Two recent Kansas-related books will appeal to different audiences: a fantasy novel for middle-grade readers, and a cultural history of the Midwest over the past few decades.
"The Door in the Forest" by Roderick Townley (Knopf, 245 pages, $16.99, ages 9-12)
Townley, whose previous book, "The Blue Shoes," was a 2010 Kansas Notable Book, delves back into the supernatural with his latest offering.
Daniel never tells lies. "It wasn't that he was especially virtuous. He just couldn't. He got blinding headaches when he tried." Emily lives with her dotty grandmother after her mother was taken away. Near the town they live in is a mysterious place in the forest, seemingly impenetrable. It's not the only secret lurking in Everwood, but it's the one Daniel and Emily are determined to crack, all the more urgently as soldiers invade their town, searching for a secret themselves.
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"Remaking the Heartland: Middle America Since the 1950s" by Robert Wuthnow (Princeton University Press, 259 pages, $35)
Wuthnow's premise is that "the Middle West has undergone a strong, positive transformation since the 1950s." Considering the "Middle West" as Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, the Dakotas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, he explores demographic, geographic, economic and cultural aspects of this premise over the past several decades. Thoroughly researched and footnoted, the book is not commentary but data analysis, backed up with facts and numbers.
'Our Boys' chosen as 2012 Kansas Reads book
"Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen" by Joe Drape has been chosen by the State Library of Kansas and the Kansas Center for the Book as the 2012 Kansas Reads book. The book tells the story of the Smith Center football team and its coach, Roger Barta, who led the team to the country's longest winning streak in high school football.
Kansas Reads is a statewide reading program. The 2012 program starts on Jan. 27 and runs through March 17. The project is in its sixth year. In 2011, nearly 10,000 Kansans shared in the discussion, according to the State Library.
Book events this week
* Monday, 7 p.m. —Storm Chaser presentation with Mike Smith , Jenna Blum and Jim Reed at Watermark Books, 4701 E. Douglas.
The three authors will discuss storm chasing and their books: Smith's "Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather," Blum's novel "The Stormchasers" and Reed's "Storm Chasers: A Photographer's Journey."
* Tuesday, 7 p.m. —Vietnam combat veteran Karl Marlantes will read from and sign his book "Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War," new in paperback, at Watermark.
* Thursday, 7 p.m. —Marci Penner , executive director of the Kansas Sampler Foundation, will talk about her book "8 Wonders of Kansas" at Watermark.