Doug - Branch Manager

Just For the Halibut

I'm a pretty private person, with the emphasis on pretty.

Exceptional Non-Fiction Picture Books

4 years ago

There seems to be a veritable flood, rash, boom of very good picture books about real people and events. Each of the books on this list represents a striking representation of a striking individual such that their stories, and the amazing illustrations that go with them, make for a great way to learn right alongside your kids.

I love this book! The color, design, eye symbolism, and, not to mention the radical story, all make for a great lesson you're not likely to hear in history class.
I like Alberto Giacometti's gangly sculptures quite a lot, but I never knew about Diego Giacometti and his involvement with his brother's work or his own artwork. I wish I had been more aware of his designs for the fixtures at the Chagall Museum in Nice, France during my visit there.
This book won the Caldecott Medal in 2017, as well as the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, and represents a terrific display of Basquiat's approach to art as well as each person's need for some mode of expression.
The entire "Little People, Big Dreams" series is excellent so it's hard to pick just one.

Star Wars Legends vs. the Disney Canon vs. the Best of Both Universes

4 years ago

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, they tossed all of the Legends lore that came after the films down the trash compactor, and, as you might expect, many fans were distraught. Since then bits and pieces of the novels have made their way into the Sequel trilogy and elsewhere. Here are some (but not all) of my favorites from Legends as well as the new Star Wars …

Legends: You could say the expanded universe started with "Splinter of the Mind's Eye." In between the first Star Wars movie and "Empire Strikes Back," it both fueled and fulfilled the the desire for more Star Wars material. Nevermind that it perpetuated the notion of a romantic relationship between Luke and Leia.
Legends: The first book in the Thrawn trilogy, "Heir to the Empire" starts a series that introduces one of the most fascinating characters in the Star Wars universe, Mitth'raw'nuruodo, who eventually becomes Grand Admiral Thrawn. Reading about his cunning military tactics is a rarefied treat. You will also want to read books two and three, "Dark Force Rising" and "The Last Command."
Canon: Thrawn becomes canon! He is back, in an official capacity, and better than ever. Timothy Zahn delivers another excellent story featuring one of my favorite characters in Star Wars. Readers learn how he was "found" by the Empire and the details of his rapid ascension through the ranks of the Imperial military.
Canon: There is a whole array of new Star Wars comics that are nearly all very good. This is perhaps my favorite.

From My Shelf at The Bent Page

4 years ago

A good friend opened a used bookstore in downtown Kennewick a while back and offered me a shelf to display book recommendations. I would always get a little thrill when he'd call and say, "Another one of your books sold," since it gave me an excuse to visit the store to select another favorite book to put in its place. These are some of those selections.

Paul Auster is a master of the subtle suggestion of thoughtful unease. Rooted in reality, his novels possess a sense of other-worldly possibility that forces the reader to look under the surface. "Travels in the Scriptorium" is another great (145 page) example.
I've read most everything Buk has written, and he is most definitely one of my favorite writers. He manages a humor and humanity that is overshadowed by oftentimes crude content. Unfortunately, his books have a tendency to disappear from library shelves.
My first love of mystery novels has to be the hard-boiled variety, and, for these, Chandler is tough to beat. You throw in Bogart and Bacall, in the Howard Hawks film of the same name, and the circuit is complete.
Though I read "White Noise" a number of years ago, I readily recall the airborne toxic event featured in the story as a metaphor for the free-floating miasma of anxiety and fear that threatens to consume an attentive, discerning individual. It may be time to re-read this one.

Graphic Novels You May Have to Look For in Adult Fiction

6 years ago

Graphic novels, mostly of the superhero variety, are about the only books I seem to be able to get through these days. These are, for the most part, void of superheroes yet chock full of adventure, excitement, tragedy, and humor, all containing a terrific interplay between words and pictures.

I had to include this one first, right (heckuva segue if I do say so myself). Amazing the measure of emotion that bursts from these wordless books.

Picture Books to Read With Older Children (Perhaps)

6 years ago

Some of these contain a little more mature content. Some simply take longer to read. All, I think, are excellent.

I like Sendak immensely, just about everything I've seen of his. This one is particularly chilling. Also look at "In the Night Kitchen."
A bit of a cheat, this one, since it includes eight books, but, much like Sendak (the two are very closely related in my mind), I love them all. The author interviews included at the end offer tremendous insight into the inspiration for these stories, as well as the messages and lessons he wishes to convey.
This is my favorite of the lesser-known Dr. Seuss books. He creates an entirely new, zany alphabet with wildly inventive creations to accompany each letter.
I recommend this book a lot, often with the suggestion that parents be mindful of its content. Though technically non-fiction, the myths read like great stories, and the colorful illustrations are vibrant and beautiful.

How It All Began (For Me, In Earnest)

6 years ago

I read a lot as a kid. A. Lot. I would finish a book and pick up the next right away (I remember reading many "The Baby-Sitters Club" books this way, I'm a bit embarassed to admit). Sure, I liked the books in junior high and high school, liked them very much, in fact (I named my son Holden, fer crissakes!).


It wasn't until Junior AP English when books (I'll go ahead and…

The first book of the year, and the one I didn't read. To this day, I feel I should be walking around wearing my own scarlet letter for the oversight.
Definitely in the running for my absolute favorite book, despite close competition. Delve deeper with Maureen Corrigan's "So We Read On: How the Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures," which is also very good.
A little long, this one, but I remember enjoying reading it, though I prefer his first novel, "The Sun Also Rises," as well as "In Our Time."
I remember this book having a profound impact on me and can still readily recall the dining scene where the nameless protagonist silently shreds his napkin into tiny pieces, an amazingly telling detail.