Do you know how to keep a reader in suspense? We’ll tell you at the end of this issue of the newsletter. In the meantime, what sort of fun books landed on the front counter this week? 

This week’s darling picture book is Dad and the Dinosaur, a heartwarming tale about terrors in the night, monsters with sharp teeth, and other guy stuff. Our young protagonist, Nicholas, is leery of dark places, bugs, and things that live under manhole covers (and who can blame him, really?). His dad, on the other hand, must be a deep space astronaut who has flipped through a wormhole and battled an entire world mad with crawly bugs or something because he isn’t afraid of anything. Clearly, Nicholas’ dad needs to take a minute or two and have a talk with his son. We won’t spoil the ending for you, but Gennifer Choldenko and Dan Santat have produced a lovely book about facing your fears and finding courage. 

Over here, we have The Day I Ran Away, which is the story about Grace and Grace’s mom, and how Grace decides that she’s had just about enough of all the bugs and things under manhole covers and injustices surrounding purple shirts and breakfast cereals, and so Grace is going to run away. Mom has some clever destinations in mind because, after all, it will get dark at the end of the day and it would be a shame for dinner to get cold. Holly Niner and Isabella Ongaro offer a different take on the travails of being a small person in a big world, and we’re hard pressed to chose a favorite. Nor do we have to, because there’s room for both on the shelf. 

And speaking of growing up, Hal Runkel is here this week with Choose Your Own Adulthood, a small book that tackles the important decisions you need to make when you’ve made that first leap out of the nest. It’s time for self-awareness and self-reliance, darlings, and Runkel is here to help out, so that you don’t get caught outside, after dark, without dinner. Which is just such bad planning, and a terrible way to end your first day out. 

For those who think they’ve got this whole adult thing covered already, might we suggest Deborah Madison’s The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs. Because, come on, don’t be too proud. You’re never too old for picture books, especially ones that will help you identify which of the plants growing near that shanty town you’re calling a “weekend getaway” are actually toxic. 

Of course, there’s always our go-to favorite, Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist, because it’s not only important to know which plants will kill you, it’s also important to know which plants will take the edge of that nasty moonshine your tent city neighbor is making underneath the overpass in the bathtub with all the aluminum tubing. 

And speaking of living the dream, our understated political recommendation this week is Timothy Snyder’s On Tyranny. It’s a short read, and will definitely fit in your pack or pocket or go bag. And it’s a fabulous conversation starter and companion to have when you need a little thoughtful contemplation. 

And speaking of breaking the rules and finding your own way, let’s go over to Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply, an unflinching memoir about life, love, happiness, the pursuit and loss thereof, and how to still be a fervent seeker of beauty, the marvelous, and compassion. 

And speaking of finding yourself, Scott Sonenshein offers us Stretch, a handbook for unlocking the mighty morphin’ power of, uh, less. How you can do more with less. How less will give you more. How, um, pretzels are actually longer when you unwind them than the space they take up when they are folded . . . Yeah, we’re not quite sure how this whole less makes more thing works, but apparently Sonenshein has some ideas on the subject. More than three hundred pages worth of ideas, which seems like a lot when you get right down to it. Could he have done more with less here . . . ?

And speaking of cheeky commentary from the peanut gallery, let’s wind up with Kory Stamper’s Word by Word, a secret expose on the life of the dictionary. High stakes lexicongraphy with heady doses of bibliophilia and egregious examples of etymological escapades. Fun for the whole family!

Overheard In The Woods

COLBY: . . . now I don’t really understand why people are so pre-occupied with this idea that you have to read just the new books. I mean, there’s thousands and thousands of excellent books that came out last year. Or the year before even. Why—oh, turn here. Yeah, it’s right up there. 


COLBY: Anyway, so we’re always bringing in new books. Always with the new books. And if a book is three weeks old? Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. That just won’t do at all. No no no. You can’t be seen reading an old book. That’s—no, that trail there. Yes, through those trees.


COLBY: It’s okay. I know who lives there. 


COLBY: He’s not that bad. He just makes that noise when you startle him. 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom. 

COLBY: Yes, I agree. He does look funny when he’s surprised. 


COLBY: I’ll introduce you, if you like . . . 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom . . . 

COLBY: Well, you don’t have to say anything. He’s not a very good conversationalist anyway. 


COLBY: So, yes, right there those trees there. Yes, that’s it. Okay, you can stop here. I’ll just . . . eh, uh, whoops! Ha, that first step is a doozy. Okay. Wait here, okay? 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom. Glom glom glom glomglom. 

COLBY: He’s not going to make a hat out of your skull. Stop being so . . . such a ruminant. 


COLBY: Just chill out. Okay? 

[Knocks on wooden door]

COLBY: Just relax, would you?


BOB: Ah, hello? Who’s—oh, [redacted]! You’re a big one. 

COLBY: Uh, down here, Bob. 

BOB: Oh, Colby! I didn’t see you there. Not with that, uh, that’s a big moose. I didn’t know there were moose in the Cascades. 

COLBY: Glom-Glom is just visiting. 

BOB: I’m sorry, what? Glom-nom?

COLBY: Glom-Glom. That’s his name. 

BOB: Oh, I see. 

COLBY: Say hi. 

BOB: Uh, hi. 


COLBY: He’s pleased to make your acquaintance, and he wants to know if you have any beer. 

BOB: What? 

GLOM-GLOM: Glom glom glom. 

COLBY: This is Bob. That expression on his face is delight. He’s happy to meet you, and he has offered you a beer. If you would like one. 


COLBY: He wants to know what kind of beer. 

BOB: Uh, I think I have some . . . how did you find me? 

COLBY: This is you cabin, isn’t it?

BOB: Well, yes. 

COLBY: It’s in the woods, right? 

BOB: Yes. 

COLBY: We’re neighbors. 

BOB: We’re . . . what?

COLBY: Neighbors. My second cousin’s brother’s sister’s first boyfriend’s mother lives just over that ridge. I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop by. 

BOB: Oh, I see. 

COLBY: Glom-Glom was heading back to Canada and he offered to give me a ride. So, yeah, here we are. You were saying something about a beer?

BOB: Yeah, I think I have some IPA. Maybe a stout . . . 

COLBY: Beardy man wants to know if you drink the bitter stuff that is like spring run-off strained through pine needles or the stuff that tastes like muddy lake water. 


COLBY: Stout, please. 

BOB: Okay. Does he want to drink it out of the bottle or should I pour it in a glass. 

COLBY: A bowl is best. 

BOB: Right. Of course. I’ll, uh, get that. 

COLBY: Thanks, Bob. Oh, hey, do you mind if I spend the night? 

BOB: What?

COLBY: Can I stay over? 

BOB: Why?

COLBY: Look. This is awkward. I’ve been at the store too long. Sleeping outside? In a hole? I can’t do it anymore. I’m an urban marmot. I need a decent memory foam pillow and a blanket. 

BOB: Yeah, okay. You can . . . you can sleep on the couch. 

COLBY: Great. Thanks!

BOB: What about your friend? Uh, Glom-Glom. 

COLBY: As long as you don’t have a bear skin rug, he can sleep in the living room. 

BOB: Yeah, I don’t have a bear skin rug. 

COLBY: Perfect. This is going to be fun! 


BOB: Yeah . . . I'm not sure I would call it that . . . 


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