Add these books by local authors to your reading list.
FOR YOUR KID
The Spelling Bee Before Recess
In this endearing picture book by Walnut Creek author Deborah Lee Rose, a boy called “Slugger” battles through the championship round of his school’s spelling bee. Charmingly goofy illustrations by Carey F. Armstrong-Ellis embellish each round of spelling challenges and Slugger’s growing anxieties. Told perfectly in rhyme, the book lends itself to repeated readings (with plenty of chances to spell out the tough words, should your little reader desire).
Shake Down the Stars
Funny yet deeply moving, the fictional Shake Down the Stars from Oakland’s Renee Swindle follows gutsy but struggling Piper Nelson’s battle to save herself after the accidental death of her young daughter. Piper’s family can focus only on her sister’s upcoming wedding and reality TV show, and offer no help at all. This page-turner is perfect for book clubs, or for reading alone in your softest chair—with a box of tissues.
FOR ANY AGE
The Dolphins of Shark Bay
The latest in the Scientists in the Field series introduces us to biologist Janet Mann. Her 25-year journey with Western Australian dolphins makes her the consummate expert, showing us how they forage, whistle, and play. Smartly written and illustrated with detailed photographs, these pages explain why “a juvenile dolphin’s world resembles middle school. But with sharks.” As author Pamela S. Turner explains, these dolphins have to be smart.
BEYOND THE BOOK: Renee Swindle
Renee Swindle’s first novel, Please, Please, Please (2000) was an Essence magazine best-seller. Her latest, Shake Down the Stars, set here in the East Bay, includes some of her favorite spots: “I do love the Chabot Space and Science Center. It’s such a magical, wonderful place,” Swindle says, having placed a crucial scene for her character, Piper, and a gentleman friend against the museum’s twinkling setting.
Swindle has also visited some local book groups: “It has been so much fun. One group's members live in the Golden Gate district and know the little places I wrote about, and pick up on all the little details. They treat the characters like they’re real people.”
Next up? “I didn’t get to include the Temescal,” she adds, “so I’ve saved that for my next book, A Pinch of Ooh La La” [August 2014]. The main character opens a bakery on trendy College Avenue. Alert your book group: These books are made to order for evenings of sweet treats and passionate exchanges.