In a universe just slightly different from our own, small spheres in a rainbow of hues are hidden throughout the world, wherever people live. When matched with another sphere of the same color and “burned” by holding them to one’s forehead, spheres increase human abilities: A common pair of Army Green spheres promotes resistance to the common cold, while rare Mustards grant high IQ.
In a recent Salon interview, Georgetown University professor and political analyst Michael Eric Dyson asked, “[H]ow do you carry out a criticism of those with whom you disagree without losing your humanity or questioning theirs in the process?” He answers his own question in The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America. Driven by the hopes Obama raised with his historical rise to power, Dyson delivers a provocative scrutiny of a presidency as complex as the ongoing issues of race, and he does so with grace and wary empathy.
As our kids and students mature in reading ability, we often recommend they read the classics. Treasure Island and The Swiss Family Robinson are a couple that teachers and librarians would suggest, yet the language of those classics is archaic and can be difficult for emerging readers, much as they might like the stories. Author Cylin Busby has written a historical novel that can bridge the gap between readiness and understanding.
Much has been made lately of the so-called (and very popular) “meta” trend in picture books, which feature intrusive narrators who acknowledge that the action is happening in . . . well, a book. Snappsy the Alligator is one such story, and it’s likely that, when 2016 is over, we’ll look back on it as one of the funniest picture books of the year. It definitely kicks off 2016 in high spirits.
While children’s literature is replete with Beatrix Potter’s critters and their accompanying stories, there are far fewer biographical books on the beloved author, let alone tales about her that reflect her style of writing. Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake have joined forces to create a one-of-a-kind children’s book that mirrors the curious world of the inimitable Beatrix Potter.
On January 30, 1945, a Soviet submarine torpedoed the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff, killing more than 9,000 people. While designated as a military transport vessel, the Wilhelm Gustloff was severely overloaded with civilian evacuees from the Baltic region, including an estimated 5,000 children. The high death toll makes this sinking the greatest maritime tragedy in history. Today, the wreckage still lies off Poland’s coast and is often referred to as “the ghost ship.”
Patches the calico cat is on a mission to find a special place of her own. A golden leaf pirouettes by the window, teasing her to follow. Filled with longing, she springs at the screen and chases the leaf into the wide, wide world. She’s never been on an adventure before, but one glance at the blue-and-gold sky tells her that thousands of special places must await her.
Poet and translator Idra Novey brings a considerable imagination to her first work of fiction, Ways to Disappear, in which the disappearance of a famous novelist upends the life of her American translator.
Chris Offutt has made a remarkable career for himself as an award-winning author and screenwriter (“True Blood,” “Weeds”). In his stunning new memoir, he turns to the complex legacy of his father, Andrew Offutt, a prolific writer of pulp science fiction and pornography. And by “prolific,” we’re talking more than 400 paperbacks of series fiction, with titles like Blunder Broads and The Girl in the Iron Mask. (The complete bibliography in the back of the book is worth a perusal for its less family-friendly titles.)
Legendary writer M.M. “Mimi” Banning hid herself away after feeling suffocated by the fame that accompanied winning a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award at age 20. The only piece of work the reclusive author has managed to produce since then is her son, Frank, a brilliant fourth-grader who uses smart 1930s garb—like pocket squares and wingtips—and facts about the movie business as armor. But after losing her fortune, the tetchy literary talent must write a new book ASAP.