April 2019 Prime Picks
Science, Nature & Technology
Asma's Indian Kitchen
Interlink Books/Interlink Publishing Group
Asma's Indian Kitchen: Home-Cooked Food Brought to You by Darjeeling Express is more than just another Indian cookbook. It documents the author's immigrant experience, explores how food served as the link between her new home and her connections to her Mughlai ancestry, and uses the route of the Darjeeling Express train from Bengal to the Himalayas to explore the home-style food of different areas of India.
Full-page color photos of finished dishes accompany recipes which are introduced with candid insights not only into their origins, but how Asma Khan worked with the dish to make it easier or more appealing. Kaju Aloo (Potatoes with Cashews), for example, receives an introduction which confesses that Khan's "dosa-making skills are poor", but the stuffing recipe featured here is exceptional, blending curry leafs, cashews, and mustard seeds to optimum advantage.
From a "showstopper dish" of a Raan (Whole Leg of Lamb) to a family Bengali dish Peela Pulao (Lemon Rice with Cashews), Kahn's book is a standout that requires little familiarity with Indian cuisine in order to prove appealing.
Flavors of Africa
Page Street Publishing
Flavors of Africa comes from a Nigerian author and blogger who shares recipes for the dishes she grew up with as well as those she gathered from across Africa. She learned to cook from various family members, then added to these skills as she traveled throughout the country, collecting recipes as she went.
Her goal is to demonstrate that African cooking is easy, accessible to Westerners, and appealing.
Some 70 recipes are divided into four chapters covering a different region of Africa. Classic fare ranges from a Nigerian Red Stew ("Every Nigerian has a pot of this tomato-based stew in their refrigerator right now.") made with chicken, tomatoes, chilies and red bell peppers to Beef Samosas from Eastern Africa (where there is a lot of Indian influence) and one of the author's personal favorites, Leblebi (North African Chickpea Soup), made with chickpeas, cilantro, tomatoes, and cumin.
Color photos abound, and the friendly introductions invite newcomers to explore African cuisine; especially since the ingredients can be obtained in any Western supermarket.
How to Braise
America's Test Kitchen
America's Test Kitchen, Publisher
How to Braise Everything: Classic, Modern, and Global Dishes Using a Time-Honored Technique should be in the culinary collections of both newcomers to braising and those familiar with the concept who want either a refresher course or an expanded view of its potentials.
This is, in effect, a master class in a book that covers both the science of successful braising and the goals and techniques of unlocking flavors from meats and vegetables.
Besides receiving over 200 recipes that have been tested and adjusted for foolproof results, readers will find How to Braise Everything offers many ethnic braised dishes from around the world.
Dishes are arranged by main ingredient (Pork, Chicken, Beans), which makes it easy to look for a wide range of braised fare based on a single main ingredient, while each chapter's table of contents within its section lends to exceptionally quick browsing.
If only one book about braising were to be included in a basic 'how to' recipe collection, it should be the color photo-packed How to Braise Everything.
The New Nashville
Globe Pequot Press
The New Nashville Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from Music City is a treasure trove of regional Southern fare from Nashville, gathering recipes from the city's most iconic restaurants and pairing them with close-up, full-page color photos.
Each restaurant's name, address, phone number, and website precede the dish, along with an introduction of several paragraphs or more which points out the establishment's strengths, dishes, and unique approach to Nashville cuisine.
As for the recipes themselves, they can be produced in any kitchen in America and include such diverse fare as a cheese ball redone as a Southern Burrata with cheddar and cream cheeses, mayo and diced pimento, and Gochujang paste. A Grilled Cheese Sandwich turns into much more under the hand of The Grilled Cheeserie Gourmet Grilled Cheese Truck because it includes Carmelized Apple & Onion Jam and bacon, while Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint profiles the Redneck Taco made with cornbread mix, pulled pork, and coleslaw.
The result is a winning collection that should be in any Southern cookbook collection.
Photography Awards 9
One might expect that the contents of British Wildlife Photography Awards 9 would be of interest primarily to British subjects or wildlife fans, but by featuring over a hundred fifty winning images from 2018's competition, it actually holds interest and value to neo-professionals and enthusiasts of both wildlife photography and British nature.
Each photo receives a gorgeous spread over either one or two pages, with technical information accompanying each photographer's personal account of how the image was achieved.
Subjects may be as diminutive as spiders or as large as gray seals, wild boars, badgers, or beavers. The photos embrace flora and fauna alike and capture not just their natural beauty, but the environment in which they flourish.
Any photography collection strong in nature images will relish this superior collection of the best award-winning productions of 2018.
Eanger Irving Couse
Virginia Couse Leavitt
University of Oklahoma Press
Eanger Irving Couse: The Life and Times of an American Artist, 1866-1936 comes from the artist's granddaughter, herself a scholar of art history, who has unique access to the Course family archives. This allows her to gather writings, photos, sketches, and other memorabilia to build a more complete portrait of the artist and his times than anyone else could have done.
Couse became known for his paintings of the southwest and his images of Native peoples (the Pueblos, in particular), which helped refute some common prejudices towards them during his times. More importantly, he helped found the Taos Society of Artists and fostered its success.
Lovely color reproductions of his artwork accompanies an in-depth, scholarly survey of the artist and his era, offering new information not only about Couse, but about the Taos Society's original members and early exhibitions.
From travels and social activities to social issues in Taos during the early 1900s, readers gain a full flavor not only of one artist's life, but influence on New Mexico's evolution.
This Empty World
Thames & Hudson
This Empty World comes from a photographer and world traveler who addresses, in oversized visuals, the escalating destruction of nature at the hands of humans.
While this may not be a unique theme in the art world, what lends This Empty World a more powerful impact than most is that it uses the same locked-off camera position to capture two moments in time, weeks apart, and a technique that has animals enter the picture frame to be depicted in their vanishing environment.
Examples of the unique productions that result from this approach include powerful images of elephants juxtaposed against manmade earth-ripping machines at work, a lone rhino completely surrounded by people, and other wild animals fading before humanity's onslaught.
The foundation of each image is always a wild animal captured in its natural environment, eventually juxtaposed against sets built and designed in the precise location of the original photo, which features human buildings, construction, and landscapes.
More so than any testimonial or written word, these oversized images make this monograph compelling. This Empty World deserves a place in not just art or photography libraries, but in the collections of science and nature readers alike.
Novel New Novels
Karen Thompson Walker
Like the author's best-selling Age of Miracles, The Dreamers offers a birds-eye view of disaster through the eyes of a young person who lives through vast changes. This time, it's college student Mei, whose roommate is one of the first to succumb to a form of sleeping sickness that never ends.
As panic sweeps over her college town and doctors come to realize the impact of a sleeping sickness epidemic, Mei at first can't conceive of the danger she and her friends face, or the undiscovered truths about the paradoxes they face over their revised lives.
Unlike Age of Miracles, the protagonist is older, possibly wiser, and the story is presented in the third person. Those who found Age of Miracles grippingly poignant with its combined coming-of-age saga and dystopian experience will relish The Dreamers for its similar inspection not just of the possible fate of humanity, but for its engrossing portrait of a world gone wrong and how various people within that world react to unprecedented challenges.
Perhaps the most gripping approach of all is Karen Thompson Walker talent for adding succinct roundups of observations and experience that hold wider-reaching, thought-provoking moments.
The Psychology of
The Psychology of Time Travel is a story that will delight readers interested in time travel fiction, and tells of four female scientists who, in 1967, build the world's first time travel machine.
When one of the inventors suffers a breakdown on the cusp of its unveiling, she is dropped from the team. Fifty years late, time travel has become a big part of human culture. Ruby knows her grandmother was one of the founders, but nobody will talk about her contributions.
When she receives a newspaper clipping from the future insinuating that her Granny has been murdered, Ruby embarks on a journey to stop her death, uncovering more than she expected, in the process.
The story is told from alternating perspectives and times, but offers a powerful saga that time travel readers will relish, winding a murder mystery into an engrossing story of love.
The City in the
Middle of the Night
Charlie Jane Anders
Imagine a world in which a dying planet divided between a frozen darkness and blazing sunshine harbors the last vestiges of humanity, which lives in two very different cities.
Consider that life within those cities may be just as challenging as the harsh environment outside of them.
Add an exiled student turned revolutionary into the mix for an engrossing story of a healing journey as Sophie discovers a fellow troupe of misfits and wanderers, navigates the 'deadlands', and faces threats to herself and her friends.
Vivid descriptions of a challenging planet and life on it lend a feeling of authenticity and realism to a story that is forged in fire and ice and powerfully charged with the evolving spirit of a young girl who discovers some new realities about her world and her place in it.
Highly recommended, especially for sci-fi readers interested in coming-of-age stories.
Science, Nature & Technology
Goodnews River: Wild Fish, Wild Waters, and the Stories We Find There gathers over twenty stories that take place on waters from Alaska to Baja in a close inspection of wild worlds, animals and fish, and the relationships between humans and nature in these settings.
These stories are literary, evocative reflections that excel in details and description that give pause, capturing the fisherman's vision and experiences: "...for the millionth time in the past twenty years, he wonders how he and Nils Sorenson ever became fishing pals. "What if we never make it back?" asks Nils, still looking away. "We will," says Lofton. "Next month. Even if I have to drive again."
Scott Sadil is a master at entering the fisherman's inner sanctum and revealing the methods, perceptions, questions, fears, and hopes of the angler. Goodnews River should be on the reading lists of any who loved A River Runs Through It. It holds the same blend of philosophical reflection paired with wildlife encounters and interpersonal experiences.
No Beast So Fierce
No Beast So Fierce: The Terrifying True Story of the Champawat Tiger, the Deadliest Animal in History is both a biography of Irishman Jim Corbett, who single-handedly ended the killing spree of the Champawat Tiger, and a survey of tiger natural history and encounters with humans. It offers a powerful study which blends human and animal history as it considers colonization and environmental destruction.
The Champawat Tiger was known for its particularly gory attacks on humans, which it began to hunt down instead of its usual prey; but its revised actions were part of a bigger picture about environmental destruction and its impact.
Jim Corbett wasn't hired to help the creature: he was supposed to kill a legendary killer. His pursuit of the Champawat Tiger reads as an engrossing adventure and ecology lesson that should be a part of any natural history collection.
The Official U.S.
Army Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants
Department of the Army
The Official U.S. Army Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants is recommended for preppers, hikers, outdoorsmen, or anyone who wants to locate, process, and use wild plants for either food or medicinal purposes.
Other books focus on plant usage and wild plant harvesting, but this guide assists in positive identification as well as botanical information and natural history, making the plants easier to locate and utilize.
Color photos of each plant are accompanied by descriptions of their habitat, distribution, edible parts, and various uses.
A separate section on poisonous plants and their identification adds value to this guide, helping users prevent fatal mistakes.
If only one wild plant guide were to be chosen for a collection or field guide, it should be this Army-vetted reference.
Mara Bergman's The Tall Man and the Small Mouse (9781536201680, $16.99) is illustrated by Birgitta Sif and will especially appeal to kids with good reading skills. This audience will relish the story of a tall hill in a tall house which shelters a tall man and a small mouse.
Their habits are very different, and so the two don't know of their coexisting lives until suddenly they discover one another.
A fun, rhyming narrative style powers a story that is engagingly whimsical.
Jon Klassen's I Want My Hat Back (9781536207576, $8.99) provides board book readers with the fanciful story of a bear who has lost his hat.
As the bear wanders around asking various creatures if they've seen his hat, each comes up with a way of helping him, even if they have no easy answers.
Nicola O'Byrne's The Rabbit, the Dark, and the Cookie Tin (9781536205763, $15.99) tells of a cunning rabbit who captures The Dark and keeps it in a cookie tin so that he doesn't have to go to bed.
He thinks he can stay up and play without it, only to discover that The Dark holds benefits as well as detriments.
Good reading skills will enhance appreciation of this special kind of bedtime story in which a precocious young rabbit decides to take matters of daylight and darkness into his own paws.
Camille Andros writes Charlotte the Scientist Finds a Cure (9780544813762, $17.99), the fun story of a rabbit facing a mysterious illness that makes creatures sick. There's only one problem: Charlotte is a young rabbit, and the grownups don't take her seriously. Can her penchant for scientific investigation save the day? A warm story evolves, filled with delightful characters that come to life under Brianne Farley's illustrative prowess.
David Litchfield's The Bear, the Piano, the Dog, and the Fiddle (9781328595898, $17.99) tells of best friends Hector and Hugo. Hector's fiddle playing has gotten them through all kinds of life changes; but one day he decides he's going to quit what he loves the most because he'll never be a star.
Hugo decides to take up the slack and learn to play himself, but trouble ensues when his potential surpasses the lifetime efforts of his best friend.
Lovely drawings enhance a story that is compellingly different.
Two excellent new arrivals from this publisher provide winning stories that kids will love.
David Elliot's Oink (9781776572144, $16.99) tells of a pig who just wants to take a quiet bath. There's only one problem: there is no such thing as 'alone' and 'quiet' in his world.
As a braying donkey, a baaing sheep, and a mooing cow all join in, the bathtub becomes more and more crowded with farm animals who just want to share a little water in this simple, entertaining story that will lend to read-aloud fun.
I Am So Clever by Mario Ramos (9781776572489, $17.99) tells of a big, bad wolf who meets Little Red Riding Hood and decides she will make the perfect dinner.
There's only one problem in this variation on the traditional tale: the clever Riding Hood refutes all his notions of other dangers and forces him to be uncommonly creative in an embarrassing way.
Good reading skills will provide added enjoyment to picture book readers who will find the tale replete with unexpected changes.
Little Do We Know
Tamara Ireland Stone
Little Do We Know follows a fight between former best friends and nextdoor neighbors. Hannah and Emory haven't spoken to each other since a big fight in which they hurt each other immensely.
But life continues on, and as each finalizes plans for college and tackles questions of faith and commitment, each longs for the days when they were friends and could confide in each other.
Their fight may not be the end of things, however, when an accident forces them to confront the things they've been hiding not only from each other, but from themselves.
This warm story of friendship challenged on many levels will find a place in any young adult fiction collection.
Two excellent new reads are bright, vibrant, and entertaining stories which kids will find attractive from cover to contents.
Beware the Mighty Bitey by Heather Pindar and Susan Batori (9781848863613, $17.99) tells of Mouse, Goat and Bear, who are on their way to Cougar's party. There is only one problem with their journey towards fun: the Mighty Bitey Piranhas are in their way.
This exceptionally whimsical tale is filled with color-packed pages, fun animals, and an emphasis on read-aloud sound effects that will keep parents and their kids engaged.
Pirates in Class 3 by Alison Donald (9781848863606, $17.99) also excels in engaging drawings (these, by Ben Whitehouse) as it tells of Captain Calamity, who has arrived in class seeking a lost treasure.
Unless the class can solve the clues to this timeless treasure, the Pirate Bloodloss will snatch it. A simple, yet zany, story evolves.
Paula Knows What to
Paula Knows What to Do tells of a family devastated by a mother's absence. Her father won't even get out of bed, he's so sad; so it's up to Paula to create something that changes the circle of grief they both struggle with.
The blend of creative fantasy and real-world family struggles in the aftermath of change creates a loving, warm story about loss and recovery which kids and parents will relish.
Four new picture book stories will delight young readers and their read-aloud adults, offering creative and unique tales.
Andrew Prahin's Elbert the Curious Clock Tower Bear (9780525313988, $17.99) features a mechanical village clock tower with mechanical bears. One, Elbert, is not content to be a clock bear, but notices the world around him.
His curiosity lands him in trouble and ultimately threatens the clock tower world; but how can he stop asking questions when everything looks so inviting?
A young bear's unexpected contribution to chaos makes for a fun, different read that kids will appreciate.
Cinders McLeod's Spend It! (9780389544460, $16.99) focuses on young spendthrift rabbit Sonny, who wants to buy everything he sees. He just got his allowance, and is on a mission to buy EVERYTHING.
But, he can't afford everything. How can he make reasonable choices?
Kids will learn the basics of money management and financial planning through this absorbing tale.
Not Your Nest! (9780735228276, $17.99) is written by Gideon Sterer and enjoys beautiful drawings by Andrea Tsurumi as it tells of a bird who is certain she has built the perfect nest. There is a price for perfection, however, because everyone else not only agrees with her, but wants to claim her nest as their own.
This story holds a message about sharing that is easy to understand, and parents and kids will enjoy both the underlying lesson and the whimsical story's large-size, appealing drawings.
Wendy Meddour and Daniel Egnéus work together on Lubna and Pebble (9780525554165, $17.99), an oddly compelling story of Lubna, whose best friend is a pebble because it always listens to her and never judges her.
When a lost boy arrives in the World of Tents, Lubna realizes that friendship is meant to be shared in this lovely story of refugee families and shared friendships.
Two young adult reads are also standouts, and are equally highly recommended.
Lisa Graff's Far Away (9781524738594, $16.99) follows a psychic medium who speaks to spirits from Far Away. CJ's Aunt Nic tours the country, organizing séances and passing on messages to loved ones, but when CJ discovers that she won't be able to speak to her mother anymore, even through her aunt, she decides to set off on a road trip herself to find answers and an object that could return communications.
A fine story about love and loss evolves, with a different theme than most.
Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face and the Pizza of Peril (9780525515630, $16.99) by John Dougherty surveys the dilemma faced by a kingdom when the BADgers escape jail and uncover a pizza mine. They are immersed in many evil plots; but trouble challenges them, as well, when the library begins to tip over without the pizza that keeps it standing.
An even bigger problem is that the entire island of Great Kerfuffle will flip into the ocean, if that happens.
Bad intentions gone good are documented as Stinkbomb and Ketchup-Face embark on a mission to save everything in a read perfect for advanced elementary to middle-grade readers.
Simon and Schuster
Two new additions to the Ready-to-Read series provide Level Two stories for young chapter book readers ready for longer sentences, simple chapters, and vocabulary builders.
Albin Sader's Hamster Holmes: A Bit Stumped (9781534421929, $17.99) is illustrated by Valerio Fabbretti and follows Hamster Holmes and his sidekick, the firefly Dr. Watt, who solve the mystery of missing tiles. A whimsical story shows how Hamster Holmes overcomes a creative thinking block to solve the puzzle.
May Nakamura's Tails From History: The Cat Who Ruled the Town (9781534436435, $17.99) tells of Stubbs, a small-town cat mayor in Alaska who lives a very nice life. Stubbs finds that his biggest challenge isn't managing his town: it's a threat on the home front that comes with four big blue eyes. Kids who love cats will love this story.
These picture book reads are strong stand-alone recommendations for either read-aloud or beginning readers.
Benjamin Scheuer and Jemima Willicums' Hibernate With Me (9781534432178, $17.99) will reach ages 4-8 with the story of a warm, cozy place filled with love. The invitation is to 'hibernate with me' in this cozy home, and the story line pursues the kinds of emotions caused by facing the world (confusion, depression) that can lend to this feeling of needing to hide in a loving place.
Jessie Sima's Love, Z (9781481496773, $17.99) tells of robot Z, who seeks to define the indefinable: love. Z finds a message in a bottle that ends 'Love, Beatrice', so now he has two mysteries to solve in an adventure that brings him full circle.
Penguin Flies Home by Lita Judge (9781534414419, $17.99) is a Flight School story for ages 4-8 that continues to follow Penguin, who just loves to fly. He loves everything about flight school except for one thing...he's homesick for the South Pole.
He's determined to return home and transmit his enthusiasm to his peers, but this effort isn't resulting in much applause. How can he maintain connections with his people when nobody thinks much of his passion in life?
Sarah Dillard's I Wish It Would Snow! (9781534406766, $17.99) tells of a little rabbit who wishes it would snow, and who finds that wishes can come true, albeit with unexpected side-effects. The very simple and funny story of a rabbit who questions what he gets from his passionate wish will delight kids who also may have wished for weather changes.
Richard T. Morris and Priscilla Burris work together in Fear the Bunny (9781481478007, $17.99), a zany story of a different kind of forest ruled not by tigers, but by bunnies. When Tiger questions the power of the rabbit and its ability to equal his formidable abilities, he receives a strong lesson about innocence and strength in this story, which holds a twist on the idea of a tiger's might.
Cory Leonardo's The Simple Art of Flying (9781534420991, $17.99) will reach ages 8-12 with a fine leisure read that centers around Alastair the African grey parrot, who dreams of escaping to the jungle with his sister. They both live in a pet store; but when she is taken away and Alastair is adopted by someone quite different, his dreams feel impossible.
A compelling story of a parrot's determination to reunite his family charts the new challenges of this process in a story that surveys resolution, struggle, and newfound life lessons.
Molly Gloss presents The Dazzle of Day (9781481498487, $24.99) to young adults in middle to early high school. An international community has participated in constructing and living together on the Dusty Miller, a starship on a mission to find a new home planet.
Their journey is fraught with peril, but none is as dangerous as the planet they arrive at, which proves to be anything but the promised land.
This exceptionally evocative story of survival and hope is hard to put down.
Sleeping Bear Press
Two new arrivals are top picks for discriminating picture book fiction readers, offering lovely, different stories paired with gorgeous illustrations to support them.
Soar High, Dragonfly! by Sheri Mabry Bestor (9781585364107, $16.99) reads like a fictional story, but captures the life cycle of the dragonfly as he soars high. Jonny Lambert's lovely, color-filled drawings enhance dragonfly facts in a manner designed to both educate and excite young readers about the dragonfly's life in a fine blend of fictional drama and nonfiction facts.
Marsha Diane Arnold's Badger's Perfect Garden (9781534110007, $16.99) receives pleasurable drawings by Ramona Kaulitzki as it tells of Badger's preparations for planting the perfect garden with the help of a few animal friends. But when a rainstorm washes away all the seeds, Badger is certain it's the end of his gardening days. Or, is it? A fine story emerges about facing adversity.
Judy Young's The Wild World of Buck Bray: The Wolves of Slough Creek, Book 3 (9781534110205, $16.99) will appeal to advanced elementary to middle grade readers and provides the third wilderness adventure of eleven-year-old Buck, who heads to Yellowstone National Park to film an episode about its attractions.
Before the cameras can roll, a herd of bison stampedes. Other clues lead him to believe someone is threatening the wildlife. But, who?
This fine mystery needs no prior introduction to the series to prove accessible to newcomers to Buck's adventures.
These new arrivals will prove inviting, excellent additions to any elementary-level nonfiction collection.
Sophia Gholz's The Boy Who Grew A Forest (9781534110243, $16.99) is illustrated with realistic drawings by Kayla Harren and tells the true story of Jadav Payeng, who single-handedly plants what turns out to be a famous forest.
This inspirational true story of a boy who makes it his mission to rebuild a devastated forest teaches young readers ages 4-8 that anything is possible.
The First Men Who Went to the Moon by Rhonda Gowler Greene (9781585364121, $16.99) is illustrated by Scott Brundage and celebrates the moment men stepped on the moon. Ages 6-10 will appreciate this exciting story of the early astronauts and their mission, which receives supporting photographs that charts each step of their voyage for kids new to the idea.
Stubby: A True Story
Stubby: A True Story of Friendship documents a friendship between a stray dog and a soldier about to go to war.
Nobody expected that the dog would go with him, much less become part of an amazing effort, displaying as much courage and loyalty as anyone on the field.
This story is narrated in the first person, which captures the immediacy of war and conflict in a dramatic manner typically associated with fiction. Yet, the story is based on the true tale of a decorated war dog of World War I.
Two excellent new arrivals
from Tiger Tales provide lovely reads to elementary grades.
Clare Helen Welsh's The Tide (9781680101416, $17.99) is illustrated by Ashling Lindsay and tells of a young girl who has a close relationship with her grandfather, even though he's becoming forgetful.
As Mommy explains that Grandpa's memories wax and wane like the tide, the young narrator receives a valuable lesson about what remains when memories are lost.
John Kelly's Shhh! I'm Reading! (9781680101348, $17.99) is illustrated by Elina Ellis and tells of Bella, who is almost to the end of an amazing book when Captain Bluebottom appears to invite her on an adventure and Maurice Penguin asks her to perform on stage. More interruptions keep happening.
How can Bella enjoy the final chapters of her book with so many interruptions? A fine story revolves around a reader's conundrum.
Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
Versify/ Houghton Mifflin
The Undefeated is an encouraging, enthusiastic, celebratory poem about black Americans that includes lyrics and quotes originally shared by modern heroes. It provides picture book readers with a vibrant combination of large-size, bright illustrations and poems to support them.
Collections seeking an appropriate set of images of black Americans that revolve around the theme of black lives mattering will find The Undefeated an inclusive, involving collection that deserves a place in any collection celebrating black Americans and their achievements.