New Jersey-based antiquarian bookseller Between the Covers (BTC) Rare Books recently published a full-color catalogue devoted to women. One of the high spots includes a letter written and signed by Helen Keller (1880-1968) when she was seven years old. Believed to be one her earliest missives, this one was composed only two months after she began instruction with Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) the woman who would become her lifelong instructor and friend. Read it at Remember the Ladies: Between the Covers Rare Books Catalog – The Fine Books Blog
Photographer Mathew Brady (1822-1896) is mostly remembered today for his Civil War images–wounded soldiers resting under trees, prisoners awaiting transportation, scores of dead combatants lying in bloody fields–and is considered one of the pioneers of photojournalism. Yet Brady had already secured his status as a premier photographer prior to the outbreak of war, having founded a flourishing daguerreotype studio in New York in 1844 where he photographed the best and the brightest of the Antebellum Era, such as Martin Van Buren, former first lady Dolly Madison, and then-presidential hopeful Abraham Lincoln. Read all about Brady’s Antebellum Portraits on the Fine Books Blog.
Magpie Murders, by Anthony Horowitz, Harper; $27.99, 464 pages.
Looking for a sophisticated whodunnit to read during the dog days of summer? British screenwriter Anthony Horowitz has you covered with Magpie Murders, a two-in-one murder mystery. A book within a book, part one is called Magpie Murders, a classic crime caper written by a contemporary fictional novelist, Alan Conway. Set in 1950s England, acclaimed crime solver Atticus Pünd attempts to solve multiple murders in a sleepy country village. Fans of the British t.v. series Midsomer Murders, also written by Horowitz, will find many similarities–multiple deaths, plenty of suspects, not much time to crack the case–but, just when it looks like the crime will be solved, the storyline jumps back to modern times, where Conway’s editor Susan has just learned of her star author’s suicide. Now there’s a new mystery to solve, with clues peppered throughout Conway’s manuscript. Some may be frustrated by the sudden break in the narrative, but stick with it; Horowitz deftly navigates the terrain with wit and style.
Young adult readers may recognize Horowitz’s name from the well-received Alex Rider spy series. Magpie Murders nicely segues into adult readership territory, and as classic summer reading fare, is best enjoyed on a quiet afternoon, preferably on shady porch, and definitely accompanied with something cool to drink. Cheers!
Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 1-4.
The firefighter duckies are brave little quackers who valiantly race into all sorts of dangerous situations. Whether they’re rescuing gorillas from cupcake pyromaniacs, whales stuck in carnivorous trees, entangled lemurs, or monsters from bad hair days, the mighty ducks are here to help. After each drama unfolds, our fearless heroes slowly begin to tire, and by the end are ready for some well-deserved shut-eye. Socksquatch and The Obstinate Pen author Frank W. Dormer delivers an over-the-top absurdist’s delight, with bright and bold illustrations dominated by ducky shades of orange and yellow. The art has a slightly cartoonish feel and expertly matches the silliness of the book. The repeating text of They are brave. They are strong mimics the ducks’ energy level, both gently losing steam as the day wears on.
An excellent read-aloud selection sure to become a regular on the storytime rotation.
A daguerreotype of Sophia Thoreau, Henry David Thoreau’s sister, was recently bequeathed to the Concord Museum, just in time to celebrate the Walden author’s bicentennial July 12. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog.
Lots of books on war appeared recently–these three are worth a look:
MWD: Hell is Coming Home, by Brian David Johnson and Jan Egleson, illustrated by Laila Milevski and Karl Stevens; Candlewick Press, $24.99, 158 pages, ages 18 and up.
Dogs make excellent soldiers and loyal companions. In MWD, Liz serves in Iraq alongside Ender, her faithful military canine. After completing her tour, Liz returns to her quiet New Hampshire town, but resuming civilian life is tougher than it sounds. Unable to deal with inner turmoil stemming from life on the battlefield, Liz turns to binge drinking and other reckless behavior, but her run-in with a stray dog named Brutus proves a powerful first step towards getting back to normal. A dizzyingly poignant account of a soldier’s physical and psychological trauma and how she heals. Note: MWD is for mature readers–sexual violence, rough language, and battle scenes are purposefully raw, sharp, and cutting. Have a box of tissues at hand–you will need it.
Bodyguard: Recruit, by Chris Bradford, Philomel; $8.99, 256 pages, ages 10-13.
Until now, the only way to get your hands on the wildly popular Bodyguard series was to go to England or pay hefty postage fees to get them stateside. As of May 9, the first of Chris Bradford’s high-octane adventures starring Connor Reeves became available to American readers. In Book One, Recruit, fourteen-year-old boxing champion-turned bodyguard Connor is enlisted to protect Alicia Rosa Mendez, the reckless teenage daughter of the American president. A terrorist sleeper cell has plans to kidnap Alicia, and it will take all of Connor’s skills to keep her safe. Fans of Bradford’s Young Samurai stories will find much to enjoy here. Books One through Four in the Bodyguard series will be published throughout the summer, so be prepared for some serious binge-reading.
Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War, by Paul B. Janeczko; Candlewick Press, $16.99, 256 pages, ages 10-14.
Paul Janecsko’s follow-up to The Dark Game explores the history and evolution of deception techniques like camouflage, concealment, and substitution from the Trojan War through the Gulf War. Thoroughly sourced (though Ian Kahn’s Codebreakers wasn’t consulted, surprisingly), Deception Techniques proves an excellent nonfiction resource that exposes the secrets of surveillence, counter-intelligence, and other forms of military strategy.
George Nixon Black (1842-1928) was a Boston-based heir to a real estate fortune and philanthropist, and in Jane Goodrich’s fictionalized biography, violence and unhappiness give way to secret Gilded-Age romance. Read more at the Fine Books Blog.