Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, June 29, 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


Lee & Low Books Buying Cinco Puntos Press

Lee and Bobby Byrd, who founded Cinco Puntos Press in 1985, are selling the El Paso, Tex., publisher to Lee & Low Books, the New York City press that specializes in multicultural children's books. Cinco Puntos, which also emphasizes multicultural titles, will become an imprint of Lee & Low. With the purchase, Lee & Low Books will offer its first adult titles, as well as enlarge its collection of bilingual, Chicanx, and border literature. Cinco Puntos wrote on social media: "All our beloved books are joining this new family, and they'll even be reissuing a lot of old favorites that haven't been available for a while. It's a great day for diverse books!"

In a statement, Jason Low, publisher of Lee & Low, commented: "We are extremely cognizant of the overall number of diverse books in the marketplace. It is critical that a collection of strong diverse books like the ones that Cinco Puntos Press has published remain in print. In this way, we will not only preserve the Byrd legacy but continue to expand the audience of readers who will enjoy and be moved by these wonderful stories."

He added: "We have always held the books that Cinco Puntos Press published in high regard. There are very few presses in our industry that truly share Lee & Low's values, but Cinco Puntos does. The books that Lee and Bobby Byrd have chosen to publish amplify marginalized voices and reflect the ideal of a truly inclusive publishing industry."

Lee & Low will publish several forthcoming Cinco Puntos Press titles, including Thirty Talks Weird Love by Alessandra Narváez Varela (October 2021); Where Wonder Grows, the follow-up picture book to All Around Us by Xelena González, illustrated by Adriana M. Garcia (January 2022 in both English and Spanish editions); and Nobody's Pilgrims by Sergio Troncoso (May 2022).

The Byrds told El Paso Matters that they had explored selling the press for a decade and decided the time is right. Lee Byrd, who is 76, said, "I find myself really tired. I don't want to sit around and dream about another book and pitching it to somebody." Bobby Byrd is 78. The pair have put the Cinco Puntos building at 701 Texas Ave. on the market for $450,000.

In its 36 years, Cinco Puntos Press has published some 130 books, including Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, a short story collection, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2013. Sáenz was the first Mexican American to win the award.

Sáenz, who lives in El Paso and has published poetry, novels, children's books and young adult literature with Cinco Puntos Press, said of the Byrds: "They have truly been a remarkable trailblazer in the field of multicultural literature, particularly the literature of the border and border writers. And they have contributed to our literary community and we should all be immensely grateful to them."

Other important Cinco Puntos Press books include The Story of Colors/La Historia de los Colores, a 1999 children's book by Subcomandante Marcos, who led an indigenous uprising in the Mexican state of Chiapas in the 1990s, and Ringside Seat to a Revolution by David Romo, which tells how Ciudad Juárez and El Paso served as the intellectual inspiration for the Mexican Revolution in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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

2021 Newbery, Caldecott and Legacy Virtual Banquet at ALA

The 2021 Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Virtual Banquet, presented by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), was held on Sunday evening as part of ALA's 2021 virtual annual conference. The 2021 Newbery, Caldecott and Children's Literature Legacy Award Medalist winners--Tae Keller (When You Trap a Tiger, Random House Books for Young Readers), Michaela Goade (We Are Water Protectors, Roaring Brook Press) and Mildred D. Taylor, author of the Logan family series--all offered acceptance remarks, and the Newbery and Caldecott Honorees delivered brief messages.

Michaela Goade

Michaela Goade, in her acceptance speech for the 2021 Caldecott Medal for We Are Water Protectors (Roaring Brook Press), pointed out she is the first Indigenous person and BIPOC woman to receive the Caldecott Medal award in its 83-year history.

Goade spoke to the audience from Southeast Alaska--lands her ancestors have stewarded, she said, "since time immemorial." She continued, "It is a daunting thing to be called upon to put into words what I normally choose to communicate through art." She went on to describe these lands, of 1,000 islands, "where sea blends into sky... a kaleidoscope of glaciers and fjords, rivers and waterfalls, lakes, bogs… everything eventually leading to the sea." In her art, she wished to show what it means to be in relationship with the land and to nourish the spirit of a future water protector. The 2016 Standing Rock Water Protectors became the largest intertribal alliance in documented history. "I contemplated how sorrow, frustration and anger wove together with courage, resiliency and hope, and how the art might speak to this gravity," Goade said. "I hope children meet the story feeling seen and celebrated... and empowered."

Tae Keller

The 100th Newbery Medal was presented to Tae Keller for When You Trap a Tiger (Random House Books for Young Readers). "This year feels different," Keller began. "Instead of standing at a podium, I am sitting at my writing desk, the same one that has seen me through drafts of various projects,... the same one I sat in when the committee told me over Zoom that I'd won." Keller said that when Dr. Jonda C. McNair, 2021 Newbery chair, invited Keller to speak to her students at Ohio State University, she asked Keller, "What does the tiger represent?" Keller, in disarming fashion, said she felt unprepared for the question: "Identity, courage, death, hope," but as time went on, the tiger came to represent a question: "Why do we tell stories?" Her speech took an unexpected turn and she asked listeners to reflect on the year just passed, the preciousness of life, of family, of stories.

"Writing is the thing that makes me feel most like myself," Keller said. "Why I write and why we tell stories are not the same question. Her Halmoni's (grandmother's) stories took Keller to Korea, when Tiger walked like man, and spoke, and little girls could shapeshift. "Stories connected me to my family, this impossibly huge world felt small again. We tell stories because they connect us to the world and guide us back to ourselves. Stories show us who we are. And without stories, who are we?"

Mildred Taylor gave her acceptance by audio recording, describing how it took her years to get her first book, Song of the Trees, published, and how she tried several narrative approaches before finding the voice of Cassie Logan--a voice Taylor called a blend of her aunt, her sister and herself.

"For readers, the Logan family is fiction," she said, "but to me they are real people, for each member of the Logan family I describe is drawn from a memory of my family, and the land I describe is my family's land." Taylor spoke of the images of Black people in the textbooks at school, and how they were nothing like the people she knew. "I wanted to show a different kind of Black world from the one then so often portrayed. I wanted to show a family united in love and self-respect; and parents, strong and sensitive, attempting to guide their children successfully, without harming their spirits, through the hazardous maze of living in a discriminatory society." --Jennifer M. Brown

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

Pressed LKLD Books & Coffee Opening in Lakeland, Fla.

The future home of Pressed LKLD.

Pressed LKLD Books & Coffee, a bookstore and coffee shop, will open later this summer in downtown Lakeland, Fla., the Ledger reported.

Owners Christina and Paul Needham have signed a lease for a space at 213 E. Bay St. and are eyeing an end-of-July opening. The general-interest bookstore will carry new books for children and adults, while the coffee shop will serve coffee from local coffee roasters Ethos Roasters and a variety of baked goods.

The space was previously home to a small business called Honeycomb Bread Bakers, which has since found a new spot in nearby Winter Haven. In an interesting twist, Honeycomb will provide baked goods for Pressed.

Christina Needham left a 10-year career in music education to pursue her dream of opening a bookstore and coffee shop of her own. She told the Ledger that while she didn't start looking for spaces to rent until last December, she's had the name for the store in mind since January 2018.

AAP: April Sales Jump 43.7%

Total net book sales in April in the U.S. rose 43.7%, to $994.1 million, compared to April 2020, representing sales of 1,358 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. April 2020 was the first full month reflecting lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the year to date, total net sales rose 27%, to $4.06 billion.

Most categories had strong sales gains, except for e-books, which fell 1.2%, to $90.8 million. In an unusual twist, physical audio, whose sales have been declining over time, had a sales gain of 32.2%, to $2.1 million, surpassing downloadable audio, which had a sales gain of 17.5%, to $63.1 million.

Sales by category in April 2021 compared to April 2020:

Obituary Note: Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn

Stephen Dunn, "whose plain-spoken poems about the small things in life and the bigger things within them filled numerous collections, one of which, Different Hours, won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001," died June 24, the New York Times reported. He was 82. 

In an article written for the Pulitzer website, Dunn mentioned three primary influences: Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens and Theodore Roethke: "In a nutshell, Frost for his strategies of composition and his quotidian yet philosophical investigations. Stevens for teaching me that, if the music was right, I could love poems I didn’t understand. Roethke for his sensual playfulness, but finally for his lyrical meditations, and his phrasing; yes, Roethke most of all."

Beginning with Looking for Holes in the Ceiling in 1974, Dunn "specialized in poems about surviving, coping with and looking for meaning in the ordinary passages of life, or at least of the middle-class life he was familiar with.... his subject matter was of a sort that might draw a sigh or smile of familiarity from the reader," the Times wrote, citing these lines from "Aerial in the Pines":

To cut off the top branches
of the majestic pine
(once unthinkable for us)

was a bit of nature traded
for clear reception,
for what was fundamental now.
The tree looked foolish, like someone
with a bad haircut, but the television

had become what to do
with difficult time,
important, an antidote to speaking

if need be, company when our nerves
couldn't bear the silence
of a printed page.

Dunn's other books include Pagan Virtues; Keeper of Limits; Lines of Defense; Here and Now; What Goes On: New and Selected Poems 1995-2009; Loosestrife; Landscape at the End of the Century; Local Time; Degrees of Fidelity: Essays on Poetry and the Latitudes of the Personal; Walking Light: Essays and Memoirs; and Riffs and Reciprocities: Prose Pairs. His final book, The Not Yet Fallen World, will be published in 2022.

Yaddo, the artists colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., posted on Facebook: "All of us at Yaddo were saddened to learn of the death of the wonderful #YaddoPoet, Stephen Elliot Dunn. He won a Pulitzer Prize, a Guggenheim, and numerous other awards in his long career, but we remember him best for the profundity of his conversation, his stamina on the tennis court, the depth of his loyalty, and the kind twinkle with which he looked at life, even as his movements became increasingly constrained by Parkinson’s disease. We will miss him."

From Dunn's poem "Ars Poetica":

Maybe from the beginning
the issue was how to live
in a world so extravagant

it had a sky,
in bodies so breakable
we had to pray.


ALA #ConferenceAtHome Tip: Virtual 'Shuttle Bus Experience'

On social media yesterday, American Library Association's virtual conference offered advice for those attendees who might be missing a key element of in-person attendance: "Good morning ALA Annual attendees! Are you missing the conference shuttle bus experience? Here's a quick #ConferenceAtHome tip: before heading to your morning session, wait outside for 5-10 minutes, then sit in the back seat of your car looking at the #ALAAC21 scheduler for a bit. Or, chat with your conference friends on a group thread."

Personnel Changes at Grove Atlantic

Natalie Church will join Grove Atlantic as senior marketing manager, effective July 12. She was previously marketing manager at Dutton.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Molly Baz on the Drew Barrymore Show

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Molly Baz, author of Cook This Book: Techniques That Teach and Recipes to Repeat (Clarkson Potter, $32.50, 9780593138274).

TV: Julia

Judith Light will star as Blanche Knopf, co-founder of the Knopf publishing house and "widely credited with bringing in Julia Child's hugely successful Mastering the Art of French Cooking," in the HBO Max series Julia, Deadline reported. 

HBO Max picked up the eight-episode series, which is currently in production, last January after ordering a pilot. Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley) plays Child and David Hyde Pierce her husband, Paul. The pilot was written by Daniel Goldfarb and directed by Charles McDougall.

Books & Authors

Awards: Dayne Ogilvie Winner

Jillian Christmas won the C$10,000 (about US$8,130) Writers' Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize, which is presented to an emerging writer from the LGBTQ2S+ community who demonstrates great promise through a body of work of exceptional quality. 

The prize jury said: "Whether on stage or on the page, the work of Jillian Christmas strikes at the very core of what it means to be human. A writer of exceptional skill who circles back on memory and consciousness, she challenges us, through her own compassion and vulnerability, to confront oppression and to imagine new possibilities for justice and belonging. The Gospel of Breaking is an unforgettable book that speaks to lineages of Black queerness while showing how poetry and cadence can inhabit a body. Christmas' voice is a deeply necessary one."

Book Review

Review: Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, & Los Angeles, California

Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, and Los Angeles, California by Matthew Specktor (Tin House, $17.95 paperback, 300p., 9781951142629, July 27, 2021)

In Always Crashing in the Same Car: On Art, Crisis, & Los Angeles, California, novelist and screenwriter Matthew Specktor (American Dream Machine) offers an empathetic and eloquent set of portraits of nine Hollywood artists and creators of varying prominence, gracefully blending their stories with an account of his own artistic challenges and glimpses of his family's connection to the entertainment industry.

At a time he doesn't specify, but after he had "suffered a kind of crash," Specktor returned to Hollywood, the city where he had grown up and from which he'd "departed in a nervous panic at eighteen." He rents an apartment at the "stone center of Hollywood's mythological grid," 30 yards from the Sunset Strip and across the street from where F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940. His preschool-age daughter lives there with him part-time after his wife has left him for a co-worker.

Though Specktor thinks of this dwelling as a "launching pad toward a greater, more hopeful future," it seems fitting that the melancholy atmosphere of the place serves as the inspiration for what he calls "meditations on people who soared and then collapsed--and on those who barely even 'soared,' who were dropped to the ground almost before they left the runway."

Most of Specktor's subjects are drawn from the film industry, and include well-known figures like Academy Award-winning directors Hal Ashby (Coming Home) and Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter), whose careers imploded with dizzying speed, along with talented but less prominent artists like actress Tuesday Weld, writer Renata Adler and screenwriter Carole Eastman, nominated for an Oscar for Five Easy Pieces (the 1970 film that launched Jack Nicholson's career). One of the most interesting chapters offers a retrospective on musician Warren Zevon, in which Specktor traces his own evolution from intense dislike of the abusive, alcoholic singer-songwriter to deep admiration.

The common thread, for Specktor, is that their lives "seemed to have something to say about these questions of failure and achievement and how Hollywood--by which I really mean America--treats its artists." In varying, often subtle, ways, he links each of these accounts to the experiences of his parents--his father, Fred Specktor, a prominent agent with Creative Artists Agency well into his 80s, and his late mother, Katherine, a failed screenwriter and alcoholic.

There's a beautiful, elegiac tone to Specktor's writing, including in his depiction of Hollywood, as when he describes autumn there as "a kind of shriveling, a contraction not just of time, the daylight hours, but of possibility." His is an affecting reflection on the lure of fame and of how it often eludes those most determined to cling to it. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Shelf Talker: An incisive collection of artist portraits illuminates the tenuous quality of Hollywood celebrity and the price it exacts. 

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
2. Strict Confidence by Skye Warren
3. Love's Treasure by Various
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki with Sharon L. Lechter
5. The Effing List by Cherise Sinclair
6. Knocked Up by Various
7. Brother's Keeper Series Complete Box Set by Stephanie St. Klaire
8. On the Way to Casa Lotus by Lorena Junco Margain
9. Verity by Colleen Hoover
10. The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout

[Many thanks to!]

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