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ORCA

SHARED WATERS, SHARED HOME

A compelling and troubling examination of the imperiled state of two important marine species.

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A beautifully illustrated scientific, political, and humanitarian study of the threat posed by human encroachment to an iconic species of the Pacific Northwest.

In 2018, the eyes of the world were riveted on a real-life nature drama as Tahlequah, a female of a pod of orcas, carried her dead calf hundreds of miles through the waters of the Salish Sea in a public display of maternal grief that lasted for 17 days. Tahlequah’s tragic vigil, along with the nearby death of Scarlet, a newborn orca, from a mysterious wasting syndrome, highlighted an ecological emergency that threatens both the orcas and the chinook salmon they feed on. Indigenous nations have, historically and currently, revered the orcas as family, but White settlers in the United States and Canada have been more likely to slaughter them or capture them for display and amusement. In this book, co-published with the Seattle Times, Mapes, a Seattle Timesreporter on the environment, presents a compelling portrait of the orcas as creatures of dignity and sensitivity, with brains that are better structured for empathy and social interaction than humans’. No less impressive are the orcas’ prey, Mapes notes—the “lustrous,” ancient, and resilient chinook salmon, whose already perilous journey upstream to spawn has been rendered nearly impossible by human encroachment. Pollution and noise damage the orcas, the author points out, and interfere with their ability to hunt. Illustrated with charts, diagrams, and spectacular photos by Seattle Times photographer Ringman and others, Mapes’ vigorous, evocative writing draws readers into the intertwined story of the orcas and the chinook and also effectively highlights Indigenous stewards of the land and sea, including members of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. She explicitly charges that “it is our everyday destruction and pollution of the habitat that supports the orcas—and the salmon they eat—that is the major cause of the orcas’ decline.” However, Mapes also offers cautious hope in her account of the restorative effects of dam removal on Washington state’s Elwha River.  

A compelling and troubling examination of the imperiled state of two important marine species.  

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68-051326-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Braided River

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

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

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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. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CALYPSO

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

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In which the veteran humorist enters middle age with fine snark but some trepidation as well.

Mortality is weighing on Sedaris (Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, 2017, etc.), much of it his own, professional narcissist that he is. Watching an elderly man have a bowel accident on a plane, he dreaded the day when he would be the target of teenagers’ jokes “as they raise their phones to take my picture from behind.” A skin tumor troubled him, but so did the doctor who told him he couldn’t keep it once it was removed. “But it’s my tumor,” he insisted. “I made it.” (Eventually, he found a semitrained doctor to remove and give him the lipoma, which he proceeded to feed to a turtle.) The deaths of others are much on the author’s mind as well: He contemplates the suicide of his sister Tiffany, his alcoholic mother’s death, and his cantankerous father’s erratic behavior. His contemplation of his mother’s drinking—and his family’s denial of it—makes for some of the most poignant writing in the book: The sound of her putting ice in a rocks glass increasingly sounded “like a trigger being cocked.” Despite the gloom, however, frivolity still abides in the Sedaris clan. His summer home on the Carolina coast, which he dubbed the Sea Section, overspills with irreverent bantering between him and his siblings as his long-suffering partner, Hugh, looks on. Sedaris hasn’t lost his capacity for bemused observations of the people he encounters. For example, cashiers who say “have a blessed day” make him feel “like you’ve been sprayed against your will with God cologne.” But bad news has sharpened the author’s humor, and this book is defined by a persistent, engaging bafflement over how seriously or unseriously to take life when it’s increasingly filled with Trump and funerals.

Sedaris at his darkest—and his best.

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-39238-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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