Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

From My Shelf

Pioneering Journalists

In our interview below with Ravi Howard, author of Driving the King, he mentions journalist Almena Lomax, an intriguing real-life figure in the novel who founded the Los Angeles Tribune in 1941. In Howard's story, narrator Nat Weary first meets her in that city as she's bicycling by his porch, delivering her weekly paper, the "third Negro newspaper in this town. Small family operation." The Tribune was known for fearless reporting, and in 1956, Lomax went to Montgomery, Ala., to report on the civil rights movement. When she died in 2011, at age 95, her papers were given to Emory University--we hope someone is writing a book about this amazing newspaperwoman.

Lomax was not the only groundbreaking black woman in journalism. In the early '50s, Ethel Payne was hired by the Chicago Defender and took over its Washington, D.C., bureau a few years later. She covered international news and civil rights, including the Montgomery bus boycott. She reported from Vietnam, from China, from Africa with Henry Kissinger. Payne was known as the "First Lady of the Black Press," and James McGrath Morris has written a biography of this remarkable woman, Eye on the Struggle (Amistad, February 17).

Due out around the same time is yet another book about a pioneering woman of the national black press and mentor of Payne: Alone Atop the Hill, the autobiography of Alice Dunnigan, edited by Carol McCabe Booker (University of Georgia Press). Dunnigan was a typist during World War II, then a reporter, then the first black female reporter accredited to the White House. As chief of the Associated Negro Press Bureau in Washington, D.C., she overcame racial and gender barriers (she later had a career as a sports reporter--she was initially denied access to a major league baseball game not because she was black but because she was a woman).

These women--journalists and activists, all notable, extraordinary, brave--are finally getting their due. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

Sleeping Bear Press: When You Go Into Nature by Sheri M Bestor, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

The Writer's Life

Ravi Howard: The Remembered Space

photo: Beri Irving

Ravi Howard won the 2008 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence for his novel, Like Trees, Walking, and was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award. Howard has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hurston-Wright Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the New Jersey Council on the Arts. Howard's work has appeared in Callaloo, Massachusetts Review, the New York Times and on NPR's All Things Considered. As a sports producer with NFL Films, he won an Emmy in 2005 for his work on Inside the NFL. He lives in Atlanta, Ga. His second novel is Driving the King (reviewed here).

What inspired you to write Driving the King? Are you a Nat King Cole fan?

I grew up in Montgomery, Ala., and I remember when I found out Nat Cole was born there. I must have been about 10 years old, and I took a black history tour of Montgomery. Many of the stops were familiar because of the Bus Boycott stories I'd heard. We rode around town on city buses, and we stopped in front of Nat Cole's childhood home. Hearing his name was a surprise. His music was a Christmas staple, but I did not think of his biography until I was sitting in front of his old house.

I remember when Natalie Cole remade "Unforgettable" as a duet and a music video. It was a mix of something classic with a technology that was new in the 1990s. Maybe the book takes a similar approach, mixing an old voice with imagination to make something new.

Do you have a favorite Nat King Cole song?

I discovered so many songs during the writing process, but I always come back to "Let's Face the Music and Dance" as one of my top favorites. The first line of the song gives the feel I wanted to capture in the novel: "There may be trouble ahead."

How did you learn about the incident where Cole was assaulted on stage?

I can't remember when I learned of the attack on Nat Cole, but it was one of those events that fit with the violent history of Birmingham during Jim Crow. I took some license and moved the attack to Montgomery, but both cities had histories of violence and activism that responded to it. Nat Cole and other musicians operated in the same way, trying to find an artful response to the world around them. He moved beyond the attack, but he never returned to Alabama. The book looks at what a return to Montgomery might have looked like.

Nat Weary, the narrator of Driving the King, is fictional. But is he based on an historical figure--or a colleague or friend of Cole's?

I wanted Nat Weary to be a part of the ensemble that gathers around famous musicians. Many were also musicians who found work in supporting roles. They didn't become famous, but they were necessary.

That sense of the ensemble was also a part of my education on the Montgomery Cole revisits [in the book]. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., became the marquee names of the moment, but Nat Weary knew many of the people in the chorus. I'm drawn to that behind-the-scenes feeling, and I made Weary a composite of those players.

Whom did you talk to during your research? Did you travel to any significant places in Nat King Cole's life?

I made a few trips to Los Angeles and Montgomery. Even though I grew up in Montgomery, I learned something new on each visit. The Centennial Hotel is actually the Ben Moore Hotel, which was central to some events during the Bus Boycott. It's been closed for more than 40 years, but the owner gave me a tour. My mother saw Martin Luther King, Jr., on an elevator when she was attending a college social there. So it's fun to have some personal history with some of the places in the book.

I spent much of my time in Los Angeles driving, getting a feel for the trips from Nat's house in Hancock Park to the studios of Capitol Records and NBC. I was alone in a rental car, but I had to imagine what words were exchanged as Nat Cole and Weary made those drives every day. Even when I saw those historical places, I had to leave room for the imagination and erase the years of change.

I love Almena Lomax's character--I'd never heard of her before. How did you decide to include her in the story?

I found Almena Lomax late in the writing process. I knew of her work, but only because of her byline. I didn't know the full story of how she left Los Angeles and moved to Alabama with her children to write about the Civil Rights Movement. I saw her son, Michael Lomax, on an HBO documentary, The Black List. Shortly after her death a few years ago, Almena Lomax's papers were donated to Emory University. I read through them and got a feel for her voice and activism. I wouldn't have a book without her voice.

Probably my favorite thing about the book is the prose--Nat Weary's voice is so rich and smooth (like his favorite liquor). I know it's hard to explain how you write, but is there anything that helped you get his voice into your head?

Thanks for that. I wanted to make him a speaking balladeer. Ballads have this confessional nature to them. The emotion isn't necessarily raw, because the singers and writers have lived with those ideas before they deliver them. I wanted to find a conversational space that mimicked the ballad. I wanted the words to feel lived-in.

Anything fascinating you came across in your research that didn't make it into the book?

I found so many great performances from Nat on his television show and years of guest appearances on other programs. He was performing in Las Vegas during a time of great music and racial tension. I wanted to include so much of that, but I also wanted the work to flow toward Montgomery. I wanted to avoid an epic feel, because biographers do that well. I wanted a tighter circle of moments. One of the toughest parts of structuring and revising is leaving out ideas that I love. But it is necessary to pace the story.

A thought to leave with us?

I used as an epigram a quote from Albert Murray's The Hero and the Blues: "The art of fiction is an art of make-believe." Historical fiction is also about giving the reader a presence in the make-believe, remembered space. I've always tried to bring that to the work, and I've enjoyed that process. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Book Candy

Best Novels Since 2000; Best Cult Books

Let the debate commence. BBC showcased "the 21st Century's 12 greatest novels."


Jack Kerouac, Joseph Heller, J.D. Salinger and Thomas Pynchon are among the authors whose works were chosen by the Telegraph's critics for a list of the "50 best cult books."


Buzzfeed featured "9 books that television's most famous characters read for fun."


"Fiction is full of lies. Fiction is lies, in some sense anyway," wrote Nick Lake, author of There Will be Lies, in choosing his "top 10 liars in fiction" for the Guardian.


It's not just about great reads. The Huffington Post advised: "Here's how to be the best book club member you know."


"Turn an underused closet into an adorable reading nook!" Prestige Painting offered some tips.

Book Review


The Nightingale

by Kristin Hannah

In war, heroic action stands shoulder to shoulder with atrocity both on the battlefield and at home. While war stories often focus on combat deeds, civilians also fight for their countries. In The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah (Home Front) envisions the stories of two French sisters who take different paths to heroism in World War II, one plunging into the war effort as a French Resistance operative and the other trying desperately to survive and protect her daughter.

In post-World War I France, sisters Vianne and Isabelle Rossignol have nothing in common but blood. Vianne, the elder by a decade, enjoys a simple life in Carriveau. When World War II breaks out, the men of her town are called to the front lines, and her husband is no exception. Isabelle, expelled from finishing school, flees from Paris to Vianne's house, where the sisters immediately clash, Isabelle galvanized against the Germans by her experiences, Vianne determined to keep her head down and try to maintain as normal a life as possible.

Hannah delves unflinchingly into a time and place "when the world was at war and everything was scarce and your husband was gone." With her instinct for capturing family dynamics and female relationships, Hannah offers her fans everything they've come to love and expect in her writing. She shows how war creates circumstances that bring out the best and the worst in humanity. Spanning the entire war, Hannah's epic is an emotional powerhouse that lays bare the human heart's capacity for courage, compassion and resilience. --Jaclyn Fulwood

Discover: How World War II affected two ordinary sisters fighting for a common cause.

St. Martin's Press, $27.99, hardcover, 9780312577223

There's Something I Want You to Do: Stories

by Charles Baxter

There's Something I Want You to Do is another characteristically elegant collection of 10 short stories from National Book Award nominee Charles Baxter (Gryphon; The Feast of Love). Organized symmetrically into two parts--the first stories bear the labels of classic virtues ("Forbearance" and "Charity") and the second have titles that evoke some of the seven deadly sins ("Avarice" and "Gluttony")--the stories weave together ingeniously, with recurring characters whose strengths (or more often weaknesses) become clearer over the course of two or three tales.

Despite brief departures for more exotic settings like Tuscany and Prague, most of the stories take place in Minneapolis, where Baxter teaches creative writing and literature. In the first story, "Bravery," he introduces Elijah Jones, a pediatrician whose rejection by his wife when he tries to feed their newborn son drives him out of the house, where he performs a courageous rescue. But Dr. Jones's halo is tarnished in "Gluttony," when his inability to control a voracious appetite impels him to resort to a dubious weight-loss program.

Baxter's precise, economical style, demonstrated in his skill for characterization, heightens the pleasure of these stories, like when Elijah Jones's wife accuses him of acting like an "oscillating fan" when he sets out to discipline their son: "Wisdom spews out of you in all directions," she says. Though hints of the surreal hover over these stories, Baxter never allows his work to lose its grounding in a perceptible reality. Most pieces conclude on an enigmatic note, effectively evoking the quality of real life, where endings are more often tangled than carefully stitched together. --Harvey Freedenberg, attorney and freelance reviewer

Discover: Charles Baxter's stories reveal a broad spectrum of human behavior in which virtue and vice are, in truth, inseparable.

Pantheon, $24, hardcover, 9781101870013

Mr. Mac and Me

by Esther Freud

Esther Freud's ninth novel, Mr. Mac and Me, is a sensitive coming-of-age story and a clear-eyed, sympathetic look at everyday life in a small English coastal village in 1914. Freud (Hideous Kinky) took inspiration from a historical episode concerning a real-life artist and her home in Suffolk.

Thomas Maggs, son of a pub owner, is an imaginative boy whose sketches fill the margins of his books. He befriends the Macs, the Glaswegians who have taken a cottage nearby, and they open a new world for him. Mr. Mac is Charles Rennie Macintosh, a famed architect suffering through a period of self-doubt and professional setbacks. He and Mrs. Mac encourage Thomas to paint. They lend him books, some in German, and they write letters, some to people in Germany, which Thomas posts after steaming them open to read--he's curious about these strangers and their very different lives. Meanwhile, the war takes the young village men, and locals whisper that Mac must be a spy, given his German correspondence and daily walks, spyglasses in hand.

Thomas is brilliantly drawn on the cusp of maturity, loyal to home yet yearning for adventure, torn between the Macs and his fear that suspicions might be true. Freud is also deft at conveying how the terror of war recedes behind the urgent desires of boyhood. While the novel's conclusion feels under-realized as Freud rushes Tom into adulthood, Mr. Mac and Me is a wonderful, layered novel and a tribute to an iconic architect told by a boy in the historical moment and at the age that everything changes. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: A graceful tribute to Charles Rennie Macintosh based on historical events.

Bloomsbury, $26, hardcover, 9781620408834

Shark Skin Suite

by Tim Dorsey

Serge Storms, protagonist of 18 previous Tim Dorsey (Tiger Shrimp Tango) novels, has discovered a passion for both the law and legal films set in Florida. In Shark Skin Suite, Serge is a hurricane of intensity and logorrhea who's obsessed with movies like Body Heat, Cool Hand Luke and Absence of Malice. His story--a road trip to visit filming locations in Florida with his constantly drunk or high companion, Coleman--dovetails with that of his old flame Brook Campanella.

Brook is a newly minted lawyer sent by her firm to go up against a huge mortgage company and its coterie of high-powered lawyers in a class-action lawsuit for fraud. Her only asset is another of her firm's lawyers: Shelby, an untested font of legal knowledge who has never been in court before. Dorsey rounds out the cast of colorful characters with Ziggy (a joint-toking, island-style, Bob Marley-esque lawyer who brings Serge in on the case), Molly (Serge's femme fatale of an ex-wife) and witnesses who have been seduced by expensive gifts from the mortgage company (like Ruthy, an old woman who pets an imaginary dalmatian when she gets nervous).

The story here is less important than the set pieces and character shenanigans, as Dorsey gets to opine on various modern-day issues, like housing-loan inequality, legal loopholes and relationships. Readers of Dorsey both new and old will love every crazy moment of this one. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: With a satiric take on big banks, foreclosure and the legal profession, this madcap rush of a novel takes readers into a Florida courtroom and several film locations.

Morrow, $26.99, hardcover, 9780062240019

Mystery & Thriller

The Kings of London

by William Shaw

In London in November 1968, Detective Sergeant Cathal Breen has two burned and mutilated bodies to investigate. He's also getting death threats at his police department desk. As one of the few Irishmen on the force, he's become something of an outcast at work, and he's a little too straight-laced to fit in with the hippies and freaks who seem to be popping up everywhere in the city.

The second body turns out to be the son of a prominent politician who wishes for nothing more than the police quietly to bury the evidence and keep the public from knowing about the details of his son's salacious activities, including gay sex and heroin use. Breen becomes obsessed with both cases as he also deals with the recent death of his father. Through it all, the threats continue, and beleaguered Breen tries to keep from completely falling apart.

William Shaw's second novel starring Breen and constable Helen Dozer--the only female cop on the force--presents a portrait of London in the late '60s that feels utterly authentic, complete with excessive smoking, drinking, corruption at every level and casual misogyny and racism. The forces of social change are just getting started in the music and art world, but the rank and file of the London police department is having none of it. There's more at stake here than a couple of dead bodies, and to solve the mystery Breen must learn to cope with the changes in his life and in society at large. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A ripping good murder mystery set in a delightfully realistic 1968 England from the author of She's Leaving Home.

Mulholland Books, $26, hardcover, 9780316246873

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Pacific Fire

by Greg van Eekhout

At the conclusion of Greg van Eekhout's California Bones, Southern California's magical kingpin, the Hierarch, has been unseated, and Daniel Blackland, major thief and osteomancer, is more powerful than ever. Pacific Fire picks up right where that story stopped with Daniel and the Hierarch's golem son, Sam, on the run from the trio of evil osteomancers now vying for the head position of power in Los Angeles. The threesome intend to re-create a Pacific Firedrake dragon from bits and pieces of bone and tissue along with items formulated in a lab, but they'll need Sam's powers to make the manufactured beast a viable creature of mass destruction.

To help keep Sam safe, Daniel reconnects with the many Emmas--multiple versions of the same woman who helped Daniel fight the Hierarch in the previous novel--and some of his former crew. But when Sam and one of the younger Emmas decide to destroy the dragon on their own, Daniel must race to find them before the powerful osteomancers do. In this surrealistic and magical vision of a futuristic California, Van Eekhout adds new well-rounded characters to the established cast--people who may not always do the right thing but have the best intentions at heart.

Pacific Fire is a fast-moving continuation of the battle between good and evil, filled with vivid descriptions that place readers firmly in the netherworld of magical con men, potion masters, do-gooders and those who want to save the world they know before disaster strikes. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Daniel Blackland and Sam's latest set of adventures in a world of magic, dragons and epic power struggles.

Tor, $24.99, hardcover, 9780765328564

Inside a Silver Box

by Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley (Rose Gold) has earned fame with his crime novels, most notably his Easy Rawlins series, which combine uniformly high literary quality with fast-paced noir thrills. He has also carved out a niche as a science-fiction writer. In the latter genre, Inside a Silver Box is a trippy, violent, mind-expanding blend of pulp fiction and New Age cosmology.

Ronnie Bottoms, an angry young black man, and Lorraine Fell meet in a way that is decidedly uncute and are then taken under the wing of "the Silver Box," a fully self-realized artificial-intelligence system that deputizes them in a battle against its nefarious maker, the Laz. The stakes are high: the fate of earth and maybe all creation. As Ronnie and Lorraine battle their personal and our collective fates, it's easy to get swept up in the visionary weirdness of limitlessly powerful aliens and cosmic events.

Mosley always makes for an entertaining read, and his typical mix of social commentary, violence, gender and race consciousness turns this hurtling freight train of a plot into the coolest literary gumbo imaginable. His characters are vivid; the sci-fi ideas are presented in a subtle and cohesive way, and the themes of spiritual and bodily transformation grant the reader a good little creative buzz that is the next best thing to an epiphany. Inside a Silver Box will inspire readers to think about the capacity to change while facing the entropy of everyday existence and contemplating the end of the world. --Donald Powell, freelance writer

Discover: A fun story about the race to avert the end of the world with deeper themes of racial and gender disparity and the essence of freedom.

Tor, $25.99, hardcover, 9780765375216

The Mime Order

by Samantha Shannon

The Mime Order is the second novel in Samantha Shannon's Bone Season series, a planned run of seven books set in a dystopian future where half of the population has clairvoyant powers and is hunted by the government because of those powers. Shannon picks up where The Bone Season left off: Paige Mahoney is racing back to London after narrowly escaping Sheol I, where she had been held prisoner for months because of her unusual clairvoyant powers. In London, she must decide whether to rejoin her old crime syndicate or go it alone--with the full force of both the government and the criminal world set against her.

Shannon spends little time rehashing the events or explaining the world established in the previous novel, so those new to this world will likely want to start with the first book. Those eager to continue Paige's story will not be disappointed by Shannon's sophomore showing, which boasts all of the suspense, intrigue and mystery of the first volume as well as an addictive storyline that will leave readers clamoring for the next chapters in Paige's ever-intensifying life.

The series characters have matured, which means Paige and those around her are becoming more nuanced, and their motivations clearer, as the story unfolds. Similarly, and perhaps more excitingly, Shannon's prose has also matured, and this deft effort to build on the complex world she constructed in the first installment will solidify the series' rightful place among the best of fantasy, sci-fi and dystopian fiction. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: The second volume in Samantha Shannon's much-touted dystopian fiction series will leave readers clamoring for book three.

Bloomsbury, $25, hardcover, 9781620408933

Biography & Memoir

Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen: An Ordinary Family's Extraordinary Tale of Love, Loss, and Survival in Congo

by Lisa J. Shannon

In Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen, Lisa Shannon, author of A Thousand Sisters and founder of Run for Congo Women, returns to the troubled land of Congo to document the continuing horrors unfolding in this African nation. She and Francisca Thelin, a Congolese woman who had moved to the United States with her American husband and two children, traveled to Thelin's hometown, Dungu. There they wanted to see if any of Thelin's family members were still alive after the dreaded militia--the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by Joseph Kony, a self-proclaimed prophet who ruled the region--terrorized and killed men, women and children indiscriminately.

The story unfolds in bits and pieces as Shannon interweaves personal accounts taken from long interviews with Thelin's family with her own reflections on the tense and dangerous situations in which they found themselves. Shannon immerses the reader in the food, the clothing and culture as Thelin's relatives and neighbors move through the rotation of the seasons, collecting coffee, rice, millet and other foods, or preparing supplies of termite oil, considered a delicacy, in the years before the LRA came.

For those unfamiliar with Congolese history, in an appendix, Shannon provides a useful synopsis of the LRA and Kony, listed by the International Criminal Court as "The World's Most Wanted Man." Mama Koko and the Hundred Gunmen is an eye-opening account of the atrocities still being conducted in Congo and a beautiful story of an extended family holding on to its pride and connections despite the horrible odds. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: A vivid account of the atrocities endured by one Congolese family when Joseph Kony's militia terrorized their village.

PublicAffairs, $24.99, hardcover, 9781610394451

Travel Literature

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia

by Michael Booth

The Danish carry the title "happiest people on Earth" courtesy of the Gallup World Poll and the United Nations World Happiness Report. Norwegians are the richest people, thanks to their healthy supply of oil. And the Finns lay claim to the best education system. Scandinavia as a whole enjoys a glowing reputation around the globe.

British journalist and travel writer Michael Booth (Eat Pray Eat) set out to examine both the assets and shortcomings of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. With a lighthearted, humorous tone, Booth shares data, history, anecdotes and his personal experiences--he's lived in Denmark and is married to a Dane--as they relate to each nation.

Speaking to economic, political, sociological and other experts, Booth plays devil's advocate, posing pragmatic questions (how can the Danes be so happy when they pay the highest taxes?) and pondering cultural conundrums (why are the Finns so obsessed with their saunas?). Quick to point out when the authorities seem to have their heads buried in the sand, Booth is also open to new theories and follows their leads in fascinating directions--even when they take him to a Swedish crayfish party. Booth visits each country independently, but finds common links in their often comically unfavorable views of one another.

The good, the bad, the ugly and the amusing in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia make this tromp through the Nordic countries both educational and entertaining. Whether readers are intimately familiar with or ignorant about the subject, there's something for everyone to take away. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: A travel writer puts Scandinavia to the test to see how close to perfect these countries really are.

Picador, $26, hardcover, 9781250061966

Children's & Young Adult

Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution

by Mara Rockliff, illus. by Vincent X. Kirsch

Mara Rockliff (The Grudge Keeper) introduces an actual Revolutionary baker who's as enchanting as he is heroic, portrayed in illustrations that look good enough to eat.

Philadelphians loved the baker for "his honest face" and "booming laugh"--and, of course, his gingerbread. Vincent X. Kirsch's (Noah Webster and His Words) opening image depicts the baker carrying a pyramid of golden gingerbread, sporting a toast-brown jacket, trousers and hat, outlined in what could be icing, and walking past a delicious-looking town square. His gingerbread is "the best in all the thirteen colonies." Rockliff places readers in a blossoming country where the baker provides "broken pieces" of gingerbread for hungry children ("once upon a time, he had been young and hungry too"). But "something was in the air (besides the smell of baking gingerbread)." The baker hangs up his apron, and offers his services--and just in time! General Washington's men are threatening desertion: "They say the food is terrible!" The baker replies, "No empty bellies here. Not in my America!"

Kirsch's cookie-cutter images of a battalion approaching by sea, hired by England's king, lessen the threat and sweeten the humor. Washington turns pale, but the German-born baker welcomes them. Rockliff uses recurring refrains for maximum impact. He translates the words heard in the Philadelphia streets ("Revolution! Independence! Liberty!") into German (plus the promise of food: "No empty bellies here") and converts the mercenaries to revolutionaries. At the end, Rockliff reveals his identity (Christopher Ludwick) and a gingerbread recipe. Readers will be back for seconds. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A real-life Revolutionary baker who's as enchanting as he is heroic, portrayed in illustrations that look good enough to eat.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 6-9, 9780544130012

Raindrops Roll

by April Pulley Sayre

April Pulley Sayre's (Rah, Rah, Radishes!) arresting photographs and precisely chosen words take readers through a rainstorm, start to finish.

First, a tree frog peers out from the inside of a leaf and seems to make eye contact with its audience: "Rain is coming./ You can feel it/ in the air." Two pages later, "Insects take cover." A grasshopper dominates the spread, perching on a red leaf amid drops of rain; on the right, in separate photos, appear "a firefly below a leaf" and "a fly inside a pod." A rash of golden flowers behind the pod helps children see the fly's golden eye and the firefly's stripe (have you ever seen one in daylight?). Later, a bluebird embraces the rain, looking toward an image of a stream dotted with raindrop undulations: "It patters./ It spatters." A stunning trio of photographs depicts a dragonfly at rest, its powder-blue body creating a triangle of primary colors with a red rose and the center of a daisy in the other two photos: "Yet raindrops remain./ They gather./ They glob together." Raindrops transform spider webs into chandeliers ("They cling to curves") and "cover cocoons." In the closing double-page spread, a bee finds purchase on a flower as "raindrops slowly dry"; its golden fuzz matches the petals.

In the endnotes, Sayre explains the various roles rain plays in her photographs. "Raindrops aren't really the tear shape shown in cartoons and diagrams," she writes. "Water molecules... cling together to make a sphere shape." A gorgeous close-up view of rain's effects on nature. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A gorgeous close-up view of rain's effects on nature through photographs and spare phrases.

Beach Lane/S&S, $17.99, hardcover, 40p., ages 4-8, 9781481420648


Author Buzz

Dragon Kiss
(A Dragon Kings Novella)

by Donna Grant

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the Dragon Kings! I'm thrilled to bring you DRAGON KISS. The world of the Dragon Kings keeps expanding, and this story brings us Alasdair and Lotti, a powerful couple who have overcome all odds to find love. But a deadly enemy intends to rip them apart.

I can't wait for you to fall in love with Alasdair and Lotti as I have.


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Dragon Kiss (A Dragon Kings Novella) by Donna Grant

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 9, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

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