Well, here we are, once again befuddled by daylight. When did the days get so long? It seems like it was only last night that we were huddled around a stub of candlewax, listening to the coyotes jowl and howl in the near distance. And now, the skies are clear and we can see all the way to the end of the road. 

We're not complaining, mind you. It's taking a little getting used to. It's easy to forget how the cycles, uh, cycle. 

Anyway, stretch your wings, dear readers. Throw off those heavy blankets. Listen to the birds. All the gray is slipping away, and the color is returning. In fact, that will be our focus this week. What sort of pretty things have arrived? 

First up is Arik Kershenbaum's The Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy: What Animals on Earth Reveal About Aliens—and Ourselves. Kershenbaum offers up a thought experiment: if extra-terrestrial life (folks not from around here) follow the same biological starting principles as we do, then, we can extrapolate on what they might be like based on the sorts of critters we have here. Flight is flight, swimming is swimming, and staring all day at shiny objects is, uh, just as sedentary in another galaxy, far far away. It's a clever way to get us interested in looking at the world around us, and Kershenbaum's approach is marvelously entertaining. 

Next up is Chip Kidd's Book Two, which covers his design work from 2007 through 2017. Kidd, who works with Knopf, is one of the best book designers working today, and this edition of Book Two is exactly the same as the previous edition released in 2017, except forty dollars less. Kidd's designs are both uniquely idiosyncratic—we can spot one from across the room—while still being perfectly in tune with the content the cover is, uh, covering. 

This is sort of like the booksellers version of Cabin Porn. 

And speaking of lovely things to see while you are out in the woods, here's Joshua Powell's The Pacific Crest Trail: A Visual Compendium. Infographics! Whimsical illustrations! A day-by-day guide for the entire 2,600 miles! (About 140 days to walk it all, by the way.) Handy trivia about spots along the trail that will come in handy when you have to talk your way out of a bear encounter!

And speaking of places to go, here's Susie Hodge and Amy Grimes with Artistic Places, the latest volume in the Inspired Traveller's Guides series. This time around, we're visiting famous artistic destinations around the world, where we'll get a chance to understand what prompted a visual artist to do some art. Munch and his bridge. Constable and his landscapes. Vermeer and his use of light. Magritte and his vegetables. Hokusai and his cherry blossoms and looming snow-capped mountain. 

And for folks who tire easily and whose legs aren't quite ready for mountain hikes, here's Rachel Piercey's and Freya Hartas's If You Go Down to the Woods Today. It's a marvelous book filled with delightful pictures by Hartas and charming quatrains by Piercey. Sure to delight the smaller folk in your house, as well as provide them with a reasonable checklist that they can attain without a significant budget and a passport. 


Oh, we should find something fictional. Ah, here is Ava Barry's Windhall, a deliciously dark murder mystery about the golden age of Hollywood. Back then, a leading lady's dead body is discovered in her equally famous director's rose garden. He's charged with murder, but the case is thrown out before the trial, and the director vanishes. Now, sixty-nine years later, another woman is found dead, and our intrepid protagonist thinks it's all connected. Of course, it is, but in ways that no one expects. 

And finally, let's not forget Andrés Colmenares's When Sharks Attack with Kindness, a charming collection of short cartoons about sharks bearing gifts. Because some days, you need to know that compassion exists in the universe, right? 

Later, at Tartoof's »»

WHIMSICHOTT: *Arumph* I say, what are you doing here? 

COLBY: Me? I'm getting a scone. What are you doing here? 

WHIMSICHOTT: I was hoping for one of those hummilydingers, but it would appear . . . 

COLBY: Yeah, you have to get here early for those. 

WHIMSICHOTT: I say . . . Are you . . . by chance . . . ?

COLBY: Hmm? 

WHIMSICHOTT: Are you the mayor? 


WHIMSICHOTT: You are! Goodness to betterment! I've been trying to get a meeting with you for weeks! 

COLBY: I can't imagine why. 

WHIMSICHOTT: My client—yes, yes—my client, Mister Jamsee Jott. He has a particular predicament that requires the services of a person like myself, Avuncular Clarence Whimsichott the III, Barrister. 

COLBY: Ah, one of those. 

WHIMSICHOTT: One of whats? 

COLBY: It doesn't matter. 

WHIMSICHOTT: It does, my good sir. It most certainly does. 

COLBY: All right. Why don't you explain it to me?


COLBY: Sure. I'm here. You're here. There aren't any hummilydingers, but I fear those weren't relevant to your inquiry, so . . . 

WHIMSICHOTT: *Arumph* Yes. Yes. Very well. My client—the aforementioned Jamsee Jott—has been barred from using a community resource—

COLBY: My. Those are some strong words. "Barred." "Community." "Resource." 

WHIMSICHOTT: Indeed. This is a very serious matter. 

COLBY: Clearly. But why don't you cut to the chase? I would like to smear jam all over this baked good and . . . 

WHIMSICHOTT: An individual at the library is barring residents from checking out books. 

COLBY: Really? 


COLBY: Huh. 

WHIMSICHOTT: Is that all you have to say? 

COLBY: Well, no. The library . . . ? 

WHIMSICHOTT: Yes, the library. 

COLBY: Is that also called the 'Moose House'? 

WHIMSICHOTT: I suppose it could be called that, yes. 

COLBY: You know, I saw your goat client heading over there earlier. He had some friends with him. 

WHIMSICHOTT: What friends? 

COLBY: Your client doesn't have any friends?

WHIMSICHOTT: I didn't say that. 

COLBY: Oh. My apologies. It just sounded like you were surprised that the goat has friends. 

WHIMSICHOTT: I was not surprised by the having of friends. I was merely inquiring as to who those friends were. 

COLBY: Not 'which' friends? 

WHIMSICHOTT: You are trying to trap me with semantics, marmot. I am too old for such nonsense. 

COLBY: Well, sem-antics is better than no-antics. 


<SFX: windchimes> 

COLBY: Oh, look. Here's the goat now. Along with his friends. 

HODGE: Colby! You will not believe what just happened!

PODGE: It was perilous!

JAMSEE: Gracious. I've never seen such bravery. 

ROLLO: Superlative superlative glowing exclamation of joy. 

COLBY: Oh, I see that Rollo is getting his words back. Oh, good. 

WHIMSICHOTT: What is this? 

JAMSEE: Oh, and look! I have a library book. 

ROLLO: Outpouring of enthusiasm regarding the lexiconical industrinization of sigilistic communication. 

COLBY: Oof. You couldn't have gotten him something by Nicholas Sparks? 

HODGE: There wasn't time. We had a very small window of opportunity. 

PODGE: We got him an English translation of a Spanish edition of a Strugatsky brothers book. 

COLBY: Well . . .

WHIMSICHOTT: I say. What is going on here? 

JAMSEE: The library is open! 

WHIMSICHOTT: What the Dickens? How did this happen? 

PODGE: We did a thing. With a Huzzah! And a Smackdoodleroo!

HODGE: Yes, against a Stygian Blade Wielder of the Utmost Indecency. 


ROLLO: Triumphant companioning!

WHIMSICHOTT: But—but—but—

COLBY: So, let me see if I got this straight. The goat wanted a library book, but couldn't get past the librarian. He found some friends, and they all worked together as a cohesive community to take back something that was important to them, thereby creating a lasting bond that will forever unify them through an experience involving books. 

HODGE: Exactly!

ROLLO: Perfection!

PODGE: Wait. Is he talking about us? 


COLBY: We good, Barrister? 

WHIMSICHOTT: You are devilishly clever marmot. 

COLBY: Well, I would say my work here is done, but since I didn't do anything . . .

WHIMSICHOTT: Precisely my point, sir. 


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