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Thursday, June 01, 2006

June is...

I didn't get to book recommendations for May, but now we're in June, the month of weddings, of graduations, of school letting out and summer starting for real. So let's take a look at June's "official" designations and see what books we can match up to each commemoration.

Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month

While cats romp through more mystery books than would be prudent to name, I'm going to go with simpler fare and suggest the children's classic picture book by Wanda Gag, Millions of Cats. Even if you're an adult, a 5-minute foray with this book can brighten your day with its sweetness.

Cancer in the Sun Month

While the cancer that made the main character in Good Grief a widow was bone not skin cancer, Lolly Winston's first novel is a wonderful story about Sophie coming to terms with the loss of a beloved husband.

Dairy Month

I'm back at my son's bookshelf for my next recommendation. Maurice Sendak provided so many images from my childhood--and from many people's childhoods. His Where the Wild Things Are is a classic that captivated many of us. But it's Dairy Month, so let's skip that one for the moment and go to In the Night Kitchen. In this charmingly bizarre children's book, Mickey falls into a pitcher of milk. I'll let you read the rest of the tale to find out what happens.

If you're looking for something a little bit older--perhaps for that 10 to 15 age range--then check out Caroline Cooney's Face on the Milk Carton. It has Cooney's trademark suspense in a tightly written story about a girl named Janie who sees her own face on the milk carton.

Gay & Lesbian Pride Month

Laurie R. King is easily one of my favorite authors. Her books are refreshingly original and she has a courage about her approach to a wide variety of topics. She never takes the easy out, but brings a real intellectual honesty to her works. While she is best known for her Mary Russell-Sherlock Holmes series, she has also written a series featuring San Francisco cop Kate Martinelli. One of my favorites in that series is To Play the Fool. To quote from that review:

The other element of the novel that made it different from others in its genre
was the relationship between Kate and her domestic partner, Lee. Although
the book does not dwell overlong on it, it makes us aware that Kate doesn't
have it easy as a police officer in a lesbian relationship that has made the
news one too many times. Yet, the relationship between the two women is both
sweet and touching without getting sappy or overwrought.

Recreation Month

Over the next several months, you're going to start seeing a lot more travel book reviews on Book Help Web. Why? Because one of the newest members of the Help Web family is Travel Help Web--with a publisher, Tom Barnes, who has written a great number of travel book reviews.

In the mean time, perhaps you'd like to explore Los Angeles through the eyes of photographer Larry Brownstein in his tabletop book, Los Angeles: Where Anything is Possible.

Or if you're looking for something more fanciful, perhaps you'll want to pick up an older classic, William Pene DuBois's 21 Balloons, the story of Professor William Sherman's travels to Krakatoa as told to the Western American Explorers Club.

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

For this recommendation, I'm turning toward the kitchen. Not my kitchen, though, but the kitchen of the late Julia Child and Jacques Pepin. Their Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home has a section on vegetables that come complete with illustrated directions for peeling and chopping garlic and tomatoes.

National Rose Month

The lovely rose has inspired writers to climb literary heights ever since William Shakespeare first penned "a rose by any other name." Umberto Eco's brilliant Name of the Rose remains one of the best books I've ever read--and the movie with Sean Connery wasn't bad either.

But I'm going to turn to ancient Rome for my National Rose Month recommendation: Stephen Saylor's Roma sub Rosa series. Roma sub Rosa means "Rome under the rose". The rose was the symbol of Horus, the god of silence. Saylor adopted the phrase to dub his series as a telling of the history of Rome's secrets. His "finder" Gordinius is a fascinating detective and the series is definitely one of the best of the many set in ancient Rome.

Zoo and Aquarium Month

At the risk of overloading this month's books with children's picture books, I've got to suggest Dr. Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo.

Great Outdoors Month

Jim Jamieson is fascinated with birds. He's also a photographer par excellence. Put those two together and you get the picture book 48 Hours of Flight. He spent 48 hours in the Bosque del Apache wildlife preserve. His love for the wildlife preserve and for national parks in general shines through all of his work. If you can't get to New Mexico (or even if you can), this might be the book to help you celebrate the Great Outdoors this month.

Bike Month

If you're going to celebrate bike month, what better way than by reading the autobiography of one of the most famous cyclists of our time: Lance Armstrong. His It's Not About the Bike chronicles not only his athletic career, but also his fight against cancer.

Goat Trauma Awareness Month

No, really...or not. You decide.

National Candy Month

Isaac Asimov first began reading science fiction after his father opened a candy store. The pulp novels were sold along with the candy, but not before young Asimov first devoured their pages.

And who can think of candy and books without thinking of Roald Dahl and his Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

That's all the book recommendations I'm going to make today, but it's far from the end of things to commemorate this month. Here are several more for you:

Drive Safe Month
National Tennis Month

National Safety Month Black Music Month
Carribean American Heritage Month
National Home Ownership Month
Perennial Gardening Month
National Soul Food Month
International Men's Month
National Seafood Month

Turkey Lovers Month
National Accordian Awareness Month
American Rivers Month
Torture Awareness Month
National Ice Tea Month
National Papaya Month
National Pest Control Month
Fight the Filthy Fly Month


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