Fans of Deborah Freedman’s award-winning picture books, The Story of Fish and Snail and Blue Chicken, will delight in her innovative new title, which explores the creative efforts of a mouse writing a story. There’s only one problem: Mouse’s friend, Frog, wants to take part, too, and the two budding authors don’t always see eye-to-eye.
I promised myself I would write this whole review of Susan Juby’s latest novel without using the word “quirky.” There’s so much more to the author of Alice, I Think than just her knack for writing about eccentric characters and borderline outlandish situations. There is plenty of both in Juby’s latest, but that’s hardly the whole story.
Historical novels that use real people, eras and achievements as a springboard can sometimes become overworked lessons of the history on which they’re treading. Other times, they can be inspired, original works that remind us of both the importance of history and the timeless concerns of our own humanity. Thankfully, The Architect’s Apprentice is the latter.
The tactics may have changed, but the intent remains the same: North Korea is a mysterious, insular country that above all loathes the United States. Today, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un retains his tight grip on power through imprisonment and purges. His threats against the United States include missile testing and computer hacking. But Kim’s modern-day machinations simply mirror the early actions of his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, who took control of North Korea following World War II and established the Kim family dynasty. Blaine Harden’s new book, The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, describes the formation of that dynasty and offers one explanation for why North Korea hates the U.S.
Paul Volponi shares how the photograph of a floating 1959 Buick inspired his new YA novel, Game Seven.
So much can happen in one day. And when it comes to Eddie Joyce’s first novel, so much is remembered in one day: Small Mercies is the story of the Amedolas, an Irish-Italian family living on Staten Island. The story is set in the current day, but it stretches back through generations with a particular emphasis on September 11, 2001, the day they lost Bobby—he was a firefighter, but he was also a son, brother, father and husband.
David Arnold makes his YA debut with Mosquitoland, the tale of a teen runaway on a 947-mile journey to find her mother. It all begins on a Greyhound bus, but dangers big and small make Mim's journey treacherous and transformative. "I am Mary Iris Malone," our heroine says, "and I am not okay." Through letters to a character named Isabel, as well as through clever, authentic narration, she reveals the confusion, pain and heartwrenching vulnerabilities that spurred this epic journey. BookPage met Arnold when he came through Nashville promoting his book, and it was a delight to pick this new author's brain.
George Hodgman had defined himself by his work as an editor in New York City. Newly out of a job, he returns home to small-town Paris, Missouri, and discovers that his mother, Betty, is in need of full-time care. Their affection and shared humor dance around the unspoken; Hodgman is gay, a fact his parents never acknowledged.
It takes a special talent for an author to tap into the mind of a character who is radically different from himself, and first-time novelist David Arnold has uncannily captured the voice of a 16-year-old girl with beauty and style in Mosquitoland.
“I’m of two minds,” we say. Or, “I changed my mind.” These phrases roll casually off the tongue, but we don’t mean them literally. Maybe we should, according to two new books that explore the fascinating history and tantalizing future of neuroscience.