Fall 2003  ShoppeTALK
San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe 

We don’t know where the summer went. We were too busy reading the amazing line-up of books scheduled to be published this new fall season. So now it’s your turn. Enjoy! Stop in and let us guide you into a wonderful world of reading. Happy Holidays from all of us.

A Bountiful Harvest of Charming Picturebooks
You’ll never forget THE DAY THE BABIES CRAWLED AWAY because you’ll be reading Peggy Rathmann’s brand new romp of a book over and over until the pages wear out. Her artwork, a series of silhouettes set against a changing sky, is an innovative departure from her previous books. One can recall the clever scenes from Good Night, Gorilla where the lights are out and one sees the surprised eyes of the zookeeper’s wife and the guilty menagerie of zoo escapees hiding in the bedroom. Perhaps that set the stage for five bold babies escaping from moms and dads who are temporarily distracted by a pie-eating contest. The adventurous infants crawl into bat cave and bog, out on a ledge, and into a bird’s nest while one little boy follows and finally delivers them safely back to their grateful parents. The narrative voice is that of a mother recalling the bravery and ingenuity of that one persistent and heroic little boy. Rathmann has another winner all the way, with her rhyming, humorous read-aloud text and intricate artwork that invites hours of revisiting to discover all the subtle details. (Ages 2–6, $16.99)
WHAT DID YOU PUT IN YOUR POCKET? “… in your pockety pockety pocket early Monday morning?”, is a smile maker, guaranteed. Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’s playful (must read out loud) rhyme, over forty years young, is all dressed up in bright, childlike paintings brushed by Michael Grejniec. We can almost picture the artist standing at a kindergarten easel holding a long handled paintbrush dripping with thick, rich tempura colors. (Ages 3–6, $15.99)
HEY, PANCAKES! The smell of yummy pancakes will lure the sleepiest head out of bed early in the morning. Tamson Weston’s paean to pancakes even includes a foolproof recipe and Stephen Gammel’s action-filled pictures give us a front seat view of kids in a kitchen busy with the cooking and eating (and cleaning up afterward!). Be prepared to fix yourselves a stack.  (Ages 3–8, $16.00)

RIDDLE: What do worms and wombats have in common? ANSWER: Not much. But this season they are both featured as improbable diarists. (And they both like to dig.)

If you are lucky enough to spend some time in the Australian countryside, you might see a fat wombat waddling along the side of a sparsely traveled road. Author Jackie French, who has been involved in wombat rescue along with producing a prolific output of books for children and grown-ups as well as appearing regularly on television gardening shows, presents us with DIARY OF A WOMBAT so we can see for ourselves what clever creatures they are and what they get up to (when they aren’t sleeping, scratching or digging holes which is mostly what they do.) Bruce Whatley’s realistic paintings illustrate the spare, amusing text. Read this aloud to younger readers. With a bit of assist on some of the longer words, a budding reader will enjoy tackling this one independently.  (Ages 3–7, $14.00)
DIARY OF A WORM comes with the help of Doreen Cronin (author of Click, Clack Moo: Cows that Type) and pictures by notable New Yorker cover artist and children’s book illustrator Harry Bliss. Worm is a peripatetic writer but what can you expect from a guy who occasionally eats his homework. His entries are cheeky enough to appeal to the bawdy sense of humor of seven year olds (he tells his sister that no matter how much she looks in the mirror, “her face will always look like her rear end”). The typography is a comfortable read for beginning readers and the story and art make an entertaining read-aloud picture book. (Ages 4–8, $15.99) 

We first met Mary Ann Fraser’s precocious class pet in I.Q. Goes to School. Since he has all the privileges of a student, of course he accompanies the rest of the class as they celebrate Library Week. Every day I.Q. GOES TO THE LIBRARY and finds out all the treasures it contains, including books on tape, non-fiction, story time puppets and the computerized catalog. His biggest wish of all is to get a library card so he can check out the funny book that Mrs. Binder read to them their first day. Thank you, Mary Ann Fraser for this reminder of how much we need school libraries.
(Ages 4–8, $15.95)
Lucky little ones to have a lovely, lively new nursery rhyme collection, WILL MOSES MOTHER GOOSE. Third generation folk artist, Will Moses says his happy remembrances of Mother Goose rhymes started him thinking about designing his own vision of a collection. Two-paged spreads of colorfully detailed paintings are preceded by two pages of the matching rhymes with accompanying spot art so that children are led into the scenes he has created for them. For example, in one village, the curious house of the “Old woman who lived in a shoe” is just up the road from “Little Miss Muffet,” behind “Peter Piper’s” pepper mill. The museum-quality artwork of this generous collection of over sixty illustrated rhymes will be a pleasure to share with the young children in our lives. 
(Ages 2–6, $17.99)

Ahoy Mates. Pirates  Ahead! Princess and Explorer to Follow!
When Braid Beard and his pirates invite Jeremy Jacob to join their crew, Jeremy figures it’s okay as long as he’s back in time for soccer practice. It doesn’t take him long to learn pirate manners which include pounding on the table, shouting “down the hatch” but never “please” or “thank you.” Forget tooth brushing and other hygiene. The biggest drawback, Jeremy Jacob discovers, is at bedtime because there’s no such thing as “tucking in”, bedtime stories or goodnight kisses. Clever Jeremy keeps his head in the stormy seas, finds a perfect place to bury the treasure, and is home in time for soccer practice. David Shannon’s colorful paintings for HOW I BECAME A PIRATE mirror the humor salted into Melinda Long’s imaginative text. 
(Ages 4–8, $16.00)
We’ve had requests for “another book like Elisa Kleven’s The Paper Princess”. That combination of a gentle, text-rich adventure story and intriguing collage art is harder to find than one might imagine, considering all the children’s picture books available. The happy news is that Kleven has written and illustrated the sequel, THE PAPER PRINCESS FINDS HER WAY. The little girl who created the paper princess has grown too old to play with her. The paper princess longs for a more active life. Dog, although he warns her “it can be a hard world for small, fragile things,” takes pity on her and carries her outdoors where the wind picks her up and whirls her on to adventure. And while dog was mostly right about it being a hard world for a paper doll, the princess is lucky enough to find another little girl still young enough to treasure her. This satisfying sequel will make young readers as happy as the paper princess was to find a new playmate. 
(Ages 4–8, $15.99)

One exuberant explorer announces he’s headed off on a “journey through wild and dangerous places.” He’s an adventurer of few words (Yippee! Whee! Wow! and other choice exclamations including the title word, YIKES!!!). But then why would anyone need much discussion when the fantastic, full-paged pictures of an exotic collection of animals and insects in vibrant colors by Robert Florczak are worth far more than a thousand words? Along with the explorer, we are pulled into jungle and desert, from Australia to Mexico, Africa to the Philippines as we view, from a range of perspectives, lorikeet and tarantula, gorilla and Monkey-eating Eagle. Florczak, whose marvelous art has appeared in books written by others, wrote and illustrated YIKES!!! after consulting dozens of young children about their favorite wild animals.
(Ages 2–7, $15.95)
Perhaps the zaniest picture book coming this Fall is Maira Kalman’s SMARTYPANTS (PETE IN SCHOOL). Pete is one of those insatiable (eats everything in sight) dogs. When Poppy Wise and her brother Mookie go to school, Pete gets lonely and shows up even though pets are forbidden. His voracious appetite includes a full set of the encyclopedia and for a brief and shining moment he is utterly brilliant, answering every question imaginable. But then … well we wouldn’t want to give away the entire plot but this is one funny book with some great vocabulary words. Kalman’s book, Fireboat, which deals with 9/11, was one of last year’s top picture books. Her brilliant “New Yorkistan” map, which appeared on the cover of New Yorker Magazine on December 10, 2001, sold out of a special edition reprinting. SMARTYPANTS, her second “Pete” book will knock the socks off any reluctant or blasé reader on your gift list, and we include any age in that recommendation. 
(Ages 5+++, $16.99)
One More Picturebook to Linger Over
Using the story of Noah’s Ark as the inspiration for her imagination and exquisitely detailed painting, Jan Brett offers a retelling that takes us ON NOAH’S ARK. Noah’s granddaughter is hard at work in that crowded space keeping the animals untangled and sleeping peacefully. It’s her dove that Noah sends into the sky to look for dry land. One could spend hours naming all the animals Brett has so carefully drawn and more time again looking through the animal shaped windows cut into the papyrus paper borders to discover more story than is told in the spare text. 
(Ages 3–8, $16.99)

New Fiction for All Ages

There is such a wealth of wonderful novels newly published that we can only begin to tell you about some of them. We’d like an eighth day of the week dedicated to “reading only.” For newly launched chapter book readers there are new installments for well-loved characters.

Fiction for Beginning Readers

Remember Lisze Bechtold’s shy dog, Buster? He makes a welcome reappearance in BUSTER AND PHOEBE; The Great Bone Game. Phoebe, the older, wiser and trickier dog of the family, keeps stealing his bones. It doesn’t take him too long to catch on to her wily ways and protect his own treasured collection. Even better, he discovers something on his own that smart old Phoebe hasn’t entirely worked out. Bechtold’s artwork, ink and watercolor, is rendered with a light touch, as fresh and appealing as her story. This is a good choice for new readers looking for a gentle step into chapter books. 
(Ages 5–8, $15.00)
ELISA MICHAELS, BIGGER AND BETTER by Johanna Hurwitz continues the stories of “The Riverside Kids.” Elisa first appeared as Russell’s baby sister but now she’s in second grade and a big sister to two-year-old Marshall. Hurwitz writes about functional families interacting with good humor and healthy problem solving. Elisa becomes the de facto baby sitter when Nora cancels and the inexperienced and immature neighbor boy fills in. In another chapter within the 128 pages, Elisa declares a day when she eats nothing but chocolate, her all time favorite food. But somehow, by dinner time, the smell of hamburgers is far more appealing than a steady diet of chocolate. 
(Ages 6–9, $15.99 — also an excellent read-aloud to younger children ready to sit still for chapter books. Earlier books in the series are available in paperback.)
The title for Paula Danziger’s latest, AMBER BROWN IS GREEN WITH ENVY, is probably slightly misnamed. Amber is blue about being in the middle of her parents’ divorce, possibly having to move and change schools. She’s also seeing red because her father makes promises he doesn’t keep. She wants a “normal” family but at one point her teen age “Ambersitter” points out that “normal” is a whole range of possibilities. Luckily the adults in Amber’s life, including her teacher, the school principal, the teenagers, her parents, her friends and her friends’ parents are supportive. Danziger, who dealt with divorce issues in novels for older readers, writes about the real traumas facing younger children with a humane touch. Compromise is modeled and Amber’s irrepressible spirit remains intact. At one point her father tells her she is being “very immature”. She replies, “I am immature … I am nine years old … what’s your excuse?” (Ages 6–9, $14.99 Note: earlier  titles available in paperback)

Fiction for Middle Graders

Wise Granny Torrelli has the right recipe for patching up quarrels between best friends. She tells Rosie that when you’re really mad at someone, it’s important to think of the reasons why you like that person. Then she suggests that she and Rosie make zuppa! And while they are chopping vegetables she gets Rosie to talk about what has happened to trigger the quarrel between Rosie and her best friend, Bailey. Granny reminisces about her own best friend, Pardo, a long time ago, back in Italy. Sharon Creech’s novel, GRANNY TORRELLI MAKES SOUP, is wise and wonderful. Even though Bailey is blind and Rosie is sighted, the dominant themes are friendship and family. 
(Ages 8–12, $15.99)

Two novels explore the widening perspectives and perceptions that accompany the middle-school years.

Millicent L. Min is a perfect eleven. She’s eleven years old and has just completed ELEVENTH grade. She’s the first to admit that she is technically a genius. Her biggest problem are her parents who want her to have a normal social life. Although they allow her to take a college course during the summer, they have also signed her up for volleyball and arranged for her to tutor her mortal enemy, Stanford Wong, so he can pass sixth grade English in summer school. On the team she meets Emily, a friendly kid, new to the area, who invites Millie to her house. Millie is afraid if she tells Emily she is a genius and in high school, Emily will not want to be friends with her. Stanford doesn’t want anyone to know that he is being tutored over the summer by Millie so they have sworn a pact not to reveal each other’s secrets. Millie is so inexperienced in friendship that she underestimates Emily and almost loses the one real friend she has ever had. Lisa Yee’s novel of a profoundly gifted child, MILLICENT MIN, GIRL GENIUS is bittersweet. This is a child whose brightness distracts from her neediness. She’s a child who “practices” laughing and wonders what “normal girls talk about.” Yee manages to keep us from laughing at Millie by ultimately revealing the little girl hiding behind her formidable vocabulary and towering intelligence. (Ages 9-13, $16.95) 
Summer is always a magical time for Martha and her family. That’s when they leave Wisconsin and fly to Cape Cod for a visit to Martha’s grandmother. The hassles and tensions of packing up a family of five melt away once they reach the relaxing shore. This summer Martha is bringing some secrets with her. One is that she is trying to think of a way to tell her family about her ambitions to be a writer. The second is “eerily” private and concerns a classmate she hardly knew. Olive, a quiet girl, a loner, had been killed weeks earlier in a tragic bike accident. The day before the trip is to begin Olive’s mother brings Martha a page from Olive’s journal. The page, titled “My hopes,” reveals she wants to be a writer and to visit a real ocean. Her biggest hope is to get to know Martha. “She is the nicest person in my whole entire class.” This new information weighs on her, as if she has lost something she never knew she had. Her summer brings other surprises including her first kiss, some disillusionment and finding a way of connecting with Olive. Kevin Henkes’s storytelling possesses an exquisite lightness and sensitivity as he reveals a child poised at a critical moment of growing up. He creates characters you care about and he is respectful of them and his readers. OLIVE’S OCEAN is another treasure. (Ages 10+, $15.99)
Imagine the plight of Vera, a young Aleutian girl in 1942. The Japanese have attacked the island of her people and now the native population has been evacuated to primitive relocation camps in southeastern Alaska. Even the sight of open water is denied them. Told lyrically in unrhymed verse, Karen Hesse’s novel, ALEUTIAN SPARROW conveys the devastating loss of a people’s way of life. It’s a sobering book inspired by a school visit to Ketchikan, Alaska. Hesse, the 2002 winner of a MacArthur Fellowship (a rare event for a children’s book writer) has provided a voice for a people whose story belongs in the pages of American history.  (Ages 10–14, $16.95 — Reviewed by LJW) 

For Fantasy Readers:  Lots of rich reading ahead for Fall.
Hire listeners. Bribe your kids. Give this to your classroom teacher friends Do whatever it takes to get Kate DiCamillo’s THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX; Being the story of a mouse, a princess, some soup, and a spool of thread read out loud. It tops our list for this season’s best book to listen to as we are introduced to Despereaux, as unlikely a hero as one will find in a novel. He’s a mouse, the only survivor of his litter, undersized, named by his French mother “for all the sadness, for the many despairs” within the castle which is their home. A mouse of uncommon bravery, or perhaps foolishness, he has allowed himself to be seen by, talked to, and to be touched by humans — namely the king and the princess. For these crimes against mousedom he is condemned by the Mouse Council to be sent to the castle’s hideous, rat-infested dungeon from which no man or mouse has ever escaped. Lest we tell too much and thereby ruin the suspense, we shall merely suggest you lay your hands on a copy, so fetchingly illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. (Ages 7–12, $17.99 — and worth every penny of it!)

Here’s one more for reading aloud on a blustery winter’s weekend. We mean weekend because once you begin THE TALE OF THE SWAMP RAT you will be pressured to read it right on through all two hundred pages. Author Carter Crocker’s animal tale is flavored with the cadence of a southern storyteller. The saga of Ossie the swamp rat and how he lost his family to Mr. Took, the evilest of rattlesnakes, and how he was saved by Will, the ancient and wise Alligator, is told by Mole who says he will get it right, and what parts of the story he doesn’t know he’ll make up.  
(Ages 8–12 and 5+ for reading aloud, $16.99) 

Writers Ann Martin and Laura Godwin, and illustrator Brian Selznick introduced Annabelle Doll and Tiffany Funcraft in their first entertaining romp, The Doll People. The two dolls, one a family heirloom of antique china and the other plastic, have been good friends ever since Kate’s younger sister, Nora, got her own “Funcraft” dollhouse to play with. In this sequel, the two dolls end up in Kate’s backpack accidentally and are carried off to school. Their adventure almost leads to terminal disaster when they climb into the wrong backpack and end up in someone else’s house and meet THE MEANEST DOLL IN THE WORLD. It’s the terrifying Princess Mimi Doll, making life miserable for all the other dolls. Annabelle and Tiffany come to the aid of the beleaguered toys, risking terrible revenge from the wicked bullying Mimi who will stop at nothing, not even “permanent doll state”, to get even. There’s a timely parable disguised in this second playful novel. (Ages 8–12, $15.99)

Two books by first time children’s novelists take place in subterranean parallel worlds.
Gregor‘s father’s unexplained disappearance over two and half years earlier has been difficult for the family. Mom has to work full-time and Gregor must stay home from summer camp to help look after two-year-old Boots. One afternoon, while Gregor is in the apartment house basement doing laundry, Boots is sucked into an old air duct and vanishes. Gregor, attempting to rescue her, falls through into what feels like a bad dream. When they finally land, Gregor finds himself “looking into the face of the largest cockroach he’d ever seen.” He and his sister are in a strange underground world peopled by human Underlanders who fly around on the backs of bats. Giant roaches and spiders are their trading partners, and rats a monstrously evil threat. Gregor wants to get his sister home, but before he can, he must fulfill a prophecy that predicts a life and death struggle. Suzanne Collins was inspired by the “what if” of a contemporary urban Alice in Wonderland and came up with the fantastic world of GREGOR THE OVERLANDER
(Age 9–13, $16.95) 
The second novel, THE CITY OF EMBER, begins with a discussion by the builders of the city. Their plans call for the city to be abandoned after two hundred years. When the time is up, the people will receive their instructions. Time shifts, it is now the year 241, and a day significant for both twelve-year-olds Lina and Doon, who are now eligible for their work assignments. Doon hopes for a job as electrician’s helper. He knows the city is wearing out. The city’s generator is having frequent blackouts, and he wants to help save it. Lina wants to be a messenger. She sees food supplies and other necessary items nearly exhausted, time is running out for their city. She doesn’t know what to do about it until she discovers the partially destroyed message left behind by the builders. Enlisting Doon’s help, they begin to explore a way out of the city. Labeled “troublemakers” by the mayor for “spreading vicious rumors,” and pursued by the police, they are forced to act quickly to save their own lives. In this debut novel, Jeanne DuPrau creates a compelling read. (Ages 9–13, $15.95)

Some of the technical aspects of Philip Reeve’s science fiction thriller, MORTAL ENGINES, will intrigue engineers as much as it will fans of well-crafted sci-fi. This is a future where surviving humans live aboard roving cities that traverse the terrain hunting for prey. Tom Natsworthy, an apprentice to the Guild of Historians, knows he shouldn’t feel sorry for the smaller towns “digested” for all their resources. This is, after all, “natural”, “Municipal Darwinism”… and had been that way for a thousand years ever since London became the first traction city. Tom is shocked when someone attempts to murder his hero, the handsome, charismatic archeologist Thaddeus Valentine, a former scavenger now holding the position as Head Historian. In an attempt to capture the assailant, Tom is flung from the fast moving city into the muck of bare earth along with Valentine’s would-be killer. As the unlikely pair attempts to catch up with a quickly retreating London, Tom begins to uncover truths about his native city and the world beyond its narrow interests. MORTAL ENGINES is a WOW of a story that garnered book awards for Reeve in the UK where it was originally published in 2001.  (Ages 12++, $16.99)
We were introduced to Cornelia Funke last year, when The Thief Lord was translated from her original German text into English. That translation garnered a special prize from the librarians for its translation, and was named the American Booksellers’ Booksense Book of the Year for Young Readers. This year a second magical novel, INKHEART, is destined to make its way into more hearts. Meggie lives with her father Mo, a genius at restoring books afflicted with the inevitable wear and tear of aging. Mo has another gift connected with books that Meggie doesn’t begin to discover until a mysterious visitor appears in the night to see her father. This strange man, “Dustfinger,” is a fire-eater, something of a character out of a medieval faire. Dustfinger’s arrival sends Mo and Meggie escaping to Italy, to visit Elinor, an eccentric and fanatic book collector. Dustfinger has warned Mo, whom he calls “Silvertongue”, that Capricorn is looking for him. When Meggie questions Mo about Capricorn, he says, “No one you want to meet.” Unfortunately Capricorn’s men kidnap Mo and it is up to Meggie to find him and discover the truth about her father. Funke is a captivating storyteller and INKHEART is a booklover’s dream. (Ages 10++, $19.95)
Celia Rees’s swashbuckling adventure story, PIRATES! is set in the early eighteenth century and begins in the English seaport town of Bristol. Nancy Kington tells her own story. Orphaned at sixteen, independent and free-spirited, she is sent by her brothers to their late father’s sugar plantation in Jamaica. There she finds the conditions of slavery and Mr. Duke, the plantation’s overseer, despicable. The only women with whom she has contact are the house slaves, Phillis and her daughter Minerva who is near Nancy’s age. On the same night Nancy discovers the shocking news that her brothers have promised her in marriage to a buccaneer turned wealthy planter, a second incident occurs involving the overseer and Minerva. It is because of these two events, the women must flee and their unlikely, but ultimately logical refuge is with a company of PIRATES! on a ship aptly named “Deliverance.” Celia Rees’s heroines, Nancy and Minerva, reminded us of another; the displaced Kit, a character created many years ago by the late Elizabeth Speare in The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Rees has the advantage of writing her novels in the early twenty-first century more open to edgier plots for teen-aged readers.  (Ages 12+, $17.95) 

Three new picture book biographies introduce young readers to men who have significantly influenced the way we view the world. 

Demi, in previous books, has introduced great political and religious leaders such as Gandhi and Buddha. This season brings a needed introduction to the life and contributions of the Prophet MUHAMMAD. She tells of his early life and years as a shepherd and trader and then his marriage to Khadijah. His spiritual journey, political struggles and successes are described. His Five Pillars of Islam, or key observances, are listed with some explanation for each. The strength of the book rests in Demi’s respectful presentation which provides an important starting point for understanding the beliefs of Islam and its founder. In deference to the concern “that the artistic representation of the human form may lead to the worship of that human-created form”, Demi has painted the Prophet only in symbolic depiction. She uses the ancient two-dimensional Persian art style to illustrate this handsomely produced picture biography.  (Ages 8–12, $19.95)
Robert Waring Darwin despaired that his son Charles would ever settle into any “steady life.” The boy preferred a wander in the countryside collecting things over the confines of classrooms. As a young man, he dropped out of medical studies and chafed at preparation for life as a clergyman. Imagine his father’s objections when twenty-two-year-old Charles announced his wish to serve as the naturalist on the Royal Navy’s H.M.S. Beagle’s voyage to chart the southern coast of South America. His service on the Beagle, from December 27, 1831 until October 2, 1836, set the course of his life. Peter Sis has written and illustrated an “exhibition” within the confines of a book. In THE TREE OF LIFE; A Book Depicting the Life of Charles Darwin, Naturalist, Geologist and Thinker, Sis draws from Darwin’s own prolific writings to present and explain his intellectual contributions, particularly his Origin of the Species and his theories of Natural Selection. This lively museum of a book invites many hours of browsing and revisits. 
(Ages 10+++, $18.00)
JOHN MUIR; America’s Naturalist was born in Scotland in 1838, two years after Darwin’s around the world voyage. His father brought the family over to homestead in Wisconsin. After he grew up, Muir worked as an inventor, but an industrial accident changed the focus of his life. He became a naturalist and he walked one thousand miles from Indiana to the Gulf of Mexico, acquainting himself with the land and its resources. One day while shepherding in Northern California, he discovered “the unforgettable skyline of sculptured domes and spires” of Yosemite. Artist Thomas Locker writes of Muir’s persistent efforts to preserve the wilderness and to protect it for all time. Locker’s paintings celebrate both Muir and the landscape he sought to save. (Ages 5+, $17.95) 

American History Explored
When author Candace Fleming decided to write a biography of Ben Franklin, she realized that his unconventional and complex life needed to be chronicled in a less traditional format. The successful result of three years of research is BEN FRANKLIN’S ALMANAC; Being a True Account of the Good Gentleman’s Life. Written as an almanac, the “bits and pieces” of Franklin’s life come together to form a full picture of him and his times. Fleming draws from his writings and an extensive list of works and picture sources that she has organized topically. One can open at the start, “Boyhood Memories”, and read the entry called ‘Family Life,’ to learn he was the fifteenth of seventeen children. Another entry reveals how ‘Ben annoys his family with the screech sounds of a tin whistle.’ One can skip to the chapters on his scientific life, or his role in the American Revolution. Each section contains chunks of information. There is an extensive index and a time-line for useful reference. It’s also a book that can be enjoyed as a traditional cover-to-cover read for pleasure. 
(Ages 10+++, $19.95) 
If the thought of reading a book about our American civil liberties makes you wince, then you haven’t had the pleasure of reading the prose of Russell Freedman. His IN DEFENSE OF LIBERTY; The Story of America’s Bill of Rights provides a coherent explanation of the functions of the first ten amendments to the Constitution. He gives a historical perspective, describes the evolution of each Amendment, the Supreme Court’s interpretations, and what contemporary issues test their application. For example, he cites, in illustrating the implications of the Sixth and Seventh Amendments concerning fair trial, the current debate on the mass arrests and secret detentions of possible suspects in the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. The 9/11 events also sparked debates concerning the controversial Second Amendment. This thought provoking book could serve as a textbook for American Government classes or as a basis for spirited family discussions on the real meaning of the American Democracy. 
(Ages 9–adult, $24.95)

A Visit to Shakespeare’s England
Some books defy tidy categorization. Celeste Davidson Mannis’s THE QUEEN’S PROGRESS; An Elizabethan Alphabet is certainly a puzzle. First off, the artwork by Bagram Ibatoulline is stunning, intricate, and intriguing. It’s alphabetical sequence serves as a device to tell a story of a summer outing undertaken by Queen Elizabeth and gives the author ample room for historical sound bites of life in Elizabethan England. This is a delectable appetizer for anyone beginning a study of the time period including high school students about to read their first Shakespearean drama. … Or just to look at with no other purpose than to enjoy a well made book. 
(Ages 5–adult, $16.99)

For the Fall & Winter Holidays

AUTUMNBLINGS, a collection of Doug Florian’s poems and paintings, gives a cheerful start to the fall season. Florian’s witty bits of poetry play with language. For those of us who don’t see snow, or the most dramatic effects of the changing seasons, this offers a consolation.  (Ages 5–12, $15.99)
John Herman’s lyrical evocation of the nativity is our pick for this year’s Christmas book. Written for young children, the story follows a cow in search of a warm, safe place ONE WINTER’S NIGHT. Her time for birthing a calf is near. She follows a star in the east to a shelter and the company of a man and woman, whose own baby is about to be born on that very night. The lovely art by Leo and Diane Dillon conveys the quiet dignity appropriate to the event. (Ages 4–8, $16.99)

Three new books celebrate the contributions of twentieth century Americans: Martin Luther King, Cesar Chavez and Rachael Carson. They are fine additions to a growing collection of handsome pict

Newsletter text Copyright 2003 © by Jody Shapiro.  All Rights Reserved.