Wednesday, August 15, 2018

NATURE’S FRIEND Comes to Northport

There is no need to introduce anyone in northwest Michigan to Gwen Frostic. Most people have been to her charmingly quirky working studio (see above) in Benzie County, where production is still active though the artist is no longer alive. Now a new children’s book has arrived to introduce another generation to Michigan artist Gwen Frostic and her life’s work. Beautifully illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen, Lindsey McDivitt’s Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story combines biography with inspiration in a way that does honor to its subject.

Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story
By Lindsey McDivitt
Illustrated by Eileen Ryan Ewen
Hardcover with dust jacket


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ILLEGAL: A Graphic Novel For Our Times

When it comes to graphic novels, I have lagged behind the times dreadfully, but I couldn't help being intrigued by this book from bestselling author Eoin Colfer and the team behind the Artemis Fowl graphic novels, the story of a young boy’s perilous journey from Ghana across the Sahara to Tripoli and out onto the ocean to reunite with his brother and sister. 

Eoin Colfer says, “I will keep writing until people stop reading or I run out of ideas.” Andrew Donkin became interested in migration and asylum while writing the story of a man who lived on a bench in an airport for 18 years. Illustrator Giovanni Rigano, independent writer and Disney-Pixar contributor, has now adapted five of Colfer’s books into graphic novels.

Incredible team, timely topic, taut adventure. Ages 10 and up.

Illegal, by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano.

Paper, $14.99

Monday, August 13, 2018

More Action WAY Up North

Whether you already know Grady Service from earlier Woods Cop novels or approach this book innocent of preconceptions, there’s no way Joseph Heywood’s Bad Optics will disappoint. All you need by way of background the author lays out for you at the beginning: Woods cop Grady Service has been suspended but is determined to go on protecting his Upper Peninsula wilderness. Grab it and go! When you reach the last page, if you haven’t read earlier Woods Cop stories, you’ll want to go back and catch up to yourself.

Bad Optics: A Woods Cop Mystery
by Joseph Heywood
Hardcover, 300pp, $$27.95

Friday, August 3, 2018

An Important Book for Our Times

The Far Away Brothers, by Lauren Markham, isn’t a Michigan book, but it’s one I have chosen to stock and promote this season. The subtitle of the book is Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life. I read about it the New York Review of Books and was surprised and pleased to learn that it is already available in paperback. 

Ernesto and Raul (not their real names) are twins from El Salvador. At age 17, threatened by gang violence, they fled their country for the United States, having borrowed $14,000, which compounding interest had boosted to $16,000 by the time the boys reached their older brother in Los Angeles. Recovering from the horrors of a treacherous trip through Mexico, earning a new language, and working to pay down their debt, the boys must also navigate the U.S. law courts to establish legal residency.

Author Lauren Markham, while keeping her focus on the personal story of Ernesto and Raul, manages to weave in statistics on immigration and historical background of American involvement with El Salvador. 

This would be an excellent choice for book clubs this fall, 
so here are few suggested discussion questions to get your group talking after they read the book:

Do you believe the death threat against Ernesto endangered the life of his identical twin brother Raul, or did Raul simply not want to be left behind? What other factors might have influenced Raul’s decision?

Do young people fleeing gang violence in other countries bring increased violence to the U.S.? Explain.

Did you have any idea what what traumatic event Ernesto had experienced on his way north? Did learning what it was surprise you? What did it help explain?

If you have ever lived in a house with unrelated residents in addition to family, what was the situation, and why were you part of it? How were disputes resolved?

What aspects of poverty experienced by the Flores family, both in El Salvador and in the U.S., similar to poverty in general? What aspects were unique to their situations?

Did this book help you gain clarity on what a reasonable solution to immigration, legal and illegal, might look like? Having read the book, in what ways is your perspective now more or less clear, and how has your view changed — or does it remain unchanged? What other books, if any, have you read on the subject of immigration, and how does this book’s coverage of the subject compare to that of others? Would you recommend this book to others interested in the subject?

If you were a parent in a town like La Colonia, El Salvador, would you try to keep your children “down on the farm” or send them “north”? How would you make decisions for their future? How could the family life be different? What is within their power and what beyond their control?

The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life
by Lauren Markham
NY: Broadway Books, 2017

Paper, 298pp w/ index, $16

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Some News Not "New"

Our bookshop opened in July of 1993 with only used books. We added new books to the mix a few years later and have gradually increased that inventory, offering not only new books but also personal appearances by authors, this year a dozen round dozen of them in eleven Thursday Evening Author events (see sidebar). A curated collection of used, rare, and out-of-print books is still, however, the backbone of our business, and in that spirit I offer today the following:

SILENT SEASONS: TWENTY-ONE FISHING STORIES BY THOMAS McGUANE, WILLIAM HJORTSBERG, JACK CURTIS, HARMON HENKIN, CHARLES WATERMAN, JIM HARRISON & RUSSELL CHATHAM, edited and illustrated by Russell Chatham. Book design by Russell Chatham, Anne Garner, & Jamie Harrison Potenberg. 215pp. Livingston, MT: Clark City Press, 1988, 1st printing, Oct 1988.  Softcover with dust jacket. Illegible inscription on half-title page. Jim Harrison signed on title page next to his name (his the only author signature on this page). Near fine condition. $150

 IN OUR TIME, by Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway’s Second Book: A Facsimile of the 1924 Paris Edition Which Was Limited to 170 Copies. The 1977 facsimile edition was published with the permission of the Hemingway Estate and limited to 1700 copies. Lightest of wear to spine ends; dust jacket pristine. $400

Monday, July 16, 2018

Clear Your Head and Lighten Your Heart

You have probably heard Karen Anderson on Interlochen Public Radio, and maybe you remember her column in the Traverse City Record-Eagle, too. Now we have a collection of 155 of Karen’s short essays in book form. 

Casual dipping into Gradual Clearing: Weather Reports From the Heart is irresistible, as no piece in it is more than a page in length, and themes are simple and generally positive in tone — but never sappy. The author’s light offerings feel important without feeling heavy. We are grateful for her reminders and insights. 

Karen Anderson will be our TEA guest at Dog Ears Books on August 9, 7 p.m. This week’s guests (July 19) are Lynne Rae Perkins, Anne-Marie Oomen, and Linda Nemec-Foster, with Dennis Turner on July 26 and Virginia Johnson on August 2.

Gradual Clearing: Weather Reports From the Heart
Traverse City: Arbutus Press, 2018
Paper, 160pp., $16.95

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Book You've Been Asking For

With maps and charts, as well as inspiringly lovely photographs of inland lakes and Lake Michigan, this new book from Mission Point Press definitely fills a long-felt need. Whether for yourself, your children, the whole family, or only for the seasonal guests that everyone Up North attracts, you’ll want this book in your home library for years to come. It occurs to me that you could also use much of it as a reference to plan canoe trips. Why not?

Leelanau by Kayak: Day Trips, Pics, Tips and Stories of a Beautiful Michigan Peninsula
by Jon R. Constant, with Larry Burns
Softcover, 132pp, $21.95