Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest

Harry and George are friends. George is a 100-year-old jazz musician and Harry is 7.
They have a lot in common. They both have red backpacks and go to the same school. They are also learning to read. George can’t read, A hundred years old and never learned how. "That must be corrected," says George. Amy Hest captures the warmth of this unlikely friendship in this tender story of the challenge to conquer illiteracy.

Family Bits: 10 years old and Coping

Two stories of 8-10 year old kids coping with a parent who has cancer. It is serious stuff, and family goes on. Ida B. is home-schooled until her mother must go into cancer treatment. Ida B. must find a new place in public school. Ida's patient teacher makes a significant difference in her outlook. Tobin in Chicken Boy has lost his mother to cancer. He changes significantly when Henry takes him home after school one day to see the chickens. Tobin's outlook grows through friendship with Henry and chickens.

History Bits: Historical Fiction 1930

Grandma's General Store: the Ark is the story of two young children in an African-American family in Florida during the Great Depression. The children must remain with Grandma in Florida, while their parents go north to find work in Philadelphia. This slim book maintains strong and honest characters and events while it leads to a simple happy ending. The family is re-united to live in the north, without Jim Crow laws.

Literarian, n. 1. One who makes great contributions to the world of literature. 2. Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

In November the National Book Foundation awarded its first-ever Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community to Lawrence Ferlinghetti (1919-). Ferlinghetti is a poet, publisher, painter, tireless advocate for poetry and free speech, San Francisco poet laureate and proprietor of the renowned independent bookstore City Lights. Several of his books of poetry are available in the library, as well as a documentary of 1987 interviews with Ferlinghetti and other Beat writers, thinkers, and artists. Three cheers for the man who stood up for Howl and blessed the world with the first all-paperback bookstore.

New Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (12/18/05)

There was only one new title this week and again it is from an author who is no stranger to the list.

Coming in at #4 is Forever Odd by Dean Koontz: this popular and prolific writer brings back Odd Thomas who uses his ability to communicate with the dead to search for his missing friend.

A Toast to This Year’s Wine Books

Enjoy some good reading as you sip your wine:
from primer: The Wine Guy: Everything You Want to Know About Buying and Enjoying Wine from Someone Who Sells It by Andy Besch
to the process of winemaking: A Very Good Year: the Journey of a California Wine From Vine to Table by Mike Weiss
to the memoir of a new vintner: My First Crush: Misadventures in Wine Country by Linda Kaplan
to the arrival of American wine on the world scene: Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine by George Taber
to one person’s choices of the best current wines of America: The Great Wines of America: the Top Forty Vintners, Vineyards, and Vintages by Paul Lukacs
to the melding of travel, wine, and art: Untrodden Grapes by Ralph Steadman

Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen

Welcome to Foggy Bottom where nightmarish swamps swarm with hordes of gruesome, bewitched creatures, sweethearts are tragically separated by Zelda, the evil Swamp Queen, Eatmore Beans, a talking cat bears an enchanted locket and feisty, 12-year-old Gnat Stokes longs to be a hero. She must rescue her beloved Goodnow from the malevolent Swamp Queen, who is also her lost mother. In the end, she learns she must give up Goodnow in order to save him. Lots of humor and great characters make Gnat Stokes and the Foggy Bottom Swamp Queen by Sally Keehn a great read-aloud. For ages 9-12.

This American [Literary] Life

At his lecture last weekend, Ira Glass forecast that this coming week's episode of This American Life will be one of the best ever. The contributors are so good, he said, that he might as well quit now.

In case that isn't enough for you, check out this list of some of our favorite books by TAL contributors:

Found : the best lost, tossed, and forgotten items from around the world and
The Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas by Davy Rothbart
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Fraud by David Rakoff
Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby
Lenny Bruce is Dead by Jonathan Goldstein
Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage
God Said "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney
Beware of God by Shalom Auslander

Trevanian, 1931-2005

Trevanian, author of The Eiger Sanction, Shibumi, and several other titles considered the thinking man’s airport fiction, died December 14, 2005 of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The Eiger Sanction, published in 1972, was a spoof on the James Bond novels. One critic declared that Trevanian’s first novel was “…more intelligent, witty, and stylish” than the original 007 tales.

Trevanian was one of at least five pseudonyms that Rodney Whitaker used to write on a wide variety of topics, including the law, religion, and the movies.

History Bits: 1915 Historical Fiction

Lizzie Bright And The Buckminster Boy tells a little-known piece of early 20th century history and race relations through the eyes of two children in a small town in Maine. Lizzie lives on a small island which has been inhabited by ex-slaves for generations. The Parson has a son referred to as the the Buckminster Boy. The Buckminster family is new to the coastal town of Phippsburg. Although there is profound impact on the island residents, the characters are deep and surprising. Hope and redemption remain a possibility beyond the end of the story.

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