Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

THE ARBORNAUT

A LIFE DISCOVERING THE EIGHTH CONTINENT IN THE TREES ABOVE US

A riveting memoir from “Canopy Meg,” a pioneer in treetop science.

Lowman, biologist and director of the TREE Foundation, points out that a scientist learning about a tree by studying its trunk makes as much sense as a doctor examining a patient by examining the big toe. But that’s how it was done for centuries. Just as scuba gear inspired more advanced ocean research during the 1950s, ropes and harnesses opened up treetops in the 1980s. Calling forest canopies the eighth continent is no exaggeration. “Upward of half of all terrestrial creatures,” writes Lowman, “live about one hundred feet or more above our heads….Across more than sixty thousand species of trees, nearly every one hosts unique communities.” The author excelled in a discipline in which she was often the only woman and succeeded despite encounters with discouragement and harassment. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in the U.S., a masters in Scotland, and a doctorate in Australia, Lowman plunged into field research, teaching, speaking, and becoming the “mother of canopy research.” Her obsession became foliage—not a gripping subject except in her hands. Part of a complex architecture, leaves on a single tree differ dramatically. Larger and darker lower leaves efficiently use tiny amounts of light that filter down. Top foliage is smaller, thicker, and bright green: a high-powered chlorophyll factory suited to hot, sunny conditions. Eventually, Lowman turned her attention to the universe of largely unknown insects that feed off the leaves. While some publications cite about 5% to 8% annual defoliation, the author discovered that canopies routinely suffer up to 25% damage. Lowman ends her chronological account halfway through, devoting the remainder to lively descriptions of her discoveries, educational activities, and conservation advocacy. With more than 15 billion trees cut down each year and climate change accelerating insect losses, she urges advocates of protecting endangered animals to pay more attention to the destruction of the forests they inhabit.

Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-16269-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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