Book Bites: From Zelda to Alva, Plus Evan, George, Marie, and More

Hungry for a new book? You've come to the right place. This week, we've prepared an eight-course literary repast that's sure to please your reading palate. Start with a pair of picture books written by two queens of the genre: Kelly DiPucchio and Angela DiTerlizzi. The former is responsible for Gaston, among others; you may know the latter from Some Pets and Some Bugs, both illustrated by the wonderful Brendan Wenzel. Needless to say, their new efforts are both Di-Lovely.

From there, we have three stories about fascinating women, and three about young men. We'll start with the ladies. Therese Anne Fowler is back with her follow-up to Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. It's called A Well-Behaved Woman, and it's all about Alva Smith, the woman who married into the Vanderbilt family and became a vocal figure in the women's suffrage movement. Travel a little further back in time, and meet little Marie Grosholtz, via the talented Edward Carey. She grew up in Paris in the late 1700s, and is remembered around the world by a different name. Finally, you'll fall for Nikole Paterson, heroine of Jasmine Guillory's latest. She's a great central character anchoring one of the most charming love stories of the year.

On to the gents. We love Jarrett Krosoczka here at the shop, from his wonderful picture books right on through to his latest work, a heartbreaking graphic novel-memoir of a childhood disrupted by hard circumstances. It's a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, so hurry in for your copy. Next up is the novelization of the smash-hit musical Dear Evan Hansen. Finally, Esi Edugyan's Washington Black is a page-turning adventure story undergirded by weighty themes. Plus, Alice loved it, so you know it's legit.

Our advice? Read 'em all. Your heart will be full—and so will your shelves. Happy browsing, friends.


Ages 4-8

Poe Won’t Go by Kelly DiPucchio; Illustrated by Zachariah OHora

When Poe the elephant sits down right in the middle of an intersection, the residents of Prickly Valley try just about everything to get him to move, but to no avail. Finally, a little girl does what no one else has considered: she asks him why. A clever picture book for all to enjoy!   
—Cathy

READ this sweet story because its hilarity is matched by its gentle lesson about listening to others. 
PASS if there's a literal elephant in the room preventing you from getting to the shop. In which case, you can always just... 
...Order your copy on our website. 

Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi; Illustrated by Samantha Cotterill

Is there really such a thing as too much glitter? One little girl and her cat find out when a box full of glitter arrives on their doorstep. What follows is a celebration of all things sparkly. DiTerlizzi has crafted a catchy story that is enhanced by Cotterill's illustrations that include PLENTY of glitter. Don't worry, it all stays in the book! 
—Cathy

READ because this is a fun little story of creativity—and sparkles.
PASS if reading this will bring back dark memories of the last time you let glitter into your house.
Order your copy on our website.

Ages 12 & Up

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

We know Jarrett Krosoczka as the talented creator of picture books and the Lunch Lady graphic novel series. Raised by his grandparents due to his mother's incarceration and heroin abuse, he uses art to impress others, and then to escape from the realities of his complicated family. He incorporates his early artwork, as well as letters to and from his mother into the story, providing a tangible glimpse of those early years. He has successfully created an engaging, effective look at his complicated history, reminding the reader that family can be found in many places. This beautifully serves as both a window and a mirror into his life. Highly recommended for grades 7 and up. 
—Cathy

READ because this is a beautiful, empathy-building story that will change lives for the better.
PASS if your life is perfect and you have no feelings.
Order your copy on our website.
Meet the author when he visits us next month.

Ages 14-17

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich, with Steven Levenson, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul

This novel adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen is for both musical superfans and those who have never heard of it. What starts out as a journey through the eyes of an awkward socially anxious teenager takes an emotional turn with the suicide of one of his classmates. After a letter to himself ends up in the wrong hands, Evan is thrust into the role of the best friend that never was and teen mental health advocate. This emotionally uplifting page turner will make you want to play the soundtrack and sing along. 
—Addi

READ because this is a well-done adaptation of a sweet, important story. Plus, the musical is opening the 2019-2020 season at the Hobby Center.
PASS if you hate musicals, hate books, hate books based on musicals, and are generally just a grouch.
Order your copy on our website.

Adult Fiction

A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler

Therese Anne Fowler, author of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, once again writes an empowering tale of a famous, yet often forgotten, woman in history. A Well-Behaved Woman follows the fascinating life of Alva Smith, a woman who rises from post-Civil War poverty and marries into the newly wealthy Vanderbilt family. As "new money" families all across America continue to get rich quick, Alva expertly navigates the intricate and exclusive New York City society, laying the foundation for the Vanderbilt legacy we still know of today. Through successes and turmoil, Fowler gives the reader insight into what life was like for the outrageously wealthy in the late 19th century, and shows that money will almost certainly not lead to happiness.  
—Caroline

READ if you loved Z or The Last Castle.
PASS if you just can't stand empowering stories about fabulous women. (The door of this women-run shop is just over there, thank you.)
Order your copy on our website.

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Twelve-year-old George Washington Black is a slave on a sugar plantation in 1830s Barbados when he catches the eye of the plantation owner's brother, Titch, an eccentric scientist who is in need of an assistant for his projects. Wash is just the right size and weight to serve as ballast in a hot air balloon that Titch is building. To avoid being implicated in a suicide at the plantation, Titch and Wash take off in the balloon and begin a series of travels. They end up in the Arctic where Titch abandons Wash, and Wash proceeds on his own series of adventures during the next several years. This is an entertaining, sometimes humorous novel though there is an underlying dark tone to it because Wash is an escaped slave with a bounty on his head. It's a story of friendships, of relationships between slaves and masters, and finally a story of a young man's search to find out who he is and where he belongs. Recommended.  
—Alice

READ because Liz Sullivan, our wonderful rep from Random House, crowned this as her favorite book of the fall. And that's saying something.
PASS... Look, if the double recommendation of Liz and Alice isn't enough for you, we just don't know what to say.
Order your copy on our website.

Little by Edward Carey

Tiny Marie "Little" Grosholtz goes to Paris with her guardian, Dr. Curtius. He has gotten attention for making wax models of people's heads, with Marie as his assistant. They rent rooms from the cold, manipulative, and downright mean, Mme. Picot, who encourages Dr. Curtius to expand his business, while making Marie an unpaid house servant. Business grows, things happen—including the French Revolution. Many years later, Marie goes to London where she establishes her own wax museum… you may have heard of it. This is an engrossing novel full of interesting characters, with a quirky tone that leaves the reader wondering what crazy thing might happen next to Marie. And as icing on the cake, he provides his own sketches throughout the book. This amazing story is highly recommended!   
—Cynthia

READ because Liz's counterpart at Penguin, Brian Contine, bestowed similar praise upon this title.
PASS if knowing the ending will ruin it for you. (Seriously, though: This one's all about the journey.)
Order your copy on our website.

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Straightforward freelance writer Nikole accompanies her boyfriend of five months to a Dodgers game for his birthday and is horrified when he proposes on the Jumbotron. He's so clueless that he misspells her name and is shocked when she turns him down. Carlos and his sister are at the game and step in, pretending to be old friends and hustling her away from an awkward situation. Nik and Carlos begin dating with the understanding that neither of them wants a serious relationship. Of course, each has feelings for the other, and the charm of this novel is how all is resolved. Another winner from Jasmine Guillory!  
—Cathy

READ because everyone from EW to NPR to Roxane Gay can't get enough of this author.
PASS if the mere thought of a baseball stadium sends you into a depression right now. (Try this one again in a few months.)
Order your copy on our website.
Read our Q&A with the author.
Meet Jasmine (and get your book signed) when she joins us in the shop on October 29!