From the Shelf
Just as the personal is political, so can be what we put on our plates, plant in our gardens or place on our cookbook shelves. If you're interested in exploring plant-based cooking as part of an anti-racist journey or simply looking to eat fresher, greener foods, these gorgeous books provide delicious ways to nourish the body and soul--and delight the taste buds.
To begin, see Decolonize Your Diet: Plant-Based Mexican-American Recipes for Health and Healing by Luz Calvo and Catriona Esquibel (Arsenal Pulp Press, $26.95). Alongside gorgeous art and photography, the authors offer a reclamation of Mesoamerican cuisine with more than 100 vegetarian recipes rich in color, flavor and history, including Abuelita's Lentil Soup, Hibiscus Flower Tacos and Skillet Cornbread.
Tuck into Bryant Terry's celebrated Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes (Ten Speed, $30), lauded by readers, food critics and the inimitable Angela Davis, who noted: "With the recommended music, each recipe reminds us that vegetables can not only help us save the planet, but can also be a source of boundless enjoyment." Terry's Tempura Green Beans will make your kitchen, and picky eaters, sing.
In Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul (Harmony, $19.99), Jenné Claiborne offers vibrant, vegetable-centered comfort food. Start with Fluffy Sweet Potato Biscuits, Jackfruit Sliders or Oyster Mushroom Étouffée. And Vegan for Everybody: Foolproof Plant-Based Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and In-Between (America's Test Kitchen, $29.99) is abundant with tips and tricks for veganizing more than 200 recipes, familiar and new.
Finally, for beautifully curated "food for thought," check out the powerful Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society, edited by the brilliant A. Breeze Harper (Lantern, $22). Updated in 2020, the collection suggests new and inspiring ways to eat, think and thrive. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer
In this Issue...
When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids
by Gregg Behr , Ryan Rydzewski
An engaging exploration of how the lessons of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood can be remade to suit today's children.
by Lorenzo Carcaterra
An incredibly moving memoir about three women who greatly influenced suspense novelist and screenwriter Lorenzo Carcaterra.
by Becky Albertalli
An endlessly fun YA rom-com about a high school girl and boy pursuing the same guy while trying to stay best friends, keep no secrets and nail their parts in the school musical.
Review by Subjects:
From Garden District Book Shop
09/16/2021 - 6:00PMEVENT Postponed THE GARDEN DISTRICT BOOK SHOP HOSTS KENT BABB TO CELEBRATE HIS NEW RELEASE, ACROSS THE RIVER: LIFE, DEATH, AND FOOTBALL IN AN AMERICAN CITY The Garden District Book Shop is thrilled to host an evening celebrating the recent release of award-winning sportswriter Kent Babb’s, Across the River: Life, Death, and Football in an American City. What is sure to be a classic work of sports journalism, Across the River is an investigation into the...
The Mystery Fanfare blog recommended several "bookstore mysteries."
"Exciting book adaptations to watch out for" were showcased by the New York Public Library.
"Fancy Feast just released a cat food-inspired cookbook for humans," Mental Floss noted.
"First look: a bust of Elie Wiesel is coming" to the National Cathedral, Washingtonian reported.
"Revealed: Lord Byron's £4,000 cheque that helped create modern Greece." (via the Guardian).
Rediscover: Michael Collins
Michael Collins, the American astronaut and author who piloted the Apollo 11 command module around the moon while crewmates Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic 1969 landing, died April 28 at age 90. Collins retired from NASA in 1970, worked briefly as assistant Secretary of State for public affairs, served as director of the new National Air and Space Museum, became undersecretary of the Smithsonian Institution and founded his own aerospace consulting company. Collins was also a prolific and well-received author who eschewed the use of ghost writers. His autobiography, Carrying the Fire: An Astronaut's Journeys, was published in 1974 with a foreword by Charles Lindbergh and has since been re-released for the moon landing's 40th and 50th anniversaries. It's considered by many to be the best astronaut autobiography ever published.
Collins also wrote a history of the U.S. space program, Liftoff: The Story of America's Adventure in Space (1988), and Mission to Mars (1990), an account of human spaceflight to Mars. A children's book based on Collins's experiences, Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places (1976), was revised as Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut's Story and re-released in 1994. The 50th anniversary edition of Carrying the Fire is available from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. --Tobias Mutter
The Writer's Life
Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey: Leaving Space for the Reader
Jarrett Pumphrey has been a storyteller most his life, both on his own and in collaboration with his brother Jerome. Ever since they joined creative forces as boys, Pumphrey has been honing his storytelling skills as an entrepreneur and picture book creator. Jerome Pumphrey is a designer, illustrator and writer, originally from Houston, Tex. He's currently a graphic designer at the Walt Disney Company.
Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey's first book, The Old Truck (Norton Young Readers), was a Shelf Awareness Best Children's and Teen Book of 2020. Here, the Pumphrey brothers chat about their sophomore picture book collaboration, The Old Boat (Norton Young Readers).
Jarrett Pumphrey: Let's do this. What should we talk about?
Jerome Pumphrey: Well, we've got a new book out: The Old Boat. It probably makes sense to talk about that. Can you share what it's about?
Jarrett: The Old Boat is the follow-up to our author/illustrator debut, The Old Truck. It's about a few things, but it's mainly about an old boat, a boy, his grandma and the small island they call home. Similar to what we did in The Truck, the story spans multiple generations and covers more than either the text or pictures convey alone. How's that sound?
Jerome: Sounds good. I kind of set you up with that "what's it about" question. I don't like answering it myself because I don't like telling readers what the story is about. We intentionally leave space in stories so readers can have different takeaways. Or at least we try to do that. I really just want to say, "It's about a lot of things. You should read it and see what you get from it," but I probably can't get away with that, huh?
Jarrett: I think you just did. One thing we can say The Old Boat isn't about is it isn't The Old Truck BUT WITH A BOAT INSTEAD. We wanted to make a companion book, not a remake of The Old Truck. So, while it's similar in ways, it's also very different.
Jerome: Yeah. If The Old Truck is a story of restoration, The Old Boat is a story of transformation.
Jarrett: That's a good way to put it. Here's a question I don't like answering: Where'd the story come from?
Jerome: Yeah. The answer is always, "It came from a lot of places."
Jarrett: A lot of places we're not necessarily aware of.
Jerome: But what about the places we were aware of?
Jarrett: Well, one is that we used to go fishing in Galveston, Tex., with our dad's mom when we were kids. I've got the fondest memories of her showing us how to catch a crab by tying a chicken leg to some string and dropping it off the end of a pier. And she wasn't fishing for sport; she was fishing to eat. We'd take everything we caught back to her house, and she'd fry it up. It was so good! Really gave me an appreciation for what an incredible resource the ocean is: the life it holds, the life it gives. I've loved the ocean and fishing ever since.
Jerome: I enjoyed those trips too, though, I'm not all that into fishing these days.
Jarrett: Oh, I know. Fishing's too dirty for you. You're more of the leisure boat sort. Speaking of boats, where'd the boat in the story come from?
Jerome: Very funny. I don't mind the dirt. It's the worms. The boat in the book was inspired by our grandfather's boat. When we were kids, our mom would take us to visit her parents, and as soon as she pulled into their driveway, we'd all jump out of the minivan and immediately into the boat our grandfather kept under their carport.
Jarrett: We sure loved that boat, didn't we? I think PaPa loved that we loved it, too. He spent hours watching us sail the world in it without ever leaving the driveway.
Jerome: Yeah. That's probably why he ended up giving it to us so we could take it out to the actual ocean.
Jarrett: Now, we've covered the inspiration for the boat and the fishing and the ocean. But there's a bigger story also being told in the book that has its own sort of inspiration. What's that all about?
Jerome: Yeah, this is something we got from all our grandparents: a will to fight the tide, so to speak, whatever the tide might be. None of them were content with the accepted norms of their day, and they weren't quiet about it.
Jarrett: They sure weren't. Whatever their disadvantages, they worked--often against the flow of things--to improve their communities and their lives so Mom and Dad would be able to give us even better lives when we came along.
Jerome: Do you want to talk about how we decided to show it in the book?
Jarrett: Well, in the book we tried to represent this idea in the illustrations with the accumulation of trash in the waters surrounding the family's small island. As this transformation of the island happens--from pristine to polluted--we also see a transformation in the boy. Where at first there's a sort of willingness to just go with the flow, eventually the boy, now a man, is moved to take a stand and do something about it.
Jerome: I don't think that gives too much away. Again, and I promise this is the last time I'll say it, this book is about a lot of things. Like with The Old Truck, it's the sort of book you're going to have to read over and over again, spotting what changes and what stays the same from spread to spread. If you read it that way, hopefully you see something new that makes you cock your head to the side and re-evaluate what you thought the story was about the last time you read it.
Jarrett: Those are my favorite kinds of books.
Jerome: Mine too.
Jarrett: There's a lot more about this book we could talk about. Like how we made over 300 stamps to create the artwork or why we decided to use earthy tans and browns instead of blue for the water. Maybe we can come back for that if we didn't bore the Shelf Awareness readers with this chat. Anything else you want to say before we wrap it up?
Jerome: I hope readers enjoy The Old Boat. What's your hope for readers?
Jarrett: I hope when they read The Old Boat, they find the space we left for them to put some of themselves. I hope they read it and want to read it again. I hope they like the whale.
Mystery & Thriller
The Granite Coast Murders
by Jean-Luc Bannalec
Jean-Luc Bannalec (Death in Brittany; The Killing Tide) has created a funny, intriguing mystery set on Brittany's exquisite Côte de Granit Rose in The Granite Coast Murders. Commissaire Georges Dupin's girlfriend Claire and assistant Nolwenn have conspired to force him to take a two-week vacation. Dupin, a workaholic, reluctantly lies on a beach towel next to Claire all day, as she basks in the gorgeous setting.
But then, one of their fellow hotel guests disappears, and Dupin begins sneakily to investigate. He skulks around the area, interviewing townspeople, visiting the gossipy hairdresser and stealthily calling Nolwenn to convince her to help him with research. Claire is suspicious as Dupin's hair keeps getting shorter, but he's quite proud of himself for conducting an investigation without her knowledge. When a dead woman turns up in a nearby granite quarry, and the body is not that of the missing hotel guest, Dupin becomes certain that something sinister is afoot.
Clever and amusing, The Granite Coast Murders is a delightful novel that effortlessly transports readers to the astoundingly beautiful Pink Granite Coast. Readers may find themselves doing wistful image searches after reading, but they're also sure to seek out more of Dupin's adventures. Although The Granite Coast Murders is the sixth entry in the Georges Dupin series, because Dupin is on vacation, it can easily be read as a standalone. Perfect for fans of Louise Penny or Mark Pryor, The Granite Coast Murders is not to be missed. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.
Discover: In this lighthearted French mystery, Commissaire Dupin tries to investigate a murder without his girlfriend noticing as they vacation on the Brittany coast.
Food & Wine
by Eric Ripert
World-renowned chef Eric Ripert may be known for his lengthy tenure at Michelin- and New York Times-starred seafood restaurant Le Bernardin, but there's not a fish to be found in Vegetable Simple. Explaining this in his introduction to the book, Ripert says, "As I do with fish, I like to pay homage to vegetables and prepare them in a way that enhances their best qualities. I want them to shine, I want to bring out their brightness and beauty."
With the aid of stunning, elegant photos by Nigel Parry, vegetables are presented in all their colorful, delicious glory. Ripert's simple preparations range from surprisingly easy, like seasoned microwave popcorn, to more complex recipes like falafel and the humble ratatouille. In this collection, however, it's the natural flavors and textures of vegetables that matter most. Ripert emphasizes mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes at the peak of ripeness and includes advice on shopping and caring for produce, as well as a guide to what's in season throughout the year.
Full-page photographs accompany all 110 recipes, making this an unexpectedly beautiful book that will inspire readers to savor every bite as they page through again and again. While some would be reluctant to call it a recipe, even the preparation and photo of a bright red tomato, sliced in half and served with fresh pepper and a drizzle of olive oil is a feast for the senses. --Suzanne Krohn, editor, Love in Panels
Discover: Eric Ripert and Nigel Parry showcase the beautiful and delicious nature of vegetables in 110 recipes that embrace the pleasure of high-quality ingredients prepared with minimal fuss.
Biography & Memoir
Three Dreamers: A Memoir of Family
by Lorenzo Carcaterra
Suspense novelist and screenwriter Lorenzo Carcaterra (Payback; Sleepers) shares an intimate story about the three strong-willed, determined women who "saved" his life. Carcaterra--"the son of an ex-con and a housewife who spoke only Italian [who] grew up in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan"--was raised watching his mother trapped in an abusive, loveless, impoverished marriage to a man who had murdered his first wife. When he was 14, Carcaterra's mother sent him to Ischia, Italy, to spend the summer with his maternal grandmother, Nonna Maria, and other relatives. The trip proved to be a watershed.
Nonna Maria--wise, dignified and of great resilience--becomes a bedrock, championing her sensitive grandson, who has storytelling aspirations. Upon returning to the U.S., Carcaterra grows determined to forge a writing career, though his mother, Raffaela, belittles his goal. Steeped in misery, Raffaela--a widow whose second marriage is to Carcaterra's volatile father--often resents her son for being his bullying father's offspring. Dutiful, devoted Carcaterra, however, stands by his mother through some cruel, searing rejections. When Carcaterra meets Susan, an editor and coworker at the New York Daily News, he finds a soulmate whose love and support help turn the tide. Carcaterra finally launches his novel-writing career and the couple build a beautiful, sadly shortened, life together.
Many heart-wrenching incidents pervade the traumatic landscape of Carcaterra's life. But the richness of his forthright storytelling gives tender form to sadness and loss, shaping it into a deeply moving narrative about hard-fought familial love and forgiveness. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines
Discover: An incredibly moving memoir about three women who greatly influenced suspense novelist and screenwriter Lorenzo Carcaterra.
Little and Often: A Memoir
by Trent Preszler
Trent Preszler, born and raised on a farm, longed to live in New York since watching The Muppets Take Manhattan in a 1986 Faith, S.Dak., theater. He made the dream a reality: he earned two degrees at Cornell and, then, as CEO of Bedell Cellars, created the merlot served at Barack Obama's inauguration. Yet his successes were haunted by his estranged father Leon's words, "You ain't never gonna be man enough." In Preszler's superb memoir, Little and Often, the improbable happens--the non-craftsman builds a canoe from scratch and makes peace with his demons.
Disowned 14 years earlier, Preszler is stunned when his dad has nice words for him during a rare trip home. Leon dies shortly thereafter, oddly leaving Trent his toolbox. Recalling a fond memory of a time in a fishing boat, Preszler somewhat inadvisably decides to build a strip canoe, following directions from a decades-old paperback he discovers at the lumberyard.
The build begins about as well as expected as Preszler, whose friends think macramé might be more appropriate, rushes in and learns on the fly. But using his father's tools and discovering more about the churchgoing Vietnam veteran and championship rodeo rider helps Preszler understand his life's traumas. Readers learn along with Preszler as he works; he thoughtfully doles out historical details over the course of the boat's construction, as he reveals the family's background. Insightful and humorous, Preszler's memoir is a deep dive to find the father he longed for and the confidence to be his own man. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review
Discover: After the death of his estranged father, a successful CEO learns paternal life lessons by going out of his comfort zone and building a canoe using his dad's tools.
Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing: Essays
by Lauren Hough
Lauren Hough grew up in a cult, and left it--more than once. She spent five years in the U.S. Air Force, a gay woman serving during the era of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. She worked as a bouncer, a "cable guy," a writer. She's been homeless, incarcerated, beaten, assaulted, threatened, loved, left, happy, bored. She documents all of this--and more--in the aptly titled Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing, a searing collection of 11 personal essays.
Despite the harsh realities that Hough has faced throughout her life--harder even than living in, or leaving, a cult--Leaving Isn't the Hardest Thing is never bleak, infused throughout with Hough's wit and sense of humor. "I've learned, if not to expect the worst, not to be surprised by the worst. I'll cry in frustration when my Internet's out, but when my car bursts into flames, well, that seems about right."
That's not to say Hough's humor lets herself--or her readers--off easy. In every essay in this collection, Hough peels back layers and layers of harsh realities to expose the raw, often violent underside of a society that fails its most vulnerable members time and time again. From that underbelly, Hough emerges as a strong, independent, queer woman: proud of who she is and what she will become, ever reckoning with the systems of injustice that forged her and determined to tear them down as she moves forward. It's impossible to step into Hough's essays and not appreciate her candor and honesty, her willingness to be vulnerable and real--and to see those traits as calls to do the same. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm
Discover: In this searing collection of 11 personal essays, a queer woman raised in a cult documents her experience surviving the unsurvivable--both in the cult, and after leaving it.
Everything Is Fine: A Memoir
by Vince Granata
Vince Granata was four when his parents brought triplets home from the hospital. As the family legend goes, thrilled to have siblings, Vince stuck his head in his father's open car window and declared, "This is the best day of my life." Granata was 27 when he got the call that his brother Tim had killed their mother.
Granata's heartbreaking memoir, Everything Is Fine, recounts the years leading up to Claudia Granata's death at her son's hands and the aftermath that left Vince, his siblings and his father with differing scars from the same horrific wound. It is the story of a warm, loving family, yet also one of American tragedy. Granata demonstrates how woefully inadequate mental health care and historically deadly clashes between law enforcement and the mentally ill left his mother fighting for her son's life, yet afraid to call authorities for help.
Granata deals with his traumas through the memoir, but also uses it to educate readers on a misunderstood disease process. Signs of Tim's schizophrenia began in high school, "on an atomic level, a single cell, something misfiring, an electron hitting the wrong synapse, a chemical imbalance slowly putrefying his brain." The progression to demonic delusions is harrowing in hindsight, but in order to inform readers about the terror of the disease, Granata had to "show... the horror it wrought" and the boy it swallowed. Painful on a multitude of levels, Granata's work is thought-provoking and important. It elegantly humanizes a man who has done the most inhumane thing to those he loves most. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review
Discover: Vince Granata gracefully delves into how he, his loved ones and society were unable sufficiently to help his schizophrenic brother before horrific tragedy struck.
The Haunting of Alma Fielding: A True Ghost Story
by Kate Summerscale
It's best to avoid reading The Haunting of Alma Fielding before bed. Kate Summerscale's atmospheric and insightful investigation based on an actual suburban haunting in 1930s London dives headfirst into the disturbing connection between the supernatural and the subconscious. In particular, this spooky historical tale examines how loss, trauma, heartache and even boredom can manifest as "poltergeists" that terrorize the afflicted in shocking and sometimes violent ways. The narrative follows Hungarian ghost hunter and reporter Nandor Fodor as he checks out the case of Alma Fielding, a 34-year-old housewife whose family is being terrorized by an aggressive spectral being that throws glasses against the wall, overturns furniture and even causes bugs and reptiles to materialize at seemingly impossible times.
Summerscale's in-depth look at Fodor's journey from spiritualist to skeptic and the origin of Alma's otherworldly oddness is underscored by the trusting relationship that develops between the two. Alma's apparitions also heighten Fodor's belief that ghosts are a type of "spectral automaton... living on life borrowed from human wrecks." During one investigation of a particularly miserable couple, he observes, "The ghost had been used as a distancing element, a sort of tranquilizer, which helped hold the family together without bringing their true frustrations into the open." After spending a significant amount of time with Alma and her family, Fodor learns more about her devastating experiences with isolation, chronic illness, grief and regret in her cold and loveless marriage. Given these challenges, Alma seems almost ingenious for finding a way to escape her largely gender-based confines. --Angela Lutz, freelance reviewer
Discover: Kate Summerscale's atmospheric and insightful investigation inspired by a suburban haunting in 1930s London delves into the disturbing connection between the supernatural and the subconscious.
Parenting & Family
When You Wonder, You're Learning: Mister Rogers' Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids
by Gregg Behr , Ryan Rydzewski
"Won't you be my neighbor?" This question framed Fred Rogers's powerful, revolutionary television program and is a siren song for several generations of American children. But with the show off the air now for several decades and a world marked by "rapid social and technological change," children's advocate and founder of the Remake Learning educational network Gregg Behr and education reporter Ryan Redzewski realized that "the tools for learning that Fred Rogers taught would grow more and more essential."
When You Wonder, You're Learning is filled with scenes from the television show, interviews with Rogers's coworkers and collaborators, and framed with a foreword by his wife, Joanne Rogers. Parents and educators alike will find insight into how lessons around curiosity, wonder, striving and failing, and connecting with other people are still relevant to the development of children today. Each of the six chapters helpfully concludes with a "What might you do" section, providing questions and activities to help adults practice the lessons they've just read.
Through dynamic analysis and exercises, Behr and Rydzewski suggest that things like curiosity and connection made the Neighborhood into a place where, in the words of actress Mary Rawson (Cousin Mary Owl on the show), "violence and war, hatred and intolerance are not painted out of the picture but neither are they allowed to destroy the canvas." It gave viewers hope that "the canvas was worth defending"--a hope readers will find as well. --Michelle Anya Anjirbag, freelance reviewer
Discover: An engaging exploration of how the lessons of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood can be remade to suit today's children.
Art & Photography
Picture Perfect Food: Master the Art of Food Photography with 52 Bite-Sized Tutorials
by Joanie Simon
Whether you want to up your Instagram ante or take eye-catching pictures for a food blog, Picture Perfect Food: Master the Art of Food Photography with 52 Bite-Sized Tutorials is the perfect guide to taking more delectable pictures of food. Joanie Simon, a prolific food writer and photographer, offers dynamic tips on everything from "Using the Right Depth of Field for a Scene" and "Using Implied Movement to Hook the Viewer" to "Navigating the Three-Quarter Shot" and "How to Make Flat Foods Look Fabulous."
Filled with amazing food pictures, helpful strategies and an encouraging tone, Picture Perfect Food is an approachable, useful guide that will appeal to photographers of all capabilities. Some tips are more complicated--offering specific aperture and shutter speed advice--while other techniques are geared especially toward phone camera users. Simon offers challenges to help the photographer practice and improve: capturing an image where you intentionally limit the light in a scene; shooting eggs with different color temperatures; using a specific rubric to analyze food magazine photos that are especially appealing.
Simon's attention to detail is fantastic; she even includes recipes for pancakes and syrup that photograph particularly well. Amateurs and professional photographers alike are sure to appreciate Picture Perfect Food's assistance in taking their photos from mediocre to mouthwatering. --Jessica Howard, bookseller at Bookmans, Tucson, Ariz.
Discover: This approachable photography guide offers 52 excellent tips for taking better food pictures.
Children's & Young Adult
Kate in Waiting
by Becky Albertalli
An endearingly heartfelt and humorous YA rom-com, Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) spotlights the butterflies-in-stomach excitement of magnetic crushes and the warming embrace of friendship.
Best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker happily share everything, even the same crushes. But when Matt Olsson, the blond-haired and pink-cheeked star of both of their summer make-out daydreams, enrolls at their high school, sharing gets complicated. Unsure how Matt identifies and both very interested, Kate and Andy decide to see if Matt pursues either of them. When Matt attends Kate's family's Shabbat dinner, Andy arrives looking like an "absolute thirst machine." Kate is also sure the boys are sharing flirty text messages. But she gets to kiss Matt over and over again in school musical rehearsals. Then Andy's text messages turn passive-aggressive. Kate worries she could lose her best friend over this boy but believes that if there is chemistry between her and Matt, there would be no way to save her friendship with Andy.
Albertalli applies her prowess in crafting fantastic LGBTQIA+ voices to a YA novel gushing with laughs. Writing in Kate's both sarcastic and tender voice, Albertalli balances silly banter and affectionate teasing with heart-to-hearts between friends adorably protective of their relationship. Kate, a "passenger seat" person accustomed to telling Andy everything, works to free a more independent self. Meanwhile, Andy, who is Black and gay in the Deep South, feels accepted by Matt, and sees him as an odds-defying chance at romance. The magic of theater--that "leveled-up" closeness of working together on a play--and utterly sweet subplots make Kate in Waiting playfully dramatic with a valuable message about charting one's own path. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer
Discover: An endlessly fun YA rom-com about a high school girl and boy pursuing the same guy while trying to stay best friends, keep no secrets and nail their parts in the school musical.
The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Tales
by Kate Ashwin, Sloane Leong and Kel McDonald, editors
The Night Marchers and Other Oceanian Tales is the fourth installment in Iron Circus Comics' geographically specific Cautionary Fables & Fairytales series: African tales in The Girl Who Married a Skull, Asian stories in Tamamo the Fox Maiden and European fare in The Nixie of the Mill-Pond. Volume four turns to the Pacific Islands of the Philippines, Hawaii and Fiji to lure, warn, frighten and entertain middle-grade readers. Kate Ashwin and Kel McDonald, who edited the previous three titles, are joined here by cartoonist/author Sloane Leong.
As can happen with any collection, the narrative and graphic quality varies through the compilation's 16 tales. Among the most artistically satisfying is "The Ibalon Epic: A Retelling of Baltog" by Mark Gould, about a renowned warrior who dreams of being a peaceful farmer despite being known as "Baltog the brave... Baltog the strong... Baltog the unrelenting." Gould's exquisitely detailed panels are presented in various sizes and shapes and, as they overlap and overflow, they mirror his character's determination to break through his physical and theoretical borders. Haunting defines the titular "The Night Marchers," an atmospheric Hawaiian tale in which a girl disobeys her mother to risk a final glance at her dead father. Artist Jonah Cabudol-Chalker affectingly manifests the defiance in Kate Ashwin's writing with irregular panels, words beyond borders and images spilling off the page.
Despite the uneven presentation, this majority #OwnVoices offering is an intriguing portal to folklore, ferrying readers beyond more familiar Western myths and tales. These diverse adaptations and imaginative reinterpretations present spirit interactions, unexpected bonds, timeless life lessons and somber reminders of mortality. While the intended audience is middle-grade, older teens (and even adults) will discover potent storytelling here. --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon
Discover: Sixteen myths and tales originating from primarily #OwnVoices creators from the Philippines, Hawaii and Fiji entice young readers with explorations of faraway folklore.
The Great Godden
by Meg Rosoff
Meg Rosoff's The Great Godden is a first-rate coming-of-age novel told by an astute and appealing unnamed narrator over the course of one uncharacteristically fraught seaside summer.
When the narrator and her family arrive for the annual visit at their much-loved, "picturesque and annoying" beach house, each of them--Mum and Dad, the four kids, Dad's cousin Hope and her boyfriend Mal--"radiates optimism" that it will be the best summer ever. But this year there are two surprises: after 12 years together, "Malanhope" will marry at summer's end. And film star Florence Godden's two sons will be staying with Malanhope at Hope's beach house. Kit Godden is a "golden Greek statue of a youth," oozing wealth and privilege, while his brother, Hugo, is "bony and awkward." Kit makes sure to catch the gaze of any and all parties who might find him irresistible, and "within four seconds" he's charmed Mattie, the narrator's 16-year-old sister, "practically to death." What ensues is a summer so full of angst and "apocalypse" that the entire family is left reeling for years to come.
The Great Godden is filled with equal parts drama and reflection, delivering a riveting novel of love and betrayal that is deftly and elegantly written. Rosoff (Picture Me Gone; Jonathan Unleashed) allows her self-aware and observant narrator to speak through the lens of hindsight, leaving a trail of tantalizing clues. The unnamed young lady, now older and wiser, seems to have weathered her summer of manipulation and mind games, and readers will find her story a compelling summertime--or anytime--read. --Lynn Becker, blogger and host of Book Talk, a monthly online discussion of children's books for SCBWI
Discover: An idyllic summer on the beach turns into a season of manipulation and mind games, deftly related in hindsight by an astute, unnamed narrator.