Book Notes for Smaller Readers to Plug Into, Cuddle Up With

WIRED. By Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Paul Carrick. Charlesbridge, $6.95. This book, now out in paperback, is an excellent insight into how electricity works, particularly as it pertains to the energy dancing beneath our fingertips as they tap along a computer keyboard, and as it flows or, just as importantly, pauses, at the outlet under our desk. Ostensibly Wired is a learning tool for the elementary school student, but anyone of any age could benefit from it, for who among us outside of M.I.T.

Find Simple Pleasures, Perfectly Formed

MARTHA’S VINEYARD QUIET PLEASURES. By Phyllis Meras with photographs by Betsy Corsiglia. Globe-Pequot Press, Guilford, Conn. 96 pages, $16.95 hardcover.

Read Easy: In the Sea, at the Beach House

A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR LANDLOCKED MERMAIDS by Margot Datz, Beyond Words, $16.

Vineyard artist and writer Margot Datz posits a universe where men, taking a page from Darwin, descended as apes from the trees, whereas women “rose up from the frothy sea, as resplendent as Aphrodite on her scalloped chariot.” But the mating call is more persistent than the tug of a thick rope, so we mermaids have “abandoned our psychic habitat to seek mates on shore, and we have been like fish out of water ever since.” Ain’t that the truth?

Plot Twist: Australian Doctor Turns Out to Be Thrilling Writer

Many of today’s top writers of thrillers have spent untold hours in the actual forensics and crime fields, and Australian doctor and bestselling author Kathryn Fox is one of them. Dr. Fox will be signing her new book, Skin and Bone, in tandem with the Vineyard’s own celebrated maestro of the legal and police procedural, Linda Fairstein for her latest, Killer Heat (see right), at Edgartown Books today, July 4, at 3 p.m.

She Can Stand the Killer Heat

KILLER HEAT. By Linda Fairstein. Doubleday, 2008. 384 pages. $26 hardcover.

Killer Heat, like any good title, is a play on words. It refers to death by New York oven — the baking August temperatures that send the rich to the Hamptons or the Vineyard, and the poor to their fire escapes for a breath of nighttime air. Killer Heat is also a reference to an actual killer or killers and to the heat, slang for law, that hunts ’em down and brings ’em to justice.

Page-Turner, Eye-Opener in One: Stephen Carter Maps Black Elite

PALACE COUNCIL By Stephen L. Carter. Knopf, New York, N.Y. July 2008. 528 pages. $26.95 hardcover.

There are some thrillers — The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon come to mind — where the plot is never going to make much sense, but for the reader to bog down on this point is to miss a jolly good ride. Stephen L. Carter’s new novel, Palace Council, is just the sort of book that keeps you turning pages — all 500-plus of them — until the clock blinks 3:28 a.m. in digital pixels and you force yourself to turn out the light.

Vineyard Verse Master D.A.W. Turns Grout to Good; Hewett Draws Laughs

Seriously, what could be a funnier title than Robert Frost’s Answering Machine? by Daniel Waters (Indian Hill Press, $15). The West Tisbury wit-man, known far and wide as D.A.W., has been posting his quatrains in The Vineyard Gazette, Yankee Magazine, and on N.P.R. When we hear his doleful voice – Disney could cast him as Eeyore in the Winnnie the Pooh cartoons — reading his own hilarious, too-true verbal apecues on the air, we pat down our desks for a pen so we can share the ditty with friends.

Like this one entitled Cricket

How Daughters See Mothers, at Start and Finish

Is there any relationship more complicated and, when it works, more rewarding, than the mother-daughter bond? Two authors with strong Vineyard ties have approached this essential kinship from both sides, from the formative years, and during the final years.

Tangled Fish Tales Echo in History

THE UNNATURAL HISTORY OF THE SEA. By Callum Roberts. Island Press/Shearwater Books, Washington, D.C. 2007. 436 pages. Hardcover, $28.

Last spring when the herring started showing up in Island coastal ponds, I got a call from a fisherman asking, “Where are the mackerel?”

Book review: Remarkable Americans

Remarkable Americans: > The Washburn Family. By Kerck Kelsey. Illustrated. Tilbury House Publishers. 402 pages. $25.95.

Since the 1950s, the Washburn name has been a familiar one in Edgartown, with the late Stanley Washburn living on South Water street in summer and C. Langhorne Washburn summering on Pease’s Point Way. This fact-filled volume tells the story of their 19th-century forebears from northern Maine.

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