Wednesday, August 14, 2019

What's sweeter than a small town in Michigan?

How about 99 more small Michigan towns?

Northport is small, but the author may be saving us for a future volume, because only Empire represents Leelanau County in the new book, Little Michigan: A Nostalgic Look at Michigan’s Smallest Towns, a book featuring 100 towns with population of 600 or fewer full-time residents, from Ahmeek in the Upper Peninsula to Zeba, also in the U.P. But never fear — lower Michigan holds 84 of the book’s little Michigan towns.

An introductory map of the state shows all 100 alphabetically and geographically. Each book is then given a double-page spread, opening with a rectangle of color photographs, history of the town, additional noteworthy information, and a paragraph on the town as you will find it today. 

Little Michigan is an invitation to venture off the main roads and into Michigan’s past. How many of these small towns were born in the lumbering era? 

Following the Lake Michigan shoreline south from Empire, a reader quickly finds Bear Lake and Beulah. Perhaps a sequel will include Cedar and Maple City? We can hope! 

Little Michigan: A Nostalgic Look at 
Michigan’s Smallest Towns
by Kathryn Houghton
Paper, 239pp with information source notes


Saturday, August 3, 2019

“Not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom…”

This morning in my bookshop, when I picked up a softcover copy of The First 100 Days of the Kennedy Administration, for some reason I opened the back cover first and found printed there the entire inaugural address. John Kennedy was not a man without flaws, and his administration was not perfect, either, but it does seem that we were then a country of ideals and that we could recognize ideals in one another, even across our differences. 

I was in eighth grade in 1961, a high school sophomore two years later, and it would be a while before my political consciousness was fully raised and engaged. All I would have recognized immediately from John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inaugural address was the oft-quoted line near the end: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” The line I used for today’s heading is not one I would have remembered at all. And, back near the end of the speech again, does anyone ever quote the imperatives that followed the first “Ask not”? 
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.  
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.

Ponder that last one for a moment.

My parents had not voted for Kennedy, but we wept as a family when he was assassinated and watched the funeral together on television. And now as I read his inaugural address, I keep thinking how different our country is today. When JFK addressed “those nations who would make themselves our adversary,” he ws still, also, speaking to Americans, asking that all of us —
…begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. 
He recognized the “common enemies of man” as “tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.” 

You can read Kennedy’s entire inaugural address here. It’s worth reading, either for the first time or as a reminder of where we've been.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

A New Civil War Book Comes to Town

Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army, by Quita V. Shier, to quote from the book’s dust jacket, “offers a comprehensive profile study of each officer and enlisted American Indian soldier in Company K, First Michigan Sharpshooters, who served in the Civil War from 1863 to 1865.” Many Native Americans served in the military during the Civil War, on both sides and in various companies, but Company K from Michigan was the only company with all and only indigenous enlisted men on its roster. 

The author of this book has gathered together information from military service records, medical files, pension files, and personal interviews with descendants of some of the men profiled. A scrupulous researcher, she offers a detailed index, as well. 

Sample pages from index
Since several of the men in Company K came from Leelanau County, Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army is an important addition to local Leelanau history, as well as to Native American history, Anishnabe history, and the history of the State of Michigan. A large format, with generous typeface, line spacing, and margins also make for very readable text in the physical sense.

Detail from cover: Payson Wolf from Northport
Sample text pages

Warriors in Mr. Lincoln’s Army: 
Native American Soldiers Who
Fought in the Civil War
by Quita V. Shier
Hardcover with dust jacket
555pp w/ index

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A New Children’s Book For Your Cottage

Twenty years ago A. K. (Kirk) Johnston told his own kids a story. They kept telling him it should be a book. Now it is.

Onslo is a goose who likes to read. He also has friends among the ducks. For both of these reasons, he is often teased by other young geese. But Onslo’s learning and friendships may come in handy someday. How might that happen?

This book will be all the more attractive to my customer friends in Leelanau Township in that the story is set right in our own backyard. You will recognize familiar places on the maps, although the name of a key lake may surprise you — remember, lakes and towns and islands in Michigan have had different names at different points in history.

Illustrations complement the text beautifully. I particularly love Onslo’s little pilot cap (see book cover at top of post). There are a lot of words on each page, so adults or older children will probably want to help younger ones or maybe read the story to them. All will enjoy it.

by A. K. Johnston
Illustrated by Kristen & Kevin Howdeshell
Paper, 46pp


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Recent Inventory Additions on Related Themes

I’m happy to announce that Dog Ears Books is now carrying An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (see my review here), winner of the 2015 American Book Award, and I look forward to stocking a new version of the book for young people that should be available before the end of July. There are over 500 federally recognized Indigenous nations in the U.S. today, and Dunbar-Ortiz gives us American history from their perspective.

Books about immigration, the frontier, and our southern border are one of my bookstore features this summer, beginning with a novel I’ve written about on my “Books in Northport” blog, Lost Children Archive, by Valerie Luiselli. Besides the plight of Latin American refugees, another focus of the novel is Apache history, so it connects with the history book referenced above. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, also by Luiselli, also tells of child asylum seekers. 

Two Michigan anthologies deal with immigration poetically. They are Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice, edited by, and. The latter collection presents prose memoir pieces, along with poems. 

An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States 
by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Paper, 296pp

Lost Children Archive 
by Valerie Luiselli
Hardcover, 383pp

Tell Me How It Ends:
An Essay in Forty Questions
by Valerie Luiselli
Paper, 119pp

Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate 
on Social Justice
ed. Ron Riekki & Andrea Scarpino
Paper, 297pp

Immigration & Justice For Our Neighbors
ed. Jennifer Clark & Miriam Downey
Paper, 115pp

Thursday, June 20, 2019

All Aboard for Greilickville!

A new book out this season from Kathleen Firestone is only the first in what will be a new series of harbor histories from this dedicated Northport historian. Printed on high-quality paper and beautifully hardbound, the book’s illustrated front board gives a good idea of what to expect inside, and the pages within fulfill the cover’s promise. Photographs from the earliest history of this sheltered Lake Michigan harbor to boats of the present day are accompanied by Firestone’s always well-researched text, sure to fascinate every northern Michigan boater and amateur historian, as well as the rest of us who have simply seen the area change in recent years and wonder what it was like in bygone times. A must for your regional library.

Meet Me at the Dock 
in Greilickville, Grand Traverse Bay
by Kathleen Firestone

Hardcover, $40

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

We Are Back!

We have some wonderful new books for our 2019 season, with more to come soon. One I don't want you to miss -- whether you're a parent yourself or just somebody's child (and aren't we all?) is Hillary Danaher's hilarious Curse of the Purse. Not only is it full of therapeutic laughs for the stressed-out parent, but it also a relaxing coloring book. Really!

See the right-hand column for this season's Thursday Evening Author guests, one every other week beginning in late June.

And don't forget, we always have a tempting selection of previously owned volumes to suit every pocket, with a special sale at present on mystery novels.