May 2019 Prime Picks
Three new business books from Harvard Business Review Press provide solid, lasting information that make them ongoing recommendations for business libraries looking for valuable acquisitions.
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic's Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and how to fix it) (9781633696327, $25.00) makes some important points as it show how leadership ability has become linked to personality traits more likely to be found in men than women.
Confidence, charisma and drive are traits not only more rewarded in men than women, but can too easily degenerate into narcissism and overconfidence. By encouraging women to adopt these traits in turn, a dangerous path of dysfunctional leadership is inadvertently promoted.
Chamorro-Premuzic considers personal effectiveness, resiliency, what good (and bad) leaders look like, and how to identify and encourage them in a business environment as he surveys the roots of toxic personalities and interactions.
The result is an important guide for anyone hiring leaders and managers, as well as a key to identifying desirable and undesirable traits and fostering those which ultimately demonstrate true leadership over psychopathology.
Marcus Buckingtom and Ashley Goodall's Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader's Guide to the Real World (9781633696303, $30.00) also belongs in any collection strong in business management and organizational structure. It offers insights into strategic planning as it surveys basic assumptions, distorted perceptions, and problems in thinking that occur daily in the workplace.
These basic lies form the foundation of a toxic environment, promoting frustration and, ultimately, workplaces that thwart free thinking, a supportive corporate structure, and a sense of purpose.
The authors promote an approach designed to disseminate intelligence and research among a given group and encourage a common sense of purpose and meaning. Ultimately, Nine Lies About Work is not just a survey of freethinking and lies, but a basic probe into fostering common goals based on universally-available information and support systems.
Mihir A. Desai's How Finance Works: The HBR Guide to Thinking Smart About the Numbers (9781633696709, $35.00) is based on a popular class taught by the professor/author, and is a basic primer on finance that assumes little prior knowledge and no expertise in the subject.
Case studies, interactive exercises, color visuals, and a chatty tone packs in details that link financial topics to business performance and concerns. How Finance Works covers everything from investments and funding projects and companies to understanding monetary value and capital allocation processes.
Anyone involved in business who wants an easy refresher course will find How Finance Works is packed with insights, charts, easily understood examples, and a tone that lends surprising simplicity to financial technical insights. All these facets make How Finance Works a highly recommended pick that any entrepreneur or manager needs.
Steven J. Ross's Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America (9781620405635, $18.00) is both a Los Angeles Times best-selling book and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, so its appearance in paper promises a wider audience an excellent, affordable access to a little-known story of the rise of Nazism in California in the 1930s.
The material seems the stuff of fiction—Nazis in California and a secret Jewish spy network that halted its spread. But not only is this true history, but Hitler in Los Angeles documents how a group plotted to kill the city's Jews and sabotage the nation's military installations even as law enforcement agencies largely ignored their rise. These events hold thought-provoking and frightening lessons for modern times.
Perhaps this is why this classic exposé, first published in 2017, holds such impact and importance for modern readers. Its lessons make for not just a story of the past, but an important key to understanding today's world.
The fact that Hitler in Los Angeles embraces the dramatic words of fiction but documents history with a researched authority into fact makes for a top recommendation for not just history readers and holdings, but general-interest audiences.
Angus Konstam's The Pirate World: A History of the Most Notorious Sea Robbers (9781472830975, $35.00) comes from an expert in the history of piracy, who charts its evolution from the earliest sea raiders to modern-day events.
It's no light task to separate the legends, myths, and overly dramatic stories of pirates from reality, but Angus Konstam's ability to juxtapose facts with discussions of why and how fictional versions emerged crafts a realistic survey that is every bit as engrossing as an embellished account.
Add color images and unique maps throughout to accompany in-depth discussions of both pirates and the history of their social and political worlds for an engrossing, fact-filled survey that is highly recommended reading for any history buff.
The Artificial Man
and Other Stories
Clare Winger Harris
First Belt Publishing
The Artificial Man and Other Stories gathers ten of Clare Winger Harris's short stories, hopefully returning to public attention the stories of a woman who published sci-fi under her own name a century after Mary Shelley's Frankenstein appeared under her husband's.
This blend of science and fantasy offers a solid gathering of thought-provoking scenarios which explore other dimensions, aliens, time travelers, colonists of other worlds, and more.
Harris hold an uncanny ability to capture very different scenarios, and her collection (which includes a previously unpublished original) is highly recommended reading, especially for readers of women's literary fiction and sci-fi.
Rowman & Littlefield
Bestseller: A Century of America's Favorite Books belongs on both literary studies and college-level American history collections. It surveys the changing literary traditions and the trends of a century of American reading.
Robert McParland's research includes everything from prize-winning novels to literary breakthrough books. He discusses not only their plots and approaches, but how these books fostered cultural and social change in American society through their different, creative approaches.
One-hit wonders as well as authors with regular bestselling hits or literary masterpieces to their name are juxtaposed in a survey that captures the evolution, nature, and impact of bestselling books in America.
Bestseller: A Century of America's Favorite Books is a top recommendation for readers who want an in-depth probe of the history, psychology, and social impact of book-reading in this country.
Mary Ventura and the
Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom presents a previously undiscovered short story by Plath, written when she was a twenty-year-old student, and is a 'must' for any authoritative collection covering Plath's writings.
The work was discovered in an archive by Judith Raymo and provides yet another window into Plath's literary prowess and her vision of the world. The short work paints a metaphysical world as it examines issues of women's independence and lives.
The dreamy, engrossing nature of Mary Ventura places it on par with The Yellow Wallpaper and other surreal classics of women's confrontations and journeys. Its inspective and allegorical approach makes it hard to put down, and a top pick for women's literature courses in general and Plath examinations in particular.
The Art and Making of
The Art and Making of Dumbo covers both the original history of Disney's flying elephant's creation and Tim Burton's latest motion picture, so it will reach two audiences: those interested in Disney specifics and others who have a renewed interest in the subject because of Burton's treatment of the Dumbo legend.
Author Leah Gallo is a longtime Burton collaborator, so she's in the perfect position to give this movie a thorough coverage based on her involvement in the process. Her interviews with cast and crew, lovely color photos and designs by Burton collaborator Holly Kempf, and the in-depth artistic and animation insights traverse film and art topics and even delve into movie marketing, offering reproductions of promotional materials and discussions of promotional approaches.
Packed with colorful embellishment on every page, The Art and Making of Dumbo is simply exquisite.
Science, Nature & Technology
Energy Medicine for
Findhorn Press/Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
Energy Medicine for Animals: The Bioenergetics of Animal Healing gathers animal communication stories and provides a new age focus on applying concepts of vibrational medicine to animal ailments.
While this normally would delegate a review of Energy Medicine for Animals to new age circles, it's featured here because any collection interested in topics of animal communication and non-traditional healing will find it engrossing and unusual.
Author Diane Budd is an animal communicator and healer whose experiences working with animals focuses on energetic healing processes. Her decision to document the effects of her animal communication and healing efforts provides an intriguing focus that pairs case studies from her healing practice with discussions of animal psychology and animal/human interactions.
Collections interested in such approaches, zoopharmacognosy, and animal issues will find Energy Medicine for Animals an intriguing, enlightening approach to better understanding animal health and wellness.
Once a Wolf
Once a Wolf: The Science Behind Our Dogs' Astonishing Genetic Evolution is a top recommendation for science readers interested in animal genetics, moving from the author's prior books on human genetic history to consider the genetic legacy of canines.
How did the wild dog evolve into the many breeds that are part of human lives today?
From the initial history of dog and human connections that began almost 40,000 years ago in Eastern Europe to how the two species embarked on a symbiotic relationship that benefited each, Once a Wolf considers how the wolf became domesticated, examining various facets of its social behaviors both within packs and with humans.
The result is a multifaceted read that is delightfully insightful not just about human and dog evolutionary processes, but the canine's background, science, and psychology.
Into Town: A Love Letter to New York
Going Into Town: A Love Letter to New York provides readers with a special affection for New York scenarios with a fun celebration of New York City's cultural oddities and ironies. It's a fun exploration that will especially strike the funny bones of native New Yorkers.
Color cartoon graphics are accompanied by Chast's wry observations of her town as she explores various New York scenes through the eyes of one Brooklyn family.
From places to visit and disasters narrowly averted to changes the city has experienced throughout the author's decades in the Big Apple, New York enthusiasts will appreciate a survey that is packed with observations, lists, and fun humor.
As We Grow
As We Grow will attract picture book readers with rudimentary reading skills with its cut-out cover and illustrations by Richard Jones, and explores the differences between people at different stages of life.
From how babies take in the world to a playing child who uses imagination to chase dreams into magical worlds, this evocative exploration offers a fun set of insights perfect for new readers or read-aloud parents seeking to help kids understand the process of growth and discovery at different age levels.
Four new arrivals are excellent picture book attractions recommended for leisure readers and their read-aloud parents.
Martin Jenkins' Beware of the Crocodile (9780763675387, $16.99) is illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura and tells of a hungry crocodile who is capable of both ferocity and unexpected tenderness.
Kids with good reading skills will find this picture book story toes the line between the drama of fiction and real facts about hungry crocs and their lives. The engaging drawings are fun embellishments.
Alison Murray's The Little Green Hen (9781536206104, $16.99) tells of a little hen who lives in an apple tree and tends to it carefully.
But the tree is too high-maintenance, and so the hen calls on her friends for help, with mixed results.
Parents who recognize the theme from the traditional story will find this adaptation comes with a new environmental focus that lends it additional meaning and food for thought.
Paul B. Janeczko's The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems (9780763681683, $17.99) traces various steps in making or doing things, from scaring monsters to swinging or tending to a tree, accenting these poetic descriptions with fun drawings by Richard Jones.
Some are entirely fanciful, such as 'How to Be a Mole' by Elaine Magliaro. Others are more practical, as in discussions of various rules; one of which is the simple 'Rules of Speaking' by Douglas Florian.
All provide whimsical, fun descriptions.
Kate DiCamillo's A Piglet Named Mercy (9780763677534, $18.99) receives lovely, fun drawings by Chris Van Dusen as it tells of an ordinary couple, Mr. and Mrs. Watson, who find their lives changed by the arrival of a tiny piglet.
Good reading skills or parental assistance will lend appreciation to this story of the challenges of caring for and loving a different kind of pet in a whimsical tale that kids and parents will appreciate.
Aparna Karthikeyan and Christine Kastl
How long does a kitten take to hatch? Cat isn't sure, but when she finds a golden egg, she decides to care for it and find out.
She needs help from her friends, however, and all animals jump in to get involved with her goal of hatching a kitten from the egg.
Kids with good reading skills and an affection for original artistic drawings will find this story a lovely tale of affection, caring, and friendship; while parents will appreciate the different perspectives incorporated into the adventure, as well as the mishaps which occur.
Two new arrivals from Clarion provide kids and their read-aloud parents with excellent stories.
Ninita's Big World: The True Story of a Deaf Pygmy Marmoset (9781328770011, $17.99) by Sarah Glenn Marsh uses lovely drawings to tell the story of a pygmy marmoset's life at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation in Florida.
While some kids may wish for real photos over the fun illustrations by Stephanie Fizer Coleman, kids will find them pleasurable drawings and will appreciate the marmoset information packed into this fun adventure.
Eve Coy's Daddy-Sitting (9781328489890, $17.99) outlines six things a good "daddy-sitter" should know about a father.
As a daughter reviews her father's basic needs, readers receive a fun story of the potentials of his life and why anything is possible in his future. But most of all, this is a story of admiration and love, and will be enjoyed as a basic read-aloud by any parent and child.
Cicada Books Limited
Night Windows tells of a boy who reluctantly moves to the city where all he sees is "endless grey, day after day/With no-one to talk to and no-one to play."
As an easy rhyme follows his observations of a bleak environment and his place in it as a victim, he feels he needs to escape. What he finds when he encounters strangers and strange places leads to a newfound positive hope for the future.
Picture book readers who have some reading skills under their belts will appreciate this fine story of discovery and revised attitudes.
Three new picture book arrivals offer warm stories paired with lovely drawings to make them standout recommendation for discriminating library collections.
Lisa Papp writes and illustrates Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog (9781662630754, $17.95), a gentle story which features Madeline and friend Bonnie in a new adventure.
Here Madeline becomes the owner of one of Bonnie's puppies, but becomes concerned about the lives of shelter dogs when she learns about their plight.
Her concern leads to an original solution for a big problem in this tale of change.
Kelly Starling Lyons' Going Down Home With Daddy (9781561459384, $16.95) receives fun drawings by Daniel Minter as it explores a visit 'down home' (to Granny's house) and a family get-together where Lil Alan learns more about the family's history and relationships.
Each of the children are expected to pay tribute to this history, but Lil Alan doesn't understand what his role should be in such events. The exploration of family connections and black culture is well done and involving, requiring either good reading skills or parental read-aloud assistance.
Away With Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird (9781682630051, $17.95) is written by Lori Mortensen and illustrated by Kristy Caldwell and represents the first picture book biography of adventurer Isabella Bird, the first female member of the Royal Geographic Society.
Nonfiction readers will appreciate this vivid exploration of her life and times which captures the sounds, sights, smells, and excitement of her world through her own experiences and perceptions.
All are excellent, involving picture books especially recommended for young readers with basic reading skills able to absorb paragraphs of lively description.
Three new arrivals provide picture book advanced elementary-grade readers with delightfully original leisure reads.
Victoria J. Coe's Fenway and Hattie in the Wild (9781984812506, $16.99) tells of approaching Fall weather and the perceptions of pets whose people do a very odd thing before 'skool' begins: they pack up the family car and drive to the woods, where wild animals live! Who would want to do such a thing?
Fenway observes that other families follow and understands that this is a back-to-school experience before the work begins; but he's still puzzled about why his humans would want to be around wild animals.
Fenway and Hattie face new challenges in this environment, and kids who enjoy stories from a dog's eye of the world will find these first-animal observations personable and fun.
Mike Malbrough's Marigold Finds the Magic Words (9781524737436, $17.99) tells of Marigold, who has decided to throw his own birthday party. He's invited his friends to help him celebrate and recognize his magical abilities; but when strange things happen, Marigold must uncover the reason.
Chocolate-covered finches? Three sequined seagulls? Hilarious mishaps and delightful drawings abound in a refreshingly original tale that kids and parents alike will enjoy.
Varsha Bajaj's The Home Builders (9780399166853, $17.99) is illustrated by Simona Mulazzani and tells of creatures that seek shelter and nests in the woods, building very different homes they perceive as being warm and inviting.
Bajai uses very simple language to point out these different homes, inviting young picture book readers to observe and appreciate a variety of shelters which range from burrows and beehives to holes in the ground.
All are delightful, engrossing picture book reads.
Simon and Schuster
New releases from Simon and Schuster provide a wide age range of young readers with excellent pursuits suitable for summertime or leisure reading.
Beginners will appreciate the different level books in the 'Ready-to-Read' series from Simon Spotlight ($17.99 each). These books are geared to beginners and their read-aloud parents.
Eric Seltzer's Party Pigs! (9781534428799) tells of pigs that chomp, burp, slurp, and generally have a fine time being hungry pigs. A simple two-line rhyme accompanies action drawings by Tom Disbury that bring these pigs to life.
Parents and caregivers will appreciate Delphine Finnegan's Daniel Can Dance (9781534430419), a tale for brand new readers. Parents and teachers receive basic tools for to helping these kids read, from a list of words in the book and their families and sight words to an adventure that begins with a simple query to Daniel the cat: can Daniel dance?
Big, colorful drawings and simple sentences encourage participation and fun.
Jason Tharp's Bunny Will Not Smile!
$17.99) tells of Big and Bunny, who are friends. Big tries to make his
smile, but no amount of effort seems to pay off. The contrast between a
positive attitude and a grumpy, depressed bunny's resistance to it
appealing story with an underlying lesson.
Margarita Surnaite's The Lost Book (9781534438187, $17.99) tells of the one bunny who won't join the others who love books and reading. He heavily resists any lure of the written word, preferring games and non-literary adventures, until he discovers a special book that may hold the key to something different.
Kids will appreciate a fun mystery that leads Henry into new worlds and possibilities.
Advanced elementary readers ages 8-12 will appreciate the all-color graphic novel by James O. Fraioli, Great White Shark Adventure (9781534420878, $19.99), which is part of the Fabien Cousteau Expeditions.
Joe St. Pierre provides lovely graphic illustrations to accompany a story that helps children learn real facts about sharks and marine animals.
This blend of fiction and nonfiction results in a fine tale kids will appreciate.
Four new arrivals for young adults are top recommendations that stand out from the crowd of leisure-reading choices.
Rachel Lynn Solomon's Our Year of Maybe (9781481497763, $18.99) tells of aspiring choreographer Sophie, who has a sick friend who is a gifted pianist. Sophie would do almost anything for her best friend, including donating a kidney to help him be well.
But will Peter return the kind of love that she has for him?
After the transplant, things change; and so do her feelings about their friendship. As they move from professional association to personal conundrums, each must decide what they value most about each other and their own goals in life.
J. Albert Mann's What Every Girl Should Know (9781534419322, $18.99) gives teens a historical novel following Margaret Sanger's life, and is especially recommended reading for those interested in feminist and women's health history.
Social issues of poverty and overcoming prejudice enter into an inviting tale for ages 14 and up which reveals Margaret's personality, promise, and many achievements.
Marc Aronson's Rising Water: The Story of the Thai Cave Rescue (9781534444133, $17.99) documents the intense rescue efforts of June, 2018, when twelve members of a soccer team and their coach became trapped in a cave in northern Thailand when rain flooded the tunnels.
The international effort which ensued to rescue them highlights both the innovations and technology that brought people together in a risky rescue. Emotional and practical rescue concerns are outlined in a thoroughly engrossing account.
Lilliam Rivera's Dealing in Dreams (9781481472142, $18.99) tells of Nelah, who leads an all-girl gang at age sixteen, but who becomes weary of the confrontations and fight to survive in Mega City.
Her dream is to lead a gentler life in the exclusive Mega Towers, but in order to get there, she must embark on a quest to prove her loyalty to the city's founder. Her quest leads to other battles and changing goals that test her ability to not only achieve her dreams, but stay on track and survive.
All are outstanding leisure reads.
Sleeping Bear Press
Five new picture book selections are top recommendations for young readers interested in exceptional, compelling stories.
Ann Ingalls and Sue Lowell Gallion's Tip and Tucker: Road Trip (9781534110069, $9.99) is an easy beginning reader for grades K-1, pairing lovely drawings by André Ceolin with the gentle story of best friend hamsters who have very different personalities and ideas about life.
New experiences make Tip nervous and get Tucker excited. But when they are purchased from the pet store, both discover new challenges in entering an environment they hadn't anticipated. A fun story evolves.
Keith Brockett's Ollie on Stage! (9781585364015, $16.99) is illustrated by Ashley King and tells of an ogre who enters a local talent show with big ambitions in mind. But, he's never been on stage and has no discernable talent. How can he be a star? Ollie's friends try to help; but nobody can cultivate a talent that doesn't exist.
This warm story of friendship and achievement holds an important message for ages 4-8.
Judy Young's Marty's Mission: An Apollo 11 Story (9781534110144, $17.99) will reach ages 6-10 with the story of young Marty, who has long been fascinated by the evolving Apollo 11 voyage to the moon.
His father manages a NASA tracking station, but when something goes awry on Apollo 11's return voyage, it may be up to Marty to save the day.
The story is based on actual events, but packs in the dramatic flair of fiction which will make it an inviting tale for nonfiction and fiction readers alike.
Denise Brennan-Nelson's Good Night, Library (9781585364060, $16.99) is illustrated by Marco Bucci and gives ages 4-8 an involving saga about a busy library facing diminishing evening crowds.
At some point, everyone goes home and the library itself has a chance to sleep at last. As young readers bid the library goodnight in a fun rhyme ("Good night, poetry/Good night, prose./Pull up the covers;/Off you doze."), kids will enjoy large-size, warm drawings and a different kind of bedtime story.
The Whale the Sea and
The Whale the Sea and the Stars tells of Gerda, a little whale who leaves home for new adventures.
As Gerda moves from warm waters to the poles in search of her place in the world, kids are treated to gorgeous illustrations accompanying a detailed story of the various creatures and environments Gerda encounters.
Although this is a picture book, good reading skills are required in order to appreciate the paragraphs of description and action that accompany Gerda on her long, adventure-filled journey.
Parents and educators will find The Whale the Sea and the Stars an excellent transition between picture books and chapter books, as well as an exceptionally beautifully illustrated story.