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29 september 2014

Nearly all Newbery Medal winners – and a host of children's books besides – feature a protagonist who is such an avid reader that he or she will keep their nose in a book during troubles that would dishearten a fairy-tale prince. Nat Bowditch in Jean Lee Latham's 1956 Medal book Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is certainly a reader, but a unique one for his genre: he loves to read math textbooks. He's one of the few children's-lit protagonists that I know of who is way better at 'rithmetic than he is at reading.     read more

28 september 2014

Earlier this year, in Glacier National Park, I was stalked by a deer. A hungry doe with no fear of humans followed us along a rather busy hiking trail. People stopped in awe, and the noise we were all supposed to make to scare away grizzly bears melted away. I was reminded of this experience by John Fletcher's insistence, in his book Deer, that human encounters with deer are privileged. They contain something of magic, something of wildness, something of wonder – even when the encounter is with a scruffy and streetwise park veteran.     read more

21 september 2014

Duell is a slow-moving detective novel. I should add that when I'm reading in German, even translator Coletta Bürling's beautifully lucid German, I appreciate a slow pace and plenty of repetition. One of the reasons I like German translations of Arnaldur Indriðason so much is that if I miss a nuance in one sentence, I'll get six or seven more passes over the same material.     read more

30 august 2014

When I was a kid in the 1960s in Chicago, a major treat was going to see the dolphins at Brookfield Zoo. What I didn't realize at the age of six was that the dolphins had only been there a few years; the dolphin exhibit at Brookfield is a little younger than I am. What I certainly didn't realize is that there had been no dolphin exhibits anywhere till a scant 20 years before I was born. Dolphin shows are one of those things that were brand-new just in time to seem to me like they'd been around forever.     read more