Shelf Awareness for Readers for Friday, October 25, 2013

Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster: A Short Walk Through a Wide World by Douglas Westerbeke

From My Shelf

World Book Night U.S.

What better way to share the joy of reading with others? On the third annual World Book Night U.S., which takes place next April 23, some 25,000 volunteer book lovers will give 20 copies of a favorite book to friends and strangers--primarily light readers or non-readers or people without the means to buy books. The program is free and coordinated through bookstores, libraries and other organizations. Altogether, some 500,000 books will be given away on World Book Night, the anniversary of Shakespeare's death in 1616.

Two days ago WBN U.S. unveiled the 35 titles that book givers will be able to choose from. It's a wonderful range of titles, "the most diverse" list for WBN U.S., as executive director Carl Lennertz put it, and includes classics like Catch-22 by Joseph Heller and After the Funeral by Agatha Christie; more recent bestselling novels like Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow, Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin and Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan; memoirs like Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Wild by Cheryl Strayed; a handful of titles geared for teen readers; a graphic novel, Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim (the first graphic novel WBN U.S. has offered); a book in Spanish and English, When I Was Puerto Rican/Cuando Era Puertorriquena by Esmeralda Santiago--and more.

Readers can apply online to become givers, now through January 5. Among the benefits is the possibility of participating in the parties and gatherings for givers that take place in the days and weeks before World Book Night. Most important, though, is the fun of giving out books on April 23 and thereby passing on to others a reminder of the power of reading, whether it's for entertainment, to gain knowledge, to step into the shoes of others for a spell--or all those things. --John Mutter, editor-in-chief, Shelf Awareness

Sleeping Bear Press: When You Go Into Nature by Sheri M Bestor, Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

The Writer's Life

Chris West: Little Rectangular Pieces of History

photo: Imogen West

Chris West's titles include a business guide and a quartet of crime novels. He inherited a love of history from his father and an Edwardian "Lincoln" stamp album from his great-uncle as a child. His love for stamps was revived when he found that same dust-covered album in his attic as an adult. His most recent book, A History of England in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps (see our review below), is exactly what it sounds like: a quirky, charming and often surprising history of England told using postage stamps to shape the story.

What led you to look at history through the lens of stamp collecting?

I'm not sure if it was the same in the U.S., but over in Britain in the '50s and '60s every young man collected stamps. You had a little album with a few stamps stuck in from around the world. John Lennon had one. Paul McCartney had one. You just did in those days. So I had one, and it was pretty rubbish.

Then one day I was at tea with an uncle of mine, and I mentioned that I collected stamps. He said, "I used to do that when I was a boy," and he pulled out this beautiful blue album. He then said, "You can have it." So I suddenly had this beautiful stamp album, and I became very keen on stamps. Then someone nicked half the stamps, and I lost interest.

Forty years later, after my dad passed away, I was clearing the attic out, and I came across this old canvas bag. Inside were all these stamps. My initial reaction was one of anger that someone had stolen the stamps in the first place, then I thought I'll just collect them again.

As I did, I became fascinated by these little rectangular pieces of history. They seemed to say so much about their era. I thought about the envelopes that people used to send letters to each other. What would be in those envelopes? What was life like in these days? All these sorts of questions seemed to emerge naturally. I started writing little sections in the album about the era to which a stamp belonged. And then it suddenly it turned into a book.

How did you choose which stamps to feature?

Some of them I chose because they were physically beautiful. Others seemed to tell a very apt story--the stamp that would have been used on an envelope that tells someone her son was killed in the First World War. It's not an aesthetic marvel, but the story jumps out at you. With some of the later stamps I had to look around for something appropriate for a story that I wanted to tell, like the Lloyds of London one for talking about the City and financial crash.

You're clearly fascinated by the energy and innovation of the Victorian period, but more than half the book is devoted to the years after World War II.

One of the reasons for that is there are an awful lot more stamps. The Victorians were very reticent in producing stamps. For example, there were no commemorative stamps until 1924. King George V, who was a keen stamp collector, didn't like commemorative stamps. He said they were "flashy and un-English."

I'm curious about the one stamp you chose that was neither British nor empire. Why did you choose a German stamp to illustrate the years between World War I and World War II?

Three reasons, really. One, it's a fabulous story-telling stamp. With 200 marks over-printed with two million marks, it's such a clear image of a monetary system in complete free fall.

And of course it was terribly influential in British history. It's no accident that the week hyperinflation in Germany hit its peak was the same week that Hitler launched his coup in Bavaria. Hyperinflation destroyed German culture and allowed Hitler to come to power. And therefore the world war came along. You can't say "if it hadn't been for hyperinflation there wouldn't have been Hitler," but you can jolly nearly say it.

There's another side to it as well. If you go a little bit on, into the 1970s, inflation came into Britain. If you look at the graph of the inflation, it suddenly rocketed up. I was being a bit of a novelist and foreshadowing. Like that old Chekhov thing about the gun on the wall. So the German stamp was a bit of a gun on the wall. I wanted to make the reader realize how scary that was. I remember in '73 and '74, it felt like everything was going down a black hole. I wanted to set that up. Obviously it didn't happen, but it could have done.

Do you have a favorite stamp in the book?

Aesthetically, the lovely 1953 Coronation Black with the beautiful intricate stuff in the background. Incredibly beautiful object. I think artistically that's my favorite. I think the Penny Black is a very beautiful stamp. I really like the British Empire exhibition one from 1924. It's very emblematic of its time, with its roaring lion--blowing the trumpets of an empire that was already in decline. Another one I like very much is the one with young scouts on it--the first black Briton to appear on a stamp. It sends out a very nice message about the country being inclusive and yet quite traditional as well

Actually, I like them all.

You ended the book with information about the stamps themselves. I've never collected stamps, but was drawn to that section.

All areas of human activity are interesting once somebody leads you in there and shows you what's happening. Even things that look pointless--when someone who's into it shows you round, suddenly it becomes interesting.

Do you still collect stamps?

Oh yes, definitely. There's the attraction of the aesthetic objects. And then there's history. A fascinating sense that these tiny little rectangles tell stories. Little rectangular time machines. I love that.

What's next?

I'm doing the same again with the United States of America. I'm going through your own history in the States and choosing 36 stamps which I think tell the story. I'm absolutely loving it. It's tremendous fun. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Book Candy

Books That Will Change Your Life; YA Heroines

Buzzfeed suggested "32 books that will actually change your life."


Flavorwire showcased "20 classic YA literature heroines, ranked."


On its blog, publisher Quirk Books invited readers to "celebrate fall with six book-inspired beers."


If you've ever been subjected to the Myers-Briggs test (and you know you have), you'll appreciate the Huffington Post's suggestions for the "one perfect book for every single Myers-Briggs type."

Professional party organizer Suzette Field, author of A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature, shared 10 of her favorites, noting: "Some of these parties I have recreated at my own events (I put on Satan's Rout at a Halloween event for 2,500 revelers in London last year). Others I'd like to have attended. Most I'd have like to have written."

Book Review



by Jo Baker

"If Elizabeth Bennet had the washing of her own petticoats, Sarah often thought, she'd most likely be a sight more careful with them." Alas for Sarah, she's the housemaid in charge of the Bennet family's laundry, and every Monday she has to scrub and launder until her hands bleed.

Jo Baker's Longbourn presents a grimy underside to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The Bennets' housemaids, Sarah and Polly, empty the chamberpots while housekeeper Mrs. Hill worries about what will become of them after Elizabeth Bennet turns down Mr. Collins--and all the servants sigh whenever the Gardiners, and their many messy children, come to visit. Baker brings to life all the things Austen left out: Mr. Wickham's slimy ways with those beneath him, the endless duties that await the overworked servants and how a housemaid's longing for a better life can change the lives of many people around her.

This vivid story of personal growth and love could stand independently of its literary predecessor. The inclusion of familiar bits from Pride and Prejudice, however, take Baker's novel to a new level, offering alternate insights into Austen's characters. Mrs. Bennet and Mr. Collins seem unexpectedly pitiable, while other characters come across as surprisingly calloused. Fans of historical fiction and Austenites alike will enjoy Longbourn. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: The other side of Pride and Prejudice, as told by the Bennets' overworked servants.

Knopf, $25.95, hardcover, 9780385351232

This House Is Haunted

by John Boyne

John Boyne's This House Is Haunted is a ghost story steeped in the Dickensian tradition. As Eliza and her father journey through a typically cold, wet night in London to see Charles Dickens read in a nearby pub, he falls ill from the weather and soon dies, leaving her with no parents, no siblings and very little money.

Seeking a change, Emma responds to an advertisement for a governess at an estate in the country. But when she arrives at Gaudlin Hall, she is startled to find no adults present; her two new pupils present themselves to her with no explanation. From her first night at Gaudlin, Eliza is haunted by an unseen spirit. As the attacks become more violent, threatening Eliza's life, she sets out to find the secret that lies at the heart of Gaudlin.

With The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Boyne proved his ability to immerse himself in the innocent and naive perspective of a small boy; in wholly embodying Eliza in This House Is Haunted, he further proves his narration skills. This strong voice gives the story an added layer of intrigue, as we are treated not only to a 19th-century ghost story, but also to a heroine coming into herself as a woman and an individual. Though those looking for true horror and gore may be disappointed by the subtle buildup, This House Is Haunted is ultimately a compelling story of the supernatural and an ode to the Victorian-era ghost story. --Kerry McHugh, blogger at Entomology of a Bookworm

Discover: A ghost story in the Dickensian tradition from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Other Press, $14.95, paperback, 9781590516799

Mystery & Thriller

The Double

by George Pelecanos

Private investigator Spero Lucas returns in The Double, George Pelecanos's powerful follow-up to 2011's The Cut. The Afghanistan veteran who recovers stolen goods, no questions asked, is in search of a painting: after being swindled by a Casanova, Grace Kincaid has hired Lucas to reclaim what is rightfully hers. The art thief, however, has no plans to give up the piece--and is prepared to take Lucas down to keep it.

As Lucas works the case, he also finds himself in a new predicament: he's falling in love with a married woman. They've initiated a passionate affair, sneaking off to hotel rooms whenever she summons him. The affair is completely on her terms; she calls Lucas to satisfy her needs and despite his frustration with the arrangement, he can't tell her no.

Through his interactions with the art thief and his mistress, as well as his continuing struggles to reintegrate into civilian life, Lucas questions who he is. The answer isn't an easy one; Pelecanos smudges the lines between right and wrong, and good intentions count for little, if anything.

Pelecanos's characters dwell in the dark, underside of Washington, D.C., and his tone mimics their environment. In the melodic beauty and strength of his writing, readers can practically hear the soulful rhythms that form the soundtracks to his characters' complicated lives. The Double is complex, gritty crime fiction at its best. Pelecanos shines again. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Discover: In Pelecanos's second Spero Lucas novel, what begins as a search for stolen artwork turns into a pursuit of identity.

Little, Brown, $26, hardcover, 9780316078399

Food & Wine

The Soup & Bread Cookbook: More Than 100 Seasonal Pairings for Simple, Satisfying Meals

by Beatrice Ojakangas

There's nothing Beatrice Ojakangas (The Great Scandinavian Baking Book) loves more than a bowl of soup paired with a loaf of fresh bread--in any season. Delving into her extensive recipe archive, The Soup & Bread Cookbook presents more than 100 delicious combinations of these two staples.

Organized by season and emphasizing fresh, local ingredients, the soups employ a wide assortment of vegetables, from delicate spring peas and asparagus to hearty winter root veggies and even summer fruits (for sweet chilled soups). The breads likewise range from crunchy breadsticks and flatbreads to pillowy loaves of focaccia, crisp baguettes, crusty Tuscan bread and sweet scones and muffins. The combinations can be mixed and matched, of course, though each pair has been placed together with flavor profiles and cooking time in mind.

Ojakangas's Scandinavian heritage is on display as she shares soup recipes involving Finnish chanterelles, fresh nettles and Swedish yellow peas. Other soups draw on cuisines from around the world, from Moroccan vegetable soup with couscous to Brazilian feijoada with French twist bread. Most of the soup recipes can easily be modified to suit varying tastes and occasions.

Packed with helpful baking tips (and a few key recipes for basic breads, stocks and broths), The Soup & Bread Cookbook lives up to its name: a treasure trove of flavorful recipes for the days when nothing but a steaming, savory bowl of soup and a warm loaf of bread will do. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

Discover: Diverse, flavorful soup recipes, paired with equally delicious breads.

Rodale, $23.99, paperback, 9781609613624

A Commonplace Book of Pie

by Kate Lebo, illus. by Jessica Lynn Bonin

Pie: the mere word brings to mind flaky crusts and thick, sweet fruit fillings or perhaps the richness of pecans swimming in Karo syrup. In prose poems, Kate Lebo brings new meaning to apple, pumpkin and mumbleberry pie, among others, in the delightfully amusing A Commonplace Book of Pie. She also has thoughts on the people who love pies. For a blueberry pie devotee, she writes, "a pert slice and a little lemon is the difference between wanting to view paradise and viewing it." A woman who serves rhubarb custard pie, on the other hand, "is queen of the tealit dining room, her whisperclean countertops formica bright. Though she has been known to fake orgasms, she would never serve Splenda to guests."

Lovely illustrations by Jessica Lynn Bonin of pies and pie-making equipment accompany Lebo's poems. And then there are recipes and helpful tips on how to make great pie crusts and pies. There's the ice water method, the boiling water method, the vodka method. Should you use lard, butter or Crisco? What do you do if you have sweaty hands or a crust that needs to be patched together? Lebo provides a master recipe for fruit-filled pies and explains why you need just so much of the five main ingredients.  Although a slim volume, readers will be hard-pressed to know whether this book belongs in the kitchen for the recipes or on the coffee table for the illustrations and poems. Charming to read in either spot, A Commonplace Book of Pie is anything but commonplace. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: Delightful poems on pies and pie-lovers--recipes included.

Chin Music Press, $17.95, hardcover, 9780985041670

Biography & Memoir

One Woman Farm: My Life Shared with Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, Goats and a Fine Fiddle

by Jenna Woginrich

Jenna Woginrich was determined to live an authentic life, one that did not involve long hours sitting in a cubicle. One Woman Farm is her delightful story of one year on Cold Antler Farm, her small homestead in upstate New York. Woginrich begins her story in October, "the four weeks of the year when my endorphins speed up, and every day I am six years old again. It's also the month I have the most to say about since so much living is packed inside it."

The essence of life permeates Woginrich's pages as she describes a typical day spent caring for her sheep, horses, goats, rabbits, chickens and bees. Her lyrical prose and Emma Dibben's beautiful illustrations depicting rural life place readers in the moment, whether that's mucking out a barn, helping a sheep to lamb or cutting honey off the comb. Readers can breathe in the fresh air, feel the movement of Woginrich's horse beneath her as she travels a dirt road and taste the chèvre made from fresh goat's milk. The seasons cycle from the rush of fall through the cold calmness of winter to the burst of energy and new life of spring and the productive and soothing summer.

One Woman Farm is a book to be savored, helping the reader to contemplate what is truly important in life: sunrises, fresh food, the love of hard work and having a purpose in life. Woginrich's "observational spiritual farming" is a gift to the reader. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

Discover: A lovely series of essays portraying rural farm life by the author of Barnheart, Chick Days and Made from Scratch.

Storey Publishing, $16.95, hardcover, 9781603427180

One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile

by Mandy Retzlaff

One Hundred and Four Horses should come with a disclaimer: impossible to put down, but devastating to finish. It begins in 2002, as Mandy Retzlaff stands on a neighbor's front porch at dusk waiting for her husband, after being told by Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean government they had four hours to leave Crofton, the farm the family had owned for more than a decade.

Retzlaff then flashes back to her family's arrival at Crofton, with three young children and four horses, and recounts the happy decade they spent farming tomatoes and paprika. She traces the history of Rhodesia's civil war in the 1960s and '70s, the transition to the new nation of Zimbabwe and the eventual devastation of the area once considered Africa's breadbasket. In the face of the Mugabe regime's cruelty, the Retzlaffs refuse to turn away any horse in need and nearly lose their own lives trying to remain in their beloved home, moving from one friend's farm to the next, before escaping--with the eponymous 104 horses--to neighboring Mozambique.

While Retzlaff's love of her native land and use of vivid imagery initially echo Isak Dinesen and Nadine Gordimer, she also firmly establishes her own voice as a writer. One Hundred and Four Horses reveals a disturbing history, but the Retzlaffs' tenacity of spirit and unflagging loyalty to their horses tempers the devastation and results in an unforgettable tale of the indomitable human spirit. --Kristen Galles from Book Club Classics

Discover: History, memoir and adventure come together in a gripping tale of perseverance against a dictatorial African regime.

Morrow, $26.99, hardcover, 9780062204370


Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I

by Peter Ackroyd

Tudors continues the comprehensive, multi-volume history of England Peter Ackroyd began in Foundations. Despite its title, however, this not merely "yet another Tudor book." By interweaving details of everyday life in the times of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Ackroyd continues to provide an accurate portrait of English life through the centuries while simultaneously warning against evaluating historical individuals by contemporary mores.

Beginning with the death of the first Tudor king, Henry VII, the book traces the reign of the notorious Henry VIII, followed in turn by his three children: Edward, Mary and Elizabeth I. Ackroyd's focus throughout is the extraordinary religious upheaval of the Tudor years--a revolution in English history. By focusing on religious changes and their effect on English society, Ackroyd presents the Tudors in a way frequently overlooked by other popular histories and novels, depicting them as a force that continues to affect both English and international societies today, rather than as an early-modern soap opera.

Ackroyd does not sacrifice character for plot. Each player in this real-life historical drama is clearly drawn, their major contributions and connections made apparent without losing the thread of the overall themes.

Tudors takes a comprehensive approach to early-modern English history that is rarely attempted, but is, in Ackroyd's hands, a success. --Dani Alexis Ryskamp, blogger at The Book Cricket

Discover: The acclaimed novelist and historian's cohesive yet gripping portrait of England's most notorious royal family.

Thomas Dunne, $29.99, hardcover, 9781250003621

A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps

by Chris West

Chris West combines an uncle's Edwardian stamp collection with his own interest in history to create a quirky and insightful approach to the past in A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps.

Taken together, the stories of individual stamps tell the larger story of British history. West begins with the world's first postage stamp, the Penny Black of 1840, which becomes an emblem of the energy and invention of Victorian Britain. He ends with the 2012 First Class stamp and a thoughtful discussion of whether, in an inevitable pun, Britain is still "first class." In between, he considers recurring themes suggested by the stamps themselves: industry, social change, the role of the royal family and the nation's postwar decline and subsequent reinventions.

West builds a large historical framework on his "thirty-six little pieces of paper," but he always brings the discussion back to the stamps themselves. He uses details about designs and designers to illuminate changes not only in taste but also in the national spirit. The book ends with philatelic information about each stamp, including hints for beginners, more detailed information for experts and an occasional description of a rare issue for "the philatelist who thinks they have died and gone to heaven." This section is written in the same engaging style as the main history, and even readers who don't care about stamps as collectibles may be drawn into West's discussion of forgeries, printing errors and rarities. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

Discover: Stamps are tiny time machines in Chris West's engaging take on Britain from the Victorian era to today.

Picador, $28, hardcover, 9781250035509

Travel Literature

The Best American Travel Writing 2013

by Jason Wilson and Elizabeth Gilbert, editors

As Elizabeth Gilbert, the guest editor for this year's edition of The Best American Travel Writing, explains, she wasn't looking for service articles or travel tips to fill the anthology. Rather, she wanted stories that made her feel, at the conclusion, "I have now been there." Her selections are wide-ranging: from the story of a man visiting an improbable attraction called Dickens World, to a guy who didn't walk the Mexican-American border as planned, to a woman who decides to walk through the streets of Cairo in a full niqab and observe how men's reactions differ from the way she's normally treated in the Egyptian capital.

Some of these stories are mere paragraphs long, while others range closer to 20 pages. But each shares a vivid look at a different part of the world, from Papua New Guinea to Pamplona. And the combination of such vastly different authors, from the funny David Sedaris to the profane but profound Kevin Chroust and the renowned Ian Frazier, keeps the pages turning.

Perfect for armchair travelers and essay admirers, The Best American Travel Writing 2013 is a quintessential before-bed book: so interesting that you won't fall asleep, but containing short enough segments to allow reading a bit every night, luxuriously prolonging the wanderlust this collection creates. --Jessica Howard, blogger at Quirky Bookworm

Discover: The author of Eat, Pray, Love selects the contents for the 14th edition of this annual collection of brilliant travel stories.

Mariner Books, $14.95, paperback, 9780547808987

Children's & Young Adult

Not a Drop to Drink

by Mindy McGinnis

Debut author Mindy McGinnis paints a harrowing and realistic vision of a world with little water in Not a Drop to Drink. The first line sets the mood for the entire book: "Lynn was nine the first time she killed to defend the pond, the sweet smell of water luring the man to be picked off like the barn swallows that dared to swoop in for a drink."

This story of survival centers on 16-year-old Lynn, who is left with nothing but her mother and a pond of drinking water that must be defended. Early on in the book, her mother is killed by coyotes, and Lynn discovers the value (and the risk) in relying upon others when the world is so dangerous, including her neighbor Stebbs, and a family taking refuge on the banks of a nearby stream. McGinnis focuses on a narrow setting--the environment immediately surrounding the pond. She lets readers know the stakes are high, and sets up crucial situations for her characters.

A story informed by the constant threat of danger, Not a Drop to Drink will keep readers on the edge of their seats as McGinnis paints a picture of a world missing one of the things we take most for granted. --Shanyn Day, blogger at Chick Loves Lit

Discover: Sixteen-year-old Lynn, who attempts to survive when water is scarce, learns to trust others.

Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins, $17.99, hardcover, 320p., ages 13-up, 9780062198501

Battle Bunny

by Mac Barnett, Jon Scieszka, illus. by Matthew Myers

Leave it to Jon Scieszka (Knucklehead) and Mac Barnett (Extra Yarn) to take a bland, blah birthday story starring a benign bunny and turn it into a tale of a rabbit on a rampage, ready to wage war.

As with all great comedy, timing is everything. The book opens with an idyllic scene of a sweet bunny waking from "a night of pleasant dreams." However, a child (whom we know from "Gran Gran's" inscription is named "Alexander") peers in through the window with a thought balloon that reads, "Uh oh." With a turn of the page, readers see why: the Birthday Bunny transforms into a "Battle Bunny!" sporting a pirate's patch and a bandolier. The original text is crossed out in pencil so that children can still read it and see the ingenious ways in which Alex has amended the words. The contrast gives the book its humor. Matthew Myers's artwork, too, shifts from a rose-colored vision--all sunshine and lollipops--to the world of the demonized rabbit wreaking havoc.

Scieszka, Barnett and Myers invite children to take an active role in this story and to think critically about the choices author and artist make. Aside from the limitless possibilities to prompt critical thinking, Battle Bunny makes for great entertainment: it's funny, the plot builds, and the protagonist captivates readers' attention. It also begs to be reread and shared. Kids will be eager to compare notes and to relive it with their friends. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: The triumphant triumvirate of Scieszka, Barnett and Myers transform the benign Birthday Bunny into the dastardly Battle Bunny.

Simon & Schuster, $14.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 5-9, 9781442446731

The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

by H. Joseph Hopkins, illus. by Jill McElmurry

With an economical text and a spirited refrain, debut author H. Joseph Hopkins tells the story of boundary-breaking scientist Katherine Olivia Sessions.

Hopkins sets the social scene with straightforward humor: "It was the 1860s, and girls from Kate's side of town weren't supposed to get their hands dirty. But Kate did." Artist Jill McElmurry (Mad about Plaid) pictures a girl in a dress gathering leaves from majestic oaks, elms and redwoods, and, opposite, the child's muddy handprints. Next, scientific names appear under close-up images of the leaves, as Kate raises her hand in class: "Most girls were discouraged from studying science," writes Hopkins, "But not Kate."

The story is as much poetry as it is biography: "Trees seemed to Kate like giant umbrellas that sheltered her and the animals, birds, and plants that lived in the forest." In a gorgeous full-spread illustration of Kate's arrival on the deck of a ship in San Diego, the Pacific's blue in contrast to the golden coast, readers might not pick up at first that there are no trees in San Diego. Kate soon fixes that. She researches trees that would thrive in its subclimates. A page of plants, carefully labeled, along with envelopes that delivered them from all over the world, illustrate to readers the farflung places Kate searched out gardeners for help. Kate broke the boundaries of what most women could do because of her passion for science, and for trees in particular. Her story will inspire children to follow their dreams. --Jennifer M. Brown, children's editor, Shelf Awareness

Discover: Little-known scientist Katherine Olivia Sessions, who changed the face of San Diego through her love of trees.

Beach Lane/S&S, $16.99, hardcover, 32p., ages 5-10, 9781442414020


Author Buzz

Dragon Kiss
(A Dragon Kings Novella)

by Donna Grant

Dear Reader,

Welcome back to the Dragon Kings! I'm thrilled to bring you DRAGON KISS. The world of the Dragon Kings keeps expanding, and this story brings us Alasdair and Lotti, a powerful couple who have overcome all odds to find love. But a deadly enemy intends to rip them apart.

I can't wait for you to fall in love with Alasdair and Lotti as I have.


Available on Kobo

AuthorBuzz: 1001 Dark Nights Press: Dragon Kiss (A Dragon Kings Novella) by Donna Grant

1001 Dark Nights Press

Pub Date: 
January 9, 2024


List Price: 
$2.99 e-book

Powered by: Xtenit