Shelf Awareness for Thursday, February 22, 2024

Flatiron Books: The Courting of Bristol Keats: [Limited Stenciled Edge Edition] by Mary E Pearson

Forge: My Three Dogs by Bruce W Cameron

Running Press Adult: Scam Goddess: Lessons from a Life of Cons, Grifts, and Schemes by Laci Mosley

Chronicle Books: Taste in Music: Eating on Tour with Indie Musicians by Luke Pyenson and Alex Beeker

Doubleday Books: Death at the Sign of the Rook: A Jackson Brodie Book by Kate Atkinson

Groundwood Books: Who We Are in Real Life by Victoria Koops

Agate Bolden: 54 Miles by Leonard Pitts Jr.


Hive Mind Books Debuts in NYC

Hive Mind Books, a general-interest bookstore with an emphasis on queer and trans literature, has debuted as an online and pop-up shop in New York City.

Owner and founder Julie Wernersbach, a veteran bookseller who most recently was the general manager and buyer at P&T Knitwear in Manhattan, began selling used books online in 2021. Now she has expanded the inventory to new books and will soon begin taking her store on the road around New York City, northern New Jersey, and Long Island.

"While Hive Mind is a general-interest bookstore, I am especially interested in curating queer and trans book fairs and supporting all marginalized authors with our selection," Wernersbach explained. "I'm also excited to continue supporting authors by providing book sales at off-site events."

Some of Hive Mind Books' first events include book sales at a storytime event with two Palestinian-American authors, an adult spelling bee, and an Independent Bookstore Day celebration.

Wernersbach plans to open a bricks-and-mortar space eventually and is looking around the NYC area for a suitable location. While she is keeping her options open with regard to neighborhood, she is "certainly looking at potential in the Bushwick/Ridgewood area," which is where she lives. She noted that although there are plenty of great bookstores in that area already, they all do "something a little different from each other," and she sees an opportunity for a general-interest store with a "focus on queer and trans literature and community."

"I would love to create a space for queer and trans events, creative writing, and meet ups that isn't another bar," Wernersbach added.

Asked for how long she's been thinking of opening a bookstore of her own, Wernersbach said it's been "swimming in my mind" since the early days of her 18-year bookselling career. At the time, she felt she needed a little more experience and "more, or anything, in savings," and continued to work at bookstores in New York and then in Texas. After returning to New York, she had the opportunity to "help someone else launch their bookstore from scratch," and "learn how it's done."

Wernersbach noted that a few things have spurred her to open a store now, but by far the biggest "is a long frustration with not being able to sell books in a way that aligns with my values." She hopes and intends to "never, ever be on anyone's payroll but my own ever again. I want to have a store with a point of view that does not feel compromised or hedged because of someone else's vision or politics. And now I do." --Alex Mutter

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The Cafe Resistance Bookstore Opening in Jacksonville, Fla.

The Cafe Resistance Bookstore is scheduled to open later this month at 5007 Soutel Dr. in Jacksonville, Fla. First Coast News reported that owner Angie Nixon, who is the Florida House District 13 state representative, is launching the business "in response to low literacy rates and state laws on books in classrooms," and "understands the need for educational spaces within a community." 

"We are currently in a food desert, amenity desert and entertainment desert," Nixon said. "And so, I wanted to open not only a bookstore, but a coffee shop and a community hub. A cultural space.... I just wanted to give back and offer free tutoring programs to help get the children on grade level. In addition to that, you know, I serve in the state legislature, and there's been a lot of book bans and book challenges."

Operated through nonprofit the Moxie Group, where Nixon is the executive director, the bookstore "will primarily house books about Black history and by Black authors. Included on the shelves are books that have been removed from classrooms around the state in compliance with Florida HB 1467, which requires books to be 'free of pornography or certain race-based teachings,' " First Coast News wrote. 

"Some of those books would actually teach us and our children accurate, true history, particularly Black history," Nixon said.

Union Forming at Upper West Side Barnes & Noble in NYC

Barnes & Noble workers at the Upper West Side store.

A majority of booksellers and other workers at the Barnes & Noble on Manhattan's Upper West Side have signed authorization cards to form a union that will be affiliated with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which also represents staff at the B&N flagship store on Union Square and at the B&N in Park Slope in Brooklyn, RWDSU announced. The Upper West Side group includes some 50 booksellers, baristas, cashiers, maintenance, and all non-supervisory employees.

A delegation of the workers has asked B&N voluntarily to recognize the union, but in the meantime organizers have filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board, which could hold a vote as soon as next month.

The RWDSU said workers "have concerns over job security, a lack of structure when it comes to job duties and tasks at work, and favoritism by management."

Lauren Champlin, a bookseller at the store, said in the union announcement, in part, "In organizing, I want Barnes & Noble employees to receive the pay, protection, and respect reflective of the care and specialized skills each of us brings to our role."

Eve Greenlow, another bookseller at the store, added, "I care a lot about my coworkers. I want the best for them, just as I want the best for myself. We deserve not to have to worry about affording groceries, we deserve safe levels of staffing, we deserve consistent hours, and we deserve agency over our working conditions. I love selling books and am deeply passionate about the work I do. I truly want a future at Barnes & Noble, but this will unfortunately be impossible with the conditions of the present."

In New York City, RWDSU represents booksellers at McNally Jackson/Goods for the Study, Greenlight Bookstore, and Book Culture.

U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón Among Time's 2024 Women of the Year 

Ada Limon
(photo: Lucas Marquardt)

Time's 2024 Women of the Year list includes U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón as one of 12 "extraordinary leaders [who] are working toward a more equal world." Time noted that Limón's achievements are the sort that "most writers only dream of--but there was one invitation that even the most inventive of poets would not have imagined: NASA reached out. It wanted Limón to compose an original poem to be launched into space."

"As soon as I hung up, I thought, Oh, no," said Limón, whose poem "In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa" will be engraved inside the Europa Clipper, a spacecraft set to launch October 10 and begin orbiting Jupiter by 2030. Out of this world though the commission may be, it "is a fitting one for a poet dedicated to exploring the ties between the human experience and the universe we all share," Time wrote.

This summer, Limón will embark on a tour across the U.S. to unveil poetry installations in seven national parks as part of her signature program as poet laureate, dubbed "You Are Here," which is also the title of an anthology Milkweed Editions will publish in April. 

Discovering people's hunger for poems has been a key joy of the job, yet the solitary experience of writing remains a singular one for Limón. "As a woman in a body, you're always looking for a safe space," she said. "One of the things that has freed me the most as an artist is that I get to create a safe space on the page. When I watch young women writers discover that for themselves, it's like a whole different kind of freedom."

Obituary Note: Steve Miller

Steve Miller

Steve Miller, who, with co-author and wife Sharon Lee, wrote more than 30 novels, including 20 in their Liaden Universe series, died February 20, File 770 reported. He was 73. Announcing his death on the pair's website, Lee noted: "We had known his health was failing, and he told me a couple months ago that he'd written an obit. I found it on his computer last night." 

Miller wrote that in pursuing his life-long interest in writing and science fiction, he attended the Clarion West writing workshop in 1973 where he studied with genre greats Peter Beagle, James Sallis, Harlan Ellison, Terry Carr, Vonda McIntyre, Ursula LeGuin, and Joanna Russ, shortly after which he joined the University of Maryland Baltimore County's Albin O. Kuhn Library staff as the founding Curator of Science Fiction. Following his stint as a library curator, he worked as a freelance writer for many Baltimore region weekly and monthly newspapers.

In 1978, he and Lee declared themselves partners in life and in writing, Miller wrote in his obituary, adding: "In the next while they opened Dreams Garth and Book Castle, a science fiction themed used bookstore and art gallery business. They married in November 1980, and moved from Maryland to Skowhegan, Maine, in October 1988 after the publication of their first joint novel, Agent of Change, the first in what was to become a long series of space opera novels and stories set in their original Liaden Universe. In 1992, they moved to Winslow; and to Waterville in 2018."

After the move to Maine, Miller continued to pursue his writing career and also became increasingly involved in computers, starting Circular Logic BBS, which became one of the state's largest independent BBS systems, and joining the Oakland Public Library as children's librarian and IT specialist, a part-time position. He eventually became internet librarian for Unimation, a startup in Unity that folded in 1995 during the dotcom winnowing. After that he transitioned to publisher and writer, a career he continued until his death.

Last summer, the Portland Press Herald profiled Miller and Lee, noting that they "still write science fiction novels together, but with the luxury of time and space. Both write full-time and each have their own writing office, at opposite ends of their ranch house in Waterville. Nowadays, they sometimes leave finished pages on the dining room table for the other to read over. They've collaborated on some 100 stories and books over the years, including 25 novels in the popular Liaden Universe series," the most recent of which, Salvage Right, had just been published.

In 2012, they won the Edward E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction--also known as the Skylark--given by the New England Science Fiction Association to writers who have "contributed significantly to science fiction" both through their work and their personalities. 

The co-authors told the Press Herald that one of the reasons their writing collaboration had worked so well was that neither was concerned with getting credit for a well-written chapter or particularly imaginative plot twist. "I think what helps keep our process, and therefore our marriage, relatively peaceful is that we're each committed to achieving a correct outcome," said Lee. "The story has to be right. The story isn't about me, and it isn't about Steve. It's about the characters who live in the book."


Image of the Day: Joan Collins at Zibby's Bookshop

As part of its first anniversary celebration weekend, Zibby's Bookshop in Los Angeles, Calif., hosted an episode of the podcast Moms Don't Have Time to Read Books featuring actress Joan Collins, who discussed her autobiography Behind the Shoulder Pads: Tales I Tell My Friends (Permuted Press). Pictured: store founder Zibby Owens (l.) and Collins.

Personnel Changes at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

Hana Tzou has joined Macmillan Children's Publishing Group as publisher's assistant. Previously, Tzou was a bookseller at Beacon Hill Books & Cafe in Boston.

Media and Movies

PBS: Living Wild: Plant-spiration with Hilton Carter

"Living Wild: Plant-spiration with Hilton Carter," a PBS special based on Hilton Carter's work and his books--Living Wild and The Propagation Handbook (CICO Books)--will air nationally on PBS-TV during its spring pledge drive. The special appears February 23-March 10 on different dates in different markets and will air multiple times in some markets.

This Weekend on Book TV: The Rancho Mirage Writers Festival

Book TV airs on C-Span 2 this weekend from 8 a.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Monday and focuses on political and historical books as well as the book industry. The following are highlights for this coming weekend. For more information, go to Book TV's website.

Sunday, February 25
8 a.m. John A. Burtka IV, author of Gateway to Statesmanship: Selections from Xenophon to Churchill (Gateway Editions, $19.99, 9781684515431). (Re-airs Sunday at 8 p.m.)

10 a.m. Kara Swisher, author of Burn Book: A Tech Love Story (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982163891). (Re-airs Sunday at 10 p.m.)

2 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. Coverage of the 2024 Rancho Mirage Writers Festival in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Highlights include:

  • 2 p.m. Abraham Verghese, author of The Covenant of Water and Cutting for Stone.
  • 3:30 p.m. A discussion on President Biden with Valerie Biden Owens, author of Growing Up Biden: A Memoir, and Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.
  • 4:15 p.m. A discussion on storytelling with playwright Jon Robin Baitz and Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s.
  • 5 p.m. David Wallace-Wells, author of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming.
  • 5:48 p.m. Adam Kinzinger, author of Renegade: Defending Democracy and Liberty in Our Divided Country.
  • 6:32 p.m. Donna Brazile, co-author of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics.

7:25 p.m. Ernest Scheyder, author of The War Below: Lithium, Copper, and the Global Battle to Power Our Lives (‎Atria/One Signal, $30, 9781668011805).

Books & Authors

Awards: Ezra Jack Keats Winners

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), announced the winners of the 2024 Ezra Jack Keats Awards. The awards are given annually to an outstanding new writer and new illustrator. The awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 11, during the Fay B. Kaigler Children's Book Festival at USM in Hattiesburg, Miss. The ceremony will be livestreamed beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern.

The 2024 Ezra Jack Keats Award Winner for Writer:
Anne Wynter, Nell Plants a Tree, illustrated by Daniel Miyares (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)

The 2024 Ezra Jack Keats Award Winner for Illustrator:
Sarah Gonzales, The Only Way to Make Bread, written by Cristina Quintero (Tundra/Penguin Random House Canada)

To see the honors winners and finalists, visit the Ezra Jack Keats Award website.

Attainment: New Titles Out Next Week

Selected new titles appearing next Tuesday, February 27:

Wandering Stars: A Novel by Tommy Orange (Knopf, $29, 9780593318256) follows generations of a family sent to the Carlisle Indian Industrial School.

A Fate Inked in Blood by Danielle L. Jensen (Del Rey, $29.99, 9780593599839) begins the Saga of the Unfated fantasy series.

King Nyx: A Novel by Kirsten Bakis (Liveright, $28.99, 9781324093534) is a mystery about a writer's wife investigating the disappearance of several girls.

After Annie: A Novel by Anna Quindlen (Random House, $30, 9780593229804) explores the aftermath of the sudden death of a beloved mother, wife, and friend.

Three-Inch Teeth by C.J. Box (Putnam, $30, 9780593331347) is the 24th Joe Pickett thriller.

The American Daughters: A Novel by Maurice Carlos Ruffin (One World, $28, 9780593729397) follows an enslaved girl in New Orleans who joins a group of anti-Confederate spies.

Fate Breaker by Victoria Aveyard (HarperTeen, $21.99, 9780063116061) concludes the bestselling YA fantasy series, Realm Breaker.

Finally Heard by Kelly Yang (S&S, $18.99, 9781665947930) is a sequel to the middle-grade Finally Seen, in which a girl, her best friends, and her little sister attempt to go viral.

Attack from Within: How Disinformation Is Sabotaging America by Barbara McQuade (Seven Stories Press, $35, 9781644213636) explores the impact of disinformation on American society.

Burn Book: A Tech Love Story by Kara Swisher (Simon & Schuster, $30, 9781982163891) is the memoir of the tech journalist.

The Freaks Came Out to Write: The Definitive History of the Village Voice, the Radical Paper That Changed American Culture by Tricia Romano (PublicAffairs, $35, 9781541736399) explores the iconic weekly newspaper.

The Deerfield Massacre: A Surprise Attack, a Forced March, and the Fight for Survival in Early America by James L. Swanson (Scribner, $30, 9781501108167) chronicles an attack by French and Indian forces in 1704 Massachusetts.

JoyFull: Cook Effortlessly, Eat Freely, Live Radiantly by Radhi Devlukia-Shetty (Simon Element, $35, 9781982199722) includes 125 plant-based recipes.

The Trump Indictments: The Historic Charging Documents with Commentary by Melissa Murray and Andrew Weissmann (W.W. Norton, $21.99, 9781324079200).

The Alone Advantage: 10 Behind-the-Scenes Habits That Drive Crazy Success by Terri Savelle Foy (Thomas Nelson, $19.99, 9781400244997).

Brooklyn by Tracy Brown (Griffin, $17.99, 9781250834959).

Sisters of Belfast: A Novel by Melanie Maure (Harper Paperbacks, $18.99, 9780063341555).

The Partner Plot by Kristina Forest (Berkley, $18, 9780593546451).

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:

The Bullet Swallower: A Novel by Elizabeth Gonzalez James (Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 9781668009321). "Based on stories passed down through her family, the author weaves a shimmering tale of a bandido on a mission to avenge his brother's death. The Bullet Swallower invites us to consider how we--and our families--can repay our karmic debts." --Victoria Ford, Comma, a Bookshop, Minneapolis, Minn.

Hard by a Great Forest: A Novel by Leo Vardiashvili (Riverhead, $29, 9780593545034). "Set in war-torn Tbilisi, Georgia, this is a story of love, loss, and sacrifice. Somehow, Vardiashvili captures the anguish of losing one's home with glimmers of hope and humor." --Pat Rudebusch, Orinda Books, Orinda, Calif.

Really Good, Actually: A Novel by Monica Heisey (Morrow Paperbacks, $18.99, 9780063235427). "This book follows a woman's first year of singledom after her brief marriage unceremoniously falls apart. Depression, delusion, and self-pity all star here, but the author handles it all with tenderness and a dash of humor." --Tracy Affonso, Wellesley Books, Wellesley, Mass.

Ages 3 to 7
The Last Stand by Antwan Eady, illus. by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey (Knopf, $18.99, 9780593480571). "This spoke to my heart. Farming is not an easy living, but it's a noble one--one that builds community and a sense of place. Government policies don't favor small farms, especially farms owned by people of color. It's up to us to advocate for change." --Alana Haley, Schuler Books, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Ages 8 to 12: An Indies Introduce Title
Alterations by Ray Xu (Union Square Kids, $24.99, 9781454945840). "Alterations beautifully tells the story of a young boy who just wants to stand out. It effortlessly captures the nuances of being a child of immigrants and wanting to form your own identity. This book felt like a warm, validating hug." --Maryan Liban, Cover to Cover Books for Young Readers, Columbus, Ohio

Teen Readers
The Invocations by Krystal Sutherland (Nancy Paulsen, $20.99, 9780593532263). "Dark, brutal, and vengeful, The Invocations brings witchcraft and sisterhood to the forefront. Blending macabre magic with a sinister mystery, Sutherland's intoxicating novel is perfect for fans of The Diviners and Our Crooked Hearts." --Matilda McNeely, Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, Ga.

[Many thanks to IndieBound and the ABA!]

Book Review

Review: The Skunks

The Skunks by Fiona Warnick (Tin House Books, $17.95 paperback, 9781959030614, May 7, 2024)

Fiona Warnick's debut, The Skunks, is a tender coming-of-age story about a college graduate's return to her sometimes stifling, sometimes comforting hometown. Speared with honest yet generous insights into summer-after-college dilemmas and angst, Warnick's novel captures the tender nostalgia of time spent in the liminal space between adolescence and adulthood.

Isabel can't help but feel a little stuck. Like the baby skunks she recently discovered taking residence in her backyard, Isabel isn't sure this is the right place for her, but she's still too tied to her youth to know where, exactly, to go next. Trapped in what she thinks about as "the tense for the things that have happened and continue to happen," she gets a series of jobs working at a yoga studio, babysitting, and house-sitting. She's determined to, as her childhood friend Ellie puts it, find a "healthy new direction," one that doesn't include her spending all her time "talk[ing] about boys."

But new directions are easier identified than taken. Soon, Isabel finds herself drawn back in by Eli, the son of a couple she housesits for as well as an old high school fling. Between navigating her changing friendship with Ellie, juggling her jobs, trying not to think about Eli, and obsessing over what the skunks in her yard might be trying to tell her, Isabel begins to find that life in her hometown does not necessarily mean being stuck. In fact, there might be just as much transformation happening in her own backyard as there would be if she had taken another route and left home to "seek her fortune."

Warnick's patient prose plumbs the depths of Isabel's emotional life while often skimming over the surface of her daily routines. These quotidian details, far from boring, are precise and measured, located in that achingly nostalgic time when people find themselves on the brink of adulthood, but still longing in some elusive ways for the past. Still, it isn't until Isabel's imaginative sections about the lives of the skunks who live alongside her that her conflicting inner desires are laid bare. These gentle meditations on the natural world go beyond a simple metaphor for Isabel's own questions of desire and ambition, stagnation and change, however. They probe what it means--what is gained and lost, seen differently or even just seen for the first time--when one remains, for a time, still. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Shelf Talker: A thoughtful and warm-hearted ode to the end of adolescence, Fiona Warnick's The Skunks is a coming-of-age literary gem.

Deeper Understanding

Among Friends: Anita Silvey on Children's Books

Among the many contributors to Among Friends: An Illustrated Oral History of American Book Publishing & Bookselling in the 20th Century, published last fall by Two Trees Press and distributed by Ingram Content Group, is Anita Silvey, who has worked at the Horn Book and Houghton Mifflin. Here we reproduce her contribution, which focuses on how children's books "came out from under the staircase."

On the night of July 20, 2011, along with a few hundred people, I waited in a suburban bookstore for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II. As I looked around the energized crowd, I reflected on my 40 years in children's book publishing. In 1970, as a lowly editorial assistant for Ralph Woodward, publisher of children's books at Little, Brown, I could never have imagined the scene before me. At that time the general public had little knowledge of any new children's book. Even the publishing houses where I worked largely ignored everything we did. A poster on the fifth floor of Houghton Mifflin's offices, which housed the children's book department, read: "We Scream, and No One Listens." But now the most valued book to be published in the world, a children's book, would sell millions at midnight.

The children's book industry as known today began in 1919, when Louise Seaman Bechtel, the first children's book-only editor, was appointed at Scribners. Those early editors believed in good books for boys and girls—or as Ursula Nordstrom of Harper and Row used to say, "good books for bad boys and girls." Poet Walter de la Mare set the standard: "Only the rarest kind of best in anything is good enough for the young." These pioneers struggled to offset the popularity of series fiction (Stratemeyer Syndicate's Tom Swift, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew). But they often created, as Bechtel lamented, "books in search of children." For decades the children's publishing professionals, almost eliminated during the Great Depression, attempted to build an audience for their books. From the beginning, children's publishing would rely on a unique but difficult structure: adults wrote, produced and bought the books before children had a chance to evaluate them.

Those who entered the field quickly learned to lower expectations. As I was told in 1970, nobody needed a children's book department. Small print runs, small advances and focus on sales to the institutional market (librarians and teachers) became the cornerstones of the industry. No New York Times bestsellers for us, and no fancy parties or budgets. Like Harry Potter, we lived under the staircase, in the basement or in the attic.

However, if a house had managed to attract one of those editors who really understood children and often remembered in detail their own childhood, they could start adding titles like Charlotte's Web (Harper), Madeline (Viking) or Green Eggs and Ham (Random House). The sweet spot for children's books was the steady teddies—the backlist titles that generated a very high profit margin.

At one point in my career at Houghton Mifflin, an enthusiastic young CFO came into my office because he had found the panacea for all of the trade department's woes—just publish children's backlist titles. He wasn't necessarily wrong, although doing so would always be more difficult than he imagined. Often in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, publishers measured their children's book departments by how successfully they generated backlist.

By the second half of the 20th century, brilliant and talented editors graced almost every major house. Ursula Nordstrom, reigning genius of midcentury publishing, found Maurice Sendak working as an FAO Schwarz window dresser; Margaret McElderry (Harcourt, Atheneum), elegant and brilliant, stood as the figure that every young editorial assistant wanted to emulate. Dick Jackson (Bradbury, DK, Simon & Schuster) trained and inspired young members of the community. Susan Hirschman (Greenwillow) insisted on quality and content in everything she published and served as a fierce advocate for all her authors and books. Regina Hayes tastefully reissued and packaged the Viking backlist and added contemporary stars to the list.

For much of my career I worked with one of the 20th century lions, Walter Lorraine of Houghton. He had an eagle eye for unpublished talent, and by the end of the century had built an amazing list, still envied by editors, that included Chris Van Allsburg, Polar Express; Lois Lowry, The Giver; David Macaulay, Building Big; and Jim Marshall, George and Martha. Every year he managed to make close to a 25% profit margin. That required more than great authors. Walter kept tabs on every penny; we even knew that small, rather than large, paper clips helped the bottom line.

However, transforming the children's and young adult book publishing industry in the last part of the 20th century required talents other than counting pennies and publishing backlist. Before Harry Potter could become a reality, publishers needed to focus on ways to make frontlist titles attractive to the general bookstore patron. They had some help in the late 1960s, when the Lyndon Johnson administration provided federal funding for libraries; it was a heyday for any title that might fit the school and library market. Then in the 1980s pioneer retailers began to establish children's-only bookstores, with well-chosen stock and trained staff. Great taste and handselling made these stores, all over the country, popular with families and educators.

A few publishers, like Holiday House, Candlewick and Scholastic, realized that being a children's-only publisher would give them an edge in the marketplace. Scholastic brought out one bookstore hit after another (Baby Sitters Club, Goosebumps). Then, to become the largest children's trade book publisher in America, they launched Harry Potter. An amazingly talented trio (CEO Barbara Marcus, publisher Jean Feiwel and editor Arthur Levine) became a solid gold chain.

Like those who shaped the field, children's book professionals have always held strong opinions on what should be published. "Irrefutable truths," as Walter insisted. Viewpoints differ as to what makes the best books for children—books children love, books parents want, books the gate-keepers or critics support, books that win awards? But in the end, we were all searching for, editing, designing and championing the books that could turn reluctant readers into lifelong readers, titles remembered so fondly in adult years because they convinced children that true magic could be found in the pages of a book. In our own ways, we all sought to publish "the rarest kind of best."

Postscript: In the 21st century, children's and YA sales skyrocketed; one title or series after another climbed the New York Times bestseller list. Only 21st century publishers would truly address the lack of racial and sexual diversity in these books.

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