Leo Lionni’s Frederick

There are a few illustrated children’s books I grew up with that left a very deep mark on me. Tomi di Paola’s books, Ashanti to Zulu about the peoples of Africa, dinosaur and paleontology books, Three Trees of the Samurai, Holling C. Holling’s books, and one called Catundra about an overweight cat and how she slims down.

Leo Lionni’s story Frederick was one of these. The book is fifty years old this year, and is a wonderful story about the importance of Odds in societies. The author was Dutch, and did many children’s books, a lot of them about mice, including Frederick. I discovered it as a audio-tape and read-along book Mom and Dad got at the library. Continue reading


Signal Boost: The King’s Champion

Peter Grant’s fantasy novel, The King’s Champion, is live on Amazon.

I was allowed to read an advanced draft, and it is good!

An old, semi-retired soldier on his way back from visiting an older friend discovers that long-banished trouble has spilled over the border (and it kills his dog. Big, big mistake). The king is weak, unable to keep peace among the barons, even as hard danger marches closer.

But old men are dangerous men, and cunning. The King’s Champion girds himself for battle once more, and woe betide those who think that age is weakness.

Book Review: Rimworld – Into the Green

Curtis, J. L. Rimworld: Into the Green Print edition

Humans merrily expanded out from Earth, and collided with the Dragons, or Dragoons, and war erupted. A stalemate of sorts has been reached, with the emphasis on “of sorts.” Because the Dragoons and their human slaves, the Traders, won’t stop their attempts to expand and conquer. And humans won’t stop exploring and spreading out among the stars. Into those steps, or rather falls, Lt. Ethan Fargo. And the Dragoons (and a few loose bureaucrats) are in for a surprise. Continue reading

Signal Boost

LawDog’s long-awaited book, then one his blog followers and friends have been pestering, harassing, and begging for is finally out! The print edition is coming soon, but e-book is out. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073XSYG63/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500142635&sr=8-1&keywords=D.+Lawdog

I’ll do a formal review later this week, but I can tell you that this is a fun book. Just don’t read it in locations where laughing aloud is frowned upon.

Book Review: Die Geier-Wally

Von Hillem, Wilhelmina Die Geier-wally Kindle Edition.

This isn’t the sort of book I’d usually read in English, but it is well-known in German literature as an example of a Heimatroman and Alpenroman. And it was inexpensive, so I got a copy. The novel, about a young woman in the Ötztal in southern Austria in the 1870s proved to be an intriguing book, in part because of how differently a modern author would  probably depict some of the characters. But von Hillem’s landscape descriptions are spectacular, and her writing engrossing enough that I plowed through. Continue reading

Book Review: The River, the Plain, and the State

Zhang, Ling. The River, the Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China, 1048-1128 (Cambridge University Press, 2016) Print edition.

Chinese imperial management of water has been one of the critical keys to following the history of imperial after the Zhou Dynasty. Some of the bedrock work in US environmental history took as its starting point Karl Wittfogel’s “Hydraulic empire” thesis, looking at state control of water and society and how that relates to the development of both the US government and the American West. Because Chinese records are so copious, a lot of work can and has been done looking at how the Chinese lived with and coped with their major rivers and the hydraulic “systems” that developed over thousands of years. This book focuses on a small space in time and shows how the complicated interactions of state, environment, and society caused, then reacted to, and were shaped by, the Yellow River changing course between 1048 and 1128. Continue reading