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REVIEWS

t h e nat i o n ’s p r e m i e r b o o k r e v i e w j o u r na l f o r mo r e t h a n 7 5 y e a rs

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nonfiction

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★ Swedish detective Wallander makes his triumphant return in Henning Mankell’s latest p. 159

★ Curt Stager pens a probing examination of the deep impact of climate change over time p. 195

★ The experiences of a transgender teen come achingly to life in Cris Beam’s new novel p. 199

★ Francisco Goldman uses his life as inspiration for a touching novel about love and loss p. 156

★ The homosexual movement in America is examined by Michael Bronski in a fine book p. 176

★ Caldecott Honoree Barbara Lehman returns with another thoughtful, wordless wonder p. 211

★ The connection between a pair of Russian immigrants is ably explored by Haley Tanner p. 165

★ Joshua Kendall takes on lexicographer, political theorist and polymath Noah Webster p. 186

★ A tiny shovel becomes generational talisman in Dan Yaccarino’s story of immigration p. 221

in this issue: earth day books for children & teens—round-up

Jean Thompson goes searching for home; Peter May kills off a great European chef; Amy Ellis Nutt tells the story of a chiropractor with a life-altering brain injury; Richard North Patterson presents an all-too-plausible nuclear Armageddon scenario; and iPad Reads: a new section dedicated to reviews of iPad apps and interactive e-books for children 3 0 0 ,0 0 0 + a rc hi ve d re vi e ws a n d bonus book coverage at www.kirkusreviews. com


fiction p. 153

science fiction p. 172

chil dr en & t eens p. 199

mystery p. 167

non fiction p. 175

discov er ies p. 226

Chairman HER BERT SIMON # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N

f r om

t h e

p u b l i s h e r

Dear readers, In the first 2 issues of 2011, we began to turn the next page in the Kirkus story, and we look forward to continuing feedback from you—please send your comments and suggestions to nextpage@kirkusreviews.com. If you’ve already found us on Facebook, you probably know that we’ve been staging a contest (more than a few status updates have been dedicated to getting the word out.) For those who were out of the loop, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks collecting predictions about what publishing will look like by the end of 2011. Besides producing a winner, this contest confirmed something we already suspected—many of our friends have great writing skills and vivid imaginations. How else to explain the fact that the same prompt inspired mentions of Kevin Bacon, WikiLeaks and zombies? Congratulations to our winner, Giovanna Pompele! For her inspired prediction, reprinted below, Giovanna will receive a NOOKcolor, and 9 Runners-up will receive a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card. On a meager and unprecedented twoweeks notice, Google unveiled its latest gadget, the iFad, whose planning, engineering and legal wranglings it managed to keep under wraps (WikiLeaks chose not to publish…the leaked documents). Google had the biggest stock-market climb in Wall Street history. Reactions oscillate between wild enthusiasm and cries that literature is finally, irretrievably dead. The publishing world is aghast at this new, revolutionary, possibly world-changing move by Google. No one can explain the absolute lack of leaks. Yet here it is, new

and shiny and sleek: the iFad. The beige and silver micro-computer is a marvel of interactive technology. Simply put, it allows readers to rewrite and republish any book written at any time by anyone (yes, the legal kinks have all been worked out). Once you download a book on your iFad, you are free to edit sentences or paragraphs, change the characters’ names, alter the plot, rewrite the ending. Your changes can be as minimal as the elimination of the Oxford comma or as sweeping as wholesale rewrite. Once you are happy with your work, you give it a new title, add your name as the author and send it to iFad Publishing©. Your book will be made immediately available on Google books (the original title and original author’s name are preserved in subtitle—this is how writers and publishing houses get paid). The implications are enormous. Does this signal the end of literature? Or will it be a short-lived titillation of people’s thirst for fame and riches? The latter is, clearly, what Google, which stands to make astronomical profits from the enterprise, is banking on: People desire to be the next fad without having to put themselves through the gauntlet of agents, editors, publishers—or even original writing. Congratulations again, Giovanna, and make sure to check out our constantly updated Facebook and Twitter pages for more news about contests, reviews, interviews and everything else related to our rapidly expanding community of books, authors and readers. — Bob Carlton

Vice President & Publisher B O B C A R LT O N bcarlton@kirkusreviews.com Editor E L A I N E S Z E WC Z Y K eszewczyk@kirkusreviews.com Managing/Nonfiction Editor E R IC L I E B E T R AU eliebetrau@kirkusreviews.com Features Editor M O L LY B R O W N molly.brown@kirkusreviews.com Children’s & YA Books V IC K Y SM IT H vicky.smith@kirkusreviews.com Discoveries Editor P E R RY C ROW E perry.crowe@kirkusreviews.com Mysteries Editor T HOM A S LEITCH Editorial Coordinator REBECCA CR A MER rebecca.cramer@kirkusreviews.com Contributing Editor G R E G O RY M c N A M E E # for customer service or subscription questions, please call 877-441-3010 Kirkus Reviews Online www.kirkusreviews.com Print indexes: www.kirkusreviews.com/ book-reviews/print-indexes Kirkus Blog: www.kirkusreviews.com/blog Advertising Opportunities: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/ advertising-opportunities Submission Guidelines: www.kirkusreviews.com/about/ submission-guidlines Subscriptions: www.kirkusreviews.com/ subscription Newsletters: www.kirkusreviews.com/ subscription/newsletter/add This Issue’s Contributors Mark Athitakis • Joseph Barbato • Amy Boaz • Kelli Daley • Dave DeChristopher • Gregory F. DeLaurier • David Delman • Kathleen Devereaux • Daniel Dyer • Lisa Elliott • Julie Foster • Peter Franck • Amy Goldschlager • Peter Heck • BJ Hollars • Luke C. Hoorelbeke • Robert M. Knight • Paul Lamey • Judith Leitch • Angela Leroux-Lindsey • Peter Lewis • Elsbeth Lindner • Tilar J. Mazzeo • Don McLeese • Gregory McNamee • Carole Moore • Clayton Moore • Liza Nelson • Mike Newirth • John Noffsinger • Mike Oppenheim • Jim Piechota • Christofer D. Pierson • William E. Pike • Gary Presley • Lloyd Sachs • Michael Sandlin • Arthur Smith • Wendy Smith • Margot E. Spangenberg • Andria Spencer • Claire Trazenfeld • Steve Weinberg • Carol White • Joan Wilentz


fiction SINS OF THE HOUSE OF BORGIA

MY AMERICAN UNHAPPINESS

Bakopoulos, Dean Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (288 pp.) $24.00 | June 7, 2011 978-0-15-101344-9

Novels about downward spirals and crack-ups are generally gloomy affairs, but here’s one that shimmers with mischief and offbeat charm. Like his fine debut Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon (2005), this author’s second novel acknowledges life’s dark side. Narrator Zeke Pappas is working on a bizarre oral-history project called An Inventory of American Unhappiness. It’s an example of cart before the horse; first comes the conclusion (“This is America. Everybody is unhappy.”), then the fieldwork (500+ interviews), evidently a case of projection. The 33-year-old Zeke is director of a non-profit created to promote the Midwest’s cultural self-esteem. It’s based in Madison, Wis., and is dependent on federal dollars; but now, in 2008, the cupboard is bare. Zeke’s personal life is topsy-turvy. His father died right after 9/11; his brother Cougar enlisted, only to die in Iraq; Cougar’s fiancée Melody died driving drunk, leaving behind twin daughters. And what of his wife’s death? This is mentioned in passing, a teaser, part of that mischief; the full story emerges slowly. The silver lining is that Melody’s adorable 7-yearolds now live with Zeke, balm for a lonely widower who drinks too much. Zeke’s raising them, helped by his mother, when his world is rocked again by the news that she’s dying of lung cancer. There’s a will. Zeke must marry to retain custody of the girls (more mischief). With his professional life falling apart (sinister federal bureaucrats are auditing him), Zeke must find a mate, fast. What about Minn, the sexy Starbucks barista? Or Elizabeth, his single parent neighbor? Or even Lara, his last employee? With impressive sleight-of-hand, Bakopoulos combines tragedy and farce (a naked Lara threatens to Taser Zeke after he invades her home); the backdrop is “this dreadful reign of George W. Bush.” Through it all, Zeke makes for a good companion, alternately clueless (about his mother) and perceptive (about our “self-referential” Facebook culture). A dark entertainment infused by a bluesy yearning for a better America.

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Bower, Sarah Sourcebooks Landmark (544 pp.) $14.99 paperback original | March 1, 2011 978-1-4022-5963-0 A surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the Renaissance clan who gave meaning to the term “Machiavellian,” narrated by a lady-in-waiting to Lucrezia Borgia. The Showtime drama based on the book premiers April 2011. Esther, who left Spain after Ferdinand and Isabella ordered the expulsion of the Jews, followed her father to Rome, losing her mother on the journey. Her father, a moneylender to the Vatican, arranges, for his daughters’ protection, to have her join the court of Lucrezia, one of Pope Alexander VI’s many illegitimate noble children. The Borgias require that Esther be baptized Catholic. Later, Lucrezia’s dashing, unscrupulous brother, Duke Valentino, known as Cesare, sardonically nicknames Esther “Violante” (promise-breaker). Despite the Duke’s dangerous reputation as an assassin and womanizer, Violante is violently attracted to him. He toys with her affections, but when Violante follows Lucrezia to the province of Ferrara where she is to wed its ruler, Duke Alfonso d’Este, Cesare stays away. Lucrezia settles into her relatively happy marriage to Alfonso. (It’s her third politically expedient union to be negotiated by the Pope: Previous husbands were shed, one fatally, when they no longer served Alexander’s interests.) Violante exchanges romantic confidences with her fellow lady-in-waiting Angela (Lucrezia’s cousin), who has affairs with two of Alfonso’s brothers. On a visit, Cesare deflowers and impregnates Violante. He’s long gone, besieging other Italian city states and perpetrating all manner of treachery, when Violante gives birth to a son, Girolamo. Lucrezia, though her love for Cesare is more than sisterly, appears to share in Violante’s hope that Cesare will propose marriage. Much plotting, dungeon-languishing (but, oddly enough, no poisoning, at least not of humans) later, this ponderous tome lumbers to a close. The confinement of the point of view to Violante narrows the scope of the novel to her observations of the pageantry of life among the great, and although her descriptions are lush and detailed, the Borgias and their enemies emerge as mere figments of history, not fully fleshed characters. Like a tapestry of the period, decorous but twodimensional.

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“Five sexy vampires show up in Atlanta, causing considerable consternation for local godfather Blue Hamilton and his wife Regina.” from just wanna testify

OSCAR WILDE AND THE VAMPIRE MURDERS

Brandreth, Gyles Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (368 pp.) $14.00 paperback original | May 3, 2011 978-1-4391-5368-0 The fourth entry in an over-thetop Victorian mystery series, starring the ever-so-rakish Oscar Wilde. British aristocracy must have a remarkable amount of free time, judging from the output of author, TV personality and former Member of Parliament Brandreth (Oscar Wilde and the Dead Man’s Smile, 2009, etc.). Here the novelist continues to mine the bons mots of the 19th century’s most rebellious iconoclast. Like its predecessor, this story is stitched together from the fictional memoirs of Wilde’s biographer Robert Sherard, and punctuated with letters, telegrams and notes scribbled on the backs of cocktail napkins. Eventually, Brandreth provides a rousing, if overly convoluted, tale of detectives, murderers and royalty. Prefaced by a superfluous interlude between Sherard and Wilde over absinthe in Paris circa 1900, the novel picks up 10 years earlier in London at a reception hosted by The Duke and Duchess of Albemarle. It’s there that Robert and Oscar meet the intriguing actor Rex LaSalle, who claims to be a vampire. “Iced champagne is your drink of choice: blood is mine,” the actor purrs. “Have you ever tasted blood, Mr. Wilde? Fresh blood, blood that is warm to the tongue? Human blood.” Oscar doesn’t miss a beat. “No,” says Wilde. “The wine list at my club is dreadfully limited.” It’s in this vein, so to speak, that Brandreth continues apace, as the Duchess is found dead in her velvet evening gown, with punctures on her throat. Ever fearful of gossip and rumor among the bourgeoisie, the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) requests a restrained investigation by Wilde and his friend Arthur Conan Doyle, already famous for creating Sherlock Holmes. Fans of Victorian popular literature will love the overstuffed plot, which tosses in everyone from Bram Stoker to Antonín Dvorák for good measure. Others may find their capacity for Brandreth’s gas-lit humor is limited by their appreciation for his extravagant literary toy box. A witty, if wildly implausible jaunt into the boys’ clubs of a different age.

JUST WANNA TESTIFY

Cleage, Pearl One World/Ballantine (256 pp.) $25.00 | e-book: $25.00 | May 10, 2011 978-0-345-50636-8 e-book: 978-0-345-52624-3 Five sexy vampires show up in Atlanta, causing considerable consternation for local godfather Blue Hamilton and his wife Regina. Led by the otherwordly Serena Mayflower, the “Too Fine Five” have a reputation that precedes them. An impossibly thin group of models who always appear together, they come to Blue Hamilton’s West End turf to ostensibly shoot 154

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an Essence magazine spread. But their real purpose, as Blue intuits, is far more sinister. The girls are actually vampires come to collect five Morehouse college seniors they intend to take back to their island lair to use for breeding purposes. The boys made the deal in exchange for college scholarships, and want to get out of their contracts in order to avoid an ultimately grisly fate. Seems there is an expiration date on their stud services. They have a way out, but it hinges on a woman in each of their lives “testifying” that they are a good man. Unfortunately, the irresponsible lads have all burned those bridges, to Blue’s disgust. He is left to intervene, by any means necessary, to save the guys. He even enlists his old friend Peachy, now married to Regina’s clairvoyant Aunt Abbie, to help do the deeds. Regina, meanwhile, comes up with a risky plan of her own to send the ladies packing, by appealing to the human emotions they may have once had. Adding vampires to her familiar message of social responsibility, Cleage (Till You Hear from Me, 2010, etc.) sure seems to be having a good time, even if the integration of the two genres can be clunky. Vampy romp best appreciated by existing fans of the West End series.

THE FIFTH WITNESS

Connelly, Michael Little, Brown (416 pp.) $27.00 | April 5, 2011 978-0-316-06935-9

Just in time for his movie debut this spring, Connelly brings back the Lincoln Lawyer for a satisfying case that pits him against a real-estate foreclosure mill. Lisa Trammel never met Mitchell Bondurant, but the two of them had reason to loathe each other. As senior vice president at WestLand National Bank, Bondurant made the call to foreclose on Trammel’s house after her husband left her and their 9-year-old son and her mortgage went underwater. Nothing daunted, Trammel started a grassroots organization called Foreclosure Litigants Against Greed (FLAG) to fight WestLand and its allies in the media, and hired Mickey Haller (The Reversal, 2010, etc.) to fight WestLand in court. Both the legal battle and the media circus take a dramatic new turn when Bondurant is found bashed to death in a parking garage and a witness places Trammel half a block away within a few minutes of the bashing. Det. Howard Kurlen, LAPD, immediately picks up Trammel, questions her and then arrests her for murder. Digging in her heels, she insists that she didn’t kill Bondurant; she never even met Bondurant; she’s never changed her story one bit; and every bit of forensic evidence against her—and by the end, there’s plenty—can be explained as part of a frame-up. It’s the job of Mickey, his investigator Dennis (“Cisco”) Wojciechowski and his new associate Jennifer (“Bullocks”) Aronson to dig up someone who could plausibly have framed her. As the evidence piles up against Trammel, evidence casting suspicion on Bondurant’s other associates piles up alongside it. Mickey is beaten up by two guys who clearly don’t like the questions he’s been asking. The mountain of paperwork prosecutor Andrea Freeman reluctantly shares with Mickey discloses an unsavory connection that could

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well point to another killer. And the third-party suspect Mickey zeroes in on obligingly behaves exactly like a guilty party. “With me, it’s don’t ask, don’t tell,” Mickey tells the starryeyed Bullock, who wonders why this junkyard dog never asks his client if she’s innocent. Though the answer isn’t as mysterious as you might like, the courtroom scenes—thrust, parry, struggle for every possible advantage—are grueling enough for the most exacting connoisseur of legal intrigue.

THE SISTERS BROTHERS

deWitt, Patrick Ecco/HarperCollins (336 pp.) $24.99 | May 3, 2011 978-0-06-204126-5

A calmly vicious journey into avarice and revenge. The unusual title refers to Charlie and Eli Sisters, the latter of whom narrates the novel. The narrative style is flat, almost unfeeling, though the action turns toward the cold-blooded. It’s 1851, and the mysterious Commodore has hired the Sisters brothers to execute a man who’s turned against him. The brothers start out from their home in Oregon City in search of the equally improbably named Hermann Kermit Warm. The hit has been set up by Henry Morris, one of the Commodore’s minions, so the brothers set off for San Francisco, the last-known home of Warm. Along the way they have several adventures, including one involving a bear with an applered pelt. A man named Mayfield is supposed to pay them for this rare commodity but instead tries to cheat them, and the brothers calmly shoot four trappers who work for him. Charlie is the more sociopathic of the two, more addicted to women and brandy, while Eli, in contrast, is calmer, more rational, and even shows signs of wanting to give up the murder-for-hire business and settle down. But first, of course, they need to locate Warm. It turns out Morris has thrown in his lot with Warm, a crazed genius who has seemingly discovered a formula that helps locate gold—so much so that he can get in a day what it takes panners a month to glean. When they finally get to the gold-panners, the brothers wind up joining them, removing literally a bucket of gold from the stream. The caustic quality of Warm’s formula leads to disaster, however, and Indians show up at an opportune moment to steal the gold. DeWitt creates a homage to life in the Wild West but at the same time reveals its brutality. (Author tour to Denver, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle).

THE GIRL WHO WOULD SPEAK FOR THE DEAD

Elwork, Paul Amy Einhorn/Putnam (320 pp.) $24.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-399-15717-2

A debut novel about 13-year-old twins, Emily and Michael, who live on a large estate that borders the Delaware River. |

The year is 1925 and the twins’ father, a wealthy doctor who was something of a hero, is dead. He died in the service of his country while in France, trying to save the lives of American troops injured in battle during the war. The two children thrive on stories of their father, doled out by their mother, Naomi, and the family’s only live-in help, Mary. The twins want for nothing but perhaps a little excitement, which they find in an odd and disturbing way: Emily discovers a talent she cannot explain. She can make an odd sound using her ankle bones. Soon, she and Michael employ her talent; they pretend that Emily can talk to the spirit of one of their ancestors. Regina, who died mysteriously from drowning in the Delaware while still a teenager, becomes the focus of the twins’ séances, to which they invite impressionable young friends. Their sessions soon grow increasingly elaborate and before they know it, they are performing for adults, a feat Michael savors, but Emily finds more and more uncomfortable with each lie she tells. In the meantime, Emily has been piecing together her own family’s history, reaching back to the days when her forbears moved from a plantation in Virginia to their present home, and discovering family secrets planted along the way. While her mother reacquaints herself with an old friend, Emily digs into the past and finds a family she never knew existed. Meanwhile, the ghost sessions become more serious and disturbing, leaving Emily with the uncomfortable impression that she and Michael have been opening doors that should have remained closed. An intricate yet beautifully told story that is less about ghosts and more about secrets and how destructive they can be.

ONE OF OUR THURSDAYS IS MISSING

Fforde, Jasper Viking (384 pp.) $25.95 | March 8, 2011 978-0-670-02252-6

Any intersection between Fforde’s novels and a recognizably real world are almost entirely coincidental, for he’s most at home in constructing insouciant (and elaborate) literary fantasies. Thursday Next, the protagonist of many of the author’s previous novels, is back…or rather, she’s not, for she’s the missing girl of the title. And although she vanishes, the written Thursday Next does not. The plot involves the search for the “real” Thursday Next, when she disappears a week before peace talks preceding the possible outbreak of a genre war, so the written Thursday Next sets out to find her. (Yes, it’s all a bit confusing, and Fforde has great fun ringing changes on this confusion.) Written Thursday Next is on the case, exploring the various byways of BookWorld and eventually going up the mighty Metaphoric River, with its echoes of Conrad. Of course, in Fforde’s fictive world almost everything has some kind of literary echo: Cabbies take the written Thursday to Norland Park (from Sense and Sensibility); she meets Jay Gatsby’s less famous brother, the Loser Gatsby (younger sibling to the Mediocre Gatsby); she learns that Heathcliff is riding the same train she is (and notes “a lot of screaming

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“Appropriately, in this novel of death and dying, Goldman writes gorgeous, heartbreaking prose.” from say her name

and fainting girls on the platform whenever we stopped”); has drinks at the Bar Humbug; and comes across signs like “Do Not Feed the Ambiguity.” Fforde, of course, finds all of this highly diverting and even includes sly references to The Eyre Affair, an earlier Thursday Next novel. To appreciate Fforde, it’s both helpful and essential for a reader to have a substantial literary background. While some of the gags are sly and work well (for example, the confusion about whether a character named Red Herring is actually a red herring), others are rather forced and seem to exist solely for the sake of a punch line (“I think we’ve driven into a mimefield”). Your appreciation of Fforde will depend solely on your tolerance for self-conscious, and occasionally slick, literary cleverness.

LOVE YOU MORE

Gardner, Lisa Bantam (368 pp.) $26.00 | March 8, 2011 978-0-553-80725-7 In her fifth case (Live to Tell, 2010, etc.), Sergeant Detective D.D. Warren takes on one tough mother. Tessa Leoni is smart, brave, resourceful and quirky, among other character traits that bring to mind, yes, D.D. Warren, who might well be her mirror image. For instance, Tessa believes unshakably in the doctrine of my way or get lost, convinced that her way has been sanctioned by whatever gods there may be and is consequently the only sensible way out of trouble and strife. She is as stubborn about that kind of thing as D.D. would be under similar circumstances. Tessa, a Massachusetts state trooper, and D.D., a Boston homicide cop, both view law enforcement with high seriousness. In fact, if asked to furnish a list prioritizing life-callings, it’s a no-brainer that both women would rank only one item before it: motherhood, which might, curiously enough, bear directly on the instant hostility that newly pregnant D.D. feels for Tessa on first meeting her. This takes place in Tessa’s kitchen, where her husband has only recently lain dead, three bullets in his chest. No mystery how they got there. She fired them, Tessa explains, and one look at the severe bruising of her face—a broken cheekbone among other injuries—testifies in her behalf: A battered wife has, with considerable justification, shot her abuser. But where, wonders D.D., is 6-year-old Sophie? What’s happened to the daughter everyone says Tessa loves so deeply? And, most importantly, most infuriatingly, why isn’t Tessa more eager to help the police search for her? Was it already too late for Sophie? And could Tessa possibly be complicit? The all but unflappable D.D. shudders: “How could a woman…How could a mother…” Takes a bit long to get where it’s obviously going; still, you won’t often find two such sympathetic protagonists paired, refreshingly, as antagonists. (Author tour to Atlanta, Florida, New England, Nashville, Louisville, Dayton)

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THE PAPERBARK SHOE

Goldbloom, Goldie Picador (336 pp.) $15.00 paperback original | April 1, 2011 978-0-312-67450-2 An albino woman suffers with her desperate need for intimacy in the wilds of World War II–era Australia. This debut novel, which marries unmistakable writing talent, a rare narrator and a garishly vivid story, was originally published in Goldbloom’s homeland of Australia and had a small press run in the United States as Toads’ Museum of Freaks and Wonders. Its narrator’s testimony is tainted by her deep-seated desires and her altered perception of her equally bizarre husband. Gin Boyle Toad is 30, an albino pianist who was sequestered in an asylum before she was “rescued” by marriage. Her husband, the eponymous Toad, is a holy terror, a five-foot ball of mean that keeps a collection of women’s corsetry in the shed and hides every hint of affection from his desperately lonely bride. The story is set in the midst of WWII, when 18,000 Italian prisoners of war were sent to Australia to work on isolated farms like the one that serves as Gin’s new prison. A pair is sent to work Toad’s westernmost farm, the more subtle John and the exotic Antonio, who inspires uncomfortable and unfamiliar feelings in Gin. This tense stew of feeling becomes more heated when Gin secretively spies on John and her husband exploring long-buried feelings on Toad’s part. Gin’s disappointment and confusion are palpable. “It wasn’t good, what Toad and I had, but at least we were in it together, yoked together like mismatched beasts pulling a plough,” Goldbloom writes. “But his beautiful boy has come between us now and gnawed through Toad’s traces. I can’t pull this plough by myself. I resent seeing him frolic while I stand here, abandoned in the field, tied to a burden I never wanted.” A simmering, colorful story about castaways and the deviance they inspire.

SAY HER NAME

Goldman, Francisco Grove (352 pp.) $24.00 | April 5, 2011 978-0-8021-1981-0 A nonfiction novel of love and loss… and perhaps even a little redemption. In the Author’s Note, Goldman makes clear that much of this novel is based on the facts of his life. The main characters are named Francisco Goldman and Aura Estrada, a married couple. Goldman (in real life) lost his 30-year-old wife Aura in a freak accident on a beach in Mexico, as does the “Goldman” of the narrative. Both Goldmans are novelists; both Auras are writers of fiction. Goldman (the author) weaves into his story excerpts from journals and short stories penned by his late wife. While all this logistical complexity could conceivably be confusing, at some level it doesn’t matter what’s “truth”

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and what’s “fiction,” for the story is inherently moving and tragic, and it focuses on loss and lament—universal themes whether they derive from memoir or from an author’s imagination. The novel moves back and forth chronologically, starting at Aura’s death and providing generous flashbacks into both Aura and Goldman’s life. When they met, he was an accomplished journalist and a gifted novelist in his mid-40s, and she a talented graduate student from Mexico who’d come to Columbia to earn her doctorate in comparative literature. Along the way she decides she would like to study creative writing, so she co-enrolls in an MFA program at Hunter College. Aura is sprightly, witty and free-spirited, while Goldman is an extremely creative but self-admittedly overgrown adolescent. Their love is deep, and Goldman feels inconsolable at her loss. Shortly after Aura’s death, her domineering mother Juanita begins a campaign against Goldman, suggesting that he was in some way responsible for her death and threatening to bring a lawsuit against him.With pathologically maternal petulance, she refuses to let Goldman have some of Aura’s ashes for him to take back to their New York apartment. Toward the end of the novel, he begins to accommodate himself to Aura’s loss and to a limited extent to Juanita’s fractiousness. Appropriately, in this novel of death and dying, Goldman writes gorgeous, heartbreaking prose.

WE HAD IT SO GOOD

Grant, Linda Scribner (272 pp.) $25.00 | April 26, 2011 978-1-4516-1740-5

A shrewd baby-boomer chronicle from a prize-winning British writer observes the children of the 1960s turning into conventional adults despite

themselves. “We’ll never grow old,” says Stephen Newman, the American science journalist at the center of Grant’s (The Clothes on Their Backs, 2008, etc.) latest novel, a wry overview of the cyclical chasm of understanding between parents and children. The particular generation in her sights is the one “born in sunshine” with the music, politics, style, drugs and opportunities of the ‘60s. Stephen, the never-completely-convincing son of a Jewish immigrant, arrives in Oxford in 1968 aged 22, a Rhodes Scholar and merchant seaman who sailed to England in the company of young Bill Clinton. Sent down from Oxford for defacing a book, Stephen and his girlfriend Andrea—whom he marries to avoid the draft—move via a London squat to an apartment where, as other rooms in the house fall vacant, they take them over, eventually owning a valuable property in a fashionable suburb. Andrea becomes a psychotherapist, Stephen a BBC producer. They have two children, Max and Marianne, who regards her parents’ generation as phonies who “had been given everything and squandered it.” Years pass, history impinges, bodies start to fail, the adults comprehend their own parents differently and the children find their own solutions and salvations. Not much change there then. Although engrossing, there’s an emotional vacuum at the heart of this cool, clever critique. |

TEN THOUSAND SAINTS

Henderson, Eleanor Ecco/HarperCollins (400 pp.) $26.99 | June 14, 2011 978-0-06-202102-1

Screwed-up parents beget screwed-up kids. So it’s no surprise that an ill-omened teen pregnancy is the centerpiece of this bold debut, a heady witches’ brew. Teddy and Jude, best friends in their mid-teens, have big problems. Jude was adopted at birth, possibly suffering from fetal-alcohol effects. His adoptive parents, Les and Harriet, are feckless potheads, Les growing pot, Harriet making drug paraphernalia. When Jude turns nine, Harriet evicts Les for cheating on her; Jude hasn’t seen him since. As for Teddy, his Indian father is supposedly dead; his white mother, a sloppy drunk, has just split. The boys skateboard through their Vermont town, getting high and shoplifting at will. On this last day of 1987, they have a date with Eliza, a total stranger but the daughter of Les’ girlfriend. At 15, she’s already a cokehead and sexually promiscuous. They gatecrash a party. Eliza gives Teddy cocaine before they have sex in a bathroom and she returns to New York. Back out in the cold, Jude’s idea that they inhale Freon is a step too far; he almost dies and Teddy does die, but he will haunt the novel, for he has made Eliza pregnant. All this could be depressing, but it’s not, thanks to the barbed language and fast pacing. And Henderson’s just getting started. Les shows up to remove Jude to Alphabet City, the ravaged Manhattan neighborhood where he lives. A near neighbor is Teddy’s 18-year-old half brother Johnny, whose role becomes increasingly prominent. Johnny is a tattoo artist and musician, as well as a straight-edge hardcore punk (no booze, no drugs). Although a closeted gay, he chivalrously offers to marry Eliza and claim paternity to thwart Eliza’s mother, who’s pushing for adoption. This is where Henderson loses the thread, wobbling uncertainly between Jude, Johnny and Eliza while doing double duty as a counterculture guide to the straight-edge scene. Context overwhelms characters, the unwieldy cast now including Johnny’s AIDS-stricken lover and Teddy’s Indian father. Henderson displays a powerful moral imagination; all that’s missing is discipline. (Author tour to Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Washington, D.C. Reading group guide online)

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THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN

Hustvedt, Siri Picador (192 pp.) $14.00 paperback original | April 26, 2011 978-0-312-57060-6 Hustvedt (The Shaking Woman, 2010, etc.) explores the Seven Ages of Woman. Six, actually: No soldier here, though there’s ugly conflict among the schoolgirls taking poet Mia Fredricksen’s |

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“Jones beautifully evokes Atlanta in the 1980s while creating gritty, imperfect characters whose pain lingers in the reader’s heart.” from silver sparrow

summer workshop. Mia has returned to Minnesota to recover from a breakdown brought on by her husband of 30 years saying that he wanted to take a “pause” in their marriage. She’s rented a house near the senior dwelling where her mother now lives in the “independent zone”; the greatest fear of 87-year-old Laura Fredericksen and her friends is to be reduced to the “care center,” where those sans everything (as Shakespeare put it) end up before they die. The child is 3-year-old Flora, whose mother Lola (the Bard’s lover turned childbearing woman) has a turbulent marriage of her own. Observing all these females in the various stages of life, Mia ponders her own middle-aged crisis. Will Boris get over “the Pause” (her sardonic name for his French girlfriend)? Does Mia even want him to? She’s become close to her mother’s 94-yearold friend Abigail, whose subversive handicrafts display images of rage and sexuality that speak to Mia of every frustration in her long marriage. It takes a while to get used to Mia’s habit of directly confiding in the reader, but most will come to relish Hustvedt’s 21st-century riff on the 19th-century Reader-I-marriedhim school of quietly insurgent women’s fiction. (Digressions about clueless male authorities’ views on female sexuality and brain structure are more off-putting, but tart comments on male vs. female styles of writing—and reading—novels are a delight.) The schoolgirls’ persecution of one of their number reminds us that men have no monopoly on cruelty, and the slow decline of Mia’s elderly friend forecasts the end that awaits us all. Yet the mood is surprisingly buoyant, as though a summer without men proves to be the vacation Mia needs. Lighthearted but not lightweight—a smart, sassy reflection on the varieties of female experience.

EXPIRATION DATE

Jaffe, Sherril Permanent Press (200 pp.) $26.00 | April 1, 2011 978-1-57962-215-2 While her daughter Flora anxiously awaits her 60th birthday, having dreamt years ago that she would die at that age, 86-year-old Beverly Hills widow Muriel Margolin uncovers surprising, uplifting secrets about old age. Written with lyrical urgency by a seasoned San Franciscan, this is a rare and much-needed novel that investigates old age without cuteness or sentimentality—and with sexual candor. Widowed after a 60-year marriage, the latter fourth of which were spent caring for her ill husband, Muriel is frightened by the prospects of living alone—and of “floating free, letting go.” Even as widowers circle around her, offering meals for company and affection, she believes no one of any worth would be interested in a woman her age. But along comes a tall, reserved, jumpsuitwearing Southerner named Wilbur, who whisks her away on a car tour of bridge tournaments, fast-food eateries and Motel 6s. And then, more to her liking, comes Gene, a computer repairman whose boasts of sexual conquests awaken her hidden-away desire. Flora, the more attentive of her two daughters, with whom she now lives in San Francisco, is a liberal, Zen-practicing 158

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child of the ‘60s married to a rabbi with whom she has great sex and goes kayaking. (Jaffe’s late husband, Alan Lew, was a rabbi with whom she wrote One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi, 2001.) Only after her mother survives two bizarre accidents, and her own “expiration date,” does Flora reassess her life expectancy. Written with warmth, humor, wisdom and sublime control, this page-turning novel succeeds as a meditation on aging; as an examination of the impact of life’s hourglass on serious decisions; and as a character study. The happy ending is a bit pat but is fully earned. A funny, sexy look at a woman’s emergence in her 80s.

SILVER SPARROW

Jones, Tayari Algonquin | (352 pp.) $19.95 | May 24, 2011 978-1-56512-990-0

In her third novel set in Atlanta, Jones (The Untelling, 2005, etc.) writes about two African-American half sisters, only one of whom knows that the other exists until their father’s double life starts to unravel. When James Witherspoon, the owner of a successful limousine service, and Gwendolyn Yarboro have their marriage ceremony in 1969 four months after the birth of their baby Dana, Gwen knows that James already has a wife and an even younger baby. While James, who visits regularly if never often enough, and Gwen, a practical nurse, make sure Dana has every middleclass advantage, Dana grows up aware that her parents’ “marriage” is a secret and that she cannot openly claim her father; James’ devoted stepbrother Raleigh is listed on her birth certificate. Gwen and Dana habitually spy on James’ legitimate wife Laverne and daughter Chaurisse, who live in blissful ignorance of James’s bigamy. By adolescence, Dana, who attends a prestigious magnate high school and wants to attend Mount Holyoke, increasingly resents the plainer, less gifted Chaurisse, whose needs always seem to come first for James. After meeting Chaurisse by accident at a science fair, Dana finds ways for their paths to intersect. When she finally “befriends” Chaurisse, Chaurisse is thrilled that a popular girl likes her enough to visit her at home. Visits happen during hours Dana knows James will not be there. Dana’s adolescent plans, for acceptance as much as revenge, inevitably go awry, but this is less a tragedy than a case of survival and making do. While Dana is at the novel’s center, Jones gives both girls’ points of view, allowing readers to empathize with each of James’s families. Chaurisse may not know about Dana, but she is far from blissful in her ignorance, and her mother Laverne has endured more than her fair share of suffering. James is harder to fathom but also hard to hate. Jones beautifully evokes Atlanta in the 1980s while creating gritty, imperfect characters whose pain lingers in the reader’s heart.

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TOWARD YOU

Krusoe, Jim Tin House (232 pp.) $14.95 paperback original | April 15, 2011 978-0-9825691-1-5 A lonely mope named Bob slides into a strange, precarious existence when he attempts to communicate with the dead via a homemade invention. Krusoe’s surrealistically skewed, oddly affecting novel blurs the borders between life and the afterlife, what’s real and what’s imagined, to highly entertaining effect. Bob, who studied Auralogy and Past Life Regressology at the Institute for Mind/Body Research before becoming an upholsterer in the town of St. Nils, knows something is up when a dog bearing Bob on its nameplate appears outside his house, is struck by a car and dies. After Bob buries Bob in the backyard, he encounters Yvonne, a fellow student from the institute with whom he had a thing before she abruptly left him for someone else. She shows up with her little girl Dee Dee, looking for information about the dog who bit her daughter. Bob doesn’t tell her about his dead namesake, but devotes himself to her in the hopes of restoring their relationship. Nothing goes right: not with the policeman who befriends Bob and plans on moving to Nevada with Yvonne, not with a feuding next-door neighbor and not with poor Dee Dee, who joins Bob the dog on the other side and files reports from there. Using his Communicator, an unwieldy concoction of egg cartons, plastic inserts and a microphone, Bob searches for answers with mounting urgency. With authorial sleight of hand, Krusoe alters not only Bob’s state of consciousness, but the reader’s as well, leaving us reordering the pieces to this puzzle and rethinking our emotional responses to them. The final installment in a trilogy by the California writer, following Erased (2009) and Girl Factory (2008), this is a masterpiece of deadpan absurdism that recalls the domestic works of Thomas Berger. A seriously strange, funny and affecting novel about imagining another life while being stuck in this one.

HEADS YOU LOSE

Lutz, Lisa and David Hayward Putnam (320 pp.) $24.95 | April 5, 2011 978-0-399-15740-0 Inspired perhaps by those roundrobin collaborations published 75 years ago by England’s Detection Club, Lutz (The Spellmans Strike Again, 2010, etc.) and Hayward add a new twist: The two collaborators, each responsible for alternating chapters, are in sharp disagreement about how the tale should be told. When she finds a headless corpse on her California farm, Lacey Hansen can’t call the cops because they’d see that she and her brother Paul were growing marijuana. Instead, they dump the |

remains in a suitably remote location before they realize that the dead man was their old schoolmate Darryl Cleveland. Or maybe he wasn’t, as Lacey realizes when Darryl turns up alive. Now it looks like the murder victim must be Paul’s old friend and mentor, veteran cannabis grower Terry Jakes. At least according to Lutz, whose chapter identifies him as such. But Hayward, unwilling to bid farewell to such a promising character, brings him back to life—hey, didn’t Lutz do it?—before Lutz emphatically kills him off again when it’s her turn. And so it goes and goes, with Lutz demanding in the exchange of notes that end each installment that Hayward develop clues that will solve the mystery, and Hayward observing that Lutz, whose preferred resolution to any untoward complications is to cut the Gordian knot by another murder, must be “the Pol Pot of mystery writing.” The surprise here is how little all this whimsical metatextual byplay changes the formula of alarums, excursions, red herrings and other tangents beloved of the genre; it just invites the authors to join the eternally bickering sleuths.

THE TROUBLED MAN

Mankell, Henning Translator: Thompson, Laurie Knopf (368 pp.) $25.95 | March 29, 2011 978-0-307-59349-8 Swedish detective Chief Inspector Kurt Wallander (The Pyramid, 2008, etc.) makes a riveting 10th appearance in the strange case of the spy who was and wasn’t. Wallander is 60 now. He’s a diabetic, conceivably bipolar, and possibly on the cusp of Alzheimer’s—though he’s scared stiff to find out for sure. He’s also terrified of dying and obsesses about it in a way that’s both debilitating and downright self-abusive. And yet the core of him remains indestructibly, unalterably Wallander: brilliant, honorable, quirky and, above all, dogged. His daughter Linda, a policewoman now, is in a long-term relationship with a young financier, the son of a retired naval officer, whose sudden disappearance has caused official as well as familial consternation. No one can understand it. Von Enke was highly placed and deeply respected in Swedish military circles. Investigation, at first intense, proves unproductive and after awhile slides inexorably toward cold case status. But not with Wallander. In characteristic fashion, he continues to forage, unearthing a morsel here, a tidbit there, until he fashions some sort of bare-bones meal to chew on. Intermittently—attacked by the bleakness of what he construes as a future in which all that’s left to experience is growing older— he’s overwhelmed: “He would lie there in the dark and become panic-stricken.” Being Wallander, however, he fights through to equilibrium. Could it be true, he begins asking himself, that national-security issues are involved? Could what happened to von Enke really be linked somehow to the bad old days of the Cold War? It takes a long time for Wallander to fully digest the information he’s painstakingly gathered—and for one troubled man to finally understand another.

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Though shivering in the winter of his discontent, Wallander will grip the reader hard. Flawed and occasionally exasperating, he is that rare thing: a true original. (First printing of 150,000. Author tour to New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.)

THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER

McHenry, Jael Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $23.00 | April 1, 2011 978-1-4391-9169-9 Ginny Selvaggio believes that “normal” means nothing, and everything. And she keeps a Normal Book to prove it. Twenty-something Ginny has Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism sometimes presenting itself as a quirky, difficult personality. Ginny doesn’t like crowds, doesn’t like to be touched and rarely looks anyone in the eye. And she sometimes hides in a closet when stressed. Now Ginny’s protective parents are dead, succumbing to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning while on vacation. Readers meet Ginny the day of the funeral and follow her as she retreats from the crowd to seek comfort in one activity that brings order into her life: cooking. She chooses her Nonna’s recipe for bread soup, ribollita, and as the fragrance of soup begins to waft through the kitchen, Nonna’s apparition appears, and the ghost tells Ginny “Do no let her.” Ginny feels compelled to discover the meaning of her grandmother’s admonition, and that quest soon finds Ginny eager to conjure up other ghosts to define and explain her life. To do so, she cooks every hand-written recipe she can find on her bookshelf. McHenry weaves in conflicts with Ginny’s younger sister, Amanda, who feels obligated to take over her parents’ responsibilities. There’s Gert, the Selvaggio’s wise and loving housekeeper, with a rich history binding her to the family, and David, Gert’s son, a young man in retreat from the world because he caused an auto accident that killed his wife. As the story continues, Ginny’s cooking brings the spirit of her mother, her mother’s friend from the time Ginny’s parents married, a nurse who may or may not have been her father’s lover and even Elena, David’s wife. With what Ginny hears from the ghosts, and from those who love her, she learns to reach out and say, “I’m out here. I’m okay. I love you.” Skillfully rendered from Ginny’s point of view, McHenry’s debut novel is a touching tale about loss and grief, love and acceptance. (Reading group guide online)

NUDE WALKER

Monk, Bathsheba Farrar, Straus and Giroux (272 pp.) $25.00 | March 8, 2011 978-0-374-22344-1 Kat Warren-Bineki didn’t join the National Guard to see the world. She joined to escape the rusty tentacles of Warrenside, a depressed steel 160

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town—and to avoid her mother. But Kat cannot elude Warrenside’s woes even in Afghanistan. Her closest friend, Duck Wolinsky, also enlisted. Duck intends to marry Kat even if she isn’t entirely convinced. Other locals include Jenna Magee, a proselytizing Christian not averse to occasional casual sex. Then there’s the rough-and-tumble Reuber and Camacho. Most importantly, there’s Max Asad, only son of Dr. Edward Asad, a cultured Lebanese immigrant and owner of most of Warrenside’s downtown, including the Lucky Lady, a strip club where his Korean mistress lives. A loner at home, Max was also isolated in Afghanistan, shanghaied to serve as Special Ops interpreter while other Warrensiders worked in the rear echelon and partied. As the unit travels home, Max and Kat fall in love—a troubling situation since Kat is the scion of the founding family and Max has a traditional arranged marriage awaiting him. Then the Catawissa River bursts its banks, flooding Warrenside’s downtown, and the Guard unit is activated again. Monk’s debut novel follows different characters with each chapter, including Duck, obsessed with marriage to Kat; Barbara Warren-Bineki, Kat’s mother, coping with “chemicals” that sometimes cause her to strip nude and walk Warrenside’s neighborhoods; Mike, Kat’s father, whose heritage barred entry into old-money society, which spurred an embezzlement caper; Wind Storm, a half-Swedish Lenape Indian, a love shaman, which adds a dash of magic realism to the saga; and Houda, the Asad’s daughter, possessing the tough-minded acumen and ambition he wants in a son. The flood destroys old Warrenside, the Asads have a chance to demolish the ruins and build a casino, but the good fortune (Asad means lucky in Arabic) comes at a cruel price. An allegory of old society confronting a new world, and a rollicking good read.

MADAME TUSSAUD A Novel of the French Revolution

Moran, Michelle Crown (464 pp.) $25.00 | e-book : $25.00 | February 15, 2011 978-0-307-58865-4 e-book : 978-0-30758867-8

Well-plotted if sometimes slowmoving novel of the French Revolution and one now-famous survivor of that heady (or, perhaps, be-heady) time. In late 2010, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London installed its newest exhibit: a wax effigy of Lady Gaga. All that had to have started somewhere, and that’s where Moran’s (Nefertiti, 2007) tale comes in, adding dimension and emotion to the known historical facts. Here we find Madame Tussaud—then Mademoiselle Grosholtz—at the beginning of an illustrious career as a maker of wax models, all the rage of an aristocracy that, to judge by some of the scenes Moran unfolds, quite deserves to be put up against the wall. This business of being immortalized in wax is “something reserved only for royals and criminals,” young Marie Grosholtz reflects, and it’s a trade that she and her fashionmonger colleague Rose Bertin are all too glad to be involved with. As tutor and model maker to the court of King Louis XVI, Marie

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soon finds herself with a wide circle of friends royal and otherwise, including Marie Antoinette, who seems a touch more sensible than the standard account might have it. Into the picture come and go a parade’s worth of eminent historical figures, from Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to the Dauphin, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and a very bad Robespierre. Marie is better at art than at guessing the future—“Not everyone may love the queen,” she opines, “but they shall always respect her”—and it’s only a matter of time before the Marquis de Sade starts to howl down from the Bastille that it’s time for the sansculottes to run their own show, which leads to— well, let’s just say that it leads to certain difficulties in the pursuit of the celebrity wax trade. Moran’s story unfolds deliberately and sometimes glacially, but it eventually arrives where it began, having enfolded a small world of characters and situations. Mannered and elegant; reminiscent in many ways of novels of days long past, particularly the Baroness Orczy’s swifter-paced Scarlet Pimpernel. (Agent: Daniel Lazar/ Writers House)

MISS NEW INDIA

Mukherjee, Bharati Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (336 pp.) $25.00 | May 17, 2011 978-0-618-64653-1 A tightly woven narrative about naïvete and personal growth in contemporary India. The title refers to Anjali Bose, who’s trying to delicately balance her identity between the “old” India of her parents and the “new” (and more Westernized) India of her peers. Nineteen-year-old Anjali is from Gauripur, in Bihar province, a not-very-happening place. Her dissatisfaction and boredom are compounded by her lackluster lower-middle-class household, for her father wants to arrange a marriage for his daughter, and Anjali has little patience for this hoary convention. Moreover, her father’s track record is unprepossessing, for Anjali’s only slightly older sister has been through the process and is already divorced. Despite her father’s trotting out more than 75 possible candidates, Anjali has found no one she likes or respects. It’s conceivable that Anjali herself is part of the problem, for she wants far more than either her family or her environment can give her. And when one seemingly ideal candidate for the position of husband rapes her, Anjali is out of there. After a brief stop at the apartment of her unsympathetic sister, and with the urging of ex-pat English teacher Peter Champion, she heads off to Bangalore to test her English-speaking skills in the burgeoning service industry being outsourced to that teeming city. Within 24 hours of her arrival, she has come in contact with a more diverse group of people than she had met in her entire life. Armed with an introduction (from Peter) to Minnie Bagehot’s boarding house, she meets the seductive Husseina, the Christian Tookie from Goa, and the eccentric “Mad Minnie” herself. Despite a two-week cram course in colloquial English, Anjali fails (in a hilarious way from the reader’s perspective) to land a job. And she faces other reality checks as well, including being dragged into the local police station and being |

completely duped by Husseina. Mukherjee explores Anjali’s issues with understanding and sympathy. (Reading group guide online)

THE SANDALWOOD TREE

Newmark, Elle Atria Books (368 pp.) $25.99 | April 5, 2011 978-1-4165-9059-0

A busy, twin-themed historical links the lives and loves of rule-breaking women across two centuries. Newmark (The Book of Unholy Mischief, 2008) stirs enough ingredients for several volumes into her second novel set in India in the mid-19th and 20th centuries, where three women live through periods of violent political turmoil. In 1947, Jewish-American Fulbright scholar Martin, his Catholic wife Evaleen and their son Billy arrive in Masoorla, a village in Hindustan. Previously happy, this marriage is now threatened by Martin’s undisclosed experiences fighting in World War II, which have changed him. Evaleen’s discovery of a cache of letters in their house introduces two young British women, Felicity and Adela, who stayed there in the 1850s. While the end of British occupation and Partition dominate Evaleen’s visit, Felicity and Adela lived at the time of the Sepoy Rebellion, two periods of horrific bloodshed. Felicity, meanwhile, had tuberculosis and was scandalously impregnated by her Sikh lover while Adela nursed an unrequited passion for her friend. Having heaped up the issues and parallels, Newmark resolves them easily. Evaleen stumbles across multiple mystery-solving fragments of the historical story, while a threat to her own family leads to the long-awaited confrontation of her marital difficulties. Unbalanced—heavy on storytelling, short on enchantment. (Reading group guide online. Author tour to Austin, Boston, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee/Madison, Minneapolis, Nashville, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle)

WHEN YOU WERE MINE

Noble, Elizabeth Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (352 pp.) $15.00 paperback original | e-book: $15.00 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4391-5485-4 e-book: 978-1-4391-7193-6 A bittersweet romance between two lonely 40-year-olds who were once teenage lovers. For nine years, Susannah has lived an undemanding life with Douglas in London, but it’s missing a lot: passion, commitment, children and, Susannah is beginning to think, love. At her brother’s quaint village wedding, Susannah bumps into Rob, her teenage boyfriend, the man not even her first husband could compare to. After pleasantries they part, but memories of their relationship begin to haunt Susannah, and they exist in stark contrast to the everyday tedium she shares with Douglas.

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k i r ku s q & b e n ja m i n The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore

Benjamin Hale Twelve $25.99 Feb. 2, 2011 9780446571579

A talking chimp—and in more than one language? With The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, debut novelist Benjamin Hale gives readers a chimpanzee who, though resident in an apehouse, is no stranger to libraries, salons and even bars, and who ponders the simian—and human—condition with a philosopher’s eye. We talked with Hale about his much-hyped book. Q: How did the idea for The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore come to you? A: The idea came when I was sitting in the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago watching the chimps. My girlfriend at the time lived in Chicago, and during my first year at [the University of] Iowa I spent a lot of time there. I’d go the zoo and watch the chimps all day while waiting for her to finish working…I’ve always been fascinated by chimps, ever since I was enthralled with Jane Goodall as a kid. There was one time I remember sitting in front of the chimp exhibit, intermittently watching the chimps and reading Portnoy’s Complaint. I was thinking about Kafka, I was thinking about Philip Roth, I was thinking about chimpanzees. Then I had the idea to write a noisy, rambling memoir narrated by an insecure, neurotic, perverted chimp.

that, yes, I read piles of books—I probably fed at least 200 books into my research mill. Frans de Waal’s writing was particularly helpful to me. Q: We know you studied in the writing program at the University of Iowa, but Evolution doesn’t seem workshoppy in the least. What did you learn from your time there that shows in the novel?

A: It was deeply important to me to respect the character as a fully conscious being and to consistently surprise his readers. Also Bruno is a trans-species immigrant and an autodidact with a massive chip on his shoulder; his sesquipedalian style comes from a mixture of self-aggrandizement and insecurity—always going out of his way to prove his erudition to humans. Plus, I simply wanted a strong, interesting voice to play around with. I had a blast writing Bruno’s voice. I knew I was having a good day writing if I realized I was sitting in my room alone, laughing out loud. Q: What sort of research went into shaping Bruno’s story? Did you visit Gombe [a national park in Tanzania where Goodall did her groundbreaking research]? A primate lab? Read piles of books? A: I only wish I’d visited Gombe, though I hope to someday. A plane ticket to Africa is expensive. The most interesting research I did was at the Great Ape Trust, outside Des Moines, Iowa, just a couple hours’ drive from Iowa City. The only ongoing ape language experiments in America happen there. Kanzi, the bonobo, is their most well-known ape. I also revisited the chimps at the Lincoln Park Zoo whenever I was in Chicago, and on top of all |

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— Gregory McNamee |

Ph oto c ou rt esy o f B en ja m in Ha l e

A: The most important thing an MFA program gives a writer is simply time to write—so, the most evident thing in the book from my time at Iowa is, well, the whole thing. It would have taken me many more years to write if I’d had to pick away at it on evenings and weekends while working a day job. The second most important thing is the community of writers it provides. It’s a hothouse of opinions on what can and should be done with fiction. Everyone influences each other, both positively and negatively. By negatively I mean that sometimes in a workshop you’ll read something that you absolutely hate, but even that helps—to carefully deconstruct why you hate it, and then try to do the opposite with your own fiction. Here’s one of my favorite things that happened to me at Iowa. Jonathan Ames was guest-teaching there for a semester, and I asked him to read an early, unfinished draft of Evolution. He read the manuscript on the plane on his way back from the literary festival in Mantua, Italy. I picked him up from the airport, and he’d just finished reading it. He was incredibly enthusiastic about the book. On the way back from the airport, I prodded him for criticism, and he pointed out certain things that felt off-kilter—certain episodes and plot points and such that didn’t feel right. But in conclusion, he said, “But you’re a writer. You’ll figure this stuff out yourself.” It was perhaps the most helpful writing advice anyone had ever given me. It was like telling Dumbo he doesn’t need his magic feather to fly.

Q: How did you decide to place Bruno, your chimp protagonist, at, say, the Stephen Fry end of the wit scale rather than down on the lower rungs?

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Worse than the domestic humdrum is that his three children Indeed, the multiple and highly dramatic developments that ensue are often in her care, but Douglas has made it clear that she is once Marina gets to the Lakashi village might seem ridiculous, if neither their mother nor friend, which leaves her as little more Patchett had not created such credible characters and a dreamlike than housekeeper when they visit. Susannah is isolated in their milieu in which anything seems possible. Nail-biting action scenes home and so retreats to recollections of her youth and those include a young boy’s near-mortal crushing by a 15-foot anaconda, almost forgotten dreams of true love and a houseful of children. whose head Marina lops off with a machete; they’re balanced by She and Rob experienced the kind of teenage passion that is contemplative moments that give this gripping novel spiritual and familiar but seems extraordinary, that perfect expression of metaphysical depth, right down to the final startling plot twist. love, blossoming sexuality and boundless hope. As she relives Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures— her first love, the other constant of her youth, best friend Ame- even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto (2001). lia, is struck with cancer. It seems nothing is right, and then (Reading group guide online. Author tour to Ann Arbor, Boston, Los the unexpected changes Susannah’s life—Rob calls and asks Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, New York, Oxford, Miss., Petosky, to meet. Retired from the RAF and now living in London (his Mich., Portland Ore., Portsmouth N.H., Rochester, N.Y., San Francisco, new wife Helena is stationed in Afghanistan), Rob and Susan- Seattle, Washington, D.C.) nah begin meeting casually to reminisce, seeking out quiet corTHE DEVIL’S LIGHT ners of museums to talk, but soon enough they are in love again. Patterson, Richard North What to do? Do they deserve happiness more than Douglas and Scribner (352 pp.) Helena? Are they meant to be? Love is finally tested when Hel$26.00 | May 3, 2011 ena returns from the war injured. 978-1-4516-1680-4 Noble conforms to the conventions of contemporary women’s lit—the struggle to balance friends, career, Al Qaeda gets the Bomb. romance and babies—yet still delivers a poignant romance Osama bin Laden lieutenant Amer in which the ideals of young love confront the grimmer realiAl Zaroor has a dream: a city in flames, its ties of an adult world. buildings reduced to rubble, its inhabitants STATE OF WONDER dead, its neighbors maimed, cowed and Patchett, Ann utterly demoralized. It can all come true, he promises, if only alHarper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) Qaeda can hijack a nuclear device from Pakistan. Al Zaroor’s plan $26.99 | June 7, 2011 is ingenious and terrifyingly plausible. Since the country’s nuclear 978-0-06-204980-3 arsenal will be least secure when it’s being moved into position for a possible war against India, he hires bombers to provoke a crisis A pharmacologist travels into the between the two nations and a crack team to grab a 200-pound Amazonian heart of darkness in this device as trucks carry it over roads that are doubly treacherous. spellbinder from bestselling author The theft goes off without a hitch—Pakistan even unwittingly Patchett (Run, 2007, etc.). cooperates by denying that any such theft took place—but the Marina Singh is dispatched from the sharpest eyes over at the CIA aren’t taken in by bin Laden’s broadVogel pharmaceutical company to Brazil to find out what happened cast announcement that he has a bomb and intends to detonate it to her colleague Anders Eckman, whose death was announced in over a major U.S. city on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. As most of a curt letter from Annick Swenson. Anders had been sent to check the Agency types are scurrying to secure America’s porous boron Dr. Swenson’s top-secret research project among the Lakashi ders, Brooke Chandler, a field officer back stateside after barely tribe, whose women continue to bear children into their 60s and surviving his last posting to Lebanon, voices a contrary suspicion: 70s. If a fertility drug can be derived from whatever these women What if bin Laden really intends to bomb Tel Aviv in the hope of are ingesting, the potential rewards are so enormous that Swenson provoking Israeli and American retaliation against Iran? (Readers has been pursuing her work for years with scant oversight from who scoff at the unlikelihood that America, attacked by stateVogel; the company doesn’t even know exactly where she is in the less terrorists, would strike back at a sovereign state are gently Amazon. Marina, who went into pharmacology after making a reminded of our recent adventures in Iraq.) So far, so chilling. But disastrous mistake as an obstetrics resident under Dr. Swenson’s Chandler turns out to be one more Patterson superhero with a supervision, really doesn’t want to see this intimidating woman symbolically troubled back story, an ideologically challenging exagain, but she feels an obligation to her friend Anders and his lover and improbably greater gifts for intelligence and survival grief-stricken wife. So she goes to Manaus, seeking clues to Dr. than the disposable supporting cast. Swenson’s location in the jungle. By the time the doctor turns Patterson (In the Name of Honor, 2010, etc.) grabs you up unexpectedly, Patchett has skillfully crafted a portrait from with an all-too-plausible fantasy of nuclear Armageddon, Marina’s memories and subordinates’ comments that gives Swen- but the tension oozes away in the wait for his fictional pupson the dark eminence of Joseph Conrad’s Mr. Kurtz. Engaged pets to hit their preordained marks. Sometimes truth is like Kurtz in godlike pursuits among the natives, Swenson is scarier than fiction. performing some highly unorthodox experiments, the ramifications of which have even more possibilities than Vogel imagines. |

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“The story of the world unfolds in bursts of imagination, tied together with the flavor and thematic structure of fables.” from and yet they were happy

AND YET THEY WERE HAPPY

Phillips, Helen Leapfrog (314 pp.) $14.95 paperback original | May 1, 2011 978-1-935248-18-7 The story of the world unfolds in bursts of imagination, tied together with the flavor and thematic structure of fables. The collection is made up entirely of two-page short stories, clumped together by theme. The first, “The Floods,” introduces the end of the world by water, starting with a blowout party to which everyone’s invited, and ending with a Snow White–inspired rumor that all the apples have been poisoned. “We hear of babies born with traces of twentyseven poisons in their umbilical cords,” Phillips writes. “We sit in the kitchen, eating nothing.” It’s a world where the original Eve and Noah stroll in deep conversation, where a bitchy Bob Dylan helps with the grocery shopping, where our narrator walks all the way to the North Pole to find its most famous resident, only to be insulted for her efforts. There’s quite a lot of humor in these stories, although it’s very dark comedy indeed. And there’s a lovely bit of universality to certain sections, some of the best being themes that examine fights, failures, mistakes and punishments. In the middle, between “The Floods” and “The Apocalypses,” Phillips dwells on the cycles of family with a section that shines a light on the journey from bride to mother to the raising of offspring. Others are disturbing, portraying hauntings, monsters and other fantasies in ways that have to be read, and not described. Phillips’ unique worldview and clarity of language make every story a treat, be it miniature portraits of Anne Frank or Charlie Chaplin, or a sad instructional manual about how to rid oneself of all possessions. A literary reflection to The Magnetic Fields’ album 69 Love Songs.

MY BLUE SUEDE SHOES

Editors: Price-Thompson, Tracy and TaRessa Stovall Atria Books (272 pp.) $15.00 paperback original | March 29, 2011 978-1-4165-4208-7 Four different writers introduce strong African-American women who are forced to deal with their own variations of domestic violence. Despite of their affluence and confidence, the featured characters in this set of four novellas all struggle with insecurity and denial connected to abusive relationships. CC Smart, the popular TV talk-show host in the opener, “Breakin’ It Down,” is herself a survivor of childhood trauma. Her drug-addict mother Lola abandoned her when she was 10, and she is in danger of repeating the cycle of pain by neglecting her own adopted child, Alizé. “Brotherly Love,” the most harrowing episode, explores the relationship between Regina Wilson, a beleaguered young social worker, and Zana Williams, a gifted teenager. Zana’s attempt to end her own 164

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unwanted pregnancy nearly kills her, while leaving her tougherthan-thou attitude in tact. Using her professional skills, Regina slowly breaks down the girl’s considerable emotional defenses, uncovering a family history that is no less horrifying for being obvious. “Breakin’ Dishes” chucks gender stereotypes out the window as Emmy-nominated TV newscaster Monique Worthington enacts her personal rage issues out on her philandering husband, Armstrong. Denying that she has a problem (even doing on-air stories about domestic abuse), Monique has her own moment of clarity (and consequence) after a run-in with a woman claiming to have an intimate relationship with her man. Psychological violence rears its ugly head in “The Wrong Side of Mr. Right.” Charmaigne Carson, a successful Detroit lawyer, is engaged to Marcus, a handsome, self-made millionaire who calls her his “princess.” Even though his controlling side emerges a few weeks into their whirlwind courtship, she ignores her own intuition about his true nature. It takes everything she has, including a bit of metaphysical assistance from some very special footwear, to walk away from this toxic dreamboat who is indeed too good to be true. Like all the heroines in this well-meaning collection, taking charge of her life is the key to finding peace, maybe even happiness. Sober cautionary tales of smart women making bad choices.

HURRICANE

Rhodes, Jewell Parker Washington Square/Pocket (304 pp.) $14.00 paperback original | April 1, 2011 978-1-4165-3712-0 Voodoo sorceress Marie Laveau gets into more black magic and menace in the Louisiana Bayou. Doctor Marie Laveau: She turns men’s heads, talks to the dead and wanders into her most dangerous misadventure yet in the third novel in a trilogy by Rhodes (Yellow Moon, 2008, etc.). In her latest outing, Laveau is swept out of her usual haunts in New Orleans. Her dead muse is the ghost of El, the head nurse at Charity Hospital in the Big Easy, who since being murdered has visited the voodooienne regularly, becoming her mother figure and protector. El draws Marie first to a gruesome family homicide and then further south to a fortress of a town deep in the boondocks. In DeLaire, La., Marie finds the familial peculiarity that bonds Deet and Aaron Malveaux, the town’s sheriffs who share more than a brotherly bond. Even more disturbing than the secretive brothers is their powerful prophet of a grandmother, Nana, who is using a pharmacy full of drugs to bear the pain of her cancer. With visions that rival Marie’s, the old woman is a disturbing mirror and an unwinnable challenge for Laveau’s own magical healing properties. “A Voodoo Queen with full power can heal anything,” the old woman croaks. “Faith healing, faith-healers. Some kiss poisonous snakes; some, use prayer; some, like Christ, raise the dead. But every healing has a cost.” The plot runs a bit amiss in the last half, belatedly drawing in the cast of characters from Marie’s day job at the hospital and leaning a bit heavily on the metaphysical elements that anchor this particular trilogy. But like any good last act, Rhodes and her feisty heroine pull out all the stops in the end, combining spiritual possession, a

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voodoo ceremony and a ferocious storm for a set piece worthy of any Hollywood production. Less sexy and more spooky than its predecessors, but a fine entry in a solid supernatural series.

THE HUNCHBACK OF NEIMAN MARCUS

Sones, Sonya Harper/HarperCollins (416 pp.) $13.99 paperback original | April 12, 2011 978-0-06-202467-1 Poet-novelist Sones, whose previous work was aimed at teens (What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know, 2007, etc.), focuses on their moms in her newest verse novel about the crises facing a woman as she turns 50. The poems, most no more than a page, follow California poet Holly as she struggles to finish her book of poetry. Holly is anxiety-ridden, not only because she can’t avoid the physical “skidmarks” of age as she approaches 50, but also because her adored only daughter Sam is a high-school senior getting ready to leave Holly and her artist husband Michael empty-nesters. Then Holly’s loving and beloved mother’s health begins to fail in Cleveland, and guilt-ridden Holly must manage her medical care from afar. After a remarkably easy transition—Sam is the kind of fictional girl who skips a party with her friends to bake brownies (recipe included) for her grandmother and then snuggles up to watch TV with her mom—Sam heads off to college. Suddenly Holly’s marriage to Michael seems less than rock solid. First she suspects he is having an affair with one of her friends, though in classic sitcom plotting he’s actually been meeting with the other woman because she runs an animal shelter and he’s planning to surprise Holly with a new kitty. Then visiting her mother, Holly is tempted by but resists sexual advances from her mother’s doctor. When Michael is rushed to the hospital in great pain, his kidney stones become Holly’s poetic metaphor for their minor marital problems. Soon Holly’s mom is doing better, Sam is calling home frequently from college on the East Coast, and Holly’s editor loves her finished book. (Surprisingly for a poet married to an artist, one problem Holly doesn’t seem to have is financial; there are shopping sprees to the store nicely marketed in the title and no worries about where Sam’s tuition will come from.) Midlife chick lit in verse that contains an equal measure of clever lines and clinkers. (Reading group guide online)

VACLAV & LENA

Tanner, Haley Dial Press (304 pp.) $25.00 | e-book: $25.00 | May 31, 2011 978-1-4000-6931-6 e-book: 978-0-679-60387-0 A pair of young Russian immigrants, each desperately infatuated with the other, are parted and reunited in Brighton Beach. |

This debut novel by Brooklynite Tanner about the inarticulateness of young love was preempted at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and rightly so. The author captures the subculture of the Russian émigré subculture in New York with verve and realism but infuses her two leads with such innocence and zeal that they become impossibly charismatic by the story’s end. The book opens on 10-year-old Vaclav, a charismatic lad whose hero and role model is Harry Houdini. His other half is Lena, a shy waif of a girl whose struggle to learn English and lack of family has left her marooned in a strange land. For Vaclav, things just are. “One day being a famous magician,” and “Lena being lovely assistant,” are eventualities. In Lena, Tanner captures so well the captivity of English as a second language. “So even though Lena is a very loud person on the inside, and very funny and smart, and sings songs and thinks big, loud thoughts, on the outside she seems quiet and shy,” she writes. Their life together seems meant to be. But when Vaclav’s mother Rasia discovers a terrible violation by Lena’s guardians, the girl is sent into the depths of Protective Services, where she’s lost for seven years. Vaclav whispers goodnight to Lena every night, while Lena keeps her affection for Vaclav locked away along with all the other secrets she keeps so close. Once reunited, they ask those terrible questions: “Did you remember me? Was I as important to you as you were to me? Was I alone in my remembering? Or were you with me the whole time?” These two graceful creatures must find some space between all their secrets in order to find happiness, alone or apart. A terrific, enlightened debut that captures the fervor that hides in naïveté.

THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME

Thompson, Jean Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $25.00 | May 1, 2011 978-1-4391-7588-0

In Thompson’s unforgettable, offbeat novel, an extended Iowa family struggles for emotional and economic stability over three decades, beginning with a modest Lutheran wedding in 1983 and ending with a bittersweet homecoming. An Illinois writer who has drawn acclaim for story collections including Do Not Deny Me (2009) and Who Do You Love (1999) and novels including City Boy (2004) and Wide Blue Yonder (2003), Thompson has crafted a dazzling book that works both as an epic page-turner and a series of tightly focused, chronologically arranged stories. Long before the recent recession, the Ericksons, a family of Norwegian descent based in the town of Grenada, are up against it—both as part of a farm community and through ties to the banking community that’s under violent threat from foreclosed farmers. As the Ericksons’ story unfolds, marital problems, alcoholism, posttraumatic stress syndrome and a horrific car accident leave their mark. Among the siblings, Ryan, whose ponytailed academic hopes were derailed by an incident with a political-science student in Chicago, has succeeded in computer programming only to find himself on a career bubble. A second chance with an old girlfriend proves more ill-advised than the first. Torrie, the

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“Veronesi’s point, that Pietro is no crazier than anybody else in a world that has lost its bearings, is made sympathetically but at too great length.” from quiet chaos

bright upstart in the family, suffers a devastating brain injury in the car accident. Cousin Chip is a maladjusted Vietnam veteran just waiting to go off. For all the setbacks the family suffers, their strong ties to each other and their geographical roots ultimately lift them above circumstance. And there are enough unexpected turns, foremost Torrie’s awakening as a visionary photographer, to complicate any lessons about fate. Thompson’s ability to put these characters empathically on the page, in their special setting, over an extended period of years, with just the right dose of dark humor, rivals Richard Russo’s. Touted as her commercial breakthrough, the novel is a powerful reflection on middle American life—on the changes wrought by the passing years and the values that endure. A masterful wide-angle portrait of an Iowa family over three decades. Agent: Henry Dunow/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner

Capable drama that puts a human face on the scourge of human trafficking. (Agent: David Godwin/David Godwin Associates)

QUIET CHAOS

Veronesi, Sandro Translator: Moore, Michael F. Ecco/HarperCollins (432 pp.) $13.99 paperback original | April 12, 2011 978-0-06-157294-4

Your wife dies suddenly. You’re left with your little girl. Now what? The Italian Veronesi (The Force of the Past, 2003, etc.) explores a widower’s ON BLACK SISTERS STREET eccentric behavior in his prize-winning eighth novel, later Unigwe, Chika an art-house movie. Random (272 pp.) It was a roller-coaster day for Pietro Paladini, surfing off the $25.00 | e-book: $25.00 | April 26, 2011 Italian coast with his brother Carlo. Everything was cool until 978-1-4000-6833-3 they saw two women drowning. They rescued them, heroically. e-book: 978-0-679-60446-4 But when Pietro returned to his beach house he found Lara, his common-law wife, dead from an aneurysm witnessed by their Four African women hoping for 10-year-old, Claudia. Pietro is a middle-aged, affluent executive brighter futures find opportunity— with a cable-TV channel in Milan. He feels numb rather than and tragedy—working as prostitutes in overwhelmed by grief; Claudia mimics his reaction. On her first Belgium. day of school, he promises to wait in his car until the end of While standing in the windows of her day, and this day-long wait becomes a months-long vigil as Antwerp’s red-light district (and sexually servicing up to 15 men Pietro tamps down the “quiet chaos” of his emotions. He has no a day) might not be anyone’s idea of a dream job, it does offer the incentive to return to work. Facing their company’s merger, his young immigrant roommates at the heart of this page-turner a co-workers and bosses are fearful in this new dog-eat-dog world. chance at a better life. Although their personal motivations dif- One by one, they visit Pietro, an attentive, calming presence. fer, they are united by their obligation to Dele, a portly, powerful They range from the distraught head of HR, leaving for Africa, to Nigerian “businessman.” Based in Lagos, he offers them passports the megalomaniac architects of the merger, locked in their own and travel expenses with the stipulation that they send him a hefty death-struggle. Even his kooky sister-in-law Marta gets into the cut of their earnings each month to pay off their considerable debt. act. These visits, or vignettes, form the bulk of the novel. They’re Once in Antwerp they are placed under the care of “Madam,” a lively, but it’s frustrating that Pietro’s character is not developed, hard-nosed African woman with questionable loyalties. Sisi, the and his long relationship with Lara remains a blank. The only most educated of the group, leaves behind a good man, Peter, scene showing Pietro in action happens back at the beach house, whose modest ambitions don’t mesh with her big dreams. Efe sac- where he has rough, risk-taking sex in the yard with the woman rifices her own happiness to support her young son L.I., who lives he saved from drowning, while Claudia sleeps inside. It’s a brave back home with her younger sister, while moody Ama flees an abu- attempt to shake up the routine, but it doesn’t quite work; it’s the sive stepfather. The youngest, Joyce, was born Alek in Southern small, everyday occurrences that are the most telling. Sudan. A survivor of wartime atrocities, including rape, she folVeronesi’s point, that Pietro is no crazier than anybody lows Polycarp, a kindly seeming Nigerian soldier, back to Lagos. else in a world that has lost its bearings, is made sympathetiBut their romance sours when Polycarp’s mother forbids him cally but at too great length. from marrying the refugee. He then goes to Dele and pays Joyce’s A LESSON IN SECRETS way to Belgium, where she, unlike the other women, initially Winspear, Jacqueline believes she will be working as a nanny. In spite of her reluctance, Harper/HarperCollins (336 pp.) her beauty soon attracts a devoted clientele, while she plots to $25.99 | March 22, 2011 someday open a boutique back in Africa. Sharing a modest apart978-0-06-172767-2 ment, the women bicker and bond until Sisi meets Luc, a white banker, in a Pentecostal church. He pursues her, offering a way War, peace and Maisie Dobbs’ out from the brothel. But Sisi’s belief that she can escape Dele’s introduction to the German Nationalconsiderable reach proves to be a fatal mistake, with far-reaching ist Socialist Party. consequences for the others. In her English-language debut, the Maisie, whose accomplishments Nigerian-born Unigwe convincingly exposes an unfamiliar world include wearing tidy linen jackets and hats without sentimentality. 166

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with ribbons and spending the fortune a mentor left her in aid of chums in need of a boost, is asked to leave her private-enquiry agency and take on a task for the British Secret Service. Would she sign on as a teaching assistant in the philosophy department of Cambridge’s College of St. Francis and ferret out goings-on not in the interests of the Crown? The college’s founder, Greville Liddicote, has aroused attention because a children’s book he authored fomented mutiny during the Great War and had to be suppressed. Liddicote, who founded his college on pacifist precepts, seems oddly opposed to a pro-or-con debate with Cambridge students on Hitler in Great Britain. But his reluctance becomes moot when someone breaks his neck. In between buying a house to resettle her assistant in; attempting to move her dad to more commodious digs; and pining for her lover James off in Canada, Maisie (The Mapping of Love and Death, 2010, etc.) decides to solve the Liddicote murder. She delves into the lives of lecturers and debaters, gets a copy of that banned children’s book and warns the Secret Service of growing Nazism among the students. They ignore her concern, and the rest is history. A pivotal historical moment forced to take a back seat to the heroine’s wardrobe and intuition. (Author tour to Ann Arbor, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, Petoskey, Mich., Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C.)

THE CIVILIZED WORLD

Wyss, Susi Henry Holt (240 pp.) $15.00 paperback original | April 1, 2011 978-0-8050-9362-9 Paths intersect and inner worlds are exposed in a diligent collection of female-centered stories with African and American settings. The mood is often somber in Wyss’ series of linked narratives as her assembly of female protagonists, whose individual trajectories cross and twine, grapple frequently with apprehension, disappointment and regret. Beautician Adjoa is first seen in “Monday Born,” working in Ivory Coast with her twin brother Kojo to raise money to start a business back home in Ghana. But there’s danger in the air, and it is borne out in “The Precious Brother Salon,” with another life lesson to follow in “Life Is Like a Mirror.” “Names” introduces foreign-service spouse Ophelia whose stiff marriage comes under scrutiny again in “Waiting for Solomon.” In addition, there’s solo health worker Janice and opinionated matriarch Comfort, both of whom put in repeat appearances at key moments. The collection changes perspective in “Calculations of Risk,” in which Comfort’s white daughter-in-law confronts issues of race and sexual threat and appears undermined as the story fades. Finally, “There Are No Accidents” brings together Adjoa, Janice and Comfort in another simple yet humane scenario involving a corrosive secret and the softening influence of children. A sober debut which scrutinizes family and relationship bonds with empathy but not much imaginative zest.

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m ys t e r y A DEAD MAN’S SECRET

Beaufort, Simon Severn House (256 pp.) $28.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7278-6972-2

Life in 12th-century England is often brutal and short, especially when you’re at the mercy of a devious, capricious monarch. Sir Geoffrey Mappestone and fellow knight Roger of Durham are on their way to Geoffrey’s Welch border estate when King Henry orders Geoffrey to deliver several letters. While they’re kicking their heels waiting for the scribes to finish drafting the letters, Eudo, the king’s clerk, is murdered. Geoffrey is forced to include among his party a volatile group of fellow travelers including Delwyn, a scheming monk; two arrogant knights, Sear and Alberic; and the amiable but weak Edward. They arrive at Geoffrey’s manor to find his wife Hilde and sister Joan entertaining a number of guests, including Richard fitz Baldwin, whose saintly brother William was murdered, possibly to discover the secret that had turned him into such a beloved ruler. The enlarged group travel together to Kermerdyn. Along the way they are constantly harassed by armed men and are lucky to escape with their lives. Once Geoffrey delivers his letters, he still has the task of trying to discover William’s secret for King Henry. More murders and machinations put Geoffrey in a very dangerous position. Beaufort’s series (The Bloodstained Throne, 2010, etc.), based on real people and events, continues to supply a pleasing combination of historical detail and mystery.

A PIZZA TO DIE FOR

Cavender, Chris Kensington (320 pp.) $22.00 | May 1, 2011 978-0-7582-2952-6

Sisters can’t stay out of trouble when their amateur sleuthing gets out of hand. Maddy’s impulsive, Eleanor’s downto-earth, and together the Swift sisters run A Slice of Delight, the local pizza place in Timber Ridge, N.C. While their restaurant is a perennial favorite for locals, out-of-towner Judson Sizemore decides to open his own boutique wood-fired pizza restaurant, Italia’s, just down the street. Though Sizemore’s not a very likable guy, Eleanor still thinks it’s a shame when his body is discovered in Italia’s even before their grand opening. Maddy’s boyfriend Bob Lemon begs Maddy and Eleanor to leave the mystery alone, but the two sisters can’t help their sense of curiosity and soon get wrapped

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“The coastal town of Rocky Point, N.H., would be a perfect site for a thriving antiques business if it weren’t for the sky-high homicide rate.” from deadly threads

up in a web that is far more complex than they expected. Luckily, Eleanor is supported by her two employees, Kevin Hurley and Greg Hatcher, both of whom would go to the mat for her in a second. Eleanor even trusts her out-of-town ex David Quinton to help her out. Good thing he’s substantially less needy (and more attractive) than he was when he was local. All signs point to Judson’s uncle Nathan and his sizeable fortune; it’s just a matter of who would be willing to kill to get their hands on it. Cavender (Pepperoni Pizza Can Be Murder, 2010, etc.) offers another slice of the same old pie—reasonable fare, but nothing to excite the taste buds.

DEADLY THREADS

Cleland, Jane K. Minotaur Books (304 pp.) $24.99 | April 12, 2011 978-0-312-58656-0 The coastal town of Rocky Point, N.H., would be a perfect site for a thriving antiques business if it weren’t for the sky-high homicide rate. The lecture series Josie Prescott is hosting on developing a vintage-clothing collection gets off to an inauspicious start when guest speaker Riley Jordan is found dead under a display table. Josie and her tight-knit staff are shocked by the loss. But it’s not long before Josie, inevitably drawn into the case, uses her specialized knowledge to assist police chief Ellis Hunter. Riley was a caring, charming woman of wealth whose picture-perfect marriage to restaurant developer Bobby Jordan was besieged by rumors of his infidelities. The only clues are a pearl and platinum button found on the scene by the newest addition to the Prescott family, a Maine coon cat, and the glimpse Josie’s assistant Gretchen’s got of a silver car leaving their parking lot. When Josie learns that Bobby was cut out of Riley’s will and that she has been left to administer Riley’s fabulous collection and a good deal of money, she has even more reason for sleuthing. Although Bobby’s a likely candidate, there are several other possibilities, including the unknown person who lost that pearl button. Cleland (Silent Auction, 2010, etc.) combines a pleasing mystery with the obligatory antiques tidbits. (Author tour to Phoenix, Houston, Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Florida, Boston, New Hampshire)

AMONG THE DEPARTED

Delany, Vicki Poisoned Pen (282 pp.) $24.95 | Lg. Prt.: $22.95 | May 1, 2011 978-1-59058-924-3 Lg. Prt. 978-1-59058-932-8 A long-ago disappearance casts a long shadow. For 15 years, the Nowaks of Trafalgar, British Columbia, have not dealt well with the fact that Brian walked out to buy a pack of cigarettes 168

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and didn’t return. His wife Marjorie, a prissy, God-fearing woman, never leaves the house. His son Kyle, a reclusive artist, specializes in violently charged paintings. His daughter Nicky has moved to Vancouver and become an escort with a sideline in blackmailing her clientele. When some of Brian’s bones are accidentally uncovered in Koola Provincial Park, Sergeant Winters reopens the case, leaning on Nicky’s childhood friend Molly, now a constable, for insights, and setting up a possible conflict with his wife Eliza, who’s mounting a gallery showing of Kyle’s work. Did Brian leave his family for another woman and get waylaid on his way out of town? Not likely, say the villagers. But what happened to the $10,000 he withdrew just before his disappearance? What of Kyle’s insistence that Brian was a womanizer (something that can’t be proved), or of the realtor who keeps popping around asking for details about the case, or of the way Nicky and her sleazy partner/pimp Joey are eyeing as possible marks all the men in town, even Molly’s boyfriend Adam of the RCMP? Secrets and assumptions must come crashing down to settle the Nowak case and explain the tragedy of 1996. Delany (Negative Image, 2010, etc.) invigorates the cozy genre with an unsparing look at love in all its variations, including coming to terms with it the second time around.

NIGHTSHADE

Doherty, P.C. Minotaur Books (320 pp.) $25.99 | April 1, 2011 978-0-312-67818-0 Yet another vexing case for Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, personal emissary of Edward I of England and clever sleuth. Furious over the looting of his treasury, a good deal of whose riches have not been recovered, King Edward sends Hugh Corbett and his companions Ranulf, Principal Clerk of the Chancery, and Chanson, Clerk of the Stables, off to question Lord Oliver Scrope. Scrope is a hot-tempered man who recently massacred a group of religious men and women he considered heretics. The King is interested in a fabulous jeweled cross Scrope took from the battlefield at Acre. The cross belonged to the Knights Templar, who want it back. When Corbett arrives in Mistleham, he finds a town in fear of the Sagittarius, an archer who’s killing people apparently at random. The man calling himself Nightshade, who told the parish priest that Scrope must confess his sins in the market square, may be the Sagittarius. But other suspects abound. Scrope’s wife hates him, the mayor may be his by-blow and his sister is a nun who loved the cousin he left for dead at Acre. When Scrope is murdered in a locked room on his private island, Corbett has ever more searching questions to ask. Well aware that no one is telling the truth, he uses his keen intellect to separate the wheat from the chaff. Hugh’s 16th adventure (The Waxman Murders, 2010, etc.) is another fine historical mystery steeped in medieval atmosphere.

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BLACK SWAN

Knopf, Chris Permanent Press (304 pp.) $28.00 | May 1, 2011 978-1-57962-216-9 Despite its title, Sam Acquillo’s fifth adventure has nothing to do with the movies (Hard Stop, 2009, etc.)—at least not movies about high-strung, overworked ballerinas. As a favor to his wealthy lawyer friend Burton Lewis, engineer-turned-carpenter Sam and his girlfriend, banker-turned-contractor Amanda Anselma, are sailing Burton’s boat, Carpe Mañana, down from Maine when rough seas on Long Island Sound force them to put in at Fishers Island. Christian Fey, the retired computer genius of Subversive Technologies, is less than enthusiastic about putting them up at the Black Swan, the inn he’s recently purchased, and his son Axel, an autistic savant, is no more effusive. But Fey’s daughter Anika welcomes Sam with open arms and bedclothes. The Edenic temptations she offers are complemented by the arrival of the serpent Derrick Hammon, Subversive’s new CEO, with an entourage that includes his put-upon female companion Del Rey; Bernard ’t Hooft, who’s more than just muscle, and Jock and Pierre, who are just muscle. The guest list is completed by Subversive co-founder Myron Sanderfreud, who’s barely checked in when he checks out, and his wife Grace, whose role is limited to screaming. When the island’s sole law-enforcement officer is beaten nearly to death and her replacement locked in a cell in his own jail, it’s obvious that the winds have blown in quite another screenplay, this one from Key Largo, and that only Sam has the stuff to play the Bogart role. Reliable, predictable thrills that don’t shame Knopf’s growing reputation but won’t advance it either.

BLOWBACK

May, Peter Poisoned Pen (288 pp.) $24.95 | Lg. Prt.: $22.95 | March 1, 2011 978-1-59058-841-3 Lg. Prt. 978-1-59058-842-0 Mon dieu! Someone has killed the Great Chef of Europe. Gendarme Dominique Chazal is called out on a wet winter night in 2003 to examine the body of Marc Fraysse, a bullet hole clearly visible in the middle of his forehead. Fraysse had called a press conference to make an important announcement, but not even his brother and business partner Guy, grieving near the body, knows the content of that announcement, though he does volunteer that Marc had been depressed lately at the prospect of losing one of his three cherished Michelin stars. Dominique declares Marc’s Chez Fraysse, in a rustic region of central France, a crime scene. The investigation languishes for seven years until the idiosyncratic Enzo Macleod steps in to solve his fifth cold case (Freeze Frame, 2010, etc.) and Dominique admits that he is her last hope. Enzo |

travels to the rugged volcanic plain where Chez Fraysse stands to interview potential suspects. He begins with Marc’s imperious widow Elisabeth, who may be too cozy with her brother-in-law, a johnny-come-lately to Marc’s business; ambitious, stoic chef Georges Crozes, who worked directly under his friend Marc and succeeded him as Head Chef at Chez Fraysse; and his wife Anne, whom everyone believes was having an affair with Marc. Enzo’s solution depends on unraveling a coded message, reading parts of Marc’s diary and bantering with his effervescent daughter Sophie. May’s flair for narrative, characterization and evocative descriptions of various locales and historic tidbits makes his formulaic whodunit fresh and delightfully readable—catnip for armchair sleuths.

A SLEPYNG HOUND TO WAKE

McCaffrey, Vincent Small Beer Press (284 pp.) $24.00 | July 1, 2011 978-1-931520-26-3

A bookhound has too many women interested in him and too many problems to solve. Henry Sullivan’s old flame Barbara runs the failing Alcott & Poe bookstore, where he used to work before he realized he wasn’t cut out for dealing with the public. Now he sells the fine volumes he collects on his website. Barbara’s icy partner Sharon, looking for money to keep the store going, tells Henry that popular author George Duggan plagiarized his last bestseller from Sharon’s lover, a murdered history professor. Henry ends up with a murder of his own when reformed junkie Eddy Perry, who sold him a book, is killed, apparently for the money Henry paid him, and his estate includes a manuscript of his own that Henry feels is worthy of publication. Meanwhile, Henry’s current girlfriend, Della, gets involved in the mess Sharon’s accusations have created. So do Duggan’s lawyer and Nora Lynch of Tremont Press, who rejected the professor’s manuscript but might have discussed it with Duggan. Henry finds himself in a great deal of danger just for helping an old friend. Henry’s second (Hound, 2009) is not for those who require a fast and furious story line. The strong mystery is woven into a slow-paced, philosophical discussion of the painful demise of those special bookstores whose nooks and crannies once yielded fabulous finds.

MISSING PERSONS

O’Donohue, Clare Plume | (288 pp.) $15.00 paperback original | May 31, 2011 978-0-452-29706-7

A Chicago TV producer considers herself a cynic until her new project draws her into a heartbreaking investigation. Kate Conway’s assignment for a new show, Missing Persons,

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Looking For The Silver Linings in the Shakeups of 21st-Century Bookselling B Y T I M

O ’R EI LLY

The past few weeks have not brought the brightest of news for the world of bookselling. The news that Borders is on the brink of disaster doesn’t bode so well for an industry whose headlines of late all too commonly begin with the phrase: “The Death of...” But is it all doom and gloom in bookselling land? Or, could it be that when one bookseller’s doors close, a window of opportunity opens elsewhere? To lend some insight, I asked two of the publishing scene’s smartest ladies, Sarah Weinman of Publisher’s Marketplace (publishersmarketplace.com) and BookSquare. com’s Kassia Krozser, what they see as the bright spots on the current bookselling landscape? Their answers may surprise you: comes from asking a store clerk for suggestions, they still need live events and readings.” — Kassia Krozser Booksquare.com

“The brightest spot is seeing indies, both old and new, find ways to evolve and engage with readers however possible. From QR-codes on shelf talkers that allow customers to buy e-books right in the store (Green Apple Books and another indie in Michigan are doing this, I love this idea) to booksellers Tweeting and Tumbling and constantly engaging in conversations, to partnering with local businesses for specific events in a way that highlights the community aspect that much more, those are the ways in which indies not only survive, but thrive in an age when so many are too willing to write them off.” — Sarah Weinman Publishers Marketplace

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“The decline of Borders is not, to my mind, a repudiation of bricks and mortar bookselling, and it’s certainly not evidence that people don’t want to read books. I think there are two key types of customers: those who are seeking convenience coupled with price (the Amazon shopper) and those who want a personal, community-oriented shopping experience (the indie shopper). This can be the same customer at different times, for different books. It’s important that booksellers recognize these types of shoppers, focusing on the kind of customer service that these shoppers need. If anything, the potential loss of Borders is a wake-up call for traditional booksellers, a reminder that they offer a valuable community service. Readers are rapidly adopting new and different formats, but that doesn’t change the fact that readers still need guides to the wide world of books, they still need the social interaction that |

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Certainly gives one hope! Another ray of bookselling and publishing industry hope? O’Reilly’s Tools of Change conference this February 14 - 16 in New York City. Among the many intriguing sessions, keynotes and activities focused on the rapidly morphing publishing industry, TOC will be hosting a very special panel moderated by Kassia Krozser and devoted to exploring “Bookselling in the 21st Century.” Kassia to discuss the changes booksellers are facing on the front lines of publishing will be Lori James (All Romance/ OmniLit/ARe Cafe), Jenn Northington (WORD), Kevin Smokler (Booktour. com), Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo (Greenlight Bookstore) and Malle Vallik (Harlequin Enterprises Ltd). — Kat Mayer Kirkus Reviews readers can save an additional 15% on registration at the Tools of Change conference by using discount code toc11kr. For more information about TOC and to register, visit toccon.com. Kat Meyer is co-chair of O’Reilly’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference.


“He who laughs last lasts in this whodunit centered on a comedy club.” from killer routine

starts with the case of Theresa Moretti, a young nurse who’s been AWOL for a year. Kate’s life is a bit of a disaster since she split with her husband Frank, a talented but feckless charmer she met in high school. When he suddenly dies, Kate becomes the chief murder suspect when the police learn that she’s due to receive a big life-insurance settlement and an autopsy shows an overdose of digitalis. Kate likes Frank’s girlfriend Vera, an apparently nice person from a very wealthy family whom Kate meets at the hospital the night of Frank’s death. But Frank’s parents want Kate to find out if Vera murdered him, and Frank’s best friend complicates the situation further by telling Kate that Frank had been hoping for reconciliation with her. In the meantime, Kate finds herself more involved in the case of the missing girl, who was not nearly as angelic as her mother claimed. When Theresa’s body is found, Kate has a plethora of suspects, including Theresa’s volatile brother, various boyfriends and a wealthy lawyer who seems suspiciously eager to help. Kate’s finely honed interviewing skills will be necessary to find a killer and clear herself in Frank’s death. This series kickoff from O’Donohue (The Double Cross, 2010, etc.) introduces a smart and cynical sleuth. The killer is guessable, but the ending provides some welcome surprises.

KILLER ROUTINE

Orloff, Alan Midnight Ink/Llewellyn (312 pp.) $14.95 paperback original | April 8, 2011 978-0-7387-2310-5 He who laughs last lasts in this whodunit centered on a comedy club. Comedy veteran Channing Hayes has been through a lot in his time. His checkered past isn’t limited to his hassles running The Last Laff Comedy Club with moody old-timer Artie Worsham. Channing was recently in a serious car accident that cost him not only three fingers from his left hand but also his fiancée, Lauren Dempsey. Although he survived along with Lauren’s little sister and former comedy partner Heather, Channing hasn’t felt the same since. Sure, he’s back on his feet, but he’s not ready to resume his comedy routine. Instead, he’s been prepping Heather for her solo act. When she runs out on her debut, Channing is worried that her problem is more than just nerves. His suspicions grow when fellow comic J.J., one of Heather’s recent flings, winds up dead after snorting cyanide disguised as cocaine. Artie’s convinced that the culprit is rival club owner Gerry Reed, acting out his anger after they refused to sell him the Last Laff. But Channing is even more convinced that he must find Heather as soon as he can. As his search intensifies, he finds more danger and dead bodies. Orloff (Diamonds for the Dead, 2010) generates considerable suspense en route to a conclusion most readers won’t see coming. Good-hearted characters who aren’t wimps make this premiere of the Last Laff series a winner.

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THE BROTHERS OF BAKER STREET

Robertson, Michael Minotaur Books (288 pp.) $24.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-312-53813-2 A young British barrister matches wits with a would-be Moriarty while unraveling a modern mystery. When Reggie Heath and his younger brother Nigel set up their fledgling law practice, they never imagined how deeply their Baker Street address would embroil them in the world of detective legend Sherlock Holmes, whose residence Arthur Conan Doyle placed in the same block. The brothers’ rental agreement requires them to answer all correspondence addressed to the fictional sleuth, a situation that previously led them into a dangerous Los Angeles mystery (The Baker Street Letters, 2009). Nigel, in fact, is still in California when Reggie receives a taunting letter signed “Moriarty.” Reggie hardly gives it a second thought, for he’s immersed in the defense of young cab driver Neil Walters, whom a mountain of evidence identifies as the man who robbed and murdered an American tourist couple in the West End, London’s theatre district. The case becomes a cause célèbre in the London press, where public opinion runs strongly against Walters. An anonymous writer claims to be a witness who can exonerate Walters. Unfortunately, his letter is addressed not to Reggie but to Sherlock Holmes. When Nigel returns home to London, he’s enormously helpful as a legman but catnip for the salacious media. The fits and starts of the case try the patience of Reggie’s long-suffering ladylove Laura; their banter neatly counterpoints the denser, thornier progress of the case. Robertson’s sophomore effort gels in the final third, which features a thrilling climax, but not before some unsteady plotting and labored prose.

DOGS DON’T LIE

Simon, Clea Poisoned Pen (256 pp.) $24.95 | Lg. Prt.: $22.95 | April 1, 2011 978-1-59058-860-4 Lg. Prt. 978-1-59058-861-1 An animal psychic depends on the voices around her to uncover the truth. Pru Marlowe, almost-certified animal behaviorist, can’t quiet the voices in her head. No, she’s not crazy—not that way, at least; it’s just that she hears the thoughts of animals all the time. In fact, though Pru tells her neighbors in the Berkshires that she left the city to take care of her mother, the truth is that she had to get away from all those voices. Country life suits Pru, and she makes a bit of money dog walking and animal training. Things turn sour, however, when Lily, a pit bull Pru trains, becomes the lead suspect in her master Charles’ murder. Now Pru has to count on the voices of the animals to help her find the real murderer before she becomes a suspect herself. By her side, but not

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always on it, is her curmudgeonly tabby, Wallis. Added to the mix is every needy animal Pru finds on her path to the truth, including a few human specimens like Charles’ fiancée Delia Cochrane and his business partner and playboy Mack Danton. If Simon (Grey Matters, 2010, etc.) is more cute and cloying than usual, the plot compensates with more intrigue. Readers who can stomach the constant animal chatter will be rewarded with a story with some surprisingly creative twists.

ECHOES OF THE DEAD

Spencer, Sally Severn House (224 pp.) $28.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-7278-6980-7

A convicted murderer’s dying declaration prompts an unexpected investigation for DCI Monika Paniatowski (The Ring of Death, 2010, etc.) and a world of trouble for her beloved Charlie Woodend. The murder of 13-year-old Lilly Dawson shook small-town Whitebridge to its core. So the pressure on young Scotland Yard inspector Charlie Woodend, returning to his home town to investigate Lilly’s death, was intense. Now, 22 years later, Fred Howerd, the man Woodend arrested, confesses on his deathbed to Father O’Brien that his admission of guilt was a lie. Sergeant Bannerman wants Howerd’s statement looked into, especially because he was Woodend’s sergeant on the Dawson case. So Mid Lancs Chief Constable George Baxter hands Monika Paniatowski, who was Woodend’s sergeant at his retirement, an “unofficial” investigation, pairing her with Scotland Yard’s DCI Tom Hall. Despite his reputation as a hotshot, Hall turns out to be an affable chap who blends well with Paniatowski, DS Beresford and DC Crane, and soon the quartet is sitting snugly at the Drum and Monkey discussing the old case. But things quickly go pear-shaped for Monika. First Howerd’s mate Terry Clegg offers an alibi for the time of Lilly’s abduction. Then Baxter casts doubt on the authenticity of a key piece of evidence. Soon it looks as if even her late father’s Polish cavalry regiment couldn’t save Charlie. Monika has to decide between loyalty to her mentor, to her young colleagues and to her own career. Shifting seamlessly between past and present versions of the case, Spencer produces a tour de force readers won’t quickly forget.

THE KING OF DIAMONDS

Tolkien, Simon Minotaur Books (336 pp.) $24.99 | March 15, 2011 978-0-312-53908-5

A prisoner escapes on the very night that his ex-girlfriend is murdered. Could it possibly be a coincidence? In 1958, David Swain, protesting his innocence right up until the verdict, 172

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receives a life sentence for murdering Ethan Mendel, the new lover of his ex, Katya Osman, at Blackwater Hall, her family home. Two years later, Katya, an emotional mess, accuses her companion Jana Claes of trying to kill her with a tranquilizing injection. Jana and her husband Franz are indispensable to Katya’s wealthy father Titus, the only person who seems able to calm her. He’s poised to marry the elegant Vanessa, another contributor to Katya’s fragile mental state, who’s equally unpopular with the territorial Franz and Jana. Meanwhile, David has fallen under the spell of his prison cellmate Eddie Earle, a career criminal with a soft spot for the young man and a daring escape plan. David can barely believe his good fortune. After the duo gains freedom with barely a hitch, Tolkien takes David all the way to Katya’s bedroom door, which he opens slowly as he remembers an ominous couplet of children’s verse. Then the perspective shifts to Detective Inspector Trave, called unexpectedly to the mansion to investigate a murder, just as he was a scant few years ago. David, still at large, is clearly the likeliest suspect, but the veteran Trave sees other possibilities. A thick web of family tensions and psychological dysfunction with a whodunit chaser, Tolkien’s third novel (The Inheritance, 2010, etc.) is elegantly written, with Masterpiece Theatre pacing and embellishments.

science fiction and fantasy DAYBREAK ZERO

Barnes, John Ace/Berkley (400 pp.) $26.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-441-01975-5 Near-future apocalypse, the second entry in Barnes’ projected trilogy following Directive 51 (2010). The entity known as Daybreak, apparently dedicated to wiping out humanity, has released biological weapons that destroy oil and oil-based products such as gasoline and plastics; fusion bombs have killed millions in America and billions worldwide; meanwhile, a machine on the moon continues to fire EMP bombs that destroy electronic devices and components. What remains of the U.S. government has split into two disparate and mutually hostile factions, one based in Washington State, the other in Georgia. Others have built fortified compounds known as Castles where, perhaps instructed and encouraged by Daybreak, they rule as petty tyrants. Other than a few scattered communities of researchers, the remaining survivors have formed weird, anti-technology tribes eager to mount appalling human-wave assaults against fortified positions. But what is Daybreak exactly? A terrorist conspiracy? A

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hostile artificial intelligence? Or an emergent property, a meme, that attained critical mass, vastly intelligent but without consciousness? Daybreak has no leaders, so cannot be confronted or attacked directly; its agents have infiltrated each of the groups dedicated to defeating it; worse, those that study the phenomenon risk being subverted. The story leaps between these and numerous other scenes, employing a cast of thousands. Add in the sheer density of the narrative and the seeming inability of the good guys to mount any meaningful response. It all makes for a tough slog. A stunning premise that would have benefited from a lighter approach, less baggage and more focus.

THE RISE OF THE IRON MOON

Hunt, Stephen Tor (464 pp.) $26.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7653-2766-6

LADY-PROTECTOR

Modesitt Jr., L.E. Tor (496 pp.) $27.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7653-2804-5

In the eighth book of the Corean Chronicles, a young ruler takes up magic against a sea of troubles. Mykella has executed her uncle, the usurping Lord-Protector whose schemes killed her father and brother, but fresh crises loom. As the first Lady-Protector of Lanachrona, she faces a culture unaccustomed to being ruled by a woman; the corrupt nobles, who aided her uncle to strip the country of its gold and severely damage its infrastructure; invasion from neighboring lands; and an Ifrit incursion from two other worlds. On Mykella’s side are a few faithful retainers, her sisters, her indomitable will and integrity, and her powerful, not entirely understood, magical Talent, which can both sift truth from falsehood and kill the enemies she detects thereby. The characterization is fairly flat: The heroes are all noble and honest, and at worst, only temporarily misguided. There’s apparently nothing more to the human villains than greed and misogyny, and the nonhuman Ifrits express only race hatred and a fierce survival instinct. Modesitt (The Lord-Protector’s Daughter, 2008, etc.) does an excellent job of laying out the protagonist’s web of predicaments in a fairly realistic, if somewhat slow and repetitious manner, only to rush to the climax and tie up at least some of the problems in a far-too-neat bow (which will probably partially unravel in a subsequent volume). Fine for those already invested in the series.

Third fantasy set in Hunt’s teeming, mind-boggling steampunk universe (The Court of the Air, 2007, etc.), this time complete with interplanetary invaders courtesy of H.G. Wells. Astronomer and steamman Aliquot Coppertracks notices odd celestial events: signs of civilization on supposedly dead Mars; the abrupt return of a comet centuries before it’s due; and, impossibly, stars shifting their positions in the heavens. Kyorin, representative of Martian humans who have been resisting evil overlords for eons, makes contact with author Molly Templar, who in turn rouses wily old U-boat captain Commodore Black, the eerie outlaw Oliver Brooks and others. But in THE WISE MAN’S FEAR advance of the invading Army of Shadows and their irresistible Rothfuss, Patrick superscience have come bloodthirsty “slats” in pursuit of Kyorin DAW/Berkley (1008 pp.) and his message. What do the evil Martians want with human$29.95 | March 1, 2011 ity? In a word, lunch. Once the impending invasion can no longer 978-0-7564-0473-4 be ignored, the rival realms of Jackals (think Victorian Britain) and Quatérshift (post-revolutionary France) form an uneasy alliA walloping sword-and-sorcery ance. An expedition to Mars must be mounted, so that Kyorin’s fest from Rothfuss, the second volpeople can pass on their fading knowledge in the hope of defeatume in a projected trilogy (The Name ing the monstrous slats. Along the way, Hunt splendidly ridicules of the Wind, 2007). both the pompous Victorian scientific establishment and the Readers of that debut—and if you French Revolution’s more pretentious aspirations. Once again, weren’t a reader of the first volume, then however, the narrative’s overstuffed and overcomplicated, which none of the second will make any sense Hunt fans evidently relish, and improbably prolonged, with a showdown that recedes almost as fast as the plot rushes toward it. to you—will remember that its protagonist, Kvothe (rhymes A swaggering, eye-filling, brain-swizzling extrava- with “quoth”), was an orphan with magical powers and, as the ganza, though Hunt’s hyperkinetic saga may be a taste not years rolled by, the ability to pull music out of the air and write “songs that make the minstrels weep.” The second volume finds all readers will wish to acquire. him busily acquiring all kinds of knowledge to help his wizardly career along, for which reason he is in residence in a cool college burg, “barely more than a town, really,” that has other towns beat by a league in the arcane-knowledge department, to say nothing of cafés where you can talk elevated talk and drink “Veltish coffee and Vintish wine,” as good post-hobbits must. For one thing, the place has a direct line to a vast underground archive where pretty much everything that has ever been thought or |

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imagined is catalogued; for another thing, anyone who is anyone in the world of eldritch studies comes by, which puts Kvothe in close proximity to the impossibly beautiful fairy Felurian, who makes hearts go flippity-flop and knows some pretty good tricks in the way of evading evil. Evil there is, and in abundance, but who cares if you’re dating such a cool creature? Rothfuss works all the well-worn conventions of the genre, with a shadow cloak here and a stinging sword there and lots of wizardry throughout, blending a thoroughly prosaic prose style with the heft-of-tome ambitions of a William T. Vollmann. This is a great big book indeed, but not much happens—which, to judge by the success of its predecessor, will faze readers not a whit. For latter-day D&D fans, a long-awaited moment. For the rest—well, maybe J.K. Rowling will write another book after all.

DEATHLESS

Valente, Catherynne M. Tor (352 pp.) $24.99 | April 1, 2011 978-0-7653-2630-0 Another intricate fantasy (The Habitation of the Blessed, 2010, etc.) from Valente, based on what feels like the entire panoply of Russian folktales. In Leningrad, during the early days of the Communist revolution, the house where Marya lives is shared by a dozen families. While gazing from the window, Marya Morevna sees a bird tumble from a tree and turn into a handsome young man; he approaches the house and asks to marry Marya’s eldest sister, who accepts. In turn Marya’s other elder sisters accept bird-husbands also, but when it’s Marya’s turn she is not watching and does not see the bird become a man. Her husband is Koschei, a wizard known as Bessmertny (the deathless) because his soul is hidden separate from his body on the island of Buyan, and as long as it remains there he cannot die. The witch Baba Yaga, Koschei’s sister, says that the most important thing about a marriage is: who rules. Marya discovers a room occupied by beautiful girls, all named Yelena, all unaware of their surroundings and working like automatons. The Yelenas are Koschei’s previous victims, whom he stole away, then enchanted. Eventually, each Yelena was seduced by a handsome solider named Ivan, whereupon Koschei discarded them. Baba Yaga offers Marya a way to avoid the same fate, by setting her three seemingly impossible tasks to accomplish. All this barely scratches the surface of what’s going on here; scenes, people, myths and history intertwine. It’s dazzling but intensely self-involved. Overwhelming and probably indecipherable to all but the most persistent, well-informed readers.

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RETRIBUTION FALLS

Wooding, Chris Spectra/Bantam (480 pp.) $16.00 paperback original | April 26, 2011 978-0-345-52251-1 Popular British YA author Wooding (Havoc, 2010, etc.) makes his adult debut with this rollicking, picaresque steampunk fantasy. On an unnamed but seemingly boundless planet populated chiefly by aristocrats and outcasts—piracy is a popular career choice, perhaps because there’s nothing much else to do—Darian Frey is the captain and proud owner of the flying machine Ketty Jay. Such machines fly by the power of a magical gas and feature advanced explosive weapons, yet they don’t even have radio. Some devices are powered by demons. If you can swallow all that, read on. The piratical Frey cares only for himself and his ship; his crew are the usual motley bunch of endearing rascals—a reckless pilot, a cowardly pilot, the requisite alcoholic doctor, a “daemonist” and his golem, a taciturn escaped slave and an undead navigator with developing superpowers—though all have well-developed histories. Frey, looking for easy money, accepts a dubious commission to hijack a valuable cargo. Naturally it all goes horribly wrong, Frey finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy, and both sides want him dead. There’s plenty of action, derring-do, doublecrossing, trickery and gore, though the human settlements the ship drifts through are uniformly drab, tawdry and depressing. The characters grow in the telling. Too bad the whole thing bears such an uncomfortable resemblance to the short-lived but wellregarded TV series Firefly. Presumably Wooding’s past and present YA fans will wish to step up; otherwise, only for readers who don’t have a skeptical bone in their bodies.

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nonfiction PERIODIC TALES A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc Aldersey-Williams, Hugh Ecco/HarperCollins (448 pp.) $29.99 | April 1, 2011 978-0-06-182472-2

A contextually thorough examination of the periodic table of elements. Most often associated with highschool chemistry class, the periodic table is underrated. Its very construction, first introduced by Russian chemist Dmitrii Mendeleev (1834–1907) in 1869, innovated the way in which scientists categorized elements (by atomic number) and allowed them to predict missing elements according to where they would fit (by periodic relatedness). Now totaling 118, each element is unique in its chemical makeup, physical manifestation and cultural significance. Aldersey-Williams (British Design, 2010, etc.) tells the stories of these elements, reminding us that nothing of the world we know would be possible without them. The author details how elements can dictate economies (gold), love (platinum), war (plutonium) and technology (lithium); how elements can be applied as a cure-all in one era, yet shunned as a poison the next (mercury); how iron in meteorites hint at the mysteries of the universe and also provide us with the building blocks of modern cities. Writers and artists from Nabokov to Calder refer to elements in metaphor as well as utilize them physically, and elements are woven throughout cultural mythologies, from the ancient Greek goddess Artemis, who carries a silver shield, to dystopian fiction, in which the yellow light of sodium street lamps seems omnipresent, to the mystery writer Agatha Christie, whose use of the poisonous element thallium in one of her novels may have saved real lives by educating readers to its symptoms. Throughout this comprehensive survey, Aldersey-Williams writes with great enthusiasm and describes how he conducted his own experiments to illuminate a certain property or application. The author’s passion and wit keep the book from being weighed down by its scope, and instead casts elemental inquiry with intrigue. A lucid, enjoyable collection of stories that, element by element, demystify the iconic periodic table. (62 black-andwhite illustrations. Agent: Antony Topping/Green & Heaton)

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THE QUANTUM STORY A History in 40 Moments Baggott, Jim Oxford Univ. (448 pp.) $29.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-19-956684-6

A shimmering tour d’horizon of quantum theory from popular-science writer Baggott (Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb, 1939–49, 2009, etc.). Quantum theory—challenging, disconcerting and heavy on math—is not going to be pinned down and dissected for lay readers without a lot of kicking and screaming. Baggott succeeds, however, imbuing the narrative with important context, his own communicable enthusiasm and the instances of dense theoretical exposition mediated by historical and biographical storytelling. His survey runs roughly chronologically, starting with Max Planck’s contention that energy is composed of a definite number of equal finite packages, through Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac, Feynman, Hawking et al. the author then looks at the Standard Model and the more amorphous superstring theory. Confirmed prediction is paramount in quantum theory because it works on educated guesses and implication, with only indirect evidence for the matter at hand. Here again Baggott shines, filling in the background, sometimes purely personal and sometimes entirely academic. Those with a jones for physics will not be disappointed, but the author leads readers through the dense material—if not like a seeing-eye dog, then with encouragement to look beyond his pages. Quantum theory may deny us the possibility of properly comprehending physical reality, but Baggott’s account is smart and consoling. (Two 8-page black-and-white plate sections; 35 black-and-white line drawings)

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“For someone whose career and reputation rests so heavily on being a sex expert and erotica guru, she writes about her own fairly tame sexcapades with a coldly cerebral and often ironic detachment.” from big sex, little death

REACH FOR THE SKIES Ballooning, Birdmen, and Blasting into Space Branson, Richard Current (352 pp.) $26.95 | May 1, 2011 978-1-61723-003-5

A quirky, eclectic history of great flights, from balloons to space shuttles—with some generous plugs for the author’s own Virgin company. Billionaire Branson (Business Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur, 2010, etc.), founder of Virgin Group, is a pilot and visionary in his own right, as he reminds us liberally throughout this lively, selective history of man’s attempts to take to the skies. The author likes nothing better than a story of someone willing to try what others say can’t be done, and he sprinkles his work with these inspiring tales, more or less chronologically: Master inventor Daedalus flew successfully out of King Minos’ labyrinth and reached Sicily, while his unfortunate son, Icarus, didn’t make it; the Montgolfier paper-manufacturing family engineered the first unmanned balloons in the late 18th century, followed by a host of subsequent lighter-than-air recordbreakers, mostly French; gliders modeled on the wings of birds were perfected by Otto Lilienthal and others, until the Wright Brothers and mechanic Charles Taylor added the engine to activate propellers. Branson admires such daredevils as Manfred von Richthofen (aka the Red Baron) and entrepreneurial pilot Howard Hughes, as well as bold ladies like Florence “Pancho” Barnes, but he’s also interested in the physics of flight, offering brief disquisitions on the working of wings, the function of the jet stream and what the “sound barrier” means. But the author is especially fascinated by the evolution of the airline industry, its character largely shaped by the 1944 Convention on International Civil Aviation, the growth of Pan Am Airways and how the Internet has vastly altered the airline landscape. He also shares some of Virgin’s cutting-edge designs and prospects for spaceship flight. In contrast to Martin van Creveld’s polished, staid Age of Airpower (2011), Branson is above all enthusiastic about his subject and forward-seeing. (Illustrations and photographs throughout)

BIG SEX, LITTLE DEATH A Memoir Bright, Susie Seal Press (304 pp.) $24.95 | April 1, 2011 978-1-58005-264-1

“Godmother” of women’s erotica reflects on her young life as a self-styled political and sexual revolutionary. Longtime sex educator, provocateur and journalist, Bright (Love and Lust: A Sex Journal, 2010, etc.) was born in free-thinking Berkeley, Calif., to an eccentric academic couple with an abiding professional and recreational interest in India and Indian culture. Early on, the 176

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author bounced back and forth between her mother and father’s care, from Los Angeles to Edmonton. Bright’s remembrances of her parents, who were bitterly divorced when she was two, aren’t especially vivid, and what she divulges about her mother is nonetoo-flattering. Most striking is the recollection of her mom’s failed attempt to drive their VW into a frozen Canadian lake, a suicide attempt that would have also taken the lives of Bright and her sister. With such an unstable upbringing, it’s not surprising that the author turned to radical politics in high school and daily confrontation with pre–Equal Rights Amendment sexism from all sides. She went off to “commie” camp as a teenager and become editorially involved with The Red Tide, a leftist publication in a depressed 1970s Detroit. After waltzing through college, she decided her interests were in gender and sexual politics, and she helped publish the lesbian erotica magazine On Our Backs while working at a vibrator store. Yet however heroic Bright’s sexual and political accomplishments may or may not be, one gets the sense that her middle-class activist antics stem more from superficial reaction rather than personal conviction. Throughout, the author’s self-congratulatory tone may prevent readers from fully embracing Bright’s worthy sexually and politically liberating accomplishments. For someone whose career and reputation rests so heavily on being a sex expert and erotica guru, she writes about her own fairly tame sexcapades with a coldly cerebral and often ironic detachment. Surprisingly dry, uninspiring rendering of a potentially intriguing life story.

A QUEER HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES Bronski, Michael Beacon (288 pp.) $26.95 e-book: $23.95 | May 10, 2011 978-0-8070-4439-1 e-book: 978-0-8070-4466-7

Illuminating history lesson integrating the homosexual movement into America’s historical landscape. This is the first book in the publisher’s ReVisioning American History series. LGBT expert Bronski (Women’s and Gender Studies, Jewish Studies/Dartmouth Coll; Pulp Friction: Uncovering the Golden Age of Gay Male Pulps, 2003, etc.) contends that gay men and women’s contributions to the nation’s historical fabric have not always been recognized for their impact. To prove his point, the author ambitiously chronologically traces five centuries of significant, transformational events, people and places in gay history. Bronski reaches back to 1492 to highlight the sexually progressive European influence explorers like Christopher Columbus had on colonial culture and how those ideals locked horns with Puritanical mores. The author equates the injustice of slavery to homosexual oppression and explores the Revolutionary era’s strict ideas of gender conformity and the proliferation of same-sex “romantic friendships” in the 18th century. Drawing on countless references from literary texts, gay classics, poetry, journals, newspaper

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articles and letters, Bronski gives readers a grand tour of queer cultural vantage points. These include the “outlaw culture” of San Francisco, the erotic prose of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, the homoerotic novels that indelibly shaped American literature and the pivotal revolution at the Stonewall Inn riots. The author suggests that as the United States grew in size, so did the tyrannical promotion of the heterosexual union as the “ideal relationship.” Evidence of abundant gay soldiers in World War II surprises almost as much as the lengths they took to interact with one another. Considering more recent events, Bronski ends with the AIDS activism of late-’80s radical group ACT UP and the still-simmering gay-marriage argument. A lucid, cerebral treatise on gay culture from the point of view of a clever historian who maintains that “the heritage of LGBT people is the heritage of Americans.” Required reading for both established and newly emerging members of the gay community—and far beyond.

MARLENE Marlene Dietrich, A Personal Biography Chandler, Charlotte Simon & Schuster (320 pp.) $26.00 | March 29, 2011 978-1-4391-8835-4

Prolific biographer Chandler (I Know Where I’m Going: Katharine Hepburn, a Personal Biography, 2010, etc.) delivers an evocative portrait of film icon Marlene Dietrich (1901–1992), perhaps cinema’s ultimate manifestation of the mysterious, dangerous, unknowable woman. The author covers the actress’ career but foregoes in-depth analysis of the star’s films and technique, focusing instead on Dietrich’s enduring persona. Chandler is greatly aided in this by the inclusion of copious reminiscences by Dietrich herself, who recounts the triumphs and tragedies of her life in her inimitable grand manner, full of rueful irony and Olympian hauteur. Dietrich is candid about her various affairs, which included the likes of James Stewart, Yul Brynner and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., whose own recollections reveal a supremely witty and urbane man clearly still in erotic thrall to the legend years after the conclusion of their physical relationship. Among the narrative’s most delightful surprises are Dietrich’s wartime plan to seduce and murder Adolph Hitler—she would consistently denounce the Nazis and maintain a troubled relationship with her homeland throughout her life—and her many-years-removed trysts with Joseph and Jack Kennedy, the latter dismissed with a withering report of his abbreviated performance. One time accompanist Burt Bacharach waxes appreciatively about Dietrich’s courage and tenacity, and various family members weigh in on the star’s conflicted filial relationships, but the heart of the book remains Dietrich’s account of herself as simultaneously an earthy, maternal woman, who was happiest cooking and cleaning for friends and loved ones, and an impossibly glamorous camera subject who retired into near total seclusion when her looks began to fade. At the end of her life, Dietrich, holed up in her Parisian apartment, eccentrically |

answered the phone in the guise of her own nonexistent maid in a gambit to preserve her dignity and ward off unwanted visitors. A poetic and indelible portrait of the great star. (16 pages of black-and-white photographs)

JOE DIMAGGIO The Long Vigil

Charyn, Jerome Yale Univ. (192 pp.) $24.00 | March 15, 2011 978-0-300-12328-9 A novelist’s sympathetic meditation on the life of the legendary New York Yankee. This latest in the publisher’s Icons of America series is, perhaps, best understood as a response to Richard Ben Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life (2000), a critical biography that, while acknowledging DiMaggio’s preternatural gifts as a ballplayer, exposed the Yankee Clipper as an off-the-field nightmare of a person: friendless, greedy, and cheap. DiMaggio’s mark on the game—three MVPs, 13-time All-Star, nine World Series championships, the untouchable 56-game hitting streak (see Kostya Kennedy’s 56 for in-depth coverage)—and place in American cultural mythology endures. How was it that this splendid athlete lived a private life so appallingly at odds with his image? Charyn (The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel, 2010, etc.) never contradicts Cramer’s unsavory facts, but instead puts a kinder spin on them, painting Joltin’ Joe as a baseball idiot savant, defined and ennobled by his isolation in centerfield and the batter’s box, comfortable only within the confines of a game he perfectly understood, where his fierce will, intensity and pride drove him to win and made him, if not loved, certainly revered by the fans. The author identifies DiMaggio’s need to be watched and desire for approval as the secret weakness of this shy, insecure man. Indeed, argues Charyn, DiMaggio’s flaws—his morbid sensitivity, inability to bear mistakes and utter humorlessness—made him a better player. After baseball, this “legend without a purpose,” whose only genuine language was “the lyricism of his own body,” became a stilted spokesman and the central attraction of any memorabilia show lucky enough to secure the services of the Greatest Living Player. Otherwise, he spent his last four decades carrying a torch for the deceased Marilyn Monroe, once famously and briefly his wife, who baffled him completely. Though sometimes over the top as he reimagines DiMaggio—“[Yankee] Stadium’s suffering Christ”— Charyn supplies an intriguing, plausible take on this notoriously opaque hero.

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“The author provides numerous heart-rending stories, yet, for such a serious subject, the narrative is written with obvious joy and an impassioned optimism for what health-care providers and com­munities can achieve.” from ask me why i hurt

ASK ME WHY I HURT The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them

THE EVERYMAN CHESTERTON Chesterton, G.K. Editor: Ker, Ian Everyman’s Library (900 pp.) $30.00 | April 5, 2011 978-0-307-59497-6

An edifying but still incomplete sampling from the work of the great British novelist, moralist and philosopher. Though he died 75 years ago, Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s (1874–1936) influence is still strong, particularly among Catholic intellectuals of a moderately conservative bent—the same audience, say, that reads Garry Wills and Cardinal Newman for fun. Ker, whose biography of Chesterton will appear later this year, does a good job of selecting material that readily illustrates why this influence should continue. It also shows what a fluent, often entertaining writer Chesterton was. The selections from the fiction, apart from the beloved Father Brown stories, are lighter than some might wish; particularly noticeable is the absence of what many hold to be Chesterton’s best novel, The Man Who Was Thursday. Ker explains that the absence owes to the fact that it and The Napoleon of Notting Hill are readily available—but so are the Father Brown yarns. The editor does help reestablish Chesterton as a literary critic with a particularly extensive knowledge of the Victorian era in which he came of age; the selections from Chesterton’s studies of Victorian literature, from the novels of Dickens to the poetry of Browning and the essays of Ruskin, are extensive and satisfying. Welcome, if also too brief, are selections from Chesterton’s autobiography, in which he confesses, “I look back to that landscape of my first days with a pleasure that should doubtless be reserved for the Utopias of the Futurist.” Was he a happy writer? Yes, and even when Chesterton was locking horns with Marxists and reactionaries on either side, he tended to be gently civil—even if he dismissed his contemporary Friedrich Nietzsche for harboring “a nonsensical idea that men had once sought as good what we now call evil.” Of particular interest are Chesterton’s thoughtful notes on Christianity (“In a word, St Thomas was making Christendom more Christian in making it more Aristotelian”), which are of a piece and lineage with the better-known writings of C.S. Lewis. A welcome taste of Chesterton, who remains most readable today. Now for a second volume to fill in the gaps.

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Christensen, Randy and Rene Denfeld Broadway (288 pp.) $24.99 | e-book: $24.99 | April 12, 2011 978-0-307-71899-0 e-book: 978-0-307-71902-7 A physician’s memoir of his years working with homeless youth. In 2000, while working at Arizona’s Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Christensen asked to be assigned a daunting task—leading a mobile health-care unit aimed at serving homeless children. In the world of modern medicine, this was not the obvious way to climb the career ladder toward regular hours and a hefty salary. With a small group of passionately committed providers, Christensen turned this small community-service unit into an integral part of the urban medical landscape. Along the way, he struggled to balance the emotional and psychological demands of treating vulnerable children with the pressures placed on his marriage and family life. Ultimately, the children he encountered on the streets of Phoenix become the real subjects of his memoir, co-authored with journalist Denfield (Kill the Body, the Head Will Fall: A Closer Look at Women, Violence, and Aggression, 1997, etc.). Christensen’s many subjects include: Sugar, the pregnant young prostitute who found her way to new life; the abused and neglected young man who discovered love in a community home; and a mentally ill young woman whose tragic murder resulted in part from the bureaucratic tangles that prevented anyone from truly helping her. The title of the book comes from the bracelet worn by one patient who was unable to tell the story of the systematic abuse that left her homeless. The author provides numerous heart-rending stories, yet, for such a serious subject, the narrative is written with obvious joy and an impassioned optimism for what health-care providers and communities can achieve. Refreshingly free of moralistic lectures about the collective failure of the American health-care system, Christensen’s book is a wry, sincere story that makes the need for change inescapably obvious. (Author events in Phoenix. Agent: Richard Pine/Inkwell Management)

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ADAM’S GIFT A Memoir of a Pastor’s Calling to Defy the Church’s Persecution of Lesbians and Gays Creech, Jimmy Duke Univ. (368 pp.) $29.95 | May 1, 2011 978-0-8223-4885-6

The belief system of a lifelong Methodist minister is challenged by the sudden desertion of a gay parishioner. In the spring of 1984, a grief-stricken, longtime churchgoer announced that he was quitting Creech’s North Carolina diocese because of the religion’s newly announced policy banning the ordination of homosexuals. Creech retraces his childhood, raised in the South by staunch Methodists who addressed sex (and same-sex desire) with disdain. His appreciation of James Baldwin’s groundbreaking gay novel Giovanni’s Room (1956) defied that cultural bias and “planted a seed of doubt in my mind about the sinfulness of homosexuality that would fully mature later on.” Creech writes with intense conviction about the “pastoral responsibility” he felt to research and then logically question the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, to fully re-educate himself and, once convinced there was no wrongdoing, became involved in the gay and lesbian equal-rights movement. The author moved to a new diocese in 1987 where his social activism intensified with participation in gay-pride marches, gay-youth counseling and work with charitable AIDS organizations. Church politics soon exploded, and Creech relinquished his position but was ordained a pastor again after a move. While applauded and considered revolutionary by some, the author’s community participation and controversial gay-marriage ceremonies drew the ire of papal sovereigns and Methodist parishioners who conspired and petitioned against him, labeling Creech a resistant turncoat and ushering in his suspension and exhaustive jury trial. Eleven years in the making, the author’s valiant, first-person narrative examines the conundrum of religion vs. reason. Wounded by endless negative reactions yet buoyed by fellow activists, Creech concludes with a defection from his former Methodist alliance into an allinclusive San Francisco–based church where he continues to fight for equal rights. An inspirational example of unbiased humanitarianism. (17 black-and-white photos)

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THE PERFECT NAZI Uncovering My Grandfather’s Secret Past Davidson, Martin Putnam (384 PP.) $26.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-399-15701-1

BBC historian and filmmaker Davidson learns that his grandfather was a committed Nazi. The author grew up knowing that his German grandfather, Bruno Langbehn, had fought in World War II, but the family never spoke of the details. Hints dropped by the old man himself were enough to tantalize, but Davidson was afraid to probe further. Visits to the family’s Berlin home did little to shed light. But when Bruno died in 1992, the author began to look deeper, discovering that Bruno had been not just a Nazi, but a committed, career SS officer. The son of a Prussian soldier, Bruno experienced both the nationalist fervor and the crushing letdown of Germany’s experience in World War I. Postwar society left him disoriented and looking for answers, which he found in the paramilitary right-wing groups that proliferated in 1920s Berlin. The charisma of Hitler and the lure of violence drew him into the SA, the brutal storm troopers, where he thrived in group that took “Murderers” as its nickname. Davidson doesn’t blink at the ugly truth of Bruno’s actions. Instead, he continues to dig, drawing on the little documentary evidence of Bruno’s activities and contemporaneous accounts by other German youths who followed the same path. With Hitler’s rise to power, internal Nazi politics made the SA less central to the party—at which point Bruno, who had a comfortable career as a dentist, switched in 1937 to the SS, where he served in a division that spied on the regime’s internal opposition. He was largely responsible for expelling Jews from the dental profession in Berlin. As the war heated up, he was sent to battle, injured and then redeployed as an SS spy. At every step, he acted as a true believer in Hitler and the Nazi doctrine, a loyalty that probably saved his life when he was briefly suspected of being part of a plot against the Führer. At the end of the war, he barely escaped execution, making his way back to Berlin where he successfully evaded the Allied denazification efforts. Davidson shows it all in telling detail, making little attempt to hide his horror at Bruno’s true nature. A chilling exposé of a dark family secret. (16-page black-andwhite photo insert. Agent: Peter Robinson/Robinson Literary Agency)

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GLOBAL GIRLFRIENDS How One Mom Made It Her Business to Help Women in Poverty Worldwide Edgar, Stacey St. Martin’s (256 pp.) $24.99 | April 12, 2011 978-0-312-62173-5

The impressive story of how one socially conscious young American woman is changing the lives of poor women in third-world countries. Edgar, the founder of Global Girlfriend, a company that markets hand-crafted apparel, accessories and jewelry, started her venture in 2003 with a $2,000 tax refund. Using the Internet and her network of friends and relatives, she began with goods from women’s cooperatives and showed her fair-trade, ecofriendly, women-made products in living rooms and church basements and at street fairs. With great gusto, she tells how she grew the business with hard work, good connections and the generous help of her many talented girlfriends. To get the products she needed, the good-humored and seemingly tireless author journeyed to India, Nepal, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Uganda and Kenya, meeting with women, learning what they could do, what materials were available or could be obtained and teaching them how to maintain quality and create items that would sell in the American market. Edgar paints warm portraits of many of the remarkable women she met, but she also provides grim statistics—of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $1 per day, 70 percent are women—and some grim pictures of the extreme poverty of rural India and the monstrous sex trafficking of young girls in Nepal. The company that started small eventually became a multimillion-dollar enterprise selling its goods in stores across the United States and online and providing a livelihood to thousands of impoverished women around the globe. Edgar’s message is that one committed person can take actions that have a major impact on the lives of other individuals. To help others follow her lead, she concludes with a five-point summary of the lessons she has learned from her experience. An engaging read, upbeat and inspiring. (Agent: Laurie Abkemeier/DeFiore and Company)

CHASING APHRODITE The Hunt for Looted Antiquities at the World’s Richest Museum

Felch, Jason and Ralph Frammolino Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (384 pp.) $28.00 | May 24, 2011 978-0-15-101501-6 Intricate exposé of sordid acquisition practices at prestigious museums. Los Angeles Times reporters Felch and Frammolino covered long-simmering misdeeds at the J. Paul Getty 180

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Museum, receiving a 2006 Pulitzer nomination and fueling an international controversy. The governments of Greece and Italy have become increasingly aggrieved over the self-serving philosophies that have allowed institutions like the Getty to duck thorny issues of cultural patrimony regarding obviously looted precious objects: “As in a Greek tragedy, the Getty sowed the seeds of its own disgrace. For years it built an enviable collection of antiquities by turning a blind eye to their origins.” The authors document how, particularly in the 1970s and ’80s, imperious administrators bought rare antiquities freely from well-connected middlemen who presented questionable paper trails, and encouraged wealthy supporters to commit tax fraud through donations of lesser objects, while enjoying an institutional culture of sexual peccadilloes and personal perks. Yet, during the last 20 years, the tide of public and legal opinion gradually turned against the oldline museum philosophy of “optical due diligence,” as aggrieved archaeologists and source countries questioned such acquisitions as the titular statue, an enormous piece persistently rumored to have been looted from Italy in 1979. The central figure throughout the book is former Getty antiquities curator Marion True, whose story also carries the weight of classical tragedy. She rose from humble beginnings to a position of academic influence and personal wealth, in part by simply following the model of willful institutional blindness established by her predecessors regarding ethically suspect acquisitions. Even as True was alienating her peers by advocating new approaches with respect to source countries, Italian investigators were building a case against her that proved a few dealers had coordinated looting for decades, making clear the collusion of True and the wealthy donors she’d cultivated. The authors deftly control their complex narrative and large cast, only occasionally resorting to purple prose. An engrossing tale of greed and malfeasance within the uppermost strata of high culture. (8-page black-and-white insert. Agent: Jay Mandel/William Morris Endeavor)

THE CRIMEAN WAR A History

Figes, Orlando Metropolitan/Henry Holt (608 pp.) $35.00 | April 12, 2011 978-0-8050-7460-4 Quick: What was the Crimean War about? If you can’t easily answer the question, or even locate the Crimean War within a couple of decades of the mid19th century, then you are not alone. As Figes (History/Birkbeck Coll., Univ. of London; The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin’s Russia, 2007, etc.) notes, even in France, which lost some 100,000 soldiers in the conflict, the Crimean War is very nearly forgotten. The author locates the origins of the war—now remembered almost exclusively for the so-called Charge of the Light Brigade—in several proximate causes. The clash of three ambitious empires (Russian, Ottoman and British) was one; related to it was the growing Russian Orthodox presence in the Holy Land, and related to that the rivalry among Islam, Catholicism (and

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“Most of us in the First World don’t think about the source of our drinking water, for the simple reason that we have engi­neered our way around the problems of attainability that plagued our ancestors.” from the big thirst

Anglicanism) and Orthodox Christianity. The French “were most alarmed by the growing Russian presence in the Holy Lands,” writes Figes, and they pressed for ways to contain it—and not just that, but also the growing Russian influence in the Balkans, still dominated by the Ottomans. Louis Napoleon found perhaps unexpected allies in the British, rivals with Russia for dominance in Central Asia; for the Ottomans, meanwhile, the conflict was one in just many with Russia. The author ably chronicles the savagery of all parties—drawing on hitherto unknown Russian and Turkish archives, he reckons that the death count was more than 1 million, including the unfortunate dead of the besieged Russian city of Sevastopol—and illustrates the utter modernity of this first “total war.” Figes closes with a fascinating account of how the war shaped the nations that fought it; in Russia, for instance, it helped launch the later pan-Slavic movement and is commemorated as a noble defeat against Britain’s “aggressive imperialist aims in the Black Sea”—in short, as a foreshadowing of the Cold War and the “clash of civilizations” among Islam and the West. Narrative history at its best, with patient unfolding of events unknown and forgotten—but that have consequences even today. A thoroughly impressive book. (Two 8-page blackand-white inserts; 19 black-and-white photographs; 8 maps. Agent: Deborah Rogers/Rogers, Coleridge & White)

CRASHES, CRISES, AND CALAMITIES Using Science to Anticipate Disasters Fisher, Len Basic (256 pp.) $23.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-465-02102-4

Popular-science writer Fisher (The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life, 2009, etc.) examines the search for warning signals preceding disastrous events. The author enthusiastically probes into the method of detecting disasters, starting with the reading of heavenly events, through oracles and seers, and up to today’s computer models. First, he writes, it is worthwhile to get a handle on the nature of change, primarily through the agencies of positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback reinforces change and can amplify it as the reinforcement increases—i.e., an avalanche. Negative feedback dampens change as “a restoring mechanism that works to push a system back toward its original state”—i.e., righting the course of a careening vehicle. The flux of positive and negative is everywhere: action and reaction, deviation and correction, process and counter-process. After an enjoyable discussion of the laws of motion and elasticity, Fisher delves into the idea of prediction through models, “simplified pictures that capture the essence of a situation and let us see through the complexities.” Though models are prey to all manner of inadequacy and corruption—groupthink, selective data input, blind ignorance— well-tempered models have advanced the reading of weak signals broadcast before crises are unleashed. These include greaterthan-normal fluctuation and variance (seen in everything from |

coral reefs to the stock market), a critical slowing down and changes in spatial patterns and distribution. With the degree of complexity involved, writes the author, “[s]cience can’t make absolute predictions, no matter how much politicians and journalists demand it”—though these notes toward understanding are fascinating and testable. The future may seem murky, but Fisher deploys both theoretical precision and sane intuition to permit a little light around the edges.

THE BIG THIRST A Tour of the Bitter Fights, Breathtaking Beauty, Relentless Innovation, and Big Business Driving the New Era of High-Stakes Water Fishman, Charles Free Press (368 pp.) $26.99 | April 12, 2011 978-1-4391-0207-7

A wide-ranging look at that most precious of goods, water, and a world in which it is a subject of constant crisis. Most of us in the First World don’t think about the source of our drinking water, for the simple reason that we have engineered our way around the problems of attainability that plagued our ancestors. Indeed, writes Fast Company journalist Fishman (The Wal-Mart Effect: How the World’s Most Powerful Company Really Works—and How It’s Transforming the American Economy, 2006), “our very success with water has allowed us to become water illiterate.” That is not so elsewhere in the world. By the author’s reckoning, four in ten people on the planet don’t have easy access to water, and many of them have to walk in order to obtain it—a fact that comes with a host of problems, usually borne by women and girls, who do most of the water hauling at the expense of more rewarding work or attending school. What’s worse, the numbers of water-poor people aren’t declining. Traveling to India, Fishman observes that just about every household has a well-developed water-storage system not just because so much of the subcontinent is arid, but also because municipal governments in even the largest cities—Mumbai, Delhi—do not reliably deliver water to residents, at least beyond a couple of hours per day. Americans, the author argues, have gotten good at doing more with less water. He quotes statistics indicating that our absolute usage has fallen by 10 percent since 1980, even as our population has grown by 70 million people; he does not allow that this has something to do with the offshoring of so much of our thirsty agriculture. Even so, he observes, Americans are still thirsty—and even now trying to figure out ways to engineer around looming crises such as the disappearance of Lake Mead and the Colorado River. A timely warning about the dwindling global water supply. Drink up.

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“Many readers will wish they had a high-school English teacher as cheery and engaged as Foster, but that doesn’t make his choices feel any less outdated.” from twenty-five books that shaped america

TWENTY-FIVE BOOKS THAT SHAPED AMERICA How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity

Foster, Thomas C. Harper/HarperCollins (352 pp.) $14.99 paperback original | June 1, 2011 978-0-06-183440-0 A genial guide to American literature frovm the bestselling author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor (2003) and How to Read Novels Like a Professor (2008). Call this one How to Read the American Myth Like a Professor. For his 25 selections, Foster (English/Univ. of Michigan, Flint) gravitates toward texts that bolster the folksier conception of Americans: rough-hewn, individualistic, fun-loving but concerned about family, full of prejudices but generally assimilating. Those familiar themes are underscored by the familiar books included here: The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Leaves of Grass, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Augie March are sacred texts of freewheeling independence; Walden and My Antonia are praise songs to nature and the heartland; Go Down, Moses, On the Road and The Crying of Lot 49 showcase the wildness of American experimentalism. Foster doesn’t mean to simplify these texts: In the better essays, he reveals Melville’s complicated moral territory and the politics that pushed John Dos Passos’ epic U.S.A. trilogy out of favor. When the author dedicates himself to close reading, as he does in chapters on Faulkner and Robert Frost, he unlocks plenty of insights. But with roughly 10 pages devoted to each classic, Foster is forced to generalize about the importance of each, making for bromides and upbeat interpretations. For instance, when he says a key message of The Grapes of Wrath is that “people can be generous and supportive and decent and even civic-minded when the profit motive is absent,” he’s not wrong, but he’s softening a novel that throws hard elbows at the profit motive. Many readers will wish they had a high-school English teacher as cheery and engaged as Foster, but that doesn’t make his choices feel any less outdated. He includes The Last of the Mohicans even though he admits that it’s a slog, and the most recent book on the list, Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, was published more than 25 yeas ago. A too-polite American Lit 101 primer. (Author events in Michigan. Agent: Faith Hamlin/Sanford J. Greenburger Associates)

THE LAST MISSION OF THE WHAM BAM BOYS Courage, Tragedy, and Justice in World War II Freeman, Gregory A. Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $26.00 | May 24, 2011 978-0-230-10854-7

Re-creation of “the first warcrimes trial after World War II,” which exposed the deep grief and anger at the Allied bombing of Germany. Shot down on a bombing mission in their B-24 (called the Wham! Bam! Thank You Ma’am) on Aug. 26, 1944, eight American airmen were attacked by a mob of angry villagers of Rüsselsheim. Six died, and two miraculously escaped. Freeman (Troubled Water: Race, Mutiny, and Bravery on the USS Kitty Hawk, 2009, etc.) builds his chilling tale backward, from the moment the beaten men were stacked on a tumbrel headed for the town cemetery and Sgt. Sidney Eugene Brown watched surreptitiously as a villager finished each off with a blow by a two-by-four, to the final trial in Darmstadt in July 1945, led by prosecutor Lt. Col. Leon Jaworski (later famous as special prosecutor in the Watergate hearings). Jaworski had reviewed many files in postwar Germany and was convinced that “the Nazis had openly violated long-recognized rules of land warfare, as agreed to by the United States and Germany in the Hague Convention of 1907 as well as in the Geneva Convention of 1929.” Mistreatment of airmen shot down over Germany was not unusual, and German police were not obligated to help them. In Rüsselsheim, the guards accompanying the young men to a detention center abandoned them to the fury of the mob, incited by two sisters who sought vengeance for the firebombing of their houses. Jaworski believed this was a historymaking trial, setting the tone for Nuremberg, as most of the participants were sentenced to hanging; his statements are as moving as the quotes from participants are shocking (the reverend who watched from his parsonage replied to the question why he had not tried to stop the violence: “It was not my task”). A riveting narrative bolstered by frequent, helpful citations. (8-page black-and-white glossy photos)

TIMES TWO Two Women in Love, Their Side-by-Side Pregnancies, and the Happy Family They Made

Henderson, Kristen and Sarah Kate Ellis Free Press (224 pp.) $24.00 | April 5, 2011 978-1-4391-7640-5

An unexpected double pregnancy surprises and challenges a publishing executive and her rock-guitarist

girlfriend. The importance of starting a family became paramount for Ellis, vice president of marketing for Real Simple, and her girlfriend 182

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Henderson shortly after the New York couple met at a Manhattan lesbian bar in the mid ’90s and began a relationship after reuniting there years later. Ellis recalls growing up business-minded at a young age, eager and determined to leave her Staten Island roots. Once her career took off, however, she struggled with the constant cloaking of her sexuality. Henderson was drawn to music early and enjoyed forming girl bands in high school. She experienced a Lilith Fair performance in college and, together with all-girl rock band Antigone Rising, was signed by a major label in 2003. Both writers braved a series of unsound lesbian relationships before embarking on their own together. Soon committed to each other and carefully contemplating their future—Ellis in New York nurturing her publishing career, Henderson on the road with her band—talk of children surfaced as both yearned for a child. The authors describe their misadventures in ovulation cycles, sperm donors and the clinical insemination process, which was decidedly unromantic and highly stressful as false positives and a heartbreaking miscarriage crushed their hopes. With determination and the aid of medical science, both conceived simultaneously. After the births, they faced complex legalities regarding adoption and religion. Ellis warns: “When you’re a gay woman contemplating motherhood, you will be affected by politics—whether you like it or not.” Undaunted, Ellis and Henderson remain bright, engaging narrators, each evoking separate histories and private sentiments in alternating chapters that differentiate and complement each other. The book is dedicated to their children Thomas and Kate, “our perfect storm.” A spirited portrait of an unconventional family. (8-page color photo insert)

AN ARMY OF PHANTOMS American Movies and the Making of the Cold War Hoberman, J. New Press (400 pp.) $27.95 | April 1, 2011 978-1-59558-005-4

Sharp analysis of postwar-era Hollywood by a leading film critic and

historian. Longtime Village Voice movie critic Hoberman (Cinema History/Cooper Union; Bridge of Light: Yiddish Film between Two Worlds, 2010, etc.) published the second part of his projected Cold War trilogy The Dream Life: Movies, Media, and the Mythology of the Sixties in 2003; here he covers the politically tumultuous and often dangerous period that preceded it, from the end of World War II in 1945 through Eisenhower’s first term, ending in 1956. It was an era when some of the canon’s greatest movies appeared (High Noon, On the Waterfront, The Searchers) alongside some of the schlockiest kitsch (My Son John, The Next Voice You Hear, The Prodigal). Hoberman, whose historical narrative is as richly detailed as his movie lore, masterfully shows how Washington’s anti-communist crusaders influenced the culture-makers in Hollywood in the projects they chose to develop. Both sides of the divide were especially |

motivated by paranoia, of communism on the right and on the left and of Senator McCarthy and HUAC. Paranoia inspired some of the most interesting, multilayered films, including several of the aforementioned, as well as Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Elia Kazan’s Panic in the Streets and Samuel Fuller’s Pickup on South Street. Quoting period memoirs, FBI files, HUAC hearing transcripts and movie reviews from the mainstream and communist press, Hoberman argues that many of the themes of these movies—fear of alien invasion and the rescue of captives, to name two of the most pungent examples—were already deeply ingrained in the American national consciousness from its earliest days and continue to resonate today. The author’s engaging prose will provoke many an urge to revisit the familiar and forgotten gems of a film era that was less placid than it pretended to be. Urbane, witty cultural history.

TO END ALL WARS A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914–1918

Hochschild, Adam Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (464 pp.) $28.00 | May 3, 2011 978-0-618-75828-9 From historian Hochschild (Bury the Chains: The First International Human Rights Movement, 2005, etc.), a selective history of the slaughter of innocents in World War I. WWI effected the rupture of civilization on many levels—the efficacy of war machinery for mass murder, the collapse of colonial empires, the destabilization of the status quo by modern ideas such as socialism, women’s suffrage and national self-determination— and the author skillfully harnesses these numerous and often contradictory currents. Hochschild focuses on Britain and many of the significant, prominent or otherwise typical protagonists whose lives and work underscored the cataclysmic changes in this era, from loyal aristocrats to pacifists and conscientious objectors. Among dozens of others, the characters include military leaders Douglas Haig and Alfred Milner, who led the war effort against the later aggressions of Germany and Austria-Hungary; Charlotte Despard, whose work with the Battersea poor prompted her to become a committed socialist and pacifist; and Rudyard Kipling, whose writing cast a nostalgic enchantment around the British empire. Hochschild plunges into the war year by year, 1914–18, when Britain swung from a country eager to fight the Germans, despite labor unrest, Irish agitation for home rule and antiwar demonstrations, to utterly stricken and bereft, with unbelievable numbers of young men cut down in the trenches. Britain had “declared that the very fundamentals of civilization were at stake,” yet the war wrought unfathomable carnage and profound questions about its purpose. The lives of the author’s many characters dovetail elegantly in this moving, accessible book. An ambitious narrative that presents a teeming worldview through intimate, human portraits. (Black-and-white photo inserts, maps. Author tour to New York, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles. Agent: George Borchardt/George Borchardt Inc.)

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“An inspired collective biography of the three American generals—and friends—who conquered the Nazis.” from brothers, rivals, victors

BROTHERS, RIVALS, VICTORS Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley, and the Partnership that Drove the Allied Conquest in Europe Jordan, Jonathan W. NAL Caliber/Berkley (672 pp.) $28.95 | April 5, 2011 978-0-451-23212-0

An inspired collective biography of the three American generals—and friends—who conquered the Nazis. Born too late to be involved in World War I, these three soldiers—Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and Omar Bradley—all graduates of West Point, were plunged into the quagmire of World War II by their 50s, and they took up the challenge with relish. When Gen. George C. Marshall was named the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff in 1939, he maneuvered the three talented career officers to plum positions, though it was Eisenhower’s appointment as Commanding General, European Theater of Operations, in 1942, that would determine the fates of the other two. Eisenhower was the master planner, while his longtime friend Patton, a cocky patrician with a penchant for tanks and profanity, proved his striker—the Stonewall Jackson to his Robert E. Lee, as Patton had joked. Gen. Bradley, the tall, quiet Missourian, an instructor of math and tactics, was the last to be called overseas, sent to work with Patton in North Africa; he would eventually take over Patton’s II Corps to brilliant effect. Patton, meanwhile, begrudged Eisenhower’s insistence on moving in tandem with the Allies, and suspected he was pro-British, while Eisenhower and Bradley were frequently enraged by Patton’s blustery, precipitous style, especially during the conquest of Sicily. A master assault general, however, Patton was Eisenhower’s heavy hitter in the Operation Overlord amphibious invasion of 1944. Ably marshalling a considerable amount of research, Jordan (Lone Star Navy: Texas, the Fight for the Gulf of Mexico, and the Shaping of the American West, 2005, etc.) fashions a truly compelling narrative of three outsized American military figures. A masterly, exciting study of character and tactics in World War II.

HOUSE OF EXILE The Lives and Times of Heinrich Mann and Nelly Kroeger-Mann Juers, Evelyn Farrar, Straus and Giroux (400 pp.) $28.00 | May 17, 2011 978-0-374-17316-6

An impressionistic collective biography of literary Europe in the 1930s and ’40s, focusing on the circle that gathered around brothers Heinrich and Thomas Mann. HEAT magazine co-publisher Juers takes suicide and exile as her organizing themes. The narrative begins in southern 184

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California in the summer of 1944, where the Mann families had fled to escape Nazi persecution. Nelly Kroeger, Heinrich’s longtime partner, had just killed herself with a drug overdose. Juers’ narrative voice shifts lightly between conventional biography and interior monologue as Heinrich recollects his artistic German childhood and, especially, his flamboyant younger sister Carla, a dramatic actress who used cyanide to stage her own theatrical exit from a failed love affair in 1910. Heinrich took up with a series of actresses before beginning, in 1929, his liaison with Nelly, a young woman profoundly scarred by the death of her illegitimate child in Berlin. That autumn, Thomas Mann won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and the Woolfs, Sackville-Wests and Bells—key figures of England’s Bloomsbury Circle—arrived in Germany. Nelly, always at the margins of the Manns’ literary world, wrote a brilliant autobiographical novel, which Heinrich burned before explaining to her that he intended to rewrite it himself. With Hitler’s rise to power, the Mann families abandoned Germany for exile, first in southern France and later in Los Angeles. As a portrait of one of the most compelling eras in European cultural and literary history, the book is richly textured, but the self-reflective and occasionally sentimental narrative voice makes the somber subject matter occasionally maudlin. Readers in search of anything inspiring or redeeming in what was, in the grand scope of things, the Manns’ rather privileged escape from Nazism will be disappointed. As a fresh piece of the historical record, however, the book is a welcome contribution to World War II studies. An intimate account of how Europe’s literary elite survived the era of fascism in exile.

REAL COMMON SENSE Using Our Founding Values to Reclaim Our Nation and Stop Palin, Beck, and the Tea Party Leaders from Hijacking America Kahn, Brian Seven Stories (224 pp.) $19.95 | April 1, 2011 978-1-60980-126-7

A well-intended, well-written effort to reclaim Thomas Paine from

today’s Tea Party. Readers familiar with Paul Collins’ The Trouble with Tom (2005) or, for that matter, with basic U.S. history will know that Paine was a revolutionary firebrand of the kind Glenn Beck would like to be. He was not, however, a right-winger. Moreover, asserts Montana journalist and activist Kahn, Paine was a champion of the rights of the people in the plural. “If Tom Paine were alive today,” he writes, “Glenn Beck would label him a radical socialist or revolutionary Marxist.” Conversely, he adds, Paine “would call Beck what he is: a deceitful demagogue and twenty-first–century disciple of exactly what the Founders fought against.” Kahn conjures a vision of an American polity, a society of friends and neighbors, that is in sharp contrast to the Hobbesian visions of Ayn Rand and her descendants. The approach is a

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touch scattershot at points, for the author attempts to argue for many things at once—the need to protect children from advertising, support public broadcasting, preserve public lands against corporate land grabs, and so forth. Still, his idea of society comes first, and though it is not necessarily socialist, Kahn mounts a preemptive defense against that charge. Elsewhere, he enlists the support of other thinkers to refute the grabby pretenses of the radical Right—including Mike Mansfield, the contrarian senator who is too little evoked today. But the author does most of his own heavy lifting, serving up a modern rejoinder to Paine’s famed pamphlet Common Sense. Paine would be proud, even if Kahn’s small book likely reaches few readers beyond the already converted. (First printing of 15,000. Author tour to New York, Boston, Providence, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, Helena, Mt.)

NO BREAD FOR MANDELA Memoirs of Ahmed Kathrada, Prisoner No. 468/64

Kathrada, Ahmed Univ. Press of Kentucky (448 pp.) $19.95 paperback original | April 15, 2011 978-0-8131-3375-1 Anti-apartheid political prisoner Kathrada examines his actions and the aftermath that resulted in 30 years of imprisonment. The author offers a unique behind-the-scenes view of South Africa’s apartheid struggles. After being misidentified as an antigovernment militant, Kathrada was imprisoned alongside the country’s future leaders, including future president Nelson Mandela. In Mandela’s introduction, he notes his and Kathrada’s interconnected stories, how “the telling of one without the voice of the other being heard somewhere would have led to an incomplete narrative.” While Mandela’s political success has allowed his name to become far more recognizable throughout the world, Kathrada’s literary contribution reveals a much-needed layer of history of both men’s experiences. The author gives the reader a glimpse behind the prison door, but also offers a historical perspective of the fierceness of the South African race problem. In one memorable scene, Kathrada described placing an inebriated political enemy in a compromising situation involving a prostitute. However, once the pictures were snapped and the evidence gathered, he brought them to Mandela who, rather than encouraging their publication, helped Kathrada weigh the moral cost of destroying a man’s career simply for disagreeing with his politics. After much reflection, Kathrada destroyed the incriminating photos, sparing the man his much-deserved shame while revealing an instance of rare civility when none was ever offered to him. An intimate, welcome first-person account of a portion of South African history that remains foggy to many American readers. (Author appearances in Boston, Lexington, Ky., Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles)

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15 MINUTES General Curtis LeMay and the Countdown to Nuclear Annihilation Keeney, L. Douglas St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $26.00 | February 1, 2011 978-0-312-61156-9

A history of United States nuclear warfare based heavily on declassified documents. Military Channel cofounder Keeney (Gun Camera Pacific, 2004, etc.) explains the evolution of U.S. mass-destruction weaponry from 1945 through 1968. The primary perspective is that of the Strategic Air Command, the high-powered organization developed by Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay. The author focuses on the first two possessors of nuclear weapons: the United States and the Soviet Union. In that sense, the book is also a history of the Cold War as defined by two superpower nations. U.S. presidents and military officials said they would never initiate the use of nuclear weapons, but rather wanted a strong retaliatory force to wipe out the Soviet Union in response to an attack. The nofirst-strike claim might have sounded hollow, considering the United States had become the first, and only, nation to drop nuclear weapons on another country—Japan in 1945. Still, LeMay, as well as presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, apparently believed the rhetoric, and thus built up U.S. defense accordingly, at the cost of billions of dollars, tragic accidents and lost lives. With a cast of hundreds, the narrative becomes a dizzying welter of human names, agency names, geographic names and weaponry names. Keeney organizes the chapters by year, but within each chapter jumps around among various “episodic vignettes.” Most of the vignettes are clearly composed, but their arrangement is occasionally random. The author’s information-gathering skills, especially his unearthing and decoding of previously classified documents, make the book worthwhile despite the difficulty following the interconnected sagas. (16-page black-and-white photo insert. Agent: Doug Grad/Doug Grad Literary Agency)

KING’S CROSS The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus Keller, Timothy Dutton (256 pp.) $25.95 | February 22, 2011 978-0-525-95210-7

Exploring the life of Jesus through the Gospel of Mark. Preacher and author Keller (Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, 2010, etc.) provides a fresh biography of Jesus from an evangelical standpoint. Focusing on Mark, the earliest, shortest and most direct of the four gospels, the author paints a picture of a savior who was sure of his own identity and fate while most of those

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around him were not. Keller locates various themes from Mark’s narrative and discusses each in turn, grouped under two major headings: “The King,” regarding Jesus’ identity, and “The Cross,” regarding his purpose. In discussing the identity of Jesus, the author describes him as a man both deeply imbedded within his culture and times while also living counter to them in many ways. Jesus never doubted his identity or his ability and indeed made it clear from the beginning that he was not merely the messiah, but something more than what his culture had expected in the messiah—he was God’s son. Of course, writes Keller, few understood the magnitude of his identity and his message. Moving on to Jesus’ ultimate purpose—or from a broader standpoint, the purpose of his incarnation—the author describes a man aware of his upcoming sacrifice, and indeed, a man in continual sacrifice, as he had descended from heaven to live on earth. This sacrifice is the true model for human love: “All real, life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice.” Keller’s work is more than a description of Jesus; it is also peppered with pastoral advice. His goal is for the reader to better understand Jesus in order to better imitate his life. Unlike the many academic and sensational biographies of Jesus in recent years, this one takes faith in Jesus largely for granted. The narrative is well-researched, with numerous references to authors as diverse as C.S. Lewis and Franz Kafka, but Keller does not attempt to prove Jesus’ divinity or find the “historical Jesus.” Captivating reading from a Christian perspective.

MALLED My Unintentional Career in Retail Kelly, Caitlin Portfolio $25.95 | April 14, 2011 978-1-59184-380-1

A frank look into the world of low-paying retail work. Following her unexpected dismissal from the New York Daily News, Kelly pursued freelancing writing. Though she wrote for numerous national publications, one year of chasing paychecks and working alone was enough—she wanted something “simple and steady.” When a branch of The North Face opened in a mall near her home, the author signed on as a part-time sales associate. Initially, Kelly enjoyed her work, easily connecting with customers, and she regularly exceeded her sales goals. For a time, “being needed, being relied upon, even for simple tasks at low wage, was a balm to my soul.” Eventually, however, the relentless corporate demands, spoiled and wealthy customers, chaotic working conditions and low wages diminished Kelly’s intellectual and creative zest. Though data reveals that 50 percent of those hired for retail positions are gone within 90 days, the author stayed at The North Face for more than two years. In parsing her work experiences, Kelly often arrives at blunt and depressing insights about her working conditions. She weaves in disconcerting stories and facts collected from retail workers outside her store, widening her narrative lens. Kelly deftly pulls back the cleverly constructed 186

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curtain between the shiny, corporate image presented to mall shoppers and the degrading work environment inhabited by the individuals toiling behind the counter. “Working as a retail associate,” she writes, “means being reminded daily that you’re merely one tiny cog in an enormous global machine, from the workers six time zones away stitching apparel to the equally invisible, distant CEO collecting millions. You’re completely disposable.” Despite occasional repetition, a startling story of one reporter’s extended peek into a brutish new world order.

THE FORGOTTEN FOUNDING FATHER Noah Webster’s Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture Kendall, Joshua Putnam (368 pp.) $26.95 | April 14, 2011 978-0-399-15699-1

Freelance journalist Kendall (The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus, 2008) tells the story of the remarkable Noah Webster (1758–1843)—lexicographer, political theorist, journalist, co-founder of Amherst College, polymath. The author notes that many Americans confuse Webster with his more famous distant cousin Daniel. But Kendall’s biography may change that. Born on a farm in Hartford, Conn., Webster attended school only a few months a year but entered Yale in 1774, where he befriended poet Joel Barlow (with whom he fell out, over religion, many decades later). Webster became the friend and acquaintance of many of the luminaries of the American Revolution, George Washington among them, but he struggled to find a career. He tried teaching and the law, struggling in both. However, he wrote fiery pamphlets and newspaper essays and then published his famous spelling book that, off and on, enriched him, frustrated him and propelled him into celebrity. It also occasioned the genesis of the spelling bee. Kendall argues that Webster invented the author tour, a contention that is hard to deny—he traveled all over the country promoting his writing, making deals, pressing flesh, smiling and schmoozing. He was also an early abolitionist. He first found career stability in journalism, editing the Federalist newspaper American Minerva. Just before the turn of the century, he found another love: lexicography. Kendall writes that Webster had a most orderly mind, which sought to categorize and record everything. Though his was not the first American dictionary, it was by far the most thorough and influential. The American Dictionary appeared in 1828, was a quick success and lives on as Merriam-Webster’s (the Merriam family joined the enterprise in 1843). A gracefully told story that commands attention and confers on Webster deserved honor too long deferred. (Agent: Lane Zachary/The Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency)

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“Konrad’s gavel comes down on corporate irresponsibility, and the consequences of the poor, indeed criminal, decision making is palpably, gruesomely expressed as the author screws down his focus to the last few days of the Horizon.” from fire on the horizon

56 Joe DiMaggio and the Last Magic Number in Sports Kennedy, Kostya Sports Illustrated Books (368 pp.) $26.95 | March 8, 2011 978-1-60320-177-3

Sports Illustrated senior editor Kennedy follows the days of Joe DiMaggio’s immortal hitting streak, evoking the mood of a long-gone America to which DiMaggio was a central figure. “Baseball’s most resonant numbers keep falling,” he writes. “But Joe DiMaggio’s is still there: 56 consecutive games with a hit.” The streak began on May 15, 1941, and ended 57 games later when DiMaggio went hitless in Cleveland. A “biting strangeness” seemed to envelop America during these spring and summer months, as the country inched ever closer to war, and young men, including professional baseball players, entered the military in increasing numbers via the draft. As the streak unwound, DiMaggio offered not only escape from harsh reality but certainty in uncertain times. However, it was not easy being Italian in America at the time, and more than a few newspapers referred to DiMaggio as “the Wallopin’ Wop.” Always a hero to kids in Queens, once the streak seemed to stretch on forever, DiMaggio truly became “America’s Joe,” gaining uncommon celebrity and adulation. Kennedy creates a dynamic portrait of the young star as he tried to keep the streak alive. Elegant both on and off the field, DiMaggio remained somehow distanced and detached, and the author draws precise character sketches of those closest to him at that time: his wife Dorothy, pregnant with their first child, and his brother, and Red Sox rival, Dom. Kennedy also brings to life such characters as diminutive rookie Phil Rizzuto and DiMaggio’s closest friend, Lefty Gomez. DiMaggio emerges in these pages as a flawed hero, but a hero nonetheless. How unique was the streak? “Through the end of the 2010 season,” writes the author, “17,290 players were known to have appeared in the major leagues. Only one of them had ever hit in 56 straight games.” A fine baseball book and an expert social history.

FIRE ON THE HORIZON The Untold Story of the Gulf Oil Disaster

Konrad, John and Tom Shroder Harper/HarperCollins (256 pp.) $27.99 | Lg. Prt.: $27.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-06-206300-7 Lg. Prt. 978-0-06-206654-1 With the assistance of former Washington Post contributor Shroder (Old Souls: The Scientific Evidence For Past Lives, 1999), veteran oil-rig captain Konrad guides readers through the culture and daily life of offshore drilling on the Deepwater Horizon. |

Konrad worked seven years for Transocean, the owner of Horizon, which exploded into flames in April 2010, taking 11 lives and leaking more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. He comes at the story from the perspective of the people who do the work to get the oil. In so doing, he provides a complementary angle on the event to Carl Safina’s A Sea in Flames (2011), with its emphasis on corporate malfeasance and the blowout’s social and environmental impacts. First, Konrad introduces the Horizon, which, even in its outdated state, was an awesome construction, a floating drilling platform the size of an office park, with computer-controlled dynamic positioning that could keep it over a 20-square-foot target a mile under the surface of the ocean. Konrad writes of the rig with easy familiarity, while comfortably populating it with its maritime and drilling crews and warmly conveying the camaraderie that suffused the platform. Though the author comes from a maritime background, he turns the drilling process into a fine choreography, offering an effective critique of the corporate edicts that jeopardized the safety of the rig’s people and the integrity of the exploratory well. The corporate atmosphere was complex, however—one moment finds Transocean working hard to avoid common-hazard injuries, then cutting back on crew just when the aging rig needed them most for preventative maintenance. Konrad’s gavel comes down on corporate irresponsibility, and the consequences of the poor, indeed criminal, decision making is palpably, gruesomely expressed as the author screws down his focus to the last few days of the Horizon, concentrating on a few individuals in an absorbing re-creation of the disaster’s brewing, mayhem and horror. A lucid investigation into the fatally risky business that caused the blowout, which, by putting human faces on many players, amplifies the ache. (Author appearances in New Orleans, New York, Sarasota/Coral Gables, Washington, D.C. Agent: Gail Ross/ Gail Ross Literary Agency)

CAMPY The Two Lives of Roy Campanella

Lanctot, Neil Simon & Schuster (560 pp.) $28.00 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4165-4704-4 The author of Negro League Baseball (2004) returns with a thorough, generous biography of a Negro League star, catcher Roy “Campy” Campanella (1921–1993), who joined the Dodgers shortly after Jackie Robinson. For many pages, Lanctot offers few negative words about Campanella. The son of a blue-collar white man and an AfricanAmerican woman, he grew up when Jim Crow still reigned in the South and conditions in the North were only marginally better. As a child, he quickly fell in love with baseball, a sport his athletic gifts fitted perfectly. He had feline reactions and could run, throw, hit for power and average and handle pitchers well. But as the author ably illustrates, stardom came after long tuition. Although his gifts were so prodigious that he was playing professionally at age 15, he worked ferociously hard and played whenever

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h s u s a n ja c o b y Never say die: The Myth and Marketing of the New Old Age

Susan Jacoby $26.95 Pantheon Feb. 1, 2011 978-0307377944

Susan Jacoby is known for her bestselling books that question comfortable american assumptions about politics and life. Her latest book, Never Say Die, takes a hard look at popular myths surrounding growing old in the united states. Q: Was there a moment, or an accumulation of events, that prompted you to tackle this book? A: There wasn’t a single “aha” moment. Throughout my late 50s and early 60s—i recently turned 65—I’ve witnessed the struggles of older friends and relatives, including my mother, as they move through what demographers call “old old” age. This is the group over 85, and it’s the fastest-growing segment of the over-65 population. In the baby-boom generation, millions more will live into their 80s and 90s than in their parents’ generation. And what I’ve seen is that the reality of life in the 80s and 90s is a battle that bears little resemblance to the cheery portraits of 90-year-old skydivers, of sexy great-grannies, of indefatigable world travelers, presented by the media. I grew up with the boomer ethic, which is very much based on the belief that you can control your own life and transform yourself endlessly, if you only “live right.” Eat the right foods, do the right exercises, attend to your spirituality and, presto, 90 becomes the new 50—the premise of a panel discussion at the world science festival a few years ago. This was the closest thing to an “aha” moment I experienced, because the room was packed with, roughly, 40-to-70-year-olds, and the atmosphere was very much like that of a religious revival meeting. A century ago, these people would have been consulting faith healers. Q: What were people’s reactions when you told them you were working on this manuscript?

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Q: How do you hope that your book will help provide support for those who are growing old and encourage them to age with dignity? A: First, I hope that my book will encourage people to stop using euphemisms like aging when they really mean growing old. Old. It’s an honorable word and a precise description. We are all aging— 20-year-olds are aging—but we are not all old. This is not a self-help book, unlike most books written about aging in the last 20 years. It is, rather, a reflection combining personal experience with american intellectual and social history that attempts to separate what can be controlled, at least to some extent, from what cannot be controlled even by our best-intentioned efforts. We’re constantly subjected to a flood of advice about staying young through exercise, proper diet, intellectual stimulation, keeping up with the latest technology. Now these things are good because they make our lives better right now, whatever age we are—but they’re not going to stop us from getting old or from dying. One of the most important points I make in this book is that we don’t need to take an unrealistically cheerful, optimistic view of old age for our old age to be meaningful and satisfying. A concept I truly detest is the “wisdom of old age,” which implies that people acquire some superior insight into the meaning of life simply by living a very long time. We do not need to idealize old age and indulge in fantasies about remaining “forever young” to see ourselves and be seen by others as valuable human beings. — Jessie Grearson

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P hoto c ou rt e sy of s us a n jac oby

A: Reactions varied enormously by age. Those in their 80s and 90s, including my mother and her friends, were eager to talk in an uncensored way about how difficult old age really was. Talking to me released them, for a time, from the cultural injunction to always project a positive attitude—as if that alone could hold back time. This is an injunction for everyone in our society, but on no group does it descend with more force than the old. Boomers in their 50s—many of them dealing as I am with the needs of their parents—were interested when I would tell them about this book but also uneasy. One colleague in her 40s asked how old I was, and when I told her i’d just turned 65, she replied in a horrified tone, “surely you don’t consider that old.” In fact, I don’t think of myself as old, but i’m surely not middle-aged. How many

130-year-old people have you met walking around lately?


and wherever he could. On the road in the Negro League (and even later), he suffered enormous indignities—denied service in restaurants, hotels and other businesses—but somehow retained an ebullience that Lanctot highlights throughout. His teammates, black and white, liked and admired him—though the author focuses on Campy’s deteriorating relationship with Jackie Robinson, a tension Lanctot attributes to differences in education (Robinson attended college) and in impatience with the pace of the civil-rights movement (Campy took a long time to become more assertive politically). Competition was also a major factor, since both men enjoyed celebrity and adulation. Lanctot, pricking any balloons of legend floating over Campy, continually mentions cases of inconsistency between the legends and the historical record. Painful reading, indeed, are the many pages Lanctot devotes to Campy’s car accident (it left him a quadriplegic) and the arduous, stressful, depressing aftermath. A bit tendentious early on, but a sharper critical lens makes the final sections memorable and wrenching. (Agent: Heather Schroder/ICM)

WHAT THERE IS TO SAY WE HAVE SAID The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell Marrs, Suzanne Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (480 pp.) $35.00 | May 12, 2011 978-0-547-37649-3

Warm, chatty letters over six decades between a short-story master and her New Yorker editor. When they met in 1942, Eudora Welty (1909–2001) had yet to appear in the New Yorker, though William Maxwell (1908– 2000) was already an ardent admirer. It took him another nine years to persuade founder Harold Ross, who found Welty’s work suspiciously “arty,” to publish “The Bride of Innisfallen.” The correspondence kicks into high gear with an exchange of letters over that story’s galley proofs, revealing Maxwell as a sensitive and respectful editor. Their friendship was by then firmly established and embraced Maxwell’s wife Emmy; editor Marrs (English/Millsaps Coll; Eudora Welty, 2005, etc.) includes a few of her letters as well. Welty and Maxwell share the pangs of creation— both were painstaking writers who often took a long time to gestate short works—as well as tips about gardening and updates on their families. The Maxwells met Welty’s mother and beloved nieces several times; Welty adored the couple’s two daughters, whom she saw on her frequent stopovers in New York. The writers exult together as honors are showered on both in later years: Welty garnered a Pulitzer prize for The Optimist’s Daughter, and Maxwell’s novella So Long, See You Tomorrow in 1980 won the Howells Medal, which Welty had received 25 years earlier for a novella dedicated to the Maxwells (The Ponder Heart). Even as old age, ailments and the deaths of friends and relatives assail them, the tone of their letters is almost always positive and supportive. Indeed, both writers were such thoroughly nice people that |

readers may occasionally wish for a bit of mean-spirited gossip of the sort that enlivens Virginia Woolf’s correspondence. Still, it’s inspiring to see a literary friendship apparently untainted by competitiveness or jealousy, though the sameness of tone makes this better for browsing than a cover-to-cover read. Thoroughly annotated and judiciously selected—a vivid snapshot of 20th-century intellectual life and an informative glimpse of the author-editor relationship, as well a tender portrait of devoted friendship.

THE FEAR WITHIN Spies, Commies, and American Democracy on Trial Martelle, Scott Rutgers Univ. (320 pp.) $26.95 | May 1, 2011 978-0-8135-4938-5

An evenhanded revisiting of the trial of the U.S. Communist Party leaders that tested the pernicious efficacy

of the Smith Act. Journalist Martelle (Blood Passion: The Ludlow Massacre and Class War in the American West, 2007) focuses on Dennis v. the United States of America, which had dramatic and disturbing ramifications to First Amendment rights to this day—e.g., the Patriot Act, which the author mentions but does not dwell on. In August 1945, Soviet spy turned FBI informer Elizabeth Bentley spilled incriminating evidence about leaders of the U.S. Communist Party, and the two-count indictment was handed down, charging 12 men with violating the Smith Act because they “unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly did conspire with each other” by their society and meetings to “teach and advocate the overthrow and destruction of the Government of the United States by force and violence.” Among the men were New York City Councilman Benjamin Davis, Jr., Daily Worker editor John Gates, decorated war hero Robert Thompson, top party leader William Z. Foster and general secretary Eugene Dennis. The nine-month Foley Square trial became a cause célèbre, not only for the antiCommunist crusaders, including Harry Truman, who was up for reelection, but for defenders of the First Amendment and radical activists who believed fiercely that the men were innocent and being framed for their beliefs. Their defense should have been an opportunity to defend their political views and present an education in Marxism and Leninism, as Dennis did vociferously during the trial, representing himself. Instead, Judge Harold R. Medina threw the book at them, and at their attorneys, who received jail time and disbarment. Not until the Warren Court of the ’50s did the “roundups” cease. Martelle treads carefully through the evidence, keeping a close harness on his own sympathies for the defendants.

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“In his stand-up performances, Martin presents himself as the cheerier cousin of comedians like Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg, experts at simple, observational gags. His debut book is larded with plenty of that brand of Twitter-ready humor...” from this is a book

THIS IS A BOOK

Martin, Demetri Grand Central Publishing (320 pp.) $24.99 | April 25, 2011 978-0-446-53970-8 A grab-bag of one-liners, stories and cartoons from the hipster-favorite comic. In his stand-up performances, Martin presents himself as the cheerier cousin of comedians like Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg, experts at simple, observational gags. His debut book is larded with plenty of that brand of Twitter-ready humor—e.g., “You never forget your first kiss. And that’s what makes it so hard to forgive my uncle”; “Tell me again how a silver lining helps me?”; “100% of people who give 110% do not understand math.” But Martin shines in the longer comic pieces. “Dad” is narrated by the grumpy child of a man who was raised by wolves. In a deleted scene from A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future Perfect, leading to an entertaining riff on grammatical tenses. “Socrates’s Publicist” imagines the deadly consequences of the Greek philosopher acquiring a chirpy PR rep eager to brand him and bring his “question thing” to a wider audience. The best, and longest, piece, which imagines a relationship in the afterlife, is so rich with ironic twists it would be at home in one of Woody Allen’s classic books. Martin occasionally tries too hard—one piece makes too much of the phrase “green with envy” —but mostly he displays an enthusiasm for finding literate jokes wherever he can find them, from describing a person’s schedule entirely in abbreviations to providing clues for a crossword puzzle in which the grid entirely filled with the letter A. Less successful are the dozens of simple doodles that stuff the book. When they’re presented onstage by his deliberately stiff, AV-club–alumnus persona, the cartoons can be endearing. On the page, however, they mostly read like rejected Far Side panels. Not every joke works, but Martin has energy to burn when it comes to mining linguistic absurdities for laughs.

DOG DAYS, RAVEN NIGHTS

Marzluff, John M. and Colleen Marzluff Illustrator: Zerbetz, Evon Yale Univ. (352 pp.) $28.00 | March 29, 2011 978-0-300-16711-5 In 1988, John Marzluff (Wildlife Science/Univ. of Washington; In the Company of Crows and Ravens, 2005, etc.) and his wife Colleen set out into the Maine wilderness, where they studied the social behavior of ravens and became part of a community of local people upon whom they depended for support, companionship and fun. With job opportunities for post-docs difficult to find, the authors jumped at the chance to study how ravens communicated 190

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in the wild. At the invitation of well-regarded ecologist Bern Heinrich, the couple moved from the desert ecology of Arizona to a small cabin in rural Maine, bringing only a few possessions and their dogs with them. Heinrich, born and raised in the area, taught at the University of Vermont. His specialty until then had been the social behavior of bees, but he became fascinated by the behavior of ravens when they encountered food. He wondered if their loud calls could be compared with the way that bees intentionally communicate in similar circumstances. Not only did Heinrich guide the Marzluffs’ research—and provide the site on which they built a large aviary to house the captive birds they trapped and studied—but he introduced them to his circle of lifelong friends in the area, who adopted the young couple and helped them get established. Though authors faced major adjustments—lack of amenities, a three-year budget of only $50,000, the demanding physical environment of Maine—three years later, not only had they thrived on the challenge, but their dog family grew to five and Colleen had become an expert at raising and training sled dogs. An enjoyable chronicle of life in the wilds of Maine.

PAPER DOLLHOUSE A Memoir

Masterson, Lisa M. Skirt! Books/Globe Pequot (256 pp.) $24.95 | April 1, 2011 978-1-59921-998-1 Moving debut memoir from obstetrician Masterson, who co-hosts the Emmy Award–winning TV show The Doctors. With her 3-year-old daughter in tow and little money in her pocket, the author’s mother moved from Haynesville, La., to Seattle to pursue a job teaching English at the University of Washington. Masterson’s mother and grandmother were university-educated teachers, but in 1970s Louisiana, the lives of black people were still heavily circumscribed. Despite scrimping and saving and advancement up the career ladder in a succession of government jobs, her mother could not afford her daughter’s tuition without the help of a series of men who supplied the extras. “I knew her humanity, good, bad, and ugly,” the author writes. “She was my hero, but I knew her as a real person, perfect in her imperfection.” Driven to make her mother proud, Masterson thrived in elementary and secondary school, always at the top of her class, but when she left home to attend college, her life threatened to spiral out of control as she experimented with sex and alcohol. Pulling herself together, she decided to pursue a career in medicine. Her mother died of cancer when the author was 28, but her unconditional love and belief in her daughter continues to inspire her with unwavering confidence. An inspiring account of challenges faced and overcome, not only as a child but as a physician, mother, TV celebrity and the guiding spirit behind the Maternal Fetal Care International foundation, which she founded. (Black-and-white photos throughout)

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EISENHOWER 1956 The President’s Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War

SHADOWS BRIGHT AS GLASS The Remarkable Story of One Man’s Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph

Nichols, David A. Simon & Schuster (336 pp.) $28.00 | March 22, 2011 978-1-4391-3933-2

Eisenhower historian Nichols (A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution, 2007, etc.) provides a richly contextual reappraisal of a telling year in the presidency. The year 1956 could have been potentially calamitous for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Months after a debilitating heart attack, he underwent emergency intestinal surgery, yet nonetheless decided to tackle the rigors of reelection campaigning. Meanwhile, Egypt and Israel were preparing to ignite a conflagration in the Sinai just as President Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, and American allies Britain, France and Israel decided to invade the region in November without informing the United States of their plans. Further, the Soviet Union took advantage of the “moral smoke screen” to ruthlessly quell the democratic uprising in Hungary. However, the precarious events of the year only elicited Eisenhower’s legendary mettle, as Nichols reveals in this suspenseful study that moves chronologically through the days in which the U.S. government was on tenterhooks. Eisenhower was a master planner and delegator, but first and foremost, he was a soldier whose unique perspective on World War II had resolved him to avoid another war at all costs. “We believe that the power of modern weapons makes war not only perilous—but preposterous—and the only way to win World War III is to prevent it,” he declared in November. Wary of the Soviets and disgusted with the British, Eisenhower adamantly opposed military invention once Nasser announced the news about the Suez. Along with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, the president advocated peace talks, all the while Israel, France and Britain were secretly plotting Operation Musketeer. The multifaceted crisis struck right around Election Day, yet a cease-fire was soon instated, the election won by a landslide and his Eisenhower Doctrine formulated, which has somewhat contained the fragile tension of the Middle East until today. A solid revisiting of this compelling leader about whom we are still learning. See David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower’s Going Home to Glory (2010) for even more fresh information about this fascinating president. (8 pages of blackand-white photographs. Agent: Will Lippincott/Lippincott Massie McQuilkin)

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Nutt, Amy Ellis Free Press (288 pp.) $26.00 | April 5, 2011 978-1-4391-4310-0

The fascinating story of how a chiropractor, after suffering a massive brain injury, became an acclaimed artist with an entirely new outlook on life. When Jon Sarkin awoke from brain surgery that required the removal of part of his cerebellum, he knew something fundamental about his sense of self had changed. The cerebellum controls motor coordination, processes visual images and affects cognition, emotion and behavior, and while Sarkin ultimately made a remarkable physical recovery, he no longer felt the same way about life. Before, he’d been a pragmatic family man, dedicated to his practice; after, he felt disassociated with those instincts, and instead experienced a “ferocious need to create” and began to draw compulsively. Newark Star-Ledger veteran reporter Nutt incisively delves into the emotional and physical implications of such a shift, examining the relationship between the brain and the soul. For thousands of years, philosophers and scientists have investigated this relationship, pondering the physical location of self-identity (curiously, the brain was generally considered superfluous to the soul, and other organs were linked to emotion and intellect). Only relatively recently have researchers concluded that physical brain matter contains the force of life; neurosurgeons can even identify parts of the brain containing specific memories and impulses. When Sarkin lost part of his cerebellum, he also lost part of his ability to identify who he was. “If our ability to sense the world is compromised,” writes Nutt, “so is our sense of self.” Sarkin’s damaged brain, as it repaired neurons over time, enhanced certain impulses and sensations to make up for what was lost, leaving him with a heightened sense of color and space. Art became the medium in which he searched for his new self, and he filled in the gaps in his self-identity with pictures. He is now a well-known artist and writer, and has said that “[w]hen an artist is truly born, that is the end of the person that was a person before he was an artist.” A mind-bending and inspiring book. (8-page black-andwhite insert)

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A REASON TO BELIEVE Lessons from an Improbable Life

Patrick, Deval Broadway (240 pp.) $21.99 | CD: $35.00 | April 12, 2011 978-0-7679-3112-0 CD 978-0-307-87808-3 Massachusetts’ first black governor debuts with a candid memoir that emphasizes how caring mentors, teachers and other adults helped shape his life and values. Now in his second term, Patrick grew up poor on Chicago’s South Side in the 1950s and ’60s, attended Harvard and Harvard Law, and worked as a civil-rights advocate and corporate executive before entering politics. His father, a jazz musician and black militant, deserted the family when the author was four. Patrick, his mother and his sister moved in with his grandparents, who got by on his grandfather’s wages as a bank janitor and tried to shield their grandson from racism. His grandmother always said they weren’t poor—they were “broke,” which allowed for the possibility of a better life, he writes. It was an early lesson in how he could shape his own destiny. A bright, ambitious loner, he learned other lessons in possibility from kind teachers, first in gang-ridden Chicago public schools and then as a scholarship student at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, where he was “saved by the love of adults.” His prep-school mentors—an Old Yankee English teacher and an upper-middle-class African-American woman whose children also attended Milton—treated Patrick with affection as he struggled to bridge the worlds of poverty and privilege. Like the selfless church ladies of his childhood, they taught him “to love openly, generously, and conspicuously.” In recounting his life in politics, the author explains how the qualities he admires in others, such as compassion and generosity of spirit, have sustained him amid personal attacks. By his own admission sometimes ill-tempered as a politician, Patrick gives powerful voice to the reflective inner man who has a keen eye for things that really matter. A portion of the proceeds from the book will go to the charity A Better Chance. A welcome celebration of idealism in a cynical time. (Author tour to New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago. Agent: Todd Shuster/Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency)

PITCHING IN THE PROMISED LAND A Story of the First and Only Season in the Israel Baseball League Pribble, Aaron Univ. of Nebraska (272 pp.) $24.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-8032-3472-7

Account of the unsuccessful attempt to introduce baseball in Israel. Most Israelis have never heard of the game of baseball,

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writes high-school teacher Pribble. But that did not stop Boston businessman Larry Baras—famed creator of the creamcheese–filled bagel—and others from starting the Israel Baseball League in 2007, to “bring joy” to the lives of Israeli families. Enlisting 120 players from nine countries, the league’s six teams played 45 games in their first—and last—season. The twomonth adventure allowed Pribble, a former minor leaguer and “sort of” Jew, to visit Israel and spend his summer break playing his favorite game as a pitcher for the Tel Aviv Lightning. Before long, he realized that the league was poorly funded and managed. Paychecks were late, bats and balls were at a premium and the league management seemed disorganized and unable to communicate with players. The teams (Netanya Tigers, Bet Shemesh Blue Sox, etc.) had to make do with rocky infields and dugouts with plastic chairs instead of benches, but “for a fleeting moment professional baseball bloomed in the desert.” Besides covering game highlights, Pribble describes the bonding of disparate players from the United States, Dominican Republic, Israel, Canada and elsewhere; visits to Masada and the West Bank; and his relationship with a young Jewish girl from Yemen. The author does a nice job evoking the unlikely setting, but the story’s lack of drama—and superficial renderings of fellow players—will disappoint many readers. He argues unconvincingly that the summer brought him closer to his roots. Even a first pitch by Dr. Ruth fails to sex up this lackluster debut. (29 photographs)

THE ART OF IMMERSION How the Digital Generation is Remaking Hollywood, Madison Avenue, and the Way We Tell Stories Rose, Frank Norton (256 pp.) $25.95 | February 21, 2011 978-0-393-07601-1

The media discovers that the best way to sell a commodity is with a good, potentially interactive story. After the success (and legal battles) of mass-market movie tie-ins for commodities like Star Wars, fans today are encouraged to write their own stories and flesh out the details of their favorite obscure plotlines and characters. Just like Homer retelling The Iliad, fans love to author their own escapes, even if they’re unoriginal. But why feed the avarice of the technoschizoid media masquerade hosted by mega-rich executives? Because, as Wired contributing editor Rose (The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, 1995, etc.) writes, storytelling is genetic. The author, dealing primarily with the history of storytelling and consumer desires and skillfully circumventing predictable stabs at psychology and sociology, finds that it’s the fault of mirror neurons in our brains. Mirror neurons allow us to experience what we perceive as if we were actually performing the perceived act ourselves, albeit to a lesser degree. The video game Grand Theft Auto, for instance, rewards felonious criminal behavior as your digital homunculus

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“Safina calls cer­tain environmental organizations on their shrill, not necessarily helpful responses, and President Obama for not seizing the op­portunity to bring energy policy before the public’s widened eye.” from a sea in flames

runs amok. Mirror neurons, however, trigger impulses in your brain that fire as if you were actually committing the crimes in real life—suggesting that, at the very least, there are real consequences, and possibly real rewards, to immersive entertainment. Stories have always been immersive, but digital technology makes them omnipresent—see the massive popularity of Lost, The Sims and other TV shows, movies and video games. So, like it or not, you’re likely already immersed. In a country of more than 300 million people, there are millions of devoted fans who prefer to be fettered to headsets and keyboards. An intriguing snapshot of where media will continue to move in the near future—great for rabbit-hole spelunkers.

A SEA IN FLAMES The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout Safina, Carl Crown (288 pp.) $23.99 | April 19, 2011 978-0-307-88735-1

Oceanographer and nature writer Safina (The View from Lazy Point, 2011, etc.) etches an emotional topography of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil blowout. The author begins in an artful, participatory-journalist mode, endeavoring to get his facts straight while unafraid to voice his interpretation of unfolding events. (A fitting handin-glove with Safina’s book is John Konrad’s Fire on the Horizon (2011), which presents a veteran deckhand’s view of the events and shares with it many conclusions.) Safina’s writing is jumpy, staccato and portentous as he follows the drilling work on the Deepwater Horizon, an accident-in-waiting with outdated equipment, a multitiered corporate management willing to dangerously cut corners and an absence of emergency preparation. When Halliburton’s cementing job unsurprisingly failed—“Halliburton officials knew weeks before the fatal explosion that its cement formulation had failed multiple tests—but they used the cement anyway”—at the expense of 11 lives, BP was more interested in controlling their public image than the wellhead. Appalled by the recklessness of the causes and the inanity of the response, the author is skeptical of BP’s announcements and cynical as to their motives. Sharing responsibility with BP is an oil-industry–besotted Congress, eager to subsidize their benefactors while cutting back on big-government safety regulations; the Coast Guard, whose over-measured response felt “like a Kabuki dance”; and a legal process that put the criminal in charge of the crime scene (BP security was given control of public space). Safina calls certain environmental organizations on their shrill, not necessarily helpful responses, and President Obama for not seizing the opportunity to bring energy policy before the public’s widened eye. The jury is out regarding environmental consequences: The Gulf appears to have absorbed the 206 million gallons of crude, but long-term effects of the dispersed oil will be tallied over years. Public perception of the devastation, fueled by a hyperventilating media, has wreaked havoc on tourism and fishing industries, which do not show evidence of poisonous degradation. |

The blowout was awful, but look at the bigger picture, writes Safina in this illuminating, monitory study: “The real catastrophe is the oil we don’t spill…the oil we burn, the coal we burn, the gas we burn…And as the reefs dissolve and the ocean’s productivity declines, so will go the food security of hundreds of millions of people.”

SMALL MEMORIES A Memoir

Saramago, José Translator: Costa, Margaret Jull Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (192 pp.) $22.00 | May 11, 2011 978-0-15-101508-5 A slim, elliptical, often poetic memoir by the late Portuguese winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. The opening pages of this posthumously published memoir of early childhood by Saramago (The Elephant’s Journey, 2010, etc.) are so rapturously enthralling that they set a standard the rest of the narrative—mainly a series of anecdotes, seemingly random and arbitrary—cannot fully sustain. “Only I knew, without knowing I did, that on the illegible pages of destiny and in the blind meanderings of chance it had been written that I would one day return to Azinhaga to finish being born,” he writes of his birth in a peasant village before he moved with his family to Lisbon before his second birthday— after that he spent time alternating between the two (the writing here mainly and more lovingly portrays the country than the city). Though an early and avid reader with an eye for significant detail, his “silent, secret, solitary self” as a boy gave little hint of the literary master he would become. His mother remained illiterate throughout his life, as were the maternal grandparents to whom he so often returned. Without apparent thematic focus—other than the vagaries of memory and perhaps the ambiguities of boyhood innocence—the memoir hopscotches chronologically through his experiences with dogs, horses and crops; his schooling; his initiation into sexual arousal; and his family. He reveals that he’d initially attempted a volume with the more ambitious title, The Book of Temptations, before realizing that his reminiscences were more modest, “the small memories of when I was small.” A nonfictional footnote to a brilliant career in fiction. (17 black-and-white photos)

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THE BELIEVING BRAIN From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies— How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths Shermer, Michael Times/Henry Holt (400 pp.) $28.00 | June 1, 2011 978-0-8050-9125-0

Skeptic magazine founding publisher Shermer (The Mind of the Market: Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans, and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics, 2007, etc.) writes entertainingly about the scientific basis of belief. The author cites a 2009 poll in which more Americans admitted to a belief in angels and devils than in the theory of evolution. Shermer seeks to answer the question of why “so many people believe in what most scientists would consider to be the unbelievable?” While admitting that scientists often believe in unproven hypotheses—e.g., the origin of our universe and what might have preceded the Big Bang—the author holds firmly to the “built-in self-correcting machinery” that is inherent in the scientific method: e.g., double-bind controlled experiments which are replicable, testing results against the null hypothesis, etc. Shermer takes gleeful potshots at conspiracy theorists, including the 9/11-truthers, giving a detailed refutation of their claim that planted explosives brought down the Twin Towers, and the belief in extrasensory perception demonstrated by the apparent abilities of psychics and other mediums, which have been replicated by magicians. Nonetheless, the author fully recognizes the importance of belief in our lives. Jumping to false conclusions is an outgrowth of pattern recognition, an essential function of our brain that evolved to allow birds as well as mammals to anticipate danger and respond to their environment. “An emotional leap of faith beyond reason is often required,” writes the author. A timely, reasoned reflection on the nature of belief, offering a level-headed corrective to the divisiveness of extreme partisanship. (30-35 black-and-white photos and illustrations. Agents: Katinka Matson and John Brockman/Brockman Inc.)

DETAINED WITHOUT CAUSE Muslims’ Stories of Detention and Deportation in America After 9/11

Shiekh, Irum Palgrave Macmillan (256 pp.) $28.00 paperback original | April 1, 2011 978-0-230-10382-5 Stories of Muslim immigrants who were arrested and detained as terrorist suspects in the wake of 9/11. For this volume in the publisher’s Studies in Oral History series, scholar Shiekh recorded interviews with some 40 Muslim immigrants among more than 1,000 similarly detained by the 194

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United States. She selected six to demonstrate a pattern of racial profiling that led to arrest on suspicion of terrorism, prolonged detention under unrelated criminal charges or immigration violations, and finally deportation. A brief history of Muslim immigration to the United States precedes the narratives. In each case, the author describes the circumstances of the arrest and provides background on the individual. She then lets the person tell his own story, inserting paragraphs of clarification from time to time, resulting in a close-up portrait of a human being under enormous stress. The stories of lengthy detention in high-security jails, sometimes in isolation, and of psychological and physical abuse, challenge the government’s position that the detainees were simply picked up and deported for immigration violations. Shiekh’s interviews reveal not only the state of mind of detainees during their incarceration but also how the arrest and terrorist charges damaged the individual’s reputation and livelihood once back in his native land, how this impacted his family and how it has affected attitudes toward the United States. The author argues that in an emotionally charged political climate that equated looking like a Muslim with being a terrorist, the U.S. government violated the basic civil rights of a vulnerable group, as it did in World War II to Japanese Americans. Shiekh, who was inspired to write this book after her two brothers were investigated by the FBI as possible terrorists, makes absolutely clear where her sympathies lie, and she urges lawyers to take up these cases and seek reparations from the government. Illuminates the strains between national security and civil liberty and puts a human face on some often-demonized members of society.

THE WICHITA DIVIDE The Murder of Dr. George Tiller and the Battle Over Abortion Singular, Stephen St. Martin’s (352 pp.) $26.99 | April 12, 2011 978-0-312-62505-4

An in-depth examination of the 2009 murder of an abortion doctor in Wichita, Kan. Singular (When Men Become Gods: Mormon Polygamist Warren Jeffs, His Cult of Fear, and the Women Who Fought Back, 2008, etc.) frequently investigates hate crimes committed by individuals who have become unhinged extremists relying on ersatz religious doctrines. Scott Roeder, the 51-year-old assassin of Dr. George Tiller, fits the type. Tiller was one of the few physicians remaining in the United States willing to perform abortions during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Roeder, relatively stable while younger, a husband and father, became gradually obsessed with the immorality of abortion and focused his obsession on Tiller. Various conservative commentators with national audiences, especially Bill O’Reilly, fed the hatred by regularly referring to the doctor as “Tiller, the baby killer.” Devoted to a woman’s right to choose, Tiller operated his Wichita clinic despite the fears of his wife, children, friends and employees. Though he had survived gunshot wounds and other injuries in the past, he could

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“Footnotes accom­pany the author’s consistently effervescent text, underscoring his contention that everything from The Dukes of Hazzard to Thirtysomething has made a significant impact on contempo­rary society.” from back to our future

not survive Roeder’s attack. With detailed reporting, Singular provides ample context about the divisive issue of abortion, and he often uses first-person passages to trace his investigations of violent extremists dating back to the ’80s. Though the author now lives in Denver, he grew up in Kansas and thus feels comfortable plumbing the political and cultural depths unique to that state. Disagreements over the morality and social utility of abortion have raged in cities across the nation, but Wichita served as ground zero during Tiller’s lifetime. Roeder showed no remorse after his capture, expressing pride that he had shut down abortion services in Kansas’ largest city. A disturbing, haunting journey into unrepentant hatred. (8-page black-and-white photo insert. Agent: Mel Berger/William Morris)

BACK TO OUR FUTURE How the 1980s Explain the World We Live in Now— Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Everything

Sirota, David Ballantine (304 pp.) $25.00 | e-book: $25.00 | March 15, 2011 978-0-345-51878-1 e-book: 978-0-345-51880-4 A time capsule of 1980s media memorabilia and its relevance to contemporary society. Born in 1975 and a proud child of the ’80s, In These Times senior editor and nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Sirota (The Uprising: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington, 2008, etc.) ponders what it means when America has suddenly started “speaking the ancient 1980s dialect of my youth.” Growing up with two brothers, the author recalls all three emphatically employing the vernacular and lexicon of their “eighties religion” to maximum effect. Sirota’s mildly cathartic, socially significant revival posits that as the children of the ’80s reach middle age, the mindset of that era will resurface. His proof begins at “the altar of Michael J. Fox”—specifically, his character Alex Keaton on Family Ties. The author cleverly parallels President Obama’s confidence to the popularity of Michael Jordan, adding that many Republicans believe Obama to be the modernday Jimmy Carter. The scope of the author’s period knowledge is indisputable, and he parlays his experience as a Democratic strategist into politically charged discussions about the antigovernmental preaching on The A-Team, Ronald Reagan’s questionable approach to Vietnam veterans and the bulletproof vigor of movies like Rambo, Red Dawn and Top Gun. While applauding the morale-boosting heft of Nike’s 1988 “Just Do It” campaign, Sirota evenhandedly criticizes today’s realityTV–obsessed, attention-starved Facebook generation for its self-centeredness as something “the 1980s did to us, and what the 1980s mentally makes us want to be.” Footnotes accompany the author’s consistently effervescent text, underscoring his contention that everything from The Dukes of Hazzard to Thirtysomething has made a significant impact on contemporary society. Maybe most important is Sirota’s chapters on the |

impact The Cosby Show and others like it had on ’80s black America and, now, on Obama’s “postracial” image. A sharp, dizzying history lesson that packs a punch. (Author tour to Denver, New York, Washington, D.C. Agent: Will Lippincott/Lippincott Massie McQuilkin)

DEEP FUTURE The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth Stager, Curt Dunne/St. Martin’s (320 pp.) $25.99 | March 15, 2011 978-0-312-61462-1

A probing exploration of the impact of climate change over geological time. Stager (Paleoecology/Paul Smith Coll.) takes the long view of global climate change. Most popular discussions of the subject look only at the next century or so, ignoring the question of what happens after the current generation is gone from the scene. Carbon dioxide pumped into the air by burning fossil fuels will be around thousands or hundred of thousands of years from now, and the effects will occur on a similar time scale. Ice-sheet collapse and sea-level rise will likely take place gradually enough to allow coastal residents to adjust— decades, if not centuries. Comparison with past warm episodes, notably the Eemian interglacial, 130,000 years ago, gives perspective. Different latitudes will feel results unequally—much discussion has focused on polar icecaps, but tropical climates will feel the impact as well. As some regions become drier, others may experience more rainfall. Stager examines both moderate and extreme scenarios, depending on the degree of carbon release. The impact may even be benign in some regions. Greenland may become a temperate climate, while much of Europe faces rising sea levels. Warming isn’t the only long-term issue. Acidification of the oceans, a chemical reaction caused by dissolved carbon dioxide, is likely to harm many aquatic species. Many animals that survived past episodes of climate change by moving are now endangered because of human settlements in their way. A key point is that humanity has the ability to moderate the release of carbon, shaping the long-range impact on climate. While we are already past the point where significant global warming can be prevented, the author points out that cutting carbon now preserves some for a future era when its release could help prevent another ice age—a global disaster every bit as threatening to the human race as warming. Essential reading. (20 black-and-white photos and graphs throughout)

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THE TAO OF TRAVEL Enlightenments from Lives on the Road

Theroux, Paul Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (304 pp.) $25.00 | May 26, 2011 978-0-547-33691-6 From prolific travel writer and novelist Theroux (A Dead Hand, 2011, etc.), an eclectic compendium of travelrelated trivia, quotes, quips and advice. Travel is a metaphor for living; the line between the travels and the traveler is fine; in the words of the Buddha, “You cannot travel the path before you have become the path itself.” These ideas, the author explains in the preface to this curious anthology, comprise the essential philosophy behind this determinedly personal collection of travel appreciation. In a series of short chapters, Theroux looks at life on the road from perspectives that range from the predictable to the delightfully quirky. The author includes quotes from writers he admires, including Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Evelyn Waugh and Robert Louis Stevenson. British men are particularly well-represented. Sections on “Travel in Brief” and “The Pleasures of Railways” quote substantially from Theroux’s own work, and the final chapter, “The Essential Tao of Travel,” a list of ten pieces of travel advice to live by, is surprisingly unimaginative, with suggestions like “Travel light” and “Keep a journal.” Interspersed among this routine anthologizing, however, is a series of whimsical chapters that are often wonderfully playful—many readers may wish that Theroux had scrapped some of the quotations and included more of these sections. Equally engaging are the author’s brief rumination on disgusting meals and how they tasted and his quick peek into the lives of the spouses, friends and lovers who went along for the ride as largely invisible sidekicks on some of history’s great travel adventures. Alternatively pious and irreverent, this is an uneasy almanac of favorite quotes and advice for the would-be tourist that broadly features travel as a trope for personal enlightenment. (Line drawings; flexi-binding)

BASEBALL IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN The Secret History of the Early Game

Thorn, John Simon & Schuster (384 pp.) $26.00 | March 15, 2011 978-0-7432-9403-4 A prominent baseball historian’s delightfully literate take on the mythmakers who shaped the story of the game’s creation. A glittering 1889 banquet at Delmonico’s—Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain attended—welcomed home Albert Goodwill Spalding’s baseball team from a world tour. A rousing speech by baseball executive A.G. Mills, insisting on the game’s exclusive 196

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American provenance, drew table-thumping cries of “No rounders!” This patriotic desire to claim baseball for our own, to distance it particularly from any British influence (rounders or cricket), led eventually to the appointment in 1905 of the Special Baseball Commission, charged with establishing once and for all the game’s true origins. The stacked Commission settled on Civil War hero Abner Doubleday as the inventor and Cooperstown, N.Y., as the garden from which the game sprang. As scholars and sophisticated fans have long known, and as sabermetrics pioneer Thorn (editor: New York 400: A Visual History of America’s Greatest City with Images from the Museum of the City of New York, 2009, etc.) meticulously demonstrates, the Commission was spectacularly wrong: The game surely pre-dated Doubleday and, in fact, had many fathers and a variety of evolutionary strands before knitting itself into the baseball we recognize today. The author autopsies the game’s short-lived, prelapsarian era before moving to the time when codification of rules made baseball attractive as a spectator event, a business and a perfect vehicle for gambling. He charts the cheating, gambling, drugs (only alcohol then), color bans and the host of other sins already a part of the game’s history before the Commission ever convened. Thorn expertly sifts the mix of high and low motives accounting for the anointment of Doubleday and Cooperstown, resuscitates names and teams vastly more important to the game’s origins and cheerfully limns a parade of Gilded Age entrepreneurs, hucksters, journalists and promoters, whose charming fantasy of baseball’s ancestry persists in the popular mind. A singular treat for baseball fans. (8 pages of black-and-white photographs. Agent: Andrew Blauner/Blauner Books Literary Agency)

AMERICAN TEMPEST How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution Unger, Harlow Giles Da Capo/Perseus (304 pp.) $26.00 | March 15, 2011 978-0-306-81962-9

A solidly researched account of the 1773 Boston Tea Party. Prolific historian Unger (Lion of Liberty: Patrick Henry and the Call to a New Nation, 2010, etc.) stresses that “taxation without representation” was an afterthought; Britain’s American colonies hated all taxes. A century of benign neglect had left them essentially self-governing and untaxed, and all reacted indignantly when London tried to assert control. Smuggling negated the first taxes, but matters deteriorated after 1760 when Parliament passed measures—the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, Townsend Act, Tea Act—that produced little revenue but protests, violence and a pugnacious independence movement. Unger concentrates on Massachusetts, the first to erupt. Most readers will agree with his description of British arrogance, naiveté and disastrous tactics, but will squirm as the author turns to the opposition and its leaders, Samuel Adams and James Otis. Few historians deny it, but Unger emphasizes their unrelenting anger, which sprang as much from personal failures (and, in Otis’s case, mental illness) as love of liberty. A relentless agitator, Adams

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“Do-it-yourself comes to biotechnol­ogy in the form of young geeks who tin­ker with DNA in the garage, the kitchen or wherever they can set up a lab bench.” from biopunk

cultivated Boston’s underclass, provoking rampages of looting, arson and tarring-and-feathering which, in an era without police, went unpunished and convinced wealthy establishment figures such as John Hancock that opposing Adams would be ruinously expensive. Although revered today, the original Tea Party upset many patriots; Washington and Franklin denounced the destruction of private property. As usual, it was Britain’s harsh overreaction that united the opposition. Well-delineated, contrarian history—though it may disappoint readers looking for an inspiring tale of freedom lovers thumbing their noses at despotism. (Author tour to Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. Agent: Edward Knappman/New England Publishing Associates)

BETWEEN LIGHT AND SHADOW A Guatemalan Girl’s Journey Through Adoption Wheeler, Jacob Univ. of Nebraska (280 pp.) $24.95 | April 1, 2011 978-0-8032-3362-1

A journalistic account of the debate over Guatemalan adoption practices that morphs into a touching narrative of two families separated by culture but drawn together by the bonds of family. In his debut, Glen Arbor Sun publisher Wheeler examines both sides of the adoption issue. He writes that until 2008, Guatemala was “the largest source for relinquishing its offspring in the entire world.” Before that, when controls were instituted by the Guatemalan government, unscrupulous private adoptions offered a significant source of revenue for lawyers and judges who preyed upon the poverty and vulnerability of mothers. But for the more than 4,700 Guatemalan children adopted by Americans in 2007, they offered the possibility of a “wonderful journey from rags to riches,” and opportunities that they could never otherwise experience. When he contemplated writing the book, Wheeler anticipated a chronicle of the experiences of birth mothers forced to give up their children and the adoptive parents who welcomed them. Eventually, however, the author became an important part of the story. Though he conducted in-depth interviews with families, he chose to focus on the Barrett family and their adoptive daughter Ellie, who was abandoned at age seven. The opportunity to piece together her early memories with the scanty paperwork given to the Barretts allowed Wheeler to investigate the dark side of the adoption industry while minimizing his own personal risk. The culmination of the story is the touching reunion between 14-year-old Ellie and her birth family as she faced the pull between her two conflicting identities. Wheeler ably captures “the trauma and complexity of the Guatemalan adoption journey.” (27 photographs)

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RAWHIDE DOWN The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan

Wilber, Del Quentin Henry Holt $27.00 | CD: $34.99 | March 15, 2011 978-0-8050-9346-9 CD 978-1-4272-1183-5 Procedural-like account of John Hinckley’s 1981 attack on President Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s son Ron (see My Father at 100, 2011) has been making news with his revelation that the president began his sad decline by Alzheimer’s while still in office, but this account by Washington Post reporter Wilber depicts a Reagan, in office only a couple of months, at the top of his game. The author brings news to the table: For one thing, he writes, “the White House kept secret the fact that the president came very close to dying.” Even so, the public memory is of Reagan’s wakeful joking and his prompt recovery—for, only a few weeks later, he was back at work, now committed, as he wrote, to doing “whatever I could in the years God had given me to reduce the threat of nuclear war.” Wilber adds detail and nuance to the portrait of the would-be assassin, Hinckley, who was famously (or infamously) infatuated with the actress Jodie Foster and the film Taxi Driver. He was also indisputably mentally ill, a point that the recent shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson will drive home, even if, as Wilber notes in closing, Hinckley has increasingly been granted “more freedom in preparation for the day when he is eventually released.” Wilber’s minute-by-minute account of the assassination attempt has moments of tension worthy of Frederick Forsyth, but it’s also marred by patches of self-consciously noirish and clumsy writing (“getting shot by one was a bit like getting smashed with a sledgehammer, only worse”). Perhaps the best part of the book is the author’s portrait of the lead Secret Service agent and his colleagues at work, which adds dimension to the phrase “unsung heroes.” A welcome addition to the literature of the Reagan era— and, for that matter, of political violence.

BIOPUNK DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life Wohlsen, Marcus Current (256 pp.) $25.95 | April 14, 2011 978-1-61723-002-8

Do-it-yourself comes to biotechnology in the form of young geeks who tinker with DNA in the garage, the kitchen or wherever they can set up a lab bench. According to AP reporter Wohlsen, these DIY scientists are passionate biology graduates or post-docs, savvy in the ways of molecular biology and computers and possessed of a libertarian streak. They want open access to information and oppose the

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kind of data control and patent rights they see embodied by academics, biotech firms or government bureaucrats. In this debut, the author profiles leading “biopunks” who believe that free access to crowd-sourced information is the key to rapid innovation. Their idea of a “hack” is not the breaking and entering of a computer system for illicit purposes, but a term that means they have gotten tools and materials on the cheap and used them to develop diagnostic tests, drugs or even new organisms. Indeed they have: Wohlsen describes a cheap PCR machine (for replicating bits of DNA), a woman who devised a test for a genetic disease that runs in her family and some ingenious designs for cancer-targeting drugs. Some biopunks have formed groups like DIYbio, which makes biology accessible to citizen scientists; others are futurist “transhumanists” who dream of extending life spans and importing computer chips in their brains. If this information makes you anxious or worried about socio/legal/ethical issues, lack of regulation, privacy concerns or DIYers creating Frankensteins, Wohlsen’s discussions of these issues will hardly reassure. On the one hand, the FBI wrongly cracked down on one legit scientist (and now appears to be promoting friendly information exchanges). On the other, the suggestion that it’s cheaper to make your own weaponized anthrax or ricin, rather than a brand new microbe, is no comfort. Though there are not yet any solutions to the legal and ethical issues, Wolhsen provides a timely airing of what may be going on in a backyard near you. (Agent: Michael Bourret/Dystel & Goderich Literary Management)

Hamlet. He praises the prince’s temporizing, viewing it as an intellectual’s attempt to be certain before acting, but he condemns him for a fierce focus that ignores the deleterious consequences on others. The author also pauses occasionally to remark upon some enduring issues in Shakespeare’s biography. How did he know so much about the law? (Well, he knew a lot about everything.) Is there a Macbeth curse? (Of course not.) Yoshino also takes a contrary view of Portia (“her rhetorical skill,” he says, “should inspire misgiving”) and thinks Cordelia might have been just plain inarticulate. A fresh promontory from which to view the marvelous and mysterious Shakespearean sea.

A THOUSAND TIMES MORE FAIR What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice Yoshino, Kenji Ecco/HarperCollins (320 pp.) $26.99 | April 12, 2011 978-0-06-176910-8

Yoshino (Constitutional Law/NYU School of Law; Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, 2006) argues that the Bard advanced complex notions about justice, which remain enduringly relevant and deserve to be revisited. The narrative structure is roughly chronological (the author begins with the early Titus Andronicus and ends with The Tempest) and covers most of the major plays of the canon—The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Othello, the “Henriad” (Richard II, the two parts of Henry IV, Henry V), Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear. Each chapter features an exegesis of the play and, usually, a look at a contemporary issue in the light of Shakespeare’s views. Throughout, Yoshino’s liberal political positions are prominent. He sees in that most sanguinary revenge play Titus, for example, a distant mirror of our mistakes in Iraq. In Portia’s hair-splitting at the end of Merchant, he sees analogies to the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal. In Othello, he finds Shakespearean help in understanding the O.J. Simpson murder trial. George W. Bush may initially have seemed like young Prince Hal, but unlike Henry V, Bush failed to win his Agincourt. Most interesting are the author’s views on 198

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children & teens MAC SLATER VS. THE CITY

Bancks, Tristan Simon & Schuster (192 pp.) $15.99 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4169-8576-1

Cool hunter Mac Slater is back, and this time the intrepid Aussie teen is tackling the mean streets of New York City (Mac Slater Hunts the Cool, 2010). After winning the cool-hunting contest on his home turf, Mac now has to come up with a week’s worth of NYC awesomeness if he wants to keep his cool-spotting job. Hunters who don’t make the cut will not be invited to the next gig in Shanghai. So Mac befriends local trendsetter Melody, who introduces him to a top-secret teen-invention community run by a former hip-hop mogul called The Hive. Mac is dying to use The Hive’s goods (which include a nearly mythical perpetual motion machine) to make his cool-hunting rep, but that would mean betraying Melody’s trust. Is Mac a true innovator or just another corporate sell-out? As formulaic as its predecessor, this breezy sequel is nevertheless entertaining and provides some fast food for thought about the connection between pop culture and consumerism, like similarly themed The Gospel According to Larry, by Janet Tashjian (2001). But read it fast, because the expiration date on this up-to-the-minute title may be past by the time it hits the library or bookstore shelves. (Fiction. 10-13)

Paul waits for him to revive and hands him some fresh biscuits. Hals groans and stands up, “How’d you like to hire the SECOND best lumberjack in North America?” And so a “tall” tale of a strange friendship is born. The rustic, rough-hewn illustrations are bold, with a sculpted look that plays up the combatants’ brawn and their outsized proportions; Babe is a vibrant, glowing blue. The author’s note refers to the growth of Paul Bunyan tales but makes no mention of her source for Hals Halson, who is a far-flung character not found in most children’s books about Bunyan, if any. That probably won’t matter to kids, who will assume he’s made-up, just like Paul. (Picture book. 5-8)

I AM J

Beam, Cris Little, Brown (352 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-316-05361-7

Finally, a book about a transgender teen that gives its central character a life in which gender and transition matter but do not define his existence! J lives with his Puerto Rican mother and Jewish father in Manhattan’s working-class Washington Heights neighborhood but plans to go to college to study photography. He tries not to think about gender and covers his body in thick layers of clothing, but he still tenses up when his mother calls him “m’ija” or classmates call him “dyke.” After a heated argument with his best friend, Melissa, PAUL BUNYAN VS. and a nearly physical fight at school, J starts cutting class. A HALS HALSON Google search leads him to the idea of taking testosterone, The Giant Lumberjack and J leaves home, certain that his parents will not accept his Challenge! choices. In his new haunts, including a seedy hotel, a downBateman, Teresa town Starbucks, a trans support group and a high school for Illustrator: Canga, C.B. LGBT students, J encounters a vibrant and diverse cast of Whitman (32 pp.) characters. Responses to J’s transition vary from affirming $16.99 | March 1, 2011 (his trans poet classmate Chanelle’s support) to heartbreaking 978-0-8075-6367-0 (his parents’ resistance) to maddening (Melissa’s attempt to make art with J as her “muse”). Readers will likely come away Step aside, Paul Bunyan, Hals Hal- agreeing with J: “Being trans wasn’t special, and yet it was. It son has come to challenge you as the “greatest lumberjack in was just good and bad and interesting and fucked-up and very North America.” When Paul suggests that instead of fighting human, like anything else.” (Fiction. 14 & up) they work as a team, Hals responds by attacking, first trying to wrestle (“That tickles,” Paul says), then kicking him, then throwing him over his shoulder and finally charging headfirst into Paul’s stomach—and the impact is so strong that all the trees for five miles lose their leaves. Every time Hals tries to harm him, Paul brushes his efforts aside. In the end, |

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“... readers [are asked] to consider how a flag is defined and imbued with meaning only if we’ve told people ‘what it stood for.’ Raise the banner high—this picture book is a triumph.” from a primer about the flag

OVER IN AUSTRALIA Amazing Animals Down Under

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST, BLAST OFF INTO SPACE, SURVIVE A TORNADO, AND OTHER EXTRAORDINARY STORIES

Berkes, Marianne Illustrator: Dubin, Jill Dawn Publications (32 pp.) $16.95 | $8.95 paperback original | March 1, 2011 978-1-58469-135-8 paper 978-1-58469-136-5

Belanger, Jeff Sterling (136 pp.) $9.95 | March 1, 2011 978-1-4027-6711-1

A prolific reporter of paranormal phenomena strains to bring that same sense of wonder to 12 “transposed”—that is, paraphrased from interviews but related in first person—accounts of extraordinary experiences. Some feats are more memorable than others; compared to Bethany Hamilton’s return to competitive surfing after having her arm bitten off by a shark and Mark Inglis’ climb to the top of Mount Everest on two prosthetic legs, Joe Hurley’s nine-month walk from Cape Cod to Long Beach, Calif., is anticlimactic. Dean Karnazes hardly seems to be exerting himself as he runs 50 marathons on 50 consecutive days, and the comments of an Air Force Thunderbirds pilot and a military Surgeon’s Assistant in Iraq come off as carefully bland. The survivors of a hurricane at sea, a lightning strike and a tornado, on the other hand, tell more compelling stories. Most of the color photos are at least marginally relevant, and each entry closes with a short note on its subject’s subsequent activities. Casual browsers will be drawn to at least some of the reconstructed narratives in this uneven collection. A reading list would have been more useful than the superfluous index, though. Fun, in a scattershot sort of way. (Nonfiction browsing item. 10-12)

A PRIMER ABOUT THE FLAG

Bell, Marvin Illustrator: Raschka, Chris Candlewick (32 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4991-3

STRINGS ATTACHED

The title opens Bell’s poetic text, perhaps making readers anticipate seeing Old Glory, as in illustrator Raschka’s I Pledge Allegiance (2004). Cover art, however, omits the Stars and Stripes; indeed, the U.S. flag is conspicuously absent from all illustrations, although a spread reading, “There are flags on the moon, flags in cemeteries, costume flags,” includes stripes, stars, reds, whites and blues. Ultimately, this isn’t a primer about the flag but about “certain ones,” flags in general—perhaps provoking readers to think about allegiance to flags as symbols for all sorts of places, concepts, ideas and ideals. The figures and settings in the mixedmedia illustrations are rendered in blacks, whites and grays, allowing vibrantly colored flags to stand out. And what other “certain” flags are included? Many. “There are Bed & Breakfast flags… There are little flags that come from the barrel of a gun / and say, BANG.” A final scene depicting a crowd following someone carrying a tree at his “waist just like a flag” asks readers to consider how a flag is defined and imbued with meaning only if we’ve told people “what it stood for.” Raise the banner high—this picture book is a triumph. (Picture book. 5-12) 200

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Berkes continues her series of wildlife books based on the popular tune “Over in the Meadow” with this work highlighting Australian animals and habitats (Over in the Arctic, 2008, etc.). Counting from one to 10, animals range from familiar koalas to the endangered, lesser-known bilby. Proper terms for offspring are italicized, while numbers are spotlighted with colored text, giving the song a decidedly informative feel. Also contributing to the educational element is the punchy vocabulary. How does a bilby behave? They “ ‘Slurp,’ said the mother. / ‘We slurp,’ said the nine. / So they slurped and they burped / In a sandy place to dine.” Brightly patterned and richly textured collage illustrations depict creatures in scenes that reflect their natural surroundings. Readers will greatly enjoy singing the tune as they learn about each animal. Extensive backmatter provides even more information about Australian wildlife, including animals hidden on every double-page spread that readers are encouraged to go back and find. The “Fact or Fiction” section describes what liberties the author took depicting the different animal families. Also included are educational and creative ideas from both author and illustrator, a simple, illustrated map, print and Internet resources as well as music, lyrics and chords for “Over in Australia.” (Informational picture book. 3-9)

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Blundell, Judy Scholastic (320 pp.) $17.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-545-22126-9

Caught up in dreams of dancing on Broadway, Kit Corrigan unwisely accepts an apartment and a nightclub job from mob lawyer Nate Benedict in exchange for keeping tabs on his son Billy, who’s enlisted in the Army along with Kit’s brother, Jamie. Kit broke off her relationship with Billy after his last jealousy-fueled outburst. Nate starts calling in favors, and Kit becomes entangled in a web of secrets and lies. Like her Aunt Delia before her, she came to New York to escape a suffocating life in Providence and what Jamie calls “the Irish form of advancement—you don’t dare do better than those before you.” Kit’s father had scraped together a living off the novelty of his motherless triplets, the Corrigan Three, in a home with psychic and emotional “undertows, things we didn’t understand, and jokes and stories passing for truth.” Layers of deception are peeled away in a jumbled sequence of events that echoes Kit’s confusion as she discovers the extent of her

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family’s connection with the Benedicts and realizes that her own actions at the age of 12 set in motion a chain of events that end in murder. National Book Award–winner Blundell (What I Saw and How I Lied, 2008) delivers a brilliantly conceived novel set against the backdrop of the 1950 Kefauver mob hearings and the Red Scare with a story of redemption and truth at its core. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

HOW THEY CROAKED The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous

Bragg, Georgia Illustrator: O’Malley, Kevin Walker (144 pp.) $17.99 | PLB: $18.89 | March 15, 2011 978-0-8027-9817-6 PLB 978-0-8027-9818-3

passengers of a wrecked ship—and a gale-force wind lifts the kitten and deposits him in the sea. Gracie is distraught; as the rescued climb the stone steps to the lighthouse, she cries frantically. But it’s hopeless...until she spots the kitten, soaking wet and terrified and clinging to the rocks. Gracie picks him up and whisks him to safety. This tale of feline excitement takes place with the true-life story of Grace Darling’s famous 1838 rescue as its backdrop. Readers can see Grace and her father and the soggy ship’s passengers they save from the battering seas, although the very simple text focuses only on Gracie and the kitten. (Brief notes on the endpapers fill in the history.) Brown’s elegant pictures (no one does cats quite like her) suggest, in the best possible way, Classics Illustrated comics, and her story is similarly robust and interesting. (Picture book. 5-8)

THE ADVENTURES OF MARK TWAIN BY HUCKLEBERRY FINN

Burleigh, Robert Illustrator: Blitt, Barry The most reluctant of readers will Atheneum (48 pp.) find it difficult to resist this consistently disgusting chronicle of $17.99 | March 8, 2011 the gruesome deaths of 19 will famous people. Bragg opens with 978-0-689-83041-9 King Tut, discussing in gory details the embalming and mummification processes of the ancient Egyptians. Among the many “Sam was born excited. He did stuff. macabre details is an explanation for why mummy eye sockets He tramped and skylarked and poked his look empty: “Eyeballs shrink to almost nothing during the dryshovel into whatever tripped his fancy.” If ing process” (the author notes that if mummy eyeballs are rehydrated, they return to almost normal size). Among the other that sounds like how the fictional character Huckleberry Finn famous figures profiled are Henry VIII, whose corpse exploded would describe his creator, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), then in its coffin while lying in state; George Washington, who was author Burleigh has at least nailed Huck-speak in this unorthodrained of 80 ounces of his blood by doctors before dying; and dox picture-book biography for older Twainophiles. The “editors’ Marie Curie, who did herself in with constant radiation exposure. “Warning to the Reader” about the impending “ain’ts” and poThe accounts of how ill or injured people were treated by doctors tentially confusing folksy expressions only calls attention to the through the 19th century reveal that medical practices were usu- dicey premise and begs the question, “Who is this for?” That said, ally more lethal than the maladies. Between each chapter, there Blitt’s lovely, lively pen, ink and watercolors inventively illustrate is a page or two of related and gleefully gross facts. Bragg’s in- Huck’s affectionate, time-traveling, tour guide’s view of Twain’s formal, conversational style and O’Malley’s cartoon illustrations life. A giant-headed Huck looks through a window, Ghost of complement the flippant approach to the subject; the energeti- Christmas Past–style, examining 11-year-old Sam, who’s gazing cally icky design includes little skulls and crossbones to contain forlornly at a picture of his late Pap, for instance. Huck journeys page numbers. Engaging, informative and downright disgusting. from Twain’s Mississippi-loving, school-phobic boyhood years to his steamboat days to his “honest-to-goodness writer” career, to (sources, further reading, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 10-14) his family life, through hard times when he was “dead-for-earGRACIE nest broke,” to his death. At the end is another “editor’s” note The Lighthouse Cat and timeline: “Since Mr. Finn’s manuscript contains no dates and Brown, Ruth leaves out some important details.” Huck says this “ain’t intendin’ Illustrator: Brown, Ruth to be some windy bioografy,” and it isn’t. It’s a breezy homage to Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) Twain’s life and literary world that will please some, aggravate $16.95 | March 1, 2011 some and utterly baffle others. (Picture book/biography. 10 & up) 978-0-7613-7454-1 A raging storm is prelude to a miracle at sea. Battering rain, howling wind and the crash of waves add up to danger off the coast of the Farne Islands in England. Inside the lighthouse, Gracie the cat and her kitten are warm and snug in the parlor. The sound of running footsteps intrigues the kitten, who rushes to investigate. The front door is open—the lighthouse keeper and his daughter are braving the choppy waters in their rowboat to rescue |

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EVERCROSSED

Hardy Boys in excitement. The dire consequences of failing are so exaggerated that solving the puzzles may not be much fun for readers, but those who favor a little fantasy element in their mystery will enjoy the ride. (Adventure. 11-15)

Chandler, Elizabeth Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster (288 pp.) $16.99 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4424-0914-9 This second installment in the Kissed by an Angel series continues the supernatural suspense begun in the first book and sets up the third. Although the book does not stand on its own, Chandler provides enough information for new readers to catch up with the basics of her story. Heavily populated with teens working in a bed-and-breakfast inn on Cape Cod, the novel focuses on Ivy and her three boyfriends—one murdered, one current and one stimulating possibility. Tristan, the dead love of her life, apparently returns as an angel and saves her life when she’s in a car crash. At the hospital she meets Guy, an intriguing amnesiac who just might be Tristan come back to earth. Or, Guy could be Gregory—Tristan’s murderer—returning to earth as a demon. Will, Ivy’s current, true-blue boyfriend, and Beth, her psychic best friend, can’t convince her that Guy might be dangerous. The author untangles the supernatural identities by the end of the book, setting up a nice cliffhanger. Although the suspenseful scenes are few and far between, those familiar with the series will gain new insights into the characters while waiting for scary moments. The book’s leisurely pace derives from Ivy’s frequent introspective passages, but it still provides enough intrigue to hold readers’ interest. A pleasant beach read. (Paranormal romance. 12 & up)

GUARDIANS OF THE HIDDEN SCEPTER

Cole, Frank L. Bonneville Books (288 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-1-59955-448-8 In this mystery adventure, four star students struggle to save the world when their slightly eccentric teacher vanishes, leaving cryptic messages behind; they have only their ingenuity and expertise to solve the puzzles. Fifteen-year-old Amber relates the unfolding drama as she is joined by her friends: fashionista Lisa, techno-whiz Trendon and imperturbable Joseph. Apparently Ms. Holcomb knew she was heading for what appears to be a possible kidnapping, but she is less concerned with being rescued than she is with the safety of a powerful artifact—the Tebah Stick— connected to the original Ark of the Bible. Heavy with Indiana Jones overtones, the relic is both hugely powerful and sought by evildoers who want to use the power of the Tebah Stick to rule the world. Chance and knowledge combine to help the kids work out the clues as danger increases. Astute readers will find the clues a mixture of the opaque and the easy, but this is not realistic fiction, and the complications and daring escapades take it a big step beyond Nancy Drew or the 202

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ANGEL IN MY POCKET

Cooper, Ilene Feiwel & Friends (288 pp.) $16.99 | March 15, 2011 978-0-312-37014-5

A good-luck charm exerts a positive effect on the lives of four seventh graders at a Chicago magnet school for the performing arts. Cynical and lonely since her mother’s untimely death, 13-year-old Bette feels “empty and still, inside and out” until she finds a charm embossed with an angel. Gradually Bette starts singing again, earns a role in the school musical and addresses her grief. Her angry, disillusioned classmate Joe lives in a small apartment with his overworked, sickly single mom. Lately Joe’s resorted to extorting cash from Andy, a timid, wealthier classmate, to supplement his income. Then Joe takes Bette’s charm from her desk, and his luck changes as he channels his energy into designing sets for the musical. In a gesture of recompense, Joe gives the talisman to Andy, who passes it to his reclusive, asthmatic sister, Vivi, who dreads returning to school since gaining weight from her medications. Armed with the charm, Vivi recasts her self-image and accompanies Andy in the musical. Tracking the school production from fall tryouts through the final performance, the plot shifts in thirdperson voice from Bette to Joe to Andy and Vivi as they learn to believe in themselves, one another and the angel in their pockets. As their lives intersect, four credible, contemporary, creative preteens find faith to move forward. (Fiction. 10-14)

THE REALLY GROOVY STORY OF THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE

Crow, Kristyn Illustrator: Forshay, Christina Whitman (32 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8075-6911-5

Crow clearly wants kids to move and groove with her new version of this beloved tale. What does this reincarnation bring? A syncopated hip-hop swing that has built-in action for listening and reading aloud. “Well, Hare, he really scurried / tho’ he wasn’t even worried / ‘cause he left the silly tortoise in the dust.” Unfortunately, the “swing” can be a bit temperamental, and an adult reader will need to go through the text silently to get the rhythm right, without sounding labored. The pacing cleverly mimics the story, with speedy and slow verses, a choice that is both artful and another potential slipup for oral reading. Preparation before reading is recommended. Propelling the story forward, however, is a positive energy

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“The author paces the story beautifully, weaving together several story lines as she inches up to the final, desperate scene.” from desires of the dead

that oozes from each spread. Visual homage is paid to Normal Rockwell, Michael Jordan, Fred Astaire and even Elvis. Bringing to mind a match-up between Franklin the Turtle and the Trix Cereal Rabbit, the illustrations give readers a wide view of the race, depict Hare’s impending disaster up-close and treat them to a photo finish. The last phrase, “Hare mutters in disgust,” provides the opportunity to discuss losing with grace. An entertaining choice that will introduce children to the fable and show those familiar with it how traditional tales can be expanded. (Picture book. 3-8)

WARRIOR

Davis, Bryan Zondervan (422 pp.) $9.99 | February 1, 2011 978-0-310-71837-6 Series: Dragons of Starlight, Vol. 2 An exciting and evocative Christian fantasy puts an imaginative spin on the Exodus tale, but it is marred by a confusing structure and questionable implications. By no means a stand-alone, the narrative jumps immediately into action from the close of series opener Starlighter (2010). Jason and his companions are still endeavoring to rescue humans from their wretched slavery to dragons in an alternate world. As the newly hatched black dragon king plots to co-opt the Starlighter’s mystical power, his opponents seek his mysterious white counterpart in the Northlands. Five separate story lines follow a hefty cast of both dragons and humans to climactic cliffhangers. If the episodic plot depends heavily on convenient devices, the settings are sturdily crafted, the imagery is exquisite and the themes of friendship, sacrifice and the power of stories are heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. The protagonists, human and dragon alike, are complex and admirable; but despite assurances that some powerful secondary characters are “good” and others “evil,” it is difficult to distinguish between their behavior. Both are cryptic and manipulative, demand unquestioning submission to cruel “tests” and inflict vicious punishment for failure. However, much of this disturbing subtext will likely pass by the target audience, who will delight in the wildly inventive worldbuilding, exciting adventure and copious religious allusions. (Fantasy. 12 & up)

DESIRES OF THE DEAD

Derting, Kimberly Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $16.99 | March 15, 2011 | 978-0-06-177984-8 Series: Body Finder, Vol. 2

In this absorbing suspense tale, 16-year-old Violet has a special ability: Dead bodies call out to her, demanding that she find them. This sequel to The Body Finder (2010) easily stands on its own as a new, separate story, with only minimal references to the earlier book. Even better, Derting convinces |

readers to believe in Violet’s supernatural ability, perhaps because it stands out in the sea of supernatural fiction. Violet senses bodies that have been murdered, whether animal or human. She also can sense the “imprint” of the crime on the murderer. But adolescent Violet wants to keep her ability a secret, especially from an FBI consultant who finds her when Violet leaves an anonymous tip to the police about the location of a body. She also doesn’t want to tell anyone about the FBI, although keeping that secret strains her relationship with her adored boyfriend, Jay. Violet even wants to hide the fact that someone is stalking her. What she doesn’t know is that she might be in real danger. The author paces the story beautifully, weaving together several story lines as she inches up to the final, desperate scene. As Violet’s difficulties increase, readers see her finally begin to learn that she may find more satisfaction through using her gift to help others than by guarding her own privacy. Imaginative, convincing and successful suspense. (Paranormal thriller. 12 & up)

WITHER

DeStefano, Lauren Simon & Schuster (368 pp.) $17.99 | March 22, 2011 978-1-4424-0905-7 Series: The Chemical Garden Trilogy In this thought-provoking debut, reminiscent of The Handmaid’s Tale with a touch of Big Love, a generation of “perfectly engineered” embryos, known as the First Generation, has been watching its children die off from a virus that claims females at age 20 and males at age 25. Since her geneticist parents’ death, 16-year-old narrator Rhine and her twin brother spend endless nights warding off homeless orphans from their Manhattan basement until she is kidnapped by Gatherers, who make a living collecting potential brides and selling them off to wealthy families to breed new children. Jenna arrives at a Florida compound, where she is locked away with two other “sister wives,” and the three teens are forced to marry (and presumably procreate with) 20-year-old Linden. Through her similar appearance to Linden’s first (and now dead) love, intriguing heterochromia (two different colored eyes) and acting abilities, Rhine achieves “First Wife” status as she plots an escape. Her situation becomes more urgent when she discovers an underground laboratory where her diabolical fatherin-law performs gruesome experiments in the name of finding a cure. A taut present-tense narration ratchets up the suspense. Despite some holes in the plot, particularly in the rushed ending, Rhine’s fight for freedom against the clock—and the dissecting table—will leave readers eager for the sequel. Give this one to fans of The Hunger Games trilogy or Ally Condie’s Matched (2010). (Dystopia. YA)

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AMAZON ALPHABET

THE MIDNIGHT TUNNEL

Downing, Johnette Illustrator: Downing, Johnette Pelican (32 pp.) $16.99 | February 15, 2011 978-1-58980-879-9

Frazier, Angie Scholastic (288 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-545-20862-8 Series: Suzanna Snow

From A for the Amazon River to Z for zoologists who study its animals, this introduction to Amazonian fauna uses the English alphabet to organize fast facts about a variety of rainforest and river residents. The design is straightforward. Each page includes an upper-case letter, a statement—“Q is for quetzal,” for instance—and two or three facts about the species (with only three exceptions, all letters correspond to different animals). Simple cloth-and-paper collage illustrations incorporate pieces of paper with the appropriate letters printed in both upper and lower case. Roughly shaped, these animal pictures may be difficult for young readers to recognize. The colors are not always correct: The piranha is blue-black instead of silvery, and the jaguar shown is the relatively rare black form rather than the usual tawny, spotted creature. The facts are generally, but not completely, accurate: Katydids are crickets, not grasshoppers. The book ends with “fun facts” and some suggested conservation activities but no sources. Young readers might learn more making their own Amazon alphabets and using other books as resources. (Informational picture book. 5-8)

FORTUNATELY, UNFORTUNATELY

Foreman, Michael Illustrator: Foreman, Michael Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7613-7460-2

MUDKIN

Answering the longstanding need for an alternative to Remy Charlip’s classic but now-creaky Fortunately (1964), Foreman reworks the titular dichotomy into a young chimp’s adventuresome delivery of an umbrella to his grandma’s house. “Fortunately, it was a lovely day and Milo liked going to Granny’s house because she always had cake... / Unfortunately, a dark cloud appeared and it soon began to rain... / Fortunately, he had Granny’s umbrella...” That umbrella shows great utility not only in the sudden rainstorm, but when there’s a pirate captain and a set of giant hostile aliens to poke on the way past an erupting volcano, dinosaurs and other hazards—all depicted with luminous watercolors in big, comical scenes. There’s so much action that monotony is never really a danger, which renders occasional breaks in the titular pattern unnecessary (“ ‘Please don’t pop us! Please don’t pop us!’ squeaked the huge aliens”). Still, it’s a fresh and welcome alternative to a perennial crowd pleaser that has become a period piece. (Picture book. 5-8)

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The mysterious disappearance of a little girl from the ritzy Rosemount Hotel in Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, during the summer of 1904 triggers 11-year-old Suzanna Snow’s budding sleuthing skills. As managers of the Rosemont, Zanna’s parents expect her to follow in their footsteps, ignoring her dreams of becoming a detective like her famous Uncle Bruce. Even though nothing exciting ever happens, Zanna faithfully records her daily observations in a notebook while wreaking havoc throughout the hotel. Then one stormy night the daughter of a wealthy guest vanishes, and Zanna notices a diminutive figure in white exiting an underground tunnel used by hotel staff. Zanna also finds a scrap of white material near the tunnel, but the police ignore her clues. When Uncle Bruce arrives to investigate, Zanna can’t wait to assist with the case, but he dismisses her as a child. Undeterred, Zanna realizes, “I’m not my uncle…I can do things differently.” Relying on her instincts, Zanna eschews traditional female roles as she fits nuanced pieces into the increasingly dangerous puzzle. Each chapter opens with Zanna’s detective notes followed by her first-person narration of backstairs life at the Rosemont and the unfolding mystery. What Zanna lacks in grace and composure, she makes up for in pluck, persistence and cleverness, emerging a likely and likable Edwardian Nancy Drew. (Historical mystery. 8-12)

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Gammell, Stephen Illustrator: Gammell, Stephen Carolrhoda (32 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7613-5790-2 During a respite from the rain, a young girl heads out to play. With toys in tow, she holds court until Mudkin, an imaginary mud-creature, appears to make her queen of his land. The boisterous critter, with its turnip head and troll-like body, speaks only in mud splotches and dresses her in mud robe and crown. Together they travel to an earthy kingdom, but rain soon depletes her carriage, castle, subjects and friend. Left with just her diadem, she returns to her toys, still queen of her own invention. Done in a chaotic ’70s ink-drawn, freestyle aesthetic, Gammell’s artwork is reminiscent of Ralph Steadman (Garibaldi’s Biscuits, 2009, etc.), with its blotchy watercolors and masterful control of the legibility of the wash within messy shapes. However, the story itself is muddy and mired in a lack of clarity. In its essence, it’s a wordless tale that would have been better served by remaining so. The beauty of Gammell’s meticulously hand-lettered text and the integration of Mudkin’s “language” requires better narrative execution than it receives here. While clearly extra

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“Goodrich catches them in classic dog behavior—supine with legs akimbo, charging out the door before it is fully open, expectant with chin on the edge of the bed—and he graces them with the kind of appeal that you really want to see them again.” from say hello to zorro!

care was put into the production of this title, from the metallic highlights on the cover to the brilliantly illustrated mud, the end result is unfortunately drowned in detail. (Picture book. 5-8)

AROUND THE WORLD ON EIGHTY LEGS

Gibson, Amy Illustrator: Salmieri, Daniel Scholastic(56 pp.) $18.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-439-58755-6

The “Eighty Legs” of the title refer to sum of all the animals (their legs, actually) within—such animals as the Japanese macaques that need a Jacuzzi “when winter is a doozy” and an echidna that’s described as “Pointy, poky. / Prickly, stickly.” Amusing poems, some simple, others more sophisticated, about unusual and well-known animals from South America, the Arctic and Antarctic, Africa, Asia and Australia fill this volume. Most of North America and Europe are ignored, but from the quetzal to the cassowary, kids will go on quite a journey. The watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil illustrations are comical; the toothy goanna’s portrait takes up a whole page, with his long tail going off the edge and then curving around the top. On another double-page spread, the Australian outback stretches into the distance with one furious dingo “penned” on one side of a fence and an endless, calm flock of sheep on the other. While there is no index of titles or first lines, a “Menagerie of Facts”—interesting tidbits about each animal mentioned—is arranged alphabetically with the animal names highlighted in red. A very general map provides some geographic orientation. This collection will be enjoyed in home, classroom (the poet is a former teacher) and library settings, where young poets can try writing their own verses. Not very scientific, but fun. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

THE WILD

Golden, Christopher and Tim Lebbon Illustrator: Ruth, Greg Harper/HarperCollins (368 pp.) $15.99 | PLB: $16.89 | March 1, 2011 978-0-06-186317-2 PLB 978-0-06-186318-9 Series: The Secret Journeys of Jack London, Vol. 1

beautiful young woman, Jack recovers from his wounds, only to find that his dealings with the supernatural are far from over. Veteran horror-fantasist and comic-book author Golden teams with Lebbon, with whom he’s written a series for adults, to reimagine the early years of adventurer and novelist London. What might have been the boy’s adventure equivalent to the plethora of classic/chick-lit/monster mash-ups is instead merely a periodically interesting tale of an action “hero” who’s repeatedly rescued by outside forces from the consequences of poor decisions made in the pursuit of masculine identity. Sloppy plotting and a slow setup make this whitewash of randy, alcoholic, socialist London unsatisfying; let’s hope future volumes show improvement. (Historical fantasy. YA)

SAY HELLO TO ZORRO!

Goodrich, Carter Illustrator: Goodrich, Carter Simon & Schuster (48 pp.) $15.99 | March 22, 2011 978-1-4169-3893-4

Being a dog, Mr. Bud leads a dog’s life. It is most gratifying: eat, walk, nap, nap, nap, eat, walk, movie, sleep—“and everybody stuck to the schedule. No exceptions.” Then young Zorro, a pug, joins the family and threatens to make a hash of things. Zorro comes equipped with his own toys, his own moods and—forefend!—his own schedule, but it turns out to jibe with Mr. Bud’s, and that common ground launches their friendship. Goodrich has a delightfully economical and humorous voice: trim yet filled with barely contained emotion—kind of like a dog. “One day, right at greet and make a fuss time… / there was a stranger. / And there was trouble” (the fateful confrontation takes place over three pages). In the background, in a lighter typeface, are the voices of humans, largely ignored. And the artwork is arresting, done in watercolors of enormous personality and quality. Mr. Bud is a mutt and mostly nose; Zorro is all face: expressive, raccoon eyes and a mouth that speaks volumes if not words. Goodrich catches them in classic dog behavior—supine with legs akimbo, charging out the door before it is fully open, expectant with chin on the edge of the bed—and he graces them with the kind of appeal that you really want to see them again. (Picture book. 4-8)

Seventeen-year-old Jack London heads to the Yukon Territory in search of gold, adventure and his place in the world. His much older brother-in-law turns back early, but Jack hooks up with Merritt and Jim, two younger men, on the trail to Dawson City. After a rough winter spent trapped in a fur trader’s cabin, they arrive to find less a “city” than a mining camp peopled with demoralized, often crazy failed prospectors. On their first night in town, they’re pressed into slavery and forced to pan for gold for a gang of thugs. Jack barely has time to dream of escape before something wholly unnatural attacks and destroys the camp. Saved by a mysterious, |

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“Children will identify with Dog’s good-natured struggle through trial and error, fall in love with the evocative and funny illustrations and laugh out loud at the satisfying ending.” from dog in boots

DOG IN BOOTS

we wish you and squish you a happy New Year.” Would that all morals were so joyful. (Picture book. 4-7)

Gormley, Greg Illustrator: Angaramo, Roberta Holiday House (32 pp.) $17.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8234-2347-7

I LOST MY MOBILE AT THE MALL  eenager on the Edge of T Technological Breakdown

Inspired by the story “Puss in Boots,” Dog decides that he needs some splendid boots of his own, so he trots off to his local shoe shop to purchase a pair. While the boots are quite handsome, they are not particularly well-suited for digging, so Dog brings them back. Galoshes are great for digging, but not so much for swimming, so... The very appealing illustrations, replete with liveliness, warmth and charm, show Dog as he enthusiastically tries out a variety of footwear options and the ever-patient shopkeeper as he makes helpful suggestions and maintains an unusually generous return policy. After Dog’s failed experiments with the original boots, some galoshes, flippers, high heels and skis, he returns again, asking for “…something that’s good for digging and swimming and scratching and running. Oh, nice and furry too.” Could it be that Dog may already have what he needs? After getting an answer—and having an extremely gratifying romp—Dog returns home to start a new book, this one about a girl with a striking red hood. Uh oh! Children will identify with Dog’s good-natured struggle through trial and error, fall in love with the evocative and funny illustrations and laugh out loud at the satisfying ending. A truly enjoyable selection and a nice follow-up to a favorite fairy tale, just right for reading aloud. (Picture book. 3-6)

ANT AND GRASSHOPPER

Gray, Luli Illustrator: Ferri, Giuliano McElderry (32 pp.) $16.99 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4169-5140-7

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The title says it all: Losing her cell phone triggers a cascade of everwidening techno-disasters for Elly Pickering, the book’s high-functioning Aussie protagonist. Next, her BFF Bianca’s boyfriend, Jai—not an Elly fan—posts unattractive photos of Elly on FacePlace, and Elly’s loyal sister, Tilly, hatches a scheme to pay Jai back. This goes horribly wrong, leading to a rift between Elly and Will, her strong, silent, surfer boyfriend. Elly’s parents berate her for losing her mobile, but they also are techno-dependent, as becomes all too clear when the family home is burglarized. Photos, correspondence and study notes vanish, revealing the truth that text messages and email are ephemeral and hardware-reliant, unlike the cherished letters from Elly’s grandfather to her grandmother, carefully preserved for 50 years. As Elly adjusts to her technical deprivation, she discovers the pleasures of paying attention to one thing at a time; could multitasking be overrated? The story clearly wants readers to consider whether we really want to make our distracted, fleeting lives move even faster. Readers don’t linger in philosophical territory, though. Technology’s role in complicating our lives is the story’s engine, but the power of love and friendship to get us through the ensuing mayhem is its heart. The net result is an entertaining, thought-provoking read. (Fiction. 11 & up)

CLARITY

A retelling of the evergreen Aesop fable jauntily adds detail both in the telling and the illustrations. Ant is rich, but all spring and summer he works hard gathering things to eat for winter, and every day he counts them, Scrooge-like: 947 beans, 28 raisins and a “fine smelly wedge of yellow cheese.” Grasshopper, though, fiddles his music all summer and at harvest time asks Ant if he can come in, but Ant chides him smugly and says no. During the harsh winter, though, a lonely Ant rescues Grasshopper, dying of hunger at his door, proving that they need each other. The waggish watercolor-and–colored-pencil artwork clothes the bug-eyed bugs; Grasshopper sports a striped muffler and red cap, and Ant wears a green-and-white striped sweater. The ending is a clever twist that’s a take-off on the song “Here We Come a Wassailing”: “Here we come a waffle-ing / With syrup and with jam / Here we come to dance a jig, / And eat a lot of ham. / Pizza joy come to you, / Made of pickles, mice, and glue. / And 206

Harmer, Wendy Kane/Miller (272 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-1-935279-97-6

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Harrington, Kim Point/Scholastic (256 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-545-23050-6 A murder mystery with a twist involves teens in a police investigation that may get some of them killed. The twist comes from the main character, 16-yearold Clarity, who, along with the rest of her family, will has psychic powers. The town treats her as a freak, as Clare’s “gift” keeps getting her into trouble. When someone murders a visiting girl, however, the town calls in Clare to help solve the case. She juggles an old boyfriend who wants her back, the hottie son of the detective and the rich boy who suddenly develops an interest in her. Clare’s brother becomes the main suspect, but she’s sure the real culprit must be someone else. As the killer strikes again, Clare may be in danger. The mystery comes across as standard

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stuff but with a lilt of humor that weaves through Clare’s colloquial first-person narration and makes the story more entertaining. Harrington writes Clare as an appealing character with whom readers easily can identify. Light entertainment that will make good beach reading. (Paranormal mystery. 12 & up)

along, and her illustrations are a riot of color; her four predatory instrumentalists look cute and harmless (if initially ungracious). A breezy nudge for the nascent little music maker. (Picture book. 4-6)

I AM THE BOOK

Editor: Hopkins, Lee Bennett Illustrator: Yayo Holiday House (32 pp.) $16.95 | March 15, 2011 978-0-8234-2119-0

MOTHER GOOSE PICTURE PUZZLES

Hillenbrand, Will Illustrator: Hillenbrand, Will Marshall Cavendish (40 pp.) $17.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7614-5808-5 Hillenbrand introduces the idea of rebuses to newly emergent readers with a gathering of likely-to-be-familiar Mother Goose rhymes—from “Hey diddle, diddle, / the [cat] and the [fiddle]” to “Twinkle, twinkle, little [star].” To make the translations ultra-easy, he provides literal visual interpretations for each rhyme in good-humored cartoon scenes featuring smiling people or animals, generally in country dress and settings. (He moderates verisimilitude for the audience appropriately: Jill’s fallen male companion and Humpty Dumpty are unhappy after their accidents but plainly not grievously injured.) He even labels the relevant figures, all of whom or which are larger versions of the rebuses: “cake,” “baker’s man” and “baby,” for instance, or “hill,” “pail,” “water” and “crown (another word for top of head).” As a technique for promoting visual and verbal literacy at once this game has a good track record, and young audiences put off by the crudely illustrated likes of Blanche Fisher Wright’s Real Mother Goose Picture Word Rhymes (1916, 1987) or the much older Mother Goose in Hieroglyphics (1849, 1973) will both enjoy and benefit from this shorter but more child-friendly outing. (Nursery rhymes. 3-5)

In a whole that definitely doesn’t measure up to the sum of its parts, this sadly uneven collection opens with six inventive celebrations in which books and water are interwoven themes. It closes with five landlocked tributes to bookishness and shoehorns in between one off-topic contribution by Hopkins and another by Jane Yolen. Eight of the 13 poems are new, and all (of the relevant ones) share a sense of excitement at, as Karla Kuskin puts it, “all wonders of wandering / wonderful pages,” from Beverly McLoughland’s soothing “ebb and flow of tidal words / Easy under me,” to the soaring promise in Tom Robert Shield’s title poem: “I’ll plant in you / a spring-seedling / with bursting life / while you are reading. / I am the book / You are needing.” Yayo gamely tries to provide at least an impression of unity with a typically lighthearted series of sea- and beachscapes with books taking on such roles as a whale’s tail and an entire ocean, but several of the poems just don’t lend themselves to that sort of setting. A poor successor to Hopkins’ Good Books, Good Times (1990), flawed by a lack of cohesive vision and particularly by Yolen’s sour “Words that take / a thought, / a wish, / a sentiment, / a prayer, / and then suck out / all the air.” (Picture book/poetry. 8-10)

THE TALENT SHOW

Hodgkinson, Jo Illustrator: Hodgkinson, Jo Andersen Press USA (32 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7613-7487-9 The animal band needs a vocalist. When the four beastly friends learn about the Talent Show, they practice day and night. With Croc on piano, Lion on trumpet, Bear on drums and Snake shaking the maracas, they think they have a shot to win. But something is missing; it’s Bear who realizes, “If we want to win this thing, / One of us will have to sing.” All four try vocals, but none succeed. A little red bird—the same bird whose musical aspirations they mocked just days before—arrives to help the animals, but again they reject him. Shortly after, a very tall and mysterious figure in a trenchcoat impresses the whole quartet. Even the youngest readers will delightedly guess that he’s the bird in disguise (on stilts). Heartfelt apologies and a winning performance follow. Hodgkinson’s light verse bounces |

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h s u e s tau f fa c h e r Tillie the Terrible Swede: How One Woman, A Sewing Needle, And A Bicycle Changed History

Sue Stauffacher Illustrated by Sarah McMenemy Knopf $17.99 Jan. 25, 2011 9780375844423

In May, Sue Stauffacher will mount her bicycle in Grand Rapids, Mich., where she first learned about the subject of her picture-book biography Tillie the Terrible Swede, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy. The author will ride roughly 200 miles, stopping at schools and museums along the way, to Chicago, where Tillie Anderson, a young Swedish immigrant working in a tailor shop, first discovered the bicycle and began to race in the 1890s. Donning a cycling outfit much like the one Tillie designed, created and wore herself more than a century ago, Stauffacher tells us why Tillie and her bike have much to teach young people about fitness, community, perseverance and independence. Q: How did you discover Tillie Anderson? A: Kids ask where ideas come from and I say, “The bathroom at Big O’s restaurant [in Grand Rapids, Mich.].” There was a framed postcard on the bathroom wall that said something like “TILLIE THE TERRIBLE SWEDE RIDES PAST THE PANTLIND HOTEL.” I wondered, “Who is Tillie the Terrible Swede?” So, I Googled her. There’s very little about her, but I could write away for back issues of some old magazines that mentioned her. This was 2005. I got so excited about her. Q: How did you decide which details to include and which to leave out? A: The impulse is to include all these details, but there’s a point at which it becomes too much for the medium. I feel that with a picture-book biography, the goal is to pique children’s interest about a person, and I wanted the book to race along, like Tillie did. I ask myself, “If I leave all this in, what am I losing in terms of energy and flow?” The illustrations do a lot. Q: Did you have contact with artist Sarah McMenemy?

Q: You have written other picture-book biographies, of Althea Gibson and Bessie Smith. You’ve also written a number of middle-grade novels. Do you approach them differently? A: Imaginerience, my blog, explores the question “What is my creative process and how can I help kids with their process?” It’s a combination of imagination and experience. In Althea Gibson’s story, even with all that information, I’m still making things up—I’m making up dialogue. I want to be true to the emotional and factual information we have about the people I write about. I think kids think, “You’re different, you can do that.” And I say no, I’m not, and ask them, “What happened yesterday? What piqued your interest in the news?” Truth is stranger than fiction. You just have to be openly searching for story topics. — Jenny Brown p hoto BY Rog e r Gi l l e s

A: I haven’t had contact with Sarah directly. Sarah had [a scrapbook I had put together about cycling]. Also I had been in touch with Alice [Olson Roepke, grandniece to Tillie Anderson]. Tillie had left her memorabilia with Alice. Alice was excited about the book, and she sent PDFs of newspaper clippings to Sarah…It’s very seamless. I can easily comment on the illustrations and give feedback, and that’s passed on. Her illustrations were so delightful.

The other riders did wear outfits like Tillie’s. Some of the other racers’ outfits still looked bulky. Some of them had bloomers, some had tunics. Tillie was on the cutting edge with the body-hugging outfit. She was about the speed! Tillie belonged to that class of elite athletes, like the Williams sisters and Michael Jordan. You can see her saying, “This is the most streamlined.”

Q: Did Tillie set a trend with the outfits she made? A: In the illustrations of the velodrome races, it seems as though the other female cyclists are wearing outfits similar to hers. 208

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“Huxley’s story, his only children’s book and not meant for widespread publication, starts good and grim—just the thing to hold a young audience.” from crows of pearblossom

LIKE MANDARIN

Hubbard, Kirsten Delacorte (320 pp.) $17.99 | PLB: $20.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-385-73935-1 PLB 978-0-385-90784-2

Mandarin Ramey is the girl everyone wants to be or be with. Everyone in the tiny town of Washokey, Wyo., is obsessed with Mandarin, but no one as much as Grace. At 14, Grace is bookish and awkward, the exact opposite of the wild and carefree Mandarin. When they are paired to complete a school project, it is a dream come true for Grace. Mandarin helps Grace find freedom, encouraging her to dance in the blizzard of cotton falling from the trees, skinny-dip in the canal and liberate the animal trophies decorating the grocery store. As Grace begins to emulate Mandarin’s dress, attitude and wild ways, she must also confront the darker side of her new friend. Mandarin’s life is steeped in fear, liquor and a large helping of lies. Grace forgives Mandarin at every turn, but a final betrayal proves nearly impossible to get past. The sparse landscape is the perfect backdrop for the richly detailed characters that populate this coming-of-age story. Grace’s escalating relationship with Mandarin is so raw that it is painful to watch at times. Unfortunately, Grace’s character is often overshadowed by the much more provocative and interesting Mandarin, making this more Mandarin’s story than Grace’s. An attempt to present Grace’s take-away lesson at the end feels artificial. This is a good story that would have been better with a change of focus. (Fiction. 12 & up)

THE HUNT OF THE UNICORN

Humphreys, C.C. Knopf (352 pp.) $16.99 | PLB: $22.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-375-85872-7 PLB 978-0-375-95872-4 Unicorns and adolescent girls, generally considered a perfect pairing, are here filtered through what seems to be an adolescent male concept of what teen girls might like (unicorns, handsome boys, plus some gory bits). Pages of awkward exposition, via the hackneyed device of an ancestor’s journal, launch a lackluster story. Once upon a time, Elayne’s ancestor journeyed to and escaped from Goloth, Land of the Fabulous Beast; now, the modern NYC teen, whose cancer-ridden father has just had another setback, has been called by a unicorn in need to fulfill said ancestor’s promise. Once in Goloth, Elayne spends her time imprisoned and/or responding inanely to hair-raising exploits (rescued from a dungeon, lifted wet and half-frozen to a boat, she worries about the fishy smell of the cloth she dries herself with). She also comes across as a bit dim: Despite the frequent mentions of unicorn horn as a cure for illness, she |

takes several hundred pages to realize it could save her father. Indeed, there is a disturbing thread of misogyny throughout; Elayne, Princess Amaryllis (whiny and overly fond of chocolate) and even female unicorn Heartsease all spend most of their time imprisoned and answering to the men (there are no other women), and while Elayne eventually foments revolution and overturns the evil ruler, she’s mostly figurehead and aid to heroic unicorn Moonspill. Don’t bother. (author’s note) (Fantasy. 12-14)

THE CROWS OF PEARBLOSSOM

Huxley, Aldous Illustrator: Blackall, Sophie Abrams (40 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8109-9730-1

Huxley’s story, his only children’s book and not meant for widespread publication, starts good and grim—just the thing to hold a young audience. Mrs. Crow’s eggs are mysteriously disappearing: 297 eggs a year, “a fresh egg every single day—except Sundays, of course, and public holidays.” The culprit is a rattlesnake that lives in a hole under her tree. “I’m having breakfast,” he explains with sinister meaning when she finally catches him in the act. Mrs. Crow suggests to Mr. Crow that he go down the hole and kill the snake. Mr. Crow demurs: “Your ideas are seldom good” (yes, touches of rudeness are sprinkled throughout). He consults the wise owl, who concocts a shrewd plan—without Mr. Crow’s input; “keep your beak shut and do exactly what I do,” spoken in a high tone—to fashion clay decoy eggs. The snake eats them, dies (after a lecture from Mrs. Crow) and is subsequently used as a clothesline for diapers. Though the book is handsomely designed, Blackall’s artwork, accomplished as it is, isn’t a snug fit. She captures the menace of the snake, but the crows are a different matter, with their dead, sharklike eyes, silly clothes and strange wings resembling spruce bows. Hair curlers hardly embody the shrew in Mrs. Crow, and Mr. Crow’s martini is just trivial. The story, however, is a powerful hymn to smarts, with unrepentant scorn for the greedy and the witless. (Picture book. 4-8)

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“Gentle storytelling and a clever concept set this bedtime book apart from the pack.” from tell me the day backwards

SMALL AS AN ELEPHANT

plot. For more compelling tales of corporate malfeasance, try Max Barry’s Jennifer Government (2003) or Scott Westerfeld’s So Yesterday (2004) instead of this rather bland offering in a field overrun with dystopias. (Dystopia. YA)

Jacobson, Jennifer Richard Candlewick (288 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4155-9

TELL ME THE DAY

BACKWARDS Eleven-year-old Jack is older than Lamb, Albert his years; he has to be. His mother, sufIllustrator: McPhail, David fering from an unnamed mental disorder, Candlewick (40 pp.) has left him behind again. This time he $15.99 | March 1, 2011 is in a campground on Mount Desert Is978-0-7636-5055-1 land in Maine, far from his Boston home. When he wakes up, there is no sign of his mother—no rental Gentle storytelling and a clever concept set this bedtime car, camping gear or food. Jack only has his cell phone (which his mother is not answering), $14, a tent and his love of ele- book apart from the pack. A little bear asks his mama to tell phants—a near-obsession that gives structure to his otherwise him what they did that day, only backwards. Together, the two chaotic life. Because Jack is used to his mother’s manic behav- of them recount Timmy’s adventures and quiet moments, from ior, he quickly goes into survival mode, figuring out ways to get taking an unexpected dip in a pool to eating some delicious food and coming up with plans to get home to Boston while honey to seeing a pack of beautiful purple butterflies. When evading curious adults. Jack’s mother has told him what will they’ve gone through the whole day, back to the beginning, happen if he gets turned into the authorities: He will be put Mama reminds Timmy that before anything happened they into foster care or, worse, sent to live with his maternal grand- were hibernating but that tonight they’ll just sleep one night. mother. While there are moments when Jack’s journey relies Inspired by a game his own family played, Lamb’s simple effecton coincidence, and his ability to elude intervention stretches and-cause backwards progression manages to always make percredibility slightly, Jacobson masterfully puts readers into Jack’s fect sense. “I ran and jumped off a high, high rock into the deep mind—he loves and understands his mother, but sometimes his pool,” Timmy recalls. “And before that?” prompts his mother: judgments are not always good, and readers understand. His “I was chased by bees, and they were stinging me!” Kids may love and knowledge of elephants both sustains him and pleas- take a couple readings to fully grasp the author’s intent, but ingly shapes the story arc. Jack’s journey to a new kind of family few books illustrate the notion of “before” better than this. McPhail’s always playful and evocative illustrations set against is inspiring and never sappy. (Fiction. 10-14) a beautiful countryside perfectly capture this original way of reTHOSE THAT WAKE membering a day’s events. An exceptional idea and a truly fine Karp, Jesse follow through. (Picture book. 4-8) Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (336 pp.) THIEF GIRL $16.99 | March 1, 2011 Lee, Ingrid 978-0-547-55311-5 Lorimer Press (152 pp.) $9.95 | March 1, 2011 Laura and Mal have both lost 978-1-55277-538-7 their families; Laura’s parents have mysteriously forgotten their only child, and “Bad choice, good choice always Mal’s brother vanished suddenly. Stuck come back—like ghosts.” Avvy Go’s mothin a dismal technocentric, corporationer’s words haunt her. Avvy Go, a student at controlled New York City, the two teens Oak Ridge High School, lives in a commujoin up with disillusioned schoolteacher Mike and shadowy nity of immigrants across a railway bridge researcher Jon on a quest to find the Librarian, the one perseparating her from the older, richer part son who can explain the strange happenings. Karp’s gray and dispassionate setting unfortunately carries over to the narra- of town. Her parents run a Chinese take-out restaurant at the tive and the characters, as though both plot and people are food court, where Avvy works, but she wants to fit in at school, obscured by fog. Mal is anger incarnate, with attempts at sub- to cross that bridge separating the two communities and cultler character development providing only the thinnest veneer; tures. She’s tried the disappearing act, keeping to herself—tryLaura’s personality, meanwhile, vanishes as easily as her iden- ing to fit in by not being seen—but realizes that “if you act like tity. Instead of engaging with concerns over the cultural accep- a nobody, that’s what people see. No body.” But to fit in, she tance of technology, à la Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother (2008), makes a series of bad choices—stealing, lying and befriending Karp seems to adopt a Luddite position, categorizing all forms her sister’s enemy. A good girl with a powerful conscience, Avvy of gadgetry as a detriment to society. Both the burned-out– consults “The Oracle” in her school newspaper, who advises her teacher and powerful-librarian tropes appear to be an authorial to face up to her mistakes. Though Avvy’s first-person voice is insider joke to adult readers rather than critical elements of the didactic, her story ends realistically, with no simple solutions— 210

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just a determination to get on with her life, as complicated as it may be. Lee’s prose in this high-interest/low–reading level novel for teens is simple, adorned with an occasional glittering phrase: Avvy’s brother, in his new, too-big white karate outfit, “drooped like an ice cream melting on a stick.” A brisk tale with an important message. (Fiction. 10-15)

THE SECRET BOX

Lehman, Barbara Illustrator: Lehman, Barbara Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (48 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-547-23868-5 Once again, Caldecott Honoree Lehman (The Red Book, 2004) presents surprising visuals that playfully and mysteriously connect children across space and time. In the top floor of what seems an orphanage, amid rows of empty beds, a bespectacled boy hides a saltwater-taffy box under a floorboard. The box, readers know, holds photos, a postcard, tokens, ticket stubs and a map fragment, with a route sketched in red-penciled arrows. Double-page spreads of watercolor and gouache depict decades of transformation, as a rural landscape becomes a burgeoning city crowding out the sky. Two groups of children, separated by generations, discover the box of treasures, successively locating the cistern where the map quest begins and the stream—now buried in a brick-lined culvert—leading to the lovely, colorful Seahorse Pier. The author beckons readers, with the first trio, into a turreted room at the pier, where a crowd of kids—including the bespectacled lad who began the tale—enjoys a living space with hammocks, toys, food—all that the sere orphanage ward lacked. Ending with a modern boy and girl contemplating the culvert’s entrance, she invites readers (her wordless pictures clearly beg to be read, pored over) to feel the tenuous bonds of child life loosen. Wonderful! (Picture book. 4-8)

BABY SAYS “MOO!”

Macken, JoAnn Early Illustrator: Walker, David Disney Hyperion (32 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-1-4231-3400-8

says moo? / I can’t see how. / Everybody knows that / a cat says meow. / A bird says tweet, / and people say hello. / A cow says moo, / everywhere you go” these simple lines are accompanied by tiny thumbnails of cat, gray-haired woman, bird and cow. In less-deft hands this could be an annoying distraction, but here it only enhances the reading experience for young ones. A lady, bird, cat, horse and dog are included in this gentle romp, which concludes with a finale meeting—“Wake up, Baby! Here’s a cow for you!” Sure to satisfy young toddlers with one-on-one reading and entertain preschoolers in an interactive storytime. (Picture book. 1-3)

THESE HANDS

Mason, Margaret H. Illustrator: Cooper, Floyd Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (32 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-547-21566-2 With tenderness and pride, a grandfather shares the many skills of his hands with his grandson, who is a happy student. Those hands can tie knots, play the piano, perform card tricks and swing a baseball bat. The text is beautifully cadenced. “Well, I can still teach a young fellow / how to do a waterfall shuffle / —yes I can.” But then comes the mood-shattering remembrance. Those hands, not so very long ago, could not touch the dough in the Wonder Bread factory. Those hands did not stay still: They joined in protest with many other hands and voices and achieved equality. The little boy learns all his lessons well, with a tasty loaf of bread as his crowning achievement. The author has based her story on conversations with an African-American bakery union activist, according to her author’s note. Cooper’s signature artwork in muted shades of yellows and browns intensifies the warmth of the intergenerational bonding. The faces are particularly expressive. For all the many titles that appear on segregation and protest for younger readers, this one stands tall not just for delving into a piece of labor history not previously covered, but for its ability to relate history with heart and resonance. (Picture book. 4-8)

Macken carefully structures a seemingly simple picture book about a baby learning animal sounds—or in this case stuck on the popular bovine one— using simple rhyming text, a progressive repetition of previously encountered creatures and the harmonious refrain of, “Baby says, “Moo!” Walker complements the story with muted bright hues portraying the sunny dispositions of baby and parents as they journey to various settings from urban store to rural farm. In the mostly blue text (set in a type that looks like hand printing), animal sounds are printed in contrasting purple and coupled with a miniature picture of the sound’s owner. “A cat |

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CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF BOYS

books. Being in on a joke is a treat for young readers, and this little treasure is one that will get passed around. Like the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it is all about. (Early reader. 5-8)

McDonald, Megan Candlewick (272 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4615-8 Series: The Sisters Club, Vol. 3

BLOODLINE RISING

First kisses have Stevie Reel and her older sister Alex on opposite sides of the male-interest spectrum, while youngest sister Joey cannot even imagine considering boys over her frogs. This latest Sister Club volume balances middle-school co-ed hilarity with values and pre-adolescent angst. When Alex, the family’s star actress, unexpectedly loses the school’s leading role of Juliet to Jayden “Fluffernutter” Pffeffer’s mediocre acting skills, her plans to experience a first kiss with her newest love interest, Scott Towel as Romeo, are thwarted. Furious, Alex quits the play and launches a spy mission with her two sisters to keep an eye on things and prevent Scott’s first acting kiss. In science class, Stevie’s cloud experiment gets a bit stormy when Owen “Wire Rims” O’Malley, her science partner, attempts a first kiss, which ends in an embarrassingly wet and icy fiasco for Stevie. McDonald keeps readers laughing with all the antics while expertly folding in Shakespeare references and double entendres in her now-familiar combination of journalstyle entries from Joey’s perspective, play scenes outlining Alex’s viewpoint and an overall narrative told in Stevie’s glib voice. (Fiction. 9-12)

JOE AND SPARKY, SUPERSTARS!

Michalak, Jamie Illustrator: Remkiewicz, Frank Candlewick $15.99 | March 22, 2011 978-0-7636-4578-6 Series: Joe and Sparky

Moran, Katy Candlewick (352 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4508-3

A boy becomes entangled in his family’s mysterious past in this standalone sequel to Bloodline (2009). Despite his barbarous British parentage, Cai thinks of sophisticated seventh-century Constantinople as home, using his semimagical powers of stealth and cajolery to gain renown as a thief. When betrayal sends him in chains to his parents’ remote homeland, he is ensnared by the bloody heritage his father strove to keep hidden. Adopting the roles of slave, hostage, foster-son, witch, spy, warrior and even prince, Cai struggles to determine who he truly is and where he belongs. While the austerely elegant prose skillfully evokes two very different vanished worlds, readers unfamiliar with the minutiae of Anglo-Saxon history may find themselves lost in its convoluted politics; others may be disconcerted when memorable characters and intriguing plot threads are introduced only to disappear. No matter; the narrative is propelled by Cai’s acutely observant voice and vibrant personality: cocksure, scheming, dishonest, sullen, passionate, painfully insecure and utterly irresistible. At its heart, this is the story of a boy’s turbulent relationship with his father, torn between resentment and admiration, rivalry and respect, which renders the tale both as intimate as heartbreak and universal as hope. Grim, lyrical and unforgettable. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

THE HONEYBEE MAN

Nargi, Lela Illustrator: Brooker, Kyrsten Schwartz & Wade/Random (40 pp.) $17.99 | PLB: $20.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-375-84980-0 PLB 978-0-375-95695-9

Joe the Giraffe is always ready for a new adventure, especially if he can convince his subdued turtle-buddy Sparky to join him. While on a walk, the friends look into a house and Tell it to the bees. The ancient art spot some new small people in a box—actually a TV gameshow host looking for new talent for his dance competition. Joe of beekeeping is alive and well in Brooklyn, N.Y. Fred is dedisets out to find Sparky’s talent. Though Sparky is a good sport— cated to his bees and greets them each morning on his rooftop. trying to dance the Hokey Pokey, cracking knock-knock jokes, He has named the queens Mab, Boadicea and Nefertiti, after racing and balancing—he resigns himself to a talentless life. legendary historic figures; the bees are his “sweeties” and his At the last minute, though, Joe finds just the right skill hid- “darlings.” He hums with them as they swarm and flies with them ing right under his shell. This warm buddy story is just about in his imagination as they search for the most fragrant flowers. perfect for new readers who are forging new friendships. They When the time is right, he carefully gathers their honey, jars it, will enjoy watching this funny duo, especially when Joe’s plans shares it with his neighbors and, of course, savors some of that do not turn out as planned. Amusing color illustrations on each luscious honey himself. Nargi’s descriptive language is filled spread (usually involving sight gags with Sparky’s little legs and with smell and sound and sight, carrying readers right up to shell), four short chapters filled with easy sight words and lots that rooftop with Fred, while seamlessly interweaving detailed of action, plus enough complexity to make it a bit of a challenge, information about beekeeping. An afterword of “amazing facts” make this a good choice for readers who are ready for chapter explains more about apiarists, bees’ life cycles and more, all in 212

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“Recovery and relapse, love, forgiveness, regret and remembrance make for tough roadblocks along her journey. Each character is sharply drawn—particularly the new friends she makes outside of her old high-school clique.” from recovery road

light, easy-to-understand syntax. Brooker’s oil-and-collage illustrations, appropriately rendered in greens and browns, golds and ambers, enhance the text beautifully. They accurately depict Fred’s and the bees’ actions while creating a stylized, fanciful view of a homey Brooklyn neighborhood, complete with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Even the endpapers are integral to the work, presenting labeled diagrams of bees and beekeeping materials. Eccentric and unusual with an appealing, gentle charm. (Picture book. 5-10)

RECOVERY ROAD

Nelson, Blake Scholastic (320 pp.) $17.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-545-10729-7

High-school badass and party girl “Mad Maddie” lands in rehab after pushing herself over the toxicity limit one too many times. At first her anger and stubbornness make it easy for her to resist the treatments and therapy sessions, but when she meets Stewart, an older, dreamy, floppy-haired resident at movie night, her attitude takes a turn for the better. Nelson then follows her rehabilitation from her re-entry into high school and then into college, packing in lots along the way. Recovery and relapse, love, forgiveness, regret and remembrance make for tough roadblocks along her journey. Each character is sharply drawn—particularly the new friends she makes outside of her old high-school clique. Thematically, the author handles the topic of addiction carefully. Readers know that Maddie and the friends she makes are making bad decisions, and they witness the fallout of addiction as it tears apart the victims’ lives and her friends and family. Where the author excels in theme he falls short in plotting, however, and the passage of time from rehab to college feels messy and uneven, with too much packed into the book’s slim span of pages. Still, readers will be captivated by the story of Maddie and people in her life, and the strengths and losses that help her succeed. (Fiction. 14-18)

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T HE JELLYBEANS AND THE BIG CAMP KICKOFF

Numeroff, Laura and Nate Evans Illustrator: Munsinger, Lynn Abrams (32 pp.) $19.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8109-9765-3 Those colorful Jellybeans bring their pep and playfulness to the great outdoors (The Jellybeans and the Big Book Bonanza, 2010, etc.). Emily (a dog) loves to dance, Anna (a rabbit) loves to read, Bitsy (a pig) loves arts and crafts and Nicole (a cat) loves soccer. Nicole, in fact, is something of a fanatic, even balancing the ball on one paw as she sleeps. The perfect place for all four girls to indulge in their passions, as well as learn about some new ones, is at Camp Pook-A-Wow. Most of the girls find their favorite pastimes there, and there’s also swimming and hiking and toasting marshmallows together around a campfire. But Nicole is disappointed that soccer is not among the activities offered; she tries tennis, gymnastics and kayaking, but none of these sports goes very well for her. Thank goodness for friends and for camp counselor Mrs. Jangley-Cheezer (a tall wolf in a bright yellow uniform), who helps organize a soccer team. All the Jellybeans work together to make it a success. “Hooray for us!” The tale unfolds with warmth and reassuring humor, and Numeroff and Evans include all the relevant camp activities, making this latest Jellybeans adventure a good primer for young would-be campers. Munsinger’s watercolor illustrations are bright and suggest vigor and happiness, like the Jellybeans themselves. (Picture book. 3-6)

SUDDENLY IN THE DEPTHS OF THE FOREST

Oz, Amos Harcourt (144 pp.) $15.99 | March 21, 2011 978-0-547-55153-1

Matti and Maya live in a remote village in which there are no animals. Not a dog, cat, cow or bird; not fish nor bug nor worm. Did Nehi the Demon curse the village, and is he still a menacing presence? A collective wall of silence has been erected, reflecting a willful, selective memory. The community has a dynamic of bullying and cruelty, so those few that do speak of it are vilified and have retreated into bizarre eccentricity. Matti and Maya have actually seen a fish, sensed a bird in flight and had other experiences that gave them the impetus to search out the answers. Oz takes this dark, strange, otherworldly tale many layers deeper. Although the language is lovely, with many striking images, it is also often esoteric and obscuring. The narrator is an omniscient observer who tends to sermonize. Repetition and reiteration are deliberately employed, with several bits of plot and character descriptions reappearing almost word for word throughout the work. Even Matti and

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Maya often feel a sense of déjà vu. They might forget again, or they might break the cycle. Is the work fantasy, fable or allegory? In the end, after all the strangeness, the moral is rather obvious, but maybe young readers need to hear it. Flawed, but intriguing and unusual. (Fiction. 10-14)

experiment, featuring a sophisticated palette of purple, gray and lavender and depicting her protagonists in satiric style as grotesquely corpulent. That said, she may wish to consider spending slightly less time on her art in the future and more on what she does best of all: storytelling. (Picture book. 4-8)

JERSEY TOMATOES ARE THE BEST

LIAR, LIAR

Paulsen, Gary Wendy Lamb/Random (128 pp.) $12.99 | PLB: $15.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-385-74001-2 PLB 978-0-385-90817-7

Padian, Maria Knopf (352 pp.) 16.99 | PLB: $19.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-375-86579-4 PLB 978-0-375-96579-1 The worlds of ballet and tennis provide an intriguing background for this story about two gifted best friends. Eva’s talent for ballet and Henry’s (“don’t call her Henriette”) success in tennis, combined with the parental pressure they endure, provide a tight connection. Each is about to have an experience that could move them closer to their dreams. Eva survives a tough audition for a prestigious ballet program, while Henry settles into a Florida tennis academy known for turning out winners. Despite making a good impression, though, Eva struggles with confidence and self-image. Henry, however, not only makes friends but also begins a romance with the academy’s star. When Eva sustains an injury, her tenuous hold slips and serious problems are revealed. Henry is ready to go to her friend even if it means sacrificing her position at the academy. Told in the distinctive voices of the two main characters, this is a compelling look at similarities between the high-pressure worlds of arts and sports for young people involved at a high level. While there is nothing new about teens struggling with self-image, the interesting protagonists, details from both worlds and the well-drawn, flawed adult characters make this a worthwhile read. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Eighth grader Kevin has a talent most adults can’t fully appreciate: He’s a gifted liar. He tells adults what they want to hear, that he’s done his homework, had a great day at school and there aren’t any dirty dishes in his room. Unfortunately, faced with a team project with a very focused, annoying classmate, he lets the lies get away from him. To avoid working with Katie, he tells her he has a severe chronic illness. In order to get closer to his major crush, Tina, he begins to skip classes, providing teachers with creative (but surely unbelievable) excuses. On a roll, he hits a little closer to home, playing his teen siblings off each other, then inadvertently widening the gap in his parents’ relationship by lying to both of them. Each lie encourages another until, finally, the truth comes out and Kevin must face the consequences of his creative storytelling. This brief, humorous effort will appeal to reluctant middle-school readers, who will recognize the truth behind witty Kevin’s inventive deceptions. (Fiction. 9-12)

WHAT CAN’T WAIT

Pérez, Ashley Hope Carolrhoda Lab (240 pp.) $17.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7613-6155-8

HOGG, HOGG, & HOG

Palatini, Margie Illustrator: Palatini, Margie Simon & Schuster (32 pp.) $15.99 | March 22, 2011 978-1-4424-0322-2

Three clever pigs are at the forefront of trendsetting when it comes to The Big City. Thanks to them, the whole metropolis is enamored of the newest thing: oinking. The trouble? In time, oinking becomes passé. Desperate to return to indispensability, the pigs think back to their days on the farm and decide to steal a line or two from their old pals Sheep, Frog and Duck. Unfortunately for them, trouble arrives when the former friends come knocking for their share of the pie. Palatini’s wry spoof about Madison Avenue and its trends and their shelf life probably won’t make much sense to kids, nor will in-jokes to things like HGX NEWS (which, truth be told, don’t always make a lot of sense to adults, either). As for the art, the digital collage is eye-catching if not exceptional. Palatini’s first foray into illustration is a noble 214

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If only 17-year-old Marisa Morena could figure out her future in her Houston barrio as well as she solves calculus problems. How can she even think of entering the engineering program at UT-Austin with so much going on? She’s needed to watch her young niece so her sister (with no insurance) can work a double shift to pay off her husband’s hospital bills, she has plenty of shifts of her own every weekend at the grocery store and her illiterate, immigrant father constantly reminds her that “Girls and numbers don’t mix.” And as if she doesn’t have enough “fucking problemas,” what with tiptoeing around her stubborn father and trying to please her needy mother while squeezing in secret AP Calculus practice sessions, the teen watches her peers get pregnant and married (in that order) and wonders if staying in Houston can be “good enough.” First-time author Pérez fills a hole in YA lit by giving Marisa an authentic voice that smoothly blends Spanish phrases into dialogue and captures the pressures of both

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“Phillipps cranks up the visual energy by strewing her brightly lit street scenes with no laughing figures, arms and legs flung out joyfully. Like its predecessor, definitely not a snoozer.” from wink: the ninja who wanted to nap

Latina life and being caught between two cultures. With help from a boyfriend with similar desires, a supportive teacher and an unexpected hand from her family, Marissa learns to put her own goals first in a hopeful but never too-tidy ending. Un magnifico debut. (Fiction. 12 & up)

science project ideas to search for in the artwork provides added dimension. A great book for sharing with classes on many levels, this is both a good primer for science fairs and for skills such as being a good friend, appreciating differences and persistence. (Picture book. 6-9)

WINK: THE NINJA WHO WANTED TO NAP

Phillipps, J.C. Illustrator: Phillipps, J.C. Viking (40 pp.) $15.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-670-01192-6

Ah, the price of fame. Repeatedly stymied in his efforts to take a nap by a trio of giggling groupies, the overcaffeinated ninja-turned-circus acrobat who achieved his dream in Wink, the Ninja Who Wanted To Be Noticed (2009) at last enlists similarly black-swathed classmates from the Summer Moon School for Young Ninjas to lead his stalkers off in merry chases for an hour or two. Also returning for this sequel are Wink’s wise grandma and frazzled-but-savvy sensei (“One zebra alone is easily seen. A herd creates confusion,” he intones. “Why can’t Master Zutsu say anything normal? Wink thought. Then he got an idea”). Bright patterns and heavy textures give the paper-collage illustrations a 3D look; borders contain inset illustrations, while full-bleed spreads allow readers to pull back for more expansive views. Phillipps cranks up the visual energy by strewing her brightly lit street scenes with laughing figures, arms and legs flung out joyfully. Like its predecessor, definitely not a snoozer. (Picture book. 5-7)

NO FAIR SCIENCE FAIR

Poydar, Nancy Illustrator: Poydar, Nancy Holiday House (32 pp.) $14.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8234-2269-2

DARK MIRROR

Putney, Mary Jo St. Martin’s Griffin (320 pp.) $9.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-312-62284-8 This enjoyable supernatural timetravel story follows many of the conventions of romance novels, with its characters mostly drawn from English aristocracy (in this case in 1803) and an impossible romance with a drop-dead gorgeous young heir to a dukedom. However, modern readers need not cope with archaic language or conventions, as the characters speak in modern phrases, have mostly modern relationships and even adopt cute modern nicknames. Lady Victoria, known as “Tory,” discovers that she has magical talent, a devastating blow, as society strongly disapproves of magic in the aristocracy. Her secret revealed, her father sends her to Lackland Academy, which promises to drain her magic from her. Instead Tory finds kindred spirits there—and that luscious lord—who develop their magical talents in order to save England from Napoleon. Almost caught by school authorities, Tory stumbles through Merlin’s Mirror, which transports her, and later her friends, to 1940. There they work to control the weather as the English evacuate the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk. But can they all survive, even the handsome lordling? Well, it’s a romance novel. No one expects it to be plausible. Putney, an award-winning adult romance author, keeps the pace fast, adds a dash of suspense and shines a friendly light on history while providing plenty of entertainment in her first novel for teens. (Historical fantasy. 12 & up)

School stories are Poydar’s niche, and this latest fits right in, addressing the (n)ever-popular science fair. One week before the big day, Otis still doesn’t have a project, while all around, his classmates busily make observations, take measurements and record data. His laid-back teacher subtly points him toward a project perfectly suited to his interests: birds. Otis spends Monday and Tuesday preparing a milk carton to serve as a birdfeeder, while his classmates pooh-pooh not only his idea but his materials and his entire project. Doggedly, he sticks with it, recording his observations, which include a lack of birds. On Friday, Otis still has no bird sightings, but the judges are impressed with his persistence and award him the “Stick-with-It Prize.” And just as it is awarded, everyone sees birds at his feeder. Teachers will appreciate Mr. Zee’s parting line as a classmate tells Otis he is lucky: “Stick-to-it-iveness isn’t luck.” The author’s gouache-and-pencil illustrations portray a busy classroom full of budding scientists. A list of |

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PIRATE VS. PIRATE

THE QUEEN OF WATER

Quattlebaum, Mary Illustrator: Boiger, Alexandra Disney Hyperion (40 pp.) $16.99 | March 22, 2011 978-1-4231-2201-2 In a battle of the sexes that’s all trappings and no center, Bad Bart (“the biggest, burliest pirate this side of the Atlantic”) and Mean Mo (“the maddest, mightiest pirate this side of the Pacific”) square off for the world title. After hardtack-eating, cannonball-throwing, arm-wrestling, treasurecounting and several equally trite contests end in ties the two inevitably fall for each other, “tie the knot” and sail off together with a fond “Aarrrr!” Aye, there be pirate talk aplenty here and splashy watercolors featuring much swashing and buckling—but pegleg and flowing blonde tresses aside, there’s nary a trace of difference between the two contestants. Alas, the combination of absurdity with strict internal logic that sparks such similar head-to-heads as Kevin O’Malley and Carol Heyer’s Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude (2005), illustrated by Scott Goto or, most recently, Chris Barton’s Shark vs. Train (2010), illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, is absent. Yo ho hum. (Picture book. 6-8)

LOTS AND LOTS OF COINS

Reid, Margarette S. Illustrator: Kelley, True Dutton (32 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-525-47879-9

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This riveting tale of an indigenous Ecuadorian girl being sent away from her family to work for a middle-class mestizo (of Spanish heritage) couple, this collaborative novel by teen author Resau and Farinango is based on the life story of the latter. Virginia is 7 when she is brought to the town of Kunu Yaku, where she works for years for a horribly abusive woman, her husband, Niño Carlitos, and their children. As Virginia grows into a young woman and Niño Carlitos transforms from a kindly father figure into a dangerous sexual predator, she embarks upon a path that leads her back to her birth family and eventually to a prestigious secondary school, where she finally begins to reconcile the many parts of herself. Bright spots of humor and warmth are woven throughout, and readers will agonize for Virginia while seething at her tormentors. The complexities of class and ethnicity within Ecuadorian society are explained seamlessly within the context of the first-person narrative, and a glossary and pronunciation guide further help to plunge readers into the novel’s world. By turns heartbreaking, infuriating and ultimately inspiring. (Fiction. 13 & up)

HOTHEAD

Reid’s introduction to U.S. coins and coin collecting is comfy and encouraging though somewhat short on the history of our national coins, despite its talk of “a coin is a piece of history you can hold in your hand.” The book’s strongest suit is introducing coin collecting as a family activity. Through a narrative in which a boy and his father enjoy coins together, each of our everyday nickels and cents are introduced, and the personages, design motifs and symbolism explained. Kelly’s light-handed yet vibrant and busy artwork keeps readers’ attention on the page, even when the author veers into coin mathematics (which this story may well have skirted altogether or taken care of in one page rather than the half dozen it gets). Since this is a book primarily concerned with U.S. coinage, those pages could have been given over to their fascinating past, including state coins, gold coins, Indian Head pennies and the like. Fortunately, Reid devotes a whole page to the Fugio cent—Ben Franklin’s penny—which is such a piece of whimsical delight, it might have kept the whole notion of money in some sensible perspective, if it had been left in circulation. (Picture book. 6-8)

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Resau, Laura Farinango, María Virginia Delacorte (368 pp.) $16.99 | PLB: $19.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-385-73897-2 PLB 978-0-385-90761-3

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Ripken Jr., Cal and Kevin Cowherd Disney Hyperion (144 pp.) $16.99 | March 8, 2011 978-1-4231-4000-9 Conor Sullivan’s glove is “where base hits go to die,” but his temper may be where his baseball dreams die. Lately, his family has been having problems; his father is out of work, there’s never enough money to do the family things they used to do and he probably won’t get to go to the prestigious Brooks Robinson Camp. Stress may be behind Conor’s recent behaviors: smashing his batting helmet on the ground, waving a fist at the opposing pitcher, tossing his glove in rage, then kicking it past the pitcher’s mound and yelling at his best friend. Conor has acquired the nickname Psycho Sully, the boy with the thermonuclear attitude. What takes this story beyond the usual sports fare is the cast of caring and welldrawn characters—teammates, family and friends, including a new girl friend—that make Conor want to shape up. Written with Ripken’s obvious knowledge of the game, Conor’s story rings true, with plenty of good baseball action. If Conor’s not always in good spirits, the novel is, with likable characters, lively baseball action and the usual dreams of playing in the big leagues—in Conor’s case, at Camden Yards. Ripken and Cowherd, like Conor and his Babe Ruth League Orioles, make a winning team. (Fiction. 8-12)

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“The author/illustrator’s customary warm humor pervades this wee story...New format, new look, same ‘Aw, shucks’ story, art and characters.” from owly & wormy

CALVIN COCONUT: HERO OF HAWAII

Rogers, Jacqueline Wendy Lamb/Random (160 pp.) $12.99 | PLB: $15.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-385-73962-7 PLB 978-0-385-90796-5 Series: Calvin Coconut, Vol. 5

Parks’ watercolor paintings are quite beautiful, very watery and brushy. However, their depictions of Cheekoo are inconsistent from image to image, and the number of stripes they give Dorje conflicts with Master Wu’s tale and the timeline of the story. A worthy subject that is worthy of a far better treatment. (Picture book. 5-8)

OWLY & WORMY, FRIENDS ALL AFLUTTER!

Runton, Andy Fifth in the Calvin Coconut series, Illustrator: Runton, Andy this fast and engaging read focuses on Atheneum (40 pp.) fourth-grader Calvin, who lives with his $15.99 | March 8, 2011 mom, little sister and a teenage houseguest, Stella, since his 978-1-4169-5774-4 father left the family. Set on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, this installment takes a distinctive turn toward adventure as tor Graphic novelist Runton trades rential rains cause terrible flooding and Calvin finds himself and a friend in danger. Rogers’ pen-and-ink drawings are nice- off page count for picture-book-bright hues and tones in his ly expressive, their playful feel becoming more subdued when first all-color Owly story. (Owly has been appearing in his own depicting the more serious event of the flood. The ongoing eponymous graphic-novel series since 2004.) Related in large strengths of the series are once again present in this volume— and easy-to-follow pictures, the wordless episode (helped by cultural details that emerge contextually and blend seamlessly occasional exchanges in rebuses) pairs sweet-natured Owly and with the narrative and an appealingly realistic depiction of Cal- his vermiform sidekick with two caterpillars who appear on a vin’s busy and sometimes stressed family. In an earlier volume, milkweed plant, become good friends and playmates through his mom’s boyfriend, Ledward, began transforming into more a variety of weathers, mysteriously disappear for some weeks of a father figure for Calvin, and here, Stella’s boyfriend, Clar- and then, in a joyful denouement, at last emerge as monarch ence, also starts to serve as a role model. While young audienc- butterflies. Owly’s simple emotional ups and downs register es will appreciate and be drawn in by the quick-moving action, as clearly as ever—so does the sense of time’s slow passage— the at-times predictable plot is not the point here. Rather, it is and the huge-eyed bird radiates appeal even more strongly what keeps readers moving through this nuanced, often very here than in his previous appearances as a line-drawn figure. funny and heartfelt story of a boy’s growth and understanding The author/illustrator’s customary warm humor pervades this of his role in a family made stronger by its willingness to rede- wee story: Wormy, upon seeing the chewed milkweed leaves, “speaks” in a rebus that illustrates a sick-looking flower with fine itself. (Fiction. 7-10) a thermometer in its mouth; an idea that strikes Owly comDORJE’S STRIPES bines old convention with newfangled eco-consciousness with Ruddra, Anshumani a curly florescent light bulb that hovers over his head. New Illustrator: Park, Gwangjo format, new look, same “Aw, shucks” story, art and characters. Illustrator: Park, Jung-a (Picture book. 2-5) Kane/Miller (48 pp.) March 1, 2011 | $15.99 978-1-935279-98-3 In a secluded Buddhist monastery nestled in the Himalayas, monks of all ages share their lives with a special friend: a Bengal tiger named Dorje. Dorje is unique in that he has no stripes—just two dark patches above his eyes. One day the youngest monk, Cheekoo, notices that a stripe has appeared on Dorje’s shoulders. This prompts Master Wu to recount the tale of Dorje’s arrival at the monastery. He also tells the young monks that he has dream-walked into the sleeping mind of Dorje; there he learned that Dorje once had stripes but lost one for every tiger men killed from his clan. On a walk with Master Wu in the forest, Dorje finds a female tiger, and the stripe Cheekoo noticed suddenly appeared: There may be hope for his clan yet. Indian screenwriter Ruddra’s completely muddled tale begins promisingly enough but loses a coherent narrative thread by the halfway mark. Master Wu’s lengthy story leaches immediacy from the tale. The |

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“The first adventure (with another on the way) of the Warrior Sheep by the British husband-and-wife pair is planted firmly in Wallace and Gromit country.” from the quest of the warrior sheep

THE QUEST OF THE WARRIOR SHEEP

PIRATES DON’T TAKE BATHS

Segal, John Illustrator: Segal, John Philomel (32 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-399-25425-3

Russell, Christopher and Christine Russell Sourcebooks (224 pp.) $6.99 | February 1, 2011 978-1-4022-5511-3 The five rare-breed sheep of dear old Ida White’s Eppingham farm are having a good cud chew one afternoon when something strange falls from the heavens and clocks Sal, an officious but wellmeaning ewe, on the noggin. She’s sure it’s the Baaton of Aries, Ram of Rams; it must be returned to him in the North Country before Lambad the Bad gets hold of it. Off they hoof, following the prophecy in the Song of Fleece. Hot on their tails is geeky human Luke, who needs the Baaton—er, cell phone—or the bank funds he illegally shifted on a dare will be discovered. He’s closely followed by local UFO-nut Tony, who’s sure the sheep have been abducted and modified by aliens, and Ida and her grandson who just want their beloved ovine friends home safe. The first adventure (with another on the way) of the Warrior Sheep by the British husband-and-wife pair is planted firmly in Wallace and Gromit country. Young fans of deadpan Brit humor will enjoy this fleecy romp, though it may take some time before they fully understand all of the cultural witticisms. (Animal fantasy. 8-12)

KATY’S HOMECOMING

Echoes of Runaway Bunny color this exchange between a bath-averse piglet and his patient mother. Using a strategy that would probably be a nonstarter in real life, the mother deflects her stubborn offspring’s string of bath-free occupational conceits with appeals to reason: “Pirates NEVER EVER take baths!” “Pirates don’t get seasick either. But you do.” “Yeesh. I’m an astronaut, okay?” “Well, it is hard to bathe in zero gravity. It’s hard to poop and pee in zero gravity too!” And so on, until Mom’s enticing promise of treasure in the deep sea persuades her little Treasure Hunter to take a dive. Chunky figures surrounded by lots of bright white space in Segal’s minimally detailed watercolors keep the visuals as simple as the plotline. The language isn’t quite as basic, though, and as it rendered entirely in dialogue—Mother Pig’s lines are italicized—adult readers will have to work hard at their vocal characterizations for it to make any sense. Moreover, younger audiences (any audiences, come to that) may wonder what the piggy’s watery closing “EUREKA!!!” is all about too. Not particularly persuasive, but this might coax a few young porkers to get their trotters into the tub. (Picture book. 4-6)

PURPLE DAZE

Sawyer, Kim Vogel Zondervan (206 pp.) $9.99 | February 1, 2011 978-0-310-72287-8 Series: Katy Lambright, Vol. 3

Shahan, Sherry Running Press Teens (208 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7624-4071-9

Katy is continuing her education at a mainstream high school in this followup to Katy’s New World (2010). This is a true sequel, relying on the prior books for an introduction to characters and the situation that has Katy, an Old Order Mennonite, trying to function in a more worldly milieu. It is not the classes or schoolwork that provides the conflict here, but the vast difference in social and cultural assumptions and the tug of war between Katy’s family and beliefs with the more typical way of teenagers in the modern world. When Katy is selected to represent the sophomore class as the homecoming attendant, the pull of peers, popularity and the longing to participate grow stronger. Katy’s father is marrying Mrs. Graber, a widow, and he, plus the entire Mennonite community, are distracted by these celebratory preparations, leaving Katy to make her decisions on her own. Readers who enjoyed the first two books or who are intrigued by the moral dilemma between personal choice and adhering to a religious code are clearly the intended audience. (Fiction. 10-15)

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As leading-edge baby boomers turn 65, this novel in verse tracks their coming of age in 1965, a year marked by social and political unrest, racial violence and the official onset of the second-longest war in U.S. history. Readers’ guides are six white, working-class, suburban Los Angeles teens—Ziggy, Cheryl and Nancy, paired with Mickey, Don and Phil—fearing and longing for change to rock their world. Soon Phil receives his draft notice and joins the Marine Corps; Mickey joins the Navy to escape an alcoholic single dad and dead-end future; opportunist Don watches from the sidelines. Left adrift and dissatisfied, the girls start to break free of the passive role assigned to them. A kind English teacher (readers will notice parallels to Nikki Grimes’s Bronx Masquerade, 2001) helps Ziggy find her footing; Nancy discovers the anti-war and feminist movements. Interspersed with historical tidbits and individuals—recent Vietnam history, civil rights struggles, Lyndon Baines Johnson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr.—this loosely chronological collage is most effective in the letters Phil, mired in Vietnam, sends to Cheryl. Because they don’t affect the characters directly, other historical events

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depicted—civil rights especially—have little impact. Nonetheless, a valuable, vivid snapshot of how Vietnam shaped a generation. (historical timeline) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

TALLULAH’S TUTU

Singer, Marilyn Clarion (40 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-547-17353-5 Series: Tallulah, Vol. 1

Young Tallulah knows she can be “a great ballerina—if only she had a tutu.” She works hard in ballet class, which her mother tells her is also necessary, but her teacher rewards her with hugs—not a tutu. Tallulah decides that the tutu must be coming from Paris but is stuck in traffic in New Jersey. Several classes later the tutu still has not arrived, so Tallulah throws a tutu temper tantrum and quits. She does keep dancing in the street, in the park and in the supermarket. There, an encounter with a tutu-clad young girl who cannot dance turns the tables and Tallulah sees the light. She will take class and, in time, earn her tutu. The setting is an upscale New York City neighborhood artfully depicted in the watercolor illustrations. Tallulah’s little brother, who loves to dance, and an adorable dog provide some comic relief. The glittery pink cover and endpaper spreads of the five ballet positions are appealing, and Singer weaves the language of ballet throughout her story. Unfortunately, the behavioral issues are too easily resolved, leaving readers to believe that earning a tutu really doesn’t take all that much more application than Tallulah has already shown. An additional purchase. (Picture book. 3-6)

FOXY AND EGG

Smith, Alex T. Illustrator: Smith, Alex T. Holiday House (32 pp.) $17.95 | March 15, 2011 978-0-8234-2330-9

swollen Egg that hatches out—well, not quite the entrée Foxy had in mind. The photo-collaged illustrations will remind many of Lauren Child, but the humor is distinct, enhanced by a cinematic introduction that reveals that the part of Egg is played by newcomer Edward L’Oeuf, with Vivien Vixen as Foxy DuBois. Delicious, for all that it’s something of a literary hors d’oeuvre. (Picture book. 5-7)

HAMMERIN’ HANK GREENBERG Baseball Pioneer

Sommer, Shelley Calkins Creek/Boyds Mills (136 pp.) $17.95 | March 1, 2011 978-1-59078-452-5

Hank Greenberg was an anomaly who challenged the stereotypes of his era. He was a Jewish boy from New York City who was neither weak nor small nor academically inclined. He was well over 6 feet tall, strong and healthy, and he could hit a baseball as well as or better than most major leaguers. He played with the Detroit Tigers, leading his team to several pennants and World Series. Throughout his career there were cheers, but he also had to endure endless, vitriolic anti-Semitic curses. His decision to miss a seasonending game in a tight pennant race in order to observe Yom Kippur became a national issue. At the end of his own career, with customary grace and integrity, he openly empathized with rookie Jackie Robinson, encouraging him to persevere. In many ways this is a typical baseball biography, covering Greenberg’s accomplishments season by season, as well as his family life and military service in World War II. Sommer ably puts it all in perspective for young readers. Employing straightforward, accessible language, she carefully incorporates historic events, well illustrated with personal and archival photographs and laced with copious quotes from Greenberg and his contemporaries. The result is a multilayered portrait of a man who was content being remembered as a great Jewish ballplayer. (source notes, bibliography, resources) (Biography. 10-14)

With expert comic timing, Smith sets vulpine Foxy DuBois up for a tasty turnabout after a mouthwatering guest comes to visit. When a small polka-dot egg appears on her doorstep, Foxy invites him in (“for a BITE to eat”) and then dashes off to the kitchen to contemplate the culinary possibilities. But why settle for just a snack? After whipping up a massive meal of fattening desserts (“Egg wobbled with excitement”) Foxy beds Egg down, then retires to a night of eggy dreams in anticipation of a yummy breakfast. Breezily leaving it to viewers to pick up on the absurdity of a faceless Egg capable of happily chatting and chowing down with his salivating hostess, the author/illustrator adds a pinch of melodrama by staging the tête-à-tête in a Victorian-style house stocked with poultrythemed knickknacks, embellishes Foxy’s dreamscape with a leggy feathered chorus line and finally dishes up a double whammy the following morning in the form of a hugely |

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A LAND OF BIG DREAMERS Voices of Courage in America

THE DOOR IN THE FOREST

Townley, Roderick Knopf (256 pp.) $16.99 | PLB: $19.99 | March 22, 2011 978-0-375-85601-3 PLB 978-0-375-95601-0 Daniel’s life in a small town in the middle of nowhere is marred only by the occasional trouble brought on by the fact that he cannot tell a lie—at least until the arrival of a strange girl named Emily and a battered group of soldiers who barge into town claiming only to need food and shelter. As Daniel, his little brother, Wesley, and Emily become friends, they discover that the soldiers are up to no good. When Emily’s grandmother disappears, the friends determine that she has gone to the magical island located nearby, an island that all of the townspeople can see yet none can ever reach. The three friends follow an ancient map to find her. While the characters are interesting and likable, the setting and plot are much too vague to be engaging. Readers understand that there is some kind of political turmoil that has resulted in a series of skirmishes called the Uncertainties, but which side is which and what is at stake is left unclear. Readers also learn that Emily and her family have powers that help protect the town and are somehow connected to the magical island (which is, perhaps, where people go, at least temporarily, when they die, or not). But how these powers, the town, the island and the military skirmishes all fit together remains a mystery. Perplexing. (Fantasy. 8-12)

JOHNNY SWANSON

Take an old-fashioned British melodrama set in 1929, feature an 11-yearold boy whose sucker newspaper ads become the contrivance for a murder mystery, throw in a wide-spread TB panic and there’s the plot. Johnny Swanson and his housemaid mum are desperate for money to pay their increased rent, and his “adverts”—inspired when he throws away the household savings on a phony product that promises to increase height—prove to be the answer: How to “Stop your baby wetting the bed”? His solution: “Make him sleep in a chair.” When the good Dr. Langford, Johnny’s mum’s employer, is murdered, she is charged with the crime. Johnny’s efforts to prove her innocence are thwarted by unconvinced police, a newspaper reporter, a devious sanatorium director and other red herrings. Overly long with a slow beginning and many convenient twists and turns, the mystery isn’t evident until a third of the way through. The writing is ripe for a theatrical production, but the Briticisms may trip up some American readers. (Historical mystery. 9-12) |

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Thirteen prominent American men and women are briefly profiled in this collection. Chronologically ranging from Thomas Jefferson to Barack Obama, each entry features an inspiring quote from its subject and a concise explanation of his or her context in history. Opposite each page of text is a watercolor painting by the author depicting an image or montage of the notable individual and illustrating the work they achieved or how they lived. Each one evokes the emotions the book is meant to inspire: courage, strength and determination. Franklin Roosevelt gazes reassuringly out at readers above a line of hungry people at a soup kitchen; Rachel Carson smiles at readers against a picture of a soaring bald eagle and an inset of her peering into a microscope. The selection includes four women and five male ethnic minorities. Almost all are familiar faces in collective biographies, including Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, but some names may be new to young readers, such as Emma Lazarus and Cesar Chavez. Included in the backmatter are thumbnail biographies of each figure and a list of source notes. The profiles are indeed inspiring, and younger readers will likely learn something new. For deeper research, students will have to look elsewhere but could use this book as an excellent starting point. (Collective biography. 8-11)

SUMMER SECRETS

Updale, Eleanor David Fickling/Random (384 pp.) $16.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-385-75198-8

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Waldman, Neil Illustrator: Waldman, Neil Millbrook (32 pp.) $16.95 | March 1, 2011 978-0-8225-6810-0

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Webb, Sarah Candlewick (288 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-5071 Series: Ask Amy Green, Vol. 2 The characters deepen slightly in Amy Green’s new go-round (Boy Trouble, 2010), but Webb keeps the focus on fun in this lively chick-lit sequel. Amy Green, a 13-year-old Irish everygirl, goes to Cork to vacation with her blended and extended family. Amy’s messy, harried, TV- and junk-food–allowing mother Sylvie immediately locks horns with her boyfriend’s more organically oriented and perfectly groomed sister Prue; Gramps runs into an old flame who’s still holding a near-homicidal grudge (dead rat anyone?); and Prue’s pudgy and furious son Denis has a serious eating issue. Worse, Amy’s boyfriend, Seth, sends letters and emails that show an increasing preoccupation with a bikiniclad female. But there are bright spots to be had, including a seriously sexy gardener, and of course, Amy’s 17-year-old aunt, Clover, who is spending her gap year working for a teen lifestyle magazine. Various plot elements come together when Amy accompanies her aunt to Miami so Clover can interview a rising

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“Wynne-Jones’ finest, most beautifully written novel yet, one more in a career full of distinguished works.” from blink and caution

star and teenage idol named Matt Munroe. By this point in the story, there are so many unlikely coincidences and credibilityshredding character connections that any sense of reality is completely and utterly lost. Despite some touching moments and serious life lessons, it’s mostly a frothy confection, though, and girls should be willing to suspend their disbelief and simply enjoy themselves. Good fun. (Fiction. 11 & up)

with their pasts and cobble together a future. Wynne-Jones’ finest, most beautifully written novel yet, one more in a career full of distinguished works. (afterword) (Mystery. YA)

ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA  he Story of a Big Italian T Family and a Little Shovel Yaccarino, Dan Illustrator: Yaccarino, Dan Knopf (40 pp.) $16.99 | March 8, 2011 978-0-375-86642-5

MILES FROM ORDINARY

Williams, Carol Lynch St. Martin’s Griffin (208 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-312-55512-2

This absorbing portrait of a 13-year-old girl and her struggle to cope with her mentally ill mother transports readers to hope, fear and horror. Lacey just wants to be ordinary. She wants to have a friend and to work at the library, but her apparently psychotic mother dominates her life. The girl must take care of Momma, instead of the other way around. When her mother disappears, Lacey confronts not only her own fears but also her mother’s desperate illness. Momma constantly talks to Lacey’s dead “Granddaddy,” who tells her to do bizarre things. Granddaddy’s latest request, however, might get both of them killed. Far more frightening than a ghost story, the novel achieves complete realism as Williams shows readers events through the eyes of a young girl whom the child-protection system has failed. Nevertheless, Lacey has so much spunk that readers are sure she’ll survive. The author has crafted both a riveting, unusual suspense tale and an absolutely convincing character in Lacey. The book truly is miles from ordinary, in the very best way. Outstanding. (Fiction. 12 & up)

With clarity and deep affection, Yaccarino turns his family history into a story of enduring charm. He tells it in the first person: how his great-grandfather Michele Iaccarino was given a little shovel, the better to help out on the family farm in Sorrento, Italy. When Michele left for America, his parents gave him the little shovel and told him to work hard, enjoy life and love his family. The shovel becomes a talisman through the generations, as Michele—now renamed Michael—uses it in the bakery where he first works, and his son uses the shovel to measure beans and olives in the market and later in his restaurant, and his son opens a barbershop and uses the little shovel to pour salt on the sidewalk when it snows. His son is the author and illustrator, whose children now use the little shovel for the zucchini, tomatoes and strawberries they grow on their NYC terrace. The illustrations evoke each generation’s clothing, hair, posture and adornment exquisitely with simple forms, and facial features convey myriad emotions with the sparest line. The author closes with his great-grandparents’ advice—work hard, enjoy life and love family—and the back cover encourages readers to discover their own family stories. A gloriously warm celebration. (Picture book. 5-9)

BLINK AND CAUTION

Wynne-Jones, Tim Candlewick (352 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-3983-9

Two teenagers hurt by life “with its never-ending snares and pitfalls and dire consequences” come together in this elegantly constructed noir mystery and love story. Blink is a scruffy street kid with “tea-colored eyes” trying to steal breakfast in a hotel when he witnesses what he believes is a fake kidnapping. Caution is a girl with “dove-colored eyes,” who sees her relationship with badass drug dealer Merlin as penance for her past crimes. Separate narratives—with spot-on dialogue and an effective use of a second-person point of view—come together to unite the two characters in a breathtaking thriller as they search for the kidnapped businessman and maybe make a fair sum of money in the process. Blink and Caution are good people with tough lives, each in a kind of purgatory and each turning out to be just what the other needs. Together they make peace |

e a r t h day r o u n d - u p ARTHUR TURNS GREEN

Brown, Marc Illustrator: Brown, Marc Little, Brown (32 pp.) $16.99 | April 5, 2011 978-0-3161-2924-4 Series: Arthur

Working on a school project his teacher calls “the Big Green Machine,” Arthur finds many ways to save energy at home but frightens his little sister D.W., who thinks he and their father and Arthur’s friend Buster might really be turning green. In a welcome new Arthur adventure (according to his publisher,

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“What causes the weather? Why does the wind blow? ...Basic explanations of complicated meteorological concepts are presented in bite-sized chunks as answers to these and other common questions about weather and climate.” from how the weather works

the first in nearly 10 years), friends and family join Brown’s beloved aardvark in becoming environmentally conscious. They are looking for “ways to make our planet a better place to live.” Preschooler D.W.’s misunderstanding will amuse young readers who know better. Her nightmare of the Big Green Machine monster is pleasantly scary, and Arthur’s green hands contribute to the joke. Arthur’s friends discuss reselling old clothes, recycling soda cans and not wasting their food. Arthur himself finds appliances to unplug, lamp bulbs to change, lights to turn off and ways to save water. He sets the table with cloth napkins. His project poster includes 10 useful, unsurprising suggestions. The message is clear but not overwhelming in this gently humorous story. Brown’s familiar, brightly colored cartoon illustrations (printed in soy inks on recycled paper) feature schoolmates and family members sufficiently well identified that a new generation of Arthur readers could start with this timely title. (Picture book. 4-8)

GAIA WARRIORS

Davies, Nicola Candlewick (192 pp.) $14.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-7636-4808-4 Just in time for Earth Day comes this wide-ranging look at global climate change, which answers common questions and introduces people and organizations from around the world who are doing something about it. The first section defines the problem, explains how we know it’s happening and responds to common arguments. Complex ideas are conveyed in a light, conversational manner, and the narrative is punctuated with interesting, appropriate quotations as well as interviews with a wide variety of scientists. The second section describes specific “Gaia Warriors”—individuals and groups working to change our ways. Davies describes a wide variety of campaigns—many by young people—especially in the areas of transportation, food, homes, clothing, deforestation and the intersection of climate change and human rights. She addresses some controversies, including the use of biofuels and nuclear power and the utility of carbon dioxide offsets. The trendy, magazine-like design of this English import will appeal to younger teen readers, who are encouraged throughout the book to visit specific websites for further information. First published in England in 2009, the information about world negotiations has been updated to include the results of the Copenhagen meeting that spring. One could quibble with the weight given various topics, but overall this is an enjoyable and comprehensive summary marred only by its complete lack of documentation. (afterword, more resources, glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

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HOW THE WEATHER WORKS A Hands-On Guide to Our Changing Climate Dorion, Christiane Illustrator: Young, Beverley Templar/Candlewick (20 pp.) $17.99 978-0-7636-5262-3

What causes the weather? Why does the wind blow? How can we predict the weather? Are we changing the climate? Basic explanations of complicated meteorological concepts are presented in bite-sized chunks as answers to these and other common questions about weather and climate. This intriguing presentation has flaps to open, tabs to pull, wheels to turn and cardboard pop-up models that include a stunning 3-D hurricane. The colorful, heavy-duty pages are chock full of painted images, text boxes in different fonts and diagrams. There are plenty of arrows to help readers find their way. The construction is sturdy enough for numerous readings, and the design invites participation. Occasionally readers are addressed directly. Instructions for an experiment demonstrating evaporation and condensation and for making a rain gauge provide extensions beyond the book, but there are no suggestions for further reading or sources. Though the explanations are relatively simple, and the pictures are helpful, the vocabulary is challenging and there is no glossary. Unlike most books written for children about environmental issues today, this also offers no easy, superficial solutions. The focus on the workings of weather, the differentiation of weather and climate and the quick overview of past climates and explanation of climate change provide a helpful base for elementary readers wishing to understand the science behind the concern. (Pop-up nonfiction. 8-12)

ENERGY ISLAND How One Community Harnessed the Wind and Changed Their World Drummond, Allan Illustrator: Drummond, Allan Farrar, Straus and Giroux (40 pp.) $16.99 | March 1, 2011 978-0-374-32184-0

An unidentified local inhabitant describes the process and some of the people responsible for the recent transformation of the Danish island of Samsø to energy self-sufficiency. His chatty narration is accompanied by loosely drawn ink-and-watercolor illustrations emphasizing the island’s windy nature. Windmill blades and pinwheels turn, hats blow off and clouds scud. Ranging from vignettes to full-page spreads and series showing the passage of time, these sketches perfectly reflect the story line. For older, more able readers, sidebars add explanations of relevant concepts: nonrenewable and renewable energy, the carbon dioxide problem, global warming, wind and other forms of energy and conservation. Though the focus is wind power, the author mentions other sources and energy-saving activities. In an

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afterword, he explains he has slightly adjusted the timeline. While he concentrates on the activities of Søren Hermansen, a local teacher who is now leader of the Samsø Energy Academy, he introduces two other early actors. A rough map shows Denmark’s general location in the eastern hemisphere but doesn’t label the North Sea or show enough of North America to help readers pinpoint the actual location. But the message is clear: An initially unconcerned community banded together and took steps that led to their current fame as a model of environmental action; we other residents of the island that is planet Earth can do that, too. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

CELEBRITREES Historic & Famous Trees of the World

Preus, Margi Illustrator: Gibbon, Rebecca Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt (40 pp.) $16.99 | March 15, 2011 978-0-8050-7829-9

purchase a few groceries. Going on to a farmer’s market, they buy local fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread and cookies and get an egg carton refilled. They make sandwiches to take to picnic in the park. Finally they visit the library to look for books with more “save the Earth projects.” Naturally, they walk everywhere, in an urban neighborhood with a community garden, secondhand stores, signs extolling mass transit, a library advertising the author’s books and a post office displaying 20-cent bird stamps. The cheerful illustrations are painted in gouache, with clean lines and simple shapes. Details cut from color photographs provide collage accents. Some illustrations are full bleed; others are in boxes, like the straightforward text. These are surrounded by sketches of relevant objects, providing plenty for a pre-reader to identify. There are further ideas for going green, and a cartoon mouse adds comments and suggestions. The book will conclude with instructions for sewing a cloth bag, green activities and a list of green websites, none seen by reviewer. (Picture book. 3-6)

MEADOWLANDS A Wetlands Survival Story

Yezerski, Thomas F. Illustrator: Yezerski, Thomas F. From “Methuselah,” a 4,800-yearFarrar, Straus and Giroux (40 pp.) old bristlecone pine, to young trees grown $16.99 | March 1, 2011 from seeds taken to the moon, Preus introduces 14 trees so ex978-0-374-34913-4 ceptional for their age, size or some historic happening that they have acquired names and fame. These include a bodhi tree in Once a vast wetlands west of New York City, home to Native Sri Lanka grown from a branch from a tree under which Buddha sat, an oak in England where Robin Hood met with his band, a Americans and extensive wildlife, New Jersey’s Meadowlands Balm-of-Gilead poplar in New York where men left their scythes was diked and drained by early European settlers and later dewhen they went off to war and a baobab prison tree in Austra- veloped and trashed. In the last 40 years, with dumping stopped lia. The author has found engaging stories about these trees, but and restoration begun, some wildlife has returned. Reminiscent the intended early-elementary audience is not likely to have the of Lynne Cherry’s A River Ran Wild (1992) in its subject and dehistorical background to make meaning of them. Even more un- sign, this appealing story of environmental recovery is simpler in fortunately, the illustrations are suggestive rather than represen- its text and even clearer in its illustrations. Beginning with the tative and, in some places, even confusing. These pencil, ink and Lenni Lanape and ending with a 21st-century child on a field trip, watercolor paintings whimsically celebrate real and imagined life Yezerski surveys human uses as well as the disappearance and in and around the trees. But the “Methuselah” page includes an reappearance of other forms of life. Detailed ink-and-watercolor irrelevant and inaccurate sketch of the solar system; “General illustrations stretch across double-page spreads. A straightforSherman,” a tree whose girth can’t be spanned by 12 people with ward narrative runs below, and the whole is framed with colored arms outstretched, is pictured with 13 people standing on one sketches of relevant objects and creatures, each meticulously side; and an afterword section on oaks is illustrated with conifer drawn and helpfully labeled. One page shows industrial products needles and cones. One concluding section describes more about and means of transport, another shows the varied contents of a these tree species; a second offers suggestions for helping trees trash mountain and a third the components of modern residential and commercial development. These are followed by pages thrive. (bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 7-10) showing marsh plants, worms and insects, some of the many vaGABBY AND GRANDMA rieties of fish that visit the waters, animals that live on the banks GO GREEN and birds that live there or stop by during migration. Though the Wellington, Monica area described is small, it is representative of wetlands in many Illustrator: Wellington, Monica parts of the country. The only flaw in this valuable addition to Dutton (32 pp.) environmental-studies collections is the lack of compass rose on $16.99 | March 8, 2011 the oddly oriented title-page map. A spectacular offering never978-0-525-42214-3 theless. (author’s note, selected bibliography, websites) (Informational picture book. 6-10) When Gabby comes to visit her grandmother, they give their day a green focus, reusing, returning, refilling and recycling. With shopping bags they made from Grandma’s old dress, they carry plastic bottles to the supermarket for recycling and |

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ipad reads MELVIN SAYS THERE’S MONSTERS

CHOCOLATE ATTACK! Mack, Crystal Illus. by Crystal Mack $1.99 | Version 1.1; September 27, 2010 Developer: Apologue Entertainment

Gallagher, Brendan Illus. by Hatem Aly $2.99 | Version 2.1, July 1, 2010 Developer: Out to Play Interactive Diminutive Melvin, “this weird kid at my school with crooked eyes and bushy hair,” loves to scare his would-be friends out of their candy with tales of the monsters who wait in their closets at night. The kids laugh, but, in bed, those who laughed at Melvin cower; the next day they’re handing over their snacks for monster advice. Snarky and sophisticated, the app features understated yet cinematic animation bringing to life Aly’s lively illustrations. The app is a study in restraint; its menu, everpresent in the top-left corner of a border that surrounds the story, has only three options. The “Read to me” voiceover is well-acted, but could be confusing for beginning readers—in several instances, the narration doesn’t match the accompanying text word-for-word. The app’s biggest problem is the titular character, a creepy, two-faced liar who isn’t redeemed. He’s apparently allowed by the narrator, a schoolmate, to keep on taking advantage of other kids for their treats. At least the app design, unlike Melvin, shows restraint; it’s not overloaded with sugar-high excess. (iPad storybook app. 5-8)

Wavy-haired, stick-figured Missy doesn’t just love chocolate, she suffers from full-blown chocoholism. She eats enough to make herself grow wide as a football field and tall as a skyscraper. Until her mother teaches her moderation, Missy has hysterical chocolate meltdowns; readers with a sweet tooth will relate—even those too young to remember the heyday of the Big Mac Attack. Filled with clever animations and fuzzy, felt-like textures, the app is at times amusing: A small arrow points to a floating batch of bacon strips, an alternative to chocolate for breakfast; “Bacon shmakon,” tiny type reads. Unfortunately, the flights of fancy aren’t enough to make up for sloppy writing (rhyming “denying it” with “chocolate”) and an inconsistent message, especially in the era of a childhood-obesity epidemic. The app’s interface is as messy as the text. Interacting with each page’s objects (guiding an airplane, rolling Missy’s rounded body out the door) frequently causes inadvertent page turns. A drop-down menu is balky at best. “Attack!” is the first of an app series called Manic Freak Outs, but kids will freak out most over having to skip back and forth in the story from the app’s poor touch-screen controls. (iPad storybook app. 4-8)

CHICO TO THE RESCUE: FRIENDSHIP Pentangelo, Manuela $3.99 | Version 1.2; November 26, 2010 Developer: Apps of All Nations

Chico has a bad encounter at the beach when a small crab pinches his toe. He catches the crab and takes it home, but soon learns a lesson. A mermaid he just befriended (it was a very eventful day) has been tied up by a set of angry crabs. The tense hostage drama is undermined by cute, pastel-colored illustrations and the top-heavy crabs, who dance and click hilariously. Most pages have some interactive element, such as Chico’s color-changing swim trunks or suction-cup arrows Chico can fire at the enemy crabs. Each page features an icon of Chico’s face and a microphone allowing readers to add their own narration to the story. Sounds, narration, the microphone icons and autoplay can all be disabled in the options, but, confusingly, the options have to be highlighted black instead of white to be activated. Chico, with his big smile and rescue mission, is a charmer, but his misadventure with the temperamental beach crabs doesn’t really go anywhere. Chico is taught not to hurt or capture creatures of the sea, but it’s not clear that the “Friendship” of the title was ever achieved. Perhaps it should have been called, “Chico the Rescue: Détente”? (iPad storybook app. 2-7) 224

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“Ashley’s ornate, whimsically imagined drawings evoke the stylings of Tony DiTerlizzi in his retro moments and wouldn’t be out of place on the covers of fantasy or science-fiction novels.” from bella goes bump in the night

HAMISH THE HIPPOPOTAMUS

BELLA GOES BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Read, Katrina Illus. by Katrina Read $1.99 | Version 2.0; November 23, 2010 Series: The Little Explorers Two unaccompanied kids, the series’ titular Little Explorers, take a trip to the African savanna, where among the (water) buffalo and flamingos they find Hamish the Hippopotamus. “I’m big and bald and I love to swim,” he says, “It’s really quite warm—would you like to jump in?” The unnamed Explorers swim, lie in the grass and meet Hamish’s “Mum, dad and the rest of the pod” until the day ends and the kids trek home toward the sunset. (Let’s hope they make it there by dark.) The rhymes are often ungainly (“swim / jump in” is representative), and there’s little sense of cultural adventure beyond the phrases “Jamboni” (presumably derived from the Swahili “Jambo”—“Hello!”) and “Kwa herini” (Swahili for “Goodbye!”). The app’s options are limited to “Read it to me” and “Read it myself,” and there are no interactive enhancements within the story. The illustrations are simple, computer-aided landscapes populated by friendly-looking beasts, but they aren’t particularly accomplished or evocative. The lack of imagination is enough to make an explorer want to stay home. (iPad storybook app. 3-7)

Roche, Derek and Gina Roche Illustrator: Ashley, Jonathan $0.99 | Version 3.0, December 5, 2010 Developer: Gramercy Consultants So intensely illustrated that it may be a miss for younger readers, the first book in a series about “Bella the Great,” the daughter of the authors, a pair of New York actors, is certainly dramatic. As she cowers in bed with her stuffed rabbit, Bella imagines adventuring among “Creepies and Crawlies that make your toes curl” and “Three-headed Snivelers that scream out in plural … / Scarier even than scary Aunt Pearl.” But she also finds good witches, unicorns and jazz-playing ghosts. Ashley’s ornate, whimsically imagined drawings evoke the stylings of Tony DiTerlizzi in his retro moments and wouldn’t be out of place on the covers of fantasy or science-fiction novels. They give Bella’s dreams a great deal of visual heft, but Bella is such a sturdy soul, dressed in a happy hodgepodge of skirt, leggings and red sneakers (and with her belly button often visible), older preschoolers won’t fear for her. The unobtrusive navigation—a “Back to Menu” icon on the bottom right and a page indicator at the bottom— stays out of the way, and there is no poke or tilt interactivity. As you’d expect from a family of actors, the English-language narration is top-notch. The app also has German narration and text, as well as five coloring pages in a menu item outside the main story. By the end, Bella has made friends with cuddly creatures and beasties alike. (iPad storybook app. 4-10)

This Issue’s Contributors # Kim Becnel • Elizabeth Bird • Louise Brueggemann • Timothy Capehart • Julie Cummins • GraceAnne A. DeCandido • Dave DeChristopher • Elise DeGuiseppi • Carol Edwards • Brooke Faulkner • Judith Gire • Melinda Greenblatt • Heather L. Hepler • Megan Honig • Julie Hubble • Jennifer Hubert • Kathleen T. Isaacs • Betsy Judkins • K. Lesley Knieriem • Megan Lambert • Angela Leeper • Peter Lewis • Lori Low • Joan Malewitz • Hillias J. Martin • April Mazza • Lisa Moore • John Edward Peters • Susan Pine • Nancy Thalia Reynolds • Leslie L. Rounds • Mindy Schanback • Dean Schneider • Chris Shoemaker • Karyn N. Silverman • Robin Smith • Karin Snelson • Rita Soltan • Edward T. Sullivan • Deborah D. Taylor • Monica D. Wyatt • Melissa Yurechko

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discoveries Publishing has never been as dynamic as it is right now, with one of the most exciting areas in self-publishing. We should know. Kirkus has been keeping an eye on the self-publishing boom ever since we started the Discoveries program five years ago. With the self-published numbers reportedly approaching a million books per year—and growing—it’s increasingly becoming a challenge for authors to stand out from the rest. At Kirkus Discoveries, authors have a partner who will provide an honest, unbiased review of their work from our network of specialized, professional reviewers. And with Discoveries’ close association with Kirkus Reviews, authors who receive a Discoveries review also have the added benefit of being critiqued by one of the most trusted names in publishing. But today, the review is just the beginning. At Kirkus Discoveries, we will offer a relaunched website, social media 226

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properties, newsletters and expanding content—all crucial tools poised to get the word out about your book like no one else. In these pages, you’ll see the best books from the Discoveries program as well as a selection of the titles that have just arrived on our shelves, plus features about developments in self-publishing and interviews with independent authors (see our interview with William Brahms, author of Last Words of Notable People). And we’re just getting started. As technology advances to allow authors to tell stories in wholly different ways, we’ll be there. And when you write your book and want a solid assessment as well as a helping hand to shout it from the mountaintop, we’ll be there too. To learn more about Kirkus Discoveries and start promoting your title, please visit us online at kirkusreviews.com/discoveries.

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THE REAGAN FILES:

The Untold Story of Reagan’s Top-Secret Efforts to Win the Cold War (Based Upon Over 100 Recently Declassified Top-Secret Letters and National Security Council Meeting Minutes) Saltoun-Ebin, Jason CreateSpace (480 pp.) $24.99 paperback | $9.99 e-book September 15, 2010 ISBN: 978-1453633052

Ronald Reagan and his advisers wage a twilight struggle with a decaying Soviet Union—and each other—in this fascinating documentary history. Was the 40th president a warmonger or a peacemaker? Both sides of that debate will find support in this collection of newly declassified White House papers from the 1980s. Saltoun-Ebin, a researcher at the Reagan Presidential Library, assembles minutes of National Security Council meetings where Reagan and his top cabinet officers and aides hashed out a line on the Soviets, personal letters in which Reagan and Soviet leaders lectured and prodded one another and transcripts of key summit discussions between Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that led to the great geopolitical thaw. These documents, illuminated by the editor’s helpful explanatory notes, describe a long ideological journey: Reagan enters office a fervent Cold War warrior—“The Soviets have spoken as plainly as Hitler did…they speak world domination”—pressing for military buildup and stiff sanctions to strangle the Russian economy; he leaves inking breakthrough nuclear arms-control agreements. The documents display Reagan’s cogent grasp of policy and his nose for evolving possibilities. They also demonstrate the importance of his visionary idealism; one of the book’s revelations is how decisively his Strategic Defense Initiative, which he envisioned sharing with the Soviets in a bid to abolish all nuclear weapons, shaped American policy. (Whether SDI, which was rabidly opposed by the Soviets, curtailed or prolonged the Cold War is a question not entirely settled here.) Most of all, the documents are a vivid record of high-level statecraft. We see clashing egos and emotional outbursts—“We can’t be supplicants crawling, we can’t look like failures,” the President agonizes while pondering nuclear talks—at the NSC; we listen as Reagan and Gorbachev fence and fume while subtly edging toward crucial diplomatic compromises. Scholars will find this collection an invaluable resource, and interested lay readers will be captivated by its portrait of Reagan and other leaders grappling with history. A trove of important papers that shed new light on a critical era.

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AN APOSTLE THRU TIME St. Clare, Adriane CreateSpace (352 pp.) $16.00 paperback October 20, 2010 ISBN: 978-1453781609

An engagingly involved and disputatious time-travel tale back to the last days of Yeshua (aka Jesus) and an alternative appreciation of his teachings. St. Clare’s story begins when Matt and Leslie meet by chance on a plane, he a teacher of comparative religion and she of archaeology. Matt has been asked to come to Israel by his friend David, who needs him to translate an Aramaic scroll that has come into his possession. Matt and Leslie hit it off—their love story perks merrily along throughout the book—especially when they discover a shared interest in myth and mysticism, Joseph Campbell, the Gnostic texts, Aldous Huxley, Kabbalah and all things falling outside religious orthodoxy. What makes this feel good, honest and inspiring is St. Clare’s obvious familiarity and sympathy with the various topics, not to mention superstring theory and the bending of space time, which is important when Matt and David discover the scroll appears to have done some time traveling. St. Clare’s writing is dense like nougat, full of little colorful surprises that draw the reader in and make him willingly suspend disbelief because the work is fun and smart. Matt, an advanced practitioner of meditation and a seeker of truth (“We should all be searching for the truth in every way, in all places, and for all time,” he says shortly before leaving the seminary life), uses the scrolls teachings to travel back in time to the last days of Yeshua, where he also encounter’s David’s wife Mary, who had disappeared five years earlier. St. Clare takes this opportunity for Matt and Mary to chew long and hard over some of Yeshua’s runic comments—“To leave no work for the seeker is to invite skepticism,” Yeshua says—but also to serve forth an interpretation of Yeshua’s teachings that bespeaks cooperation, forgiveness, inclusiveness, doing one’s best and finding god within. Plus, rather merrily, all the chatter is housed in a snazzy story of suspense. A provocative, passionate head trip, complete with a soupçon or two of very human lust.

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k i r ku s q & a w i t h w i l l i a m b r a h m s LAST WORDS OF NOTABLE PEOPLE: Final Words of More Than 3500 Noteworthy People Throughout History

Brahms, William B. Reference Desk (680 pp.) $95.00 [$39.95 if purchased directly from Reference Desk Press] September 1, 2010 978-0976532521

In Last Words of Notable People, New Jersey librarian William Brahms collects the dying utterances of kings, scoundrels and headless saints. Now he sits down with Kirkus and shares some notable words of his own. Q: First the basics: Did Nathan Hale, the Revolutionary War hero, really say, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country?” A: That’s a paraphrase of Addison’s Cato, and almost too good to be true. One eyewitness reported something different: “It is the duty of every good officer to obey any orders given by his commander in chief.” The popular version came from 19th-century historians. So was Hale paraphrasing Cato on the gallows? Maybe; I can’t say he absolutely did not. Q: Do last words usually get embellished? A: If the deceased is someone dignified—a royal, a clergyman—family members or associates might feel their actual last words were not dignified enough, so they construct something. People misremember words recorded years later, and there are translation headaches. Madame Roland, guillotined in the French Revolution, has two English versions of her last words: “O Liberty, how you are mocked!” and “O Liberty! What crimes are committed in your name!” [In the book] I include up to eight versions of subjects’ last words: sometimes slight variations, sometimes totally different statements. Dubious versions I label “doubtful.” As a librarian and researcher, I encountered quote books that were full of mistakes and lacking citations; I’m trying to set the record straight. Q: Speaking of which, you include the Christian martyr Saint Cecilia, who apparently lived for three days after being beheaded. Should we picture a talkative head on a platter?

Q: I was crushed to read that Oscar Wilde died with a nonspecific death rattle on his lips instead of a witticism. A: I found that many last words were urban legends, apocrypha or jokes that went awry and got printed. Wilde is a good example. There were deathbed witticisms attributed to him—“It’s me or the wallpaper; one of us has got to go”—but they are not true. 228

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A: Yes, ironically. The company I set up, Reference Desk Press, Inc., publishes reference books by librarians for librarians. My last book, Notable Last Facts (2005), targeted that audience; it was a good browse but it didn’t sell widely. This one has sold very widely to the browsing public, in part thanks to John Green, the novelist who wrote Looking for Alaska [which received a starred review from Kirkus—editor’s note]. He’s obsessed with last words, as is one of his characters. He got hold of Last Words and mentioned it in a YouTube video he hosted that got 150,000 unique hits. He has over 1 million Twitter followers, and a lot of those people ordered the book through Amazon, which I found astounding. I kept getting all these orders—it was a big Christmas gift. Q: You cover statesmen, writers and celebrities, but also condemned criminals. Were you going for notability or quotability? A: The selection is dependent on what historians have recorded—and how people die. There are many executed criminals because their last words are carefully recorded. They also know the time and place of their death, so they compose exactly what they want to say. Sometimes it’s poignant; sometimes idiotic—“Go Raiders” or “Fire it up.” Popes and royalty have people sitting by their deathbeds waiting for their last words. Q: What makes for great last words? A: People expect last words to be the stamp a person puts on his life—which isn’t necessarily the case. I like something poignant: Victor Hugo adored his children, and his last words were “Adieu, Jeanne, Adieu”—a simple farewell. I like humor. When Bob Hope’s wife asked him where he wanted to be buried, his last words were, “Surprise me.”

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ph oto co u rt esy o f W il l ia m B r a hm s

A: Good question. Time is an element: The source is The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints, compiled by an archbishop in the 13th century, 1,100 years after her death. That source has, well…come under scrutiny, but I can’t disprove it. Another version makes more sense—“Are these the gods you worship, or are they blocks of wood and pieces of stone?” spoken before her decapitation—but it’s a modern source removed 1,700 years from the events.

Q: The book is a resource for scholars and writers, but do people buy it just to browse?


discoveries queue

HUMAN RIGHTS IN LIFE AND DEATH: Basic Considerations for Development Planning

Arowolo, Oladele O. Xlibris (380 pp.) $29.99; $19.99 paperback; $9.99 e-book July 8, 2010 978-1453504598 (Paper) 9781453504581

ALTAMONT AUGIE

Barager, Richard

Interloper (308 pp.) $15.95 paperback June 1, 2011 978-0983066101

EVEN AFTER THAT

De Wilde, Judith

AuthorHouse (72 pp.) $29.99 paperback October 8, 2010 978-1452022314

GHOST OF THE SNOWLANDS

Gregory, G.C.

AuthorHouse (432 pp.) $34.99; $22.99 paperback November 23, 2010 978-1438995922 (Paper) 9781438969862

THE ABSENT EMBRACE: One Small Girl’s Resilient Spirit (Volume 1)

Kuts, Braedon

CreateSpace (354 pp.) $12.93 paperback December 2, 2010 978-1438212197

DOG IQ: DESIGN 1.0: A Story of Dogs and Computers

Lightstone, Alexander

CreateSpace (140 pp.) $12.50 paperback; $6.70 e-book December 1, 2010 978-1456391799

K irk us M e di a L L C # President M A RC W I N K E L M A N SVP, Finance J ames H ull SVP, Marketing M ike H ejny

SOLID FOOD IS FOR ADULTS: A pioneering venture with Wycliffe in mountainous South-West Mexico

Pride, Leslie and Kitty Pride AuthorHouse (244 pp.) $15.99 paperback April 6, 2007 978-1425983192

LIFE PASSAGES

Schaetzel, Anne Kidder

AuthorHouse (188 pp.) $24.59; $14.03 paperback December 28, 2010 978-1452068824 (Paper) 978-1452068817

EVENTS IN THE FUTURE FORGOTTEN TENSE: Selected Poems: 1980 to 2006

Selby, Thome

AuthorHouse (168 pp.) $15.99 paperback April 22, 2008 978-1434364876

SVP, Online Paul H o f f man

NEWSLADY

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Simpson, Carol

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AuthorHouse (300 pp.) $28.00; $9.99 e-book November 5, 2010 978-1452062365

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February 01, 2011: Volume LXXIX, No 3