As host of “The Thistle & Shamrock” on National Public Radio (NPR), Fiona Ritchie has bewitched many a listener with carefully curated playlists of traditional Celtic tunes, stories of her native Scotland, and, of course, that accent—mellifluous with a bit of a burr. No one is better qualified to take stock of Scots-Irish music than the NPR host, and in Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia, she does just that.
Budding young naturalists will learn from—and love—Winter Is Coming by Tony Johnston. A quietly powerful picture book that explores the changing of the seasons and life in the woods, it’s also a story about the rewards that come from taking time to look closely at the world. The narrator is a resourceful young girl who visits her tree house each day, watching in solitude as the forest around her transitions from fall to winter. Armed with binoculars, sketchbook and pencils, she spies on animals as they hunt for food and prepare for the snowy season to come.
Ah, the metric system—the logical way of meting out the world that confounds most Americans. Readers who have failed to crack its code will find comfort in John Bemelmans Marciano’s Whatever Happened to the Metric System? How America Kept Its Feet, an intriguing look at why the system failed to take hold here.
For many parents, getting the little ones to consent to sleep is a contest of wills requiring the skills of a diplomat. Fortunately, a terrific new picture book has arrived that can help families keep the peace. Sleep Tight, Anna Banana!, by mother-and-son team Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal, shows that bedtime can be a blast, especially when the company includes a group of irresistible critters intent on making mischief.
Could there be a less propitious setting than the Tropicana Poker Room in Atlantic City on a Saturday morning? As Colson Whitehead reveals in The Noble Hustle, a darkly humorous work of participatory reportage that finds him (a decided amateur) attempting to play poker with the pros, the answer is a resounding no. On a typical Saturday morning, folks trickle into the Trop for the weekend tournament—regular types the author sorts into three different but equally undesirable categories: the Methy Mikes, the Robotrons and the Big Mitches.
Kristy Dempsey revisits a watershed moment in performing arts history in her sparkling new book, A Dance Like Starlight. The story’s spirited young heroine, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer, lives with her mother in Harlem. The year is 1951.
Award-winning author Doreen Rappaport delivers another perfectly polished historical gem with To Dare Mighty Things: The Life of Theodore Roosevelt. In this impressive picture-book biography, she skillfully blends the personal and political stories of the nation’s 26th president, adding Roosevelt’s own words to the mix through quotes that enrich the narrative while delivering a sense of the plainspoken eloquence for which he was famous. (Proof that Teddy was ahead of his time in the sound-bite department: “Speak softly and carry a big stick, and you will go far.”)
The Snatchabook, an irresistible new release from Helen and Thomas Docherty, is the tale of an unlikely little book bandit and the reason he went to the bad side. When young readers get wind of what goes on in this thrilling story, they may stand sentry at their shelves.Set in Burrow Down, a hillside in the woods that’s home to a furred and feathered menagerie of readers—squirrels,...
Provence, 1970, Luke Barr’s irresistible new slice of food-culture history, couldn’t have appeared at a more promising moment. Cooking is something of a craze these days, and food is very much in fashion. Perfectly aligned with the times, Provence, 1970 features a cast of cooks, writers and critics with personalities as volatile and opinions as ironclad as those of the slightly...
In 1974, at the age of 10, Anya von Bremzen immigrated to Philadelphia with her mother, leaving behind a nation forever underfed: the USSR. Her first trip to an American supermarket should’ve been like stepping into heaven. Young Anya, however, hates the place. Back home in Moscow, obtaining food meant standing in a queue for hours, but it was often an adventure. In contrast, the...