Archive for November, 2010

Best Books to Give to Kids…Even Those You Don’t Know Very Well

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

We want to give books this holiday season. We want to give books because we want to share the joy of perfectly written, joyous-to-read-aloud picture books. We want to give books because childhood memories are made when we settle into the big armchair and share the adventures of a fearless mouse (The Tale of Despereaux). We want to give books because we want to be the ONE who introduced that seven-year-old to Clementine.

Specifically, I want to be the cool godmother who slipped a teen Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You. I also want to be the goddess who gave the perfect book to the kid who “doesn’t read.” I also want to give books because I want to support the “content providers.” I want my gift giving money to go to children’s book writers and artists.

Out of the thousands of new children’s books published this year, which ones will make the perfect gift?

Allow me; making the match is the most exciting moment for the children’s librarian or bookseller.

Lisa Von Drasek’s Annual Best Books to Give to Kids When You Have No Idea What to Get Them Because:

  • You Don’t Know Them Very Well
  • They’ve Read Everything

The following recommendations are sorted by age of recipient and topic.

Best New Baby

Perfect Piggies! Book and Plush Set
Sandra Boynton
Retail Price: $16.95
Hardcover: 24 pages
Publisher: Workman Publishing Company – (2010-11-15)
ISBN / EAN: 0761162305 / 9780761162308

(Ages 6 months and up)

From the genius who created Moo Baa La La La, a delicious bebop board book rhyming romp of buoyant pink piggies paired with a cuddly soft stuffed toy.

Best New Sibling

Pecan Pie Baby
Jacqueline Woodson
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile – (2010-10-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0399239871 / 9780399239878

(Ages 3 and up)

There’s Going to Be a Baby
John Burningham
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 0763649074 / 9780763649074

(Ages 4 and up)

Is there an older sibling? Time to emphasize that the older brother and/or sisters are big, smart, and fabulous. Both of these give a humorous take on the uncertainty and terror that the impending infant can instill in the first child. No sugar coating and plenty of fun.

Best Concept Book

One Blue Fish: A Colorful Counting Book
Charles Reasoner
Retail Price: $9.99
Hardcover: 26 pages
Publisher: Little Simon – (2010-07-20)
ISBN / EAN: 1416996729 / 9781416996729

(Ages 2 and up)

The biggest, fattest, bluest number one stands out sharply out from a background of solid yellow. Lift the page and underneath swims a fish with scales in tones of blue that range from sky to gray to almost purple. We count the sets of animals up to ten yellow ducks. No reason not to count right back down again.

Best Picture Books of the Year

Animal Crackers Fly the Coop
Kevin O’Malley
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers – (2010-04-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0802798373 / 9780802798374

(Ages 5 and up)

In this punny retelling of the Brementown Musicians, the chicken (a pint-sized Henny Youngman…get it?) leaves the farm to become a comedian and avoid getting cooked on “Fry-day.” Along the road she picks up the usual suspects; an unwanted dog, a cat who would rather sing than catch mice, and a cow with jokes on the brain, all done in detailed pen-and-ink illustrations with color wash.


The Quiet Book
Deborah Underwood
Retail Price: $12.95
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children – (2010-04-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0547215673 / 9780547215679

(Ages 4 and up)

A cohort of cuddly critters, softly rendered in pencil sketches demonstrate the various forms of quiet,  from “First one awake” to “Don’t scare the robin” quiet. As we read between the lines with hints from the illustrations, big feelings of embarrassment, sadness and joy emerge in the telling.


My Garden
Kevin Henkes
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books – (2010-02-23)
ISBN / EAN: 0061715174 / 9780061715174

(Ages 4 and up)

It may seem strange to recommend a summery garden book in the dead of winter but I would be remiss not to recommend one of the best books of the year in a gift-giving round-up. Caldecott-winning picture book creator, Henkes begins the story subtly with a little girl helping her mother in the garden then takes off in a flight of fancy as the child imagines if this was her garden, the flowers would re-appear instantly after being picked… there would be no rabbits eating the crops because the rabbits would be chocolate and she would eat them!


The Rabbit Problem
Emily Gravett
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – (2010-11-02)
ISBN / EAN: 1442412550 / 9781442412552

(Ages 6 and up)

Is there a really smart six-year old in your life? One who takes joy in teasing out puzzles or figuring out logic problems? This is THE book. Gravett in the form of a monthly calendar graphically renders the Fibonacci problem “If a pair of baby rabbits are put in a field, how many pairs will there be: a) at the end of each month? b) After one year?“ We follow the progress of January’s one lonely rabbit through the humorous interactive lift-the-flap, pop-up pages, containing February’s knitting pattern for a lovely striped hoodie to a very crowded December that explodes rabbits off the page.


A Pig Parade Is a Terrible Idea
Michael Ian Black
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – (2010-09-07)
ISBN / EAN: 1416979220 / 9781416979227

(Ages 6 and up)

Do you know a family with a snarky sense of humor? One with a fine appreciation of the absurd?  The deadpan narrator assures us that although we may think a parade made up of a lot of pigs would be a lot of fun; it is assuredly a bad idea. Perhaps we were not aware that pigs do not want to wear snappy uniforms, tend to shuffle rather than march and do not appreciate rousing marching tunes, preferring sad country ballads. Oh, and the only floats pigs would enjoy are the ones with root beer and ice cream. Artist Hawkes conjures up cute cartoony pigs as well as realistically rendered decidedly sticky ones for our enlightenment.


How Rocket Learned to Read
Tad Hills
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade – (2010-07-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0375858997 / 9780375858994

(Ages 5 and up)

Rocket, a spotted fuzzy dog had no interest in reading until a tiny yellow bird flew into his life. She read aloud to him, taught him the glories of the “wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet” and how to spell words like grrrr and whoosh. The passage of time as fall turns to winter is exquisitely portrayed as the bird leaves for the winter and Rocket practices what he had learned.


Clever Jack Takes the Cake
Candace Fleming
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade – (2010-08-24)
ISBN / EAN: 0375849793 / 9780375849794

(Ages 5 and up)

Jack has been invited to the Princess’s birthday party. Although he is poor, he uses his wits to gather the resources to make her present, a two-layer cake with candles and a ripe succulent strawberry. On the way to the festivities he encounters aggressive blackbirds, an ogre at a toll bridge and a greedy bear, all who whittle away the cake. What will the princess think if he arrives empty-handed?

The Perfect Teacher Present

Miss Brooks Loves Books (And I Don’t)
Barbara Bottner
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers – (2010-03-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0375846824 / 9780375846823

(Ages 5 and up)

An overly enthusiastic school librarian oppresses our droll narrator. To make matters worse the student must select a book to present for Book Week. “I ask my mother if we can move to a new town. My mother says there’s a librarian in every town. I ask if she wants to do my assignment for me. ‘I’ve already been to first grade,’ says my mother.” It’s a pitch perfect read aloud.

Best Information Books

Steve Jenkins
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Reference – (2010-08-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0545046513 / 9780545046510

(Ages 5 and up)

Jenkins cut-paper collage art never ceases to amaze. Here he looks at bones… animal bones, mammal bones, bird bones and frog bones. Fact-filled and endlessly fascinating; did you know that there are 206 bones in the adult human body? That a stork has thin, hollow bones to make to light enough to fly? That bugs have their skeletons on the outside, an exoskeleton?


Animal Pop!: With 5 Incredible, Life Size Fold-outs (In Your Face)
National Geographic
Retail Price: $14.95
Hardcover: 20 pages
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books – (2010-10-26)
ISBN / EAN: 1426307160 / 9781426307164

(Ages 4 and up)

This is the book for the kid that is crazy about animals. Here is a perfect compendium of facts and photographs about tigers, dolphins, turtles woves and pandas to peruse. The animal profiles contain thumbnail sketches that show where they live, what they eat as well as some snapshots of typical development or how they communicate. AND……a stunning pop-up life-size photograph of the animal.


The Sounds of Star Wars
J.W. Rinzler
Retail Price: $60.00
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books – (2010-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0811875466 / 9780811875462

(All Ages)

Yes this is the most unexpected pick of the list.  Rinzler was the sound engineer for the Star Wars movies. In this oversized encyclopedic volume, he describes how the movie’s sounds were crated. Press 003 on the digital audio box to hear the robot’s voice, the sound of the light sabers, and the “growls” of baby Emma that became the basis for sound of the Sando aqua monster.  Over three hundred pages of movie stills and archival photos, 256 sound bites; the perfect gift for the geek in all of us.

Best Easy Readers

Bink and Gollie (Junior Library Guild Selection (Candlewick Press))
Kate DiCamillo, Alison McGhee
Retail Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 076363266X / 9780763632663

(Ages 6 and up)

Two best friends, one short, one tall, one impulsive, one deliberate are introduced in this limited language chapter book. I could try but nobody says it better than Sarah Ellis in the New York Times Book Review.


Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!
Grace Lin
Retail Price: $14.99
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2010-07-01)
ISBN / EAN: 031602452X / 9780316024525

(Ages 6 and up)

These identical twin sisters are not so identical since Ling sneezed during a haircut. Newbery Honor author, Lin, presents two distinct girls with different strengths, likes and dislikes in a brightly colored early chapter book.


Cat the Cat, Who Is That?
Mo Willems
Retail Price: $10.99
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Balzer + Bray – (2010-02-16)
ISBN / EAN: 0061728403 / 9780061728402

(Ages 4 and up)

From the author of the award-winning Elephant and Piggie and the Knuffle Bunny series, a new cast of characters is introduced in the simplest of language for our brand new reader buddies. The repetitious language, quiet humor and plots that turn on early childhood issues make these instant classics. Give the whole set.

Best Early Chapter Book

Lulu and the Brontosaurus (Junior Library Guild Selection (Atheneum))
Judith Viorst
Retail Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Atheneum – (2010-09-14)
ISBN / EAN: 1416999612 / 9781416999614

(Ages 5 and up)

“There once was a girl named Lulu, and she was a pain. She wasn’t a pain in the elbow. She wasn’t a pain in the knee. She was a pain – a very big pain – in the b u t t.”

Viorst’s entertaining storyteller voice paired with Smith’s humorous pencil sketches, packaged in an old-fashioned cloth bound irregularly shaped vertical volume, give us a story that begs to be read aloud. Every child will recognize Lulu who gets what she wants, when she wants or throws a fit and then gets what she wants. We heave a sigh of relief when she gets her comeuppance in a most unexpected way.

Best Graphic Novels

The Little Prince Graphic Novel
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: HMH Books – (2010-10-18)
ISBN / EAN: 0547338023 / 9780547338026

(Ages 9 and up)

Better known to kids for his Little Vampire series, Joann Sfar tackles adapting this beloved classic of the downed pilot and his mysterious friend, a small boy from another planet who tells tales of his travels. This illustrated edition perfectly captures the tone of the original as well as illuminating the characters such as the dashing pilot, the selfish rose and the geographer with no interest in exploration.


Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword
Barry Deutsch
Retail Price: $15.95
Hardcover: 144 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0810984229 / 9780810984226

(Ages 10 and up)

“Yet another Troll-Fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish Girl” says the tag line and basically that’s all you need to know. Part fairytale, part fantasy/quest tale unusually set in an observant family, we know immediately that Mirka is not like all the other girls at school. Due to a complicated set of mishaps, our protagonist finds herself stalked by a pig, hounded by a bully and enthralled by the prospect of fulfilling a greater destiny. Nothing is as it seems in this compelling volume, the first of the series.

Best Books for the Kids who love Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Tom Angleberger
Retail Price: $12.95
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books – (2010-03-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0810984253 / 9780810984257

(Ages 10 and up)

The story unfolds as individual students in alternating chapters relate the mysterious ability of a folded paper finger puppet named Yoda to give sage advice to a class of sixth graders. Not the usual school story of friendship, bullies, and first girlfriends told in journal entries, cartoons, and doodles.


Finn Reeder, Flu Fighter: How I Survived a Worldwide Pandemic, the School Bully, and the Craziest Game of Dodge Ball Ever
Eric Stevens
Retail Price: $9.99
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Stone Arch Books – (2010-01-15)
ISBN / EAN: 1434225623 / 9781434225627

(Ages 9 and up)

The non-event of the swine flu epidemic seems long ago, but this extremely funny story of a kid whose teachers, friends and family begin dropping like flies is perfect for the kid who has run out of Wimpy Kid books and refuses to touch anything else. Gross humor abounds as Finn becomes the last kid standing.

Best Novels for the Kid Who Reads Everything

Out of My Mind
Sharon M. Draper
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Atheneum – (2010-03-09)
ISBN / EAN: 141697170X / 9781416971702

(Ages 10 and up)

Imagine if you had no control of your body, that although you had plenty to say about almost everything, all anyone heard is grunts and groans. We hear Melody’s voice in her head as she navigates the world of typical students and finds a way to let everyone know what is inside her mind.


One Crazy Summer
Rita Williams-garcia
Retail Price: $15.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Amistad – (2010-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0060760885 / 9780060760885

(Ages 10 and up)

It was the summer of the Black Panthers, when three sisters are shipped west to spend time with the mother who abandoned them when the youngest was still an infant. Delphine, only eleven, is charged with being responsible for the younger two as their mother continues to neglect their care. Should she call her dad? Will her mother ever BE a mother?


The Search for WondLa
Tony DiTerlizzi
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing – (2010-09-21)
ISBN / EAN: 1416983104 / 9781416983101

(Ages 10 and up)

For the kids who loved Harry Potter and the The Lightning Thief, comes this excitingly original fantasy quest tale of a little girl, Eva Nine who was raised in an underground residence with only the company of a many-armed robot caretaker named Muthr. Abundantly illustrated with obvious references to Baum’s Wizard of Oz, readers can delight in sinking into a whole new world filled with magical creatures, heart stopping adventure scenes and sly embedded humor.


A Tale Dark and Grimm
Adam Gidwitz
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile – (2010-10-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0525423346 / 9780525423348

(Ages 10 and up)

This would be the under-the-radar book. Who is this book for? For the kid ready to graduate from Goose Bumps, for the kid who wants a really scary book, for the kid looking for action but also for the thoughtful kid. This book is a well-crafted retelling of classic (read bloody, gory, not-cleaned-up, not Disney) Grimm’s Tales with the construct that Hansel and Gretel were actually the main characters of all the stories. Gidwitz knows his tales and provides pitch perfect pacing. We can imagine him as the charming narrator reminding us again and again to take the little ones out of the room. Follow that advice.

Best Novels for 12 and Up

Fever Crumb
Philip Reeve
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press – (2010-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0545207193 / 9780545207195

For the young adults who have already gobbled up the Hunger Games series, a new fantasy adventure set in an alternative London. Reeve, a pioneer of the Steam Punk genre presents Fever Crumb, who is the only female member of the Order of Engineers. Fever’s past is a mystery and her future is in jeopardy as she tries to survive in the dangerous streets. e are pleasantly surprised when at the very end this fast-paced tale is revealed as a prequel to the Hungry City Quartet (HarperCollins).


Jennifer Donnelly
Retail Price: $18.99
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers – (2010-10-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0385737637 / 9780385737630

For those supernatural romantics, here is one just for them.

Donnelly, whose previous novel was the critically acclaimed and award winning A Northern Light, weaves the popular culture of present day Brooklyn Heights with the terror of Paris during the French Revolution.  Part mystery, part romance and part fantasy, we witness Andy Alpers is a high school senior as she is breaking down, not just because of her mother’s erratic behavior but also in response to her younger brother’s death. She is going to be kicked out of her competitive private school if she doesn’t complete her senior project (which she hasn’t even started). Can it get worse? Her father arrives to intervene and forces her to relocate to Paris. Can she make her escape? Does she really want to?

YA — Contemporary Angst/Humor

Will Grayson, Will Grayson
John Green, David Levithan
Retail Price: $17.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile – (2010-04-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0525421580 / 9780525421580

The co-authors have written a coming of age novel in the voices of two high-school students who meet accidently and coincidentally have the same name. This is as much a book about friendship as it is about finding one’s place in the world. What does it mean to acknowledge and support a friend who is gay? And of course there is a musical.

Final Next Installment of a Series

A Conspiracy of Kings
Megan Whalen Turner
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books – (2010-03-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061870935 / 9780061870934

(Ages 12 and up)

While every one was going crazy over Mockingjay, I was relishing the final (UPDATE: Good news! It’s been pointed out that is is NOT the final installment. The author herself said in an interview that  she’s planning two more books in the series. Thanks for the link, Susan Cassidy) in The Queen’s Thief series, set in a fantasy kingdom built of palace intrigue, mistaken identities and romance. The first, The Thief, was a Newbery Honor. This volume is just as satisfying as the previous three.

Winners of Our Pre-Holiday Quiz

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

It took a while, and a couple of hints, but we have two correct answers to our pre-holiday quiz.

We asked what would tie together a list of 35 titles in a book display and why this display would be particularly relevant right now.

Most of you figured out that all books on the list have been made in to movies, or have been optioned for movies.

However, the correct answer is that producer Scott Rudin was involved in all of them. Rudin, who has been called “The Godfather of the Literary Adaptation” will receive the David O. Selznick Award from the Producers Guild of America on January 22nd.

The winner is J.P. Johnson, Adult Services, the Lexington (KY) Public Library. The runner-up is Sallie Swank of the Fort Worth (TX) Library. No prizes offered for this one, but they now have bragging rights to all their friends.

The rest of you may have been thrown off by a few of the titles.

Some of the books ended up with different names on the screen:

Jane Austen’s Emma was the basis for Clueless, starring Alicia Silverstone.

Upton Sinclair’s Oil! became There Will be Blood.

Ben Mezrich, Accidental Billionaires is now in theaters as The Social Network and is an Oscar contender.

The Long Walk by Slavomir Rawicz is The Way Back, recently released in a limited run to qualify for the Oscars. It will expand to more theaters in January.

Three of the titles are often thought of as remakes of earlier movies:

The Stepford Wives, 1972 book by Ira Levin. The 1975 movie starred Katherine Ross; Nicole Kidman took on the role in the 2004 version.

Shaft, Ernest Tidyman adapted his novel into the movie starring Richard Roundtree in 1971. “The Theme from Shaft” by Isaac Hayes won an Oscar for Best Original Song. The 2000 version starred Samuel L. Jackson.

True Grit, Charles Portis. It may seem ridiculous, but there’s at least one writer who appears to have no idea that this was a more intersting book than the 1969 John Wayne vehicle. The new version, directed by the Coen Brothers, is supposed to be truer to the original.

A few of the movies have not yet gone in to production:

Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian — in fact, this one may never see its name in lights; in a recent interview, William Monahan said that although it’s the best script he’s ever written, it’s unlikely to get made because it is too violent.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — this one is also iffy. In August, Deadline reported that Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks were interested, but that the book is “not the easiest film adaptation.”

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff — Angelina Jolie has been flirting with this one for months.

One is currently filmingThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (English-language version), directed by David Fincher, who also directed The Social Network.

Two have not been released:

True Grit — Directed by the Coen brothers, starring Matt Damon and Jeff Bridges. However, it sounds like the real star will be the young actress playing the lead, Hailee Steinfeld. It is scheduled for release on 12/22.

Moneyball — Based on the best selling book about baseball by Michael Lewis is scheduled for 9/23/2011, starring Brad Pitt.

CLOUD On The Horizon

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Will David Mitchell’s 2004 Booker Prize finalist, Cloud Atlas, be made into a movie?

In June, Production Weekly reported that offers had been made to several actors, including Halle Berry, Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, James McAvoy and Ian McKellen, for a movie version produced by the Wachowskis, but there has been little news since.

In a recent interview, Halle Berry indicates that the film is a go, saying she’s,

…going to do a movie probably in the summer with the Wachowskis…..A really interesting movie; sort of what they did for The Matrix. They have another really amazing idea that’s gonna stretch our brains even further… that’s with Tom Hanks and Natalie Portman.” (Film, via Word and Film)

Beautiful Minds

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

The most unusual art book of the season may be Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century. The NYT features it today (complete with stunning slide show on the Web site), saying it is filled with “gorgeous imagery, from the first delicate depictions of neurons sketched in prim Victorian black and white to the giant Technicolor splashes the same structures make across 21st-century LED screens.”

The book was not reviewed prepub and few public libraries own it.

Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century
Carl Schoonover
Retail Price: $35.00
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Abrams – (2010-11-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0810990334 / 9780810990333

Winter IS Coming

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It’s years in the making and it seems it will also be months in the promoting. Last night, HBO presented the newest teaser trailer for Game of Thrones, based on the first book in George R.R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire. The series begins some time in 2011 (some say it will be Spring). HBO aired an earlier trailer back in June.

Official Web Site:

UNBROKEN a Best Seller

Monday, November 29th, 2010

It’s official; Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is now a best seller, arriving on the NYT Hardcover Nonfiction (list dated 12/05) at-#2 (after Bush’s Decision Points).

The USA Today list shows that it is at #6 in overall sales, after:

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth, Jeff Kinney, Amulet Books
2. Decision Points, George W. Bush, Crown
3. Cross Fire, James Patterson, Little, Brown
4. The Confession, John Grisham, Doubleday
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson, Vintage trade pbk

Library holds are also growing. All of this is to be expected, given the heavy media attention the book has received. The question now, as we’ve written here before, is how word of mouth will treat it. Will readers be put off by the book’s realistic portrayal of the horrors Louis Zamperini endured in WWII, or will they embrace its ultimately positive message?

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Laura Hillenbrand
Retail Price: $27.00
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Random House – (2010-11-16)
ISBN / EAN: 1400064163 / 9781400064168

RH Large Print; 9780375435010
RH Audio; 9780739319697

Prison Librarian Gets New Attention

Monday, November 29th, 2010

Running the Books, prison librarian Avi Steinberg’s memoir gets an additional dose of press attention (see earlier stories) from USA Today, which calls it “a smart new memoir” and says it is “about the ways in which the library provided refuge, companionship and solace to the people [Steinberg] met,” and praises the author for “leaven[ing] his often-grim memoir with unexpected bits of comedy and insight, weaving his family’s story into the narrative.”

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Avi Steinberg
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Nan A. Talese – (2010-10-19)
ISBN / EAN: 0385529090 / 9780385529099

A SECRET GIFT Brought to Light

Monday, November 29th, 2010

CBS Sunday Morning featured a book about an anonymous philanthropist who offered to gave money to people in need during the Depression, in the form of just $5 each, and the profound effect it had on the recipients. The story was reported last month New York Times.

As a result of yesterday’s coverage, the book rose to #80 on Amazon sales rankings and library holds are growing.


A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness–and a Trove of Letters–Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression
Ted Gup
Retail Price: $25.95
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2010-10-28)
ISBN / EAN: 1594202702 / 9781594202704

Large Print; Center Point; 9781602859258; 12/01/10

Random House Audio; 9780307578037; 11/09/10

Can Aphorisms Take the Cake?

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

If anyone has a crack at making a book of aphorisms a bestseller, it’s economist and philosopher Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Best known for his long-running business bestseller The Black Swan, he’s back with The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms. Among his  incisive pronouncements:

  • “You will get the most attention from those who hate you. No friend, no admirer and no partner will flatter you with as much curiosity.”
  • “You remember e-mails you sent that were not answered better than e-mails you did not answer.”

Janet Maslin in New York Times sums up the book’s appeal:

Mr. Taleb is so calculatedly abrasive in this smart, attention-getting little book that he achieves his main objective. “A good maxim,” he writes, “allows you to have the last word without even starting a conversation.”

Orders are modest at libraries we checked, but given Taleb’s track record, this could be one to watch.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Retail Price: $18.00
Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Random House – (2010-11-30)
ISBN / EAN: 1400069971 / 9781400069972

Other Notable Nonfiction On Sale Next Week

The Essential American by Jackie Gingrich Cushman (Regnery) is a collection of 25 documents and speeches that Newt Gingrich’s daughter considers critical to understanding United States history. She recently appeared on Fox News to promote it.

Make Miracles in Forty Days: Turning What You Have into What You Want by Melody Beattie (Simon & Schuster) outlines a program of self improvement via gratitude, surrender, and connecting with our essential power.

A Voice from Old New York: A Memoir of My Youth by Louis Auchincloss (Houghton Mifflin) explores the late author’s connection with New York City. Kirkus says, “the author’s prose is lapidary, graceful and eminently readable. In a world of postmodern letters, Auchincloss draws a curtain on a premodern, Whartonesque way of life.”

New View of Julia Child

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

Next week, a new window opens on the Julia Child legend, with As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto, edited by Joan Reardon, a collection of Child’s correspondence with her close friend and unofficial literary agent. The two women first encountered each other in 1952, when DeVoto responded to Child’s fan letter to her husband after reading an article he wrote about knives, and became soul mates as Childs was writing Mastering the Art of French Cooking (DeVoto is portrayed in the film Julie & Julia by Deborah Rush).

Entertainment Weekly gives it a “B”: “While their conversations can drag a bit — weather, health, and politics get too much space — the book is an absorbing portrait of an unexpected friendship.”

So far, library holds are in line with modest orders at libraries we checked – but that may change as more media arrives.

As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2010-12-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0547417713 / 9780547417714

Usual Suspects On Sale Next Week

Rescue: A Novel by Anita Shreve (Little, Brown) follows a paramedic worried that his daughter is becoming an alcoholic, like his troubled ex-wife. Library Journal says, “a solid read, though not the author’s most compelling or dazzling work. Excellent fodder for book clubs; there is plenty to discuss in the protagonists’ motivations, decisions, and characterization.”

Of Love and Evil by Anne Rice (Knopf) is the second entry in the supernatural Songs of the Seraphim series, involving a divine vigilante dispensing justice in Renaissance Italy. Kirkus says, “The plot’s intense; equally so are Rice’s meditations, while never breaking the seamlessness of the story line, on the nature of love and evil. A bullet of a book—and an absolute bull’s eye.”

Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell (Putnam) is the 18th novel with detective Kay Scarpetta.

The Sherlockian by Graham Moore (Twelve) finds a literary investigator caught up in a murder case. Library Journal says, “constant switching of narrators can be jarring, but Moore does an excellent job of making his characters and settings feel real, using his thorough knowledge of the Holmes stories to good effect.”

Clouds Without Rain by P. L. Gaus (Plume) is an Indie Next Pick for December that won bookseller praise for its slowly unravelling mystery set in Amish country, “with a good many surprises along the way. Another excellent entry in this series.”

A Pre-Holiday Quiz; UPDATE

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

UPDATE: We’ve received several correct answers — these are all based on movies. However, we are looking for a more SPECIFIC answer!

HINT: These movies based on books are tied together by a person who will receive a major award on Jan. 22

To take your mind off all you have to do between now and tomorrow’s feast, we offer the following quiz.

Below is a list of books. If they were in a display, what would tie them together (other than the obvious)?

Bonus question: Why would this display be particularly relevant right now?

Please try to answer without the aid of reference books or Google (in this case, we DON’T want you to cite a source!)


  • Austen, Jane, Emma
  • Chabon, Michael, Wonder Boys
  • Condon, Richard, The Manchurian Candidate
  • Connelly, Joe, Bringing Out the Dead
  • Cunningham, Michael, The Hours
  • Erian, Alicia, Towelhead
  • Foer, Jonathan Safran, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
  • Goldsmith, Olivia, The First Wives Club
  • Gregory, Philippa,  The Other Boleyn Girl
  • Grisham, John, The Firm
  • Heller, Zoe,  Notes on a Scandal
  • Irving, Washington,  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
  • Kureishi, Hanif,  Venus
  • Larsson, Stieg,  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Levin, Ira,  The Stepford Wives
  • McCarthy, Cormac,  Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men
  • Portis, Charles, True Grit
  • Price, Richard,  Freedomland
  • Russo, Robert,  Nobody’s Fool
  • Sinclair, Upton, Oil!
  • Tidyman, Ernest, Shaft
  • Yates, Richard,  Revolutionary Road


  • Bayley, John, Elegy for Iris
  • Goldsmith, Barbara,  Little Gloria… Happy at Last
  • Gordon, Barbara,  I’m Dancing as Fast as I Can
  • Harr, Jonathan, A Civil Action
  • Lewis, Michael,  Moneyball
  • McCourt, Frank, Angela’s Ashes
  • Mezrich, Ben,  Accidental Billionaires
  • Powell, Julie,  Julie & Julia
  • Rawicz, Slavomir,  The Long Walk
  • Schiff, Stacy,  Cleopatra
  • Waizkin, Fred, Searching for Bobby Fischer


  • Dahl, Roald, Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events


Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Coming March 11th is an animated feature based on Berkeley Brethed’s Mars Needs Moms.

Below is the trailer (that’s Joan Cusack’s voice as Mom).


Official Web Site:

Philomel is releasing a tie-in edition in January:

Mars Needs Moms!
Berkeley Breathed
Retail Price: $16.99
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Philomel – (2010-01-06)
ISBN / EAN: 039924736X / 9780399247361


Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

NPR’s Fresh Air veered into practical territory last night, interviewing the author of a book on caring for aging dogs. The book zoomed up Amazon’s sales rankings to #39.

Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Happy, Healthy, and Comfortable
Faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts Univer
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – (2010-11-22)
ISBN / EAN: 0547232829 / 9780547232829


Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

Based on the legal thriller by Michael Connelly, The Lincoln Lawyer, starring Matthew McConaughey, is scheduled to arrive in theaters on March 18. Below is the first trailer.

Director: Brad Furman

Matthew McConaughey … Mickey Haller
Ryan Phillippe … Louis Roulet
John Leguizamo
Marisa Tomei
Michaela Conlin … Heidi Sobel
William H. Macy

Official Web site:


The Lincoln Lawyer
Michael Connelly
Retail Price: $7.99
Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing – (2011-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1455500232 / 9781455500239

TEAM OF RIVALS to the Screen

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

British actor Daniel Day-Lewis has played several fictional American figures in the movies. He is about to take on an iconic real-life American figure, as the star of the movie Lincoln, based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. Steven Spielberg will direct. The screenplay is being writtern by Tony Kushner (Angels in America). Filming is expected to begin in the fall of 2011, with release sometime in late 2012.

In other Lincoln-movies-based-on-books news, casting has begun for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov. The movie will begin shooting in New Orleans in March.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Doris Kearns Goodwin
Retail Price: $21.00
Paperback: 944 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster – (2006-09-26)
ISBN / EAN: 0743270754 / 9780743270755