Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
I Remember Beirut

Zeina Abirached. Lerner/Graphic Universe, $9.95 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-4677-4458-4

As with Abirached’s debut, A Game for Swallows, this b&w graphic memoir of growing up in Lebanon during that country’s civil war invites comparison to Persepolis. Collecting memories introduced via the recurring phrase “I remember,” Abirached’s prose and artwork convey, with grace and humor, the way her family’s life during the war shifted from mundane to ominous and back again. Her mother tired of getting her windshield replaced every time a shell hit, and she eventually drove without it. There was no water for showers, but an endless supply of cigarettes. Abirached’s younger brother assembled a collection of shrapnel, and the author recalls watching the Olympics (“I remember Florence Griffith Joyner’s nails”). When an attack forced Abirached, her schoolmates, and teachers to stay at school overnight, she realized that “our teachers were as scared as we were.” In the middle of her account, Abirached abandons words and uses scratchy white lines on black pages to draw remembered moments of peace: a jar of olives, a swing, a coop full of chickens. Here—and throughout—Abirached shares (and readers feel) a loss that cannot be named. Ages 13–18. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Laughing at My Nightmare

Shane Burcaw. Roaring Brook, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-62672-007-7

In this no-holds-barred autobiography, 21-year-old Burcaw sheds light on what it has been like to grow up with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a deadly disease that has left him confined to a wheelchair and dependent on others “for pretty much every aspect of staying alive,” due to his inability to develop and maintain muscles. Burcaw tells all—including the difficulties of getting dressed, turning over at night, or relieving himself—in a frank, funny, and sometimes profane manner (“It probably looks like we are filming a multi-fetish porno involving severely disabled people and urination”). His honesty, tempered by mordant humor and a defiant acceptance, is refreshing, even as he thumbs his nose at the disease that is slowly stripping him of the basics. Burcaw has blogged about his experiences and launched a nonprofit organization to spread his message of remaining “positive in the face of adversity through the use of humor,” though the hard realities of the disease (the need for feeding tubes, the risk of infections) are never far from view. It’s engaging, inspirational, and eye-opening. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Matisse’s Garden

Samantha Friedman, illus. by Cristina Amodeo. MoMA (Abrams, dist.), $19.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-87070-910-4

Joining a spate of recent picture books about Matisse that includes The Iridescence of Birds, Henri’s Scissors, and Colorful Dreamer, this collaboration between Friedman, an assistant curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Milan-based illustrator Amodeo, focuses on the artist’s exploration of cut-paper collage. Amodeo uses the same medium for her illustrations, which echo the simplified forms and bright colors Matisse played with; she pictures the artist in a brown button-down shirt, his blank face defined by a broad beard and large eyeglasses. Friedman’s crisp writing highlights the importance of trial and error (“He cut leaves of other hues and set them against backgrounds of every shade, experimenting with different harmonies and contrasts”). She also devotes welcome attention to Matisse’s assistants: in one clever scene, three workers use large brushes to paint sheets of paper yellow, violet, and green, their movements echoing those of the figures in Matisse’s La Danse. Eight reproductions of Matisse’s cut-paper work appear throughout, some on gatefolds, and a brief biography closes out this strong study of an artist’s thought processes and growth. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Kiss Kill Vanish

Jessica Martinez. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-0-06-227449-6

After discovering that her father and boyfriend are killers, 17-year-old Valentina Cruz runs away to Montreal. Penniless, she lives in a rented closet, works as an artist’s model, and practices her stolen mandolin by night in an empty cafe. She thinks the music will sustain her good memories of her boyfriend, Emilio, who taught her to play: “Here I thought the memories were triggered by melodies in a self-renewing loop, but this whole time they’ve been seeping out, drop by drop, note by note.” Martinez (The Vow) skillfully develops the contrast between Valentina’s expectations, instilled by a privileged childhood, and her desperate circumstances. When Emilio turns up with an explanation for what he’s done, he and Valentina plot to escape the web woven by her father, but nothing goes as planned. Meanwhile, after the artist she poses for commits suicide, Valentina is drawn into the life of his brother, Marcel. Valentina’s decision making is sometimes opaque, but her strong voice, full of sensory imagery, and her exquisitely drawn relationships with Emilio, Marcel, and her father make this a memorable thriller. Ages 14–up. Agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Althea & Oliver

Cristina Moracho. Viking, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-78539-1

Debut author Moracho takes a familiar setup—best friends with incompatible feelings—and examines it thoroughly and deeply. Althea and Oliver have been inseparable since they were kids. As they mature, Althea yearns for something more from their relationship while Oliver wants everything “to be normal.” Complicating matters, Oliver suffers from an onset of Kleine-Levin syndrome, a rare illness characterized by extreme periods of sleep, memory lapses, and erratic behavior. During one of Oliver’s episodes, he and Althea have sex, drawing a wedge in their friendship and causing her to act out violently. In what reads like a marked departure from the first half of the book, which is set in smalltown North Carolina, latter sections find Oliver in New York City, enrolled in a sleep study. Meanwhile, Althea attempts to track Oliver down but finds new friends and a stronger, more independent version of herself. Throughout the book, Oliver’s reserve is an effective counterpoint to Althea’s reckless responses to the teens’ respective predicaments. Moracho wisely resists a storybook ending for these two, concluding with what seems like the next logical step in their lives. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Very Bad Things

Susan McBride. Delacorte, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-385-73797-5

In her first book for teens, adult author McBride (the Dropout Debutant Mystery series) draws readers into upper-crust society and the dangerous secrets that lie beneath it. Fifteen-year-old Katie has felt unsettled during her four years at a New England prep school, despite having a loyal best friend in her roommate Tessa and dating Mark, a hockey star and the headmaster’s son. Lately she has reason to worry: several students seem to want Katie’s relationship with Mark to end, and she suspects someone is following her, leaving roses in the library and her room. Then a “sex pic” of Mark and a Katie lookalike circulates, and after the girl in the photo turns up dead, Mark claims he can’t remember anything about the night when it was taken. To save her future with Mark, and possibly their lives, Katie tries to find the killer. McBride’s fast-paced plot is fueled by jumps between multiple characters’ perspectives, and her rendering of the venerable yet sinister school, complete with a web of subterranean steam tunnels, is as absorbing as the tightly wound mystery. Ages 12–up. Agent: Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Playing for the Commandant

Suzy Zail. Candlewick, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6403-9

The world of 15-year-old Hanna Mendel—a Jewish Hungarian concert pianist in training who longs to follow in the footsteps of her idol, Clara Schumann—turns menacing when Hungary falls to Germany in 1944. New laws require Jews there to wear yellow stars on their clothes and live in ghettos, and, before long, she, along with many others, is sent to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Zail, whose memoir The Tattooed Flower recounted how her father survived the Holocaust, poignantly conveys Hanna’s mounting losses—at first, her home, piano, suitcase, and clothes; then, when men are separated from women in the camp, her father; and even her hair and her name. Strengthened by Erika, her spirited sister, Hanna holds onto her one remaining possession: a black C-sharp piano key, and the hope it represents. Although she witnesses much cruelty and degradation, Hanna also discovers courage, integrity, and ingenuity in surprising ways; in particular, through Karl, the quiet, musical son of the cruel commandant for whom Hanna plays piano, who calls her “by my name, not my number.” An elegant, disturbing portrait of one of history’s bleakest moments, offset by the subversive power of love. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides

Ben Tripp. Tor Teen/Doherty, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3549-4

Adult author Tripp (the Rise Again books) makes a memorable YA debut with a fanciful historical adventure set in 18th-century England, first in a trilogy. Sixteen-year-old former horse-trick rider Kit Bristol is shocked to learn that his playboy master is secretly the infamous masked highwayman Whistling Jack, whom Kit discovers dying after being double-crossed. When Kit attempts to go for help, he’s mistaken for Whistling Jack and forced to flee from authorities and rivals alike. As Kit undertakes his master’s mandate to free the faerie Princess Morgana before she’s forced into an unwelcome marriage, he and the princess are bound together by fate and circumstance. Accumulating a motley assemblage of allies, including a senile ringmaster and an amiable baboon, Kit and friends attempt to make their way to safety in Ireland. While the journey isn’t quick, it never grows tedious—danger, magic, and intrigue wait at every turn. Tripp infuses his story with whimsy, humor, and derring-do, and his miniature spot illustrations and handful of lovely full-page pieces add to the overall charm. Ages 12–up. Agent: Kirby Kim, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Fat & Bones: And Other Stories

Larissa Theule, illus. by Adam S. Doyle. Carolrhoda, $16.95 (112p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0825-8

In seven interconnected short stories, first-time author Theule transports readers to an isolated farm whose owner, Bald, has just died, sparking conflicts that leave nothing and no one unscathed, whether human, animal, flower, or fairy. The farmer’s cruel son, Bones, and the resident fairy, Fat, promptly set out to destroy the other, in the process cutting off the farm cat’s tail and turning Mrs. Bald (who hasn’t stopped sobbing since her husband’s death) into a “mass of skin, fingernails, and hair,” after she inadvertently drinks a “Skeleton Eraser” elixir. The sometimes-comic, sometimes-gruesome events and eerie rural setting call to mind the short-lived cartoon Courage the Cowardly Dog—Theule’s is a farm where pigs whose feet haven’t been lopped off for stew mount elaborate dance numbers and where a mouse sails across a lake of Mrs. Bald’s tears to profess his love. Moments of selfishness, sacrifice, bravery, and revenge jumble together in haunting and unexpected ways, and Doyle’s lush b&w illustrations help establish an unsettling atmosphere that feels like Charlotte’s Web by way of Neil Gaiman. Ages 9–up. Author’s agent: Linda Pratt, Wernick & Pratt. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Friendship Over

Julie Sternberg, illus. by Johanna Wright. Boyds Mills, $15.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59078-993-3

As she did in Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie and its sequels, Sternberg exposes the travails of adolescence with authenticity and humor in this first volume of the Top- Secret Diary of Celie Valentine series. For Celie’s 10th birthday, her father gives her a punching bag, a journal, and a note: “May you find each beneficial whenever you’re struggling to work through your feelings.” His gift is right on target, as Celie is working through quite a bit. Her best friend blows her off for another classmate and doesn’t invite her to a party; her older sister takes up with a mean-spirited friend and locks Celie out of their shared bedroom; and her grandmother is demonstrating some alarming behavior, including stashing her trash in the freezer and mistaking Celie on the phone for her deceased sister. Celie pours out her feelings on all of this and more in free-association diary entries full of candor and wry exaggeration. Letters, emails, and Wright’s (The Best Bike Ride Ever) punchy b&w sketches pep up this lighthearted yet emotionally layered story. Ages 8–11. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Oct.)

Reviewed on 08/29/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.