Tag Archives: Quirk Books

Petrucelli Picks: 2018 Gift Guide: Last-Minute Presents With Presence, Part Two. Santa, Take Note.

The ultimate and timeless Christmas story, with cuddly guinea pigs in the starring roles. Miserable to the core and wholly unwilling to extend a paw to help those in desperate need, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge says “Bah, Humbug!” to the festive season. But one night he is visited by three Christmas Spirits who take him on a journey through time, so he can see the error of his ways and learn the true meaning of Christmas.

A Guinea Pig Christmas Carol is Charles Dickens’s joyful Christmas tale, retold in an entirely new way.


In 1964, Kathy McKeon was just 19 and newly arrived from Ireland when she was hired as the personal assistant to former First Lady Jackie Kennedy. The next 13 years of her life were spent in Jackie’s service, during which Kathy not only played a crucial role in raising young Caroline and John Jr., but also had a front-row seat to some of the twentieth century’s most significant events.

Kathy called Jackie “Madam,” she considered her employer more like a big sister who, in many ways, mentored her on how to be a lady. Kathy was there during Jackie and Aristotle Onassis’s courtship and marriage and Robert Kennedy’s assassination, dutifully supporting Jackie and the children during these tumultuous times in history.|

McKeon’s Jackie’s Girl (Gallery Books, $16) is a moving personal story of a young woman finding her identity and footing in a new country, along with the help of the most elegant woman in America.


When Tony Kushner’s Angels in America hit Broadway in 1993, it won the Pulitzer Prize, swept the Tonys, launched a score of major careers and changed the way gay lives were represented in popular culture.

Now, on the 25th anniversary of that Broadway premiere, Isaac Butler and Dan Kois offer The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America (Bloomsbury, $30), the definitive account of Angels in America in the most fitting way possible: through oral history, the vibrant conversation and debate of actors, directors, producers, crew and Kushner himself. Their intimate storytelling reveals the on- and offstage turmoil of the play’s birth–a hard-won miracle beset by artistic roadblocks, technical disasters, and disputes both legal and creative.


Everyone [well, almost everyone] is just wild about Harry. Prince Henry of Wales has made headlines all over the world with his unruly antics [think Nazi], but instead of being sidelined as the House of Windsor’s biggest liability,  Harry has emerged as the jewel in the crown of the modern British Monarchy.

Prince Harry: The Inside Story by [Larcombe, Duncan]

Prince Harry: The Inside Story (Harper360, $16.99), Duncan Larcombe’s insightful and entertaining biography of the rebellious royal, recalls Harry’s Eton exploits, his military career and his tempestuous love life, as well as revisiting some events that the prince would probably prefer to forget, such as his notorious Nazi fancy dress which landed him in a global storm of criticism. But despite a string of incidents that would normally destroy the career of any aspiring public figure, Harry has a mysterious gift. The more scrapes Harry gets in, the more the public seem to love him.


Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama team up in Hope never Dies (Quirk Books, $14.99),  high-stakes thriller that combines a mystery worthy of Watson and Holmes.

Biden is fresh out of the Obama White House and feeling adrift when his favorite railroad conductor dies in a suspicious accident, leaving behind an ailing wife and a trail of clues. To unravel the mystery, “Amtrak Joe” re-teams with the only man he’s ever fully trusted: the 44th president of the United States. Together they’ll plumb the darkest corners of Delaware, traveling from cheap motels to biker bars and beyond, as they uncover the sinister forces advancing America’s opioid epidemic.Part noir thriller and part bromance, Hope Never Dies is essentially the first published work of Obama/Biden fiction—and a cathartic read for anyone distressed by the current state of affairs.


Covering fiction, poetry, science and science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children’s books, history and more, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die (Workman, $35) ranges across cultures and through time to offer an eclectic collection of works that each deserve to come with the recommendation, ‘You have to read this’. But it’s not a proscriptive list of the “great works”—rather, it’s a celebration of the glorious mosaic that is our literary heritage.


In Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine, and Mysteries of Blood (Metropolitan Books, $30), Rose George takes us from ancient practices of bloodletting to the breakthough of the “liquid biopsy,” which promises to diagnose cancer and other diseases with a simple blood test. She introduces Janet Vaughan, who set up the world’s first system of mass blood donation during the Blitz, and Arunachalam Muruganantham, known as “Menstrual Man” for his work on sanitary pads for developing countries. She probes the lucrative business of plasma transfusions, in which the US is known as the “OPEC of plasma.” And she looks to the future, as researchers Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown & Company, $30) seek to bring synthetic blood to a hospital near you.

Spanning science and politics, stories and global epidemics, Nine Pints reveals our life’s blood in an entirely new light.


As Chief Official White House Photographer, Pete Souza spent more time alongside President Barack Obama than almost anyone else. His years photographing the President gave him an intimate behind-the-scenes view of the unique gravity of the Office of the Presidency–and the tremendous responsibility that comes with it.

Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents by [Souza, Pete]Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown & Company, $30) is a portrait in Presidential contrasts, telling the tale of the Obama and Trump administrations through a series of visual juxtapositions. Here, more than one hundred of Souza’s unforgettable images of Obama deliver new power and meaning when framed by the tweets, news headlines, and quotes that defined the first 500 days of the Trump White House. In Shade, Souza’s photographs are more than a rejoinder to the chaos, abuses of power, and destructive policies that now define our nation’s highest office. They are a reminder of a President we could believe in, and a courageous defense of American values.


Drawing on extensive research and reporting, Heidi Waleson, one of the foremost American opera critics, recounts the history of this scrappy company and reveals how, from the beginning, it precariously balanced an ambitious artistic program on fragile financial supports. Mad Scenes and Exit Arias: The Death of the New York City Opera and the Future of Opera in America by [Waleson, Heidi]

Above all, Mad Scenes and Exit Arias (Metropolitan Books, $30) is a story of money, ego, changes in institutional identity, competing forces of populism and elitism, and the ongoing debate about the role of the arts in society. It serves as a detailed case study not only for an American arts organization, but also for the sustainability and management of nonprofit organizations across the country.


Petrucelli Picks: 2018 Gift Guide: Last-Minute Presents With Presence, Part One. Santa, Take Note.

In Giant: Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean, Edna Ferber, and the Making of a Legendary American Film  (St. Martin’s Press; $27.99)  Don Grahamoffers a larger-than-life narrative of the making of the classic film based on Edna Ferber’s controversial novel. Taking a wide-angle view of America—and Texas—in the Eisenhower era, Graham reveals how the film and its production mark the rise of America as a superpower, the ascent of Hollywood celebrity, and the flowering of Texas culture as mythology. Featuring James Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor, Giant dramatizes a family saga against the background of the oil industry and its impact upon ranching culture—think Spindletop Hill in Beaumont, Texas, and the fabled King Ranch in South Texas. Almost as good as the film.


One of the most delightful books of the season: 100 Christmas Wishes: Vintage Holiday Cards from The New York Public Library (St. Martin’s Griffin, $17.99). Archivists selected some of the best cards from the library’s extensive collection; from the elegant, gilded Santa Clauses and statuesque angels, to yuletide still lifes, tumbling tots and puppies with bows round their necks, each card is a beautiful celebration of the holiday season. The book also includes six perforated postcards with reproductions of the designs so you too can share a vintage Christmas wish with friends and family on your list.


How do you start a fire? Ask for a pay raise (and get it)? Save yourself from choking. The answers (and then some) are found in GQ How to Win at Life: The Expert Guide to Excelling at Everything You Do ( Firefly Books, $19.95).

Based on personal expertise, interviews with foremost authorities and wisdom from GQ‘s editors, Charlie Burton shows men how to win at fashion, sport, food and drink, work, romance, travel  . . . well everything. Eight chapters comprising 75 entries cover life’s must-have skills. Bold illustrations highlight the succinct step-by-step instructions that will guarantee success.


It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.


On September 11, 2001, Joe Maio went to work in the north tower of the World Trade Center. He never returned, leaving behind a wife, Sharri, and 15-month old son, Devon. Five years later, Sharri remarried, and Devon welcomed a new dad into his life.

For thousands, the whole country really, 9/11 is a day of grief. For Adam and Sharri Maio Schefter and their family it’s not just a day of grief, but also hope. This is a story of 9/11, but it’s also the story of 9/12 and all the days after. Life moved on. Pieces were picked up. New dreams were dreamed. The Schefters are the embodiment of that.

The Man I Never Met: A Memoir (St. Martin’s Press , $26.99) gives voice to all those who have chosen to keep living. It’s gratifying and beautiful. But also messy and hard. Like most families. Except that one day every year history comes roaring back. How do you embrace that? How do you honor that?


Noted animal photographer Lara Jo Regan combines two universally popular subjects—dogs and beaches—in a fresh, delightful book.  sand in dog, beach, travel and animal photography.

Regan spent three years shooting Dogs on the Beach (Myth and Matter Media, $21.99), traveling to some of the most scenic seascapes in America to capture the primal joy of dogs romping and rolling in the sand, splashing in surf, lounging in the sun and even catching a few waves. A true chronicle of remarkable intimate images of blissed-out dogs in paradise.


Zora Neale Hurston’s genius is woven throughout a major literary event. The newly published work Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (Amistad, $24.99),with a foreword from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker , brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last-known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last “Black Cargo” ship to arrive in the United States.

During an intense three-month period, Hurston and Cudjo Lewis communed over her gifts of peaches and watermelon, and gradually Cudjo, a poetic storyteller, began to share heartrending memories of his childhood in Africa; the attack by female warriors who slaughtered his townspeople; the horrors of being captured and held in the barracoons of Ouidah for selection by American traders; the harrowing ordeal of the Middle Passage aboard the Clotilda as “cargo” with more than one hundred other souls; the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War; and finally his role in the founding of Africatown. An important history lesson for ll.


How did grandpa make a spoon cry? How did he make Doris the Dot dance? What’s going on here? From professional magician Allan Zola Kronzek comes Grandpa Magic: 116 Easy Tricks, Amazing Brainteasers, and Simple Stunts to Wow the Grandkids (Workman, $16.95), crammed with 116  tricks, stunts and brainteasers that will engage the grandchildren and provide giggles, jaw-dropping awe, and wonderful memories.


We were delighted to find and read The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E.H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon (Harper Design, $29.99), in which James Campbell offers a thorough account of the origins and development of the characters who populate the Hundred Acre Wood, complete with more than 125 images, many of which have never been published before—including previously unseen sketches, the first illustrations of Pooh, finished artwork, personal family photographs, and memorabilia.


This book is causing quite the buzz! Flying in for inspection: Turn This Book into a Beehive! And 19 Other Experiments and Activities that Explore the Amazing World of Bees (Workman, $19.95),  an indispensable guide with a removable book jacket and tear-away paper nesting tubes that turn into a home for mason bees, with each “room” providing space for 10 to 12 mason bee babies.Click here to view book cover image.

Packed with 19 sensory-driven experiments and activities that offer a deeper understanding of what it’s like to be a bee, this nifty book provides an early introduction to environmentalism and offers inspiration for burgeoning conservationists. Readers can make a buzzer that replicates the noise made by a bee’s wings, trace back the ingredients and materials in their favorite foods and clothing to see just how closely mason bees influence our daily lives, and create safe sprays that will make everything from urban gardens to open yards a welcome, healthy environments for these super-pollinators.


When news of the Pulse nightclub shooting hit in 2016, several media outlets referred to a devastating predecessor: The Up Stairs Lounge fire of 1973. In Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation (Liveright Publishing , $26.95), Robert Fieseler reveals the true story of the fire that devastated the gay community of New Orleans and ignited a national movement.

In a landmark feat of historical detection undertaken during a year and a half spent in New Orleans, journalist Robert W. Fieseler here recovers the firsthand testimonies of survivors, witnesses, and relatives; through Fieseler’s interviews, it becomes painfully clear that it is only now, decades later, that these survivors feel willing to claim this story—a story that no one dared touch for so long.


Have a knack for mastering Morse code? Want to discover whether your crossword hobby might have seen you recruited into the history books? Think you could have contributed to the effort to crack the Nazis’ infamous Enigma code? Then Bletchley Park Brainteasers: The World War II Codebreakers Who Beat the Enigma Machine–And More Than 100 Puzzles and RiddlesThat Inspired Them (Quercus, $16.99) was made for you.

When scouring the population for codebreakers, Bletchley Park recruiters left no stone unturned. They devised various ingenious mind-twisters to assess the puzzle-solving capacity of these individuals–hidden codes, cryptic crosswords, secret languages, and complex riddles. These puzzles, together with the fascinating recruitment stories that surround them, are contained in this book, endorsed by Bletchley Park itself.


Hidden entrances, dark places, low music, smoke, women, crime and lots of alcohol: In the days of Prohibition (1920-1933), these were the explosive ingredients of the American speakeasy.

Frequented by gangsters such as Al Capone and Lucky Luciano, these underground bars and nightclubs have become the symbol of an epoch immortalized in cinema and literature. The new speakeasies are inspired by the typical unmistakable atmosphere of the beginning of the 20th century, when it was necessary to speak under your breath to avoid detection by the police. These trendy bars have often been conceived by keen bartenders, who rediscovered the tastes of the mixed drinks of the ’20s and ’30s. Enter the glory of  Speakeasy: Secret Bars Around the World (Shelter Harbor Press , $24.95).


Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Buddy Holly, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Peter Frampton, Joan Jett, Jimmy Page, Dimebag Darrell, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters, Chuck Berry, Sister Rosetta Tharpe. . .  and the list goes on and on. Guitars and Heroes (Firefly Books, $29.95) is organized by era, from the rockabilly pioneers to the guitar heroes of the future.

Each chapter contains portraits of guitarists (past and present) and their favorite instruments. The authoritative text describes the musician’s favored guitar or guitars and why they prefer them, often revealing a hidden facet of the musician’s artistic approach. Guitars and Heroes is a sensational encyclopedia for all guitarists, guitar geeks, collectors and avid listeners, and an essential purchase for all collections.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer: A Picture Book (Quirk Books, $18.99) allows  young readers see what the world’s strongest vampire slayer was like back when she was a kid Join not-so-brave little Buffy, Willow and Xander as they investigate strange sounds coming from the closet, seek advice from their school librarian Giles, and encounter everyone’s favorite Buffyverse monsters.

Charmingly illustrated by Pop Classics artist Kim Smith, this sweet, silly, and not-so-scary book borrows Joss Whedon’s beloved characters to tell an endearing bedtime story.


Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President Is Missing (Knopf/Little,Brown $30) is a superlative thriller . . . one that can really happen, and one that must not be missed. The mystery confronts a threat so huge that it jeopardizes not just Pennsylvania Avenue and Wall Street, but all of America. Uncertainty and fear grip the nation. There are whispers of cyberterror and espionage and a traitor in the Cabinet. Even the President himself becomes a suspect, and then he disappears from public view.

Set over the course of three days, The President Is Missing sheds a stunning light upon the inner workings and vulnerabilities of our nation. Filled with information that only a former Commander-in-Chief could know, this is the most authentic, terrifying novel to come along in many years. And a timely, historic story that will be read-and talked about-for years to come.


In 1923, Mary Pickford and hubby Douglas Fairbanks, along with the “Beverly Hills Eight” Harold Lloyd, Rudolph Valentino, Will Rogers, Tom Mix, Fred Neblo and Conrad Nagel,  eight stars of the silver screen leveraged their fame to campaign against the annexation of Beverly Hills, the young city they called home, to Los Angeles. Their campaign was a success, and politics in the U.S. would never be the same again.The Battle for Beverly Hills: A City's Independence and the Birth of Celebrity Politics by [Clare, Nancie] For them, Beverly Hills was a refuge from Los Angeles and its relentless press. Instead of the larger, institutionally corrupt police force,

Beverly Hills had a smaller, separate constabulary that was less likely to work hand in glove with the studios and more willing to look the other way at violations of the Prohibition Act.  In The Battle for Beverly Hills (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) Nancie Clare reveals how the stars battled to keep their city free from the clutches of a rapacious Los Angeles and lay the groundwork for celebrity influence and political power. With a nuanced eye and fantastic storytelling, Clare weaves an irresistible tale of glamour, fame, gossip, and politics.

Gift Guide 2017: Petrucelli Picks the Best Books, Toys & Games, DVDs and Apps for Kids of the Year

We start a new chapter every time we get to read and cherish a new books. And we read and cherish many every year. It was tough, but we choose these as must-read, must-have for every library.

Walter and the Wallet (Eifrig Publishing, $14.99) Walter Whippingdale is having the worst day of his life. The girl he likes is making googly eyes at another boy in his class. He struck out during recess. He broke his favorite watch. A giant pimple appeared on his nose. And to top it off, he somehow managed to get mustard in his eye at lunch! Walking home from school, his head is hanging low. Which is precisely how Walter spots a wallet lying in the street . . . a wallet bursting with cash. Suddenly, his terrible day is about to change. But how? Cash in on this is a lovely, lyrical tale full of life lessons. 
 
Ralphie, Always Loved (About Something Good , $14.99 or $7.99) will remind you of all that is good, and reaffirm your belief in love’s power to uplift and transform. Anyone who has felt a deep connection with their own beloved pet will find joy, kindness and light in Ralphie’s story; the book is perfect for sharing with little ones as well as friends and family. The cat’s meow! aboutsomethinggood.com/ralphie-always-loved/
 
The Global Warming Express (Terra Nova Books, $14.99) Whoever thought such an important issue could make for a fabulous kid’s book? We have placed the Earth in peril—through pollution, global warming, oil spills and our general disrespect and neglect of the environment. Those who respond first are the animals. There is The Fluff, a penguin; Creamy, a harp seal; Tomás, a black bear; Flora, a polar bear; and Lady Athabasca, a whooping crane, among others. The animals have all suffered from destruction to their habitats and neglect of the environment, and want to do something about it. They jump on a magical train powered by positive thoughts and take off to let others know about the problems Earth’s creatures are facing. This is the perfect book to begin conversations, educate kids and parents, and even help start up school programs in every neighborhood. terranovabooks.com/the-global-warming-express.html
 

Whenever the wind breaks, poor Argyle Fox has a tough time. With his signature style, he wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: WoooshMama Fox tells grumpy Argyle that if he thinks long enough, he will come up with something to do. Following his mother’s suggestion and inspired by her knitting, he works all the pieces of his day together and creates the perfect solution. Argyle’s story, warmly told in Argyle Fox  (Tanglewood Publishing, $17.99) shows that failure is often a path to success and celebrates perseverance, creative thinking, and an old-fashioned springtime activity. tanglewoodbooks.com/books/picture-books/argyle-fox/

We don’t usually recommend pop-up books for wee ones since inquisitive minds (and hands!) destroy such wondersl We make an exception with The Nutcracker: A Papercut Pop-Up Book (Thames & Hudson, $19.95), knowing parents and grandparents will protect papercut artist Shobhna Patel’s exquisite retelling of Tchaikovsky’s ballet using an entirely new pop-up technique featuring dazzling laser-cut illustrations that will enchant readers young and old. Patel has invented a new paper-engineering technique called the “paperscope,” which is used for the first time in this charming book. The book features four pop-up paperscopes that spring when the reader presses each paperscope down with their hand to reveal the scene hidden within. The effect is one of a magical series of stage sets, recalling the story’s origins as a ballet. Simply magnificent!

Public Media Distribution and PBS Distribution have enough great DVDs to fill 1,367 stockings and appeal to the young (and young-at-heart). Three faves: We loved Miffy’s Adventures Big and Small: Play Date With Miffy, an all-new DVD from the lovable and popular children’s Nick Jr. TV series. Miffy's Adventures Big and Small: Play Date with Miffy! DVDChildren will enjoy watching Miffy and her friends Melanie and Grunty as they embark on adventures and new experiences, sing memorable songs and have fun–all the while learning about kindness, respect, and friendship. Miffy and friends jump in puddles, take a ballet lesson, play hide and seek and much more in these 11 fun-filled playtime adventures. We also loved Wild Kratts: Wild Winter Creatures!Product Details Join Martin Kratt and Chris Kratt as they embark on four snowy winter adventures from their hit PBS KIDS series. Chris and Martin continue to face Zach Varmitech when he kidnaps a polar bear cub and a walrus calf, and again when he threatens to use an entire walrus herd to mine precious pearls for Donita Donata’s fashion line. Entertaining and educational. Super Why: Super Why Sleeping Beauty & OtherSuper Why: Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairytale Adventures takes Super Readers on four classic adventures. You will especially love the Sleeping Beauty segment. The Super Readers travel into the famous story of Sleeping Beauty to speak with a Princess who loves sleeping just as much as Princess Pea loves tea parties!

Disney Book Group has oodles of nifty books for the wee ones. Disney Baby: My First Christmas ($8.99) introduces Baby to the wonders of Christmas with Mickey and friends. From sticky candy canes to fluffy white snow, Baby will delight in the touch and feel elements of this engaging board book. Join Olaf on a fantastic adventure in Olaf’s Frozen Adventure Olaf’s Journey ($12.99), a board book featuring LED lights showing through every page. In The Twelve Days of Christmas ($16.99), Theodor Seuss Geisel Award-Winning Greg Pizzoli’s pitch-perfect humor gives this classic carol new life. As more and more gifts show up in the story, fans of Greg’s previous books will love identifying familiar animals. This hilarious interpretation with festive foil on the cover makes for a perfect holiday gift. When a series of animals come knocking at the door seeking a warm place to sleep, there’s always room for one more! William’s Winter Nap ($17.99) is the perfect read-aloud for a cold winter night. Product DetailsLinda Ashman’s playful rhymes, paired with Chuck Groenink’s irresistible animal illustrations, will have young readers cuddling up to this book with their favorite stuffed animals at bedtime. Celebrate the spirit of the season with Mickey’s Christmas Storybook Treasury ($30), a collectible Mickey & Friends volume featuring four beautifully illustrated Christmas stories:https://gallery.mailchimp.com/e7c92a67158fbb0135a774c5b/images/1cad778d-cefd-4156-9525-251351689192.jpg “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” “Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s Christmas Wish,” “Donald’s Christmas Tree” and “The Gift of the Magi.” Bring home the timeless appeal of Disney storytelling and experience the magic again and again. Who doesn’t love the holidays? Twinkling lights, merry carolers, the smell of chestnuts roasting on an open fire and the alien creature battling your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man? Welcome to the exciting world of Marvel’s Super Hero Adventures!
In Deck the Malls ($4.99), the first book in the series, join Spider-Man and his amazing arachnid ally Spider-Gwen as they take on the alien menace known as Venom. Will Spider-Man outrun Venom before the creature can steal his powers? Spider-Man & Friends: Deck the Malls: An Early Chapter Book (Marvel Chapter Book (eBook)) by [Cadenhead, MacKenzie, Ryan, Sean]Will Spider-Gwen figure out Venom’s weakness before it’s too late? Will the spider-friends save the day in time to finish their holiday shopping? It’s anything but a silent night this festive season.  Art of Coloring: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas ($15.99) These images are ideal for adding your own brand of color and style. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/e7c92a67158fbb0135a774c5b/images/7053b328-bcc2-4153-a166-7d6801496a50.jpgPerfect for cultivating creativity, relaxation, and focus, these pages are filled with artwork evocative of the delightfully frightful world of Jack Skellington.  Six Words Fresh Off the Boat captures hundreds of takes on the immigration experience, from every-day people as well as world-famous celebrities including Aziz Ansari, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Julianne Moore, Mario Batali, George Takei, Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer, Billy Collins and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. This book will have you thinking in sixes and challenging others to share six words about their lives.  First premiering on Broadway in November 13, 1997, Disney’s award-winning “Best Musical” The Lion King celebrated its 20th anniversary in November. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/e7c92a67158fbb0135a774c5b/images/21c65265-7a4a-490b-b162-4b1eeff937fb.jpgNow a veteran actor to the musical, Alton Fitzgerald White—the longest running “Mufasa”—reflects on his own life, career, and the rich lore of The Lion King, in My Pride: Mastering Life’s Daily Performance.

Inspired by the iconic series, Kim Smith’s adorable new picture book imagines what Scully and Mulder would be like as children camping out in a backyard filled with strange lights, sounds and… aliens? When it first aired, The X-Files was one of the most popular sci-fi TV shows in American television, lasting nine seasons and two feature films. With 2016’s revival season and production for the 2018 season of The X-Files set to begin this summer, excitement for the series continues to grow.

The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird  (Quirk Books ($18.99) is a great way for parents to share one of their favorite TV shows and the picture book would be a great addition to any Halloween coverage you might be planning.

A bit (get it?) about apps. We know nada. We don’t even own a cell phone! But a very reliable source from way up North tells us about My Town Games, a company that has great and safe apps for kids. My Town: Pets is a purr-fect choice: It allows children to have fun adopting cats, dogs, birds and hamsters, caring for them, taking them to the vet–everything they would do with real pets–which will present the opportunity to learn animal interaction and responsibility that can carry over into their real lives. If they walk their dog at the park’s litter sand area, make sure they don’t just don’t forget to clean up the poop.MyTownPetsScreenShot2 An added bonus is connectivity of My Town games and with shared characters and places that can travel from one game to another, all part of the larger My Town family of apps. Another bonus: My Town: Pets received an endorsement from Kids First!, a program of The Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, a national, nonprofit organization founded in 1991 whose mission is to teach children critical viewing skills and to increase the visibility and availability of quality children’s media. So far, there are 22 titles in My Town’s library. Another neat app: My Little Princess: Stores. It allows children to open up a whole new digital dollhouse with new characters to dress up and test out the latest makeup trends and style. Find your characters’ best friend and go pick up food at the supermarket, or plan a party and pick up the items to celebrate with. MyLittlePrincess

 

A trio of great games from (who else) Endless Games.
Name something everyone loves to play. If you said Family Feud, you’ve scored lots of points!Family Feud 40th Anniversary Retro Edition Board Game Endless Games has released this nifty Family Feud 40th Anniversary Retro Edition Board Game, featuring the classic FF home version console. There are more than 500 survey questions, so every family will have ample chances to play . . . again  and again and again. Richard Dawson’s kisses not included.

Remember that TV fave The Gig Short? What about that musical movie A Dorks Stink? No, we are not making typos. Nor are we losing our minds. We are simply having fun with Out of Order, a game in which film, TV, song and book titles are scrambled.  Take away a letter here, add a letter there and in five steps the correct answer is revealed. So: The Gig Short = The Gig Shot = The Gag Shot = The Gang Shot = The Gang Show = The Gong Show. The Dorks Stink = A Dorks Sink = A Dorks Line = A Doris Line = A Chorus Line.  Be the first to unscramble and identify the title to win. 
 
The curtain has risen on series four of the popular Playbill Puzzles, a 1,000-piece jumble featuring Playbill covers of current Broadway plays and musicals.Playbill Broadway Cover Puzzle, 1000 Piece by Endless Games Even Mama Rose would would agree this family fun adventure is coming up roses . . . as long as the pieces fit.
 
Spinmaster continues to break the toy formula with these three marvel must-haves. Do your kids want a pet? A dazzling dog? A curious cat? A grunting guinea pig? Some frivolous fish? If your your apartment rental forbids such a childhood necessary or someone in the family is allergic, fret no more! Bring Zhu Zhu pet hamsters home. This battery-powered facmisle comes in nifty neon colors and the Hamster House Play Set is the perfect place for any Zhu to live. The set comes with an exclusive Winkie hamster and a slide and tunnel, making recreations of scenes from the TV show as A-B-C (or is it Z-H-U?). If he needs companions, add Mr. Squiggles, Roxie, Num Nums and the rest of the gang. Our pet favorite toy this season! 
 

Kids can get ahead with the fun with the Airbrush Styling Studio. Tapping into the trend of online beauty tutorials, the Studio’s innovative cordless airbrush tool and colorful makeup sticks (washable markers) teaches them how to easily apply stylish hair and makeup on your very own model. Use the hair and makeup stencils to recreate your favorite looks from the Lookbook, and customize with gems and eye color stickers. Airbrush colorful highlights and attach the hair extensions wear the extensions in your own hair! Once the Lookbook styles are mastered, design your own using the free play templates and share your amazing Lookbook creations. Then, simply wash off to design all over again. It’s easy to create endless looks just like a real stylist with the Cool Maker Airbrush Styling Studio.

We spend way too much playing with M.A.X., a 12-inch tall advanced robot who is crammed with tons of fun, educational features. Designed for budding engineers and tinkerers 0 years and older, this robot-building kit offers a challenging yet rewarding build consisting of 332 parts. A Wealth of Interactive FeaturesOnce he’s assembled, M.A.X. functions as a friendly robot companion and personal assistant. He engages kids in conversation, learns from every interaction, remembers important dates, and more. He even features a built-in gaming platform. Customizable programming allows kids to personalize M.A.X. to meet their own specifications so that every assembled M.A.X. robot is truly one of a kind. And like all Meccano kits, M.A.X. can be reassembled into a huge variety of other robotics toys.

A new chapter will soon begin in Ransom Riggs’ career . . . more peculiar children!

Curious minds want to know: Yes, Ransom Riggs will begin a new chapter in his life by continuing the story of Jacob, Emma, and other peculiar children in a brand new trilogy. His collection of short stories set in the same universe will be releasing in paperback on Halloween, making the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Boxed Set (Quirk Books, $33.97), the best way for fans of YA fantasy to join the adventure from the beginning.
The box set contains all three paperbacks, packaged in a beautifully designed slipcase, along with a special collectible postcard, highlighting the most memorable characters of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy. Santa will probably place many sets under gaily-decorated trees.

Together in paperback for the first time, the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children Boxed Set includes the bestseller Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—recently made into a motion picture from visionary director Tim Burton—and its two sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls. All three paperbacks are packaged in a beautifully designed slipcase. Also included is a special collectible postcard, highlighting the most memorable characters of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy.

About the Books:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in this groundbreaking novel, which mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling new kind of reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob Portman journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Hollow City: September 3, 1940. Ten peculiar children flee an army of deadly monsters. And only one person can help them—but she’s trapped in the body of a bird. The extraordinary adventure continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. There, they hope to find a cure for their beloved headmistress, Miss Peregrine. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner.

Library of Souls: A boy, a girl, and a talking dog. They’re all that stands between the sinister wights and the future of peculiar children everywhere. Jacob Portman ventures through history one last time to rescue the peculiar children from a heavily guarded fortress. He’s joined by girlfriend and firestarter Emma Bloom, canine companion Addison MacHenry, and some very unexpected allies.

 

HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE 2016: THE YEAR’S BEST RECIPE AND FOOD BOOKS (PART TWO)

Following up on their best-selling The Kentucky Bourbon Cocktail Book, award-winning bartender Joy Perrine and restaurant critic and drinks writer Susan Reigler return to offer new recipes that will delight both the cocktail novice and the seasoned connoisseur. More Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails (University Press of Kentucky, $16.95) features more than 50 delicious new concoctions―including variations on classics such as the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. The useful bourbon glossary and bibliography will appeal to professional or at-home bartenders eager to experiment, invent, and savor their own recipes.

Gwyneth Paltrow is back to share more than 125 of her favorite recipes that can be made in the time it would take to order takeout (which often contains high quantities of fat, sugar and processed ingredients). All the dishes in It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook (Grand Central Life & Style, $35) are surprisingly tasty, with little or no sugar, fat or gluten. From easy breakfasts to lazy suppers, this book has something for everybody. Yummy recipes include Chocolate Cinnamon Overnight Oats, Soft Polenta with Cherry Tomatoes, Chicken Enchiladas, Pita Bread Pizzas and Quick Sesame Noodles. There’s also an innovative chapter for “on-the-go” meals that you can take for lunch to work or school, to a picnic,or to eat while watching soccer practice.

Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine: The Curious Stories of 43 Amazing North American Native Plants (Storey Publishing, $19.95) is an offbeat and welcome food book. History, literature, and botany meet in this charming tour of how humans have relied on plants to nourish, shelter, heal, clothe, even entertain us. 61qubgvxcwlDid you know that during World War II, the US Navy paid kids to collect milkweed’s fluffy white floss, which was then used as filling for life preservers? And Native Americans in the deserts of the Southwest traditionally crafted tattoo needles from prickly pear cactus spines. These are just two of the dozens of tidbits that Tammi Hartung highlights in the tales of 45 native North American flowers, herbs, and trees that have rescued and delighted us for centuries.

If you’re vegan or simply looking to go dairy-free, enjoying the creamy simple pleasure of a cone or dish of ice cream can be a challenge. Then there’s the longing for the ooey, gooey goodness of cheese. vegancheeseicecreamadvancecoverThe answers (and recipes) can be found in The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese & Ice Cream Recipes (Robert Rose, $19.95), the only vegan recipe book that combines both ice cream and cheese recipes. All of the recipes, by Marie Laforet, contain natural and organic ingredients, making them healthy and surprisingly easy to prepare. With a little bit of organization and preparation, you’ll be creating sorbets, ice cream, ice pops and frozen desserts, along with flavorful artisanal cheeses, in the warmth and comfort of your kitchen.

Introduce your baby to a world of flavors with easy-to-make recipes for homemade baby food, featuring healthy ingredients, baby-friendly spices, and cuisines from India, China, France, Mexico and Morocco. The recipe for such success is Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food (Quirk Books, $19.99). The recipes are quick and easy, with imaginative variations featuring your favorite spices and flavors. Broaden your baby’s palate by the spoonful!

The warm sand. The salt air. The boardwalk. And, of course, Coastal cuisine from Asbury Park to Cape May. Summer at the Jersey Shore is unforgettable no matter which seaside destination is yours. And with The Jersey Shore Cookbook (Quirk Books, $22.95), you can have a taste of summer all year long. It features 50 recipes contributed by well-loved shore town restaurants, bakeries, markets, and more. From fresh oysters, scallops and tilefish to Garden State tomatoes, corn and blueberries, the perfect New Jersey ingredients shine.

When Candace Nelson started Sprinkles, America’s first cupcakes-only bakery, in 2005, people thought she was crazy. But Sprinkles sold out on opening day . . . and hasn’t slowed down since. Now, in The Sprinkles Baking Book: 100 Secret Recipes from Candace’s Kitchen (Grand Central Life & Style, $26), Candace opens up her recipe vault to bring you 100 irresistible desserts she can’t live without. But Candace doesn’t stop there. She shares the recipes for her all-time favorite cakes, pies, quick breads, cookies, bars, and other treats, plus delicious guest recipes from Sprinkles friends like Reese Witherspoon, Julia Roberts and Michael Strahan. Treat yourself to this sweet cookbook and share in the fun.

Over two years in the making, with Mario Batali searching for truly delicious dishes from all corners of the U.S., Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA (Grand Central Life & Style, $40) features the best America has to offer. With over 250 simple recipes celebrating the treasures of the state fairs and the dishes of the local rotary clubs and ethnic groups. Batali has interpreted these regional gems with the same excitement and passion that he has approached traditional Italian food.All the dishes are  simple to prepare, and while Batali uses recipes passed down through the generations, he also shares hints on what he would add to the recipe to take the flavor up a notch.

Air-frying food is an innovative method of cooking that is incredibly healthy because although it produces crispy and tasty results, it uses very little oil. And although they are called air fryers, they also roast and bake, making them an ingenious and indispensable kitchen appliance. The recipes in 175 Best Air Fryer Recipes (Robert Rose, $24.95) are guaranteed to perform in an air fryer. On the Top 10 fave list: Beer Battered Fried Fish, Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Coconut Fried Shrimp, Potstickers and Old-Fashioned Cake Donuts. Yum!

Holiday Gift Guide 2016: The Year’s Best Books for Kids

Even the wee ones can be a handful at bedtime. Kangeroo Kisses (Otter-Barry Books ( $17.99) follows one mischievous child as she delays getting ready for bed, and has some amazing wildlife encounters along the way. A perfect picture book for reading aloud at bedtime . . . or any time. Cute words by Nandana Dev Sen, cuter illustrations from Pippa Curnick.

We always knew bananas had appeal. So does Anna Banana. Join Anna and her beloved wiener dog Banana for some entertaining adventures with the first four books in the illustrated Anna, Banana chapter book series. The delightful series about a third-grader named Anna, who navigates the joys and challenges of elementary school friendships with her beloved wiener dog Banana by her side.  the charming Anna, Banana, and Friends (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $64.99) box set includes Anna, Banana, and the Friendship Split; Anna, Banana, and the Monkey in the Middle; Anna, Banana, and the Big-Mouth Bet; and Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade.

We have no problem sticking out our neck and praising Giraffes Can’t Dance (Scholastic, $14.99)The gift set includes a book as well as an adorable plush doll of Gerald the giraffe. Giraffes Can’t Dance is a touching tale of Gerald the giraffe, who wants nothing more than to dance. With crooked knees and thin legs, it’s harder for a giraffe than you would think. Gerald is finally able to dance to his own tune when he gets some encouraging words from an unlikely friend.

Art isn’t easy. But learning about great artists is, thanks to Kid Artists: True Tales of Childhood from Creative Legends (Quirk Books, $13.95). Hilarious childhood biographies and full-color illustrations reveal how Leonardo da Vinci, Beatrix Potter, Keith Haring and other great artists in history coped with regular-kid problems. Kid Artists tells their stories and more with full-color cartoon illustrations on nearly every page.

Make learning math fun by sharing hands-on labs with your child. Math Lab for Kids (Quarry Books, $24.99) presents more than 50 activities that incorporate coloring, drawing, games, and items like prisms to make math more than just numbers. Add up what kids can do and learn! Platonic solids, Möbius strips, tangrams and mind-bending fractals with straight lines and repeat shapes. Everything needed to complete the activities can be found in the book or around the house.

The newest book in the LEGO line, Factastic (Scholastic, $19.99), takes on the biggest subject of all: Our world and everything in it! There’s a whole world of information inside on almost every subject under the sun, from science to technology, from history to geography to popular culture. Each spread contains a LEGO scene to facilitate the learning journey: a vignette, mini story, or icon featuring LEGO models, characters, and sensibility. Graphic design combines the LEGO illustration with real-world photography and facts for an immersive experience.

A 6000-pound wrecking ball is about to demolish Benjamin Pratt’s school…and he only has 28 days to figure out how to stop it. In the four-volume fast-paced and action-packed mystery series Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School Collection (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, $35.99), Benjamin Pratt and his friends Jill and Robert must figure out who is trying to destroy his school and why. At first having the school demolished to make room for an amusement park sounds pretty awesome. But when Ben stumbles upon the truth behind this grand scheme, and the ancient history buried deep within the school that goes all the way back to the Founding Fathers, he decides he’s got no choice but to stop the bulldozer before it starts and protect his school.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in this groundbreaking novel, which mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling new kind of reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets 16-year-old Jacob Portman journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Together for the first time, this slipcased collection holds Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its two sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls.  Also included: a special collector’s envelope of twelve peculiar photographs, highlighting the most memorable moments of this extraordinary three-volume fantasy.

An undercover teen agent discovers the ups and downs of espionage in the first six books of the CHERUB series, now available together in CHERUB Collection (Simon Pulse, $63.99). CHERUB agents are highly trained, extremely talented—and all under the age of seventeen. For official purposes, these agents do not exist. It is a tough job, but these agents have one crucial advantage: adults never suspect that teens are spying on them. Follow James through his training and his action-packed missions as he learns what it means to be a true CHERUB agent. This action packed boxed set includes The Recruit, The Dealer, Maximum Security, The Killing, Divine Madness, and Man vs. Beast.

Get your dork on with the ultimate Dork Diaries Squee-tastic Collection (Aladdin, $153.99). This complete collection contains books one through 10 (including three-and-a-half) in the wildly popular series. This collectible boxed set chronicles the oh-so-fabulous life of Nikki Maxwell as she navigates the halls of middle school, mean girls, BFF drama, and first crushes. From the first not-so-fabulous adventure, to the interactive How to Dork Your Diary, to the latest pet-sitting catastrophe, these books are filled with dorktastic fun!

Ella keeps her cemetery visits secret. Her father died before she was born, yet she knows they have a supernatural connection. And she may not be the only one with secrets. Ella’s mother might be lying about how Dad died 16 years ago. Newfound evidence points to his death in a psychiatric hospital, not as a result of a tragic car accident as her mother always claimed. Yikes! When a hand print much like the one Ella left on her father’s tombstone mysteriously appears on the bathroom mirror, at first she wonders if Dad is warning her of danger as he did once before?  We’re not telling, so find out in Yvonne Ventresca’s thrilling Black Flowers, White Lies (Sky Pony Press, $16.99).