Summer 2005  ShoppeTALK
San Marino Toy and Book Shoppe 

We wish you a golden summer with lots of time to read. Here are our suggestions for something new, and of course it’s always wonderful to revisit dear old friends.


Have a Reading, Writing, Laughing, Learning Summer


We’re presenting a “gentle hug” award to Bob Graham for OSCAR’S HALF BIRTHDAY. Mum and Dad decide it’s a perfect day for a picnic to celebrate Oscar’s six month milestone. Big sister Millie, wearing coat hanger fairy wings on her back and a dinosaur puppet on her hand, pushes all the buttons on the elevator. Their walk to the park takes them through an urban landscape. A bevy of admiring strangers exclaim over Oscar and join in singing “Happy Birthday” to the “half-birthday boy” as “the sun shines through his ears, lighting them up like little lanterns.” The day ends on a perfect note with Mum and Dad dancing, and a reminder that the next birthday celebration will be for Millie’s fourth. We’d love to be there. (Ages 3–5, $16.99) 


The trio of illustrators responsible for ONCE UPON A COOL MOTORCYCLE DUDE must have had as much fun creating this innovative picture book as we have had reading it. Kevin O’Malley’s story begins with a boy and girl whose library project is to pick out and retell a favorite fairy tale. The problem is they can’t agree so they decide to make one up instead. The girl starts off the collaborative storytelling effort with a beautiful princess whose ponies are being taken away by a terrible giant until only one remains. All she can do is cry and spin straw into gold thread. At this point, the boy jumps into the story and introduces the “cool motorcycle dude” who offers to guard the last remaining pony for the all the gold. The two storytellers bat the plotline back and forth until an almost “happily ever after” is accomplished. As the narrators shift, so does the art. Carol Heyer paints pastel, lusciously classical, deliberately over the top “fairytaleness” while Scott Goto powers in with bold images drenched in dense color. It’s entertaining to see the lively artwork develop to reflect the storyline. (Ages 6–10, $16.95)




Melissa Sweet dresses up an old classic fairytale in a bright new coat. Little Carmine is off on her bicycle to visit Granny. Forgetting warnings not to dilly-dally through the woods, Carmine gets sidetracked by the beautiful day. She simply must make a painting of it for her Granny. Of course there is the requisite mischievous wolf and the drama at Granny’s. And a happy ending. CARMINE; A Little More Red is a cheeky and colorful romp with quirky asides that include an alphabet of sorts as Sweet highlights a word on each page that is defined in the context of the story. Even her endpapers add dimension to the book, particularly her display of shades of red with their yummy names like vermillion and magenta. You can read it straight through but it’s hard not to get sidetracked looking at all the funny bits of painted and patched artwork.
(Ages 4–9+, $16.00) 


Recently I was scolded by a friend for something I failed to do a year ago, but had subsequently remedied (or so I thought). Luckily I had just read ZEN SHORTS by Jon Muth so I shared with her one of the teachings in this thoughtful picture book. Muth’s book is really three stories or meditations woven into a larger story. Stillwater, a panda, is Karl, Addy and Michael’s new neighbor. In turn, each child goes to visit him and to each he tells a special story that has “no goal, but … challenge[s] us to reexamine our habits, desires, concepts, and fears.” The pictures are gentle watercolors, with a serenity that matches the text. This is a book for quiet times, or to create them. (Ages 5+++, $16.95)



Two Books Back in our Lives — With New Art

For years, MOTHER, MOTHER, I WANT ANOTHER was a reliable story time favorite. And then Maria Polushkin Robbins’s quirky read-aloud (originally published in 1978) became unavailable. So it was happy news to find an old favorite reissued with bright new illustrations by Jon Goodell. He captures the spirit of this amusing tale of bedtime miscommunication between a mother mouse and her baby. When mother mouse tucks baby mouse in with a goodnight kiss, he asks for “another, Mother.” If only she had read the book first she would have recognized the comma in its proper place. Mis-hearing the request, she goes in search of “another mother” for her baby. Other animals are willing to help out until finally, the thoroughly well-attended but slightly frustrated baby makes itself understood. (Ages 2-7, $14.95) 


We called on Amy Schwartz’s BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING; A Little Artist Learns About Life to encourage stalled-out perfectionist kids. We all know children (and grownups) who want to do something so spectacularly perfect first time out, that they have a hard time getting started. Sara, faced with that dilemma, gets lots of advice from her well-meaning family, but still her canvas remains blank. Her mother’s quiet reassurance finally moves her from the “enormous” to the manageable “specific.” Originally published in 1983, Schwartz has re-illustrated this new edition perfect for reading aloud or reading alone.
(Ages 5–8, $15.99)



Intrepid Travelers and Storytellers

New Picture Book Biographies




In our textbooks on Medieval History we are told of the late Thirteenth Century travels of the adventurous Venetian named Marco Polo. Rarely however, is any mention made of a man named Benjamin who left his home in Northern Spain in 1159, over one hundred years before Polo’s journey, to fulfill a life-long dream to see Jerusalem and “as many of the places mentioned in the Bible as possible.” Now we can read of his adventures in Uri Shulevitz’s THE TRAVELS OF BENJAMIN OF TUDELA; Through Three Continents in the Twelfth Century. Shulevitz’s goal was to tell a story for young readers that would give them a picture of life and the hardships of travel in medieval times. He successfully recreates the sea voyages, landscapes and architecture of ancient days through a first person narrative and marvelously detailed illustrations.  (Ages 7+++, $17.00) 


Eight hundred years later, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong took another challenging voyage and lived to tell of it. REACHING FOR THE MOON gives young readers a personal account of Aldrin’s childhood and his early career in the Air Force. When he learned about the astronaut program he went back to school to learn more about aeronautics and astronautics. He says that the first time he applied to become an astronaut, he was turned down. It’s valuable for kids to understand that heroes like Aldrin are people who do not give up and have worked hard to accomplish goals. Accompanying Aldrin’s straightforward text are stunning paintings by Wendell Minor. (Ages 6–9, $15.99)




Perhaps your children’s best introduction to Erica Silverman’s biography of the early years of the beloved Yiddish writer, Sholom Aleichem, would be to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” Then sit down together and read SHOLOM’S TREASURE; How Sholom Aleichem Became a Writer. He did not have the easiest of lives. He was one of twelve children living in a small Russian village in the mid-1800’s. When his mother died in a cholera epidemic, the new step-mother made things even more difficult. What saved Sholom was his extraordinary sense of humor. Once he became captivated by reading a book belonging to his father, he was inspired to record his own keen observations of human foibles. Silverman, in an afterword, tells us that in his lifetime he penned more than six thousand stories, essays, plays, and novels. Mordecai Gerstein’s paintings reflect not only the hard-scrabble existence of nineteenth century Eastern European life, but also the lively humor that made it bearable.
(Ages 6–11, $16.00) 



Recent Nonfiction

Kids’ thirst for information doesn’t switch off just because they are on a school break. In fact, summer leisure might be the perfect time to linger over the colorful illustrations and soak up interesting facts provided by the FIRST HUMAN BODY ENCYCLOPEDIA. Billing itself as a “first reference for young readers and writers,” it covers all systems of the body. Text flows through the pages in various type-sizes allowing even early readers to access primary information. Discreetly tuck this into the backseat pocket and we predict you’ll buy yourself some peaceful driving time. (Ages 6–12, $15.99)




Another gem for browsing, especially for kids who love words, is Edith Hope Fine’s CRYPTOMANIA; Teleporting into Greek and Latin with the Cryptokids. Kim Doner’s colorful illustrations provide the background for sound bites of information on words and their origins. A group of kids teleport themselves on an adventure that takes them to places like “techtown” and “mathopolis” where they discover the Greek and Latin root words of specialized vocabularies. (Ages 8–12, $15.95) 


Turn your kitchen into a science lab and experience Shar Levine and Leslie Johnstone’s illustrated, hands-on KITCHEN SCIENCE. Although many of the month’s worth of recipes suggest an adult be on hand, most are fairly simple and use common household ingredients. Each “experiment” is divided into “what you need,” “what you do”, “what happened?”, and “did you know?”. The authors interject some additional information on change, acids and bases, and include a glossary of terms. We are great believers in giving kids opportunities to cook and KITCHEN SCIENCE takes the experience another step. (Ages 6–12 with some adult supervision, $9.95 paperback)



“For many (baseball) fans, the great ballparks are like shrines — America’s ‘green cathedrals’”. Lynn Curlee’s BALLPARK takes the reader on a nostalgic and informative tour of the country’s great ballparks, explaining the affection fans have for particular fields and telling stories about some of the memorable players and their finest moments. Anyone who loves baseball will soak up the lively anecdotes and details and study Curlee’s handsome paintings that include a diagram of Fenway Park, the oldest field (built in 1912) still in use.
(Ages 7++, $17.95)

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page did not design I SEE A KOOKABURRA; Discovering Animal Habitats Around the World to be read through quickly. Rather this is a book that invites leisurely browsing as each habitat is introduced with two page spreads of its inhabitants. Each is then followed by another two page spread of the animals in cameo with a brief sentence highlighting a characteristic. For more details on the animals, one must visit the back of the book. So at one level, the youngest child can be introduced to a world of animals grouped within their natural settings. Older children begin to grasp the significance of each habitat and the life it supports and will appreciate the added text. Jenkins’ books are illustrated in delicately detailed collage, bursting with color and an intriguing three-dimensional illusion. (Ages 3+, $16.00)



In the past few years we have met a number of young adults who want to make movies. It may not be entirely fair for Andrea Richards to have written GIRL DIRECTOR; A How-to Guide for the First-Time, Flat-Broke Film and Video Maker for only young women bent on a career behind the camera, but we wager this will be read as intently by young men as well, especially once she gets into the real nitty-gritty of filmmaking. The first two chapters offer a historical overview of some of the outstanding female directors and their contributions to experimental filmmaking. By chapter three she knuckles down to give her readers the skinny on getting started. She packs the book with loads of information and illustrations and makes it contemporary and very appealing for any youngster who is interested in making movies. And if you know any likely candidates, handing them this book will ensure you a place at the top of their credits. (Ages 12–18, $17.95 paperback)


Beginning Chapter Books

It’s tough being Judy Moody’s younger brother, but STINK, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING KID seems to be fairly good humored about all the teasing and jokes Judy fires off at his expense. He discovers that not only do he and James Madison share the same first name, Madison was the shortest President, thus becoming Stink’s hero. Megan McDonald was inspired to give Stink a book of his own when the readers of her Judy Moody series expressed an unmistakable partiality toward him. She says, “Once while I was visiting a class, the kids chanted, ‘Stink! Stink! Stink!’ as I entered the room.” She knew then that a book starring Judy’s younger brother had to be written. First chapter-book readers will be happy McDonald did.
(Ages 6–8, $12.99)



Another of our favorite second-grade heroines is Lois Lowry’s Gooney Bird Greene making a reappearance in GOONEY BIRD AND THE ROOM MOTHER. We suppose we should wait to tell you about this title in the Fall issue because the story’s subplot concerns the class’s Thanksgiving Pageant. But in the spirit of the unconventional Gooney Bird with her talent for expanding her classmates’ vocabularies, we won’t wait. After all G.B. is entertaining, indefatigable and a complete original what with her unmatched socks and a Squanto costume that includes fuzzy bedroom slippers. She also proves resourceful at finding a room mother after every student’s parents turn them down.
(Ages 6–9, $15.00 — Note: The first Gooney Bird Greene is available in paperback, $5.50) 

Henry is an only child and finds life with her parents a bit dull. She longs for a brother or a livelier pet than their quiet dog, so when her father rescues a duckling she is thrilled. Rosalie who imprints on Henry proves to be a handful. As the duckling matures she becomes fiercer than the dog and requires so much attention that ultimately Henry has to set her free. The first attempt, taking her to live with wild ducks at a local park, is a disaster but ultimately a happy solution is reached. Jacquelyn Mitchard’s ROSALIE, MY ROSALIE; The Tale of a Duckling is a charming read aloud with a manageable vocabulary set with spot art and a comfortable format for a newly launched first chapter book reader.
(Ages 7–11, or younger for reading aloud, $15.99)



Fiction


WHITTINGTON, a worthy descendent of a legendary 15th Century cat belonging to Dick Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, is a newcomer to Bernie’s barn. He’s been given permission to move in by The Lady, “the ugliest duck he’d ever seen …  [who was] lopsided and lurched as she walked.” She’s in charge of the odd collection of animals that include two retired Arabian horses, a brood of hens and a rooster, as well as a nasty family of rats who cause great distress among the other animals. WHITTINGTON, like his ancient ancestor, promises his skills as a ratter, earning him a place in the barn. What he doesn’t immediately reveal about himself is his skill as a consummate storyteller. Two children, Ben and Abby, wards of Bernie and his wife, spend time in the barn. Ben is struggling with reading so the animals and Abby begin a serious campaign to boost his confidence and reading skills. Ultimately he also gets help at school with “reading recovery.” Fans of Dick King-Smith’s books and (dare we even compare) E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web (our most dearly loved children’s book of all time) will discover that Alan Armstrong’s WHITTINGTON has captured the essence of those great homey barnyard yarns. It’s coming out in late July and we can hardly wait.(Ages 8–12 and younger for reading aloud, $14.95)

Even as a pre-schooler, Greg Kenton had been fascinated with money. His entrepreneurial spirit kicked in when his lazy older brothers paid him to do their housekeeping chores like sorting laundry and cleaning their rooms. As he grew older he sold lemonade in the summer and shoveled snow in the winter. One day, borrowing LUNCH MONEY, he realized that his schoolmates offered a fantastic income potential. He began by selling small toys and candy, but the summer before sixth grade he devised a clever, long range publishing plan to produce a series of small comic books designed to sell for a quarter apiece. He figured his own costs at pennies and was impressed by the profitability of his scheme. Until … his neighbor and nemesis Maura decided to copy his idea and to go into competition with him. Once again Andrew Clements (Report Card, and Frindle) explores a school related theme brilliantly. For teachers looking for math-friendly fiction or for kids just wanting an entertaining story, LUNCH MONEY is a winner. (Ages 8–12, $15.95 Note: available July)



The title of Mary Hershey’s debut novel MY BIG SISTER IS SO BOSSY SHE SAYS YOU CAN’T READ THIS BOOK, is your first clue that a fresh new voice has arrived on the scene. Fourth-grader Effie Maloney reveals that her overbearing older sister Maxey has put her in a terrible jam. Under false pretenses, Maxey has borrowed the key to open the Angel Scouts cashbox. Effie, treasurer of the Scouts, has been entrusted with the key and is desperate to replace the money before Sister Louise discovers it missing. Asking her mother for help is out of the question. Mom is already struggling to make ends meet (Dad is in jail for embezzlement.) On top of that, her best friend has left Tyler Wash, Texas so she is trying to line up feisty Aurora as her new best friend and partner for the upcoming science fair project. Hershey’s Effeline is so appealing and funny and painfully vulnerable, you feel like you’re watching a clown walk a tightrope. (Ages 9–13, $15.95)

William yearns for his own special horse, strong and fast to carry him into tournaments. It wasn’t the BLOOD RED HORSE he was imagining but when he went to pick out his own horse, a small chestnut stallion named Hosanna caught his eye and none of the larger, more promising horses would do. It was Hosanna who carried him into King Richard’s Crusade to the Holy Land. When a young Saracen and his army defeated his company of Crusaders, Hosanna was taken from a heartbroken William. K. M. Grant balances the unflinchingly graphic depiction of the Crusades’ harsh realities with the exquisite descriptions of a boy and his magnificent horse. (Ages 10+, $16.95)



From Australia comes award winning author Carole Wilkinson’s DRAGON KEEPER with the sweep of great adventure like last year’s Dragon Rider but with a female protagonist and set in ancient China. A nameless orphan, slave to a slovenly master, rescues the last survivor of the Emperor’s dragons along with its carefully guarded dragon stone. The pair, along with the girl’s pet rat and the dragon’s stone begin a journey that leads them first to a crowded city to seek the aid of herbalist and then to their capture by the young Emperor. Wilkinson’s novel, set in 141 B.C.E., and drawing on her extensive research into Chinese history, is rich in details of landscape and custom.
(Ages 9–13, $16.99)


Serious About Series

Series for kids have been a fact of publishing since the days of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, and fantasy series like Wizard of Oz, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea, Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising. But certainly there was nothing quite like the explosion of titles that have followed the success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. (And of course everyone who has read the previous five, knows that on July 16, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE will make its debut. Reserve your copy at the bookstore if you haven’t already! $29.95)



So (sorry for the digression) when we are presented yet another “Book 1” of a series we feel slightly jaded. And yet many have merit like John Flanagan’s The Ranger’s Apprentice, Book One: THE RUINS OF GORLAN. Will had been left as newborn on the steps of the ward building of Castle Redmont with a note attached that read “His mother died in childbirth. His father died a hero. Please care for him. His name is Will.” He has been raised these fifteen years under the protection of Baron Arald and now it is time for the Choosing. He and his four fellow wards will be selected for apprenticeships. As much as Will longs to become a knight, his small wiry frame is not built for the rigors of battle. When Halt selects him, Will has mixed feelings about becoming one of the dark-cloaked shadowy Rangers. In this first book, Flanagan has skillfully set the stage for the series which will pit the kingdom against an exiled “Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night”.
(Ages 9–14, $15.99)

We have rarely met up with a more fearless and resourceful young man in fiction than Alex Rider, the teenage protagonist of British writer Anthony Horowitz’s fast-paced spy novels. I confess I resisted the series that arrived in the US in 2001 with the publication of Stormbreaker. Since then, four more Alex Rider stories have made it across; SCORPIA being the fifth so far. And folks, I could not put it down. Alex is an orphan whose uncle-guardian dies in the first book. He’s blackmailed into working for the Special Operations Division of M16 who recognize in him the same dogged ruthlessness and cunning that made his uncle (and probably his father) such valuable agents. He’s also athletic and very lucky. SCORPIA begins in Venice where Alex has gone to find an international network of assassins and gangsters; mercenaries hired to do the dirty work for others. Alex manages to infiltrate this deadly group and to get onto their secret island training camp. Once there he discovers a major act of terrorism is planned for London and he will be a key to its success. Horowitz’s thrillers are perfect summer entertainment for reluctant readers who like action and fast pacing and aren’t necessarily fans of fantasy. (Ages 10++, $17.99) Note: Stormbreaker, Point Blank, Skeleton Key, and Eagle Strike are available in paperback editions.


Mark Williams’ series begins in 2019, with an ordinary kid who is the son of a scientist experimenting with altering spacetime. In the first book, DANGER BOY; Ancient Fire, Eli Sands’s father has developed a time-travel device that causes Eli’s mother to disappear. In despair, Sands flees with Eli from his lab in Princeton to a hideaway in California. But he cannot escape a government operative who forces him to continue his experiments. Accidentally, Eli is sent into ancient Alexandria just as the library is about to be burned where he rescues Thea, the daughter of its librarian and meets Clyne, an intelligent multi-lingual dinosaur on an interplanetary journey of his own. There are two additional episodes: DANGER BOY; Dragon Sword sends Eli into the dying days of King Arthur’s reign, and DRAGON BOY; Trail of Bones sets Eli, Thea and Clyne in the midst of the Lewis and Clark expedition and an encounter with Thomas Jefferson. Williams’ series gives fantasy readers a subtle taste of history under the guise of science fiction. (Ages 9–12, $9.99 each)


And yet another astonishing set of English “heroes” are found in Eleanor Updale’s brilliant Montmorency. In MONTMORENCY; Thief, Liar, Gentleman? she introduces characters, unusual and intriguing, and not the sort often found in children’s literature. Updale’s story begins in a prison in 1875. A young thief, badly injured during the commission of a crime, is the “project” of a fledgling surgeon, Dr. Farcett, who is challenged to restore Montmorency to health during the duration of his imprisonment. One of the side benefits for the surgeon’s medical miracle is the frequency with which Farcett takes his patient out of prison to show him off to his Scientific Society. While scientists poke and probe, Montmorency observes the upper class life. One evening, while waiting to be part of the doctor’s show and tell, he hears a lecture on the new London sewer system. By the time Montmorency is ready to be released from prison, he has devised a brilliant plan to re-fashion his life. Updale’s tale is in the tradition of Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes. This is a young adult novel NOT about young adults. (Ages 13++, 5.99 paperback. Also in hardcover $16.95; audio tape, $25.00)



The series continues with a second book, MONTMORENCY ON THE ROCKS; Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?. In this second installment, the reformed thief has just completed a world tour with his wealthy patron and friend, George Fox-Selwyn. While abroad he has become a dope addict and his friend is determined to break him of his addiction, enlisting Dr. Farcett’s help to accomplish the difficult task. Updale weaves two mysteries into the story. One concerns uncovering the cause of infant mortality on a remote Scottish Island near the ancestral home of Fox-Selwyn. The second is tracking down the individuals responsible for bombing two train stations in London. Her characters and story are rich in detail and setting and provide a fresh and challenging reading experience for young adults (and adults as well). (Ages 13++, $16.95)


About a dozen years ago when Robin LaFevers’ sons began reading, they yearned to get into classic fantasy, notably J. R. R. Tolkien, but found their incipient reading skills were not up to the demands of the adult text. Trying to find books that matched their abilities and their interests proved to be a challenge. LaFevers discovered very little fantasy-adventure available at the time, so she began to write books her own sons would want to read. The Lowthar’s Blade trilogy is her successful result. The first. FORGING THE BLADE, sets the stage. Kenric’s father, a blacksmith, has disappeared and young Kenric and his mother are facing eviction from their cottage and the forge. Kenric is certain his father is in serious danger and is determined to find him and bring him home safely. In the course of his journey he hooks up with a goblin named Hnagi whose companionship and assistance are a mixed blessing. Kenric discovers that his father has been kidnapped by the wicked Mordig who needs a blacksmith gifted enough to craft a sword of ultimate power to usurp King Thorgil.



In Book 2, THE SECRETS OF GRIM WOOD, Kenric is set a formidable task by the king. Told that until the three kingdoms of Lowthar; human, fey and goblin are re-united, Mordig cannot be truly defeated, he is dispatched to Grim Wood, to try to convince the hostile Fey to enter an alliance with the king. With him is Hnagi who insists on accompanying him but whose presence represents an even greater danger for Kenric. Within the Fey realm there are many who want no traffic with humans, and even less with goblins. Only two of the Fey are willing to put themselves at risk to help Kenric uncover ancient knowledge that might be hidden within their archives. Feisty and inhospitable Fey princess Linwe, assigned to guard Kenric, ultimately proves to be his ally in what seems to be an almost impossible task.

Coming in July will be Book 3. THE TRUE BLADE OF POWER must be used to defeat evil warlord Mordig who has escaped his temporary imprisonment. And it can only be forged in goblin fires but first Kenric, Linwe and goblin Hnagi must go to the Goblin realm to convince their king to dissolve long held grievances against humans and Fey. La Fevers is deft at pacing her story without sacrificing character development and rich details. Lowthar’s Blade trilogy provides a splendid doorway into the realms of classical fantasy. (Ages 8–13, $15.99 each volume)



A Dollop of Poetry to Finish the Feast


Worst moments are memorialized in OH! NO! WHERE ARE MY PANTS; and Other Disaster Poems edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Friends moving away or assigned to a different classroom, the sadness at the loss of a pet, the embarrassment at the loss of a bathing suit while swimming, stage fright and first self-administered haircut. It’s a passel of poems to help you commiserate or to rescue a painful moment with humor. The contributors include Judith Viorst, Alice Schertle, and Ann Whitford Paul. European artist Wolf Erlbruch, working in mixed media, adds to the wry humor by creating an appealing kid with expressive eyes. His changing moods are also conveyed in the depiction of his body language.
(Ages 5–9, $15.99)


Books of Special Interest to Adults

You who patronize our small, independent children’s bookstores have a keen appreciation of what we stand for and the struggles we have to maintain our commitment to the world of words. So we know you will enjoy reading the roller-coaster saga of one of our country’s well-recognized independent general bookstores in Salt Lake City. Bookseller Betsy Burton recounts her years of opening and running THE KING’S ENGLISH which was established in 1977. Sagely inserted within the tales of author visits and the care and keeping of the various departments within the store, are booklists including those contributed by the top general stores around the country. It makes you wish you could stop doing everything else, live to 100 (with good eyesight), and mostly read, starting with this one.  (Adult, $24.95)




A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL by Marilyn Nelson is astonishing. In a “wreath” of fifteen sonnets, Nelson memorializes the tragically short life of a young man brutally murdered by lynching. In the summer of 1955, fourteen-year-old Emmett Till went from Chicago to Mississippi to visit relatives. While trading in a country store, a white woman took offense, thinking the young African-American had whistled at her. Some days later the woman’s husband and brother-in-law took Emmett from his uncle’s house. He was found three days later. The injustice of the murder, and the mockery of a trial in which the defendants were found innocent, shocked the country and it is believed this was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement. In this fiftieth anniversary of that event comes an exquisite, poetic exploration of the event and of other senseless acts against innocent people caught in conflicts of ideology and politics. The fourteenth sonnet reminds us to speak out against injustice. And the final, amazing piece is composed of the first lines of the previous fourteen, the first letter of each line forms the final words “RIP Emmett Till.” When you experience this volume, with illustrations by Philippe Lardy to match its words, you will know you are in the presence of genius. (Ages 14–Adult, $17.00)



Newsletter text Copyright 2005 © by Jody Shapiro.  All Rights Reserved.