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Beautiful Moon: A Child's Prayer.
Bolden, Tonya (author).
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez.
Nov. 2014. 32p. Abrams, hardcover, $16.95 (9781419707926). PreS-Grade 2.
First published November 15, 2014 (Booklist).
A young African American boy realizes that he has not said his prayers. As he climbs out of bed, he spots the moon gleaming in the sky. From there this book, with heartfelt simplicity, uses the moon as a beacon for those across the city in need of prayer. Among them are a woman resting on a park bench, trying to keep warm; a businessman on a train, worrying about his daughter fighting overseas; and a hospital patient gazing out his window, wishing for sleep. Though the boy cannot see any of these people, he prays for them instinctively in his thoughts for people with no homes, for wars to end, for the sick to be healed, and for those who are hungry to be fed. Then he prays for his family, for those close to him who make his own life so happy, and he prays that tomorrow he will remember to pray. This oversize volume is a beautiful weaving of word, art, and spirit. Bolden’s restrained but eloquent text is matched by Velasquez’s dark, almost brooding paintings. These nighttime scenes reveal people at their lowest—hungry, sad, afraid. Yet just the intention behind the boy’s words has a soothing effect. The palette brightens whenever people are shown helping, providing food or reading a story to children. A good starting place for discussion, this will give youngsters a sense of those in need as well as what’s worth praying for. Ilene Cooper
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IN THE SHADOW OF ZION
Travel down some of the
lesser-known roads to Jerusalem with an expert guide.
Few books that claim the
power to radically change the reader’s worldview deliver on that promise. This
informed investigation of several unexplored avenues of Jewish history actually
does it. By examining six seldom-discussed attempts to settle a Jewish state
outside of Israel, Rovner (English and Jewish Literature/Univ. of Denver) shows
how the world might have looked had any of these plans come to fruition. Had
the Jewish homeland developed in Angola, Suriname or Grand Island, New York—all
considered candidates at one time—how might Jewish history, and world history,
have turned out differently? The author meticulously follows in the footsteps
of the visionary authors, rabbis and politicians who led hopeful expeditions to
far-flung corners of the globe on just such a quest. Rovner writes clearly and
precisely, providing a solid historical and geographical context, which he
intersperses with personal narratives from his own travels that offer more
intimate looks at the landscape and cultures of these countries. Scholars
familiar with Jewish history will appreciate the author’s impressive
scholarship, while mainstream readers could easily become overwhelmed by a text
that is supported by nearly 100 pages of notes and bibliographical references.
Similarly, a newcomer to the topic might not make the leap from religious Zionism
to geographic territorialism as quickly as Rovner does. Unremarkable landscape
photographs sprinkled throughout the book are perhaps an attempt to draw in
more casual readers, but their generic vistas seem at odds with the detailed
academic character of the writing. Nonetheless, for those interested in Jewish
history, Rovner provides ample evidence for his thought-provoking argument that
one success among these varied visions might have changed global geography
challenging intellectual history of the global search for a Jewish homeland.
A BILLION WAYS TO DIE
What is it with people? Whoever it is that’s trying to kill
Arthur Cathcart just won’t quit.
Now that he’s avenged himself on the triggerman who widowed and
nearly executed him, Cathcart, a tech researcher of many names, just wants to
be left alone to cuddle with his ladylove, blackjack dealer Natsumi Fitzgerald
(Cries of the Lost, 2013,
etc.). Their Caribbean idyll ends when their sailboat, Detour, is boarded by a crew of
ruffians who snatch them in the dead of night, carry them off, lock them up in
another craft, and demand that Cathcart tell them where “it” is. They don’t
know Cathcart’s name; he has no idea what "it" is; nobody’s willing
to be the first to talk. The stalemate is broken when Cathcart and Natsumi
awaken from drugged sleep back at their marina, shaken but alive and determined
to figure out who kidnapped them and why. The search leads Cathcart to the
usual scenic locations (Puerto Rico, Miami, Switzerland, suburban Connecticut)
and, thanks to the research of his reluctant collaborator, Strider the Data
Thief, deep into the bowels of the Société Commerciale Fontaine, where his
undercover job as one Martin Goldman gives him a chance to show his researching
chops before the inevitable blowup. Cathcart soon realizes the malign forces
he’s tracking are also tracking him, and the disappearances of successive bank
accounts he shares with Natsumi persuade him that “our security seemed to erode
faster than our awareness could increase.”
After the brilliance of his debut (Dead Anyway, 2012), Cathcart’s third
adventure shows an increasing tropism toward proficient but forgettable rounds
of cat-and-mouse byplay punctuated by the occasional action scene.
THE LAST BEACH
A clarion call for a change of policy that prioritizes the
preservation of beaches over property rights.
In this follow-up to The World's Beaches: A Global
Guide to the Science of the Shoreline (2011), Pilkey (Emeritus,
Geology/Duke Univ.) and Cooper (Environmental Sciences/Univ. of Ulster) warn
that shoreline development is already endangering our beaches. They explain how
the natural relationship between sand and ocean waves—countervailing processes of
erosion and reconstruction of sand dunes and beaches—is already being hindered
by sea walls and jetties constructed to protect human activity. The authors
cite projections that by the year 2100, due to climate change, global sea rise
will likely exceed 3 feet, and all beachfront development will stop unless it
is “protected on all sides by massive seawalls.” The cost would be prohibitive
for what would be a temporary fix, since the naturally flexible dynamic of
resanding would be disrupted, and sand transported from other locations would
deplete beaches elsewhere. “[W]aves can cause cliffs to collapse and push huge
boulders around as if they were pebbles,” write the authors, “and yet beaches
made up of tiny sand grains persist” because they are continually replenished
by ocean deposits. Sea walls and jetties are already hindering this
replenishment, as are river dams, which limit the deposit of mud and pebbles
that would otherwise be carried into the ocean. The effects of pollution make
the situation even worse—not only due to the dumping of waste material into the
oceans, but by the failures of sewage facilities under flood conditions.
Vehicles driven over the sand, littering, shore drilling and sand mining also
cause massive problems, destroying the beaches still in place and compromising
the natural shoreline ecology.
The authors deliver a message to be heeded: “We must view
the beach as a sacred and resilient yet strangely fragile natural environment
to be protected at all costs.”