Shelf Awareness for Tuesday, April 16, 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.


Five More Publishers Join Suit Against Iowa's Book Banning, Anti-GLBQT Law

Five publishers have joined the lawsuit filed last November 30 against Iowa over its book banning and anti-GLBQT law, meaning that plaintiffs now include all the Big Five U.S. publishers. The Iowa law would forbid school libraries and classrooms from carrying books describing or showing a "sex act," with the exception of religious texts like the Bible; prohibit educators from discussing "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" with students from kindergarten through sixth grade; and require school administrators to notify parents when students ask to change anything relating to their gender identity, such as their names or pronouns.

The five additional publishers are Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Sourcebooks. Plaintiffs who filed the original lawsuit were Penguin Random House, authors Laurie Halse Anderson, John Green, Malindo Lo, and Jodi Picoult, the Iowa State Education Association, a high school student, her parent, and three educators; that suit focused on the book-banning aspects of the law. Another suit focusing on the anti-GLBQT aspects of the law was filed by seven students and the GLBT Youth in Iowa Schools Task Force, supported by the ACLU and Lambda Legal.

The five additional plaintiffs issued a joint statement yesterday: "We as publishers are uniting in our unwavering commitment to stand with educators, librarians, students, authors, and readers against the unconstitutional censorship measures being imposed by the state of Iowa. The alarming rise of book bans across the country demands our collective action. Now, more than ever, we must stand firmly with our authors and readers to defend the fundamental right to read and the freedom of expression."

Late last year, a federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction against most of the Iowa law, except for the parental notification part because he found the plaintiffs didn't have standing since they already used the names and pronouns they wanted. The state of Iowa has appealed the injunction, and plaintiffs filed a brief yesterday in the federal court of appeals requesting an oral argument, continuing to maintain that the law violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The law was supposed to take effect early this year, and in the runup to that deadline, many hundreds of books were removed from school libraries, including some by the four author plaintiffs. The judge called that part of the law "incredibly broad" and "unlikely to satisfy the First Amendment under any standard of scrutiny."

The judge found the ban on discussion of gender identity and sexual identification "wildly overbroad," so much so that it would ban discussion of anyone in any kind of relationship.

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Rizzoli International Buying Chelsea Green


Rizzoli International Publications, the English-language publishing arm of Italian publisher Mondadori Group, is acquiring Chelsea Green Publishing.

With headquarters in White River Junction, Vt., and founded by Ian and Margo Baldwin in 1984, Chelsea Green specializes in books on sustainable living, organic and regenerative farming, the environment, healthy food, and more. The company has a U.K. subsidiary with headquarters in London.

Following the acquisition, which is expected to close in the first half of this year, Margo Baldwin will become publisher emeritus of Chelsea Green. Stefano Peccatori, president and CEO of Rizzoli International, will become CEO and president. Also on the Rizzoli International executive team are Charles Miers, publisher of all Rizzoli International imprints; Jennifer Pierson, v-p of global sales, marketing, and operations; Randy Barlow, v-p of finance and administration; and Stephen King, managing director of Rizzoli's U.K. arm.

"We are excited to welcome Chelsea Green Publishing into the Rizzoli International family," said Peccatori. "This partnership aligns perfectly with our vision of promoting meaningful content that resonates with global audiences while addressing crucial issues related to sustainability and eco-friendly living. The acquisition opens doors to new opportunities for collaborative projects, innovative titles, and expanded market reach in the English language and global publishing landscape. Both Rizzoli International and Chelsea Green Publishing will share a common goal of fostering knowledge, awareness, and actionable solutions for a more sustainable future."

"I'm thrilled to have Chelsea Green secure its future and join Rizzoli and the entire esteemed Mondadori family of book publishing and bookstore companies for the next phase of development," said Baldwin. "This alliance will enable new growth and international expansion for our titles as well as significant new opportunities for our authors and employees. I very much look forward to working with the entire Rizzoli and Mondadori team to make sure the brand Ian and I established forty years ago to educate people on more sustainable and ecological ways of living is successfully integrated and aligned for future success."

The deal was brokered by the Fisher Company.

Masie Cochran Named Publisher, Editorial Director of Tin House

Masie Cochran

Masie Cochran has been named publisher and editorial director of Tin House Books. She has been with Tin House since 2011, most recently as interim publisher in addition to editorial director, a role she has held for the last four years. She previously worked at InkWell Management Literary Agency.

Cochran succeeds Craig Popelars, who left Tin House in October and is now v-p, sales & marketing at Milkweed Editions.

The Book Witch Arrives in Mattapoisett, Mass.

The Book Witch, a 100-square-foot store with an emphasis on women authors, opened April 6 in Mattapoisett, Mass., Sippican Week reported.

Located in the Ropewalk Mall in Mattapoisett, the Book Witch carries a general-interest inventory consisting primarily of books for adults written by women. In addition, owner Amélie de Beaumont-Mabee carries nonbook items like greeting cards, tarot cards, crystals, and journals.

Beaumont-Mabee told the Sippican Week that her passion for recommending books to her friends was one of the things that inspired her to open an independent bookstore. Now she does the same with customers. "I love helping them find something that's going to just be something they want to talk to their friends about and that stays on their mind. That really makes it worth it at the end of the day."

Obituary Note: Faith Ringgold 

Faith Ringgold
(photo: Grace Welty)

Faith Ringgold, "a multimedia artist whose pictorial quilts depicting the African American experience gave rise to a second distinguished career as a writer and illustrator of children's books," died April 12, the New York Times reported. She was 93. Ringgold "explored themes of race, gender, class, family and community through a vast array of media, among them painting, sculpture, mask- and doll-making, textiles and performance art. She was also a longtime advocate of bringing the work of Black people and women into the collections of major American museums."

Classically trained as a painter and sculptor, she began producing political paintings in the 1960s and '70s that explored the highly charged subjects of relations between Black and white people, and between men and women. Critics praised her work from the beginning, but wide renown largely eluded her until midlife, a consequence, she often said, of her race, her sex, and her uncompromising focus on art as a vehicle for social justice, the Times wrote. 

Ringgold ultimately became best known for what she called "story quilts": large panels of unstretched canvas, painted with narrative scenes in vivid acrylics, framed by quasi-traditional borders of pieced fabric, and often incorporating written text. 

One of her most celebrated story quilts, "Tar Beach," completed in 1988, gave rise to her first children's book, after an editor at Crown Publishers saw the quilt and asked her to transform it into a picture book. Tar Beach was named a Caldecott Honor Book by the American Library Association and was also was honored with the Coretta Scott King Award, presented by the ALA for distinguished children's books about African American life.

Ringgold went on to illustrate more than a dozen picture books, most with her own text, including Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky (1992); her memoir, We Flew Over the Bridge (1995); and If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks (1999).

"Faith Ringgold opened the door for younger artists--for artists after her, Black artists in particular--to carry their message through these alternative kinds of media," art historian and curator Adrienne Childs told NPR, adding that Tar Beach had been her favorite book to read to her own kids when they were young.

At the end of Tar Beach, the girl tells her little brother that anyone can fly. "All you need," Ringgold wrote, "is somewhere to go that you can't get to any other way."


Image of the Day: There's Always This Year

Last week Random House celebrated Hanif Abdurraqib's bestseller There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by hosting the TATY Run in Manhattan, a pick-up game for folks in the media and book world who play basketball. (photo: Ana Murphy).

Personnel Changes at Workman; Abrams

At the Workman division of Hachette Book Group:

Travis Smith is promoted to senior marketing manager at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Michelle Hilario-Ruiz is promoted to digital marketing & advertising manager of the Workman, Workman Kids, Workman Calendars, Artisan, and Algonquin Young Readers imprints.

Melina Dorrance is promoted to senior publicist at Timber Press.

Amanda Trautmann joins the company as children's publicist at Workman Kids and Algonquin Young Readers.

Katrina Tiktinsky is promoted to associate publicist at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Tatum Wilson is promoted to associate publicist at Storey.

Alana Bonfiglio is promoted to publicity & marketing associate of the Workman, Workman Kids, Workman Calendars, Artisan, and Algonquin Young Readers imprints.

Anna Skudlarek is promoted to marketing associate at Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.


At Abrams:

Nadine Sferratore has been promoted to executive director, special sales.

Jay Salton has been promoted to assistant manager, special sales.

Stephanie Keane has been promoted to associate publicist.

Victoria Reynolds has been promoted to digital & social media marketing associate.

Media and Movies

Media Heat: Doris Kearns Goodwin on Colbert's Late Show

Good Morning America: George Takei, author of My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story (Crown, $19.99, 9780593566350).

Today Show: Sue Varma, author of Practical Optimism: The Art, Science, and Practice of Exceptional Well-Being (Avery, $29, 9780593418949).

Fresh Air: Salman Rushdie, author of Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder (Random House, $28, 9780593730249).

Late Show with Stephen Colbert: Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s (Simon & Schuster, $35, 9781982108663).

Late Night with Seth Meyers repeat: David Sedaris, author of Pretty Ugly (TOON Books, $18.99, 9781662665271).

TV: Dark Matter

Apple TV+ has released a trailer for the upcoming sci-fi series Dark Matter, based on Blake Crouch's 2016 novel. Deadline reported that Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Connelly lead a cast that includes Alice Braga, Jimmi Simpson, Dayo Okeniyi and Oakes Fegley. The series launches in May. 

Crouch serves as creator, executive producer, showrunner, and writer alongside executive producers Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl for Matt Tolmach Productions. Edgerton also serves as executive producer. Dark Matter is produced for Apple TV+ by Sony Pictures Television.

Books & Authors

Awards: Gotham Book Finalists

Finalists have been selected for the $50,000 Gotham Book Prize, created early in the pandemic "to encourage and honor writing about New York City." The winner will be named June 5 at the Queens Public Library's annual gala.

Prize co-founders Bradley Tusk and Howard Wolfson (Tusk founded P&T Knitwear bookstore) said, "It's impossible to capture the richness of New York City in just one book, but the 11 finalists for the 2024 Gotham Book Prize all come pretty close. We can't wait to award the $50,000 prize to one of these books in the coming months, and for the first time we'll be doing it alongside Queens Public Library--a great institution serving the most diverse place in the world. And while we are well past the lowest points of the pandemic, the Gotham Book Prize is a way to celebrate the creative minds who have bounced back and continued to tell the tale of one of the greatest stories in the world--the City of New York."

The finalists:
All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Brinkley
Between Two Moons by Aisha Abdel Gawad
Crook Manifesto by Colson Whitehead
Flores and Miss Paula by Melissa Rivero
Imposter Syndrome and Other Confessions of Alejandra Kim by Patricia Park
Rikers: An Oral History by Graham Rayman and Reuven Blau
The Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis by Maria Smilios
The Slip: The New York City Street That Changed American Art Forever by Prudence Peiffer
The Sullivanians: Sex, Psychotherapy, and the Wild Life of an American Commune by Alexander Stille
We Are a Haunting by Tyriek White
Women of the Post by Joshunda Sanders

Book Review

Review: The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss

The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss by Margalit Fox (Random House, $32 hardcover, 336p., 9780593243855, July 2, 2024)

Margalit Fox (Conan Doyle for the Defense; The Riddle of the Labyrinth) brings a lively storytelling style and a flair for conveying personalities to a history that's stranger than fiction with The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum: The Rise and Fall of an American Organized-Crime Boss.

" 'You are caught this time, and the best thing that you can do is to make a clean breast of it,' one of the Pinkertons... advised Mrs. Mandelbaum as she was led away. In reply, Fredericka Mandelbaum--upright widow, philanthropic synagogue-goer, doting mother of four, and boss of the country's most notorious crime syndicate--whirled and punched him in the face." To the modern mind, attuned to Scarface-style organized crime, Mandelbaum was an unlikely candidate for her role: Jewish, female, an immigrant, penniless upon her arrival in the United States in the mid-1800s. But through shrewd business practices and motivated by her desire for her family's survival and comfort, the woman known as Ma, Mother, and Marm Mandelbaum established what would become a multi-million-dollar empire. She backed her staff of shoplifters, pickpockets, and bank burglars with training, supplies, project funding, bail money, and lodging--indeed, mothering them while setting a standard for criminal organization, including a highly specialized school for safebreakers.

Fox successfully tells this story by letting colorful characters stand out. "About six feet tall and of Falstaffian girth (she was said to have weighed between 250 and 300 pounds), pouchy-faced, apple-cheeked and beetle-browed, [Mandelbaum] resembled the product of a congenial liaison between a dumpling and a mountain." She is pursued less by the New York police departments (multiple, corrupt, and at odds with one another) and more by the detectives of the nascent Pinkerton Agency who were hired to bring her down in a changing world. Both police and Pinkertons provide memorable characters to boot, on top of the regular and freelance lawbreakers Mandelbaum employed. Fox has a sharp eye for humor: "At the interment, it was reported afterward, some mourners deftly picked the pockets of others. Whether they did so in tribute to their fallen leader or simply from occupational reflex is unreported." And she sets this wild narrative in the context of its time, Gilded Age America, aglitter and crooked and facing massive economic and social change. The world of Herbert Asbury's Gangs of New York both provided the long shot for a Jewish matron, and punished her for her nerve.

With copious notes and research, Fox offers a tale as madcap and thrilling as it is illustrative of American history and culture. The Talented Mrs. Mandelbaum is riveting for fans of both history and entertaining storytelling. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Shelf Talker: In the late 1800s, a female crime boss ruled New York City, as colorfully detailed in this exhilarating narrative history.

The Bestsellers

Top-Selling Self-Published Titles

The bestselling self-published books last week as compiled by

1. Haunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
2. The Teacher by Freida McFadden
3. Twisted Love by Ana Huang
4. One by One by Freida McFadden
5. Bridesmaid for Hire by Meghan Quinn
6. Hunting Adeline by H.D. Carlton
7. Twisted Games by Ana Huang
8. A Touch of Chaos by Scarlett St. Clair
9. The Ritual: A Dark College Romance by Shantel Tessier
10. The Never King by Nikki St. Crowe

[Many thanks to!]

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