An unexpectedly soulful and absorbing chronicle of regional history in a scrapbook-style work.

THE ABCS OF PLUM ISLAND, MASSACHUSETTS

A SAMPLING OF THE PAST AND PRESENT

History and nature are inspirations for this debut alphabet book about Plum Island.

A descendant of a lighthouse keeper on Plum Island, off the coast of Massachusetts, the author of this picture book for all ages shaped short poems around each letter of the alphabet, inspired by the place’s history, industry, and rich wildlife. Some pieces are described in the introduction as “found poems,” including words taken from “signs, blogs, books, maps, and videos.” The regional focus could limit the work’s appeal, but there is much to delight American history buffs as well as readers unfamiliar with the island. The homemade scrapbook design encompasses captivating images of old newspaper articles, pages from a 1911 family diary, uncredited historical and contemporary photographs, and a remarkable document signed by President George Washington in 1790 appointing the island’s first superintendent of lighthouses. This archival material illustrates each evocative prose poem by Bogard. An aerial photo introduces “Barrier Island” (“Barrier Island / Fragile and narrow / Protecting the mainland / Absorbing the force / Of the ocean and storms”). An old, sepia-toned photo of a young girl accompanies “Grace” (“Look into my eyes / I’m Grace / I took charge of / The Light / For my father / In times of need”). Among other intriguing subjects are “Clams” and “Old tales.” “Walking to school from Plum Island” features a 1910 newspaper clipping about the keeper’s son, “a sturdy lad.”

An unexpectedly soulful and absorbing chronicle of regional history in a scrapbook-style work.

Pub Date: April 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-944393-81-6

Page Count: 50

Publisher: Piscataqua Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A meandering chronicle of a year on the road.

FREEDOM

The bestselling author explores the lure of nomadism.

At the age of 51, childless and soon to be divorced, Junger spent much of one year walking 400 miles alongside railroad lines in the eastern U.S. with a changing cast of three companions and his dog. They called their trek “the Last Patrol”: an escape, “a temporary injunction against whatever was coming,” and an interlude of freedom from the restrictions and demands of conventional life. Because the swaths of property alongside railroad lines were “the least monitored” land in the country, it seemed a safe choice for the wanderers, who did not want to be mistaken for vagrants. “Most nights,” Junger notes, “we were the only people in the world who knew where we were.” The author’s contemplative, digressive narrative combines vivid details of the walk, which was completed in several segments, with political, social, and cultural history; anthropology; and science. He ruminates on nomadic society, hunter-gatherers, Indigenous peoples, the perilous escapes of runaway slaves, various wars, and conflicts that include Cain’s jealousy of Abel and Ireland’s Easter uprising. Sometimes these musings involve considerations of freedom; not always. “Throughout history,” he writes, “good people and bad have maintained their freedom by simply staying out of reach of those who would deprive them of it. That generally meant walking a lot.” Nomadism has romantic appeal for Junger, just as, he claims, it has had for “the settled world.” To hunter-gatherers, working the land seemed a form of subservience; nomadic societies, asserts the author, were more equitable than societies centered around land ownership. Among hunter-gatherers, “although leaders understandably had more prestige than other people, they didn’t have more rights.” Although the trip did not yield epiphanies, Junger finally arrived at a place where he decided to stop wandering and step into his future. It was time “to face my life.”

A meandering chronicle of a year on the road.

Pub Date: May 18, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982153-41-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more