“Go Set a Watchman”

9780062409850_p0_v9_s114x166Harper-Collins recently announced that the audiobook of Harper Lee’s second novel will be released on July 14 of this year.  The novel, which she wrote before “To Kill a Mockingbird,” takes place twenty years after “Mockingbird.”  The publisher has stated that the novel shares the same characters and setting as “Mockingbird,” but it is a distinct story.

The audiobook will be narrated by Reese Witherspoon.  “As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch.”

Harper-Collins is planning a first printing of two million copies.  The audiobook will probably be equally in demand.

New Children’s Books

9780399162053_p0_v2_s114x166In a recent shipment of new children’s books, three stand out as books that will definitely be winners with our younger readers.  A delightful story that will find an audience with non-readers is “Look” by Jeff Mack.  Featuring a playful gorilla and a blond-haired little boy, the text consists of only two words: look and out.

The little boy is seated in front of a TV.  He is engrossed in whatever it is that he is watching.  The gorilla attempts to divert his attention in varied ways to look at a book.  The gorilla performs a series of silly tricks calling to the boy to “Look.”  The boy’s response is “Out.”  Eventually, after a calamity, the gorilla succeeds in diverting the boy’s attention to a book.

Toddlers will have great fun “reading” this book and creating a background story to enrich the story line.

With summer soon upon us, Neil Gaiman’s sequel to “Chu’s Day” has arrived. “Chu’s Day at the Beach,” with illustrations by Adam Rex, is a child’s delight.  Chu is a panda, who with his mom and dad, visits the beach on a very hot summer day.   Sunning themselves on the beach are other members of the animal kingdom:  gorillas, bears, octopuses, frogs, etc.  While eating an ice cream, Chu’s nose begins to tickle, and tickle, and tickle.  He can’t control the tickle until he finally gives out with the biggest “Aah, aaah, aaaah, CHOOOOOOOOO.  This enormous sound causes the ocean to be broken.  The sea creatures are suspended in the water and cannot return home.  If Chu cannot sneeze again, the ocean will remain broken.

The illustrations of the animals, especially the adorable Chu, carry the story.  Readers, I am sure, will be practicing their sneezing ability imitating Chu’s enormous sound.

9780062223999_p0_v1_s114x166 Another summertime story that will definitely appeal to girls is the return of Pinkalicious in Victoria Kahn’s newest book “Aqualicious.” Pinkalicious on a beach outing with her parents begins to collect seashells.  She places one to her ear and instead of hearing the ocean, she hears a small little voice coming from inside the shell.  Aqualicious then emerges from the shell and together the girls spend the day together.  Great beach adventures ensue, including the kidnapping of Aqualicious by a seagull.  Fans of this series will definitely enjoy this summertime adventure.9780062330161_p0_v1_s114x166

Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us by Daniel Pink

I listened to this audiobook over the course of a weekend. It is a very compelling listen and is a read-a-like for anyone who likes the Freakonomics series and Malcolm Gladwell books.

The best motivadrive_book_pagetion is intrinsic and offering rewards can dampen the enjoyment and interest in an activity. School children who liked to draw were offered a reward. When the reward was removed the children dramatically curtailed their drawing to levels far below what they were doing prior to the experiment. The children who were offered no reward continued to draw for pleasure.

Rewards do have their place. They are effective when the task is rote and tedious- such as stuffing envelopes. The extrinsic reward is effective because a person would probably not choose this activity as a hobby or for pleasure.

The real motivators for people are a sense of autonomy, mastery, and purpose. In the case of stuffing envelopes, in the place of a reward, a supervisor could motive the employee to work faster by explaining the purpose of the mailing and allowing the employee the autonomy to determine how they would like to accomplish the task.

Another great book by Daniel Pink is To Sell is Human. It is also a good book to listen to.

“The Precious One”

Marisa de los Santos’ newest book “The Precious One” is a family drama with an interesting twist.  Wilson Cleary is the head of the Cleary clan.  He is a professor, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, but a “jerk” as described by his daughter Eustacia, Taisy.

The description of Wilson as a jerk is an apt one.  9780061670893_p0_v2_s114x166An imperious, haughty philanderer, Wilson leaves his wife and twin children, for a much younger woman who is pregnant with his child.  He rejects his first family and basically throws his 17 year-old twins and his wife out of his home.

The author’s characterization of Wilson is what makes the first half of this book strong and compelling.  When he suffers a heart attack, he reaches out to Taisy.  Her brother Marcus calls her a fool for even considering a visit.  It has been many years since she has seen him, and her curiosity wins out.  The purpose of the visit is not what Taisy envisions.  Wilson wants her to write his biography, a record of his vast achievements.  Taisy is by profession a ghost writer and half heartedly agrees wanting to know more about her father.  While staying at his guest house, she meets his “second” family.

At this point, the plot dissolves into a true soap opera.  Taisy begins to interact with Caro, the second wife, and Willow, the beloved second daughter.  With growing affection, she becomes involved in their lives and, of course, learns to love them.  Willow evolves from a brat into a wonderfully warm human being; from a friendless teenager to one who is eventually accepted by her peers and falls in love with one of the most popular boys in her school.  Taisy reconnects with the boy friend that Wilson forced her to reject.  And everyone lives happily, sort of, ever after.

Marisa de los Santos is a good writer.  Her prose is strong and descriptive.  The plot of “The Precious One,” however, is a little too  precious.

“The Way Home Looks Now”

Combine Little League baseball, two boys who love the game, and a family tragedy and you have the basis of Wendy Wan-Long Shang’s new book “The Way Home Looks Now.”

The book set in 1972, is divided into two, time periods: “Before” and “After.”  In the Before, Peter Lee and his older brother, Nelson, loved9780545609562_p0_v2_s114x166 everything about baseball.  They listened to the games on radio, played it, and cheered for both Taiwan and the United States in the 1972 Little League World Series.

Then Peter’s older brother was killed in a car crash.  Now the “After” is filled with grieving and distant parents.  All of this changes when Peter’s dad, Ba, volunteers to coach his Little League team.  Peter wonders how baseball can have any meaning without his brother, but gradually he begins to rethink the game, his father’s knowledge of the sport, and everything else in his life.

“The Way Home Looks Now” has been well reviewed by many journals.  Set in the turbulent seventies, the author combines a detailed sports story, a history lesson, and a tale of a grieving Asian-American family.