Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, December 22, 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

Editors' Note

Happy Holidays!

In honor of Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's, this is the last issue of Shelf Awareness Pro for 2021. We hope everyone has a much-needed rest after all that's happened this year, and we hope for a brighter, happier New Year. We'll see you again on Monday, January 3, 2022. (Feel free to send your holiday sales news and highlights, with pictures if possible, to

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


Roundabout Books Owner Purchases Boswell's Books in Mass.

Raymond Neal, owner of Roundabout Books, Greenfield, Mass., is buying Boswell's Books in Shelburne Falls, effective December 31. The Greenfield Recorder reported that Ken and Nancy Eisenstein, who purchased Boswell's Books 10 years ago as a retirement project, "will be retiring a second time as they look to spend more time with their family. They say they will continue to visit the store and the eponymous cat, Boswell, who will remain at Boswell's Books."

"We're in our 70s," Ken Eisenstein said. "It gets harder every year to be schlepping boxes.... I don't know what we would have done if we hadn't found Raymond, We'd probably still be owning the store."

The Eisensteins, who have known Neal since he opened Roundabout Books around the time they bought Boswell's, described him as the perfect candidate to own the store because he knows the bookselling industry.

"We didn't want someone coming in saying, 'Hey I've always wanted to own a bookstore, but I don't know anything about it,' " Nancy Eisenstein said. "We've known Raymond for almost 10 years now. We kind of came into the business around the same time and we kind of grew up together in the book business."

Neal said he never had plans to purchase the store: "It was only when Ken and Nancy approached me. I did not think that it would be something we would do. I'm delighted about it."

Beyond bolstering the collection at Boswell's with books from Roundabout, Neal said changes at Boswell's will be minimal. He "envisions adding streamlined online ordering and in-store pickup options, but staff and day-to-day operations will be the same. Maria Uprichard, the current manager, will continue to help run the store," the Recorder noted.

"The well of books is the biggest thing I can offer," Neal said, "but it is the case it will have some sophisticated in-store pickup and shipping options and things like that."

Nancy Eisenstein added: "He's going to bring Boswell's into the 21st century. We have been steadfastly rooted in the 20th-century model. For example, during the pandemic, if we had online ordering, we would have done much better. We just didn't have the capacity for it."

While the Covid-19 pandemic has made business tough, Neal thinks he can have a unique pipeline of customers and books between the two stores as business continues to pick up: "It's been such a challenging year and a half. Ken and Nancy coming to me was such a bright spot. I think our staff are excited about it, too. It's going to be a really cool connection."

GLOW: Tordotcom: The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill

Winners of the Nancy Olson Bookseller Award Named

Dajah Williams of the Book Worm Bookstore, Powder Springs, Ga., and Christine Lavigna of Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, Asheville, N.C., are the 2021 recipients of the Nancy Olson Bookseller Award. Presented by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, the $2,000 cash prize honors booksellers who embody the spirit of the late Nancy Olson, founder of Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, N.C., in supporting writers--especially new writers--other booksellers and community outreach.

Christine Lavigna
Dajah Williams

Lavigna, a book buyer who celebrated her 15th year with Malaprop's in 2020, said: "I'm so grateful to receive this generous award. Since my first bookselling gig in college (at the long-defunct Gertrude Stein Memorial Bookshop in Pittsburgh, Pa.), I've loved the thrill that comes with finding the perfect book for the perfect customer."

Williams, a full-time bookseller with the Book Worm Bookstore, where she handles inventory and customer service and does the store's window displays and sidewalk signs, commented: "I'm both surprised and thankful for winning the Nancy Olson Bookseller Award. Being able to work at The Book Worm has hardly felt like work at all and has been full of great experiences, so having what I do be recognized by both Julia [Davis, store owner] and SIBA is something I'll always be grateful for."

The winners were selected by a panel of judges that included Sarah Goddin of Quail Ridge Books; Jim Olson, husband of Nancy Olson; and Linda-Marie Barrett, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

"These were particularly hard choices as there were so many outstanding nominations this year," the judges noted in their statement. "We were impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the winning booksellers. In thinking about Nancy's legacy, we were reminded of her eagerness to help those who were starting out in the industry, whether as booksellers or authors, and her belief that bookselling could be a profession for life. After raising two children she started her own bookstore and through perseverance and dedication built it into an award-winning store. She spent 28 years doing something she loved. We are happy that the winners include both a bookseller who is fairly new to the profession and one who has been working and loving her job for many years. Both Dajah and Christine stand out as booksellers who love not just books, but their customers, their stores, authors, and the impact of a bookstore on its community."

Barrett added that SIBA and the judges are very grateful to the anonymous donor for bestowing these awards in Nancy Olson's name and making such a big difference in the lives of booksellers.

Soho Press: Black Dove by Colin McAdam

International Update: France Confirms Minimum Home Delivery Fee for Books, NZ Christmas Bestsellers

The French parliament "has adopted a law to ban virtually free home deliveries of books in a clear attempt to boost indies and clip the wings of Amazon and other online booksellers," the Bookseller reported, noting that the private member's bill, "presented by senator Laure Darcos and passed unanimously by both the Senate and National Assembly, provides for a minimum delivery fee that will be fixed by decree, and also covers mixed parcels of books and other goods, and loyalty cards." The fees, which have not been negotiated yet, are expected to be between €3 (about $3.40) and €5 (about $5.65) and will be paid by customers. 

Guillaume Husson, director of the French Booksellers Association (Syndicat de la Librairie Française), said the SLF welcomes the law if the fees are reasonable: "If they were less than €3, the law would be meaningless. But since deliveries cost booksellers an average of €7 [about $7.90], retail margins will inevitably be squeezed to a point." 

Guillaume Hainaut, an independent bookseller in Toulouse, told FranceInfo (via the Connexion): "This is already progress because something has been voted. But the problem is that for the moment there is a fairly wide range of prices on offer, between €2 and €7, whereas we believe there should be a fixed price."

Another Toulouse bookseller, Marianne Vérité, said: "On average for a classic book, there are between €5-€6 in costs for an independent bookseller. If [the government] really wants to go through with the law, to promote and help independents, they will have to define a single price for postage, and ensure it is paid as much by Amazon as by us."


Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand reported that the "much-anticipated return to the Outlander series from bestselling author Diana Gabaldon, Go Tell the Bees that I Am Gone, is the official New Zealand BookScan Christmas Number One," besting second-place Lee Child and Andrew Child's latest Jack Reacher novel, Better Off Dead, and achieving sales that are "the biggest for a Christmas number one since 2019."

Nevena Nikolic, Nielsen Book NZ territory manager, said: "In a year when Adult Fiction has performed particularly well, up 21% by value year on year, it is fitting that a fiction title also be the number one." See the complete Nielsen BookScan NZ top 10 Christmas bestseller list here.

Christmas "is such a vital time for the New Zealand book industry, and this year is no exception, proving book sales have been resilient in the face of Covid-19 challenges," Booksellers Aotearoa NZ noted. In total, NZ$5.2 million (about US$3.5 million) was spent on printed books in the country in the seven-day period ending December 11 across 37,415 different book titles (usually 31,000 on an average week), "showing the support New Zealanders have for buying a wider range of books locally this Christmas."


SoraNews24 reporter Mariko Ohanabatake "decided to indulge her passion for reading by spending a whole night" at a branch of "accommodation bookshop" Book and Bed Shinjuku in Tokyo, Japan Today reported. She chose the "Comfort Single Room Breakfast Plan" for 4,200 yen (about $37), which includes a morning meal and a stay in a semi-double sized "room."  

"When she arrived for her night of bookish indulgence, she was pleased to find that the interior was extremely stylish," Japan Today wrote, adding that Ohanabatake "was like a kid in a candy store, picking out all sorts of books that tickled her fancy, piling them into her arms before climbing the ladder into her 'room' in the bookshelf to enjoy them.... Mariko had a great night at Book and Bed in Shinjuku, and now she knows how close it is to work, she'll definitely be returning every now and then when she wants a mini getaway in the heart of Tokyo. And she might even venture further out in future, to try their Kyoto location too."


Congratulations to Canadian bookseller the Gold Rush Bookstore in Rossland, B.C., which is celebrating its fifth anniversary. On Facebook, the Gold Rush posted: "Thank You! A busy & fun celebration day @goldrushbookstore. We ate cake, shared memories with customers  and sold a lot of great books, games, puzzles, and more!! Our customer appreciation draw lasts all week so be sure to stop by and fill out a ballot. Our new manager Christine is rockin' it after 3 months of learning the ropes of running the business. I'll have more time to do the 'behind-the-scenes' with some surprises in store for the spring hint... backyard outdoor seating." --Robert Gray

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

BookGive Nears Fundraising Goal for 'Free Bookshop'

BookGive, the Denver, Colo., nonprofit that distributes new and gently used books to individuals, schools, senior living facilities, homeless shelters, prisons, schools and nonprofits throughout the metro area, is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to create a "free bookshop" at its location in a former service station, KDVR reported. The campaign has raised almost $7,000 of its $8,150 goal.

"The services are a little different, but we are doing a service.... We are a nonprofit that delivers free books and makes books available where they are needed," BookGive executive director Melissa Monforti said, adding that each book becomes an opportunity. "They are a great way to open your mind up to other ways that people think, or their experiences.... It is so invaluable because it really helps people understand each other. It builds empathy, it allows us to be more compassionate to each other and makes our communities stronger, because we can see each other in the stories."

Launched in 2019 by president Nicole Sullivan, who owns BookBar in Denver, the organization has "already made a big impact, donating more than 85,000 books. And they hope to do even more in the community," KDVR noted.

"Sort of like a food bank, where they have hours of operation where you can come and take food. Here, you would come and take books instead," Monforti explained.

Now, BookGive is asking for the public's help to build out its front room to be accessible for all visitors. "We are this close to obtaining our certificate of occupancy which means preparing our front room as a giant walk-in/roll-in free book shop," the organization noted on its fundraising page. "Imagine a bright, happy space with bookshelves full of adventures and stories, information and history for all ages! We will need to build wheelchair access as well as install awnings to protect books from sun damage. We want our entire community to know they had a hand in creating a welcoming environment for all who need access to free books."

BookGive continues host community events, including a holiday book giveaway set for Saturday. "We are very excited to offer the community thousands of free books to take for the holidays. There is no limit to the amount of books you can take," Monforti said.

Follett to Manage De Anza College Bookstore

The De Anza College Bookstore in Cupertino, Calif., will transition from in-house ownership to the use of third-party services offered by Follett Higher Education. La Voz News reported that "long-standing access to critical opportunities such as student employment and affordable classroom resources will remain available in the new system, and the new company will be fully established when the physical store reopens for business."

De Anza bookstore coordinator Jayme Brown said she expects the transition to go smoothly, with most changes taking place behind the scenes: "It's a pretty straightforward website for ordering books. So I don't think it'll be too much of a learning curve."

She added that once the bookstore physically reopens, it will still  hire student employees, including international students. Because the physical bookstore will remain on-site, regulations regarding international student employment will still allow them to work there.

Mark Healy, chair of psychology at De Anza and the faculty Open Educational Resources coordinator, said he is optimistic about the situation, though he has a few concerns regarding how the bookstore will perform once the physical location reopens.

"College bookstores aren't a growth industry," he said. "How well the management and marketing adapts to the school's needs will really determine how well they do.... Everything comes down to management. Good management will make this a great success."


McNally Jackson's Anti-Amazon Holiday Choir

McNally Jackson's anti-Amazon window display.

Yesterday afternoon, McNally Jackson's anti-Amazon holiday campaign culminated with the "Amazon Apocalypse Holiday Choir" performing in front of McNally Jackson's Nolita flagship store in New York City. The choir sang classic Christmas carols rewritten to showcase the "devastating impact on small businesses and the environment" that Amazon and Jeff Bezos have had.

The holiday campaign began with the bookstore partnering with DCX Growth Accelerator, a creative agency in Brooklyn, N.Y., to create a "fun yet dystopian window display" of "Amazon boxes devouring a holiday village full of stores." McNally Jackson's campaign grew out of the #BoxedOut campaign that the agency created with the American Booksellers Association last year.

"If consumers make 10%-30% of their purchases on Amazon, that can be enough to kill your local business," said McNally Jackson owner Sarah McNally. "Maybe we'll save $3 buying a book on Amazon, but these savings add up and eventually take the revenue from bookstores around the country."

Bookshop Wedding: Harvey's Tales

"A couple of weeks ago we were honored to host the wedding of Kathryn & Sean in our store," Harvey's Tales, Geneva, Ill., posted on Instagram. "Kathryn reached out to us several months ago and asked if we would consider letting them have their ceremony in the store since they love coming to Harvey's Tales, so how could we say no. They are a very sweet couple, so kind and considerate, and it was an honor for us to help make their special day memorable. Their photographer, Graham Chapman (@gh_chapman) did a wonderful job capturing the joy of their day, including their adorable pups!"

Chalkboard: The Village Bookstore

"Supply chain woes are real, but there are great reads in the store and we're expecting a shipment of hot titles early this week for all you last-minute shoppers. Thanks to everyone who has been out shopping local!" the Village Bookstore, Pleasantville, N.Y., posted in sharing a photo of the shop's cheerful holiday-themed sidewalk chalkboard.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Judy Chicago on CBS Sunday Morning

Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Ron Howard and Clint Howard, authors of The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family (Morrow, $28.99, 9780063065246).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: Rep. Adam Schiff, author of Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could (Random House, $30, 9780593231524).

Friday, December 24:
Tamron Hall repeat: Tarana Burke, author of Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement (Flatiron Books, $28.99, 9781250621733).

Monday, December 27:
Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Carmelo Anthony, co-author of Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope (Gallery, $28, 9781982160593).

The View repeat: Gov. Gavin Newsom, co-author of Ben and Emma's Big Hit (Philomel, $17.99, 9780593204115).

Live with Kelly and Ryan: Kal Penn, author of You Can't Be Serious (Gallery, $28, 9781982171384).

Tuesday, December 28:
The View repeat: Michael Eric Dyson, author of Entertaining Race: Performing Blackness in America (‎St. Martin's Press, $32.50, 9781250135971).

Wednesday, December 29:
Drew Barrymore Show repeat: Pilar Valdes, co-author of Rebel Homemaker: Food, Family, Life (Dutton, $30, 9780593184103).

The View repeat: Dana Canedy, author of A Journal for Jordan (Crown, $17, 9780593442937).

Sunday, January 2:
CBS Sunday Morning: Judy Chicago, author of The Flowering: The Autobiography of Judy Chicago (Thames & Hudson, $40, 9780500094389).

TV: Ungentlemanly Warfare; Son of a Critch

Giles Milton's nonfiction book Churchill's Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare: The Mavericks Who Plotted Hitler's Defeat will be adapted into a TV series from Netflix's Castlevania: Nocturne creator Clive Bradley. Deadline reported that producer Kit Golden (Chocolat), Long Strange Trip's Tom Mangan and former Discovery International CEO Mark Hollinger have acquired the rights to the book, with Bradley turning the adaptation into a 10-episode TV drama.

Golden called the novel "the last great untold story of the Second World War," and Hollinger described Bradley an "accomplished and versatile writer."

Milton added: "I'm absolutely delighted that Clive Bradley and this team of talented producers will be developing The Ministry into a TV series. Clive brings a wealth of award-winning talent and is sure to breathe life into the extraordinary characters who stride through the pages of the book."


A trailer has been released for Son of a Critch, based on comedian-actor-writer Mark Critch's memoir. Deadline reported that the series will premiere on CBC and CBC Gem next month, while Lionsgate has taken U.S. and international distribution rights.

Created by Critch and producer Tim McAuliffe (The Office), the show features Benjamin Evan Ainsworth (Haunting of Bly Manor) as young Mark, with Critch playing his father, Claire Rankin his mother and Malcolm McDowell as pop.

"I've been listening to the hilarious stories of Mark's youth in Newfoundland for years, and it's amazing to now be a part of bringing them to life on screen," said producer Andrew Barnsley (Schitt's Creek) of Project 10 Productions.

Books & Authors

Reading with... James Hannaham

photo: Hannah Ensor

James Hannaham's novel Delicious Foods won the PEN/Faulkner and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and his novel God Says No was honored by the ALA's Stonewall Book Awards. His short stories have appeared in One Story, Fence, StoryQuarterly and BOMB; he was for many years a writer for the Village Voice and Salon and is also a visual and performance artist. He teaches at the Pratt Institute, and lives in Brooklyn, N.Y..

His book Pilot Impostor (Soft Skull Press, November 30, 2021) draws on the poetry of Fernando Pessoa and the history of air disasters to investigate con men, identity politics, failures of leadership, the privilege of ineptitude, the slave trade and the nature of consciousness.

On your nightstand now:

Things that are literally on my nightstand are actually less likely to get read. Most of those books have been there for years. I'd be embarrassed to list them. On my desk near my laptop is the pile I'm most likely to choose from next: András Forgách, No Live Files Remain,a novel by a Hungarian writer based on the real experience of having discovered that his mother was a government informant;Yaa Gyasi, Transcendent Kingdom; and Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star.

But now I have to read books for classes I'm teaching so I'm reading the 1818 Frankenstein for the first time, which is impossible to see clearly given how many perversions of that text I have already encountered. I'm finding it hard to read that long, bizarrely articulate monologue by the creature in the middle section without thinking of the voice of Fred Gwynne as Herman Munster speaking it. Also, it occurred to me that the speech must also have been in German or French, far more sophisticated than the public image of the creature. But it's a classic father/son story, I guess.

Favorite book when you were a child:

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.

Your top five authors:

I'm not sure what that's supposed to mean. I'm supposed to rank authors in terms of how much I like them? How much they've influenced me? How close I am to them? How much good advice they have given me? How frequently I rip them off? If I'm gonna be real, the list would look like this no matter the criteria: Jennifer Egan, Jennifer Egan, Jennifer Egan, Jennifer Egan and Jennifer Egan. But here are my top five authors who are my friends right now: Rye Curtis (Kingdomtide), Joshua Furst (Revolutionaries), Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Buried Beneath the Baobab Tree), Jason Porter (Why Are You So Sad), Martha Southgate (The Taste of Salt), Anna Moschovakis (Eleanor, Or The Rejection of the Progress of Love), Monique Truong (The Sweetest Fruits)--oops, that's seven.

Book you've faked reading:

John Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat, but that was eighth grade, and I only faked finishing it. I got in trouble for having tried to write a book report on it anyway. The teacher--I had a lot of conflict with English teachers over the years--was this woman who insisted on a weird kind of loyalty test at the beginning of her class. She demanded that everyone in her class kiss her on the cheek. I refused, and somehow it became a very big deal. It's faintly gratifying to know that in today's world, she'd get fired for a stunt like that. When I faked the book report, she made me write a letter--to my mom, I think--confessing to my crime, which I tried to turn into a poem, which she forbade. I don't remember my mother being upset. She was always in my corner. Especially with the kissing requirement, which she agreed was really weird.

Book(s) you're an evangelist for:

No One Writes Back by Jang Eun-Jin. Our Twisted Hero by Yi Mun-Yol. Modern Korean lit generally. My Happy Life by Lydia Millet. Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis. Both Into the Go-Slow and The World According to Fannie Davis by Bridgett Davis. I would be an evangelist for Tayari Jones, too, but she has a whole religion now.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Cuyahoga by Pete Beatty. It is a great cover, but I thought it was a new book by Paul Beatty that I hadn't heard about. Embarrassking, as Popeye would say.

Book you hid from your parents:

I didn't have to hide books from my mother; she didn't censor her kids' reading, and although my dad did not live with us, he would have supported that. If I was worried that my mother would disapprove of a title, I'd usually have such a huge pile of books that I just could leave it toward the bottom. She wouldn't go through them in the first place, though. She did confiscate a Monty Python record album from me once, which seemed out of character. I had five other Monty Python records that were equally smutty, so it was very confusing that she focused on the one. You didn't ask about magazines, so I will not elaborate, except to say I hid number of issues of Honcho from everyone.

Book that changed your life:

The funny (but true) answer would be to say my own second novel, Delicious Foods, but that is not the kind of answer this question typically means to elicit. So I'll just say something unexpected: Baudelaire's Paris Spleen. Before that book, I thought "prose poem" was an oxymoron.

Favorite line from a book:

The last line of Independent People by Halldór Laxness is very simple, but after having read the epic, it's devastating: "They went on." And a lot of Amy Hempel kickers: "Nothing is a long time ago," from "The Afterlife"; "Fluent now in the language of grief," from "In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried." I guess these all rely on having read the story. I tend to dismiss aphorisms and directions for living when I read them in fiction. I dismiss them even harder when I read them on Instagram.

Five books you'll never part with:

Five? I have a hard time parting with ANY books, even books I dislike or have no intention of ever reading. I even have trouble parting with advance reader copies! But again, you might want a more normal answer, though normal is not my shtick, as you might have noticed. My current datebook. Exercises in Style by Raymond Queneau. Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith. Invisible Man. Do I need to say that it's by Ralph Ellison? Yukio Mishima's Forbidden Colors, or maybe After the Banquet.

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

I'm sorry to focus so much on the construction of these questions, but I sense that this one presumes that everyone has a kind of nostalgia for their early reading experiences, during which their critical abilities were not as good and they could immerse themselves in something without judging from whatever adult angle they might bring now. I have no such nostalgia. I'm far more interested in re-reading things in order to see what I might have missed in the past, to see just how naïve a dope I was, what critical tools I might bring to them now, and how much more far-reaching and nuanced my take on the book might be by comparison. I mean, maybe my new reading wouldn't be any deeper, but I still have no interest in returning to some presumptive state of innocence, especially if it means wiping out what I know now.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, December 28:

The Paris Detective by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo (Grand Central, $31, 9781538718858) contains three mysteries with French detective Michael Bennett.

Your Intuition Led You Here: Daily Rituals for Empowerment, Inner Knowing, and Magic by Alex Naranjo and Marlene Vargas (Rodale Books, $22.99, 9780593139486) is a guide to spiritual practices.

The Masters of the Universe Book by Simon Beecroft (DK, $30, 9780744027228) explores an '80s cartoon franchise.

The House of Love by Adriana Trigiani, illus. by Amy June Bates (Viking, $17.99, 9780593203316) is adult author Trigiani's first picture book for children.

Love from Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans, illus. by Steven Salerno (Viking, $8.99, 9780593349830) features Madeline in a love-themed picture book.

By Winter's Light by Stephanie Laurens (Mira, $9.99, 9780778312277).

Cry Wolf: A Novel by Hans Rosenfeldt (Hanover Square Press, $16.99, 9781335425713).

Annihilation Road by Christine Feehan (Berkley, $8.99, 9780593333204).

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:

A History of Wild Places: A Novel by Shea Ernshaw (Atria, $27, 9781982164805). "This twisty thriller gave me similar vibes to The Village and absolutely kept me on my toes! Shea Ernshaw really hit it out of the park with this brilliant adult debut." --Kassie Weeks, The Oxford Exchange, Tampa, Fla.

The Ballerinas: A Novel by Rachel Kapelke-Dale (St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250274236). "Female friendship and betrayal set against the intriguing milieu of ballet--where ambition is set against a ticking clock. The Ballerinas is a glittering story with compelling characters and an unexpected yet satisfactory twist." --Jann Griffiths, BookSmart, Morgan Hill, Calif.

Little Wishes: A Novel by Michelle Adams (Morrow, $16.99, 9780063019577). "I loved everything about this book. Every year on the anniversary of their first kiss, Tom leaves a gift for Elizabeth on her doorstep. When his gift fails to arrive in the 50th year, Elizabeth decides she must find Tom before it is too late." --Connie Eaton, Three Sisters Books & Gifts, Shelbyville, Ind.

For Ages 4 to 8
Our Table by Peter H. Reynolds (Orchard Books, $17.99, 9781338572322). "Our Table is a beautiful story about the importance of gathering together. This newest Peter H. Reynolds book is one you'll want to add to your collection." --Kristin Saner, Fables Books, Goshen, Ind.

For Ages 8 to 12
Fifty-Four Things Wrong with Gwendolyn Rogers by Caela Carter (Quill Tree Books, $16.99, 9780062996633). "A charming story. It's heart wrenching to think of all the neurodiverse kiddos without a mom like Gwendolyn's. Diverse characters, big topics, but funny and heartfelt along the way." --Christina Batten, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Mich.

For Teen Readers
Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $18.99, 9781534477117). "Rogerson proves she is a master of fantasy with Vespertine, a dark, richly wrought tale about trust, betrayal, and truth set in a world where the dead do not stay dead. Vespertine is my latest obsession." --Chelsea Stringfield, Parnassus Books, Nashville, Tenn.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Top Library Recommended Titles for January

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

Top Pick
The Maid: A Novel by Nita Prose (Ballantine, $27, 9780593356159). "As a maid in a posh hotel, Molly is very proud of her work and the care she takes of the guests, even though she often has difficulty navigating social cues. When she finds a wealthy guest dead, she never imagines she has the keys to uncover a killer, and finds, after the death of her beloved Gran, there are many people willing to help her. For fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and How Lucky." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, N.J.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections: A Novel by Eva Jurczyk (Poisoned Pen Press, $26.99, 9781728246598). "When the director of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections suffers a stroke, Liesl is put in charge. Then a newly acquired manuscript goes missing, and Liesl's leadership is questioned. A fast read that features older and imperfect characters, and addresses mental illness. For fans of Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore and The Lions of Fifth Avenue." --Alison Zaya, Lowell Library, Lowell, Mass.

Electric Idol by Katee Robert (Sourcebooks Casablanca, $14.99, 9781728231761). "A fantastic, modern retelling of the old myth of Psyche and Eros. Their romance is lovely, exploring the trope of fake relationships and forced marriage while both characters are struggling to make it out alive. For those who loved Neon Gods and Lore Olympus." --Brenna Timm, High Plains Library District, Greeley, Colo.

A Flicker in the Dark: A Novel by Stacy Willingham (Minotaur, $27.99, 9781250803825). "Chloe knows what it's like to be judged and whispered about, and how it feels to have your family torn apart by a serial killer: your own father. Now on the 20th anniversary of the murders, bodies start turning up, and she finds herself in the middle of the investigation. Unique, riveting, and thrilling. For fans of Jennifer McMahon and Laura Lippman." --Shellie Taylor, Iredell County Library, Statesville, N.C.

Must Love Books by Shauna Robinson (Sourcebooks Landmark, $16.99, ‎ 9781728240732). "An inspiring romcom debut that tackles the question 'Are you happy?' After five years of working for a publisher, Nora gets a pay cut instead of an expected promotion. She decides to work freelance on the side for a competitor, which leads to a hectic juggling of business and personal relationships. For fans of The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and Beach Read." --Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Library, Austin, Tex.

The Overnight Guest: A Novel by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row, $16.99, 9780778311935). "A violent, suspenseful page turner with a compelling plot: A young girl narrowly escapes harm when her parents are shot dead in their home and her brother and best friend (who was sleeping over) disappear. The story then toggles to follow a true-crime writer investigating the town years later. For fans of Dark Places and When You See Me." --Heidi Sandiford, Hillsdale Free Public Library, Hillsdale, N.J.

Reckless Girls: A Novel by Rachel Hawkins (‎St. Martin's Press, $27.99, 9781250274250). "When Lux and her boyfriend agree to ferry two women to a beautiful island near Hawaii, it seems like the perfect refuge for Lux, who's still grieving her mother's death. But then more people join them on the island and they find danger lurking everywhere. Give this inventive slow-burn thriller to fans of Ruth Ware and Riley Sager." --Cari Dubiel, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburg, Ohio

The Roughest Draft by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka (‎Berkley, $16, 9780593201930). "In this bookish romance, two estranged co-authors are pressured into fulfilling the last book on their contract after their relationship goes haywire. It's always fun to read about the writing/publishing process, and there's great chemistry between the leads. For fans of Christina Lauren and Emily Henry." --Rebecca Swanson, Fitchburg Public Library, Fitchburg, Wis.

The School for Good Mothers: A Novel by Jessamine Chan (Simon & Schuster, $27, 9781982156121). "When recently-divorced Frida leaves her daughter home alone, she's sentenced to a reeducation center where she must prove she's a good mom by bonding with a lifelike doll. This chilling dystopian novel highlights how performative and competitive parenting can be; for readers of The Handmaid's Tale and Klara and the Sun." --Elizabeth Zielinski, Olathe Public Library, Olathe, Kan.

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Berkley, $16, 9780593200148). "Ari and Russell scheme to get their feuding divorced bosses back together, Parent Trap-style, and regain peace in the workplace. Instead, they find love. A touching, surprisingly weighty romance, exploring issues of depression and body image and incorporating glimpses of Jewish faith. For fans of Get a Life, Chloe Brown and The Matzah Ball." --Alicia Ahlvers, Henrico County Public Library, Henrico, Va.

Book Review

Children's Review: Mina

Mina by Matthew Forsythe (Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster, $17.99 hardcover, 68p., ages 4-8, 9781481480413, February 15, 2022)

A young mouse has every right to be worried when her father brings home a "squirrel" in this pitch-perfect picture book by the author of the equally charming Pokko and the Drum.

Mina is a dreamy but slightly anxious mouse who spends her days reading and drawing while her adventurous but imprudent father brings home "surprises from the outside world." She doesn't mind... until one day when he calls her outside to see his latest treasure, quite obviously a large, black-and-white cat. "It's a squirrel!" Mina's dad says with arm-flinging delight. "I don't think that's a squirrel," says Mina. The impassive-faced cat joins the mouse family's household, and an uneasy (for Mina) calm settles. The addition of two more "surprises" to keep the first one company is the tipping point, however, especially when all three "squirrels" seem not to have any appetite for acorns. What follows may be the best line ever uttered by a literary mouse doctor (no offense intended to William Steig's Doctor De Soto): "Oh, I see the problem," says the doctor Mina's father has called in. "The problem is that these squirrels are definitely cats." A wild chase ensues, with a brief intermission when Mina appeals to the cats' sense of obligation: "We shared our home with you! Our food! Our toothpaste!" she cries. "And this is how you repay us? By trying to eat us?" But the cats reply, "Yes," and the chase is on again.

In a twist neither Mina nor most readers could have anticipated, the day is saved at last, and Mina, her father and the doctor are free to return to a delicious acorn dinner in the family's cozy hollow-tree home.

As with Pokko and the Drum, Matthew Forsythe brings to Mina a dry, droll humor and exquisite watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil illustrations. Patterns abound in the earth-toned pages: flower parasols, pack baskets, stylized butterflies, "antique art" (postage stamps). In one pleasing spread, Mina's dad knits a handsome sweater with a geometric design for the tuxedo cat while Mina perches, reading, on an armchair-sized ball of yarn, one eye on the equally watchful cat. Mina's "obsessive reader" poses--on her belly on the floor, in a homemade tent, in bed, on her back, even on the back of the cat--will feel exactly right to every bookworm (or bookmouse) lucky enough to find this treasure. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: A mouse named Mina must contend with the "surprise" her father brings home in this funny (for all ages!) picture book, beautifully illustrated and chock-full of unexpected details.

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