Books for Women
- June 2006 -
Volume 2 Number 6
Welcome to More Books for Women #9. In this issue we welcome a number of
new contributors: Women & Children First staff members Angelique Grandone,
Anna Eley, Catherine Jacquet, and Megan Bayles, as well as Suzanne Corson of the
San Francisco Bay Area’s late lamented Boadecia’s Books. We also miss Pam Harcourt’s
reviews. She’s moved on to her new job but will still be contributing an occasional
Orange Prize Winners
British writer Zadie Smith won the eleventh Orange Prize for Fiction
for her third novel, On Beauty, after an “animated discussion which broke
all Orange Prize records for length” according to cofounder and Honorary Director
Kate Mosse. In the end the judges were forced to take a majority vote, with one
judge passionately opposed to the final decision.
Controversy and difficult decision making were predicted: Four writers on the
shortlist - Zadie Smith, Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, and Sarah Waters are all recognized
as being leading writers in English literature, despite having published relatively
few novels and/or being relatively young writers. Many critics felt that any of
the four could have won in a year with even a little less competition. Sarah Waters’
The Night Watch is still eligible for both the Man Booker and the Whitbread.
Australian Carrie Tiffany’s Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living was
the only first-novel on the shortlist.
Zadie Smith leapt into the public eye when Penguin paid £250,000 for her first
novel which immediately became a bestseller. Both of Smith’s previous novels,
White Teeth and The Autograph Man, made Orange Prize shortlists
when they were published. The Autograph Man was also shortlisted for the
The Orange Award for New Writers went to Naomi Alderman for Disobedience,
a tale set in north London’s Orthodox Jewish community.
The Orange Prize for Fiction includes a £30,000 purse and a “Bessie,” a limited
edition bronze figurine. The Orange New Writers Award carries a £10,000 prize.
Both are anonymously endowed.
The NYT and the Best Work of American Fiction
For this year’s fiction issue, NYT Book Review editor Sam Tanenhaus
did an informal survey and asked a couple hundred writers, critics, and editors
what they thought was the single best work of American Fiction since 1980.
That the consensus was Toni Morrison’s Beloved was no surprise.
But much else about the survey was troubling: That only two of
the 22 books that made the shortlist are by women is troubling. (The other being
Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping.) Books by people - including men - of
color - are also strikingly absent. Of course that may be explained, in part at
least, by the fact that less than a third of the “judges” (anyone who responded
to Tanenhaus’ letters or emails) were women.
How does this happen, given that more women write, read, and buy
books than men? Not that you’d know that reading the NYTBR. I’m told that
Tanenhaus sent invitations to an equal number of women and men (which, given the
NYTBR’s publishing record, has to be the first and only time women have
achieved equality in its pages. Oops - that list never actually achieved print,
so I guess we still have that NYTBR equality moment to look forward to.)
But still, it’s interesting math: Let’s see, if invitations were sent to 200 people,
and 125 or so of the respondents are male.... Hmm, that doesn’t quite work, does
it? Let me try that again: Perhaps the invitations really went to 250 people,
and 100% of the men responded but only a third of the women responded.... Now
why would that be?
I’m also appalled by the overt bragging, on the part of several
of the (male) judges, that they deliberately voted for something other than Beloved
because they “knew” it would win. Not because they disagreed with its excellence
but, well, mostly they don’t say why they took that action - perhaps you’d have
to be a guy to understand? Or a white guy? Or maybe it’s just a male jealousy
thing? And I find it equally appalling that these responses are considered publishable
and that such “bragging rights” are still printable in what is supposed to be
the national newspaper of record. Hmm. And perhaps that explains why at least
some of the women who were invited chose not to participate.
Well, one thing is sure: given the hostile climate, it’s more than
clear that Beloved’s election as “The Best Work of American Fiction in
the Last 25 Years” is even more of a triumph than first meets the eye. And that,
unlike some of our recent presidential elections, given a full and fair election,
it would undoubtedly win again.
For bookish conversation where women matter, check out the Center for New
Word’s recently re-launched website:
Check out the conversations with Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) and
Katha Pollitt (Virginity or Death!) at:
Or click over to the Watch/Listen page to catch video streams of many of the
writers and speakers from the New Words Live! series (published online via arrangement
with WGBH). They make great company, if you have a dull task ahead of you and
have a corner of your computer screen to spare. Do that task while your favorite
woman writer reads to you or talks about her work. What a luxury to have these
mini-broadcasts in our own homes and workplaces, and at our convenience!
Ann Christophersen is reading...
The story that begins Emma Donoghue’s new book,
Touchy Subjects, is
simply hilarious. A woman is trying to conceive a child but lacks an available
partner and doesn’t want an anonymous donor. Her best friend quite helpfully
talks her husband into being a sport and providing what is needed, and the
story opens with Sarah - exhausted from a transatlantic flight but at her
most fertile - impatiently awaiting the hapless Pedraic, who is none too keen
about the whole business. The story is not only laugh-out-loud funny, however;
it also has some very poignant moments. The characters are well-meaning, generous
and dear, and Sarah’s plight, despite its comedic presentation, is a serious
one for many women. The rest of the stories in the collection all deal with
other sorts of touchy subjects and are organized into five categories, including
“Babies,” “Domesticity,” “Strangers,” “Desire,” and “Death.” If you aren’t
familiar with this very fine and popular Irish lesbian writer, this volume
is a good place to start. And then go on to some of her other splendid books,
among the most recent Life Mask and Slammerkin. As a final note, Emma includes
a very diverse cast of characters in her books, so one bumps into lesbians,
straight people, people from various classes, and people living at different
historical times; she is definitely a crossover writer. Harcourt, $24 hardcover,
I, like many people in their fifties, have become interested in the literature
on aging, particularly in those books that deal with aging parents. I also
have a professional interest in the subject - as a buyer for my bookstore
I am constantly on the lookout for good new books that will be helpful to
my customers. So I was excited to discover a book that dealt with the subject
from a different perspective than usual: that of the care receiver rather
than the caregiver. The book is
Navigating the Journey of Aging Parents:
What Care Receivers Want. The author, Cheryl Kuba, who holds an M.A. in
Gerontology and has professional experience in several different capacities
in the field, has talked with many elderly people whose lives have changed
dramatically and find themselves struggling with the facts and feelings of
having become dependent. For caregivers to engage in the process of finding
out what their elders actually want in terms of their care seems like an obvious
place to start, but for a variety of reasons often isn’t. This book will help
guide a reader through that process and, I believe, make for much happier
caregiver/care receiver relationships. Routledge, $19.95 paper, 0415952883.
Linda Bubon recommends...
The best novel I’ve read in a long time, hands down, is
Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen. Once I started it, I simply didn’t want to do anything
but continue reading it, and I was sad when it ended. Jacob, a retired veterinarian,
now in his nineties, tells us the story of a Depression-era traveling circus.
It is also the story of his first job, his first love, and of a time and a
milieu both extraordinary and universal. The narrative is so engaging, the
characters are so endearing, and the writing is so well done that I want to
recommend this book to everyone. And if you have any feeling for animals,
you will love the animals in this book and the sympathetic characters who
work with them. Gruen made me feel as if I were there, jumping on the train
with Jacob in the middle of the night, watching the hoochie-koochie dancer
twirl her breasts in my face, getting tossed into the back of the horses’
stalls, getting drunk on moonshine - such vivid descriptions! Such well-chosen
scenes! I treasure the experience of reading this book. Algonquin, $23.95
I really appreciate a good satire, and Elizabeth Brink’s
Save Your Own,
fulfilled its promise. Narrated by Gillian, an exceptionally smart, quirky
Harvard Divinity School PhD candidate, the novel is memorable, original, and
laugh-out-loud funny. Gillian is a 26-year-old virgin in search of transformation:
Her dissertation topic has been rejected as too “New Age-y”; she’s always
been a social misfit; and she’d like to find a lover - of either gender. She
takes a job at Responsibility House, a half-way house for women recovering
from addiction, and to her the women seem like exotic creatures who are likely
to gobble her up (she’s 4’9”). However, as the novel unfolds, the women become
real, the job becomes meaningful, and Gillian comes into her own. This is
a good feminist novel unafraid of making fun of feminist stereotypes, recovery
models, and academia. Houghton Mifflin, $23 hardcover, 0618651144.
Tish Hayes can't resist...
A few months ago I reviewed two novels by Joanna Russ that had recently been
reissued by Wesleyan University Press:
The Two of Them and
Are About To…. Those books were the perfect introduction to Russ's work,
and I was thrilled at the prospect of reading her influential and renowned
The Female Man for W&CF’s Intergenerational
Feminist Book Group. The book is as astonishing as I had anticipated. I don't
want to scare away any prospective readers, but the narrative is challenging
and both needs and deserves generous time and careful attention. Through this
narrative that shifts between four alternate versions of one woman, Russ explores
gender dynamics, the construction of identity, and the possibilities and pitfalls
of utopia. Even though The Female Man clearly comes out of the political
climate of the 70s, both the writing and the feminist perspective remain modern
and relevant. I'm looking forward to reading it again. Beacon, $15, 0807062995.
Angelique Grandone loves...
Don't let the true crime premise of Terri Jentz’s
Strange Piece of Paradise
deter you from this intelligent and engaging memoir. In the summer of 1977
Jentz and her best friend set out on a cross country bike trip. Early in the trip,
after they'd gone to sleep in a campground, they were brutally attacked - first driven over
by a pickup driving madman, and then attacked with an axe. Initially
surviving by sheer will and naïveté, Jentz chose to treat the incident more
as a comic interlude than as the life-altering event that it was. Fifteen
years later, when her life demanded a closer examination of her fears and compulsions,
she returned to Oregon for a deeper understanding of the attack and its impact.
The resulting memoir is part investigative journalism, part cultural history,
and part intimate exploration of the nature of recovery. With her, we revisit
the small town in Oregon that was also affected by the tragedy - and that
has harbored its suspected perpetrator who was never prosecuted for the
crime - and come to understand the pervasive effects of that midsummer night.
Jentz is a screenwriter and it shows in her writing; her eye for detail and
for framing a scene are an asset to her narrative and her sense of irony peppers
the book with moments of wry humor. Most engaging, however, is the way she
includes the reader in her search. We are often left with more questions than
answers at the end of each chapter, and these questions serve as a motivating
force to continue on with her, to root for her, and to feel with her as she
encounters the motley cast of characters bound by her tragedy. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 hardcover,
Anna Eley recommends...
Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes, edited by Laurel Snyder,
is a collection of essays from people with one Jewish parent. Each essay illustrates
a very different perspective on dealing with faith and identity. Some made
me laugh out loud, while others made me re-examine my own cultural and spiritual
self. I was initially interested in Half/Life because I am a half Jew, but
after reading it I found that this is an excellent book for anyone interested
in identity, family and the marriage of different cultures. Soft Skull Press,
Catherine Jacquet suggests...
The Division Street Princess, a memoir by first-time Chicago author
Elaine Soloway, is set in the 1940s and follows Soloway as she grows up, documenting
both the trials and the joys of her childhood. When her optimistic, American-dream searching
father, Irving Eugene Shapiro, decides to buy a small grocery store beneath
their apartment, life is forever changed. Alternately hilarious and heartbreaking,
this story of a tightly knit immigrant community centered on the Soloway family
grocery store is a perfect read for anyone interested in Chicago history
or yearning for a dose of nostalgia. Syren Book Company, $15.95, 0929636635.
Hit by a Farm is a memoir by children’s author Catherine Friend, documenting
her adjustment from life as a city girl to life as a farmer on a small sheep
farm in Minnesota. When her partner, Melissa, decides to pursue her lifelong
dream of owning a farm, Catherine somewhat reluctantly tags along for the
adventure - and an adventure it certainly is! From birthing sheep to sexing
chickens, this story covers everything you ever needed to know about life
on the farm in an outsider’s voice that is engaging, honest, and hilarious.
As someone who has romanticized the ideas of having a farm and “living off
the land,” this book is a great reality check. Marlowe & Company, $14.95,
Megan Bayles raves about...
I just ate up
Cirkus by Patti Frazee, a story of Czech circus “anomalies”
touring the Midwestern U.S. in 1900. Flame-throwing dwarf Shanghai has no
shortage of lady suitors. Mariana, the gypsy wife of circus director Jakub,
reads his diary to be as close to him as she can be without stepping into
his mind. After Mariana takes away the memories of Milada, the flying trapeze
artist who broke Shanghai's heart by marrying and staying in Prague, Shanghai then falls
for Atasha, one of the conjoined twins who join the circus in Nebraska. In
the midst of all this scandal and romance, the most compelling is the relationship
between Atasha and her sister Anna, as they negotiate the separateness they
encounter for the first times in their life as a result of Atasha and Shanghai’s
affair. Anna’s feelings of abandonment and insufficiency are poignant, and
the physical manifestation of these feelings is remarkably moving. Alyson
Books, $24.95 hardcover, 1555839355.
In the Twin Cities, Mary Ellen Kavanaugh is reading...
Nearly a week after finishing Cindy Dyson’s
And She Was, I am still
living inside the story. It is just that powerful. This debut novel has already
received accolades from many corners of the book world - Publishers Weekly,
Kirkus, Library Journal, among others - and everyone of them
is spot on in their praise. But none of them mentions the first thing that
came to my mind - the f word - you know, feminist? Yes, I do believe I’d call
this a feminist novel. Brandy, the 31-year-old narrator, who has followed
yet another guy to yet another town, finds herself on Unalaska Island in the
Aleutians. The year is 1986, and Brandy, who has dropped out of college, is
smart enough to own the ways in which patriarchy has left her a “male-identified
woman,” a term she’d learned in a women’s studies class. She knows this has
made a friendless, unhappy drifter of her. What she doesn’t know is how to
shift her consciousness so that she is at the center of her own life. While
she waits for her boyfriend to come back from sea, she lands herself a job
as a cocktail waitress in the town bar, giving us a view of all that bar life
in the 80s was - drinking and drugging and an acceptance of excess that, twenty
years later, is no longer tolerated in quite the same way. In a story that
shares the gritty elegance of Dorothy Allison’s Cavedweller, as well
as the allegorical telling of Alice Walker’s Temple of My Familiar,
And She Was is a compelling and deeply satisfying tale of this lost
woman who learns from the Aleutian women she lives among about coming into
her own. From these women, she learns compassion, strength, duty, and responsibility
to self and the greater community. The contemporary story is gracefully interwoven
with the historical story of the Aleuts, a Native American tribe conquered
by not one conquerer, but two (Russia and the U.S.). In that conquering, the
native women passed down messages of resistance through their daughters. As
Brandy gains their friendship and learns their story, she learns to rescue
herself and that to “live with intention, in the full force of our own will,
is the most essential and the most dangerous thing we will ever do. It is
the act which makes us fully human.” William Morrow, $24.95 hardcover, 0060597704.
Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism by bell hooks and Amalia Mesa-Bains
is an elegant conversation between an African American and a Chicana woman.
Mesa-Bains is a California-based artist, curator, educator, and writer, and
hooks writes extensively on the impacts of racism and sexism in the media
and the arts. The book is structured as a series of conversations - and it
works well. It allows them to meander into places that a straightforward essay
might prohibit. The two met about ten years ago when, as they see it, there
was tremendous growth of the work of people of color in literature and the
arts. They contrast this with the current return to conservatism in which
people of color are being both silenced and pitted against one another. Their
intention was to present a work for the “organic intellectuals” (hooks) -
those of us outside academic institutions who think critically wherever we
are. Works for me!
Another goal of their collaboration was to find the commonalities of their
lived experiences - and to that end, they tell many personal stories as they
discuss family, resistance, beauty, multiculturalism, memory, public culture,
immigration, and more. I read this alone and quickly, and I would relish rereading
it again in a reading group - it is a book that invites conversation - and
I imagine this is just what the authors hoped for. South End Press, $15, 089608759X.
Suzanne Corson serves up mystery treats...
Suzanne was one of the founders and owners of Boadecia's Books (1992-2004), a feminist bookstore near Berkeley, California. Since its closing, she has reviewed books for Girlfriends and On Our Backs magazines, as well as for the Lesbian Edition of BTWOF. -CS
I have long been a fan of Margaret Maron’s mysteries, especially those featuring
her Deborah Knott character. Deborah is a judge in North Carolina and the youngest
- and only female - of eleven children. Her father is a retired bootlegger, as
explored in the series’ debut,
The Bootlegger’s Daughter (Warner, $6.99,
0446403237). My favorite title is the excellent, but disturbing
(Warner, $6.50, 0446608106), which features one of Deborah’s many nephews. The
books in this series are filled with extended family members (family trees begin
several of the books), Southern flavor, and eccentric supporting characters and plots.
For this Yankee from a small family, diving into the covers of a Deborah Knott
mystery is like taking a refreshing swim in very friendly, though unfamiliar,
Occasionally Deborah needs to cover for a vacationing judge’s courtroom
in a different part of the state.
High Country Fall, the most recent
paperback, finds her in a small town in the Blue Ridge mountains. One of her first
cases is a preliminary hearing for a young man accused of killing his girlfriend’s
father, a local doctor and influential man-about-town. As is often the case for
Deborah, with her huge family, she discovers that there is a connection for her
with the defendant: his girlfriend is the best friend of nineteen-year-old twin
girls who happen to be Deborah’s cousins. Since Deborah is staying with the girls
while in town, they implore her to do some sleuthing, since they are sure that
the boy is innocent. And away we go. Interesting subplots include Deborah’s recent
engagement to an old friend and the impact on residents and local businesses when
real estate developers and influential others try to create a “boutique” town.
The next book in the series, Rituals of the Season, will
be out in paperback this August (Warner, $6.99, 0446617652), and then Winter’s
Child will come out in hardcover (Warner, $24.99, 0892968109). Margaret Maron
also writes a good police procedural series featuring NYPD detective Sigrid Harald
(most recent is
Fugitive Colors, Warner, $5.99, 0446403938), but my heart
is with the cozier (but not too cozy!), incidental detective Deborah Knott
and her clan. For some warm Southern hospitality mixed with your mystery, check
out this great series. High Country Fall, Warner, $6.99, 0446615900.
Learn more about Margaret Maron, her books, and both series’ characters
Kate Martinelli fans finally have a new tale: the advanced publicity for Laurie
R. King’s latest,
The Art of Detection, suggests that this is the book
which links her two very different series - her San Francisco-based, lesbian police
detective Martinelli and the British, early-twentieth century exploits of Mary
Russell and her husband, Sherlock Holmes. While it is true that the mystery Kate’s
working involves the world of Sherlock Holmes, you won’t find Mary Russell in
In The Art of Detection, Philip Gilbert is a founding member
of the Strand Diners, a group of Sherlock Holmes / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle aficionados.
Gilbert, arguably the most enthusiastic of the bunch, has turned part of his San
Francisco home into a virtual replica of 221B Baker Street. Gas lamps replace
light bulbs, period appliances do duty instead of more modern conveniences, and
the books are all leather-bound. SFPD Detectives Kate Martinelli and Al Hawkin
are called in when Gilbert is murdered.
During the investigation, Kate discovers that Gilbert had come
across an unpublished story which is not only written in the style of Doyle (and
in the voice of Holmes), Gilbert’s death mirrors the murder in the manuscript.
Fans of the cadence, period, and language of the Mary Russell books
(and Doyle’s) will enjoy the fact that since Kate had to read the manuscript as
part of her investigation of Gilbert’s murder, author King included the manuscript
in The Art of Deception. We readers are treated to two mystery tales in
In addition to the police procedural tale of Philip Gilbert’s murder
and the period, we get additional glimpses into Kate’s home life with her psychotherapist
partner, Lee, and their four-year-old daughter, Nora. Friends from past books,
notably Roz and Maj from Night Work, also return.
Though Laurie R. King’s publishing career began with a Kate Martinelli book
(1993’s A Grave Talent), until The Art of Detection there were only
four other titles which focus on Kate. The author’s excellent sales for her
Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes books (starting with 1994’s The Beekeeper’s
Apprentice) inspired her publisher to ask King to focus on those characters.
Later she was asked to write stand-alone books like A Darker Place and
Folly when the trend in publishing was to shy away from series characters
(and the attendant expectation that all the books in a series be kept in print).
Those of us who enjoy either Kate’s character, police procedurals, and more contemporary
tales can be very pleased with the return of Kate in The Art of Detection
and hope that it won’t be another six years before we revisit Kate, Lee, Nora,
and Al. Bantam, $24 hardcover, 0553804537.
Check out www.laurierking.com for
more about this prolific author and her wonderful books.
New in paperback:
Bodies in Motion: Stories by Mary Anne Mohanraj (Harper, $13.95, 006078119X). Read BTWOF's review.
Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet (Harcourt, $15, 0156031035). Read BTWOF's review.
All This Heavenly Glory by Elizabeth Crane (Little, Brown, $13.95,
Zorro by Isabel Allende (Harper, $14.95, 0060779004).
The Coast of Akron by Adrienne Miller (St. Martin’s, $14, 0312425139).
Embroideries by Marjane Satrapi (Pantheon, $10.95, 0375714677). Read BTWOF's review.
Recommendations from Linda Bubon
There are two new picture books to help 5- to 9-year-olds understand the
challenges faced by immigrants to this country that I hope find their way
into first to third grade classrooms as well as home libraries:
One Green Apple by Eve Bunting, with beautiful, light-dappled paintings
by Ted Lewin, is the story of Farah, a young Muslim immigrant who is new
to the country, new to her school, and is experiencing her first school field
trip - to an apple orchard - where she does begin to feel at home. Clarion
Books, $16 hardcover, 0618434771.
Maggie’s Amerikay by Barbara Timberlake Russell, with evocative paintings
by Jim Burke, takes the reader back to 1898 New Orleans where an Irish immigrant
girl and a young black boy become friends, against both their parents’ wishes.
The parents are realistically harsh about their children’s ambitions, and
see the children only as “Irish” and “boy,” but there’s a heartwarming ending
in which both children prove themselves useful and do their families proud.
Children reading this story will recognize the wrongness of the narrow-minded
adults and identify with the humanity of the children. FSG, $16 hardcover,
Of Numbers and Stars: The Story of Hypatia, by D. Anne Love, illustrated
by Pam Paparone is a welcome addition to the literature about famous women,
written with a text simple enough for 4- to 7-year olds. Holiday House, $16.95
More entertaining and philosophical in a different way is
by Katie Coombs, with magical watercolors by Heather M. Solomon. In the village
of Maldinga, everyone tells their darkest secrets to Kalli, a lovely young
woman who lives alone in the forest. This leaves them lighter of heart, but
eventually the weight of everyone’s secrets makes Kalli ill. The villagers
are concerned and come together to try to help her. They discover that not
all secrets are sad, and perhaps the sad ones need to be shared with others
besides the Secret-Keeper. A very original and satisfying story. Simon &
Schuster, $16.95 hardcover, 0689839634.
Penny Colman has steeped herself in women’s history and written a number
of great books for middle-schoolers about famous women. Her newest offering,
Adventurous Women: Eight True Stories About Women Who Made a Difference,
will uncover new ground for adults as well as children, ages 8 and up. She
breathtakingly reports on “Arctic Explorer” Louise Boyd, “Supersleuth” Alice
Hamilton, “Daring Superintendent” Katharine Wormeley, and “Resolute Reporter”
Peggy Hull. There are photos, a bibliography, and a Webliography. Yes, it’s
a library book, but the chapters are written with such verve, I would have
loved this book as a young girl looking for role models. Move over, Britney.
Henry Holt, $18.95 hardcover, 0805077448.
Recommendations from Angelique Grandone
Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy is a rollicking, rhyming,
read-aloud storybook that turns a morning-of-lost-car-keys on its ear. "But
Mary, who is barely two, says, 'Dad should do what I would do! I lose a lot
but find a few- down the back of the chair!'" And oh, the things they
find! Perfect for the 4-6 set, children will be reciting this books precocious
lyrical text for years to come, and parents will wish all lost keys mornings
ended so well. Houghton Mifflin, $16 hardcover, 0618693955.
The beauty of the novella
Girls in Peril by Karen Lee Boren is in its
taut prose and finely tuned observations of crossing the line from the communion
of girlhood to the solitude of adolescence. Told in a collective voice, the
reader is propelled through the minutiae of an endless summer belonging to
five girls: neighborhood spyings, Avon-lady hijackings, midnight outings,
and the mysterious world of older boys. We know from the beginning that “something”
is going to happen and as the story progresses, Boren's masterful writing
creates a world in which that something is always just around the corner.
We come to understand that the moment of change could be ignited by anything,
and that the transformation will be swift and irrevocable. Tin House, $10.95,
In the afterward to
There is a Flower at the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me,
Alice Walker confesses that the text for this vibrant, gorgeously illustrated
(by Stefano Vitale) children's book came to her on a walk through the forest.
The book is meant as a reflection of interconnectedness in the world, and
its gentle, lulling text works equally well read as a meditation at bedtime
or with gusto during story time. In addition to the 2- to 7-year-old crowd,
I could see this book doing well as a gift for adults. HarperChildrens, $16.99