Tag Archive for Booklist

Good News: Another Terrific Review for THE FALL (Booklist, July Issue)

I’m happy about this positive review for The Fall in the July issue of Booklist.

Thank you, Teri Lesesne!

Money quote:

“Readers will put this puzzle together, eager to see whether Sam ultimately accepts his role in Morgan’s death, and wanting to see the whole story of what one person could have, and should have, done for Morgan. Pair this with Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007).”

I’ll take it!

Here’s the whole shebang:

The Fall. Preller, James (Author)

Sep 2015. 256 p. Feiwel and Friends, hardcover, $16.99. (9780312643010).

9780312643010Sam Proctor is just an ordinary guy, neither an athlete nor a scholar. He goes with the flow, which is why he was part of the gang who piled on a girl named Morgan. A few comments on her home page, some name calling—it was harmless, right? But the taunts and posts grew uglier until Morgan stepped off the town’s water tower and killed herself. Sam now wonders about his culpability. At first, he rationalizes: he wasn’t the worst of the bullies, and it’s not like he pushed her off the edge. In short, episodic chapters, Preller provides readers with a rare glimpse into the mind of a bully (though Sam would never admit he is one). The pace is fast, yet the story unfolds slowly, one piece at a time. Readers will put this puzzle together, eager to see whether Sam ultimately accepts his role in Morgan’s death, and wanting to see the whole story of what one person could have, and should have, done for Morgan. Pair this with Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007). — Teri Lesesne

Around the Horn: The “Me, Me, Me!” Edition

Weird confluence of things in a 24-hour period, with five books colliding. Let’s recap:

* In the mail yesterday, the first hot-off-the-presses copy of Mighty Casey!

I love this book, it’s beautifully published, and I’m so happy that it brought Matthew Cordell into my world. That said, it’s always oddly deflating to receive the finished book. It’s over, done, finished. After all that build-up, years in the making. It’s like that Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller song from the tailend of the Brill Building era: “Is That All There Is?” If you don’t know this 1968 tune, here’s how it opens, as spoken and sung by Peggy Lee:

I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement. I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames. And when it was all over I said to myself, “Is that all there is to a fire?”

* In the mail today, the first-pass galleys to Bystander (Fall, ’09), my “bully book” set in a middle school. To me, this is more exciting, because we’re in the thick of it. Here’s my first chance to see this book set in type. I’ll see the typeface, the way they handled chapter openings, the leading, margin width, the feel and heft of the whole thing. I’ll find out how it pages out, the length. And I’ll read it through again, pen in hand, for the 50th time (approximation). This pass represents my last chance to make corrections before it goes to bound galleys, otherwise known as “uncorrected” review copies. Even so, there will be more opportunities to overthink the whole thing.

* I got word last night from Shannon Penney that Along Came Spider was reviewed by Booklist (see below). For some reason, this book has been deadly quiet, met with a collective yawn. Not reviewed at all in PW, SLJ, Horn Book, any of the traditional venues. So I’m grateful to John Peters at Booklist for reading it, and for the review:

The lifelong friendship between two fifth graders—one with a mild spectrum disorder—hits the rocks but emerges intact in this perceptive tale from the author of Six Innings (2008). Feeling conflicted but wanting to fit in better with his classmates at Spiro T. Agnew Elementary, Robert (nicknamed Spider) uncomfortably tries to put some distance between himself and his buddy Trey, whose obsessions, lack of sensitivity to social cues, and general clumsiness have resulted in a reputation for being “out there.” Acting on Spider’s suggestion that he make other friends, Trey beats the odds and finds two: the school’s young librarian and a genial new classmate named Ava. Spider also makes another friend, and by the end discovers that there’s still room in his life for Trey. By regularly switching points of view, Preller gives readers a chance to see the situation from each boy’s angle and to consider the central insight that differences aren’t always as important as they seem.

* I posted yesterday about Jigsaw Jones: The Case of the Secret Skeleton. Scholastic is in the process of making the cover. And since I’m working with a new editor on this one, I need to check in and make sure I’ll get another chance to make corrections in galleys. Because — get this — it’s not perfect.

* Amidst all this background noise, I’m supposed to be writing a new book. I’m in the early stages of Joker (a working title I’m not loving), which mostly means jotting down notes, reading things, daydreaming, hoping to sort out in my mind some kind of shape and scope of this thing before jumping in with both feet. I want it to be funny, and that’s so much easier to describe than actually pull off. I don’t have the voice yet. Now I just kind of write and think, “This so blows.” I guess you could say we’re in the Self-Loathing Stage. Always fun.

Okay, here’s the immortal Peggy Lee:

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Ten Best Sports Books of the Year

A friend of mine, author Joe Layden, sent along an email last night celebrating the fact that our books were both named by Booklist as “Top 10 Sports Books.” Joe’s amazing book — The Last Great Fight — was named in the Adult category. Six Innings was included in the Youth category.

Senior Editor at Booklist, Keir Graff, opened the article with this comment: “People who aren’t sports fans might assume that sports books aren’t worth their while.”

I guess that is the peril of publishing a hardcover sports book. There are adults who, perhaps for good reasons, won’t take a sports book seriously. But as Jean Feiwel, publisher at Feiwel & Friends, keeps saying, “Sports stories can run deep.” That was our shared goal with Six Innings, both in writing the book and in selling it. This wasn’t yet another color-by-numbers “Lefty at Shortstop” type sports story; it was, hopefully, something deeper. As deep as, um, a real book. Hey, why not? Fortunately for me, I was published by some great people who were committed to this book as literature: Jean, who signed it up (and for the fortuitous story behind that, click away!); Liz Szabla, AKA “The Super Scout,” with her incredible eye for detail, who shaped it; and Rich Deas, art director, who put together the package. It’s a cliche and it sounds trite, but, aw, heck: I could not have done it without them. Not even close.

Here’s the list:

At Gleason’s Gym. By Ted Lewin. Illus. by the author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter, $17.95 (9781596432314). Gr. 4–7.

This glorious tribute highlights both the thrilling action of a fight and the deep, intimate history of the Brooklyn gym where “the world works out.”

Hottest Race Cars. By Erin Egan. illus. Enslow, $17.95 (9780766028715). Gr. 4–6.

This title in the Wild Wheels! series showcases the allure that has made racing one of the most popular sports on the planet in an informative and anecdotal fashion, complete with stunning photos of some of the world’s fastest machines.

Jabberwocky. By Lewis Carroll. Illus. by Christopher Myers. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $15.99 (9781423103721). Gr. 3–5.

Carroll’s classic nonsense poem is brought to life on an urban basketball court, with intensely colored, energetic art in which a lighter-than-air young man challenges the menacing, 20-foot-tall Jabberwock.

Keeping Score. By Linda Sue Park. Clarion, $16 (9780618927999). Gr. 4–7.

Park skillfully melds die-hard fandom with life’s larger struggles in this memorable novel of Maggie, a young Brooklyn Dodgers fan, who knows all too well the familiar mantra “Wait till next year.”

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow. By James Sturm. Illus. by Rich Tommaso. Hyperion, $16.99 (9780786839001). Gr. 6–12.

This graphic novel follows a fictional ex–Negro Leaguer, Emmet Wilson, whose brief encounter with Satchel Paige, an iconic force against Jim Crow laws, inspires him as he battles racism in the 1940s South.

Shift. By Jennifer Bradbury. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781416962199). Gr. 7–12.

A cross-country bicycle trek serves as the background of this resonant coming-of-age story of best friends testing the bounds of their friendship and learning how to let go.

Six Innings. By James Preller. Feiwel and Friends, $16.95 (9780312367633). Gr. 5–8.

The strategies and surprises of a championship Little League game form the backbone of this action-packed story marked by well-rounded characterizations, from bench clown to slugger to game announcer.

Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali. By Charles R. Smith. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Candlewick, $19.99 (9780763616922). Gr. 5–8.

Collier’s explosive artwork is coupled with 12 rhyming poems that capture the larger-than-life personality of Muhammad Ali and echo those peculiar, taunting rhymes so powerfully ingrained in our boxing, and cultural, lore.

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball. By Kadir Nelson. Illus. by the author. Hyperion/Jump at the Sun, $18.99 (9780786808328). Gr. 5–8.

Told from an insider’s point of view and featuring unforgettable portraits of Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, and many more, Nelson’s tribute to the men whose determination and skill paved the way to breaking the color barrier in baseball is a towering achievement.

Young Pelé: Soccer’s First Star. By Lesa Cline-Ransome. Illus. by James Ransome. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (9780375835995). K–Gr. 3.

Just as exciting as the on-the-field exploits of soccer’s greatest star learning to master the game is the story of his poverty-stricken childhood in Brazil.