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On the Books, with Susanna Reich

9780618714704_hresfrontier Susanna Reich's new book, Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin, tells of the "premier nineteenth-century painter of Native Americans." Originally trained as a lawyer, the Pennsylvania-born Catlin made his way not only to the American West but also, eventually, to Europe and South America, all in the name of art—and commerce. It's an engrossing, true story about "a complicated period of American history." 

This morning Susanna stopped by Chicken Spaghetti to say hello, winding down her blog tour for the book. Of course, I had a question for her, "What are you reading lately?"

Like most authors, I'm a voracious reader. I start my day with the New York Times Book Review, which I read while I'm having breakfast. It helps me keep up with what's being published and with the different approaches that writers are taking. I learn all kinds of interesting things about a wide range of nonfiction topics, and I hear what critics have to say about the latest novels. 

I end my day with children's and YA books, both new and old. There's always a big pile on the bedside table. I'm currently reading Impossible, a YA suspense/fantasy/romance novel by Nancy Werlin. Other fiction favorites I've read recently: Alabama Moon, by Watt Key, Dogsong, by Gary Paulsen, and Peeps, by Scott Westerfeld. In nonfiction, I just finished Minders of Make-Believe, by Leonard Marcus, a fascinating history of children's literature in the U.S. And I enjoyed Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku, by Ellie Crowe, illustrated by Richard Waldrep, and We Are the Ship, by Kadir Nelson.  I've also been poring over Ed Young's beautiful collage illustrations for the picture book, Wabi Sabi, by Mark Reibstein. What an amazing artist.

When I go on vacation, I like to take a break from children's books. This year I read an ARC [advance reading copy] I picked up at ALA [American Library Association], The Toss of a Lemon, by Padma Viswanathan. It's a multi-generational novel set in southern India.  Perfect for getting totally immersed in a different time and place.

A note for those in the New York area: Susanna will be talking about George Catlin at the Borders in Mount Kisco, New York, on November 16th at 2. Read more from the Painting the Wild Frontier blog tour at Becky's Book Reviews, Tales from the Rushmore Kid, Mitali's Fire Escape, Original Content, and One Book Two Book. November is American Indian Heritage Month; read more about that here.

Additional posts about nonfiction books for children can be found at Picture Book of the Day.


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Catlin's Native American portraits are wonderful, and deserve more recognition. Thanks for posting about this book.

You're welcome. After reading this book, I plan to look for the paintings the next time I'm at the Smithsonian.

This book looks beautifully done. I love that the portraits were done by Catlin. I'm going to have to get my hands on this book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Karen, the book is full of Catlin's art, with quite a few of the paintings in full color. Very neat.

This book looks fascinating - I'll have to get hold of it! One day I'll get to the Smithsonian too...

Marjorie, you will notice that Catlin's family sacrificed a lot for his artistic pursuits. Very interesting story.

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