Books & News to give you Paws

May 2014

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The Best of Itasca release party!

Deane Johnson has a new book, and we’re celebrating its release on May 10! The book is The Best of Itasca and it’s a guide to Minnesota’s first state park, including lots of pictures.

Join us at noon on the 10th for cake, revelry—and a chance to get a copy of the book just before you start your summer treks to Itasca!

Jen recently interviewed Deane about the book. Here’s an edited version:

The Best of Itasca

Jen: What prompted you to do Best of Itasca?
Deane: I’ve always enjoyed Itasca State Park… I went into the gift shop to buy a trail guide, and found out that their spiral bound guide was no longer available. So I decided to do one myself!

Jen: Which came first—photographs or text?
Deane: We were on a hike in June 2010 when I took a photo of a boy studying a Showy Lady’s slipper.  That photo, my work on Jill’s Book, Little Minnesota: 100 Towns Around 100, and a volunteer photo project on Dr. Roberts Trail encouraged me to look for more scenes that might tell the story of the park and its trails.  I began hiking the trails and writing in the fall of 2012, once Little Minnesota activities had settled down a bit. Then, at my publisher’s suggestion, I became immersed in the history of the park, which expanded the scope of the whole project.

Jen: If you were to advise a first time visitor to Itasca Park, what would you say is an absolute MUST?
Deane: Besides the Headwaters, which is the most famous attraction and a joy for all ages, a great starting point is the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Displays focus on the natural and human history of the park and highlight the park’s favorite trails and attractions.  The guidebook also lists some other favorite sights and hiking trails in the “Best of Itasca” section at the beginning. The naturalist programs, some of which are tailored to children, are also essential to enriching your knowledge and appreciation of the park’s resources.

Jen: What’s your favorite thing to do when visiting Itasca State Park?                 
Deane: When Jill and I go up there with friends, one favorite is a hike to the Aiton Heights Fire Tower, another is a bike around the park on the Bike Trail and Wilderness Drive, followed by lunch at Douglas Lodge. I’ve hiked around Dr. Roberts Trail dozens of times, but I never get tired of it, as it runs through so many different forest communities, always changing throughout the seasons. 

Jen: Do you have plans to do books about other parks?
Deane: Hey, that sounds like fun!  Wait a sec—let me catch my breath.

Jen: What’s your next project?
Deane: In addition to some ongoing music adventures, I’m open to possibilities.


SIster Wolf Books 20th aniversary logo

Sister Wolf opens for the season May 8! We hope you’ll be in soon to check out new books and other fun merchandise, to talk books, and to catch up with us.

It’s our 20th anniversary, and we’ll be celebrating all summer! We’ll have a new drink in the coffee bar, commemorative t-shirts, a birthday party on July 20, and on the 20th of June, July, and August we’ll be giving away tote bags filled with books. Come join the fun!

Book groups will be organizing soon—check the Book Groups page for information.

BestSellers in April

Beagle Books

book book book
The New Midwestern Table

  12 Years a Slave

  Orphan Train

  book   book
Shotgun Lovesongs
  Her Honor   Benediction

Hannah EkrenNotes from Hannah

How We Read

With my new job, I spend the majority of my evenings reading entire books. I’ve come to relish the rare evenings when I don’t go home with a manuscript or proposal. Last night was such an evening, so I chose to read a book for pleasure. After about an hour of reading, I realized that the way I read has totally changed, and not for the first time.

It’s not a matter of what I read, but the way my brain processes the text. In college and grad school, I had to read critically and dissect text in relation to theory or history. I read closely, so I could tear the text apart and rebuild from my viewpoint. Then I began my blog and I was reading to process the feeling, rather than the meaning or value behind the book. Now, I read rather technically—not in a grammatical way, but looking for plot points so that I can talk about why the book works, or doesn’t. As I read for pleasure last night, I realized that I’ve begun to put down mental tabs at certain points in the text in a way I never have before.

I’m realizing now that we talk a lot about WHAT we read, but we never really talk about HOW we read. How do you read? And how has that changed over your lifetime?

Hannah was a bookseller at both Beagle and Sister Wolf and is now making her way in the publishing world in New York City.

Midwest Connections logo

Midwest Connections
Books or authors of particular interest to our region

bookDestroyer Angel
by Nevada Barr

Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the U.S. Park Services, sets off on vacation—an autumn canoe trip in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters. With Anna is her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and her daughter, Katie, who is thirteen. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test a new cutting edge line of camping equipment. The equipment, designed by Leah, will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen.

On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River.  When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken other the two women and their daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country.

bookThis is a Moose
by Richard T. Morris and Tom Lichtenheld

When a movie director tries to capture the life of a moose on film, he’s in for a big surprise. It turns out the moose has a dream–he wants to be an astronaut and go to the moon. His forest friends step in to help him, and action ensues. Lots of action. Like a lacrosse-playing grandma, a gigantic slingshot into space, and a flying, superhero chipmunk. In this hilarious romp, readers are reminded to dream big.  

The book was a close collaboration between writer and illustrator. We recently received a letter from them and their marketing director outlining their process:

Richard (author): People have asked how I came up with the crazy idea of a nature documentary about a moose that refused to act like a moose. It started with one of the funniest words in the English language: “Moose.”

Tom (illustrator): This was such a fun book to illustrate. I got the humor, I liked the original voices, and I loved creating this whole world.

Richard:  Creating is a bit overreaching. Let’s stick with illustrating, okay?

Tom:  That’s fine, Richard. Let’s just make sure we refer to you as the writer. Okay?

The Writer:  That’s cute, Tom. I can change your title as well. The fact is, without my story there is no book.

The Illustrator:  Without my illustrations this book is either bad poetry or kid’s radio.

Bad Poet Richard:  Well, you traced.

Tracer Tom:  How dare you!

Marketing Director:  Guys, you’re blowing it. Richard, do you recall how Tom helped you find the ending?

Richard:  Yeah

Marketing Director:  And Tom, do you remember how Richard helped you find the image for the canoe rocket?

Tom:  Yeah.

Marketing Director:  Don’t you see! You and both the creators of This is a Moose!

Richard and Tom:  Yes, making this book was truly a collaboration and that’s what made it so much fun!

We think you’ll have fun with the book, too!

by Susan Gloss

This novel, in the vein of The Friday Night Knitting Club, centers around a Midwestern vintage clothing shop and a group of women who eventually transform the store and each others’ lives.

Within an engaging story, Vintage beautifully captures the essence of women’s friendship and love, of possibility, of finding renewal and hope
when we least expect it.

The Indies Choice Books Awards

The Indies Choice Books Awards were recently announced. These books are selected by Indie booksellers (like us!) across the country. Winning children’s books are listed in Youth Yak.

Adult Fiction Book of the Year

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson (see Hannah’s review)

Adult Nonfiction Book of the Year

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown

Adult Debut Book of the Year

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel
by Anthony Marra

Young Adult Book of the Year

Eleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell

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