Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, May 15, 2015

Poisoned Pen Press: That Night in the Library by Eva Jurczyk

From My Shelf

Spinning English

Self-proclaimed "semi-bestselling" satirists Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf's latest offering, Spinglish (Blue Rider Press), is a collection of examples of deliberately deceptive language or, as they call it, a "bullschictionary." If you want to succeed in life, they say you have to excel in "terminological inexactitude." If you can name it, "someone can rename it to make it sound a whole lot better and promote it with a flurry of press releases flogged by a host of professional Spinocchios and hundreds of highly paid liars with fireproof pants...."

There are so many stunning entries in the book that it's hard to winnow them down to a few. Some are familiar: "collateral damage" and the 1960s' "plausible denial." If you are house-hunting, you'll have discovered a "vibrant" area is deafeningly noisy. Some Spinglish is funny--remember "hiking the Appalachian Trail?" Some is funny and depressing--"vegetation manipulation" to describe clearcutting.

Politics provides some of the best Spinglish. When the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989, columnist George Will called it a "good-neighbor policy... an act of hemispheric hygiene." To reverse the negative feelings about lobbyists, they call themselves "legislative leadership advocates." In Venezuela, censorship by another name has been called "a paper shortage." There are numerous business contributions: Citibank in 2012 characterized its layoffs of more than 11,000 worldwide as "optimizing the consumer footprint across geographies." Rebranding a somewhat unattractive fish known as the slimehead into "orange roughy" worked so well that it's now on a threatened species list. In the journalism world, the New York Times called a case of plagiarism "unacknowledged repetition."

Spinglish is a delightful (and maddening) compendium of obscurantism, backed up by citations. I'm just sorry they left out the noxious "open the kimono." It deserves their deft skewering. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers

The Writer's Life

Melissa Cistaro: Letters and Memories

photo: Adam Karsten

Melissa Cistaro lives with her husband and their three children in California's Bay Area, not far from where she grew up. She's a bookseller and events coordinator at Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif. Her first book is Pieces of My Mother (just published by Sourcebooks), a memoir based on her mother's leaving the family when Melissa was a toddler.

Have you wanted to tell this story of your mother for a long time?

I started writing it as fiction 12 years ago. I never wanted to write a memoir. It took me a while to claim it as my story, the truth as I knew it. I just began telling the stories and they became stitched together over the years. I had this little daughter who asked me, "What would your mother do when you were scared?" and I didn't want to tell her the truth. I wondered what would happen to her if I couldn't be here. I had my grandmothers' journals and my mother's letters, their stories. I didn't want my story to end up in a drawer.

What were the other stories in your family?

My father's mother--my grandmother--was dropped off at an orphanage; her mother did not raise her and I never met her. My maternal grandmother was a successful actress and John Powers model in New York who died much too young. My mother was a really wonderful woman who struggled with the motherhood part. She grew up in Darien, Conn., in a Frank Lloyd Wright house; her dad was president of ABC. "Pieces of my past" include this line of complex women I came from. I'm the first one who had the opportunity to tell her story.

Describe your mother's writings that you discovered in her filing cabinet the week she passed away.

I was so afraid of those letters. I did not know what I would find; I was physically shaking. Did they belong to me? None were dated. I could put them in sequence--I could tell when she was struggling and not feeling "grounded" (it was the '60s!), and who she was living with at the time she wrote them. She was playful, colorful and free-spirited, sometimes writing in weird phonetics like "durst" for "dearest" and addressing me as "Lou." I see some threads of similarity in my grandmother's writing and hers, and in mine. I am a huge user of the dash and as I was reading her letters I saw "Hey, she liked the dash, too!" While she did send letters to me between visits, the ones never sent were more emotional and powerful. I don't know why she didn't send them, but I'm glad she saved them. They are the greatest gift I have from her. And I love having her authentic voice in the book.

You have some artifacts that illustrate your story.

One of the best ways I can tell my story is through showing these things. My dad, who dealt in antiques, had a whole little bag of his mother's scissors, and I have this tiny pair. The last gift I gave my mother before she died was this little tin box I bought at a flea market because it reminded me of her. It was designed by Princess Mary as a Christmas gift for British soldiers during World War I and held candies or cigarettes. It has the initials M and M (like Mikel--my mother--and me) and the hairstyle of the figure reminded me of my mom. I have a few photos, but only one with my mom and me, probably from my second birthday. I'm sentimental, and I struggle with wanting to save things! I have every picture my daughter ever drew, but not a single drawing of mine. I think, "If I throw this away I'll lose the memories."

Your story, your mother's letters, your grandmothers' journals--it seems you are sentimental about writing, as well.

There's something about writing it down that seals a thing for you. My mother had an insatiable need to write. I write by hand first before turning on the computer, and have a mountain of notebooks and drafts. I found some very good stationery that I like to give to people at my readings.

Your book is very personal. How do you feel now that it is published, and how have early readers responded?

After this book was sold, I dreamed my mother hugged me. I couldn't have written this when she was alive but I definitely think she's given me permission. She so much wanted to write a book, and I think she'd be proud. People have stories but they don't talk about them, and I am hearing some now from those who've read the book.

As an author, what's it like to host other authors for their readings?

I am so happy for them! I know how hard they've worked, and I feel a deep sense of their journey. I love their stories, from the overnight successes to the long-haul struggles; they feed me, inspire me, make me humble. And I'm going out with my book with a realistic sense of how hard it is! --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, manager, Book Passage, San Francisco

Book Candy

Literary Tourism: Places that Inspired Beloved Novels

"At one point or another, all book-lovers have had the same dream: stepping into the pages of their favorite book and finding themselves in a fictional wonderland," Bustle observed in guiding readers to "10 beautiful literary locations that inspired beloved novels you can visit now and remember forever."


Back to reality: Joanna Biggs, author of All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work, chose her "top 10 books about working life" for the Guardian.


The Buzzfeed Community unshelved "67 children's books that actually changed your life."


Noting that in recent weeks "the #QuietYA hashtag has picked up steam on Twitter and other social media sites," the Huffington Post observed that "#QuietYA collects the best books for introverts."


Did you know that the madwoman in the attic was inspired by real life? Mental Floss shared "10 moody facts about Jane Eyre."

Book Review


A God in Ruins

by Kate Atkinson

In this follow-up to 2013's Life After Life, Kate Atkinson charts the adventures of Ursula Todd's younger brother, Teddy. Eschewing a linear narrative, Atkinson parcels out Teddy's life in pieces, hopping neatly from his boyhood to his daughter's struggle to raise her own children to night bombings in a Halifax aircraft above Germany. After stumbling through an unfocused young adulthood, Teddy finds the outbreak of World War II a relief, because it gives him a purpose, but the adventures it brings him shatter his innocence forever. Despite his fear during the war that he will have no "after," Teddy survives. He marries and becomes a father, but doesn't find the balm he imagined would come with family life. The interconnectedness of life's small moments is thrown into sharp relief as segments feed from and loop back into each other.

While A God in Ruins stands on its own, fans will be glad to see reappearances by Ursula and others from the previous novel. Marked by poetry and song, Atkinson's combination of wartime and family drama evokes a lost era, while also showing how World War II helped bring that time to a close. Teddy witnesses the breakdown of class prejudice through camaraderie, the slide from prudishness to promiscuity, and the destruction of the flower-filled meadows he knew in his youth to make way for crops to feed a hungry country. Simultaneously, Atkinson illustrates the difficult transition from wartime to peacetime. Above all else, Teddy's story is one of a family braving the rapids of a relentlessly shifting world with grace, dignity and solidarity. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

Discover: Life After Life's Teddy Todd he grows up, survives World War II bombing missions and learns that postwar adulthood is perilous, too--in its own way.

Little, Brown, $28, hardcover, 9780316176538

The Vorrh

by B. Catling

A challenging, deeply evocative and poetic fantasy novel, The Vorrh explores a dark forest both mythical and tangible, one that contains demons and angels, and possibly even the Garden of Eden at its center. Entering the Vorrh from the colonial African town Essenwald is a spiritual journey as invaluable as it is unforgiving. An English soldier, Williams, with a magical bow infused with the soul of his lover, is determined to uncover the forest's secrets.

A fantastic cast of characters fills the novel, including Ishmael, a one-eyed young man raised by robots in a mysterious house and now loved by two noblewomen who together search for him when he runs away to the Vorrh. Tsungali, an aging yet powerful African warrior who protects the forest, travels to stop Williams from attaining the Vorrh's center. B. Catling (A Court of Miracles) even includes photographer Edward [sic] Muybridge--an actual historical figure--driven to record film images no one has shot before.

The Vorrh can be challenging; there are sections of clear action and plotting as well as scenes that seem only to hint at the events unfolding, as if peering into a cloudy mirror. Everything is anthropomorphized, all objects serve the mood--the mirror smirks, "the black bread and yellow butter had seemed to stare from its plate with mocking intensity."

B. Catling has written a novel that warrants close, repeated reading, building a compelling work of art around the sentient, magical forest at its core. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A thought-provoking and deeply passionate historical fantasy novel whose delightfully obscure events reward a careful reader.

Vintage, $15.95, paperback, 9781101873786

The Love Object: Selected Stories

by Edna O'Brien

The 31 stories in The Love Object represent a half-century of Edna O'Brien's literary short fiction, collected in one volume for the first time.

O'Brien gained instant notoriety with her 1960 debut novel, The Country Girls, which was banned in her native Ireland for its frank portrayal of women's sexual desire. Her work since then has been characterized by effortlessly beautiful language and profound sympathy for the irresistible nature of female longing and its often terrible consequences. This collection showcases that achievement in her short fiction.

In "The Connor Girls," a woman visits her dying father and, drawn back into old conflicts, concludes, "by such choices we gradually become exiles, until at last we are quite alone." In "Paradise," a woman vacationing with her wealthy lover and his friends battles anxiety about their class differences and her ability to hold his fickle interest. In "Old Wounds," a family rift cannot quite be healed when a burial plot divides loyalties between two cousins.

These stories mesmerize with their measured cadences and compassion for their characters. Each narrator, whether she is a young girl or an aging woman, nun or expatriate, searches for something beyond love and hate, "something for which there is no name, because to name it would be to deprive it of its truth." Cumulatively, these stories prove O'Brien to be an enormously gifted writer whose characters reveal the contradictory and ineffable power of longing and the cruelties inherent in its pursuit. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: Edna O'Brien's stories, collected in one volume for the first time, about the longings and desires of girls and women, infused with the land and people of Ireland.

Little, Brown, $30, hardcover, 9780316378260

Mystery & Thriller

The Sussex Downs Murder

by John Bude

While not as well known as more prolific counterparts like Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham, John Bude (the pseudonym of Ernest Elmore) wrote novels that are quintessential examples of the British country mysteries of the 1930s. Reprinted by Poisoned Pen Press, The Sussex Downs Murder is now available for the enjoyment of today's mystery readers who enjoy Golden Age detective fiction.

The Sussex Downs Murder tells the story of two brothers, John and William Rother. The Rothers share Chalklands Farm and a lime-burning business on the beautiful Sussex Downs. They've never been particularly close, and local gossip has it that William's wife wishes she had married John. But their circumstances don't seem particularly serious until the day that John leaves for vacation. His car is found abandoned and splattered with blood, but there is no sign of him.

The police are stymied by the lack of clues in their hunt for John, and William's gaunt appearance suggests that he's worried about his brother's absence. But then, when human bones are discovered in the Rother lime, Superintendent Meredith becomes convinced that John was murdered, his body parts burned in the lime kiln. Meredith's patient detective work is painstaking but intelligent, letting the reader follow closely as Meredith's focus switches back and forth between the main suspects in the mystery.

A quick, enjoyable read that harkens back to a simpler time of investigation, The Sussex Downs Murder is perfect for those who love early crime fiction but have finished Dorothy Sayers's or Patricia Wentworth's oeuvres. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: In a British mystery in the style of Agatha Christie, Superintendent Meredith struggles to solve a brother's bloody disappearance.

Poisoned Pen Press, $12.95, paperback, 9781464203718

Biography & Memoir

Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs

by Sally Mann

In gallery shows, museum exhibitions, newspaper interviews, magazine features, film documentaries and photography books (Immediate FamilyDeep South), artist Sally Mann hasn't shied from revealing pieces of her personal life and aesthetic motivation. In her illustrated memoir, Hold Still, she goes further toward exposing the woman behind the photographs and her family roots. With a remarkably candid voice--sometimes sassy, sometimes pensive--she pulls us along on a journey into her past, precipitated by a careful dig into cartons of old family correspondence, snapshots, diaries and bric-a-brac long stored untouched in her farmhouse in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

From her days as an "impertinent scalawag"--who in 1967 went off to prep school in Putney, Vt., as a self-described "dumb peckerwood cracker, with a trunkful of very uncool reversible wrap-around skirts"--to a renowned artist delivering the 2011 Massey Lecture Series at Harvard, Mann recalls her life and her background. Hers is a past that subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) finds its way into the many old family snapshots and carefully crafted Mann photos aptly displayed throughout the memoir.

With an almost nonchalant narrative flow, Hold Still is Sally Mann's take not just on her life, but also on the underlying complexities of love, family, home and art. It abounds with the drama of newly uncovered family history, meditations on death, adoration of her husband and children and conversations with her artist neighbor Cy Twombly. Mann writes of her life the way she photographs others: "The camera was always set up off to the side and when something interesting happened, I would ask for everyone to hold still." --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Photographer Sally Mann scrutinizes the mysteries of art and tells of her often amusing, sometimes sad, well-lived life.

Little, Brown, $32, hardcover, 9780316247764


Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back

by Janice P. Nimura

In Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back, Janice P. Nimura tells the story of three young girls, ages 11, 10 and six, whom the Japanese government sent to the United States in 1871, as part of the Westernizing reforms of the Meiji Restoration that transformed Japan in the mid-19th century. The idea was that when they returned to Japan they could teach a generation of Japanese women how to raise enlightened sons.

The experiment was set in motion with remarkably little planning. Nominated by their parents with an eye toward political and economic benefits for their families, all of the girls were scarred, one of them literally, by the recent civil war that had overthrown the shogun and destroyed the power of the samurai class. They spoke no English and had a chaperone who didn't speak Japanese. They were on the boat for two days before someone arranged for them to get regular meals.

Nimura brings skillful storytelling and a high degree of cross-cultural awareness to her account of the girls' successful (and often joyous) adaptation to a new culture, their difficulties re-adapting to their own culture when they returned 10 years later, and how the long-term relationships they formed in the United States shaped women's education in Japan.

Daughters of the Samurai is an engaging work of women's history set in a moment when the status of women was changing in both Japan and the United States. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: An unusual, engaging tale of three Japanese girls sent to the U.S. in 1871 to learn how to raise enlightened sons.

W.W. Norton, $26.95, hardcover, 9780393077995

Nature & Environment

Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave

by Sean Prentiss

After the death of environmental writer Edward Abbey (The Monkey Wrench Gang; Desert Solitaire), four of his friends took his body to the desert near Albuquerque, N.Mex., and illegally buried him in a hidden location. For decades since, the mystery of his final resting place has tantalized Abbey's fans and followers. Writer Sean Prentiss set out to track down his hero, as related in the thoughtful Finding Abbey: The Search for Edward Abbey and His Hidden Desert Grave.

Prentiss calls on Abbey's close friends Jack Loeffler, Ken Sleight, David Peterson and Doug Peacock, several of whom inspired characters in Abbey's fiction. He visits locations that Abbey called home over decades of peripatetic soul-searching. Prentiss does his own exploring, too. Though newly settled in the Midwest for a university job, Prentiss feels enticed by Abbey's desert Southwest, a region he has also lived and traveled in. As much as he seeks a literal gravesite, or communion with a complicated man, Prentiss equally seeks a home for himself.

Prentiss questions whether he really wants to find the object of his search. "Answers don't solve questions. Only searching does." His tone is wondering, and his quest is both personal (where will Prentiss call home?) and universal (what does a sense of place mean to anyone?). His goal might be disrespectful, considering the continued efforts of the Abbey camp to keep the grave's location a secret, but Prentiss navigates this potential difficulty with sensitivity. While it offers no revelations, Finding Abbey is philosophical, poetic, a creative biography and a loving, evocative celebration of a controversial life. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: A journey to find a famous grave and an exploration of the meanings of environment and home.

University of New Mexico Press, $21.95, paperback, 9780826355911

Health & Medicine

Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: How the Famous Sell Us Elixirs of Health, Beauty & Happiness

by Timothy Caulfield

Timothy Caulfield's previous work, The Cure for Everything (2012), proves just about any subject is in good (and entertaining) hands once Caulfield's curiosity is piqued. While The Cure for Everything focused on media messages about health and fitness, Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything? investigates the impact of our obsession with fame on health and happiness. Although Caulfield is a professor with a background in health policy, he spent his youth chasing a rock-and-roll dream and admits to loving celebrity culture. As his readers have come to expect, Caulfield completely immerses himself in his research--attempting Paltrow's Clean Cleanse, attending an American Idol audition, signing on with a modeling agency, reading an entire year of People magazine, as well as interviewing many celebrities. The "central goal of this book is simple.... to separate sense from nonsense."

After his entertaining introduction describing the Idol audition, Caulfield delves into how celebrity culture has affected popular perception of health and beauty, particularly ubiquitous "cleanses" and fad diets, exorbitantly priced beauty creams, spa treatments, cosmetic surgeries. Then he examines the motivation for becoming famous as well as the astronomical odds of actually "making it." Last, he dissects just how rewarding fame is for those who have obtained the elusive goal.

Caulfield's ultimate conclusion is worth considering: when intrinsic happiness (from education, hard work and social mobility) seems out of reach, the buying public is more prone to embrace a quick fix sold by a familiar pretty face and to discount the role genetics and luck often play in fame. -- Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: Timothy Caulfield explores why celebrity culture has "a measurable influence on individual health-care decisions... and our future career aspirations."

Beacon Press, $24.95, hardcover, 9780807057483

Parenting & Family

Rock, Meet Window: A Father-Son Story

by Jason Good

Jason Good (This Is Ridiculous This Is Amazing) has made a career out of finding the funny in life. As a humorist, he focuses on the absurdity of parenthood and family. But when Jason learns that his father, Michael--a 68-year-old, hip and charismatic retired college professor whose life had been " 'one big bucket list.' He's lived it exactly the way he wanted to."--is diagnosed with leukemia and given nine months to live, his comic perceptions are upset. Jason--a 40-year-old only child who lives in New Jersey with his wife and two young sons--drags the whole family to San Francisco to be with his father and mother as they prepare for Michael's treatment.

Jason feels sad, panicked and powerless. In traveling to and from California, he recounts his loving yet sometimes contentious relationship with his often preoccupied, acerbic father, whose work forced the family to move many times. Jason admits he was a brazen, difficult child who constantly sought to gain his father's love and attention. Michael's illness, however, gives Jason focus and a defined purpose that finally brings him out of his father's shadow.

Jason's well-balanced memoir offers levity--especially as father and son set out to score medicinal marijuana--and poignancy amid the search for a bone marrow donor. Serious illness may have been the force to bring this father and son closer, but comedy ultimately infuses their shared sense of understanding, respect and camaraderie. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A comic writer's memoir about his relationship with his father, who faces a life-threatening illness.

Chronicle, $22.95, hardcover, 9781452129228


First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks

by Merritt Watts

Though a person's first job is seldom the most influential, there is something memorable about those initial days on the clock. Freelance reporter Merritt Watts shares 50 such stories in First Jobs: True Tales of Bad Bosses, Quirky Coworkers, Big Breaks, and Small Paychecks. The book is the newest addition to the Picador True Tales series edited by Hanya Yanagihara--curated collections of candid, first-person narratives.

Because First Jobs spans decades, many of the positions are distinctly dated: an assistant at a pre-Internet dating service where people recorded themselves on VHS, a correspondent answering phones in the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson studio office, a soda jerk who discreetly sold issues of Playboy. Together, they provide a broad and eclectic view of the last century's workforce from the perspective of its most naive employees.

Though many of the storytellers found themselves in unsavory situations, their experiences take on a dryly comedic quality in the re-telling. One woman remembers that, when secretly dating her manager at a retail store in the early 2000s (the kind with "the sort of preppy-but-skimpy clothes all the popular kids were wearing"), he romantically stole her a tube top from another location. "It was sweet, in a weird way," she recalls. More often, however, the stories reveal how many people took great pride in earning their first paychecks. They provide a humbling and unifying outlook, reminding readers that everyone was an amateur once, and that no matter the task, there is satisfaction in a job well done. --Annie Atherton

Discover: An anthology of 50 short narratives about entering the workforce, collected by reporter Merritt Watts.

Picador, $16, paperback, 9781250061256

Children's & Young Adult

The Wrath and the Dawn

by Renée Ahdieh

Renée Ahdieh's lush debut novel, The Wrath and the Dawn, is a suspenseful and beautiful reimagining of The Arabian Nights, with an edge--the young bride not only survives her death sentence with captivating tales, but uses the extra days to plot the death of her king.

Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad is targeting the murderous boy-king responsible for her closest confidante's death. Khalid, the 18-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, weds and beds a new bride every night, then sentences each to be hung the following dawn. Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid's latest bride with the aim of avenging her friend's death and protecting others from the same fate. After Shahrzad and Khalid have sex for the first time (graphic details withheld), she captures Khalid's attention with the promise of a tale. Shahrzad's storytelling is so captivating that when she abruptly ends her story on a cliffhanger, Khalid grants her an extra night to live. Shahrzad is the only queen to survive sunrise, throwing the city into speculation: Does the caliph love his new bride? Surprisingly, Shahrzad discovers the boy-king isn't as heartless as he would like his country to believe.

Ahdieh reveals the complexities of her characters through their numerous trials, especially Khalid, struggling to be a ruler and to manage the expectations of a father who has raised his son to be suspicious of women. Secondary characters add further intrigue to the plot. The pace remains swift throughout, thanks to exciting swordplay, the chemistry between Shahrzad and the king she wishes to kill, and great tension as the structure within the country begins to collapse. --Adam Silvera, reviewer and former children's bookseller

Discover: A 16-year-old heroine tries to avenge her friend's death and may be falling in love with her target.

Putnam, $17.99, hardcover, 416p., ages 12-up, 9780399171611

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club

by Phillip Hoose

As he did with National Book Award-winner Claudette Colvin, Phillip Hoose here highlights another rebellious, brave teen who stood up for his beliefs. Hoose incorporates lengthy first-person quotes, derived from e-mail exchanges and interviews with Knud Pedersen.

Pedersen was in eighth grade in Odense, Denmark, when the German military invaded on April 9, 1940. One day later, the Danish king and prime minister signed an agreement allowing Germany to occupy the country and control the government. Knud and his older brother, Jens, were "totally ashamed." The brothers decided that if the adults weren't going to fight back, they would. With a cousin and two friends, they formed a resistance unit called the RAF Club (after the heroic British Royal Air Force) and concentrated on acts of sabotage and propaganda. In 1941, Pedersen's father took a job in Aalborg, a crucial link between Germany and Sweden. The brothers assembled a new group, named it the Churchill Club, and expanded their mission to include capturing weapons and building bombs. The audacity of their operations will boggle readers' minds.

In May 1942, the Churchill Club members were caught. Their conviction and subsequent imprisonment made them international heroes. By the time the Pedersen brothers were released in May 1944, the Danish resistance had grown to such an extent that Germany declared Denmark "enemy territory." But several of the boys never recovered from their time in jail, and either died young or lived unhappy lives. Teens will be inspired by the bravery this young man showed in the face of great danger. --Angela Carstensen, school librarian and blogger

Discover: An account of an inspiring group of brave young teenagers in Denmark in World War II who stood up to the Nazi occupiers.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $19.99, hardcover, 208p., ages 12-up, 9780374300227

Sun and Moon

by Lindsey Yankey

Lindsey Yankey's (Bluebird) stunning illustrations call to mind batik patterns and colors in this folktale-like story of Moon, who wishes to spend "just one day" as the sun.

A nighttime palette of violets and olive greens sets the scene. As Moon imagines the Sun's sights, the pages explode with poppies and black-eyed Susans that match the golden globe in the sky. A carnival-like atmosphere pervades as a parade of children balance on intricately patterned balls, and hold pinwheels and exotic banners. In another two-page spread, of "tigers sunbathing," one wraps its tail like an outline around the sun while another encircles a patch of flowers. At the book's midpoint, Sun and Moon appear together, separated by a mound of plants and butterflies. Sun spells out the conditions for the exchange: "First, if we trade, it will last forever, not just one day. Second, you must spend an entire night... looking very closely at the earth." As the moon fulfills the requirements, he sees the evening equivalent of his fantasies of daytime: a nighttime carnival, and foxes leaving the circle of their den. Moon also sees "children dreaming": riding astride a goose, on a sailboat, in a helium balloon. In a nod to The Little Prince, Moon views the blossoms of a baobab tree and watches a lamplighter at work. A mother owl who'd left her nest at the start of the book returns at the close with a meal for her young.

Yankey's gentle message suggests that when we pay attention, our daily routines take on new meaning. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Moon's fantasies of changing places with the Sun are depicted in gorgeous illustrations that evoke batik patterns and colors.

Simply Read Books, $16.95, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781927018606

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