Books by Richard Watson

MISSION IMPAWSIBLE by James Patterson
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 30, 2020

"Another doggie delight. (Fantasy. 6-9)"
That large, unruly dog Junior is back for a third funny outing, this time getting left behind at a posh but sadly vegetarian dog kennel when his family goes on vacation. Read full book review >
HAPPY HOWLIDAYS by James Patterson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 14, 2019

"Absurd and wacky but also fast-paced and good-humored. Ho, ho, HO! (Fantasy. 7-10)"
Following series opener Dog Diaries (2018), Junior, a dog of huge enthusiasm but not much sense, is back for a second romp with his ever so tolerant owner, "Ruff." Read full book review >
PIGEON MATH by Asia Citro
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 24, 2019

"Good fun for early counters. (Picture book. 4-8)"
A one-to-10 counting book featuring a cast of active pigeons. Read full book review >
DOG DIARIES by James Patterson
CHILDREN'S
Released: Dec. 3, 2018

"This series opener is a romp in the park. (Fiction. 7-11)"
Junior is a dog of great enthusiasm. Read full book review >
MISS TURIE'S MAGIC CREATURES by Joy  Keller
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 4, 2018

"This exploration of ancient mythical creatures as potential pets satisfies with its double twist ending. (Picture book. 3-7)"
Miss Turie attempts to lure a boy into purchasing a magical pet. Read full book review >
STONE UNDERPANTS by Rebecca Lisle
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2018

"A brief but amusing escapade into underwear history. (Picture book. 4-7)"
The only thing funnier than underwear? Prehistoric underwear!! Read full book review >
UNDERNEATH MY BED by Brian P. Cleary
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2016

"Whether capturing fun or chronicling items that disgust, Cleary and Watson again brilliantly open the world of verse, enticing young readers to dive in. (further reading) (Picture book/poetry. 6-10)"
The sixth installment in the growing list of Poetry Adventures focuses on just that: lists. Read full book review >
THE PHILOSOPHER'S DEMISE by Richard Watson
NON-FICTION
Released: March 1, 1995

A sometimes funny, sometimes bitter memoir of a scholar's fruitless efforts to master spoken French. Watson (Philosophy/Washington Univ.; Niagara, 1993) had been specializing in the work of Descartes for 25 years when he was asked to deliver a paper in French at an international conference and decided to finally learn to speak the language. Although he compares himself here to the professor in Don DeLillo's White Noise—the world's foremost authority on ``Hitler Studies,'' who can neither speak, read, nor write German—Watson could, in fact, read French fluently (although he couldn't pronounce the words he read). When he begins to study spoken French, however, he finds his reading ability a hindrance rather than an aid: He is bored with necessary beginning exercises; he thinks too much about what he is saying; he cannot apply what he knows from reading French to speaking it. After months of lessons— three times a week at first, then every day as the conference date nears—Watson is able to read his speech in French but is unable to respond to questions following it. Rather than give up, he becomes even more determined. He enrolls in a four-month intensive beginner's course at the Alliance Franáaise in Paris, for which he just barely qualifies, but ultimately fails to win a certificate of proficiency. Watson admits that he is a less able student in his middle age than he used to be, but he assigns blame for his inability to pass elsewhere—to French pedagogy, the Alliance, and the fact that American men are uncomfortable with the unmacho sounds and facial expressions required to speak French. He also takes the opportunity to examine everything French, from toilets to Cartesian scholars, and finds much to criticize and much at which to be amused. Just this side of charming. Read full book review >
NIAGARA by Richard Watson
Released: April 1, 1993

It's his story versus her story in Watson's latest (The Runner, 1982; The Philosopher's Diet, 1985, etc.) as two performers in turn-of-the-century Niagara Falls give separate versions of their mutual stunts—on a tightrope and in bed. Jean Francois Gravelet, a dapper Frenchman, was the first ever to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope. Anna Edson Taylor, a widowed teacher from Nebraska, was the first to ride over the falls in a barrel. In Watson's scenario, these two daredevils meet up and spend several weeks together in—take your choice—a passionate, adventurous sexual relationship (Gravelet's version) or an intimate friendship (Taylor's version). Of course, the reader doesn't really have to choose between the two stories—added together, they're far more poignant than the sum of their parts. Gravelet is a man as rigid as the wire he walks on. He can never afford to let down his guard: ``I am what I told you,'' he declares. ``A perfect human being. A man who is not permitted to make a mistake.'' All this perfection can get a bit bland. Enter Taylor, a big, motherly woman ``with a round face plain as mud.'' If she begins to show us a softer, more likable aspect of Gravelet, it's not without a price. We understand, even as he does, that softness is death for a tightrope walker. Good stuff, as far as it goes, but Watson might easily have lifted these characters beyond their stereotypes. Strangely, what's missing most here, despite the title, is the compelling presence of Niagara Falls. It isn't only the hope of wealth and fame that has always drawn daredevils to Niagara—it's the power and rush and lure of those falls. We need to get a feel for that here. Otherwise, it's just a lot of plain water. Read full book review >