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Beautiful books tell stories with imagery


I first met David Wiesner at the seashore. He was showing me a close up look at a crab when a big wave rolled over us revealing the start of an adventure. That adventure is his book “Flotsam.” It won the Caldecott Medal that year. Wiesner’s wordless story introduced me to his boy’s eye view of the world and his boundless imagination. I’ve been enthralled with his books ever since.

Wiesner grew up in New Jersey where he enjoyed beach vacations with his family. In high school he made a silent movie and drew wordless comic books. At the Rhode Island School of Design he created a 9-foot-long painting exploring different perspectives. His life prepared him to create his award winning books.

“Free Fall” evolved from Wiesner’s design school painting. As a boy falls asleep, his pillows become clouds and mountains and his green checkered blanket becomes plots of land. The objects beside his bed become the characters and landscape of his dream. Image melts into image in an easy, dreamy manner. Size is relative. In the course of the night, the boy meets the queen, conquers a dragon, explores new lands, climbs to the highest heights (with pack pigs) and free falls until autumn leaves/swans bring him in for a water landing on a green checkered sea to morning. This story is eloquently told without a word.

Koppel dissects cyberattacks in ‘Lights Out’


“Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath” by Ted Koppel (280 pages, $26.00)

‘Argo’: The fascinating non-fiction book that reads like fiction


Do you ever feel downright confused about international politics? The word “quagmire” should be reserved for frequent and definitive use when describing relations in the Middle East.

I was recently listening to coverage on the Iran nuclear deal, and I kept thinking “how did we get here?” The more I watched, the more confused I became when several times during the coverage former President Jimmy Carter was referenced in connection to the Shah and the Iran hostage crisis. Back in 1979, I was 5 years old when the American Embassy in Tehran was overcome and 52 American State Department workers taken hostage. But I was too young to remember or understand what happened, and who the key players were.

Weird West novels provide dark thrills


Take the all-American cowboy story and mix in some steampunk fantasy with its counterfactual detail and enhanced technology, and you have fiction genre wilder and weirder than the conventional horse opera. You may have enjoyed the dark thrills of the weird West in the films “Jonah Hex” or “Cowboys and Aliens,” or even in the old DC comic, “Weird Western Tales.” Lately, popular depictions of an alternative 19th century — complete with airships, robots, and assorted otherworldly characters — is shifting from the London of Queen Victoria to the expansion of the American West in several series: “Golgotha,” by R. S. Belcher, “Weird West Tales,” by Michael Resnick, and the provocative new entry, “Karen Memory” by Elizabeth Bear.

Golgotha is the Nevada mining town that holds an ancient menace in the first title in this fantasy/horror/western series, “The Six-Gun Tarot.” Belcher creates a collection of curious characters, including a sheriff who cannot be killed, his half-coyote deputy (appropriately called Mutt), and the banker’s wife who belongs to a secret order of pirate assassins. Just outside the town lies a deserted silver mine that hides the Old Wurm, just stirring awake after millennia and preparing to let loose havoc on the world. The monster has made most of the town’s residents into zombie-like creatures that the sheriff and his motley posse must beat back before it’s too late. Golgotha is a town you’ll want to visit again in “Shotgun Arcana.”

True story of Rosemary Kennedy is a stunning ‘sit-still’ book


“Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” by Kate Clifford Larson

c.2015, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $27.00 302 pages

Ripley’s does it again


“Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Eye-Popping Oddities”

c.2015, Ripley Publishing $28.95 265 pages

‘Fast Girl’ is the true story of the Olympic athlete who ended up an escort in Vegas


“Fast Girl” by Suzy Favor Hamilton (with Sarah Tomlinson)

c.2015, Dey St. $26.99 295 pages

Mighty moose is on the loose in these books for kids


The moose in these books are determined to do whatever it takes to achieve their dreams.

— “Ernest, the Moose Who Doesn’t Fit” by Catherine Rayner — Ernest is such a large moose, he can’t even fit inside his own book. He shimmies his front end in, he squeezes his back end in, he even finds a way to get his middle in, but he just can’t seem to get his whole self to fit. Luckily, he has a friendly chipmunk by his side that is just as determined to fit Ernest into the book as he is and she has a big idea. With a little masking tape, some paper, and a lot of ingenuity, the two friends finally figure out how to fit Ernest inside the book. A delightful tale of working together to bring about a happy ending for one moose who just didn’t give up.

Expand a child’s imagination with these books about books


A plethora of new children’s picture books about books have been added to our collection recently. Now, one might think stories about books wouldn’t be very exciting, or appealing, but I can assure you these books are sure to inspire, and a few may even make you laugh.

“How to Bake a Book” by Ella Burfoot uses the concept of baking to explain the ingredients necessary in writing a good story. With fun illustrations, and rhyming text Burfoot begins with a girl who starts by adding some ideas, a few characters and then throws in a little action. She shakes in some letters out of shakers, mixes in some punctuation for spice and thickens the plot by adding “a spoonful of good and pinch of bad.” Before you know it, this little baker has baked up one delicious story. With amazing imagery, this book introduces the art of creating a story in a very clever way.

Explore nature: Books for curious kids


A snowy owl swoops down from a tree and glides over the frozen white landscape of Canada.

On a hot day in a mountain forest of Asia, a red panda rests in a tree, dangling its legs to keep cool. As darkness falls on the warm shallow sea water, the Caribbean reef sharks cruise the coral reef looking for fish.

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