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Erin Kodicek on June 16, 2017

WoollyIn today's edition, nonfiction for fans of Jurassic Park, a dark and quirky debut reminiscent of Flannery O'Connor, and a book that alleges that Peter Pan wasn't as sweet and innocent as he was portrayed...

Jon Foro: It seems there’s no subject Ben Mezrich won’t touch: Vlad Putin and Russian oligarchs? Check. UFOs? Check. The horny pioneers of social networking, a novel, and a children’s book? Three more checks, and the list goes on. His latest, Woolly, tracks two of the strangest real-life stories of our time: 1) The effort to resurrect the iconic Woolly Mammoth by sequencing its frozen, excavated DNA with that of a modern elephant, and 2) the Russian scientists racing to save the planet from climate disaster with Pleistocene Park, a terraformed slice of Siberia populated with ancient herbivores.  Oh, well. It’s not like things could get much worse.

Erin Kodicek: I'm going to finish Deborah Kennedy's impressive debut, Tornado Weather. It takes place in a small town with one weary police officer and a cast of colorful characters preoccupied with the crisis du jour: Young Daisy Gonzalez has gone missing on her way home from school, and folks aren't shy about offering up their theories as to what happened, theories based more on grudges and prejudices, rather than actual evidence. Meanwhile, life still goes on; Prom is coming up, one family doesn't quite know what to make of their son Wally, who now wants to be known as Willa, and another fight has broken out at the local strip joint...Kennedy makes all of these seemingly ordinary, mundane happenings captivating, and you can't help but be charmed (or appalled, or simply curious) by the town's denizens, while you also worry about the fate of Daisy. I'm nervous about how all of this is going to shake out, and the book's ominous title is certainly no salve...

Adrian Liang: My family is off on our first camping trip of the year, so what better book to listen to while we’re stuck in weekend traffic than Hatchet by Gary Paulsen? A middle-grade novel that won the Newbery Honor award, this vivid and tense story centers on 13-year-old Brian, who lives through a small-plane crash in the wilds of Canada, with only the small hatchet his mom gave him as a means for surviving until rescue happens—if it ever does. I’ve read this book many times and am eager to share it with my preteen daughter—though it’s possible the wisdom of my timing could be questioned. Listening to this book while surrounded by the huge trees on the Olympic Peninsula will be either terrifying or inspiring. The other book I’m set on reading this weekend is Lost Boy: The Story of Captain Hook by Christina Henry (July). Henry is the author of two other Gregory Maguire-esque retellings (Alice and Red Queen) of characters from Lewis Carroll novels, but Henry’s characters are gritty and broken and—to me—far more interesting. (Take a look at her book covers. They’ll give you a hint as to what you’re in for.) Readers of grimdark fantasy will appreciate Henry’s way of interpreting stories we’ve heard many times before, and I’m excited to see what she does with Captain Hook and Peter Pan.


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