The Leaf That Wouldn’t Leave-Midwest Connections

November 30, 2009

“When Luigi, the homebody leaf, decides to take a giant step and explore beyond the boughs of his comfort zone, the world opens to him.  With the encouragement of the evergreen sage, Luigi puts his fears aside, and lets the breeze carry him far and wide.  Luigi’s journey comes alive through  Trish Trinco’s gentle rhymes.  Bryan Langdo’s bold illustrations show us that branching out isn’t so scary if we know the warmth and safety of home and friends are only a whiff of wind away. “
– Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI

THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE is a sweet children’s book that teaches there is a time for everything.”
– Bob Spear, The Book Barn, Leavenworth, KS

“Children’s books with an inspirational message can be difficult to ‘pull off,’ but Trinco manages to do it, and the result is a special book that is worth keeping in the family library…… Children will be inspired by Luigi, and it just might make it a little bit easier for them to take a chance on change. The illustrations are delightful and will keep the kids coming back to read THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE again and again.”
– Andrea Sisco, Minneapolis Author Insight Examiner *

The dentist. A visit to the hospital. Kindergarten. A move. It takes incredible courage to welcome life’s changes with open arms. THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE explains to young readers that it is natural to feel apprehensive when facing a new experience and that making a leap of faith into the unknown has its own rewards.

The book’s hero, Luigi, is the last colorful leaf on the tree and feels anxious about leaving the familiarity of his branch. Luigi ultimately takes a chance and discovers an amazing world waiting for him beyond the borders of his beloved backyard. Luigi inspires children to embrace change and look for the joy and satisfaction that comes with new opportunities and experiences.

Publisher Brett Waldman is “thrilled to welcome author Trish Trinco and illustrator Bryan Langdo to the TRISTAN family. The collaboration process has been exciting, and we look forward to sharing THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE with our readers.”


Trish Trinco, AuthorTRISH TRINCO BIO PIC

Trinco’s love for children’s stories began when she was a child herself in Minot, North Dakota.  After every visit from the Bookmobile in summertime, Trish and her sisters would settle under their family’s big willow tree in the backyard to read each exciting new story.

Trish continued to nurture her writing skills in Creative Writing classes and by working in her local library while in high school.  She attended Brown Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota, studying radio broadcasting.  Throughout the years Trish enjoyed opportunities to interact with young readers as she worked in the broadcasting field in cities across the country including Minneapolis, San Francisco, Dallas and Denver.

THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE is Trish’s first published title and is inspired by a brave little yellow leaf that flew into her car window one sunny autumn afternoon.

Trish Trinco lives in Colorado Springs with her shaggy dog Maggie and her parakeet Luciano.

Bryan Langdo, Illustrator

As a young boy, Langdo studied with author/illustrator Robert J. Blake, where he learned about drawing, design, and the whole book making process. It was during this time that the seeds were planted for Langdo to create his own books someday.

After high school, Langdo attended The Art Student’s League of New York. There he studied life drawing, first with Jack Henderson, and then with Michael Burban. He also studied painting with Harvey Dinnerstein. Langdo’s first published book was The Dog Who Loved the Good Life, and the latest addition to his collection of illustrated works is THE LEAF THAT WOULDN’T LEAVE.

Langdo lives in Upstate New York with wife, Nikki, and their son Oliver.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day-Midwest Connections

November 18, 2009

Chain Letter of the Soul-Midwest Connections

November 17, 2009

“For it is life we want. We want the world, the whole beautiful world, alive — and we alive in it. That is the actual god we long for and seek, yet we have already found it, if we open our senses, our whole bodies, thus our souls. That is why I have written and intend to continue until someone among you takes up the happy work of keeping the chain letter of the soul moving along in whatever future will come.”
– Bill Holm, 1943-2009

“One of our country’s few essential contemporary writers.”
– Ted Kooser

“The sage of Minnesota, a colleague of Whitman born a hundred years too late.”
– Garrison Keillor

“His whole persona comes with a clear mandate: DO NOT DUPLICATE — as if anyone could if they tried.”
– Jim Heynen

Collecting the best and the newest poems from Bill Holm’s oeuvre, THE CHAIN LETTER OF THE SOUL paints a portrait of a man of great heart, broad vision, and startling prescience. Fans will recognize many of their favorites from Boxelder Bug Variations, The Dead Get By With Everything, and Playing the Black Piano, and new readers will be introduced to an enduring voice of American literature. “Bill Holm, one of MN’s greatest champions of the arts, passed away not too long ago. The Chain Letter of the Soul is his last book–a new and selected poems (heavy on the new) that is not at all one of those thrown together collections. It is a great testament to his life and his writing.”
– Hans Weyandt, Micawber’s Books, St, Paul, MN

Upon Bill Holm’s untimely death at age 65 in 2009 from massive pneumonia, Garrison Keillor called him “the sage of Minnesota, a colleague of Whitman though born a hundred years too late.” Known and loved for his outspoken essays and poems, his lively public talks and performances, his decades of service as a teacher—not to mention his keen and insightful wit, his enthusiastic love of art and music, and his fearless opinions—Bill Holm was an American original.

Betsy-Tacy-Midwest Connections

November 16, 2009

“There are three authors whose body of work I have reread ore BetsyGreatWorld-pb-c1-199x300BetsyWasJunior-pb-c-199x300HeavenToBetsy-pb-c-199x300than once over my adult life: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Maud Hart Lovelace.”
– Anna Quindlen

Around 1897, in Mankato, Minnesota, Maud Hart Lovelace met two girls — Bick Kenney and Midge Gerlach. The three soon formed a trio that would be inseparable in their youth and remain friendly throughout their adult lives. Many years later, Maud told her daughter, Merian, bedtime stories about her girlhood adventures with Bick and Midge. Soon, she developed these tales into a popular series of books that was first published in the 1940s. Mankato was transformed into Deep Valley, Minnesota, around the turn of the 20th century. Maud became friendly storyteller Betsy Ray, Bick became shy, redheaded Tacy Kelly, and Midge became the practical, yet fun-loving, Tib Muller.

The series begins with a fast friendship between Betsy and Tacy, who soon enjoy such fun as picnics on the bench on the Big Hill and dressing up and calling on neighbors. When Tib moves into the chocolate-colored house nearby, she quickly becomes Betsy and Tacy’s other best friend. Many of their fictional adventures are based on Maud’s real experiences with Bick and Midge.

As they grow older, Betsy’s, Tacy’s, and Tib’s world grows larger. They climb over the Big Hill that had always seemed so high and enjoy such downtown delights as riding in horseless carriages and going to the theater. High-school introduces them to a new social life, and many members of their Crowd are also based on real people in Maud’s life.

Even though the Betsy-Tacy books were written so long ago, timeless themes of friendship, family, and love continue to teach us about our past and what we dream for our future. And they remain the perfect bedtime stories to be shared by a mother and a daughter. The discussion topics, suggested reading list, and author biography in this reading group guide are intended to spark discussion about the wonderful characters and stirring adventures in this enchanting series.

Heaven to Betsy: Betsy Ray is loving every minute of freshman year at Deep Valley High—with new and old friends all around her . . . not to mention boys! But most intriguing of all is the one she and her best friend Tacy dub “the Tall Dark Stranger.”

Betsy in Spite of Herself: Betsy is at the center of every activity as a Deep Valley High sophomore—and suddenly, thanks to her old friend Tib, she’s offered a golden opportunity for glorious transformation. But will she impress the special boy by becoming dramatic, mysterious Betsye—or would she be better off just being Betsy in spite of herself?

Betsy Was a Junior: It’s the best school year ever, especially now that charming, funny Tib Muller is back in Deep Valley. But when her crowd gets into trouble, Betsy’s best year could turn out to be her worst.

Betsy and Joe: Betsy always thought she and Joe Willard were made for each other—and now that summer’s over and senior year’s begun, it seems her dream is coming true! But her friend Tony Markham has come calling as well—and his intentions are definitely romantic.

Betsy and the Great World: Betsy Ray is twenty-one and on the adventure of a lifetime: a solo tour of Europe! There’s even a handsome Italian, Marco, who’s going overboard for her—if only she could stop thinking about her ex-sweetheart Joe Willard.

Betsy’s Wedding: When Betsy’s boat docks in New York, Joe is waiting there . . . with a ring! But she’s going to learn that marriage isn’t all candlelight, roses, and kisses. There’s also cooking, ironing, cleaning, and budgeting— and will she be able to find time to forge a writing career?


Maud Hart Lovelace (1892-1980) is the beloved author of the Betsy-Tacy books, as well as many other books for adults and children. She grew up in Mankato, MN and based her beloved Betsy-Tacy series on her childhood there. Mankato became Deep Valley in the books, and all of the characters in the books are closely based on friends with whom Lovelace grew up.  Visit the website of the Betsy-Tacy Society for more information about Lovelace’s years in Mankato.

In addition to Mankato, Lovelace spent many years living in Minneapolis, and the Maud Hart Lovelace Society, based in St. Paul, is as dedicated as the Betsy-Tacy Society in keeping her legacy alive. This past summer a memorial plaque was placed at 905 West 25th Street in Minneapolis, the site of the Hart family’s home after they moved from Mankato.

In addition to illustrating the first four Betsy-Tacy books, Lois Lenski (1893-1974) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of Strawberry Girl.

Vera Neville illustrated six of the Betsy-Tacy books as well as three Deep Valley Books.

Damn Good Food and other new arrivals from the Minnesota Historical Society Press

November 13, 2009

Books, Books, and more damn good Books are arriving in the store daily.  Damn Good Food was just written up in the New 9780873517249fYork Times. This is a cookbook with an attitude. Hell’s Kitchen owner Mitch Omer put pen to paper and gave up some recipes for your enjoyment. Get em before they’re gone.  10% off for a while.

Sticking with the Minnesota theme, Kevin Kling’s Holiday Inn is still fresh in the store.  Kling is a master storyteller and this one will look good under the tree if you get my drift.  Better yet, pick it up now and read aloud after a big fat turkey dinner.  Even grandma will laugh at these stories.

If ghosts are your thing, The Nearly Departed is your book. Minnesota ghost stories and legends including St. Olaf’s boy in the red cap.

Lastly, I’ll mention A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts:  Stories by  N. M. Kelby. A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts is a collection of stories, rooted in the Midwest, for those of us who suddenly find ourselves displaced, 9780873517669ftourists in our own lives.

What are you waiting for, get your butt downtown and buy some books.9780873517676f9780873517171f

Shiver-Midwest Connections

November 13, 2009

“It’s love at first sight for Grace and Sam but not at all in the traditional sense. Sam is a [we won’t tell you here!!] and shiver-final-cover-204x300Grace is human. Perfect for fans of the TWILIGHT series!”
– Vicki Erwin, Main Street Books, Charles MO

Grace has spent years watching the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf-her wolf-watches back. He feels deeply familiar but she doesn’t know why.

Sam has lived two lives. In the cold winter months, he is a wolf, keeping the silent company of his pack and keeping careful watch over the girl he loves. And then, for a short time each year when the weather is warm enough, he is human, never daring to talk to Grace… until now.

For Grace and Sam, love has always been kept at a distance. But now it cannot be denied. Sam must fight to stay human-and Grace must fight to keep him-even if it means taking on the scars of the past, the fragility of the present, and the impossibility of the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHORmaggiestiefvater_photo-credit-kate-hummel

“My big literary influences for Shiver were Crow Lake and The Time Traveler’s Wife, because they tell quiet, bittersweet love stories.”
–Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is a twenty-seven year old writer, artist, and musician. Her debut novel, Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, was published by Flux in 2008. She lives in rural Virginia with her husband and their two young children. For more information please visit Maggie at

Missing Mark-Midwest Connections

November 6, 2009

missingmarkjacket-197x300“I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, many on the best or worst days of their lives.  I believe listening carefully for the most intriguing parts of those conversations helped me develop an ear for dialogue……I’ve covered such a variety of events and people that no plot or character from my imagination seems over the top. I absolutely believe the adage, truth is stranger than fiction. Because I’ve lived it in my day job. Other writers sometimes hold back, thinking, ‘No one will ever believe that.’ My advice to them is, because of what people see on the news each day, you can go further than you think. “
– Author Julie Kramer — career television news producer and now a bestselling novelist

When Riley Spartz sees a want ad reading “Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn,” her news instincts tell her the backstory might make an intriguing television sweeps piece.

The groom, Mark, last seen at the rehearsal dinner, never showed up for the wedding, humiliating his bride, Madeline-and her high-strung, high-society mother-in front of 300 guests. His own mother, eager to spare him further embarrassment, waited weeks before filing a missing-person report, and then learned how difficult it is to get police, or the media, interested in missing men.

Now Riley is up against a boss who thinks finding a famed missing fish will net the station higher ratings, a meth cartel trying to assassinate a K-9 dog because of his powerful nose for drugs, and a neighbor who holds perpetual garage sales that attract traffic at odd hours.

When her missing-person case leads to a murder investigation, Riley discovers a startling motive for Mark’s disappearance-and a TV exclusive guaranteed to win the ratings…if she lives to report it.juliekramer


JULIE KRAMER is a freelance television news producer for NBC’s Today Show, Nightly News, and Dateline. Prior to that, she was a national award-winning investigative producer for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. She lives in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, with her husband and sons.


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