I've probably seen Sharon Montrose's photographs, before, but if so I certainly didn't realize I had when Menagerie was offered to me for review. Where have I been? Sharon Montrose is a prize-winning animal photographer who already has 11 books under her belt and her photography is divine.
Menagerie is a book of Sharon Montrose's animal photography and it is an total eyeball feast, simply but beautifully designed. The photographs are framed in ways that make you think of how you could jazz up your own walls with a few zingy frames and tasteful photographs. It's a zen kind of book, relaxing to flip through, too small to call a "coffee table" book but definitely the type of book I'd leave out if I had a coffee table. Someday, I will get a coffee table like a normal American.
Bright and airy and almost (but not quite) devoid of text Menagerie's few words are painted in a way that compliments the photography. You can see some inside and out views in this post at Montrose's blog.
There are only two small problems with Menagerie. One is that it's small enough (Amazon says the dimensions are about 8.6" x 6.6") that some of the photos will require a little squinting or a magnifying glass for older eyes.
The other problem is that some rocking fine photos are badly-placed as 2-page spreads. One photo of a flamingo with intriguing wing movement is frustratingly placed on the center fold. And, since the flamingo is the only animal on that particular spread, you have to wonder if it was placed that way merely so purchasers would be unable to slice out a page and avoid paying for a print. However, neither of those problems would have stopped me from buying the book if I'd happened across it in a store . . . if we had a store that displayed design books like Menagerie (insert mournful cry for the loss of Borders).
Highly recommended for design buffs, animal lovers, and lovers of art or photography books. If you're a fan of Sharon Montrose, you might be a little disappointed by the size of the photos but Menagerie turned me into a fan. I am not disappointed. I love it.
In other news:
Sourcebooks has a squillion "first title" and stand-alone e-books on sale for $1.99. Included are some personal favorites by Elizabeth Chadwick, Jill Mansell and R. F. Delderfield. This is a whopping fine batch of books.
Scholastic is offering a free virtual field trip to the American Museum of Natural History by Brian Selznick.
I'm not going to bother writing a separate post about Lights Out Liverpool by Maureen Lee. Lights Out Liverpool is a WWII novel set on a single street in the Bootle district of Liverpool, England. Totally engrossing, Lights Out Liverpool is one of those nice, chunky books that's really as much about relationships as it is about life during a major war.
Lights Out Liverpool is tremendously realistic and believable to the war experience and the ups and downs of lives. I didn't like the ending, but I loved the book enough to rewrite the ending in my head. Lights Out Liverpool is the first book I've read by Maureen Lee. Published in 1995, I got my copy from my very generous friend Paula and I know exactly who I'm going to pass it on to. Highly recommended to readers who enjoy novels set during WWII or realistic, character-driven stories with exceptional character development.