December 2019 Prime Picks
Sizzling Social Issues
America's Test Kitchen
One of the features that sets America's Test Kitchen cookbooks apart from others is its attention to meticulously testing each recipe, not only assuring foolproof dishes but identifying what elements in either ingredient, assembly, or cooking delineate a superior dish from either an ordinary production or a complete failure.
The 20th anniversary edition of America's Test Kitchen, its 20th Anniversary TV Show Cookbook (9781945256882, $40.00), includes personal comments from the TV show's cast, who add insights into cooking, food, and lessons learned from developing these recipes in their test kitchen.
Thus, an ordinary recipe for Chicken Marsala becomes a probe into what makes for an extraordinary version; a recipe for Ultimate Shrimp Scampi examines why some scampi dishes excel while others pale; and a Grilled Thai Beef Salad's secret (something some cookbooks skimp on for simplicity's sake) includes toasted rice powder, which gives better crunch and flavor to the end result.
Full-page color photos, editorial comments, cooking instructions for different equipment, and plenty of insights into what makes a superior dish all contribute to an outstanding synthesis of years of America's Test Kitchen shows. This book is a winner that avid home cooks with more than a casual interest in culinary excellence will find compelling and educational beyond the recipe collection itself.
How to Cocktail: Recipes and Techniques for Building the Best Drinks (9781945256943, $24.99) joins an increasing number of cocktail recipe books on the market, but with a difference: the brand of America's Test Kitchen, which adopts a more inquisitive examination of the process of mixing a superior cocktail.
The premise involves assembling as many recipe variations as possible, then testing them all without prior prejudice about the results.
In this testing environment, mistakes are not only possible but are welcomed as learning tools that help perfect the polished results so that readers don't risk failure.
This approach not only produces superior recipes, but better-quality discussions of why these cocktail creations succeed above all others.
Color photos throughout add visual excellence.
The Side Dish Bible (9781945256998, $35.00) is a virtual treasure trove of over a thousand recipes for vegetable, rice, grain, and bean side dishes, and should be a staple in any cook's collection.
Usually cooks scour newspapers, magazines, and scattered cookbooks to locate side dishes, then have to worry that they may prove less than stellar. As with the other America's Test Kitchen cookbooks, these recipes have been tested and developed until they are virtually foolproof productions.
Another big plus: recipes are clearly identified with color tags on their titles as being vegan-friendly, especially fast, or lending to make-ahead efforts, further increasing the useful 'browse factor' of this exceptional title.
The small color photos of completed dishes on every page rounds out the introductory information on 'why this recipe works' in a collection that is simply outstanding.
Cider Mill Press Book Publishers
Sweet Cravings features over 300 dessert recipes that show particularly well in full-page close-up color photos, and stands out from the crowd of dessert cookbooks because it groups recipes by flavor, promotes making staples for the dishes (such as whipping cream and pie crusts) from scratch, and includes tips for easy preparation and entertainment serving.
Its range of recipes is also a big plus to this weighty-looking but easy volume. A recipe for Pralines, for example, takes only 30 minutes total; while berries are profiled in a Sunset Cake that uses whole frozen strawberries, a Blueberry Pie that can be served in April on National Blueberry Pie Day, and a recipe for Black Raspberry Ice Cream.
The dishes are outstanding productions highly recommended for cooks looking for a single dessert cookbook that groups flavors for easy consultation.
Baan: Recipes and Stories from My Thai Home comes from an author born and raised in Bangkok who has previously written about foods of other lands. Baan stems from her family roots and represents the cuisine she cooks the most often. As such, it comes from heart, home, and insights gleaned from years of Thai home cooking experience.
Recipes are preceded by short notes often commenting on substitutes or tradition, as in Gaeng Pet Bpet or Red Curry With Duck: "This is a rather grander version of the red curry. You can roast some duck breast yourself for this, or you can simply buy some roast duck in your local Chiantown, andu se about 350-400 g/12-14 oz of it instead. You can also replace the cherry tomatoes. Some people use pineapple or grapes, which I'm not so keen on. My friend Joa Fah adds lychees, which are delicious - use 8 here."
Many of these basic recipes can be built from a foundation dish, such as soup stock or curry. All are accompanied by notes and stories which compliment both recipes and the peppering of color photos throughout, creating a more homespun and culturally-based production than the usual Thai cookbook.
The Best American Food Writing 2019
Samin Nosrat, Editor
Prior editions of The Best American Food Writing books come from different guest editors who each select the year's 'best' food writing based on their own definitions of excellence.
The 2019 version comes from a cook and author of the James Beard Award-winning Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, who is also a New York Times Magazine columnist.
She roams the culinary literature world to select a blend of historical, cultural, and culinary inspections that not only invites and entertains those with a fascination with cooking and food, but educates readers about the trends, culinary approaches, and perspectives of foodies from around the world.
Its satisfying diversity comes from a wide range of writers who each harbor their own insights and expertise, but its unifying theme is not just food, but literary excellence.
Cooks with an interest in food history and outstanding writing will appreciate these engrossing articles, which range from considerations of ingredients such as dog to the link between junk food and poverty.
Lost Feast: Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food provides a historical survey of something most nature books don't cover: food extinction, from lettuce and pigeons to foods of the past which have been literally 'loved to death' by hungry humans.
Plenty of books focus on animal extinction or decreasing bird populations, but Lost Feast proves the problem goes beyond mammals and birds as it examines flavors that have been lost over time.
Of necessity, this requires an examination of agriculture, from small-scale production to global efforts; human culinary trends and harvesting methods; the problem of destructive introduced species; and the plight of creatures that humans identify as a culinary delicacy.
Lost Feast blends agricultural, natural history, and social examination into a survey that is lively, pointed, and studious in its observation of human food habits and the impact of human tastes and culinary trends on planetary food chains.
Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking
Maangchi with Martha Rose Shulman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking From Everyday Meals to Celebration Cuisine comes from the founder of a website and video show on YouTube who explores not just Korean cuisine, but Korean food culture.
The dishes in Maangchi's Big Book of Korean Cooking represent a broad cross-section of Korean culture, from Buddhist meals to modern street food and traditional home cooking.
While some might expect that Korean cooking could entail many specialty Asian ingredients, most fare is quite accessible to American cooks and can be as easy as a Soy Butter Pan-Grilled Chicken which completes in three steps, or a six-step, versatile Glazed Meatballs.
From an exceptionally easy Watermelon Soju Cocktail to a gooey street food Fire Chicken With Cheese, lovely color photos accompany this well-rounded exploration of different aspects of Korean fare.
Page Street Publishing
These new cookbooks are packed with inviting recipes and color photos that excel in original dishes and attractive embellishments, and are recommended for home cooks and collections catering to them.
Benjamina Ebuehi's The New Way to Cake: Simple Recipes with Exceptional Flavor (9781624148675, $21.99) comes from a cook who grew up in London in a Nigerian family, teaching herself basic baking recipes and embellishing them with flavors from her African roots.
The result is a different kind of baking book which shares 60 easy recipes using ingredients that are unexpected, from sumac to roasted strawberries, turmeric, and cinnamon blended with espresso butter.
Full-page color photos accompany modern cakes that provide truly different flavor combinations to bakers.
Valerie Brunmeier's The Foolproof Family Slow Cooker and Other One-Pot Solutions (9781624147586, $21.99) comes from the founder of Valerie's Kitchen and features over seventy recipes that blend fresh ingredients with pantry staples in a different way.
Readers receive a blend of quick shortcuts and fresh fare. Thus, a Cheesy Taco Pasta Skillet is flavored with store-bought taco seasoning, made with canned diced tomatoes and chicken broth, yet includes onion, ground beef, and other fresh and canned ingredients.
From 20-Minute Egg Roll Lettuce Wraps to Asian Sesame Party Meatballs, the key to each of these dishes is 'quick and fresh', making them a snap to produce for either entertaining or family dinners.
Eleni Vonissakou's The Greek Slow Cooker: Easy, Delicious Recipes from the Heart of the Mediterranean (9781624147486, $21.99) comes from a food blogger who lives in Athens, and pairs full-page color photos with Greek dishes that will prove easy for American cooks to quickly duplicate in the slow cooker.
From Artichokes with Potatoes and Carrots in Egg-Lemon Sauce to a red pepper-laced Pasta with Fragrant Eggplant and Sweet Wine Sauce, these are zesty, appealing dishes that require no special ingredients to prove successful.
The blend of traditional and modern approaches produces superior fare that cooks will find invitingly easy.
Rustic French Cooking Made Easy by Audrey Le Goff (9781624148637, $25.00) is for any home cook who has eschewed French cuisine with the belief that it's too time-consuming or too complex (think Julia Child).
These regional dishes from Provence, Brittany and other regions focus on traditional dishes which are simple and delicious, from an Onion, Pepper, Tomato and Egg Skillet one-dish main meal to a Dutch oven baked Beer and Speculoos Rabbit Stew or a Strawberry and Cream Breton Tart.
It should be noted that the pastry dishes can be involved productions. But the main courses are often quick and accessible to all—even the busiest cooks.
Einat Adomy & Janna Gur
Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking promotes a cuisine that doesn't require a lot of hard-to-find ingredients, is based on fresh produce, and provides home cooks with many dishes that move away from traditional Israeli cuisine and into modern restaurant creations and fare such as Shakshuka, a dish that comes to the table in a little iron skillet.
From Aruk (Jewish Iraqi Herb and Potato Patties) to soups from city bazaars and dishes such as Beef-Stuffed Onions in Pomegranate and Dried Mint Sauce or homemade hummus, Shuk excels in not just unusual dishes, but notes about their origins and the story of their origins, whether it be in Israeli markets or restaurants.
There are numerous Israeli cookbooks on the market, but Shuk's blend of color photos of dishes and Israeli scenes and its focus on modern creations and cultural influences makes it a highly recommended standout.
Play Better Basketball
Kathy Brook and Dawn Smyth
Play Better Basketball: The Essential Skills for Player Development should be in every high school to college library, and in many a sports collection. It's an illustrated guide to improving playing techniques based on the insights of pros who have established their abilities and honed their games.
From basic footwork to defensive and team strategies, all levels of basketball player learn from over 300 step-by-step photos that accompany descriptions of these basics and the playing decisions that accompany them.
Equipment, explanation, and next steps notes make it easy to breeze through this instruction manual for specific keys to winning basketball approaches.
Two new teacher's guides should be in any education collection, containing specific insights that classroom teachers can adapt to their own situations.
Joyce VanTassel-Baska, Ed.D. and Ariel Baska's Curriculum Planning & Instructional Design for Gifted Learners (9781618218896, $75.00) appears in its third updated edition to help practitioners design curriculum for gifted students at all grade levels and across disciplines.
It discusses national standards in different subject areas, applies differentiation processes to curriculum choices, and adds special notes for gifted learners who have specific needs, come from poverty or minority circles, or who are second language learners.
These basics of developing a philosophy, goals, and measuring outcomes to assessing gifted student learning through off-level assessments and state testing and evaluating existing curriculum and programs makes for a key acquisition important for anyone in charge of planning courses for gifted students.
Laurie E. Westphal, Ed.D.'s Differentiating Instruction with Menus: Geometry (9781618218919, $24.95) will reach teachers of grades 9-12 with all the tools needed to build a student-centered learning environment.
Different types of menus can be offered to students so that they can have a choice in products development. This goes beyond the typical worksheet approach to give students more encouraging methods of taking control of their own learning process.
Reproducible menus, discussions of managing different learning styles, and insights into the decision-making process are important to teacher implementation success. Each project includes an overview of activity objectives, materials needed, and special notes on both usage and time frame to completion.
Both books offer rare insights into special learning processes that build on real-world classroom applications for optimum results.
Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument
Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument comes from a photo researcher who traveled to various shops, collectors' offices, museums, music festivals, and factories around the world photographing and capturing the history of different guitars.
Presented in a form suitable for gifting with a hardcover slipcase and die-cut edging, Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument's visual presence is as appealing as its survey of twenty-four legendary guitar players and their instruments.
Stories of these great guitarists blend with broader examinations of guitar builders and trends in playing and instrument development.
With each guitar receiving a full-page color photo that accompanies discussions of its construction and use, Guitar: The World's Most Seductive Instrument is highly recommended for guitar fans and music history libraries alike.
Taking a Chance on Love
George Harwood Phillips
University of Oklahoma Press
Taking a Chance on Love: The Life and Music of Vernon Duke will reach popular music readers interested in the composer's globetrotting life and musical prowess, and pairs a biographical sketch of his world with a focus on his compositions, successes, and failures.
From the origins of Turkish and cultural influences on his creations to positive and negative reviews of his songs, romantic snafus, and the progression of this Russian personality to television and popular attention, Taking a Chance on Love crafts a lively inspection not only of his life, but his era.
Fans of popular music history may not readily recognize his name, but by the end of this survey, they will be well grounded in his contributions and the social temperament of Gershwin's times.
To Feel the Music
Neil Young and Phil Baker
To Feel the Music: A Songwriter's Mission to Save High-Quality Audio is not a memoir of Neil Young's life in music. It documents his passion for high-quality audio and the struggles he faced within the music industry to assure that this quality wasn't lost.
Young's drive to make music available to all, his efforts to make record companies preserve masterpieces for future generations, and his Kickstarter campaign to manufacture Pono players are among the many topics in a book that stands out as being more than just another musician's story of struggle and personal achievement.
The fight to identify and preserve quality audio recordings comes to life here, providing musicians and music audiences with an invaluable key to understanding recordings, productions, and the differences between quality sound and cheap imitations.
No serious music collection should be without these insights.
Cabinets of Curiosities
Thames & Hudson
Cabinets of Curiosities is an outstanding, highly recommended art history acquisition that will find a ready audience in any library strong in 17th century history or art objects.
This was the last period of time where collectors gathered and preserved a range of curiosities for display and study. They weren't just scientists, but included royalty and merchants whose 'cabinets of curiosities' mirrored some of the key oddities, puzzles, and amazing features of the world.
Patrick Mauriès details the history of these 'cabinets' (often, entire rooms) even though few survived into modern times. His research into pictorial records and archives creates an engrossing study rooted in the 17th century, but documents insights on their changing status and historical importance in the 18th and 19th centuries, as well.
Studded with gorgeous full-page color photos and spreads, this is a treasure trove of art history and lore recommended for arts and world history holdings alike.
The Stories Behind the Images
The Stories Behind the Images: Lessons from a Life in Adventure Photography is a rich collection of adventure stories captured through the lens of Corey Rich's camera, and creates a collection that shouldn't be limited to sports or outdoors holdings alone.
More than a series of adventure encounters, this coverage delves into how each shot was made, Rich's own evolution from newspaper photographer to being a history-capturing commercial professional, and everything from equipment to approaches to crafting unique shots that tell stories.
From the politics of sharing 'secret spots' to the process of capturing them on film for television show shoots, anyone who would use their camera for professional objectives will relish the specific insights into production challenges, commercial photo shoot options, and photography evolution, paired with outstanding full page and double-page spreads, that makes The Stories Behind the Images a richly compelling, informative read.
ACC Art Books
John Reeves: Pioneering Collector of Chinese Plants and Botanical Art explores the Reeves gathering of botanical art held at the Royal Horticultural Society's library in London, capturing the highlights of almost 900 paintings in that collection.
Tea inspector John Reeves journeyed to China in 1812 and began collecting, labeling, and packing plants. He arranged for a team of Chinese artists to paint botanical illustrations as part of his documentation process.
While this book could have been featured in the biography or science sections, it's reviewed here as a powerful example of botanical art history and the efforts of a single man who preserved information which might otherwise have been lost.
The color art that peppers this biographical and botanical study makes for an outstanding representation of the plants and their depiction, making John Reeves a choice for any arts holding strong in natural history productions.
The Ultimate Sky Doll
Barbucci I. Canepa
The Ultimate Sky Doll is the perfect gift for graphic novel readers who seek good-sized, full-color panels, a strong futuristic plot revolving around an android designed for carnal pleasure, and a space journey that profiles the clash of competing ideologies.
Noa is a Sky Doll who has become more than her programming, and so she searches for her destiny and the meaning of life.
Her adventures originally appeared in four Sky Doll volumes. Their appearance under one cover in English for the first time creates a powerful set that is more than worth the price: a gorgeous stream of colorful adventures and images that sci-fi graphic novel readers will find outstanding both in the story being told and its illustrative prowess.
White Lion Publishing
Two exceptional art books should be seriously considered for any arts holding and many a general collection, each contributing a different focus and approach that will lend to its appreciation by general-interest audiences and artists alike.
Literary-minded artists who look for insights into the artistic brain will appreciate Michael Bird's Artists' letters: Leonardo da Vinci to David Hockney (9780711241282, $30.00), a gathering of letters written by notable artists from Dali and Kahlo to Warhol, Picasso, and Klimt.
The facsimile letters are reproduced alongside transcripts and discussions placing them in historic and artistic context, which lends to their understanding by those who may be unfamiliar with the artist, the letter's recipient, or the background history, politics, and atmosphere of their times.
The Art of Looking Up by Catherine McCormack (9780711242173, $45.00) gathers images and history of the most notable artistic ceilings from around the world.
One thinks of the Sistine Chapel right away, but readers and artists may be surprised to learn that artistic ceilings exist in Japan, Paris, and even Las Vegas.
Each ceiling's creation, creator, artistic challenges, and social and artistic statements is reviewed in a survey that invites readers to acknowledge that art can appear in very public, unusual places in extraordinary ways.
Sizzling Social Issues
The Drowning of Money Island
Andrew S. Lewis
The Drowning of Money Island: A Forgotten Community's Fight Against the Rising Seas Threatening Coastal America comes from a journalist who considers the issues that coastal communities face from the threat of rising waters along their shores.
Where other books choose general scientific and social examinations, Lewis makes his account personal by examining one coastal New Jersey community already being changed by regular hurricanes and rising tides.
The immediacy of focusing not on future possibilities but present-day threats makes for a personal, upfront history of events, surveying the present world and assessing the community's future in a way that, more so than most, pinpoints the personal and political sources of angst that stem from climate change.
Free to Believe
Free to Believe: The Battle Over Religious Liberty in America could have been reviewed in a spirituality section, but is featured here because its wide-ranging message should not be limited to religious entities alone. This is a discussion for anyone interested in American civil liberties and issues of religious freedom.
It will resonate with a broad American audience because many feel their religious freedom is being threatened by social changes that include the perception that religious fervor can lead to prejudice and persecution.
Free to Believe comes from a religious freedom attorney who offers middle ground between the ideas that Christians are being persecuted and those who think that such threats are imaginary. He provides a reasoned argument not only about religious independence, but about accompany social issues and civil rights that should be part of any discussion of threats to religious freedom.
No social issues, legal, or religious study collection should be without this astute analysis of the real threat to religious autonomy.
From Miniskirt to Hijab
Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press
From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran provides a memoir not just of Jacqueline Saper, but of a pivotal time in conservative Iran, and should be required reading for anyone interested in the social evolution of Iran and women's changing experiences and roles in that country.
Saper is in a unique position with her ability to contrast everyday life under the Shah versus the Ayatollahs. She charts the roots and rise of turmoil in that country with a focus on political and social change, capturing the fear and confusion of navigating a suddenly-strange land with new rules and threats. Her personal focus in From Miniskirt to Hijab captures the newly created Islamic Republic of Iran and its impact on ordinary lives.
These inviting, candid, emotional observations should be required reading for any Middle East history reader interested in the evolution of Iranian society in modern times.
The University of Arizona Press
Mexican Waves: Radio Broadcasting Along Mexico's Northern Border, 1930-1950 is a history of how borderlands radio stations changed social situations through their broadcast efforts, creating new listeners and perspectives as they skirted the boundaries of Mexican and U.S. laws.
It's an account of the business and social practices of Mexican radio that narrows its focus to the period of time before television's domination, and includes Mexican history and social insights along with its broadcast focus.
Readers with an interest in broadcast communications, border issues, or Mexican social and political change in particular will find Mexican Waves both well-researched and revealing.
Stanley B. Greenberg
Thomas Dunne Books
R.I.P. GOP: How the New America is Dooming
comes from a leading pollster and political advisor who predicts that
the Republicans and their party will crash and burn in the 2020
elections. Stanley B. Greenberg
explains the recent history of the party's processes, choices, and membership in a way that pinpoints divisive and dysfunctional behaviors.
Instead of considering the 2016 election a win, Greenberg actually points out that Trump's election has hastened the Republication Party's demise.
Based on focus groups and his own polls, Greenberg maintains the party is losing its focus, battles, and electoral strength—and that its demise will open the door to new progress.
We can only hope. And that's what R.I.P. GOP ultimately promotes: political transformation and hope.
William D. Lopez
Johns Hopkins University Press
Separated: Family and Community in the Aftermath of an Immigration Raid goes beyond the usual focus on broad social issues to narrow its inspection to one typical family and its experiences.
In 2013, ICE agents and local police arrested and detained every Latino man who lived in a shared apartment with a single family. Two women and small children faced an armed and violent SWAT team who stormed their small apartment, kicking down doors and disseminating tear gas.
The immigration policy and act of Washtenaw County, Michigan serves as a microcosm case history of the lasting effects of collaborative immigration enforcement. Separated examines community impact and health, the impact of deportation on family members left behind, and efforts of the fractured family to stay together as they struggled against a deportation machine that violently changed their lives.
In-depth interviews with the twenty-four individuals whose lives were changed that day pair with field notes and records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in a well-researched study by activist author William D. Lopez, who goes beyond political idealism to examine mixed communities and their immigration dilemmas.
No social issues collection, particular those strong in community makeup and immigration challenges, should be without this hard-hitting survey.
The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy lays out, in terms any reader can easily understand, what is at stake in America's 2020 elections, stating that not only must Democrats win, but that the nature and interpretation of American democracy is perhaps the biggest stake of all.
It pinpoints how the frustration of ordinary Americans led to the election of a demagogic president, charts the attacks on democratic process that have become the norm under Trump's leadership, and maintains that if liberal democratic principles are to survive, a huge Democratic victory in 2020 is required.
From efforts to avert tyranny and confront corruption in political circles to racial strife and the possibilities of a progressive presidency in a post-Trump era, The Stakes is one of the most important social and political arguments in print, and should be read by anyone who enjoys voting privileges in this country.
This Could Be Our Future
This Could Be Our Future: A Manifesto for a More Generous World comes from the cofounder and former CEO of Kickstarter, and posits a solution to self-interest and self-centered behaviors in a book that encourages an attitude change that could lead to social transformation in a single generation.
Introductory chapters review social challenges with an eye to supporting statistics that indicate rising problems stemming from a single source: an emphasis on profits and money over sharing and caring.
This Could Be Our Future then moves to the heart of matters: what to do about these problems, and how to better balance self-interest with social interest.
These chapters and their bold new vision document the nuts and bolts of how to effect real change, detailing big decisions and the intersection of business, technology, and social interest in a powerful proposal that represents a practical and compelling call to action.
Science, Nature & Technology
Mike & Anne Howard
Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America goes beyond an anticipated coverage of camping spots to add insights into the concept and history of glamping, discussing its unique vacation opportunities and approach to leisure.
A focus on some 70 selected destinations across 9
selects glamping spots around North America, surveying accommodations
that offer fine dining, activities, and creative vacation
Glamping isn't your usual tent-in-the-wilderness getaway, though some of these locales are set far from the maddening crowds. It's a set of destinations and ideas that reflect the heart of the glamping experience, from cowboy campouts to yurts and safari camps. Comfortably Wild represents a fine intersection between nature experience and human comfort.
The Firefly Guide to Minerals, Rocks & Gems
The Firefly Guide to Minerals, Rocks & Gems is a field guide designed for quick and easy identification, and appears in a compact paperback take-along tote format that lends to this use.
Photos of rocks and gems are accompanied by notes on crystal forms, hardness, density, and more. Each photo captures both typical views and close-ups of the rock's shape in comparison to others which may be closely related.
This eliminates many problematic identification obstacles, making The Firefly Guide to Minerals, Rocks & Gems an essential reference for rock hounds actively working in the field.
The Great Naturalists
Robert Huxley, Editor
Thames & Hudson
The Great Naturalists appears in paperback to bring nearly forty biographical surveys of the finest nature scholars and thinkers to new audiences, and is a top recommendation for anyone who loves science and biographical sketches.
Naturalist stories are told by different experts who explore not only each individual's contribution to natural history knowledge, but their artistic efforts in representing their topics through paintings and drawings featured in the collections of the Natural History Museum in London.
These drawings compliment many of the written descriptions of their explorations and add visual embellishment to a surprisingly lively history of not only selected naturalists, but their impact on natural history research.
The Hidden World of the Fox
The Hidden World of the Fox documents the science, natural history, and evolution of the red fox and comes from an author who has studied foxes for twenty years, across four continents.
While this creates a scholarly approach, Adele Brand's studies should not be limited to science readers alone. The Hidden World of the Fox blends science and cultural anthropology with personal accounts of her own encounters with foxes, creating a set of natural history encounters designed to delight anyone with even a cursory interest in foxes.
The peppering of beautiful color fox photos throughout makes for a discussion that is inviting and fun to read for every level of nature enthusiast.
A Short Philosophy of Birds
Philippe J. Dubois & Elise Rousseau
A Short Philosophy of Birds comes from a French ornithologist and a philosopher who here join forces to discuss the lessons birds holds for human lives.
Lovely black and white bird drawings of various species accompany links between bird behaviors and their parallels in human lives: "Socially independent women are now in charge of their own lives and loves. Will they choose a boastful alpha male who is likely to run off and have an affair? Scientific studies have shown that beta-male birds are more dependable and attentive to their mates. Why? Perhaps because they don't have the luxury of choice."
The discussions are compelling, well grounded in natural history and bird lore, and invite all levels of birder to reflect on the philosophical side of natural history.
The Tulip reissues the classic botanical story about a flower that holds its roots in a wild flower of the Asian steppes, which won the hearts of growers and flower fans around the world.
Appearing on the 20th anniversary of the original's publication, The Tulip has been completely redesigned, includes new material, and comes from an author who devoted six years to following the tulip's evolution over the centuries through countries around the world.
Its fascinating history before it reached Western Europe and the inclusion of a revised listing of the best tulip varieties and species compliments artistic color photos peppered throughout this account of the tulip's special properties.
While The Tulip is likely to be acquired by botanical collections and college-level science and nature holdings, it will also easily reach general-interest audiences with its involving history of the plant's growing hold on flower aficionados around the world.
Wild Shots: A Photographer's Life in Alaska is a memoir and photo book that captures Tom Walker's experience tracking his subjects in Alaska. It is a lovely account that will delight and inspire anyone with an interest in Alaska, wildlife photography, and the outdoors.
Full-page color photos of subjects and photographers working in the wild accompany sometimes hair-raising stories of encounters with grizzly bears, wolves, other apex predators, capturing the feel and experience of living in Alaska year-round.
The result is much more than just another photo collection or naturalist history. Wild Shots captures and synthesizes the actual experience of working in the field in an environment replete with some of the nation's last wild creatures.
It is an outstanding survey that any Alaskan native or visitor will appreciate, whether they be armchair explorers or those planning their own photography expeditions or pursing a life in Alaska.
The World of Burrowing Owls
The World of Burrowing Owls: A Photographic Essay Exploring Their Behaviors & Beauty is a 'must' not only for owl enthusiasts, but for any collection strong in wildlife photography in general and bird photography in particular.
It gathers nearly two hundred images of burrowing owls which Rob Palmer captured in the field, capturing their behaviors, physical characteristics, environment, and even some of their personalities.
One might expect accompanying photography notes, since this book comes from a photography publisher; but Palmer's exploration and essays omit technical details, focusing on the owl over the mechanics of capturing its natural history via camera. This pleasing, satisfying approach should earn The World of Burrowing Owls a place in any natural history or ornithology collection.
Amazing Boat Journeys
Lonely Planet Global Limited
Amazing Boat Journeys selects and profiles some sixty cruises around the world that are exceptional pursuits for cruisers seeking outstanding journeys. However, it features no single style of travel of boat of choice as its focus, but broadens its examination to include all kinds of boats and travel experiences for all budgets.
From sailing the Nile to boarding a cargo ship for the Pitcairn Islands or choosing a freighter ship to explore remote South Pacific isles, each journey receives maps and color photos, descriptions of the sights to be seen (which assume a 'you are there' step-by-step account of the experience), special notes about life on board each type of vessel, and tips on alternate routes and choices and how a reader can make the journey a reality.
From a description of the longest boat trip in British waters, to the Northern Isles, to budget alternatives for those who speak Chinese and don't mind speeding past some of the scenery covered in a cruise ship on a Yangtze River by opting for a more intimate local passenger boat that travels the same route, Amazing Boat Journeys excels in not just selecting outstanding routes renowned for their visual delights, but profiling various ways of getting there.
Three outstanding humor books from Andrews McMeel are highly recommended picks for gift-giving or personal contemplation, offering fun scenarios and observations.
The 24th Sherman's Lagoon collection by Jim Toomey, If You Can't Beat 'Em, Eat 'Em (9781524851798, $14.99), juxtaposes black and white with full color cartoon panels of the latest undersea comic creatures, shark Sherman and his friends.
When Sherman and Thornton hear about an iceberg that's being towed from Antarctica to save global water supplies, they become iceberg pirates with the intention of providing their lagoon with an unlimited supply of icy smoothies.
A hilarious series of encounters adds new dimensions to the Sherman legend.
Two little books are perfect gift-giving choices especially recommended for cat fans.
Jeremy Greenberg's Sorry I Barfed on Your Bed Again (and More Heartwarming Letters from Kitty)(9781449487973, $9.99) envisions hilarious letters cats would write to their human servants, pairing these literary messages with fun cat photos for the perfect collection, filled with catitude.
From discussions of ear-tweakers to lightbulbs and mishaps with cat chips, cat owners will recognize their own feline follies in these fun letters.
Francesco Marciuliano's All Cats Are Introverts (9781449495633, $12.99) gathers poetry from cats that capture their experiences, perspectives, and comedic reactions to life.
Add engaging color photos on every facing page for a fun consideration of cat psychology designed to engage and delight anyone with a prior affection for felines.
The Browns of California
The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty That Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation should be in the collection of any California library interested in the state's social and political development.
It's a Pulitzer Prize winner's survey of the history of California as told through a focus on a single family that led the state for nearly a quarter century. This edition holds a new afterword by Miriam Pawel as it examines generations of the Brown family and its evolution in political power in California.
This blend of family biography and political inspection creates a personable, moving historical survey that excels in closely inspecting how individuals and families and their particular histories and approaches can affect political processes and structures in not just California, but America as a whole.
F**k, Now There Are Two of You
Prior fans of Adam Mansbach's candidly hilarious parental struggles in Go the F**k to Sleep will relish this sequel, F**k, Now There Are Two of You, which covers a new arrival to the family and its translation into double trouble for the author.
Impeccable rhyme captures the story of birth like no other: "I never knew love before you came/And I swore that one child would be it, so/This is a big change for us all, hon./Our life is one gigantic shit show."
This book may seem like a picture book for children, but as with its predecessor, its primary audience will be busy adults who have little time for more than a picture book parody, who will laugh out loud at the rude, crude, and recognizable dilemmas a new family member poses to all.
Obviously, F**k, Now There Are Two of You isn't appropriate for either kids or baby showers—but just as obviously, those with an appreciation for risqué New York styles of humor and observation will appreciate a story that realistically represents a frustrated parent's worries about an upcoming (and unplanned) new addition to the family.
If You Give a Pig the White House
Castle Point Press/St. Martins
If You Give a Pig the White House is a parody that will reach into adult audiences even though it assumes the guise of a picture book and is modeled after the "If You..." picture book stories of Laura Numeroff.
Here, a presidential pig gets into trouble, rudely ruins American values, and threatens national security (all events based on actual circumstances).
Amy Zhing provides the fun drawings to accompany the story of a pig who gets into the White House, demands to watch Fox News, then embarks on a series of tweets and twists that depict selfish behaviors and non-presidential behavior.
The result is a hilarious and pointed romp and stomp that will delight adults who already have adverse opinions about Trump's presidency, who will find its ironies and incongruities synthesize nicely into this parody of problems.
History professor Joseph Kelly's Marooned: Jamestown, Shipwreck, and a New History of America's Origin appears in paperback to attract new American history readers to this revised story of Jamestown's formation and the events which too often are depicted inaccurately in traditional histories.
Kelly does more than recreate events. He lends a different kind of interpretation to the research about Jamestown, documenting the mutiny that plagued America's early settlements and offering a much-revised, more candid vision of the struggles that nearly tore Jamestown apart.
From the idea that the first Americans didn't decisively land at Plymouth but were marooned by storms to struggles to survive that evolved a radical idea and new form of independent government, Marooned should be a top read by any American history student as an important contrast to the usual presentation, and is especially suitable for classroom debate and discussion.
Queen of the Pulps
Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine follows the rise of both the publication and its editor from 1928 to 1947, documenting how Daisy Bacon chose the stories that draw huge readers and crafted and influenced the genre of romance fiction.
While its popular pulp status was widely disparaged in some circles, in reality, editor Bacon's choice of these stories helped transform women's perceptions of not just themselves, but the romance experience and genre as a whole.
Bacon became a national spokesperson for modern women as a result of Love Story Magazine's success, promoting the radical concept that romance and achievement could go hand in hand.
From its research into Bacon's personal papers to her own writings and travels, Queen of the Pulps is a powerful blend of biography and social commentary that deserves a prominent place in any women's history collection.
Supernova Era is one of Cixin Liu's earliest novels and takes place on Earth at a time when radiation threatens everyone over the age of thirteen, leaving the children to literally represent what's left of humanity.
The supernova that created this shower of radiation has changed everything. Parents and all adults are on a race against time to give these children all the tools they'll need to carry on.
But what if these children make different decisions? What if they don't want to follow in their parents' footsteps?
As political, social, and psychological transformation rocks the world, powered by an urgency predicting the end of days, Liu creates a compelling story, translated by Joel Martinsen from the Chinese, that offers many gripping social insights and dilemmas ("What if the two hundred million children have a difference of opinion that can't be summarized into one statement?").
This socially astute apocalyptic sci-fi read will leave readers thinking long beyond its disaster scenario.
Tales from the Trails
Tales from the Trails: Runners' Stories That Inspire and Transform comes from an author with over 40 years experience as a runner, who considers running to be more than just a physical exercise.
His book transcends the usual sports focus, discussing running's connections with the earth, surveying the global community of runners who regularly traverse different terrains around the globe, and documenting his own visits to over a hundred countries in pursuit of not just running, but lessons to be learned from the endeavor.
Other runners' stories round out his book, enhancing his own experiences. Michael Rogers, for example, draws links between running and the progression of his life.
Fellow runners who work in different environments, face health and social challenges, and find connections in the community of runners will find Tales from the Trails gathers inspirational experiences from a range of perspectives, all of which support running's social correlations and health benefits.
These elementary level readers offer fine stories for picture book and new readers alike, representing some of the best titles of the season from Candlewick Press.
Mr. Scruff by Simon James (9781536209358, $16.99) tells of dogs who have perfect owners. Even their names sound alike. But Mr. Scruff belongs to nobody. Or, does he?
From street player Vinne's dog Minnie to sausage dog Eric, who belongs to older man Derek, everyone has a home. There's nobody for Mr. Scruff until a young boy enters the picture, and even though they seem like disparate friends, their relationship changes each of them.
Melissa Castrillón's Animazes: Extraordinary Animal Migrations (9781536208535, $17.99) will reach ages 6-9 with its beautiful, bright survey of animals around the world who make amazing journeys.
Fourteen selected creatures that migrate by air, across deserts, and through ice also go through Melissa Castrillón's fun mazes in a picture book that encourages kids to become involved in finding safe paths for all of them, from reindeer and hummingbirds to fruit bats, alpine ibexes, and Antarctic krill.
Lucy Rowland's Have You Seen My Blankie? (9781536208191, $16.99) is illustrated by Paula Metcalf and tells of young princess Alice, who loves her blankie and always sleeps with it.
One day her blankie goes missing, prompting her to undertake a courageous journey and encounter terrible creatures. Apparently her blankie is even more adventurous than she, and it appears that tracking it down will be a challenge.
Can Alice creatively bargain for the return of her blankie? A fun, involving story offers a creative, different spin on the comfort blankie idea.
Carolyn Crimi's Weird Little Robots (9780763694937, $16.99) receives fun black and white drawings by Corinna Luyken as it provides advanced elementary-level readers with the story of new girl in town Penny Rose, whose only company is the robots she creates.
When she becomes best friends with Lark and discovers that her creations are actually alive, loneliness seems a thing of the past until she is forced to choose between her best friend and the club she loves.
This magic story of friendship and creativity holds an outstanding message for young readers.
P.J. Lynch illustrates Eoin Colfer's The Dog Who Lost His Bark (9781536204421, $16.99), about a boy desperate for a dog friend, and a young pup who has experienced bad people.
It seems the two lost souls are made for one another, but a number of challenges affects their newfound discovery of one another before they can bond in this gentle story of a bark-less dog and the boy who grows to love him.
All are exceptional, unique books kids will appreciate.
Two fine new books are recommended for holiday gift-giving and more, representing fine reads that are intriguingly different from most.
Helen Stephens writes How to Hide a Lion at Christmas (9781250230799, $17.99), a holiday picture book story about Iris and her lion, who go everywhere together until Christmas arrives and the family plans a trip...one in which the lion is not invited.
Iris is sad, but the lion decides to take matters into his own paws and sets off on his own journey, with unexpected results, in this whimsical story that young readers will find engagingly different.
Richard Byrne's This Book Just Stole My Cat! (9781250206671, $17.99) tells of Ben's cat, who vanishes into a book, leading Bella to join him on a mission to rescue the feline.
Bella seems savvy about books that steal things, but when she, too, vanishes, Ben faces a conundrum. What will happen if he takes matters into his own hands?
This fun story of rescue dilemmas is perfect for young cat fans and those who love them.
Albert Whitman & Company
Imagination Vacation tells of young Sam's very busy family. Everyone seems to have a project or passion but her, and so Sam feels lonely.
She suggests a family vacation; but not only does nobody have time, but they all have very different ideas of what that vacation should entail. The one thing they do agree on is that it needs to take place sometime in the future.
But, why wait? Sam has an idea that can bring all these disparate threads together, and so Imagination Vacation evolves a journey that unites the family.
Kids with good reading skills will relish this fun world-hop of the mind as they follow a resourceful little girl's answer to handling family differences.
Simon & Schuster
Jeanette Winter's Our House is On Fire: Greta Thunberg's Call to Save the Planet (9781534467781, $17.99) is an engaging story of the fiery young activist's passion for saving the planet.
When Thunberg learned that adults around her didn't seem properly engaged in or passionate about saving the planet, she went on strike in a lone protest that started a worldwide student movement for action.
A year later, she was speaking to world leaders about her passion, and is at the heart of many conversations about climate change and future generations.
Our House is On Fire represents a fine survey of not just Thunberg's life, but how her determination to be heard is making a difference.
Lupita Nyong'o's Sulwe (9781534423561, $17.99) is illustrated by Vashti Harrison and tells of a youngster who has skin the color of midnight. She's darker than anybody she knows and acutely feels this difference. Hardly anyone at school looks like her, either, and so she is teased.
Kids with good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance will appreciate this gentle tale of what makes for beauty as a savvy and thoughtful mother imparts a magical lesson about day, night, and the brightness within people.
Parents will find Sulwe a fine lesson in accepting differences.
Tor Seidler's Oh, Rats! (9781534426849, $17.99) tells of a hawk that snatches a squirrel named Phoenix. Most animal stories would come to an end at this point, but instead, Phoenix embarks on an adventure that leads him to the big city in this fun tale.
Phoenix is dropped in downtown Manhattan, where he's mistaken for a common rat and falls into questionable company until he's befriended by two rat siblings.
Ages 8-12 will appreciate this warm story of friendship from a squirrel's viewpoint, which offers lessons on courage and understanding.
Sleeping Bear Press
Sleeping Bear Press publishes consistently memorable books for elementary-level through middle school grades, and these two new releases are among their best.
Someplace to Call Home by Sandra Dallas (9781585364145, $15.95) is set in 1933 during the Great Depression and provides readers ages 9 and older with the moving story of a family of orphan children who confront both the Depression and the Dust Bowl.
As they move from town to town in search of work and a better life, they are met with hostility. Will they ever be accepted—and will they find a place to call home in an era beset with strife and poverty?
This moving middle grade story will reach young readers with its pointed tale of siblings struggling to stay together during hard times.
Picture book readers will appreciate Virginia Loh-Hagan's The Chinese New Year Dragon Nian, the story of a legendary New Year dragon who terrorizes a village every year.
Young girl Mei dreams of this dragon and learns of her destiny to battle it, but she's given an impossible timeline of only 15 days. And if she doesn't win, her village will never be free of the dragon.
Based on a traditional Chinese legend, but with a modern twist, The Chinese New Year Dragon Nian is a delightful story that requires good reading skills for optimum results, but rewards its young audience with a vivid, engrossing story of a dream, a destiny, and a daring young girl's courage.
The Unicorn Whisperer
The Unicorn Whisperer is another 'Phoebe and Her Unicorn' graphic novel story and the tenth book in her series about the nine-year-old's adventures.
Phoebe's magical unicorn friend, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, uses her powers to enliven Phoebe's world. But as more and more trouble ensues from her magical inventions, they face doubt about their actions and the consequences stemming from too much magic.
From jealousy and insecurity to doubt and friendship, this warm story embraces all kinds of changes between the two as adventures embrace Phoebe and Marigold and challenge them to grow both as individuals and as friends.
Kids who love colorful graphic novel adventures will find compelling and fun this warm, magical story of childhood misconceptions and growth.