Fall Booknotes 2018

Handpicked new releases, brought to you by the staff of Elliott Bay.
 

Audiobooks available for select titles through our friends at Libro.fm.

 

Summer Booknotes 2018 

 

 

Staff Pick Logo
Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018

These mesmerizing stories present America as a slowly unfurling nightmare: racist, violent, glutted on spectacle, and a tad supernatural. The characters navigate chainsaw-wielding white supremacists, genetically segregated schools, twelve-faced gods, and the small indignities of bad jobs and screwy families with a candor and innocence that belie the gruesomeness of their situations. It all works wonderfully together: outrage, fantasy, pitch-dark humor, and moments of absolute poetry create a remarkably complete vision that is compelling to dive into and a relief to emerge from. -Wes


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Transcription: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316176637
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 25th, 2018

A bright young woman, Juliet Armstrong, is recruited into MI5 in the early years of World War II. She serves as a transcriptionist, listening in on members of the Fifth Column, a group of British Nazi sympathizers. The work she does is invaluable, but a casual comment to her superior places her in a compromised position. After the war, Juliet goes to work for the BBC thinking she has left her years as a spy behind, but the past rears its ugly head with a vendetta. The novel is taut, suspenseful, and witty. Atkinson's writing is superb and this is one of my favorite novels of this year. -Greg


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The Silence of the Girls: A Novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385544214
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - September 4th, 2018

British author Pat Barker, winner of the Man Booker prize for her poetic WWI fiction, reaches far back in time to depict the savagery and suffering of war as experienced not from the soldiers’ perspectives, but through the eyes of children, the aged, and women. This is the Trojan War as narrated by Briseis, war prize of Achilles but appropriated by Agamemnon, the “injustice” of which sets off the central and climactic events of Homer’s Iliad. Read this fascinating, compelling, and disturbing novel, and you’ll never again settle for bland historical accounts of the costs of warfare. -Peter


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French Exit: A Novel Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062846921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - August 28th, 2018

Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers (which hits the big screen this fall), is back with a deliciously tart tragedy of manners. Sporting endearingly eccentric characters and acidulous dialogue, this reads like a novelization of a lost Wes Anderson film. The plot concerns the crepuscular widow Frances Price her layabout adult son Malcolm, and their wayward cat Small Frank—who is inhabited by the spirit of Frances’s deceased, scoundrel of a husband—fleeing to Paris to escape their dwindling fortunes. Droll hilarity and surprising tenderness ensue. A quality entertainment! - John


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Housegirl: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250305176
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - August 28th, 2018

Belinda and Mary are two young live-in maids at the same house in Ghana who become fast friends. They are suddenly torn apart when Belinda is sent to a Ghanaian family in London to help their westernized child, Amma, out of a rebellious slump. Her new living situation is complicated and difficult to process, but Mary's constant communications from Ghana center Belinda and help her to avoid completely breaking down—until tragedy strikes. Donkor perfectly peppers Twi throughout, which helps create the authentic tone of this marvelously written debut novel. -Allen


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Washington Black: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525521426
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 18th, 2018

Award-winning novelist Esi Edugyan, known for the World War II novel Half-Blood Blues, returns to historical fiction with this brilliant novel set in the antebellum United States. Our titular character, a young field slave from Barbados, gets drawn into a world beyond the plantation and his imagining. Edugyan puts the reader in the same position—to be surprised by where the narrative takes him as he aids an eccentric naturalist, explorer, and inventor. From the Underground Railroad to the Arctic North, freedom remains fraught with the possibility of capture and forced labor once again. A book written with skill and heart. -Rick


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In the House in the Dark of the Woods Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780316411059
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 16th, 2018

This tale is best read by candlelight or under a full moon, while swaddled in heavy blankets and silence. Atmospheric and intensely eerie, Laird Hunt's new story explores the consequences of a Puritan women leaving her family and mundane life to embark on a supernatural nighttime journey. While she finds a sort of freedom in those witchy woods, she loses parts of herself that cannot be regained. Hunt explores themes of punishment and reclamation as the narrative grows darker and more magically sinister. Both horror fans and those less familiar with the genre will find much to appreciate in this creepy addition to our haunted American mythology. -Liz


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Crudo Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780393652727
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 11th, 2018

Written in seven weeks during the summer of 2017, Crudo has perfectly captured what it is like to attend parties and apartment search during a time of extreme political upheaval—that is to say, what it is like to be alive at this very moment, when one crisis is quickly followed by another, but lives must go on. Using stream-of-consciousness prose, Laing creates a familiar feeling of whiplash and perfectly captures society's anxiety and simultaneous numbness through her main character Kathy, who is anxious about her upcoming wedding as well as the threat of nuclear war. This is not a comfortable novel; it is feverish, absurd, and compulsively readable. -Emma


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Whiskey When We're Dry Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735220447
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - August 21st, 2018

This debut novel takes its title from a Gillian Welch lyric and is as evocative and haunting as her best songs. Set in 1885 America, we follow seventeen-year-old Jess Harney as she disguises herself as a boy and heads west in search of her outlaw brother. Powerfully evoking the danger and violence of the United States’ western frontier, the pages of this book are full of stunning western imagery and crackle with life and well-plotted action. Ultimately, though, it is the strength of the protagonist that makes this book an instant classic. Wickedly smart and endlessly complex, Jess Harney deserves a place among the pantheon of great western characters. -Jacob


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Severance: A Novel Cover Image
By Ling Ma
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374261597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 14th, 2018

Stephen King’s The Stand was my introduction to fictional pandemics, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Apocalyptic fiction often features strangers banding together and passing through towns filled with dead bodies on their way to shelter, so I like to think of these books as creepy road trip novels. In that sense, Ling Ma’s Severance fits right in as Shen Fever survivor Candace Chen and others make their way toward The Facility. I was gripped by the details of Ma’s fictional illness, and found her fusion of millennial, office, and doomsday culture to be an extremely fresh take on the genre. -Alex


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She Would Be King: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781555978174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 11th, 2018

Wayétu Moore's debut novel is magical realism, historical fiction, and coming-of-age—but before all, it's an origin story. It depicts Liberia’s struggle for independence through three characters: a man fleeing slavery in the American South, a woman exiled from her West African village, and the Jamaican-born son of an enslaved Maroon. Each possesses a unique gift, an inheritance that surpasses the strictly-mortal realm and weaves the three individuals together. She Would Be King is truly a beautiful book; ambitious and lyrical, it demands to be called an epic. -Shawn


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Killing Commendatore: A novel Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780525520047
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - October 9th, 2018

A man getting over the end of a marriage and holing up in a borrowed house in the forest is just the beginning of this unforgettable novel. I feel this is Murakami’s deepest, richest novel in twenty years, since The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. It is that good. The place of mystery in life—despite accepting it, having answers come from it—remains even after more is known of love, purpose, beauty, heartbreak, youth, old age, and death. Life, and all it encompasses, exist here in masterful, deeply resonant form. -Rick


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We That Are Young: A novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780525521525
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - August 28th, 2018

First published by a small British press, Preti Taneja’s electric debut novel has made ripples, winning awards and readers worldwide. Now come to these shores, this fearless, assured saga transposes Shakespeare’s King Lear to contemporary India. A mega-company run by a patriarch and his cronies gets set for transition to three daughters variously aspiring to take the helm—or not. Ingenious in its use of Shakespearean material, this swirling story also stands on its own as a chronicle of greed, nefarious dealing, and raw aspiration—both familial and otherwise. India this may be, but it looks all too familiar here. -Rick


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Ponti Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501173110
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 4th, 2018

After a brief career as the titular monster in the cult movie Ponti, Amisa has settled down to become a (possibly) fake medium whose (probably) scam seances have either calmed or angered many a grieving citizen of Singapore. Szu, her daughter, has a messy relationship with her mother, whose glory days, everybody agrees, lie firmly behind her. Meanwhile Szu develops a delicate friendship with her sharp, hilarious, and scary classmate Circe. Thus begins a haunting story of three women who come together and inevitably part ways—but does the past ever stay totally behind us? A fantastic debut by a rising Singaporean star. -Justin


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Rosewater (The Wormwood Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316449052
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - September 18th, 2018

If you enjoy the works of Tochi Onyebuchi or Tomi Adeyemi, Tade Thompson's new genre-bending, speculative fiction, Rosewater, will be right up your alley. Set in a near-future Nigeria, Rosewater is a town built around an alien presence, with mutant human psychics, mysterious alien healing sessions, and an underworld of crime and political revolution. This nonlinear, fast-paced story will have you sympathizing with the protagonist's anxieties even as you chide his questionable morals. Brilliant and bizarre, I guarantee you've never read a first-contact story quite like this. -Liz


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Cherry: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525520139
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - August 14th, 2018

“They’d died and gone to the Internet. That’s where people go when they die these days.” This is just one tidbit from Nico Walker’s Cherry that made me stop reading so I could text my friends about it. Apart from his many thought-provoking phrases, Walker’s personal story is itself a compelling reason to read this book. Beautiful and unsettling in its honesty, this is a story about an Iraq War veteran who becomes a heroin addict and starts robbing banks to support his habit, written by an Iraq War veteran who became a heroin addict and went to jail for robbing a bank. Cherry is an astonishingly good, Denis Johnson-esque debut novel. -Alex


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How Do We Look: The Body, the Divine, and the Question of Civilization Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781631494406
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - September 4th, 2018

Noted classicist Mary Beard has followed in the steps of Sir Kenneth Clarke in examining the world’s art. A companion volume to the "Civilisations" series on PBS, to which she contributed two episodes, Beard’s book is a multicultural and international look at art, examining evocative work from many countries, civilizations, and religions. How do we look? The observer views the work of art, and the image or sculpture mirrors back their own self on some level. A remarkable overview of the impact of how art feeds civilization and vice versa. -Greg


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Small Fry Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802128232
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - September 4th, 2018

"I'd given up on the possibility of a grand reconciliation, the kind in the movies, but I kept coming anyway.” Brennan-Jobs recounts the hardship of growing up with a distant father like only a great writer can. By the time she turned two, Apple had gone public and money was no longer an issue, but that didn’t mean the hardships were over. Read about what it's like to grow up with Steve Jobs as your father. Anyone interested in Silicon Valley or sincere autobiographical writing will be pleasantly surprised. -Alberto


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All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781936787975
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - October 2nd, 2018

All You Can Ever Know is an inquisitive and emotionally resounding debut memoir. Nicole Chung displays a willingness to lay her emotions bare as she attempts to thread together the history of her biological family’s origins. Recalling her life as an adopted child, she deftly displays a range of feelings, from anxiety to isolation, that can affect children of transracial adoptions. The details of her journey bring her impassioned longing to connect to her Korean roots to the surface, resulting in a sobering, somber, and redemptive memoir. -Blair


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Leadership: In Turbulent Times Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781476795928
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - September 18th, 2018

This book is a total shot in the arm. The lives of four presidents are examined in turn, detailing their paths to power and individual approaches to personal and national crises. The politicking and national drama of the book’s latter half are riveting, but it’s the first half, with stories of four young people creating themselves from scratch in the face of hardship and trauma, that’s most moving. The stories are interwoven in a manner that lets commonalities and juxtapositions echo and reinforce one another as the book progresses, giving the whole that much more emotional heft. This is history as self help and self help as history. -Wes


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Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781476796628
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 2nd, 2018

In an endlessly shifting stream of formats and materials, Nora Krug takes a deep plunge into the dark caverns of German history—both personal and national. At the book's center is the German idea of Heimat: the culture and place that first makes us who we are. The range of archival materials (letters, maps, photographs, trinkets), the eerie simplicity of Krug's cartoons and flat colors, and the exhaustive depth of the reporting make this book special as both a historical document and an emotive, artistic expression of what the past means. Rarely has a mixed media memoir been rendered with such substance and care. -Tony


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Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316551243
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - August 7th, 2018

Fair warning: avoid Dopesick unless you're prepared to get very, very angry. This examination of America's ongoing opioid crisis spares no empathy for those who profit from it, specifically the pharmaceutical company that introduced OxyContin into poor, rural communities in the 1990s. The book tells the stories of small-town healthcare workers fighting the system from within, parents who have lost children to addiction, and the people in the throes of it. Dopesick staggered me; Macy's journalism is humane, deeply compassionate, and furious where fury is warranted. -Shawn


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Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781501168741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - August 14th, 2018

In Amateur, award-winning author Thomas Page McBee gives us a ringside seat to the ongoing battle between societal and personal expectations of manhood, masculinity, and male violence. As a trans man, McBee uses his unique perspective to examine what is both meaningful and demeaning in our rigid culture of male conformity. A brush with male aggression sets him to study boxing, and training provides a backdrop to his dissection of the social and hormonal drives to violence, opening an unexpected door to male bonding and intimacy. As McBee dares to become his own man, he uncovers the narrow and often unhealthy state of American manhood. “It’s a paradox, to know we need a future that we can’t yet imagine.” -Seth


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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780385541909
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - September 11th, 2018

Is personality testing "a system of personal interrogation that is as committed to self-discovery as it is to self-care," or "one technique for . . . treating people as interchangeable, and sometimes disposable, parts of an unforgiving social whole"? This is the central tension of Emre's book. We see the image of the well-adjusted American warp and re-form with the birth of industrialization, the madness of war, the rise of feminism, and the growth of capitalism. This book demands a re-examination of the assumptions on which our lives are built; you will turn the last page with more information and many more questions than you started with. -Lara


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How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735220140
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 18th, 2018

Imagine you could visit any point in history without fear of changing the present because you’re on an alternate timeline. Awesome. But what if your time machine breaks down? Make the best of it and build a civilization from scratch! That’s the setup for this hilarious, impressively researched, and accessible survival guide for the stranded time traveler. From science and technology to art, language, solving common human complaints, nose-picking, and famous quotes you can say you came up with, it’s all covered. Civilization pro tip: Be wise and good. -Sage
 


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The Library Book Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781476740188
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 16th, 2018

When this journalist, known for her impeccable research, warmth, and insight, delves into a new subject, it's an auspicious moment. A shocking 1986 fire in the Los Angeles Public Library burned or damaged nearly a million books. Orlean studies the case of the suspected arsonist, a man with ever-changing alibis. She explores the library's 145-year history, its eccentric leaders, its present-day function as sanctuary and community center, and the future of the institution as envisioned by the dedicated staff. The arson case is never resolved, but this book resoundingly affirms the value of libraries throughout time and across the globe. -Erica


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In the Hurricane's Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780525426769
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 16th, 2018

Considering our national preoccupation with ourselves, it is unsurprising that many remember only the American victories and defeats in our Revolutionary War. But we should not forget what George Washington knew well in the fall of 1781: we never could have done it on our own. Philbrick tells the story of the naval battle between France and Britain that largely determined the war’s outcome. Following all sides, we see the events leading up to the Battle of the Chesapeake through the eyes of the people that drove them—and remember the help this country needed in order to succeed. -Justin


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Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501133091
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 18th, 2018

Sarah Smarsh's portrait of her childhood in rural Kansas is part memoir, part sociology, and wholly class-conscious throughout. From the inherent dangers unique to poor girls and women, to the shame our country associates with socioeconomic disadvantage, Smarsh examines the lingering trauma of poverty. Her approach is unique; she is the first woman in her lineage to avoid teenage pregnancy, and Heartland is written as a letter to the spirit of her imagined child. Favoring political awareness over sentimentality and optimism over despair, Heartland cuts to the core of an American divide. -Shawn


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Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781608469468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - September 4th, 2018

This urgent and impeccably written book brings needed clarity to our current political and social moment. Solnit's ability to frame the issues of our time in ways that demonstrate the connection between language, rhetoric, and emotion is unparalleled and incredibly powerful. How, for instance, can someone die from gentrification? Why is climate change an act of violence? How do cities dehumanize the homeless? Solnit looks at the stories we tell ourselves and traces them back to where they truly come from. The result is a highly moving and deeply unsettling call to action. -Jacob


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Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women's Anger Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781501181795
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 2nd, 2018

This book made me furious. And I am more than happy to trumpet my anger because, as Traister argues, women's anger has been silenced, stifled, and smoothed over for too long. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response to the oppression, harassment, objectification, and daily diminution women have faced for centuries. While Traister's focus is on very recent politics, she delves deep into America's past to examine women's anger as a response to the patriarchy's systemic oppression, with an emphasis on the oppression and activism of black women. Unleash your anger. Read this book. -Emma


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If They Come for Us: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525509783
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - August 7th, 2018

Allegorical, imaginative, sharp, and crass, Asghar’s debut collection of poetry reflects on the many facets of her life and her multiple identities. Co-creator of the Emmy-nominated web series Brown Girls, Asghar holds nothing back: not her family issues, nor her struggles with faith, nor discovering her sexuality. Asghar shows true bravery when she confronts and expels the dark ugliness of her past and demands a better future. If They Come for Us is a raw and vulnerable collection that will initiate conversations and stay with you well after you’ve finished it. -Teasha


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Small Spaces Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780525515029
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - September 25th, 2018

When I learned that Arden (a fantastic adult fantasy writer) made a foray into children's fiction with this delightfully spooky tale, my Halloween-loving heart skipped a few beats! While grieving the loss of her mother, our young protagonist finds herself in possession of a strange book: a ghost story that comes to life. She must follow her instincts to survive this waking nightmare, even when no one believes her. With beautiful turns of phrase and brilliantly complex themes, Small Spaces is perfect for fans of R. L. Stine and Neil Gaiman. -Liz


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Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse Cover Image
By Marcy Campbell, Corinna Luyken (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735230378
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - August 14th, 2018

The deepest messages often come in the simplest text; such is the case in this affecting and dear picture book. Chloe gets irritated by her daydreaming classmate, Adrian Simcox, describing in detail his beautiful horse to any and all who will listen. Chloe knows Adrian couldn’t have a horse because he lives in town where there would be no room for a horse, but when she calls him out for lying it does not elicit the response she expects. This lush book is a wonderful conversation starter about empathy and the gift of compassion. -Holly


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Everything & Everywhere: A Fact-Filled Adventure for Curious Globe-Trotters Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781452165141
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - October 9th, 2018

Where can you find underpants in a vending machine? Which city is home to 35,000 stray dogs? How tall is Sugarloaf Mountain? I didn't know I needed to know until I knew! These and other tasty trivia tidbits, illuminated with whimsical gouaches, await the inquiring reader in Marc Martin's Everything & Everywhere. A surefire pick for fans of Maira Kalman, this keenly observed and gently humorous worldwide adventure will kindle curiosity in hearts young and old. -Lara


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Dreamers Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780823440559
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Neal Porter Books - September 4th, 2018

Today there exists a considerable and urgent need for literature that increases our empathy and understanding of others. Dreamers is a remarkable mixed media masterpiece of Morales’s coming-to-America story, traveling with her infant son and learning English as a second language. Morales’s perseverance and tenacity is an inspiration, and this book should become a staple in all children’s libraries. We have so much to learn from minority voices, and Dreamers is a valuable introduction for both children and adults. -Teasha


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The Greatest Adventure Cover Image
By Tony Piedra, Tony Piedra (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338134193
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - September 11th, 2018

Eliot loves adventure, so he creates it for himself on the city streets near his home. But he yearns for more. He wants the kinds of adventures that his grandfather, El Capitán, has experienced on his boat. The relationship between Eliot and his grandfather is a special one, and the journey the two take through this colorful book is a beautiful reminder of the boundlessness of imagination. Adventures don’t have to be on the high seas to be exciting and real. -Sage


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Harbor Me Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399252525
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - August 28th, 2018

Harbor Me is a clear example of why I adore, appreciate, and respect Jacqueline Woodson as a storyteller and a person. When our protagonists find a safe harbor to finally express themselves, even about the ugly, difficult parts of life, you can’t help but be moved. Woodson is known for her profound poetry in her bestselling young adult memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, and as the 2015 Young People’s Poet Laureate; I’m delighted to report that Harbor Me has the same poetic rhythm to which we’ve become accustomed. -Teasha