This is for any kind of written article like a blog post about a certain topic.

Posada & Manilla

Posada and Manilla is a slim volume that collects illustrations from 19th century children’s books by the popular Mexican printmakers and additionally provides plot summaries and analyses of the books’ themes. Although children’s books of the time were meant to be ephemeral, many have survived because of the expressive illustrations reproduced on these pages. A facsimile of a complete original picture book is included. I love the fantastical imagery and the striking hand lettering in these illustrations, and I was fascinated by the window into the 19th century imagination that the art of Posada and Manilla provides.

Posada & Manilla: Illustrations for Mexican Fairy Tales Cover Image
By Jose Posada (Artist), Manuel Manilla (Artist), Mercurio Casillas (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9788415118510
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Rm - March 31st, 2013

A Map Of Tulsa (Benjamin Lytal)

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen: my nominee for the literary beach read of the season. Lytal, a young author whose work has been featured everywhere that’s anywhere (the New Yorker! the London Review of Books! the Wall Street Journal!) has written a debut novel of great power about growing up and tasting true love and true loss for the first time. The novel follows Jim, who has just graduated college and has moved back to Tulsa, his hometown, in order to regroup and determine his next move. He reconnects with Adrienne Booker, a rich and mysterious girl who has stayed in Tulsa after high school to party and work on her art. Jim is drawn into Adrienne’s wild, exotic world and she opens his eyes to a side of his small city he never knew before. I’m loathe to give away too much, but suffice it to say that things do not end particularly well and you will be flipping pages greedily to discover how and why. 

A Map of Tulsa Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142422595
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - March 26th, 2013



The economy in this Moroccan town is based on the nomadic herding of livestock, and this festival is an opportunity for those herders to return home and celebrate. During this time the town is transformed into multi-day open-air party and market complete with musical events, dances, and fireworks. The division between men and women, which is usually quite strict, is eased somewhat during this time, and single people are permitted to tease and flirt with the opposite sex. This moussem is also a time for matrimony and fertility - mass weddings take place each year.

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How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465065745
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Basic Books (AZ) - April 9th, 2013

Thomas Day was an 18th century thinker - and jerk! - who was so particular about what kind of woman he wanted to marry that none of his available options would do. Instead, he adopted two young orphans and raised them to be the perfect wives, down to the very last detail. This one is in certain ways a little dense, but for feminists, Anglophiles, and romance skeptics, it's a strange history that will definitely capture the imagination.

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062213785
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Ecco - August 7th, 2013

Remember the film SLIDING DOORS? This is kind of like that. Greta Wells's twin brother dies and her husband leaves her, and she attempts to handle the grief by undergoing electroshock therapy. However, every time she undergoes treatment, she is transported to various lives in different eras that she might have lived instead of her sad present-day existence. In each of her other possible lives, she encounters her brother and her husband, in different incarnations and contexts. Can what she learn in these past lives teach her how to live in the present? For that matter, will she be allowed to return to the present at all?

The Infatuations Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307960726
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 13th, 2013

A translated novel by the Spanish master that contains lots of romance and a thrilling murder mystery. A woman frequents the same cafe every morning for breakfast. She becomes obsessed by a couple she sees there and imagines an idyllic life for them, until the husband is brutally murdered. The woman offers her condolences to the widow, and while at her house meets and falls in love with a man who shines new light on the shady past of the couple and the nature of the man's murder.

I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385524858
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Spiegel & Grau - August 27th, 2013

There are a million stories about the world wars in France, England, Germany, and Spain, but there isn't much out there about some of the smaller Eastern European countries that were basically steamrolled on either side by world powers. This is the story of one family in 20th century Hungary - a memoir of an entire clan and what happened to them as a result of war, genocide, and the more mundane problems of love and heartbreak.



This unusual harvest festival takes place as drought ends in Ghana and the crops begin once again to grow. Because African agriculture is so unpredictable and the heat can be incredibly intense, droughts are often deadly. As a time-honored way of dealing with this sad fact, Homowo allows Ghanians to blow off steam and celebrate the harvest by making fun of their former hunger. Homowo is also an opportunity for people to visit their homes and enjoy festivals that include marching, dancing, and music.

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Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385536264
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - July 9th, 2013

You may recognize Kate Christensen's name from her literary novels, most recently THE ASTRAL. You may not know, however, that Christensen runs a well-respected food blog! This book is a collection of some of her best posts, many of which have an autobiographical element to them. Fans of her blog will obviously be excited for this book, but even readers outside the loop will enjoy Christensen's pungent descriptions of food and spot-on observations about her unusual life.

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385337007
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Dial Press - July 30th, 2013

A glimpse into the wild world of cheese connoisseurs. Paterniti runs across a cheese that is considered one of the most delicious and valuable in the world, and goes to great lengths to track it down again. Part madcap biography, part food reportage, this one is a terrific glimpse into the madness that overcomes the truly gastronomically obsessed.

Cinnamon and Gunpowder Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374123666
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - June 4th, 2013

Fiction with a culinary twist. A celebrated chef is captured by a fearsome female pirate captain who threatens to throw him overboard if he doesn't deliver a gourmet spread every week - despite the fact that the ships larder contains only rotting meat, maggot-infested grains, and inedibly hard biscuits. This is a novel of literary merit, but it will appeal especially to cooks and swashbucklers.

Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story about Looking at People Looking at Animals in America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594204425
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Penguin Press - May 16th, 2013

Jon Mooallem began thinking about animals differently when his daughter was born. Everything in her life was covered in cute animals - her sheets, her dishes, her walls, her books - while at the same time animals are going extinct in the wild at a disastrous pace. Mooallem gives us a wild tour of the contemporary environmental and conservation movements, the state of animal life in an increasingly hostile wild, and the place of animals in our imaginations. Perfect for nature lovers, science geeks, and people generally interested in the state of our changing planet.



French Independence Day, celebrated on the anniversary of a symbolic early victory in the French Revolution - the overthrow of a military prison in Paris. In the present day, Bastille Day is celebrated with parades, fireworks, and (until recently) the state of the union address. It occupies a similar place in the French imagination that the 4th of July occupies in the American one. 

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Equilateral Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620400067
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - April 16th, 2013

This strange, strange little novel from cult favorite Kalfus tells the apocryphal story of a Victorian English astronomer who is obsessed by his quest to make contact with beings on the planet Mars. His plan, funded by the English government, among others, is to conscript Egyptian workers to dig a monumental equilateral triangle into the sand of the Sahara Desert, fill it with pitch, and on the date that Mars is closest to Earth, light it on fire. Of course, there is also a love triangle running throughout this short novel, which gives it depth. One of my favorites of the year so far.

Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization Cover Image
ISBN: 9781610391139
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: PublicAffairs - May 7th, 2013

Because Rice is one of the foremost centers in the world for nanotechnology research, this book should appeal both to science enthusiasts and readers interested in a little-known but possibly someday very important Houston industry. Drexler's thesis is that, once we are able to manufacture on an atomic level, we will be able to make more of the things we need - food, sources of energy, etc etc etc - with less waste and for a much lower cost. Written clearly for the layman, this is still probably best for our sharpest, most technically minded customers.

The Days of the Rainbow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590516270
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Other Press (NY) - June 25th, 2013

A beautiful translated novel about the power of everyday humanity to overcome totalitarianism and terror. Skarmeta, a Chilean author, writes about families attempting to survive in Pinochet-era Santiago without giving up on their dreams or their dignity. A perfect look at how political oppression defines and indelibly marks ordinary people living under it.

Junius and Albert's Adventures in the Confederacy: A Civil War Odyssey Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781610391542
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: PublicAffairs - May 28th, 2013

The forgotten story of two intrepid New York City reporters who risk life and limb to report on the Civil War from Confederate territory, only to be captured. The men escape prison and eventually make it back to Union land, for the most part on foot and in the snow. This book has it all - politics, history, adventure, and a good deal of humor. This story was once well-known but hasn't been revisited in decades, which makes this a perfect book for the history enthusiast who thinks he's heard it all.



June is the height of Russian summer, which means it's, um, still snowing...but the days get incredibly long. St. Petersberg celebrates this time of year with a variety of festivals and events, like fireworks, bar crawls and extremely late hours at restaurants. Citizens and tourists often take long, rambling promenades through the city streets and sleep quite late into the mornings. In a country where darkness and snow are the norm, this brief period of light is considered a time of renewal and jubilation.

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Dreams and Shadows Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062190420
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Voyager - February 26th, 2013

Ewan and Colby grew up in the Austin area and, as children, became familiar with a magical realm full of angels, monsters, and genies that exists alongside, but just outside of, our everyday world. The secrets they learn and the adventures they share in this magic world make them inseparable as children but causes them both a variety of problems as adults. This fast-paced, thrilling fantasy was written by a celebrated journalist and screenwriter from the Hill Country and has considerable local appeal.

The House of Special Purpose Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590515983
Availability: Backordered
Published: Other Press (NY) - April 2nd, 2013

This one has been getting considerable buzz, and although it's also fiction, it has a completely different feel than DREAMS AND SHADOWS. Boyne's latest is a retelling of the Romanov/Russian Revolution story with a fascinating twist - the story is told retrospectively by a seemingly complete outsider, a man named Georgy who, in modern times at the age of eighty is returning to his native Russia one last time. Georgy recalls the Russia of his youth while traveling through the contemporary country, which proves to be a very different place!

The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616200466
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Algonquin Books - March 19th, 2013

For customers who express an interest in alcoholic drinks and/or gardening, this one is sure to please. This quirky little book details the botanical history and chemical preparation of various alcoholic drinks. It contains a little bit of everything - over fifty recipes, gardening tips for those who are interested in home brewing various drinks, and fascinating historical and scientific tidbits.

The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594204265
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Penguin Press - February 21st, 2013

This book combines biographical information about Edison and his workshop at Menlo Park with a study of how one of his most celebrated triumphs, the lightbulb, changed Western culture forever. Although it's a given now, incandescent light made it possible for people to stay up later, for the entertainment and restaurant industries to thrive, and for people to move into urban centers and away from rural areas. A story about modernity.



Walkabout is a custom amongst young Aboriginal men in Australia. It symbolizes the transition from childhood to adulthood. Men journey out into the unforgiving wilderness and follow traditional paths that commemorate the travels and great deeds of their ancestors. Walkabout is a period of time meant to be spent outside of contact with the mundane world, to get in touch with ones' heritage and purpose.

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Staff Pick Logo
Between Man and Beast: An Unlikely Explorer, the Evolution Debates, and the African Adventure That Took the Victorian World by Storm Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385534222
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Doubleday Books - March 12th, 2013

Paul Du Chaillu was a young explorer in the mid-19th century who ventured into the jungles of West Africa to confirm the existence of a heretofore mythical beast: the gorilla. Chaillu braved the wilderness and succeeded in his quest, only to face an even more formidable challenge upon his return: the fear and censure of a public unable to accept the increasingly undeniable evidence for evolution. Another science/history hybrid that has a good dose of adventure mixed in.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670026005
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking Books - March 21st, 2013

The narrator of this novel is described in the publisher copy as 'hopelessly unreliable yet hopelessly earnest', and of course he is - he's a writer. The narrator travels across the world and works many years to understand himself as a writer, even as he seems to be thwarted at every turn by a former classmate who has had more literary success than he has. Of course, there's also a beautiful woman embroiled in their rivalry. This is a hotly anticipated debut novel by a young author on the rise.

Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History Cover Image
Unavailable from Brazos Bookstore
ISBN: 9781568587479
Availability: Out of Print - Not Available for Order
Published: Nation Books - April 30th, 2013

Galeano is one of Latin America's most distinguished writers, but he's not well known in the States. This undefinable book is organized like a medieval book of days, but instead of detailing the saints celebrated on each date, Galeano provides a short biography of forgotten heroes who have stood up for humanity, love, dignity, and freedom. This is one of those books that I think almost anyone would love if they sat down and looked at it - and it's written in a very literary style that should appeal to fiction readers as well.

Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345527264
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ballantine Books - February 26th, 2013

This quirky history tells the truth story of two very different Victorian female journalists who raced each other around the world. They were both determined to beat Jules Verne's famous eighty day record - and each other. While this book tells the story of their simultaneous adventures, it also provides great commentary on Victorian womanhood, early feminism, and the 19th century imagination. Great for feminists, travel lit connoisseurs, and those interested in the Victorian era.



This festival serves as an opportunity for people to visit their families and honor their elders, but it also has a mischievous element that makes it a popular attraction for tourists, despite its taking place during the hottest part of the year. Throwing water on friends, family, and even strangers is a common tradition during this time. The water is supposed to bring good luck and karmic cleansing to the soaked, and also provides welcome relief from the relentless sun. Songkran is also a popular time for the Thai to make resolutions and give their houses a thorough cleaning, much like New Years in the US.

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Wave Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307962690
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - March 5th, 2013

This beautiful and affecting memoir was written by a woman who lost her entire family in the 2004 South Asian tsunami. Despite the grim subject matter, the book is said to be inspiring and uplifting, and the writing is spare and lovely. Give this one to people who specifically mention enjoying memoirs. It certainly wouldn't be appropriate for people who seem to only want to read 'happy' books but I think the people who do read it will enjoy it.

The Accidental City: Improvising New Orleans Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674059870
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Harvard University Press - March 1st, 2012

This title is a bit older than the others on the list but I think its semi-regional appeal and fascinating story will make it a hit. This is the history of the founding of New Orleans, from prehistoric times to Louisiana statehood. The book's thesis is that New Orleans has never been a perfect city but its citizens have improvised it from the ground up, making it unlike any other town. Perfect for history buffs and people who don't mind digging into something a little bit meatier.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594487293
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Riverhead Books - March 5th, 2013

Here's the fiction title on this rotation. This is the story of a young poor Pakistani man who makes it rich by commodifying the most precious resource around: water. Hence the cover. Mohsin Hamid writes about Middle Eastern experience like no one else - his writing is edgy and smart and gets deep into topics that challenge American assumptions about this part of the world. The book is written in a fast paced second person in the style of the self-help guides to 'getting filthy rich' that apparently abound these days all over Asia.

Storm Kings: The Untold History of America's First Tornado Chasers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307378521
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Pantheon Books - March 5th, 2013

The central United States is the only place on earth with perfect conditions for tornadoes. This is the early history of human interaction with these storms, from colonial times to the mid-20th century. This book covers a lot of ground, but includes stories about devastating storms of the past, the dawn of scientific study of supercells and the beginning of the National Weather Service, and even some of the earliest experiments done to understand how tornadoes develop. Perfect for science geeks and American history buffs alike.

Cold, Cold, Cold Books...for a Mildly Cold Winter

So you’ve dug out your heavy coat. Winter has begun and you are ready to cover plants and monitor water pipes should the temperature drop. The gray skies, short days, and chilly mornings make you wish for a return to the sunny weather that we Houstonians enjoy through the fall and spring. Under the assault of a cold front, you may even remember the oppressive heat of summer with a touch of nostalgia.

On the other hand, there may lurk within you a person who enjoys the cold. It affords you a chance to test yourself against the elements. You may ponder your place in the world and the impermanence of all things as you wander through the wintry outdoors.

Maybe this winter, you should indulge in a thoughtful and well written book that is from a cold land, and what cold land has a finer literary tradition than Russia? Its contents will be lively but thoughtful and no one will have to know whether it leaves you wishing that you were out in the cold with its characters or relieved that you are not.


Anna Karenina (Oprah #5): (penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Oprah's Classics Book Club Selections) Cover Image
By Leo Tolstoy, Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator)
ISBN: 9780143035008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 31st, 2004

This is one of my favorite books because of its nuanced depictions of the characters, their world, and the human condition. It is amazing for me to see how times have changed since this book was written in the late 19th Century, but how people have not.

Konstantin Levin is a farmer and an idealist embattled with societal forces and with the nagging setbacks that seem to keep him from creating his perfect farm and finding a way to better the situation of the Russian Peasant. He is a sincere but unpolished bachelor, but he thinks he has finally found the woman who he wants to marry, Kitty, and she seems to like him okay too. However, He is competing for Kitty’s affection with a younger man named Alexei Vronsky who is a sharp contrast to Levin. He is much more presentable, but seems to lag behind Levin in capacity for empathy and commitment…

But I haven’t even explained who Anna is. She is Kitty’s older sister’s husband’s sister who is unhappy in her marriage (The relationships will be more understandable in the context of the whole story)…

Actually, I don’t want to give too much away. Just read it. It’s good.


Pnin (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679723417
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - June 18th, 1989

This short novel is a wonderful character study of a hapless professor and his incomplete grasp on the world around him. Very entertaining.


The Real Life of Sebastian Knight (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679727262
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - February 4th, 1992

This story is about an author who leaves behind a box of notes that he instructs his family to destroy. Sound familiar? This is the fictional version that Nabokov wrote long before leaving behind his own notes to be destroyed. Sebastian Knight’s brother tries to uncover the details of his life in order to gain closure and write a biography. But how well did he know his brother and what do the details of Knight’s life mean apart from his fiction?


Russian Literature Cover Image
ISBN: 9781402775413
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Sterling - September 1st, 2010

The Complete Short Novels (Vintage Classics) Cover Image
By Anton Chekhov, Richard Pevear (Translator), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translator)
ISBN: 9781400032921
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - August 30th, 2005

The Cherry Orchard: A Comedy in Four Acts Cover Image
By Anton Chekhov, Tom Stoppard (Translator)
ISBN: 9780802144096
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Grove Press - January 1st, 2009

The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061997419
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Perennial - September 7th, 2010

Hadji Murad (Modern Library Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812967111
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Kuperard (Bravo Ltd) - July 8th, 2003



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Our Favorite Books for Child Prodigies

The Perfect Machine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780292723382
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: University of Texas Press - September 1st, 2010

An innovative and unique picture book that is as enjoyable for little aesthetes as it is for their art snob parents! Master collage artist and Texas local Letscher writes and illustrates this eye-popping book about a boy who sets out to build something marvelous.

Let's Make Some Great Art Cover Image
ISBN: 9781856697866
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Laurence King - August 17th, 2011

An ingeniously-designed coloring and activity book that teaches young people to really look at art. Encourages creativity and the development of an artistic eye.

The Conductor Cover Image
ISBN: 9781452104911
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Chronicle Books (CA) - September 28th, 2011

This simple, beautiful little book is without words; it doesn’t even need them! A conductor prompts the leaves on a grove of trees to sway, rustle, and roar. You can almost hear them!

Stuck Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780399257377
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - November 10th, 2011

A little boy gets his kite stuck in a tree and tries to dislodge it with his shoe, which also gets stuck. Then he tries to dislodge his shoe with his other shoe, and IT gets stuck. I think you can guess where this is going... Charming, absurd, and creative.

The Necklace Cover Image
By Guy de Maupassant, Gary Kelley (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781568461939
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Creative Company - September 1st, 2004

This sumptuous and elegant picture book includes Maupassant’s original text along with magical, art deco-style paintings by Kelley. Suitable for older kids with great reading skills as well as teenagers and adults.

Bruno Munari's Zoo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811848305
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - February 17th, 2005

Revisit a classic of children’s book design. Munari was a world-acclaimed graphic designer and artist whose picture books have been treasured by readers since their publication more than 50 years ago.

To Market, to Market Cover Image
ISBN: 9780810997387
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: ABRAMS - April 1st, 2011

This stunning book’s illustrations are made entirely of carefully cut paper, an art form of which McClure is the undisputed master. The text teaches children to understand and appreciate the origins of their food.

The Fate of Achilles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781606060858
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: J. Paul Getty Trust Publications - September 6th, 2011

Introduce children to this classic Greek legend in an edition that’s tailor-made for young readers but not dumbed down in the slightest. The illustrations are spacey and bold, sure to delight and enthrall any young mythology fan.

Symphony City Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936365395
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: McSweeney's - July 19th, 2011

Teach city kids to appreciate the hustle and bustle around them with this charming book. In it, a little girl finds her way home by following the sounds the city makes around her.

To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300170979
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - May 31st, 2011

Perfect for the most avant-garde kid you know. Gertrude Stein wrote this book, which she intended for children, in 1940. Her prose and the accompanying illustrations, which both stand on the edge of poetry and nonsense, will amuse curious young readers even as they perplex.