I first met Arthur at a Hootenanny when I was sixteen. I was with my "date of the month" and he was performing in a trio...featuring his girlfriend as female vocalist. After the show, he brought me cookies from the refreshment table, smiled his charming smile, and went back to his group. Two years later, when my current "date of the year" broke my heart, my best friend offered up his high school yearbook. "Pick anyone...anyone...and I will fix you up with him, if you just stop crying." I picked Arthur. The "blind date" was arranged, and today Art and I sit on the porch of our new home and talk about the memories that make up our lives.
I have always been a fan of Brad Meltzer's books. When I read his first published novel, The Tenth Justice, in 1998, I loved it and gave it a top review. I believe he was in law school when he wrote that book, and through the years he has developed into a best selling author. As much as I enjoy his fiction, it is his non-fiction that really captures me. Two years ago I read (and reviewed) his book Heroes for My Son. When his son was born he decided to collect anecdotes for him, about famous and not so famous people who embodied the ideals he hoped his son would someday possess. When he put them together in book form, and published them for all of our sons, I got a glimpse of Meltzer the man. His book Heroes for My Daughter was a continuation of these examples of people we should all strive to emulate.
His current non-fiction venture is a series of children's books about "ordinary people who change the world." These delightful books are creatively illustrated and offer interesting biographies written in the language of young people. I am Jim Henson (Ordinary People Change the World) is the latest of this collection that includes Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Helen Keller and Abraham Lincoln to name a few. He introduces these people as ordinary children, and he shows them growing up in households similar to those of his young readers. Jim Henson had a magical way of looking at the world, and continued reaching for his dreams until the day he died. Some of the memories Art and I share on our porch focus on Sesame Street times with our kids. When Mike turned four I bought him a book and sat down to read it to him. He pulled it from my hand, turned to page one and read it through to The End. Since we hadn't taught him to read, I just stared at him until he explained that he learned to read from Sesame Street. "They taught me letters and how to put them together." Hopefully Jim Henson realized his influences on generations of children before he died. This wonderful man introduced us to the "rainbow connection" before it became politically recognized, and his muppets showed us the importance of loving acceptance of all. Thanks Brad, for reminding us what is important during these stressful times.
A more stressful, but very well written book that I reviewed this week is The Good Lawyer by Thomas Benigno. Nick Mannino is a young lawyer who is faced with several cases that complicate his life. Benigno has a way of humanizing his characters and making us care about their lives while his stories unfold, and I was pulling for Nick throughout this book. The reader is definitely caught up in Nick's efforts to win his cases without losing his sense of ethics, and I was sorry to see this one end. I am definitely looking forward to the third book in this series.
For now though, I am going to grab the next book on my list, go out to my "oh so comfortable" porch and enjoy the beautiful Florida weather.
As always, complete reviews of these two books follow this blog.