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Balam: Jaguars in Guatemala

Among the most beautiful and highly revered rainforest animals both in ancient and modern times is the jaguar (Panthera onca), which inhabits Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America. It is one of the big cats, along with the leopard, lion, and tiger, and the third largest of these. Jaguars are similar to leopards, though their spots present different arrangements (jaguars have spots within spots, or rosettes, and are larger). Jaguars are also stockier in build. They inhabit mostly forested lands but will also range across grasslands and open terrain. Also notable is their love of water and ability to swim. These gorgeous jungle cats are largely solitary and known for their hunting skills. They will attack cattle in areas fringing jungle zones and have been known to attack jungle camps to stalk human prey, usually children. Their powerful jaws are capable of puncturing tortoise shells.

Jaguars have spots within spots, or rosettes, and are larger than leopards. Photo © brezina123.
Jaguars have spots within spots, or rosettes, and are larger than leopards. Photo © brezina123.

[pullquote align=right]Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead.[/pullquote]Perhaps for these reasons, the Maya had great respect and reverence for the jaguar, which they called balam. Jaguars were a symbol of power and strength and were believed to act as mediums for communication between the living and the dead. Kings were often given names incorporating the word balam, which they viewed as their companions in the spiritual world and protectors of the royal household. Rulers wearing jaguar pelts and man-jaguar figures frequently appear in pre-Columbian art. The jaguar was the patron deity of Tikal and is featured in a royal burial scene depicted on a human bone fragment found in the burial tomb of Hasaw Chan K’awil (Heavenly Standard Bearer) in which the ruler travels to the underworld in a canoe rowed by mythical animal figures.

Ranges for female jaguars are in the vicinity of 25-40 square kilometers, with the range of males being roughly twice as much and encompassing that of 2-3 females. Male jaguars’ ranges do not overlap. For this reason, attempts to conserve existing numbers of jaguars require large expanses of territory such as that found in Guatemala’s Maya Biosphere Reserve. The reserve also adjoins reserves in neighboring Mexico and Belize as part of a vast biological corridor. An estimated 550-650 jaguars remain in the Maya Biosphere Reserve.

Scientists have been studying jaguars in the Maya Biosphere Reserve and are trying to get a more accurate estimate of their remaining numbers in addition to a greater understanding of their behavioral patterns. Within the Laguna del Tigre National Park, biologists have been using radio collars to track five jaguars and a puma in the area surrounding the site of Waka’ in an effort to determine migration patterns along an important biological corridor connecting this area with Mirador-Dos Lagunas-Río Azul National Park. It is not uncommon to see jaguar prints on the muddy trails in the vicinity of Waka’. Ironically, in 2006, a camera crew visiting the park to film a program on scarlet macaws for Guatemalan TV channel Guatevisión was unable to find any macaws but did manage to get a jaguar sighting on tape. Recent video monitoring along 15 stations in the central core of Tikal National Park detected seven jaguars during a two-month period. The Sierra del Lacandón National Park is also believed to harbor large numbers of these jungle cats.

Luckily, you don’t need to go traipsing through the jungle with a saucer of milk if you want to see a jaguar, though chances are it will see you first. Guatemala City’s excellent zoo has jaguars, as does Petén’s ARCAS wildlife rescue center. A jaguar cub was born in Guatemala City’s zoo as recently as 2003. Several zoos in the United States have partnered with facilities in Central America to breed jaguars in captivity. In California, Sacramento’s zoo welcomed the arrival of Tina, a Guatemalan jaguar, and Mulac, a male jaguar from Belize, in 2002.

As part of a larger regional initiative along with Mexico and Belize known as Selva Maya, local conservation group Defensores de la Naturaleza and Fundación Monte Carlo Verde launched the SalvaBalam campaign in 2006 aimed at increasing public awareness of the jaguar’s plight and raising funds for continued study of these fascinating creatures. The project is still active, but is now part of Defensores de la Naturaleza.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Guatemala.

Gambling on a Good Time: Lake Tahoe Casinos

Lake Tahoe straddles California and Nevada, and so do visitors to the area. Heading east on U.S. 50 from the South Shore, the town of South Lake Tahoe becomes Stateline, Nevada, with barely a sign announcing the transition. On the North Shore, shortly west of the intersection of Highways 28 and 267, Crystal Bay marks the California-Nevada border crossing. The drive along the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe is beautiful, woodsy, and quiet, with fewer towns and stopping points along the way. You’ll often find yourself deep in the pines with fewer lake views, though they certainly exist.

Harvey's Lake Tahoe. Photo © Christopher Arns.
Harvey’s Lake Tahoe. Photo © Christopher Arns.

[pullquote align=right]Note that the casinos sometimes call the town Lake Tahoe, Nevada, though it’s legally Stateline.[/pullquote]If you’re driving the perimeter of the lake, many locals recommend driving the route clockwise, northbound on the west side and southbound on the east. The obvious advantage is that your car stays on the lake side, making it easier to admire the views and to pull over at beaches and scenic overlooks. But either direction provides a lovely excursion.

Casinos

If you think casinos are smoke-filled holes sheltering lonely souls pouring their savings into slot machines, think again: On the South Shore, just over the Nevada state line, various casinos attract a young crowd looking for a lively, hip night out. Note that the casinos sometimes call the town Lake Tahoe, Nevada, though it’s legally Stateline.

MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa

The gaming floor of the MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa (55 U.S. 50, Stateline, NV, 775/588-3515 or 800/648-3353) is great fun on weekend evenings, with go-go dancers and youthful gamblers enjoying free drinks as they hammer the slots. As with other casinos here, you’ll find full-fledged table games of the Vegas variety: craps, roulette, blackjack, and Texas hold ’em, among others. The Zone contains the sports book and the poker room, but slots and video poker machines are everywhere. MontBleu’s casino is better lit and less smoky than many others, making it easy to stay and play late into the night. If you get tired of gambling, wander around to the full-service salon and spa, pool, lingerie shop, art gallery, ski-rental shop, nightclub, or several restaurants.

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe

Gambling fans should definitely bring their frequent-player cards to the casino floor at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe (15 U.S. 50, Stateline, NV, 775/588-6611 or 800/427-7247), which has all the Vegas gaming favorites—classic craps, rapid roulette, and Keno pads and monitors scattered all over the place. The atmosphere is a bit more classic casino, with dim lights in the evening and a warren of slot machines that make it easy to get lost. Now that Caesars Entertainment has absorbed Harrah’s and its neighbor, Harvey’s, it has a solid lock on its block. When you’ve had enough gaming, check out the live entertainment or the popular nightclub.

Harvey’s Lake Tahoe

For those who can’t get enough, Harrah’s affiliated casino Harvey’s Lake Tahoe (18 U.S. 50, Stateline, 775/588-2411 or 800/427-8397) is nearby. At Harvey’s, you can play all the usual games of chance or enjoy state-of-the-art video screens while betting on football, NASCAR, and horse races in The Book, the nonsmoking racing and sports site. Harvey’s also boasts a fitness center, a pool, and entertainment, from improv comedy to headliner musical acts (Tues.-Sun.) and concerts in the outdoor arena in summer.

Lakeside Inn and Casino

Smaller and less flashy, Lakeside Inn and Casino (168 U.S. 50, Stateline, NV, 775/588-7777 or 800/624-7980) is a local favorite. Lakeside looks more like a mountain lodge than a high-rise gaming emporium, and it has won the most votes for Best Casino, Loosest Slots, and Friendliest Casino Employees. The casino offers all the usual games and machines, and it is particularly welcoming for beginners, who may want to attend the “University of Lakeside” (6pm Wed.), a free seminar in the Poker Room where Lakeside employees teach the basics of blackjack, craps, and more. In a way, they pay you to come, with a free cocktail, souvenirs, and $5 worth of free play at the slots.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Northern California.

The Beaches of Tola, Nicaragua

Ten kilometers west of Rivas is the agricultural community of Tola, gateway to the steadily improving shore road and a string of lonely, beautiful beaches that make up 30 kilometers of Pacific shoreline. The word is out and land prices are rising, but the beaches west of Tola are still far less developed than San Juan del Sur and retain some of their fishing village character. Tola is famous in Nicaragua as the subject of a common expression: “Te dejó esperando como la novia de Tola” (“He left you waiting like the bride of Tola”), which recalls the real-life soap opera of a young woman named Hillary, who, on the day of her wedding, was left at the altar at Belén while the groom, Salvador Cruz, married his former lover, Juanita.

[pullquote align=right]The word is out and land prices are rising, but the beaches west of Tola are still far less developed than San Juan del Sur.[/pullquote]In Tola proper, many travelers have stayed and worked with Doña Loida (an influential Sandinista leader, elected mayor in 2004) of Asociación Esperanza del Futuro (on the road that leads from the park to the baseball field/basketball court, about 100 meters past the baseball field, tel. 505/2563-0482), who can help arrange cheap room and board from a week to six months. Her foundation provides educational workshops to local campesinos (country folk) as well as a library, sewing co-op, and gardens; classes in guitar, agriculture, herbal medicine, and computers are offered. There are a few decent eateries in Tola, the most popular of which is Lumby’s.

Playa Gigante. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.
Playa Gigante. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Playa Gigante

North up the coast from San Juan del Sur, and an hour outside Rivas, Gigante is the first beach you come to after Tola and is named after the Punta Pie de Gigante (The Giant’s Foot), the rock formation you’ll see on the left side of the beach. The community of Gigante consists of a beautiful crescent beach; a few dozen homes occupied by about 800 locals, mostly fishermen and people working in the nearby resorts; several restaurants and hotels; and a few surf camps. Surfing has had a big impact on the community’s economic situation, and it’s continuing to grow. Get here before it’s so developed that it’s unrecognizable.

If you want to spend a week or more learning Spanish on the beach, this is a great place to do it. The beachside Pie de Gigante Spanish School (tel. 505/2560-1450 or 505/8652-7502, spanishgigante@gmail.com) provides one-on-one lessons with teachers who have 10+ years of experience. They can organize a homestay immersion with a local family ($100 pp, minimum 1-week stay, includes private room and three meals a day).

Avoid this beach during Semana Santa, when it gets crowded with locals who camp out on the beach, get phenomenally drunk, and run cockfights.

Getting There and Away

It’s easier than ever to get to this beach town, but it’s still a trek. Take the Las Pilas bus from Rivas at 2pm daily (except Sun.). It returns at 7:30am and 3pm. Otherwise, take the Las Salinas bus from Tola or Rivas ($1.50) and get off at the first entrance to Gigante (30-40 minutes). You’ll have to walk a sweaty 40 minutes, or hitch about six kilometers to reach the beach. Taxis on this road are few and far between, but anyone driving a pickup will probably let you hop in back. You could also contract a taxi from Rivas for $25, not bad if you can fill the cab.


Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.

Sights in Fort Bragg

The village of Mendocino may be where folks savor the scenery, but Fort Bragg is where the work gets done. This blue-collar town is home to lumber mills, fishing boats, and scores of working train tracks. It is rougher around the edges than its gentle cousin down the coast, but it has some great attractions, beautiful scenery, and tons of local color.

Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens

[pullquote align=right]The ride lets passengers see the majesty of the redwoods while giving insight into life in Northern California before the era of highways.[/pullquote]Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (18220 N. Hwy. 1, Fort Bragg, 707/964-4352, 9am-5pm daily Mar.-Oct., 9am-4pm daily Nov.-Feb., adults $14, seniors $10, ages 6-17 $5) is an expanse of land with an astonishing variety of vegetation. Stretching 47 acres down to the sea, these gardens offer miles of paths through careful plantings and wild landscapes. The garden map is also a guide that shows visitors what’s in season. Informative labels show plant names clearly. Children can pick up their own brochure and enjoy an exploratory adventure designed just for them.

The rocky Mendocino coast.
The rocky Mendocino coast. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Skunk Train

One of the famed attractions in Mendocino County is the California Western Railroad, popularly called the Skunk Train (depot at end of Laurel St., 707/964-6371, departure 10am daily, adults $54, children 2-12 $34), named for the pungent early locomotives. The restored steam locomotives pull trains from the coast at Fort Bragg 40 miles through the redwood forest to the town of Willits and back. The ride lets passengers see the majesty of the redwoods while giving insight into life in Northern California before the era of highways. The gaily painted trains appeal to children, and the historical aspects and scenery call to adults.

Guest House Museum

The Guest House Museum (343 N. Main St., 707/964-4251, 1pm-3pm Mon., 11am-2pm Tues.-Fri., 10am-4pm Sat.-Sun. May-Oct., 11am-2pm Thurs.-Sun. Nov.-May) is a pleasant trip down Fort Bragg’s memory lane. Perched just above the train yard, the large 1892 Victorian is filled with artifacts from Fort Bragg’s lumber heyday, including antique logging and woodworking tools.

MacKerricher State Park

Stretching nearly 10 miles from the northern tip of Fort Bragg, MacKerricher State Park (Hwy. 1, 707/964-9112, visitors center 707/964-8898, sunrise-sunset daily, free) offers the small duck-filled Cleone Lake, six miles of sandy ocean beaches, four miles of cliffs and crags, and camping (reservations 800/444-7275, $35). The main attraction is a gigantic, almost complete skeleton of a whale near the park entrance. Stop in to see the whale even if you don’t have time to hang out at the park. If you’re lucky, you can also spot live whales and harbor seals frolicking in the ocean.

At the park’s southern end in Fort Bragg, Glass Beach (Elm St. and Glass Beach Dr.) is the most famous beach in the area. The unpleasant origin of this fascinating beach strewn with sea glass was the Fort Bragg city dump. As the ocean rose over the landfill, the heavy glass that had been dumped there stayed put. Years of pounding surf polished and smoothed the broken edges. Beachcombers used to collect the smooth coated shards of green, blue, brown, and clear glass. Now that the beach is under the management of the state park, it’s against the rules to remove the glass.

Glass Beach. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.
Glass Beach. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

The coast can be rough here, so don’t swim or even wade unless it’s what the locals call a “flat day”—no big waves and undertow. If the kids want to play in the water, take them to Pudding Creek Beach in the park just north of Glass Beach, where they can play in the relatively sheltered area under the trestle bridge.

Triangle Tattoo Museum

This is not your grandmother’s art museum, so enter at your own risk. The Triangle Tattoo Museum (356B N. Main St., 707/964-8814, noon-6pm daily, free) displays the implements of the trade and photos of their results. All forms of the art are represented, from those done by indigenous people to those done at carnivals and in prisons. The street-side rooms house a working tattoo parlor, and you can find intrepid artists working late into the evening on their “canvases.”

Pacific Star Winery

The only winery on the Mendocino coast, Pacific Star Winery (33000 N. Hwy. 1, 707/964-1155, 11am-5pm daily, free) makes the most of its location. Barrels of wine are left out in the salt air to age. Wines are tasty and reasonably priced. You can also visit their downtown tasting room (401 N. Main St., 707/962-9463, noon-5pm Fri.-Tues.) in the Skunk Train Depot Mall.


Excerpted from the Seventh Edition of Moon Northern California.

The Raging Rapids of the Río Cahabón

Guatemala’s best white-water river is the Class III-IV Río Cahabón. In addition to the exhilarating rapids, the traverse downstream on its emerald waters is interspersed with more tranquil stretches that afford opportunities to view several species of birds and explore caves, waterfalls, and hot springs along its forested banks.

[pullquote align=right]Rafting the Cahabón affords the opportunity to see some remote natural attractions and come in contact with the local people inhabiting the area.[/pullquote]The Cahabón is the same river that flows into a cave under the limestone pools of Semuc Champey, reemerging several hundred meters downstream. Most river trips begin at a put-in point near Lanquín. There are some rather menacing rapids along this stretch of the Upper Cahabón, including Rock and Roll, Entonces, and Las Tres Hermanas, making for an adrenaline-filled ride. The Middle Gorge has some nice jungle scenery and continuous Class III rapids. There are a few more challenging rapids after passing the bridge at a place called Oxec before reaching an obligatory takeout point at Takinkó to portage the Class VI (not possible to run) Chulac Falls. A dam was once planned here, but dam builders seem to have gone cold on the idea after discovering a fault line running right beneath the proposed site. The two-day river trip camps here.

A Class IV rapid on the Río Cahabón in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.
A Class IV rapid on the Río Cahabón in Guatemala. Photo © Al Argueta.

The Lower Gorge is a boatload of fun with titillating rapids such as Saca Corchos (Corkscrew) and Saca Caca. There are stops along the way to explore caves and enjoy lunch at “El Pequeño Paraíso,” a small sidestream with delightful waterfalls and hot springs flowing into the Cahabón. The next rapid is appropriately named Lose Your Lunch, shortly after which the river widens and you are treated to a serene stretch of river with mountainous jungle-clad banks. The takeout is at Cahaboncito, where the intrepid can take a plunge into the river from a 30-foot bridge.

Rafting the Cahabón affords the opportunity to see some remote natural attractions and come in contact with the local people inhabiting the area. As is often the case in Guatemala, the beauty coexists with a sobering reality. In addition to still-forested areas you will see some steep, badly deforested slopes given over to corn cultivation, shedding light on the desperate plight of peasants willing to live and grow their crops anywhere they can.


Excerpted from the Fifth Edition of Moon Guatemala.

A Paris Expat Experience: Living in the 14th

If you’ve got questions about what life is like in a Paris neighborhood for an expat, the best source to go to are fellow expats with a few years of experience in their new country under their belt. Expert author Aurelia d’Andrea sat down for a chat with Dan Smith, age 62, formerly a worker in the pharmaceutical industry but currently a bon vivant, about his life in the 14th arrondissement.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Idaho and lived in New York State and the Philadelphia suburbs for many years.

When and why did you move to Paris?
I moved to Paris in 2004 as a temporary expatriate for my global pharmaceutical company. We are supposed to say “global” but it is really a French company.

In which arrondissement do you currently reside?
In the 14th between Alésia and Pernety.

Streetview of the 14th arrondissement, Pernety.
Streetview of the 14th arrondissement, Pernety. Photo © Roser Goula, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

How did you find your current home?
I found my current apartment on SeLoger. I made the application myself with the many required documents.

Are you a homeowner or do you rent?
I rent.

What are some of the factors you considered before moving to this location?
I originally selected this area because of the proximity to my company’s shuttle bus to my place of work in the southern Paris suburbs. Since moving here, I have grown to know and love this area.

Describe your quartier to someone who’s never been there before.
The 14th arrondissement is what I would call a French middle-class area, not as diversified as other Paris areas but not as “prosperous” as others. It’s a working-class area even though the apartments are fairly expensive. The area around Alésia has a wide range of services: boulangeries, bouchers, fromageries, supermarkets, cinemas, boutiques and more. [It’s] more diverse than my former residence on rue de Vaugirard in the 6th. Everyone establishes relationships and often goes to the same store for daily needs. There is a market Wednesdays and Sundays that I attend. The vendors recognize me and know what I bought before.

Shops at Alésia in the 14th arrondissement - Paris.
Shops at Alésia in the 14th arrondissement – Paris. Photo © Jim Linwood, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Is the quality of life in your arrondissement what you expected it to be?
The quality of life is very good here. I know vendors in the area and have discovered many special boutiques and restaurants that are out of the mainstream of tourists in Paris. There is only one touristic place in the 14th, the Catacombs, where I take guests to view a special macabre experience of ancient Paris.

Describe your experience making friends with neighbors or others in your community.
Living in my area I have met many people and experienced many one-on-one relationships with vendors, my gardienne, and people on the streets. The closeness of living in a city requires a certain level of closeness and mutual understanding. Interaction with others, even strangers, makes life special here. At the same time, proximity with others brings conflicts as well. I am often frustrated walking along the streets when tourists, casual shoppers, and those families who walk hand-in-hand with toddlers blocking us fast walkers who know exactly where we are going. Even these negatives seem trivial compared with the benefits.

Have you made any unexpected discoveries in your neighborhood?
Some of the streets and buildings in the 14th have not changed in the last 100 years. I feel like a piece of history living in an apartment where people have lived for 120 years, walking the streets where people have walked for centuries. All I see now will exist a century after I leave. I will become like the others before me, a ghost of the past, a habitant of this quartier forever.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Living Abroad Paris.

The Natural Beauty of Nicaragua’s Las Isletas

This 365-island archipelago formed when Volcán Mombacho erupted some 20,000 years ago, hurling its top half into the nearby lake in giant masses of rock, ash, and lava. Today, the islands are inhabited by a few hundred campesinos (country folk) and an ever-increasing number of wealthy Nicaraguans and foreigners who continue to buy up the isletas to build garish vacation homes on them.

The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular, and history buffs will enjoy the Fortín de San Pablo, a Spanish fort that was largely unsuccessful in preventing pirate attacks on Granada. The islanders themselves are interesting and friendly, maintaining a rural lifestyle unique in Nicaragua: Children paddle dugout canoes or rowboats to school from an early age, and their parents get along by fishing and farming or by taking camera-toting tourists for a ride in their boats.

A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.
A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.

[pullquote align=right]The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular, and history buffs will enjoy the Fortín de San Pablo, a Spanish fort that was largely unsuccessful in preventing pirate attacks on Granada.[/pullquote]Almost every hotel and tour operator offers a trip to Las Isletas and may pair it with other excursions. There are a lot of options out there. For example, the Mombotour office in Granada offers an introductory three-hour kayak class ($34), which includes all equipment, sea kayaks, transportation, and a tour of the Fortín de San Pablo. For a more economical option, go right to the boat owners at the Marina Cocibolca. If you take a taxi to the southern end of the waterfront road there are many lancheros (boat drivers). Don’t expect to haggle over prices, as gasoline is expensive (see for yourself at the dockside station). You’ll pay about $10 per person for a half-hour tour, more for longer or farther trips. You can take a dip in the lake water or have your lanchero bring you to the cemetery, old fort, or monkey island, which is inhabited by a community of monkeys. If you want to eat lunch, ask your guide if you can stop at one of island restaurants or visit a local family who can serve you lunch.

There are a couple of upscale options for staying on one of the islands. The swankiest is Jicaro Island Lodge (tel. 505/2558-7702, $560 d, includes 3 meals a day), where you can watch the sun sink over the water from a beautiful two-story casita (cottage). A newer option with an up-close view of Mombacho is El Espino (tel. 505/7636-0060, $120-195 d, includes transport and breakfast). The solar-powered lodge features a swimming pool, yoga platform, and massage facilities. They gladly accept day-trippers, call ahead for prices.

Maps - Nicaragua 6e - Nicaragua regional
Nicaragua

Excerpted from the Sixth Edition of Moon Nicaragua.

Frostblood

Frostblood

By Elly Blake

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Action & Adventure; Fantasy & Magic

Grades: 7 & up

 

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Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a fireblood who must hide her powers of heat and flame from the cruel frostblood ruling class that wants to destroy all that are left of her kind. So when her mother is killed for protecting her and rebel frostbloods demand her help to kill their rampaging king, she agrees. But Ruby’s powers are unpredictable, and she’s not sure she’s willing to let the rebels and an infuriating (yet irresistible) young man called Arcus use her as their weapon. All she wants is revenge, but before they can take action, Ruby is captured and forced to take part in the king’s tournaments that pit fireblood prisoners against frostblood champions. Now she has only one chance to destroy the maniacal ruler who has taken everything from her and from the icy young man she has come to love.

 

Fast-paced and compelling, Frostblood is the first in a page-turning new young adult three-book series about a world where flame and ice are mortal enemies–but together create a power that could change everything.

Dreamland Burning

dreamlandDreamland Burning

By Jennifer Latham

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Mystery & Detective Stories; Social Issues: Prejudice & Racism; Historical Fiction

Grades: 7 & up

 

[button link=”http://littlebrownlibrary.com/lb-school-podcast-jennifer-latham/”]LB School Podcast[/button][button link=”http://littlebrownlibrary.com/jennifer-latham-on-dreamland-burning/”]Author Essay[/button]

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present.

 

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

 

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

 

PRAISE

★ ”This timely story gives readers an unflinching look at the problem of racism, both past and present, while simultaneously offering the hope of overcoming that hatred.” –Booklist

 

★ ”Latham presents a fast-paced historical novel brimming with unsparing detail and unshakeable truths about a shameful chapter in American history. For more than 50 years, Tulsa’s schoolchildren didn’t learn about the race riot, and many outside of Tulsa remain unaware today. This masterfully told story fills this void. An unflinching, superbly written story about family, friendship, and integrity, set during one of America’s deadliest race riots.” –Kirkus Review

★ ” Latham’s enthralling, expertly paced plot will keep readers engaged, and the detailed imagery creates a strong sense of place in both time periods… Mystery fans will enjoy this cleverly plotted, suspenseful work, while the broader social issues will draw a wide audience.” –School Library Journal

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

tragic-kind-of-wonderfulA Tragic Kind of Wonderful

By Eric Lindstrom

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Issues: Friendship; Depression & Mental Illness; Family

Grades: 10 & up

 

For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to conceal her diagnosis by keeping everyone at arm’s length. But when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

 

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that no one will accept her if they discover what she’s been hiding. But would her friends really abandon her if they learned the truth? More importantly, can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

 

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