Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, September 28, 2018


Grove Press: Elements of Fiction by Walter Mosley

From My Shelf

Neal Porter Books: Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Celadon Books: The Whisper Man by Alex North

London Calling

Novels addressing the immigrant experience in my hometown of London, England, are a particularly interesting lens through which to contemplate the national reckoning that is Brexit. While Brexit aims to stem the flow of migration from Europe, it also reveals a broader shift in attitude toward foreigners in general.
 
The U.K. capital has historically welcomed newcomers with open arms, a multicultural metropolis so adeptly portrayed in Zadie Smith's classic, White Teeth (Vintage, $16.95), in which immigrants from the former British colonies of Jamaica and Bangladesh (part of India during Colonial rule) try to assimilate with their English neighbors. Smith cleverly captures the detrimental impact of their parents' rootlessness on the next generation of Londoners trying to fit in. 
 
Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2011, Pigeon English (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $13.95) by Stephen Kelman is written from the viewpoint of Harri, an 11-year-old boy recently emigrated from Ghana. Harri lives in a public housing estate in a rough part of town with his mother and sister. A poignant story of adventure and friendship, Pigeon English swoops right into the immigrant experience, following Harri as he revels in the newness, the excitement and danger of life in his corner of London.
 
Only in London (Anchor, $15.95) by Hanan al-Shaykh opens with a plane landing at Heathrow airport, the world's busiest, from Dubai. Following a group of passengers from Arabic-speaking countries, some returning home and others hoping to find a new home, al-Shaykh explores the city's popular "Little Arabia" neighborhoods.
 
Once it's all said and done, let's hope London doesn't lose her vibrancy and tolerance, her fondness for a broad spectrum of cultural influences and, most importantly, the sheer magnitude of different ethnic cuisines represented within the city's borders. --Shahina Piyarali, writer and reviewer

Soho Press: Paperback Preview - Start Reading


Book Candy

Philip Pullman's Responsibilities of Writers

Nathan Gelgud illustrated "4 key responsibilities of writers according to Philip Pullman."

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Just in time for Banned Books Week, the Guardian reported that the obscenity trial judge's copy of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover will be auctioned in October.

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Signature featured "advice from witches: 11 wickedly wise witch quotes."

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Mental Floss noted "7 characters that didn't make it into the Harry Potter books"; and Mansion Global reported that "Harry Potter's birthplace sees real-life price cut."

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Merriam-Webster's music quiz "focused on words within the western classical tradition."

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Author Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott chose her "top 10 cliques in fiction" for the Guardian.


International Thriller Writers: Click here to read an exclusive interview with author Lisa Unger


The Writer's Life

V.E. Schwab: Exploring Philosophical and Moral Dilemmas

photo: Jenna Maurice
Victoria (V.E.) Schwab is the author of 15 fantasy and science fiction novels, including Vicious and the Shades of Magic series. Shelf Awareness caught up with Schwab at WonderCon and got the dish on her new novel, Vengeful (Tor, $25.99), the sequel to Vicious.
 
Congratulations on 15 books by the age of 30! That is quite an accomplishment.
 
It's a bit scary! I sold my first book when I was 21. It's been 15 books in just under eight years, so I'm tired! I need a nap [laughing]. I've got seven more scheduled under contract between now and 2021. They keep me busy, but I love being busy.
 
In Vicious, there is a lot of credible science dealing with nature versus nurture in the discussion about extraordinary beings (extra-ordinaries, or EOs). How much research did that entail?
 
My goal was to make it as medically feasible as possible. You see pieces all the time about people performing incredible feats of strength in dire moments due to the adrenal response system. I did a lot of research into how to ground the supernatural ability into something medically feasible. Near-death experiences are real things. Adrenal-response distress is a real thing.
 
One of my favorite things about being an author is that for a very short period of time, I get to become an expert on something. I wanted it to feel authentic. I wanted the writing style to be incredibly analytical and distanced, almost medical-text level.
 
Does this continue in Vengeful?
 
To an extent. Sydney from Vicious becomes a main character, part of a new trio of main characters. It's a slightly different tactic because the three don't have medical backgrounds.
 
What set Victor and Eli apart was that they're the only EOs who have done this to themselves--they have a level of scientific agency that others don't possess. For everyone else, this is accidental. There is a slightly more emotional tone in Vengeful, and I worry that some people will think because it's about women, it's more emotive than analytical. And it's not that at all. It's just that they aren't scientists, and they are not approaching the dilemma in the same way.
 
Structurally the novels are similar. I wanted to play with alinearity and time, so I do a huge amount of cutting backwards and forwards to stitch together the narratives.
 
Time is a vital element in Vicious; in fact, it is just as important as the main characters.
 
A lot of what makes our present interesting is our past. I love playing with assumptions and presumptions and with bias, and with the idea that you assume you know these characters because of how you know them in the present. I love undercutting those assumptions by then showing you the past. I use flashback and past to mess with a reader's assumptions about a character's personality. It's something that's going to happen a lot in Vengeful.
 
Part of it is that I love how it adds depth to a story, and how it can interrupt the present momentum in a way that actually builds the tension.
 
In Vicious, there is considerable philosophical and ethical flip-flopping between the good and bad of science. Do you see these roles more clearly defined in Vengeful?
 
I want to be totally flip-flopping! The whole reason I wrote Vicious was as an exercise for myself to see if I could write a story without any heroes and make the reader not root for anybody. If you take heroism out and make it arbitrary, everyone in the book is a bad person who does bad things. I found in the course of writing Vicious that it is never actually what we do, but why we do it, so motivation becomes the crux of the relatability of the characters.
 
In fact, in Vengeful, Eli will pose a very different question, which is the idea of responsibility. What if, in playing God (trying to make themselves EOs), Eli and Victor opened the floodgates and are being punished by God? His argument is always tethered to a religious place, whereas Victor's is in science. So I still want to continue pitting them against each other in ethos and in philosophy. They are going to be always at odds, even if they are experiencing the same things. And they are experiencing the same things through different lenses.
 
If you add morality to that, that being an EO strips you of that inherent morality--of your conscience, of your soul--it adds a really interesting layer. I love playing with philosophical and moral dilemmas in this series. --Nancy Powell, freelance reviewer and writer

Thomas Nelson: Around the World on 50 Bucks: How I Left with Nothing and Returned a Rich Man by Christopher Schacht


Book Review

Fiction

A Key to Treehouse Living

by Elliot Reed


William Tyce, the narrator of Elliot Reed's debut novel, A Key to Treehouse Living, is on a mission to do the impossible: create an encyclopedic glossary of all the terms that comprise his disjointed life. Starting from "Absence" and ending with "Yonder, The Wild Blue," William describes his life with his uncle after being abandoned by both his parents. When his uncle is arrested for insurance fraud, William sets off down river in a Huck Finn-esque journey that takes him physically and emotionally through mystical and awe-inspiring spaces. 
 
William's clear and vibrant narration guides the reader through each entry, seamlessly moving among subjects such as "Baby Memories," "Mortal Betrayal" and "Philosophy of Nihilism." While the novel's format emphasizes the muggy atmosphere of William's lonely and stagnant childhood, the plot is always drifting along beneath the surface, offering increasingly illuminative insights and revelations. As William faces loss and confusion, he looks backward while he moves forward, with a sense of both listlessness and nostalgia. Meanwhile, the experimental structure gives Reed the opportunity to flex his imagistic talents as he zooms in on evocative minutiae like the "buoyant" memory of "my dad's shirt. It was warm and soft, but crisp in its wrinkles where my face was pressed to it" or "the sound of a little radio playing fuzzy country music." These moments glitter like found gems in the darkness of William's mind, giving a book about existential darkness an undeniable sense of beauty and wonder. --Alice Martin, freelance writer and editor

Discover: A Key to Treehouse Living offers a bittersweet coming-of-age story with a distinctive construction and lyrical prose.

Tin House, $19.95, hardcover, 170p., 9781947793040

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo


Lake Success

by Gary Shteyngart


In Gary Shteyngart's fourth novel, Lake Success, he applies his ample gift for satire, leavened by a keen appreciation for human frailty, to survey a troubled American present.
 
Forty-three-year-old Barry Cohen is a hedge fund manager facing a wave of client redemptions after a three-year losing streak. To make matters worse, Barry is under scrutiny by the SEC, on suspicion that he traded on insider information to short the stock of a company about to release a new drug.
 
And so, in the summer of 2016, he flees his apartment in New York City's Flatiron District, leaving behind his much younger wife and three-year-old son. Barry boards a Greyhound bus with $1,200 in cash and a suitcase full of the vintage watches he avidly collects, hoping to "see the country as it really is" and perhaps reconnect with his first love from his college days at Princeton.
 
Barry's journey across the Deep South to California explores issues of class and race. This is a U.S. in the midst of being torn apart by a bitterly divisive presidential campaign, becoming "archipelagos of normalcy amid a dry, angry heat." As is the case with most road stories, much of the pleasure of Lake Success lies in the journey, not the destination. And yet Shteyngart brings the book to a close in a post-trip epilogue that's both moving and profoundly satisfying. For all the uneasy feeling of recognition it may provoke, this is a bighearted novel, whose generosity and essentially good nature might leave readers feeling just a little more optimistic about the future than they are when they pick it up. --Harvey Freedenberg, freelance reviewer

Discover: Gary Shteyngart's Lake Success offers an MRI of life in the United States in the second decade of the 21st century.

Random House, $28, hardcover, 352p., 9780812997415

Newhouse: Britt-Marie Was Here directed by Tuva Novotny, based on the novel by the author of A Man Called Ove


We That Are Young

by Preti Taneja


We That Are Young, Preti Taneja's stunning debut novel, focuses on a prominent Indian family that falls into vicious infighting over who will control the future of their vast business. The story invites comparisons to King Lear in its depiction of intergenerational struggle and in the operatic scale of the conflict. Events are set in motion by the return of Jivan Singh, ready to assume a place in the Company--its generic name hinting at its omnipresence--after spending much of his adolescence in the United States. His return coincides with the unexpected resignation of Devraj, the aging patriarch, and the disappearances of his daughter Sita--fleeing an unwanted marriage--and Jivan's brother, Jeet. Thrown into chaos, the Company stumbles into a bitter conflict of succession between Devraj and his oldest daughter, with the father beginning a populist campaign to regain control.
 
We That Are Young takes place between 2011 and 2012, as massive anti-corruption protests broke out across India. The many characters have competing visions for the Company that are closely intertwined with their personal resentments and even their romantic attachments. Taneja adopts the point of view of a character living amid desperate poverty as well as characters living lives of luxury and aimless decadence. Through the epic central conflict, We That Are Young examines the rapid pace of change in India, with millions left out of the rapid accumulation of wealth afforded to the lucky few. --Hank Stephenson, bookseller, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, N.C.

Discover: We That Are Young tells the King Lear-esque story of a succession conflict over control of a powerful Indian company.

Knopf, $27.95, hardcover, 496p., 9780525521525

Grove Press: Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata


Mystery & Thriller

Leave No Trace

by Mindy Mejia


The aching cold of northern Minnesota runs bone deep in Leave No Trace, the new thriller from Mindy Mejia (Everything You Want Me to Be). Ten years before the book begins, Josiah Blackthorn and his son Lucas vanished into the remote Boundary Waters of the Minnesotan/Canadian border, and have been presumed dead ever since.
 
Then suddenly an aggressive and nonverbal Lucas appears in a sporting goods store in Ely, Minn. The nearly feral 19-year-old is transferred to a psychiatric facility in Duluth, where 23-year-old Maya Stark is a newly minted speech therapist. The head of the facility decides that because Maya is young and has experience backpacking and kayaking, she might be the one to break through Lucas's barrier.
 
However, Maya finds her therapy sessions with Lucas becoming increasingly unsettling. Her research into Lucas's life in the Boundary Waters brings back painful memories of trips into the wilderness with her mother--before her mother abandoned their family. She's already on edge, and once Lucas finally starts speaking about his relationship with Josiah, Maya's whole world shatters.
 
Tense and atmospheric, Leave No Trace is a chilly novel--perhaps meant to be read in front of a warm fire. As Maya and Lucas undertake journeys of self-exploration, they discover a strange camaraderie; readers are sure to be shocked by their ultimate destinations. Fans of Kimberly Belle and Ruth Ware will love Leave No Trace's fast pacing and many surprises. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: In this atmospheric thriller, a young speech therapist must gain the trust of a nearly feral teenager found in Minnesota's Boundary Waters.

Emily Bestler/Atria, $26, hardcover, 336p., 9781501177361

Other Press: Inheritance: A Novel by Evelyn Toynton


The Frangipani Tree Mystery

by Ovidia Yu


Ovidia Yu, author of the Aunty Lee mystery series, has created a new and charming heroine in The Frangipani Tree Mystery. It's 1936 in Singapore, and 16-year-old Su Lin is determined to escape an arranged marriage by getting a job. She hopes someday to become a journalist, but in the meantime, she's interviewing for a housekeeping position with Inspector Le Froy when there is an incoming call about a death at the governor's mansion. Charity, the nanny for Acting Governor Palin's mentally handicapped daughter, has fallen to her death. Le Froy heads off to investigate, taking Su Lin along.
 
The governor's mansion is in an uproar, and the Palin family is frantic: Deborah, Charity's charge, has gone missing. Su Lin finds the girl, and strikes a bond with her, so Inspector Le Froy encourages Su Lin to stay with the family for a few days, until they can find someone to replace Charity. Seeing this as excellent practice for her future career, she queries the assorted family members and servants in the governor's mansion about the nanny's death. Much to Inspector Le Froy's surprise, Su Lin soon comes near the secret of why Charity died--endangering herself in the process.
 
Gently paced, and full of fascinating details about life in colonial Singapore, The Frangipani Tree Mystery is completely charming. Reminiscent of books by Susan Elia MacNeal and Jacqueline Winspear while showcasing events on the other side of the globe, it's a welcome addition to the historical mystery genre. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.

Discover: In this delightful historical mystery set in 1936 Singapore, a teenage girl helps a police inspector solve the death of a nanny.

Constable & Robinson, $13.99, paperback, 320p., 9781472125200

Sleeping Bear Press: Snow Globe Wishes by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Claire Shorrock


Graphic Books

Home After Dark

by David Small


David Small's follow-up to Stitches is a powerful coming-of-age story. Set in the dark underbelly of 1950s small-town America, it addresses issues of masculinity, peer pressure and parental abandonment.
 
Russell "Russ" Pruitt and his father, Mike, move to California after Russ's mother abandons the family. An aunt denies them boarding in Pasadena, so Mike settles in the Bay Area, in a town called Marshfield. They rent a room from the Mahs, a kindly Chinese couple who own a restaurant in town and who help the Pruitts get settled. After Mike finds work as a teacher in San Quentin, he buys a home on the G.I. Bill.
 
Mostly ignored by his father, Russ explores Marshfield on bike with Willie and Kurt, two local kids who hang out in an abandoned tunnel known as the Arroyo. At his new school, Russ finds himself targeted by a bully and befriends Warren, the local oddball. At home, alcohol begins to consume Mike, leaving Russ mostly alone and increasingly pressured by Willie and Kurt to behave in ways that further alienate him.
 
Small uses dialogue sparingly from panel to panel. Barren landscapes jump to run-down, abandoned homes, heightening the bleak harshness of Marshfield's empty streets and its one-dimensional, unyielding denizens, cementing Russ's status as the lonely misfit. His deteriorating home life and moral struggles leave him both envious and suspicious of the Mahs' doting attentions. His stoic face melts into scowls as he aspires to a masculinity he does not feel in the company of his friends, while mocking the only friend he has. Russ largely suffers in silence, his innocence lost in abandonment and desperation to survive.
 
Small paints a heartbreaking but redemptive portrait of adolescence that resonates with honesty and, ultimately, forgiveness. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

Discover: A teenager on the cusp of adulthood experiences heartbreak and moral crisis in David Small's follow-up to Stitches.

Liveright, $27.95, hardcover, 416p., 9780871403155

Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press: The Offline Dating Method: How to Attract a Great Guy in the Real World by Camille Virginia


Biography & Memoir

Money Rock: A Family's Story of Cocaine, Race, and Ambition in the New South

by Pam Kelley


In her first book, 30-year veteran Charlotte Observer reporter Pam Kelley investigates the undercurrent of Jim Crow racism and de facto segregation in the New South. Money Rock illustrates this larger socio-economic environment through the story of one African American man's family across four generations.
 
Belton Lamont Platt grew up hard in the projects of Charlotte, N.C. By the time he was 22, he was a primo cocaine dealer and the father of six children by five women. Platt, nicknamed Money Rock, confronted rival dealer Big Lou Samuels in 1985. The resulting shootout bought him a 35-year prison sentence. A gung-ho rookie journalist, Kelley went to the prison for what she hoped would be an inside peek at Money Rock's world. He stiff-armed her questions, and she forgot about him--until 2011 when a lyric from Jay-Z's "Decoded" made her wonder "What happened to Money Rock?" She found him preaching at his Rock Ministries Church International in Conway, S.C.
 
After an appeal of his shootout conviction, Money got his sentence cut to one year (time served) and went back to slinging blow. He was busted again in 1990, and while serving this second time, Money Rock found Jesus, married a woman he met through jailhouse visits, and watched his children slide into crime and premature deaths. When he got out, he and his wife moved to Conway, and this time Money Rock's conversion took. He's still talking the Lord's talk at Rock Ministries. Kelley knows a good story when she sees one--and with solid journalism, dogged research, perceptive observation, colorful interviews and memorable characters, Money Rock is a hell of a story. --Bruce Jacobs, founding partner, Watermark Books & Cafe, Wichita, Kan.

Discover: Reporter Pam Kelley digs into a story of a convicted Charlotte drug dealer and uncovers a family history of struggle to escape the grip of racism and poverty.

The New Press, $26.99, hardcover, 288p., 9781620973271

Weldon Owen: The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book: Appropriate Libations for All Occasions by Downton Abbey


The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee

by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger


Co-authors Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger (Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century) begin their in-depth biography of Jacqueline and Caroline Lee Bouvier at the reading of Jackie's 38-page will. Upon her death at age 64, the former First Lady left her younger sister nothing. The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters explores the factors that precipitated Jackie's decision to unravel the complex history between once "thick as thieves" sisters who ultimately grew apart.
 
Jackie and Lee both appreciated the arts, history, travel, design and fashion. Early cultural exposure anchored their individual senses of style and beauty. Jackie was more introverted and self-reliant, preferring books and literature, while the more social Lee craved attention and drama. These specific traits defined each woman for life.
 
Painstaking, thoughtful research--along with quotes and interviews with many notables, including 85-year-old Lee--charts the women's public and private lives. Their shared childhood and travels, Jackie's years as First Lady and then as a widow, Lee's role as Princess Radziwill, family weddings, funerals and tragedies serve as touchstones. Their tangled, complicated liaisons--and sordid fallings-out--with powerful men including Jack and Bobby Kennedy, Aristotle Onassis and even Truman Capote are intriguingly drawn.
 
Jackie and Lee may be "two of the most written-about women of the twentieth century." However, this meticulous portrait sheds new light on the sisters' similarities and differences, and how their choices in life led to competition and rivalry. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines

Discover: A complex portrait of Jackie and Lee Bouvier and how their lives and loves defined them and their relationship as sisters.

Harper, $28.99, hardcover, 336p., 9780062364982

History

The Escape Artists: A Band of Daredevil Pilots and the Greatest Prison Break of the Great War

by Neal Bascomb


The image of downed English airmen digging out of POW camps and running for the border is associated primarily with World War II, yet that was not the first conflict to find surrendered British soldiers held in the Reich. Just a generation prior, British and French pilots--with more primitive planes, though no less daring--were long-term guests of the Kaiser. These World War I POWs felt the same compulsion to escape as their later cohort. The Escape Artists by Neal Bascomb (The Nazi Hunters, The Perfect Mile) chronicles a group of British plotters who pulled off the largest prison break of the entire war.
 
The German prison system during World War I took rank into heavy account. Under the newly devised international rules of war, regular privates were allowed to be used as forced labor while officers were not supposed to work. This meant that escapees were almost always officers, since they usually faced solitary confinement upon recapture, whereas orderlies (low-ranking men charged with an officer's housekeeping duties) might be sent to a coal or salt mine.
 
Despite improved circumstances, officers still faced privations. The Holzminden camp, run by an arbitrary and cruel man named Karl Niemeyer, was sometimes called the worst camp in Germany. In The Escape Artists, Bascomb chronicles the circuitous, often perilous routes several British officers took to their incarceration at Holzminden. Many of these men had already failed several escape attempts. Over a hundred miles from the Dutch border, in a camp designed to hold problematic prisoners, these officers still managed to stage a daring break. Some of them even made it to neutral Holland. The Escape Artists is history at its most thrilling. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: In a notorious German World War I POW camp, a group of British officers staged the largest escape of the war.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28, hardcover, 336p., 9780544937116

Social Science

Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe about Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free

by Wednesday Martin


To research Untrue: Why Nearly Everything We Believe about Women, Lust, and Infidelity Is Wrong and How the New Science Can Set Us Free, cultural critic Wednesday Martin attended a workshop on consensual non-monogamy, an annual meeting of SSTAR (Society for Sex Therapy and Research) and a Skirt Club gathering (an exclusive women-only sex party). But it was during her visit to see the bonobos of the San Diego Zoo that she came to understand fully something startling: as far as the long-promulgated assumption that men are the more libidinous sex goes, women have been sold a bill of goods.
 
Bonobos, who share almost 99% of their DNA with Homo sapiens, are regarded as " 'free love' primates" due to unbridled promiscuity among both males and females of the species. The revelation that "our closest relatives are non-monogamous," among other insights gleaned during her anthropological deep-dive, gave Martin newfound appreciation for statistics indicating that women cheat about as often as men do. Martin, author of the memoir Primates of Park Avenue, notes that studies demonstrating that female sex drive is comparable to male sex drive have been controversial because they fight with older conclusions drawn by other, largely male, researchers. As the primatologist and self-described Darwinian feminist Amy Parish explains, "Females showing males aggression is written off as exceptional because of our powerful narrative of what's natural." In the absorbing Untrue, the women among Martin's interview subjects who embrace infidelity would have something to say about what's "natural." --Nell Beram, author and freelance writer

Discover: Using scientific and social research, Wednesday Martin makes a case against the long-held assumption that men's libidos are stronger than women's.

Little, Brown Spark, $28, hardcover, 320p., 9780316463614

Children's & Young Adult

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That?: The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

by Chris Barton, illus. by Ekua Holmes


As a child growing up in Texas, Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was proud of her "big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice." It was a voice that "made a difference"--that "caused folks to sit right up, stand up straight, and take notice."
 
Inspired by a lawyer visiting her high school, Barbara studied "long and hard" to earn her law degree. But being a lawyer meant using "a typewriter and pen a lot more than she did her voice," so Barbara began speaking out for political change. Wanting "more justice and more equality," she ran for office and, on her third try, was elected state senator in Texas, where she dedicated herself to ensuring the political system was used to improve people's lives. In 1972, Barbara was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. During the Watergate affair, she gave a stirring, televised speech to remind the nation that the Constitution applies to everyone, even the president of the United States. She was a rising star, "battling" to end discrimination, until her own fight with multiple sclerosis forced her to leave Washington. Back in Texas, she taught college, "[using] her voice to instruct and implore and inspire."
 
Chris Barton's (Dazzle Ships) strong, engaging text is well-matched by the stunning hues and bold textures of Ekua Holmes's (Out of Wonder) mixed-media illustrations. Differing type sizes and colors, along with a generous trim size and strategic use of blank space, make the text easily readable and each illustration stand out. Back matter includes an author's note and timeline, as well as recommendations of additional resources for interested readers. Many of Barbara's former students, Barton's text states, still hear "echoes of her words as they try to make life better for all of us." They, like she did, seek "Equality. Justice. Trust." --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI

Discover: Throughout her life, the late Texas state senator, U.S. Congresswoman and college professor Barbara Jordan used her strong voice to advocate for equality and justice.

Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster, $17.99, hardcover, 48p., ages 4-9, 9781481465618

Winnie's Great War

by Josh Greenhut, Lindsay Mattick, illus. by Sophie Blackall


Generations of children have fallen in love with A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh. Ninety years after Pooh's publication, Lindsay Mattick and Sophie Blackall's Caldecott-winning picture book Finding Winnie taught thrilled children (and adults) the history of that silly old bear: on his way to the war in 1914, real-life veterinarian Harry Colebourn adopted a black bear cub in Canada. This bear eventually wound up in the London Zoo, where she met young Christopher Robin Milne and his father.
 
With the addition of co-author Josh Greenhut, the creative team behind Finding Winnie wanted to fill in the bigger story of Winnie's adventures for an older audience. The result is the charming middle-grade novel Winnie's Great War, which focuses on the major wartime events between Winnie's trading-post adoption and her fateful meeting with Christopher Robin. Framed--as Finding Winnie was--by a mother telling her son Cole (the great-great-grandson of Harry Colebourn) "the story" of his teddy bear, Winnie's Great War balances true history with a sweet fantasy from the authors' imaginings. Incorporating facts from Colebourn's journal and other historic resources, Winnie's story is told by Cole's mother and Winnie herself, with excerpts from Colebourn's journal throughout.
 
In addition to Sophie Blackall's (Hello, Lighthouse; the Ivy and Bean series) whimsical pencil artwork, reminiscent of Garth Williams's quaint illustrations, the book includes photos, artifacts and excerpts from the Colebourn family archive. Though the book is about Winnie's war, Winnie is "not a fighting sort" herself. "Instead of hurting others," she explains, "I make them feel better." And she does, even a century later. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

Discover: The creators of Finding Winnie adapt their nonfiction Caldecott Award-winner into a delightful middle-grade novel about the original Winnie-the-Pooh's experiences in World War I.

Little, Brown, $16.99, hardcover, 256p., ages 8-12, 9780316447126

Time for Bed, Miyuki

by Roxane Marie Galliez, illus. by Seng Soun Ratanavanh


"As the sun slowly hides to watch the moon rise," the nightingale, the ants, the toad all anticipate the approaching "hour of rest." Only Miyuki is still "busy playing and trying to push back time." Resisting her grandfather's gentle reminders, Miyuki insists, "I still have so much to do." Grandfather wisely queries, "What do you have to do that cannot wait until tomorrow?" even as he indulges Miyuki's slumber-avoiding whims.
 
She insists on preparing for tomorrow's arrival of the Dragonfly Queen and her entire court. "So Grandfather helped Miyuki make a canopy... with fallen leaves, three twigs, and a poppy." But then Miyuki must water her vegetables. And then "gather the whole Snail family together," and next "cover... up the cat." And then and then and then... until finally, "Miyuki yawned." But dancetime, bathtime, hair-brushtime still await. (Even Grandfather is now yawning.)
 
French writer Roxane Marie Galliez and French painter Seng Soun Ratanavanh create an enchanting international import that travels readily between countries and cultures. Galliez, with her ancient civilizations doctorate and extensive Pacific Island travel as researcher and journalist, infuses her experiences and expertise into her Japanese-inspired, oversized garden of natural delights. Her clever meta-reference back to her own tale at Grandfather's storytime-ending is especially mirth-inducing. Ratanavanh reflects Galliez's Japanese theme, using iconic Japanese prints and images throughout the garden: Miyuki and Grandfather's clothing patterns, the fantastical plants, koinobori (traditional carp windsocks), a bento box for Miyuki's vegetables, the sweatered maneki neko (greeting cat). Celebrating the loving care of nature, the indulgent feeding of a child's imagination and the unbreakable bonds of family, Time for Bed, Miyuki is sure to inspire sweet dreams. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

Discover: The sun, the animals, even the insects are readying for bedtime, but Miyuki avoids Grandfather’s gentle urgings toward slumber with many imaginative "still-have-so-much-to-do"s.

Princeton Architectural Press, $17.95, hardcover, ages 5-8, 9781616897055


The Stranger Inside
by Lisa Unger
isbn: 9780778308720
Park Row
September 17, 2019


an exclusive interview with bestselling author Lisa Unger  
 

There’s nothing formulaic about your bestselling novels—but when it comes to writing, you’ve definitely created a “formula” for success. Would you care to elaborate?  

“A publishing contract is not a windfall—it’s an opening to the writing life. But if you want to succeed, you have to roll up your sleeves, check your ego, and get to work. Writing is never a chore for me. I don’t get frustrated. If I’m present for the work, then I know it’s the best work I can do. And that’s the goal every day—to write better than the day before. It never stops being about the words.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

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