Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the backissue database. PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital edition via our app or online. For more information on PW's new integrated subscription plan, click here. If you are currently a PW subscriber, click "Login" for full access to the site (if you have not done so already, you will need to set up your account for the new system by going here), or click the "Subscribe" button to become a PW subscriber. Email service@publishersweekly.com with questions.

Login or Subscribe
Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub

Darcy Pattison, illus. by Kitty Harvill. Mims House (www.mimshouse.com), $13.99 paper (32p) ISBN 978-1-62944-001-9

Pattison and Harvill, who collaborated on Wisdom, the Midway Albatross, return with another real-life animal survival story. This one focuses on a puma cub, born in Brazil in 2012, who was orphaned after his mother was captured by a local chicken farmer. Pattison briefly discusses the problems that human development poses for Brazil's pumas before moving on to the cub, named Abayomi ("happy meeting") by his rescuers. The writing alternates between poetic moments ("How does a puma cub survive without his mother? He must hunt") and reportorial passages, including an account of how Abayomi's mother was captured, which bogs down with extraneous detail ("Suddenly, at 2:15 a.m., on November 27, she was caught in the chicken coop trap"). Tense changes distract, and Abayomi's story ends inconclusively, drawing murky parallels between the invisibility of wild pumas to humans and scientists' need to remain out of sight while caring for the cub. Harvill's muted, realistic portraits of Brazilian fauna and flora give a strong sense of the pumas' threatened natural habitat. Endnotes provide addition information and resources. Ages 6–12.

Reviewed on 04/18/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hamster S.A.M.: Odd-ventures in Space!

Dave McDonald. DM Creative/Sweet Corn (www.davemcdonald.com), $9.99 ISBN 978-0-9798445-2-2

McDonald has clearly never met a pun he couldn't put to good use, and he packs the pages of this graphic novel with them, along with plenty of pratfalls, groaners, and gags. Illustrated in b&w in a style that slots somewhere between SpongeBob SquarePants and Walt Kelly's Pogo comics, the story introduces an over-serious classroom hamster named Sam with a double life as an agent with the Secret Adventure Patrol. After receiving a mission that will take him to the Hamster-national Space Station, Sam falls in with a wisecracking, mullet-wearing mouse named Fescue, and the two are on their way into space (in an outhouse strapped to a booster rocket). Potty humor and slapstick are abundant (Sam winds up covered with bird droppings, molten cheese, and the contents of a clogged toilet at various points), and Sam and Fescue gleefully mug for readers as they deliver their punchlines ("Now that's how you blow a nose!" cheers Sam after they take out a nose-shaped enemy spaceship, the "Schnozzola-3000"). A lighthearted interview with real-life astronaut Gregory H. Johnson closes out this proudly goofy adventure. Ages 7–up.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Riddle of Prague

Laura DeBruce. CreateSpace, $12.99 paper (212p) ISBN 978-1-4848-8453-9

Drawing on time spent living in Prague, DeBruce debuts with this thriller, first in a planned trilogy, set in 1991 following the fall of Communism. Eighteen-year-old Hana Silna returns to her exiled family's Prague home to reclaim it on behalf of her ailing mother, and is immediately sucked into a bizarre mystery involving multiple murders. It turns out that different factions are seeking a flask that holds the key to immortality, lost centuries ago, and Hana has accidentally discovered the only clues to its whereabouts. She must find the flask before it falls into the wrong hands, but with immortal schemers around every corner, and everyone out for themselves, she's not sure who she can trust—including Alex, a dashing young American, and David, who turns up when least expected. DeBruce does a lovely job of drawing on historical lore, local atmosphere, and the post-Soviet era (marvel at the brick-size mobile telephone!), but the somewhat convoluted plot and frequent twists can make the narrative hard to follow. Some characters come off as flat or inscrutable, and the inconclusive ending lands abruptly. Ages 12–up.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Countryside: The Book of the Wise

J.T. Cope IV. Village Green Press (www.village-greenpressllc.com), $24.95 (282p) ISBN 978-0-9858141-5-1

Cope delivers a fanciful adventure set in a magical community, first in a planned series. When 10-year-old Luke Rayburn's father rejoins the military and is sent overseas for a year, Luke and the rest of the family are sent to live with his grandparents in a hidden place called Countryside, where magic and mythical creatures are commonplace. As Luke adjusts to the new surroundings, long-dormant dryads emerge to speak to him, while mysterious strangers offer cryptic advice. It all leads to a search for the long-missing Book of the Wise, a coveted artifact that contains a prophecy related to the return of a great evil. As Luke becomes embroiled in the struggle between light and dark, he must tap into his own unknown potential. Cope conjures up an idyllic setting that feels a bit like an Americanized take on J.K. Rowling's wizarding world (albeit much more modern in attitude); the leisurely approach to the storytelling means the plot can lack urgency. Still, Cope imbues the novel's familiar elements with atmosphere and charm, making for an engaging read. Ages 6–12.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Girl Who Saved Christmas

William Thomas Thach, illus. by Richard Bernal. Bowrider Press (www.mollychristmas.com), $24 (32p) ISBN 978-0-9825663-1-2

With a red velvet cover, diarylike clasp, and ribbon bookmark, this handsome book offers a somewhat gloomy and moralistic take on "The Night Before Christmas." Thach's verse introduces a wistful and friendless girl named Molly, who tells her pet mouse, "Nobody likes me. They all call me names./ They never invite me to play in their games." At the North Pole, Santa fumes as he discovers that no child has been nice this year, and he replaces the presents in his sleigh with coal. Landing at Molly's house, Santa rechecks his list and finds that Molly is the one "good" child—"One sweet little girl in a world that was rotten!" She requests that he pardon the other children, noting, "This date marks the birth of a glorious child" who "brought us a message by which we should live—/ He taught us it's best if we learn to forgive!" Bernal's luminous, glossy paintings have a warm, traditional quality that pairs nicely with the narrative. As Santa and Molly fly off to retrieve the presents from the North Pole, the story ends with the promise of a sequel. Ages 2–6.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Vagrant Kings: David Stern, Kevin Johnson and the NBA's Orphan Team

R.E. Graswich. R.E. Graswich, $24.95 paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-9898209-3-6

Jounalist Graswich provides a fascinating exploration of the deal making and legal wrangling that ultimately ensured a professional basketball franchise would remain in Sacramento, Calif. The NBA’s Sacramento Kings holds the dubious distinction of being the most transient team in American professional sports. When the team moved from Kansas City to Sacramentoin 1985, many people were skeptical that the Kings would stay, or that the area could support a professional basketball team. But when things looked bleak for the Kings in Sacramento, NBA Commissioner David Stern made it his mission to keep the team where it was. And, after much legal maneuvering, Stern succeeded, a deal was reached, and the Kings stayed put. Graswich was employed in the office of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson—a former NBA all-star—when the city worked with the league on an arena project for the Kings. His familiarity with the team’s saga in Sacramento and key players involved makes this a detailed and engaging insider’s account. And while the author’s treatment of local politics can be a bit dry, and he doesn’t always vividly capture the personalities involved, fans of the NBA—especially those with an appetite for behind-the-scenes deal making—will find a lot to like here.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Jackie: My Obsession

Ron Galella. Ron Galella, $400 hardcover (400p) ISBN 978-0-9857519-0-6

Dubbed “Paparazzo Extraordinaire” by Newsweek, Galella (Jacqueline, No Pictures) offers up this compendium of his favorite photos of his favorite subject: iconic former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Despite legal battles—Onasis sued Galella twice and the court issued him a restraining order—the photographer is unabashed in describing his constant fascination with Onassis, whom he considered the most glamorous woman in the world. While the quality of the photographs themselves—which are all taken on the street or in social settings—is inconsistent, many are entrancing in their candid depictions of Onassis’s everyday life, as well as her social life. In a photo snapped on her niece’s wedding day in 1980, Onassis, surrounded by family, gazes directly into the camera, flashing a characteristically mysterious smile that is at once inviting and distancing. Another shot, taken in Capri, Italy, in 1970, shows the often tumultuous relationship between subject and photographer: Onassis seems to be gesturing angrily at an outdoor cafe, and is alleged to have said, “Call the police—arrest that man,” in reference to Galella. More than a tale of personal obsession, however, the photographs here are a testament to America’s complicated and voyeuristic relationship with celebrity.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Gilgamesh in the 21st Century: A Personal Quest to Understand Mortality

Paul Bracken. CreateSpace, $13.40 paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-4923-1090-7

In the ancient Sumerian epic Gilgamesh, the eponymous fifth king of Uruk asks the question that has haunted humanity since its beginnings—“Must I die?”—and then sets out to discover the secret of immortality. Of course, he never finds it, and death comes to Gilgamesh as it does to all. In this meandering meditation, Bracken, a former regional coordinator for space-exploration NGO the Planetary Society, uses the epic poem to anchor reflections on science, religion, artificial intelligence, and extraterrestrial life. Lacking clarity and focus, Bracken’s often-exasperating study asks what Gilgamesh might discover today if he used the tools of science to answer his question. Devoting little attention to the ancient tale, Bracken sifts through scientific evidence and suggests that humans may eventually be able to “transfer the mind of a human being into a newly constructed brain,” placing a “person’s identity beyond the reach of death.” Since, according to Bracken, such advances aren’t likely to be feasible anytime soon, contemporary readers must live with the uncertainty of Gilgamesh’s question.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Entertaining with Love: Inspired Recipes for Everyday Entertaining

Mark J. Sievers. Mark-Ryan Group, $30 hardcover (240p) ISBN 978-0-615-86783-0

A mix of straightforward, traditional recipes, such as Hello Neighbor Blueberry Muffins and Brown Butter Cake, and creative twists on classics, like Apples & Sage Creamy Lasagna, make food blogger Sievers’s cookbook perfect for anyone preparing to host a dinner party. The recipes presented are neither overly indulgent nor lightened for everyday eating. A few of the starters would make good cocktail party fare (a small section of cocktails is also included), but most dishes are designed for traditional sit-down meals. Entries are divided into basic categories—main courses, desserts, etc.—but the book is otherwise themeless. Recipes themselves are sufficiently detailed and easy to use, and scattered personal stories depicting Sievers (host of the Web series “From My Kitchen to Yours”) and his husband, Ryan, as a cozy, everyday couple add warmth. Food photographs are adequately composed—though some are blurry or overexposed, and none are printed on glossy pages. Readers will find this a useful, if somewhat disjointed volume, full of solid favorites and useful tips and tricks for entertaining.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
Moving with the Seasons: Portrait of a Mongolian Family

Liza F. Carter. Saltwind Press, $48 paper (189p) ISBN 978-0-9890187-0-8

Environmental scientist and visual artist Carter presents the armchair traveler with an amazing photographic account of her four trips to Mongolia during a period of three years. The author’s aim here is to limn the people and landscape she encountered—and her photographs of the nomadic families (presented in a seasonal approach that reflects everyday life and close relationships to nature) are visually stunning. As a Westerner, Carter’s reactions to cultural differences may seem obtrusive or naive at times, but the visual delights she offers up reinforce the attractions of the Mongolian way of life—one that, she acknowledges, will likely change radically in the near future. Equally interesting is her claim that, under centuries of Chinese and, later, Soviet domination, Mongolians were kept ignorant of much of their own history, and that many have only recently learned about the most famous Mongolian in the West: Genghis Khan. Carter’s affection for the Mongolian people is evident in these vivid, affecting photos.

Reviewed on 01/24/2014 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.