On The Shelf: New things to learn in both large and regular print

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 29, 2023

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week we are featuring New Nonfiction from both large print and regular print collections.

“What an Owl Knows,” is a large print book by Jennifer Ackerman. There are around 260 species of owls that exist today and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. They are one of the most elusive species of birds and have held the human imagination for millennia. With their forward gaze and quiet flight, owls are often symbols of wisdom, knowledge and foresight. What do owls actually know? This book highlights the rich biology and natural history of these birds and reveals remarkable new scientific discoveries about their brains and behavior. Scientists in the field explore how modern technology and new tools are being used to learn how owls communicate, hunt, court, mate, raise their young and move from season to season. They have found that the hoots, squawks and chitters of owls follow sophisticated and complex rules that allow them to express not only their needs but also their individuality and identity. Owls duet. They migrate. They hoard their prey. Some live in underground burrows; some roost in large groups; some dine on black widows and scorpions. This is an insightful look into the science of owls and their place in the world.

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Another large print nonfiction title is “Lexington,” by Kim Wickens. This is a powerful true story of the champion thoroughbred racehorse who gained worldwide fame during the tumult of the Civil War-era South and he became the most successful sire in American racing history. During the early days of American horse racing was grueling — the norm was four-mile races, run two or three times in succession. The horses that were rewarded were those with the ideal combination of stamina and speed. The stallion Lexington, who was named for the city in Kentucky where he was born, possessed these qualities, which pioneering Americans admired. Lexington shattered the world speed record for a four-mile race, showing war-torn America that the extraordinary was possible. His groundbreaking achievements as a racehorse ended when his poor eyesight forced his retirement. Soon after, his role as a prolific sire began. Horses from his bloodline won more money than the offspring of any other thoroughbred. This engrossing and exciting account transports readers back to the strident era of American horse racing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has penned the seven rules that he uses to realize his true purpose in, “Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life.” Schwarzenegger has garnered these tools throughout his life of reinvention and achievement as a bodybuilder, movie star and politician. Schwarzenegger’s success happened as part of a process. A result of clear vision, big thinking, hard work, direct communication, resilient problem-solving, open-minded curiosity and a commitment to giving back. All of these come from a single piece of advice that his father hammered into his upbringing: be useful. Schwarzenegger shows us how to put these tools to work for a life full of meaning and service. Many people struggle to disconnect from their own self-pity and connect with a greater purpose. Here, Schwarzenegger tells how he forged the mental tools to escape the poverty and narrow-mindedness of his Austrian hometown and shares that wisdom with the rest of us.

Helen Czerski explains the physics behind the ocean’s systems and why it matters in her book, “The Blue Machine: How the Ocean Works.” All of Earth’s oceans, from the equator to the poles, are a single engine powered by sunlight that drive huge amounts of energy, water, life and raw materials. This book highlights the mechanisms behind this crucial feature of our planet. From the depths of the ocean floor to tropical coral reefs, estuaries that feed into shallow coastal seas and Arctic ice floes, water temperature, salinity, gravity and the movement of tectonic plates all interact in a complex machine to support life from plankton to giant sea turtles, whales and human beings. Czerski discusses the ancient Polynesians who navigated the Pacific by reading the waves and the Greenland shark that can live for hundreds of years. She reveals the messengers, passengers and voyagers that rely on interlinked systems of vast currents, invisible ocean walls and underwater waterfalls. By understanding how the ocean works and its vital role in our global system, we can learn how to protect our blue machine.

DK Publishing, Inc. has released “The Dog Encyclopedia.” This is a fully illustrated exploration of the history and variety of our most faithful companions. With more than 400 different breeds of dog listed, this book celebrates the special relationship that binds humans and dogs. Each breed is given its own history, evolution and anatomy. There is also a show of dogs in art and advertising, sport and service and religion and culture, as well as famous dogs in fiction and heroic helpers. Additionally, this book offers expert information on everything from exercising and feeding your dog to grooming and puppy training, along with a section on care to help owners identify and deal with canine health issues. This book combines fabulous photos with information on the latest internationally recognized breeds, historical facts and advice on everyday care.

“Bonsai: Essential Know-How and Expert Advice for Gardening Success,” is by Peter Warren and DK Publishing. Discover the secret to successfully growing, maintaining and displaying bonsai. This book is ideal for first-time gardeners and can help you choose the perfect bonsai from a large directory of varieties including Japanese maple, flowering hawthorn, or a faster-growing indoor tree like tropical fig. Learn how to plant and care for your tree with simple tips on propagation, pruning, wiring and repotting. A handy seasonal guide to plant maintenance lets you know what to do and when to do it. This book also taps into gardening-as-mental- health as studies suggest that growing bonsai can reduce stress, improve mood and bring about therapeutic benefits.