Like a really lively magazine in book form, and a bargain considering the rich diversity of its contents.

THE BEST AMERICAN NONREQUIRED READING 2010

Though not required for the classroom, this annual anthology offers a selection that is usually engaging and provocative, even essential.

The first section of this collection edited by Eggers and benefiting the youth literary program of his 826 National emphasizes the playful pleasures of the written word, through quick-hit categories including “Best American Sentences on Page 50 of Books Published in 2009” (“While he slimmed down, I porked up, pregnant with our first child,” Sarah Palin), “Best American Farm Names” (“Merry Dairy,” “Thyme for Goat”) and “Best American Academic Journal Article Titles” (“Humans: The Party Animal,” “Accidental Incest”). Then the anthology proceeds to the comparatively serious business of part two, with its selection (by a committee including high-school members of 826 National) of journalism, fiction, poetry, graphic narrative and contents that challenge category. Among the highlights: David Rohde’s “Seven Months, Ten Days in Captivity” chronicles the journalist’s capture by and escape from the Taliban. Téa Obrecht’s “The Tiger’s Wife” previews what looks to be an astonishing novel. The Whitmanesque exuberance of Andrew Sean Greer’s “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” details a gay couple’s experience at a Michigan NASCAR event, which he attended with his car-nut husband. Evan Ratliff’s “Vanished” shows his attempt to disappear in cyberspace as part of a magazine assignment that invited readers to discover his whereabouts. George Saunders’ “Tent City, U.S.A.” presents a portrait of homelessness in Fresno, and the experiences of a journalist in its midst, in the form of an anthropological study. Amy Waldman’s “Freedom” offers a parable about prisoners confined for terrorism but then released into an uncomfortable accommodation with freedom. Different readers will find different delights and different discoveries.

Like a really lively magazine in book form, and a bargain considering the rich diversity of its contents.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-547-24613-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Mariner/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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JAM!

THE STORY OF JAZZ MUSIC

A busy page design—artily superimposed text and photos, tinted portraits, and break-out boxes—and occasionally infelicitous writing (“Trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie became . . . bandleader of the quintet at the Onyx Club, from which bebop got its name”) give this quick history of jazz a slapdash air, but Lee delves relatively deeply into the music’s direct and indirect African roots, then goes beyond the usual tedious tally of names to present a coherent picture of specific influences and innovations associated with the biggest names in jazz. A highly selective discography will give readers who want to become listeners a jump start; those seeking more background will want to follow this up with James Lincoln Collier’s Jazz (1997). (glossary, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8239-1852-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

MY HOUSE CHEF

: COOKING WITH LORY AND MAZEL

This highly original children’s cookbook is full of delicious and imaginative recipes, but could benefit from adding healthier and lower-fat alternative recipes.

Whether it’s a beef-filled zucchini boat riding atop a sea of blue spaghetti or fudge cars with gumdrop wheels and lollipop passengers, these fanciful recipes are sure to tempt children. Lory and Mazel are two cartoon mice who guide the reader through the book, donning various costumes according to the theme of each recipe. Children will love the mix of photos, cartoons and colorful graphics. Though many recipes include healthy ingredients, many also contain heavy cream and/or sugar, and white bread is the preferred choice over wheat. A great addition would be healthier versions of these dishes, listing the percentage of daily recommended vitamins, and number of fat and sugar grams in each. But there’s more to the book than simply recipes–a chart lists the approximate recommended serving sizes for children from ages six to 12 in clever, kid-friendly terms. For example, one serving of grain would be half a medium bagel or approximately the size of a hockey puck. Vidal explains the metric and imperial systems of measurement, and gives a lesson given on vitamins and the effect they have on our health. The author also includes a page identifying various kitchen utensils in charming illustrations. For children–and adults–who are flummoxed about proper place settings, there’s a diagram explaining the function and placement of each plate, bowl and utensil. The recipes provide illustrated step-by-step directions, pointing out techniques which may require parental help or supervision. Parents seeking a quick dinner or snack should be forewarned–many of these recipes not only require mixing food colors, but involve some complicated assembly.

A fun, educational book which can be enjoyed in and out of the kitchen.

Pub Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4389-7697-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2010

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