“Conservation biologist Hanson’s new book showcases an even more approachable style than his 2011 Feathers. Using a personalized viewpoint derived from his backyard lab and dissertation research in Costa Rica with the almendro tree, as well as visits with specialists worldwide, he describes how seeds nourish, unite, endure, defend, and travel.”
“[Hanson is] jocular and entertaining in his dispensing of remarkable facts about these little vessels of life-to-be…. From high-tech, high-security seed banks bracing for climate change to the story of the gum extracted from guar seeds that is used in everything from ice cream to fracking, this upbeat and mind-expanding celebration of the might of seeds is popular science writing at its finest.”
Booklist, starred review
“Who knew that seeds could be so thrilling and dangerous? Thor Hanson is a lively storyteller, a lyrical writer, and a quick wit. The Triumph of Seeds is more than an engrossing work of natural history. It’s a compelling and highly entertaining journey, populated by scientists and historians, criminals and explorers, aviators and futurists. Following Hanson’s global voyage is the best sort of armchair travel, because it is filled with wonder, poetry, and discovery.”
—Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks, a New York Times Bestseller
“As he did in his phenomenal Feathers, Thor Hanson brings us the nearly incredible world of seeds in a package as graceful and elegant as they are themselves, gift-wrapped in utterly seductive stories. I cannot recall a book I was so eager to finish, that I might begin it again.”
—Robert Michael Pyle, author of Wintergreen and Mariposa Road
“If you eat seeds of any kind, you must read this book! Ecologist Hanson gives us a rich Darwinian view of how seeds came to be the most important nutritional resource for human as well as older than human species. He is at his best when we are in the field with him, learning like detectives the ‘whodunnits’ of seed dispersal. You will never look a seed in the eye again without thanking Thor.”
—Gary Paul Nabhan, Franciscan brother and author of Enduring Seeds and Food, Genes, and Culture
Check out the landmark report on Ferguson policing practices from the DOJ coming this summer from The New Press.
On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed African American high school senior, was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. For months afterward, protestors took to the streets demanding justice, testifying to the racist and exploitative police department and court system, and connecting the shooting of Brown with the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and other young black men at the hands of police across the country.
In the wake of these protests, the Department of Justice launched a six-month investigation, resulting in a report that Colorlines characterizes as “so caustic it reads like an Onion article” and laying bare what the Huffington Post calls “a totalizing police regime beyond any of Kafka’s ghastliest nightmares.” Among the report’s findings are that the Ferguson Police Department “Engages in a Pattern of Unconstitutional Stops and Arrests in Violation of the Fourth Amendment,” “Detain[s] People Without Reasonable Suspicion and Arrest[s] People Without Probable Cause,” “Engages in a Pattern of First Amendment Violations,” “Engages in a Pattern of Excessive Force,” and “Erode[s] Community Trust, Especially Among Ferguson’s African-American Residents.”
Contextualized here in a substantial introduction by renowned legal scholar and former NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund president Theodore M. Shaw, The Ferguson Report is a sad, sobering, and important document, providing a snapshot of American law enforcement at the start of the twenty-first century, with resonance far beyond one small town in Missouri.
“I was shocked but not that surprised . . . all of the police departments, all of the mayors and county and other officials throughout the country [need to] take a look in the mirror.”
“What the Justice Department report demonstrates is that we’re not crazy. There is a system of racial and social control in communities of color across America.”
“The scope of the racism and appalling behavior is worse than I expected.”
“The Department of Justice’s investigation of the Ferguson Police Department has scandalized the nation, and justly so.”
The Ferguson Report: Department of Justice Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department
By The Department of Justice; Introduction by Theodore M. Shaw
Hello! Angela here from the PGW Berkeley marketing team.
I really want to tell you all about a book that resonates with me this week titled Prickly Jenny from Owlkids Books. The last two weeks with my almost four year old have been rather prickly! It feels like Sibylle Delacroix has written about my toddler this week except it would be titled Prickly Lilah! As a parent of a toddler I am loving this gem of a book and so does The New York Times…
“No one does cranky with quite as much panache as the French. Two picture books about bad moods, both written by Francophone authors and offered in English translations for the first time, demonstrate what may be the secret. Both take an approach that many parents struggle to master: The less you fight it, the more likely it is that irritability will give way on its own to something else — sometimes, even something charming.
“Prickly Jenny,” by Sibylle Delacroix, is short, direct and small in size — befitting the proper approach to its subject. We meet Jenny, a round, rumpled toddler who “doesn’t say good morning because, really, what’s so good about it?” She won’t wear the polka-dot dress her mother picks out. She didn’t want to go to the fair with her father, so she “grumbles and drags her feet.” She even says she won’t eat ice cream for dessert — though we see her gobble it up, anyway.
Delacroix ventures into the paradoxical heart of toddler grumpiness: “Jenny says ‘Leave me alone!’ But she cries when Mommy goes away.” When she holds up her drawings, she “doesn’t want to hear ‘wow’ or ‘that’s nice!’ ” At one point she begins to crack a smile — but, we’re told, “if you fuss about it, Jenny will go back to grumbling.” The fact is, Delacroix concludes, “Jenny doesn’t know what she wants today.” That’s hard for grown-ups to accept, but it’s worth remembering, as Jenny does, that “tomorrow, when she’s bigger, it will get better.”
This wonderful little book gently suggests that maybe all a kid like Jenny needs from the people around her is a kind of warm, quiet presence. Delacroix’s drawings are soft around the edges, capturing the feeling of a child’s world that’s just a bit out of focus. She makes Jenny’s head enormous, like some giant, heavy object she must struggle to balance on narrow shoulders, which is just how a child — or anyone — carrying a load of disagreeable thoughts feels.”
The New York Times Sunday Book Review | By MARIA RUSSO – Online March 18, 2015
Sibylle Delacroix graduated from the École de Recherché Graphique in Brussels and worked as a graphic designer for several agencies while juggling her illustration career. She now illustrates full time and lives in the Midi-Pyrénées in France.
Author: Sibylle Delacroix
March 17, 2015
Hardcover Picture Book
Juvenile Fiction \ Social Issues \ Emotions & Feelings
Looking for a good book that will tide you over until Opening Day? Check out Throw Like a Woman, a novel about a woman finding herself again after her divorce by landing on the mound as the first woman player in Major League history.
“For baseball fans who yearn for a female Jackie Robinson, reading Susan Petrone’s fun and absorbing novel THROW LIKE A WOMAN becomes a kind of prayer. ‘Please, Lord! Give talent a chance. Let this dream come true!'”
– Mary Doria Russell, author of THE SPARROW
An expansive, illuminating history of one of our most vital yet unsung food animals, Lesser Beasts turns a spotlight on the humble creature that, perhaps more than any other, has been a mainstay of civilization since its very beginnings—whether we like it or not.
“Forget the egg. It’s the pig that’s incredible and edible. And Mark Essig tells the remarkable animal’s checkered history with a style and verve that’s as irresistible as bacon itself.”
—John Donohue, editor of Man with a Pan: Culinary Adventures of Fathers who Cook for their Families
“Pigs are omnivorous. And so is Mark Essig. From a Roman recipe for salt curing and cold smoking hams that Cato favored, to the ignoble efforts of American industrial farmers who have shown neither their pigs nor their customers respect, he has sifted the archival record to write a smart and thoroughly engaging social history of the curious entwinings of pig and man.”
—John T. Edge, series editor, Southern Foodways Alliance Studies in Culture, People, and Place
Mark Essig tells a fine tale of the unsung exploits of the lowly pig, from the age of the pyramids and the wars of the conquistadors to the awful abattoirs and trendy restaurants of today. With clear prose and careful research, he redeems an animal that has played a seminal role in human history while enduring near universal disdain. This fascinating book provides a marvelous antidote to our unexamined views on the pig.”
—Andrew Lawler, author of Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization
“A thoughtful book about the fascinating relationship between pigs and people, from Leviticus to Charlotte’s Web. I learned something new on every page: Essig has a knack for delivering reams of information with lightness and wit, even as he makes an eloquent plea for a reformed pork industry, one where the bacon we eat comes from ‘a pig that lived like a pig.’ Whether you eat pork or not, Lesser Beasts is a gripping meditation on the plight of pigs.”
—Bee Wilson, author of Consider the Fork
LESSER BEASTS: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig By Mark Essig
The Story Plant received a great Kirkus review for Lavina, calling the novel, “thoughtful fiction that once again exposes the dark enigma of America’s racist past and present.”
Lavina: A Novel
By Mary Marcus
p-ISBN: 9781611882018, e-ISBN: 9781611882025
Hardcover, 358 pages, $25.95 (US & Canada)
Pub Date: April 28, 2015
LAVINA Author: Mary Marcus
An exploration of race relations in Louisiana from multiple perspectives, including those of a 12-year-old white girl and her family’s African-American housekeeper. In the early 1990s, Mary Jacob Ascher (nee Long) gets a call from her older sister, Kathryn, informing her that their father, Jack, is dying and that she’d better hurry home to Murpheysfield, Louisiana, if she wants to see him. Mary Jacob, one of the narrators of the story, reminisces about her privileged upbringing and the “gorgeous greedy bitches” who were Jack’s ex-wives. On her return trip she finds out that Billy Ray Davis, a brilliant harmonica player from Murpheysfield who had made a name for himself in the ’60s, is passing through town to give a concert. Billy Ray is the son of Lavina Davis, the Longs’ housekeeper, who provided most of the nurture and care that Mary Jacob received during the formative years of her adolescence. We see the family dynamics—that Mary Jacob is still alienated from Kathryn, who’d always been the pretty one, and that Jack wants to see his beautiful former wife, Van, before he dies, and he asks Mary Jacob to find her. The novel then shifts back to the summer of 1963, when racial tensions are high in Louisiana, and a rumor develops that Martin Luther King is coming to Murpheysfield to lead a sit-in. Jack’s virulent racism leads him to consider assassinating King, and Mary Jacob, already questioning the system under which she’d been raised, develops a counterplot that would involve sacrificing her own life. We also encounter racism through the experience of Billy Ray’s growing musical prowess and his involvement with Mary Jacob’s family. Thoughtful fiction that once again exposes the dark enigma of America’s racist past and present.
“Lavina is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Mary Marcus gives distinctive voice to three engaging characters, bringing our compassion and sympathy to each of them as she deftly unravels their complex story of heartache, courage, and love.”
– Diane Chamberlain, international bestselling author of Necessary Lies
“Lavina is a richly nuanced journey to Louisiana during the civil rights era and contemporary times that encompasses the liberating but pain-filled emergence of R&B and rock and roll. Mary Marcus has a mystical insight into the agony and ecstasy of the creative process and the lives of performers. She also unflinchingly brings alive the insane disparity of lives of rich and poor, and black and white, and sees both the pain, the cruelty and also the love and richness of the South.”
– Danny Goldberg, author of Bumping into Geniuses
“Lavina is a taut simmering and thoroughly southern work of art. Prepare to lose yourself in this thrilling novel, beautifully crafted by the awesomely talented Ms. Marcus.”
– Robert Tate Miller, author of Forever Christmas
“Mary Marcus’ Lavina is a sprawling, passionate Southern Gothic nightmare which beautifully depicts the transformative power of musical creation. Billy Ray jumps from the page as a living, breathing embodiment of Louisiana’s Black roots music.”
– Blake Leyh, Emmy Award-winning music supervisor of The Wire and Treme
“A great read for anyone interested in Confucius, philosophy, or culture in East Asia.” —Library Journal
“Part biography, part history, and part analysis of Chinese current affairs, this remarkable book… traces the lasting influence of Confucianism in China, despite enormous political and social changes in Chinese society.” —Publishers Weekly
“A fine account of Confucius’ world, and of the use and misuse of the Master’s thinking throughout Chinese history. Whoever wants to understand China must start with Master Kong!”
—O.A. Westad, author of Restless Empire: China and the World since 1750
“Michael Schuman’s book is nothing short of indispensable reading for anyone trying to comprehend the local, regional, and global impact of China and its motivating philosophical underpinnings. Today’s China is an extension of its past and Confucius’ guiding influence remains at its core. China is incomprehensible without this intellectual framework. To that end, Confucius is a generationally significant contribution.” —John Huntsman, former United States Ambassador to China
“To understand the philosophical heart of East Asia, read this book. In his vibrant and engaging portrait of Confucius, Michael Schuman gives us the sage as we’ve never seen him, undeniably shaping modern politics, business, and private life for a quarter of humanity. It is a marvel of intelligent research, great reporting, and clear analysis.” —Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
“Michael Schuman skillfully traces the ebb and flow of Confucius’ influence through the millennia. He also reflects on the enduring impact of Confucian thought on the lives of millions of contemporary East Asians. As the United States’ attention shifts increasingly towards that part of the world, Schuman’s book enriches our understanding of the values underlying that dynamic region.” —John Negroponte, former Director of National Intelligence
“This fascinating book rescues Confucius, his teaching, and his wisdom from the authoritarian embrace which has so distorted what we should learn from the Analects. Michael Schuman helps us to better understand Asia’s past, present, and indeed future.” —Christopher Patten, former British Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Hong Kong
We are thrilled that Seaver the Weaver was included in Betsy Bird’s review, February 16, 2015, on School Library Journal’s A Fuse #8 Production Blog, as part of a 2015 trend watch piece on spiders and flies.
Pull Quote: “Ever heard of the publisher Mighty Media Kids? Well, if this book is any indication they might be one to watch. The Brothers Hilts did that lovely little book The Insomniacs a couple years ago and then were never heard from again. This book, about a spider that thinks outside the web, makes good use of their skills. Particularly the parts where Seaver must attend to this ‘guest’.”
Seaver the Weaver
Paul Czajak | Brothers Hilts | Age: Up to 7 | $15.95, 32 Pages, Picture Book
ISBN 978-1-938063-57-2 | Mighty Media Kids
We all fell in love with this title when it was presented at Creston Books’ Spring 15 marketing meeting. Written in a spare, lyrical style using fresh, evocative imagery, In a Village by the Sea tells the story of longing for the comforts of home. A perfect book for teaching about diverse cultures and lifestyles through rich pictures and words, moving from the wide world to the snugness of home and back out again.
“In a Village By the Seaby Muon Van, ill. by April Chu (Creston): At first glance, In a Village By the Sea appears to be a traditional story about family, but Van’s clever nesting doll narrative and Chu’s playful illustration gives this family’s story a healthy sprinkling of magic.” – Huffington Post Online: The Best Is Yet to Come: An Early 2015 Picture Book Preview (
“In circular fashion, this simple story’s narration unfolds, with great power behind the few words on each page. The intense illustrations, done in pencil and digitally colored, set human and animal characters into seascapes and interior scenes in an almost timeless Vietnam and extend the story far beyond the words. A wife and a baby are in their traditional kitchen anxiously awaiting the fisherman-husband’s return. He is in his boat, fearfully viewing the dark waves and black clouds but also looking at family photos (a hint of modernity). Will he get home to his wife and baby “in his village by the sea” in the “small house” mentioned at beginning and end? Of course readers hope that he will, but there’s far more to this book than just the story. The visual surprises here are a faithful, loving dog that appears in most illustrations and leads eyes to “a brown cricket, humming and painting” beyond a hole in the wall. This is not just any cricket but perhaps illustrator Chu’s avatar. After all, the cricket is seen painting the scene of the stormy seas and the little white fishing boat with the husband sitting nervously on the deck. Near the author and artist biographies, the cricket is even signing “AC.” The illustrations, with strong references to Chinese pen-and-ink landscapes and Japanese woodblock prints of the sea, will draw readers to this book again and again. (Picture book. 4-7)” – Kirkus Review Review Posted Online: Feb. 3rd, 2015 | Starred Kirkus Review Issue: Feb. 15th, 2015
Muon Van was born on the run in the southern port city of Rach Gia, Vietnam. When she was nine months old, she left Vietnam as part of the “boat people” mass exodus. She now lives in Northern California.
April Chu began her career as an architect with a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, but decided to return to her true passion of illustrating and storytelling. She recalls spending most of her childhood drawing whimsical characters in her notebook after school everyday, and she hasn’t stopped drawing ever since. April currently lives and works in Oakland, CA. This is the second picture book she has illustrated. For more information, visit Aprilchu.com.