Book Look Summer 2008

There is probably no season more conducive to a good read than summer. Here are some new titles by local authors for a lazy July afternoon, including two aimed at younger readers. Also, with June designated as Adopt-a-Cat Month (when people are encouraged to adopt a cat from a shelter), one book gives readers suggestions to consider before and after choosing a pet.

All these titles should be available at area bookstores, independent retailers, online retailers, public libraries or through the publishers’ or authors’ websites, unless otherwise indicated.

In the Fall Issue of Life in the Finger Lakes, we will take a closer look at some independent booksellers who carry new books. If you have a favorite shop, let us hear from you.

Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills
By Julie Cummins
Illustrated by Cheryl Harness
2008 Dutton Children’s Books
Hardback: $17.99

In the years before television, the public enjoyed live theater and vaudeville acts. Circus entertainers had broad appeal, especially those who risked their lives performing dangerous feats. Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills is an engaging look at 14 women who dared to fly, drive and ride on a variety of conveyances to the delight of a thrill-seeking public between 1880 and 1929.

Writing for young readers ages 8 to 12, Cummins features real women whose names have long been lost to history. Whether they’re hurtling over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel, wrestling with exotic tigers or riding atop an airplane in flight, these daring individuals were rugged and courageous, disregarding personal safety to achieve fame.

Cummins is a librarian and children’s book specialist. Thanks to her extensive research, she is able to colorfully describe the skill, costumes, and far-from-average lives these 14 ladies led. In addition to the text, lively full-page illustrations bring daring feats to life. Young readers will discover skateboarding was hardly the first extreme sport!

Hooked on a Feline: Basic Cat Care From a Different PURR-spective
By Taunee Williams (a cat)
Translated and illustrated by Barbara Mugnolo-Williams, 2006
Available from The Write Cat, P.O. Box 293, Lima, NY 14485
Paperback: $11.95

Just think of it as a crash course in feline sensitivity training.”

With these words, Taunee Williams delves into the subject of cat ownership, but from the feline’s point of view. The author is really Taunee’s owner, of course, but using the cat’s “voice” reminds readers that owning a cat requires forethought and planning.

Hooked on a Feline offers first-time cat owners lots of good suggestions to build confidence, and provides experienced owners with new ideas for things like transporting a cat to the vet. The author has raised many cats herself, and provides step-by-step suggestions on everything from feeding to grooming. “Feline guru” Marilyn Cruz, an all-breed judge for the Cat Fanciers’ Association, praises Mugnolo-Williams’s approach as “no-nonsense.”

The delightful cartoon-like drawings on each page are amusing and dead-on in capturing a cat’s behavior. Let’s face it: cats, while mysterious, are known for offering their humans occasional comic relief. The book dispenses thoughtful, sound, practical advice with warmth and humor. While acknowledging a cat’s independent nature, the book shows how rewarding feline companionship can be.

Rochester Eats: 75 Years of Classic Faves and Craves
By Karen Deyle
2007, *Big Kids Publishing, Fairport, NY
Paperback: $19.95

There are a variety of pleasant gastronomical memories in this book, especially for readers who grew up in the greater Rochester area. Who doesn’t wax nostalgic when recalling the former Manhattan, Edward’s or Sibley’s Tower restaurants? They are all in this new book, along with many eateries that are still serving up mouth-watering meals.

Deyle, a restaurant critic for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, cautions that the book offers more memories than histories. She has gathered numerous firsthand accounts from people who frequented these restaurants for meals and special occasions, and added descriptions of each establishment’s ownership and setting. The book’s colorful, attractive layout features many illustrations, including old and new photographs with assorted menus and even some prized recipes.

Rochester Eats is divided into easy-to-reference categories, like Fine Dining, Sunday Drives, Bakeries and Counter Culture (diners), to mention a few. A special section highlights food businesses and establishments that originated in Rochester, such as French’s Mustard, Zweigle’s Hots and Wegmans.
Some restaurants discussed, like the Red Osier in Batavia, are a short drive out of the city.

Danny and Life on Bluff Point: The Conflict
By Mary Ellen Lee
200, iUniverse
Paperback: $13.95

Set in the Penn Yan area, the Danny series chronicles the challenges of a farm family at the end of the 19th century. This is the sixth book in the series of historical children’s novels.

Danny, the 10-year-old narrator, is finding his way in the bigger world. He is the only boy in his family, and he explores his unique role with his sisters, parents, extended family and friends. He’s small for his age, but strives to take on grownup responsibilities.

In this book, Danny meets a man who has relocated from Virginia. Although the Civil War ended some 30 years earlier, this Southerner’s arrival brings up the old feelings of hatred between the North and South within the Yates County community. Prejudice, forgiveness and acceptance are all valuable lessons taught in The Conflict.

Danny relates some challenging experiences, including having to testify in court against a man who had terrorized his younger sister. This brings to conclusion a scary event recounted in book four of the series.

Like the earlier books, this most recent installment recounts the family’s rural lifestyle, and will be instructive to 8- to 12-year-olds for whom farm life may be largely unfamiliar. By describing simple things like picking wildflowers, the birth of farm animals, and the arrival of steam engines, the author reveals the world of the last century to young readers.

Susquehanna Scandal
By R.W. White
2006, Paperback; $14.95


Yours Truly, C. P. Avery
By R.W. White
2007, Paperback; $19.95

Both published by Oliver D. Shank & Associates
WordPro Press available from Riverow Bookshop in Owego

In these companion titles, the author successfully manages to present the same subject as both a novel and a nonfiction book.

The first, Susquehanna Scandal, is a fictional account of a wealthy, influential judge in mid-19th century Tioga County. The young bachelor, Judge Thomas Averill Carter, is known as “the pride of Owego,” a city located on the Susquehanna River. Carter is already in a relationship with his female law clerk, who bore their child out of wedlock, when he becomes embroiled in an ill-fated affair with a Native American woman. She is a member of a touring, gospel-singing family from Canada, and their affair unravels his world.

Author R.W. White, a retired Presbyterian minister, says the historical romance was inspired by a well-known monument at Evergreen Cemetery, which overlooks the Susquehanna River valley. The memorial is a tribute to a 21-year-old Mohawk woman, Sa-Sa-Na Loft, who died in a train disaster while visiting the area in 1852.

The author acknowledges that the fictional character of Judge Carter is loosely based on a real-life judge, the Hon. Charles Pumpelly Avery (1817-1872). Judge Avery is the subject of his nonfiction book, Yours Truly, C. P. Avery. The judge is remembered for his contributions to the preservation of Native American and early pioneer history. White has written the second volume as an accurate account of the historic figure.

In this book, White raises intriguing questions about Avery’s actions following the death of the Mohawk woman, the role he played in her funeral and local burial, and the construction of the prominent monument. The author points to Avery’s empathy for Native Americans and his “passion for duty and justice.” The book shows careful research and includes illustrations and historic photographs, including one of Sa-Sa-Na Loft and her family.

by Laurel C. Wemett
Laurel C. Wemett lives in Canandaigua where she owns a gift shop, Cats in the Kitchen. She is a correspondent for the Messenger Post Newspapers and a frequent contributor to Life in the Finger Lakes magazine.

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