EarlyWord

News for Collection Development and Readers Advisory Librarians

Celebrating the Colbert Bump

One of the many people who helped say goodbye to Stephen Colbert during his finale show on Thursday was an author he often refers to after making an indelicate remark, “Once again, my apologies to Doris Kearns Goodwin” as well as an author he’s had on the show three times, George Saunders.

Colbert has been very, very good to books and authors, from shining a light on Amazon’s strong-arm tactics against publisher Hachette to featuring an average of two authors per week on the show.

New York magazine dubs him “Late Night’s Most Passionate Book-Nerd,” in an article that gives insight on how it felt to get the Colbert treatment. Poet Billy Collins, compares it to getting a spinal tap, ” … it’s actually completely painless, but the anticipation of it is nerve-racking.”

The big question is whether the book nerd in Colbert will make the transition to broadcast TV when he replaces David Letterman on CBS’s Late Night.

The Year’s Best Humor

9780062268341_76d86Ending the year with a laugh, the Washington Post offers “five highlights of the comedy book — broadly defined as funny books by funny people.”

Of course, Amy Poehler’s best seller, Yes Please, (HarperCollins/Dey Street Books; HarperAudio) tops the list, but the rest are not such obvious choices:

 

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No Land’s Man, Aasif Mandvi (Chronicle); OverDrive Sample

It Won’t Always Be This Great, Peter Mehlman (Bancroft Press); OverDrive Sample

Science . . . for Her!, Megan Amram (S&S/Scribner; S&S Audio); OverDrive Sample

Texts From Jane Eyre, Mallory Ortberg (Macmillan/Holt); OverDrive Sample

The Nancy Pearl Bump

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 8.11.23 PMLibrarian Nancy Pearl highlighted five under-the-radar titles on Friday’s NPR’s Morning Edition (link to listen to it), causing one of the titles to jump 2,442% on Amazon’s sales rankings.

She begins with The Diamond Lane by Karen Karbo. First published in 1991, it was reissued this fall by Hawthorne books (with an introduction by Jane Smiley). Nancy calls it a “fabulously funny satire on sisterly love, on marriage, but really, [Karbo’s] sharpest barbs are reserved for life in Hollywood.” Nancy makes host Steve Innskeep laugh heartily when she reads a section.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 8.10.14 PMJudging from Amazon’s sales rankings, the title
that resonated most with listeners, is the final book she describes, The Unsubstantial Air: American Fliers in the First World War by Samuel Hynes (Macmillan/FSG, Oct. 2014; OverDrive Sample).

Nancy considers this one of the best of the many books that have come out recently about WWI.
“It talks about the war in terms of the young men who came from American colleges to fly and to
fight in WWI … Hynes was able to access a treasure trove of journals and of letters from these young men, many of whom had never been to Europe before … he writes in such a beautiful way … and does a wonderful job of honoring them.”

The other titles on her list:

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The Distance by Helen Giltrow (RH/Doubleday; RH Audio; Sept. 2014; OverDrive Sample)

“All the time I was reading this, I had to keep telling myself to breath because I was so caught up in the story.” She says it’s perfect for those who love Lee Child. (This was also a LibraryReads pick for September).

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer (Hachette/Mulholland; Hachette Audio, Aug. 2014; OverDrive Sample)

“A cautionary tale about the future … about a cabal of industrialists have decided to privatize information … It’s one of those books that when you’re reading it, you start feeling a little bit paranoid.”  (Time magazine also recognized this one, making it #6 on their Top Ten fiction list for the year).

Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot
by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
(HMH Books for Young Readers, Sept. 2004; OverDrive Sample).

This novel came out originally in 1988 and is written in letters between two cousins, one in London and one in Essex, in 1817. Although it is written for teens, says Nancy, it is “perfect for anyone who loves Jane Austen and doesn’t mind a little bit of fantasy.”

Cookie Science

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NPR’s Science Friday featured Jeff Potter and his ingenious “patent-violating” chocolate chip cookies last week, an event that might be responsible for his book Cooking For Geeks (O’Reilly Media; OverDrive Sample) topping today’s Amazon Movers & Shakers list. Holds are not yet rising, although many libraries bought lightly back in 2010 when the book first came out.

In the spirit of the holidays, we at EarlyWord offer not just Potter’s recipe (at the end of the Science Friday story) but also that of Alton Brown’s, which our highly unscientific (but yummy) tests have found to be the recipe to rule them all.

A Reading List for Cuba

9780345381439President Obama’s decision to restore U.S. relations with Cuba has dominated the news cycle. The New York Times took the opportunity to create a reading list of 13 books on both Cuban history and Cuba’s relationship to the US.

Others have also jumped in. The Daily Beast scooped The Times by a day with the Five Book Best Books on Cuba while the San Rafael Public Library (CA) offers a lis  of fiction, nonfiction, and films.

Back in 2011,  novelist Oscar Hijuelos offered his selections on the site Five Books.

Ferguson Librarian Honored

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BookRiot named Scott Bonner of Ferguson Public Library the “Book Culture Hero of 2014″ today, highlighting the library’s role of creating “a significant force for good in the community.” He tops the list that also includes authors Roxane Gay and Jacqueline Woodson.

As the national news media has reported, Ferguson Public Library stayed open during the riots over the decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Mike Brown. The library offered space for classes to be held when schools were closed, provided free WiFi, and, as the library phrases it on their social media accounts,”a place for rest, water, and knowledge. ”

Donations to the library have been pouring in, almost matching the library’s annual budget.

STILL ALICE, New Trailer

The film adaptation of Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice  (S&S/Gallery, 2009) won’t open in most theaters until mid-January, but reviews and publicity have already arrived, based on its Oscar-qualifying one week release in New York and Los Angeles. More will be coming as Oscar season heats up.

Julianne Moore iis considered a shoe-in for a best actress nomination for her portrayal of a woman dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. USA Today says it’s  “one of the best in her career … Her performance powerfully captures the growing confusion caused by the debilitating illness.”

A new trailer focuses on Moore, also featuring Kristen Stewart as her daughter and Alec Baldwin as her husband.

Tie-ins came out this week:

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S&S.Gallery: December 16, 2014
Trade Paperback

Mass Market, S&S/Pocket Books

Audio CD, &S Audio

Entertainment Weekly’s Crystal Ball

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After dozens of best books lists (the New York Times daily reviewers posted theirs today), Janus turns his head with the first preview of the new year, from Entertainment Weekly.

As much fun as the book section is, it will frustrate many librarians because it includes several fall titles that are not yet available for ordering. So, for now, you may have to go with blind catalog entries.

Purity, Jonathan Franzen, (Macmillan; FSG, Sept) — Says Entertainment Weekly, “Franzen’s novels never fail to elicit equal parts hype and hate. Purity promises to be a departure from his previous works The Corrections and Freedom.” So, does that mean it won’t inspire hype and hate? According to a NYT story last month, it’s due in September from Macmillan/FSG.

City on Fire, Garth Risk Hallberg, (RH/Knopf, Sept) — According to a 2013 story in New York magazine’s Vulture blog, this 900-page first novel sold to Knopf for almost $2 million and movie rights went to Scott Rudin. Way back then, they also offered a list of “28 things you can surmise about Garth Hallberg’s City on Fire by reading Garth Hallberg.”

M Train, Patti Smith, (RH/Knopf, Fall)  — Smith mentioned she’s working on this follow-up memoir to Just Kids in a Rolling Stone interview in October, saying it was due on Friday. Giving that timing, we assume it will be released in the fall. She described it as not about the past, but “sort of in present tense. I wanted to write a contemporary book or just write whatever I felt like writing about, and it’s things going from literature to coffee to memories of Fred in Michigan.”

The Witches, Stacy Schiff, (Hachette/ Little, Brown; Nov, 2015) — According to Schiff’s Web site, this is about the Salem Witch trials. The publisher told EarlyWord that it is currently scheduled for Nov., 2015 list.

A couple of the titles have already shown up on librarian radars. You can catch up by reading them over the holidays, digital ARC’s are still available:

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The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, (Penguin/Riverhead, Jan. 13)

This debut began drawing attention back in August and is a LibraryReads pick for January. This is one of three titles Entertainment Weekly considers a possible successor to Gone Girl, along with the “buzzy” The Kind Worth Killing, Peter Swanson, (HarperCollins/Morrow, Feb. 3) and “the most understated an plausible of the three,” The Daylight Marriage, Heidi Pitlor, (Workman/Algonquin, May).

My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh, (Penguin/Putnam. Feb. 10)

Entertainment Weekly says this debut is “sure to be a breakout.” Librarians who have read it in galley concur, calling it, “a roller coaster of a read that doesn’t let up until the very end of the ride.” Join us for a chat with the author on January 21, as part of Penguin’s First Flight program.

For a listing of the other titles, go to our Edelweiss Collection.

Gifts for Very Young Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

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It’s that time of year when many of us are looking for just the right present for kids that we don’t see all that often, and books are a natural choice. As the nieces and nephews and godchildren gather around the tree or finish lighting the menorah, it’s great to offer each one an alternative to the inevitable pile of gadgets and software, and as the saying goes, a book really is a present you can open again and again.

But with the number of titles available, how do you choose? Not a day goes by after Black Friday that I don’t get five or six emails saying something like this:

I’d love some ideas for 5 grandsons, ranging in age from three to twelve. The ten-year-old loves to read, but the twelve-year-old only loves sports. Last year’s suggestions were very well liked!!

When you’re faced with such a plea, a little reconnaissance pays off big. How old is each recipient? Do you have a clue about likes and dislikes — particularly any subjects, toys, or themes that add up to an obsession? Even a small amount of information, will help you achieve the goal of getting a smile when the gift is unwrapped.

To aid you in your mission, I’m offering my picks from the thousands of children’s books published this year, sorted by age group, with notes to help you spot just the right book for that young reader, attempting to answer the question that plagues adult gift givers with children in their lives: “How do I buy a book for a gift for a kid I don’t know very well?”

We’ll divide this into sections.  Below, selections for the very young. In the following posts, I’ll suggest titles for early elementary and older kids.

This is more art than science, so I may have overlooked some of your favorites. Please mention them in the comments section.

For Families With A New Baby Or Toddler

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No Two Alike, Keith Baker, (Little Simon, Board Book)

Particularly appropriate for families with new twins, but it works for others as well.  Baker’s art and ear for language is pitch perfect for young children and their parents. In the book, we observe a pair of red birds making their way in the snow-covered world.

Moo!, David LaRochelle and Mike Wohnoutka, (Bloomsbury, Board Book)

This was a read aloud delight when it arrived as a picture book in 2013. There never was a more expressive story told with just one sound — “Moo.” Now available in a board book edition we can share our enthusiasm with the pre-reading set

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Honk, Honk! Baa, Baa!,  Petr Horacek, (Candlewick)

This heavy stock board book has a comforting familiarity with Horacek’s mixed media illustrations of common farm animals and the noises they emit. As we turn the die cut pages they form a black and white bovine surprise on the last spread (if you’re having trouble imagining that, watch a kid discover it for himself in this video).

Also from Horacek is Las Fresas son Rojas, (Candlewick)

This is a new Spanish language edition of Strawberries are Red a cornucopia of fruit and colors with a die cut surprise at the end.

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Pat-a-Cake and All Fall Down, Mary Brigid Barrett, illus. by LeUyen Pham, (Candlewick Press)

The familiar nursery rhymes are stretched and expanded in these delightfully silly rhyming romps. Have you ever patted a pickle cold and bumpy? A fuzzy caterpillar? Did your recitation of “Ring around the Rosie” include “potatoes in a mound, plopping green peas all around”?

For Families With Preschoolers Ages 2 To 5

This is the age when kids start to get reading ready. It important for them to explore colors, numbers, and shapes as well as concepts like up and down and in and out through pages of a book. The following will bring surprise and wonder from that most jaded of readers, the parent, who often has to read them again and again.

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Countablock, Christopher Franceschelli, ills. by Peskimo, Abrams 16.95

From the team that brought us Alphablock (Abrams, 2013), this is a brick of a book weighing in at almost 1 ½ pounds of counting fun. We count from 1 to 10 as 6 balls of yarn become 6 sweaters and 7 pots of paint become seven colors of the rainbow in bold graphics that include an oversized depiction of the number then we count by 10s to read a double page spread of 100 puzzle pieces (see more interior photos here).

Circle Square Moose, Kelly Bingham,  illus, by Paul Zelinsky, (Greenwillow Books)

The creators, Z is for Moose broke down the structure and predictability of the alphabet book. Shapes are the feature of this reprise of the adventures of Moose whose enthusiasm for the subject matter exceeds his social skills. See below for

 

9789888240852_2afc8Number Circus: 1-10 and Back Again!,  Květa Pacovská (minedition, Dist. by IPG)

This playful, tactile volume with embossing, die-cuts, and interactive lift-the-flaps is an artistic volume that nods to the influences of modern masters such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, and Joan Miró.

 

For Families Sick of Reading the
Same Bedtime Books Over and Over

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Thank You, Octopus,  Darren Farrell, (Penguin/Dial)

Absurdist humor seems to be a winner this year and I would give the prize to this one. The familiar structure of the children’s games “Fortunately/ Unfortunately” and “That’s Bad/ No That’s Good” are used here as a knitted cap-wearing Octopus offers what at first seems a to be typical bedtime rituals of a warm bath, bringing a “Thank you, Octopus!” But, wait, that bath is made of egg salad. “Gross! No, thank you, Octopus!” This holds up to repeated readings, as we explore the ship where the boy and the octopus reside.

Small Blue and the Deep Dark Night,  Jon Davis, (HMH)

Small Blue is white bunny. Small Blue is imagining scary creatures like gremlins and goblins when the lights are turned off at night. The grownup in the house is Big Brown, an enormous bear. Big Brown suggest imagining something fun not scary in the dark like delightful doggies riding unicycles. The bunny’s bedroom when lit is a cozy space of glowing yellow strewn with toys and books contrasting with the deep blues where the fantasy beings appear in the dark. Sure to become a favorite.

Gifts for Early Elementary School Kids You Don’t Know Very Well

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Continuing my series of suggestions for gifts that are sure to bring smiles, below are titles for early elementary kids.

Picture Books, Ages 5 and up

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Bad Bye, Good Bye, Deborah Underwood, illus. by Jonathan Bean (HMH)

Underwood, whose Quiet Book won the Geisel Award for beginning readers, has made me see books for emergent readers in a new way. One of my favorite picture books of the year, this just happens to have easy-to-read limited rhyming text. The ink and color pencil illustrations eloquently depict a child’s unhappiness about his family’s moving to a new home and his discovery that the new place has its compensations. Not to be missed.

Pardon Me, Daniel Miyares, (Simon and Schuster)

Here is the book for the kids who couldn’t get enough of Jon Classon’s I Want My Hat Back. Parrot is content to be alone on his small island when first a heron joins him with a polite “Pardon me.” As more animals join him, the more visibly annoyed he becomes. The twist ending will delight listeners while teachers will be thinking of ways to lead a discussion on inference. A keeper.

9781419705182_7bac8100 things that make me Happy, Amy Schwartz. (Abrams)

Amy Schwartz in my mind is one of the overlooked geniuses of children’s books today. She quietly produces perfect books without fanfare that reflect the everyday lives of children with a subtle subversive flair. Her Bea and Mr. Jones was selected for the first Reading Rainbow list and is as fresh and funny today as it was the year it was published, 1982 (give yourself a treat with this flashback to the great Madeline Khan reading it on the show) and there is not a better book about friendship for kindergartners than her 2001 book, The Boys Team.

That said, in her newest creation, Schwarts presents rhyming pairs of word phrases — curly hair…teddy bear, mermaid…lemonade. This is an illustrated catalog, a counting book, an easy reader, as well as delicious word play. The rhythm of the words and page turns slows down and speeds up as we follow a diverse population of children and their adults displaying the author’s favorite things from the simple “polka dots…forget-me-nots” to the sublime “city lights…starry nights” Families will be inspired to move off the page and observe their own world and list the 100 things that make them happiest.

A New Baby In The Family

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The Baby Tree, Sophie Blackall, (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)

For those who already own Robie Harris’s Its Not The Stork, this is the next perfect book for explaining where babies come from. The narrator receives bits of information from various sources — his babysitter, his grandfather, his teacher, and the mail carrier — but until his mom explains the biological information in plain language, none of it makes much sense.

Gifts for Beginning Readers You Don’t Know Very Well

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Continuing my series of suggestions for sure-fire gifts, below are titles for kids who are starting to read on their own, plus a couple of suggestions for family readalouds.

For those who like their easy-to-read books in a traditional format there are some new books with favorite characters:

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Drop it Rocket!, Tad Hills, (PRH/Schwartz and Wade)

Rocket (of the best selling Rocket Learns to Read) is back in what may be the first book a child reads to herself. With very few words on the page, the pictures give clues to the words and most importantly there is a good story. This kind of book is very hard to find. More please.

Waiting Is Not Easy, Mo Williams. (Disney/Hyperion)

Although this is another in the Elephant and Piggie series, it is not just another series book. Librarians sometimes joke that the ALA’s easy-to-read award, The Geisel, should just be given to Mo Willems every year. It’s hard to argue with that. Yet I have to say, as familiar as we are with Willems’s work, this one is amazing and surprising. To say any more would raise spoilers, so ,just trust me on this.

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Ling & Ting: Twice as Silly, Grace Lin, (Hachette/ Little Brown)

Introduce your newly fluent early chapter book readers, the ones who are speeding through Henry and Mudge, to the silly sisters, Ling and Ting. Lin’s comic timing is exquisite in these six short chapters that capture the young girls’ imaginative adventures.

Cock-a-Doodle Oops!,  Lori Degman, illus.  by Deborah Zemke, (Creston, Dist. by Perseus/PGW)

Rhythm, rhyme and repetition combine in this absurdist barnyard tale of a rooster who goes on vacation and delegates his wake up duties to the other animals. This sleeper is a winner.

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Ballerina Dreams: from Orphan to Dancer, Machaela and Elaine DePrince,  illus. by Frank Morrison. (Random House)

The autobiography of an orphan from Sierra Leone, who, encouraged by her adoptive American family, became a ballerina, this is for the kids who are reading independently and want a real story. Also available now for ages 12 and up is Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina (RH/Knopf)

The Whale Who Won Hearts: And More True Stories Of Adventures With Animals, Brian Skerry, (National Geographic)

In this short chapter autobiography we follow Brian Skerry, a National Geographic photojournalist specializing in marine wildlife and underwater environments. For a taste of his amazing photos (and his journalistic drive), take a look at this National Geographic video. For even more, see his TED presentation.

Family Read Alouds

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The family with younger children, around 4 to 6, who have enjoyed Kate DiCamillo’s six Mercy Watson books, will want her new early chapter book Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (Candlewick), set in the same world and a hoot.

Shannon Hale, the Newbery Honor winning author of The Princess Academy (also a great read aloud) presents The Princess in Black, (Candlewick),  a grand adventure about a proper pinkish princess who has a secret life battling big blue monsters and rescuing goat herding boys.

Hold Alert: John Cleese’s
SO, ANYWAY

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Actor John Cleese (of Monty Python fame) appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air this Tuesday, which may have sparked demand for his new memoir, So, Anyway (Random House/Crown Archetype; OverDrive Sample). The interview includes several  clips of Cleese’s performances (Cleese judges an early one as “distinctly uninspired”). Unfortunately, the planned audio version of the book is now listed as “postponed indefinitely.”

Holds are up across the country with some libraries showing hold ratios over 10 to 1.

Advance attention to Cleese’s memoir might have been buried under the recent flurry of celebrity comedian accounts including:

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (Harper Collins/Dey Street Books; Harper Audio, Oct. 28)

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography (Random House/Crown; RH Audio, Oct 14)

I Must Say by Martin Short (Harper Collins, Nov 4)

Even This I Get to Experience by Norman Lear (Penguin; Penguin Audio, Oct 14)

Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett (Macmillan/Holt; Macmillan Audio, Oct. 28)

The new biography of Bob Hope, Hope: Entertainer of the Century by Richard Zoglin (Simon & Schuster; Brilliance Audio, Nov. 4th)

Colbert’s Final Guest

9781594204999_a7f67Appropriately, since he has  featured so authors on his show,  now that The Colbert Report is ending, Stephen Colbert’s final guest was the winner of National Book Award in fiction, Phil Klay (The Report‘s  final episode  is actually tonight, but it does not feature a human guest).

Klay’s book Redeployment, (Penguin Press; Penguin Audio; Thorndike, OverDrive Sample) is a series of short stories about serving in Iraq. He chose to portray the war through fiction, he told Colbert,  because it made him feel less constrainted than nonfiction would have, “I don’t think I could be, in a weird way, as truthful as I wanted to be in trying to chase down the experiences I was trying to articulate on the page.” To that, the master of “Truthiness” lit up and deadpanned, “You can be more truthful by making things up?”

‘Tis the Movie Season

The arrival of the holidays coincides with the end-of-the-year cut-off for Oscar qualification. As a result, movie releases shift into a higher gear in the upcoming weeks, beginning with the wide release tonight of the final Hobbit movie, expected to bring in $75 million by Sunday.

But there’s no surer sign of the arrival of a big movie than an SNL sketch:

In fact, this holiday is so crowded that the Weinstein company ended up changing the release date of their big kid’s movie, Paddington, to January 16. Little did they know that one of the major Christmas releases, The Interview, would end up being cancelled by most major theater chains (reminder: 25 years ago, independent bookstores stood up to threats against selling Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses)

Below are the book-related movies scheduled through the end of the year (for all upcoming movies based on books, check our listing. For tie-ins, check our catalog on Edelweiss).

12/19 — Annie

This live action movie is based on the musical, which in turn is based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strips by Harold Gray, it stars the youngest-ever Oscar nominee, Quvenzhané Wallis, as Annie and Jamie Foxx as Will Stacks (a new version of Daddy Warbucks) with Cameron Diaz chewing up the scenery as a conniving Miss Hannigan.  See the trailer here

Scholastic has the tie-ins:

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Annie: The Junior Novel (Movie Tie-In), Lexi Ryals

Annie: A True Family (Movie Tie-In), Calliope Glass

12/25  — American Sniper

9780062376336_4cf40After an Oscar-qualifying limited release on Christmas Day, this opens across the country on Jan 16. Originally a Steven Spielberg film, Clint Eastwood is the director. It stars Bradley Cooper and  Sienna Miller. Trailer

Jesse Ventura is helping keep the book in the news by suing over its mention of him (it seems the movie doesn’t include that scene).

Tie-in:

American Sniper [Movie Tie-in Edition], Chris Kyle, (HarperCollins/Morrow)

12/25 — Unbroken

With Angel9780812987119_d630aina Jolie as director, this has already received major advance attention (she’s already appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote it). Trailer

Tie-in:

Unbroken (Movie Tie-in Edition)Laura Hillenbrand, (Random House)

Meet Mr Norrell

The following brief clip from the BBC series based on Susanna Clarke’s 2004 best selling debut novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, can’t be accused of giving away too much, but it does give a sense of Eddie Marsan’s portrayal of Norrell.

No news on when the series will debut in the U.S., but the tie-in (Macmillan/Bloomsbury USA) is now showing a May release date, indicating it’s not expected until later in 2015.