Shelf Awareness for Monday, June 21, 2021

Margaret K. McElderry Books: Tender Beasts by Liselle Sambury

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

Flatiron Books: Anita de Monte Laughs Last by Xochitl Gonzalez

Peachtree Publishers: King & Kayla and the Case of the Downstairs Ghost (King & Kayla) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers

Doubleday Books: The Husbands by Holly Gramazio


BLK + BRWN Bookstore Opens in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas with Cori Smith (via)

BLK + BRWN bookstore opened Saturday at 104 1/2 West 39th Street in Kansas City, Mo., the Star reported, adding that owner Cori Smith "grew up reading Black writers such as Bell Hooks, Assata Shakur and Toni Morrison. Now, she's selling their books." Opening day was a big success

Smith said she chose to open on Juneteenth, during Pride Month: "It felt very important and intentional to bring awareness about Black queerness and brown queerness and Black liberation. June to me is a month about freedom for all of those reasons." Prior to becoming a bookseller, Smith was the program director at Justice in the Schools, a project offering free legal services to students and families in the Kansas City and Hickman Mills school districts.

"I always was surrounded by Black and brown literature," Smith noted. "And so I always was just very interested in Black books, Black authors, stories about people that look like me. And so that's kind of been steadfast throughout my life."

Smith said her title selection at the bookshop is an effort to acquaint readers with genres they may not typically associate with Black writers: "I'm also trying to incorporate other books--just different genres that I feel like a lot of Black and brown people don't necessarily see or get a chance to experience from other Black and brown authors. Suspense and thrillers are things that I don't necessarily associate with Black and brown authors or stories that will have a character that looks like me."

When she chose BLK + BRWN's location, Smith was also thinking about accessibility. "I really, really wanted it to be in a neighborhood that felt very Black and brown," she said. "And it was very intentional for me to find a space where I could still get my foot in and still be surrounded by people within my community. This was perfect. Right next door to me, there's a barber shop that is predominantly Black and brown. And then on the other side of them is an African braiding salon. It just made sense. It was really good alignment that it just happened this way."

Holiday House: The Five Impossible Tasks of Eden Smith by Tom Llewellyn; The Selkie's Daughter by Linda Crotta Brennan

Bear and Bee Bookshop Set for North Adams, Mass.

Jen Stevens and Rye Howard are opening the Bear and Bee Bookshop this coming Saturday, June 26, in North Adams, Mass., the Berkshire Eagle reported.

The store will sell mostly used books and some new ones, as well as gifts, cards, puzzles and games. Major categories include gardening, women's health, herbalism, gender and social justice, fiction and mysteries. "Those are really our passions," Stevens told the newspaper.

Howard added, "Having a bookstore to support our interests and the interests of everyone else in the community seems like an important resource for a city to have. If there's not one here already, then we thought we might be able to supply that.... We want to be a place where everything is chosen because it's interesting to at least somebody."

Stevens and Howard moved to North Adams last summer from Bangladesh, where Stevens was working for the United Nations on global maternal health and midwifery education. Howard also has a public health background, and is an environmental public health scientist.

After doing some research, they chose North Adams, Stevens said. "Being data geeks a little bit, we basically made a map, a GIS map, where universities are, to where bookstores are, to same-sex marriage rates. A little bit of everything to try to get the right mix of what we were looking for. And North Adams kind of came to the top."

Hoping to make the store a community center, the pair are planning to host several book clubs, one about health and another about social justice. And already they're helping organize an LGBTQ Pride event with other local businesses this Friday, June 25, from 6 to 9 p.m., in the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art courtyard.

Amistad Press: The Survivors of the Clotilda: The Lost Stories of the Last Captives of the American Slave Trade by Hannah Durkin

Crosswalk Controversy: Chapter One Supports Students' Pride Efforts

A proposal to paint four crosswalks at one intersection in Hamilton, Mont., in rainbow colors during Pride month was voted down last week by the city council, but high school students who supported the effort decorated the windows at Chapter One Bookstore "with rainbows and messages of inclusiveness and diversity," Ravalli Republic reported.

Chapter One co-owner Mara Luther told the paper, "When I heard there was such a kerfuffle about this crosswalk, that there's so many negative comments and that it started veering into adding something to city policy, it seemed like Chapter One Bookstore--being right on Main Street and on the corner--was a great spot for these young activists to have a place give voice to their actions and the spirit behind them."

The proposal, entitled "Allyship Pride Crosswalk Project," would have painted the four crosswalks at the intersection of Third and State streets 11 colors that represent people of color, the trans community and LGBTQ.

Frances Carrasco, a recent Corvallis High School graduate, who has been a spokesperson for the project, came up with the idea after she saw a painted crosswalk in Bozeman. "I thought it was a beautiful idea," she said. "I wanted to incorporate it into our town."

At a city council meeting last Tuesday, an ordinance concerning crosswalk painting--which would include an application process, a $150 filing fee and $1 million in liability insurance, among other requirements--was debated and voted down, and the council "denied painting pavement" in Hamilton, KPAX reported.

"While council members deliberated the basic question of whether to adopt or deny pavement painting, a crowded audience focused its public comment on the issue of an LGBTQ+ pavement painting," with many people speaking against the Pride proposal, KPAX said.

Luther told MTN News: "We've been emotional about it because we've had people come in and just thank us for making them feel welcome and safe, and wanted in their community. Because it's hard to remember that the quiet voices are there when the loud voices are so loud and so hateful, and yeah, we've seen a lot of support for this project."

International Update: Independent Bookshop Week, Digital Bologna Fair a Success

Independent Bookshop Week 2021, part of the Booksellers Association's Books Are My Bag campaign, started Saturday and continues through this Saturday, June 26. The initiative celebrates indie bookshops in the U.K. and Ireland with events, celebrations, reading groups, storytelling, author signings, literary lunches and more.  

"Bookshops deliver a huge amount to their communities and their high streets. Every town or city is richer with a bookshop and they are heroes," Books Are My Bag posted on Facebook. 

Bookends Keswick noted: "This week, come celebrate with us everything that's awesome about indie book shops! In partnership with @booksaremybag, IBW is our chance to give back even more to you lovely book lovers."


This year's digital Bologna Children's Book Fair had a 55% increase in page views compared to the 2020 online edition. The Bookseller reported that the fair, "which moved to June owing to the pandemic, said it attracted more than 75,000 visits from around the world. In all, 16,000 people took active part in its scheduled initiatives, while 800 exhibitors registered on tits rights exchange platform."

BolognaBookPlus, a new general trade strand, debuted at the fair. It was organized by guest director Jacks Thomas, former director of the London Book Fair, who said, "Launching BolognaBookPlus in 2021 has been challenging and exhilarating in equal measure and we are delighted with the output which is a solid foundation on which to build out the offering even further as we forge forward."

BCBF exhibition manager Elena Pasoli commented: "BolognaBookPlus marks a turning point in BCBF history: for the first time in our 58-year history, in addition to 250+ events at the children's fair, in virtual form this year, Bologna brought together worldwide publishing industry professionals, not just from children's publishing, to discuss the key issues for the entire publishing industry at this particular time."


Mount Zero Books

In Hong Kong, "booksellers walk a fine line" under the security law imposed by Beijing last year. "As they navigate the constraints of the sweeping law, many independent bookstores have strengthened their resolve to connect with their readers and crystallized their roles as vibrant community hubs," the New York Times reported. "In interviews, booksellers said that more people had rushed to buy books and photo collections documenting the 2019 protests, driven by the fear that these records would one day disappear. Some customers, meanwhile, have simply turned to their neighborhood bookstores for a sense of connection."

"The social movement has changed the way people read and the value they place on books," said Pong Yat Ming, founder of Book Punch. "I want to bring out that kind of energy, that desire for change through reading. Books are powerful, like forceful punches responding to the social environment."

"There's been a greater need for people to gather around the hearth and keep warm together," noted Sharon Chan, owner of Mount Zero Books. "When the pain is so collective, the biggest challenge for us is how to maintain a healthy outlook, to keep finding books that our readers would want, to help them relax a bit. I think they see this as a space where they can feel safe and find like-minded people.... They could try to ban us from doing certain things in public, but that will not stop us from doing so in private. Justice is on my side, and I do not feel afraid.”

Daniel Lee, who runs Hong Kong Reader, observed: "We can't completely uphold freedom of speech, because the law has changed. To the greatest extent possible, we will try to run our bookstore without breaking the law. So if the government can explicitly say that there are problems with certain books, we will follow. It's a compromise.... As long as something called a 'bookstore' is allowed to exist, we will continue selling books." --Robert Gray

Obituary Note: Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono, the thinker and writer who coined the term "lateral thinking," has died at age 88, the Guardian reported. The author of more than 60 books, a prolific speaker and the host of a BBC television show, de Bono sought to free readers, viewers and listeners "from the tyranny of logic through creative thinking."

He introduced the concept in his 1967 book, The Use of Lateral Thinking, arguing that logic, or vertical thinking, was stifling, and that innovative solutions and groundbreaking ideas could be reached only through creative thinking.

A vocal critic of the British education system, de Bono asserted that schools relied too heavily on vertical thinking, memorization and testing. Those methods, he said, not only hindered creative thinking but also crushed the confidence of many students. In his 1972 book, Children Solve Problems, he put forth that most children are creative problem solvers by nature, and it is schooling that changes that.

In 1985, de Bono published Six Thinking Hats, in which he proposed a way to improve business meetings that involved participants donning imaginary hats of six different colors. Each hat represented a different emotion or outlook, and by every participant donning a particular hat at the same time, meetings could be more efficient and there would be less ego involved. The book went on to become an international bestseller, and companies like Motorola, IBM and Boeing reported success with the method.

Never too shy to self-promote, de Bono once called his thinking hats method "the most important change in human thinking for the past 2,300 years." He also took criticism rather personally: in response to a negative review of Six Thinking Hats that appeared in the Independent, he wrote to the editor saying he was entitled to compensation for the loss in earnings resulting from the review. And, years after the fact, he called the same reviewer a "silly little idiot" in an interview.

In addition to his work as an author and speaker, de Bono was a savvy businessman. He founded the company Advanced Practical Thinking Training in 1991, which worked with clients like Goldman Sachs, British Airways and Siemens, and was a "remarkable success." He received honorary degrees from institutions around the world and, in 1995, received Malta's National Order of Merit.


#Juneteenth: 'Read Black Authors--Every Day, Period'

At Bookmans, Phoenix, Ariz.

Last Thursday, President Biden signed the bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday in the U.S. On Saturday, indie booksellers shared their celebrations and reflections on social media. Here's a sampling:

Main Street Books, Davidson, N.C.: "Happy Juneteenth! We were honored to hear Newbery & Caldecott illustrator, Gordon James, read books filled with his vibrant, affirming art at the Juneteenth Celebration hosted by Ada Jenkins Center today.... Thank you to all of the organizers and volunteers for bringing together our community to joyfully celebrate Black liberation."

Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, Ore.: "Celebrate Juneteenth by supporting Portland's Black-owned bookstore, Third Eye Books Accessories & Gifts LLC. Grand opening at their new location in SE tomorrow, 2-4 pm!"

The Open Book Canyon Country, Santa Clarita, Calif.: "Freedom Day. Jubilee Day. Liberation Day. Emancipation Day. Juneteenth has a few names, but this day commemorating the end of slavery in 1865 is also a day to remember that even though slavery ended, the struggle didn't, and there is as much to celebrate in how far we've come since 1865 as there is to reflect on and continue to grow."

Wise Blood Booksellers, Kansas City, Mo.: "Happy Juneteenth! Read Black authors--every day, period. Support Black-owned businesses (like Willa's Books & Vinyl and @bliss_books_wine_kc, for example!). No one's free until everyone's free."

Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, Vt.: "Today we celebrate Juneteenth, a day commemorating the liberation of enslaved people in the U.S. As #juneteenth is now an official holiday, this year marks the perfect opportunity for reflection. Shown above are some of our favorite pieces for all ages to further your education on this celebration!"

Bookie's, Homewood, Ill.: "Wishing our customers, neighbors, and friends a very happy Juneteenth! Keep reading and fighting for even more freedom."

Turning Page Bookshop, Goose Creek, S.C.: "Lataya and I selling books & accessories at the Juneteenth Celebration at River Front Park."

Changing Hands Bookstore, Phoenix & Tempe, Ariz.: "Today is #Juneteenth! We've put together some recommended reads to celebrate and honor the occasion--books about our true history as a country, about community, about Black joy, the ongoing work of liberation and anti-racism, and more. We hope you find something to read, to love, and to share. Happy Juneteenth."

Loganberry Books, Shaker Heights, Ohio: "Today is Juneteenth! We are excited to commemorate this day with you. Many Juneteenth Programs are commemorated with a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, which is considered the African American National Anthem. The lyrics to this anthem, written by James Weldon Johnson, signify the journey, history, and future of many African American people. Remember that a percentage of sales today will be donated to the Urban League of Cleveland, and there is a place to donate to Karamu House as well!"

Harriett's Bookshop, Philadelphia, Pa. (video): " 'Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.'--Toni Morrison w/ @seraiahnicole & the community."

Personnel Changes at Sourcebooks

Madeleine Brown has joined Sourcebooks as marketing assistant.

When You Think You've Heard or Seen It All Department

From Melissa DeMotte, owner of the Well~Read Moose, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho:

"When you think you have heard or seen it all at the bookstore: Guy comes into our store and asks if we have a community board so he can hang a flyer that Amazon is hiring. Seriously?!?!?"

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Desiree Hartsock Siegfried, Ronan Farrow, Jessamyn Stanley on GMA

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Eric Ripert, author of Vegetable Simple: A Cookbook (Random House, $35, 9780593132487).

Good Morning America: Desiree Hartsock Siegfried, co-author of The Road to Roses: Heartbreak, Hope, and Finding Strength When Life Doesn't Go as Planned (Zondervan, $26.99, 9780310361947).

NPR's Here & Now: Dax-Devlon Ross, author of Letters to My White Male Friends (St. Martin's Press, $24.99, 9781250276834).

Good Morning America: Ronan Farrow, author of War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence (Norton, $18.95, 9780393356908).

Also on GMA: Jessamyn Stanley, author of Yoke: My Yoga of Self-Acceptance (Workman, $15.95, 9781523505210).

Jimmy Kimmel Live: Quentin Tarantino, author of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: A Novel (Harper Perennial, $9.99, 9780063112520).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Craig Melvin, author of Pops: Learning to Be a Son and a Father (Morrow, $26.99, 9780063071995).

Late Night with Seth Meyers: Graham Norton, author of Home Stretch: A Novel (HarperVia, $26.99, 9780063112094).

Also on Late Night: Brandon Taylor, author of Filthy Animals (Riverhead, $26, 9780525538912).

Movies: Cat Person

Studiocanal and Imperative Entertainment are teaming up on a film adaptation of Cat Person, based on Kristen Roupenian's 2017 short story that became the New Yorker's most downloaded work of fiction that year, Deadline reported. Directed by Susanna Fogel (The Flight Attendant) and written by Michelle Ashford (Masters of Sex), the project stars Nicholas Braun (Succession) and Emilia Jones (Locke & Key). 

Fogel commented: "Using Kristen's excruciatingly well-observed short story about the horrors of dating as the jumping off point for an actual genre film, Cat Person will explore the hellscape of modern romance and the idea that we have all been the villain in someone else's story, and the victim in others." 

Books & Authors

Awards: NYPL Young Lions; Neustadt Finalists

Catherine Lacey won the $10,000 New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award for her book Pew (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). The award is given to " an American writer age 35 or younger for either a novel or a collection of short stories." The finalists were:

Meng Jin for Little Gods (Custom House)
Hilary Leichter for Temporary (Coffee House Press)
Brandon Taylor for Real Life (Riverhead Books)
C Pam Zhang for How Much of These Hills Is Gold (Riverhead Books)


Finalists have been announced for the $50,000 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, sponsored by World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma's magazine of international literature and culture, and recognizing "significant contributions to world literature." The winner will be chosen in October. See the finalists here.

Top Library Recommended Titles for July

LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 July titles public library staff across the country love:

Top Pick
Such a Quiet Place: A Novel by Megan Miranda (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781982147280). "The tight-knit neighborhood of Hollow's Edge is supposed to be a safe, private place where the neighbors all know each other. But secrets lie behind every door. Miranda creates a vivid setting where the characters develop quickly, and the twisty plot will keep readers guessing until the end. For fans of psychological thrillers like The Other Mrs., Into the Water, and Every Secret Thing." --Leslie Hagel, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, Conn.

All the Little Hopes: A Novel by Leah Weiss (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, 9781728232744). "In World War II-era North Carolina, two best friends use their love of Nancy Drew mysteries to help find a missing man, while tending honeybees for the war effort and working on the family's tobacco farm alongside Nazi POWs. This coming of age story is heartfelt, mystical, and full of love and family. Reminiscent of Summer of My German Soldier and The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, N.J.

The Bone Code: A Temperance Brennan Novel by Kathy Reichs (‎Scribner, $27, 9781982139964). "Set in 2021, with some references to Covid, this thrilling read has a very contemporary feel, combining current scientific and forensic terminology with a sinister plot. A waste container turns up with two bodies, similar to an old unsolved case of Brennan's. For fans of fast-paced, suspenseful mysteries like Prime Suspect and Carved in Bone." --Marilyn Sieb, L.D. Fargo Library, Lake Mills, Wis.

Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas (Avon, $8.99, 9780062371966). "In this addition to the Ravenels series, Merritt, a young London widow, shares an instant attraction with a Scottish whiskey distiller named Keir, and they begin a steamy and passionate romance. But someone wants him dead. And Sebastian, aka Lord St. Vincent, is also in the picture. For fans of the Brides of Redemption and the Hellions of Havisham series." --Leah Cummings, Urbandale Public Library, Urbandale, Iowa

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead: A Novel by Emily Austin (Atria, $26, ‎ 9781982167356). "In need of a short novel with a unique and lovable character, genuine LOL moments, and an ending that is richly deserved, hopeful, and joyful? Then this is for you. It's brilliantly written and also a brutally honest depiction of what it's like to have severe anxiety. For fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Mostly Dead Things." --Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier Public Library, Warrenton, Va.

Falling: A Novel by T.J. Newman (Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster, $28, 9781982177881). "A pilot is given an impossible choice: crash the airplane that he is flying, killing everyone on board, or his family will be murdered. A tense, whiteknuckle thriller with all the makings of a summer blockbuster. Perfect for fans of The Chain." --Nanette Donohue, Champaign Public Library, Champaign, Ill.

The Forest of Vanishing Stars: A Novel by Kristin Harmel (Gallery, $28, 9781982158934). "Stolen from her parents at two years old, Yona learns to survive in the forest. Years later, Yona teaches Jews fleeing the Holocaust to survive in the forest. A tale of personal responsibility, betrayals, loss, and love that stays with you long after you've read it. For readers who enjoyed The Nightingale, Salt to the Sea, and The Baker's Secret." --Cynthia Hunt, Amarillo Public Library, Amarillo, Tex.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers (Tor, $20.99, 9781250236210). "The quiet life of a tea monk is interrupted when a robot arrives after centuries to honor a promise to check in. The robot cannot return to the wilderness until the question of 'what do people need?' is answered. This is a book I will be recommending to everyone! For readers who enjoyed The Bear and The House in the Cerulean Sea." --Liz Aleshunas, St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis, Mo.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan (Tor, $27.99, 9781250621801). "In her intense, wonderfully written, and completely absorbing debut, Parker-Chan gives 14th century China a stunner of a rewrite. When her father and brother die as a consequence of a brutal attack, Zhu leaves her impoverished village and takes on her brother’s identity and his fate. For readers who enjoyed Priory of the Orange Tree, Gideon the Ninth, and The Poppy War." --Sharon Layburn, South Huntington Public Library, Huntington, N.Y.

The Sinful Lives of Trophy Wives: A Novel by Kristin Miller (‎Ballantine, $17, 9781524799526). "When Brooke moves to the exclusive California neighborhood of Presidio Terrace, she befriends both Erin and Georgia. She finds out much more than she ever expected. Readers will be so wrapped up in the drama, privilege, and mystery, they might finish in one sitting. For readers who enjoyed Big Little Lies and Never Have I Ever." --Danielle Aronowitz, South Plainfield Public Library, South Plainfield, N.J.

Book Review

Review: The Council of Animals

The Council of Animals by Nick McDonell, illus. by Steven Tabbutt (Holt, $25.99 hardcover, 208p., 9781250799036, July 20, 2021)

In the witty and compelling The Council of Animals by Nick McDonell (Twelve), humans are nearly extinct following an unspecified disaster ("The Calamity") of their own making. The animals, also sorely suffering in a changed world, gather to debate and vote on the next steps: to allow the humans to live, or to kill and eat them all. This council includes a grizzled, arthritic bulldog; a not-so-bright horse; an underfed grizzly bear; a religious crow; an aloof and possibly turncoat cat; and a bully of a baboon. The belated seventh council member is the source of some trepidation and mystery. When the humans (who mostly remain offscreen) appear doomed, a motley alliance must form, swelling the ranks of animal characters to encompass a trio of moles, a giant lizard that thinks it's a bat, a small but important scorpion and more. To save humanity, these intrepid creatures will travel and adventure together, learning interspecies trust and new animal facts, and finding hilarity and danger along the way.

This story contains both whimsy and life-or-death consequences, charmingly related with humor and sagacity by a narrator, "a humble historian (or animal contextographer)," who conceals their own identity until the very end. The details of this animal-centered world are endlessly entertaining, as reference is made to "the wallaby who taught Elvis how to sing. The lobsters who elevated Salvador Dalí's conceptual practice. The raccoon who, quite disastrously, advised Calvin Coolidge." Steven Tabbutt's deceptively simple illustrations reinforce the storybook impression and advance character development, as when the bear classically addresses a human skull during an existential crisis. While frequently playful, this narrative is not all fun and games: the dog might have PTSD, the baboon has disturbingly dictatorial tendencies and the stakes couldn't be higher. McDonell's clever, lively prose and snappy pacing propels readers onward.

The Council of Animals has the feel of a fable, both a romp with sweetly goofy animal characters and a serious and clear-eyed story about the real world and its dangers. "It is the duty of the historian to face the hideous facts, and violence is one." Ultimately, this is a tale about community and cooperation. Humans may have something to learn from the animals about communication and mutual responsibility: "Even bony zompompers at the bottom of the Marianas Trench like to chat with blue whales now and then." Thought-provoking, captivating, funny, instructive: this is a book for readers who have ever yearned for a little extrahuman wisdom and cheer. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: A council of animals decides the post-Calamity fate of humans in this wise, witty, perfectly compelling tale of adventure and survival.

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