Tim's Staff Recommendations

Tim has a long history with the bookstore. As a loving Schwartz Books customer and a complete author event geek, Tim has met many authors and had them sign his books. His first ever author event was with Mickey Mantle, back when Schwartz had a store on the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue. That event had a line all the way around an entire city block - and Mickey stayed until he met every last customer! Tim retired from the School District of Waukesha after teaching elementary school children for 30 years, and now he gets to work at those events and still talk to kids about books. His interests include all types of children's literature, nature, art, mysteries, sports, and lots of fiction authors for adults such as Joyce Carol Oates, Colson Whitehead, Toni Morrison, E. L. Doctorow, Emily St. John Mandel, and David Mitchell.

Pre-Order Now Badge
The Great River: The Making and Unmaking of the Mississippi By Boyce Upholt Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9780393867879
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 11th, 2024

Boyce Upholt grew up in suburban Connecticut and somehow landed in rural Mississippi, where a side job as a magazine writer launched an obsession. He was doing a profile of a river guide when he tagged along on an expedition. It revealed the mighty Mississippi River's double nature as an untamable wilderness which people make extreme efforts to control for commerce and human habitation. Upholt spent the next ten years fascinated with the vast range of the river’s story, from its tumultuous ancient formation to its ever-changing, climate-altered present day. A full 40 percent of the continental United States (plus a bit of Canada) sheds water from opposite mountain ranges down to this lowest ribbon of land at the center of our turbulent nation. Upholt revels in the collective power. This is not traditional history. It feels like a long-term act of personal discovery and expression, with revealing observations, diligent research, and storytelling that flows like water. He’s honest about inequities without sounding angry, while using key details and unique conclusions to reshape my thinking in surprising ways, just as the river suddenly and continuously reshapes the surrounding land.


Pre-Order Now Badge
Fowl Play By Kristin O'Donnell Tubb Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780063274037
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - July 30th, 2024

Fowl Play opens with Chloe and her mom, grandma, Uncle Frank, and brother Jacob arriving at a shabby lawyer's office to hear the settlement of her beloved Uncle Will's estate. He was always full of surprises, including his rapid fall to illness and the way he disappeared from them at the end, but the family is not prepared for his final act. Uncle Will delivers his Last Will and Testament directly to them on video cassette! And Chloe is completely unprepared for the one thing she inherits from him. I’ll just say that her inheritance is alive, it seems to share her immense grief over Uncle Will, and it can talk. Chloe's inheritance is quite a character! And it’s starting to say things that reveal a life changing mystery surrounding Uncle Will. This is a wonderfully told, thoughtful, and highly entertaining story of a busy family whose priorities have just been radically altered, and the story of a girl whose middle school life seems to be coming undone. Chloe needs to figure out what it really means to achieve Uncle Will’s number one goal: “Seize the day!" (Just a final note: Chloe’s inheritance is an endangered species, in large part because they’ve been turned into pets. Uncle Will and Chloe weren’t at fault, but you can’t own one of these beautiful creatures today without a permit.)


Staff Pick Badge
Real Americans: A novel By Rachel Khong Cover Image
$23.20
ISBN: 9780593537251
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 30th, 2024

Real Americans opens in New York City with Lily (a young woman, an art history student, an unpaid intern) telling the rich young man she just met that she can’t speak Chinese. She's trying to prove that she's fully American. So begins a transformational story, originating in the Chinese Cultural Revolution under Mao but then told at the start of our new millennium by two generations of all-Americans. It finally wraps back again to origins that explain so much. The story’s Chinese seed grows in its new land, but how much can its essence be changed? What does it mean to be American when so many generations of ancestors were not? And what does it mean to be Chinese if you know nothing about China? Can any of us really define what made us who we are or decide which changes in the past could have made us better? Khong’s gift is showing how people’s voices evolve over time, even if their heartfelt motivations don’t. She has an ear for life, and the book has a depth that feels like living. She has vital things to say, and with so much to learn about identity and possibility, I listened.


Pre-Order Now Badge
Fire Exit: A Novel By Morgan Talty Cover Image
$23.16
ISBN: 9781959030553
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tin House Books - June 4th, 2024

I am a fan of beautifully crafted prose, but sometimes it's a huge relief to read a story told straight at me. Morgan Talty is especially good at it, saying just what's needed and only when it's necessary. He tells us a direct story, narrated by a white man named Charles. For decades, Charles is conflicted by a girl growing up across the river from his house. She lives on the Penobscot Nation’s land. He does not. He doesn’t have the indigenous blood to live there. She does, but she also has his blood. She’s never known that he’s her biological father. At the same time, his own father has died, and his ill mother is forgetting who he is. The odd circumstances of family can silence the most basic truths, and yet some things demand to be said, even at great risk. Doesn’t truth always matter? Indigenous suffering is clear in Fire Exit, but Talty says the book is not “seeking truth about colonialism. It is a story about us, all of us. We are nothing without each other.” Love to you, Morgan Talty!


Staff Pick Badge
Leila and the Blue Fox By Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Tom de Freston (Illustrator) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781454954347
Availability: Not in stock at Boswell. Available to order.
Published: Union Square Kids - April 2nd, 2024

Leila's mother is a climate scientist. She left their London home for a job in Tromso, Norway, a place so far north that the land of the midnight summer sun is a reality. Six years later, Leila is finally able to follow her mother. It's her second life-altering shift, after she was born in Damascus, Syria and had a frightening immigration to London at five years old. Now she's twelve, and it's impossible to hide the fear and anger caused by the long separation. Little does she know that her mother's research on the unprecedented migration of a young arctic fox will change everything again. This quiet, strong, beautiful novel shows the capacity of all creatures to adapt, including a twelve-year-old girl. It's a story that alternates between people and the real-life Arctic Circle journey of a fox that scientists called Anna. It’s a story that offers us real-world hope. There’s so much life in it—whales, bears, seals, narwhals, friends, and family. The dramatic illustrations by Tom de Freston also give it a special look, a living warmth in the bitter cold.


Staff Pick Badge
Chloe and Maude By Sandra Boynton, Sandra Boynton (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Sandra Boynton, Sandra Boynton (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781665955393
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Boynton Bookworks - May 7th, 2024

I sometimes wonder what my life would be like without Sandra Boynton's irrepressible creatures. I'm thrilled that I don't have to find out. With her calendar on my wall and her books everywhere, life is just brighter. These two cat friends named Chloe and Maude are my latest discovery, and I welcome them to my world! The three stories in this book about their challenging and creative adventures made me gasp, grin, and giggle with gratitude. Boynton is the best!


Staff Pick Badge
Martyr!: A novel By Kaveh Akbar Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593537619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - January 23rd, 2024

Cyrus understands suffering all too well. He's sober. He stopped drinking and taking drugs, but recovery isn't enough to calm the sense of dread. Neither are his friends or his art, his poetry. They’re not enough. Cyrus doesn’t remember his mom, who was shot down in an Iranian commercial airliner by a US warship when he was just months old (yes, a real event, July 3rd, 1988). Soon afterward, his father left Tehran for Indiana with him and little else. Even as a baby, Cyrus resisted sleep. Now, decades later, it’s up to him to figure out what he truly wants. If only he had the faith and conviction of a martyr! No, he doesn’t want to kill people, just believe in something so deeply he would die for it, a death with meaning, requiring a life with meaning. It's a smart novel from a powerful writer about fear, shame, loss, ego, addiction, and the possibility of arriving at moments of genesis. The thinking is uncommon, somehow both fresh and sophisticated, while the entwined histories of Iran and America make it vital. This book more than matters to me. This book understands me!


Staff Pick Badge
Wisconsin for Kennedy: The Primary That Launched a President and Changed the Course of History By B. J. Hollars Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781976600173
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wisconsin Historical Society Press - March 12th, 2024

Hollars is an excellent narrative nonfiction writer. He grabbed me from the start. It happened partly because Kennedy delivered a vital speech in Milwaukee exactly two weeks before the day I was born here, and it also quickly became clear that many of the politicians I knew vaguely as a child had vibrant roles in the story. Beyond that, Hollars uses "creative nonfiction" techniques, such as point-of-view shifts, to build on extensive primary sources in capturing the drama of a campaign and the depth of the people involved. Kennedy's genuine ability to charm diverse crowds while impressing them with his "encyclopedic political knowledge" is portrayed beautifully. Wisconsin legends such as Patrick Lucey, Vel Phillips, and Bill Proxmire (as well as the villain Joseph McCarthy) are joined by a fascinating cast of little-known characters. The book’s layout, amazing photography, and apt quotations are all highly effective. Hollars makes the case that the entire Kennedy family became focused on winning Wisconsin, and their complex White House launch strategy was born here, exactly when and where I was. It's exhilarating! And just two days before my fourth birthday, President Kennedy’s funeral was held in Washington DC. I’m already handing customers this book with unrestrained enthusiasm, while trying to avoid sounding nerdy about it.


Staff Pick Badge
James: A Novel By Percival Everett Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780385550369
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - March 19th, 2024

James is Jim’s story, the enslaved man from Huckleberry Finn. It's told by Jim himself. Before reading it, I went back and read the original Mark Twain. I wanted to understand how Everett’s James began, and I have to say that Twain severely disappointed me. Even though Huck learns to better understand and care about Jim, so much of the book feels like a comedy, with family feuds, con men tricking naive river people, and Tom Sawyer endangering Jim's escape by adding foolish extra steps to the plan, all for a sense of glory and for his own entertainment. He almost gets them killed, which gets Jim caught again, and for nothing! Tom already knew that Jim’s owner had freed him. Huck just goes along with whatever Tom wants. It’s infuriating, this comedy (which never made me laugh) about using owned people. Jim shows strength and emotion in the novel, but often he's an afterthought or just a manipulated prop to drive the plot. Was it all meant by Twain to be ironic or satirical, designed to enrage me? Perhaps, but Everett refuses to let it stand. He knows the original novel completely and expands it to go far beyond a friendship between James and Huck. He shows us a slave’s stunning reality and the easy excuses people find to grab power and hate. He’s not a bit shy about it, and from the opening scene he also made me laugh! Out loud! After 140 years, Jim becomes James, and I say, with gratitude, that it’s about damn time this man emerged, so boldly, so beautifully, and so brilliantly! I already miss James.


Staff Pick Badge
After 1177 B.C.: The Survival of Civilizations (Turning Points in Ancient History #12) By Eric H. Cline Cover Image
$32.00
ISBN: 9780691192130
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Princeton University Press - April 16th, 2024

Cline's first book on this topic detailed the rapid collapse of late Bronze Age civilizations surrounding the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Seas, including the homelands of the Mycenaean Greeks described in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Egyptian Pharaohs, Mesopotamians, and Canaanites. Historians have called the resulting time, after 1177 B.C., a Dark Age, and its multifaceted causes, including climate change, drought, famine, conflict, and disease, have strong similarities to the threats we face now. In this sequel, Cline examines what happened after the collapse. Did cultures disappear, or were there transformations leading to advancement and reconnection? He looks at the nuances of this Dark Age, calling it instead the Iron Age, while describing the fundamentals of resilience in the aftermath of collapse and the innovation needed to thrive under stress. He considers potential lessons for our future by using modern "resilience theory" to help us better understand the past. Can we be better prepared to avoid societal collapse than they were? For me, it's all unfamiliar territory, as I knew so little about these ancient people, but I enjoyed learning from Cline. His work is vital, and I intend to read him again.  


Staff Pick Badge
The Innocents By Bridget Walsh Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781913547523
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallic Books - April 2nd, 2024

Minnie Ward is a writer for shows at the Variety Palace Music Hall, a 19th century London theatre with a quirky set of acts. She’s also the unofficial assistant manager and a talented past performer who has reasons for never going back on stage. In this Variety Palace Mystery sequel, closely tied to its debut The Tumbling Girl, Minnie is again working with Albert Easterbrook, a private investigator rejected by his privileged parents for becoming a common crime solver. They’re on tragic new cases while coping with the aftermath of horrifying past murders, including that of Minnie’s closest friend. Walsh's thrillers are a bloody (literally) joy to read. Victorian London gets very rough, but the writing is clean, well sequenced, and expertly paced, with fascinating, convincing characters. The British humor of the times makes me chuckle, even before I look up the words, and the recognizable places lure this Euro-novice into the story rather than intimidate me out. I’d normally say charming sounds a bit trite, but being charmed and thrilled at once leads to quite a lovely surprise: Horrid deaths can yield happy endings.


Staff Pick Badge
Ferris By Kate DiCamillo Cover Image
$15.19
ISBN: 9781536231052
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - March 5th, 2024

Ferris is starting fifth grade at the end of the summer. It's a grade that I personally taught for most of my career, and I remember just how young they look at the beginning, before they start a time of wonderful change. For Ferris, that change is coming fast. Her strong grandmother doesn’t feel well and has started seeing a ghost in the house. Boomer the dog sees it too, and Uncle Ted has left Aunt Shirley to live with them while painting the entire history of the world on a single canvas. As for little sister Pinky, oh my! Oh! My! She’s planning to be an outlaw, and she’s off to a great start. Ferris’s lifelong friend Billy Jackson is the only one who truly understands. DiCamillo’s trademark style is back, with uplifting warmth and sly, smart humor. It’s full of special friendship and love, and as Grandma Charisse likes to say, every good story is a love story. I like to say that there’s nothing in children’s literature better than Kate DiCamillo’s delightful voice. Her wise, hilarious observations of people (and dogs) come wrapped in thrilling tales of childhood.
 


Staff Pick Badge
Wandering Stars: A novel By Tommy Orange Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593318256
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 27th, 2024

Tommy Orange takes us on a winding road with Jude Star and Victor Bear Shield, two men who survive the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, and then with their descendants, leading us to characters living in the aftermath of the Big Oakland Powwow from There There. He brings the story full circle and beyond. The tone of the novel is mostly level, even as events become stunning and disturbing. I tried to see what the level voice was, and I thought at first it was resignation, a forced acceptance of the violent indignities suffered by indigenous people (and others). Then a character says he’s “so tired of enduring,” and I thought I knew. The tone is endurance. Keep moving, stay alive, find ways to feel comfort and escape, sometimes have a belief in survival, a hope for purpose and stability, a sense of home. It’s the full and true revelation of pain and endurance that makes Tommy Orange’s writing unique. It’s important, and there's a there at the end. My heart grew. Orange wrapped me in the sound of creative, perceptive, genuine truth, and I felt unexpected warmth.


Staff Pick Badge
Fall By Tracy Clark Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781662512551
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thomas & Mercer - December 5th, 2023

Harriet Foster, Tracy Clark’s Chicago homicide detective, is back for a second thriller, during a Windy City winter where an Alderwoman leaves prison after serving three years for using city hall to make crooked money. Marin Shaw kept her mouth shut about the other politicians on the take. Now they need her to stay quiet, and the strange, violent fallout brings Harriet and her partner Vera Li into the mix. Three years locked up away from family makes Marin’s life tough to recover, with her marriage doomed and her daughter angry. Harriet has her own haunting past. She’s lost a son to a merciless thief, and she’s lost her last detective partner to suicide. She needs to keep herself steady and always be thorough, while giving herself unusual little rewards to mark each step forward in her life and on the job. It all adds up to a solid and satisfying read, and the Chicago street vibe appeals to me. A Black woman detective with an Asian woman partner also gives depth to the psychological story elements. I know I’ll be looking for the next installment.


Staff Pick Badge
I Cheerfully Refuse By Leif Enger Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780802162939
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 2nd, 2024

I met Leif Enger at Milwaukee’s Oriental Theatre on his tour for Virgil Wander, which is still one of my top five favorite books ever. I felt like I already knew him. The writing matched the man. He has a rare combination of warmth and intelligence, a reverential and brilliant awareness of humanity, and here he brings these qualities back to a familiar Lake Superior setting. This time it’s a story told by a man named Rainier, after the mountain. It got shortened to Rainy, fitting his life on the shore of a stormy lake in a very edgy near future where survival is always uncertain. Rainy’s tongue-in-cheek (crossing into smart-ass) observations and the joy and perseverance of fellow travelers are enough to make me believe that “pathways to beauty and color” can survive our impending chaos. The novel turns to wicked suspense, as Enger shows us with creative clarity a struggling world that seems entirely possible. Rainy must navigate Lake Superior to escape a supremely clever and powerful man in the aftermath of a horrifying crime. I wasn’t sure I could finish the book. It’s relentless at times, with the only comfort being the rhythm of Rainy’s Fender Jazz bass guitar, but we all try to get home somehow. I trusted Leif Enger to lead me and the book home. He didn’t let me down. Even if he had, his characters understand that “sometimes no right ending can be found.” Maybe what matters is only that people like Enger keep searching for majestic human stories.


Staff Pick Badge
Carry My Secret to Your Grave (Murder, She Wrote #2) By Stephanie Kuehn Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781338764581
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - October 31st, 2023

This is the second installment in a smart and savvy teen mystery series. Beatrice Fletcher is the great-grandniece of Jessica Fletcher, the ageless TV crime-solving hero of Cabot Cove, Maine’s Murder, She Wrote. Bea has serious anxiety issues, but she’s intense and curious enough to face a risk-filled world. Her psychiatrist helps her, “Aunt Jess” is still around to offer wise counsel, and her obsessive interest in the truth about crimes gives her the intensity. She’s been writing for a start-up web site about cold-case murders around Cabot Cove and has helped solve some cases. Now she's spending time with friends she met in the first book from the elite Broadmoor Academy. They play a cryptic century-old Broadmoor game known as tenace that promises a wonderous unknown prize but could be tied to the death of a former student who was close to them all. The terrifying death threats Bea’s getting make everything more bizarre. Bea is the creation of an author with teen children who's also a clinical psychologist. It shows. She sounds true to teen reality, and she’s also true to people who keep going despite their fear. I’m hooked on the series! Just like I was hooked on the TV show. 


Staff Pick Badge
Painting the Game By Patricia MacLachlan Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534499942
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - April 16th, 2024

Lucy Chance’s father is a minor league baseball pitcher trying to reach the majors. He throws a knuckleball, the odd, floating, diving pitch that only a handful of major leaguers have ever used successfully. Lucy’s mother paints beautiful pictures, sometimes of the players who create the drama on the field. They all “paint the game.” As for Lucy, she and her friends play baseball, but pitching is her dad’s thing. Being up on that mound is maybe too scary. She’s working on courage. I’ve been around baseball most of my life, and this is a good baseball story. It’s full of the game’s wisdom, history, and charming, funny quotes from people you may recognize. It’s also a great family story; another MacLachlan masterpiece that’s easy to love, perfect for fourth or fifth graders. And it has goats!


Staff Pick Badge
All We Need Is Love and a Really Soft Pillow! By Peter H. Reynolds, Henry Rocket Reynolds, Peter H. Reynolds (Illustrator) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338572339
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orchard Books - October 3rd, 2023

The Little One is a small creature who asks if Poppy needs anything. Little One learns that each other and love are everything they need... but perhaps a few additions would be nice, even useful. A soft pillow is essential, and a roof, with walls, surely water, and a bathtub. A garden would be lovely, and how about books? A toilet! Let's not forget chocolate. But when all of those extras are lost in a storm, love remains... and a really soft pillow can take many forms. This collaboration with his son Henry has added another marvelously clever and wise picture book to Peter Reynolds' magnificent body of work. 


Staff Pick Badge
Like So By Ruth Forman, Raissa Figueroa (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Ruth Forman, Raissa Figueroa (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781665917544
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Simon - January 2nd, 2024

This beautiful, warm picture book shows the many ways love shines through the days shared by a little girl and her grandmother. The simple kisses, kitchen hugs, treks under expansive skies filled with butterflies, autumn paths, moonlit waves, and snow dusted constellations all reflect the joy of family and the natural world. Colorful illustrations by Raissa Figueroa express a sweet, energetic way of living just like so...


Staff Pick Badge
Let Us Descend: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781982104498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 24th, 2023

Maybe you're like me and see the word inhumanity as a misnomer because vicious brutality seems to define human history. Perhaps inhumanity would be good. Ward’s new novel throws down the gauntlet—just try to find altruism in this American history. Show me where it is! Follow this enslaved woman on a torturous, bound, seemingly endless march to the Deep South, during which the new owners take everything they want. Find your precious humanity! Colson Whitehead did this to me with The Underground Railroad, searing permanent images of human terror into my thoughts. Now Ward adds her own depth and perspective to the terrorism of slavery. Her main character’s true name is Arese, meaning she came in at a good time, but good does not equate to being bought, sold, and herded like livestock to New Orleans, where the stolen people are gathered for movement to the next places of captivity. Still… there’s help from the elemental spirits; there’s beauty in the loving touch of family, guidance in the humming of bees, and surely beauty in the hands of a truly gifted writer. So much spirit and beauty in the writing. It’s about a relentless desire to live in the face of trauma and the possibility of deliverance. It’s a declaration: Time to redefine being human. Time to make it right!


Staff Pick Badge
The Globemakers: The Curious Story of an Ancient Craft By Peter Bellerby Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781639731565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - October 17th, 2023

It started as a quest to buy his father a high quality globe for his 80th birthday. Bellerby searched around the world to find one and failed. It took years after that to be financially ready and get the right help to actually make them himself. It's a process of stunning complexity, building spheres covered with updated cartography for a planet that’s not quite round and then making them beautiful. Today these hand-painted and individually built globes are sold through the company’s website. It's a remarkable story, and this attractive book is nicely organized with inserted information. We learn about geography (with border disputes), astronomy, and exploration, beginning with the first philosophers and mathematicians who understood the Earth was round and estimated its size. We're taught about the first globes and maps and why they were made, and we’re given truly amazing details about the planet Earth itself. It’s fascinating. I’m a bit short of the money needed to buy one of Bellerby’s treasures, but just knowing that they are still being created today is a thrill for a retired teacher. I’ve watched children become entranced by spinning globes for most of my life.


Staff Pick Badge
Death in the Dark Woods (A Monster Hunter Mystery #2) By Annelise Ryan Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593441602
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - December 12th, 2023

Morgan Carter is back! She's the Door County owner of Odds and Ends, a shop that sells very odd artifacts from around the world along with mystery books in which people always meet their end. She’s also a cryptozoologist with multiple college degrees who loves searching for legendary creatures while insisting that proof is necessary before she’ll believe they exist. Last time, she and her very cool dog Newt helped a local sheriff figure out why two dead men had strange bite marks suggesting the possibility of a Nessie-like creature in the waters of Wisconsin. Now law enforcement needs her again, in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, across the Green Bay, where a hunter and a fisherman were viciously killed, apparently by something huge and furry that moved upright on two feet. Could it possibly be? You’ll find out, and for me there’s nothing better than a cozy but deadly autumn adventure set in places where I’ve loved to vacation and then drove away again, fully alive. I’d just say watch your back up north on that next lovely leaf season hike.


Staff Pick Badge
Treasure Island: Runaway Gold By Jewell Parker Rhodes Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780062998354
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - October 3rd, 2023

Zane feels free on his skateboard, sailing through Queens with his dog named Hip-Hop at his side. He’s got his friends from the skatepark, his mom, and his house, but it’s hard because his dad died and now his mom takes in elderly boarders to make ends meet. One of them insists that she’s Captain Maddie, and she’s either got a world of past experience on the seven seas, or she’s just whacked-out crazy. She talks about a treasure that needs protection. Still, she likes Zane, and somehow, he trusts her. So maybe it’s true that pirates are coming for them. Rhodes imagined updating Treasure Island in today’s New York City, wrapping in Manhattan’s stunning maritime history and the brutal side of its checkered past. It worked! She’s a natural storyteller. It’s a very intense, suspenseful story with great characters. Zane is told to “set sail” on a dangerous journey through a bustling city. His crew of friends and his loyal dog help him search for treasure to save his home, with his board as his ship and the city as his sea!


Staff Pick Badge
Being Henry: The Fonz . . . and Beyond By Henry Winkler Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781250888099
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - October 31st, 2023

Henry Winkler is a good story teller. He’s open about everything and everybody, and his story is close to my heart. I was just a bit younger than the fictional Happy Days high schoolers in 1974 when the show started, and I doubt I was the only young Milwaukee teen who felt a little bit safer just because Fonzie showed up in my living room. It’s an odd confession, I know, but true is true. Hearing the Happy Days backstory is fascinating, and it's just a start. From his parents escaping Hitler's Germany for New York, where they called Henry a dumb dog (in German) because he couldn't read (undiagnosed dyslexia), to the many fine roles he’s played beyond The Fonz, the man has struggled through many difficulties and doubts but always felt an intense need to perform. He created characters at his parents’ parties, also on busses, and in so many plays, shows and films, where he’s always been recognized as a talented actor. He’s a good guy, too — kinder to everyone else perhaps than he is to himself. There's a bronze statue of The Fonz in my home town, and I’m happy to say that I have golden memories of Henry Winkler in my thoughts.


Staff Pick Badge
Coyote's Wild Home By Barbara Kingsolver, Lily Kingsolver, Paul Mirocha (Illustrator) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780940719484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gryphon Press - November 28th, 2023

At the same time an adult coyote takes a pup on his first hunt, a human grandfather takes his granddaughter on their first camping trip into an Appalachian forest. The lessons learned by the young coyote and the child about survival and the natural world show a deep understanding of ecosystems, explained clearly with a conversational style. Naturalists Lily and her mother Barbara Kingsolver give us a fine story, and the illustrations by Paul Mirocha are amazing: colorful, vibrant, and realistic without humanizing the forest animals. As an environmental educator myself, I think this picture book will thrill kids who care about nature and want to understand how it works.


Staff Pick Badge
Baumgartner By Paul Auster Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802161444
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press - November 7th, 2023

This compact novel of love and loss and the unexpected details of life that come along for the ride is a testament to literary excellence. The astute, funny, and sometimes biting commentary of an aging philosophy professor tells the story. His loving memories of his exuberant wife, his grudging perseverance in continuing to live, and his very natural desire to keep loving in the face of pain all make him fully relatable to me. While I’m on about him being relatable, his middle name is Tecumseh because his “godless militant” father agreed with me that the indigenous Shawnee defender of his people is the greatest American who ever lived! I’m always relieved to find writing of Paul Auster’s caliber. There seems to be so little time in life to accept much less, and I’ve been given the Boswell booksellers’ gift of spending my personal reading time on any book I want that’s available to us. It’s a priceless gift, and I use it to find writing of Auster’s quality every chance I get.


Staff Pick Badge
Distant Sons: A Novel By Tim Johnston Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781643753591
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - October 17th, 2023

I won’t call Tim Johnston an outstanding writer of thrillers. He’s an outstanding writer. No qualifications are needed, and thriller fans reap the rewards. I've heard that Descent is great, I know that The Current is exceptional, and now Distant Sons joins the list. The dialogue feels true, the settings are finely developed, and the immersive story is intense without trying to be spectacular. Perfect for me. The characters bring their world to us fully and show the humanity we see in ourselves. Three young boys disappeared with barely a clue in the middle 1970s from a single Wisconsin town near the Mississippi River, and the suspicion about one young man back then lives on now into his old age. Forty years after the boys went missing, Sean Courtland and Dan Young are two skilled tradesmen on the road finding work and getting away from their own past lives. In this small river town, they’re about to find more than work… and that more is resolved but still haunting me.


Staff Pick Badge
The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store: A Novel By James McBride Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780593422946
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 8th, 2023

The story opens in 1972, with police questioning the last Jewish resident of Chicken Hill about a skeleton and a mezuzah with a Hebrew inscription found at the bottom of a well. The truth pulls us back to 1925 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, where mostly "colored" people remain on Chicken Hill. Moshe Ludlow, a successful Jewish theater owner who opened his business to Black shows despite much resistance, would leave The Hill as well and move closer to the theaters. His wife Chona won't hear of it. The fiery, beautiful, intellectually relentless crippled woman who survived polio with her spirit intact will stay with her friends and neighbors, running a grocery store at a loss covered by Moshe’s success. She helps all kinds of vulnerable people. We're drawn into every part of Pottstown, where a complex collection of European immigrants and southern Black migrants constantly struggle to survive and adapt, with resentful white Christians and the Klan trying to fend off change. Of course, any mixing in America is more dream than reality, but the moments when people cross dangerous boundaries to help each other can reveal our humanity. And the example Chona sets will matter. This is a deeply human and highly suspenseful story with unforgettable characters. The award-winning Deacon King Kong writer gives us a dramatic new look at our American past.


Staff Pick Badge
Wrecker By Carl Hiaasen Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593376287
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - September 26th, 2023

It never takes Carl Hiaasen long to drop us head first into a mystery. By the end of a single chapter, Wrecker (a nickname he got from a line of paternal ancestors who salvaged shipwrecks) has two mysteries on his hands. One involves a group of men who give him a lot of money just to forget they foolishly grounded their fancy purple speedboat. The other has to do with a girl weeping in the Key West cemetery at night. It’s a place where Wrecker earns big money keeping iguana scat cleaned off a grave that has a mind-bending epitaph. We’re already in deep, and it just keeps getting deeper. Hiaasen uses real environmental issues and disturbing history to create grand and twisted characters, awkward relationships, odd settings, belly laughs, and strong kids who see the world more clearly than most so called grown-ups. He writes with a confidence that translates into my pure enjoyment, whether I’m reading one of his books about fifteen-year-old kids like Wrecker or one that’s meant for warped adults like me.


Staff Pick Badge
This Indian Kid: A Native American Memoir (Scholastic Focus) By Eddie Chuculate Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781338802085
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Focus - September 19th, 2023

Eddie Chuculate offers us the story of an indigenous boy’s day-to-day life, but he was a boy who never lived on a reservation and wasn’t part of America’s distant past. He was a modern kid who lived in racially mixed towns during the 1970s and 80s, and he thinks that makes his story a bit different from the indigenous books he’s read. I do, too. He and I think a lot alike. I’m only six years older than Eddie. We had the exact same old-fashioned shows on our family television sets as kids. We saw the same sports stars play. We both won vinyl records by obsessively calling into radio stations; his was Jimmy Buffett and mine was an entire Led Zeppelin library! He was a better student, and the trouble he got into wasn’t like mine. But the most fascinating difference is that he grew up in rural Oklahoma (where his distant ancestors were forced to go), and my suburban Milwaukee childhood was much further removed from the land and in some ways much more protected. I wasn’t about to hunt rabbits alone with a ten-year-old shotgun-toting friend. Our stark similarities walk side by side with our stark differences, making this memoir of a full childhood mind-bending for me. Eddie tells it with a voice just like he’s a kid back in Oklahoma, a warm, sincere tone that I think will fascinate today’s young people just like it did me.


Staff Pick Badge
What an Owl Knows: The New Science of the World's Most Enigmatic Birds By Jennifer Ackerman Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593298886
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - June 13th, 2023

I’m not an active birder, but they fascinate me and comfort me and somehow make me believe that surviving our maddening times is possible. I've read several books about birds lately, especially owls, because seven-year-old Landon and I shared the experience of Great Horned Owls nesting and hunting in our neighborhood. The Merlin Bird ID app also has me identifying bird species by photos and sound recordings from my phone. Landon intuitively questions me about disrupting their lives while gathering information. Smart boy! Together we watched the Boswell virtual event with Miriam Darlington and Schlitz Audubon Raptor Director Lindsay Obermeier for Darlington's lovely owl memoir The Wise Hours. Lindsay brought out all of the center’s owls, and the conversation was magical - check it out on our virtual event archive. Now Ackerman details the latest owl science and the stories behind the science. She explains our growing understanding of owl species diversity and the dedicated worldwide fight for their preservation. Her writing is energetic and thorough, a missing piece of my developing owl puzzle, and I kept hoping the book and the birds would continue forever.


Staff Pick Badge
Prophet By Helen MacDonald, Sin Blaché Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780802162021
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - August 8th, 2023

How did these writers make a science fiction thriller with a military bent so much fun? I think it’s the freaky X-Files-style mystery that immediately jumps into play, combined with super-smart, snarky dialogue between convincing, entertaining characters. One operative is British (by way of India), and the other is American. They’re reminiscent of Odd Couple roommates with a complicated past who both love and hate each other in equal measure. They have very unusual, essential skills, and the top dogs need their contrasting personalities side by side again. This time they’re confronting a powerful network of forces while looking for answers to what seems out of this world. Indeed! What in the world is Prophet? The authors say they hope we’ll “have a blast” with their book. Done deal! It’s a blast, and it’s also a deep relationship study with beautiful, tender humanity. After reading a bit of Helen Macdonald’s earlier writing, I’m surprised that she’s doing something so different. What doesn’t surprise me is the high level of intelligence. I’ve seen that before from her, and this bright collaboration with Blaché is every bit as impressive!


Staff Pick Badge
Crook Manifesto: A Novel By Colson Whitehead Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780385545150
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 18th, 2023

I don’t like to repeat myself with recommendations, but Whitehead makes it tough to avoid. I said in an earlier review for Harlem Shuffle that I met Colson Whitehead at a Boswell Book Company event once and saw the genius in his eyes, the sly humor, and the sincerity. I added that he's the new King of American Historical Fiction, the new voice as powerful as E. L. Doctorow’s. Is he still a genius? You bet. Still King? Absolutely! (Two Pulitzer Prizes do say a lot.) So, what’s left to say? Just that this is the sequel to Harlem Shuffle (with a third book in the works), and Ray Carney is doing his best to be straight. He was once only “slightly bent when it came to being crooked,” fencing stolen goods from his furniture store. Then his cousin Freddie drew him into a heavy heist. Now, a decade later, he’s just a smart business owner and loving family man with a little sentiment for his past crooked days, but 1971 Harlem is churning with upheaval and “bent hates straight.” Ray’s not one of the city’s many villains, but the churn has him back in the game, a game that inflicts real pain on the losers. I’ll go ahead and repeat that past review one last time. This is greatness! I took my sweet time, savoring every literary morsel.


Staff Pick Badge
The Eyes and the Impossible: (Newbery Medal Winner) Deluxe Wood-Bound Edition By Dave Eggers, Shawn Harris (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Dave Eggers, Shawn Harris (Illustrator)
$28.00
ISBN: 9781952119453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's - May 9th, 2023

Johannes is a free dog, refusing to let himself be kept as a pet the way other dogs do, and he’s a keen observer. He has to be, with his senses trained on everything needed to survive in a huge urban park. He’s the Eyes, and other animals act as his Assistant Eyes. Together they watch for any changes that upset their park Equilibrium, and they report directly to the bison who have long lived as kept animals. Some of the people in the park are a stable and likable part of the Equilibrium. Others pose a threat, and human threats become harrowing in a flash. Young readers will be drawn to the original thinking, wisdom, and sly humor of the animals, as they comment on the strange behaviors of people without seeming human themselves. We get a marvelous look inside a world easily overlooked in our daily lives. We get a spine-tingling, profound conclusion, and we’re treated to a uniquely beautiful book. The artwork, the paper quality, the gilded edges, and the carved wooden cover all make this a book lovers dream!


Staff Pick Badge
The Wise Hours: A Journey into the Wild and Secret World of Owls By Miriam Darlington Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781953534835
Availability: Not in stock at Boswell. Available to order.
Published: Tin House Books - February 7th, 2023

When I really like a book, it's usually more about the writing and less about the topic or the themes. In Darlington’s case, the writing is both exciting and graceful, with a very personal touch, as she explains the mythology and symbolism attached to owls while celebrating their natural world. And I love the topic as well. I've been sharing the experience of seeing Great Horned Owls with a six-year-old child, as they nest in our neighborhood and hunt from our trees. His fascination exceeds even mine. Darlington’s fascination began when she and her son were suddenly face to face with a Great Grey Owl as it gripped its owner’s leather glove. That launched a need to write about owls, both wild and in remarkable domestic places. Then her son got very ill, but she decided to carry on and show us glimpses of her own inner world while writing about theirs. By setting out to find all the wild European owl species as she faced her greatest fear, she’s given us a loving tribute to the beauty and struggle of living, in owls and in the people dedicated to their well-being.


Staff Pick Badge
Home Away From Home By Cynthia Lord Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338726114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - April 18th, 2023

After her parents' divorce, everything's changing for eleven-year-old Mia, including her home. Dad has a new wife and baby. Now mom and her boyfriend want a new house for a new start. It's a relief that she can spend a month in a place where change never seems to arrive. Grandma’s familiar, quiet seaside Maine house will be the perfect spot to talk about fears and uncertainties while Mom and Scott finish selling the only place she's ever lived. If only change will stay away from her one safe home away from home. Lord does skilled work with characters and a grand natural setting to show how the old and the troubling new can inspire wisdom and growth. The life lessons are beautifully drawn, and the storyline is suspenseful, with ethical issues about birding, animals keeping their natural homes, and social media. It’s a warm and uniquely satisfying novel. I’ve been learning to cry (with little progress) my whole life. For this book, I shed wonderful tears.


Staff Pick Badge
The Storyteller By Brandon Hobson Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781338797268
Availability: Not in stock at Boswell. Available to order.
Published: Scholastic Press - May 2nd, 2023

Ziggy is a sweet 6th grade kid. He's also sad and confused. He knows he’s complicated. He gets help with intense anxiety from a therapist and from friends, but nothing much helps with distraction because his mom is always on his mind. She disappeared when he was a baby and never came back. Ziggy knows that many indigenous women disappear, but he can't give up, as it seems his father and older sister Moon have. He imagines them all living together in the past, before Andrew Jackson forced his Cherokee people to face a trail of tears. He imagines a secret New Mexico desert cave holding clues to finding her. He’ll be guided on a nighttime journey that he simply calls “weird,” full of spirits and animal messengers, pretenders and protectors, villains and visionaries, full of powerful stories, all moving him toward a new understanding of living. It’s a new understanding of Mom. She loved birds, and so much more. It’s exhilarating! 


Staff Pick Badge
The Witches of Moonshyne Manor By Bianca Marais Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780778386995
Availability: Not in stock at Boswell. Available to order.
Published: Mira Books - December 22nd, 2023

Oh, man! By that I mean oh, how does a man review a book like this!? Let's start (and end) with the fact that I loved every minute. I loved the characters, and the plot twists, and the very verbal crow. Most of all, I loved the sense that Marais was having as much fun writing as I was reading about a sisterhood of glorious old witches with a long history in a town that’s been mostly ok with them, until something changes. Now their manor and their popular distillery are being attacked by a mob of irrational townsmen (go figure), and reliving their own tragic past could offer them either salvation or destruction. They’re not sure which. Enter the Mayor’s spiky-haired teenage daughter and her dog named Ruth Bader Ginsburg and you’ve got the setup for a lovely riot. So take a break from our very strange real world and pour yourself into this spellbound concoction of laughter and full-blown feminist power, mixed with suspense and dashes of potent wisdom likely to fly into my thoughts forevermore.


Staff Pick Badge
The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History By Ned Blackhawk Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780300244052
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - April 25th, 2023

Blackhawk adds to a series of highly praised recent books on indigenous history by going beyond cultural perspectives to offer an objective and encompassing new look at America. He’s focused on how original communities have both shaped and been shaped by the newcomers to this land throughout U.S. development. Past portrayals of European arrivals leading glorified national progress have been incomplete at best and a continuation of indigenous elimination at worst. Here we have a new foundation for history, showing how all aspects of America have been influenced by its complex Native-newcomer interface. Beginning with the Spanish arrival in the southwest and ending with late 20th century activism to renew self-determination, Blackhawk (Western Shoshone) shows us the work he’s doing as a Yale history professor and faculty coordinator of the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. Meanwhile, I’m the grateful retired teacher who’s forever waking up to the ways our past defines our present. Blackhawk’s advanced scholarship and interpretation are enormous contributions to my quest. His elaborately documented accuracy satisfies beyond anything I’ve read in a career of teaching young children about American history.


Staff Pick Badge
What Happened to Rachel Riley? By Claire Swinarski Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780063213098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - January 10th, 2023

Through a series of emails, passed notes, posts, recordings, texts and traditional narrative, Swinarski tells the story of a new girl at East Middle School who’s trying to solve a mystery. Her teacher gave the class a semester-long un-essay project on any social issue of their choice. Forget recycling. Anna Hunt has a more important social question. How did a girl who was thoughtful enough to help a lost new kid on the first school day go from being super popular to being completely shut out? Nobody will talk about it, and people keep asking why Anna cares. After all, her questions are limiting any hope that she'll find new friends for herself. So, why care? Well, she just does. A nice person like Rachel Riley shouldn’t face dead silence when the principal reads her name on the day's list of Birthdays. I enjoyed this story very much. It has the feel of a good mystery, as Swinarski rolls out a compelling, nuanced plot. Best of all, the beautifully developed characters confront issues and have messages that matter to me. A lot! Oh, and the book is set in Madison. Swinarski is a lifelong Wisconsinite.


This book is stunning, frightening, essential, and exceptionally well written. More than anything else, it has urgency. I felt a constant need to see what came next. Would there ever be some degree of justice for Emmett Till and his family? If so, what would justice look like almost seven decades after “Bobo” Till was brutally executed? The naive fourteen-year-old Chicago kid who didn't understand the Jim Crow American South had a cousin who saw it all begin. Reverend Parker was there that day in 1955 Mississippi, at the store where the young woman worked, the one whose lies caused Emmett’s death. Parker was also in the house, several nights later, where the killers came first to his bedroom before finding and taking Emmett at gunpoint. Parker thought he’d die that night, and he tells us about the lifelong survivor’s guilt. As they marched him to his death, wasn’t Bobo asking himself why his family couldn’t stop them? Wasn’t he pleading for help? Yes. He was. Can Parker ever forgive himself for getting away from Mississippi and going back home without Bobo? This is the story of the endless, twisted struggle to make some justice happen, long after the killers who got away with it have themselves died. And it tells so much more, about the nation, then and now. I feel like it’s my turn to preach, in honor of Reverend Parker. Black people know all about how the Emmett Tills of the world fall, and this country might be better if everybody understood his family’s story.


Staff Pick Badge
Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years By Joy Harjo, Sandra Cisneros (Foreword by) Cover Image
By Joy Harjo, Sandra Cisneros (Foreword by)
$25.00
ISBN: 9781324036487
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 1st, 2022

Joy Harjo offers us this lifetime of poetry, 50 years of listening to her own voice and sharing it with the world. It’s a unique book of poems because she tells us, in detailed notes, her thoughts about each one and how it came to be. It also opens with a loving and revealing forward from Sandra Cisneros, beginning with their early time together at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and moving through a lifelong friendship. I don’t have the knowledge or the desire to analyze these poems. I just listen. And what I hear is exceptionally beautiful and telling, as important as words can be. I give my wholehearted thanks for this gift, for being allowed to hear Joy Harjo, our three-term United States Poet Laureate, open herself to us fully.


The Insect Crisis: The Fall of the Tiny Empires That Run the World By Oliver Milman Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781324050520
Availability: Not in stock at Boswell. Available to order.
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 21st, 2023

Milman gives us a vision of Earth devastated by insect loss, and perhaps we're already on the verge. Many recent studies show dramatic declines in insect species and in the populations of those remaining. Land development, pesticides, and climate change seem to be the key culprits. It may be tempting to say, "Great! Less ants and flies in the kitchen. Less mosquito bites and bee stings. Maybe less disease." Tempting, but insects aren't 75% of all animal life for nothing. They're essential to everything. They pollinate much of our food, they decompose dead plants and animals into soil and soil nutrients for new life, and they feed birds, frogs and endless other creatures we love. Life as we know it collapses without insect biodiversity. It's not a pretty picture, but this is an exceptional book, Milman kept me fascinated with mind boggling numbers and descriptions of extraordinary habitats and insect attributes. He's a compelling, bold writer with a vital wake-up call to change our behavior and adjust our attitudes about what makes life beautiful. Right now.


Staff Pick Badge
Sinister Graves (A Cash Blackbear Mystery #3) By Marcie R. Rendon Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781641293839
Availability: Backordered
Published: Soho Crime - October 11th, 2022

Cash Blackbear is only 19, but she’s already experienced a hell of a lot, including abuse from a white foster family that called her a heathen. Just before foster care, a county sheriff pulled her impaired mother’s car out of a ditch. He watches out for her and got her into college classes, and Cash has been helping him with his cases. In dreams she sometimes sees things before they happen and finds out things she shouldn’t know. She’s just beginning to learn about it and just starting to live her own life. Now spring floods around Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation have carried an Indian woman’s body into a nearby town, and Sheriff Wheaton asks Cash if she sees anything that can help. She definitely sees something. There’s a darkness following this death. Cash has lived through crazy things in foster homes, but she’s about to see a whole new level of crazy. I like Cash Blackbear a lot, and I feel validated because Louise Erdrich likes Cash Blackbear a lot, too. This is the third book in the series but the first that I’ve read. I just bought myself a copy of number one. I love finding a cool new series.


Staff Pick Badge
Lawrence in the Fall By Matthew Farina, Doug Salati (Illustrator), Doug Salati (Cover design or artwork by) Cover Image
By Matthew Farina, Doug Salati (Illustrator), Doug Salati (Cover design or artwork by)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781484780589
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 9th, 2019

Lawrence is worried. The young fox is the only animal who doesn't have any type of collection to share for show-and-tell at school, but Papa fox has a solution. A beautiful, mysterious, and just a little bit frightening trip through the forest will give Lawrence the perfect collection for a special fox like him, and sharing it will start a new adventure with his classmates. Farina and Salati have created a warm combination of story and pictures about the important theme of growing personally in the face of fear. With details highlighting the love of family, the natural world, exploration, and classroom friends, this picture book is a true delight!


Staff Pick Badge
What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking By Tina Oziewicz, Aleksandra Zajac (Illustrator), Jennifer Croft (Translated by) Cover Image
By Tina Oziewicz, Aleksandra Zajac (Illustrator), Jennifer Croft (Translated by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781953861283
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Elsewhere Editions - July 5th, 2022

Oh, this picture book is brilliant! What if each emotion was a little creature? What would it do? This compendium of feelings for kids offers an answer that illuminates who we are as people. The clever, wise, sweet, fun book had me thinking and touched my heart. Among my favorite pages: "patience keeps a lovely garden; trust builds bridges; fear pretends it isn't there; hope makes a sandwich for the road." Loving and lovely!


Staff Pick Badge
Happy-Go-Lucky By David Sedaris Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316392433
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - May 30th, 2023

Once again, David Sedaris lovingly, and with full frontal honesty, embraces the strange ironies of being human: the cold pandemic realities, the oddly positive final days of a tough relationship with his father, America demanding that Black Lives Matter, the fortress of love he’s built with his sisters and with Hugh. The shopping! The best thing about reading Happy-Go-Lucky is that it flows so fast. This is a credit to marvelous writing and storytelling. It's like canoeing a river and immediately knowing you won’t need the paddle. The current carries you, and if you don't run full speed into all the worldly snags and boulders put in your way, then you're just not on the right trip. So enjoy the ride and throw the paddle overboard. That endangered turtle you just cruised past will make better use of it.


Staff Pick Badge
Sea of Tranquility: A novel By Emily St. John Mandel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593466735
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - March 28th, 2023

I'm trying to understand why Mandel's writing casts a spell on me. I don’t have a complete answer, but I’ve decided on this: her style is steady and beautiful, she’s smart without sounding pretentious, and her characters feel true. There's a flesh and blood intimacy about them that makes me feel safe in their world, even as we’re brought to the edge of catastrophe. When tragedy comes, I want to face it with these fictional people. This novel builds on The Glass Hotel (which I loved!) and Station Eleven (which I now must read!). It brings the past and future together as if connections across time are waiting to be discovered. It throws our reality into doubt by questioning how we came to be, and it shows us that technology will never hide our humanity. I’ll forgo the summary and just say that Mandel has created a dazzling story with humble simplicity, then tied it tight with a perfect ending.


Staff Pick Badge
The Ski Jumpers: A Novel By Peter Geye Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781517913496
Availability: Special Order - There is a small chance we can get this title
Published: Univ Of Minnesota Press - September 13th, 2022

Families are held together in such unusual ways, and Johannes Bargaard has a family stretched so thin he hasn’t seen his beloved brother Anton for decades. Ski jumping is the one thread from their glory days that’s unbroken, but time is running out for Jon and Anton to do more than hide the frightening secrets that pushed them apart. Jon’s been told he has younger-onset Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know how long he’ll be able to trust his own mind or if he can finish writing one last successful novel. Their father’s funeral may be the only time left to fully uncover the bitter past. Geye gets the little details right as he brings his characters’ world to life, and his spectacular winter scenes of ski jumpers taking flight, from Chicago and throughout Minnesota to Madison and Lake Placid, surrounded me with a beautiful literary warmth. The Ski Jumpers, just as Northernmost did before it, will surely have me looking for Geye’s next book!


Voices of Milwaukee Bronzeville (American Heritage) By Sandra E. Jones Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9781467148887
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: History Press - September 20th, 2021

They didn’t call it Bronzeville in the 1920s, 30s or 40s, back when the women and men interviewed for this book were born. They all agree on that. It was just where they lived, a tightly-knit community of hard-working people with a variety of backgrounds and income levels, arrivals from Europe, and African Americans who’d moved north. Children played on the sidewalks and at Lapham Park. They started working very young and knew that any trouble they got into would mean neighbors giving a full report to their parents. Look out then! I’m grateful to Dr. Jones for this warm story of strong people. She tells us about successes of the earliest Black people in Wisconsin and Milwaukee, and she shares detailed stories from a thriving community that’s come to be lovingly known as Bronzeville. She also explains the injustices of housing restrictions and loss from freeways built through the heart of a neighborhood still remembered, then shows us how Milwaukee African Americans continue today to “make a way out of no way.” It’s a story that this life-long Milwaukee area resident did not know and one I needed to know. Thank you, Dr. Jones!


Staff Pick Badge
Virgil Wander By Leif Enger Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802147127
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - August 20th, 2019

Virgil Wander’s name is ironic because he’s been in one place for a long time, a beautiful but rugged Lake Superior town that’s well past its best days. Then Rune arrives, a magnetic man with a talent for making and flying wonderfully unusual kites, a man closely tied to everyone’s past, and a sign of their future. As he meets Rune, Virgil is recovering from a concussive near-death crash into the lake. It’s changed him; he’s more direct, more openly emotional, a little irreverent. He’s told to “watch out.” Maybe his name is a calling. It’s easy to like Enger’s characters. Their intelligence and sincerity make a winter setting feel warm and open to unlikely renewal. And the story is engaging, expertly crafted for anticipation and suspense. If you want a great holiday read, and a welcome reprieve from negativity, Virgil Wander is perfect!


Staff Pick Badge
Prairie Lotus By Linda Sue Park Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780358454632
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - March 22nd, 2022

With Prairie Lotus, Newbery Medal winner Linda Sue Park has written a gem of American historical fiction for middle grade readers. In her author's note, Park says it's a story she's been writing nearly all her life. "It is an attempt to reconcile my childhood love of the Little House books with my adult knowledge of their painful shortcomings." To reconcile the attitudes of Laura Ingalls Wilder's characters toward people of color while honoring the books, Park gives us 14-year-old Hanna, the half Asian daughter of a white father and a mother who was both Chinese and Korean. After her mother's tragic illness and death, Hanna and her father leave California in 1880 for the Dakota Territory, where four Little House books were also set. Hanna will need all the loving wisdom Mama gave her in order to be strong in the face of challenges and injustices from people who have never lived around a Chinese person and react very badly. The things Hanna and Mama wanted for her - going to school, designing beautiful dresses, even walking safely in town - can seem impossible, but it's the details of meeting these problems on a frontier that make the book so textured and meaningful. Hanna is a strong, determined girl who will search for ways to treat everyone justly, and to find just treatment for herself. This is richly developed Americana, and I am deeply grateful!