Kenny: Greetings, Year 2021. You are a sight many of us have longed to behold.
The Year 2021: I’m happy to have arrived.
Kenny: As I stand here once again in the Glade of Years, I reflect that your predecessor was not entirely forthcoming in her interview with me.
The Year 2021: Are you implying that she might have revealed the impending pandemic?
Kenny: That thought did cross my mind.
The Year 2021: We Years do have our constraints as to what we can divulge, Kenny.
Kenny: Her revelation of anchors and tethers was true, but I wonder, given the degree of untethering left in 2020’s wake, if you might consider revealing something more anchored and substantive.
The Year 2021: I can. My advent finds a world sufficiently unmoored so that I may make some plain revelations of what is to be without fear of disrupting the course of events by providing foreknowledge.
Kenny: Do you mean that your revelation will heal the disruption or that things are so disrupted that they cannot be made more so?
The Year 2021: That I cannot reveal. But what would you have of me? Pick a topic of specific interest.
Kenny: All right, then. Regarding monopolization in the retail world and the rise of exclusive distribution of content in the arts, will there be any noteworthy news?
The Year 2021: There will. As you mentioned, more and more things have had their distribution monopolized and a landmark instance of that will occur this summer.
Kenny: And what will that be?
The Year 2021: Amazon.com will reveal that it has purchased the sun and that it has exclusive rights to sunlight.
Kenny: That’s staggering. How can that possibly work?
The Year 2021: Given the need for light and air, everyone on the planet will receive a base-level Prime membership.
The Year 2021: Yes, and given that plants make use of sunlight to produce oxygen, Amazon will control the rights to air.
Kenny: So, people will need to pay to breathe?
The Year 2021: The Universal base level Prime membership will provide everyone with enough air and light to survive, but that is all. Anyone who wishes to exercise, enjoy themselves, spend more than ten minutes outdoors during the day, or exert themselves in any way, will need to pay for a higher tier subscription.
Kenny: This is almost worse than the pandemic.
The Year 2021: See. I cheered you up!
Kenny: Very funny.
The Year 2021: It would be if I was actually joking.
Kenny: Umm. Moving briskly on, let’s turn your attention to books. Is there a debut children’s book to watch out for?
The Year 2021: You definitely want to have an eye on Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston. It’s a gestalt combination of themes of class and race in privileged school environments and magical world-building and a destiny arc. Pointed, funny, and engaging, it is destined, as is its lead character, for hard won success.
Kenny: Thanks! Will there be any long-awaited sequels that will appear during your stewardship? Any new books in beloved series that you consider happily renewed?
The Year 2021: Oh, definitely. Kristin Cashore will return to her Graceling Realm with Winterkeep, and Samantha Shannon will resume to her Bone Season series after a lengthy sojourn in The Priory of the Orange Tree.
Kenny: That’s great news, but what about…
The Year 2021: Don’t go there.
Kenny: About Patrick Rothfuss’s perennial absence? Sigh.
The Year 2021: Exactly. Ask me instead abut something constructive.
Kenny: Okay. There are so many books coming out about mindfulness as a response to the fell undercurrent of the pandemic. Does one of them stand out for you?
The Year 2021: Definitely. Puppy in My Head: A Book About Mindfulness by Elise Gravel is an absolute romp. A picture book treatment that will delight both children and adults. After all, who among us does not have a puppy in their head?
Kenny: Great! What about your top picture book picks?
The Year 2021: I’m going to give you two. Mel Fell by Corey Tabor enters the crowded field of bird leaving the nest books, but it is a total standout, a fresh take in term of sentiment and design. And I also want to draw your attention to a stellar new nonfiction picture book: The Last Straw: Kids vs. Plastics by Susan Hood, illustrated by Christiane Engel. It has such an array of styles and approaches, elegant and entertaining, informative and sublime.
Kenny: Totally agree! So many books launched during the pandemic never got the attention they deserve. Is there a new one in paperback that you think we should take note of?
The Year 2021: Good question! I’m going with Enter the Aardvark, that slim and fiendish delight from Jessica Anthony. Evelyn Waugh, eat your heart out.
Kenny: Oh, I loved that book. It definitely deserves a real chance to catch on. And finally, how about an adult book that deserves our eyeballs?
The Year 2021: Sure. Cast them upon Girl a by Abigail Dean, a tough book that we all should engage with, and We Begin at the End, a taut and satisfying drama by Chris Whitaker. Powerful!
Kenny: Thank you, Year 2021! I certainly hope you clear the low bar left by your predecessor.
The Year 2021: My pleasure, and we shall see!