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Check It Out

Courier Articles by Sandy Schultheis
Sunday, November 28, 1999

Book Add a Rich Touch to Holiday Gift-Giving

As the holidays approach my thoughts are on finding the perfect gifts for friends and family members. Books are ideal because they are something many of us don't think about buying for ourselves and we can loan them to others after we have enjoyed them. In addition to keeping an eye on new books arriving at the library I also visit bookstores frequently to see what is new and attractive. Today's suggestions are all available through your public library so you may want to check them out for your own enjoyment.

The Saga of Lewis and Clark by Tom and Jeremy Schmidt (DK, 1999).

Authors (and brothers) Tom and Jeremy Schmidt are respectively historian/ travel writer and explorer/ naturalist. They recount the adventures of the Corps of Discovery based on their own lifelong experiences in the region, including traveling the trail themselves. A spectacular book for history buffs or people who love the wide open spaces of the West. Even though I'm happy living in the rolling farmlands of the Mid-West I sometimes long to be in a place where the vistas are vast and humbling.

Desire of the Everlasting Hills: The World Before and After Jesus by Thomas Cahill (Doubleday, 1999).

Another gift from the author of How the Irish Saved Civilization and The Gifts of the Jews. In this third volume of the best-selling Hinges of History series, Cahill weaves together politics, sociology, and faith with contemporary insights. Jesus is seen though the eyes of his biographers in their Gospel accounts. Each of these authors' lives is reconstructed in such a way that the richness of their writing and their subject matter is wonderfully enhanced. A fine choice for faithful friends and relatives who enjoy a fresh appraisal of history and religion.

Journeys with Elijah: Eight Tales of the Prophet by Barbara Diamond Goldin with paintings by Jerry Pinkney (Harcourt Brace, 1999).

The perfect book for the Hanukah or Christmas child, or for an adult who enjoys beautiful illustrated books. The prophet Elijah who appears as a humble wanderer, offers those who receive him choices or blessings that, often indirectly, lead the seeker to wisdom. These eight tales are set in an array of times and places, from modern Israel to Argentina and ancient China. Pinkney's watercolors provide a rich and colorful backdrop to these simple and reverent tales.

The Lighthouse, the Cat, and the Sea by Leigh W. Rutledge (Dutton, 1999).

A charming little story narrated by an elderly cat living in a Key West lighthouse at the turn of the century. She recounts her days of cruising the straits of Florida in 1899 where she is washed overboard in a storm and rescued by the young son of a lighthouse keeper. From the author of Diary of a Cat here is a book for all the cat-people on you holiday gift list as well as those who enjoy off-beat and whimsical tales.

One Hundred Best Album Covers: The Stories Behind the Sleeves by Storm Thorgerson (DK, 1999).

A fantastic book of LP record album art, mostly rock from the Beatles to Led Zeplin, but classical and jazz albums are also featured . Chosen by legendary designer Storm Thorgerson (the creator of celebrated sleeves for Pink Floyd, among other artists) and presented in DK's brilliant and rich style this is a colorful and fact-filled present for baby boomers, old rockers and aspiring artists .

Moonlight in Duneland: The Illustrated Story of the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad edited by Ronald D. Cohen and Stephen G. McShane (Indiana University Press, 1998).

A book featured in a recent issue of the IU alumni magazine attracted me and I was delighted to find a reference copy and a circulating copy in the EVPL library system. Interurban railroad transportation between Chicago, Illinois and South Bend, Indiana began in 1908. Today the South Shore Railroad continues to be a popular method of transportation for commuters as well as a delight for rail buffs and tourists. Wonderful posters from the '20s and 30' and entertaining stories make this a nice gift idea for those who love Hoosier nostalgia.

Sandy Schultheis is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.