Saturday, November 5, 2011

All Things Kid Lit: Binky Under Pressure

book cover of Binky Under Pressure by Ashley SpiresPick of the Week:

Binky Under Pressure
by Ashley Spires
Kids Can Press
Grades 2-6
64 pages

Binky faces off against an intruder: Gracie, the new foster cat. He must defend his turf and his humans, and find a way to get her out of his space station.

From School Library Journal:

Another winning entry in the series. In this installment, a new character enters Binky’s well-regulated space station. While Gracie poses as a foster cat competing for his humans’ affections, Binky soon realizes that she is in fact a captain in F.U.R.S.T. (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel), and she has come to evaluate the performance of his space-cat duties. The story is cinematically told; Spires pulls into close-ups at key moments and shifts fluidly between the vantage points of her two main characters. Pages are well laid out; while the placement and shape of panels vary, they always guide readers’ eyes easily through the action, and flashback and fantasy are easily distinguished from real-time events through the use of wavy panel boundaries. As always, the story is infused with laugh-out-loud moments aimed both at kids (Binky’s recurring bouts of space gas) and at adults (annoyed at Gracie, Binky thinks, “If this is what girls are like, he’s glad he’s fixed”).

You might also like:

Kid Lit News:

The Atlantic
October 31, 2011
The Phantom Tollbooth isn't merely one of the most celebrated children's books of all time, it's also one of those rare children's books with timeless philosophy for grown-ups, its map of The Kingdom of Wisdom a profound metaphor for curiosity and the human condition. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the beloved classic and there's hardly a better celebration than The Phantom Tollbooth 50th Anniversary Edition

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's Almost That Time

wedding checklist

My official wedding checklist, which was a beast by the way at 124 to-dos, says I have seven days...I can make it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crossing over to the dark side...

Amazon Kindle

Yep. I have a Kindle. (Best wedding present ever!!!)

Regale me with your thoughts, tips, etc.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Libraries in the News

Rocco Staino writes: “In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ezra Jack Keats’s groundbreaking picture book The Snowy Day (Penguin, 1962), the Jewish Museum has created the first major United States exhibition for the Caldecott-winning illustrator. ‘The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats’ show features over 80 original works, from preliminary sketches to final paintings and collages, and will remain at the New York City museum until January 29, 2012.”...
American Libraries news, Sept. 14

They have been described as the work of a “mystery book sculptor with a heart of gold.” Yet another miniature model fashioned out of a book has been left at one of Edinburgh’s cultural locations, and though the latest offering takes the form of a magnifying glass, there is still no clue as to who is behind them. The latest sculpture, found sitting on a bookshelf at Edinburgh Central Library, brings the tally discovered since March to seven. Edinburgh photographer Chris Scott has a roundup of photos, locations, and sources....
Edinburgh (U.K.) Evening News, Aug. 30; Central Station Blog, Aug. 31

More selections added to Great Web Sites for Kids
ALSC has added five more informative and engaging websites to Great Web Sites for Kids, its online resource containing hundreds of links to exceptional websites for children. Members of the ALSC GWS Committee review potential sites for inclusion and vote on the sites to be included....
ALSC, Sept. 13

Friday, September 2, 2011

This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

book cover of Blackout by John Rocco
by John Rocco
Disney/Hyperion 2011


Neighbors gather on the roof after the power goes out on a hot night in the city and start having so much fun not everyone is happy when the lights go back on.

Why You'll Love It:
  • Rocco’s lustrous, animation-quality artwork somehow manages to get richer the darker it gets, and features one of the silkiest skies since Van Gogh's Starry Night.
  • Page composition effectively intermingles boxed pages and panels with double-page spreads, generating action. Brilliantly designed, with comic bits such as a portrait of Edison on a wall and the cat running from a hand shadow of a dog.
  • In the most poignant spread, the family sits on the stoop, eating ice cream: "And no one was busy at all." It's a rare event these days.
book cover of Time To Sleep by Steve Jenkins
Time to Sleep
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011


Illustrations and text show the sleeping habits of various animals.

Why You'll Love It:
  • The illustrations are rendered in torn- and cut-paper collage, with each animal is set against a white background.
  •  Fascinating behaviors are detailed with explanations, such as the "white stork sleeps in taking a series of naps that last just a few seconds each." 

    book cover of Aggie Gets Lost by Lori Ries
    Aggie Gets Lost
    by Lori Ries
    Charlesbridge 2011


    Ben is heartbroken when his puppy Aggie goes missing while the two are playing fetch in the park, but he is determined to find his lost pet.

    Why You'll Love It:
    • With clear and simple language, three short chapters, and abundant artwork that details the action, Aggie and Ben’s latest adventure is sure to be a favorite among beginning readers.
    • The short, succinct sentences are easy to understand, while they also reveal Ben’s emotions: “Did I pet her enough? Did I tell Aggie she was a good dog? I cannot sleep. I am too sad to sleep.”
    • Frank W. Dormer’s charming, stylized artwork authentically captures the lively jaunts to the park as well as Ben’s sorrow while Aggie is missing.
    • Careful observers will enjoy noticing the skunk in the illustrations well before he makes his mark on the story and will giggle all the more to see everyone holding their noses after Aggie is found.

    book cover of Lost! A Dog Called Bear by Wendy Orr
    Lost! A Dog Called Bear
    by Wendy Orr
    Henry Holt 2011


    When Logan's dog runs away as he and his mother are moving to a new home after his parents separate, a girl named Hannah, who longs for a dog of her own, finds him.

    Why You'll Love It:
    • A warm tale that is filled with kid appeal. The main characters’ parallel stories pleasingly intertwine, and it is gratifying that the story ends happily for all involved.
    • Wendy Orr’s ability to convey emotions simply makes the story rich and satisfying. Logan feels “like the turkey’s wishbone being pulled apart after Thanksgiving dinner” as he deals with his parents’ separation. And Hannah’s feelings are often reflected in her ponytail, which “flips” and “quivers” when she’s happy, and “mopes” when she’s upset.
    • Short chapters and frequent illustrations make this early chapter book a perfect choice for newly independent readers. 

      book cover of Fractions = Trouble by Claudia Mills
      Fractions = Trouble
      by Claudia Mills
      Farrar Straus Giroux


      Wilson Williams does not want anyone to know his parents have hired a tutor to help him with his math, but the secret could spell disaster for his friendship with Josh.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • Familiar school concerns, nicely resolved, make this another excellent selection for early chapter-book readers.
      • The short chapters have believable dialogue and plenty of reader appeal.
      • Karas' scratchy grayscale drawings, one to a chapter, support the story.

      Friday, July 8, 2011

      My Humble Aplogies...

      Bart Simpson chalkboard

      Forgive me, dear readers, for my spotty posting as of late. The wedding is 3 months away, and it's crunch time. I've got invitations to mail, tuxes to choose, showers to attend, and DJs to book. Hopefully I'll be a faithful blogger once I've entered into wedded bliss. Right...

      Anywho, I recently attended the Annual ALA Conference in New Orleans, which was great fun. My favorite pic from the trip by far is from a pub next door to our hotel very generously catering to the librarian invasion of their dear city by creating mixed drinks just for us:

      Welcome Librarians New Orleans

      I've been slowly plowing through some of the great ARCs received at the conference. Here are some that I'm most excited about reading:

      Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

      Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

      Crossed by Allie Condie (very ready for this sequel!)

      The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin (loved her previous book, Alice I Have Been)

      How to Save A Life by Sara Zarr

      Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonatha Auxier

      The Women of the Cousin's War by Philippa Gregory (nonfiction)

      The Scorpion Races by Stiefvater

      The Swerve by Stephen Goldblatt

      Monday, June 20, 2011

      Mailbox Monday- June 20

      mailbox monday

      Mailbox Monday is on tour during the month of June at The Bluestocking Guide.  Last week I received one book:

      cover of Can I See Your I.D.? by Chris Barton
      Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities
      by Chris Barton
      Dial (April 14, 2011)


      Contains ten stories of true crime, fraud, and adventure, including accounts of a fake Asian princess, master thief Frank Abagnale, and a teen who "stole" a subway in 1993.

      Rasco from RIF | Semicolon Blog

      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      Books By Theme: Murder in Bloom

      "A cynic is a man who, when he smells flowers, looks around for a coffin."
      ~ H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), American author and satirist

      book cover of All The Flowers Are Dying by Lawrence Block
      All the Flowers Are Dying
      by Lawrence Block

      In a dark novel that alternates between alcoholic ex-cop Matthew Scudder's viewpoint and that of a ruthless serial killer, Scudder finds himself and those he loves the object of the cunning murderer's attention. Readers new to Scudder who want to watch him age over the course of the series will want to bypass this 16th entry and start with The Sins of the Fathers; Block fans who need a little something to tide them over while waiting to get their hands on A Drop of the Hard Stuff, Scudder's 17th novel that's due out next month, should try Robert B. Parker's Spenser books or J. A. Jance's J. P. Beaumont novels.

      book cover of The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
      The Last Kashmiri Rose
      by Barbara Cleverly

      After a stint with a police force in colonial India, Scotland Yard detective and WWI veteran Joe Sandilands thinks he's going home to England. He couldn't be more wrong. The governor of Bengal requests his aid when the wife of a British officer is found dead. It looks like suicide, but when Sandilands investigates, he discovers that several wives have died over the last decade and that there are strange coincidences between the deaths--like each woman dying via her greatest fear (burning, cobra bite, etc.). Golden-age mystery fans will especially enjoy Barbara Cleverly's vividly drawn, well-plotted, and "spellbinding debut" (New York Times Book Review), which is the 1st in a series that now numbers eight.

      book cover of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
      The Name of the Rose
      by Umberto Eco

      In 1327, Brother William of Baskerville is sent to investigate charges of heresy against Franciscan monks at a rich Italian abbey, but his priorities shift when several monks die in bizarre ways. With his apprentice Adso of Melk, William investigates the murders and explores the abbey's strange medieval library. Written by an Italian professor of semiotics, The Name of the Rose is something of a modern classic. Originally published in English in 1983, it has sold millions of copies in multiple languages and is beloved by many. If you're in the mood to savor words and complex ideas, check this one out.

      book cover of Queen of the Flowers by Kerry Greenwood
      Queen of the Flowers: A Phryne Fisher Mystery
      by Kerry Greenwood

      Who is chosen as St. Kilda's Queen of the Flowers in 1928 Melbourne, Australia? The Honourable Phryne Fisher, of course! But the independent-minded, glamorous flapper and amateur sleuth finds herself dealing with more than her royal floral duties when one of her four young flower maidens vanishes. Phryne investigates, but more trouble occurs when Phyrne's own adopted daughter Ruth disappears. And then there's Phyrne's unexpected reunion with one of her many former lovers. Though this is the 14th book in this "consistently strong series" (Booklist), newcomers who like lighthearted tales peopled with witty, intriguing characters can start here.

      book cover of Flower Net by Lisa See
      Flower Net: A Red Princess Mystery
      by Lisa See

      Set largely in 1997 Beijing, Flower Net introduces Chinese detective Liu Hulan and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Stark. The two former lovers team up to solve two high-profile murders: the killings of both the son of the American ambassador to China and the son of one of China's elite. Though some readers may find this fast-paced, suspenseful novel to be less assured than Chinese-American author Lisa See's later books, those who enjoy learning about other cultures should check out this 1st in a trilogy (it's followed by The Interior and Dragon Bones). Fans who want to read more of See's writing about China but don't mind leaving murder behind should pick up one of her later, bestselling novels, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, or Shanghai Girls.

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      Mailbox Monday- May 23

      mailbox monday

      Mailbox Monday is on tour at MariReads. I've been lazy with posting this month, so I'm just going to post a quick list of the books received. Be sure to visit the links to see the covers, summaries and videos!

      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      This Librarian's Quick Picks: Upper Elementary Edition

      by Ursula Vernon
      Dial Books, 2011


      Danny Dragonbreath and Wendell travel to Mexico to visit Danny's bat specialist cousin, but when a giant bat monster kidnaps Danny, Wendell gets his chance to play hero and save his friend before the bat monster makes Danny a permanent addition to her bat family.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • An appealing and accessible format that brims with kid appeal. Ursula Vernon has a real knack for fun and funny situations and dialogue, and she is skilled at integrating her prose and bold, graphic-novel-style illustrations.
      • Danny and Wendell are a great pair. Their contrasting personalities—Danny is always up for adventure, Wendell is a worrier—play off each other and make for humorous interactions. (When they’re going upriver in a rubber boat and find out there are piranhas in the water, Danny’s reaction is, “That is so cool!” while Wendell’s response is, “I’m going to die . . .”).
      • An effective combination of real and fantastical bat-related elements. Danny and Wendell find a hurt bat, and Vernon identifies some species and sprinkles facts throughout the book (she also includes an end note about these endangered creatures).The giant false-vampire-bat monster is a memorable character.
      • Readers who are familiar with the Dragonbreath books will be thrilled to see a new title. Those who are new to the series will have no problem following the plot.

      by Marissa Moss
      Abrams Books, 2011


      Describes the life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, who disguised herself as a man, took the name Frank Thompson, joined a Michigan army regiment to fight in the Civil War, served as a nurse on the battlefield, and became a spy.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • A fascinating story, engagingly presented. Readers will be inspired by Sarah Emma Edmonds’s grit and determination as she sees action on the battlefield, tends wounded soldiers, and spies for the Union Army.
      • Marissa Moss writes eloquently about the harsh realities of war: “One bloody battle followed another. Sometimes the North won, sometimes the South, but always the soldiers lost, thousands of them dying or maimed.”
      • John Hendrix’s distinctive illustrations—done predominantly in a palette of blues, oranges, and beiges—are striking and atmospheric. Characters practically leap off the page at times, and bold hand-drawn lettering—using a poster motif that evokes the Civil War era—splashes across spreads.
      • Excellent bookmaking, with a striking cover and an appealing design from start to finish. The backmatter includes author’s and artist’s notes that provide further context and lead to a deeper appreciation of the book.

      by Jennifer Holm
      Random House, 2011


      While working on a school science fair project, Babymouse discovers Squish, a new species of amoeba that talks and eats cupcakes.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • Babymouse is a smart, funny character, to whom readers will easily relate. This installment will delight both fans of the series and newcomers.
      • The way daydreams and reality constantly interrupt each other is both amusing and realistic, and keeps the narrative enjoyable and interesting.
      • Vibrant illustrations, mostly in black and white, with pink to suggest the imagined passages, have fluid lines and an improvised feel.
      • The science-based jokes are fun, as is Babymouse’s ingenious solution to her science project dilemma. Her project also introduces a new character—who is the star of the new series Squish.

      book cover of Max Quick by Mark JeffreyMax Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant
      by Mark Jeffrey
      Harper Collins, 2011


      Young Max, a troubled boy with a mysterious past, joins two other youths unaffected when the rest of the world was frozen in time on a journey across America--and time itself--seeking the source of the "Time-stop."

      Why You'll Love It:

      • Immediately hooks readers with a captivating premise: time has stopped for everyone but a few kids, who now have free reign over the world.
      • Mark Jeffrey has created a vivid and inventive world. Rich descriptions leap off the page, for example: “[e]clipse-bitten red sunlight sprayed the jagged rocks along the roadside with the colors of sawdust and rust.”
      • Max’s and Casey’s outsider status—Max, because he’s an orphan, and Casey, because she’s impoverished—makes them sympathetic underdogs. Readers will admire the teens’ compassion, loyalty, and bravery in the face of (literally) alien circumstances.

      book cover of Dino-Basketball by Lisa Wheeler
      by Lisa Wheeler
      Carolrhoda Books, 2011


      The meat-eating dinosaurs play against the plant-eating dinosaurs in a fast-paced basketball game.

      Why You'll Love It:

      •  The commentary is fast paced and exciting, the illustrations highlight basketball tradition and culture (cutting down the net, an audience showing team spirit), and the end is inspiring.
      • Gott's vividly colored illustrations are filled with energy-almost like sitting courtside. 
      • Wheeler's staccato rhyming verse mimics both the play-by-play announcement and the action of a basketball game, making readers feel a part of the excitement. "Allo answers off the dribble. / Diplo takes it up the middle- / -T. rex charges from behind. / Steals the ball. It's Meaty time!"

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

      book cover of The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
      The Peach Keeper
      by Sarah Addison Allen
      Random House, March 2011
      Fiction (Chick-Lit)
      Copy Provided by TLC Book Tours


      Thirty-year-old Willa Jackson is reunited with Paxton Osgood, an old classmate from a prominent family, when he makes plans to restore the manor built by Willa's great-great grandfather, but construction unearths a skeleton and long-kept secrets, and Willa and Paxton bond during their search for the truth.

      My Thoughts:

      I've read reviews for all of Allen's books as they've come out over the years, and I've heard great things about her novels, particularly Garden Spells. When The Peach Keeper's 'blurb' mentioned the words 'Southern gothic mystery with a touch of magical realism,' I couldn't help but dive right in.

      Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed in Allen's delivery. The premise is fantastic, right down to the dark and dirty side of the womens' society clubs of the South. A murder, a secret kept for decades, and a charismatic traveling salesman round out a recipe for a great read. The writing, however, often comes across as wooden and stilted. Some plot lines seem half-finished, as well as the development of most of the characters. I would love to read the same story written by a different author. Don't take my word for it, though. I am definitely in the minority!

      Check out these other reviews:

      Wednesday, April 13th:  Knowing the Difference
      Friday, April 15th:  Peeking Between the Pages
      Monday, April 18th:  Bewitched Bookworms
      Tuesday, April 19th:  Book Reviews by Molly
      Wednesday, April 20th:  A Few More Pages
      Thursday, April 21st:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
      Friday, April 22nd:  Life in Review
      Monday, April 25th:  The Broke and the Bookish
      Tuesday, April 26th:  Life in the Thumb
      Wednesday, April 27th:  Crazy for Books
      Friday, April 29th:  A Fair Substitute for Heaven
      Monday, May 2nd:  Fizzy Thoughts
      Tuesday, May 3rd:  Coffee and a Book Chick
      Wednesday, May 4th:  Jenn’s Bookshelves
      Thursday, May 5th:  Alison’s Book Marks
      Friday, May 6th:  Bookfoolery and Babble
      Monday, May 9th:  A Library of My Own
      Tuesday, May 10th:  Teresa’s Reading Corner
      Wednesday, May 11th:  Unabridged Chick
      Monday, May 16th:  A Bookshelf Monstrosity
      Wednesday, May 18th:  Two Kids and Tired
      Friday, May 20th:  In the Next Room

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      Libraries in the News

      BOOKS. Keep them. Yes, e-readers are amazing, and yes, they will probably become a more dominant reading platform over time, but consider this about a book: It has a terrific, high-resolution display. It is pretty durable; you could get it a little wet and all would not be lost. It has tremendous battery life. It is often inexpensive enough that, if you misplaced it, you would not be too upset. You can even borrow them free at sites called libraries.

      ~Sam Grobart, "Gadgets You Should Get Rid Of (or Not)", New York Times Personal Tech blog, March 23.

      Where novels go to die
      A bit like the Island of Misfit Toys from the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV series, Parmly Billings Library’s basement is where neglected works of fiction—castaways, rarities, and ones that aren’t popular anymore—often wind up. Called the Montana Last Copy Fiction Depository, it houses nearly 70,000 fiction volumes, some of which are more than 100 years old, from libraries around Montana and other northwestern states. But plans for a new library in Billings do not include it....
      Billings (Mont.) Gazette, Apr. 24

      goodreads logo
      Top 20 Facebook apps for book lovers
      Jason Boog writes: “Not all Facebook apps are dedicated to Farmville-style social games. Goodreads has the most popular book-related app on Facebook, counting more than 150,700 monthly active users. To celebrate 3,000 new friends on our GalleyCat Facebook page, we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 book-focused apps on Facebook and ranked them in order of monthly active users.”...
      GalleyCat, Apr. 24

      New York Public Library Lion
      NYPL lions (and their building) turn 100
      Will Patience (right) have the patience to make it to 100? Will Fortitude have the fortitude? The lions in front of the New York Public Library (and the Stephen A. Schwarzman building that they guard) will be a century old on May 23. The library is planning a gala that will celebrate the building’s history, but did not want to forget the lions. So they have commissioned artist Nathan Sawaya to create a playful homage to them in Legos....
      New York Times: City Room, Apr. 21

      Monday, May 2, 2011

      This Librarian's Quick Picks: Elementary Edition

      book cover of The Loud Book by Deborah Underwood
      The Loud Book
      by Deborah Underwood
      Houghton Mifflin, 2011


      From the blare of an alarm clock in the morning to snores and crickets in the evening, simple text explores the many loud noises one might hear during the course of a day.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • Deborah Underwood invites young readers to think about sound in intriguing ways. Her catalog of loud moments includes things that sound loud (alarm clocks, fire truck sirens), as well as things that feel loud (burps during quiet time, a mother’s disapproval).
      • The book’s world feels cozy and lived-in, thanks to Renata Liwska’s adorable animals and soft color palette.
      • Readers will have fun comparing The Loud Book to The Quiet Book, which shares the same playful sensibility and appealing cast of characters.
      • Children may be inspired to think about the different kinds of moments that make up their days.

      book cover of Owly and Wormy, Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton
      Owly and Wormy, Friends All Aflutter!
      by Andy Runton
      Athenum, 2011


      Good friends Owly and Wormy are disappointed when their new plant attracts fat, green, bug-like things, instead of butterflies, until a metamorphosis occurs.

      Why You'll Love It:
      • Andy Runton conveys his story entirely through illustrations; even the characters’ “speech” bubbles contain only images and easily recognizable symbols. This approachable format will attract pre-readers, beginning readers, and reluctant readers.
      • The simple tale is full of heartwarming details and subtle humor, such as the nuanced expressions on Owly’s face and the appearance of a compact fluorescent lightbulb over his head when he has an idea.
      • Cute characters and saturated backgrounds give the bold artwork wide appeal. The design will also draw in lovers of comic books and the existing Owly graphic novels.
      • Attentive readers may notice cocoons gradually getting bigger on Owly’s plant. When Owly learns the relationship between caterpillars and butterflies, readers will, too. Or, if they already know the connection, they’ll have the joy of solving the mystery of the green bugs’ disappearance before Owly does. 

        book cover of Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg
        Queen of the Falls
        by Chris Van Allsburg
        Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
        Genre: Biography


        Recounts the stunt performed by sixty-two-year-old retired charm school instructor Annie Edson Taylor, who went over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel in an effort to gain fame and fortune.

        Why You'll Love It:
        • It's Chris Van Allsburg! He's back! Do you really need any other reasons??? 

          book cover of What's For Dinner by Katherine B. Hauth
          What's For Dinner? Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World
          by Katherine B. Hauth
          Charlesbridge, 2011
          Genre: Poetry


          A collection of illustrated poems for children that explore the dietary preferences of animals, describing the menus of turkey vultures, archer fish, baby wasps, and more.

          Why You'll Love It:
          • Biology, verse, and colorful cartoons make a fun combination in this collection of 29 poems in which the wordplay is sometimes as gruesome as the science.
          • Delectable poetic lessons on the food chain designed to help young readers rather literally digest the natural world. 
          • Ink-and-watercolor images balance grotesque or absurd touches (think bulging eyes, sharp teeth, lolling tongues) with bright colors and attractive details.

          Friday, April 29, 2011

          Books By Theme: If You Like Bill Bryson

          "I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city." 
          ~ Bill Bryson, American author

          book cover of Pass the Butterworms by Tim Cahill
          by Tim Cahill
          Vintage Departures, 1998

          Outside magazine founding editor Tim Cahill offers a collection of travel essays that chronicle trips to such places as Mongolia, Yellowstone National Park, and Peru, where, on a serious note, he looks into a murder. To get a sense of Cahill's style, you just need to look at the titles of his books, such as Lost in My Own Backyard and A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg. While perhaps a bit more daring than Bryson in the adventures he embarks on, Cahill brings humor along with cogent and often personal commentary to his extensive travel writing; Bryson readers will certainly appreciate this as well as Cahill's companionable manner.

          by Pete McCarthy
          St. Martin's Press, 2003

          Though his family lived in England, Pete McCarthy's heart belonged to his mother's Irish homeland, thanks in part to youthful summers spent at his uncle's idyllic farm in Cork. McCarthy's Bar chronicles the comedian/writer/BBC host's amusing Irish adventures as he searched for his green roots in the Emerald Isle's countryside and, of course, her pubs (after all, one should "never pass a bar that has your name on it"). Fans of Bill Bryon's Notes on a Small Island may be particularly interested in this funny, authentic look at England's neighbor. For more McCarthy, check out The Road to McCarthy, which finds him traveling around the globe looking for other McCarthys.

          book cover of Travels with Alice by Calvin Trillin
          by Calvin Trillin
          Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1999

          In Travels with Alice, a lighthearted collection of essays first published in 1989, noted author and columnist Calvin Trillin recounts trips with his wife and two daughters. The family eats well (though they are more than familiar with Paris's fast-food restaurants) and enjoy amusing adventures in Europe and the Caribbean. Bryson fans might enjoy reading Trillin's work--although travel is not his specialty, he does go in search of interesting food and adventures, and his extremely humorous, conversational accounts resonate with insights into people and places.

          by Mark Twain
          North Books, 2003

          Though he passed away 100 years ago, Mark Twain hit the bestseller lists last year when his unexpurgated autobiography was released. Travelogue fans may not be as interested in that recent book as they would be in Following the Equator (also known as More Tramps Abroad), an account first published in 1897 of Twain's globetrotting adventure around the world at age 60 as part of a speaking tour (he needed the money). Readers who appreciate Bryson's wit might want to read what another of America's great humorists wrote about travel. Additionally, Bryson fans who share his appreciation of history might enjoy this time-capsule look at life in the 19th century.

          Books by Theme was inspired by both Melissa at One Librarians Book Reviews's feature Listless Monday and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

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