Secret in the Sand
By Margaret Turner Taylor. (Bookbaby. $24.75 hardcover, $9.99 paperback, $4.99 Kindle)
Buried treasure is real in this debut title of a series of books for youth planned by Margaret Taylor. Cousins digging in the sandy beach in Delaware turn up a trunk containing the key to a decades-old mystery dating to World War II and German U-boats along the Atlantic Coast. The narrative moves back and forth in time between a contemporary family’s summer vacation in a cottage at the beach and the wartime experiences of a Washington, D.C., matron whose quiet retirement at the shore is disturbed by nocturnal visits from a Nazi sailor. Readers will glean a bit of homefront World War II history while they enjoy some lively storytelling and a puzzle stretching across three-quarters of a century. Taylor, who divides her time between Southeastern Arizona and Delaware, wrote this book for her granddaughter as an alternative to the more commonplace themes prevalent in teen literature.
Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream
By Monica Brown. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. (Little, Brown and Company. Hardcover $11.19; pbk $5.09; Kindle $5.99)
Some people don’t really want a trick when they say “trick or treat.” Lola Levine loves tricks, especially around Halloween when exciting fall festivities abound, but she learns an important lesson about respecting the feelings of others when she plays one trick too many. Her solution for making it right with her friends, arrived at with the loving guidance of her parents, makes for an entertaining and reassuring tale for young readers. Lola is the creation of award-winning children’s author and Northern Arizona University professor of English Monica Brown, who, like her winning heroine, is half Peruvian and half Jewish. Brown credits her multicultural background for her desire to bring diverse stories to children, which she does with charm and a talent for infusing her characters with humor and likability. Excellent illustrations by Angela Dominguez round out this fine book.
The Radical Act of Community Storytelling: Empowering Voices in Uncensored Events
By Penelope Starr. (Parkhurst Brothers Publishers Inc. $17.95)
Since 2004, Odyssey Storytelling has been a unique-to-Tucson event in which individuals of all ages, cultures, gender expressions, and sexual orientations have taken the stage to connect with audiences by telling personal stories about real things that happened to them and true things they did. The rewards of creating such connections are great, says founder Penelope Starr, and can be seen in the changing of hearts and minds, the individuals who are empowered, and the creating of community. No activity is as democratic as storytelling, she points out, but democracy is messy: there are challenges to staging such programs, and with this concise volume, Starr lays out a game plan for would-be organizers, punctuated with her own illustrative and often humorous experiences. Also included are sample documents, from contracts and timelines to lists of useful items to have on hand. Even if staging a community storytelling event is not your goal, read this unique volume for the author’s compassionate insights into the human need to know others and to be known by them. Starr, who lives in Tucson, is also executive director of StoryArts Group, a nonprofit, community-funded arts organization.
Swamp Rat: The Story of Dixie’s Nutria Invasion
By Theodore G. Manno (University Press of Mississippi $28)
Southern Arizonans are well-acquainted with desert rats, those destructive little darlings that can unwire a car from one start to the next, but meet the nutria (Myocastor coypus) — a rodent whose “voracious appetite” and “reproduction prowess,” is decimating the Gulf Coast wetlands. Native to South America, nutria were introduced to the United States when beaver and other fur-bearing native species played out at the height of the fur trade. Considered a cheap (and prolific) fur source, nutria were harvested in captivity until wearing fur lost favor and released nutria poured into the wetlands.
Manno, a Tucson resident and “burgeoning rodentalogist,” exceeds his goal of writing, “the definitive source on nutria” and made it “readable for amateur naturalists and professional biologists.” Admittedly sympathetic to the maligned marauders, Manno traces the history of the fur industry, the nutria importation and resulting environmental costs, recovery efforts and ensuing eradication efforts — including a bounty program that, among other tactics, marketed nutria meat (best served in a cream sauce.)
Surviving Schizophrenia: My Story of Paranoid Schizophrenia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Depression, Anosognosia, Suicide, and Treatment and Recovery from Severe Mental Illness
by Richard Carlson Jr. (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform $10.99)
While Carlson experienced an idyllic childhood, he always felt that he, “didn’t quite fit in.” Shy, sensitive, socially awkward and lacking the necessary skills to develop relationships, Carlson experienced his first schizophrenic episode in his early 20s. During the next 20 years his illness escalated to include a host of mental disorders, physicians, diagnoses and medications.
Carlson included narrative of his inner voices as they battered away convincing him, among other things, that his mind controlled the world. It wasn’t until one voice identified itself as “your ill mind” that Carlson recognized his condition and worked with his physicians to begin true healing and coping.
Carlson authors children’s books and romances.
Alone on the Camino: A Physical, Mental and Spiritual Journey
by Linda Roy Cross (Desert Royal Publishers, $19.95)
Indifferent to friends’ pointed reservations, Cross climbed out of her comfort zone in 2012 to trek the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. Cross expected a “safe, quiet, and supportive place” but, beginning with a late arrival and no room at the inns, spent the next month alternating between elation and despair — often frayed physically and emotionally — while experiencing great kindness, beauty and the unexpected blessing of a heavenly ham sandwich. Cross traveled alone for much of the trip, but recounts intimate exchanges with fellow travelers — including with a father carrying and scattering his daughter’s ashes along the trail — before arriving at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on the 29th day of her journey.
Cross includes inspiring quotes, biblical passages and psalms, and ends her spiritual memoir/travelogue with practical preparation guidelines about training and gear. Did you know that dehydration can lead to blisters?
Cross authored “An Ordinary Nun,” and her historical thriller “Smack in the Middle” is due for release in 2018.