reflecting on 2020, Warren said last year began well, noting that as a Black-owned bookstore specializing in African-centric books and merchandise, February is always a big month for the store, and February 2020 was very strong. Things went "downhill" very quickly in March, however, and because the store did not yet have an e-commerce site when it was forced to close its doors, it was "completely shut down" from March until the beginning of June.

The store's reopening coincided with the nationwide spread of protests against systemic racism and police brutality, and Warren suddenly found her store "put in the spotlight." People were "intentionally and consciously" making an effort to support the store and there was massive demand for antiracist titles, which ultimately helped Community Book Center not only survive the year but "to a certain degree thrive."

Interest in those sorts of antiracist titles, Warren said, has waned a bit from the peak over the summer but has remained "relatively consistent" overall. And while titles like White Fragility and The New Jim Crow still sell fairly well, customers have also been buying other books on the subject.

As a result of the pandemic, Warren has had the opportunity to host more authors than in years past, thanks to the switch to virtual events. The store has been able to collaborate with national authors who normally would not visit the store, and "the community appreciates that."

Looking ahead in 2021, Warren said she and her team are both optimistic and concerned. They are concerned about new strains of the virus that have emerged around the globe, and they are concerned that many in the bookstore's community don't have access to the vaccine or have reservations about getting the vaccine. 

At the same time, they are optimistic that as the store does more outreach, more people will learn about their services and will want to support a local and independent bookstore. Community Book Center is currently putting the finishing touches on its own ecommerce-capable website, and that gives Warrren "a brighter outlook."


In North Conway, N.H., White Birch Books returned to a seven-day-per-week schedule prior to the holiday season and has been operating like that ever since, store owner Laura Cummings reported. Hours are slightly reduced compared to pre-Covid operations, and Cummings does not see that changing any time soon.

Asked how the store fared in 2020, Cummings remarked that considering she thought it was "going to be the end of days" when the pandemic began last year, the store "finished the year very well." All told, sales were slightly down, but the store's bottom line was actually very strong and "far exceeded expectations." Much of this, she added, was due to the store reducing buying and payroll costs while closed as well as other cost-saving measures.

On the subject of bright spots, Cumming said that her staff is back, her customers are back and the store is seeing many new customers. The team has also had the time to finally take on some old projects that they've been meaning to get to for a long while.

So far, 2021 has started very well. White Birch Books is tracking ahead of last year, though Cummings noted that that can have a lot to do with winter weather. Looking ahead, Cummings isn't sure what to expect, but she and other local business owners feel that things look promising.

It will be "very interesting," she continued, to see what happens as more people get vaccinated and start to travel more often. Her area was "overly visited" last summer because it was an easy car ride for many in northern New England. With more options available, people may choose other destinations, but on that front Cummings can only wait and see. She hopes that supporting local business has become learned behavior and "won't disappear as things become more normal." --Alex Mutter

Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam

Terrence Hart New AAP General Counsel

Terrence Hart

Terrence Hart has been named general counsel for the Association of American Publishers. He was formerly assistant general counsel at the U.S. Copyright Office and earlier was v-p of legal policy at the Copyright Alliance for six years. A 2010 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, he has been an adjunct professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School and is the founder and author of the Copyhype legal blog.

AAP president and CEO Maria A. Pallante commented: "A talented lawyer and precise thinker, [Hart] will be a key advocate in promoting and protecting the Constitutional framework on which publishing houses of all sizes and sectors equally depend."

Weiser Books: Mexican Sorcery: A Practical Guide to Brujeria de Rancho by Laura Davila

NACS Installs New Officers & Trustees

The National Association of College Stores has installed two new officers and several new trustees to its board of trustees.

Adam Hustwitt, academic chair of the School of Business at Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ont., Canada, was installed as 2021-22 president/treasurer. Andy Dunn, director of campus retail and licensing for Lope Shops at Grand Canyon University, Phoenix, Ariz., is now president-elect/secretary. Terms for both positions end June 30, 2022.

New trustees-at-large, who were elected by NACS members to three-year terms, include Debbie Cottrell, manager of UMHB Campus Store, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belton Tex.; Gilbert Garcia, operations supervisor at Bay Tree Bookstore, University of California, Santa Cruz; and Carrie Rose, manager of Grove City College Bookstore, Grove City, Pa.

In addition, the board elected two trustees to fill vacancies on the board: Catherine Stoutner, associate director of retail at the UIC Bookstore, University of Illinois at Chicago, will serve a two-year term; and Polly Grapes, director of the State Fair Community College Campus Store, Sedalia, Mo., will have a one-year term.

Trustees remaining on the board are immediate past president Steven Westenbroek, director of College of Saint Mary Campus Store, Omaha, Neb.; Allison Hartel, assistant director, marketing and outreach, CU Book Store, University of Colorado Boulder; Gavin Jensen, manager of Wildcat Tech at the Wildcat Store, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah; Ella Van Nort, director of retail operations and the FIDM Bookstore, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, Los Angeles, Calif.; and Cassie A. Wherry, manager of the Pioneer Bookshop, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa.

Obituary Note: Norton Juster

Norton Juster

Norton Juster, "who wrote one of children's literature's most beloved and enduring books, The Phantom Tollbooth," died March 8, the New York Times reported. He was 91. First published in 1961, The Phantom Tollbooth was illustrated by the man Juster shared a duplex with at the time, Jules Feiffer, who was early in his career as a cartoonist and author. The book has sold almost four million copies, been reissued multiple times and was adapted into an animated film and a stage musical.

In a statement, Feiffer reflected on the qualities Juster brought to the book and the impact his story has had on generations of readers: "His singular quality was being mischievous. He saw humor as turning everything on its head. It's incredible the effect he had on millions of readers who turned The Phantom Tollbooth into something of a cult or a religion."

An architect, Juster described himself as an "accidental writer," and despite his success as a children's author, he "would continue to work in architecture for three more decades, co-founding an architectural firm and working as a professor of architecture at Hampshire College until his retirement in 1992," the Guardian wrote.

Among the projects his company, Juster Pope Frazier, designed was the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Mass., the Washington Post noted.

In addition to reuniting with Feiffer in 2010 on The Odious Ogre, Juster's other children's titles include The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics, which was adapted into a 1965 Oscar-winning animated short; Alberic the Wise and Other Journeys, illustrated by Domenico Gnoli; As Silly as Knees, as Busy as Bees: An Astounding Assortment of Similes, illustrated by David Small; and The Hello, Goodbye Window with Chris Raschka, who received a Caldecott Medal for his illustrations of the magical window at a little girl's grandparents' house. He also wrote a book for adults, A Women's Place: Yesterday's Women in Rural America. 

Mo Willems tweeted: "My lunch partner, Norton Juster, ran out of stories & passed peacefully last night. Best known for THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH + THE DOT & THE LINE, Norton's greatest work was himself: a tapestry of delightful tales. Miss him. 'To the vector goes the spoils.' " Philip Pullman remembered Juster as "a wonderfully inventive writer and a truly lovely man."

In a 2012 CNN interview, Juster talked about the key to writing for young readers: "You have to retain, I guess, a good piece of the way you thought as a child. I think if you lose all of that, that's where the deadliness comes from. The idea of children looking at things differently is a precious thing. The most important thing you can do is notice."


Celebratory Spring Dance at Nantucket Bookworks

Posted on Instagram yesterday by Nantucket Bookworks, Nantucket, Mass.: "It's been such a beautiful day that we went outside & did a celebratory dance. Winter is slowly giving way to Spring & our silk wings, capes, skirts & play silks from Sarah Silks helped us pretend we might quicken the greening of things. Their magical silks are available at Bookworks & on our website."

Pennie Picks: Whistling Past the Graveyard

Pennie Clark Ianniciello, Costco's book buyer, has selected Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall (Gallery, $16.99, 9781476740041) as her pick for March. In Costco Connection, which goes to many of the warehouse club's members, she writes:

"Nine-year-old Starla Claudelle runs away from her unloving grandmother's home in small-town Mississippi intent on finding her mother, who, she believes, is on her way to fame and fortune in Nashville. It's the summer of 1963, a time of racial tensions, and Starla's knowledge of people of color is limited.

"Her journey represents a coming of age and an intense education on race and love well beyond her years and her upbringing. This book is mesmerizing."

Personnel Changes at PRH; Workman

Cara Deey, director, mergers & acquisitions at Penguin Random House, has been promoted to v-p, mergers & acquisitions. She joined the company in 2018 after an investment banking career at UBS.


Caitlin Kleinschmidt has been promoted to associate director of national accounts for all Workman Publishing Co. imprints. She was formerly national account manager and before that, associate manager, national accounts. Earlier was associate marketing manager at Penguin Random House, marketing coordinator at Simon & Schuster and digital rights coordinator at Macmillan.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Sherry Turkle on Fresh Air

Fresh Air: Sherry Turkle, author of The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir (Penguin Press, $28, 9780525560098).

Drew Barrymore Show: Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue, authors of What Makes a Marriage Last: 40 Celebrated Couples Share with Us the Secrets to a Happy Life (HarperOne, $19.99, 9780062982605).

TV: Kindred

FX has given a pilot order to an adaptation of Octavia E. Butler's 1979 novel Kindred, from writer Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Watchmen), Courtney Lee-Mitchell (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Darren Aronofsky and his Protozoa Pictures (Black SwanThe Wrestler), Joe Weisberg (The Americans) and Joel Fields (Fosse/Verdon), Deadline reported. FX Productions, where Weisberg and Fields are under an overall deal, is the studio.

The rights were acquired by Lee-Mitchell in 2008 from the author's agent, Writers House, on behalf of Butler's estate. Jacobs-Jenkins wrote the pilot and will executive produce with Lee-Mitchell, Aronofsky, Weisberg and Fields.

"Since my first encounter with the novel nearly two decades ago, there have been few, if any, books and even fewer authors who have meant as much to me as Kindred and Octavia Butler," said Jacobs-Jenkins. "It has been the highlight and honor of my career thus far to try and finally bring this timeless story to life."

The Butler Estate added that it "was thrilled and grateful to have placed Kindred with Courtney Lee Mitchell at the outset, who brought it to Branden Jacobs Jenkins (a young writer who shares with Octavia the rare honor of being a MacArthur 'Genius' Award recipient) and then to the terrific people at Protozoa. FX could not be a better or more enthusiastic partner, as evidenced by the brilliant creative team they are building, and the legendary slate of shows they have produced."

Books & Authors

Awards: Story Prize Winner

The winner of the Story Prize for books published in 2020 is The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (West Virginia University Press).

The other finalists were The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans (Riverhead Books) and Likes by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). The winner receives $20,000 and the runners-up each receive $5,000.

Because of the pandemic, rather than hold a live event as usual, the Story Prize has recorded short readings by and interviews with the three finalists for the award. The complete video will be posted on YouTube.

Story Prize founder Julie Lindsey and director Larry Dark chose the three finalists. The judges--Margot Sage-EL, owner of Watchung Booksellers, Montclair, N.J., critic and writer Ismail Muhamma, and writer and Williams College professor Karen Shepard--cited The Secret Lives of Church Ladies for "the frankness and authenticity of Philyaw's voice and vision, as well as for her skillful portrayal of Black female characters striving to assert their true selves despite often repressive conditions."

This is the first time that the Story Prize winner has been published by a small or university press, and Philyaw is only the fourth debut writer to take the prize. She was also a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction and is a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Award. In addition, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies is in development as an HBO series, with Philyaw and actress Tessa Thompson as executive producers.

Reading with... Courtney Summers

photo: Megan Gunter

Courtney Summers is the author of the YA novels Cracked Up to Be, All the Rage and Sadie. Her work has received numerous honors, including an Edgar Award, a John Spray Mystery Award, a Cybils Award and an Odyssey Award. She lives and writes in Canada. Summers's most recent book is The Project (Wednesday Books). 

On your nightstand now:

I'm reading Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy, about the ravages of climate change through the eyes of a traumatized woman. It's incredibly lovely and thoughtful and sad. I also just finished Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield, about a girl who spends the summer in Jamaica, hoping to reconnect with her father--it's a powerful coming-of-age novel, unflinching and bold.  

Favorite book when you were a child:

It was a series: The Baby-Sitters Club. I was obsessed. I'll never forget the anticipation I felt waiting for the latest installment. Stacey was my favorite. The intensity of the connection I forged with those characters was a foundational part of my childhood. I don't think I'd be writing without it.

Your top five authors:

My top five are always the most recent authors whose talents reinvigorate my process by reminding me what writing can be, in a way that makes me demand more from myself. Currently they are: Angeline Boulley (Firekeeper's Daughter), Mercedes Helnwein (Slingshot), Tiffany D. Jackson (Grown), Casey McQuiston (One Last Stop) and Kate Elizabeth Russell (My Dark Vanessa).

Book you've faked reading:

I hated school and often faked sick to get out of it and at some point, all my faking overlapped with a class read of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I never managed to make it up. I've seen bits of the movie and I know all the catchphrases. It's gotten me by so far!

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Need by Helen Phillips. It's one of the most audacious, genre-defying, clever and unconventionally romantic stories with one of the most terrifying openings I've ever read in my life. The writing is astounding. It's also one of the most rewarding books to get other people to read. Every time I do, I brace myself for the inevitable flurry of texts as they go on that ride. 

Book you've bought for the cover:

In the Quick by Kate Hope Day was an instant preorder for me. The first time I saw that astronaut floating in that gorgeous pink space, I gasped. I was lucky enough to get my hands on an early read and am happy to report the book itself is just as beautiful. 

Book you hid from your parents:

I never hid books from my parents. I can't remember feeling I should have to, though I do remember my mom watching me wander past with a copy of The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton when I was too young for it. She suggested I reconsider. She was right.

Book that changed your life:

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier was a wonderful little revelation that a story doesn't always owe anyone anything but the truth of itself--no matter how disconcerting, uncomfortable or unwelcome it might be.

Favorite line from a book:

"It was the utter finality of it that was so difficult to accept, the knowledge that they no longer existed as components, however insignificant, of a greater universe. Not even as corpses. They had simply become not." From the Alien novelization by Alan Dean Foster. I hope, by now, he's gotten his royalties.

Five books you'll never part with:

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, The Need by Helen Phillips, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Stories from Jonestown by Leigh Fondakowski and The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle.

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

The Need by Helen Phillips, but this time I would read it in front of a mirror so I could see the look on my face when I reached its final, brilliant page.

Book Review

Children's Review: My Tree

My Tree by Hope Lim, illus. by Il Sung Na (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780823443383, May 4, 2021)

Author/illustrators Hope Lim (I Am a Bird) and Il Sung Na (The Dreamer) form an ideal #OwnVoices Korean American partnership in My Tree, which follows an immigrant child's quest for "home." In the backyard of the new house stands "an old tree. Tall, crooked, quiet." Reminded of the persimmon tree that shaded the family's porch back in Korea, the child names their arboreal companion "Plumee" for the "deep purple plums [that] dotted every branch."

"I spent my first day in America with Plumee," the child recalls, finding comfort in caring for her, playing in her thick branches. "Whenever I missed my home in Korea, Plumee lifted me up." And then, during a spring windstorm, Plumee falls. "An old tree knows how to lie down when it's time," the grandmother tries to assure from Korea. Even lying on her side, Plumee befriends. "For days, she turned into everything [the child] wished for": a tree house, an island, a ship... and she's large enough to welcome the neighborhood kids to join the fun. But Plumee is breaking and when a little boy is injured--albeit slightly--Plumee must be "hauled away." In the empty space she leaves behind, child and father create new beginnings, until the child "feel[s] right at home."

Empathic vulnerability marks every page of Lim's story: the challenging uprooting and hopeful replanting that define a faraway move, the tenderness of new bonds, the encouragement of childhood creativity, the joy of new growth. Co-creator Na meticulously heightens Lim's narrative with especially affecting whimsical details. At story's opening, for example, Na invites readers to share the child's point of view, gazing out the back door, hands held up against the glass, greeting Plumee from a distance. The child, always accompanied by a pup, is already prepared with a small birdhouse, a gift for Plumee's branches that will encourage avian visitors. Zoomed out slightly from the child are the parents, hard at work dealing with their moving boxes, many of them marked "FRAGILE," a poignant reminder that their lives ahead will require gentle adjustments. Throughout, Na adds special somethings beyond the text: a birthday cake, Plumee's remarkable transformations, the child's artistic memorial. Lim and Na's poignantly affecting collaboration is a reassuring homage to resilient adaptation, familial support and unexpectedly nurturing friendships, ensuring My Tree will take root in hearts of all ages. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: In perfect #OwnVoices synch, Hope Lim and Il-Sung Na introduce a young Korean immigrant who finds an ideal first friend in the large plum tree that graces the backyard of the family's new home.

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