Shelf Awareness for Wednesday, November 23, 2022


Yearling Books: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Pantheon Books: Chain Gang All Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Scholastic Press: The Guardian Test (Legends of Lotus Island #1) by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Tor Books: The First Bright Thing by J.R. Dawson

Editors' Note

Happy Thanksgiving!

For the rest of the week, we're taking a break to give thanks for many things, so this is our last issue until Monday, November 28. Enjoy the holidays, and may all booksellers have excellent Black Friday, Plaid Friday, Small Business Saturday and Indies First celebrations! (Feel free on Sunday to send reports about Indies First, with pictures if possible, to news@shelf-awareness.com.)


G.P. Putnam's Sons: The Only Game in Town by Lacie Waldon


News

Bookie's in Homewood, Ill., Reopens in Shared Space 

Bookie's New and Used Books, Homewood, Ill., which had announced in September that it would be closing after nearly five years in business due to a rent hike and lack of sales, has had a change of plans. The store reopened yesterday, November 22, in a new location at 18109 Dixie Highway. Patch reported that owner Keith Lewis "found a way to bring it back, while also working alongside a longtime friend."

Lewis partnered with the Rock Shop co-owner Laura Bruni to "inhabit a shared space and inject new life into both shops' fan bases," Patch noted. The reopening came "just three weeks after taking possession of the space, and ahead of Black Friday shopping and the holiday rush." 

"I never wanted to close," Lewis said. "It was necessary to close at that location, and this location came up more quickly than I imagined. Just seeing the customers again and being open in time for the holiday season.... That's huge."

Lewis and Bruni, who was one of the early employees when Bookie's opened in 2018, have known each other for some time. Bruni and fiancé Craig Frank had been looking for space for their business, which prides itself on being "all things rock. Guitars, records, rocks, crystals... you get the idea."

"The Rock Shop has been looking for an appropriate space for their ventures for a couple of years," Lewis said. "We have been discussing some kind of joint venture for since I mentioned my desire to find a spot with a smaller footprint and cheaper rent to make reopening more feasible."

Bruni noted: "Books take up considerable floor space. Fortunately, rocks don't. So we were able to integrate the space nicely, I think."

Lewis agreed: "I think books and records go hand in hand. It just makes sense. People often wished I carried records when I was on Ridge Road. I wasn't interested, really, as books are my passion, but Craig is really into vinyl. And it's a good time for him. I got rid of my records in the mid-'90s. Now I'm buying them up again. A lot of people are rebuilding their collections. Craig still has his."

Stressing that community support will help the reinvigorated Bookie's be successful, Lewis added that local businesses "make the neighborhood so much better. People come to downtown Homewood and check out what kinds of businesses they have. The better and more plentiful the businesses, the more desirable the area. I need people to come shop."


GLOW: Putnam: The Three of Us by Ore Agbaje-Williams


The Legendarium Comes to Salt Lake City

The Legendarium, a science fiction and fantasy bookstore and RPG cafe, has opened in Salt Lake City, Utah, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Co-owners and sisters Stephanie and Raelle Blatter opened the store in August. They carry genre fiction with a focus on queer and BIPOC voices and run a mini coffee bar with baked goods, coffee and themed drinks like "Gondor Fog," "Barefoot in the Shire" and "Priory of the Orange Mocha." There is a stack of board games in the cafe that customers can use, and the basement features a "gaming dungeon" for playing tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons.

Stephanie Blatter told the Tribune that science fiction and fantasy were "incredibly important" to both her and her sister when they were growing up, as "they allow for new world building and imagination to just go wild. You can address topics that are important to you internally like mental health or neurodivergence or not fitting in a certain box."

As book banning continues to sweep the country, the Blatters have a banned books book club to "highlight and give homage to books that are banned." Though these titles might get barred from school districts in Utah and other states, the store can showcase them and "provide a space where people can come read and experience those here."

When it comes to filling the store's shelves, the Blatter sisters have been very careful about curation. They've shied away from some popular authors and book series, most notably Harry Potter, in favor of the work of writers like Ursula K. Le Guin.

Stephanie Blatter noted that they've "made a conscious decision to exclude certain well-loved fantasy or science fiction pieces that don't fit with what we want to represent, with what the Legendarium stands for."

Acknowledging that some may find that hypocritical given the store's stance on banned books, Blatter pointed out that people can still easily find those books at Amazon and Barnes & Noble: "If they want something more niche and open-minded, they can find that here."

Blatter added that she and her sister were inspired by Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego, Calif., which she described as a "mecca for fans and authors." They particularly liked the shop's inclusive environment and decided to try to create something similar in Utah. So far, the community has responded very well.


G.P. Putnam's Sons: Love & Other Scams by Philip Ellis


B&N in Holmdel, N.J., Moving November 30

The Barnes & Noble store in Holmdel, N.J., which is moving from its home of more than 20 years to a smaller location in the same shopping center, will reopen in its new space at the end of the month, the Asbury Park Press reported.

The B&N will close in its current home on November 29 and reopen the following day in the new space. At 18,000 square feet, the new space is about 4,000 sq. ft. smaller than the current one. The new location will have a cafe and feature an updated bookstore design meant for a smaller footprint that emphasizes curation and a cozy atmosphere.


International Update: Bookshop.org's Indie Champions Awards Shortlist; RISE Bookselling BBPlus Application Deadline

Bookshop.org released shortlists for the inaugural Indie Champions Awards, recognizing the individuals, organizations and publishers that have used the platform to support independent bookshops, the Bookseller reported, adding that the awards "aim to spotlight those who have contributed the platform's success so far." Winners across all categories will be named virtually on January 25, 2023. See the complete Indie Champions Awards shortlist here.

Shortlisted author Dara McAnulty said, "I'm so grateful and honored to be shortlisted as an Indie Champion. Indie booksellers and bookshops are the wizards and castles of an author's world. They magically connect our words to readers and build worlds of beauty and sanctuary within their walls.... It has been a pleasure and a delight to champion Bookshop.org and our much-needed indie bookshops."

Nicole Vanderbilt, managing director of Bookshop.org U.K., commented: "Since our U.K. launch, we've been so impressed by how the publishing industry has embraced our platform and used it in creative ways, as well as concretely benefitting indies by doing so. With these awards, we want to recognize individuals, publishers and platforms that are doing a brilliant job on Bookshop.org and making a difference for indies, and to inspire others to do the same."

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RISE Bookselling is inviting another group of booksellers to experience BolognaBookPlus, to be held March 6-9, 2023. For the inaugural edition of the partnership between RISE Bookselling and BBPlus last March, 10 international booksellers gathered in Bologna (read more about their experience here), taking part in a full program of events, training, networking, bookshop visits, award ceremonies and other activities within the scope of Bologna Children's Book Fair. 

The next group of booksellers will be selected from applications received before December 9. RISE Bookselling noted that the program is designed to "help booksellers of all kinds to participate in international training and networking opportunities. We enable booksellers, who are members of one of the network organizations, to join their colleagues and participate in a dedicated program, developed in partnership with the event organizers." 

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Aaliya's Books in Beirut, Lebanon, "has weathered a lot in its short life. First the 2019 civil protests, then it was damaged in the blast of 2020 and almost closed in 2021 after a fuel shortage made it impossible to keep the lights on. Not to mention Covid-19," the Financial Times reported in a feature on the bookshop and café in the Gemmayzeh district that "has remained, against all odds, a lively cultural hub: hosting book clubs, jazz nights and wine fairs. And, soon, a Lebanese wine bar."

Proprietors Niamh Fleming-Farrell, a bookseller and journalist from Ireland, and William Dobson, an English teacher, came to the city more than 10 years ago. "When I arrived in Lebanon only a few local producers such as Ksara and Chateau Musar were visible," said Fleming-Farrell. "People weren't championing indigenous grapes. But since then the number of wineries has gone from around 10 to more than 40."

Dobson added: "We'll be working with local chefs to showcase Lebanese produce.... We want it to be an extension of what we're doing in the shop, which is creating a space where people's stories can be told."

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First Christmas book tree sighting of the holiday season: Kennys Bookshop, Galway, Ireland. --Robert Gray


Traci Lester Stepping Down as Head of Center for Fiction

Traci Lester

Effective January 1, Traci Lester is stepping down as executive director of the Center for Fiction, Brooklyn, N.Y., the literary nonprofit that offers a range of programming, reading and writing workshops, fellowships, awards, and the Bookstore and Café and Bar. An interim executive director will be hired while a search for a new executive director is conducted.

Lester joined the Center for Fiction in March of 2021, and worked to "secure and maintain pandemic relief funding that allowed the Center to offer extensive virtual programming and sustain its onsite Bookstore, Writers Studio, and Library," the Center said. "She also oversaw the full reopening of the Center in the Fall of 2021, including returning it to robust in-person public programming along with the opening of all its spaces for readers, writers, and lovers of storytelling."

Board chair Erroll McDonald said, "Traci has brought tremendous expertise and dedication to her role at the Center, contributing a great deal to this important cultural organization. We thank her for these efforts and wish her well in her next endeavors."


Notes

Image of the Day: Victoria Wilson's 50th Anniversary at Knopf

Longtime current and former colleagues of Victoria Wilson gathered in New York to celebrate the esteemed editor's 50th anniversary at Knopf. Wilson was hired in the fall of 1972 by Robert Gottlieb, who was then Knopf's head of house.

Wilson, who worked with Anne Rice on all of her novels, beginning with her runaway bestseller, Interview with the Vampire, in 1976, has edited a range of books, from celebrity biographies to literary fiction, to books on film, theater, photography and dance. Some of her authors during her half-century include Lorrie Moore, Christopher Plummer, Martina Navratilova, Amy Klobuchar, Wendy Wasserstein, Laurie Colwin and Diane Johnson.

Near the end of the evening, after plenty of shared stories about bygone days, Gottlieb, in a nod to Wilson's fierce support of her writers and the battles she waged on behalf of their books: "Vicky, you were always a handful, but it was worth it."

Guests included (from l.) Alice Quinn (who started working at Knopf in 1972), Martha Kaplan (1970), Vicky Wilson, Andy Hughes (1979), Jane Friedman (1968), Bob Gottlieb (1968), Kathy Zuckerman (1988) and Kathy Hourigan (1963). Photo by Nicholas Latimer (1983).


Video: 'Shopping for a Cranky Dinosaur this Holiday Season?'

"Shopping for a cranky dinosaur this holiday season?" RJ Julia Booksellers, Madison, Conn., asked in sharing a YouTube video focused on prehistoric window display building. "We know it can be difficult, so follow our safety protocols when trying to approach your resident dinosaur with gifts. If you are in need of additional recommendations, reach out to our park rangers (AKA our booksellers) for further assistance. Special thanks to Susanasaurus Rex for cooperating enough to film this gift guide. Do not try this at home."


Personnel Changes at Blackstone Publishing

Sarah Bonamino, formerly publicist at St. Martin's Publishing Group, has joined Blackstone Publishing as senior publicist.



Media and Movies

Media Heat: Mel Brooks on Fresh Air

Today:
Fresh Air: Mel Brooks, author of All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business (Ballantine, $20, 9780593159132).

Tomorrow:
The View repeat: Amber Tamblyn, co-author of Listening in the Dark: Women Reclaiming the Power of Intuition (Park Row, $25.99, 9780778333333).

Tonight Show: Jerry Seinfeld, author of The Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Book (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982112769).

Friday:
The View repeat: Matthew Perry, author of Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing: A Memoir (Flatiron, $29.99, 9781250866448).


TV: The Rabbit Hutch

American Gods producer Fremantle and Richard Brown's Passenger have pre-empted the rights to Tess Gunty's National  Book Award-winning novel The Rabbit Hutch, Deadline reported. Brown will produce, and Gunty will serve as an executive producer. 

"Tess Gunty has written a wildly inventive and mesmerizing novel populated with irresistible characters, including a heroine for the ages--we're delighted that she has trusted us to adapt it for the screen," Brown said.


Books & Authors

Awards: Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse, Toronto Book Winners

Percival Everett won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction, highlighting "the funniest novel of the past 12 months, which best evokes the Wodehouse spirit of 'witty characters and perfectly-timed comic phrases,' " for his novel The Trees (Graywolf Press), the Bookseller reported. Everett receives a jeroboam of Bollinger Special Cuvée, a case of Bollinger La Grande Année, the complete set of the Everyman's Library P.G. Wodehouse collection and a pig named after his winning book. 

Prize organizers praised The Trees as a "bold and provocative book in which Everett takes direct aim at racism and police violence, in a fast-paced style that ensures the reader can't look away.... Confronting America's legacy of lynching, it is an enormously powerful novel of lasting importance, while at the same time a comic horror masterpiece."

Everett observed: "It's ironic that this prize for comedy goes now to a book about the American practice of lynching, but that's why I love comedy. Comedy allows us for short bursts to be smarter animals than we usually are. To realize the absurdity is to transcend the absurdity. Funny that. Thank you."

Chair of the judges Peter Florence added: "Comedy can entertain, can mock, can tease out our compassion and empathy, it can make you laugh and smile and feel better about other people and even ourselves. And Percival Everett's The Trees can do something else as well. It can lighten the most atrocious darkness and tell truths in ways that begin to make sense of the absurdity of life. He brings us back to the core of our own humanity. You have to go back to Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to find this done so well as Percival Everett does it. He's in that company with Heller and Swift, with Chaplin, Pryor and with Wodehouse. What a joy to read such a book."

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Writer and director Sarah Polley won the C$10,000 (about US$7,420) Toronto Book Award for Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory, "an essay collection that explores difficult stories from her own life," Quill & Quire reported. Each of the finalists for the prize, which was established in 1974 and honors books inspired by the city, received C$1,000 (about US$740). 


Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, November 29:

A Message from Ukraine: Speeches, 2019-2022 by Volodymyr Zelensky (Crown, $16, 9780593727171) collects speeches from the president of Ukraine.

A World of Curiosities: A Novel by Louise Penny (Minotaur, $29.99, 9781250145291) is the 18th mystery with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache.

The Sorcerer of Pyongyang: A Novel by Marcel Theroux (Atria, $26.99, 9781668002667) follows a North Korean boy who finds a Dungeons & Dragons manual left behind by a foreign visitor.

Alone with You in the Ether: A Love Story by Olivie Blake (Tor, $26.99, 9781250888167) is a romance between two neurodivergent people.

The Personal Assistant: A Novel by Kimberly Belle (Park Row, $28.99, 9780778333630) is a thriller about a blogger's missing personal assistant.

The Intimate City: Walking New York by Michael Kimmelman (Penguin Press, $30, 9780593298411) features walking tours with the New York Times architecture critic.

Uncommon Wrath: How Caesar and Cato's Deadly Rivalry Destroyed the Roman Republic by Josiah Osgood (Basic Books, $32, 9781541620117) is a dual biography of Julius Caesar and Cato the Younger.

Saint by Adrienne Young (Wednesday Books, $19.99, 9781250846761) is a standalone novel that takes place in the world of The Narrows.

We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (Roaring Brook Press, $18.99, 9781250816559) features a young woman unearthing secrets in her mother's small hometown.

Paperbacks:
Angels of the Resistance: A WWII Novel by Noelle Salazar (Mira, $17.99, 9780778386797).

The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works by John Truby (Picador, $20, 9780374539221).

Steal by James Patterson and Howard Roughan (Grand Central, $9.99, 9781538720752).

The Bodhisattva Path: Commentary on the Vimalakirti and Ugrapariprccha Sutras by Thich Nhat Hanh (Palm Leaves Press, $21.95, 9781952692338).


IndieBound: Other Indie Favorites

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

Hardcover
Meredith, Alone: A Novel by Claire Alexander (Grand Central, $28, 9781538709948). "Meredith spent over three years alone in her house--she was not isolated due to a pandemic, but this book put my feelings into words. She made me giggle, cry, and root for her. A story we need after such a numbing time. I feel alive again." --Tahlia Moe, Bound to Happen Books, Stevens Point, Wis.

Flight: A Novel by Lynn Steger Strong (Mariner, $27.99, 9780063135147). "An intimate exploration of complicated family dynamics with nuanced, distinct characters. A perfect book for anyone who has ever felt out of place going home for the holidays, Flight explores the nature of belonging and community." --David Vogel, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Paperback
Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Biblioasis, $17.95, 9781771965200). "Such a great, satisfying, smart read. This has it all: a psychological drama between therapist and client; swinging '60s London; a writer fully enjoying the storytelling; sharply observed moments of family. One of my favorites of 2022." --Toby Cox, Three Lives & Co., New York, N.Y.

For Ages 4 to 8
Butterfly Child by Marc Majewski (Katherine Tegen, $18.99, 9780063021556). "In this stunning work of art, we follow a child on his journey as a butterfly. Readers learn about responding to bullies, picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and learning to fly again. A joyous celebration of being yourself." --Katie Fransen, The Novel Neighbor, Webster Groves, Mo.

For Ages 8 to 12
Sir Callie and the Champions of Helston by Esme Symes-Smith (Labyrinth Road, $17.99, 9780593485774). "Sir Callie slashes gender norms with the cold bite of a steel blade. Nonbinary Callie dreams of being a knight, but the rigid rules of the kingdom are hard to escape. A captivating page-turner that will have you on the edge of your seat!" --Jess Cooper, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinnati, Ohio

For Teen Readers
If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang (Inkyard Press, $18.99, 9781335915849). "Ann Liang's debut is a poignant coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of an elite academy in Beijing. This is a story about class, about privilege, about what it means to fall in love with a world and people that are not yours to keep." --Cindy Tran, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Mass.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]


Reading with... Eileen Myles

photo: Hannah Beerman

Eileen Myles is a poet, novelist and art journalist known for first-person vernacular writing in a variety of genres. They are the author of Evolution and Afterglow. In Pathetic Literature (Grove Press, November 15, 2022), they curate an anthology of 106 pieces, from poetry to prose, that examine pathos and feeling in lesser-known works by the likes of Jorge Luis Borges, Rumi, Kafka and Gwendolyn Brooks. It is the 23rd book Myles has published since the late '70s.

Handsell readers your book:

The world is ready for a book about belonging. Pathetic Literature is unified by being itself while unafraid of seeming way too much or not enough.

On your nightstand now:

Fernando Flores's Tears of the Trufflepig lives on the top of my table by the couch. It is so grounded in a south Texas reality while blasting us into an alternative not-so-future reality that is frightening in its precise detail around what science could do with genetics like even next week. He's such a good writer.

Alice Fulton's Coloratura on a Silence Found in Many Expressive Systems is hanging out there. It's rich, slow, kind of cornered and then flinging-open work.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Little Women. It was the only one that had a female writer, Jo, in it and she had her own room.

Your top five authors:

Violette Leduc who wrote La Batarde, which may be my favorite book about female unloveliness and mother attachment and sophistication and writing. She hovers between poetry and prose like a helicopter.

Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks teaches anyone how to write a new novel. She paces her world step by step, placing feeling in all the cabinets and vanities and grimaces and love. It's a full and entirely alive and delicately strong book. It's a poet's novel, many of my favorite works of prose are.

Henry Miller saved my life by writing about Brooklyn and working-class reality and becoming an artist and writing about sex with such abandon and merging poetry with narrative and sex writing and suggesting women actually like sex. I'm thinking Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer.

Can Xue has written Dialogues in Paradise and Love in the New Millennium and many more books. She proceeds with an earnest kind of telling dropping natural surrealism in with a daily philosophy. Her magic as a writer is that she looks really close and reports what she sees. The world is strange and suffering and that fact can produce remarkable results.

I just discovered Sandro Penna, an Italian poet of the 1930s to '70s. He is openly sweetly homosexual and he mixes bodies in with landscape and a relaxed pensive sense of time.

Book you've faked reading:

I pretended to read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and I didn't see the need for all the philosophy and ranting but I was pretty young. I never read what I don't want to read now. It's the most free I get.

Book you're an evangelist for:

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis. He created such a simple and exalted premise for a book and then realized it so exquisitely. It's one of my favorite books and when I published my own dog book (Afterglow) I couldn't stop talking about his.

Book you've bought for the cover:

I think there were such books but I don't remember what they were. I don't think they stuck around.

Book you hid from your parents:

I hid Fanny Hill from my mother. It's possible I stole it from my brother, but it was certainly the dirtiest book I had read thus far in my life, which I think was high school.

Book that changed your life:

Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask changed my life. He explored his sexuality in such a poetic magical way and, through our mutual obsession with Joan of Arc, he explained obsession for me by indicating it was what I was doing, and that obsession had a relationship to writing. And reading.

Favorite line from a book:

"I didn't ask to be born," is my favorite line from a book and it is the first line of Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn or the first line I remember.

Five books you'll never part with:

Kristín Ómarsdóttir's Children in Reindeer Woods. It's like a wartime fairy tale told in such simple lucid colorful prose.

I will never part with Love by Angela Carter. It's a perfect novella, slightly psychedelic, its portrayal of the '60s almost makes it a historical novel and it's complete yet short.

I will never part with James Schuyler's Freely Espousing because it jingles and paints and does everything writing does in the youngest newest possible way.

I will never give up Carmen Boullosa's Texas: The Great Theft. It's sprawling like the Robert Altman movie Nashville. It's operatic and slips into poetic tales of life and death, it tells about an absolute time at the border before it was and everything was conspiring and breaking.

I will never give up Qiu Miaojin's Last Words from Montmartre, which is like Chris Kraus's I Love Dick, a perfect action of a book. Though in Qiu's case the punctuation on such explodingly well-expressed feeling was to end her own life.

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

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes. It's the most perfect book I ever read though it contains some extremely offensive stuff. It's the same thing with William Burroughs's Naked Lunch which is also a gorgeous abomination.

Books that didn't fit in the categories above:

Samuel Delany's Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand that explained morning in space going around a planet seeing dawn again and again.

Rae Armantrout's Conjure just killed me with its absolute attentiveness to the shifts of consciousness and matter in tiny tiny language.

Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser because it invents childhood in writing and shows how cartoons invented language.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño is a total masterpiece, especially the frightening middle volume, and I'm glad a man had the courage to write that entirety of what was undoubtedly done by men to these women.

Fred Moten's The Feel Trio is still one of my favorite collections of poetry. It's wildly internal yet full of song.


Book Review

Review: The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey

The Universe in You: A Microscopic Journey by Jason Chin (Neal Porter/Holiday House, $18.99 hardcover, 40p., ages 8-12, 9780823450701, November 29, 2022)

Size matters in 2022 Caldecott Medalist Jason Chin's The Universe in You, a brilliant companion to his 2020 picture book, Your Place in the Universe. While the latter encouraged young readers to expand their perspectives outward, Chin turns inward here, drawing attention to the microscopic.

Welcome to the Museum of the Desert. A tour is in progress for a group of kids, including a pigtailed child in a red wheelchair who notices a Calliope Hummingbird, the smallest bird in the United States: "At just 8 centimeters long from beak tip to tail, these tiny birds are small enough to fit.../ ...in your hand." The shrinking adventure begins. As Chin's focus zooms in on the child, the objects of their attention become ever smaller as their wonder increases. After the hummingbird is the smallest butterfly (the "smaller than a penny" Western Pygmy Blue), and then the smallest bee (Perdita minima, "about as long as a nickel is thick") which perches next to a vellus hair, the smallest hairs on the child's body.

The journey inward continues to contract through skin cells to nucleus pores, DNA, atoms, protons and, finally, elementary particles that "are the building blocks of all physical matter." Chin then reverses the journey, visualizing how these atoms and molecules combine to make everything: air, water, stars, planets, galaxies... "life itself." While we "are made of the same stuff," we are also extraordinary: "Your particles, atoms, and molecules are arranged into cells that are arranged into tissue and organs that form the body of a unique human being.../ a singular person, who can think and feel and discover.../ the universe within."

Chin cleverly presents a tiered experience that targets at least three levels of audiences. The most elementary reader will follow along on the museum tour, moving from micro to macro and back again. For the next level, Chin provides more detailed notes printed in a smaller font on various page corners--about microns, mitochondria, nanometers, molecules. For the most engaged, Chin's extensive backmatter is an illuminating delight, showcasing four colorful, dense pages of charts, tables, facts and theories. His author's note reveals that his "images of elementary particles are completely invented" because such extraordinarily intricate visuals are impossible to see--for now. His gifted imagination encourages young readers to explore a universe that is continuously sharing secrets. In encouraging inquisitive minds, Chin transforms the impossible into the imaginable. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Shelf Talker: The outward journey introduced in Caldecott Medalist Jason Chin's Your Place in the Universe turns intimately, intricately inward in this illuminating companion title.


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