A disarming, captivating history of the tulip—a byzantine story rich in subtexts, from Pavord, gardening correspondent for the Independent in England (The Flowering Year, not reviewed, etc.). “What is this Toolip? A well complexion’d stink, an ill favour wrapt up in pleasant colours,” muttered a contemptuous English gardener a few centuries back. He stood pretty much alone, as Pavord makes delightfully evident, for long before their introduction into western Europe during the 16th century, tulips were the hottest floral ticket around. Pavord details the background of the tulip, which is as flamboyant as the bloom itself: It is wild to a swath that cuts from Istanbul to Samarkand to Tienshan; it is feathered or flamed, nipped or spidery; a shape-shifter, it is drab one year, then wildly sexy the next, flushed with satiny green. The flower was an Ottoman fixation, an ever-present motif from common tile work to Suleyman’s armor; it spawned floral societies—and poetry, artwork, and debate—300 years before the Dutch laid eyes on it. And tulips instantly besotted western Europe, arriving just in time to cash in on the Age of Curiosities, when the rare became stylish overnight. Pavord charts (and illustrates with 150 color plates) its rise to fame in France, England, Belgium, and the Netherlands; she traces the flower’s appearance in paintings, literature, and botanical tracts; discusses how it commanded absurd prices and became an object of satire; details the tulip’s abrupt fall from grace, only to be rescued from the aristocratic scrap heap by hobby florists. Clearly, Pavord is smitten herself. Like the best of monomaniacs, she engages readers with her obsession and knows how to apply tongue to cheek: Any tulip worth inspection has “the need for a good shape and a good bottom.” This floral portrait is alive with wonder; even the concluding catalogue raisonnÇ of species is a work of passion.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)