Gangster Week!

From a never-before seen ambrotype of Jesse James to Al Capone’s diamond-encrusted watch, it’s Gangster Week over on the Fine Books Blog–come check it out! 

Firefighter Duckies!

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.

Harry Potter and History Collide at the New York Academy of Medicine

Bezoars, screaming mandrakes, and basilisks all figure in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but their origins date back centuries. Now, the New York Academy of Medicine has launched a digital exhibition exploring the connections between Rowling’s books and historical texts. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog. 

Recently Discovered Image of Sophia Thoreau, Henry David Thoreau’s Sister, Bequeathed to Concord Museum

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.

War Stories

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. 

Bodyguard 1 Recruit cover

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. 


The House at Lobster Cove

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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.