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KIRKUS v o l. l x x i x, n o. 1 7

| 15 september 2011

REVIEWS

t h e nat i o n ’s p r e m i e r b o o k r e v i e w j o u r na l f o r mo r e t h a n 7 5 y e a rs

fiction

nonfiction

children & teens

★ Things aren’t what they seem in Haruki Murakami’s ambitious, thoroughly stunning novel p. 1649

★ Chef Jacques Pepin returns with a book of fabulous recipes retooled for the modern kitchen p. 1683

★ A child-prodigy violinist fights to establish herself as an adult in Jessica Martinez’ debut p. 1717

★ It’s open season on a serial killer who’s gone undetected for years in Todd Ritter’s latest p. 1659

★ Robert Trivers searches for the evolutionary biology behind why we lie p. 1687

★ Donna Jo Napoli and Christina Balit present a stunning new collection of Greek myths p. 1721

★ Daniel Woodrell delivers a collection of spare, brutal slices of country noir p. 1653

★ Our obsession with gossip is considered in essayist Joseph Epstein’s great book p. 1670

★ Jill Rubalcaba’s gorgeously designed biography gives kids insight into I.M. Pei’s career p. 1726

Thomas Enger gets burned; Jeff Lindsay doubles down; David Guterson crowns a king; Kelli Stanley builds a city; Kimberly Cutter revisits the past; Terry Pratchett enters a bright new world; Paula Brandon targets a traitor; Peter Spiegelman conspires with thieves; and much, much more v i s i t k i rku sre vi e ws. com f or f ull versions of f eatures, q & as and thou sa n ds of archived reviews


The Kirkus Star A star is awarded to books of remarkable merit, as determined by the impartial editors of Kirkus. Kirkus Online: Trust the toughest critics in the book industry to recommend the next great read. Visit KirkusReviews.com to discover exciting new books, authors, blogs and other dynamic content.

interactive e-books p. 1637 fiction p. 1641 mystery p. 1654

science fiction & fantasy p. 1662 nonfiction p. 1663

children & teens p. 1691 kirkus indie p. 1738

Old Possum’s Books of Captivating Correspondence B Y G RE G O RY MC NA M EE

When he is thought of at all these days—for, alas, the modernists are not much taught or remembered—T.S. Eliot conjures up a daunting image. An American poet who had decided to make his literary fortune in Europe just as World War I was threatening to put an end to his idea of civilization, he seems to have been born old, able to raise a smile only when playing some smarter-than-thou prank, enigmatic, aloof and arch, more pious than the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, more self-assuredly aristocratic and casually anti-Semitic than Edward VIII. And yet Eliot was once young, and once American. The Letters of T.S. Eliot, the first two impossibly thick volumes of which are newly out from Yale University Press, deliver a portrait of the artist as both. Though sickly and nervous, he was also the smartest kid on the block, perhaps in the whole of his native Missouri at the end of the 19th century (granted, Mark Twain was still alive, but living in New England), doing Harvardlevel work while barely out of knee britches. That was not enough, though. Eliot wrote of his early years, “I was very immature for my age, very timid, very inexperienced.” He was determined to do something about it, and if he never toughened up into a Nietzschean man of adventure, he entered into some hero quests worthy of one, rejecting business for philosophy and then philosophy for poetry—but then, in the end, returning to business, having also entered into an unhappy but storied marriage that would provide the tone for The Waste Land and other of Eliot’s best-known works. The first volume of the Letters ends with Eliot established, at least of a kind, and in his mid-30s. Dissatisfied in his private life, he was spending his days working at a bank—not, as his friend and mentor Ezra Pound would suggest in trying to set up a fund to buy Eliot’s freedom, as a clerk, but as a highly placed analyst working on the problem of squaring accounts among the warring nations in the days following the Treaty of Versailles. He was also vigorously launching various iterations of literary journals that remain THE LETTERS OF T.S. ELIOT touchstones today, particularly The Criterion, embarking on a career in publishing that is too Edited by Valerie Eliot often overlooked. The second volume of the Letters turns up a trifecta, with Eliot, future and Hugh Haughton Nobelist, writing to E.M. Forster, just about to publish A Passage to India, about some poems Yale University Press by the then-unknown Constantine Cavafy. That’s a Rolodex to do any editor proud. Vol. 1, 1898–1922 But the canonical Eliot, the Letters reveal, was emerging, too, signing himself here as (872 pp.) $45.00 Possum, entering into pitched duels with writers who had somehow irked him, rumbling 978-0-300-17645-2 ex cathedra as if appointed prime minister of world culture. The correspondence suggests Vol. 2, 1923–1925 that the older, more familiar Eliot was a studied creation in many ways of the younger one. 878 (pp.) These two weighty volumes, the first of more to come, are indispensable in tracing what $45.00 978-0-300-17686-5 might turn out to be T.S. Eliot’s greatest work.

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Chairman H E R B E RT S I M O N # President & Publisher M A RC W I N K E L M A N Editor E L A I N E S Z E WC Z Y K eszewczyk@kirkusreviews.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R I C L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkusreviews.com Features Editor M O L LY B RO W N molly.brown@kirkusreviews.com Children’s & YA Books VICKY SMITH vicky.smith@kirkusreviews.com Kirkus Indie Editor P E R RY C RO W E perry.crowe@kirkusreviews.com Mysteries Editor THOMAS LEITCH Editorial Coordinator REBECCA CRAMER rebecca.cramer@kirkusreviews.com Lifestyles Editor KAREN CALABRIA kcalabria@kirkusreviews.com Contributing Editor G REG ORY Mc NAME E # for customer service or subscription questions, please call 877-441-3010 Kirkus Reviews Online www.kirkusreviews.com Print indexes: www.kirkusreviews.com/ book-reviews/print-indexes Kirkus Blog: www.kirkusreviews.com/blog Advertising Opportunities: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/ advertising-opportunities Submission Guidelines: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/ submission-guidlines Subscriptions: www.kirkusreviews.com/ subscription Newsletters: www.kirkusreviews.com/ subscription/newsletter/add

# This Issue’s Contributors Maude Adjarian • Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Joan Blackwell • Antonia Lynn Blair • Julie Buffaloe-Yoder • Lee E. Cart • Marnie Colton • Dave DeChristopher • David Delman • Kathleen Devereaux • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Gro Flatebo • Julie Foster • Peter Franck • Sean Gibson • Faith Giordano • Devon Glenn • Amy Goldschlager • Alan Goldsher • Ian Griffin • Peter Heck • Jeff Hoffman • Robert M. Knight • Paul Lamey • Rebecca Schumejda • Louise Leetch • Judith Leitch • Angela Leroux-Lindsey • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Joe Maniscalco • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Mike Oppenheim • Jim Piechota • Christofer D. Pierson • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • John T. Rather • Karah Rempe • Karen Rigby • Naftali Rottenstreich • Lloyd Sachs • Bob Sanchez • Michael Sandlin • Rebecca Shapiro • William P. Shumaker • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Rodney Welch • Carol White • Chris White • Alex Zimmerman


interactive e-books interactive e-books for children

In tortuous verse—“There was a boy quite scared of food / His carrots made him nervous, / To him fruits simply had no use / And veggies lacked all purpose”—young William is ultimately starved into accepting his worried mother’s roast pork and other wholesome dishes. This is accomplished after chef Fred Mangetout serves up an array of revolting repasts: cockroach pizza, roasted snake in sheep-blood marinade, snail porridge, termite toast with spiders’ legs and similar delights. In keeping with Le Bon’s cartoon scenes of a skinosed cook in a soot-colored jacket and toque, gleefully serving all-too-identifiable dishes to a comically dismayed child, the audio track features spirited narration in equally plummy British and French accents over bistro-type accordion music. Readers can switch voice and music off together, with the option of hearing any verse by tapping it, and also select either manual or auto advance. Sparkles or verbal directions on most but not all screens cue taps or slides that sluggishly activate gagging sounds, rude noises, snide side comments and fades or other animated effects. Tap the cockroach on any page to open an index of thumbnail images. Lunch, anyone? Thought not. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

F:SH

Developer: Brandwidth $1.99 | July 6, 2011 There are some clever visuals and interesting ideas in this sea-based app, but at least in its current form, it’ll be too buggy for many iPad users to enjoy. In a hazy, friendly-looking world below the sea, a small fish named Plip wants to go on an adventure exploring on a sunny day. Rounding up his pals, a jellyfish named Jelly and a hermit crab named Shella, Plip discovers a hole in the sea floor that leads to a darker, wilder area. While each page turn involves swiping from right to left, the section with the ocean hole begins to move up and down, giving the app a diverting sense of direction. Plip finds he can light up by sneezing and leads his friend back up to safety. The app is nicely illustrated, with lovely transparency effects and a cool color palette. But it’s unclear what an option at the beginning to add a reader’s name and phone has to do with the story: In the end, that photo appears in a window of a big submarine that shows up as if out of obligation to that feature. But it’s likely readers may not get that far. On a first-generation iPad, the app crashed constantly in multiple places, making it difficult to get through the story even once without starting over. At least a useful “App Map” allows readers to pick up where they left off. The story has enough going for it, from its cartoony art to its solid narration, but the show-stopping crashes make for a frustrating time. (iPad storybook app. 3-6)

TAIL TOES EYES EARS NOSE

Burton, Marilee Robin Illustrator: Burton, Marilee Robin Developer: Auracle $0.99 | July 8, 2011 A simple, easy-to-navigate app featuring an assortment of animals and the titular body parts they have in common is no-frills enough to please toddlers, though parents may wish it offered a little more. In a unique approach, each of the app’s pages shows an animal’s tail, toes, eyes, ears and nose, but with the main body missing. Though the shapes of birds, elephants, cats and people aren’t too difficult for even small children to figure out, the illustrations then fill in the blank once the body parts have been explored. The app includes optional narration and an “autoplay” option, but it’s short and simple enough to warrant taking some time to play with each page. Once the animal is revealed, the child narrator makes a noise approximating that animal’s, a winning choice when canned sound effects would have been easier and more obvious. On the last pages, a person joins the fun and the animals (and their human friend) all walk off together. Altogether, it’s a more harmonious wedding of interaction to source material than some of Auracle’s others.

FEED ‘EM FRED

Brooks, Dustin Illustrator: Le Bon, Betty Developer: Digital Leaf $3.99 | July 15, 2011 A new chef with a bag full of horse eyes and other disgusting ingredients cures a picky lad’s aversion to “healthy” foods. |

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“A set of wordless domestic tableaux as rich in content as they are hilarious, presented in deliciously extravagant visuals stocked with clever interactive features.” from pop -it

There are many apps with more options, extras and dazzling art and sound, but despite its similarity to “Heads, Shoulders, Knees, And Toes,” it feels just homespun and direct enough to charm. (iPad storybook app. 1-4)

mispronounced by the heavily accented narrator—whose voice is also frequently overwhelmed by the loud background music. Taps on various pages activate random beeps from passing cars, loud birdsong and panicky bleats from both the kids and, oddly, their toy blocks. Third-rate art, storytelling and software design put this at the very bottom of the slag heap. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

THE SMURFS MOVIE STORYBOOK

Developer: FrogDog Media LLC $0.99 | July 26, 2011

THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE An Interactive Book

A smurfstonishingly bad tiein to the recently released film. A stingy assortment of entirely unanimated movie stills that generally depict just a part (and typically not even the most dramatic part) of the action is paired with captions that appear piecemeal. The tale sends a group of Smurfs from their village to New York City, pursued by the evil sorcerer Gargamel, who is after the Smurf essence “that he needs to become all-mighty [sic].” The hyper-compressed text runs to lines like “Clumsy is down that his clumsiness is the reason the other Smurfs are in this mess. Grace reassures him that he can be anything he wants to be, and no one is just one thing.” The text is never entirely visible at once and gets partly or completely skipped over if the picture is swiped prematurely. Children have the option of hearing an emotive narration, struggling on their own to make sense of the sketchy story line—or bagging the entire adventure to play a perfunctory “Spot the Differences” game with three altered pairs of stills. Make room at the bottom of the barrel for this smurforrendous (non)effort. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

Jeffers, Oliver Illustrator: Jeffers, Oliver Developer: Bold Creative Penguin $4.99 | June 28, 2011

After an elderly loved one departs, a young girl puts her heart in a bottle to try to weather the grief. Jeffers received a heap of critical acclaim for the print version of this memorable storybook. The narrative chronicles a little girl’s attempt to protect herself from the pain of losing a loved one and abstractly confronts the complexities of grief. Jeffers’ clean, visceral artwork translates beautifully to the tablet screen and is brought to life by numerous interactive options. Each page offers a hint that leads to hidden elements that can be triggered by tapping, swiping, tilting or shaking the device. A scrolling storyboard makes it easy to locate and skip to various pages, but there are a couple of technological oversights and glitches that make this adaptation a little rough. Helena Bonham Carter narrates, but there’s no autoplay or read-to-me option; voiced narration must be prompted on each individual page, which gets old. And while the interactive components are interesting and organic to the story, it sometimes takes several tries to activate them. Still, the magical interactivity, the aesthetic presentation and the poignant story itself outweigh the app’s few technological hiccups. A moving, stimulating, slightly buggy adaptation of Jeffers’ luminous children’s book. (iPad storybook app. 5-10)

THE WOLF AND THE LITTLE GOATS The Brothers Grimm Developer: We Are Faces $3.99 | July 14, 2011

Low production values, generic interactive effects and a chopped-up, poorly paraphrased text sink this version of the cautionary Brothers Grimm tale. Warning her little ones that “there’s a scary wolf in the forest” (though the cartoon illustrations set the story in a densely populated urban setting), Mama Goat leaves on an errand. Enter the wolf, dressed in jeans, a wife beater and a ’do rag, claiming to be their mother. Failing to gain entrance at first and somehow intuiting that his voice doesn’t sound like hers, the wolf visits a blacksmith who “made it very soft” (one can only wonder how). He eventually eats most of the kids but ultimately drowns in a “well” (actually a park fountain) after Mama Goat replaces them (offstage) with rocks. The brief text is available in English and Russian. The English text is awkward, and several words are 1638

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POP-IT At Home with Appa and Dad

KK, Raghava Illustrator: KK, Raghava $1.99 | July 7, 2011

A set of wordless domestic tableaux as rich in content as they are hilarious, presented in deliciously extravagant visuals stocked with clever interactive features. Each of the six scenes features a happy child and one or two adults—sharing a bathroom or a computer, having a tickle |

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DRAGONS!

session or laughing in front of a mirror—but a tap of an icon or a shake of the tablet transforms the grownups from male to female, or, for couples, from mixed to two mothers or two fathers. Taking a “surprise me!” approach throughout, the art, which is all semiabstract, features wildly exaggerated figures and exuberant jumbles of loud color, which serve as a platform for both automatic and touch-activated effects. These range from wavy lines of stench floating from the two potties and wallpaper flowers that both whirl and sound a percussive chorus when tapped to two men who triumphantly slap hands after successfully changing the child’s diaper. Utterly silly, but perfectly in keeping with all the rest, an icon on each screen delivers a real local weather report when tapped. Well, why not? A first-rate mind expander, this app rewards repeat visits and depicts several family constellations with irresistible intimacy and good humor—all the while featuring uncommonly inventive art and software design. (iPad informational app. 4-9, adult)

McCall, Gerrie Illustrator: Mulrey, Patrick Illustrator: Taylor, Myke Developer: Amber Books $4.99 | July 21, 2011 Designed to resemble a set of digital trading cards but offering several interactive features, this album will dazzle young fans of all that is scaly, clawed and dangerous to encounter. Crouched, glowering ill-temperedly up at viewers, the 20 resplendently colored and detailed dragons in the opening gallery include Fafnir, Beowulf ’s dragon and others from cultures worldwide, as well as creatures drawn from Tolkien, Harry Potter and the Neverending Story. The postage-stamp–sized images can be pinched, zoomed and grouped either manually or into geographical origin, type or other prearranged order. Double-tapping any image opens an introductory descriptive paragraph, notes on size and range, a further gallery of three pictures (one of which is a coloring sheet) that can be printed, a brief legend and a closing barrage of quick facts. A tap of the button near each dragon activates a low-volume grumble that often sounds more like gastric distress than a roar, and at least some of the art is recycled from several print publications. Nevertheless, the mix of melodramatic eye candy and bite-sized commentary will go down as smoothly and easily as an unwary treasure seeker. Well-read young Dragonologists may experience some déjà-vu but should still get a kick out of the app’s unusual design. (iPad informational app. 7-9)

BACK TO THE STARS

Lam, Chet Translator: Mak, Y.T. Illustrator: Chocolate Rain Design Developer: Innopage $2.99 | June 27, 2011

Despite its sketchy description in the app store, this is not the story, The Little Prince, but rather an interactive essay on the meaning of the Saint-Exupéry classic. Perhaps much has been lost in translation, but this is clearly not meant for children. (Arguably, neither was the book, but it has so often been used with children that it has become part of the canon.) The first two pages ramble on with a seemingly personal overview of the main themes in the source story. This is followed by an interactive page on which readers can tap on each character to see a paragraph explaining its symbolism and function in the story; for instance, the snake is described as “carefree... Being a hedonist, he won’t say no to anything or any of his lovers.” A verse story of sorts follows, pondering love, loss, sadness and hope; it is rather too despairing (not to mention incoherent) for children to get much enjoyment from. It is juxtaposed to the whimsical signature illustrations of Chocolate Rain Design. The text is not narrated; instead, a melancholy folk song that riffs on some of the key lines plays throughout, and it all comes to a conclusion with a final page of essay in which readers are admonished that “the stories told during the Journey are messages.” Readers who make it this far will find happy little e-postcards designed by Chocolate Rain Designs that they can send to friends—but not, perhaps, with a recommendation to buy this app. (iPad storybook app. 14 & up)

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THE GWAII

O’Reilly, Sean Chastain, Grant Illustrator: The Great LP Developer: Mobad Games $1.99 | July 19, 2011 Two young sasquatches barely get an ill-defined quest underway in this poorly engineered and abruptly truncated episode, the second two parts of which can only be continued via in-app purchases. Loudmouthed, stupidly reckless and closely resembling a stumpy cartoon Tasmanian devil in shape and size (though with longer ears), Tanu sets out with a companion to “discover the secrets of not only the world they left behind…but also within themselves.” First up, though, is a quixotic mission to rescue his mother, who has been wounded and captured by human hunters. Apparently dying (but still alive later on), she telepathically tells him to seek out the mystic Clearing of the Ancient Souls instead. Trying for a 3D effect, each of the 30 pages in the first part features several flat layers that continually rock back and forth in a vertigo-inducing manner. The layers and dialogue |

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balloons appear and vanish in succession either automatically or by tapping obtrusively placed and frustratingly sluggish arrows. Despite an “auto advance” option, pages can only be advanced manually, whereupon readers are left to stare at a black screen for several seconds while each new page loads. A multi-voiced narration keyed to highlighted text, the much lower-volume sound effects and a loop of woodsy background noises can also be turned on or off. A closing invitation to buy part two can safely be ignored. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)

“To create is to destroy,” is the tagline for this text, which opens with basic instructions that encourage users to freely express themselves through a series of drawing exercises that are wide open to interpretation. For example, users are instructed to “scribble wildly, violently, with reckless abandon” or import pictures from their iPad for creative defacing. Each page features an array of tools at the bottom; these range from a simple pencil to a fingerpaint tool, which enables users to add color and special touches to each page. iPad functionality is well leveraged, though users will need to fight the urge to turn pages with a finger swipe, which only frustratingly draws lines across their drawing. Instead a patient finger-tap on the page’s bottom corners enables users to easily navigate. Users can save, e-mail or even utilize their Facebook or Flickr accounts to share their masterpieces. Due to some edgy page instructions (“Write as many four-letter words as you can”), this text is probably best suited for teens and adults. An app to energize the creative juices. (iPad interactive sketchbook. 13 & up)

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Adaptor: Rogers, Jacqueline O. Illustrator: Rogers, Jacqueline O. Developer: Moving Tales Inc. $6.99 | July 13, 2011

A melancholic king discovers the secret to happiness and contentment. This third installment in a trilogy of “wisdom tales” (after The Unwanted Guest, 2011, and The Pedlar Lady of Gushing Cross, 2010) is based on the adage it’s named for. A “kind and noble king” observes the constant collision of grief and joy in everyday life. He calls on wise men to unlock the secret to lasting happiness, but all they can do is pontificate and argue. He decides to disguise himself as a commoner and eventually meets a man who offers him the perspective he’s been longing for—namely that everything (whether good or bad) is temporary. The ideas in the story are derived from the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence, which affirms that change is the one universal constant. Much like its predecessors, this app is characterized by grayscale images enhanced with various splashes of color. The film-quality animation is three-dimensional and offers various perspectives each time the app is launched. Text artfully tumbles onto the screen letter by letter; once the text block is in place, it can be scattered from side to side with a tilt of the tablet. The story offers a plethora of sound effects, a record-it-myself option or full narration with accompanying text in Spanish, French or English. A creative, thought-provoking examination of the deeper questions in life, as told from a Buddhist perspective. (iPad storybook app. 8-12)

TOMMY PIGLET AND THE GOLDEN EGG

Spee, Gitte Illustrator: Spee, Gitte Developer: Three Little Witches $2.99 | June 15, 2011

A prank almost goes awry in this mild, low-key import. Finding a large egg on the beach, Sheep and Elephant decide to play a little trick on their friend Piglet by painting it gold. The arrival of a frantic mother ostrich causes them to repent, though, and carry the egg back to the beach just before it hatches. The sparsely detailed cartoon illustrations feature a mix of automatic changes of position, expression or posture and a variety of touch effects, one per page. These are activated, in a toddler-friendly refinement, by tapping anywhere on the screen rather than specific locales and include splashes of gold paint, quiet sound effects, a magnifying glass or popup crabs, shells and other small figures. Options include a well-paced audio narration in English or Dutch, a choice of visible or invisible text and a page advance that is either keyed to the narration or fully manual. An original song playing (in English or Dutch) on the credits page brings this intimate episode to a suitably pleasant close. Despite Mama Ostrich’s tears, this is a gentle, eventoned episode, just right for sharing in a quiet moment with younger children. (iPad storybook app. 3-5)

WRECK THIS APP

Smith, Keri Illustrator: Smith, Keri Developer: CitrusSuite Penguin | $4.99 July 19, 2011 Essentially an interactive black-andwhite coloring book filled with amusing tools to guide users in their pursuit to locate their inner artists. 1640

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fiction THE WANDERING FALCON

Ahmad, Jamil Riverhead (256 pp.) $25.95 | October 13, 2011 978-1-59448-827-6

These sketches of life in the tribal lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan mark the debut of the 80-year-old Pakistani author. A timid young couple seeks shelter at a desolate military outpost. They are lovers; the camel herder has stolen away with his master’s wife. She gives birth to their son. Five years pass. The avengers track them down. The herder shoots his wife before he is stoned to death; the love child is spared. This opening episode has the timeless quality of a fable; unfortunately, nothing that follows matches it. Nor does the child serve as a link. He will be 12 before he is even given a name: Tor Baz, meaning black falcon. Later he will make occasional peek-a-boo appearances as an informer, a mountain guide and a trader at a slave market, but he’s far from being a developed character. The only links are the landscape (harsh, mountainous, forbidding) and the reflection of tribal customs. Often it is the documentary rather than the narrative details that linger in the mind. Take the Kharots, nomadic herders who move back and forth across the border according to the seasons. By 1958 the Brits have gone and the two states are demanding travel documents, but these illiterate herders have lived free of paperwork. They try outwitting the border guards but are eventually mowed down by machine guns. It’s a massacre, but a perfunctory one. Ahmad has big trouble with endings. There’s a kidnapping episode. It’s interesting to learn who make the best targets: “schoolteachers, doctors and street cleaners.” There’s a lot of talk but no narrative momentum, and suddenly it’s a done deal: Captives are exchanged for ransom money, smiles all around. Fascinating material that’s badly in need of artistic shaping.

Ballard, who died in 2009, revolutionized science fiction by, in part, making it less fictiony and more plausible—and, usually, more frightening in the bargain. Moreover, he was a keen observer of the real world. Both qualities inform this book, in which a police psychologist/spy infiltrates a band of suburban, well-heeled terrorists who have been bombing various English locales and otherwise spreading mayhem. Led by—naturally—a psychotic pediatrician, the group’s stomping ground is a oncetony suburb haunted by “likeable and over-educated revolutionaries” who had fled in the night, leaving it now a “deserted estate, an apocalyptic vision deprived of its soundtrack.” David Markham is still engaged enough to seek justice, battered enough to be deeply cynical in the face of all the noise and rhetoric on the part of the vegan self-actualizers, neo-hippies and weekend white Rastafarians who face him, to say nothing of the bureaucrats at his back. When his ex-wife is killed in a bomb attack, he stirs into more action among the “lumpenintelligentsia,” falling in with a particularly alluring cougar of an academic bent—so much so that, to teach film theory, she put her class to making pornos. (“They loved it,” she says, “but the dean of studies wasn’t impressed.”) Is she the one behind the reign of terror, the bombs in every Vauxhall? Or is it Chelsea Marina’s resident cleric, “one of those priests who feels obliged to doubt his God”? Or is it an agent provocateur, determined to seize the opportunity to strengthen the government’s hand? Ballard takes his fine time to straighten the story out, and the resolution is not at all what we might expect. Several characters die along the way, but the main victim of all the mischief, Ballard seems to say, is the middle class, the backbone of a selfdoubting England: “I had overturned cars and helped to fill Perrier bottles with lighter fuel, but a tolerant and liberal society had smiled at me and walked away.” Vintage Ballard, smartly observed and tartly written. Let’s hope there’s more in the vault.

THE YELLOW EMPEROR’S CURE

MILLENNIUM PEOPLE

Basu, Kunal Overlook (320 pp.) $25.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-59020-708-6

Ballard, J.G. Norton (288 pp.) $25.95 | July 5, 2011 978-0-393-08177-0

Terrorism, dysfunction, malaise, dyspepsia and rioting on the streets of London. If that sounds familiar—well, welcome to Ballard’s (Cocaine Nights, 1998, etc.) prophetic view of our time. |

This richly painted literary novel brings a Portuguese doctor to 19th-century China to find a cure for syphilis. In 1898, Doctor Antonio Maria is one of Portugal’s best doctors, but when his widowed father becomes desperately ill with syphilis Doctor

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“Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years.” from the best american short stories 2011

Maria will do anything, go anywhere to find a cure to save his father’s life. With reason to believe the Chinese have a cure, he leaves his fiancée behind and sails to China, devoting himself to learning medical secrets from a man named Xu. The trouble is that Doctor Maria must live in China for four seasons and learn the ways of qi before Xu will teach him what he wants to know. In the meantime he falls in love with Fumi, a mysterious woman with close ties to the Empress Dowager. Will he find the cure in time to return home and save his father? Or find it and return to Portugal before the West-hating Boxers kill him and all the other foreigners? Does Xu even know the cure, or is he simply stringing Doctor Maria along for his own purposes? Can he meet the Empress and enlist her help? People are not who they seem as Doctor Maria immerses himself deeply in a strange and complex culture. Readers will get vicarious pleasure as he learns an array of sexual positions from Fumi. Occasional passages are briefly confusing as the narrative dips in and out of nightmares, but ultimately they help the story. For a man with an urgent mission, Doctor Maria seems incredibly patient, even distracted, as he navigates the ways of a world in which he is often the unwelcome outsider. Many people suffer losses in this novel, a deeply satisfying tale mixing history, cultural clashes, violence and love. Fortunately, it’s the readers who win.

THE BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES 2011

Editor: Brooks, Geraldine Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (384 pp.) $14.95 paperback | October 4, 2011 978-0-547-24216-3 paperback Another stellar selection from an anthology that has sustained high standards for 35 years. Every year’s annual edition reflects the state of the genre as seen from the eyes of its guest editor. As this year’s editor, Brooks (Caleb’s Crossing, 2011, etc.) brings an outsider’s perspective to the American short story, one not beholden to creative writing workshops and MFA programs. Born and raised in Australia, she’s a journalist who became an acclaimed novelist and who doesn’t write stories. But she read a whole lot of them last year, using the criterion that “a great piece of writing is the one you feel on your skin. It has to do something: Make the heart beat harder or the hairs stand up. Provoke laughter or tears.” She plainly responds to strong narrative voices, characters and momentum, preferring plots to postmodern literary parlor tricks (though inclusions from Steven Millhauser, Sam Lipsyte and a wonderful multiple-choice story by Richard Powers suggest that she is no kneejerk traditionalist). This anthology is lighter on discovery than some years, with more than a third of the 20 stories first published in the New Yorker (and another actually an excerpt from Jennifer Egan’s prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad novel), but the inclusion of Megan Mayhew Bergman’s “Housewifely Arts” whets the appetite for her debut story collection next spring. 1642

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And Tom Bissell’s explanation of how “A Bridge Under Water,” about a honeymoon in Rome that shows a marriage already in peril, was rejected 15 times before the publication that resulted in this year’s anthologizing should provide hope to persevering writers everywhere. Many of these stories offer rite-of-passage (or at least coming-of-age) discoveries, as the reader recognizes implications that a youthful protagonist has yet to glean. Compounding the narrative intrigue is Ricardo Nuila’s “Dog Bites,” with a narrator subjected to multiple diagnoses (including Asperger’s) by his doctor father, challenging the reader to determine whether the perspective of the son or the father is more significantly skewed. Each one of these stories could establish itself as some reader’s favorite.

EVERYTHING HAPPENS TODAY

Browner, Jesse Europa Editions (224 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-60945-051-9 paperback

An angst-filled day in the life of a young man whose hope for an idyllic relationship is intruded upon by life’s rich realities. The latest from Browner (The Uncertain Hour, 2007, etc.) is a rumination on young love and the promises therein. Browner’s Caulfield-esque ruminator is Wes, a 17-year-old living in Greenwich Village with his dying mother and an emotionally departed father. What is sweet in Wes’ family life is his ebullient relationship with his little sister Nora, who calls him “Daddy-O” and whom Wes obviously adores. Unfortunately it’s a day of massive self-recrimination for Wes, who has come home on the Walk of Shame after losing his virginity to a lovely young thing named Lucy. This development has shattered Wes’ fantasy of following up on his box of fantasies dubbed, “This thing with Delia.” As Wes inoculates his guilt with old Elliot Smith lyrics, his friend James is one of the few to tell him the truth. “There is no thing with Delia,” James says. “There never has been a thing with Delia. It’s all in your head, like a piece of shrapnel.” Though there is plenty of navel-gazing in Wes’ restrained sense of panic and gloom, Browner does a fine job of mixing the incongruities of modern communication—readers may wince with every ping of the iPhone—with the timeless anxiety of young people finding their way. “I seem to be paralyzed by the challenge of doing the right thing,” Wes confesses. “It’s not like it’s straightforward, the way you might think. There seems to be a trick to it, like a trick of the mind, or a trick or perspective, or something.” A light, modern and keen look at the discord between whimsy and prudence.

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THE STONEHENGE LEGACY

Christer, Sam Overlook (368 pp.) $24.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-59020-676-8

Following his father’s suicide, the son of a famous British archaeologist and relic collector discovers that the old man was closely involved with an ultra-secret cult of Stonehenge worshippers, one of whose key rituals demands fresh supplies of human blood. Part cult thriller, part police procedural, Christer’s first novel takes us deep into a hidden sanctuary where devout followers are painfully initiated and kidnap victims are slaughtered according to ancient rites. Gideon Chase, long estranged from his father Nathaniel, becomes obsessed with the old man’s secret self after discovering journals about his doings at Stonehenge, some of them written in code. Gideon himself is the beneficiary of a cleansing ritual that eliminated a childhood disease and has immunized him from even the slightest cold ever since. On the portentous eve of the summer solstice, he is targeted by the cult. Meanwhile, Caitlyn Lock, the misbehaving daughter of the American vice president, who is attending school in London, is abducted at Stonehenge along with her new rich playboy. He had the unfortunate idea of thinking driving there would make for a cool romantic getaway. Ambitious DI Megan Baker, drawn into the plot when Gideon is attacked in his father’s country mansion, has her efforts frustrated by her bureaucratic, sexist bosses and complicated by her untrustworthy ex-husband. And then there is the celebrity American bounty hunter who has come to save Caitlyn, and a flock of heavily weaponized Apache helicopters you can’t wait to see blow stuff up. It’s a credit to Christer, a documentary filmmaker, that he makes the story as readable and, for a while, as involving as it is. But Dan Brown he’s not. As the story wobbles toward its predictable climax, you won’t be looking forward to a sequel. This is a book best passed on to someone for whom the Stonehenge setting will matter more than anything. Readers will learn a few things about Stonehenge, but not enough to justify the time required to finish the book.

THE INFERNALS

Connolly, John Atria Books (320 pp.) $22.00 | October 18, 2011 978-1-4516-4308-4 Bestselling thriller writer Connolly continues his change-of-pace saga of an ordinary English boy, his loyal dog and their encounters with demons and dark lords in this devilishly entertaining follow-up to The Gates (2009). In The Gates, readers received an introduction to the off-kilter world of Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, who |

live in Biddlecombe, England. The Infernals continues the story of Samuel, who is now 13, and going through the usual early teen angst of worshipping from afar the most popular girl in school. The only difference is that Samuel has a bit of an undeserved reputation as a troublemaker, when in reality he and Boswell managed to save the world from an invasion from Hell. That invasion was made possible by a little-noticed side effect from the Large Hadron Collider, which allowed the denizens from down below to get a toehold in real-time England. While the Great Malevolence, as his demons like to call him, sinks deeper and deeper into a funk, others fight for control in his absence, which allows Connolly to introduce an improbable supporting cast that includes two police officers, the driver of a Happy Whip ice-cream truck, four rude dwarfs and a host of demons and otherworldly creatures as Samuel and Boswell, once again, find themselves sucked into an adventure they’d rather not have. Connolly’s hilarious and witty tale is replete with interesting scientific and social observations. It’s a story that educates without pain and, much like fellow British author of the comically absurd, Tom Holt, Connolly finds humor in folklore, legend, fables and fairy tales. Brilliantly funny, often touching, with enough action to keep adventure fans on the edges of their chairs, this novel combines top-notch writing with cutting wit.

THE MAID

Cutter, Kimberly Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (304 pp.) $26.00 | October 20, 2011 978-0-547-42752-2 Cutter’s first novel traces the improbable history of Joan of Arc in lurid detail. At the age of 12, illiterate farm girl Jehanne has visions of three saints, Margaret, Catherine of Alexandria and Michael the Archangel. Arousing her father’s ire when she refuses to marry, Jehanne flees her home village of Domrémy. The saintly voices have instructed her to lead an army to drive the English from French soil and crown the Dauphin Charles, putative heir to the throne, as King of France. She persuades a local nobleman to finance her journey to Chinon castle, where Charles currently cowers. The French court is bankrupt and, after decades of war, the English and their allies the Burgundians control half the country, including Paris. Jehanne’s countrymen, whose homes, livelihood and food supply have been ravaged by the Goddons (the French rendering of a favorite English epithet), long for a hero, but a heroine will do. Jehanne convinces mealy-mouthed Charles to muster troops for her, and with an army of 10,000 (at its peak) she wrests Orléans and other key cities from the Goddons and keeps her promise to crown Charles in Reims Cathedral. Although the people revere her, certain courtiers resent her usurpation of male prerogatives. Charles backpedals when Jehanne wants to take Paris, and she is forced to attack with a reduced force, which leads to her capture, trial and execution at the stake. The novel covers

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familiar ground, but Cutter’s protagonist is more than a tomboy saint. Jehanne’s foolhardy bravery (she is wounded three times, and survives a 70-foot fall), her fervent, some would say fanatical piety (her armies must abstain from alcohol, sex and profanity during campaigns) and her struggle to reconcile her righteous bloodlust with her abhorrence of violence, bespeak multifaceted humanity. Cutter does not shrink from depicting the depravity of warriors on both sides. In a particularly wrenching scene, Jehanne must overlook atrocities committed by a baron whose allegiance she desperately needs. Despite the Grand Guignol moments, a thoughtful retelling.

WOLF AT THE DOOR

Davidson, MaryJanice Berkley Sensation (288 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 4, 2011 978-0-425-24311-4 paperback Just what you wanted: a werewolf spinoff to Davidson’s wacky vampire series that offers serious sexy-heroine competition to Minnesota vamp queen Betsy Taylor. Nobody says no to Michael Wyndham, the billionaire leader of the St. Paul Pack of werewolves—certainly not his cousin Rachael Velvela, a Cape Cod accountant who can’t imagine swapping the grounds of Wyndham Manor, where she runs when the Change is upon her, for the fishy fragrance of 10,000 lakes. No matter, Michael gently demands: Rachael must pull up stakes and relocate indefinitely to St. Paul in order to keep a watchful eye on the queen of the vampires, around whom dark rumors have gathered. No sooner has Rachael settled in a Twin Cities rental owned by bakers Call Me Jim and Please Call Me Martha than she’s swept off her feet by equally sexy accountant Edward Batley IV, whose roommates, cop-turned-vampire Gregory Schorr and his lover Boo Miller, aka Ghost, have inured him to some pretty strange life forms. Refusing to stage a banal epic struggle between werewolves and vampires, Davidson (Undead and Undermined, 2011, etc.) instead presents a throwaway mystery—who’s killing the small-business owners looking for accountants?—some smoking-hot sex and some unexpected girlgirl bonding between Rachael and Betsy, all set against a world in which “people in your building didn’t care if you were dead as long as you didn’t stick Canadian nickels in the dryers.” Is someone plundering the membership rolls of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce just to get Betsy’s attention? Or is the real motive even more devious? Don’t worry about it; just wait for Rachael’s certain return.

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THE LIST

Fletcher, Martin Dunne/St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $25.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-60692-3 Having fled the Nazis, a young Austrian couple in 1945 London discovers that for Jews like them, the war did not end with VE Day. While they desperately seek word on the possible survival or whereabouts of family members sent to concentration camps, petitions are being signed by antiSemitics in their neighborhood of Hampstead to “send the aliens home”—ostensibly to clear space and jobs for returning British soldiers. Veteran NBC correspondent Fletcher’s engrossing first novel, loosely based on his parents’ story, captures a neglected piece of postwar history through the plight of the spirited Edith, who is seven months pregnant with her first child following a miscarriage, and Georg, a reserved lawyer reduced to making buttons for a living. When Edith’s first cousin Anna unexpectedly arrives, traumatized by her time in Auschwitz, she raises hope, however dim, that other relatives will follow, maybe even Edith’s father. It’s a time when the horrific truths of the camps are not yet widely known or understood—and when lies about Jews, including the notion they have any “home” to return to—are passed off as truth. Drawn to Ismael, an Egyptian Arab who despite his seeming antagonism toward Jews has a habit of coming to their rescue, Anna slowly emerges from her personal darkness. The lightly veiled truth is that Ismael is actually Israel, part of a secret plot to assassinate British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin for his part in the blockade to limit the number of Jews allowed into Palestine. Fletcher (Walking Israel, 2010, etc.) is more convincing as a domestic observer than a spy/ political-thriller writer. As fact-based as this book may be, the narrative is a bit too neatly tied up and cozy with coincidence for the novel to gain as much traction as it could have. But this is still a powerful, affecting work. A post-Holocaust novel that should be required reading wherever lessons about the plight of modern-day European Jews are taught.

ED KING

Guterson, David Knopf (320 pp.) $26.95 | October 18, 2011 978-0-307-27106-8 From Guterson (The Other, 2008, etc.), a retelling of Oedipus Rex for the information age. In 1962 Seattle, actuary Walter Cousins hires a British exchange student as au pair to help with his children while his wife recovers from her nervous breakdown. Soon he and Diane,

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“Jordan manages to open up powerful feminist and political themes.” from when she woke

a 15-year-old sociopath, are sleeping together. She becomes pregnant and disappears with the baby. He spends the rest of his life sending her child support, unaware she has abandoned the infant on a doorstep in a prosperous neighborhood. A random couple finds the foundling and turns him over to an agency that arranges an adoption. Alice and Dan King never disclose to their son Ed that he is adopted while raising him in their loving reformed Jewish household. During a rebellious period in his teens, Ed gets into a highway fracas with a stranger. Ed leaves the scene of the resulting fatal accident emotionally shaken but is never caught. After a brief bout of debilitating guilt, Ed graduates high school, where an affair with his teacher gives him a predilection for older women. As a math genius in college, Ed focuses on the “nascent field of search” while his equally brilliant but geekier younger brother Simon (the Kings’ biological son from an unexpected post-adoption pregnancy) becomes a success at computer gaming. Meanwhile Diane has recreated herself several times, moving up and down the socio-economic ladder, scamming and being scammed. She’s 42 but looks 32 when she and Ed meet at an exhibit on probability that coincidentally she first attended with Walter. Their mutual attraction is immediate. Soon Ed’s company has grown bigger than Google. But in 2017, his experiments into artificial intelligence and genome mapping lead him to unsettling discoveries about his past as well as his present. More comedy than tragedy: It’s hard to garner much sympathy for characters whose lives are determined by their own selfish choices as much as by fate, but Guterson maintains an enjoyably sharp edge to his humor that will keep readers hooked.

HAND ME DOWN WORLD

Jones, Lloyd Bloomsbury (320 pp.) $25.00 | October 1, 2011 978-1-60819-699-9

A young woman’s journey from Africa to Berlin to locate her kidnapped son, as told by a chorus of voices. The latest novel by Man Booker Prize–shortlisted New Zealand author Jones (Biografi, 1993, etc.) centers on Ines, who’s working as a hotel maid in Tunis when she falls for a German man. The two have a son, but the father quickly abducts the child and heads home to Berlin, prompting Ines to risk her life traveling from Tunisia to Sicily and through Europe to locate the boy and his father. The first portion of the novel is told by the people Ines met along the way, among them an Italian truck driver who demands sexual favors in return for ferrying her; an alpine hunter who helps her into Austria; an elderly blind man who hires her as a guide in Berlin; and, most prominently, an aquatic scientist with whom she cultivates the closest relationship. In time it becomes clear that the boy’s father is extorting Ines, making her pay for access to the child. But only later, when the narrative shifts to Ines’ own voice, does |

it becomes heartbreakingly clear how much Ines sacrificed beyond money for that access, and how willfully oblivious others have been to her emotions. Jones’ strategy of withholding Ines’ perspective for more than half the book is a little ungainly, and the characters’ voices aren’t markedly distinct from each other—each speaks of Ines in a somber, sometimes pitying tone, and Ines’ voice is glum too. But the scenes between Ines and her son are affecting, showing connections that transcend their language barrier. Some color appears in the closing chapters, as she reveals the depth of her struggle, and the possibility of a hard-won happy ending appears. A disarming vision of one woman’s life in the underclass, though it takes time to come into focus.

WHEN SHE WOKE

Jordan, Hillary Algonquin (352 pp.) $24.95 | October 4, 2011 978-1-56512-629-9 A retelling of classic Hawthorne in which the heroine becomes literally a Scarlet Woman. Hannah Payne has committed adultery with respected preacher Aidan Dale, and in Jordan’s postmodern world such transgressors are repigmented in a way that suits their crime— through the miracle of modern chemistry. Hannah is turned bright red. Again reminiscent of Hester Prynne’s heroism in The Scarlet Letter, Hannah refuses to name her fellow adulterer, so she bears much of the burden of her guilt and her punishment. The bleak world that Jordan has created has turned back Roe v. Wade, and all abortions are equated with infanticide, so technically she’s a murderer as well as an adulterer. (In one clever episode, Hannah is forced to make a cloth doll of her dead child, whom she names “Pearl.”) Because Hannah has had a strict religious upbringing, she constantly weighs her “evildoing” against the “rightness” of her deep love for the minister. We trace her journey through various stages of reclamation, starting with a spartan and severe halfway house run by a minister and his domineering wife, whose interest in Hannah’s case seems both perverse and voyeuristic. After Hannah runs away from this establishment, she’s caught up in a journey that she hopes will eventually lead her back to her family and to Aidan, but the politics get complicated when she links up with some radical feminists who support the right to choose and whose aim in life is to help those they feel have been wrongfully stigmatized. Things start to become even more sexually muddled when Hannah begins to have feelings for one of the feminists and has a brief fling. Jordan manages to open up powerful feminist and political themes without becoming overly preachy—and the parallels with Hawthorne are fun to trace. (First printing of 65,000)

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SLEIGHT

Kaschock, Kirsten Coffee House (330 pp.) $16.00 paperback | October 11, 2011 978-1-56689-275-9 paperback Siblings, mysterious billboard messages, maimed children and a bizarre art form coalesce, up to a point, in an unusual, dreamlike tale. Choreographer/poet/novelist Kaschock constructs her debut around a new performance art form combining sound, movement and structures, called sleighting, and invents a new set of meanings to go with it: Needs, Souls, wicking, precursors all take on fresh connotations in a teasingly oblique story written in prose sometimes lyrical, sometimes clotted, requiring the retuning of the ear: “He saw darkness as necessary, a part of the scrutiny, the spelunking of sleight’s potential.” Two sisters, Clef and Lark, have performed sleight, although emotionally troubled Lark left the troupe. West, who runs a different troupe, has met Byrne, a gifted writer who carries a rock in memory of his hated father. As a new sleight work is assembled, a horrible serial killing comes to light, the Vogelsongs’ ritual murder of some two dozen children, and this terror becomes woven into the new show. Kaschock’s inventive but odd story is matched on the page by peculiar layouts, lists, script dialogue and footnotes. Gothic and intense, this fully imagined yet partly private work of storytelling loosely connects themes of pained childhood, eventually wrapping up some of them. Powerfully original verging on the obfuscatory, this is a novel with no middle ground: Readers will either love or hate it.

CHANGO’S BEADS AND TWO-TONE SHOES

Kennedy, William Viking (304 pp.) $26.95 | September 29, 2011 978-0-670-02297-7

Kennedy (Roscoe, 2002, etc.), whose 1983 Albany-centered novel Ironwood won the Pulitzer Prize, returns to his upstate New York home turf with a side trip to Cuba in this decades-jumping novel about a journalist’s less-than-objective brushes with history. In 1936 Albany, 8-year-old Daniel Quinn hears Bing Crosby and a black man named Cody singing a duet with a borrowed piano in the house of a man named Alex, an experience that becomes a dream-like memory of musical and racial harmony. In 1957, Quinn is a fledgling journalist in Havana—Kennedy covered Cuba as a journalist himself—where Hemingway makes Quinn his second in a duel with an American tourist, the novel’s version of comic relief. Through Hemingway, Quinn is hired by Max, the editor of The Havana Post, who happened to be present at the Bing-Cody duet. And Quinn falls in love with Renata, 1646

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Max’s ex-sister-in-law, a striking beauty involved with the antiBatista movement. They quickly marry in part because the wedding gives them a legitimate excuse to travel into the mountains where Quinn hopes to find Fidel Castro. Quinn sets off for his interview, in which Fidel comes off as a philosophical tactician, but when he returns Renata has disappeared, probably taken by Batista goons. Cut to 1968, the day after Robert Kennedy is shot. Quinn is back in Albany, working as a reporter. Renata is back with him, but the marriage is floundering. With them live Daniel’s father George, who is suffering from dementia, and Renata’s niece (Max’s daughter) Gloria, who has recently suffered a nervous breakdown. In love with Cody’s son Roy, Gloria is also involved with her godfather Alex, now the corrupt mayor of Albany, where racial tensions are peaking. Full of larger-than-life characters, strong men and stronger women who marry personal passions to national events, Kennedy’s novel has the mark of genius, yet a surfeit of names and plot threads discourage readers from fully engaging.

HIS LAST DUCHESS

Kimm, Gabrielle Sourcebooks Landmark (416 pp.) $14.99 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-4022-6151-0 paperback A saucy account of Lucrezia de’ Medici’s ill-fated marriage, inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess.” In Browning’s masterpiece, the Duke speaks of his last Duchess on the wall, painted by Fra Pandolf, “looking as if she were alive.” In this, Kimm’s second novel, she creates the circumstances that lead up to the ominous moment when the Duchess is dead and the Duke jealously guards the painting’s likeness. The Duchess is Lucrezia de’ Medici, the teenage heir to a considerable 16th-century fortune who is set to marry the powerful Alfonso d’Este, Duke of Ferrara. The excitement of the marriage ceremony is overshadowed by the misery of the marriage night—the Duke cannot perform. We learn it is no medical matter—the Duke’s mistress Francesca has two of his children—but a matter of temperament. Lucrezia’s innocent beauty prevents his “stiffening.” He keeps trying, but his withering penis (it’s practically a character itself) is beginning to turn him mad. The Duke’s madness—a buzzing in his head, an obsessive fury and relief found only in the cool confines of the castle dungeon—is a modern take on Browning’s villain, and makes the Duke credible. After two years of an issueless marriage to Lucrezia, the Pope is threatening to take away Ferrara if he does not produce a legitimate heir. Meanwhile, the Duke has hired Fra Pandolf to paint a large fresco and Lucrezia is unexpectedly taken with his assistant, Jacomo. The two begin an affair and plan to run away together, once they figure out how to solve the mountain of complications their escape would create. The Duke, more desperate and sadistic than ever, has decided to poison Lucrezia, but not before Fra Pandolf paints her portrait, so he can once and for all possess

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HARBOR

her. Far more erudite than the average bodice-ripper, the novel straddles the line between the gravity of historical fiction and the trite predictability of romance. Few surprises, but a punchy end redeems the occasional awkwardness.

Lindqvist, John Ajvide Translator: Delargy, Marlaine Dunne/St. Martin’s (512 pp.) $25.99 | $12.99 e-book October 1, 2011 978-0-312-68027-5 978-1-4299-9569-6 e-book

COMFORT & JOY

Knight, India Penguin (240 pp.) $14.00 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-0-14-311981-4 paperback Knight’s favorite heroine (My Life on a Plate, 2001) returns, now remarried and juggling a hectic mixed family and a potential new love over the course of three consecutive holiday seasons. It’s two days before Christmas, and Clara Dunphy takes a break for a champagne cocktail during a last-minute shopping trip. Unexpectedly, she meets a handsome stranger who asks her to stay for a drink. Clara is still married, to a choreographer named Sam, and has a daughter with him and two teenaged sons with her first husband, Robert. But things with Sam have been rocky lately, and Clara can’t quite imagine them growing old together. Nonetheless, she returns home to a hectic dinner involving both Sam and Robert, the children, a critical mother, a dottering mother-in-law and several friends in complicated states of single-hood and couple-hood. The brood has a lot to drink and things get awkward, though nothing much actually happens, somewhat emblematic of the novel as a whole. Fast-forward a year. Sam and Clara’s marriage has indeed dissolved, and she has rekindled her relationship with the stranger from the previous Christmas, though everyone except said stranger is gathered again for another dinner at her house. Clara finally seems rightly concerned about the effect of all this on her children, which harkens back to issues from her own childhood (though she did have a consistent father figure, her mother is now on her fourth husband, which clearly haunts her). On the third Christmas featured, Clara takes the show on the road, embarking on a family holiday to Morocco. And what of the stranger? Stay tuned. Clara loves Christmas, and it’s easy to see why—as long as she can keep all the disjointed people in her life together, they will remain, in the best possible ways, a family. Plotless, though clearly warm-hearted holiday fun.

Scandinavian writers dominate the police-procedural genre. Are they now bent on taking over horror? Swedish creepmeister Lindqvist is hot on the case. The author of one of the scariest vampire novels to have come out in years, Let Me In (2007) (film version Let the Right One In), Lindqvist drifts squarely into Stephen King territory with his latest—which, it seems, is a bit of a roman à clef, reflecting the author’s childhood in a Stockholm housing development on the edge of the city. So it is with Domarö, an island not far from the Swedish capital where hoary old fishermen mend their nets and rough-edged yokels sharpen their knives, even as smart urbanites zip about in their fine cars and well-made clothes. One of those city slickers, a pensive fellow named Anders, suffers a terrible blow when his daughter, Maja, sees something mysterious, goes to have a look and disappears. “She was good at finding places to hide,” Anders reasons at first. “Although she could be over-excited and eager in other situations, when she was playing hide and seek she could keep quiet and still for any length of time.” Well, this is a very serious game of hide and seek indeed, for others on this island have gone missing, too—boatloads of them, with cases of schnapps as a gift to the critters that dwell in the spectral Baltic waters. Will Anders ever find his daughter? Perhaps, perhaps not—and therein hangs the tale. Lindqvist ventures on heavy-handedness by introducing a character who, a touch too conveniently, happens to be a retired magician with a trick up his sleeve (or, more to the point, in his matchbox) and lots of wisdom to dispense. In the main, though, he capably keeps his story far from the usual splatterfest slasher stuff and instead holds it to the confines of psychological thriller, which is plenty spooky enough, atmospheric and foreboding: “There is a film of moisture over everything and water drips from the leaves of the trees, as if this island has risen from the sea just to meet him.” Perhaps not a book to read by the seashore, if you’re literal-minded. A spooky pleasure, expertly told.

AFTER THE APOCALYPSE

McHugh, Maureen F. Small Beer Press (200 pp.) $16.00 | October 1, 2011 978-1-931520-29-4

All our worst dystopian fears are realized in this grim collection. McHugh’s stories (many previously published in SF and fantasy magazines) depict the many faces of social collapse. Worst-case scenarios abound: bird flu |

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“A rock novel good enough to wish you had an accompanying soundtrack.” from how the mistakes were made

epidemics, dirty bombs, plagues spread by chicken nuggets, Mexican drug cartels and computer systems morphing into something sentient and malign. “The Naturalist” is set in the zombie preserve formerly known as Cleveland, where, during another Supreme Court retrenchment of constitutional protections for prison inmates, convicts are dumped to fend for themselves. The story’s protagonist, Cahill, finds he actually enjoys feeding his fellow prisoners to the zombies, like a bemused birder setting out suet. “Special Economics” takes the plight of Chinese factory workers to extreme lengths—they have to moonlight illegally to pay off their ever-mounting debt to their employer. The rather wan “Going to France” loses momentum after a few Francophiles take wing without benefit of aircraft. “The Kingdom of the Blind” is merely tedious, mimicking David Foster Wallace with none of his complexity or humor, and “After the Apocalypse” and “The Naturalist” cover George Saunders territory without his excoriating wit. The stories are more poignant when their premises are less speculative. In “Useless Things,” a sculptor living hand to mouth in Albuquerque discovers that the hobo code is now online and that fashioning dildos is a more profitable e-business than creating life-like infant dolls—her life off the grid is dictated by the present-day economy rather than by disaster or pestilence. In “Honeymoon,” a woman who narrowly misses settling for marriage to a loser confronts the vagaries of chance when she volunteers for a deadly drug trial. Although an imaginary (for now) food-borne disease is the catalyst for “The Effect of Centrifugal Forces,” the real catharsis inheres in the conflicting intentions of Irene, the daughter of an estranged lesbian couple, and her mother’s new partner Alice, a hoarder. An uneven collection whose flashes of profundity are too often doused by dispassion.

HOW THE MISTAKES WERE MADE

McMahon, Tyler St. Martin’s Griffin (352 pp.) $14.99 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-0-312-65854-0 paperback Seattle rocker Laura Loss, one-time teen bass player in her brother’s successful early-’80s hardcore punk band SCC, recalls her ascent to grunge queen—and her descent into rock tabloid infamy—as drummer of the legendary ’90s band the Mistakes. Inspired by the spectacular rise and tragic demise of Nirvana, McMahon’s first novel skillfully captures two rock movements. Brief flashbacks of SCC, whose story ends when Laura’s stagediving brother Anthony is brutally beaten by a skinhead, are interwoven with the story of the Mistakes, the accidental band that brings her out of retirement. She’s working in a coffee shop when she meets two flannel-shirted, SCC-loving hayseeds from Montana: Sean, a withdrawn soul and genius guitarist who sees sounds as colors, and Nathan, a singer and bassist with a gift for writing intense lyrics about their messy lives. We see Laura go 1648

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from being a reluctant den mother who agrees to help “the boys” start up a group to excited participant in the trio’s unique, razoredged sound—and sexual partners with Sean, whom she doesn’t love, and then Nathan, whom she does. On the verge of making it big, the band derails following a physical altercation with a label executive. They sign with a label with troublesome commercial designs and discover that Sean, whose signature move is to fall from a height onto his guitar, isn’t the same guitarist after he sobers up. Haunted by the fate of her brother, who remains in a vegetative state, Laura is determined to save Sean from a bad fate but ultimately can’t—any more than she can save herself from being held bitterly accountable for the end of the Mistakes. McMahon stays in an enviable comfort zone: He never strains for effect or tries to sell his characters as myths, as much as they may resonate with the Kurt Cobains and Courtney Loves of the world. His female narration is so good, there is a Lorrie Moore–ness to Laura’s intelligence, self-awareness and self-deprecating wit. And the descriptions of the performances give you a feel for why fans went crazy over the Mistakes. A rock novel good enough to wish you had an accompanying soundtrack. (Agent: Jennifer de la Fuente)

ROBERT LUDLUM’S THE ARES DECISION

Mills, Kyle Grand Central Publishing (448 pp.) $27.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-446-69908-2 Diabolical Caleb Bahame, “brutal terrorist and cult leader,” has unleashed hell in Uganda, and there are rumors Bahame is seeking an unholy alliance. The CIA knows something spooky is happening, perhaps involving Iran’s rogue government. Into Uganda goes a special-ops team. Out comes one man alive. President Sam Adams Castilla understands the intelligence bureaucracy usually generates assessments suiting its own agenda. Castilla calls on Covert-One, a blacker-than-black operations group overseen by his longtime friend and trusted confidante, Fred Klein. Klein has a man he trusts too, Col. Jon Smith, an army microbiologist and veteran of several hazardous CovertOne missions. The video of the Uganda fight that wiped out the special ops team shows unarmed men, women and children running into gunfire and killing the armed men barehanded. There’s speculation Bahame is fueling his followers with narcotics and witchcraft, but Smith’s research soon says otherwise. The action moves from Washington to California, where Smith drafts ex-SAS commando Peter Howell for a clandestine foray to Uganda. Enroute, the pair stop in South Africa to meet Dr. Sarie van Keuren, world-renowned parasite expert. She decides to tag along. Meanwhile the Ayatollah Khamenei lurks in Tehran, half-believing that his trusted underling Mehrak Omidi has discovered a practicable biological weapon in the hands of the infidel Baheme. After firefights, diversions and an unlucky cave exploration, Smith and company end up captured and

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imprisoned at Baheme’s camp. There Omidi is present for a demonstration of the bio-weapon. Characters are formulaic and Covert-One familiar. Action moves through brief, dialogueheavy chapters and unravels a serviceable plot, right down to Sarie’s capture and transport to an underground Iranian bioweapons facility. There Omidi attempts to coerce her into weaponizing a thing best left untouched until Smith, Howell and an Iranian rebel force battle their way to the lab and beyond. Nothing fancy here, but plenty of comfort food for those with an appetite for the thriller genre.

1Q84

Murakami, Haruki Translator: Rubin, Jay Translator: Gabriel, Philip Knopf (928 pp.) $30.50 | October 25, 2011 978-0-307-59331-3 “Things are not what they seem.” If Murakami’s (After Dark, 2008, etc.) ambitious, sprawling and thoroughly stunning new novel had a tagline, that would be it. Things are not what they seem, indeed. A cab driver tells a protagonist named Aomame—her name means “green beans”— as much, instructing her on doing something that she has never done before and would perhaps never dream of doing, even if she had known the particulars of how to do it: namely, to descend from an endless traffic jam on an elevated expressway by means of a partially hidden service staircase. Aomame is game: She’s tough, with strong legs, and she doesn’t mind if the assembled motorists of Tokyo catch a glimpse of what’s under her skirt as she drops into the rabbit hole. Meanwhile, there’s the case of Tengo, a math teacher who, like Aomame, is 30 years old in 1984; dulled even as Japan thrives in its go-go years, he would seem to have almost no ambition, glad to serve as the ghostwriter for a teenage girl’s torrid novel that will soon become a bestseller—and just as soon disappear. The alternate-universe Tokyo in which Aomame reappears (her first tipoff that it’s not the “real” Tokyo the fact that the cops are carrying different guns and wearing slightly different uniforms), which she comes to call 1Q84, the q for question mark, proves fertile ground for all manner of crimes, major and minor, in which she involves herself. Can she ever click her heels and get back home? Perhaps not, for, as she grimly concludes at one point in her quest, “The door to this world only opened in one direction.” It’s only a matter of time before Aomame’s story becomes entangled in Tengo’s—in this strange universe, everyone sleeps with everyone—and she becomes the object of his own hero quest; as he says, “Before the world’s rules loosen up too much…and all logic is lost, I have to find Aomame.” Will he? Stay tuned. Orwellian dystopia, sci-fi, the modern world (terrorism, drugs, apathy, pop novels)—all blend in this dreamlike, strange and wholly unforgettable epic.

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BOUNDARIES

Nunez, Elizabeth Akashic (275 pp.) $22.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-61775-033-5 A “Pandora’s box of the whys” has earned Anna Sinclair, a Caribbean-American immigrant, the position of editor of Equiano, a specialty imprint of Windsor, a New York publishing house. But Anna is divorced, nearing 40, coping with an ailing mother and facing complications at work. In Nunez’s (Anna In-Between, 2009, etc.) latest, the author further explores immigrant life, a life where a hard-working woman can progress up the corporate ladder, buy an apartment in a soon-to-be trendy neighborhood, and still be plagued by outsider’s angst. The story begins with Anna, edits completed on a promising literary novel, visiting her home island. She finds her mother refusing medical attention for obvious breast cancer. Anna pressures her to seek care. Eventually the case comes to Paul Bishop, a family friend and now a prominent surgeon in New Jersey. Paul agrees to perform the operation if Anna’s mother agrees to have it done off-island. Paul also persuades Anna that they might find a personal connection. Anna’s intrigued, but she is anxious about mother’s condition and stressed by dramatic changes at work, including a new “assistant editor” hired without her input. The book expands to follow Anna into the jungle of modern-day publishing. After promises and subterfuge, the new hire, Tim Greene, an African-American with an unconventional childhood, becomes her boss. He closes her specialty imprint, making clear he believes her heritage leaves her disconnected audiences who want “chick-lit” and “ghetto-lit.” Anna feels lost, trapped by cultural discrimination. She grows as a sympathetic character, and the author brings her reticent British-black culture parents to life as they travel to the U.S., cope with surgery, reveal themselves. Anna begins to understand her parents’ love for her in spite of their reserved nature, and she finds their wisdom, and Paul’s love, key to coping with the discrimination she faces at work. A thoughtful literary novel exploring the shadows of cultural identity and the mirage of assimilation.

LIONHEART

Penman, Sharon Kay Putnam (608 pp.) $28.95 | October 4, 2011 978-0-399-15785-1 A thick medieval oater in which Richard Coeur de Lion meets Al-Malik al-Nasir Salah al-Din, heads roll and the world shakes and shivers. A little exposition in describing a book full of it: As fans of The Lion in Winter will remember, Henry II, King of England and Duke of Normandy,

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h e r i n m o r g e n s t e r n The Night Circus

Erin Morgenstern Doubleday (400 pp.) $26.95 Sept. 13, 2011 9780385534635

Erin Morgenstern delivers a love story bound to a magical competition of skill and endurance set amid a nocturnal circus in her debut The Night Circus. This isn’t your everyday three-ring affair—while the competition fuels the suspense of the narrative, the circus is the novel’s real treat. Morgenstern encourages readers to explore the multitude of tents, which are both part of the magical competition and open for public interaction. From the Cloud Maze, a vertical network of platforms covered in clouds you can touch and play with, to the Wishing Tree, where each new fancy is fueled by the web of wishes already brilliantly lit on the mammoth tree, each tent is an intricately detailed creation that adds a mystical element to the story. Influenced by Lewis Carroll’s fantastical tales and Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (no wonder she manages to invent such tasty, unique circus treats), Morgenstern talks to us about how she conceived her fantasy world. Q: How did the idea for the circus come about? A: It actually came about when I was writing a different novel. I do National Novel Writing Month— I’ve done it for years—and I never plan for it. I got really bored with what I was writing so I sent all of my characters to the circus. And that circus was so much more interesting so I just wrote about that! A lot of the details were developed afterwards, like the color scheme and the nocturnal aspect. But the essence of the circus and the individual tents and the bonfire were there in that unexpected novel tangent. Q: Did anything influence your individual tent creations? A: Most of them are my own ideas, some of them are stolen from things I remember. The Star Gazer is sort of a sideways Ferris wheel. The Cloud Maze is based on my recollection of a vertical maze that used to be in the Boston Children’s Museum, that I might have made up…but it was like layered puzzle pieces that you could crawl through. I’m sure my adult memory has expanded it and made it epic in the Cloud Maze. Q: Do you have a favorite tent?

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Q: The movie deal with Summit—do you have any visions for the film adaptation? A: I’m really excited to see what they do with it. My favorite movie adaptations are those that do something separate from the book. I hope they can put their own spin on it and make it something special in itself. Q: Any new book ideas? A: I have something that’s not a novel yet, but I’m working on it. I tend to have to live in a world in my head for a very long time before I find the story. So I have a new world that I’m exploring at the moment. It’s very different. But it has a similar sort of fantastical flavor. –By Chelsea Langford |

p hoto © k e l ly dav id s on

A: I do have a favorite tent. My favorite is the Labyrinth. When I was coming up with it, it was the most exciting one to live in in my head. I like the wandering, the wondering “what could be behind each door?” I actually came up with the tent before I really knew what part it played in the story. So I think I enjoy it even more for what it became plot-wise, too.

A: I did, I actually made paper models at one point when I was trying to figure out how things would work. For the Cloud Maze I created what I wanted—the fluffy bubbles on the bottom. But then you need some sort of dock to walk on. So I was creating things to help me visualize how it would work. I wanted the architecture to be present in it and not just be fanciful and fluffy. I wanted it to be believable as something that was constructed. The competition within the story is what ties all of the narrative strands and the circus together. The game actually came late in the process. It was added in revisions. I needed something to tie everything together and make the circus more of a setting. Adding the game aspect is really when everything started to come together.


“Too long, but evidence of a spirited, soulful talent.” from shards

married the phenomenally smart Eleanor of Aquitaine and had five sons, three of whom rose up against him in rebellion. One of his heirs was Richard, who was no stranger to either intrigue or war. As Penman (Time and Chance, 2002, etc.) picks up her saga of the Angevins and Plantagenets in the present volume, Richard has dispatched with a pesky sibling and is now off in the Near East, embarking on the great task of freeing the Holy Land from the Muslims. Such big jobs need lots of support staff, and Penman fills her pages with characters, some colorful and some not, who do little bits of work to move the story along—but, sometimes, to make a long and complicated tale even more diffuse than it might have been. Mostly, though, Penman centers on the usual stuff of what, in the end, is an elevated gothic romance (“I think he had a nunnery in mind. He promised, though, to look after me, to make sure that I was always safe...” “Her veil slipped, as if by chance, and his pulse quickened, for she had skin as golden as her eyes and a full, ripe mouth made for a man’s kisses”)—though, thankfully, there’s plenty of crowd-pleasing hacking of swords and twanging of catapults, too. Indeed, if the great flaw of the book is talkiness and, yes, a surfeit of exposition (“Henri had no liking for Baldwin, who’d been one of the two knights who’d broken formation at Arsuf, forcing Richard to commit to a premature charge”), the descriptions of action are uniformly well handled. In the hands of Robert Graves or Mary Renault, the material might have yielded a classic. As it is, a sturdy historical fiction.

SNUFF

Pratchett, Terry Harper/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $25.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-06-201184-8 Pratchett’s new Discworld (Unseen Academicals, 2009, etc.) novel—the umpteenth, but who’s counting?—features the Duke of Ankh, otherwise known as Commander Sir Samuel Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch, whose estimable wife, Lady Sybil, decrees that they shall take a vacation at her ancestral estate in the country. Sam meets the local aristocracy and receives invitations to a lot of balls. He introduces six-year old Sam Junior to the author of young Sam’s favorite book, The World of Poo. He faces down the irascible, aristocracy-hating local blacksmith and dines on Bung Ming Suck Dog. And, canny copper that he is, Vines, though out of his jurisdiction and out of his depth in a most alarming environment, senses wrongdoing. Sure enough, he’s soon contemplating the slaughtered corpse of a goblin girl. Problem is, the law doesn’t recognize the killing of goblins as murder. Still, there’s smuggling going on, much of it involving substances far less innocent than tobacco. Crime or no crime, Sam determines to investigate, even to the rank, fetid caves where the last few goblins, starving, hunted and miserable, live. Sam doesn’t fear the underground, being the Blackboard |

Monitor of the Dwarves. And tattooed on his wrist is a dreadful yet illuminating demon called the Summoning Dark, an entity that’s as determined as Sam to bring justice to the poor goblins, despite the law and those who have decided to make their own rules. Funny, of course, but with plenty of hard edges; and, along with the excellent lessons in practical police work, genuine sympathy for the ordinary copper’s lot. A treat no fan of Discworld—and there are boatloads of them—will want to miss.

SHARDS

Prcic, Ismet Black Cat/Grove (400 pp.) $14.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-0-8021-7081-1 paperback A playful but heartfelt debut reflects multiple aspects of the Bosnian War via the perspectives of one Muslim teenager who escapes military service and another who does not. Not just shards, fragments and brief episodes but a character who may be an alter ego or even nonexistent enhance the multi-faceted nature of Bosnia-Herzegovinian-born Prcic’s brightly detailed, sometimes hallucinatory story of the shattering impact of age-old enmity and conflict on a civilian population. His central character, also named Ismet Prcic, is observed in two timelines, growing up in Tuzla and as a refugee in the U.S. Diary accounts and notebook passages are interspersed with the story of another character, Mustafa. Although young Ismet finds himself living in a war zone in Bosnia, his life has its conventional dimensions too, like girlfriends and an interest in theatre which gives him his chance to escape the besieged city, to perform at the Edinburgh festival. Mustafa’s experience is more shape-shifting. Did he die in the shelling, or witness scenes of appalling brutality while serving in the military, or is he a character in the memoir Ismet is writing to deal with his post-traumatic stress disorder? Depressed, deserted, increasingly unhinged in California, Ismet sinks into despair, his story concluding with the sound of terror and Mustafa’s haunting presence. Too long, but evidence of a spirited, soulful talent. (Agent: PJ Mark)

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EVERYBODY’S RIGHT

Sorrentino, Paolo Europa Editions (400 pp.) paperback: $15.00 | October 1, 2011 paperback: 978-1-60945-052-6

Wine, women, song and drugs color the sprawling opinions of a world-famous Neapolitan crooner as narrated by an award-winning Italian film director. Sorrentino, whose brilliant film Il Divo won the Jury Prize at Cannes, makes |

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his fiction debut with the autobiography of lurid yet likable Tony Pagoda, “a screwy god of a man who can out-sing Sinatra,” whom we first meet performing at Radio City Music Hall, followed by a session with three Times Square hookers. Tony’s episodic account of his life is a nonstop onslaught of sex, profanity, high-rolling and low-dealing across decades. Highlights include the drugs shootout in which his dealer is killed and he is saved by Mr Heavy; his loss of innocence at the hands of imperious Baroness Fonseca; and his cockroach-ridden retirement in Brazil. Tony’s garrulous voice regales us with character portraits and philosophy, carnality, grotesqueries, smells, flavors, fluids and above all judgments on Italy. He is as corrupt and charismatic as his homeland to which he returns on the eve of the new millennium, courtesy of a nouveau plutocrat. Although happy to be reunited with his old musical crew, there is much to disparage—Italy is full of Ikea furniture, foreigners and figo, or “cool.” A furious, ironic, idiosyncratic, unexpurgated torrent, capturing Italian modernity through the lens of a monstrous character. Not for the faint-hearted.

THICK AS THIEVES

Spiegelman, Peter Knopf (320 pp.) $24.95 | $24.95 CD | July 26, 2011 978-0-307-26317-9 978-0-307-59680-2 CD Techno thieves fall out. Recruited and led by Declan, the kind of happy warrior who makes risk part of the fun, this information-age gang of five has done very well over the years. Larger than life, yes, but smart withal, Declan has an unerring instinct for talent: Bobby and Latin Mike, seasoned and tough, are thoroughly professional; Dennis is on a fast track to the hackers’ hall of fame; slinky Valerie can seduce a statue. And then there’s Carr, with “an engineer’s eye for operations,” the last to be recruited. Carr stifles all emotion, as if not to do so were to give an essentially hostile world an unwarranted edge. But this ex-CIA officer can be explosive. He is where he is now—a thief among thieves—because in a temper-tossed moment he punched out someone he absolutely shouldn’t have. And tightly wrapped Carr is surprisingly susceptible. Valerie quickly has him off balance. Success, once almost a given, has now become unsettlingly unpredictable, a situation greatly intensified by the sudden loss of their leader. Carr attempts to fill the vacuum, but with only limited effectiveness. Operations are one kind of thing, he learns, charisma quite another. Sniping develops, smoldering enmities flare up and flicker out, but all recognize that something inimical has sunk roots in their thieves’ den. One last job then, a big one, computer centered and extremely dangerous. Pull it off and they go home rich. Screw it up and maybe they don’t go home at all. Character-driven with a protagonist as enigmatic as he is compelling. But what really sets this apart is the quality of Spiegelman’s writing: “Backlit on the 14th tee, Mr. Boyce 1652

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is a slab of granite escaped from the quarry, or spare parts from Stonehenge.” It’s not every day genre prose gets that kind of polish (Red Cat, 2007, etc.).

THE BARBARIAN NURSERIES

Tobar, Héctor Farrar, Straus and Giroux (432 pp.) $27.00 | October 1, 2011 978-0-374-10899-1 Bad parenting and Hispanics working in Southern California are at the core of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Tobar’s novel. Scott and Maureen Torres-Thompson are living the good life in Orange County, but when money problems begin to arise they reluctantly let go of most of their Mexican employees, leaving only Araceli Ramirez, their live-in maid. But tensions escalate between Scott and Maureen, culminating in a horrific argument after Maureen has their tropical forest uprooted and replaced by a desert garden costing twice what their previous gardener had earned in a year. Both husband and wife leave the house in a rage, each thinking the other will stay and take care of their three children, but while Maureen leaves with babe-in-arms Samantha, the two boys—eight and 11 years old—are left behind with the maid. Araceli does what she can to contact her employers, but for a few days they’re incommunicado. When she begins to get desperate, she takes them on a journey to find their grandfather in the heart of Los Angeles. Soon Araceli recognizes the difficulty of her quest, for she’s working from an old photograph and an outdated address. Meanwhile, Scott and Maureen return home, expecting to find their boys, and experience moments of panic and guilt when they find the house empty. They assume Araceli has kidnapped their sons, and when police get involved, the case explodes into a cause célèbre with Araceli at the center. From her point of view, she’s merely taken the best care she can of the children, but from the parents perspective she’s put them into danger by taking them into the wilds of L.A. And Scott and Maureen are extremely uncomfortable disclosing their own complicity in the situation, for they have, though unknowingly, abandoned their two sons for a four-day period. A lively novel that examines both edgy stereotypes and uncomfortable truths.

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FRAIL

Turner, Joan Frances Ace/Berkley (384 pp.) $24.95 | October 4, 2011 978-0-441-02070-6 If you’re undead, a zombie or simply a human who enjoys reading about them, this novel will take you for a happily horrifying ride. Decades in the future, a plague destroys most of humankind along with zombies and the undead. Amy, the narrator, is a 17-year-old frail— a human, she believes—who struggles to survive along the shores of Lake Michigan. She meets a gaggle of undeads and zombies, some of whom don’t seem to have her best interests at heart. In fact, zombies may not have hearts at all, as they neither bleed nor breathe. Amy is a sympathetic character who is fierce when she has to be, although it’s mighty tough for her when she kills someone who won’t stay dead. It’s also tough on an innocent reader delving into his first zombie tale and trying to figure out what’s going on and whether the heroine is making any progress. Turner’s writing is exceptional, though, with an abundance of similes and graphic detail that turn the book into the horror fest it’s supposed to be. There is action aplenty to sweep the reader along, with no lack of surprising twists that make Amy’s life—if she really is alive—pure hell. “I haven’t had a really good hoo-kill in years,” an antagonist whispers. Hoo boy. Amy’s main motivations are to find her mother, who she is certain still lives, and to escape the clutches of creatures various and nefarious. Meanwhile, another character states a recurring theme: “It’s all death. Life’s just slow death, decay, rolling down this huge, endless slope with nothingness at the bottom…” Beyond that, any overarching plot is unclear to a reader who is mired in the page-by-page gore and nihilism. Perhaps a second reading? No. Ain’t gonna happen. The book should be a big hit with fans of the horrorzombie genre. But it’s unlikely to appeal to many readers outside that niche. (Agent: Michelle Brower)

IF JACK’S IN LOVE

Wetta, Stephen Amy Einhorn/Putnam (368 pp.) $24.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-399-15752-3 Caught between love and loyalty, young Jack cannot seem to make a decision that doesn’t feel wrong. In Wetta’s debut novel, Jack is a Witcher, son of a sometime mechanic, sometime unemployed hillbilly father and a poor-but-respectable mother. The Witchers are trash, publicly labeled as such. Their house, with a maybe-useful commode in the mostly dirt yard, scars El Dorado Hills, a 1967 Virginia suburb where good folks like the Coghills, Joyners and Kellners worry about Vietnam and integration and wish the |

Witchers elsewhere. But soon-to-be-13 Jack loves Myra Joyner, and that’s a problem. It happens too that Jack’s older brother, long-haired, pot-smoking Stanley, hates Myra’s bother, Duke University–bound Gaylord Joyner, recent usurper of good girl Courtney Blankenship’s affections. Wetta’s narrative weaves Jack’s pursuit of Myra around Stan’s tendency to bloody the nose of anyone who offers a slight, real or imagined, a trait inherited from Witcher senior. Jack’s ally in his quest is another outsider, Moses Gladstein, a Jewish jeweler from New Jersey. Myra likes Jack, primarily because Jack is the school’s smartest kid, and Stan has found a new love in Anya, hippie daughter of the Taylors, rich folk new in the neighborhood. The characters are realistic, especially the Witchers, even Stan, whose thin-skinned “Don’t tread on me” attitude ranges beyond the borders of sanity. Witcher-snobs are drawn with less intensity, although the white-bread image of a newly enrolled Klansman named Pudding hits the mark. Gaylord goes missing, Stan is accused and the Witchers are shunned and harassed. Jack puzzles through the story, but the dichotomy between his intellectual superiority and pubescent emotional behavior sometimes seems off-kilter. Jack understands that “Families live on loyalty more than love…” It’s the costs of loyalty that causes him pain. In the vein of To Kill a Mockingbird, but about class rather than race, and lacking a bit of its righteous moral clarity.

THE OUTLAW ALBUM

Woodrell, Daniel Little, Brown (176 pp.) $24.99 | October 5, 2011 978-0-31-605756-1

Twelve spare, haunting and brutal slices of country noir from the genre’s most gifted practitioner. From Woodrell, author of the brilliant Winter’s Bone, which was richly adapted into the Oscar-nominated 2010 film, now comes a collection of short fiction, previously published in outlets ranging from The Missouri Review and Esquire to hard-hitting anthologies like A Hell of a Woman. And boy, does Woodrell have a way with words. The first sentence of the first story captures its essence: “Once Boshell finally killed his neighbor he couldn’t seem to quit killing him.” In a sort of redneck therapy, one of the locals takes a squirrel rifle to his Northerly neighbor, then buries him back in the woods where he can take a hatchet to the man whenever he’s feeling ornery. The Edgar Award–nominated “Uncle” is even worse. When a country girl tires of her uncle’s raping and murdering lost tourists, she takes a pick-axe to him. There is “Twin Forks,” in which a man tries to recapture his youth only to stare murder in the eyes. And “Florianne,” which delves into a man’s paranoia over his daughter’s disappearance. There are war vets in “Night Stand” and “Black Step,” reeling in a world where violence follows them home, and even a brief visit to the old outlaw Jake Roedel in “Woe to Live On.” Woe, indeed. Hard words and harsh trials from a writer who knows all too well the frozen ground he occupies.

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“A peaceful rural town becomes the murder capital of England.” from twelve drummers drumming

m ys t e r y AS THE PIG TURNS

Beaton, M.C. Minotaur Books (288 pp.) $24.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-38702-0 Who but Agatha Raisin could spot such an unusual method of disposing of a body? A cold, dull January in the lovely Cotswold village of Carsley finds Agatha visiting the nearby village of Winter Parva for a pig roast. Just before the pig is placed on the coals, Agatha realizes that it is actually a man. The prospective dinner is Gary Beech, a village policeman widely detested for his nitpicking ways. His ex-wife, originally a plain Jane whose wealthy second husband had sent her off to the States for extensive plastic surgery, wants Agatha to look into the death of the first. Agatha’s suspicions of her new client’s story are complicated when she too is murdered, prompting Agatha to continue her investigation with hair-raising results. Agatha’s best detective, Toni Gilmour, has been looking for a new job ever since Agatha interfered with her love life, but she still has the rest of her seasoned crew and the help of her ex-husband and several friends. Threats against Agatha and her band suggest that this is a more complicated crime than she originally supposed. In the end, Agatha proves once more than even though she’s vain, nosy and man-crazy, she does have a knack for solving crimes. The uncompelling mystery doesn’t provide the brightest hour for the often-annoying Agatha (Busy Body, 2010, etc.). But she and the cleverly drawn satellites who surround her provide good value for the faithful.

TWELVE DRUMMERS DRUMMING

Benison, C.C. Delacorte (384 pp.) $22.00 | October 25, 2011 978-0-385-34445-6

A peaceful rural town becomes the murder capital of England. Rev. Tom “Father” Christmas and his daughter Miranda have moved to bucolic Thornford Regis after the appalling and unsolved inner-city murder of his wife. His wife’s sister Julia, a music teacher, and her husband Alastair, a physician, already live in the area, whose biggest mystery to date has been the sudden disappearance of Tom’s predecessor. Tom and Miranda are settling in nicely when a nasty murder interrupts the festivities at the village fair. The teenaged daughter of well-known musician 1654

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Colm Parry is found dead, her body hidden in a large Japanese drum. In his role as vicar, Tom finds himself privy to many confidences that reveal the sins his peaceful parish is hiding, stretching from theft and infidelity to murder. The suspects, varied and plentiful, range from an elderly retired army officer, whose stint in a Japanese prison camp left him with hate in his heart, to the church verger, who’s so far succeeded in hiding a truly dangerous secret from his past. Though he’s hampered in his search for the truth by the seal of confession, Tom still finds a way to unmask an unrepentant killer. The first in a planned series of 12 is a promising departure from Benison’s Her Majesty Investigates series (Death at Windsor Castle, 1998, etc.). This English village mystery moves slowly while the many interesting characters are fleshed out, but it proceeds deftly to a grim conclusion. (Agent: Dean Cooke)

A MORTAL TERROR

Benn, James R. Soho Crime (354 pp.) $25.00 | September 1, 2011 978-1-56947-994-0 At the behest of his Uncle Ike, aka Dwight David Eisenhower, Billy Boyle (Rag and Bone, 2010, etc.) chases the heinous Red Heart Murderer while the rest of the army chases Germans. January, 1944. The Allied forces, pushing toward Rome, are poised to establish a beachhead in the seacoast town of Anzio. Lt. Billy Boyle has other fish to fry. The Boston ex-cop must cope with a double homicide, a case the top brass views as fraught with implications. Lt. Landry, his neck broken, was found with a ten of hearts in his shirt pocket. Capt. Galante, strangled, had the jack. Are the inferences being drawn legitimate? Is some deranged mind planning an escalation from lieutenant on up to heaven knows how high? Once more it falls to Billy to sort out the trouble and put a stop to it. But this time young Billy is distracted. The woman he loves, a comrade in arms, is on a perilous espionage mission. And then, suddenly, unexpectedly, the kid brother Billy has spent a lifetime protecting is sent to a place where he can’t be protected. Though he needs total focus and full commitment as he pursues the fearsome Red Heart Murderer, Billy’s own heart is not quite engaged. The weakest of this much-praised series. Set against the fierce and pivotal battle of Anzio, which cost upwards of 7,000 Allied lives, Billy’s quest seems dwarfed.

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SÉANCE IN SEPIA

Black, Michelle Five Star (324 pp.) $25.95 | October 21, 2011 978-1-4328-2548-5 Real-life feminist Victoria Woodhull experiences the fictional consequences of free love. On a quest for stock for her father’s used-book store, Flynn Kiernan comes upon a “spirit photograph” featuring the three participants in the scandalous Free Love Murders in 1875 Chicago, where Alec Ingersoll was tried for the murder of his wife Medora and her lover, his best friend Cam Langley. When Flynn puts the photo up for auction on eBay, one bidder, Matt Holtser, asks to license rights for a book he’s working on. He and Flynn become romantically involved while tracking the history of the photo. Their search leads them to old trial records and Ingersoll’s request of noted spiritualist and free-love advocate Victoria Woodhull to conduct a séance that will disclose who really killed Medora and Cam. Did the overwrought Medora commit suicide? Did Cam, in despair over his disloyalty to Ingersoll, kill Medora and then himself? The Woodhull, as she was known, nearly comes to the same fate as Medora as she explores the dead woman’s relationships with the men in her life, including a stint as a photographer’s assistant that led her to a little foray into blackmail. Although The Woodhull will be able to sort through the events that resulted in the murders, her belief in the free love professed by the Oneida Community will be so sorely tested that she’ll pack in her own marriage and head for England to live out her life. Historical novelist Black (The Second Glass of Absinthe, 2003, etc.) is awkward at dialogue but dandy at plotting. And three cheers for Victoria Woodhull, whose place in the feminist pantheon is richly deserved.

SKELETON LETTERS

Childs, Laura Berkley Prime Crime (336 pp.) $25.95 | October 4, 2011 978-0-425-24389-3 An amateur sleuth seeks answers in the death of a friend. Although Carmela Bertrand still owns a scrapbooking store in New Orleans, she and her friend Ava are getting quite a reputation as crime solvers. So who better to look into the murder of their friend in St. Tristan’s Church? Since a valuable antique cross has gone missing and Carmela and Ava actually witnessed the mysterious hooded figure who took it, they quickly begin to search for answers despite dire warnings from Carmela’s boyfriend, Detective Edgar Babcock. Their hunt leads through weirdly varied strata of New Orleans: a soup kitchen run by |

Brother Paul, who might just be the hooded figure; a quirky religious group hidden in the bayous, who give the daring duo a very cold welcome when they brave the swamps to check them out; and the high-society Garden District, where Carmela has an unused home, the spoils of her divorce, that she’s talked into using for part of a Christmas tour. When they find a second body, they begin to wonder if this most recent outbreak of homicide is more than just bad luck. Despite the danger, however, they continue to search for a cold and clever killer. Prolific Childs’ seventh scrapbooking mystery (Fiber & Brimstone, 2010, etc.) is packed with fashion tips, appended scrapbook and cooking ideas—and a meandering tale of crime and detection as well.

LONDON CALLING

Craig, James Soho Constable (320 pp.) $25.00 | October 18, 2011 978-1-56947-990-2 A series of grisly murders spells trouble for the orderly transfer of power in a pivotal British General Election. Edgar Carlton and his twin Xavier are so rich, so handsome and so media-savvy that they’ve been dubbed the Golden Twins. Edgar, leader of the opposition in Parliament, is a shooin to be the next Prime Minister, with Xavier as his Foreign Secretary. But their royal road to coronation gets a rude jolt when someone begins carving up alumni of the 1984 Merrion Club, an exclusive Cambridge society. Now the brothers, once leading lights, are in imminent danger of both getting killed and, even worse, attracting the glare of publicity. This delicate case falls to bull-headed Inspector John Carlyle, whose repeated refusal to follow the police line and protect his undeserving fellow officers, duly documented in a series of gratuitous flashbacks, has made him an outlier distrusted by his boss, Supt. Carole Simpson, whose financier husband is in bed with the Golden Twins. True to form, Carlyle doesn’t exactly shine as a detective. But together with his sergeant, Joe Szyszkowski, he dutifully makes the rounds, asking obligatory questions, working his way up the greasy pole and increasingly getting stonewalled by practiced liars while he waits for inspiration to strike. At length it does, allowing an appropriately jaundiced conclusion. Journalist/TV producer Craig lards his familiar tale of revenge served cold with enough expository detail for a primer on politics and enough personal background about his hero to insure that his debut mystery won’t be his last.

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BURNED

Enger, Thomas Atria Books (368 pp.) $15.00 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4516-1645-3 paperback 978-1-4516-1646-0 e-book The latest in the endless series of claimants to Stieg Larsson’s throne brings a suitably damaged investigative journalist a new case. Two years after someone set fire to his home, killing his young son, memorably scarring his own face and torpedoing his marriage to fellow reporter Nora Klemetsen, Henning Juul is finally ready to return to his job at 123news. Or maybe not quite ready, since Heidi Kjus, one of the dozens of interns he trained, is now his boss, and Iver Gundersen, the newly poached reporter he’s been paired with is Nora’s boyfriend. Henriette Hagerup, the victim whose murder 123news, along with everyone else in Norway, is investigating, was stoned to death, her hand chopped off. Henning’s despised former schoolmate, DI Bjarne Brogeland of the Oslo police, assumes it’s an honor killing and goes after Henriette’s lover, cabdriver Mahmoud Marhoni, who obligingly answers his knock on the door by setting fire to his computer and leaping out his apartment window. But Henning, aided by a mysterious cyber-informant he knows only as “6tiermes7,” sees more deeply into the case. He learns Henriette had been jolted into submission by a stun gun before someone cast the first stone. He learns that under the supervision of Yngve Foldvik, of the Westerdals School of Communication, Henriette had been working with her friend Anette Skoppum on a film to be called A Sharia Caste. And once he reads Henriette’s screenplay, he sees a new dimension of the case the police have no inkling of. But witnessing a second murder and realizing the murderer has seen him too leave Henning in no shape to do his best work. Though it hits as many hot buttons as a Cosmopolitan quiz, Enger’s debut mystery is tangled, lumpy and forgettable. The keeper here is Henning, whom the fadeout launches toward a sequel.

DEAD BEAT

Hall, Patricia Creme de la Crime (224 pp.) $28.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-78029-004-1 The creator of Yorkshire reporter Laura Ackroyd (Dead Reckoning, 2003, etc.) moves south to launch a new series featuring aspiring photographer Kate O’Donnell. As the Mersey Beat rises in Liverpool, hordes of Scousers are leaving their hometown to seek their fortunes in London. First, Kate’s older brother Tom heads down to the Smoke, sending home no word of where he’s living. Then artschool grad Kate decides to try her luck, sleeping on the couch 1656

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of friend Marie Best’s Notting Hill apartment and working a temporary gig at the Ken Fellows Picture Agency that she hopes will last past Christmas. Since the other photographers, all male, ignore her, she has plenty of time to meet Marie so that the two can show photos of Tom around Soho, the district where her fashion-mad brother is most likely to live or work. But when they show his snap at ABC Books on Greek Street, they learn more than they wanted to know: Tom is gay, and he and his lover Jonathon Mason lived above the sleazy shop until someone slashed Mason’s throat. Pete Marelli, owner of ABC, sends Kate to talk to DS Harry Barnard. Even though Barnard works vice, not homicide, he’s Kate’s go-to because he knows Soho better than anyone else on the force. But do his ties to gangsters like Marelli, and fellow East-Enders Ray and Georgie Robertson, make Barnard an asset or a liability in Kate’s quest to find Tom? Kate’s debut offers a lively peek into the joys and challenges of the 1960s.

THE BLOOD RED INDIAN SUMMER

Handler, David Minotaur Books (256 pp.) $24.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-64835-0 978-1-4299-8393-8 e-book A suspended NFL superstar and his entourage move to Connecticut. Mayhem ensues. Middle linebacker Tyrone “Da Beast” Grantham, father of six children by five women, could use both a course in anger management and an adding machine. He’s settled his pregnant wife Jamella; her pretty teenage sister and singing sensation Kinitra; her father Calvin, a career criminal; his brother and financial advisor Rondell; his mother, a reformed prostitute; and assorted hangers-on in a 28-room beachfront mansion on Connecticut’s tony Gold Coast. Winston Lash, a neighbor who’s lost his sexual inhibitions to dementia, keeps sneaking onto Da Beast’s property to ogle bimbos partying. Another neighbor, über-salesman Justy Bond, regularly calls the cops to complain about the noise and debauchery. State Trooper Desiree Mitry, arriving to cool things down, meets paparazzi in the driveway filming Stewart Plotka’s rant about suing Da Beast for accosting his girlfriend in a restaurant encounter. The next day Des’ lover Mitch and his parents rescue Kinitra from drowning. When Des questions her, however, she refuses to discuss her near-death and possible rape, leaving everyone to assume Da Beast attacked her. And when Plotka and his attorney are shot dead by a gun taken from Da Beast’s nightstand, he’s also in line for Murder One. Des’ dad Buck, a Deputy Superintendent recovering from heart surgery, steps in to help, but it’s movie critic Mitch who pieces everything together after another murder and an explosive suicide. Des (black) and Mitch ( Jewish) are more appealing than usual (The Shimmering Blond Sister, 2010, etc.) as they deal with her father’s depression and his parents’ relocation.

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“A sleuth gets involved in a melancholy mystery.” from the lost women of lost lake

THE LOST WOMEN OF LOST LAKE

Hart, Ellen Minotaur Books (336 pp.) $25.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-312-61477-5 A sleuth gets involved in a melancholy mystery that unravels the dark past of a close friend. Restaurateur and amateur investigator Jane Lawless and the outrageous (and outrageously outfitted) Cordelia Thorn head to Lost Lake to provide cheer and respite to their friends Tessa and Jill. Jane imagines that her time will be spent cooking for the longtime couple while Tessa’s sprained ankle heals, but it appears that something much greater is amiss in their hosts’ apparently idyllic lives. Although Tessa’s anything but forthcoming about whatever’s bothering her, Jill implores Jane to dig a little deeper. The situation is complicated by the arrival of Tessa and Jill’s nephew Jonah. The teen, whose girlfriend Emily is a Lost Lake local, seeks refuge at his aunts’ place. In Jonah’s absence, it appears that Emily may have gotten involved with Kenny, Jonah’s closest childhood friend, though neither of the two is being open with Jonah about their new relationship. Tessa and Jill struggle to rise above Jonah’s teen drama while Tessa’s secrets threaten the health of their otherwise stable union. A new possible love interest, meanwhile, gives Jane a bit of drama of her own. A distinct improvement in this series, this tale is more coherent than its most recent predecessors (The Cruel Ever After, 2010, etc.), but also more somber in tone.

THE GRAVEDIGGER’S BALL

Jones, Solomon Minotaur Books (304 pp.) $24.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-312-58081-0

A Philadelphia crime spree featuring Edgar Allan Poe. Still in love with the serial killer who betrayed him, Detective Mike Coletti visits her grave at Fairgrounds Cemetery and is startled to see a younger, prettier version of her walking toward him. As Lenore Wilkinson, Mary’s half sister, nears him, a gun booms and a bullet narrowly misses her. In a flash, her companion Clarissa Bailey falls dead, a snippet from a Poe poem lies beside her, a thin mustachioed man in old-fashioned garb speeds away and a raven lifts off from its tree perch and departs. Officer Frank Smith, on patrol, chases the mustache but winds up buried alive. The autopsy reveals a cryptogram tattoo on Clarissa’s neck. Her husband explains that she was fascinated with Poe. Her obsession led her to a university scholar delving into Poe’s reputation as a seer, ever searching for “a secret that would literally change the course of mankind.” Before you can whisper “Nevermore,” the scholar is pecked to death by the raven and a cryptic message |

promises that someone will be back to claim Lenore. As the Gravedigger’s Ball, a fundraiser to underwrite cemetery maintenance, approaches, the cops must piece together clues from “The Gold Bug,” “The Black Cat” and “The Raven,” and Poe’s stint as a gravedigger at Fairgrounds. Meanwhile, pretty Lenore, a consummate liar, battles her husband John; a young widower joins his dead wife; and a major confrontation with the Daughters of Independence results in a conflagration as the raven disappears in the distance. An ineffective mating of police procedural, surreal horror and historical melodrama swaddled in lumpen prose from a seasoned author (The Last Confession, 2010, etc.) having a bad day.

A STUDY IN SHERLOCK Stories Inspired by the Holmes Cannon

Editor: King, Laurie R. Editor: Klinger, Leslie S. Bantam (400 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 25, 2011 978-0-8129-8246-6 paperback King (The Art of Detection, 2006, etc.) and Klinger (The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, 2004, etc.) offer a selection of tributes to The Great Detective. The 17 all-new entries range from homage to pastiche to mere whiffs of the deerstalker. In the comic-book format “The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story,” Colin Cotterill revels in being asked to contribute to such an important volume despite his complete ignorance of all things Sherlock. (His greatest concern seems to be avoiding “gaffs.”) Others are slicker. In “A Triumph of Logic,” Gayle Lynds and John Sheldon use Holmes proxy Linwood Boothby and his law clerk Artie Morey to prove that Emmy Holcrofts’s niece Ina Lederer did not really commit suicide. Lee Childs’ “The Bone-Headed League” gives the Doyle classic a modern twist, while S.J. Rozan retells Doyle’s tale from the opium-den-owners’ perspective in “The Men With the Twisted Lips.” Margaret Maron elevates Watson to the role of detective in “The Adventure of the Concert Pianist,” complete with Mrs. Hudson as his Watson, while in “The Case That Holmes Lost,” Charles Todd makes Conan Doyle the client, with lawyer John Whitman standing in for Holmes. Both Laura Lippman, in “The Last of Sheila-Locke Holmes,” and Jacqueline Winspear, in “A Spot of Detection,” trace the effect of too much Sherlock on young minds. Post-Holmes technology has its place. Dana Stabenow’s “The Eyak Interpreter” runs as a blog, and King and Klinger’s afterword offers a twitter exchange with King’s invention, Holmes’s wife Mary Russell. But the best stories focus on the universal appeal of Holmes. Tony Broadbent in “As to ‘An Exact Knowledge of London’ ” and Neil Gaiman in “The Case of Death and Honey” both explore the tantalizing question of how Holmes manages to be both fictional and immortal. Enough variety for the dabbler, together with enough reverence for the canon to appeal to the true Holmes addict. (Agent: Linda Allen)

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DOUBLE DEXTER

Lindsay, Jeff Doubleday (320 pp.) $25.95 | October 18, 2011 978-0-385-53237-2 Two sociopaths are a crowd, as MiamiDade forensic tech Dexter Morgan (Dexter is Delicious, 2010, etc.) realizes when he’s crowded by a wannabe who seems bent on taking over his gig as the bloody scourge of Miami’s worst citizens. Just as he’s cleaning up the considerable mess after executing Puffalump, né Steve Valentine, the pederast clown who’d killed at least three little boys before meeting his doom, Dexter realizes he’s been seen at work by someone driving a beat-up Honda. Once a series of unfortunate events allows the witness to connect a name to Dexter’s face, he announces his intentions via e-mail. There’s a new serial killer in town, smirks the unknown witness, and he intends to learn everything he can from Dexter and then toss his unwilling teacher aside. Of course, Dexter doesn’t take this threat to his star billing lightly. His attempts to track down the witness go south, though, when he stumbles over a victim butchered in much the way he would have done the job and hears police sirens in the distance. Dexter escapes this crime scene to return to his wife Rita, who’s obsessed with finding the perfect new house for their growing family—her daughter Astor, son Cody and newborn Lily Anne. But Dexter’s latest nemesis, remaining one step ahead of him, commits a copycat murder that reopens a case Dexter’s adoptive sister Deborah had just solved for Miami-Dade. This throws a deep professional shadow over both Debs and Dexter while the newbie plots his next move and Dexter wonders how he can kill his tormentor even though he’s being dogged by his old enemy Sgt. Doakes, and his hands are swollen by poison ivy. Lindsay, who remains less interested in mystery than in the archly virtuoso first-person narration of his appealingly monstrous Human Impersonator, provides another guilty pleasure. Really, really guilty. (Author tour to Miami, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Houston)

THE MISER OF CHERRY HILL

Mackay, Scott Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | September 1, 2011 978-0-7278-8038-3 1902. New York’s generally peaceable Fairfield is troubled by the murder of an exceptionably dislikable man. Miserly Ephraim Purcell collected enemies almost as readily as he did money. When he’s found shot dead, the event is shocking, certainly, but in a sense predictable after all. It’s equally predictable that Dr. Clyde Deacon will be doing a bit 1658

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less doctoring for a while. Fairfield Sheriff Stanley Armstrong, suddenly confronted by an inexplicable burst of outlawry, turns once again to his old friend, pins a deputy’s badge on his chest and drops the Purcell case in his lap. There’s no dearth of suspects, of course. As Doc’s investigation deepens, however, he finds that hostility lurks in some unexpected quarters and takes some unsettling forms. In addition to money and enemies, for instance, it seems that Ephraim also collected pretty women, some of whom objected fiercely to his manner of collecting. Meanwhile, all is not peaceable on Doc’s home front, where love is creating problems as knotty as the murder mystery, though he can take credit for a good many of those problems. Doc’s an above-average medical man, a competent sleuth, but a dud with the fair sex. When he describes himself as “hopelessly obtuse,” most readers will consider his confession an understatement. Mackay (The Angel of the Glade, 2010, etc.) presents an affable-enough protagonist, but the prose seldom rises above the pedestrian and the twists are more abundant than surprising.

WICKED AUTUMN

Malliet, G.M. Dunne/Minotaur Books (256 pp.) $23.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-312-64697-4 978-1-4299-8389-1 e-book A vicar is charged with investigating a small-town death in this characterdriven cozy. Max Tudor has left MI5 for a quieter life in the countryside of Nether Monkslip. Now the vicar in the small town, Max is living the restful, routine life he’s dreamed of until this year’s Harvest Fayre goes terribly wrong. Max is one of two people to discover the body of Wanda Batton-Smythe, Head of the Women’s Institute of Nether Monkslip, dead of an apparent allergic reaction. DCI Cotton, assigned to the case, is happy to have Max’s help in investigating, since both men suspect foul play. The leading question in Wanda’s mysterious death is who isn’t a suspect, for the pushy and forceful community leader could’ve counted most townspeople as enemies. As expected, Malliet (Death and the Lit Chick, 2009, etc.) assembles a quirky cast of characters for Max to interview, including passive local knitter Lily Iverson, Wanda’s shell of a husband Major Batton-Smythe and local New Age guru Awena Owen, Max’s close friend. As the personalities drive the action, Max slowly unravels the events that led to Wanda’s untimely demise. Another meandering whodunit where the virtuous are rewarded and the wicked punished, providing the sort of comfort a quintessential cozy can offer.

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BAD MOON

Ritter, Todd Minotaur Books (368 pp.) $25.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-62281-7 Finally, it’s open season on a serial killer who’s gone undetected for years. Perry Hollow, Pa., Police Chief Kat Campbell pitches in to help former state police officer Nick Donnelly solve a cold case. Years ago, when Kat’s father was chief, young Charlie Olmstead went missing. After his bike was found at the bottom of a waterfall, he was presumed drowned even though no body was ever found. Now his younger brother, famous author Eric Olmstead, is back in town to bury his mother. Her dying wish was for him to find Charlie, whom she always believed was still alive. Nick, injured and tossed out of the state police, now runs an agency specializing in cold cases. He is hired by Eric, whose high-school romance with Kat came to an abrupt end when he skipped town after graduation. Now the three team up to reopen the investigation of Charlie’s disappearance. A map and news clippings discovered in Eric’s house make the trio suspect that Charlie was just one of a series of vanished young boys. Now that the hard questions are being asked, a great deal of information missed in the original investigations, all thought to be accidents, is turning up—clues that may provide closure for grieving relatives. Kat and Nick’s second (Death Notice, 2010) draws you in irresistibly and doesn’t spit you out till the very end, your head spinning with surprising revelations.

THE RONIN’S MISTRESS

Rowland, Laura Joh Minotaur Books (336 pp.) $24.99 | September 13, 2011 978-0-312-65852-6

A veteran Japanese sleuth endangers himself to solve a tantalizing samurai murder mystery. 1703. In the middle of a blizzard, 47 samurai troops move silently through the frigid streets, stopping at a nondescript home from which they drag out an old man. With one stroke of his blade, the leader severs the man’s head, and a little boy blows a shrill whistle to indicate the task is done. The next morning, at Edo Castle, Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi is in a typically choleric mood. When Chamberlain Sano Ichiro (The Cloud Pavilion, 2009, etc.) intercedes after a particularly severe sentence, the shogun demotes him to a previous post, that of detective inspector in the police department. The ramifications of this action reverberate at home, where Sano’s son fights schoolmates who mock his father and Sano’s wife, Lady Reiko, gets the disappointing news from her matchmaker that the family has been rejected as unsuitable for a promising marriage. |

The apparently unenviable task of solving the samurai murder could be Sano’s opportunity to work his way back into the shogun’s good graces. But the further away from the castle he ventures to investigate, the more venomously his enemies at court wag their tongues to sabotage him. To solve the crime, Sano must go into the heart of danger. Based on a true story explained in an opening historical note, Sano’s 15th appearance unfolds with Rowland’s typical elegance, bolstered by its roots in reality and the family drama that nicely counterpoints the sleuthing adventure.

THE GOAT WOMAN OF LARGO BAY

Royes, Gillian Atria Books (320 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 4, 2011 978-1-4516-2741-1 paperback A newcomer with the social instincts of a wild animal disturbs the considerable peace of an out-of-the-way Jamaican town. It’s no wonder that when Eric Keller, who owns the Largo Bay Restaurant and Bar, and his bartender Shadrack Myers first spot Simone Hall perched on Eric’s tiny proprietary island, they mistake her for a goat. Simone, who’s returned to the land of her birth to recover from some traumatic experience she doesn’t want to talk about, doesn’t offer much in the way of human fellowship. Mainly, what she wants is to be left alone, and she’s willing to pay Eric an inflated rent to insure her privacy. Though Simone doesn’t exactly blossom in her solitude, there are distinct signs of renewal. She begins keeping a journal that often erupts into poetry. She accepts Eric’s solicitous visits and even comes to welcome them. But her privacy is exactly what doesn’t ensue. A pair of Shad’s friends soon spot her from their boat; Shad confirms that yes, there’s a woman living there; and the news is soon all over Largo Bay. Among the interested parties are Simone’s worried brother Cameron Carter, who, arriving from the U.S. in search of her, fills in Eric and Shad on what’s driven Simone to take refuge from the world. Equally though differently interested are Tiger Armstrong and his unsmiling friend Sharpie from out of town, who decide to take a few hours off from whatever nefarious errands they’re doing for shadowy American factory owner Milton Manheim and make a trip to the island in search of her. Despite elements of crime and mystery, Royes’ debut is only fitfully thrilling. It’s best approached as a charmingly lowkey account of how it takes a village to heal a careworn soul.

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“Someone is killing the most beautiful male prostitutes in New York.” from second you sin

GHOST HERO

Rozan, S.J. Minotaur Books (336 pp.) $25.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-312-54450-8 Now that she’s been rescued from her kidnappers (On the Line, 2010, etc.), Chinatown PI Lydia Chin deserves a bit of a holiday: a madcap search for some paintings that may or may not be authentic, and may or may not actually exist. Jeff Dunbar is clear about what he wants: to locate the most recent paintings by Chau Chun, the Ghost Hero late of the Beijing Art Institute. But he’s not clear about anything else. He doesn’t give Lydia his real name. He doesn’t tell her why he needs to hire a private eye, and one with no expertise tracking down artworks, to find the paintings instead of waiting for them to come on the market. He can’t explain why Chau would have any new work available when he was killed in Tiananmen Square 20 years ago. He doesn’t warn Lydia that he’s not the only person looking for the paintings. So she and her partner Bill Smith are dumbfounded when Jack Lee, the specialist friend of Bill’s they consult, tells them that he’s working the same case too. Once Jack reveals the identity of his client—Bernard Yang, the NYU professor who held the Ghost Hero’s hand as he died—the game is afoot, and what a game it is, with no bloodletting and not much suspense but more cons and double-crosses than The Sting. Before the case is finally laid to rest, Bill will disguise himself as wealthy, mobbed-up art patron Vladimir Oblomov and Jack as art authenticator Dr. Lin Qiao-xiang to fool greedy gallery owner Doug Haig, with new revelations of other players’ deceptions arriving every ten minutes. Pleasantly foolish, insubstantial and harmless, though Bill’s extended turn as Oblomov is a little hard to take. Are the lowlife creeps who chase high art really that gullible?

A KILLING IN CHINA BASIN

Russell, Kirk Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7278-8054-3 After four action-packed procedurals starring California Fish and Game Warden John Marquez (Redback, 2011, etc.), Russell moves to the big city for a more traditional but equally powerful tale of crime and punishment. The discovery of a bound and strangled Jane Doe in an abandoned building in San Francisco’s China Basin partners veteran Inspector Ben Raveneau with Elizabeth la Rosa, who’s been taken under the wing of Deputy-chief Edith Grainer and made a Homicide Inspector at the tender age of 32. Raveneau’s distracted from the case by the release from prison of computer 1660

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wizard Cody Stoltz, who served five years for shooting his friend John Reinert. Stoltz insisted the shooter was a mugger who happened onto the scene of the buddies’ quarrel over Erin Quinn, Reinert’s wife and Stoltz’s lover. Inspectors Ted Whitacre and Charles Bates saw the evidence differently, and a jury agreed with them. When Whitacre, dying of cancer, dies in what Raveneau thinks a suspiciously timed suicide and Bates’s wife is struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver, Raveneau has to suspect Stoltz, who says he’s innocent but taunts Raveneau with how pleased he is. Equally creepy is Carl Heilbron, the bodyshop technician who walks in, confesses to the Jane Doe murder (though he can’t supply the name of the deceased and gets crucial details wrong), then changes his mind and walks free. The intricate plot will lead to more killings, more discoveries of malfeasance and a lot more questions for Raveneau. The plot is upstaged by the brooding characters, good and evil, the snappy rhythms of Russell’s sharply observed prose and the promise of Raveneau’s return.

SECOND YOU SIN

Sherman, Scott Kensington (320 pp.) $15.00 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7582-6651-4 Someone is killing the most beautiful male prostitutes in New York. Generally speaking, Kevin Connor (First You Fall, 2008) is very comfortable with who he is. He’s deeply in love with his conflicted boyfriend, Officer Tony Rinaldi; he’s recently turned to the Unitarian Universalist Church; he volunteers at Sunday school. In fact, he confides, “if I weren’t making such easy money as a hustler, I could see being a teacher.” Except for scat, golden showers and “insertive sex,” which he reserves for noncommercial transactions, Kevin’s available for most any kink, and he makes most of his encounters with self-styled dentists, battling clowns and podiatrists with foot fetishes sound both funny and touching. Life would be perfect if only Tony could commit to being gay in general and to Kevin in particular, and if someone hadn’t declared open season on so many of Kevin’s colleagues. Brooklyn Ray is dead. So is Sammy White Tee. And Randy Bostivick’s in the middle of telling Kevin what a totally unexpected client he entertained recently when he’s hit by a speeding car. Readers who aren’t as new to the genre as Kevin and Randy will be somewhat less amazed by the identity of the mystery client. In lieu of surprise, Sherman offers a priceless sequence bringing together Kevin’s hairdresser mother with her idol, talk-show host Yvonne Rivera; a first-person narrative by turns catty and brightly didactic; and a heaping helping of sex in every flavor, including vanilla (though not the vanilla you think). Think of Frank Capra with fag-baiters, and you’ll have a sense of Kevin’s New York.

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“A murderous spin on the Canterbury Tales.” from troubled bones

BACKLASH

Spencer, Sally Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7278-8055-0 DCI Monika Paniatowski (Echoes of the Dead, 2011, etc.) is saddled with yet another case that threatens to end her career. To a man, the Whitebridge police think of Thomas Kershaw as a good bobby. And that includes Monika. But as a woman, she’s found the Chief Superintendent a bad boss ever since he failed to stem the tide of obscene pictures sent to her anonymously when she was just a sergeant. Her uncomfortable history with Kershaw complicates her assignment of finding his wife, who disappeared from their stately Victorian home while recuperating from a bout of flu. Nearly deranged by fear that his beloved Elaine will be harmed, Kershaw interferes repeatedly with the investigation, sending staffers to read files of his old cases; viewing the body of a young woman found dead after a similar disappearance; and interviewing a former sex offender who may have information about Elaine’s whereabouts. But Monika finds it hard to set limits with Kershaw because of both his men’s loyalty and her own antipathy, which makes her seem hopelessly prejudiced against a devoted husband’s frantic efforts to recover his wife. Her previous affair with Chief Constable George Baxter, now happily married, doesn’t help her either, since Baxter wants desperately to avoid being seen as soft on his former lover. So Baxter pushes Monika to find Elaine at all costs, even at the expense of other cases, like the death of prostitute Grace Meade, whose body was shoved into a toilet stall on the moor. Monika resists, putting her job in peril, because she knows that only a detached perspective will help her solve the case. Spencer’s apparent determination to make Monika an even greater maverick than her predecessor Charlie Woodend threatens to make this appealing series formulaic and predictable.

CITY OF SECRETS

Stanley, Kelli Minotaur Books (304 pp.) $24.99 | September 13, 2011 978-0-312-60361-8 Frisco is rocked by a brutal serial killer with a raw streak of anti-Semitism. After weeks of preparation, the San Francisco World’s Fair is set to open on May 25, 1940. Early that morning, the named corpse of beautiful Pandora Blake is found sprawled across a platform at the Artists and Models exhibition, the word “kike” carved into her body. Before contacting the police, the Exposition owner calls in hard-boiled Miranda Corbie (City of Dragons, 2010). Miranda feels an affinity for a young victim who, like herself, was once a small-town |

girl from Omaha. The private eye’s relationship with Captain O’Meara is strained at the best of times; the fair’s importance and a heat wave do nothing to ameliorate their conflict. Under police pressure, she gets fired from the gig. But, lacking another case at the moment, she can’t help trying to do right by Pandora, whose friends freely offer opinions about her killer. Both hardbitten Sheila and much-younger Loretta finger Henry, a violent animal trainer. When Miranda questions him, his pent-up rage is so palpable that she reaches for her .22. The Chesterfield-smoking gumshoe has a haunted past, revealed in snippets of flashback. Developments in the case come rapid-fire, beginning with the similar murder of Annie Learner, who also worked at Artists and Models. When ex-cop Gerry Duggan is arrested for both crimes, Miranda takes on the unsavory job of proving his innocence. Stanley’s brittle prose and period touches effectively capture the feeling of ’40s noir, even if the somber tone seems forced at times.

TROUBLED BONES

Westerson, Jeri Minotaur Books (320 pp.) $25.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-62163-6 A murderous spin on The Canterbury Tales. Disgraced knight Crispin Guest has gained such a reputation as a tracker of criminals (The Demon’s Parchment, 2010, etc.) that the Archbishop of Canterbury calls on him to investigate a threat against the bones of Saint Thomas Becket. The archbishop suspects a plot by the Lollards, whose attack on papal authority and church doctrines has the veiled approval of some of the highest in the land, including Guest’s former lord, the Duke of Lancaster. Guest and his servant Jack are staying at an inn that also houses Geoffrey Chaucer, a friend of Guest from the days when Guest was still a favorite of Lancaster, and many of the characters who are due to be immortalized in his Canterbury Tales. When the prioress is murdered and Becket’s bones go missing, Guest has his work cut out for him. A second murder only confuses his task. The archbishop wants the murders solved, the bones returned, and the Lollards rooted out. When Chaucer’s dagger is used as a murder weapon, Guest has to look deep into the past and the death of Becket in order to save his old friend from the hangman’s rope. Westerson’s latest medieval noir is a very readable combination of historical fact and mystery even though it telegraphs the killer’s identity early on.

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SPELLBOUND

science fiction and fantasy THE TRAITOR’S DAUGHTER

Brandon, Paula Spectra/Bantam (432 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 4, 2011 978-0-553-58380-9 paperback In a debut fantasy, the first of a series, a young woman begins discovering her hidden strengths in a rebellion-torn land that will soon face a much greater threat. The city of Vitrisi despises Magnifico Aureste Belandor, a collaborator with the conquering Taerleezi. The only one who loves him unreservedly is his daughter Jianna, a clever, spirited young woman who’s been carefully kept from discovering her father’s true nature. Some hint of the truth slowly dawns when she’s kidnapped en route to her wedding by distant relatives whom her father robbed of their rightful place. Faced with a new marriage with her thuggish cousin, Jianna’s only hope is Falaste Rione, a brilliant doctor loyal to her harsh, vengeance-obsessed prospective mother-in-law, but who develops sympathy for the bride-tobe when she’s forced to serve as his assistant and turns out to be surprisingly competent at it. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to everyone but the most skilled arcanists, the entire world is endangered by the imminent reversal of the Source, responsible for maintaining the world’s magical and physical laws; this detail plays only a minor role in the book, but will clearly take center stage in later installments. Brandon’s world-building is acceptably solid and character development is fairly rounded, particularly that of Dr. Rione and Magnifico Vinz Corvestri, a resistance supporter desperate for the love of his dutiful wife. However, other character behaviors seem questionable. Given the Marquis Belandor’s blunt refusal to accept any fact that doesn’t accord with his desires, how could he be capable of the subtlety required to reach his present position? Why does the supposedly intelligent Jianna never wonder why none of her noble peers want to associate with her? A decently accomplished maiden effort; worth hanging in there to see what develops.

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Charlton, Blake Tor (416 pp.) $24.99 | September 1, 2011 978-0-7653-1728-5 Two magicians seeking escape from a demonic plot fall in love in the second volume of an epic fantasy trilogy. Ten years after the events of Spellwright (2010), the physician Francesca DeVega discovers that her city of Avel is now secretly controlled by the demon Typhon, in preparation for the Disjunction, a prophesied demonic invasion. She is apparently key to Typhon’s plot to recruit Nicodemus Weal, the outlaw spellwright destined to play a (as yet undefined) role in the Disjunction and whose cacography causes him to misspell most magical texts and prevents him from touching other living beings. Tensions rise as the city becomes overrun by various political, religious and magical factions who have their own beliefs about the looming Disjunction. To make matters worse, the Savanna Walker, Typhon’s half-draconic creation, roams the streets, causing blindness and aphasia; a second threatened dragon remains hidden. As Francesca (at first reluctantly) joins Nicodemus in his quest to thwart Typhon, find the second dragon and recover the emerald that will cure his cacography, she learns one more devastating truth—about herself. Middle volumes are always tricky, but Charlton succeeds brilliantly here; this is no mere setup for the final installment. By shifting locales from the first book, he widens the reader’s view of the author’s richly detailed world, characters, and magical systems, all of which are informed by his experiences as a medical student and a severe dyslexic. Absolutely not to be missed.

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nonfiction INVISIBLE MEN Men’s Inner Lives and the Consequences of Silence

THE RARE FIND Spotting Exceptional Talent Before Everyone Else

Addis, Michael E. Times/Henry Holt (304 pp.) $26.00 | December 20, 2011 978-0-8050-9200-4

Another pop psychology book about the need for men to get in touch with their emotions and break the silence that keeps their fears hidden. Addis (Psychology/Clark Univ.; co-author: Overcoming Depression One Step at a Time, 2004, etc.) draws on research interviews, conversations with former clients of his counseling practice and personal experiences to delineate the problem he sees as men’s inability to recognize and speak out about their vulnerabilities. Anecdotes about men and their problems abound, making this an easy read. Keeping silent about their inner lives, writes Addis, is a survival strategy that boys adopt early in lives when they are learning to define themselves as masculine. Being silent about one’s feelings is not an inherently masculine trait, but a learned one, and being more open does not mean becoming more feminine. The author’s message about the silence and vulnerabilities of men and the harm that this can cause is directed toward women at least as much as toward men. Straightforward but somewhat repetitious chapters include questions for both sexes to ask themselves and exercises for both to perform, and simple charts and diagrams summarize his concepts. Addis counsels women, often the primary emotional caretakers of the men in their lives, to avoid “mothering,” and instructs men in how to overcome their fears, take stock of their relationships and improve their friendships with other men. The penultimate chapter focuses on handling life’s most stressful events: divorce, job loss, illness and death of a loved one—times when men may need help, even professional help, but are reluctant to seek it. In a weak final chapter, Addis looks briefly at the ways in which societal change can alleviate the problem—e.g., developing public policies that make men’s well being a major social concern. User-friendly self-help more likely to be read by a wife concerned about her husband’s mental health than by the invisible man himself. (Agent: Lane Zachary)

Anders, George Portfolio (288 pp.) $26.95 | October 18, 2011 978-1-59184-425-9

How-to for headhunters seeking raw, undiscovered talent from the New York Times bestselling author of Perfect Enough. With a maddening number of applications to sift through each day, how can a talent hunter be sure that the best candidate on paper is really the best one for the job? Anders argues that tomorrow’s high-performing executives aren’t necessarily found on the higher rungs of existing company ladders. In a digital environment driven by keywords, his guide offers a welcome lifeline for candidates who rarely make the top of the search results by taking a refreshingly personal rather than objective approach to making hiring decisions. Comparing the top performers in arenas like professional sports, Hollywood and the military to those with less glamorous occupations, Anders explains the subtler clues wise recruiters use to spot a future star—and charisma is not on the list. He offers fascinating insight into why companies like Goldman Sachs prize ambition over Ivy League educations and how Jeff Bezos scraped together his first million to create Amazon. The result is not so much a formula for finding talent as it is a mindset of being willing to take a risk on prospects with limited experience in order to create—not just poach—potential stars. A lively and nuanced look at the hiring process.

CONVERSATIONS WITH CLINT Paul Nelson’s Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood—1979 to 1983

Editor: Avery, Kevin Continuum (240 pp.) $19.95 paperback | October 6, 2011 978-1-4411-6586-2 paperback This collection of previously unpublished, exhaustive interviews from three decades ago has a conversational intimacy that reveals as much about the journalist as they do about an actor-director he obviously worships. The late Paul Nelson was a prescient critic, from his 1960s advocacy of the evolving Bob Dylan through his championing a

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decade later of the New York Dolls as pre-punk avatars and his late-’70s assessment of Clint Eastwood: “as imaginative and as different as any American director I can name.” This was well before critical acclaim and Oscars started flowing toward Eastwood, who was regarded as a spaghetti western star of limited range (a reactor rather than an actor) and reviled by the left as a Dirty Harry fascist. Readers who associate the veteran Rolling Stone editor-critic so strongly with music might be surprised to learn that his first love was film, and that Eastwood matched him reference for reference as their discussion ranges from Bergman to Kurosawa to Pauline Kael (the influential New Yorker critic who was particularly anti-Eastwood). “This book is a miracle,” says the introduction by Jonathan Lethem (who based an indelibly obsessive character in Chronic City on Nelson), and it’s a miracle that Nelson was unable to perform. Despite 17 hours of interview tape, he never made it past page four in the manuscript for his aborted cover story. Contributing to his writer’s block was his admiration for the artist. Editor Avery, who did a yeoman’s job of making the transcript flow chronologically, writes that Nelson was “as much a fan as he was an objective journalist”—though, in the case of Eastwood and others, Nelson was plainly much more of a fan than objective. Paralyzed by what his subject might think of the story as well as the daunting prospect of way too much material, he wrote little from this and published nothing, leaving the tapes for posthumous discovery. There are better books on Eastwood, from a more recent perspective, but these fan’s notes reflect extraordinary access and frequent illumination.

A SAVAGE EMPIRE Trappers, Traders, Tribes, and the Wars that Made America

Axelrod, Alan Dunne/St. Martin’s (336 pp.) $25.99 | December 6, 2011 978-0-312-57656-1 e-book 978-1-4299-9070-7

In a conversational style, Axelrod (Generals South, Generals North: The Commanders of the Civil War Reconsidered, 2011) explains how the beaver’s pelt was the impetus that brought the English and French to North America and instigated their quarrels as they strove to control the New World. The author effortlessly explores the connections from Samuel Pepys’ hat to the first true “world war,” the Seven Years’ War. Without the Native Americans, there would never have been a fur trade. The six nations of the Iroquois played the largest part in helping both the French and English establish their trade, cleverly playing each nationality off the other. As the French king put more emphasis on the establishment of agrarian societies in the New World, the English stepped in and took advantage of the Indians’ vast knowledge. Where the French sought to integrate with the Indians, the English preferred to replace them. Still, the Indians knew a great deal more of the diplomacy of divide and conquer than the Europeans. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, 1664

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the colonizers treated the Indians alternately as clients, trading partners, allies, rivals or enemies—whichever would help establish their claim on the areas rich in beavers. Their ambitions were alternately imperial, military, territorial and/or commercial. Ultimately, though, profit and land acquisition was the motive. As the English and French fought through a series of wars, the degree of alliance with the different Indian tribes easily drew the advantage to one side or the other. Axelrod deftly navigates the many shifting alliances while delivering a readable history. A solid exposition of the struggles for the peltries of North America as they established the economy and the politics of the new country and wrote its history.

MRS. NIXON A Novelist Imagines a Life Beattie, Ann Scribner (320 pp.) $26.00 | November 15, 2011 978-1-4391-6871-4

Best known for her short fiction (The New Yorker Stories, 2010, etc.), Beattie circles around an enigmatic First Lady in an odd text that takes a lit-crit approach to a biographical subject. The subject is Pat Nixon, the model political wife who stood silently by her husband during such humiliating episodes as Richard Nixon’s “Checkers speech” and his resignation in disgrace after the Watergate scandal. Beattie conveys considerable factual information: Mrs. Nixon’s birth name was Thelma; both parents were dead by the time she was 18; she acted in amateur theater and briefly considered a career in movies; she hesitated a long time before marrying Nixon; she didn’t much like his being in politics; she advised him to destroy the tapes of his conversations about Watergate. The author’s real interest, however, is trying to get inside the head of a woman who never wrote a memoir and kept her public comments as innocuous as possible. To this end, Beattie examines specific aspects of Pat Nixon’s life and character through the lens of various short stories. Raymond Carver’s deadpan tone in “Are These Actual Miles?” spurs her to see more than banality in 12-year-old Thelma’s conventional remark about her mother’s corpse looking beautiful. Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Little Dog” shapes her view of Pat and Dick’s courtship. A few bravura passages validate this approach, and a marvelous chapter entitled “The Writer’s Feet Beneath the Curtain” suggests that Beattie, a professor of literature and creative writing at the University of Virginia, must be a terrific teacher. She fails to convince, however, that fictional techniques are more than tangentially revealing of Pat Nixon’s inner life, and chapters purporting to be narrated by the First Lady are similarly unpersuasive. There’s a whiff of condescension about the whole enterprise, and when a chapter describing “My Meeting with Mrs. Nixon” [p134] is immediately followed by one titled “I Didn’t Meet Her,” readers may well feel that Pat isn’t the only one being patronized here. Self-indulgent though fitfully intriguing.

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“Political, economic and art history effectively combine with memoir to create a compelling story.” from good living street

IMAGINE NO RELIGION An Autobiography

Bonpane, Blase Red Hen Press (224 pp.) $24.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-59709-670-6 paperback

Heady reflections on a lifetime of activism. Throughout the book, Bonpane (Civilization Is Possible, 2008, etc.) reflects on Christianity, America, and the gulf between the developed and developing world. Ordained asa priest in 1958, the author was soon at odds with the Catholic establishment and eventually struck out on his own, even marrying. He points out that he never left the Church and is still a priest, even if not in good standing with the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In the mid-’60s, Bonpane became involved in the violent atmosphere in Guatemala, the first of many connections to Central and Latin America throughout his life. He went on to become a visible member of the antiwar movement during Vietnam, while continuing an interest in other questions of foreign and domestic policy. After an unsuccessful run for Congress, Bonpane worked for the United Farm Workers with César Chávez. This was followed by heavy involvement with the Nicarauguan Revolution and leadership in the Office of the Americas. Reading Bonpane’s memoir is like exploring a mini-history of liberal activism over the last 45 years. From Kent State to Rodney King, Bonpane seemed to always have a connection to the flashpoints in modern American history. The author is not afraid to speak his mind or tip sacred cows—e.g. “As is the case of Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the Central American Wars were pure and simple state terrorism on the part of our country.” Despite a heavy emphasis on the story of his activism, Bonpane always comes back to issues of religion, addressing his belief in liberation theology and in a universalist, non-sectarian adherence to faith. A fascinating read for students of modern American liberalism and foreign policy.

GOOD LIVING STREET Portrait of a Patron Family, Vienna 1900

Bonyhady, Tim Pantheon (400 pp.) $35.00 | November 15, 2011 978-0-307-37880-4 978-0-307-90681-6 e-book

Australian art historian Bonyhady (Words for Country: Landscape & Language in Australia, 2001, etc.) revisits the lives and collections of several generations of his family, members of whom had to flee the Nazis. When the Nazis swooped into Vienna, the author’s grandmother, grandaunt and mother escaped the country with “the best private collection of art and design to escape Nazi Austria.” As a boy, the author saw some of this in Sydney and, later, was |

inspired to research and write the story of the women, only one of whom, his mother, remained alive. And she was reluctant to revisit her life. Bonyhady proceeds chronologically, relating the history of Jews in Vienna, the cultural ambiance of the city and the genesis of the fortune accumulated by his great-grandparents, a fortune enjoyed and increased until the worldwide depression and the Nazis fractured it. Members of his family were friends with Mahler, collected the works of Gustav Klimt, lived in spaces designed by Josef Hoffmann and experienced luxury and comfort unknown to most Viennese. Their neighborhood included Wohllebengasse, the street whose name in English translation forms Bonyhady’s title. Although the author spends some space cataloging his family’s possessions (and they were impressive), he confesses, too, that such wealth embarrasses him. The author was fortunate that these women were fairly fastidious about keeping diaries and letters and programs to the opera and such, and he mines them assiduously for material. He tells of love affairs (licit and otherwise) and marriages (successful and otherwise) and saves the real excitement for the women’s escape from Europe in 1938, their resettlement in Australia, their adjustment to a more austere life and the sales of their possessions. Political, economic and art history effectively combine with memoir to create a compelling story. (8-page color insert)

WORM The First Digital World War

Bowden, Mark Atlantic Monthly (272 pp.) $24.00 | October 14, 2011 978-0-8021-1983-4

From the author of Black Hawk Down, a different sort of blood-and-thunder heroism narrative, out on the frontiers of cybercrime. Journalist Bowden (The Best Game Ever: Giants vs. Colts, 1958, and the Birth of the Modern NFL, 2008, etc.) enthusiastically explains that world commerce faces serious threats from malware, especially “botnets,” networked computers with a customized hidden infection that can be triggered by the malware programmer for any number of vicious effects. The largest such threat to date became known as Conficker when it surfaced abruptly in 2008. Much of Bowden’s narrative documents the work of a disparate, volunteer group of early Internet pioneers, ex-hackers and driven cyber-security professionals who came together, mostly online, to form the Conficker Working Group or (its preferred name) The Cabal. Initially, the group felt confident in their collective, improvised efforts to minimize the worm’s ability to infect individual computers and form a botnet; they were thus increasingly alarmed when Conficker was twice upgraded in sophistication by its mysterious programmers. Worse, their attempts to alert federal authorities were met with comical paranoia and ineptitude. Since Conficker functioned by randomly infecting large quantities of domain names, it was particularly difficult to counteract; yet, after much tension, the activation date for the botnet came and went to no apparent

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effect. Bowden notes that “the prospect of nothing happening... had actually become the prevailing theory of The Cabal itself.” Still, Cabal members and Bowden both insist that the danger was not overstated. The author concludes that Conficker proves that “carefully tailored targeted attacks” are the wave of the future, using as an example the Stuxnet worm that attacked Iranian nuclear-production facilities. Bowden is a sharp, funny writer who can convey a complex narrative in crisp terms, but due to the subject matter, this remains an airy and less-engaging book than his best-known works. A brief, punchy reminder of our high-tech vulnerabilities. (Author tour to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle. Agent: Jennie Dunham)

AMERICA THE VULNERABLE Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and Warfare

Brenner, Joel Penguin Press (352 pp.) $27.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-59420-313-8

A former National Counterintelligence Executive for the NSA writes that the United States is right now being infiltrated by online spies, thieves and virtual warriors. While that may sound dire—and it is—Brenner’s tone throughout is less alarming than resolute. His main point is that leaders in both the private and public sectors, who have known about these threats for years, need to finally get serious about defending the nation’s secrets, wealth and electronic infrastructure. The author’s background as a former anti-trust prosecutor is on impressive display as he mounts his case with meticulous attention to detail. He begins with the fact that private information is now open for inspection, but waning of personal privacy is only a hint of the insecurity the digital age has brought about. Malware from infected e-mail attachments, websites, thumb drives or even silicon chips can commandeer our computers for nefarious purposes an ocean away while we sleep. They can also open portals into corporate or government systems, allowing foreign agents to swipe their secrets or potentially take control of anything they operate over the Internet, including regional electricity grids and other essential infrastructure. Brenner notes that China has, since the early 1980s, been preparing for a new kind of warfare, aimed specifically at the U.S., that can be waged entirely via electronic signals. In one provocative chapter titled “June 2017,” the author plausibly outlines the events of a hypothetical “war” between the U.S. and China for control of the Asian Pacific, culminating in a private demonstration to the president and his national-security team of China’s ability to shut down the nation’s electrical grid at will. “With the exception of successful attacks on our electricity grid,” writes the author, “virtually every aspect of this fictional scenario has already happened.” The final chapter offers multiple steps we can take to radically improve national cyber-security. A sobering, sober-minded manifesto. 1666

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SUICIDE OF A SUPERPOWER Will America Survive to 2025?

Buchanan, Patrick J. Dunne/St. Martin’s (480 pp.) $27.99 | October 18, 2011 978-0-312-57997-5 Buchanan (Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, 2009, etc.) mourns the passing of the America of his youth. The author laments the fading of the Christian religion from American life because he sees it as an indispensable underpinning of our common culture. He notes the social ramifications of the collapse of the family—birthrates below replacement levels, skyrocketing illegitimacy rates—as a result of which whites in American will become a minority by 2042 and entire nations in Europe and Asia are headed for extinction. He fears the nation has abandoned its historic commitment to liberty and equality of opportunity to pursue a chimerical utopia of diversity and equality of result. In short, “[w]e are trying to create a nation that has never before existed, of all the races, tribes, cultures and creeds of Earth, of which all are equal. In pursuit of the perfect society of our dreams we are killing the country we inherited—the best and greatest on earth.” Despite the gloomy title, Buchanan does not really see America disappearing by 2025. He does see culture wars without end and a continuing self-segregation of Americans by ethnic group. While he offers some policy recommendations of uneven quality, many of the trends he deplores—the diminishing influence of Christianity, for example, and the vanishing fertile nuclear family—are prevalent throughout Western culture and all but immune to government influence. Liberals may rightly dismiss this sprawling, often rambling book as nativist claptrap. Readers willing to excuse the nods to predictable right-wing shibboleths and bogeymen will find it a troubling analysis of how America has changed for the worse in the last half century, and how difficult it will be to pull it back from the loss of freedom and prosperity Buchanan sees not far ahead.

WAR OF THE WORLDVIEWS Science vs. Spirituality

Chopra, Deepak Mlodinow, Leonard Harmony (336 pp.) $26.00 | October 4, 2011 978-0-307-88688-0

An alternatingly enlightening and frustrating dialogue between one of the world’s greatest physicists and one of its greatest metaphysicists. What is life? Is the universe conscious? What is the connection between mind and brain? Is God an illusion? These

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are some of the questions pondered and debated by Mlodinow (Theoretical Physics/CalTech, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives, 2008, etc.) and Chopra (Muhammad, 2010, etc.), who alternate writing short essays and responses. Chopra is known for his self-help books and his user-friendly, Eastern-lite philosophy, and he posits that scientists, with their materialist methods and concerns, have blinded themselves to the deeper realities of a universe infused with love and consciousness. He sees science as a cudgel used to beat spirituality into the dust. Mlodinow attempts, at first patiently but with increasing exasperation, to explain what science is and what it is meant to accomplish. He repeatedly stresses that “wish fulfillment should not shape our worldview.” His rationality and sardonic wit get the better of Chopra at nearly every turn; the latter exhibits occasional flashes of inspiration but evinces throughout a willful ignorance of the scientific method and a penchant for using words like “quantum” or “relativity” merely as meaningless props to buttress his fuzzy, deliberately vague spirituality. Though some readers may allow themselves to be convinced by his mantra that everything will be all right no matter what because the universe loves us, he fails to present a case for why science should unquestioningly accept his insights. A useful primer on the virtues of clear thinking, but somewhat lacking in substance.

HOW TO BUILD A TIME MACHINE The Real Science of Time Travel

Clegg, Brian St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | December 6, 2011 978-0-312-65688-1 Not quite a how-to, but a survey of the science behind time travel—if any-

one ever invents it. British pop-science writer Clegg (Inflight Science: A Guide to the World From Your Airplane Window, 2011, etc.) notes that time travel is not just a trope of science fiction any more. Increasingly, serious physicists accept that travel to the future and back, or to the past and back, is theoretically possible. The laws of physics provide a few interesting options, and examining them provides an opportunity to look at some interesting corners of modern science. Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity describe how motion and gravity affect objects and people. Movement at high speeds, or in powerful gravity fields, changes the rate at which time flows. GPS systems have to adjust for discrepancies between clocks in orbit and those on the ground. These effects can slow time down so travelers can visit distant futures without living through all the years between. Of course, there are problems with these theories: Gravitational fields strong enough to slow time also create tidal forces that can rip matter apart. Other theoretically feasible methods of time travel require building structures such as cylinders of infinite length—hardly a practical option. Clegg also dissects schemes such as going into the past |

and playing the stock market armed with foreknowledge of what will rise or fall. He covers most of the themes advanced by science fiction, plus some of the more adventurous scientific minds, generally avoiding math or tricky technical details. A solid overview of some of the quirkier corners of physics, with an entertaining connection to pop culture.

DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity

Cohen, Kerry Sourcebooks (256 pp.) $14.99 paperback | September 1, 2011 978-1-4022-6069-8 paperback Cohen (Loose Girl, 2009) broadens her examination of promiscuity by sharing stories of women from varying backgrounds and experiences. The author asserts that she wrote the book because many women “wanted answers, a formula, to get themselves to a new place, to stop harming themselves with their promiscuity.” As in many works that explore women and self-image, Cohen discusses how media and society’s distortion of women’s roles starts early, often before we even realize what is happening. She relates how, despite careful parenting, she noticed that when her 3-year-old son put on a cape, the people he pretended to save were always female. With respect to technological advancements in society, Cohen includes a chapter titled “Brave New World,” which tackles modern topics like sexting and online chatting. Young girls use these avenues to explore their sexuality; the author provides an example of Amelia, who uses “sexting and cyber sex to pick up boys she likes who she meets in school, but is too shy to speak to in person.” Cohen goes on to say that Amelia admits that she uses this activity obsessively and gets insulted when rejected. The author offers tangible advice including how sharing stories and creating new habits, such as self-reflection and setting boundaries, can address this issue. Largely anecdotal but serves as an engaging catalyst for discussions about a taboo issue.

PENIS POWER The Ultimate Guide to Male Sexual Health

Danoff, Dudley Seth Del Monaco Press (352 pp.) $15.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-0-9831998-3-0 paperback

A practical, meaty manual for everyman’s manhood—and the women (and men) who love them. During the last few decades of author Danoff ’s 30 years as a practicing urologist, he began to notice

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the distressing trend of “penis weakness,” which he describes as the general unawareness of a male’s true phallic potential. The author expands on recommendations to assuage this condition found in his first handbook (Superpotency: How to Get It, Use It, and Maintain It for a Lifetime, 1993), aiming to unlock the secrets to maximizing male sexual ability. Danoff ’s approach, however, isn’t always balanced. He does little justice to the male species by compartmentalizing them as defenseless slaves to their sexuality (“When ‘King Penis’ issues a command, a man has little power to disobey”), yet he redeems himself when more appropriately focusing on pertinent issues like managing functional impairments (yes, size matters), sexually transmitted diseases, prostate problems, potency (“anxiety in any shape or form is the worst enemy of the penis”) and andropause (male menopause). Having treated HIV patients in his practice, Danoff reiterates the importance of being smart, responsible adults in this “sexually dangerous” age; however, his assertion that anal intercourse with a condom is still “highly risky” will seem unnecessarily cautionary to anyone knowledgeable in safer-sex practices. Many sections are prefaced with basic anatomical information, which make the book ideal for younger readers who may need an accessible crash course in male sexuality. Also helpful are tips on overcoming the harmful mindsets and negativity responsible for a penis “falling down on the job” and a uniformly informative “Frequently Asked Questions” chapter. Entertaining and edifying (if a bit repetitive), Danoff ’s headstrong approach forms a positive step toward understanding and trumping the conundrums of phallicism. A solid resource on handling the ups and downs of male genital health.

HIGH LINE The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky

David, Joshua Hammond, Robert Farrar, Straus and Giroux (256 pp.) $27.00 paperback | October 18, 2011 978-0-374-53299-4 paperback

The chronological metamorphosis of an abandoned railroad into an urban park, and the two men behind the process. When David and Hammond first began thinking about saving the High Line, an elevated rail structure on New York City’s West Side, they had no idea they were embarking on a 10-year journey. They just wanted to save this “tremendous sense of space” full of “waist-high Queen Anne’s lace” from being destroyed, to transform the abandoned rail bed into a “place where people would come to stroll just for the sake of strolling.” Split into two parts—one part interview, one part photographs—the narrative leads readers from the inception of the nonprofit group the Friends of the High Line to the ribbon-cutting ceremony a full decade later. The authors had to jump through substantial bureaucratic hoops in New York 1668

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and Washington, D.C., to obtain legal control of the deserted rail bed. Along the way, David and Hammond give recognition to the numerous famous and not-so-famous people who contributed their efforts and money to the cause. To push the concept ever forward, they held an idea competition that drew 720 entries from around the world and a design competition that pit several top New York agencies against each other. Chronicles of the numerous fundraising events flesh out this recounting of two men and their improbable dream. “Few people who come to the High Line know what it took to make it possible,” writes David. Thanks to this book, readers now know the tremendous energy and effort that went into turning what some saw as “a relic and an obstacle” into a viable park for all to enjoy. (Full-color illustrations throughout)

INCOMPLETE NATURE How Mind Emerged from Matter

Deacon, Terrence W. Norton (544 pp.) $27.95 | November 21, 2011 978-0-393-04991-6

Deacon (Biological Anthropology and Neuroscience/Univ. of California, Berkeley; The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of Language and the Brain, 1997) takes up the challenge of giving a physical, scientific basis for our perception of agency and selfhood. With the development of fMRI and other scanning devices, scientists are able to correlate the activation areas of the brain to stimulus/response patterns involved in decision making, which precede conscious thought (the subject of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink). While Deacon has no answer to the conundrum of the disappearing “I”—the inability of scientists to discover a neurological foundation for our subjective perception of our own agency—he believes that one does exist but requires a revolutionary shift in the present scientific paradigm. The author offers a prospectus for such a scientific revolution—“the qualitative outlines of a future science that is subtle enough to include us”—that would encompass a neurological basis for the emergence of creativity. He develops insights from complexity theory and nonlinear dynamics at extreme conditions to address the fundamental question of how cellular life emerged from the physical substrata as a precondition for evolution. “Life and sentience are deeply interrelated,” he writes. “Sentience is not just a product of biological evolution, but in many respects a micro-evolutionary process in action…the experience of being sentient is what it feels like to be evolution. A dense but intriguing book that demands close reading; for dedicated readers, it’s well worth the effort. (12 illustrations)

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“Take a grand tour through the Belle Époque without leaving your chair.” from journey to the abyss

A GREAT ARIDNESS Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest deBuys, William Oxford Univ. (384 pp.) $27.95 | November 1, 2011 978-0-19-977892-8

New Mexico writer and conservationist deBuys (The Walk, 2007, etc.) offers a more-in-sadness-than-anger history of the land he loves and those who have exploited it, studied it and tried to fix it. An immense arid area that includes a chunk of Mexico, it has usually supported farming and ranching. After 800 CE, a rich Native American culture flourished, ultimately building great cliff houses and roads before abandoning them after 1250 in the face of increasing drought. White settlers streamed in after 1800; 100 years ago, experts began warning that the area’s water resources could not support its population. There followed massive dam and canal construction since the 1930s, which tapped the Colorado River, allocating water to six states and Mexico. Most readers will be unsurprised to learn that the original allocations were too generous and that dwindling flow will produce a crisis within decades. Increasing dryness has also produced the Southwest’s worst forest fires in history, and increasing warmth has stimulated bark beetles, which have killed huge swaths of woodland. DeBuys delivers thoughtful portraits of efforts to ameliorate conditions, but some require controlling the region’s burgeoning growth, a strategy with little political support. No Pollyanna, he admits that the list of societies willing to accept difficult medicine in order to spare their descendants worse pain is extremely short. Although they may miss the traditional upbeat ending, readers will appreciate this intelligent account of water politics, forest ecology and urban planning in a region seriously stressed even before global warming arrived to make matters worse. (50 halftones)

AMERICA’S MOST WANTED RECIPES WITHOUT THE GUILT Reduced Calorie Versions of Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes

Douglas, Ron Atria Books (352 pp.) $16.00 paperback | October 11, 2011 9781451623314 paperback The cook who created the copycat version of KFC’s chicken returns with more mouthwatering restaurant-style recipes without all the calories. After a friend’s unexpected death, Douglas (America’s Most Wanted Recipes, 2009, etc.) decided to create a cookbook to |

help educate readers on healthier eating. With the assistance of registered dietician Mary Franz, the author’s provides an easy-to-read cookbook and nutrition guide. Expert advice includes a chart to determine the best sources of fiber, a list of high-sodium foods and 10 “super food.” Each taste-alike recipe is alphabetized according to restaurant name and contains nutritional information, as well as calories saved. Instead of 869 calories found in The Cheesecake Factory’s Oreo cheesecake, Douglas’ version of the recipe substitutes a little magic—e.g., diet margarine, fat-free cream cheese and sour cream—to save 427 calories per serving. Cracker Barrel’s baked macaroni and cheese is reduced by 57 calories per serving in Douglas’ makeover. There is meat aplenty in this edition, including a hearty substitute for Applebee’s Baby Back Ribs, minus 126 calories per serving. And those secret herbs and spices in KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken? This time, the chicken is coated with seasoned bread crumbs and baked. Douglas’ offerings aren’t truly “without the guilt,” but they sure beat the drive-thru, calorie-wise.

JOURNEY TO THE ABYSS The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918 Editor: Easton, Laird M. Translator: Easton, Laird M. Knopf (976 pp.) $45.00 | November 15, 2011 978-0-307-26582-1 978-0-307-70148-0 e-book

Take a grand tour through the Belle Époque without leaving your chair. Count Harry Kessler’s diaries from 1880 to 1918 bring to life the many highly influential artists, royals and politicians who affected the 20th century in myriad ways. A German born in Paris and educated in England and Germany, he was fluent in all three languages by the time he was 18. Kessler knew and dined with all the major players of that period, including writers, sculptors, artists and the royalty of Germany. In this impressive translation and editing job (which includes copious footnotes), Easton (History/California State Univ., Chico, The Red Count: The Life and Times of Harry Kessler, 2002) depicts a voracious reader who, despite claiming that his interests were completely absorbed by art, still managed to capably discuss philosophy, politics, the classics and even the lovely little bits of court gossip. Kessler often mentions his very low impression of the Grand Duke who wished to control all the arts in Germany. In 1890, after viewing an exhibition of the Artistes Indépendents, he describes the “orgies of hideousness and nerve-shaking combinations of colors I thought impossible outside a madhouse.” Only two years later, Kessler became one of Ambroise Vollard’s best customers, and he couldn’t get enough of Cezanne, Monet, Degas and Renoir. Kessler also published travelogues. Reading his personal journals of his trips—particularly America, Greece and Fiesole, Italy, which he blissfully describes—will convince

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readers that they must journey there, book in hand, and see these wondrous sights. Kessler’s insightful views of the aesthetic freedom that art provides and of the need to reread books to gauge how much the reader has changed are just samples of his astute outlook. He illuminates the innocent world he inhabited in the years before the horrors of World War I destroy the last vestiges of intelligent “civilization.” A hefty tome that may prove daunting for some readers, but this is a classic book for the ages to keep and reread. (59 photographs)

SALADIN

Eddé, Anne-Marie Translator: Todd, Jane Marie Belknap/Harvard Univ. (662 pp.) $35.00 | November 7, 2011 978-0-674-05559-9 Massive, detailed biography of Saladin, in which the author endeavors to separate history from myth and legend— first published in France in 2008. Eddé (Medieval History/Univ. of Reims) mines below the official rhetoric of Saladin’s secretaries and administrators to develop a historical account independent of the many mythologies surrounding his biography. In the West, thanks to Voltaire and Walter Scott, among others, Saladin has been viewed as a kind of ecumenical peacemaker by negotiation. In the Middle East, he has been embodied as the victorious opponent over foreign aggression and invasion. Saladin defeated the crusader army in July 1187, opening the way to the conquest of Acre, Haifa, Caesarea and ultimately Jerusalem; this string of victories established his reputation as a conqueror, unifier and religious leader. But Eddé shows that Saladin was very much bound by his subordinate relation to the Caliphs and by the willingness of various subsidiary lords to provide him with troops and resources. He built an empire, and used some of the proceeds to rebuild Sunni Islam by financing the spread of education, but his creation did not outlive him. Where Jay Rubenstein’s Armies of Heaven (2011) considers the apocalyptical belief structures of the crusaders, Eddé discusses the political and diplomatic contexts of the religious war. She also points to wars over the control of trade with Asia as a contributing factor. Extensive research creates a picture readily distinguishable from the many Saladin myths. (20 color illustrations; 9 maps)

GOSSIP The Untrivial Pursuit

Epstein, Joseph Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (256 pp.) $25.00 | December 1, 2011 978-0-618-72194-8

The celebrated essayist anatomizes our sociocultural obsession with gossip, delineating the ways that it can bring people together as well as tear them apart. Having previously devoted books to such universal human institutions as ambition, snobbery, envy and friendship, Epstein (The Love Song of A. Jerome Minkoff, 2010, etc.) dives headfirst into the often murky waters of that most reviled form of communication: gossip. In a series of alternately humorous and disturbing examples drawn from his own personal experience, along with the published memoirs and correspondence of the literati, he explores the subtle gradations that gossip can take, from chitchat intended for a small, intimate audience to the sort of defamation that destroys reputations. The latter, Epstein argues, currently threatens not only to debase the politicians and celebrities on whom it often centers but also to significantly erode society’s respect for privacy itself. Naturally, the author lays the much of the blame for this on the Internet, bolstering his case with persuasive examples— blogs, social-networking posts and “news” websites that charge both public and private figures with bad behavior, essentially reversing the “innocent until proven guilty” dictum by spreading accusations and speculation at lightning speed. While Epstein’s ruminations on how we became a nation of gawkers ring painfully true, it is his willingness to analyze delectable tidbits regarding authors, intellectuals and other luminaries that enlivens the narrative. The author rounds out the three major sections of the book with portraits of legendary gossips through the ages, including an especially scathing treatment of news anchor Barbara Walters. Amusing and serious in equal measures, Epstein grants readers the pleasurable company of a master observer of humanity’s foibles.

THE NEW ORLEANS VOODOO HANDBOOK

Filan, Kenaz Destiny Books (320 pp.) $19.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-59477-435-5 paperback A winning blend of urban and religious history from famed New Orleans Vodou priest Filan (The Power of the Poppy, 2011, etc.). Readers may feel as if they’ve pulled up a barstool alongside a chatty local as they embark on a journey—both educational and spiritually enriching—through the French Quarter. With conversational prose, Filan begins with an

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“An interesting sidelight on the transformation of laissez-faire capitalism and the shaping of markets toward more ethical behavior.” from daughters of the declaration

overview of the city’s long and beleaguered history before delving into the dark recesses of the often-misunderstood subculture that permeates nearly every aspect of New Orleans life. Whether he’s relating how the French colonized The Big Easy in the 17th century, regaling readers with the rise of New England transplant Emeril Legasse as the city’s most prominent restaurateur or revisiting the recent tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon, the author is a solid amateur historian. But he truly comes alive in the second half of the book, in which the discussion of New Orleans voodoo begins in earnest. This rich and chaotic mix of Haitian, African, Catholic, Native American and Cuban influences is a wide-open field in which anyone can call themselves a practitioner. But would-be shamans beware: If you don’t get results, you won’t last long. To that end, Filan includes everything the novice priest or priestess could want to know. From famous figures like Dr. John and Marie Laveau to the use of candles, oils, prayers and poppets (voodoo dolls), the author outlines the tenets of this spiritual practice with clarity, and his starter set of tools, accompanied by instructions on how to use them, is only limited by readers’ imaginations. A unique supplementary travel guide for anyone planning a trip to NOLA or readers interested in the city’s rich voodoo tradition.

SOCIAL Q’S How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries and Quagmires of Today

Galanes, Philip Simon & Schuster (272 pp.) $23.00 | November 1, 2011 978-1-4516-0578-5

New York Times columnist Galanes counsels calm and holding your tongue in sticky situations. Making a drunken pass at the office Christmas party. Losing your cool with a cranky neighbor. Booting a fake friend on Facebook. Life’s littlest quandaries manage to sap masses of time and energy for most people. The solution, writes the author, is to turn the other cheek, take the high road and let it go. Hardly revolutionary or provocative stuff, but fans of Galanes seem to draw strength from the approach. Whether anyone outside his circle of fans will also appreciate this innocuous guide is debatable. The real-life conundrums are less than compelling, and the remedies are often no-brainers. Still, the author does provide some fun pseudoscientific devices to help the perpetually perplexed figure out the right course of action. There’s even an entertaining graph and tic-tac-toe board that at least give the illusion that your decision to dump the fiancée was, indeed, the right move. There are undoubtedly better books out there on the art of social interaction (even the prissy Miss Manners will do), but Galanes possesses an appealing, low-wattage charm. No one gets flamed or even singed for their social miscues—just a slight course correction courtesy of the staid and steady author. Inoffensive advice for the even-keeled. |

DAUGHTERS OF THE DECLARATION How Women Social Entrepreneurs Built the American Dream

Gaudiani, Claire Burnett, David Graham PublicAffairs (352 pp.) $26.99 | November 8, 2011 978-1-61039-031-6

A look at how, by inventing philanthropic institutions, American women have played a crucial role shaping the American economy since the first days of the Revolution. Gaudiani (Generosity Unbound: How American Philanthropy Can Strengthen the Economy and Expand the Middle Class, 2010, etc.) and her husband and business partner Burnett, educators and economic consultants to philanthropic organizations, consider the not-for-profit social sector to be a uniquely American third sector of the economy “that mobilizes citizen idealism and responsibility [and] provides a marketplace where buyers and sellers of ideas to improve the nation (and the world) can meet to do business.” The authors demonstrate that in each of the wars in U.S. history, beginning with the Revolutionary War, women have played a major role in organizing financial support for soldiers—e.g., going door to door in Philadelphia, Esther Reed raised $7,000 to purchase new uniforms for Washington’s soldiers and inspired women throughout the colonies to do likewise. Charity work provided the vehicle for enterprising women of that day whose other activities were severely restricted. Reed’s activities, write the authors, began a tradition of female civic leadership and led to the creation of social entrepreneurship. The Russell Sage Foundation, established by Margaret Olivia Sage in 1907 and still active today, became the nation’s first think-tank, and it began with the mandate of looking at the impact of social welfare on workers’ lives and issued a number of groundbreaking studies on the need for workplace safety and public-health measures. In 1803, the first Widows’ Society, headed by Isabella Graham, received $15,000 from the New York State legislature to support its work. Although the book ends with the role of women such as Francis Perkins and Mary McLeod Bethune in the New Deal, its implications for today are clear. An interesting sidelight on the transformation of laissez-faire capitalism and the shaping of markets toward more ethical behavior.

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PEARL HARBOR FDR Leads the Nation to War

Gillon, Steven M. Basic (240 pp.) $25.99 | November 1, 2011 978-0-465-02139-0

Japanese planes appeared over Oahu at 1:25 p.m., Washington time, on Dec. 7, 1941. This superior addition to the snapshot genre of historical writing describes the following 24 hours, ending when FDR delivered his famous “day of infamy” message to Congress. The History Channel resident historian Gillon (History/ Univ. of Oklahoma; The Kennedy Assassination—24 Hours After: Lyndon B. Johnson’s Pivotal First Day as President, 2009, etc.) reminds readers that everyone expected war. Having broken Japan’s diplomatic code, American officials knew that morning that Japan’s embassy had been ordered to destroy its code machines. Everyone assumed the Japanese fleet (known to have sailed) would move south to obtain desperately needed oil and natural resources from weakly defended British and Dutch Southeast Asia colonies. A San Francisco Naval station picked up news of the raid and relayed it to Washington, where a flabbergasted FDR received it at 1:47. Gillon paints a vivid picture of the scramble that followed as he summoned his cabinet, aides and Congressional leaders from their Sunday rest. Meetings throughout the day served mostly to agonize over how American forces were caught napping and exchange wild rumors (swastikas on the wings of attacking planes, Japanese troops landing on Hawaii)—as well as to vow revenge. Little useful activity and no important decisions resulted, and Gillon wisely cuts away from the confusion to deliver background information and generous biographies of FDR, Eleanor and a dozen leading figures. An excellent introduction to Roosevelt and his times with heavy emphasis on events surrounding Pearl Harbor. (10 black-and-white photos)

works against national unity, with an enormous coastline that has enabled invasions for millennia and a spine of central mountains that hinder travel between communities. The author sweeps across the centuries from Republican Rome through the Renaissance (largely confined to the north) to unification, which Gilmour describes as “a war of expansion conducted by one Italian state against another.” The state that came out on top of “the Kingdom of Italy” was Piedmont, whose Savoia dynasty had scarcely more claim to rule the nation than the Bourbons who had ruled the Kingdom of Two Sicilies for more than a century. Gilmour delights in such counterintuitive proclamations, and sometimes he appears to be dissenting from mainstream history simply for the sake of being different. (It seems absurd, for example, to quibble with the perception that Verdi’s operas expressed nationalist sentiments, a belief widespread among the composer’s contemporaries as well as biographers, by pointing out that Nabucco is actually about Hebrew slaves in Babylon.) Nonetheless, the book’s main point is well taken: Nationalism Italian-style was more of a 19th-century fad than a true expression of the sentiments of people for whom campanilismo (loyalty to the municipality) has always been the stronger, more enduring force. This is “the real Italy,” Gilmour persuasively contends, “the communal Italy, the result of a millennium of natural evolution.” His scathing summary of 20thcentury Italian history—from the bankrupt liberalism that handed over power to Mussolini through a half-century of corrupt one-party rule to the antics of Berlusconi—makes it hard to disagree that regional states could only be an improvement. Provocative, if at times somewhat speciously argued.

KEEPING YOUR CHILD IN MIND Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums, and Other Everyday Behavior Problems By Seeing the World Through Your Child’s Eyes

Gold, Claudia M. Merloyd Lawrence/Da Capo (240 pp.) $15.00 | September 1, 2011 paperback 978-0-7382-1485-6 paperback

THE PURSUIT OF ITALY A History of a Land, Its Regions, and Their Peoples Gilmour, David Farrar, Straus and Giroux (480 pp.) $30.00 | November 1, 2011 978-0-374-28316-2

British historian Gilmour (The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj, 2006, etc.) declares there’s no such thing as Italy. Or rather, he argues in this idiosyncratic text, the 19thcentury unification of the Italian peninsula into a single nation ignored the reality of its distinct city-states and regions with long separate histories and little in common. To make his point, Gilmour begins in prehistory, pointing out that geography 1672

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A behavioral pediatrician reflects on the importance of understanding problems from a child’s perspective, with emphasis on “right brain” communication. Based on composites of patients as well as personal mothering experiences, Gold introduces scenarios spanning the newborn to teenage years that are often resolved by examining context, underlying emotions and events in the parents’ lives rather than by fixating on controlling behavior. What matters is understanding “how to be” with one’s child rather than figuring out “what to do”; considering the meaning behind actions before reacting; and formulating healthy responses that acknowledge a child’s real needs while setting respectful boundaries. Gold readily admits this process will not come easily for

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everyone; it is most effective when primary caregivers have a strong support system of their own. The intersperses anecdotes on topics including colic, sleep management, attachment, separation anxiety, discipline and the development of individual identities with well-known studies from the fields of psychoanalysis, neuroscience and behavioral genetics (among others), citing John Bowlby’s attachment theory and Donald Wood Winnicott’s idea of the good-enough mother. Though parents may have experienced difficulty in their own childhoods, which could influence their current perspectives, they do not have to fall into the same traps as their own parents, and can learn more nurturing methods. Gold’s simple, direct assurances, while not groundbreaking, would be especially useful for new parents in search of holistic guidance. A panoply of hypothetical situations offering broadbased solutions.

ID The Quest for Meaning in the 21st Century

Greenfield, Susan Sceptre/Trafalgar (308 pp.) $14.95 paperback | November 1, 2011 978-0-340-93601-6 paperback

A neuroscientist skillfully explains how our unique identity and consciousness develop from the “biochemical banality” of our physical brain, and then strains to reveal how today’s dazzlingly intrusive technology may change it. Pop psychology requires vivid character types, and Oxford Professor Greenfield (Inside the Body, 2006, etc.) obliges. Up to now, she writes, the typical persona is a Someone who defines him/ herself by relations with others, absorbing experience in a linear manner. Since reality is question-rich but answer-poor, Someones struggle to make sense of this; the result is individuality but often little fulfillment. One exchanges individuality for fulfillment by becoming an Anyone through adopting a belief that answers all questions—e.g., an extreme political group or fundamentalist religion. Drugs, schizophrenia and 21st century bio- and electronic technology eliminate both individuality and fulfillment, substituting an avalanche of stimuli for cognition. The result is a Nobody; if this question-poor, answer-rich environment becomes the norm, we can look forward to a busy, often fun-filled life with little insight. In the mandatory how-to-fix-it conclusion, Greenfield introduces the Eureka persona, creative and fulfilled, and the educational reforms that might encourage it. From H.G. Wells to Alvin Toffler to Francis Fukuyama, writers who predict the future based on a snapshot of the present have a mediocre success rate. Readers will appreciate Greenfield’s description of brain development and function but should allow a few decades to pass before agreeing that dramatic changes in computer technology will mark the end of life as we know it.

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BORDERLESS ECONOMICS Chinese Sea Turtles, Indian Fridges, and the New Fruits of Global Capitalism

Guest, Robert Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $27.00 | November 8, 2011 978-0-230-11382-4

A wide-ranging survey of the global impact of the 215 million people who live outside their countries of origin. Economist global business editor Guest (The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption, and African Lives, 2004) contends that the three percent (and growing) part of the world’s population that is migrating is disproportionately contributing to the creation of international wealth, both in the sense of financial assets and the development of new technological and economic capabilities. Of the total number, China contributes about 60 million and India 25 million. In the United States, immigrants make up about eight percent of the total population but formed 25 percent of the engineering and technological startups launched between 1995 and 2005. Guest shows how technological pioneers like Jack Ma, the founder of China’s Internet search company Alibaba, and Pramod Bhasin of the Indian health-service provider Genpact, are not only making a lot of money for themselves but transforming their countries and the global economy. The author also highlights the work of Nandan Nilekani, a billionaire software engineer who created a universal ID system for India using biometric identifiers to help organize the government’s health and labor programs. Guest is a firm believer in the transformative power of digital technology. Beyond the work of individuals, he also shows that the total volume of remittances sent home by overseas workers grew tenfold between 1990 and 2009; at $316 billion, it now makes up one of the largest sources of global liquidity. Guest locates the U.S. as the center of the activity he profiles, and he emphasizes the mutually beneficial natures of the inflow of immigrants and their interaction with the U.S. economy and culture. The author hopes that the U.S. government will reform its immigration system to maintain the inflow, and he cites one claim that worldwide freedom of movement would produce a $40 trillion gain. An informative, engaging survey of the beneficial consequences of globalization. (Author tour to New York and Washington, D.C.)

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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ORGASM FOR WOMEN How to Become Orgasmic For a Lifetime

Heart, Mikaya Cleis (345 pp.) $17.95 paperback | September 1, 2011 978-1-57344-711-9 paperback Heart (My Sweet Wild Dance, 2009, etc.) guides women through orgasm with thoroughness and sincerity. |

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At the beginning, the author writes, “I occasionally use the word fuck in this book, usually meaning the act of penetration. Like some of the other words we use when we’re talking about sex, it can have negative connotations and mean different things to different people.” Indeed, the author’s ability to thoughtfully approach sensitive issues while sharing just enough of her own personal experience will immediately set readers at ease. Without judgment, she tackles the taboo with respect for women and their individual perspectives on sexuality and fulfillment. Heart’s openness is most apparent in the section “The Spiritual Experience of Orgasm,” in which she discusses the relationship between the mental and physical self. When sharing stories about sexual abuse, she does so in a way that offers acceptance. She encourages “sex that requires healing. It requires that you have a sense of absolute autonomy over your body, and if you are going to develop that, you have to get in touch with what your body wants.” Heart’s comprehensive exploration of the female sexual experience will be a poignant guide for women of all ages.

REDISCOVERING REVERENCE The Meaning of Faith in a Secular World

Heintzman, Ralph McGill-Queens University Press (296 pp.) $29.95 | September 1, 2011 978-0-7735-3897-9

Heintzman (Public and International Affairs/Univ. of Ottawa; Tom Symons: A Canadian Life, 2011) tackles the Western world’s understanding of religion in this ambitious, scholarly book. In his latest, which he wrote for his sons in an attempt to explain their Christian upbringing, the author argues that Western culture’s understanding of “religion” should be redefined. “The Christian and Western emphasis on religious ‘beliefs’ (especially since 1400) turns out to be the exception, not the rule,” he writes. Investigating spiritual traditions from around the world and the philosophical components within them, the author contends that faith and belief are not the same thing. Faith involves doing, not thinking; therefore, religion should be primarily defined by the actions associated with it. Heintzman suggests adopting a traditional religious practice with all its rituals and trappings in lieu of the laid-back “secular” spirituality adopted by many Westerners, who borrow beliefs from various religions but do not ascribe to a single, unifying theme. Neither, however, does the author, who tends to veer off on philosophical tangents; a single chapter on global climate change ranges everywhere from philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola to Francis Bacon, Descartes, the Romantic movement, Moses Luzzatto and John Locke, to name a few. Heintzman’s pedantic approach will deter some nonacademic readers, but those who can overcome his verbosity may find themselves re-examining how religion factors into their own lives.

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A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE PIANO The Instrument, the Music, the Musicians—from Mozart to Modern Jazz and Everything in Between Isacoff, Stuart M. Knopf (416 pp.) $30.00 | November 17, 2011 978-0-307-26637-8 978-0-301-70142-8 e-book

The subtitle accurately states the range of this lively, virtually all-inclusive survey of all things pianistic by Piano Today founder Isacoff (Temperament: How Music Became a Battleground for the Great Minds of Western Civilization, 2001). The piano supplanted the harpsichord because the action of its hammers on the strings could create sounds both “piano e forte” (soft and loud)—hence the name pianoforte, eventually shortened to piano. Medici protégé Bartolomeo Cristofori came up with the design in the late 17th century, but it was the playing and compositions of Mozart in the 1780s, writes Isacoff, that first made the instrument popular. By the 19th century, a piano was a necessary accessory in middle-class homes across Europe and America, sparking a boom in their manufacture and a flood of touring performers. Isacoff divides the pianists who dazzled the cognoscenti and the masses alike into four categories: the Combustibles, turbulent artists ranging from Beethoven to Jerry Lee Lewis; the Alchemists, atmospheric musicians such as Claude Debussy and jazzman Bill Evans; Rhythmitizers like Fats Waller, who stress the instrument’s percussive qualities; and Melodists from Schubert to Gershwin, who give us the tunes we love to hum. Sidebars on everything from pedal technique to digital pianos further broaden the book’s scope, as do short contributions from celebrity pianists (Emmanuel Ax, Billy Joel). Isacoff also exhaustively surveys the two great pianistic “schools”: the flamboyant Russian style and the more intellectual German approach. Stuffing so much material into a single narrative occasionally leads to a loss of focus, particularly when dealing with composers, none of whom wrote exclusively for the piano. Nonetheless, the author’s ability to convey his formidable erudition in the most engaging terms, coupled with his infectious enthusiasm for music of all kinds, make this a charming and highly readable potpourri. Informative fun for every variety of music lover. (142 photographs)

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“Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.” from thinking, fast and slow

NATIVE SOULMATE A Season in Search of a Love Homegrown

Jack, Zachary Michael Tall Corn Books (212 pp.) $19.95 paperback | September 23, 2011 9781888160567 paperback

A quest for a soul mate gone awry. As Zack (What Cheer: A Love Story, 2010) traveled the Hawkeye State giving lectures and readings, he investigated the possibility that the girl next door might actually be the girl of his dreams. Although slow-moving and often arduous, Jack’s tale is occasionally engaging due to the depth of his honesty and self-reflection. His confessions can be cringe-inducing in their familiarity, but the author’s premonitions often came true as he fumbled from one speaking engagement to the next, buoyed by self-induced misfortune. On the rare occasions that Jack did find a woman who fit the parameters of his search, he often overthought and then sabotaged the possibility. Whatever good will the author might have earned from readers, he casts aside as his actions become increasingly irritating and his intentions unknowable. When he finally found his heartland babe, he pushed her away by being overly-aggressive and needy. Sadly, readers will relate more to the object of his affection than the author himself. Brings the reader into the author’s emotional corn maze but doesn’t lead them out.

LONELY AT THE TOP The High Cost of Men’s Success

Joiner, Thomas Palgrave Macmillan (272 pp.) $27.00 | October 25, 2011 978-0-230-10443-3

Joiner (Psychology/Florida State Univ.) is involved in a Department of Defense research project on the prevention of suicidal behavior in the military. This acumen translates smoothly into his intensive examination into the epidemic of male melancholy and how differentiating factors affect the proliferation of “the lonely sex.” The author begins with a clear explanation of what loneliness is before he draws engaging parallels between a man’s intrinsic drive for monetary and material successes with listless maturation, depletion of social interactions and subsequent disinterest in (and disconnection with) intimate relationships, friendships and familial cultivation. Joiner juxtaposes the loneliness of men against their female counterparts, acknowledging a woman’s increased likeliness to vocalize her needs and seek professional assistance. Providing well-rounded explanations, the author makes his case convincing with the citation of medical journals, startling statistics and personal histories such as |

that of novelist Jack London, whose demeanor deteriorated from gregarious to detached as he aged. Factors that exacerbate feelings of isolation, Joiner writes, include middle age, alcohol dependency, bereavement, economic downturns and narcissism. He notes that the mortality rate for lonely men (as compared to those “well-connected”) is substantially higher, and, therefore, any remedies offered could be considered lifesaving ones. A chapter on the serious (and often lethal) consequences of loneliness gives way to pages on the sociological and medicinal remedies currently available. An effective exploration of why many men succumb to loneliness and the ways to assuage the condition.

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

Kahneman, Daniel Farrar, Straus and Giroux (512 pp.) $30.00 | November 1, 2011 978-0-374-27563-1 A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking. The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping. Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

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FREE RIDE How Digital Parasites Are Destroying the Culture Business, and How the Culture Business Can Fight Back Levine, Robert Doubleday (320 pp.) $26.95 | October 25, 2011 978-0-385-53376-8

An argument for (finally) monetizing the cultural offerings of the Internet and making them unprofitable for pirates and other parasites. Former Billboard executive editor Levine knows that he’s arguing against big money, particularly from Google, which, he says, has a profitable interest in an unrestricted flow of consumers searching for free journalism, free music, free books and free movies and TV shows. Unfortunately for more traditional culture businesses, the free Internet has been a disaster. Consider the devastation Napster and the MP3 wrought on the recording industry, supplanting a model in which consumers bought whole albums of songs for upwards of $20 just to own a handful they really liked. While this may have been inefficient for the buyer, Levine argues, it enabled labels to support artists they believed in. He claims the single-centric iTunes model is hardly better than the free version: The low price of songs, designed to entice people into buying the expensive equipment to play them on, leaves less for the artists and studios that produce them. A similar dynamic had been at work in the publishing industry, writes the author, where Amazon’s Kindle threatened to collapse the royalty structure in hard-copy publishing until publishers and Amazon’s competitors forced it, after an ugly public battle, to adopt higher “agency model” prices on most e-books. Levine’s argument will be most welcome among the captains of the culture industry. While general readers may learn something from his erudition, most will probably be rubbed the wrong way by his focus on blockbuster culture and championing of record-company owners, TV executives and newspaper magnates who have insisted on maintaining a profit model. Nevertheless, the final chapters offer an intelligent analysis of steps that can be taken to fight piracy and support the culture industry, including the artists and writers who create for the content, without soaking the consumer. A valiant effort to raise public consciousness on an unheralded issue.

THE GOD SPECIES Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans

Lynas, Mark National Geographic (288 pp.) $25.00 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4262-0891-1 A serious view of humans’ negative environmental impact on Earth and the steps needed to correct these issues. 1676

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“Nature no longer runs the Earth. We do. It is our choice what happens from here. So writes Lynas (Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet, 2008, etc.) in his introduction to this sobering, sometimes depressing look at the planet. With the world population at close to 7 billion people, humans now have the power to destroy the Earth’s bio-geochemical cycles, dooming our own species to mass extinction. Dividing the world’s problems into nine separate issues, including CO2 emissions, nitrogen fertilizer usage, freshwater consumption and the acidification of the oceans, the author takes a thorough look at the economic, political and social impact of each predicament. Using hard scientific data to back his theories, the Lynas calls on humans to consciously manage the planet by setting “planetary boundaries” for each issue. Maintaining these boundaries could involve a variety of solutions, including an increase in solar and wind power, a small tax whose funds would directly support ecosystem and habitat restoration and an increase in urbanization. Other, possibly objectionable, ideas include a worldwide increase in nuclear power (despite Chernobyl and Fukushima) to bring CO2 emissions below the 350 ppm “tipping point,” using more genetically engineered crops, the deregulation and privatization of water and the disuse of biofuels. Regardless of the solution, the question remains—are we “rebel organisms destined to destroy the biosphere or divine apes sent to manage it intelligently and so save it from ourselves”? Lynas believes humans are the latter, capable of identifying and correcting the problems we’ve created while steadily increasing human prosperity—but only if we attack the issues with full force starting now. An accurate portrayal of the state of the planet and a call to action using all means possible before boundaries are crossed with irreversible results.

A HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN 100 OBJECTS

MacGregor, Neil Viking (736 pp.) $45.00 | October 25, 2011 978-0-670-02270-0

An arresting world history told through the stories of 100 objects that can be found in the British Museum. Based on a popular BBC Radio series broadcast last year, this beautifully illustrated book demonstrates how much we can learn about past societies from the things they have left behind. British Museum director MacGregor provides insightful commentaries on each of the objects, which range from the beginning of human history (about 2 million years ago) to the present, and represent most parts of the world. Selected by the museum’s curators, the objects are not associated with important historical events; rather, they are artworks and everyday things that exemplify themes and establish connections across time and space. Each part consists of objects made in different parts of the world in the same time period. Thus a section on “The First Global Economy, AD 14501650,” when traders first brought different cultures into contact with each other, features a mechanical galleon from Germany,

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a brass plaque from Nigeria, a mosaic-decorated figurine from Mexico, porcelain elephants from Japan and pieces-of-eight coins minted in Bolivia. New scientific techniques help tease out stories from the objects: Researchers can now see inside the linen wrappings of Egyptian mummies and can test materials to reveal trading networks. The colors and patterns of broken pots and plates found on a beach in Tanzania around 900 show the extent of links with China and the Middle East. Many items, such as a bronze Chinese bell and silver Turkish coins, convey the power of owners and rulers. In an appealing, conversational style, MacGregor considers chess pieces, wine jugs, tablets and other objects to explain how people lived through the ages. The text also includes contributions from Seamus Heaney, David Attenborough, Martin Amis and others. A book to savor, full of information and surprises. (4-color photos throughout; maps)

ARE ALL GUYS ASSHOLES? More Than 1,000 Guys in 10 Cities Reveal Why They’re Not, Why They Sometimes Act Like They Are, and How Understanding Their Real Feelings Will Solve Your Guy Drama Once and For All Madison, Amber Tarcher/Penguin (272 pp.) $15.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-58542-880-9 paperback

Unexpected answers to questions that may renew young womens’ faith in relationships. After surveying more than 1,000 guys in 10 cities, noted sexpert Madison (Talking Sex with Your Kids: Keeping Them Safe and You Sane—By Knowing What They’re Really Thinking, 2010, etc.) concludes that “pretty much everything you’ve been told your entire life is a lie.” Citing the information she gathered, as well as outside studies, she endeavors to discredit the myth that all guys are assholes—and often does so in a humorous, light and inviting way. At the end of a section entitled “I Want to Meet a Good Guy. Can It Happen at a Bar?”, the author urges women to think outside the box. “If you want to improve your chances of meeting someone,” she writes, “you have to be okay with talking to guys anywhere. In a grocery store (‘Whatcha plan to do with all that mac and cheese?’), in a Best Buy (‘That’s a whole lot of inches of screen you’re looking at’), on your lunch break (‘You think turkey and Swiss is the way to go here?’).” Such comic interludes propel readers through the author’s findings, largely based on anecdotal evidence. Madison relies mostly on case studies featuring younger men, and she later limits the age range of her audience, writing, “Guys mature with age and that is part of it. But these guys we date and get so discouraged by, they’re going to grow up to be the next generation of doting fathers, uncles and grandfathers.” Narrow in scope but ideal for young women navigating the dating scene. |

COFFEE-TIME TREATS

Marechal, Jose Photographer: Ida, Akiko Simon & Schuster UK/ Trafalgar (72 pp.) $12.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-85720-251-2 Series: Les Petits Plats Francais Delectable, butter-heavy French delights made easy. Paula Deen isn’t the only one cornering the market on buttery creations. French pastry chef Marechal (Irresistible Macaroons, 2011, etc.) continues his Les Petits Plats Francais series with this beautifully photographed selection of elegant, bite-sized complements to frothy coffee drinks. To begin, he recommends purchasing cookie cutters, paper liners (“cases”) and silicone sheets and molds for best results, but he offers alternatives using more common kitchen equipment like spatulas and non-stick baking trays. Elegance abounds in his indulgent delicacies: Florentines with almonds, pistachios, and candied orange peel; meringues; truffles; miniature varieties of canneles, madeleines, waffles and brownies; and sinfully silky, refrigerator-friendly vanilla, cocoa, coffee and chicoryflavored mini cream pots. While most recipes are everydaybaker-friendly, Marechal includes some daring challenges. Readers willing to go the extra mile will bookmark recipes for beautifully fragile spun sugar balls that require little more than a candy thermometer, sugar and “slight of hand.” Crisp cookie “tuiles” may appear daunting, but the author’s instructions are straightforward and worry-free. Most items are made with some combination of butter, superfine (“caster”) sugar, cream and flour. Maybe not for dieters, but these treats are fashioned to delicately stroke the sweet tooth and act as the perfect compliment to a hot café beverage. A charming, glossy book of sweet Parisian morsels.

COLLISION COURSE Ronald Reagan, the Air Traffic Controllers, and the Strike that Changed America

McCartin, Joseph A. Oxford Univ. (496 pp.) $29.95 | October 5, 2011 978-0-19-983678-9

On the 30th anniversary of the showdown between Ronald Reagan and the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), McCartin (History/ Georgetown Univ.; Labor’s Great War: The Struggle for Industrial Democracy and the Origins of Modern American Labor Relations, 1912-1921, 1998, etc.) revisits the most consequential labor dispute since the New Deal. As a two-time governor of California, Ronald Reagan regularly bargained with public-service employees and, as president

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h ja n e ly n c h

Happy Accidents

Jane Lynch Voice (320 pp.) $25.99 Sept. 13, 2011 9781401341763

Whether you know her as outrageous cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester from Glee, as delusional actress doing time as a cater-waiter Constance Carmell from the cult hit Party Down, or her many other memorable film and TV roles, you’re well aware that Jane Lynch is seriously funny. But what you probably don’t know, as her candid, comedic and ultimately uplifting new memoir Happy Accidents reveals, is that Lynch is one heckuva dragon slayer, too. Having finally overcome her struggles with her sexuality, alcoholism and anxiety, Lynch has finally found the happiness that has so long eluded her. We caught up with the actress during a family vacation in Vermont. She spoke about defeating some of those pesky demons, the power of Glee and offered some sound advice for her character, Sue Sylvester. Q: Did you ever think that you would be so happy? A: No, not at all. I also had this idea that I had to look a certain way [and I didn’t]. But what I have today is so far and beyond what I imagined for myself. I set the bar so low. I just wanted to be in plays and make enough money to do that. I didn’t want to tempt the fates and ask for too much. I ended up, a little late in life, with pretty much everything I wanted, and it’s kind of nice. Q: What was the toughest part about writing this book? A: Umm…bleeding from my ears. No, the toughest thing about writing the book wasn’t remembering stories—those came pretty quickly. It was the overwhelming amount of information that kept coming into my mind. Luckily, I have a wonderful wife who knows how to organize information. So, I just did stream of consciousness, and she actually shaped it for me. Q: What would happen if Jane Lynch met Sue Sylvester?

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A: One of the things that pleases me so much is when people come up to me and giggle and say, “You are so mean.” And I think what’s good about that is we get to look at someone so extreme as Sue Sylvester, who is so mean spirited and really wants to crush the dreams of the innocent, and we can laugh at that part of ourselves that is so vicious. As opposed to, you know, keeping it in the shadows where leaks out in horrible ways. I think you pull all of that stuff out of the shadows, and that’s what Sue Sylvester does for a lot of people. It’s kind of cathartic for them. Q: Have you had the opportunity to talk with people who might have gone through some of the same things you have? A: Yes, especially with kids because Glee is such a big hit with kids. You can see it when they come up to you. They have that fire in their eyes. They say, “How do I do it? How do I get to be Lea Michelle? How do I get to be an actor?” It’s hard to give them a sound byte, except to say, “Take it easy.” Just be happy. Say yes to everything—except pornography—and enjoy yourself. Know that where you are right now is where you’re supposed to be because it’s where you are. I wish I knew that, and someone could have told me that [when I was younger], but it probably wouldn’t have registered. Sometimes, however, seeing other people’s experiences and the insights they have inspires you to do things differently in your own life. Q: So, do you think that you could have saved yourself some anguish growing up? A: I don’t know. That’s hard to say. That brings up questions like karma. But I know that I learned the lessons I learned because I did suffer so hard and I got to a point where I just had to surrender. Not everybody had to surrender. But I obviously had to. Now when I read books about people who have had trying experiences, like Theodore Roosevelt who overcame asthma and other things like that, it really inspires me because of my own stuff. So, I think that books and reading stories about people overcoming their own adversities can really help. —By Joe Maniscalco

9 For the full interview, please visit kirkusreviews.com

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ph oto BY STA RL FORT U NATO

A: I’d urge Sue Sylvester to get into some hard, intensive therapy and deal with all the betrayal and stuff that makes her such a bully. Because, obviously, deep down inside she’s very tender, and she’s been protecting her sister all her life from the cruelties of the world. I just think she needs to get hold of that and get hold of her heart. And there are times when [the Glee writers] write Sue Sylvester so from her heart, and I just love when they do. She’s such a warrior. But I would love for her to get some intensive therapy. There are more dimensions to her, and I think the writers are going to explore more of that. Being out to destroy the Glee Club gets boring after about a season-and-a-half. My character is running for Congress this time around, so that’s going to give me plenty of opportunities to explore different sides of Sue.

Q: What impact do you think Sue Sylvester has had on audiences?


(the only one in American history ever to have helmed a union), he offered PATCO, one of the few labor organizations to endorse his candidacy, an unprecedented contract in 1981. When PATCO rejected the proposal and called an illegal strike, Reagan issued a 48 hour return-to-work ultimatum. He ended up firing the vast majority of the more than 10,000 highly specialized controllers, destroyed PATCO and set a precedent that continues to reverberate. An expert on the labor movement, McCartin reviews the origins and evolution of public-sector unions—once universally decried, even by iconic liberal presidents—outlines and translates for the general reader the applicable laws and delivers a detailed history of PATCO from its 1968 founding to its demise. Demonstrating a thorough understanding of PATCO’s culture, the author powerfully describes the high-pressure world of air-traffic control, examines the historically contentious relations between the controllers and the hidebound FAA and charts PATCO’s increasing militancy, even as a powerful anti-union backlash gathered in the country. Although his union sympathies are clear, McCartin, for the most part, plays it straight, relying on extensive interviews with government and union officials, rank-and-file members, pilots, airline executives and politicians to get the full story behind this dramatic confrontation. Breaking the strike proved more expensive to the federal government than meeting the controllers’ demands. But the chilling effect of Reagan’s swift dismissal of seemingly indispensable workers has proven more costly to organized labor. With the collective-bargaining power of public employees under fierce assault, McCartin’s story couldn’t be timelier or more important. (Agent: Sandra Dijkstra)

THE TREE OF THE DOVES Ceremony, Expedition, War

Merrill, Christopher Milkweed (320 pp.) $22.00 | October 4, 2011 978-1-57131-305-8

A celebrated poet, essayist and newly appointed (by President Obama) member of the National Council on the Humanities eloquently considers the global impact of our “Age of Terror.” Merrill’s (Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, 2005, etc.) treatise explores the nature of terror, its place in the post-9/11 world and how it unites and galvanizes those in the throes of it. His trio of meditative essays is derived from exotic journeys to Malaysia, China and the Dead Sea, as well as from a panoramic view of war-torn Syria atop the plateau of the Golan Heights while pondering “the consequences of living in fear.” The setting for his first essay is the muggy jungles of Kelantan in Malaysia, where Merrill observed the performance of a now-forbidden spirit-raising healing ritual presided over by a shaman to rid a village girl of her maladies. Seated with a tour guide on a wooden plank just beyond the stage, he takes stock of the state of faith, the nation and the aftermath of the turmoil of 9/11. A wandering expedition partially retracing the Beijing |

sojourn 19th-century poet-diplomat Saint-John Perse finds Merrill transfixed by Chinese history; he recounts a visit to a Zen Buddhist poet in Maui where he pensively tapped into the nature of human suffering after a week-long bout of stomach flu. The final section details the writer’s adventures visiting the Middle East’s Levant territory, where the American military occupation of Iraq still evokes local scorn. The author’s poetic background is evident in many lushly descriptive passages, and he clearly, rationally articulates his astute worldview. The essays can be hyperactively circuitous, however, with frequent digressions into the allegorical and the anecdotal. Terror, Merrill posits, is a fact of life, and his philosophically acute amalgam of religious, historical and political reflections will surely incite discussion and lively debate. A unique travelogue boosted by wonderfully creative thinking with a political slant.

GOD VS. GAY? The Religious Case for Equality Michaelson, Jay Beacon (232 pp.) $25.95 | October 25, 2011 978-0-8070-0159-2

A progressive look at homosexuality in religion told from a Jewish perspective. LGBT activist Michaelson is openly gay and also Jewish, two traits he does not define as mutually exclusive. Religion taught him to live with integrity but then decried him for doing so; since his sexual orientation was a violation of Jewish law, the author felt obligated to lie to his loved ones and resign himself to meaningless affairs. Mixing memoir and academic analysis in this wellresearched and concisely written treatise, Michaelson embarks on a mission to reconcile sexuality with Judeo-Christian religious traditions. He begins, appropriately enough, with Adam and Eve, explaining how loving relationships between straight and gay couples alike are fundamental to a religious lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, sexual diversity is both natural and beneficial to our species, a point Michaelson argues with examples from the animal kingdom as well as our own. Ultimately, the author feels that welcoming lesbians and gays into religious communities will create family values rather than destroy them, which he best encapsulates with a lively attack on “reform” camps that claim to cure homosexuality. But he also dissects the more troubling passages in Leviticus and Romans, deftly unraveling common mistranslations of the text and placing the scripture in historical context. No religious debate on homosexuality can ignore the infamous story of Sodom and Gomorrah. For this, Michaelson draws from both Jewish and Christian history to explain how the passage came to be associated with homosexuality before he offers his alternative view. Inclusive and modern theology that will give both Jewish and Christian readers a reason to celebrate sexual diversity.

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“An essential text, bathed in blood, lit with faint hope.” from jerusalem

JERUSALEM The Biography

Montefiore, Simon Sebag Knopf (672 pp.) $35.00 | October 31, 2011 978-0-307-26651-4 978-0-307-59448-8 e-book

The sanguinary story of thousands of years of conflict in the home city of religions. Perhaps it’s impossible to write disinterested history, but Montefiore (Young Stalin, 2007, etc.) endeavors to do so—and largely succeeds. The author sees Jerusalem not just as the setting for some of history’s most savage violence— some of the butchery makes Titus Andronicus look like a Sesame Street segment—but a microcosm of our world. Our inability to achieve sustained peace there is emblematic of our failures around the globe. Montefiore begins in 70 CE with the assault of the Roman leader Titus (not Andronicus) on Jerusalem, an attack featuring thousands of crucifixions of Jews—not to mention eviscerations to extract from the bowels of the victims the valuables they’d swallowed. The author then retreats to the age of the biblical David, and away we go, sprinting through millennia, pausing only for necessary explanations of politics, religion, warfare and various intrigues. The story is horribly complex, and Montefiore struggles mightily to make everything clear as well as compelling, but the vast forest of names, places, events sometimes thoroughly conceals some small treasure at its heart. Still, the history is here: Nebuchadnezzar, the Herods, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Pilate, Caligula, Paul, Titus, Justinian, the Arabs and the Muslims, the Crusades, Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Suleiman, Ottomans, Napoleon, Disraeli, Lawrence of Arabia, Zionism. There are even some guest appearances by Thackeray, Twain and Melville. Suddenly, we are in the 20th century, and only the names and the killing technology have changed. The author ends with the 1967 Six-Day War and with some speculations about the future. An essential text, bathed in blood, lit with faint hope. (32 pages of photographs, 24 in color; 11 maps. First printing of 60,000. Author tour to Boston, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. Agent: Georgina Capel)

PLASTIC OCEAN How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Oceans

Moore, Charles Phillips, Cassandra Avery (368 pp.) $26.00 | November 1, 2011 978-1-58333-424-9

Firsthand account of how plastics pervade our oceans in unimaginable ways, killing marine life and causing wide-ranging environmental and health effects. 1680

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Capt. Moore, a lifelong seafarer, was spurred to activism when his catamaran stalled in a remote area of the northeast Pacific and he noticed a visible proliferation of plastic bits and other trash floating on the water’s surface. Dubbed “The Great North Pacific Garbage Patch,” it was an ominous indicator of the cavalier way in which humans dispose of tons of plastic trash. This initial discovery led the author on a decades-long investigation into plastic production, distribution and chemical makeup, which revealed a level of pollution—in the sea and otherwise—far more insidious than people realized. The rise of “disposable” products coupled with inexpensive mass-production processes resulted in an unprecedented number of plastic bottles, lighters, shopping bags, diapers and other detritus being thrown away each year. Too much of it winds up in the ocean, where cool salt water drastically slows down decomposition rates. Growing numbers of vulnerable animals are ingesting these materials, and often suffering malnutrition, unhealthy offspring and death. Evidence suggests that the entire food chain may be affected, since millions of micro-plastic bits are consumed by tiny sea creatures, which are eaten by bigger fish or birds, and so on. This “toxic Trojan horse” effect extends to air and land, as well, since plastics pervade so much of our lives and often leave toxic traces behind. The author is an impassioned, fiercely inquisitive writer, detailing the many unorthodox ways he’s managed to get these issues into the news and in peer-reviewed science journals. His account is chilling, but with an underlying message of optimism: If human behaviors change, we can still save the oceans, and ourselves. Fast-paced and electrifying, Moore’s story is “gonzo science” at its best. (Agent: Sandra Dijkstra)

SHUCKED Life on a New England Oyster Farm

Murray, Erin Byers St. Martin’s (368 pp.) $24.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-312-68191-3

The toils and pleasures of oystering. Like many of her predecessors in the food-based memoir genre, Murray begins in formulaic fashion. An avowed food-lover, the author grew dissatisfied with her life as an editor for a popular Boston lifestyle magazine. She felt lost and craved a fuller connection to the things she loves. When she met one of the directors of Island Creek Oysters, she discovered an opportunity to commit to something more substantial and convinced the company to hire her as an oyster farmer for one year. Knowing nothing about oystering, Murray was schooled early and often—and her prose, frequently humorous and nicely descriptive, does a good job of getting at the grueling experience of this particular niche food industry. Unfortunately, as with so many of the authors within this genre, Murray cannot escape the indictment of privileged self-involvement. When her one-year tenure was over, the author returned to her cushy life, wiser for

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BLACK ELEPHANTS A Memoir

her blue-collar experience but oblivious to the inevitable differences—despite her avowed solidarity—that will always separate her voluntary incursion from the toil of those who must oyster for their livelihood. An average foodie memoir.

OPIUM NATION Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan

Nawa, Fariba Perennial/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $14.99 paperback | November 8, 2011 978-0-06-193470-4 paperback This fusion of memoir and international reportage paints a disturbing picture of present-day Afghanistan as a

tribal narco-state. Journalist Nawa fled the country with her family as a young girl during the Soviet invasion, and only returned in 2000 as an American citizen working for a Pakistani think tank as an editor and journalist. She then spent several years traveling through the country and reporting on its transformations. Nawa is especially curious about the effects of increased opiate production on Afghan women, and her conclusions are grim: “...the Afghan drug trade provided funding for terrorists and for the Taliban... and [was] strengthening corrupt Afghan government officials whom the United States supported.” The author portrays a disordered, cruel society in which a proud culture of intricate traditions has been repeatedly battered by historical conflicts— most recently, the disastrous American response to the Taliban and the explosion of narcotics culture. Afghan social structures seem built around the subjugation of women, and shady drug lords routinely demand marriage to debtors’ female children as payment for opium debts, a circumstance equated with virtual slavery. Nawa met one such girl, a spirited and angry 12-year-old named Darya. The author traveled throughout the country in an attempt to understand the surreal circumstances contributing to Darya’s plight, talking to rural farmers, anti-narcotics agents and dealers. Essentially, despite brutal risks, the rural poor are drawn to the opium industry due to tribal pressures and for want of better options. Nawa ably captures the tragic complexity of Afghan society and the sheer difficulty of life there. Although the dialogue sometimes feels reconstructed or artificial, her assured narrative clearly stems from in-depth reporting in a risk-laden environment. Despite Nawa’s forceful optimism, the author delivers a troubling indictment of the drug and anti-terror wars visited upon Afghanistan, and of certain reactionary aspects of Afghan culture. (8-page color photo insert. Author events in Northern California and New York)

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Nielsen, Karol Bison/Univ. of Nebraska (224 pp.) $16.95 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-0-8032-3537-3 paperback

A poetic and painful debut memoir about a young marriage filled with idealism and adventure that unravels under the pressure of daily life in Israel during the first Gulf War. Nielsen (Memoir Writing/New York Univ.) grows weary when people assume her marriage ended because of differences over religion, nationality and culture; she asserts that she and her husband were prepared for those challenges. Nielsen, who was raised in Connecticut by her Christian Scientists parents, and Aviv, an Israeli atheist with Romanian-born parents, met in Peru. Nielsen was traveling after quitting her reporting job in Buenos Aires, Aviv doing the same after completing his mandatory military service. The two reunited in New York, where they continued to develop a loving relationship. When Aviv proposed to her, Nielsen moved to Israel to get to know his family and country during the engagement while he finished school and she worked on a kibbutz; they planned to return to New York for the wedding and for Nielsen to start graduate school. Missile attacks from Iraq, however, were not part of the plan. The threat of chemical and biological warfare made them quick experts on assembling gas masks and preparing atropine injectors. Aviv buried himself in his work, while Nielsen’s loneliness was exacerbated by her new in-laws’ stoic approach to war. Certain passages and anecdotes feel forced into the main narrative, and Nielsen indulges in explaining the meaning of her memoir in the final chapter, but on the whole her prose is appealing and adept. A memorable read that captures the hopefulness of falling in love and traces its sad trajectory into quiet terror amid the chaos of war and its aftermath.

SHAQ UNCUT My Story

O’Neal, Shaquille MacMullan, Jackie Grand Central Publishing (304 pp.) $27.99 | $29.99 large print $34.98 CD | November 15, 2011 978-1-4555-0441-1 978-1-4555-0725-2 large print 978-1-61113-575-6 CD Ubiquitous NBA superstar O’Neal offers an entertaining, if undeniably self-serving chronicle of his unique career. The self-styled “Big Aristotle” is unquestionably one of the most dominant players ever to grace the hardwood; he’s also one of the game’s biggest characters. With an assist from veteran basketball writer MacMullan (co-author with Larry Bird

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and Magic Johnson: When the Game Was Ours, 2010), O’Neal details an impoverished childhood lacking in material things but filled with strong influences, ranging from his grandmother to his stepfather, “Sarge,” a strict disciplinarian who helped curb the young O’Neal’s occasionally wayward tendencies. After a storied college career at LSU, O’Neal moved on to a dominant run in the NBA, from his early career in Orlando to his title-laden days as a Los Angeles Laker to his role as sidekick to young superstar Dwayne Wade in Miami. Despite his gregarious nature and an ever-adoring public (as evidenced by his inexplicable success as a rapper), acrimonious departures from NBA cities became something of a recurring theme throughout O’Neal’s career, circumstances he goes to great lengths to portray in a manner that casts him in the best possible light (PR-savvy veteran that he is, however, he places just enough blame on himself to bolster the veracity of his claims). Shameless self-promotion aside, the “Diesel” has a talent for entertaining, whether he’s suggesting that a jibe from President Obama ruined Celtics’ point guard Rajon Rondo’s jump shot or ruminating on the complicated nature of his relationship with Kobe Bryant. Question his free-throw shooting ability or willingness to absorb his share of responsibility when things go wrong, but it’s hard to question his charisma. Symbolic of Shaq’s career: consistently captivating, but you can’t help but feel he left something on the table. (8-page photo insert. Author tour to New York, Boston, Atlanta, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando)

DANGEROUS INSTINCTS How Gut Feelings Betray Us

O’Toole, Mary Ellen Bowman, Alisa Hudson Street/Penguin (288 pp.) $25.95 | October 13, 2011 978-1-59463-083-5

A retired FBI profiler teaches you how to steer clear of psychopaths, con artists and other assorted evildoers. O’Toole’s crime-fighting expertise has helped crack some of the most heinous murder and abduction cases in U.S. history. But the author is the first to admit she couldn’t correctly peg a real-life serial killer just by looking at him. To do that, she has always employed a clear, cerebral-based methodology, ruthlessly jettisoning anything even remotely resembling a “sixth sense.” Her first order of business is demonstrating (through blood-curdling case references) just how faulty our everyday assessments of people generally are, which will leave many readers relieved that the odds of actually encountering a serial killer are similar to being struck by lighting. However, writes the author, there are still plenty of other villains out there intent on doing harm. Crooks, connivers and crackpots of all stripes know how to put targeted victims at ease with the right words, disarming them with charm and never hinting at their true colors until it’s too late. The author’s learned counsel has been proven right consistently, but her mode of instruction 1682

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is often tedious; readers will hardly enjoy constantly being told that they’ll learn this or that vital piece of information in a subsequent chapter. Regardless of the stilted prose, O’Toole’s profiling system should prepare readers to uncover the disturbing behavior and attitudes of all the people in their lives. Beneficial though chilling course in personal safety.

JAMIE OLIVER’S MEALS IN MINUTES A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast Oliver, Jamie Hyperion (288 pp.) $35.00 | October 11, 2011 978-1401324421

“I’m too busy.” “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t know how.” Celebrity chef and author Oliver (Jamie’s Food Revolution, 2011, etc.) doesn’t want to hear your excuses for not preparing home-cooked meals. None of them are true anyway, and he sets out to prove it. The author provides an eclectic assortment of recipes for 50 entire meals—not just single dishes—that can be prepared in around 30 minutes. The key to foolproof success, Oliver writes, is smart preparation of the kitchen workspace, having the right tools on hand and learning to excel at multitasking. If readers find the system a bit intense at first, the author promises that it becomes easier with experience, and, he warns lightheartedly, possibly even a little addictive. Oliver provides simply stated and easy-to-follow instructions for every aspect of the process, from getting started to serving. He lays out the steps for each meal like a lavishly illustrated road map; which dish to start first with, when to begin the second dish, when to start dessert, etc.— it’s all plainly indicated on the page. Those who might prefer to prepare a single dish rather than the entire meal will find that easy to accomplish, as all the individual dishes are indexed at the back of the book, with vegetarian dishes designated. It’s difficult to imagine the average home cook not gaining wisdom, skill and confidence from this worthy addition to the Oliver Empire.

THE HOUR THAT MATTERS MOST The Surprising Power of the Family Meal

Parrott, Les Parrott, Leslie Allen, Stephanie Kuna, Tina Tyndale House (225 pp.) $15.99 paperback | September 1, 2011 978-1-4143-3744-9 paperback Family supper receives the star treatment. The Parrotts (Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts, 1995)

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“Showcases a lifetime of remarkable achievements by the ambassador of French cuisine.” from essential pepin

emphasize the power of the family meal, showcasing how the simple act of eating together strengthens bonds and empowers families. Written in a friendly, conversational tone, the book examines the positive benefits established by family mealtimes, listing correlations such as better school performance, healthier eating habits and happier families. Those wondering how overworked parents can make this 1950s fantasy a reality can relax, as the Parrotts’ research has found that even hassled family meals, such as PBJs, are better than not eating dinner as a family at all. While the book includes occasional factoids and easy sample recipes, the authors dish out more child psychology than helpful dinner tips. Wince-worthy conversation suggestions such as playing “Mad, Sad, Glad” to get families to open up (in which everyone mentions three things that made them mad, sad, and glad that day) are unlikely to appeal to kids raised on Facebook and video games. Still, readers who overlook the predictable parenting advice will glean some inspiration. The book also includes suggestions and anecdotes by Stephanie Allen and Tina Kuna, entrepreneurs who turned their personal assemble-and-freeze family cooking methods into the popular meal assembly franchise, Dream Dinners. While not exactly groundbreaking, the evidence in this book will motivate parents to make mealtime a priority.

ESSENTIAL PEPIN More Than 700 All-Time Favorites from My Life in Food Pepin, Jacques Houghton Mifflin (704 pp.) $40.00 | October 19, 2011 978-0-547-23279-9

The world-famous chef returns with more than 700 handpicked recipes retooled for the vicissitudes of today’s kitchen and garnered from more than 60 years of experience. Pepin’s latest (Jacques Pepin More Fast Food My Way, 2008, etc.) reflects the insouciant grandeur of a man whose phenomenal influence and success in modern cooking can hardly be exaggerated: the author of 18 bestselling books; winner of an Emmy Award for his syndicated PBS series; recipient of the Légion d’Honneur; etc. Yet he miraculously manages to convey with freshness and excitement his life’s passion to equip home cooks of every stripe with something to please every palate. Soups, salads, puddings, soufflés and crepes are all on display, as well as recipes for charcuterie and offal in addition to standard fare like poultry and game. The author organizes this wealth of information into a harmonious and fascinating read. Pepin’s roots run deep and true, and he fittingly closes with a recipe for Mulled Wine and a tribute to his boyhood home: “On cold winter nights, this is the drink of choice for farmers in the Beaujolais area of Burgundy, where I come from.” Showcases a lifetime of remarkable achievements by the ambassador of French cuisine.

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DO CHOCOLATE LOVERS HAVE SWEETER BABIES? Exploring the Surprising Science of Pregnancy

Pincott, Jena Free Press (256 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-4391-8334-2 paperback Popular-science writer Pincott (Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?, 2008, etc.) provides a lively, accessible romp through the science of pregnancy. Known for her previous research on love and sexual attraction, the author makes a natural transition in her latest. Delving into the science of pregnancy, parenthood and fetal development, she presents her findings with wit, personal anecdotes and playful humor. Eschewing predictable “avoid the shellfish” advice, Pincott provides a science-based trivia collection, drawing from studies in evolutionary psychology, biology, neuroscience, social science, epigenetics and more. She explores topics such as how a woman’s activities might influence her unborn baby’s personality, how pregnancy and motherhood can change the behavior of mothers and fathers, what factors might influence a baby’s gender and why the first hour after a baby’s birth means so much for mother-newborn bonding. Inspired by questions from her own first pregnancy, the author also digs up the answers to common inquiries such as “what does baby’s birth season predict?”; “what can Mozart really do?”; and “will what we eat now influence baby’s tastes later?” Despite the bombardment of information, Pincott presents her research as fun things to contemplate rather than additional things to worry about, so nervous expectant parents can thoroughly enjoy the book. A fascinating supplement to the typical maternity guide.

TOP SECRET AMERICA The Rise of the New American Security State

Priest, Dana Arkin, William Little, Brown (384 pp.) $29.99 | September 6, 2011 978-0-316-18221-8

A newsworthy examination demonstrating that U.S. government secrecy is eroding civil liberties, busting the federal budget, contributing to deaths in unauthorized wars and spreading paranoia among large portions of the citizenry. Washington Post reporters Priest (The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America’s Military, 2003) and Arkin (Divining Victory: Airpower in the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, 2007, etc.) published the beginnings of this book as a newspaper series during 2010. The authors are meticulous but angry reporters, openly dismissive of the national-security apparatus begun by the federal and state governments at least 100 years ago, then

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expanded significantly after 9/11. Although President Obama vowed to curtail the national-security state and overall government secrecy in the wake of the Bush administration, Priest and Arkin demonstrate that the current president has abandoned that vow. They calculate that at least 850,000 individuals inside government and within government contractors have received “top secret” security clearances. Untold hundreds of thousands more individuals are cleared to use and abuse secret but not top-secret information. Priest and Arkin reach the sad but unavoidable conclusion that 9/11, combined with other real and threatened incursions by terrorists, has led to an aroundthe-clock police state. In addition to compelling anecdotes, the authors cite as examples the regular broadcasts of threat warning levels from the Department of Homeland Security, a culture of fear surrounding discussions of al-Qaeda by politicians and the public and budget-busting measures to protect what is unprotectable or perhaps not even in danger. A mixture of investigative reporting and advocacy journalism that shines light in dark corners but is ultimately depressing because the authors seem convinced that the paranoia and its dangerous offshoots will never dissipate. (18 black-and-white photos; 5 charts. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh)

UNCOMPROMISED The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of an Arab American Patriot in the CIA Prouty, Nada Palgrave Macmillan (288 pp.) $26.00 | November 8, 2011 978-0-230-11386-2

Lebanese-born ex-FBI and -CIA operative Prouty offers a disturbing account of how anti-Arab sentiment among key government officials led to her dismissal from the intelligence community and the suspension of her U.S. citizenship. The understandably defensive tone of this book is established early on when the author writes that, though now Catholic, she was born a Druze and practiced “an amalgam of Muslim, Christian, Sufi, and Pentateuch teachings.” When the American University of Beirut closed in 1989, she left Lebanon and an abusive family situation to live with an older sister who had established herself in Detroit. There, she doggedly pursued the education that would allow her to “break the cycle of dependency on men and become self-sufficient”—to the point of entering into an arranged marriage to secure her status in America. Prouty’s path eventually led her into a career as an undercover agent at the FBI and then the CIA. At both agencies, she quickly developed a reputation as a dedicated, first-rate professional who played an important role in capturing top terror suspects including Saddam Hussein. But in 2005, her career suddenly ground to a halt when federal investigators charged her with passing intelligence to Lebanese operatives of Hezbollah. 1684

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A righteously indignant Prouty clearly seeks vindication for the wrongs committed against her, but she rages neither against her U.S. government accusers nor the journalists who excoriated her as a traitor. Instead, she expresses concern that her experiences as a “nonwhite, non-ethnically West European, and nonChristian” are symptomatic of larger cultural paranoia that, if left unchecked, will undermine enlightened civil society. A sobering account of democratic fallibility in an age of anxiety.

A TEAM FOR AMERICA The Army-Navy Game that Rallied a Nation

Roberts, Randy Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (288 pp.) $26.00 | December 1, 2011 978-0-547-51106-1

Roberts (History/Purdue Univ.; Joe Louis, 2010, etc.) examines the legendary 1944 Army-Navy college football game. Comparisons between football and war are as old as the game itself, but never more relevant than in this history of Coach Earl “Red” Blaik’s Army team and its historic defeat of Navy as World War II raged. The war and its need for manpower forced the suspension of most college athletics, but the belief that sports provided good training for soldiers and a needed morale boost for the public allowed some to continue in a limited capacity. The stakes were particularly high for the West Point cadets, who had to meet the academy’s rigid academic requirements in addition to their athletic commitments. Roberts brings a historian’s thoroughness to the subject, tracing Blaik’s transformation of the team through canny recruiting and the adoption of the new “T” formation that would revolutionize the game. Army’s main goal was to beat archrival Navy for the first time since 1938, with Blaik’s coaching skill and the efforts of players like future Heisman trophy winners “Doc” Blanchard and Glenn Davis making it possible. With a season featuring student athletes who would soon graduate to the battlefield and alumni who were already serving on it, the inherent drama of the story keeps the narrative moving along. But though interest was surely high for the 1944 match-up between the nation’s top-ranked teams, Roberts falls short of providing convincing evidence for his argument that “never in the history of the sport would there be a more important game.” A workmanlike account of a fascinating time in American collegiate sports history. (8-page black-and-white insert)

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“Raw, searing reading from start to finish.” from it calls you back

IT CALLS YOU BACK An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing

Rodriguez, Luis J. Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $24.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4165-8416-2

In this brilliantly jagged sequel to the gang-life classic, Always Running (1994), acclaimed journalist, poet and fiction writer Rodriguez (Music of the Mill, 2005, etc.) chronicles his struggle to leave behind a drug- and crime-ridden world that always threatened to “call him back.” An acute political consciousness and powerful love of the written word ultimately saved the author from the lurking dangers of the street and the “nothing life” to which most Latinos in East Los Angeles were automatically condemned. After leading a thankless working-class existence that amounted to little more than “despair on the fast track,” Rodriguez landed in a training program for minority journalists at UC-Berkeley. “[A] s a reporter,” he writes, “I could help right the wrongs, accomplish something long lasting with what I was being given. Now truth and the full picture could bleed from the pen or a camera, not from a gun.” But the way forward was as difficult as it was anguished. At every turn, Rodriguez had to face not only a troubled past that still beckoned to him, but also his own personal demons: alcoholism, heroine addiction and a violent temper that indiscriminately “roll[ed] over people, family, friends, kids, [and] enemies.” He overcame his darker urgings, but not without revisiting them through his eldest son, who became tragically entangled in the “web” Rodriguez had escaped. Yet it was this very crisis that brought him into more authentic alignment with himself as it drew him closer to a family and community that, for all its “diversity and antagonisms,” he could not help but love. Raw, searing reading from start to finish.

AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTHINESS The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert Rogak, Lisa Dunne/St. Martin’s (304 pp.) $25.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-312-61610-6

A serious(ish) look at the popular host of The Colbert Report. Arguably one of the sharpest satirists of his generation, Stephen Colbert is a walking dichotomy: a sorta-liberal whose fictional persona is super-conservative; a public loudmouth and a private family man; a seeming rabblerouser with an intensely religious upbringing. Most viewers are aware that the persona the comic/actor/pundit/author displays on his show and in his bestselling book I Am America (So Can You!) is an |

act, so this biography is worthwhile in that it gives us insight into the man behind the mouth. The prolific Rogak (Haunted Heart: The Life and Times of Stephen King, 2009, etc.) has a healthy appreciation for her subject, and the majority of her sources have nothing but good things to say about Colbert both as a person and a performer; she paints him has the smartest guy in the room, a gentleman you’d want to meet for lunch every day. The author does a nice job of balancing the different parts of his life and work, moving briskly from his religious upbringing, to his stints at Second City and on The Daily Show, to his breakthrough on The Colbert Report. (Some more information about his cult show Strangers With Candy would have been welcome.) Logically enough, the majority of the book is devoted to his Comedy Central hit, and fans of the show will appreciate Rogak’s choices in terms of the segments and interviews she focused on. A solid summation of Colbert’s work and life to this point. (20 black-and-white photos)

THE ATHEIST’S GUIDE TO REALITY Enjoying Life Without Illusions

Rosenberg, Alex Norton (320 pp.) $25.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-393-08023-0

A cocky, relentlessly arrogant treatise on the true nature of all things human. Can’t sleep nights worrying all life is meaningless? If you haven’t got the stones to confront the dictates of science, then Rosenberg (Philosophy/Duke Univ.; Philosophy of Science: A Contemporary Introduction, 2011, etc.) recommends Prozac. Really. That’s his advice. Undeniably brilliant, the author may very well be correct about the entire human experience, but that’s no reason for him to be so gratingly obnoxious about it. Even Richard Dawkins, the atheist’s atheist, gets slammed as something of a weepy-eyed weakling here. Rosenberg is aware that his arguments may be difficult to swallow, yet he does nothing to sway the unconverted. Not only is there no old man with a flowing white beard watching from above, there is no you behind your reflection in the mirror. The author provides a painstakingly investigated and expanded repackaging of the fully automatic model of the universe. The closest Rosenberg comes to softening admittedly troubling material is dubbing it “nice nihilism.” Meanwhile, “blind variation” and “environmental filtration,” the Darwinian processes of evolution, are invoked so much that their mention starts to feel like an incantation or a religious article of faith. Opt instead for the profane sleight-of-hand Penn Jillette weaves in God, No! Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales (2011), a decidedly less pretentious and deftly comic look at all things ungodly.

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ARMIES OF HEAVEN The First Crusade and the Quest for Apocalypse Rubenstein, Jay Basic (448 pp.) $35.00 | November 1, 2011 978-0-465-01929-8

Apocalyptic thinking in the organization and conduct of the First Crusade. In order to profile the rationalizations and beliefs in the apocalyptical mission of some of the participants in the Crusade (approximately 1095-1099), Rubenstein (Medieval History/Univ. of Tennessee; Guibert de Nogent: Portrait of a Medieval Mind, 2002) examines chronicles from the 11th and 12th centuries, like the Gesta Francorum and the accounts of Raymond of Aguilers and Albert of Aachen. Like other historians, the divides participants into “popular” and “princely” components, led by Peter the Hermit on the one hand, and Norman and Frankish aristocrats on the other. Peter and his followers didn’t make it, but on the way, those who took up the cross first massacred Jews in a variety of locales and then Christians in Hungary; then they attacked Constantinople and the Byzantine Emperor. The Emperor wanted to turn the crusaders against the Seljuk Turks, incoming invaders from Central Asia who were threatening the Byzantines from Central Anatolia, and succeeded to some extent. Unlike Anne-Marie Eddé’s Saladin (2011), Rubenstein does not try to compare the stories of the chronicles with the diplomatic and political record. He focuses more on the supernatural elements in play, as portents and omens, ghostly visitors and holy relics came together with the bestiality of the crusaders’ bloodthirsty conduct. An engaging, cautionary account emphasizing the consequences of untrammeled irrationalism. (6 black-and-white figures; 8-page color insert. 8 maps. Agent: Deborah Grosvenor)

LEON TROTSKY A Revolutionary Life

Rubenstein, Joshua Yale Univ. (240 pp.) $25.00 | October 15, 2011 978-0-300-13724-8

Brilliant, charismatic, fatally idealistic and dogmatic—Leon Trotsky (18791940) was all this and more, according to this fine biography, the latest in the publisher’s Jewish Lives series. Rubenstein (Tangled Loyalties: The Life and Times of Ilya Ehrenburg, 1996, etc.) locates a key period in Trotsky’s intellectual development in his time spent as a child and adolescent in Odessa, where he lived with relations, acquired cultural awareness and social graces and, most importantly, gained insight into the hardships faced by the working classes. It was in Odessa that he first encountered a systematic, officially sanctioned anti-Semitism that barred him from admittance to select schools. Yet Trotsky’s 1686

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self-awareness of his Jewish identity was ambivalent throughout his life and always took a backseat to his identity as a communist. Developing into a public voice for change, he was launched on to the international stage after an escape from Siberian exile (where he left his first wife and daughters) to Vienna, where he met Lenin for the first time. During this period, Trotsky traveled extensively throughout Europe, honing ideas and stirring his listeners. Through these experiences, he formulated his notion of a “permanent revolution” necessary to sweep through all of Europe, one of the pillars of his political theory that is, in hindsight, understood to be both deeply flawed and destructive. Afeter 1905, with the exception of a few years, he shuttled between Vienna, London, Finland, Paris, a brief stint in New York and Mexico, where Stalin’s long arm finally reached him. Trotsky proves to be a fascinating subject, a deeply flawed man whose charisma occasionally shines through the many excerpts of his speeches and texts. In the central chapter, “The Revolution of 1917,” Rubenstein not only details the chronological events that led to the Bolshevik party’s consolidation of power, he also presents these in the larger context of Russian and German war strategy. The author explores the battle of personalities between Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, as well as the gamesmanship of succession, with particular attention to Trotsky’s puzzling failure of political acumen in not recognizing or responding to Stalin’s threat to his role as Lenin’s successor. An accessible scholarly account of a man whose life spanned continents, whose charisma was legendary and whose ideas sparked a revolution and its backlash.

ASHAMED TO DIE Silence, Denial, and the AIDS Epidemic in the South

Skerritt, Andrew J. Lawrence Hill Books/Chicago Review (320 pp.) $24.95 | November 1, 2011 978-1-56976-814-3

In this powerful debut, Skerritt (Journalism/Florida A&M Univ.) uses the stories of African-Americans living in an impoverished South Carolina community to reveal the hidden scourge of HIV/AIDS throughout South. The author attributes the spread of AIDS among Southern heterosexuals to endemic rural poverty particularly among blacks, concomitant social breakdown— broken families, drug addiction, promiscuity and prostitution—and the scarcity of resources that would allow public-health measures adequate to stemming the epidemic. The author began covering the AIDS crisis in 2000, after hearing the Rev. Patricia Ann Starr preach. The pastor of a local evangelic Baptist church in York, S.C., she is known for her work helping people with the disease and is a vocal advocate of safe sex despite her disapproval of promiscuity. Until her own sister tested positive for the HIV virus and her neighbors began dying of AIDS, she—like many Americans—had believed the disease to be confined to gay men

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“A lyrical, lovely display of Updike’s protean powers.” from higher gossip

living in urban areas like Chicago and New York. Skerritt writes movingly of families caught up in this tragedy and the group of health professionals who do their best to deal with the crisis. He cites shocking statistics—while the incidence of AIDS deaths decreased throughout the U.S. between 2001 and 2005, the opposite is the case in the Deep South—but notes that most of the funds to fight the disease have been funneled to the large northern and western cities. Skerritt deplores the fact that liberal politicians such as Hillary Clinton focus on funding for their own constituencies to the disadvantage of the small rural communities that are now under the gun. The author makes a strong case that the shame is not with the dying but with those who turn away from the reality of this epidemic. (24 black-and-white photos)

THE FOLLY OF FOOLS The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life Trivers, Robert Basic (352 pp.) $28.00 | November 1, 2011 978-0-465-02755-2

Trivers (Anthropology and Biological Sciences/Rutgers Univ.) searches for the evolutionary biology behind why “we are thoroughgoing liars, even to ourselves.” Self-deception has long been a dark, opaque side of our behavior, but the author brings a bright flashlight to his investigation of why we alter information to reach a falsehood. Because Trivers approaches the questions from the standpoint of evolutionary costs and advantages, his functional answer is that we lie to ourselves the better to lie to others, that through self-deception we hide reality from our conscious minds to make a better job of our often self-glorifying, self-justifying, self-forgiving deceptions. But through his research, the author has found self-deception to be a two-edged sword, with positive effects on our survival and reproduction, but negative effects on the immune system. He tenders evidence of self-deceit on all levels—gene, cell, individual and group—from the neurophysiological to parental subterfuge (and the child’s subterfuge back) to sex (an absolute snake-pit of deceit and self-deception). Trivers examines our biases and rationalizations, denials and projections, misrepresentation and manipulations, and his writing is comfortable and suasive, resulting from his familiarity and command of the subject’s broad application and investigative history. At the same time, the author is disarmingly intimate about his own self-deceptive weakness: “I have noticed that ‘inadvertent’ touching of women (that is, unconscious prior to the action) occurs exclusively with my left hand.” A gripping inquiry. Trivers is informal but highly knowledgeable, provocative, brightly humorous and inviting. (Author tour to Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle. Agent: John Brockman)

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HIGHER GOSSIP Essays and Criticism

Updike, John Editor: Carduff, Christopher Knopf (528 pp.) $40.00 | November 3, 2011 978-0-307-95715-3

A potpourri of pieces from the busy pen of the gifted Updike (1932-2009), who shows that he could write convincingly about nearly anything. Using material the author left in a couple of boxes for just such a publication, editor Carduff (who assembled the two William Maxwell volumes for the Library of America) arranged the pieces in a way he judged consistent with Updike’s earlier collections (Picked-Up Pieces, 1975, etc.). The current volume contains poems and short fiction as well as book reviews, art criticism, forewords and afterwords, comments and letters and speeches. Reading them consecutively causes a reader’s jaw to drop in astonishment at the range of Updike’s talents and interests. There are valedictory pieces (an emotional poem about Massachusetts General Hospital, a piece about time’s effects on a writer); explicit reminders that a writer’s duty is to bring news to the reader; curmudgeonly complaints about crowded art exhibits; praise for colleagues; potshots at biographers (he did not care for Blake Bailey’s Cheever: A Life, 2009); pieces that reveal his intimacy with subjects including Aimee Semple McPherson, the history of golf in Massachusetts, the drawings of Van Gogh, the planet Mars, the stories of his adopted town of Ipswich, Mass. Throughout are reminders of what readers lost when Updike died: the perfect word, the graceful sentences that somehow seem impossible to improve, the wry humor, the vast knowledge and the humility. In one essay, he identifies a handful of principles he followed in his book-reviewing, and in a dazzling long piece he talks about the genesis and composition of his four Rabbit novels—perhaps his greatest literary achievement. A lyrical, lovely display of Updike’s protean powers. (40 illustrations. First printing of 40,000)

THE CHANGE I BELIEVE IN Fighting for Progress in the Age of Obama

vanden Heuvel, Katrina Nation Books/Perseus (400 pp.) $16.99 paperback | November 1, 2011 978-1-56858-688-5 paperback A collection of columns written by Nation publisher and editor vanden Heuvel (Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover, 2009, etc.) covering the run-up to the last presidential election and events since. The pieces first appeared on the Nation website or the Washington Post blog, where the author is a guest columnist. They

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chronicle the six years from the 2006 congressional election, during which the high expectations of pro-Obama progressives gave way to the disappointment now felt by many of his erstwhile supporters. In the introduction, vanden Heuvel writes that she counters times when she becomes depressed by the current political stalemate by “taking the long view of [what Dr. King called the] arc of history that bends toward justice.” While she is disappointed in President Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promises, she writes that she still believes in his message that “real change comes about by ‘imagining and then fighting and then working for what did not seem possible before.’ “ The book is divided topically, with each section arranged chronologically, and the author provides a useful record of the period and progressive talking points—during a time which, for progressive Democrats, represented a series of defeats. In a piece written in January 2011, vanden Heuvel takes the long view, comparing the present period to the end of the 19th century when the Progressive Movement succeeded in opposing large monopolies despite what seemed to be overwhelming odds. A welcome contrast to the frequently overheated political dialogue of the moment. (Author events in New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Seattle, Portland)

THE WILL TO CLIMB Obsession and Commitment and the Quest to Climb Annapurna—the World’s Deadliest Peak

Viesturs, Ed Roberts, David Crown (304 pp.) $26.00 | October 4, 2011 978-0-307-72042-9 978-0-307-72044-3 e-book

A veteran mountaineer chronicles his colossal quest to scale the Himalayas’ 14 8,000-meter peaks, including the deadliest, Annapurna. With the assistance of Roberts (Finding Everett Ruess, 2011, etc.), Viesturs (K2, 2009, etc.) returns with another true account of cliffhanging adventure. Viesturs was inspired by mountainclimbing icon Maurice Herzog’s successful ascent of Annapurna in 1950, which was the first time anyone had reached the summit of that treacherous Himalayan monolith. After conquering most of the harrowing Himalayan range, in 2000 Viesturs finally prepared to take on the intimidating Annapurna. Interspersed throughout his own combative history with the Himalayas’ “8,000ers” are historical accounts of other adventurous souls who’ve attempted to conquer these peaks since the 19th century. The author describes his own attachment to mountainclimbing as “tread[ing] between commitment and obsession,” which is believable enough, since Viesturs certainly doesn’t over-romanticize this obsession. Viesturs describes the successful exploits of the most formidable characters taking part in this survival-of-the-fittest competition, but often the most miraculous accounts are rooted in failure: In particular, French climber 1688

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Jean-Christophe Lafaille’s incredible 8,000-foot descent from Annapurna with a broken arm and no rope, followed by fellow mountaineer Simone Moro surviving a 2,600-foot tumble down the mountain’s rugged face. Reinhold Messner, often considered the greatest mountaineer ever, was the first to conquer all 14 8,000ers. Though Viesturs’ battle with Annapurna ended on a triumphal note, not every successful mountaineer gains a lasting sense of fulfillment from their achievements in the socalled vertical world. Unfortunately, the author only skims the surface of the psychological aspects that drive a person to scale a 29,000-foot mountain. Lacks overall depth and scope, but good for vicarious thrill-seeking. (8-page 4-color insert)

THE LEAST CRICKET OF EVENING

Vivian, Robert Bison/Univ. of Nebraska (192 pp.) $14.95 paperback | November 1, 2011 978-0-8032-3431-4 paperback Sharp prose and exquisitely described images characterize a series of contemplative essays. Vivian’s (English and Creative Writing/Alma College; Another Burning Kingdom, 2011, etc.) essays embrace consistent themes of calmness, simplicity and peace. The first essay, “Ghost Hallway,” sets the tone for the collection, introducing the spirit of a middle-aged woman Vivian returns home to each evening. She mentors him, slowing him down to see beauty in the ordinary. Readers will feel her touch woven throughout the book. In most of the pieces, Vivian paints vivid images then ruminates on why he is drawn to them: a red-robed bishop shows him how to walk with grace through “the vague malaise dripping like a bad faucet at the heart of town.” As compared to the perfect smiles of most Americans, the snaggle-toothed and ramshackle grins of the Turks signal that “perfection is not possible” and that “maybe there’s something even a little sinister in the very idea of a total whitewash.” The solace of a Laundromat, surrounded by the “smells of clean laundry, in the sudden bloom of hot air from an opened dryer,” portrays the beauty of shared mundane rituals. While many of these essays are set in Michigan or Nebraska, Vivian also takes us to the hills of Turkey, the Danube River, Auschwitz and an abandoned Jewish graveyard in Poland, journeys that demonstrate how disparate cultures broaden his perspective. Beautiful essays to read and savor one at a time.

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BUT WILL THE PLANET NOTICE? How Smart Economics Can Save the World

Wagner, Gernot Farrar, Straus and Giroux (272 pp.) $27.00 | October 1, 2011 978-0-8090-5207-3 Let economists rule and the earth be spared. Environmental economist and debut author Wagner points out that no degree of personal environmental awareness will avert the global-warming chaos humanity now faces. With perhaps as little as a decade left for planet-saving action, it’s going to take the combined cool-down actions of several billion people to make a difference. He argues that at this late date only an immediate, economist-driven redirection of market forces will make that happen. Call it cap and trade, new taxes, emission-reducing regulatory policies or outright bans on the worst contaminants, but the goal will only be achieved by putting a true cost on dumping in the atmosphere. The price of further atmospheric insult has to be high enough so that individuals by the billions, corporations and governments will do whatever it takes to avoid paying. Therein lies possible salvation, writes the author, whose light, quasi-witty touch belies the apocalyptic message, one that is hardly his alone. But he doesn’t sound like he’ll be storming the barricades, and even admits that we still could get lucky due to unforeseen vicissitudes. The population bomb of the 1970s, for example, turned out to be something of a dud, at least in wealthier countries. Wagner also cautions against sweeping environmental actions that turn out to be flawed. Phasing out incandescent light bulbs to save electricity and cut down on power-plant emissions doesn’t look so smart, he writes, when we consider that the replacement bulbs, those energy-efficient compact fluorescents, contain environmentally troublesome mercury. Great plans, but do the economists have an army?

EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT LOVE I LEARNED FROM ROMANCE NOVELS

Wendell, Sarah Sourcebooks Casablanca (256 pp.) $14.99 paperback | October 1, 2011 978-1-4022-5449-9 paperback Think romances are about cruel yet dashing men forcing themselves on simpering, virginal women? Or that romance readers are desperate ladies whose most significant relationships are with their cats? Think again. Wendell’s debut, a brief apologia for the romance genre, is winning, entertaining and highly persuasive despite occasional lapses into silliness. The author, co-founder of the popular romance-novel review website “Smart Bitches, Trashy Books,” |

quashes several stereotypes of romance novels and their devoted fans. She argues that the modern romance novel has, for the most part, done away with what she calls “rapetastic assclowns,” instead providing women with a model of how to negotiate healthy relationships. Drawing on comments from readers of her website, Wendell makes the case that women learn from romance novels to be assertive and confident, and that more equitable and passionate relationships are the result. Sometimes, these reader comments make up the bulk of the text, giving the book the feel of an extended blog; the author’s persistently jokey tone contributes to this as well. However, the snark often works well, like in the sidebar “Six Simple Steps to Looking Like the Quintessential Romance Hero,” or in her description of a certain kind of romance hero: “I don’t like you, you drive me nuts, I can’t stop thinking about your hair, DAMMIT!” Fans of the romance genre are likely to come away feeling vindicated; newcomers may be inspired to pick up a few new paperbacks with racy covers.

WEST BY WEST My Charmed, Tormented Life

West, Jerry Coleman, Jonathan Little, Brown (352 pp.) $27.99 | October 19, 2011 978-0-316-05349-5 From the player so iconic his silhouette forms the NBA logo, a memoir intended to explain himself to fans and

to...himself. Jerry West is on everyone’s list of the greatest basketball players ever. As the general manager of the Lakers, he assembled six championship teams. He’s so beloved and admired, there’s a statue of him outside Los Angeles’s Staples Center. Who wouldn’t want to be Jerry West? Well, maybe Jerry West, for one. He played basketball, he writes, “to try and feel good about myself when everything else in my life was confusing and frustratingly unexplainable.” An abusive father, an emotionally remote mother and the Korean War death of a favorite older brother accounted for this withdrawn, overly sensitive youth who turned to basketball to feel alive and in control. The game became a sanctuary, but did nothing to repair a tormented soul and perhaps even exacerbated some “weird” tendencies that have complicated his life. Notwithstanding all his on-court success, his reputation as “Mr. Clutch,” this tortured perfectionist remains “scarred” by his failures: a one-point loss in the 1959 NCAA championship game, six NBA Finals losses to the ’60s Celtics, not winning the MVP award for his outstanding 1969-70 season. Hardcore fans will relish West’s reflections on the game that has obsessed him, stories about teammates and opposing players and his selections for an all-time Dream Game. They’ll likely be surprised by his erudition—he peppers the narrative with allusions to writers as disparate as Malamud, Merton, Didion, Gladwell and Joseph Campbell—and the

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“Despite the occasional awkward metaphor... Wilson writes with crisp, conversational fluency. He’s a fine tour guide, never failing to throw light on this dark wood.” from dante in love

numerous, unflattering personal revelations. West makes scalding comments about people as diverse as Douglas MacArthur, Jesse Jackson and Phil Jackson, but he reserves his harshest commentary for himself as a brother, father and husband. He grapples with the role of a sports hero, a mantle he’s loath to embrace, and appears to have made a sincere, if not always successful, attempt at self-awareness. In a genre notorious for merely waving pompoms, West offers an unusually candid account of his personal and professional life. (Two 8-page four-color inserts; 14 black-and-white photos)

DANTE IN LOVE

Wilson, A.N. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (400 pp.) $30.00 | November 1, 2011 978-0-374-13468-6 “In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight way was lost.” So begins Dante’s Divine Comedy; for many modern readers, this trip through the afterlife never gets any straighter. Biographer, novelist and critic Wilson (Our Times: The Age of Elizabeth II, 2008, etc.) aims to change this with his new book, intended as both an inducement and introduction to the greatest of all epic poems. On balance, it works splendidly. There may be no easy way to explain the fractious 13th-century Italy factions that dominated the life of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), and the fact-crammed early chapters devoted to the church-state strife between Guelfs and Ghibellines and Whites and Blacks can be slow going. Wilson is stronger in his focus on the poet’s mysterious inner life: married to a woman, Gemma Donati, he never mentioned, and obsessed by a woman, Beatrice Portinari, he barely knew. Beatrice, who serves as Dante’s guide through heaven, was an object of both love and desire, and with her death in her early 20s, she became to Dante the very emblem of God’s perfection and love. Love was the subject of the age, for Dante no less than the other leading intellectual and artistic lights of his era. “Dante believed that Love encompassed all things, that it was the force that moved the sun and other stars,” writes the author. Wilson also explains the tradition of courtly love that Dante reacted against, his fascination with numerology and astrology; and he addresses the competing views and multiple interpretations of Dante’s poem. Despite the occasional awkward metaphor—e.g., Dante’s “reworking of his own story is pregnant with dogs in the nighttime who do not bark”—Wilson writes with crisp, conversational fluency. He’s a fine tour guide, never failing to throw light on this dark wood. (24 pages of full-color illustrations. Agent: Georgina Capel)

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THE LAST BLIND DATE

Yellin, Linda Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $15.00 paperback | October 4, 2011 978-1-4516-2589-9 paperback 978-1-4516-2591-2 e-book A single, middle-aged, Midwestern author and magazine writer’s life is transformed after being set up with a commitment-phobic man from New York. Yellin (Such a Lovely Couple, 1991) recounts the trials of longdistance romance, becoming a stepmother and creating a life on the East Coast. Five years after a marriage that ended in heartbreak, the author finally acknowledged her loneliness. She was ready for romance, but she didn’t want to experience the hassles that accompany dating. “I longed to skip the gettingto-know-you part and immediately jump to the rent-a-movieand-order-in–some-Chinese part,” she writes.” Her relationship with Randy began with a long-distance phone call, progressed to longer calls and then trips to New York. After two years of dating, Yellin finally met his children. The couple married, and the author began the difficult adjustment to the unfamiliar terrain of her family and city. “When I wasn’t trying to navigate the children,” she writes, “I was trying to navigate New York.” The majority of the narrative consists of Yellin’s humorous accounts of deciphering the subway system; understanding the differences between being Jewish and from Chicago and being Jewish and from New York; and becoming a good stepmother. The author also candidly describes the hothouse environment of her new job overseeing the advertising for a TV network. “The network was packed with women in their forties all going through their menopausal worst on the same day: throwing tantrums, screaming in the hallways, slamming doors,” she writes. “I felt like I was in a women’s prison movie except instead of a cell I had a corner office.” Eventually, the author began to feel at home, and she made peace with her stepchildren. Filled with lots of girl-talk, this memoir will appeal to readers who can’t get enough of the beginning, middle and sweet endings of love stories.

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children & teens INSIDE STARS

& Nonsense.” Rather than chronicling her life in England with her widowed mother “to boring infinitum,” she decides to let her words “murmur and scream and dance and sing.” The result is the portrait of a writer as a young girl. Mina wonders and wanders, giddily examining the nature of the mind, language, sadness, swearing, schools-as-cages, daftness, owls, death, God, verbs, pee, pneumatization, spaghetti pomodoro and modern art—all through essays, footnotes, poems, stories, dreams, creative writing assignments and the occasional “extraordinary fact,” such as that household dust is mostly made up of human skin. The pages can’t quite contain Mina’s mad joy for life’s wonders, not even with occasional blasts of giant black type and rashes of exclamation points. Readers who feel like outsiders may find a kindred spirit in the homeschooled, mostly friendless Mina, who has been called everything from a witch to “Miss Bonkers,” and fans of Skellig will enjoy discovering the moment when Michael moves in next door to Mina. A fascinating, if breathless ramble through the cosmos. (Fiction. 10-14)

Abramson, Andra Serlin Low, Mordecai-Mark Mac Sterling (48 pp.) $16.95 | paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-4027-7709-7 paper 978-1-4027-8162-9 Series: Inside... This slender survey of the observable universe spreads itself a little thin but features plenty of foldouts and dramatic sky art. The authors set themselves an ambitious goal: general explanations of the Big Bang, along with star birth, death, types, clusters and systems, followed by a look at our closest stellar neighbor. They also pause for quick mentions of artificial satellites, seasons, the water cycle, the visible spectrum, the science and technology of modern astronomy, dark matter, eclipses and our planet’s magnetosphere. Even with 10 single or double gatefolds, the level of detail never gets more than skin deep—though the authors do manage to squeeze in some select facts, such as the average temperatures of our Sun’s layers and a clear if compressed picture of how fusion works. On full but not crowded-looking pages, the captions, vocabulary words and digestible blocks of text are set into and around an engagingly diverse mix of cutaway views, digital paintings and eye-widening deep-space photographs. Closing with general advice for amateur stargazers, plus lists of recommended print and Web resources, supplemented (for readers with smartphones) by three barcode tags linked to downloadable videos and other add-ons, there’s plenty here to stimulate both random browsers and confirmed young sky watchers. A steady look into the high frontier, well above average in both content and design. (Nonfiction. 10-13)

THE NIGHTINGALE

Andersen, Hans Christian Illustrator: Vainio, Pirkko NorthSouth (44 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7358-4029-4

A fresh version of Andersen’s tender tale is illustrated with delicate watercolors. This retelling, first published in Switzerland (and with an uncredited translation), is straightforward, allowing the soft, muted artwork to accent the details and ambiance. When the Emperor of China hears there is a nightingale that sings beautiful songs in his garden and he’s never heard of it, he commands that the bird be brought to him to sing. The little gray bird’s singing brings tears to his eyes, and the Emperor declares that the bird must remain at court. So it does, until the day the Emperor of Japan sends a mechanical bird encrusted with jewels, claiming his is better. From then on the mechanical bird is favored and the real nightingale forgotten—until years later, when the Emperor buys on his deathbed and the precious bejeweled bird breaks. The little gray nightingale flies to him and sings, bringing him back to life. Vainio’s illustrations vary from double- and full-page spreads to small vignettes that help to break up the lengthy text blocks. The palette of light pastels elegantly captures the medieval Chinese setting and provides an effective background for the plaincolored bird with a beautiful voice.

MY NAME IS MINA

Almond, David Delacorte (304 pp.) $15.99 | PLB $18.99 e-book $15.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-385-74073-9 PLB 978-0-375-98964-3 e-book 978-0-375-98965-0 A blank notebook sings its siren song to 9-year-old wordsmith Mina McKee in this mesmerizing prequel to British author Almond’s award-winning Skellig (1998). Mina’s bold, uneven hand scrawls “My name is Mina and I love the night” in her first chapter “Moonlight, Wonder, Flies |

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As the opening line says, “This story happened long, long ago, but that is all the more reason for telling it again, lest it be forgotten. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-8)

attacks, nervous or jumpy behavior, sleep issues or nightmares. The text acknowledges children’s feelings of helplessness as well as the false sense that their behavior might be responsible, providing strong reassurance that that is not the case, and it also emphasizes that feelings of sadness, anger and despair do not cancel the love of a parent. Acknowledgement that many families experience the effects of PTSD confirms that children and parents are not alone in seeking and receiving help. Loose, child-friendly watercolors offer a window into a series of emotions and depict a wide variety of family configurations, ages, cultures and races, encompassing the spectrum of American society. Suggested activities with framed blank pages (some with starter drawings of blank faces) encourage children to draw their families, experiences and feelings as they try to work through their particular situations. Useful as a self-help guide; affected families may well benefit from the advice and approach provided. (Informational picture book. 5-10)

ZOMBIE MOMMY

Anderson, M.T. Illustrator: Cyrus, Kurt Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (224 pp.) $16.99 | October 25, 2011 978-1-4169-8641-6 Series: Pals in Peril, 5 The latest in Anderson’s madcap pastiche series takes on the undead of upstate New York. By “undead,” of course, we mean vampires, zombies and ghosts, despite Lily Gefelty’s father’s insistence that undead really means “[p]eople who haven’t died.” When Lily’s mother vanishes in Todburg, N.Y. (“Undead Capital of the U.S.”!)—only to return from her trip clearly possessed—Lily and her friends pop off to the rescue. Good thing Jasper Dash (Boy Technonaut and hero of an adventure-book series) has a Robo-Sedan to take them to Todburg. Surely they will succeed at rescuing Mrs. Gefelty, for it’s not just Lily and Jasper on this rescue mission, but Katie Mulligan (heroine of the Horror Hollow series) and Brother Drgnan Pghlik (not the hero of any series, although he is awfully swell). Unfortunately, they’re also joined by Katie’s snobby cousin Madigan WestlakeDuvet, the star of the Snott Academy series about bratty, beautiful prep-school kids. The layers of nonsense grow ever thicker and funnier as our heroes encounter a haunted theater that advertises “comical skits...Ha! Ha! Ha!”, a ghost actress from French-occupied Russia (or was that Russia-occupied France?) and a giant Adirondack tarantula. Ridiculous in all the best ways. (Fantasy. 9-12)

LOVE TWELVE MILES LONG

Armand, Glenda Illustrator: Bootman, Colin Lee & Low (32 pp.) $17.95 | August 5, 2011 978-1-60060-245-0

Frederick Douglass’ mother imparts 12 lessons, one for each mile she walks on her clandestine nighttime visits to him. The author has taken as her inspiration the line from Douglass’ writings in which he remembers his mother teaching him that he was “somebody’s child.” Douglass was in fact separated from his mother as an infant and rarely saw her. She died when he was 7. In this story, she walks the 12 miles from plantation to plantation and shares with him what each means. The first mile is for forgetting about being tired, and the following miles are for praying, giving thanks to God, singing, smiling, hoping to live together as a family, dreaming about freedom and loving her son, among others. In this, her debut effort, Armand focuses on the positive aspects of maternal devotion and a mother’s dreams of greatness for her son. The full-page watercolor paintings capture the nighttime setting and depict a loving mother and child with no overt signs of the horrors of slavery. Unfortunately, the text is sometimes difficult to read on the dark background. Share this with young readers as a series of homilies on dreams and a family love strong enough to overcome any adversity. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-6)

WHY ARE YOU SO SCARED? A Child’s Book About Parents With PTSD

Andrews, Beth Illustrator: Kirkland, Katherine American Psychological Association/ Magination (32 pp.) $14.95 | paper $9.95 | October 15, 2011 978-1-4338-1045-9 paper 978-1-4338-1044-2 A direct explanation for today’s post-traumatic stress disorders affecting parents and children is offered as a supplement to therapy in this interactive workbook. An empathetic and honest text introduces scenarios that might trigger PTSD, such as assault, car or plane accident, military service, police or fire service, natural disasters and warrelated or terrorist bombings. Explanations as to how someone with PTSD might react follow, with examples including panic 1692

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“Ashley makes a clear, straightforward narrative that accommodates a surprising amount of information about England during the war, and he does it with a strong story lucid and true enough to engage younger readers.” from ronnie’s war

SITA’S RAMAYANA

war, and he does it with a strong story lucid and true enough to engage younger readers. Of particular note is Ronnie’s affectionate and honest relationship with his mother through times that intensify the usual adolescent woes. A moving snapshot of a time that still resonates. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Arni, Samhita Illustrator: Chitrakar, Moyna Groundwood (152 pp.) $24.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55498-145-8 A vibrantly illustrated graphic-novel retelling of an ancient Indian legend. Written in 300 B.C.E., the Ramayana is one of the great epics of India. In a world where demons and monkeys mingle freely with humans, Queen Sita has been living peacefully with her husband, King Rama, and his brother, Lakshmana. A treacherous demon tries to trick Rama, and an impulsive act of violence on Rama’s part begins a years-long war that begets nothing but violence and heartbreak for the queen. Through her husband’s impetuous deed, Sita becomes part of a vengeful plot and is abducted by a fierce, evil demon king. Rama wages a bloody war to win back his queen, though once rescued, Sita’s tale really only just begins. It’s not quite a traditional graphic novel: Chitrakar’s art is in the style of Patua scrolls, a long Indian narrative form. In a stark departure from Western styles of illustration, the characters are each depicted in a similar way and can be difficult to tell apart at times. Also somewhat jarring is the type—a hard, modern-looking one that strangely alternates all caps and regular text—that seems anachronistic against the very traditionallooking backdrop. These idiosyncrasies aside however, Sita’s tale is absolutely compelling and exciting. A valuable piece of historical literature brought to the forefront for thoughtful new readers. (Graphic novel. 12 & up)

ALL GOOD CHILDREN

Austen, Catherine Orca (312 pp.) $19.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55469-824-0

A corporate-controlled city decides to optimize its schools’ efficiency by adjusting students’ temperaments. Max Connors and his family live in New Middletown, a city that puts the gate in gated community. Only the most fortunate live in one of Chemrose International’s six cities, protected from the crime, terrorism and poverty of the world at large. But the socioeconomically isolated enclave populated by a mix of natural and genetically selected children has its share of troublemakers, like Max. A bundle of contradictions, Max is a sensitive artist, a caring older brother and a vandal who fights at school while maintaining impressive grades. And there is a lot of pressure to stay academically successful—those who don’t keep up in academic school get sent to trade school as throwaways. Max worries that his younger sister, Ally, won’t be able to keep up with her classmates. His anxiety increases when students start acting like perfectly obedient zombies after receiving a vaccine that’s being deployed one grade at a time. Austen uses Max as a prism in this novel of ideas. As one of the few students able to secretly avoid the treatment, he demonstrates a remarkable and situational moral compass by becoming the only person trying to fight the program itself. While he dabbles in juvenile delinquency on a personal level, when Max sees a larger picture he confronts it, standing up for what he thinks is right despite differing amounts of personal risk. Just trying to keep ownership of his mind, Max’s actions send ripples of consequences farther than he could possibly imagine. A shaded morality tale about individuality. (Dystopia. 12 & up)

RONNIE’S WAR

Ashley, Bernard Frances Lincoln (192 pp.) $15.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84780-162-3 A young London boy comes of age in the crucible of World War II in this fourpart novel for middle graders. Ronnie is 11 when German bombs start falling; his father’s away in the Royal Artillery. The story opens powerfully: Ronnie refuses to go with his mum to tea with his fragile, anxiety-prone aunt. When London is bombed that afternoon, he makes his way to his aunt’s home to pull his mother from the wreckage. In the second section, Ron is sent to the country for safety, where he needs to negotiate a bullying teacher and thuggish, unfriendly classmates. In the third, he and his mother move again, his mum to work at an American base and Ron to be enchanted by an “Eye-talian” female student. Complications and misunderstandings ensue. At the end, it’s the V-E Day celebration and, finally, news about his long-missing dad. Ashley makes a clear, straightforward narrative that accommodates the surprising amount of information about England during the |

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ANIMAL BATHS

Barner, Bob Illustrator: Barner, Bob Chronicle (32 pp.) $15.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-4521-0056-2 Who knew there were so many different ways to come clean? Eleven colorful two-page spreads (illustrated in cut paper, ribbon and pastel) show a variety of animals bathing, with accompanying two-line verses. Monkeys swinging from vines |

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“Cornell ushers the story forward with cinematic artwork, framed in elaborate medieval-like borders but paced sequentially like a comic book.” from mustache !

MUSTACHE!

groom each other, while elephants use “cool, misty spray.” Ducks ruffle wet feathers as they preen and primp, while eels get help from “tiny shrimp” in cleaning their teeth. Pigs wallow in the mud, and manatees are actually cleaned by other small fish. Bats lick their wings to keep them soft and neat while bears scratch against trees. Sharks line up to scrub against ocean vegetation and rocks, and giraffes get an assist from birds, who “nip pests with a peck.” Finally, there’s a little boy in a tub rub-a-dubbing and covered in bubbles. Then, a fitting encore: A longer poem against a background of bubbles and a child’s bathtime accessories goes through the child’s whole bath routine with shoutouts to some of the animals (“Wash your elephant ears with nice shampoo”). Barner’s text is crisp and age-appropriate, but his well-composed, clever pictures really carry the story; each smartly uses a palette that is slightly different from all the others, with the penultimate child picture incorporating all the colors in its striped wallpaper. Well-conceived in its simplicity from beginning to end; even pre-readers can follow along. Nifty. (Informational picture book. 3-6)

Barnett, Mac Illustrator: Cornell, Kevin Disney Hyperion (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 18, 2011 978-1-4231-1671-4 Barnett delivers a sweet slap to vanity. This king is neither toady nor tyrant, but he just can’t get enough of himself. He gazes into the mirror that one of his retainers totes by his side, smitten and remiss. For as he takes in the royal visage, the royal roads are crumbling and the royal playground has broken swings—his kingdom is a wreck of neglect. “Enough!” cry his subjects, but all the king offers is a giant billboard of his face. That night, a giant mustache is painted on the royal puss. Outraged, the king wants the culprit flung in jail. The wanted posters, of course, feature the king’s face. More mustaches materialize. “So he slouched in the Royal Throne. ‘Look at my wonderful face,’ he said. ‘Who could be doing this to me?’ ” Well, everyone. Cornell ushers the story forward with cinematic artwork, framed in elaborate medieval-like borders but paced sequentially like a comic book. As the town inadvertently re-creates itself—everybody admits their guilt, everybody must go to jail, which means a big expansion project for the prison, which results in a whole new village—there comes a bloodless revolution. The king can’t beat them, so he joins them, clueless until the end, and kids will giggle all the way. (Picture book. 6-8)

SWIMMING TO CHICAGO Barnes, David-Matthew Bold Strokes Books (230 pp.) paper $13.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-60282-572-7

Within a month, Alex gets kissed and then unceremoniously dumped by Tommy, a closeted footballer at their rural Georgia high school. It’s the first of many changes for Alex as he enters his senior year of high school: His mother commits suicide, he starts dating new-neighbor Robby and his father begins an affair with Martha, Robby’s much-maligned mother. Jillian, Alex’s best friend, feels Alex pulling away from her and launches into a self-destructive relationship with Robby’s stepfather, which comes to an abrupt halt when Jillian finds herself pregnant. Desperate to escape the confines of their rural community, the three teens plan an escape to Chicago, only to have their plans thwarted by violence. Rife with implausible scenarios, wooden characters and clichéd dialogue, Barnes’ sophomore novel for teens (Mesmerized, 2010) is a dreary slog through a mashup of many a gay-teen novel from yesteryear. Alex and Robby appear to be in an endless cycle of puppy love, in which moments that should lead to character development turn into extended swoon-fests. There’s no real emotion behind any of the dialogue, leaving the author’s hand very visible in all the plot actions, which are so scripted they carry little impact. Despite a few mentions of texting, Barnes fails to develop a setting, adding to the book’s overall dated feel. This noble attempt to explore rural LGBT issues is buried under an avalanche of flaws. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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FAKE ME A MATCH

Barnholdt, Lauren Aladdin (288 pp.) $15.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4424-2258-2

Thirteen-year-old Avery discovers having a new stepsister the same age can complicate life. Reeling from being dumped by her BFF at the outset of seventh grade, Avery is ready to welcome Blake into the aboutto-be-blended family. In an effort to befriend Blake, Avery finds herself behaving in ways completely opposite what’s typical for her. Avery’s hasty decision to rig her school’s match-making project so that Blake can be with Sam, the boy she likes, jeopardizes Avery’s position on student council as well as her fragile, developing relationship with Sam. Barnholdt deftly conveys Avery’s fluctuating emotions and turmoil as she endeavors to define her relationships. While Avery seems comfortable with her mother’s remarriage, her vulnerability is evident in her overeager approach to Blake. However, Blake’s persona is rather flat, and the girls’ evolving relationship comes across as one-sided—readers may question why Avery is so determined to risk her credibility at school for someone who makes little effort in return. Ultimately Avery’s spunky tenacity and upbeat attitude in the face of her many challenges will charm readers. (Fiction. 10-14) |

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ALWAYS NEVERLAND

instruments, historical events and people mentioned. Sprinkled throughout are supplementary activities of varying difficulty. These range from instructions for crafts and games to making CD covers and liner notes, thinking like a critic and making music of your own. Part of the For Kids series, this will be particularly useful for parents and classroom teachers hoping to make the study of great music more interesting. (discography, glossary, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 11-15)

Barton, Zoe Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-06-196325-4 A petulant brat brings Girl Power to a Neverland devoid of whimsy and charm in this unnecessary sequel to Peter Pan. Sixth-grader Ashley feels very sorry for herself: Her parents actually have to work the weekend before Christmas, rather than stay home and fulfill her fantasy of the perfect holiday. Fortunately, she finds a strange boy trying to catch his shadow in her bedroom, instantly recognizing him and the potential for adventure. One quick glue job later, Ashley flies off as the latest “Wendy girl.” But she has no intention of mothering the Lost Boys or doing the Spring Cleaning; her heart is set on fighting pirates and meeting mermaids. Alas, what could have been a witty, spirited romp is marred by the unlikable heroine, who, despite being a bossy self-centered showoff, is instantly better at everything (flying, sword-fighting, pretending) than everybody else and has little trouble making herself adored by all denizens of the fantasy isle. Peter himself has all of the arrogance and heartlessness of the original, but none of his cleverness and charisma. While the short chapters and frequent cliffhangers sustain a brisk pace, the plot and setting tepidly rehash Barrie’s version with a few extra details borrowed from Narnia and Oz. There are many good stories still to tell about the Boy Who Never Grew Up, but this isn’t one of them. (Fantasy. 9-12)

FOX & PHOENIX

Bernobich, Beth Viking (368 pp.) $17.99 | October 13, 2011 978-0-670-01278-7 A ghost dragon sends Kai and his spirit pig on a quest to rescue the princess of a cyberpunk China-analogue. Kai’s grown apart from his friends since the adventure that brought him money and the friendship of Princess Lian. At least he still sees his best friend Yún daily during their shared apprenticeship, but he can’t talk to her without arguing. Now the king of Lóng City is gravely ill, the magic flux powering the city’s talk-phones and electronics is failing and Kai’s mother is missing. His unwilling quest to save the day takes Kai across the Seventy Kingdoms all the way to the mysterious Phoenix Empire. It’s a good thing Yún joins him, because Kai simply isn’t clever enough to deal with all the bureaucracy the journey entails, from taxes to passports. They travel by foot, pony and luxurious train to find Princess Lian, who can surely help them. As an adventurer, Kai is on the passive side and tends to let the world happen to him, but this is a minor quibble. He also frequently refers to the adventure that brought him together with his now-estranged friends, but since those events were from a short story (“Pig, Crane, Fox: Three Hearts Unfolding” from the fantasy anthology Magic in the Mirrorstone, edited by Steve Berman, 2008), readers are more likely to be frustrated then familiar. Overall, the blurred magic/technology boundary gives a compelling flavor to an adventure well worth reading. (Fantasy/cyberpunk. 13-15)

BEETHOVEN FOR KIDS His Life and His Music with 21 Activities

Series: For Kids

Bauer, Helen Chicago Review (144 pp.) paper $16.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-56976-711-5

This introduction to the towering classical composer sets the story of his life and work in the context of the revolutionary events of early-19th-century Europe. Born in 1770, young Beethoven showed musical promise early. At 17, he was supporting himself and his brothers through his music. Although he had wealthy patrons throughout his life, his ideas about the equality of man often led to friction. Like his political views, Beethoven’s musical ideas were radical. His health was never good. By the time his ninth symphony was performed, he was totally deaf, communicating with others through conversation books. Bauer’s chronological narrative reveals a man who was personally difficult and often unkempt, stubborn and certain of his own talents. He was also exceedingly diligent, constantly working and reworking his musical ideas. The author’s own extensive musical experience contributes to the breadth of this title. Sidebars and historical prints add further information about musical forms and |

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ADELITA AND THE VEGGIE COUSINS / ADELITA Y LAS PRIMAS VERDURITAS

978-1-55885-699-8

Bertrand, Diane Gonzales Illustrator: Rodriguez, Christina Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 31, 2011

On the first day of her new school, Adelita learns that vegetables can have similarities and differences, as can new friends. Nervous about being new, Adelita quietly observes her welcoming teacher lead a lesson on the colors, names and |

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THE NOT-SO SCARY SNORKLUM

health benefits of vegetables. Last to take a vegetable from the teacher’s basket, Adelita is surprised by friendly Jasmine, who offers her a choice between yellow and green squash, calling them “cousins.” Reminded of her grandmother’s term, Adelita calls them “calabacitas,” and Jasmine proclaims how they rhyme with her pretty name, Adelita. The dialogue-driven text is rendered in both English and Spanish, which are separated by pictures of cooked and uncooked vegetables. The text appears opposite deeply hued, realistic classroom scenes that bring out a learning environment populated by a multicultural group of kids, including a boy in a wheelchair. Other vegetables used in Latino cuisine—cassava, malanga, yautía and sweet potato—are also woven into the discussion. As the day’s healthy-eating lesson comes to a close, friendships grow and expand into reading-circle time; Adelita and her classmates parallel a “rainbow of vegetables” as veggie friends. The dual message of nutrition and diversity will probably find its place in today’s curriculum and can certainly augment units on food, language and culture. (Picture book. 5-8)

Bright, Paul Illustrator: Chapman, Jane Good Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-56148-728-8

What can little creatures do to protect themselves from the forest bully? The scary Snorklum, who has long tan fur and striped purple horns, is so worried about getting to his cave before dark that his crinkly whiskers begin to wibble. He sees Mole standing near a tree and picks him up with thoughts of having a Mole sandwich. Mole’s response to Snorklum’s scary roar is, “Why are your whiskers wibbling…?” Frustrated, Snorklum sticks Mole in his pocket, figuring he’ll eat him later. Down the road, he spies Rabbit and decides that a Rabbit pie would taste better than a Mole sandwich. He tries to scare Rabbit, but the same thing happens; Snorklum stuffs Rabbit into his shoulder bag and continues on his way. Next he encounters Badger (perfect for Badger stew), but he just can’t scare him either. Snorklum does stare the leaves off the trees and make the birds scatter, but the animals just stare at him; they know a secret: “If a scary Snorklum stays out after dark...” With a POOOFFT, the scary Snorklum, with a strangled cry, shrinks to the size of an insect. And no one, not even the birds, is afraid. Chapman’s Snorklum, cousin, perhaps, to Bert Lahr’s Cowardly Lion, is appropriately goofy, and her backgrounds go through many colors, from gold of late afternoon to dark-blue night. Brisk and bright, yet subtle in its message. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE LAND OF LONG AGO

Beskow, Elsa Illustrator: Beskow, Elsa Floris (32 pp.) $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-86315-771-4

A beloved Swedish tale, literally from long ago, is now published in English. The 1923 story is a simple and sweet one. A brother and sister, Kai and Kelly, play on a fallen tree trunk outside their woodland cottage. The children imagine it is a dragon, covered with moss and supplied with wings from an old umbrella. A mischievous gnome brings the tree dragon to life, and the children fly to the Land of Long Ago. They rescue a knight (in shining armor, no less) from the troll king and his princess from a fierce (but non-flying) dragon; they bring the pair home to her parents’ kingdom and stay for the wedding. They are sent off to school when they allow little troll children to sully the palace gardens. Meanwhile, the repentant gnome finds Kai and Kelly and reanimates their tree dragon, and all return to the cottage and their own parents. The illustrations have the lovely faded texture of a well-worn and oft-read story, with soft colors and edges and static tableaux. The particular images of princess and knight, dragon and meadow, sheep and garden echo antecedents in medieval manuscripts and in 19th-century book illustration. There is no indication of who did the translation, but the language is clear and smooth. An old-fashioned telling with definite contemporary appeal. (Picture book. 4-8)

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GHOST DIAMOND!

Broad, Michael Illustrator: Broad, Michael Darby Creek (144 pp.) PLB $22.60 | paper $5.95 e-book $16.95 | October 1, 2011 PLB 978-0-7613-8056-6 paper 978-0-7613-8060-3 e-book 978-0-7613-8061-0 Series: Agent Amelia, 1 Secret Agent Amelia Kidd has saved the world loads of times. Or, at least a couple. Amelia, a young detective, is always on the lookout for evil geniuses and criminal masterminds. (The telltale I’m-going-to-rule-the-world smile gives them away every time.) Of course, while searching out trouble, she often finds herself right in the middle of it. Narrating in first person, Amelia shares three case files in one collection. In the first mystery, she catches a jewel thief while on a class trip. In the second, she foils a cat burglary (quite literally; cats are the prime suspects), and in the third, she battles plants that have come alive. Each case contains more than one element of disbelief, but Amelia is so earnest, readers will gladly go along for the ride. Secret asides spoken directly to the audience and classic school tropes such as |

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“Marisol’s varied, distinctive lifestyle and multiracial family affirms our increasingly blended society and clearly celebrates independent thinking. Brava!” from marisol mcdonald doesn’t match

bullying and popularity make Amelia instantly recognizable. The plots—while offbeat in content—are amusing and easy to follow. More-seasoned suspense readers might wish for more complication, but emerging chapter-book readers will appreciate the linear approach. Black-and-white illustrations on every page also help the stories flow. The start of a new series, Agent Amelia continues her quest in Zombie Cows! (simultaneous publication, 2011). Watch out Cam Jansen, there’s a new sleuth in town. (Mystery. 7-10)

Marisol McDonald loves her fire-red hair and her brown, freckled skin, feels artistic pleasure in pairing polka-dotted shirts with striped pants and enjoys eating PB&J burritos. Misunderstood by her peers, she is continually teased for not ever matching until one day, confidence diminished, Marisol decides to conform and arrives at school in the same-colored clothes, chooses pirates over soccer rather than playing both simultaneously and eats a peanut butter/jelly sandwich on mushy bread. Bored and unhappy, Marisol is delighted when her teacher gives her a note that boosts her self-esteem with this very positive message: “the Marisol McDonald that I know is a creative, unique, bilingual, Peruvian-Scottish-American, soccer-playing artist and simply marvelous!” Double-page illustrations in assorted media match Marisol’s eclectic style and include everything from childlike crayon-and-pencil drawings to more sophisticated cartoon art that combines paint and newsprint collage. The bilingual, first-person story works well in both English and Spanish despite, as explained in an editor’s note, the difficulty of finding the most appropriate Spanish term for the title’s English phrase. Marisol’s varied, distinctive lifestyle and multiracial family affirms our increasingly blended society and clearly celebrates independent thinking. Brava! (author’s note) (Picture book. 5-8)

THE FACE OF AMERICA Editor: Brosius, Peter Editor: Adams, Elissa Univ. of Minnesota (296 pp.) paper $17.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-0-8166-7313-1

Newly created plays for young people are not published very often, so this collection merits some attention. The four dramas, commissioned by the well-respected Minneapolis Children’s Theater Company, are about growing up in ethnically diverse communities, but the plays cover different sets of problems for their young protagonists. Esperanza Rising, loosely adapted from the novel by Pam Muñoz Ryan, is set during the Depression, when Mexican immigrants competed with Okies for agricultural jobs in California. Esperanza changes from a pampered rich girl into a hard worker. The others are very contemporary. In Average Family, a reality-TV contest brings the wealthy Minneapolis Roubidoux family back to a Native American lifestyle they have never known. Also set in Minneapolis, the strongest play (at least on the page), Snapshot Silhouette, features a resilient Somali refugee, Najma, who finds both her voice and a new friend when she moves in with a well-meaning African American mother and her disaffected daughter; they are struggling as a family after the murder of an older daughter. Sasha, an isolated child of a Russian immigrant, finally gets to know her neighbors when she goes looking for a pen to write a research paper on the eponymous Brooklyn Bridge, the most artificial selection. Groups considering mounting productions that go beyond the popular musicals may want to consider looking at this uneven but thought-provoking anthology. (Drama. 11-14)

CLARA AND THE CURANDERA / CLARA Y LA CURANDERA

Brown, Monica Illustrator: Muraida, Thelma Translator: Ventura, Gabriela Baeza Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55885-700-1 In Brown’s latest bilingual offering, a grumpy little Latina girl gets a subtle lesson in caring, sharing and the pleasures of reading. Clara is tired of taking out the trash, sharing her things with her seven siblings and reading a book for school each week. Exasperated by her daughter’s grumpiness, Mami sends the girl to the wise curandera (healer) in their building. The curandera tells Clara that she must take out her family’s trash, along with the trash of two of her neighbors. She must also give her favorite toys to her siblings, and she must read five books that week. Unwilling to disobey, Clara follows the woman’s orders, and readers will see the changes Clara misses. Her neighbors shower her with hugs and compliments for taking out their trash. Her brothers and sisters, amazed at their sister’s generosity, invite Clara to play all week. At the library, she discovers books that she really wants to read. In fact, she stops frowning. When the curandera’s assigned tasks end and Clara returns to her grumpy old self, she has just the epiphany the curandera knew she would. Well-translated Spanish text is set below the English text through most of the book, with Muriada’s colorful mixed-media illustrations on the facing pages. A charming tale almost any child (and parent) can relate to. (Picture book. 4-7)

MARISOL MCDONALD DOESN’T MATCH / MARISOL MCDONALD NO COMBINA

Brown, Monica Illustrator: Palacios, Sara Children’s Book Press (32 pp.) $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-89239-235-3

A little girl celebrates her multiracial background and pride in her individuality through a creative and non-conformist attitude. |

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“This bright new entry by an old pro should find a place on the long shelf of picture books about animals and colors.” from the artist who painted a blue horse

DANCING ON GRAPES

broodmares with an elaborate great-books education? How can jeeps and trucks drive for days across deserts and up mountains without refueling or recharging? Isn’t 12 years a short window for even the most efficient and dedicated evildoers to turn the U.S. into a full-blown dystopia? Count this calculated effort to surf the wave of popular dystopian romance a wipeout. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

Buonanno, Graziella Pacini Illustrator: Capaldi, Gina Boyds Mills (40 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-59078-833-2

Six-year-old Claudia gets the fun of squishing the grapes to make the wine and overcomes a childhood fear as well. In a voice that sounds rather older than her years, Claudia recounts her excitement at finally being old enough to crush grapes with her many relatives. A huge barrel is placed on the roof of a cantina (a small stone outbuilding), the grapes are put into the barrel and the family dances and sings, smashing the grapes with their feet. To help her overcome her fear of heights, Claudia’s grandmother and aunt first coax her to climb alone into Nonna’s high iron bed, then to reach, via a kitchen chair, to a high shelf where the cheese she loves is kept. Her mama climbs up the ladder behind Claudia, her brother pulls her up and there she is, singing and dancing with the rest of the family. In an author’s note, Buonanno reveals that she grew up in Tuscany and, like Claudia, was afraid of high places. She laments the appearance of grape-crushing machines that appeared in the 1950s, taking away the fun. Capaldi’s pen, ink and watercolor illustrations are disappointingly bland: The grapes look more like a sea of lavender, and the children are cheerful but indistinguishable, except for differences in hair color. A little too much like an adult family story with a moral to have real child appeal. (glossary) (Picture book. 5-8)

THE ARTIST WHO PAINTED A BLUE HORSE

Carle, Eric Illustrator: Carle, Eric Philomel (32 pp.) $17.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-399-25713-1

This bright new entry by an old pro should find a place on the long shelf of picture books about animals and colors. A narrator-artist appears at the beginning and end, confidently wielding a brush. Each spread in between showcases a single large, arresting animal portrait. The child-friendly theme features fanciful coloring: blue horse, pink rabbit, purple fox. Although the narrator claims specifically to “paint” each one, the illustrations are actually made from painted tissue-paper collage, which allows for stylized sharp edges and a lively choppiness. To emphasize the bold bushiness of the green lion’s mane and the thick, rugged armor on the dark-red crocodile, Carle pulls a tool through wet paint, leaving thick patterned lines. The textured, yellow-and-orange cow’s body reveals traces of darkness showing through from the night-sky background of black and green-blue. Fans of animals, color recognition or shouting out what’s unusual will laugh at each creature’s delightfully preposterous color. An author’s note pays homage to Franz Marc, a German painter born in 1880, and reproduces two pieces: Blue Horse I and Yellow Cow. The target audience here will find the concept of a tribute to a fine artist too abstract, but Marc’s colorful pieces themselves might well hold interest, with adult encouragement. Eye-catching fun. (author’s note) (Picture book. 2-5)

EVE

Carey, Anna HarperTeen (320 pp.) $17.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-06-204850-9 Category romance meets YA dystopia in this poorly executed trilogy opener specializing in juvenile romance and adult violence. Twelve years after a plague kills off 98 percent of the population, the United States is a monarchy. Girls are educated in boarding schools, reading literary novels and learning to paint and play the piano. Graduates, they’re told, move on to learn a trade or profession. When the eponymous heroine discovers that the only trade they’re headed for is broodmare (imprisoned in Spartan dorms, forcibly and repeatedly impregnated, bearing children in a royal repopulation scheme), she flees west, seeking the safe community of Califia. Finding assorted allies and villains along the way, Eve falls for manly, protective Caleb. (Gender roles are deeply regressive—next to Eve, Bella Swan is a radical feminist.) Conceptually childish, the plot never achieves credibility, in part because the style veers between awful and unintentionally funny. Unanswered questions abound: Why provide future 1698

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STEALING KEVIN’S HEART

Carter, M. Scott The RoadRunner Press (248 pp.) $16.95 | October 12, 2011 978-1-937054-05-2

After best friend Kevin is killed while street racing with him on motorcycles, Alex is wracked by grief, anger and guilt— until he meets Rachel. Alex, suicidal, is sent to an Oklahoma treatment facility/summer camp that’s surrounded by a high chain-link fence and monitored by cameras, but otherwise seems oddly unsupervised. |

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FLYAWAY

Alex first encounters Rachel, apparently a volunteer at the camp, when he sees her ex-boyfriend, Danny, not a camper, assaulting her. He feels an immediate, almost magnetic attraction to her and rushes to her defense. A relationship quickly develops, and Alex discovers that she’s suffered from a lifelong, nearly lethal heart condition, culminating with recent major surgery, which she’s—strangely—concealing from him. It’s not clear how, with her severe health problems, she even had the wherewithal to develop her abusive relationship with Danny. Later, Danny (somehow) finds his way back into the camp and attacks her even more brutally but, remarkably, Alex is there again to help her. Characters are, sadly, way too stock and even Alex’s first-person narration fails to push believable life into him; his grief effectively amounts to his mostly feeling very sorry for himself. While a Twilight Zone–esque paranormal twist the title hints at may intrigue readers, its predictability is disappointing. A slightly unusual, only-average angst-ridden romance with a few too-convenient plot twists. (Fiction. 13 & up)

Christopher, Lucy Chicken House/Scholastic (336 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-545-31771-9 When newly constructed power lines ruin the annual return of the whooping swans Isla and her father rise early to witness, the death of several of the wild creatures and her father’s sudden and severe illness both confound Isla and emphasize her loneliness. At the hospital where her father awaits a heart operation, Harry, waiting there for a bone-marrow transplant, befriends Isla and points out the young swan he can see from his bed. At the nearby lake the swan, apparently abandoned in its flock’s confusion and panic in the encounter with power lines, seems to imprint on Isla, imitating her, touching her with its beak and wings, gazing into her eyes. The first-person, present-tense narrative works to lend immediacy to Isla’s fear and isolation and to make believable what might otherwise seem mere fantasy. Harry’s lightheartedness adds buoyancy to the narrative, while images of flight and wings emphasize both the frightening and the hopeful. News broadcasts at the edge of Isla’s notice about deadly outbreaks of bird flu contrast with the small unfolding of Isla’s widowed grandfather’s stiff grief as he helps her construct an art project—a harness and wings from an ancient stuffed swan—and innocent romance flutters between Isla and Harry even as the young swan regains flight and her father begins to recover. Emotionally affecting and remarkably convincing. (Fiction. 10-14)

GIRLS DON’T FLY

Chandler, Kristen Viking (304 pp.) $16.99 | October 13, 2011 978-0-670-01331-9 Kept grounded by her overworked parents, her very pregnant sister and four rambunctious younger brothers, Myra yearns to stretch her wings, but when presented with an opportunity to travel to the Galapagos Islands, she is not sure she has the courage to fly so far from home. Myra likes things clean and simple, so when she loses her boyfriend, her job and possibly her whole future in a matter of days, her first priority is to get everything back in place. But when Pete, an eccentric graduate student, lands in Myra’s life, she finds that organization might be for the birds. Soon Myra is dressing up as a giant chicken, organizing a rescue for lost hunters and even delivering a baby. Suddenly, winning a scholarship to do research halfway around the world does not seem so out of reach. A familiar premise—girl realizes her boyfriend is a jerk and then meets someone infinitely better—is made fresh with quirky particulars. Readers will relate to Myra’s simultaneous desire for life to be different and exciting and fear of change. Chapter titles defining avian terms provide a narrative framework. A sweet story that will appeal to romantics and birders alike. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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¡A BAILAR! LET’S DANCE!

Cofer, Judith Ortiz Illustrator: Rodriguez, Christina Ann Piñata Books/Arté Público (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 31, 2011 978-1-55885-698-1 Excitement builds for a little girl and her Mami as they dance through the streets of their barrio to hear Papi play salsa on his trombone. Mami sings the names of the Spanish instruments: the claves, bongos, cowbell, maracas, timbales and güiro as she taps out the “rhythm that makes us… / that makes us dance.” With red dresses on, they head for the park and along the way pass an assortment of neighbors and local folk working and sitting and directing traffic. Some wave to them or give them flowers for their hair or join the procession to the park, where Papi’s band is performing. He sings out an invitation to all: “¡A bailar, amigos! Let’s dance, friends!” Cofer, the author of well-respected novels for teens, has turned her hand to her first picture book in a pairing with a debut artist. The text is in English, with Spanish translations for the refrains. The results, all well-intentioned, are disappointing. The writing is repetitious without rhythm, while the full-page oil |

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illustrations depict characters in awkward poses with faces that seem to be grimacing rather than smiling. No specific nationality or background for the family is given. An earnest effort that unfortunately falls short. (Picture book. 3-6)

resources, environment, wildlife and transport accompany each deeply colored map, and in the appropriate regional sections, a paragraph on people and places is added. Although the disproportionately sized pictures of landmarks, natural resources, generic people and miscellany on the maps are identified (“Omani man”; “bus”), too often they are not further explicated. Occasional foldout pages and small, inserted “Did You Know?” booklets give the illusion of interactivity. Providing comparisons on carbon footprints (“a person in the UAE [United Arab Emirates] on average emits 15 times more than a person in China”) is vital information that seems at odds with the childish maps. A separate wall map (in the same style) is included. The woeful index includes only entries for country names, followed by their capitals. The balance between information and attractive bookmaking is always important, but atlases like the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers (2007) still remain the gold standard. This struggles to meet the bronze one. (glossary, index, sources; companion app not seen) (Reference. 9-11)

WHAT’S NEW AT THE ZOO?

Comden, Betty Green, Adolph Illustrator: Foster, Travis Blue Apple (36 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-60905-088-7 Can’t all the animals just get along? Lucky for readers, no! An initial double-page spread shows dozens of disgruntled animals—walrus and crab and monkey and camel and others— crammed too close and uttering expletives. Then, bouncy lyrics of the title song by Comden and Green (from the musical Do Re Mi) take over, comprising the entirety of the text. It begins, “ ‘Ouch! You’re stepping on my pouch!’ to the bear said the kangaroo.” Elsewhere in the zoo, the elephant and the gnu are getting into it, the seal is swallowing kippers (after flapping his flippers) and the goose steps on the neck of the giraffe. “Let us out! Let us out!” becomes the repeated chorus that is interspersed between the depicted mishaps (verses). The porcupine steps on the chops of the wolf as the swine steps on his quills. Do the animals eventually escape? Yes; in a riot...of hues. Foster’s ingenious illustrations feature antic cartoonish animals in an explosion of color against a background of gray lines wildly depicting other animals, for a 3-D, retro effect. A handful of pages have flaps with surprises underneath, a special treat for very young readers. And the lyrics of the Tony-winning duo scan perfectly. Green’s widow, Phyllis Newman (of Broadway and TV-gameshow fame) adds an appealing introduction and afterword. Fresh and vintage at the same time; an accompanying CD would have made it perfect. (Picture book. 3-7)

CHILLAX! How Ernie Learns to Chill Out, Relax, and Take Charge of His Anger

Craver, Marcella Marino Illustrator: Pinelli, Amerigo American Psychological Association/ Magination (64 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 15, 2011 paper 978-1-4338-1037-4 In a self-help graphic novel, angry Ernie, called “Erupto” by his friends, receives some counseling on anger management. Middle-schooler Ernie has serious anger-management issues. Many things set him off: Unfairness during a pick-up basketball game with friends, teasing at school and his parents’ attempts to find out about his day all trigger volcanic temper tantrums. After causing a small fire in his science class during an emotional meltdown, he is sent to the school counselor, who offers him—and readers—not only some specific, useful strategies for controlling anger as it emerges, but also advice on “unloading your emotional load,” in order to live more calmly. These ideas are far more comprehensive than the usual “take a deep breath and count to 10” advice and include opportunities for practice during calmer times. Although Ernie’s sister and a good friend, Jack, are depicted making efforts to calm him, and Ernie obviously experiences guilt over his outbursts, character development is scant. Black-andwhite artwork is average; facial features of different characters vary little, making them hard to distinguish from each other. The graphic-novel format and very brief text, followed by a longer section of more in-depth information on anger, is likely to make this effort an easy sell to young teen readers. (Self-help graphic novel. 9-15)

THE BAREFOOT BOOKS WORLD ATLAS

Crane, Nick Illustrator: Dean, David Barefoot (56 pp.) $19.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84686-333-2

Retro-looking maps with pictures of animals, transport, famous landmarks and traditional dancers fill the pages of this mediocre atlas. The text emphasizes environmental changes and sustainability, with proportionately less information on people. Organizationally, it starts with the oceans, including the two polar areas, and then explores the landmasses. Short, factoid-heavy paragraphs on physical features, climate and weather, natural 1700

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“Here’s to the continuation of one unlikely friendship.” from friends: snake and lizard

M.O.M. (MOM OPERATING MANUAL)

turns into Snake’s tantalizing prey: “Snake curled her tail over the bulge in her stomach. He’s croaked now, she thought…” The buddies’ innovative use of language influences their sense of perspective; “human things” demonstrate their inferiority to the cold-blooded cohorts when seen to shed their “skin” before an outdoor dip, for instance. Rendered in rustic reds and muted tans, Bishop’s watercolor-and-ink scenes grace the episodic chapters and add their own layer of humor. Though a little dryer than in the first book, this duo’s opinionated banter still packs a rib-tickling punch. (Animal fantasy. 7-10)

Cronin, Doreen Illustrator: Cornell, Laura Atheneum (56 pp.) $16.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4169-6150-5

Ostensibly a guide for children on the care and feeding of mothers, this lengthy picture book has unlikely kid appeal but may emerge as the hit of the soccermom and baby-shower circuits. Cornell ratchets up the humor of her cartoon-style illustrations to depict Cronin’s “Brief Historical Overview” from “Prehistoric Sludge Mom” to “Cave Mom” to “Pilgrim” and “Hippie Mom(s).” The book focuses, however, on contemporary motherhood’s challenges, telling children “there are many things you can do to ensure many years of trouble-free operation” of their moms, who need regular amounts of “SNEW” (sleep, nutrition, exercise and water) for optimal performance. Following pages humorously describe how to guarantee sufficient SNEW levels and recount the perils of its inadequate delivery. Cronin’s conceit gets a little tired, particularly when resorting to placing blame for the “Malfunctioning Mom” or “Cranky Mom” on fathers, but Cornell’s well-designed and well-paced spreads make the most of every bit of textual humor. In this era of Tiger Mothers, attachment parenting, the mommy track and The Three-Martini Playdate, Cronin and Cornell’s collaboration will strike a nerve with moms looking for a laugh and a bit of validation—if only they can find the time to read it! (Picture book. Adult)

THE DEATH CURE

Dashner, James Random (336 pp.) $17.99 | PLB $20.99 e-book $10.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-385-73877-4 PLB 978-0-385-90746-0 e-book 978-0-375-89612-5 Series: The Maze Runner, 3 An explosive ending to The Maze Runner trilogy. Thomas and the rest of the survivors of the Maze and the Scorch Trials are being held at WICKED (World in Catastrophe, Killzone Experiment Department) headquarters. Subjected to even more tests, they’ve learned enough to know that they’re all part of a massive experiment to find a cure for the pandemic Flare disease. But does any cure justify what they’ve been put through? Or the engineered deaths of their friends? It’s hard to believe that “WICKED is good,” even though that’s the message they’re bombarded with. Discouraged, rebellious and definitely not trusting, Thomas, Newt, Minho, Brenda and Jorge break out and escape to Denver, now a walled city meant to be reserved for the uninfected and the immune. But it’s all too clear that Newt has already been infected and is teetering on the verge of madness. It’s equally clear that WICKED has put a bounty on their heads and won’t rest until they have these survivors back in hand—especially Thomas, who may have been part of all the experiments from the very beginning and is now the Final Candidate. Dashner again displays his mastery of the action sequence, making readers turn pages even as they become further invested in the well-developed characters. Heart pounding to the very last moment. (Science fiction/ thriller. 12 and up)

FRIENDS: SNAKE AND LIZARD

Crowley, Joy Illustrator: Bishop, Gavin Gecko Press (126 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-877579-01-1 Series: Snake and Lizard, 2 Here’s to the continuation of one unlikely friendship. In this New Zealand import, sequel to Snake and Lizard (2008), the reptilian buddies become impromptu advisors to their colorful, desert community (Snake and Lizard, Helper and Helper). The pair’s natural instincts and sensitive egos can get in the way of their relationship—it doesn’t help that Snake’s sibling devours lizards for lunch or that Lizard’s haughty demands pick apart Snake’s poor manners. Lizard’s bossy demeanor collides with Snake’s vulnerable side (don’t mention her late mother). Though misunderstandings temporarily cause friction, the friends rise above them. “Love is a word for friends to share. Don’t you agree?” asks Lizard. Slightly macabre punchlines capture an amusing reality with unexpected charm, such as when Lizard’s client (a mute frog) |

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“A crisp, clear comic romp about two alien friends who uncover a gently sinister scheme that could destroy both their home planet and a small fishing town on Earth.” from dalen & gole: scandal in port angus

THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF BUMBLEBEE BOY

whirring handle emphasizes the couple’s contentment in their small domestic circle. The theme of gratitude is a familiar one for the author of Bagels from Benny (illustrated by Dušan Petricic, 2003) and makes a nice addition to this often-told tale, which lacks only an acknowledgement of sources. A fresh look at an old favorite. (Picture book. 4-8)

Davis, Jacky Soman, David Illustrator: Soman, David Dial (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-8037-3418-0

DALEN & GOLE: SCANDAL IN PORT ANGUS

Bumblebee Boy is back in his own adventure in this imaginative romp through the sometimes complex world of big-brotherhood. In his striped shirt and purple mask and cape, Sam, a.k.a. Bumblebee Boy, fights his evil enemies. But his crime fighting is constantly interrupted by his little brother, who wants to play, too. Torn between wanting not to be mean to Owen but still hoping to play alone, Sam puts Owen off by saying he cannot play because he is not a superhero. Undaunted, Owen returns with a cape, only to be told that is not enough to face the Fire Dragon, nor is the “mask” he has chosen quite right for taming Giganto, the Giant Saber-Toothed Lion. But regardless of Owen’s attire, Bumblebee Boy sure appreciates the help of the tiny “soup hero” in cutting off the bank robbers’ escape. And he actively seeks out Owen’s help in defeating a bunch of aliens on the moon. But will Owen agree to play with him, or is he too much involved in his own imaginary game now? A little compromise and some brotherly love save the day in the end. Soman’s artwork is a delightful foray into the realm of make-believe, nicely balancing the props that Sam is using against what he imagines them to be. And Owen’s interferences are delightfully tongue-in-cheek—the tot hangs on to the fierce Fire Dragon’s tale and tames Giganto with a belly rub. Super on so many levels. (Picture book. 3-7)

Deas, Mike Illustrator: Deas, Mike Orca (128 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-55469-800-4

A crisp, clear comic romp about two alien friends who uncover a gently sinister scheme that could destroy both their home planet and a small fishing town on Earth. Stylistically reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks (though highly likable instead of annoying), Dalen and Gole are two extraterrestrial best friends who live for jet racing on their home planet Budap. When they lose a race to the obviously shifty Tunax (who wins a race with the assistance of a mysterious cloud of purple smoke), Dalen—the less cynical of the duo as well as the better loser—offers him both congratulations and an assist in putting his jet racer away. While doing so, Dalen and Gole accidentally discover a tunnel that transports the pair to Earth’s Port Angus, a small fishing village on the brink of ruin, as all of the fish have been disappearing. Upon further investigation, they learn that both the mysterious purple smoke and the missing fish share a “fishy” connection, and the twin fates of Budap and Port Angus lie in their hands. Deas’ art has a clarion brightness and is tidily paneled across the page. Driven mainly by cartoon action, the character development is lacking, and a truly likable character— Rachel, the Earth-girl who befriends Dalen and Gole—is left somewhat shapeless and one-dimensional. Squeaky-clean, good fun, even if a little underdeveloped. (Graphic science fiction. 8-11)

KISHKA FOR KOPPEL

Davis, Aubrey Illustrator: Cohen, Sheldon Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55469-299-6

The traditional tale of three wishes gone wrong is here retold with a Jewish flavor as a magic meat grinder helps a junk man and his wife remember what’s important in life. In storyteller Davis’ version, Koppel and Yetta dream of gems, a jewelry store, a throne and a mountain of cheesecake, but they end up with kishka on Koppel’s nose instead. The tale is told in rapid-fire dialogue appropriately reminiscent of borscht-belt humor. Yiddish terms, including those in the title, are defined in a glossary. Cohen’s acrylic paintings facing the text add to the humor. One wordless double-page spread, repeated on the back cover, shows the couple’s fantastic dreams. Careful details bring their world to life. Fallen leaves in the city alley echo the junkman’s loss of hope. Their tiny house is filled with trash on one side but has a tidy, carefully swept living area, complete with clarinet and music stand. At the end, the grinder’s 1702

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LITTLE POLAR BEAR AND THE SUBMARINE

de Beer, Hans Illustrator: de Beer, Hans NorthSouth (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7358-4030-0 Series: Little Polar Bear

De Beer’s little polar bear, who debuted some 25 years ago, returns in a tale that combines familiar friendship problems with up-to-date concerns. Global warming has brought a research submarine to lonely Lars’ northern home. That warming has also stranded two young polar bears on a floe, and the submarine rescued them, since they |

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HOW TO MAKE A HERON HAPPY

were too young to swim. But Lars knows they must be returned to their parents. With the aid of his new dachshund friend (the ship’s dog) and his even newer Arctic fox friend (with the best nose in the universe, it knows just where the polar bears live), the cubs will be returned to mama and papa after mild adventure. The story is very gentle, and the possible effects of global warming are only nibbled at; the artwork is sharp and transporting, whether it is the inside of the submarine or the otherworldly landscape, as translucent as the aurora borealis. Geography is a little thin on the ground here. “Lars, the little polar bear, lived at the North Pole,” though on the next page, as a result of global warming, readers learn that “Lars’ friends and their families had moved farther north,” which is a pretty neat trick when you already live as far north as you can get. As a rudimentary introduction to friendship and environmental issues, if not geography, Lars can still create the mood. (Picture book. 3-6)

Don, Lari Illustrator: O’Byrne, Nicola Floris (32 pp.) paper $11.95 | October 11, 2011 paper 978-0-86315-804-9 Worried because the heron in the park looks grumpy, Hamish tries a variety of ways to please it, only to decide that perhaps herons can’t smile. This slight story has a not-too-subtle message. Heronwatcher Hamish and his family, neighbors and schoolmates clean and beautify the park, making it a more pleasant place for everyone. Part of a picture-book series with explicitly Scottish themes or content, this gentle lesson nevertheless makes a smooth Atlantic crossing. Great blue herons are grumpy around the world, and there are many parks in this country that could also use some extra attention. There are a few expressions, such as “bin bags” and “biscuit crumbs” that may puzzle young American readers or listeners, and the football Hamish plays with is clearly a soccer ball, but the meanings are clear in context. With only a line or two of text on the page and plenty of repetition, this is ideal for beginning readers. O’Byrne’s illustrations have the look of pen-and-ink sketches with watercolor. Ranging from vignettes to double-page spreads, they both support and add to the narrative, showing the heron in a variety of poses and the park gradually becoming more beautiful and more populated. As read-aloud or read-alone, a nice addition to the caring-for-our environment collection. (Picture book. 3-7)

THE CHESHIRE CHEESE CAT A Dickens of a Tale

Deedy, Carmen Agra Wright, Randall Illustrator: Moser, Barry Peachtree (256 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-56145-595-9

“He was the best of toms. He was the worst of toms.” And for all his harsh early life and unnatural dietary preferences, ragged London alley cat Skilley gets to look at a queen, too. Landing a gig as mouser for the chophouse and writers’ hangout Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a lifelong fantasy come true for both Skilley and the inn’s swarm of resident mice— because unlike his feline rivals, Skilley adores cheese and has no taste for mice at all. In fact it isn’t long before he and Pip, a mouse of parts who has learned to read and write, have become great friends. Deedy and Wright take this premise and run with it, tucking in appearances from Dickens, Thackeray and other writers of the time. Cat and mice unite to face such challenges as the arrival of a cruel new cat named Oliver (“Well, this was an unwelcome twist”), a mysterious cheese thief and, climactically, a wise but injured old raven that is the subject of a country-wide search that culminates in a visit to the inn by Queen Victoria Herself. Moser contributes splendid black-and-white illustrations that manage to be both realistic and funny, recalling Robert Lawson while retaining his own style. Readers with great expectations will find them fully satisfied by this tongue-in-cheek romp through a historic public House that is the very opposite of Bleak. (Animal fantasy. 10-12)

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BODY OF WATER

Dooley, Sarah Feiwel & Friends (336 pp.) $16.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-312-61254-2 A compelling story rife with drama, suspense and heart. Twelve-year-old Ember Goforth-Shook is not the most popular or pretty girl in school, and it is obvious that the community doesn’t understand or respect her family’s religion, which her mom describes as “Not Quite Wicca.” But things are not so bad, really, at least until a raging fire destroys the family’s trailer in less than an hour. Everyone escapes except Ember’s dog, Widdershins. What’s worse, Ember suspects that her very best, and only, friend Anson had something to do with the fire. Ember’s family moves to a campground, where they scrounge every day for enough money to pay for their next night’s site rent and enough food to get by on. Having lost their tailoring and tarot-card businesses, Ember’s parents try desperately to find some work, but it isn’t easy when you have no decent clothes and no phone number or permanent address. For her part, Ember concentrates on taking care of little sister Ivy and making it back to |

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the scene of the fire every Wednesday, poking around in the ashes and working on a revenge spell for Anson, a spell she’s less certain she wants to follow through on with each passing week. Dooley puts readers directly into the center of Ember’s plight with a heartfelt first-person narration. An enthralling tale that demystifies Wicca, humanizes homeless families and inspires reflection on friendship, forgiveness and moving forward. (Fiction. 10-14)

behind get by as best they can. Luckily, Stephen’s father, an Iraq War veteran, teaches him everything he’ll need to know to keep himself alive. When his father is murdered, Stephen has to put all of those lessons to immediate use. Stephen decides to see if he can find his mother, who is supposedly still in New Orleans. On his way to find her, Stephen meets Angela, a college student whose parents have also been killed. The two join forces and head by boat toward New Orleans. Their will to live is tested again and again as they make their way through a world that has dissolved into anarchy and random violence. Even in the midst of this day-to-day drama, Stephen finds himself sorting out his feelings for Angela, which are complicated by the attraction/revulsion he harbors for his mother; he is haunted by his memories of her and the parade of lovers she hosted in their home before Stephen moved out to live with his father. What will happen when he finds her again? The straightforward thirdperson narration chronicles the action bluntly. Equal parts interesting and unsettling, this one may appeal to fans of Gordon Korman and Gary Paulsen. (Fiction. 14 & up)

TROUBLE ON THE TOMBIGBEE

Dunagan, Ted M. NewSouth (208 pp.) $21.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-58838-270-2 A follow-up to the well-loved A Yellow Watermelon (2007) and Secret of the Satilfa (2010); all three volumes follow Ted and Poudlum, a pair of fast friends who happen to be of different races as they negotiate their way through a segregated rural Alabama of the 1940s. When Ted and Poudlum set out to enjoy a fishing trip down the river, they get a whole lot more than they bargained for. The two boys stumble upon a secret Ku Klux Klan meeting and learn the identities of several key members. When they are discovered, they take to the river to escape, only landing themselves in even more hot water, so to speak, when a surprise flood sweeps them into the arms of thugs who intend to sell them to a Chinese slaver. The boys survive one calamity after another, counting on their resourcefulness and on each other to get them through. This volume, like its predecessors, maintains a light, adventurous tone even as it deals with such difficult issues as segregation, hate crimes and slavery. Dunangan manages this feat not by making light of social ills, but by keeping the narrative tightly focused on Ted and Poudlum, who come off as forgivably naïve and immensely likable. This one will appeal to those already fond of Ted and Poudlum and gain them some new fans, too. (Historical fiction. 10-14)

GINGERBREAD GIRL GOES ANIMAL CRACKERS

Ernst, Lisa Campbell Illustrator: Ernst, Lisa Campbell Dutton (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 13, 2011 978-0-525-42259-4

The plucky Gingerbread Girl is back in her second outing, this time trying to save an animal-cracker menagerie from the wily fox (The Gingerbread Girl, 2006). For her birthday, the old couple who baked her give the Gingerbread Girl what she has always longed for—friends like her to play with. But no sooner is the wrapping off than they are out the door. As they run through the countryside, collecting pursuers as they go, individual cracker animals add their own rhymes to the refrain: “I’m strong and I’m fast, / Though I smell like vanilla. / You can’t catch me, / I’m the cracker gorilla!” Ernst’s text pages and spread borders are softly colored gingham, the animal-cracker train escaping the illustrations to parade through the text, while those chasing line up in sepia tones across the top. Clearly communicated emotions add much to the story, from the untrammeled glee the crackers feel in their newfound freedom to the suspense that builds as the chase nears the river and the waiting fox. In the end, some quick thinking on the part of the clever girl helps her new friends escape her older brother’s fate. The girl heroine, large trim size, catchy rhymes and repeating refrain make this one sure to be a popular choice for group readings…just don’t forget the animal-cracker snack. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE ELEPHANT MOUNTAINS

Ely, Scott Orca (216 pp.) $19.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55469-406-8

A fast-paced, brutal story of survival delivered in a clipped, no-frills style. Fifteen-year-old Stephen lives in a not-so-distant future in which multiple severe hurricanes and increasing global warming has made swampland out of much of the southern United States. The devastating flooding has caused most of the survivors to flee, and those who stayed 1704

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“This enjoyable romp turns mischief into political action and a stone palace into a cunning character.” from tuesdays at the castle

BARN BOOT BLUES

gifted people talking about their teen years. This is an updated, fourth edition of a work that was first published in 1983; it feels fresh and timely, with information about current topics such as online education and the distractions of and dependence on electronic media. A detailed table of contents will make it easier for readers to identify especially pertinent sections, if they don’t want to read through the entire work. An intelligent, entertaining look at the unique and notso-unique issues that gifted teens face. (Self-help. 11 & up)

Friend, Catherine Marshall Cavendish (144 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7614-5827-2 City girl or farm girl, which will Taylor choose to be? Or does she have a choice? Twelve-year-old Taylor’s parents have uprooted her from her perfectly comfortable life in Minneapolis and planted her on a farm to raise chickens, ducks, goats and sheep. She takes on many responsibilities and chores, all presenting their own levels of grossness, and manages, mostly, to attack them with ingenuity, determination and some hilarity. But she describes herself as thoroughly discombobulated as she tries to adjust to a new school and this new, alien way of life. Unable to voice her unhappiness to her parents, she plots to sabotage her school grades and behavior to get their attention, and convince them to return to the city. Taylor tells her own story with humor and honesty, as she comes to terms with the changes in her environment and in herself. The peripheral characters are not as well drawn, however, especially her parents, who seem to make precipitous, impulsive, lifechanging decisions with good intentions but little else. The other children are one dimensional as well; there’s a manipulative town girl, a teasing, irritating boy and a kindhearted farm girl. Only Taylor’s engaging, breezy narration lifts the whole above the banal. Pleasant, but it’s all been done before. (Fiction. 10-14)

TUESDAYS AT THE CASTLE

George, Jessica Day Bloomsbury (254 pp.) $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-1-59990-644-7

This enjoyable romp turns mischief into political action and a stone palace into a cunning character. Castle Glower always chooses its own king, and its current is Celie’s father. Celie’s family knows the castle’s rules— for example, no matter where you are, “if you turned left three times and climbed through the next window, you’d end up in the kitchens”—so they navigate fine, even when Castle Glower gets bored of a Tuesday and grows a new room or hallway. When disaster strikes, the castle’s protective love becomes paramount. Celie’s parents and eldest brother Bran are reported killed in an ambush, leaving three siblings at home to fend off a foreign prince who’s trying to assassinate Celie’s brother Rolf and steal the crown. Pranks such as spreading manure on the soles of shoes and snipping threads so the baddies’ clothes fall off make the siblings (and readers) giggle, but underneath the capers lies a bit of deftly written grief and fear. Luckily there are comforting clues: If King Glower were really dead, wouldn’t this sentient, active castle have adapted heir Rolf ’s bedroom into a king’s room? Instead, the foreign prince’s rooms become ever smaller and bleaker, proving the castle’s disapproval; but Celie and sibs still need to win the day. Never fear: These kids are clever, as is George’s lively adventure. May pique castle envy. (Fantasy. 8-11)

THE GIFTED TEEN SURVIVAL GUIDE Smart, Sharp, and Ready for Almost Anything

Galbraith, Judy Delisle, Jim Free Spirit (272 pp.) paper $15.99 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-57542-381-4

While gifted teens may seem to be best prepared of all adolescents to cope with life, this effort offers specific, often pithy advice for a sometimes-neglected group’s special needs. Many school systems now make some effort to identify students who are gifted, while not fully agreeing on what that term means. Beginning with a close look at how giftedness is identified, the authors move on to cover in detail how to deal with parents, friends and teachers, twice exceptionality (for example, Asperger’s syndrome and giftedness together), how to make schools better serve unique talents, how to choose and prepare for college, how to deal with relationships and, finally, good advice on a variety of topics relevant for most teens: sexuality, depression and “existential crises.” Sections of advice are interrupted by smart, sometimes funny essays by a variety of |

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BERNADETTE IN THE DOGHOUSE

Glickman, Susan Second Story Press (124 pp.) paper $8.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-897187-92-0 Series: Lunch Bunch, 2

When her former best friend Jasmine comes to visit during winter break, third-grader Bernadette ignores her current friends, hurting their feelings and coming close to breaking up the Lunch Bunch. |

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“Color and silhouette illustrations first seen in editions 50 to 150 years ago add an antique glaze to 27 stories newly translated from the Brothers Grimm’s final and, as the editor puts it, ‘most child-friendly’ versions.” from the fairy tales of the brothers grimm

LEAVE ME ALONE A Tale of What Happens When You Stand Up to a Bully

Bernadette, Keisha, Megan and Annie not only eat together, they plan special menus to make their lunchtimes more interesting. Walking to and from school together, Bernadette and Keisha keep a special dog-watching notebook. They even carry out a project of cleaning and beautifying an elderly neighbor’s yard. When Bernadette realizes how much she values these new friends—especially Keisha, who seems the most upset—she comes up with the perfect lunch strategy to make things right. In this sequel to Bernadette and the Lunch Bunch (2009), Glickman again portrays elementary-school life realistically. Bernadette’s difficulties juggling her friendships, her longing for a puppy of her own and her discomfort when her classmates think she’s responsible for the month-long Healthy Food Challenge will feel familiar. The relatively long, mostly un-illustrated chapters are best suited for the most able chapter-book readers, who will appreciate the challenge and are less often served by material appropriate to their lives and experiences. A satisfying sequel leaving room for more. (Fiction. 7-9)

Gray, Kes Illustrator: Wildish, Lee Barron’s (32 pp.) paper $8.99 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-0-7641-4736-4

Animal allies drive off a bully in this unconvincing British import. Responding to the inquiries of a solicitous fly, frog, robin, cat, rabbit, cow, pig and magpie, a downcast lad explains that “My problem is a giant / So big he blocks the sun, / Who teases me and bullies me / Every day for fun.” In Wildish’s splashy, textured outdoor scenes, the bully, when he shows up, is indeed a mountainous, shadowy, red-eyed, scary giant who will seem to most children more like an adult than your average punk. The multimedia illustrations here are undeniably effective, conjuring a hugely out-of-proportion, looming figure surrounded by violent splashes of red—but in response to the animals’ concerted “LEAVE HIM ALONE!” it just turns without a word and walks away. “I never saw him after that / And I know I never will,” concludes the young narrator, with conspicuous naïveté. Would that it were so easy to escape abuse. It’s always good to have a support group, but even very young readers are likely to wonder whether it’ll be around for the next encounter. (Picture book. 6-8)

IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Goossens, Jesse Translator: Macki, Erik J. Lemniscaat USA (246 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-935954-04-0

Anna, from the Netherlands, is sent to spend her summer vacation in rural Pennsylvania when her parents refuse to let her join her friends for a wild week at

THE FAIRY TALES OF THE BROTHERS GRIMM

a Spanish beach. At 17, film enthusiast Anna is frustrated by the lack of independence her parents allow her in this ever-so-quiet, sometimes slightly meandering effort translated from Dutch. She’s amazed, therefore, that family friend Uncle York hands over the keys to a house she can live in alone in small-town Bakerton and then teaches her how to drive so that she can help out at a local gift/ antiques shop. Quirky 18-year-old Daniel, his intentions unclear, immediately makes it his mission to teach her why his position as a funeral director is a “cool profession.” This makes possible a series of walk-on commentaries by a gravedigger, a hair stylist to the deceased, etc., playing off nicely against Anna’s frequent old-movie quotes, which pepper the narrative. Anna also explores her newly complicated relationship with her parents, since she’s just discovered that she was adopted. Interesting characters abound, all thoughtfully, believably sketched. A few translation inaccuracies (“there was a stairs”) may remind readers that this is a different, European take on America. A slowly paced, heartfelt coming-of-age tale that effectively, albeit placidly explores life—and death—in smalltown America. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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The Brothers Grimm Editor: Daniel, Noel Translator: Price, Matthew R. Taschen (304 pp.) $39.99 | October 1, 2011 978-3-8365-2672-2

Color and silhouette illustrations first seen in editions 50 to 150 years ago add an antique glaze to 27 stories newly translated from the Brothers Grimm’s final and, as the editor puts it, “most child-friendly” versions. Not to say that there aren’t still plenty of violent and gruesome bits—from the ugly fates of Cinderella’s stepsisters to the decapitated horse in “Goose Girl.” With only rare exceptions, like the Brave Little Tailor, who swats flies that are “bugging him out of his mind,” the language in these unabridged versions remains classically formal, more grand than intimate and conveying in the lighter stories more wit than laugh-out-loud humor. The art samples work from 27 illustrators, nearly all of whom were European, and likewise presents a range of elaborately stylized Princes, graceful Maidens, anthropomorphic animals and comical magical creatures in, usually, court or period costume. Printed in double columns of small type, the collection is designed for adult readers to read or read aloud, and for |

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IN SEARCH OF SASQUATCH An Exercise in Zoological Evidence

the grown-ups David also includes analytical introductions, an opening appreciation of the Grimms’ work as “the DNA of all fairy-tale scholarship,” and long biographical notes on the illustrators. As a piece of bookmaking, it harkens back to more extravagant times, with a gold-stamped, purple cloth cover, many gilt pages, elaborate display type and scrollwork and two bound-in silk ribbons to act as bookmarks. Though a bit of a patchwork with all the visual styles on display, this gathering of old favorites in their full, original forms collected in a lovely package should please fairy-tale collectors and bibliophiles alike. (translator’s and historical notes, index) (Fairy tales. 7-11, adult)

Halls, Kelly Millner Houghton Mifflin (64 pp.) $16.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-547-25761-7

A true believer presents the evidence. Expanding on a partial chapter in her outstanding Tales of the Cryptids (2006), Halls makes her case by tallying Native American legends, the many footprints and reported sightings (a map of the latter claims hundreds from every state except Hawaii), the famous Patterson-Gimlin film, the recorded “Sierra Sounds” and other circumstantial evidence. She also interviews scientists and Sasquatch hunters, includes an account of early searches for Tibet’s Yeti, adds the transcript of a panicky 911 call and even covers some proven hoaxes. She maintains a believer’s voice, gently challenging refuseniks: “Serious Sasquatch hunters are as skeptical as unbelievers. They are not out to collect great stories. They are out to put together facts. Proof. The difference is, they are willing to keep an open mind.” Illustrated with photos, drawings and archival images aplenty and closing with generous lists of print, Web and video resources this is about as convincing as it gets—considering the continuing absence of any incontrovertible physical proof—and should give young cryptid hunters a good hairy leg up on investigations of their own. All those hundreds of witnesses and researchers can’t be wrong, can they? (Nonfiction. 9-11)

IF I TELL

Gurtler, Janet Sourcebooks Fire (256 pp.) paper $9.99 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-4022-6103-9

What’s a girl to do—tell or not? High-school senior Jaz sees her mother’s boyfriend, Simon, sharing a serious kiss with her own best friend, then finds out her mom is pregnant with his baby. Besides the formidable issues that kiss creates in her relationships with her mom and Simon, Jaz has other problems. She’s biracial in a town that’s almost completely white, and because of a brutal bullying incident when she was a fourth grader that caused her to purposely create a distance between herself and many classmates, Jaz doesn’t have much of a support group. When a handsome transfer student with a drug-dealing background insinuates himself into her life, she has to decide if he can be trusted and loved. All signs are that Jaz was reasonably well adjusted before the kiss, making her relentless animosity toward her mom and Simon—that lingers annoyingly on and on, past the birth of her little brother— disconcertingly out of character. The conflict just doesn’t seem to be sufficient cause to sustain the depth of her anger through a full novel, quite possibly outlasting the sympathy of readers. This problem is only partially ameliorated by believable dialogue and attractive secondary characters. While not completely successful, this effort may appeal to teen readers that want more than a touch of conflict stirred into a simmering romance. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT

Hamilton, Kersten Clarion (288 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-547-43560-2 Series: Goblin Wars, 2 The Wylltsons have barely escaped from the underworld of Mag Mell only to face a new threat to 5-year-old Aiden and to Teagan herself in this fantasy sequel to Tyger, Tyger (2010). Faced with still more creatures who threaten and command, Teagan and “sexy beast” Finn (so called by Teagan’s admiring coworker), the not-quite “cousin” whose arrival set off the events of the first book, decide to take action on their own. Characters carry over from the opening episode, extending the humor and charm of that novel, while the introduction of several new characters—readers first meet the wily and manipulative Queen Mab, for instance—add interest to the plot and promise of the vigorous action to come. Hamilton is a wizard at creating tension, building on characters’ strengths and weaknesses until the plot really takes off. The neighborhood and forest behind the library, where they leave the Chicago streets to enter Mag Mell (loosely based on Irish folklore), are described in detail and |

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h e m i ly j e n k i n s Emily Jenkins is the author of many highly acclaimed books for children, including the first in her Toys Go Out series, Toys Go Out, an ALA Notable Book that received three starred reviews. Jenkins’ third book about these singular pals is Toys Come Home, its events occurring before those in Toys Go Out and Toy Dance Party. The new book offers young readers insights into what happened to Sheep’s ear and how Stingray came to find her place on the high bed with fluffy pillows. Toys Come Home: Being the Early Experiences of an Intelligent Stingray, a Brave Buffalo, and a Brand-New Someone Called Plastic (Toys Go Out)

Emily Jenkins illus. by Paul Zelinsky Schwartz & Wade (144 pp. ) $16.99 Sept. 13, 2011 9780375862007

Q: You’ve written widely and for a variety of ages. What are the pleasures and challenges of writing books for this younger audience? A: I don’t think of the writing as very different. The length is shorter, but as you can tell, I’m not modifying my vocabulary, just trying to write honestly about complex feelings people have, though in this case, I’m assigning those feelings to animals. Fear of rejection, ambition, jealousy, working on a creative project together—I explore human complexities whether I’m writing for little people or for big. I split my time writing for teens and kids. I find that the different forms keep me on my toes. So I don’t settle too comfortably into a feeling of “now I know how to do my job.” I find the variety’s much more terrifying and more interesting and more likely to produce good work. Q: I read in your bio that your father is a playwright. How do you think that might influence your work? A: I spent a lot of time sitting in the back of theaters watching plays and rehearsals from an early age. I watched things take shape…essentially through writing, rewriting, delivering lines differently, and I learned that staging a show is a lot like revising a manuscript—a lot of small changes in pacing and intonation add up to a very different result. I am a heavy, heavy reviser. Q: In your acknowledgements, you say that illustrator Paul O. Zelinksy draws your characters exactly the way they appear in your imagination, “only better.” Can you tell me a little about your collaboration?

So for the second two books, I saw a few advance sketches, but I don’t have too much to say. He’s phenomenal at what he does. Paul is a very astute storyteller as well as artist. I just wish there were more pictures! Q: In a biographical essay, you described your writing process as holing up in a small office with two aging cats. Is that still the same? A: No, that’s changed. I have an enormous office now and, sadly, only one cat. I moved on up in that respect. But I also work a lot in coffee shops. There are endless opportunities to do other kids of work at my house…forms to fill out, mess to pick up, always something. I do get out into coffee shops just to demarcate the line between work and home time. Sometimes I meet writer friends, work opposite them. There’s someone writing a novel across the table—I better get it together! Q: Do you find it hard to get the voice of a stuffed animal, say Stingray, right? A: The stingray is not such an unusual character for me. A lot of my characters are like her, hyperverbal and prone to letting their imaginations run wild…that’s true of my teen and animal characters alike. Sometimes it can be hard for me to find the voice and hard to get book going until I do, but in terms of these three main characters, these guys were pretty organically coming from aspects from my own personality. I do lots of school visits and ask students who their favorite characters are. I say, Stingray’s my favorite, who else picked her? But no one besides me ever likes her best! I tell the kids Stingray’s like me—a bossy-boots know-it-all who wants to be the one who always knows what’s going on. Over time, I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut… but I let that side of me come out with Stingray, turn it up to 11 and really max it up! –By Jessie Grearson

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p h oto © h e at he r we s to n

A: A lot of times illustrators and writers never meet. But after the first Toys book was published, Paul Zelinsky and I toured together and became good friends. We worked together on school presentations, and we live near each other and volunteer at the same public school. So now I’ve been to his studio; for the second book, there’s a rubber shark, and though the other animals come from my imagination, I own that shark…actually. She lived at his place for a while so he could draw her. |


convey a feeling of familiarity. The straightforwardness of the story and spurts of humor arising from situations and characters will sustain readers’ interest and keep them involved. Teagan has a plan for what comes next; fans will have a hard time waiting for her to bring it on. (Urban fantasy. 14-18)

how to use the lens; placing it over selected images in the book guides readers/sleuths, providing clues, code keys and answers. There are 10 two-page spreads, spooky tableaux in mostly dark hues, nicely designed by Junko Miyakoshi. These include a Ouija board; a desk with old books, a candelabra, a skull and three crystal balls (readers choose their own fates from among them); a graveyard; mystery journals; even the gates of Hades. Instructions are in verse, each about a dozen lines per spread. Some are solid enough (“The dead it seems are quite alive / Buzzing in their graveyard hive”), but most are awkward nearrhymes (“Now that you have found your ghosts / It’s time to look for UFO’s”). The book ends with an answer key. And a bonus! A website (TheSpiritGlass.com) with 13 more puzzles. Cool ideas, good execution, mediocre text. (Puzzle book. 7-10)

THE BLUE-EYED ABORIGINE

Hayes, Rosemary Frances Lincoln (256 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84780-142-5

Noble savages adopt a young mutineer in this tale spun around the possible first arrival of European settlers to Australia. Vividly depicted as a wretched hive of scum and villainy (the first page alone contains references to lice, filth, fetid odors and piss), the Dutch trading ship Batavia strikes a reef in far western Australia, and while part of the crew sets off in a small boat to seek rescue, the rest begin ruthlessly raping and/or murdering the hapless passengers. Seventeen-year-old cabin boy Jan is reluctantly forced to join in the general rapine to stay alive himself—and, instead of being hanged with the rest of the mutineers when relief arrives, is marooned with a companion on the mainland. Abruptly and inexplicably switching from third-person pasttense to first-person present with alternating narrators, Hayes then sends him inland to meet, befriend, learn the ropes of survival from and ultimately raise a family among a group of helpful, welcoming, generous, generic Aboriginals who believe him an ancestral spirit. Nonetheless, the author sticks closely to 17thcentury records of the actual mutiny and closes with a note about later events and Jan’s possible native descendants. Gutwrenching (and no more explicit than necessary) in the early going and a romantic idyll by the end, despite the hinky narration, this illuminates an intriguing byway of Aussie history. (bibliography) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING JOEYS A Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids) Heos, Bridget Illustrator: Jorisch, Stéphane

Millbrook (32 pp.) PLB $25.26 | e-book $18.95 | October 1, 2011 PLB 978-0-7613-5859-6 e-book 978-0-7613-8043-6 Series: Expecting Animal Babies

Directed at marsupial parents of all kinds, from kangaroos and koalas to possums and bandicoots, this tongue-in-cheek guide to joey development takes it step by step, from the birth of your pinkie to where your baby goes after it leaves the pouch. Never once dropping the pretense that this is written for pouched mammals, this manages to be both entertaining and informative, defining marsupial and covering gestation periods, size and number of young, the pinkie’s trip from cloaca to pouch or pouch substitute, feeding and further development. Heos’ question-and-answer text also weaves in information about where animals live and what they eat, but informally— just enough to whet curiosity and to send readers to the solid suggestions for further reading and websites. She uses appropriate vocabulary, making meanings clear in context and also providing a glossary. Jorisch’s painted pen-and-ink sketches show lively, lightly anthropomorphized animals and add considerably to the humor. How can readers resist the wombat checking out her pouch or the honey-possum love fest? Both parents and offspring have personality. This companion to What to Expect When You’re Expecting Larvae (2011) is enormously appealing, an offbeat approach to learning about the natural world that targets exactly the stage young readers most want to know about. (glossary, selected bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-11)

THE SPIRIT GLASS

Heimberg, Justin Seven Footer Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 25, 2011 978-1-934734-49-0 Readers are challenged to unlock the secrets of a haunted house, with the aid of a “magic glass.” “Open at your own risk!” declares a message on the inside cover of the book, just above an elegant envelope. As if this isn’t spooky enough, a skeleton’s arm wreathed in smoke points at the envelope from below. Inside the sealed envelope is a rectangle of plastic, 2” x 3 1/4” and 1/8” thick, bordered with a design featuring the sun and the moon. Illustrations and three pages of instructions explain |

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“The author deftly utilizes the techniques of literary serialization in her 32 short chapters, and young readers will eagerly turn the pages to find out what happens next.” from maggie & oliver

MAGGIE & OLIVER or A Bone of One’s Own

Tiger, who cooks a lot, needs a safety zone away from the stove. Mrs. Yak gets points for keeping her pot handles turned away from the edge of the stove, and the Fox family has wisely devised multiple ways out of every room. Sparky visits a dozen animal homes in all before an alarm wakes him up. The book is packed with undeniably important information, but the illustrations are generic, and the story, such as it is, is downright corny. Serviceable—nothing more. (safety tips) (Picture book. 3-7)

Hobbs, Valerie Illustrator: Thermes, Jennifer Henry Holt (192 pp.) $15.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-8050-9294-3

In 1905 Boston, a 10-year-old orphan finds herself on the streets (with a mysterious golden locket), as does a just-orphaned dog, in this heartwarming story about a search for home under rough conditions. Maggie has unruly, curly brown hair, round blue eyes and a penchant for asking questions; in fact, she is dismissed from Madame Dinglebush’s employ as a housekeeper for “insolence” and “disobedience” when she inadvertently responds to the visiting Duchess of Landsaway’s smile. Simultaneously Oliver, a “brown dog with hair like a scrub brush,” is searching for his beloved long-time owner Bertie via his acute sense of smell; an early chapter is aptly titled “The Nose Knows.” Hobbs (The Last Best Days of Summer, 2010, etc.) places her plucky protagonists in a Dickensian world in which both are freezing (it’s March and snowing), hungry, exhausted and in constant danger. Maggie finds backbreaking work in a shirtwaist factory “bereft of human speech” run by a Mr. Speak, and Oliver (called Lucky by Maggie) is almost made into dog-meat stew. The author deftly utilizes the techniques of literary serialization in her 32 short chapters, and young readers will eagerly turn the pages to find out what happens next. Thermes’ black-and-white illustrations quietly match both tone and period. A touching and emotionally satisfying foundling tale. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

AWAKE AT DAWN

Hunter, C.C. St. Martin’s Griffin (400 pp.) paper $9.99 | October 11, 2011 paper 978-0-312-62468-2 Series: Shadow Falls, 2

The continuing adventures of somehow-supernatural Kylie focus on her identity crisis: What kind of supernatural is she? Kylie has learned to cherish her time at Shadow Falls Camp for supernatural teens (Born at Midnight, 2011), but she has several pressing problems that go unresolved for nearly 400 pages. First, a ghost visits her constantly, asking her to save someone, but Kylie has no idea whom she needs to save. Second, she can’t seem to choose which boy she loves: good faerie Derek or dark werewolf Lucas. But mostly she worries about what she is. She shows symptoms of being both a vampire and a werewolf, but neither side manifests itself despite the fact that Kylie develops strong and unusual powers. In fact, Hunter solves only one of those three problems by the end of the book, setting up more sequels. However, the author has a direct line into the adolescent brain and writes as though she truly were a breathless, constantly conflicted teenage girl, a fact that surely will appeal to her intended audience. That audience won’t find much of lasting worth here, but they will find extensive romance that never goes beyond the kissing stage, quite a bit of humor, more romance, some suspense, additional romance and, suddenly, a contrived-but-exciting kidnap-and-rescue adventure. Overly chatty and overlong. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

SPARKY THE FIRE DOG

Hoffman, Don Illustrator: Dakins, Todd Imagine Publishing (32 pp.) $7.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-936140-62-6

THE POPULARITY PAPERS Words of (Questionable) Wisdom from Lydia Goldblatt

A friendly Dalmatian assists firefighters and inspects homes for fire safety. Posed in front of Fire Station No. 5 with a quartet of smiling firefighters of varying ethnicities and both genders, Sparky introduces himself and explains his busy job. He doesn’t just straighten the hose and help to wash the fire truck, but he rides along whenever the fire alarm sounds. He used to be an ordinary dog that lived outside a schoolyard, but one day he smelled smoke, and his barking caused the firefighters to come and save his neighbor’s house. Since then, he’s been a fire dog. In a dream, he inspects homes. At Mrs. Sheep’s house, he finds that the batteries in the smoke detector are low. Mr. Alligator has placed his space heaters too close to the curtains, and Mrs. Flamingo has left candles unattended. The elephant family needs an escape route, and Mrs. 1710

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Ignatow, Amy Illustrator: Ignatow, Amy Amulet/Abrams (208 pp.) $15.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-4197-0063-7 Series: The Popularity Papers, 3

Seventh-graders Julie and Lydia return for their third funny, angst-ridden outing that navigates the perils of middle school. In e-mails, back-and-forth notes and an occasional bit of graffiti, Julie and Lydia explore all of the emotional hardships of |

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NICHOLAS ST. NORTH AND THE BATTLE OF THE NIGHTMARE KING

being non-populars in middle school. After their friend Sukie’s mother dies, the pair decides to dedicate their lives to something more substantial than worrying about where they stand in the school pecking order. Consequently, they reach out to very badly dressed loner Jen, who turns out to be perfectly happy in her independent ways; Lydia gets a bit part in the school musical and angers the rest of the performers; Julie does all of the work on a class-assignment comic book for Jonathan—but the populars think they recognize themselves in it, and the girls visit the boys’ bathroom to look for graffiti. Humorous illustrations in ink, colored pencil, markers and yarn featuring clearly differentiated characters add to the fizzy realism of the effort. While those new to the series may face a brief learning curve, given the total absence of introductory material, the quality of this almost-a-graphic novel will make the effort worthwhile. “Outcast” middle-schoolers everywhere will recognize the situations depicted, and while some of them may seem heartbreaking at the time, this comic relief will add some much-needed perspective. (Graphic novel. 9-14)

Joyce, William Geringer, Laura Illustrator: Joyce, William Atheneum (240 pp.) $14.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4424-3048-8 Series: The Guardians, 1

Streaks of preciousness mar, or at least mark, an “origins” tale framed as a monumental struggle between the King of Nightmares and a Cossack bandit plainly destined for a later career bringing gifts to children on Christmas Eve. Escaping 1,000 years of captivity, Pitch, the Nightmare King, has sent hordes of Fearlings out to darken the dreams of children worldwide and attacked the happy Siberian town of Santoff Claussen. Orchestrated by Tsar Lunar, the Man in the Moon, a small company sets out to gather the first of five ancient relics that will help defeat Pitch. The band is made up of kindly old wizard Ombric Shalazar (last survivor of Atlantis and inventor of “time, gravity, and bouncing balls!”); his ward, the intrepid young orphan Katherine; a mysterious elfin creature; and, last but not least, Nicholas St. North—an exuberant former bandit chieftain turned inventor who is “no longer a thief of treasures but a buccaneer of fun” thanks to Ombric’s tutelage in magic and science. With help from an army of yetis led by the Lunar Lamas (who are quaintly described as “inscrutable” and also look identical in the accompanying illustration), Pitch is fended off in a great battle in the Himalayas, the relic is recovered and it’s off to further episodes. Many further episodes, as this is just the opening novel in an ambitious multimedia project dubbed “The Guardians of Childhood.” (The Man in the Moon, 2011, is the companion opening picture book in the project.) A quick read, with plenty of rococo weapons, characters and creatures (notably reindeer). (Fantasy. 9-11)

FAIR WINDS TO WIDDERSHINS

Jones, Allen Illustrator: Chalk, Gary Greenwillow/HarperCollins (176 pp.) $15.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-06-200626-4 Series: The Six Crowns, 2 Quest adventure, animal fantasy and baby steampunk all figure into this second madcap romp around the universe with hedgehogs Esmeralda and Trundle. Aided by cheerful troubadour squirrel Jack Nimble, Trundle and Esmeralda dash from planet to planet in a vast outer-space archipelago, pursued by pirates. Badger Blocks (read: tarot cards) foresaw Trundle and Esmeralda gathering six ancient, hidden crowns that together wield great power; this second installment of six naturally focuses on the second crown, which is made of iron. They travel by skyboat, which resembles an old ocean vessel more than a spaceship: “We have to tack! Release the windward jib sheet.” Steampunky details also include conveniently present or absent gravity and oxygen, gadgets with “swinging pendulums… flickering dials… [and] whirring flywheels” and a massive clock with noisy “cogwheels and levers and hammers.” Animal protagonists are quite human, whether “apple-cheeked” or showing a “face red with wrath.” Jones’ plot is peppy and his prose funny, sporting excellent names— “Pounceman Donk”—and word strings—“the meanest, bloodthirstiest, wickedest pirate ever to sail the skies.” It’s only too bad that steampunk’s gypsy stereotype lives on: “Roamany” is shorthand for exotic, unreliable and greedy. A fast and jolly gambol, with four more promised. (Steampunk. 7-10)

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THE ANNOTATED PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH

Juster, Norton Illustrator: Feiffer, Jules Introduction by: Marcus, Leonard Knopf (320 pp.) $29.99 | PLB $32.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-375-85715-7 PLB 978-0-375-95715-4 Still ferrying dazzled readers to Dictionopolis and beyond 50 years after his first appearance, young Milo is accompanied this time through by encyclopedic commentary from our generation’s leading (and most readable) expert on the history of children’s literature and publishing. Expanding considerably on a chapter in his Funny Business: Conversations with Writers of Comedy (2009), Leonard opens with typically lucid and well-organized pictures of both Juster’s and |

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AUDITION

Feiffer’s formative years and later careers, interwoven with accounts of the book’s conception, publication and critical response. In notes running alongside the ensuing facsimile, he puts on an intellectual show. He serves up for the book’s second line (“When [Milo] was in school he longed to be out, and when he was out he longed to be in”) references to Max Weber, Jane Jacobs and the Marx Brothers’ Animal Crackers, for instance, and closes with a spot-on characterization of Feiffer’s tailpiece illustration as “a kind of Blakean force field, a whirlwind of energy both potential and real.” In between, he delivers notes on topics as diverse as the etymological origins of “BALDERDASH!” and mimetic architecture to textual parallels with the Wizard of Oz and echoes of Winsor McKay and George Grosz in the art. Family photos, scrawled notes and images of handwritten and typescript manuscript pages further gloss a work that never ages nor fails to astonish. A timeless tribute to learning as play, much enriched with background on even the (seemingly) throwaway lines and puns. (Literary criticism. 10-12, adult)

Kehoe, Stasia Ward Viking (464 pp.) $17.99 | October 13, 2011 978-0-670-01319-7 This verse novel debut follows a reticent Vermont girl through a scholarshipfunded year at the elite Jersey Ballet school. Sara’s always been the best dancer in the neighborhood teacher’s basement classes. The summer before junior year, she leaves Darby Station’s orchards and woodstoves behind. Adjusting to New Jersey is difficult; she’s older than the other dancers at her level and feels “like a hick.” She’s terribly lonely and shy, her voice “[a]n unflexed muscle.” Despite first-person narration, Sara’s withdrawn personality keeps her at bay from readers as well as characters. There’s little joy in her balletskill improvement or going to bed with her object of desire. Sara’s 16, and Remington is “God, maybe twenty-two” (an unsettling double meaning). She stretches naked in his apartment and becomes his choreography muse, but he casts other ballerinas—not her—to dance those roles in public. Sara tires of “endless auditions, eternal scrutiny” and “giving pieces of my body away.” As she finds agency, she offers conclusions that seem oversimplified given earlier ambivalence: that ballet was only ever “a dream others dreamed for her,” that sex was solely “a price to be paid / For company,” “in hopes / Of feeling my worth.” Her attitude about food, moreover, is an inconsistent point in the writing. No romance here, but copious ballet details and hardwon steps toward independence. (Fiction. 13 & up)

CHENGLI AND THE SILK ROAD CARAVAN

Kang, Hildi Tanglewood Press (184 pp.) $14.95 | October 11, 2011 978-1-933718-54-5

A 13-year-old boy joins a caravan to find someone who knew his dead father and encounters a sand sea of dangers in ancient China, 630 C.E. A ghost wind calls Chengli to leave the Imperial City of Chang’an, which he loves, and Old Cook, who raised him, to sign on as a lowly camel boy with a trade caravan carrying silk and thousands of precious items. They trek west, leaving the protection of China’s Great Wall, and skirt the edge of the fearful desert until they reach Kashgar, where hundreds of caravans come together to buy and sell everything imaginable. When a princess betrothed to marry the ruler of a nomad kingdom joins the caravan, the 2,000-mile journey becomes even more dangerous. The rigors of sands and winds aren’t the only hazards Chengli faces: There are also a traitorous new friend, horse-riding thieves who abduct the princess, beatings and imprisonment. Cultural practices and beliefs are detailed, and descriptions depict the setting and era though the dialogue slips a few times into the colloquial. Three pages of historical notes serve as a glossary, but there is no map, which would be helpful. All in all, this is reminiscent of the work of Lloyd Alexander, though, sadly, not as sparkling. Not likely to be an easy sell due to the unusual time period and slow beginning, but readers who forge ahead will enjoy an interesting adventure. (Historical fiction. 9-13)

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AMPLIFIED

Kelly, Tara Henry Holt (304 pp.) $16.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-8050-9296-7 This chronicle of a shy guitarist’s summer living with a rock band poses bigger questions than it answers but tells a likable story nonetheless. Kicked out of the house by her strict father after she decides to defer her college admission, Jasmine is determined to prove that she can make it on her own. Looking for a room to rent in Santa Cruz, she finds an industrial band seeking a live-in bandmate and tries out. Kelly (Harmonic Feedback, 2010) relates each musical challenge—Jasmine’s tryout, a bad gig, a final, triumphant performance—as a tense action sequence. The author gives enough imagery and context that even the musically uninitiated will appreciate her descriptions, though readers who understand licks, riffs, arpeggios, EBows and wah pedals will get a fuller effect. Veta, the moody-but-loyal lead singer, is the best realized of the colorful cast; other characters feel a bit more sketched |

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“A realistic look at life on a farm, this selection provides an understanding portrait of a youngest child and extols the virtues of patience and friendship.” from the pig scramble

in. A romance between Jasmine and one of the band members is satisfyingly paced, and the energy between them is as charged (without being graphic) as some of the scenes between Jasmine and her guitar. Some of the novel’s big questions are left open: Jasmine’s relationship with her father, for instance, or what it means to start a relationship with a roommate. A treat for industrial-rock lovers; a pleasant summer read for others. (Fiction. 14 & up)

fretted over by his ineffective parents, Lucky launches the ultrastoic “Operation Don’t Smile Ever” to protect himself, but privately he seethes with rage and sadness. In his dreams—the only place he can exercise any authority or skill—Lucky stages bold, elaborate rescue missions to bring his Vietnam-era POW/MIA grandfather home. After Nader assaults Lucky at the community pool, Lucky and his swimming-obsessed mom decamp to Arizona to visit relatives and recuperate. Readers will fall hard for Lucky’s aching, disgusted, hopeful and triumphant voice, but this otherwise deeply realistic story falters a bit whenever elements of magical realism intrude. The titular Greek chorus of ants, a shape-shifting facial scab, the items that accompany Lucky home from his dreams: None of them quite mesh with the story, instead forcing readers to question Lucky’s sanity when they should be completely on his side. Readers who look beyond these problems will find a resonant, uplifting story about not just getting through, but powering through, the tough times. (Fiction. 15 & up)

A YEAR WITHOUT AUTUMN

Kessler, Liz Candlewick (304 pp.) $15.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-7636-5595-2

Time travel to a disturbing near future forces a preteen to cope for the first time without the help of her best friend. Twelve-year-old Jenni Green and her best friend Autumn are inseparable. Along with their families, they even spend their summer vacations together every year at Riverside Village. There’s so much to do there, from hot air balloon rides to adventure parks. Though Jenni naturally prefers museums to rock climbing, Autumn is always roping her into one crazy activity or another. This summer doesn’t seem any different, until a ride in an old elevator lands Jenni in the middle of a strange and unsettling time-travel adventure all on her own. For the first time in her friendship with Autumn, Jenni must take the reins and figure out how to change the past in order to protect the ones she loves in the future. Jenni’s first-person narration gives readers a ringside seat to her disorientation. Will she be able to save her friendship with Autumn and spare both of their families the heartache of a looming tragedy? Only time will tell. Though the logistics of Jenni’s time travel are a bit convoluted and the characters often feel disappointingly flat, preteen readers will likely be swept up in the suspense of Jenni’s journeys back and forth in time.(Fantasy. 9-12)

THE PIG SCRAMBLE

Kinney, Jessica Illustrator: Brannen, Sarah S. Islandport Press (36 pp.) $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-934031-61-2 Life is hard when you’re the baby of the family. Clarence, the youngest and smallest of three boys, always feels outdone by his older, bigger brothers. Warm, colorful illustrations depict life on a farm for Clarence and his siblings, showing an earnest Clarence trying to do all his brothers can. But while they move animals, carry pails, clean out the barn and do other farm chores, Clarence, due to his size, feels he’s more a hindrance than a help. Luckily, Uncle Leon, a neighbor who can identify with Clarence’s plight, lives next door, and Clarence spends time watching him make repairs in his workshop and admiring his skills. When it’s time for the county fair, Clarence decides to enter the pig scramble, an event his brothers never won when they were his age, and with grit, perseverance and some advice from Uncle Leon, Clarence just might find his moment to shine. This old-fashioned story is warm and comforting, and though some youngsters may be impatient at the slower pace, the gentle suspense will draw readers in, and the satisfying end is its own reward. A realistic look at life on a farm, this selection provides an understanding portrait of a youngest child and extols the virtues of patience and friendship. A solid choice for home or school reading. (Picture book. 4-7)

EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS

King, A.S. Little, Brown (288 pp.) $17.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-316-12928-2 An involving, if slightly uneven, follow-up to Printz Honor winner Please Ignore Vera Dietz (2010). “If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?” This smart-aleck survey question developed for a social-studies assignment sends the cruelly mis-named Lucky Linderman’s life straight into the sewer. Misunderstood by school administrators, tormented by the school’s bully-in-chief Nader McMillan, |

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“The chilly, claustrophobic, ancient setting is vividly created, and the sense of impending doom generates a gripping suspense…” from icefall

ICEFALL

When Hannah’s illness spirals out of control, Aunt Izzy, a documentary filmmaker and recovered anorexic, intervenes. Izzy takes Hannah to Africa, where she is documenting the plight of the country’s orphans. Through her travels and experiences, Hannah gains a new perspective on the notion of beauty and friendship. The rather contrived healing and happy ending do not undercut the emotional intensity of Hannah’s journey. With a forthright intensity, Kittle’s tale examines a complex subject. (Fiction. 13-16)

Kirby, Matthew Scholastic (336 pp.) $17.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-545-27424-1 The king’s three children and a small group of warrior-protectors take refuge in a winter-bound steading on a northern fjord and discover there’s a traitor in their midst. Beautiful Asa, the eldest princess, faces an arranged marriage, although she loves another. Harald, the youngest, will one day be king. But the narrator, middle daughter Solveig, is neither attractive nor particularly useful, until she begins to realize she has talent as a storyteller and could have a future as a skald, or court bard. As food runs low and bitter winter tightens its hold, someone in the group begins to sabotage the remaining supplies, and Solveig has a dream that foretells a tragic end to their efforts to survive. Interesting, well-developed characters abound, and Solveig’s strong narrative voice adds authenticity as she grows into her new role, not just telling stories of the mythical Scandinavian past but creating tales to alter the behavior of those around her. Valid clues and occasional red herrings heighten the sense of mystery. The chilly, claustrophobic, ancient setting is vividly created, and the sense of impending doom generates a gripping suspense overarching the developing—and deteriorating—relationships among the group, marking Kirby (The Clockwork Three, 2010) as a strong emerging novelist. Recommend this one to teens who crave a good mystery set in an icily different time and place. (Alternative historical mystery. 11-18)

THE FRIENDSHIP WISH

Kleven, Elisa Illustrator: Kleven, Elisa Dutton (32 pp.) $17.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-525-42374-4

Dreams of angels help the new dog in the neighborhood make friends. Amiable Farley, the new dog, wants to meet a new friend, but pig, bear and bird are all too busy. Farley decides to work on painting and gardening but this only satisfies for a while—he is “still lonely.” When night falls, Farley climbs into bed with a mournful, “I wish I had a friend.” In an obvious dream, a “sparkly, swirly, and bright as a star” angel appears. Farley and the angel share pancakes, play, sing and dance together. But morning comes, and the angel disappears. When Farley goes outside to find his angel, the other animals learn about the dream and try to help bring her back. Somewhat predictably, they end up sharing pancakes, playing ball, dancing and singing. And so the friendship-building process begins. Kleven’s collage illustrations in a cheery, mostly pastel palette capture Farley’s range of emotions and the spirited actions of all the creatures in this gentle tale. Most dramatic is a nighttime scene that shows the starry sky full of the dreamed angels of each of the new friends. Although it may not be eventful enough for the masses, this quiet story could be just right for a preschooler who is about to begin school, has just moved or is shy about meeting new peers. (Picture book. 3-6)

REASONS TO BE HAPPY Kittle, Katrina Sourcebooks (288 pp.) paper $7.99 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-4022-6020-9

This frank tale follows a girl’s journey of healing as she recovers from an eating disorder. Hannah’s actor parents’ rising-star status necessitates relocating from Ohio to the epicenter of celebrity life: LA. At her new school, Hannah encounters the B-Squad—the reigning trio of eighth-grade girls, who sit in judgment on all things hip. Suddenly, all that Hannah loves to do—running track, her art work—is deemed uncool. In the wake of this upheaval and the devastating news of her mother’s terminal-cancer diagnosis, Hannah turns to her Secret Remedy—bulimia. Kittle scrutinizes how negative peer opinion can wreak havoc on a young teen’s fragile self-esteem. Her sometimes graphically detailed and unflinching portrayal of bulimia explores the insidious way it can overtake a person’s life both physically and emotionally. 1714

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IVY AND THE MEANSTALK

Lairamore, Dawn Holiday House $16.95 | October 2, 2011 978-0-8234-2392-1

Hardly has intrepid Princess Ivy saved her father’s kingdom of Ardendale from one deadly threat (detailed in Ivy’s Ever After, 2010) than along comes another. When magic beans delivered to newlywed fairy godmother Drusilla shoot prized pixie goat Toadstool into the sky atop an unpleasantly toothy beanstalk/ Venus flytrap hybrid, Ivy soars to the rescue aboard her beloved |

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TEX

dragon buddy Elridge—only to be seized by Largessa, a giant who has been sleepless for a millennium, ever since that thief Jack stole her singing harp. In consequence, she’s grown understandably irritable and threatens to pelt Ardendale with massive rocks unless the harp is returned in a week. Where is it now? Deep in the treasure vaults of distant Jackopia, a kingdom that after 1,000 years of golden eggs is literally paved, walled, floored, decorated and armored with the glittering stuff. And will Jackopia’s single-minded King Jack the 102nd give the golden harp up when Ivy flies in to ask? As if. Endowing her 14-year-old heroine with engaging stubbornness and plucky allies—notably boyfriend-in-the-bud Owen the stable boy—Lairamore dishes up a lighthearted quest tale (with just a hint of romance). Endearingly, all wrongs result from egotism or thoughtlessness rather than malice and are ultimately righted amid a cascade of breathtaking narrow squeaks and truly monumental quantities of bling. Breezy and entertaining, with more than a few clever folkloric twists. (Fantasy. 10-12)

Lawson, Dorie McCullough Photographer: Lawson, Dorie McCullough Trafalgar (44 pp.) $15.95 | October 15, 2011 978-1-57076-501-8 A little boy longs for a life out on the open frontier. Luke’s dreams transport him from his family near the ocean to his new role as a cowboy at the Wymont Ranch. Photographs capture the change of scenery and his routine; his initially serious, quiet reality (reflected in black-and-white images) morphs into crisp, colored shots. The child is almost too small for his Western britches (accessorized with dangling lasso and wide-brimmed black cowboy hat). He stares intently at the audience, the accompanying one-word block of text (“Tex”) reveals his adopted name. His somber expressions continue until care for his pony Thunder evokes unadulterated joy. Brief statements (“Tex loves mountains”) placed against solid backgrounds describe typical activities but allow the photographs to do most of the talking. The young ranchhand remains hard at work, completing typical chores, then sprawls in relaxation; he herds cattle, irrigates fields and lounges with his cowdog Sue. While he leads his pony into the great unknown, the final page turn returns to sleeping Luke; his wrangler-designed sheets the only remnant of his alter ego. The photographs capture breathtaking natural beauty, though some posed pictures more readily recall advertisements than the genuine experience of a youngster at play. This ode to the range emphasizes the enduring allure of the American West. (Picture book. 3-5)

IF YOU LIVED HERE Houses of the World

Laroche, Giles Illustrator: Laroche, Giles Houghton Mifflin (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 24, 2011 978-0-547-23892-0

Many North American children have a difficult time visualizing places or houses different than their own; this survey will help somewhat. The dwelling places pictured here will enlarge their knowledge base to some extent, but due to the limited representations (only 15 types of housing), readers will still need additional sources to understand shelter in a fuller geographic or historic context. Laroche’s engagingly intricate, bas-relief collages provide a sense of the environments and the people living in the houses. A range from a “dogtrot log house” (midAtlantic or southern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries) with two living spaces connected by a long roof and walk-through space to a 1986 Dutch high tech” green” floating house that can turn on its own platform. Other houses include a Venetian palazzo (confusingly, the author says… “the floor of the bottom story is water!”) and a Fujian tulou, a round, “rammed earth” structure (the one depicted was built in China in 1912). The text includes house type, materials, location, date and a (sometimes) “fascinating fact.” On a sexist note, the last spread teams to show three boys working on a treehouse. Overall weaknesses involve too much emphasis on European and U.S. examples and a map that links the styles to their geographic areas without marked political boundaries. Best used to encourage children to create their own collages or three-dimensional models, this misses the mark as a strong introduction to domestic architecture. (selected sources) (Informational picture book. 6-9)

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WODNEY WAT’S WOBOT

Lester, Helen Illustrator: Munsinger, Lynn Houghton Mifflin (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-547-36756-9

Wodney Wat, the lovable rodent who cannot pronounce the r sound, receives a remarkable robot as a birthday present (Hooway for Wodney Wat, 1999). This pile of metal can do something that Rodney cannot: It can parrot his speech, correcting the pronunciation. Rodney is having great fun with his new metal companion when the enormous bully, Camilla Capybara, returns. Camilla explodes into the room, terrifying everyone, including the teacher. When the robot malfunctions, developing a RRRRR roar, Camilla’s weaknesses are exposed, allowing Wodney, assisted by his sidekick, to send her rolling out the door. Munsinger’s over-the-top illustrations are the star here. A deft use of humorous expressions on every rodent face will allow young readers to ally with beloved Wodney as he negotiates the challenges of school: ordering wibs and wice (ribs and rice), exercising on the wings (rings) at PE and adding 2+1. With his wobot, it’s a snap! Poured into her pink dress, Camilla bursts onto each spread, the pages barely able to |

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contain her. When she is scared, her size is reduced, a fine visual clue to her diminishing power. This sequel will be embraced by youngsters who struggle with their speech and need some hints on how to handle the capybaras in their lives. (Picture book. 4-9)

count!” Ernestine has no time to play, though it’s clear from her longing looks at neighbor Hugo and his soccer ball that she wants to. The big schedule board that covers a wall of her bedroom fills her with dismay. One afternoon, Ernestine rushes out the door past Nanny, shouting, “Today I scheduled something new!” It’s a trip to the park, to play with other kids. When the yodeling teacher calls home to report Ernestine’s absence, the news sends her parents into a tizzy. They visit all her activities, from knitting to water ballet to tuba practice. Just following in their daughter’s footsteps exhausts the Buckmeisters, and, when they spot her in the distance, they barely have enough energy to trudge up a hill to meet her. Both Ernestine and Nanny seem happy and renewed. From that day forward, sometimes it’s activities, and sometimes...”she just played.” There’s great energy in both Lodding’s storytelling and Beaky’s bright acrylic illustrations. The valuable lesson is all the more effective for being shown, and not preached—though perhaps it’s meant more for adults than the children they are reading to. (Picture book. 5-7)

UNFORSAKEN

Littlefield, Sophie Delacorte (288 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $19.99 e-book $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-385-73854-5 PLB 978-0-385-90736-1 e-book 978-0-375-89496-1 Billed as a “companion,” this is not so much a sequel to Banished (2010) as it is a retread. Hailey and her little family—Aunt Prairie and adopted brother Chub—are hardly settled into their new lives in Milwaukee before they are discovered and set upon by forces wishing to use their supernatural gifts, as descendants of the Banished, for evil purposes. As the villain from the previous book, mad-scientist Bryce Safian, was left out of commission, this time the role is played by his former employer, a man with vague military connections and an identical plan to create an undead army for sale on the global market. When Hailey slips up in contacting her boyfriend, the seer Kaz, the General captures both Prairie and preschooler Chub, whose seeing gifts are beginning to manifest and hold potential for military operations. While Hailey flees with Kaz, the only real romance in the book is one-sided: Villainous Rattler Sikes’s obsession with Prairie is still going strong. He wants to start breeding pure Banished with her, as part of his bid to restore their people’s heritage, which puts him at odds with the protagonists as well as their other enemies. The lab that must be sabotaged this time around is superficially more impressive, yet no more than a paper tiger in practice, and the zombies are criminally underused. An unnecessary sequel that adds little. (Paranormal suspense. 12-18)

GIFTS FROM THE GODS

Lunge-Larsen, Lise Illustrator: Hinds, Gareth Houghton Mifflin (96 pp.) $18.99 | October 24, 2011 978-0-547-15229-5

Countering the notion that our language just sprang into existence from nowhere, a respected storyteller offers quick notes on the Classical backgrounds behind several dozen words or expressions in common use. Arranging her 17 main choices alphabetically from “Achilles Heel” to “Victory,” Lunge-Larsen supplies for each a use-quote, retells or paraphrases a Greek or Roman myth that explains the term’s usage then closes with quick references to several related gods or other figures whose names are still embedded in English. While “Pandora’s Box” and some other entries feature fully developed tales, others do not. The story of Achilles (whose role and death in the Trojan War are encompassed in one sentence about how, after the “Battle of Troy [sic] broke out … one fateful arrow pierced his heel”) and others are sketchy at best. Adding occasional dialogue balloons graphic-novelist, Hinds presents expertly drawn but similarly sketchy watercolor scenes of fullyclothed or discreetly posed mortals and immortals on nearly every page. While pulling modern use-quotes from current literature for kids has the potential to spice up the presentation, some works are relatively obscure (River Boy, by Tim Bowler) or above the natural audience for this text (The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney). A quick skim of the subject—readable, but unsystematic and not well served by either the art or the dusty closing bibliography. (Nonfiction. 10-12)

THE BUSY LIFE OF ERNESTINE BUCKMEISTER

Lodding, Linda Ravin Illustrator: Beaky, Suzanne Flashlight Press (32 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-979974-69-4 What does it mean to “live life to the fullest”? Young Ernestine Buckmeister’s parents pack her schedule, with a different activity daily after school, with yoga and karate on the weekend. They’ve even hired brusque Nanny O’Dear to keep her on schedule. As mother says, “Make every moment 1716

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“Veteran science educator Markle describes a mission that has involved scientists from around the world.” from the case of the vanishing golden frogs

THE SILENCE OF MURDER

cure. Panamanian golden frogs may now be extinct the wild, and no way has yet been found to ensure their survival outside the institutions that keep breeding colonies alive in Panama and in North American zoos. The text is set on golden pages and accompanied by large, clear color photographs and maps. In the backmatter, the author notes that in spite of their common name, these frogs are actually toads and offers suggestions for helping frogs locally and learning about global efforts. A sobering glimpse at science in progress. (glossary, list of books and websites, index) (Nonfiction. 9-13)

Mackall, Dandi Daley Knopf (336 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $19.99 e-book $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-375-86896-2 PLB 978-0-375-96896-9 e-book 978-0-375-89981-2

A teenager tries to clear her mute brother’s name when he is accused of murdering the local high-school baseball coach. Hope Long already had a laundry list of problems before her autistic brother Jeremy was arrested for murder: an abusive, alcoholic mother, a run-down house and no social life to speak of. But true to her name, Hope isn’t letting any of that get in the way of playing amateur detective. Enlisting the help of school outsider T.J. and crush object Chase, who conveniently is also the son of the local sheriff, she looks for evidence that proves selectively mute Jeremy couldn’t have killed the coach he admired and loved. In a tearjerking denouement, Hope reveals what she has learned, resulting in an ending that will surprise no one. While the premise of this overly earnest psychological thriller will intrigue some readers, it suffers from slow pacing and a secondary cast of onedimensional characters. Hope doesn’t even begin detecting until nearly 100 pages in, and her constant recollections of her brother’s selfless past actions make him appear perfect rather than real. In addition, the mean parents, bumbling defense lawyer and preening prosecutor all play to type, their characters flat. Pass up this one for one of Judy Blundell’s or Kathryn Miller Haines’ whip-smart girl-centered mysteries instead. (Mystery. 13 & up)

ONE LOVE

Marley, Bob Adaptor: Marley, Cedella Illustrator: Brantley-Newton, Vanessa Chronicle (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 5, 2011 978-1-4521-0224-5 A sugary poem, very loosely based on the familiar song, lacks focus. Using only the refrain from the original (“One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel all right!”), the reggae great’s daughter Cedella Marley sees this song as her “happy song” and adapts it for children. However, the adaptation robs it of life. After the opening lines, readers familiar with the original song (or the tourism advertisement for Jamaica) will be humming along only to be stopped by the bland lines that follow: “One love, what the flower gives the bee.” and then “One love, what Mother Earth gives the tree.” Brantley-Newton’s sunny illustrations perfectly reflect the saccharine quality of the text. Starting at the beginning of the day, readers see a little girl first in bed, under a photograph of Bob Marley, the sun streaming into her room, a bird at the window. Each spread is completely redundant—when the text is about family love, the illustration actually shows little hearts floating from her parents to the little girl. An image of a diverse group getting ready to plant a community garden, walking on top of a river accompanies the words “One love, like the river runs to the sea.” Though this celebration of community is joyful, there just is not much here. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-5)

THE CASE OF THE VANISHING GOLDEN FROGS A Scientific Mystery Markle, Sandra Millbrook (48 pp.) PLB $29.27 | e-book $21.95 October 1, 2011 PLB 978-0-7613-5108-5 e-book 978-0-7613-7983-6

VIRTUOSITY

The golden frog, a Panamanian national symbol, began vanishing from its high mountain forests in the late 1990s, prompting a scientific investigation and rescue process that continues today. Veteran science educator Markle (Hip-Pocket Papa, 2010, etc.) describes a mission that has involved scientists from around the world. Organizing her information in short chapters, she opens with a straightforward introduction of both the problem and the two biologists who have been most closely involved. She explains why the increased frog mortality couldn’t be blamed on habitat destruction, pollution or global climate change and describes the discovery of the devastating chytrid fungus, explaining how it works to kill frogs and offering some hypotheses that explain how it spread. Finally, she turns to the rescue and search for a |

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Martinez, Jessica Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (304 pp.) $16.99 | October 18, 2011 978-1-4424-2052-6 Grammy-winning, world-touring violinist Carmen Bianchi, 17, has outgrown child-prodigy status. To transition to an adult career as a virtuoso soloist, she must win the Guarneri Competition. If she loses, she’ll be just another former prodigy. |

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“A parable of war for young readers—and old ones, too.” from six men

DARKNESS SHALL FALL

Reflecting on the peculiar fame belonging to classical-music prodigies, Jeremy King—another ambitious ex-wunderkind with an equally intimidating resume—tells Carmen, “You’re a god to two percent of the population and a nobody to everyone else.” Carmen embodies this strange dichotomy. She’s homeschooled, has never dated, lacks close friends and depends on anti-anxiety drugs. She also has a vocation she loves, a Stradivarius violin and a posse of adults dedicated to advancing her career. Chief among these is Carmen’s mother and manager, Diana, whose operatic career ended early. As the competition approaches, Carmen and Jeremy—each ardently competitive and deeply smitten—form a deep but wary bond that Diana, ruled by anxious passions and an iron determination to win, bitterly opposes. Carmen’s struggles to succeed with integrity remind readers that “virtue” is the root of “virtuosity,” a fragile truth often lost when valuable prizes are at stake. Former child violin prodigy Martinez brings this overwrought world to tense, quivering life and guides readers through it confidently. A brilliant debut. (Fiction. 14 & up)

McGrath, Alister Zondervan (224 pp.) $14.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-310-71814-7 Series: The Aedyn Chronicles, 3 A derivative fantasy trilogy trudges to an anticlimactic conclusion in this dreary Narnia-wannabe. Siblings Peter and Julia and their bratty stepsister Louisa were stranded in an alternative world on a volcano-blasted island with the enslaved remnant of Aedyn. Now, months later, the refugees are starving and hunted by the monstrous servants of the Shadow. While the children struggle with the failure of their prophesied talisman to summon aid from the Lord of Hosts, a self-proclaimed sacred envoy creates dissension when Louisa denounces him as a betrayer. Despite a massacre early on and frequent gory violence, the oddly detached tone robs the story of any suspense. Stupid choices made on the basis of “faith” are always rewarded with preposterous good luck, the blatant Antichrist-analogue is subdued with ease and the final confrontation with the notvery-menacing Shadow is almost giggle-worthy in its lack of tension. Characters show no personality beyond providing pointed religious lessons; Peter demonstrates the folly of “science” and “reason,” while the newly converted Louisa models the role of saintly healer to nauseating effect. Everyone speaks with the same stilted voice, except for strict gender divisions: Boys build and fight, girls cook and scream. Most disturbing, the epilogue back in the “real world” magics away horrific domestic abuse in a fashion both trivializing and potentially life-threatening if taken seriously. Neither inspiring nor entertaining, just dull. (Fantasy. 9-12)

SIZZLE

McClain, Lee Marshall Cavendish (192 pp.) $17.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7614-5981-1 An unexpected family illness forces a 14-year-old Latina foodie to leave her Arizona home for a large Pennsylvania household. When her Aunt Elba suddenly gets sick and closes the family’s Mexican restaurant, Linda Delgado is sent to live with her “Aunt” Pat and her husband in Pittsburgh. The couple already has seven children, a mixture of biological, adopted and foster. Pat helps to support the family through a local television show dedicated to cooking from canned foods, a practice that contradicts Linda’s training using fresh ingredients. Besides being uprooted from her Native American best friend Julia and her quiet life with her aunt, Linda can’t even find solace in her cooking, as the kitchen is Pat’s domain. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter Chloe resents Linda’s presence, especially as the two have to share a bedroom in the cramped house. At school, Linda finds herself competing against Chloe for the attentions of Dino Moretti, while at home she tries to stomach Pat’s cooking and help an orphaned Latino foster child deal with his grief. McClain breaks Linda’s first-person narrative chapters with posts from the teen and others on a food website, and she almost sidetracks the story with an unfortunate subplot involving a rival cooking show. A charming heroine and a happy, if slightly unrealistic, ending make this stand out above the usual fare. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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SIX MEN

McKee, David Illustrator: McKee, David NorthSouth (44 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7358-4050-8 A parable of war for young readers—and old ones, too. Six men search for a place to live and work in peace. When they find the perfect spot, they settle down and soon prosper. But with the riches also comes worry. What if someone tries to steal their wealth? So they hire six soldiers to stand guard. But those soldiers grow lazy, because no one ever attacks. The six men, wanting the soldiers to earn their keep, order them to capture the neighboring farm. Thus begins a string of battles, fueled by greed and started over nothing. The final clash, spurred by two opposing soldiers shooting at a duck, not even each other, depicts streams of arrows flying high from both directions arching across the page, equal in number, equal in defeat. All that is left are six men on both sides, who trudge wearily away, searching for a place to live and work in peace. McKee, no stranger |

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to teaching tolerance (The Conquerors, 2004, etc.) admirably believes in young readers’ abilities to grasp large concepts. Of all the many things that war may be—foolish, necessary, patterned—misperception is almost always at the core. Truly a worthwhile lesson for adults and kids alike. (Picture book. 7-10)

follow in the apothecary family tradition, Janie becomes entangled with Cold War espionage after Benjamin’s father mysteriously disappears, leaving behind a secret 700-year-old book of magic elixirs. As the teens, joined by pickpocket Pip (seemingly plucked out of Great Expectations), search for the apothecary (truly an alchemist), they must also outrun their dreamy Latin teacher (who could be a double agent), rescue a kidnapped Chinese chemist and work with other scientists from around the world to thwart the Soviet’s detonation of an atomic bomb 20 times more powerful than Hiroshima’s, all while testing out some of the elixirs along the way. Although Janie’s narration loses some of its charm and humor as the adventure escalates, its blend of history, culture and the anxiety of the time with magical “science” will keep readers just as spellbound as the characters. (art not seen) (Historical fantasy. 10-14)

BOX OF SHOCKS

McMahen, Chris Orca (168 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-55469-917-9 Oliver loves his parents, but they worry about everything. They are even afraid of the tiny rash he found on his elbow. In desperation, Oliver comes up with a “spectacularly brilliant top-secret plan.” He will seek out daring situations—doing things that would certainly shock his parents if they ever found out. In each adventure (his exploits are never too serious), he takes a memento and puts it into what he calls his Box of Shocks. But one thing throws Oliver for a loop. While he is away for the summer, his parents move into the house next door and his Box of Shocks is left behind. In multiple attempts to get the box back, Oliver learns about Diggory, the boy who now lives in his old house—and revelations of his family life are more shocking than anything the box could ever hold. Writing in an immediate first-person perspective, McMahen focuses solely on Oliver; Diggory is peripheral and vague, save for an awkward school scene late in the narrative in which hints of emotional abuse finally slip out. Diggory vanishes when his parents skip town, and readers are left wondering about his fate, but Oliver grows and comes into his own. A light and capable read, despite (or while glossing over) some serious themes. (Fiction. 8-12)

THE MARK OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Jewel of the East, Vexation of the West, and Pearl of the South China Sea

Meyer, L.A. Harcourt (384 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-547-51764-3 Series: Bloody Jack Adventures, 9

Jacky Faber must once again fight and flirt her way across land and sea to reach her beloved Jaimy Fletcher in the ninth book of this stirring historical series. Escaping imprisonment in Australia and the amorous attentions of the female pirate Cheng Shih, Jacky finds her celebrations cut short by a typhoon. Accompanied by young Ravi but separated from her crew, Jacky relies on her musical talent and knack for disguise to get them through Southeast Asia and back to England. Jaimy, however, also proves elusive, having vowed to hunt Jacky’s longtime and odious persecutors, Flashby and Bliffil. Aside from a clever scene involving some strategically placed seaweed, Jacky’s ingenious plans and bravery take a backseat to British political and social intrigue. Famous in England and increasingly unable to pass as a boy, Jacky employs her new dragon tattoo, queue and Asian attire to escape detection. (Though historically accurate, the focus on her acquired exoticism and Ravi’s race and pidgin speech may nevertheless prove jarring to modern readers.) Frequent allusions to Jacky’s earlier adventures make this less of a standalone than Meyer’s (The Wake of the Lorelei Lee, 2010, etc.) usual fare, so newcomers should start with book one. This resilient and exuberant heroine deserves a stamp of approval. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

THE APOTHECARY

Meloy, Maile Illustrator: Schoenherr, Ian Putnam (368 pp.) $16.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-399-25627-1 Following the paths of Neil Gaiman, Julia Alvarez and Carl Hiaasen, bestselling author Meloy (Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It, 2009, etc.) takes a successful plunge into middle-grade fiction. Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities can interrogate Janie Scott’s Hollywood writing-team parents for being possible Communists, they move to London. “I was no witty, patient, adaptable Jane Austen,” the 14-year-old admits as she recalls helping to save the world in 1952. While palling around with Benjamin Burrows, who’d rather be a spy than |

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CHARLIE’S KEY

her one-time crush, Forrest, and her concerns for Student F are authentic. Readers unfamiliar with the other stories may find several references to previous events confusing, though. Filled with sage advice and a surprise ending, this fastpaced tale will leave fans eagerly awaiting the next PLS adventure. (Fiction. 12-14)

Mills, Rob Orca (184 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-55469-872-1 Thirteen-year-old Charlie inherits just one thing from his troubled dad: a key. What it’s for might be revealed by his thuggish uncle, who’s now relentlessly stalking him. In this debut Canadian import, Charlie’s father slips him a key just before dying. With only one other relative, Uncle Nick, whose long prison stint for two murders is just ending, he’s sent to a brutal juvenile detention center while Child Services seeks a more permanent placement. Charlie, intrepid and amusing, escapes with the help of Frankie, a newly released teen inmate, and Clare, a girl who is addicted to “Oxys.” Nick, with a badly scarred hand, which he uses to good effect to threaten people, weaves in and out of Charlie’s first-person narrative as the boy evades his sinister presence as well as authorities who don’t truly seem to have his best interests in mind. While foggy cliffs and colorful villages effectively evoke the exotic Newfoundland setting, it’s the mystery that moves the tale forward. It is not only focused on the purpose of the key, but also on Charlie’s need to discover his father’s role in the murder of possibly pedophilic Brother of the Holy Order. The sexual abuse at an orphanage, briefly described, is based on actual events. A fast-paced, often riveting mystery with a plausible, thrilling climax. (Mystery. 11-15)

THE INQUISITOR’S APPRENTICE

Moriarty, Chris Illustrator: Geyer, Mark Edward Houghton Mifflin (320 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0547581354 Thirteen-year-old Sacha lives in New York City’s Lower East Side at the turn of the 20th century. Or does he? The sights and sounds and smells, social ills and rampant racism and anti-Semitism all seem to be as they really were. But hexers are all around, and the regulars at the Metropole Café are learned witches and wizards from the top European universities. Astral Place is named for an important family, and J.P. Morgaunt rules just about everything. Sacha can see magic even when it’s hidden, so he is drafted into the Inquisitors, the arm of the police dedicated to eradicating magic, at least among the poor. What follows are wild adventures involving spells and dybbuks and deathly struggles between good and evil. Moriarty beckons readers into this alternate universe and makes even the most bizarre elements totally believable. Sacha, Lily and Inspector Wolf are all fully developed and multilayered characters, as are the many other distinctive personalities that appear in the tale. The author employs rich language and syntax that please the ear and touch the senses, making it all come alive, especially the very real magic of New York City itself. A marvelous, mystical romp that doesn’t ignore reality. A hint of a possible sequel whets readers’ appetite for more: Yes, please! (author’s note) (Fantasy. 12 & up)

GIRLS IN CHARGE

Moffitt, Debra St. Martin’s Griffin (192 pp.) paper $6.99 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-0-312-64506-9 Series: The Pink Locker Society, 4 The girls of the Pink Locker Society continue to skillfully navigate the turbulent waters of middle school in this newest addition to the series. It is February of eighth grade, and Jemma and her co-conspirators, Piper and Kate, have the Pink Locker Society up and running again. Their savvy website offers peer mentoring for those questions young teens may feel awkward discussing. Jemma is thrilled to be invited to speak at a national conference about the PLS—until she remembers that their program has been operating against the wishes of Principal Finklestein. Suddenly Jemma, Piper and Kate are in jeopardy of being banned from the eighth-grade field trip or even being expelled. However, Jemma will not let those who write to the website down, especially Student F, who is being bullied. Moffitt addresses typical middle-school dilemmas. Jemma’s worries about the arrival of her first period, her mixed feelings about 1720

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THE PIED PIPER OF HAMELIN

Morpurgo, Michael Illustrator: Chichester Clark, Emma Candlewick (64 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4824-4

The rich may ignore the poor, but the Piper must be paid. A tall orphan with a crutch narrates this retelling of the familiar tale. In his village, Hamelin, “the rich and the greedy [live] like kings and queens,” while the needy scrounge for food in the rat-ridden streets. The boy and his best friend Emma fight back against the vermin. One day, the mayor sees the duo in action and appoints them his personal “rat boy |

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“(Napoli) pays close attention to her narrative’s tone and sound, capturing the nature of each god or mortal with vivid turns of phrase…” from treasury of greek mythology

TREASURY OF GREEK MYTHOLOGY Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters

and rat girl.” Unfortunately, they can do little to keep the rats away from wealthy homes. Just when things seem most hopeless, a meeting of the town council is crashed by an arresting figure dressed in an outrageous costume: The Pied Piper. Playing his beautiful silver flute, he leads the rats away, but, when the mayor reneges on his promise to pay, the Piper extracts revenge by luring the children away, too. The slow-moving narrator is left behind, and it falls to him to bring the Piper and the children back. It is a nuanced and substantial retelling of the well-known morality tale; young readers can identify with the resourceful narrator, and adults may find relevance, given current economic woes. Chichester Clark’s pencil-and-acrylic illustrations are bright and beautifully composed; the teeming rats radiate menace without being actively scary. An evocative and effective retelling of an old classic. (Picture book. 6-9)

Napoli, Donna Jo Illustrator: Balit, Christina National Geographic (192 pp.) $24.95 | PLB $33.90 | October 11, 2011 978-1-4263-0844-4 PLB 978-1-4263-0845-1 Oft-told tales retold with uncommon verve and outfitted with resplendent Art Deco–style portraits. Napoli opens with the rise of the “mother force” Gaia to bring order to the whirling elements of Chaos and closes with the devastation of the Trojan War (“the doing of gods with too much time on their hands”). In between, she introduces over two dozen immortals and heroes—including Hestia, Helios and Selene among the better-known Olympians and their mortal offspring. While somehow managing to keep all the sex inexplicit (Aphrodite is born, for instance, from the “foam” produced by an unspecified body part ripped from her father Uranus), she lays out clear family lines. She pays close attention to her narrative’s tone and sound, capturing the nature of each god or mortal with vivid turns of phrase: Peaceable Hestia considers Zeus a “frightful maniac,” Orion grows up to become “an insufferably pompous nitwit” and Selene is left to pine, “silver sweet, and soft, and sad,” for her eternally sleeping lover, Endymion. Applying rippling strokes of intense color, Balit opens with a shimmering family tree of Olympians, heads each chapter with a stylized full-body image of a mythological figure with associated emblems and symbols and also contributes interior illustrations and thumbnail portraits for the closing summary cast list. Superb versions for reading alone or for sharing with audiences large or small. (source note, lists of recommended print and Web resources) (Mythology. 10-14)

THIS IS THE MOUNTAIN

Moss, Miriam Illustrator: Kennaway, Adrienne Frances Lincoln (28 pp.) $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84507-984-0

The great mountain supports a complex system of flora and fauna. Under an African sky, the breathtaking mountain sits and sleeps, crowned in ice. On grasslands spread out at the foot of the mountain, vast herds of wildlife, from elephants to zebras to baboons, graze. It’s also where “the Masai make their homesteads.” In the foothills, Chagga women tend “their shambas, / of bananas and yams.” Higher up the mountain there are forests, with troops of “catapaulting colobus” and, even higher, a waterfall and small streams where the “shy Suni antelope” and bush pigs and elands dwell. Continuing up to mists and moorland, wild dogs and buffalo and ravens mingle. Even higher is an alpine desert with stones and expanses of grey scree, with mole rats, leopard and striped mice. And at the very top is a “strange lunar landscape,… an alien ice world” of glaciers and powerful winds that sculpt the ice. “Clouded in mystery, / created in fire. / This is Mount Kilimanjaro.” Moss’ free verse is powerful and lyrical. Kennaway’s watercolors echo the elegance of the writing, though the images seem targeted to a younger audience; not an ideal match for the sophistication of the text or the subject. The last two pages offer a more extensive and prosaic explanation of the climactic and topographic nature of the mountain. Overall: lovely. (Picture book. 6-9)

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STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW

Nayeri, Daniel Candlewick (416 pp.) $19.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7636-5526-6

Four novellas representing four narrative styles ponder questions of humanity, technology, wishes and love. The stand-alone novellas riff, dizzyingly and delightfully, on influences as varied as The Wizard of Oz and westerns, Mad Max and slang-laden teen diaries, The Arabian Nights and police procedurals, “Sleeping Beauty” and the sardonic Death of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. In “Toy Farm,” toys grown from the earth wonder, as they fight for their lives: What’s the difference between consciousness and humanity? “Wish Police” pulls back |

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“Problem novels, ghost stories, historical fiction—is there anything Newbery Medalist Peck cannot do? Apparently not.” from secrets at sea

LIESL & PO

the curtain on the secret world of wishes—their varying degrees of strength, worthiness and consequences—as a lonely, worldweary djinn sworn to protect and serve works to prevent deadly wishes from coming true. As its punny title suggests, “Doom With a View” is a sweeping love story, complete with impossibly attractive protagonists, heroic feats of derring-do and a charming narrator in Death himself. Strong and assured, these stories seamlessly merge different styles, teasing out and playing with readers’ assumptions about how westerns, fantasy and fairy tales work. Less successful is the second novella, “Our Lady of Villains,” a giggling teen diary set in a paranoia-inducing, technology-saturated post-apocalyptic future. The voice is too lightweight to carry the thematic load, but this lone misstep is not nearly enough to ruin the delightful effect of the collection as a whole. Overall, provocative and deeply satisfying. (Novellas. 14 & up)

Oliver, Lauren Illustrator: Acedera, Kei Harper/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $16.99 | October 4, 2011 978-0-06-201451-1 A wonderfully imaginative, startlingly moving and at times wickedly funny fantasy. In her first work for middle-grade readers, the versatile Oliver (Before I Fall, 2010, and Delirium, 2011) deftly creates two worlds that run parallel, “like two mirrors sitting face-to-face.” On the “Living Side,” the sun hasn’t come out in 1,728 days, and Liesl (about 11) has been locked in a small attic bedroom for 13 months by her conniving stepmother, Augusta. Three nights after her beloved father dies, she is visited by a child-sized ghost named Po and Bundle, a ghost-pet, both of whom come from the “Other Side,” where dead souls in various stages of “becoming part of the Everything” linger till they can go “Beyond.” They become unlikely best friends, and Po helps Liesl escape so she can take her father’s ashes home. Meanwhile... an egomaniacal alchemist whose specialty is potions and transfigurations has created “The Most Powerful Magic in the World” for the Very Important Lady Premiere. “The dead will rise / From glade to glen / And ancient will be young again.” But the alchemist’s mistreated apprentice Will, an orphan, mixes up the delivery and.... By alternating quietly lyrical, philosophical passages with laughout-loud broad comedy/farce, the author takes her readers on a fantastic voyage from loss to healing and joy. With nods to Dahl, Dickens, the Grimms and even Burnett, the author has made something truly original. Acedera’s frequent black-and-white illustrations are a perfect complement. An irresistible read: This book sings. (Fantasy. 8-12)

DAN ELDON Safari as a Way of Life

New, Jennifer Chronicle (194 pp.) $24.99 | PLB $22.50 | October 1, 2011 978-0-8118-7091-7 PLB 978-1-4521-0207-8 Strictly for completists, this album combines new and previously published pages from the collage-filled notebooks of a 22-year-old photojournalist killed in Mogadishu in 1993, along with yet another account of his brief life and peregrinations. Covering territory already surveyed in The Journey is the Destination (1997), compiled by Eldon’s mother Kathy, and New’s own Dan Eldon: The Art of Life (2001), this version leaves out direct references to Eldon’s sexual exploits but again retraces in mapless, often eye-glazing detail his youth in Nairobi and his restless journeys around Africa and overseas up to his tragic death at the hands of an angry mob. The narrative text is tucked in and around full-page images of his busy, heavily worked collages—constructed from snapshots, found items, loose, emotional sketches, handwritten letters, scrawled comments and other materials, all jumbled together and all visually of a sameness. Bland tributes from associates (“I think he carried in him instinctive wisdom that bridged cultures and generations”), a lengthy closing tally of charity projects and workers inspired by his example (and added features like an iron-on transfer and foldout postcards that are only included with the trade edition) provide insufficient reason for teen readers to prefer this iteration over either of the earlier ones. Surely by coincidence, a biopic starring Daniel Radcliffe is in development. (Biography. 13-18)

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SECRETS AT SEA

Peck, Richard Dial (203 pp.) $16.99 | October 13, 2011 978-0-8037-3455-5 Problem novels, ghost stories, historical fiction—is there anything Newbery Medalist Peck cannot do? Apparently not. Helena Cranston, oldest surviving member of her family after the deaths of both her parents and her sisters Vicky and Alice, has her hands full: dreamy sister Beatrice and skittery sister Louise keep sneaking out at night—Helena fears inappropriate liaisons—while brother Lamont skips school for more dangerous pursuits. Worse yet, the Upper Cranstons, dissatisfied with Hudson Valley beaux, are embarking for England to catch daughter Olive a husband. Europe, as Helena knows, is across a very large body of water, and Helena, being a mouse, fears water with all her heart. Yet soon she and her family, |

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WITHOUT TESS

secreted in one of the Cranstons’ steamer trunks, are carried onboard ship, where they discover an aristocratic mouse society heretofore unknown, including the Mouse-in-Waiting to Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter, who shows Helena that mice can in fact change history—at least on a mouse-sized scale. Peck must have had a blast writing this. Whimsical language, sure characterization, unflagging adventure, even romance—all seen through Helena’s relentlessly practical beady little eyes. Think The Tale of Despereaux without the twee. Sheer delight. (final art not seen) (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

Pixley, Marcella Margaret Ferguson/Farrar, Straus & Giroux (288 pp.) $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-374-36174-7 Tess’ drowning five years ago weighs heavily on sister Lizzie, who, at 15, struggles with her feelings of guilt and betrayal for not doing enough to save Tess from herself. It was natural for Lizzie to look up to her older sister, especially when Tess let her into her magical world of make-believe. Tess was convinced that she was not mortal, with mundane needs like food. Sometimes she was a wolf, sometimes a horse and, most dangerously, a selkie. By the time Lizzie was 10, she had a hard time keeping up with 11-year-old Tess’ delusions and demands. Tess’ disapproval of Lizzie’s unwillingness to believe in the magic turned Lizzie’s perfect birthday sour. Her words filled Lizzie with terror, her voice “low and hollow, as if she [had] fallen into a hole and [was] suddenly talking to me from ten feet under the earth.” Tess left a journal filled with gory images and dark poetry, and it becomes the tool that Lizzie uses, with the help of a school psychologist, to come to terms with the truth. Lizzie’s narrative voice moves seamlessly between the present and the past, interspersed with Tess’s poetry. Pixley (Freak, 2007) once again plumbs the emotional depths of a tough subject with sensitivity and insight into the complexities of human nature and sibling bonds. (Fiction. 12 & up)

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR

Adaptor: Pinkney, Jerry Illustrator: Pinkney, Jerry Little, Brown (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-316-05696-0

In Pinkney’s sumptuous elaboration of the familiar lullaby a chipmunk’s nighttime odyssey takes on the same epic scope as his Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse (2009). Seamlessly tweaking a later version of the multi-verse 1806 original with minor changes in wording and repeated insertions of the first two lines as a chorus, the illustrator follows a furry traveler—who is often posed as if in song—through verdant tangles of dandelions and other flowers, up a tree and into an empty robin’s nest. With a turn of the page, that nest is transformed into a small boat (and the chipmunk acquires a sailor suit) that sails into the starry sky. The adventure briefly takes on an anxious cast when a gust topples the tiny explorer into a pond of much larger fish and other creatures, but a swan glides to the rescue and gently wings its little passenger up to the smiling Moon. Rendering natural details with typical accuracy, Pinkney fills his intimate watercolor close-ups with rippling leaves and rhythmic shifts of color that simultaneously create a feeling of active, if dreamlike energy while echoing the poem’s quiet cadences. He intersperses wordless interludes, either single pictures or short sequences, to create a unified story line and finishes with a final view of the dreamer curled up (still in that sailor suit) on a bed of soft leaves and down. Just another superb outing from a fixed star twinkling in the children’s-literature firmament. (afterword) (Picture book. 3-6)

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SERIOUSLY, NORMAN!

Raschka, Chris Illustrator: Raschka, Chris Michael di Capua/Scholastic (352 pp.) $17.95 | e-book $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-0-545-29877-3 e-book 978-0-545-38846-7 A gently satirical and ultimately liberating look at modern education. Norman Normann’s well-meaning dad finds a tutor for him when Norman’s scores on his first go at the high-school entrance exam are less than stellar. The tutor (the best his parents could find at the last minute), Balthazar Birdsong, has nearly Holmesian powers of deduction, along with a pedagogical philosophy of observation, imagination and finally action. His tutoring method informs the loose-seeming collection of activities that follow, among them kite-flying, sky-watching and, for Norman, an A-to-Z reading of the dictionary that becomes almost oracular. Birdsong’s trust in his young students (he enfolds Norman’s friends Leonard and twins Anna and Emma under the wings of his singular, slightly zany tutelage) includes his assumption that they will not be harmed by long walks, new ideas or perhaps (though he isn’t present for the conversation) even by discussing their |

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discovery of the word “shit” and its etymology in the dictionary. The year is so empowering that when Norman and his friends, his mother in tow, set out for Singapore to rescue Norman’s cash-hungry used-bomber–salesman father from mysterious fur-hatted Alfurnian agents, the children are able to greet all challenges with equanimity. The author’s diminutive, boldlined drawings, inserted intermittently, by turns emphasize and elucidate the narrative. Appealingly quirky and adventurous; a celebration of the power of self-directed learning and thinking outside the box. (Fiction. 10-13)

though feistier than most, belongs to the Bella sisterhood. And yet— well-worn plot notwithstanding—the result feels fresh and original. Kat, homeless and on the run (from what, readers learn later), returns to Lithia, where her mother died years earlier, and is offered a job and housing by friendly locals. Running is Kat’s passion and coping mechanism; soon she’s running with her landlady, Stacey. Also taking an interest in Kat are Roman, the handsome actor playing Hamlet (a role that suits him), and attractive Alex, who works at the food co-op and, like Kat, is devoutly vegan. All is not well in Lithia, where runners occasionally turn up dead. When it’s Stacey, Kat feels responsible; they’d been separated on a run together. Ringing changes on readers’ expectations, the pseudonymous author delivers plot twists with minimalist (for the genre) panache, producing a green parable infused with a rich sense of place: an organically grown confection. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

STARS

Ray, Mary Lyn Illustrator: Frazee, Marla Beach Lane/Simon & Schuster (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 11, 2011 978-1-4424-2249-0

BOY VS. GIRL

Robert, Na’ima B. Frances Lincoln (272 pp.) $15.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84780-150-0

A poetic paean to stars both real and metaphorical brings the heavenly down to readers without robbing it of mystery. Calmly and directly, Ray addresses the reader in this gentle, somnolent narrative. “A star is how you know it’s night. / As soon as you see one, there’s another, and another. / And the dark that comes doesn’t feel as dark.” Like a lulling tide, the text moves easily between grounded practical advice (“…[Y]ou can draw a star on / shiny paper and cut around it. / Then you can put it in your pocket”) and naturalistic metaphor: “Blow a ball of dandelion and you blow / a thousand stars into the sky.” Frazee excels at illustrating textual details in fresh ways, keeping young children engaged and curious. In a spread attesting that stars are there, even if they sometimes can’t be seen, the artist depicts—low and dwarfed on the picture plane—a long row of people viewing spectacular fireworks. Her pictures ebb and flow with the text, alternating charming spots of self-possessed, spirited youngsters with ink-black or gloriously blue, starry heavens inviting dreamy meditation. Ideal for bedtime, this will shine on through repeat readings. (Picture book. 3-7)

A pair of Pakistani twins, a boy and a girl, struggles to grow up in England while trying to follow Islam. Beautiful, smart 16-year-old Farhana and her artistic and insecure twin brother Faraz both have to confront the usual tensions between first-generation children and their immigrant parents and also cope with living in a more liberal society than their strict culture demands. Both find themselves drawn to Islam, especially due to the influence of their religious aunt, who keeps herself fully covered. Against her mother’s wishes, Farhana decides to wear the hijab and reluctantly gives up a forbidden romance with a handsome boy. Meanwhile, Faraz can’t summon the courage to break away from a drug dealer’s gang, endangering both himself and his sister. The holy month of Ramadan increases the pressures on the two teens. Robert clearly intends her story for Muslim teens and just as clearly encourages them to follow Islam, although she does not appear to be proselytizing to non-Muslims. She depicts Islam as the solution to all ills faced by the twins. She keeps her prose simple enough for the middleschool crowd, but the suspenseful story easily can interest older teens. Non-Muslim readers may benefit from the story as a sympathetic inside introduction to an often-maligned culture. Simple but interesting, and certainly timely. (Fiction. 10-15)

OUT OF BREATH

Richmond, Blair Ashland Creek Press (268 pp.) paper $12.50 | October 31, 2011 paper 978-0-9796475-7-4 Set in Lithia, a southern Oregon theater town (Ashland, thinly disguised), this series opener blends genre tradition with West Coast environmentalism. Yes, it’s another paranormal romance— a human/vampire love triangle in a small town where not all the people are people—with a heroine who, 1724

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Sleeping Bear Press Launches I Am A Reader! Series Tugg and Teeny by J. Patrick Lewis Frog and Friends by Eve Bunting

“Emergent readers will identify with Teeny ... her can-do attitude, emboldened by a supportive community, is a great model for attaining success.” —Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2011

“Frog and his friends Rabbit, Possum, Raccoon and Squirrel tickle funny bones, explore the world, solve problems and support each other in this trio of stories.” —Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2011

I Am A Reader! A Beginning Chapter Book Series Available in paperback ($3.99) and hardcover ($9.95) Visit our Web site for order information. Children’s Poet Laureate

J. Patrick Lewis

Eve Bunting

1.800.877.4253 | sleepingbearpress.com

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“This lively blend of narrative and detailed design is a perfect way to introduce the architectural vision of I.M. Pei to young readers.” from i.m. pei: architect of time, place and purpose

MELTEM’S JOURNEY A Refugee Diary

dish face). Thirteen chapters cover the history of human-dog relations, bringing home a new dog, training tips, routine care and more. Kid-friendly cartoons, sidebars, photos and “Ask Your K-9 Coach” advice columns supplement prose instructions. The author takes a compassionate approach, usually explaining dogs’ unwanted behavior by pointing to humans’ mistakes and suggesting firm but kind methods of correction. Some of the books’ suggestions seem inadvisable: One “lab report” tells readers to observe the reflective tapetum lucidum by shining a flashlight into a dog’s eyes, and it is hard to imagine the dog party hat the author suggests as a craft project staying on for more than a few moments. A guide to 74 dog breeds common in the U.S. is attractively presented but organized, confusingly to the lay reader, by size. Despite a few oddities, aspiring young dog owners will find useful information here. (Reference. 10- 14)

Robinson, Anthony Illustrator: Allan, June Frances Lincoln (28 pp.) $17.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84780-031-2 Series: Refugee Diaries

A Kurdish refugee tells the story of her family’s constant threat of imprisonment and deportation when asylum is denied following their illegal journey from a village in eastern Turkey to England. Fourteen-year-old Meltem recounts her incredibly precarious and tension-failed life, beginning with her early childhood on her parents’ pistachio farm. Their once-peaceful and productive existence is interrupted by the beating of her father by Turkish soldiers. His eventual escape to Germany leads Meltem and her mother to follow, with some underground help and the assistance of the German social services. Their arrival in England complicates their asylum application, because their escape involved coming through another country. The constant movement—in and out of apartments, transitions to several schools, detainment, even imprisonment—and the final loss of her father to cancer culminate in some serious psychological problems for this child, who openly exhibits anxiety and depression. Loose watercolors against pale green backgrounds, some with folk-art borders, occasionally complemented by photographic inserts, depict the family and their continually changing situation. Robinson’s text is blunt and often choppy, reflecting the girl’s voice in her newly acquired English. Meltem’s plight ends on a positive tone with official permission to stay in England providing some stability through a new high school, friends and the dream of becoming a doctor. Starkly realistic and eye-opening, if emotionally difficult. (facts about Kurdistan, historical note) (Informational picture book. 8-12)

I.M. PEI: ARCHITECT OF TIME, PLACE, AND PURPOSE

Rubalcaba, Jill Marshall Cavendish (128 pp.) $23.99 | e-book $23.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-7614-5973-6 e-book 978-0-7614-6081-7 This lively blend of narrative and detailed design is a perfect way to introduce the architectural vision of I.M. Pei to young readers. This striking biography demonstrates how I.M. (Ieoh Ming) Pei melded the influences of his native China with the modernity of his adopted American home to create a unique, influential architectural vision. Pei’s family fled turbulent times on the mainland to Hong Kong, where his father became a successful banker. However, it was his artistic and spiritual mother who had the greater influence, despite her death in his early teens. After MIT, his plan to return to China was thwarted by war. Pei’s talent led to work on the JFK Presidential Library and the renovation of the Louvre Museum in Paris, among others. His projects were not without controversy, but eventually his artistic genius prevailed, changing the way modern architecture is viewed and appreciated. Rubalcaba, an honor recipient of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Every Bone Tells a Story (2010), has crafted an elegant work that combines sparkling text with graceful design. Carefully chosen photographs both support and add to the narrative, as do project sketches and floor plans. The layout is eye catching yet sophisticated, but the book is nevertheless entirely readable and accessible to young readers. An exquisite package, much like one of Pei’s buildings. (timeline, bibliography, source notes, index, suggestions for further reading, listings of building projects, awards) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)

MY DOG! A Kids’ Guide to Keeping a Happy and Healthy Pet

Rosen, Michael J. Photographer: Shively, Will Illustrator: James, Robert Workman (288 pp.) paper $13.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-0-7611-5841-7 Category: Reference

A serviceable guide to dog ownership, dog training and popular dog breeds. Intended more as a reference tool than a guide to be read straight through, this book contains a mix of practical tips, explanations of dogs’ behavior and technical dog-breeding jargon (only the geekiest of would-be dog owners will want to know the difference between a brick head, a cone head and a 1726

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THE LEMON TREE CAPER / LA INTRIGA DEL LIMONERO

excellent pranks on the teenage Confederates—and survive mutual pranking in return. But this year’s War is more vicious than usual, and (oh, horrors) Chelsea has a crush on a Confederate reenactor. Chelsea’s narration is peppered with sharp and witty observation, from her interaction with a tourist who thinks reenactors are American Girl dolls come to life to a conversation with aghast parents who insist they’ll love her even if she makes the terrible, uneducated choice of choosing the Civil War over the Revolutionary. Hilarious costumed hijinks in the spirit of Meg Cabot. (Fiction. 11-14)

Saldaña Jr., René Translator: Rosales-Yeomans, Natalia Piñata Books/Arté Público (96 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-55885-709-4 Series: Mickey Rangel Mysteries Missing fish? Missing lemons? Sounds like a job for “the great Mickey Rangel, Private Detective.” It starts as an ordinary south Texas scorcher. Young Mickey is riding the bus home from school when he hears “the bloodcurdlingest, spine-chillingest shriek in the history of Nuevo Peñitas.” He recognizes the voice of his neighbor, Senorita Andrade, so ugly the kids call her Bruja (witch). Mickey dutifully waits until the bus reaches his stop, then races to her house, dumping his backpack along the way. He finds her pacing the floor anxiously and wringing her hands. Her goldfish are missing! Mickey notices the lid on the fish tank is open, there’s a small puddle of water on the floor and wet paw prints lead to the back porch, where Papuchín the cat wears a very satisfied expression. “Another crime solved by the great Mickey Rangel,” but (un)fortunately, only the first. This time it’s a moan and not a shriek from Señorita Andrade that signals trouble. Someone has stolen all the lemons from the beautiful tree in her backyard. This case is more complicated, but is there any doubt that Mickey can crack it? Although the first-person narration doesn’t always feel true to the young sleuth’s age, the drawings sprinkled throughout make the story more inviting for young readers. This brisk novella in English and Spanish offers two nifty whodunits for young mystery lovers. (Mystery. 7-10)

SUBWAY STORY

Sarcone-Roach, Julia Illustrator: Sarcone-Roach, Julia Knopf (40 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $19.99 | October 11, 2011 978-0-375-85859-8 PLB 978-0-375-95859-5 Jessie weighs 75,122 pounds and is a beautiful, brand-new subway car. She was brought to New York in the early 1960s for the World’s Fair, and she loves traveling all over the city. She speeds around curves and ducks under rivers. When musicians practice on board, she accompanies them with deep rumbles and toe-tapping clacks. Over the years, there are many changes, but Jessie never forgets her most important job—helping people travel safely. Until one season, sleek, shiny new silver trains start taking over the tracks. A downcast Jessie sits in a dusty yard, poignantly wondering about the people she had carried. “Did they notice she was gone?” Thankfully, her adventure doesn’t end there. She is taken to the Atlantic and sunk to become an artificial reef, home to many barnacles, coral and fish. Sarcone-Roach cleverly brings the story full circle: Jessie was once an integral part of a bustling city, and now a whole city lives inside of her. With sprawling landscapes and vast underground tunnels as a backdrop, readers will cheer Jessie’s story of revival. The author’s acrylics gently anthropomorphize Jessie, giving her headlight-eyes and a winsome smile. Immensely readable and surprisingly touching, this large heft of metal totes a lot of charm. (author’s note, bibliography, further reading) (Picture book. 3-6)

PAST PERFECT

Sales, Leila Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $16.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4424-0682-7 Ex-boyfriend angst, new-boyfriend jitters and best-friend snits are a heck of a lot funnier when they take place at a historical-reenactment village. Chelsea’s summer job is a junior interpreter at Colonial Essex Village, where she dons floor-length petticoats to teach tourists about history (which really means pointing them toward the bathroom). The junior interpreters at Colonial Essex Village are locked in an endless War: not with the Redcoats, but with the Civil War reenactors from across the street. Those farbs at Civil War Reenactmentland (“farb,” the gravest of reenactor insults, meaning sloppy and careless in historical details) have the gall to think they’re the better historical-reenactment site. Every summer, the teenage Colonials plan and implement |

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NATIVE DEFENDERS OF THE ENVIRONMENT

to attend the prom with Perry as her date. Under duress, Perry agrees to take her. However, Gobi has other plans, insisting he drive her to Manhattan instead. There she leads Perry on a killing spree that culminates in a confrontation with a very deadly and very familiar adversary. Stilted dialogue, unlikable characters and scenes that seem patched together from dozens of familiar action movies are only a sampling of this novel’s many problems. Readers will quickly become frustrated with the predictable plot, overly familiar setting and Perry’s obtuseness, though the framing device of college-application essay questions is mildly amusing. Filled with gratuitous violence, unnecessary vulgarity and unending cliché, this story often slides from merely bad into truly offensive. (Thriller. 14 & up)

Schilling, Vincent 7th Generation (128 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-0-97791-83-7-9 Series: Native Trailblazer, 4

A collective biography of 11 Native Americans who have worked toward social justice, environmental reform and a return to ancestral ways. In this, his fourth book in the Native Trailblazer series, Schilling has chosen examples from tribes across North America. He describes childhood and teen experiences in places ranging from a village north of the Arctic Circle to Canadian cities and reservations in the U.S. Southwest. In the process, he explains some important environmental issues, including oil extraction from tar sands, disposal of nuclear waste and coal mining, and actions ranging from the takeover of Alcatraz Island in 1969 to participation in international movements and documentary filmmaking today. Some names may be familiar to readers: Winona LaDuke was a Green Party vice-presidential candidate, and Klee Benally is lead vocalist and guitarist with Blackfire, a punk-rock group. Others profiled are Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Clayton Thomas-Muller, Ben Powless, Tom Goldtooth, Grace Thorpe, Sarah James, Enei Begaye and Evon Peter (who work as a team), and Teague Allston. All but Thorpe are still working. The author includes numerous quotations from his subjects, some directed at teen readers. Photographs and occasional sidebars break up the text. Read straight through, the serviceable exposition may seem a bit repetitive, but the individual chapters provide excellent introductions to Native activists, useful for research and perhaps inspiring future campaigns. (glossary, resources, references) (Collective biography. 12-18)

GHOSTS IN THE FOG

Seiple, Samantha Scholastic (224 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-545-29654-0

A little-known story from World War II shows the unique role played by a small group of military personal and native civilians in a remote region of the county. The role of Alaska in World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor is not often told. “Decades after World War II, the U. S. government kept the documents about the Japanese invasion of Alaska classified, and the Americans who were there when it happened didn’t want to talk about it.” The Pearl Harbor attack left the western coast vulnerable, and the decision-making concerning defense of the Alaska’s Aleutian Islands revealed many military, geographic and social issues. Problems included unpredictable foggy weather at a time of limited satellite technology and what to do about the Aleutian islanders, who had never been away from their isolated homes. The story illuminates the cultural differences between the American and Japanese cultures at that time as well as the reluctance of the U.S. government to treat the native Alaskans as full citizens. The narrative is full of details, and there are times when it is difficult to follow all the threads. Fortunately, the text is supported by many photographs of those involved. Maps, including a strategic military map, increase the level of specificity. An enlightening account full of compelling stories of survival and perseverance. Pair this with Karen Hesse’s fictional account, Aleutian Sparrow (2003). (sources, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

AU REVOIR, CRAZY EUROPEAN CHICK

Schreiber, Joe Houghton Mifflin (192 pp.) $16.99 | October 24, 2011 978-0-547-57738-8 In Schreiber’s debut novel for teens, an awkward high-school exchange student morphs into a beautiful assassin, changing a boring prom night into a dangerous race against time. Perry, a senior in high school, is focused on three things: his internship at his father’s law office, playing guitar and, most of all, getting accepted into Columbia University. His mother, in an attempt to infuse some culture into their family, decides they should host a foreign exchange student. The socially awkward and unattractive Gobi is at best invisible and at worst a target for ridicule. Her one request before returning home is 1728

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“Exquisitely simple and memorable.” from swirl by swirl

MAGIC TRASH A Story of Tyree Guyton and His Art

and profusion, with so many parts of the world nestled together in swirls and spirals—effectively demonstrating its fundamental nature. The author and illustrator examine spirals as coiled and protective (fiddlehead ferns, a curled hedgehog) as well as bold and releasing (curls on ocean waves, a spiral galaxy). They further offer observations on the ways that plants and animals use the spiral structure for strength or support (a monkey’s tail clinging to a branch, a spider’s web constructed between twigs). Two pages of notes at the end offer a definition (“Spiral: a shape that curls around a center point”), details that elaborate on the poem and explain some of the individual manifestations of spirals and a brief nod to the Fibonacci sequence. Exquisitely simple and memorable. (Informational picture book. 2-8)

Shapiro, J.H. Illustrator: Brantley-Newton, Vanessa Charlesbridge (32 pp.) $15.95 | e-book $9.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-58089-385-5 e-book 978-1-60734-308-0

Multi-colored, multi-layered, multi-media illustrations trace the life of Tyree Guyton and his visionary artwork, which used reclaimed trash to turn a derelict Detroit street into community-activist art. Tyree’s magic—his ability to find whimsy, brightness and joy in junk—make him both an endearing and an unusual person to young readers fixated on shiny products hermetically sealed in plastic. Buttons, Popsicle sticks, crayons, broken wheels and bottle caps bounce around pages, conjuring Tyree’s excitement as he makes his own funky toys as a child and, later, trash artwork as an adult. Warm, comedic renderings of neighbors and family (particularly Grandpa Sam), offset somewhat jarring multi-media elements: creepy, dirty stuffed animals, slapdash patches of newsprint, random-feeling rounds of fabric. But when Tyree’s childhood street becomes his art, these compositional choices make more sense. On Heidelberg Street, neon vacuum cleaners line lawns, houses pulsate with polka-dots and doll-babies hang from telephone wires, bringing a similar discomfort and disorientation—and making shady characters flee. When a judge stops bulldozers from destroying Heidelberg Street, declaring it a work of art, a victory dance seems in order. Readers whiz through Tyree’s story, propelled by his energy and zinging, trippy triplets that cap each significant event in his life. “Let rockets fly! / Boards tower high. / Bounce, jump and dance, magic trash!” An inspiring, exciting introduction to avant-garde art and social commentary, this biography convinces young readers that art can exist, thrive and effect change outside in the real world. (author’s note, bibliography) (Picture book. 5-10)

STEPS AND STONES An Anh’s Anger Story

Silver, Gail Illustrator: Krömer, Christiane Plum Blossom Books (40 pp.) $16.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-935209-87-4 Series: Anh’s Anger, 2

Silver and Krömer pair their considerable talents to create a successful second title in the Anh’s Anger series (Anh’s Anger, 2009). Here Anh faces a common childhood dilemma: He wants to do one thing (dig in the dirt at recess), while his friends are set on doing another (playing kickball). He tries to convince his friends to join him, but one boy retorts, “Digging is for babies.” This crushes Ahn; he “felt like he’d been punched in the stomach.” As Anh retreats to “the shade of the oak tree” with “a salty tear rounding the corner of his lip,” Anger explodes onto the scene in a wild collage of green, red and yellow textures with spiral, swirly eyes and a mouthful of sharp teeth. He reminds Anh that he “always show[s] up when things aren’t going your way.” This personification of Anger fills Anh’s head with negative thoughts, but Anh resists its goading and begins to walk slowly. With each step they breathe in and out and count. This walking meditation helps Anh get control of his feelings. As the counting increases, Anger’s vibrant colors begin to fade, and his size diminishes. Silver’s dialogue-driven text is likely to provoke meaningful discussions about dealing with disappointment and controlling tempers. Preschoolers and primary-grade students will appreciate Krömer’s visual feast of pencil, paint and tactile collage elements used to vividly illustrate Anh’s story. Sure to fill a niche for those tackling potentially thorny social situations, this straightforward and enlightened approach will appeal to many. (Picture book. 4-7)

SWIRL BY SWIRL

Spirals in Nature Sidman, Joyce Illustrator: Krommes, Beth Houghton Mifflin (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 3, 2011 978-0-547-31583-6 “A spiral is a snuggling shape” is the somewhat homely observation that begins Sidman’s brief and graceful poem—she goes on to catalog and celebrate the ways that spirals manifest themselves in the physical and natural world in a way that will draw in the youngest listeners. Krommes’ dense and richly colored scratchboard illustrations, with their closely packed and neatly labeled creatures, plants and natural phenomena, create a feeling of abundance |

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“An ambitious topic (the United States’ presence in Afghanistan and Iraq) receives a surprisingly comprehensive examination through a direct question-and-answer format.” from war in afghanistan and iraq

BUG SHOTS The Good, the Bad, and the Bugly

load a huge pile of carrots onto a wheelbarrow, and just at that moment Big Bully Bunny looms again. This time, there’s safety in numbers and when the four bunnies shout “No!” together, Bully Bunny is so surprised, he falls backwards on the ground. They dump the barrow of carrots on him before romping away. That’s the bully’s comeuppance? Smallman’s story could be less preachy and his message way less fuzzy, but Pedler’s pictures are bright and attractive; her carrots look good enought to eat. There are enough bully books around that this one can be safely skipped. (Picture book. 3-6)

Siy, Alexandra Photographer: Siy, Alexandra Photographer: Kunkel, Dennis Holiday House (40 pp.) $16.95 | October 15, 2011 978-0-8234-2286-9

Intriguing photographs taken through a scanning electron microscope accompany this detective-themed introduction to insects. Siy (Sneeze, 2007, etc.) begins with her thesis, pointing out that in the insect world there are both good and bad guys. How can we tell the difference? The rest of this lighthearted survey is organized in chapters devoted to true bugs, beetles, butterflies and moths, bees, ants and wasps and, finally, true flies. In lively, informal prose, she describes some typical insect behavior, describing not just the harm they do but also the good. “Could insects be getting a bad rap?” A last chapter suggests that young people interested in insects can collect them without harming them using a digital camera. Kunkel colors his signature photomicrographs to highlight structures shown, and they are stunning. Each image has an informative label that includes its magnification. The design also includes tiny grayscale images that careful observers may be able to identify as housefly, bedbug, ladybird beetle, nasonia wasp and some kind of moth or butterfly. Readers unfamiliar with giant water bugs and water striders, lace bugs, pepper weevils, carrion beetles and other creatures will be bugged by the lack of unmagnified pictures of most of the species shown. Striking as they are, as mug shots these bug shots don’t work. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

WAR IN AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ The Daily Life of the Men and Women Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq

Souter, Janet Souter, Gerry Sterling (48 pp.) $16.95 | October 4, 2011 978-1-84732-895-3

An ambitious topic (the United States’ presence in Afghanistan and Iraq) receives a surprisingly comprehensive examination through a direct question-and-answer format. An overview of these war-torn countries’ physical and religious make-ups leads to the review of current political instability in the region. The discussion of combat techniques illustrates America’s military power, though a nod to numerous international organizations (from NATO to ISAF) conveys the global scope. Double-page spreads address the perceived catalysts for conflict and the United States’ accompanying responses (including Osama Bin Laden’s recent death). The layout resembles a scrapbook of sorts; varied photos and bold types facilitate the integration of timely facts with military jargon. File folders, torn paper and snapshots conjure up the images of behind-the-scene operations at a military compound. A soldier’s daily routine (from work assignments to the latest in weaponry) captures the nuts and bolts of battle. Statistics reveal the Taliban’s dire influence on education (only 22% of Afghan women are literate). Throughout, the focus returns to the youngest causalities, describing deployment’s stressful impact on children seeking normalcy while bombs detonate nearby or parents serve abroad. An authoritative voice discusses complicated subjects with ease (“Weapons of mass destruction were never discovered”) and leaves an appropriately ambiguous ending as to future American involvement. Despite its slimness, a remarkably effective and timely treatment. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 7-11)

WHO’S AFRAID OF THE BIG BAD BUNNY?

Smallman, Steve Illustrator: Pedler, Caroline Good Books (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-56148-725-7

Bullying goes pastoral. Down in the burrow, a bunny quartet, from Itty Bitty Betty Bunny to Much Bigger Bunny, is completely out of food, and Little Lenny Bunny is sent above ground to get some. He pulls out a juicy carrot, but out of nowhere steps a Big Bad Bully Bunny! He pushes Lenny to the ground, takes back the carrot and calls him stupid. Sadly, Lenny believes it. He confesses his failure to the others, and Slightly Bigger Benny Bunny says he’ll get the carrots. Whom does he run into but Bully Bunny, who calls him ugly. Bigger Barney Bunny has a try, but he leaves feeling fat and wobbly, because Bully Bunny says he is. It takes Itty Bitty Bunny to convince the others that they’re not what Bully Bunny says they are and to get them to band together. They 1730

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SEAL SONG

really have to use all the few words you’ve got, and here Spinelli doesn’t. Despite inherently child-friendly subject matter, a nonstarter. (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Spalding, Andrea Illustrator: Milelli, Pascal Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55469-242-2

LITTLE OWL’S NIGHT

Finn, a fisherman’s son, befriends a seal who becomes his selkie friend until she gives up her human life to rescue him in a storm. Drawing on the long tradition of selkie tales, Spalding (Solomon’s Tree, 2002, etc.) weaves a new story set in a Canadian community where salmon fishermen use nets. Finn works with his father, but he finds time to swim and play, and he longs to hear a seal sing. After he frees one from a net and nurses it back to health, she not only sings, she turns into a girl, Sheila, who can live on land and be his best friend—just as he had wished. All goes well until he ignores her advice and rows into a storm. Sheila sings once more and slips back into the ocean to save him, but when selkies enter saltwater, they turned back into seals. The magical elements of this friendship story seem believable in context, and the bittersweet ending is appropriate. Within the third-person narration are lyrical passages summing up important story elements. The text is set on or opposite Milelli’s dark, expressive oil paintings, which focus mainly on the characters, giving only a rough idea of their surroundings. Read aloud or alone, the storytelling and illustrations work well together, creating a memorable, satisfying whole. (Picture book. 5-9)

Srinivasan, Divya Illustrator: Srinivasan, Divya Viking (32 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-670-01295-4 A graceful bedtime story celebrates the beauty found in night. Little Owl loves the night forest. He can’t imagine a better place. He glides from friend to friend, watching and listening. Hedgehog snuffles for mushrooms. Turtle hides in her shell as fireflies dot the sky. But try as he might, Little Owl cannot wake Bear inside the Grumbly Cave. He snores soundly. But what if the bear has never seen stars? As morning draws near, Little Owl settles in on his branch and whispers softly to his mother, “[T]ell me again how night ends.” “Spiderwebs turn to silver threads,” she begins. “The sky brightens from black to blue, blue to red, red to gold.” But Little Owl does not hear. His wide, innocent green eyes have already shut tight. Srinivasan’s picture-book debut beckons readers to follow this curiously adorable creature through the sky. The moon and stars illuminate the dark background, and a flat palette of black, greens and browns blankets the forest in quiet stillness. More lyrical than linear, the story flits from one animal to the next. But readers won’t mind. Hold on to Little Owl’s tail feathers and soar. (Picture book. 2-6)

DO YOU HAVE A DOG?

Spinelli, Eileen Illustrator: Valério, Geraldo Eerdmans (26 pp.) $16.00 | October 1, 2011 978-0-8028-5387-5

QUEENS OF ALL THE EARTH

Sternberg, Hannah Bancroft Press (160 pp.) $18.99 | October 28, 2011 978-1-61088-032-9

A hodgepodge roundup of celebrity canines. This is a rather meager offering from Spinelli, nor has Valério’s artwork much character, though it is decidedly high spirited and gay. Readers are engaged very briefly about whether or not they have a dog—“Do you have a dog?... Does a dog have you?”—but the meat and potatoes of the book are dogs of the famous. And by far the most interesting material is found in the end papers, where Spinelli has introduced the 11 historical figures with their dogs. It is the pages in between that are often less than beguiling. “Iggy—who kept Byrd warm, / a comfort in Antarctic storm. / Through blizzard, ice, and wild weather / the two holed up, good friends together.” And of Agatha Christie’s dog Peter, readers learn, “He on the rug and she in the chair— / they made a rather cozy pair.” The poems are too bland for these couples, who should have set off some sparks of clever allusion or strange factoid. As the poems are quatrains—plus introductory and closing refrain—you |

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A new-millennium update of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View. When college–freshman-to-be Olivia Somerset is suddenly rendered catatonic on the day she’s supposed to head for Cornell, her older sister Miranda and others try to revive her. Olivia ends up postponing school and struggles unsuccessfully for months to find her more-adult self and confront her father’s death. Finally, Miranda suggests a therapeutic trip to Barcelona, where they meet a motley cast of characters at their hostel. These notably include a clergyman and his son, Greg, who give up their private room in exchange for Olivia and Miranda’s dormitory-style space. Greg and Olivia soon share a few romantic moments, much to Miranda’s over-protective chagrin. Meanwhile, Miranda has |

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GUARDIAN OF THE GREEN HILL

her own experiences of the heart. Debut novelist Sternberg weaves in references to e.e. cummings’ love poem “Orientale,” the source for the admirable title, to underscore Olivia’s entry into a new life stage. Readers who enjoy tales of sisters, travel and romance will appreciate Sternberg’s exuberant, modern and sometimes humorous tone. Unfortunately, the story bogs down at times with too much narration, too little character development, an ambiguous viewpoint and overwrought metaphors (“Olivia’s eyes drifted open like globes of a rising sun”). An ambitious effort to whip up a new take on an old story, this needs more flour, fresher soda and far less frosting. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Sullivan, Laura L. Henry Holt (304 pp.) $16.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-8050-8985-1 Weeks after her pivotal role in the Midsummer War in Under the Green Hill (2010), contemporary American Meg Morton must decide if she’s willing to “do the hard things” and become the Guardian of the Green Hill fairy sanctuary. Visiting Great-Great Aunt Phyllida in the bucolic English countryside, Meg realizes she’s next in line to become Guardian of the Green Hill, a role passed through female descendants of the bloodline. Elderly and increasingly ineffective, Phyllida’s eager to prep Meg to mediate between the world of humans and the world of fairies. Although Meg feels a “mysterious pull . . . telling her to stay in England forever and be part of this strange life with the fairies,” she wants time to be sure. When a male relative with magical skills arrives to force the unsuspecting Phyllida to declare him her successor, and the fairies kidnap Meg’s little brother James, Meg’s forced to act. As the future Guardian, only she can enter the Green Hill to rescue James and claim her birthright. Set in a bygone landscape of hedgerows, half-timbered cottages and horse-drawn carts and teeming with creatures of faerie lore, this sequel offers a serious heroine with “steel at [her] core,” who discovers fairyland is not for the faint of heart. Richly atmospheric storytelling in the tradition of Narnia and Nesbit. (Fantasy. 9-14)

ESCAPE VELOCITY

Stevenson, Robin Orca (240 pp.) paper $12.95 | October 1, 2011 paper 978-1-55469-866-0

Forced to move in with her mother, a sophisticated, successful author who abandoned her at birth, 15-year-old Lou is determined to figure out what led this near stranger to reject her so completely. After her mother, Zoe, left her behind, Lou was raised by her father, a lackadaisical pain-medication addict who nonetheless loves her. Then he suffers a heart attack and stroke, and Lou is sent to join Zoe in Victoria, British Columbia. Zoe isn’t warmly welcoming, frequently dismissing Lou’s efforts to please her, pointedly stating, “I can’t rearrange my whole life because you’re here.” Lou observes that her mother’s new novel, Escape Velocity, focused on a mother-daughter relationship that’s as dysfunctional as their own and seems to negatively portray her as “parasitic.” This drives her to find out more about Zoe’s mysterious past. She finally tracks down Heather, her grandmother, a street woman with secrets of her own but whose history offers insight into not only Zoe’s background, but also her conflicted character. Lou is a fully rounded, attractive character. Zoe’s emotional insensitivity toward her, while painful, becomes understandable as her believable back story emerges. Other characters are also nicely, authentically fleshed out, adding depth and a strong sense of reality. A quiet, moving exploration of what it means to be a mother—or a daughter—even when the relationship is unconventional. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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MERCY The Last New England Vampire

Thomson, Sarah L. Islandport Press (180 pp.) paper $16.95 | October 11, 2011 paper 978-1-934031-36-0

Paranormal mystery meets family drama in a fictionalized, modernized exploration of a historical suspected vampire tragedy. Over 100 years after the Mercy Brown vampire incident in Exeter, R.I., Mercy’s fictional modern relative re-opens the case. Haley, a 14-year-old doing a family-history project for school, picks Mercy not just because of the fame of the case or that she was an alleged vampire, but because of her own grieving. Along with the stresses of fitting into a new family structure— her parents are divorced, bringing a stepmother and 2-year-old half-brother into her life—she also grieves the looming death of her terminally ill, favorite cousin, Jake, whose medical mystery no doctor has been able to diagnose or treat. A mysterious, standoffish older relative, Aunt Brown, provides a family tree and haunted glove that serve as evidence and a way to connect with the ghosts |

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“The action is predictably frenetic, but the changes in voice from chapter to chapter provide a refreshing and humorous diversion from most chapter-book fare.” from 8 class pets + 1 squirrel

of the family’s past. While simplified and repetitive sentence structures deflate tension from some of the scarier moments, Thomson (Dragon’s Egg, 2010, etc.) generally writes a likable and appealing lead character, capturing both Haley’s grief over her family and her difficulties finding where she fits into their lives. With varying degrees of success as a ghost story, vampire mystery and family drama, this story is solid but unremarkable. (historical note) (Paranormal mystery. 11-17)

WITCH EYES

A bewitching blend of paranormal romance and intrigue. Braden’s witch eyes enable him to see the world, unfiltered, as a mashup of memories and magic. He lives in seclusion while his uncle trains him to handle the sensory overload and physical toll of his impressive natural abilities. When a dark premonition spells doom for Uncle John, the signs compel Braden to seek answers in Belle Dam, a small town in Washington that is besieged by two feuding families of witches. While both sides would gladly use Braden as a weapon, he attempts to stay neutral and focused on unlocking the mysteries in his visions. Characters who withhold information are given internal justification and believable motives, making them more than merely plot devices. Unraveling everyone else’s complicated secrets traps Braden into keeping some of his own, especially from love interest Trey. The two boys’ palpable connection and fledgling relationship is balanced with the intrigue and interwoven seamlessly into the plot, resulting in a well-paced novel that takes advantage of every tension available. The story’s climax is logical and earned, leading to a denouement filled with bittersweet consequences. Tracey’s promising debut neither panders nor patronizes, trusting readers to solve Belle Dam’s complex mysteries alongside a capable, self-assured hero. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

8 CLASS PETS + 1 SQUIRREL ÷ 1 DOG = CHAOS

Vande Velde, Vivian Illustrator: Bjorkman, Steve Holiday House (80 pp.) $15.95 | October 15, 2011 978-0-8234-2364-4

When Twitch, the schoolyard squirrel, gets into the school, all sorts of craziness ensues. Told in the voices of classroom pets in various rooms, this fast-paced romp imagines a day in which the squirrel, pursued by an enthusiastic dog (owned by the principal, naturally), wreaks havoc in an elementary school. As Twitch races from room to room, the animals attempt to help him escape his tormentor. Running, in order, from first grade to fifth grade as well as to the library, art and science rooms, the animals leave a heap of damage in their wake. Traditional classroom pets (hamster, rabbit, rat, tetras, parrot, turtle, snake, geckos) narrate the action from their points of view. The action is predictably frenetic, but the changes in voice from chapter to chapter provide a refreshing and humorous diversion from most chapter-book fare. Each animal has a distinctive style of speech, which helps the reader keep everyone clear. Galileo and Newton, the two geckos, with their scripted dialogue, and the school of fish, chanting together, “We are in a school. We are in a school in a school,” are particularly effective. Occasional pen-and-ink spot illustrations add energy to an already high-octane story. A whole lot of fun. (Fiction. 7-10)

THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK Fourteen Amazing Authors Tell the Tales

Van Allsburg, Chris Illustrator: Van Allsburg, Chris Houghton Mifflin (208 pp.) $24.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0547548104

Fourteen award-winning authors craft stories to accompany the captioned pictures from Van Allsburg’s 1984 enigma, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick. That title contained 14 exquisitely rendered pencil drawings, purportedly deposited with an editor by their self-ascribed kirkusreviews.com

dog = chaos

creator. Promising to return with companion texts, Burdick disappeared instead, leaving a generation of readers to puzzle over the incongruous illustrations. United only by the sense of macabre disequilibrium permeating each illustration, this volume’s stories vary in approach and effectiveness. Jules Feiffer delivers a clever but self-aggrandizing fable about a picture book author/ illustrator whose increasingly mad attachment to his characters signals his demise. Jon Scieszka’s intentionally clichéd “Under the Rug” seems shallow and dashed-off compared to deeply imagined pieces like M.T. Anderson’s twitchily metaphysical “Just Desert.” Kate DiCamillo’s adroit epistolary tale, set on the World War II home front, uses the image of an escaping wallpaper bird as the touchstone for a traumatized girl’s breakthrough beyond silence and fear. Cory Doctorow’s time-space ramble centers on four adventuring children, ignoring that the accompanying drawing depicts the travelers as two children, a thick-set woman and a derby-hatted man. Linda Sue Park’s “The Harp” deftly directs charming characters in parallel plots to a meshed, triply happy ending, and Lois Lowry dazzles with a sophisticated meditation on “The Seven Chairs,” wherein mid-century Catholicism bows beneath the archetypal (and, perhaps, renascent) rise of women. Engaging, with strokes of brilliance. (new and original introductions, author bios) (Fiction. 8-13)

Tracey, Scott Flux (360 pp.) paper $9.95 | October 8, 2011 paper 978-0-7387-2595-6

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“Hard to put down from the very first page, this fast-paced novel with Stepford overtones answers only some of the questions it poses…” from variant

IRENA’S JARS OF SECRETS

22-year-old model Nikki Demetrius when her car plunges into a river. Instantly, Rawly is on the local and national news, hailed as a hero for saving Nikki’s life. The third-person narration follows Rawley’s journey as he learns who his real friends are and the difference between comic-book and real-world heroes. A good story with some unexpected twists. (Fiction. 12-15)

Vaughan, Marcia Illustrator: Mazellan, Ron Lee & Low (40 pp.) $18.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-60060-439-3

Irena Sendler is enshrined at Yad Vashem as “righteous among nations” for her courage in rescuing Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. Brought up by her parents to respect all people, Irena could not stand by and watch the horrors of Hitler’s methodical extermination of the Jews of Warsaw. She worked with a secret underground group to carry out a variety of elaborate deceptions to spirit hundreds of children out of the ghetto to be hidden by other brave gentiles. She kept meticulous records hidden in buried jars because she hoped to reunite the children with their own families at the end of the war, a hope that proved futile because almost all the parents died in the concentration camps. She was captured, tortured and scheduled for execution, but she managed to escape and go into hiding. Finding a way to impart even a small understanding of the Holocaust to children is a task fraught with difficulties: How can anyone comprehend such insanity? Vaughan tells the true story without embellishment, employing stark, unadorned syntax that never wavers into pathos, sentiment or myth. It is a definition of quiet heroism. Mazellan’s very dark, deeply shadowed oil paintings capture the unabated terror and sorrow. Children should read this work with an adult who is armed with some knowledge of the material. Powerful. (afterword, glossary, sources) (Informational picture book. 9-12)

ROOM ENOUGH FOR DAISY

Waldman, Debby Feutl, Rita Illustrator: Revell, Cindy Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | October 1, 2011 978-1-55469-255-2

A modern variant on a classic Eastern European folktale. Waldman, this time with co-author Feutl, offers another adaptation (Clever Rachel, 2009, and A Sack Full of Feathers, 2007) but with lackluster results. The familiar tale’s modern twist focuses on Daisy’s clutter. She wants a bigger room for all of her stuff, especially with her birthday coming. She is sure she is “going to get lots of presents, and there’s nowhere to put anything.” Daisy initially comes off a bit cranky, but Mom has an idea. Her solution is to give Daisy a special box: “This…will make your room bigger.” The box is full of old toys that were stored in the basement. Daisy is skeptical; her room seems to be shrinking instead of growing. But Mom keeps bringing more of Daisy’s possessions into the room. As the space gets increasingly crowded and Daisy suffers minor injuries from tripping over her multitude of things, she finally decides to pack up the things she does not play with anymore and put it into the donation box for Mitzvah Day. The story does provide plenty of topics for discussion, including how to donate and recycle unwanted items, learning to appreciate what you have and more is not always better. Sadly the lengthy text hampers the book’s flow, and the bright acrylic illustrations add little to entertain young readers. Better choices are Steven Kroll’s Stuff!, illustrated by Steve Cox (2009), and Margot Zemach’s gold-standard, Caldecott Honor–winning It Could Always Be Worse: A Yiddish Folktale (1977). (Picture book. 4-7)

DON’T CALL ME HERO

Villareal, Ray Arte Público (208 pp.) paper $10.95 | October 31, 2011 paper 978-1-55885-711-7 After saving the life of a famous model, a 14-year-old Mexican-American boy learns the pressures of popularity and the definition of true heroism. Dallas freshman Rawly Sánchez knows that life is not perfect. His older brother Jaime is in prison, while his mother’s Mexican restaurant is barely staying afloat. Now, he can’t even visit his brother on Saturdays anymore, or he will miss the required tutoring for the algebra class he is failing. Small bursts of happiness come in the comic books he loves and in hanging out with his nerdy, often-annoying, wisecracking Jewish best friend Nevin Steinberg. Things take a turn for the worse when someone accidentally sets a pig loose in his mom’s restaurant, and the incident makes the local news. Then, Nevin talks Rawly into performing as a duo at the school talent show, where he makes a fool of himself in front of his crush, Miyoko. Everything changes when Rawly misses his bus stop and ends up rescuing 1734

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VARIANT

Wells, Robison HarperTeen (356 pp.) $17.99 | October 18, 2011 978-0-06-202608-9 Wells introduces Benson Fisher, a teen in search of a “real” life instead of a long series of unwanted foster homes— but instead of the utopia he’s searching for, he finds the direct opposite. Benson thinks he’s found the perfect school in Maxfield Academy, a private school in the wilds of New Mexico. Winning |

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HAPPY PIG DAY!

a scholarship with unexpected ease, he looks forward to establishing real friendships and getting a good education at last. What he finds, however, is far from normal. Within minutes of the front doors closing—and locking—behind him, he finds himself in a fight for his life. He joins a gang, the Variants, just to survive. With no adults on campus, classes are taught by fellow students, punishments are passed on by computer and nothing seems to follow a logical path. Benson decides it’s time to make a run for it, until he finds out that no one makes it out of Maxfield…not alive, at any rate. Benson’s account unfolds in a speedy, unadorned first person, doling information out to readers as he learns it himself. Hard to put down from the very first page, this fastpaced novel with Stepford overtones answers only some of the questions it poses, holding some of the most tantalizing open for the next installment in a series that is anything but ordinary. (Thriller. 12 & up)

Willems, Mo Illustrator: Willems, Mo Hyperion (64 pp.) $8.99 | October 4, 2011 978-1-4231-4342-0 Series: Elephant & Piggie The latest entry in this popular series for beginning readers features a new holiday: It’s Happy Pig Day, and Gerald the elephant is feeling left out. The elements that have made this series so successful and enduring are all present once again: a clean design (white background, lack of extraneous details, large type in word bubbles, etc.), a friendship theme and a satisfying resolution. This time around, Piggie announces the upcoming festivities, and at first Gerald’s excited: “Ooooh! I did not know about Happy Pig Day.” But the day soon sours for him, as three pig friends seem to be monopolizing his best friend’s attention. It’s not until Piggie reveals the truth about these pigs and Happy Pig Day that peace is restored. “Happy Pig Day is for . . . Anyone,” begins Piggie, and a squirrel, cat and bear whip off their pigcostume heads, shouting “Who!” “Loves!” “Pigs!” respectively. Ostensibly about celebrating porcine pride, this explores coping with feelings a child may have upon learning a best friend may actually have other friends. Several Elephant & Piggie books have received Geisel Awards or Honors, for books for beginning readers; this one will not only encourage kids to give reading a go but will also teach them at least a few words in a new language: “ ‘Oinky! Oink! Oink!’ … ‘means Happy Pig Day in Pig.’ ” (Early reader. 4-8)

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? TOYLAND EXPRESS

Wick, Walter Illustrator: Wick, Walter Scholastic (40 pp.) $13.99 | October 1, 2011 978-0-545-24483-1 Series: Can You See What I See? Complex seek-and-find images provide an intriguing backdrop for the story of a tenacious toy train. This latest collection of picture puzzles in the Can You See What I See? series provides a nostalgic glimpse into the life, death and resurrection of a wooden train. The engine huffs from creation to exploration as it races past blocks, around dolls and through miniature villages. There’s a vulnerable depth as the once-cherished birthday present is discarded in the dusty attic. Rescued in a yard sale and restored to its former beauty, the vehicle races with new purpose. The text follows a repetitive format as an inviting question encourages the eagle-eyed audience to peruse each page for items strategically placed within. Without effusive description, straightforward rhymes of concealed objects add to the challenge of the hunt. A direct title oversees each expansive double-page spread, and the pace naturally builds to repeated references to the train and its tumultuous journey. Wick plays with similar colors to enhance these expressive camouflaged spreads. Digitally processed photographs capture crisp dimensions with remarkable clarity. No puzzle here—these well-designed scenes are another success from the picture-challenge master. (Picture book. 4-8)

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WILD WOMEN OF THE WILD WEST

Winter, Jonah Illustrator: Guevara, Susan Holiday House (40 pp.) $16.95 | October 15, 2011 978-0-8234-1601-1

A good idea by a fine author and illustrator goes somewhat awry in this middlegrade collective biography of 15 women of the Old West. Winter gets in trouble right away with the introduction, in which he tries and fails to define the Wild West, with sentences like “There weren’t too many women in the Wild West, so the few who were there had to be really wild to compete with all those raucous men.” The women chosen are fascinating and often little known: the formerly enslaved Mary Fields, who drove a stagecoach for the U.S. Postal Service and was just its second woman employee; Lola Montez and Lotta Crabtree, wildly popular Gold Rush entertainers; and The-Other-Magpie, a Crow woman warrior. Though no doubt intended to be rollicking and engaging, the prose instead often seems patronizing or flip. Is it important that both Esther |

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Morris, Wyoming suffragist and judge, and Carry Nation, antialcohol crusader, were both six feet tall and about 180 pounds? The biography of Santa Fe casino owner “La Tules” ends by saying that Mexico “continues to bring us Mexicans.” Guevara notes that all but two of the sepia-and-black–accented watercolor portraits were taken directly from photographs of their subjects. Young researchers eager to know more about outlaw Belle Starr and adventurer and philanthropist Nellie Cashman might start here, but they will have to move on to more reliable sources. (timeline, map) (Collective biography. 9-12)

Jessamine, possessed by preternatural Prince Oleander, poisons both her father (a murderous apothecary) and—collaterally—a visitor, Mr. Pratt. She flees Hulne Cottage; Weed arrives, sets the scene of destruction afire and pursues her. Oleander, who malevolently subverts Jessamine’s innocence to engender his dominion, bargains her increasing submission for a vaguely promised reunion with Weed. She’s transformed into a dissolute poisoner-for-hire and laudanum-addicted prostitute. Enmeshed in a plot to assassinate King George in Italy, Jessamine arrives in Padua. Weed has journeyed there, too, after fruitlessly searching England. Seeking clues about Jessamine from the wise plants in the University’s Orto Botanico, he finds an extraordinary ally in the beautifully characterized Signora Baglioni, head gardener and keeper of a secret library of rare cross-cultural plant lore. Weed and Jessamine alternate narration, the pace of both accelerating desperately. Good and evil entwine at the King’s debauched costume party, and Oleander’s voice intrudes in a penultimate, riveting scene. Promising Weed’s continued pursuit (and, hopefully, reviving the intriguing issue of Mr. Luxton’s poisoning), part three’s sure to levy as much page-turning enthrallment as its predecessors. (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

LOLA’S FANDANGO

Witte, Anna Illustrator: Archer, Micha Barefoot (32 pp.) $16.99 | paper $9.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-84686-174-1 paper 978-1-84686-681-4 A young Latina girl emerges from her older sister’s shadow when her father secretly teaches her to dance the flamenco. Lola envies everything about her older sister Clementina, from her name to her hair to her painting. While hiding in her parents’ closet one day, Lola finds her mother’s old dancing shoes. After Mami won’t divulge the shoes’ details, Lola goes to her father and discovers that her mother used to dance flamenco. Lola convinces Papi that she possesses the duende (attitude) necessary for dancing flamenco, and he agrees to teach her in secret. The two practice whenever they can, starting with rhythm and building to footwork. After their dancing feet disturb a downstairs neighbor, Lola and Papi move to the roof and continue the lessons. Papi decides to plan a surprise party for Mami’s approaching birthday party, where Lola can show off her skills. At the party, Papi saves Lola from a brief wardrobe crisis with a new dress. Lola dances for her Mami, who later joins the dance, suddenly and inexplicably attired in a flamenco dress. Readers may also be confused by the title (the word fandango never appears in the story, only in a note), as well as the shift from sibling jealousy to flamenco without return. A passable effort with some high points. (author’s note, Spanish glossary, CD; not heard) (Picture book. 5-8)

PUPPY IS LOST

Ziefert, Harriet Illustrator: Woods, Noah Blue Apple (40 pp.) $16.99 | October 1, 2011 978-1-60905-089-4 Max has lost Puppy; Puppy has lost Max. One day, Max finds Puppy gone from her cute house in the backyard. He calls her loudly to supper, but Puppy doesn’t come. Puppy, meanwhile, barely realizes that she has wandered away. While Puppy roams without direction for Max, Max looks everywhere as well in search of her. He loses his appetite, can’t sleep and has a scary dream. The next day, he puts up countless “Lost Dog” posters. Puppy doesn’t stop walking either, mostly in circles. Max blankets the city with posters but has no luck. His friend Lucy comes to help, and they go to the park, but none of the dogs there are lost. Max decides to go to the last place he saw Puppy and just wait there. Luckily, Puppy has the same idea, albeit fuzzier. They recognize each other from a great distance and rush to be reunited. Licking ensues, and all is back to normal. Woods’ very colorful illustrations have the look of collage, with child-friendly shapes fashioned into buildings, cars and even people, who have perfectly round, oversized heads. Type appears in a variety of styles, sizes and colors. These eye-catching design features should appeal to young readers, though the story is on the underdeveloped side. (Picture book. 3-6)

THE POISON DIARIES: NIGHTSHADE

Wood, Maryrose Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins (288 pp.) $17.99 | October 25, 2011 978-0-06-180242-3 Series: The Poison Diaries, 2 Second of three, this fine paranormal gothic continues the tortured journeys of estranged teenage lovers Jessamine Luxton, a healer, and Weed, an orphan who communicates with plants. 1736

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k i r k u s r o u n d- u p continuing series PIERRE IN THE AIR! Pierre Le Poof, #3

Beck, Andrea Illus. by the author Orca (32 pp.) $19.95 | Oct. 1, 2011 ISBN: 978-1-55469-032-9 (Picture book. 4-8)

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #5 Frederick, Heather Vogel Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 4, 2011 ISBN: 978-1-4424-0685-8 (Fiction. 9-12)

MALLORY’S SUPER SLEEPOVER Mallory, #16

Friedman, Laurie Illus. by Jennifer Kalis Darby Creek (160 pp.) $15.95 | Oct. 1, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-8225-8887-0 (Fiction. 7-11)

FROGGY BUILDS A TREE HOUSE Froggy, #21

London, Jonathan Illus. by Frank Remkiewicz Viking (32 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 13, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-670-01222-0 (Picture book. 3-6)

PHOENIX Beautiful Dead, #3

Maguire, Eden Sourcebooks Fire (288 pp.) paper $8.99 | Oct. 1, 2011 ISBN: 978-1-4022-3947-2 (Paranormal romance. 13-16)

IF YOU GIVE A DOG A DONUT If You Give…

Numeroff, Laura Illus. by Felicia Bond Balzer + Bray/Harper Collins (32 pp.) $16.99 | PLB $17.89 Oct. 1, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-06-026683-7 PLB: 978-0-06-026684-4 (Picture book. 3-7)

ENCYCLOPEDIA BROWN AND THE CASE OF THE CARNIVAL CRIME Encyclopedia Brown Sobol, Donald J. Illus. by James Bernardin Dutton (128 pp.) $16.99 | Oct. 13, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-525-42211-2 (Mystery. 8-12)

SAMMY KEYES AND THE NIGHT OF SKULLS Sammy Keyes, #14

Van Draanen, Wendelin Knopf (272 pp.) $15.99 | PLB $18.99 Oct. 11, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-375-86108-6 PLB: 978-0-375-96108-3 (Mystery. 10-14)

This Issue’s Contributors

IF I DIE Soul Screamers, #5

# Kim Becnel • Kimberly Brubaker Bradley • Sophie Brookover • Louise Brueggemann • Ann Childs • Julie Cummins • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Dave DeChristopher • Elise DeGuiseppi • Robin Elliott • Laurie Flynn • Diane B. Foote • Omar Gallaga • Judith Gire • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Jennifer Hubert • Shelley Huntington • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Laura Jenkins • Betsy Judkins • Deborah Kaplan • K. Lesley Knieriem • Robin Fogle Kurz • Megan Lambert • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Ellen Loughran • Lauren Maggio • Joan Malewitz • Kathie Meizner • Lisa Moore • Rachel Moore • R. Moore • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Rebecca Rabinowitz • Kristy Raffensberger • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Melissa Riddle Chalos • Lesli Rodgers • Ronnie Rom • Leslie L. Rounds • Ann Marie Sammataro • Chris Shoemaker • Paula Singer • Meg Smith • Robin Smith • Karin Snelson • Rita Soltan • Jennifer Sweeney • Deborah D. Taylor • Gordon West • Monica D. Wyatt • Melissa Yurechko

Vincent, Rachel Harlequin Teen (352 pp.) paper $9.99 | Oct. 1, 2011 ISBN: 978-0-373-21032-9 (Paranormal romance. 13 & up)

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kirkus indie Kirkus has been keeping an eye on selfpublishing for years, and we’ve never seen anything like the current boom. With the number of self-published titles now pushing 1 million per year, and independent authors utilizing new technologies to sell tens of thousands of copies of their work, the age of indie has truly arrived. Kirkus Indie brings readers the best works by independent authors, and we bring independent authors the crucial tools to get the word out about their books like no one else. We’ll give your book an unbiased, professional review, and then we’ll push that review into the world via our social-media properties, newsletters, website and expanding content. To learn more about Kirkus Indie and start promoting your title, please visit us online at kirkusreviews.com/indie/about.

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TALES OF CHINKAPIN CREEK

Ayer, Jean Chinkapin Publishers (131 pp.) $10.00 paperback | $9.99 e-book June 27, 2011 978-0615452715 Veteran short-story writer Ayer strikes gold with these enchanting sketches of the motley relatives and neighbors who peopled her mother’s rural West Virginia girlhood—back when the 20th century

was young and spry. In 1903, Nellie Wister was 8, the eldest daughter of a successful farmer and a proud homemaker with deep roots in Chinkapin Creek, a frontier world of fob hats, molasses and moonshine, tucked into a remote corner of the Mountain State. The automobile had not yet arrived, and men were still called home from the fields by dinner bells ringing across blue hills and green valleys. Channeling her mother’s voice, Ayer employs well-crafted narrative nuggets and crisp dialogue—plus a few choice nostalgic photographs—to recreate the impressions made on Nellie’s alert young mind by assorted visitors to the Wister homestead, where mares are covered, tobacco is spit and pear butter is turned. We meet the perpetually dressed-in-mourning Jane Hamrick, who “had fifteen children by fifteen different men.” We learn that Cousin Jonathan “ain’t worth the powder it would take to blow him up.” Then there’s Cecil McComas, who enjoyed the distinction of having two horses shot from under him during the Battle of Sharpsburg and “always spoke as if he were shouting over cannon fire.” And one Miss Nettie Hunter who, when introduced, “couldn’t be counted on to answer because she took laudanum.” If Jane Austen had dabbled in whittled wood instead of pieces of ivory, she may have produced this winsome little book. Yet Ayer’s wry sketches plumb profound themes. As her tales accumulate, the travails of the poor, the lost and the luckless of Chinkapin Creek quietly emerge, along with Nellie’s growing sophistication and wonderment over the vicissitudes of courtship, marriage, faith and death. Ayer skillfully imbues the raw perceptions of youth with the wisdom of age. Her Chinkapin Creek is at once funny, fulsome and strange—a place where small, obscure lives achieve a poetry all their own. An accomplished, creative memoir by a writer with serious literary tools—West Virginia, we hardly knew your soulful depths.

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“A satisfying, well-crafted reminder of how one family’s story can encapsulate the cultural history of America as a whole.” from oh beautiful

THEY COOKED THE BOOKS: A Humorous Look at the World of White-Collar Crime Edwards, Patrick M. CreateSpace (192 pp.) July 15, 2011 978-1466210738

Edwards presents a novel approach to the financial debacle by analyzing the expressions we’ve come to associate with fraud and dishonesty. So many books analyzing America’s financial meltdown have flooded the marketplace that they almost become indistinguishable, but Edwards’ contribution stands out from the crowd. The twist here is the book isn’t about financial malfeasance—it’s a wellresearched, engaging and often amusing study of 100 expressions we use to describe financial malfeasance. Edwards says in his preface that he found more than 500 expressions that could apply, but selected the most relevant 100 for his book. He has collected such euphemisms as “cooking the books,” “it’s not worth the paper it’s written on” and “the cat’s out of the bag,” and intelligently organized them into appropriate categories including “Easy Money,” “A Fool and His Money are Soon Parted” and “This is a Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Yourself Into.” Each expression occupies a minichapter in which Edwards includes the saying’s origin, discusses the way its meaning may have changed from one century to another and demonstrates its modern-day usage by including it in a salient quote. More often than not, Edwards makes a wry comment or witty observation that lightens up what otherwise could be an overbearing work. He refers to Wall Street fraud and the government’s ineffectiveness in regulating the financial services industry—in fact, it’s an underlying theme throughout the book—but only insofar as it relates to the expressions themselves. Edwards also manages to find just the right quotation from personalities old and new to add to the beginning of every chapter; the quote for the chapter describing the expression “They Could Sell You the Brooklyn Bridge” is from Paul Newman: “If you’re playing a poker game and you look around the table and can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.” A unique, humorous way of viewing financial folly.

OH, BEAUTIFUL: An American Family in the 20th Century

Godges, John Paul CreateSpace (532 pp.) $19.99 paperback | $7.99 e-book July 4, 2010 978-1451508017 Godges presents a vast narrative depicting what it means to be an American, told through the lens of an expres-

sive family story. Written in four parts, Godges’ first memoir spans his family’s immigrant beginnings to his parents’ assimilation to a family |

of six kids growing up, growing apart and finally coming back together. The memoir is rich with the cultural history of 20thcentury America; the hardships of immigrants, the harrowing times of the Depression and World War II, dealing with mental illness, the tumultuous Vietnam-era social divide and the AIDS epidemic all impact Godges’ family. The author shines a spotlight on each member of the family particularly affected by these events, hanging back until his turn to present a facet of American life deeply meaningful to him—being a gay man in this country. Roman Catholicism also permeates the book, providing a pillar of community for the Italian- and Polish-American family, but also becoming a divisive force between husband and wife and parent and child, causing the family to face questions over divorce and homosexuality. The intricately crafted narrative is written with the specificity of a historian, seamlessly flowing through the decades. Yet the book is also poignant and personal, capturing the intimate, intricate workings of a family with amazing clarity. Godges concludes that “to be an American in the fullest sense of the word meant to discover oneself as an individual within a community.” This ambitious book succeeds in negotiating the balance between individual and community, telling the engrossing story of an individual family within the greater society of America. A satisfying, well-crafted reminder of how one family’s story can encapsulate the cultural history of America as a whole.

THE APOCALYPSE GENE Michelle, Suki and Carlyle Clark Parker (230 pp.) October 17, 2011 978-1600431029

This action-packed, breakneck-paced novel featuring a duo of lovestruck teenaged protagonists is a wildly imaginative young-adult apocalyptic thriller that also utilizes elements of science fiction, fantasy, folklore, mythology and romance. Set in a near-future Chicago in the midst of a pandemic that has spread throughout the world, killing untold thousands of people with an unstoppable “super-cancer,” the story revolves around Olivya Wright-Ono, a 15-year-old girl with psychic abilities that allow her to see people’s auras. Olivya desperately wants to get to know a mysterious boy named Mikah that she met in V-class, the virtual school she attends. But all of her free time is spent helping her mother run a hospice that’s always full. Olivya and Mikah decide to meet in the middle of the night at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and, amid the bloody chaos of the apocalypse, the two find love; “[T]he place where their lips touched became the world, the galaxy, the universe.” After Mikah reveals that he isn’t exactly human, the two teens come to realize that only they can stop the looming destruction of humankind—and, ultimately, the entire universe. The diversity of narrative elements and historical references—invading aliens, dragons, angels, cyber-golems, the Great Chicago Fire, Mount Vesuvius, the minotaur, Lilith, demon hybrids, living star ships,

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FLEETING MEMORY

etc.—while entertaining, at times overshadows the main storyline and negatively affects the novel’s fluidity. But the irreverent dialogue puts a lighthearted young-adult spin on the apocalyptic happenings; lines such as “[I]t seemed perfectly natural to have a god-dude just chillin’ in her room,” and “[T] hat psychotic gash of a smile wasn’t just out of character, it was absolute creepsville” inject wit and levity into the somber storyline. Ultimately, this is a novel about belief—believing in yourself, your friends, your family and the future—“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” While the storyline is more than a little convoluted, the well-choreographed, thematically powerful conclusion, coupled with the deeply developed characters of Olivya and Mikah, make this a memorable read.

Young, Sherban CreateSpace (227 pp.) $12.95 Paperback | $2.99 e-book July 20, 2011 978-1463602017 A man with no memory stumbles into his own shaggy dog story. The narrator of Young’s (Double Cover, 2011, etc.) intricately plotted, frequently hilarious new novel wakes up in a rural cabin with no memory of how he got there or who he is. He shares the cabin with a feisty little dog and a well-dressed man lying dead on the floor with an arrow through his heart—only he’s not really dead; he’s got enough life left in him to whisper to the main character that “the answer lies with Keats.” When our narrator asks “Keats who?” the man heaves one last word, “Cretin,” before dying, leaving our hero to reflect, “He was really dead this time. Really dead and kind of rude.” Before the amnesiac main character can figure out what to do with the body, he gets another visitor—the mystery man Enescu Fleet, an accomplished amateur sleuth and reputed inventor of the phrase “cool beans.” After a little verbal sparring, the main character decides to reveal the dead body to Fleet and seek his counsel—but by that point the dead body is long gone, leaving not even a blood stain. The novel that unfolds from such a feverish, smile-inducing setup repays the promise of its opening many times over. The setting is revealed not only as an Indian casino in Maine but also as the venue of Deadly Allusions, a televised game show in which realistic murders are staged in order to give amateur sleuths a chance to test their deductive abilities. The story’s odd heroes are quickly enmeshed in just such a simulated murder, which quickly complicates with corrupt politicians, shady deals and, of course, actual murder. Young’s narrative dexterity never flags, although occasionally his cleverness gets the better of him (there are many points in the book where the only thing the main character seems to have forgotten is his name—a very convenient kind of amnesia). This novel has more barbs than a Dorothy Parker short story and is every bit as enjoyable. An utterly winning, deceptively smart collection of mishaps, plot twists and grinning one-liners.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF MISSING MONEY

Pitman, Mary Do The Right Thing (72 pp.) $14.95 paperback | July 12, 2011 978-0615452456 A bantam-sized guidebook brimming with tips on how to search for unclaimed property that belongs to you. More than $1 billion goes unclaimed each year because of lost or unknown life insurance policies. Meanwhile, $200 million is waiting to be claimed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Does any of this cash belong to you? Pitman explains there are troves of money hiding in inactive bank accounts, unredeemed savings bonds, unpaid tax refunds and elsewhere, just waiting for the rightful owner to step forward. With the passion of a treasure hunter and tenacity of a journalist, Pitman has compiled a detailed, step-by-step guide to help the average person unearth their missing money from layers of government and corporate bureaucracy. The book reveals a dizzying number of places where money may linger in limbo, from stocks and charitable organizations to oil and mineral royalties. Even more valuable are the practical search techniques as tested by the cyber-sleuthing author. Besides showing where to look, Pitman demonstrates the dozens of ways a person or business name can be stored in a computerized database. Novices will benefit from veteran tips such as entering “Mr.” or “Mrs.” as a person’s last name may yield better search results. The book also lists obscure sources of money, such as the $70 million waiting in a Native American trust or the $2,000 life insurance benefit for eligible survivors of retired railroad employees who died between 1964 and 2001. Rounding out this helpful text is advice on dealing with professional “money finders” and a handy checklist for changing a name or address. Well-organized and written in everyday language, the book makes searching the jungle of public records seem less daunting. A few real-life case studies on the claiming process from start to finish would have bolstered the author’s meticulous research. Still, despite its scant 72 pages, the book is complete enough to equip anyone with the tools to start hunting. A small book that could point readers toward big money they never knew they had. 1740

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K i rk us M e di a L L C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N

SVP, Finance J ames H ull

SVP, Marketing M ike H ejny

SVP, Online Paul H o f f man

# Copyright 2011 by Kirkus Media LLC. KIRKUS REVIEWS (ISSN 0042 6598) is published semi-monthly by Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Road, Austin, TX 78744. Subscription prices are $169 for professionals ($199 International) and $129 ($169 International) for individual consumers (home address required). Single copy: $25.00. All other rates on request. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Kirkus Reviews, PO Box 3601, Northbrook, IL 60065-3601. Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, TX 78710 and at additional mailing offices.

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K I R K US

I N DIE

SACRED CEREMONY: Create and Officiate Personalized Wedding Ceremonies Reid, Dayna CreateSpace (246 pp.) $17.95 paperback March 19, 2011 978-1456491444

From the Indie Desk B Y P ERRY CROWE

Maybe it’s the DIY-er in me (Kirkus Indie editor, self-published author, duct-tape aficionado), but as my wedding day approached this July,

of my bride and me regarding the auspicious occasion. But how do you go about writing your own wedding ceremony? It’s a poorly kept secret about the bookreviewing biz that we’re all in it for the free books (just ask our owner, Herb Simon, who eagerly rifles through the shelves of our New York office whenever he’s in town). It can be a double-edged sword; I take home tons (probably literally) of great reading material, but with a personal library that has steadily swollen since college, exacerbated by a stint working at a used bookstore and the regular flow from my Kirkus gig, not to mention moving in with another avid reader, books now fill and spill from the bookshelves in our apartment, growing in piles on any flat surface like the whole place has been coated by the spores of some biblio-fungus. But among this horde of books was exactly what I was looking for—Dayna Reid’s Sacred Ceremony, which had come through Kirkus Indie a few months prior and received a review calling it “a nuts-and-bolts primer on fashioning the architecture and words for your marriage” that was “sweet as the cake and smooth as the silk.” Initially, I had grabbed the book out of an impulse to contribute to my brideto-be’s general amassing of nuptial paraphernalia, but flipping through it, I found passages that really struck a chord, particularly Reid’s opening remark that “there are many elements to choose from when creating your ceremony, but there are only two elements that are legally required.” Hearing the bare-minimum legal requirements for something is music to a DIY-er’s ears, especially when there’s a party full of friends and family and an open bar waiting on the other side of the task at hand. We stripped my brother’s standard service to its fundamentals—no readings or lighting candles or songs, except the processional and recessional played on acoustic guitar by my other brother, whom had been married by our mutual minister brother the summer before (we do it ourselves a lot in my family). So we

I grew increasingly anxious about the marriage-industrial complex, that gaggle of artisanal mercenaries you need for the rings, tux, dress, cake, flowers, photos, music and more necessary to pull off this supposedly intimate, emotional merging of two souls. I’m no masochist, so it’s not like we were really going to do everything ourselves (and my fiancée handled the lion’s share of the arrangements, fueled by stacks of bridal magazines and regular doses of Say Yes to the Dress—at least it wasn’t Bridezillas). But I didn’t want to hand the ceremony itself, the holy of holies, over to a stranger. I had already clashed with my inlaws over my groomsmen’s attire (I say what better time than a wedding to wear a tuxedo t-shirt?), so I was a little concerned about their reaction to our officiant being my brother, a minister ordained by the Universal Church of Life (re: got it on the Internet). But my fiancée and I aren’t regular churchgoers, so it’s not like we had a deep pool of familiar clergy from which to draw. And my brother is actually an assistant county attorney, which adds a nice touch of gravitas and made it easier for my in-laws to take it in stride. So I was thrilled that such a nerve-wracking, lifedefining moment would be attended to by my own flesh and blood. Even with a bosom officiant locked in, there was still the matter of the ceremony’s content. My brother e-mailed me a copy of the standard script he had used in previous ceremonies, encouraging me to adjust it as needed. The script was fine, but it didn’t quite capture the feelings |

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barely tapped into what Reid’s book had to offer, just choosing an address that elegantly summarized our thoughts on marriage (I’m a sucker for a good woventapestry metaphor, especially when followed by the merging of two rivers) and a selection of “non-spiritual wishes” for couple, to be delivered by the officiant on behalf of those assembled (I figured if we’re putting on this show for everyone, we might as well get some audience participation, particularly if we can put words in their mouth). We wrote our own vows, as we’re both writers and performers and couldn’t imagine saying someone else’s words in such a personal moment. I edited some of the selections slightly, mostly out of compulsion (what’s the old adage? “Editors edit”— OK, maybe that’s a new adage). But Reid is clear up front that her book is a guide, a jumping-off point, and readers should make the ceremony their own, tweaking and rearranging—unless they want to take text verbatim, which, of course, is also perfectly acceptable. Reid also adds the encouraging tip that “the original meaning of the word ‘minister’ is ‘servant,’ ” and therefore finding “an officiant who is eager to serve you” will ensure that “your wedding day will be a beautiful one for everyone.” And it was. At the reception, we received lots of compliments about the ceremony (our vows were the showstoppers, but feeling comfortable with whole ceremony made them come easily). When it was all said and done, we felt hoodwinked by our DJ (despite giving him a list of songs we wanted to hear, he insisted on playing a party mix that cleared the dance floor on multiple occasions) and the photographer (who is essentially holding our underwhelming photos hostage while she seeks their publication in wedding magazines and websites—if you think paying a photographer to take photos of an event that you paid to host means that you have any rights to the photos, you are sadly mistaken). But thanks to a game family and Reid’s helpful text, the ceremony was exactly how we wanted it.

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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Presents...

SERIOUSLY GREAT SERIES These Last Installments Will Keep Readers on the Edge of Their Seats!

Coming January 2012

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seudonymous Bosch returns with a fresh report on the latest adventures of Cass & Max-Ernest. A trip to the natural history museum goes terribly awry when Cass accidently breaks the finger off a mummy. Needless to say, the mummy wants its finger back!

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rouble is brewing at The School of Fear and just when its star pupils were doing so well. Madeline, Theo, Lulu, and Garrison must convince a reporter that while The School of Fear may be fearsomely odd, it’s results are fearsomely good.

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wins Connor and Grace Tempest thought they’d seen it all travelling the high seas among pirates and vampires. But as ancient enemies square off for the deciding battle, Connor and Grace will face the greatest challenge yet: Who will prevail? Vampire or Pirate?

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September 15, 2011: Volume LXXIX, No 17  

Chef Jacques Pepin returns with a book of fabulous recipes retooled for the modern kitchen; a child-prodigy violinist fights to establish he...

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