Shelf Awareness for Readers for Tuesday, March 18, 2014


From My Shelf

Tarcherperigee: The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children by Emma Johnson

Tarcherperigee: Elements of Taste: Understanding What We Like and Why by Benjamin Errett

'The Cold Is Ultimating': Turn Up the Heat for Poetry Month

"It's cold here," John Berryman wrote in one of his Dream Songs. "The cold is ultimating. The cold is cold." As our winter of frigid discontent winds down, I'm pulling spring toward me like a quilt by starting Poetry Month early.

First, Garrison Keillor, author (most recently of O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound), entertainer and independent bookstore proprietor, is sponsoring "Love Letters: Common Good Books' Second Annual Poetry Contest," with $2,000 in prizes. He invites poets, aspiring poets and even non-poets to "put irony and satire aside and the great everlasting litany of complaint and to put your heart on the line. That is where you reveal yourself as a human being. It's not for the timid." There's even an advice page, where tips are being shared "on how to win at (writing) love from some of our country's best poets," including a new post yesterday by Richard Blanco.

Then there's my reading list this winter, which included Stephen Dunn's Lines of Defense, the late Maxine Kumin's And Short the Season and Kevin Young's Book of Hours. I'm also looking forward to Lenelle Moïse's Haiti Glass (April release), and have added The Government of Nature by Afaa Michael Weaver to my list. A former factory worker, he just won the $100,000 Kingsley Tufts award.

Poetry seems to be everywhere I turn lately online: Nikki Giovanni discussing Chasing Utopia, "the beer that inspired its title and why poetry keeps people from feeling lonely"; James Franco talking about his collection Directing Herbert White on the Tonight Show, while getting in a plug for Frank Bidart's NBCC Award-winning Metaphysical Dog. Orson Welles reading from Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" in 1953.

And today, Garrison Keillor tells me, is the birthday of French poet Stéphane Mallarmé, who said, "There is nothing but beauty--and beauty has only one perfect expression, Poetry. All the rest is a lie." Or, to paraphrase a lesser-known sage: Let's get this poetry party started. --Robert Gray, contributing editor


Andrews McMeel Publishing: Phoebe and Her Unicorn in the Magic Storm (Phoebe and Her Unicorn #6) by Dana Simpson


Book Candy

Harry Potter's World; Reviews to Rue

"Where in the U.K. is the world of Harry Potter?" asked io9 in showcasing maps "pinpointing the exact locations of many of the places mentioned in Harry Potter. If you were wondering just how far Harry had to go to get from Little Whinging to Hogwarts, this is your reference guide."

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Ouch. Mental Floss highlighted several "really harsh early reviews of 20 classic 20th-century novels."

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For fans of the Netflix series, Buzzfeed showcased "23 books every fan of House of Cards should read."
 
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"The wisdom imparted through running doesn't always come while pounding the pavement," the Huffington Post wrote in suggesting "9 books every runner should read."

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Actress and writer Annabelle Gurwitch, author of I See You Made an Effort: Compliments, Indignities and Survival Stories from the Edge of 50, suggested "three books to help you through a midlife crisis" for NPR Books.

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Instructables offered plans for a bookshelf made of recycled encyclopedias painted in bright colors.


University of California Press: A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore


The Writer's Life

Carol Cassella: How She Does It

photo: Christie Jenkins

Carol Cassella's third novel, Gemini, follows Oxygen and Healer. Her protagonists, strong women all, face medical and ethical dilemmas, portrayed by an author well qualified to explore these conflicts: Casella is a practicing anesthesiologist in Seattle. She and her husband live on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, and are the parents of two sets of twins, currently high school seniors and college freshmen. She is also a founding member of the Seattle 7, a nonprofit collective of more than 60 Pacific Northwest writers who "foster and support a passion for the written word" through fundraising, workshops and appearances.

It's irresistible to ask: How do you do it all?

People think of all three as being full-time jobs, but these are all part-time! I don't know a single mother who doesn't feel she's wearing 10 hats. When the kids were little, I worked part-time, and when they went to school a window of free time opened. I heard a life-long voice that told me I needed and wanted to write and to take my writing more seriously. I think it was good for the kids to see me work, especially in what's traditionally a man's field. Motherhood drives everything else you do, and what it gives back is incredible. This plays a role in the books.

So--how do you do it all?

Each book takes about three years to complete. And cleaning doesn't get done. Perhaps when all of the kids are in college, I can actually write a novel set in a locale that I'll have to visit!

Is it hard to keep up with the medical profession?

Anesthesiology allows me to schedule my time in the hospital. About 40% of my time there is in the OR, which allows me to keep my procedural and machine/human interfacing skills sharp. Like flying a plane, it's necessary to do it regularly.

Do your patients ever realize that you are an author?

I never changed my medical license from my name, "Wiley." (The title page of Gemini reads "Carol Wiley Cassella") so my life feels like it is in two compartments. I want the focus of my patients to be that I am there to care for them.

Do you think writing enhances your ability to empathize with your patients?

The skills do overlap. I usually have five minutes to connect with a patient, and it's most critical to help them relax. Hostility in a patient's eye is actually fear, lurking below the surface, and I have to search for unspoken clues, as I would follow a character as a writer. I carry both a patient and a reader on a journey, and ask them both to trust me to do that.

In Gemini, all the characters' lives intersect. How did you decide to construct your novel this way?

I wrote the first draft as two separate storylines and then, in the second draft, I wove them together. I love to reveal mystery through medical situations! Science is fascinating to me and limitless when it comes to story ideas.

All of your books go beyond a good story and instruct, or prompt readers to consider issues.

Twenty-eight dollars should give you something to think about! I want readers to move on from my book with residual questions, and if the author hasn't influenced readers, then she's failed them. Books should be more than a roller-coaster ride, forgotten in five minutes; reading should be a participatory experience--readers should be pulled in and challenged to look at their own lives.

"Jane Doe" in Gemini is a patient whose ICU life-support intervention is probably uninsured, and her doctor worries this might influence her care. The law requires the hospital to take care of her because her life is threatened, but the hospital would have to absorb that cost. Are you making a statement?

Yes. The United States has a broken medical system. We are the only Western democracy that doesn't see health care as a right. It's not "bad" people in the system--not the doctors, the insurance companies or the administrators--but the system has grown this way and we've become blind to how it evolved. Some 60% of bankruptcies in this country are due to medical bills. I try to paint a picture as it would really happen, and let the reader look at it and come to a conclusion.

Cassella's children Will and Sara (the older twins, on the left), and Julia and Elise (the identicals, on the right), with Bella the dog.  photo: Quinn Gunderson

You do even more than we've covered so far, volunteering your medical and writing talents, including traveling to Bhutan in January.

It's hard to think of the annual trips as a charity. Our team of doctors goes go to Bhutan and low-resource countries as part of the Global Burn Care organization, funded by donors, and we treat patients with debilitating scars and train local doctors in this specialized care. For two weeks we practice medicine at its purest, helping people who come by buses, horses, any way they can, in response to government ads and notices.

You're also an editor?

I edit the literary section of Anesthesiology, the journal of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Members of the profession contribute pieces, including poetry and essays.

You're frequently spotted in the Pacific Northwest with a group of other authors.

Well, being in the Seattle 7 is a blast! We all support each other. We meet regularly for "Wine and Whine." And in our interaction with readers, it's through indie bookstores that the connection is made personal. Thus, it's the relationship we are selling--the author, the reader, and the bookstore. Indies are where we meet readers face to face, answer questions, sign physical books. That won't go away--people value it too much. I want bookstores to know how much we appreciate them! --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco, Calif.


Southern Independent Bookstore Alliance (SIBA): Lady Banks' Commonplace Books


Book Review

Fiction

The Anatomy Lesson

by Nina Siegal


Nina Siegal's The Anatomy Lesson is an ambitious, inventive and sometimes uneven novel that imagines the lives of the figures in Rembrandt's group portrait of the same name--his first major commission. It is historical fiction steeped in impeccable research and intimate knowledge of Amsterdam at the height of its artistic vitality.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of its many characters over the course of a single day. It begins with Aris, a one-handed coat thief whose public hanging leads to the eventual dissection of his corpse in an anatomy lesson conducted by Amsterdam's official City Anatomist, Dr. Nicolaes Tulp. Through it all, a young Rembrandt plans, then paints his portrait of the dissection, struggling to reconcile his artistic and humanist vision with the requirements of his commission. Joining them are Aris's pregnant lover, Flora; René Descartes; and the curio dealer who must procure the body for Dr. Tulp. Pia, a contemporary art conservator, adds her observations about the painting in short chapters that punctuate the historical story.

This structure can make the novel feel disjointed, but it adds layers of rich period detail and perspective. Siegal is especially effective in conveying the murky intersection of science, religion and morality in a rapidly changing city. She is an acute observer of art and of human nature. If The Anatomy Lesson wears its knowledge a little too self-consciously, it is nevertheless a thought-provoking and richly populated novel by a talented new voice. --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

Discover: This impeccably researched historical novel tells the story behind Rembrandt's first major painting.

Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, $25.95, hardcover, 9780385538367

Diversion Publishing: The Skeleton Paints a Picture (Family Skeleton Mystery #4) by Leigh Perry


Food & Wine

The Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook

by Terry Golson


For those who hear "egg" and don't think beyond "scrambled" or "boiled," Terry Golson's Farmstead Egg Guide & Cookbook will likely expand the association as far back as a chick hatchery, through building a coop, gathering fresh eggs and learning which hens lay blue-shelled and which lay brown.

Roughly one-fourth of this engaging primer is a how-to for those considering backyard chicken keeping, but Golson--who has kept hens for 20 years--offers easy-to-learn rules for buying the freshest eggs from a market or farm, too. The recipes, updated from her Farmstead Egg Cookbook (2006), range from the tastiest hard-boiled eggs to homemade mayonnaise and angel food cake.

Farmstead chickens provide eggs of exceptional flavor and freshness, but they're also fun to keep. Golson reveals chicken characteristics: the "broody" hen, the bully, the "ditzy" Polish hen, the placid Silkie. In this world, it is not nice to have a man around the coop; roosters are unnecessary for egg production and are useful only as watch-fowl, if predators lurk in the neighborhood. Calculating the cost of chicks, coop, feed, fencing and tools, Golson estimates that at the peak of a flock's productivity, it's reasonable to think of eggs costing $3.24 a dozen--but, she concludes, if you include the "pet factor," they're priceless. --Cheryl Krocker McKeon, bookseller, Book Passage, San Francisco

Discover: A complete guide to maintaining a backyard chicken flock and enjoying farm-fresh eggs, from the creator of HenCam.com.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99, paperback, 9781118627952

Spiderline/House of Anansi Press:  The Couturier of Milan (Triad Years #3) by Ian Hamilton


Gluten-Free Pasta: More than 100 Fast and Flavorful Recipes with Low- and No-Carb Options

by Robin Asbell


Robin Asbell learned to navigate many special diets as a private chef; her previous cookbooks (Big Vegan et al.) celebrate limited diets. In Gluten-Free Pasta, inspired by her mother's food allergies, Asbell focuses on full flavor and easy preparation--and readers will not feel deprived.

Gluten-Free Pasta opens with the observation that the first known noodle, from China more than 4,000 years ago, was made with millet flour: gluten-free! Since gluten provides structure, Asbell explains how to use binders like eggs, xanthan and guar gums to work around this, with flours like white and sweet rice, millet and whey protein powder. According to Asbell, anything that can be made into long strips can become spaghetti, but a list of gluten-free brands commonly found in grocery stores is provided for those fearful of making fresh pasta. Since diet sensitivities can include other common ingredients, like eggs, dairy, soy and nuts, Abell also includes multiple alternatives to these triggers.

But the true gift of Gluten-Free Pasta is the recipes; Asbell celebrates pasta in all forms from cold (lime-chili noodles with Thai basil and scallops) to baked (spicy kimchi-spiked mac and cheese), and includes sauces with flavors such as spicy African peanut and creamy roasted garlic and mushroom. Beyond pasta, there are tempting recipes for soups, chowders and appetizers like curry noodle and paneer cakes with mango raita. To help readers navigate the bounty, an alphabetized index guides the way. Gluten-Free Pasta will be a blessing to anyone who fears a gluten-free diet means losing "comfort on a plate." --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: To the many people intolerant to wheat and gluten, chef Robin Asbell proclaims, "You can stop grieving. You will eat pasta again."

Running Press, $20, paperback, 9780762449675

Shelf Awareness Sign-up Giveaway: Lilac Lane by Sheryl Woods


Biography & Memoir

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero

by James Romm


Classical historian James Romm tackles Nero's Roman Empire, and the controversies and contradictions of the moral philosopher Seneca, in the appropriately titled Dying Every Day.

Nero became emperor in 54 A.D., at the age of 16, under the thumb of his overbearing mother, Agrippina. Like his uncle Caligula--who had also come to the throne at a young age--Nero scandalized Rome with debauchery, exhibitionism, violence and terror. Romm's chapters are tellingly named: Fratricide, Regicide, Matricide, Matriticide and Holocaust are bookended by two Suicides, the whole capped by an epilogue entitled Euthanasia.

Nero's legacy is fairly straightforward, but the tutor brought out of exile to prime him for autocratic rule is a more complex character. Seneca was a Stoic who admired Socrates and Cato, prolifically produced moral treatises and scorned wealth. In his role as Nero's teacher, mentor and trusted senior adviser, however, he colluded in murders within the royal family and amassed a personal fortune. His prose and drama leave behind a contradictory image, and historians from his contemporaries through the present day have puzzled over his true character. Ascetic Stoic moralist or conniving courtier? Romm (Ghost on the Throne) doesn't claim to settle the centuries-old mystery, but sheds light using ancient sources and occasional references to modern critics, joining his readers in marveling at a regime remembered by history for its shocking excesses. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: An accessible study of Seneca, adviser to the appalling and scandalous Roman emperor Nero.

Knopf, $27.95, hardcover, 9780307596871

Hold Tight Gently: Michael Callen, Essex Hemphill, and the Battlefield of AIDS

by Martin Duberman


In 1995, the war against AIDS took a decisive turn when the FDA approved the use of protease inhibitors. By then, however, the disease had claimed thousands of lives, including those of singer Michael Callen and poet Essex Hemphill. In Hold Tight Gently, historian Martin Duberman (Stonewall) explores the lives of both artists to create a detailed portrait of the early years of the fight to understand, contain and control the AIDS epidemic.

Callen and Hemphill, who never met, took radically different routes in their approach to the AIDS fight. Callen, a white Midwesterner who had moved to New York to pursue his singing career and discover himself, soon emerged as one of the leading political voices in the white gay community and within the AIDS movement. Hemphill, a black resident of Washington, D.C., preferred to work behind the scenes, channeling his burdens into his poetic works.

Developing Callen's and Hemphill's biographies side by side allows Duberman to consider elements of race, sexuality, class and identity and go beyond the basic facts of what the two lived through in the years from 1981 to 1995. In so doing, he demonstrates that AIDS has not yet been defeated--and that losing a sense of urgency in fighting it sets up the entire nation to repeat its own tragic history. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

Discover: A detailed and deeply empathetic look at the fight against AIDS, and a reminder the battle has not been won.

New Press, $27.95, hardcover, 9781595589453

Cathedral of the Wild: An African Journey Home

by Boyd Varty


Primarily set in the lushness of the Londolozi Game Preserve in South Africa, Cathedral of the Wild, Boyd Varty's memoir of his childhood and adolescence is full of tiny details and intimate moments that bring the African bush alive.

Started by Varty's great-grandfather as a hunting safari park, Londolozi was transformed by Varty's father and uncle into an ecotourism nature park, a place where animals could be observed and filmed, not hunted for trophies. Varty and his sister were raised amid the chaos of running a luxury safari business and quickly learned to entertain guests, help in the kitchen, drive Land Rovers and be self-sufficient from a very young age. They connected with nature in many profound and sometimes dangerous moments, working with their uncle as camera assistants and drivers as he created his world-famous documentaries on elephants, leopards and wildebeests. (They also enjoyed a friendship with Nelson Mandela, who stayed at Londolozi after his release from prison.)

For Varty, who survived a severe crocodile attack and a scary bout with malaria, the most dangerous animal was his fellow man: he was involved in an encounter with intruders on Londolozi's turf. But through his spiritual connection with the land, Varty was able to regain his sense of place, purpose and peace. Brimming with sensory details, Varty's reverence for his surroundings is deeply evident as he illuminates "the last fading taste of the old Africa," conserving these moments just like the animals who have flourished thanks to the Londolozi preserve. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Spiritually and emotionally linked to his African surroundings, a young man uses his bush knowledge to overcome his fears.

Random House, $27, hardcover, 9781400069859

History

The Gods of Olympus: A History

by Barbara Graziosi


We know that Zeus has a large sexual appetite, that Athena is warlike, that Hermes is a messenger with a sense of humor. But how did these myths and the personalities they depict survive to the present? Barbara Graziosi, a professor, has written several academic works on the classics. In The Gods of Olympus, she directs her expertise to a more general audience, following the 12 gods and goddesses of the classical Greek pantheon from their first appearances in antiquity through our continuing modern awareness of them.

The history of the immortal Olympians begins in Greece, where Graziosi explores their role in myth, ritual and cultural events. Alexander the Great expanded his empire toward the ends of the earth, and under his rule, much of the "known world" was Hellenized. During the Roman Empire, the gods' strong personalities were merged with the traditional Roman gods', surviving in slightly different forms that best served those in power. Graziosi demonstrates the continuation of this model: Islam and Christianity also preserved the Olympians, albeit transformed them into demons and allegories. Their original worshippers are long gone, but the Olympic gods survive, flexible and changeable but continuing to inspire art and literature.

Graziosi's knowledge is obvious, and easy to trust, accompanied by thorough notes and a helpful appendix. Her writing is accessible and entertaining, her passion for her subject obvious; The Gods of Olympus will equally thrill longtime lovers of the classics, and appeal to readers seeking a friendly, engaging introduction. --Julia Jenkins, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia

Discover: A comprehensive and absorbing study of the gods of Olympus for enthusiasts and novices alike.

Metropolitan/Holt, $28, hardcover, 9780805091571

Living Hell: The Dark Side of the Civil War

by Michael C.C. Adams


Michael C.C. Adams (The Best War Ever) throws aside the image of gallant pageantry often associated with the American Civil War to reveal its grimmest realities in Living Hell. He ignores the grand campaign strategies and national politics, focusing instead on individuals and the traumas they endured. Adams follows soldiers through the recruitment process, the vice and grime of camp life, the horrors of the battlefield and its aftermath, on through the years of postwar physical and psychological anguish, often suffered in isolation or ridicule. Finally, he turns to the plight of civilians, including the hundreds of thousands of widows and orphans left in the war's wake.

Living Hell uses firsthand accounts and Adams's own extensive research to create a shockingly unflinching view of the war. It is not for the squeamish, with graphic descriptions of battlefield mutilations, primitive surgeries, mass corpse disposal and an incessant stream of upsetting violations of human dignity. Yet Living Hell is far more than a sadistic chronicle of these horrors; it provides a vital gut-wrenching counterpoint to the Civil War's glamorization in America's collective memory, a perspective as important to understanding the war as any political history or general's biography.

Living Hell will appeal to lovers of military history while being accessible enough for general readers. Those with the fortitude to endure its darkest moments will find it fascinating, though not necessarily enjoyable. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Discover: An unflinching account of the Civil War's human costs.

Johns Hopkins University Press, $29.95, hardcover, 9781421412214

The Hotel on the Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris

by Tilar J. Mazzeo


If the walls of the Hôtel Ritz could talk, The Hotel on the Place Vendome would be their memoirs. Tilar Mazzeo presents a history of this glitzy Parisian hotel, cataloguing the lives and actions of its rich and famous occupants--from Marcel Proust to Coco Chanel, Hemingway and Fitzgerald to Hermann Göring.

Mazzeo (The Secret of Chanel No. 5) starts with the hotel's opening in 1898, then moves chronologically through the building's history. The bulk of her account, though, is spent on the years during World War II and the activities leading up to the Nazi occupation of Paris, then to the city's liberation in 1944. Mazzeo leaves no stone unturned, giving as much attention to the members of the French Resistance--several of whom worked in the Ritz--as to "horizontal collaborators," French women known to sleep with Nazi soldiers during the Occupation.

This is a history many French citizens, even now, would prefer to leave untold; Mazzeo recalls how one interview subject whose husband fought in the Resistance warned her not to write the book. But write it she did, and readers should be grateful, for the lens of the Hôtel Ritz provides not only a fascinating history of a building that has captured our imaginations for over a century, but a broader history of the building's many occupants. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: An "if walls could talk" approach to the history of Paris's Hôtel Ritz and its many famous--and infamous--residents.

Harper, $26.99, hardcover, 9780061791086

Gardening

Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden

by Deborah L. Martin, illus. by Margaret Magrikie Berg


Synonymous with organic farming and gardening since the 1940s, Rodale joins forces with Deborah Martin, a veteran writer at Organic Gardening, to bring novice gardeners a hands-on "green" guide to growing flowers, vegetables and herbs. Like many other endeavors, organic gardening has its own language, adeptly defined throughout the text, and requires many skills, which Martin explores in detail.

From preparing a garden site based on sun and drainage to making raised beds to choosing the best tools, Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening walks newbies through each step of the process. Confused as to which type of seeds to buy, how much water to use or how to tend to new transplants? Martin answers these and other questions with practical solutions, allowing new green gardeners to go forward with ease and confidence. A large section covers specific vegetables, with pertinent information on the best soil to use, the best temperature at which to plant and the best times and methods for harvesting.

For those accustomed to using chemicals to combat insects and weeds, Martin's tips on beneficial insects, mulch, pheromone traps and dormant oils will ensure productive results while switching to a healthier and safer method of gardening. A monthly checklist of gardening chores helps ensure growers are ready to start their new gardens as soon as weather and temperatures permit; suggestions on what to record in gardening notebooks or Excel files round out the useful advice. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Solid advice for the novice green gardener on raising organic vegetables, flowers and herbs.

Rodale, $19.99, paperback, 9781609619831

Children's & Young Adult

Matilda's Cat

by Emily Gravett, illus. by Emily Gravett


The interplay between Emily Gravett's text and artwork are as humorous as the interactions of Matilda and her cat.

Matilda, the girl heroine, dresses like her tabby in a costume bearing identical stripes, tail and ears. She clearly adores her pet. "Matilda's cat likes playing with wool," the text claims in penciled handwriting. The cat ducks behind a bin as the girl, tangled in multi-colored strands of yarn, lobs a ball of wool in her pet's direction. On the next page, the phrase "playing with wool" is crossed out and replaced with "boxes." The cat gazes nonchalantly at the girl as she peeks out of a two-story corrugated fortress. So begins Matilda's wish list of shared activities for her and her cat. The feline looks downright terrified of "riding bikes!" (having escaped from the trike's rear cargo box), and one of the funniest images shows the cat staring at a banana at Matilda's tea party (a smear of chocolate on the hostess's face indicates that she's having a fine time). While Matilda is off "fighting foes," her feline naps; her "bedtime stories" (Gravett's Dogs) make the cat hiss. But there is one thing they enjoy doing together: cuddling at bedtime.

Gravett keeps her compositions spare; she uses only enough pattern or color to illustrate the item on Matilda's list. The focus remains entirely on the relationship between Matilda and her cat. Every child will be able to relate to Matilda's comical attempts to lure in her cat, and her complete inability to do so. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Charming heroine Matilda just wants to find something she can enjoy together with her beloved cat.

S&S, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9781442475274

Maple

by Lori Nichols


The young heroine of this enchanting picture book describes her relationship with a special maple tree, and how she shares it with her new baby sister.

First-time author and artist Lori Nichols immediately sets up the book's central relationship: "Maple loved her name," says the text, as a child in braids looks lovingly at a tree. Her parents "planted a tiny tree in her honor," the book continues. A series of images charts the strengthening bond between Maple and her tree. In one glorious two-page spread, the reader views Maple from high above, gazing down at the girl lying beneath the leafy, sundrenched branches. Then one day, close to Maple's tree, a small mound appears; a rabbit stares at the mound. A tiny sprout appears--a harbinger of not only spring, but a new addition to the family. When the baby won't stop crying, Maple takes her outside, where "Maple's tree danced for them both." Once again, Nichols's image makes readers feel as if they are looking down from the treetop, this time viewing Maple and her baby sister through the leaves.

Maple is a satisfying tale of a child's relationship with and awe of nature, and her willingness to open up her world to her younger sibling. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: A debut picture book starring a nature-loving girl who shares her passion with her new baby sister.

Nancy Paulsen/Penguin, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 4-8, 9780399160851

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List Price: $2.99

 

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