Laurie Hertzel is senior editor for books at the Star Tribune, where she has worked since 1996. She is the author of "News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist," winner of a Minnesota Book Award.

Posts about Libraries

Summer-fall lineup of Club Book sees lots of locals

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 18, 2012 - 3:23 PM

Isabel Wilkerson

Isabel Wilkerson

The summer-fall season of Club Book features lots of local writers, as well as a couple of big names from elsewhere. Pultizer Prize-winning journalist Isabel Wilkerson will talk about her best-selling nonfiction book, “The Warmth of Other Suns,” and the beloved Alexander McCall Smith, whose last planned visit here was canceled due to volcanic ash (remember that? when planes in Europe were grounded?) will talk about the latest installment in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series.

(And here's the interview we did with him at the time--it was April 2010.)

Also in the lineup are local writers Brenda Child, Mark Rosen, Larry Millett, Jonathan Odell, David Walsh, and the lead singer of the Decembrists, Colin Meloy and his wife, Carson Ellis.

Here’s the schedule:

Millett, "The Magic Bullet": 7 p.m. June 11, Shakopee Library

Smith, "The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection": 7 p.m. June 19, Central Park Amphitheater, Woodbury

Wilkerson "The Warmth of Other Suns": 7 p.m. June 26, Galaxie Library, Apple Valley, and 7 p.m. June 27, Brookdale Library, Brooklyn Center.

Rosen, "Best Seat in the House": 1 p.m. Aug. 4, Chanhassen Public Library

Odell, "The Healing": 2 p.m. Aug. 18, Rum River Library, Anoka

Child "Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community": 7 p.m. Sept. 12, Highland Park Library, St. Pau

Meloy and Ellis, "Under Wildwood": 7 p.m. Oct. 2, Roseville Library

Walsh "Why Do They Act That Way?" and "Your Teen and No": 7 p.m. Oct. 18, Mraz Performing Arts Center, Burnsville, and 7 p.m. Oct. 24, Southdale Library, Edina.

Club Book is a free author series of the Metropolitan Library Service Agency. You can find more information at


Stiff competition: NE Minnesota Book Award nominees announced

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: April 3, 2012 - 11:01 AM

Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman

The 24th annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Award nominees have been announced, and look out, there are a lot of them. Competition is going to be stiff, particularly in the category of nonfiction, which has 17 finalists.

(Good luck to all of them. And good luck to the two in the art/photography category, where the odds are a little better.)

The NEMBA is a joint venture of the UMD Library, Friends of the Duluth Public Library and Lake Superior Writers. The ceremony will be May 17 in Duluth. Thriller writer Brian Freeman will be the keynote, and, as always, poet Barton Sutter will be the charming emcee. Winners will receive $200 and a truly lovely glass plaque.

Here are the nominees:


• BlizzardBall, Dennis Kelly, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Dead Ahead: A Jo Spence Mystery, Jen Wright, Clover Valley Press

• A Long-Forgotten Truth, Rachel Ballard, Rozlyn Press

• Telegram: A Wartime Novel about Peace, L. Douglas Hoffmann, A-Argus Better Book Publishers

• Where Echoes Die, Pam Leonard, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Where Memories Dream: Campfire Stories for the Boundary Waters, Steven Coz, Savage Press

• The Winds of Change: A Family's Journey to a Future of Promise, Duane Schwartz, A-Argus Better Book Publishers


• Birdland, Kathy McTavish, Wildwood River Press

• Cloud Birds, Sheila Packa, Wildwood River Press

• East of Nowhere, Larry Christianson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Fog & Woodsmoke: Behind the Image, Stephani Schaefer, Lost Hills Books

• Marrow, Muscle, Flight, Gary Boelhower, Wildwood River Press

• Migrations: Poetry and Prose for Life's Transitions, Sheila Packa, ed., Wildwood River Press

• Tumbled Dry, Charmaine Donovan, Lost Hills Books


• Agates of Lake Superior: Stunning Varieties and How They Are Formed, Dan R. Lynch and Bob Lynch, Adventure Publications

• Ancient Earth and the First Ancestors: A Cultural and Geological Journey, Ron Morton and Carl Gawboy, illustrations by Carl Gawboy, Rockflower Press

• And the Snow Came Up to Here: Schools of Carlton County, Minnesota, Nancy C. Hanson, published by author with the assistance of Dovetailed Press

• Anishinaabe Syndicated: A View from the Rez, Jim Northrup, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• A Boundary Waters History: Canoeing Across Time, Stephen Wilbers, The History Press

• Campfires and Loon Calls: Travels in the Boundary Waters, Jerry Apps, photography by Steve Apps, Fulcrum Publishing

 • Cooking in Canoe Country, Robert Black with Susan Peterson, Carmen Black, and Maja Black, Nodin Press

• Dorothy Molter: The Root Beer Lady, Sarah Guy-Levar and Terri Schocke, Adventure Publications

• Ezhichigeyang: Ojibwe Word List, Nancy Jones, Gordon Jourdain, and Rose Tainter, edited by Anton Treuer and Keller Paap, Waadookodaading Ojibwe Immersion Charter School 

 • Faces and Places II...A Second Look: A Cook County Historical Album 1930-1960, Pat Zankman, 2nd edition editor; co-edited by M.J. Humphrey, Adolph A. Toftey, and Willis H. Raff, Cook County Historical Society

• Hiking the North Shore: 50 Fabulous Day Hikes in Minnesota's Spectacular Lake Superior Region, Andrew Slade, There and Back Books

• Minnesota Rocks & Minerals: A Field Guide to the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Dan R. Lynch and Bob Lynch, Adventure Publications 

•  The Oranges Are Sweet: Major Don M. Beerbower and the 353rd Fighter Squadron, November 1942 to August 1944, Paul M. Sailer, Loden Books

• Staycation in Minnesota: Up North, Patricia Overson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager, Brett Laidlaw, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Twelve Owls, Laura Erickson, with illustrations by Betsy Bowen, University of Minnesota Press

• 20 Great BWCA Trips: Exploring the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Van Jordahl and Gerald Strom, Adventure Publications


• Hauling Water: Reflections on Making a Home in the North Woods, Becca Brin Manlove, illustrated by Sharon Brin Hathaway, Raven Productions

• Shelter, Sarah Stonich, Borealis Books, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Spirit of the Lights, Chuck Frederick, Lake Superior Port Cities

• A View of the Lake: Living the Dream on Lake Superior, Beryl Singleton Bissell, Lake Superior Port Cities

• Whitey: From Farm Kid to Flying Tiger to Attorney, Wayne G. Johnson, Langdon Street Press


• Around a Woodsy Corner, Marcy Bolinger, illustrated by Rhonda Weitzel, Gunflint Trail Productions

 • Birds in Our Backyard: Say Hello to Minnesota's Feathered Friends, text by Adele Porter, photography by Bill Marchel, Minnesota Historical Society Press

• Buddy's Adventures: Lost Bone, Michael J. Perkins, 10,000 Lakes Art

• Frog in the House, David Mather, illustrated by Stephanie Mirocha, Raven Productions

• Little Minnesota, Kathy-jo Wargin, Sleeping Bear Press

• Oh Mighty Mississippi, Melissa Vocelka, illustrated by Amy Larson, North Star Press of St. Cloud

• Tales of Lake Superior: A Grandmother's Stories of the North, Juliet Beatrice Lind, illustrated by Joan Henrik, Joan Henrik Design

• Unforgettable, Loretta Ellsworth, Walker & Co.

• Utterly Otterly Night, Mary Casanova, pictures by Ard Hoyt, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


• Old Minnesota, Nace Hagemann, Gunflint Trail Productions

• Voyageur Skies: Weather and the Wilderness in Minnesota's National Park, photography by Don Breneman and weather commentary by Mark Seeley, Afton Press

Richard Ford headlines summer Talk of the Stacks program.

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: March 28, 2012 - 12:09 PM


Richard Ford, at his house in New Orleans in 2002. Photo by David Rae Morris.

Richard Ford, at his house in New Orleans in 2002. Photo by David Rae Morris.


Novelist Richard Ford, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award, will be in Minneapolis in late May to read from his new novel, "Canada," as part of the Friends of the Hennepin County Library Talk of the Stacks program.

In June, photographer Michael Childers will discuss his exhibit, "Author, Author," a collection of more than 50 portraits of writers. The exhibit will be on display in th Minneapolis Central Library's Cargill Gallery from June 26 to Aug. 18.

And in July, Esmeralda Santiago will read from her newest novel, "Conquistadora."

All programs are held at the Minneapolis Central Library on Nicollet Mall and are free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:15 and programs begin at 7 p.m. Here's the schedule:

Richard Ford, 7 p.m., May 29

Michael Childers, 7 p.m., June 26,.

Esmeralda Santiago, July 12.



Best kidbooks of all time?

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: February 16, 2012 - 11:44 AM


"Books in Winter" by Jessie Wilcox Smith

"Books in Winter" by Jessie Wilcox Smith


There is probably nothing that brings us instantly back to childhood quicker than recalling a beloved book. Not the fragrance of chocolate chip cookies baking, not the tinny sound of a favorite lullabye plunked out on a toy piano (remember toy pianos?), not even the softness of an old quilt. It's books, those beloved stories we heard at bedtime, those favorite novels we sank into, that bring us back.

So you know that when Parent and Child magazine came up with its list of the 100 greatest kid books, they were going to be treading on sacred ground, playing with our emotions, stirring up trouble.

To begin with, it is not a bad list. E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web" is No. 1, and there is no arguing with that.  But it is a peculiar list, in that picture books and early reader books and young adult novels are all mixed up together. Any list that has "Frog and Toad Are Friends" (a fine book, truly) next to "The Hunger Games" is going to be a list that is trying too hard. You can't be all things to all children.

I'll paste in the list below, but I'm interested in what you think is missing.  Where, for example, is Mercy Watson? Or Bink and Gollie? Or Winn-Dixie? Or any Kate Di Camillo?

Where is "Little  Women"? (Or any Louisa May Alcott?) Where is "Blue Willow"? "The Witch of Blackbird Pond"? 'Misty of Chincoteague"? "Greensleeves" (which I continue to read again and again). "Witch of the Glens" (or any Sally Watson)? "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day"? "Mary Poppins"? Any of the "Shoe" books? "The Borrowers"? 

"Twenty-One Balloons"? "The Call of the Wild"? "Black Beauty"? Stop me; I'm being transported to 1965.

Help me out. Scan the list and add your favorites.

1. Charlotte's Web

2. Goodnight, Moon

3. A Wrinkle in Time

4. The Snowy Day

5. Where the Wild Things Are

6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

7. Green Eggs and Ham

8. The Diary of a Young Girl

9. The Giving Tree

10. Frog and Toad are Friends

11. Anne of Green Gables

12. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

13. Madeline

14. The Wind in the Willows

15. The Dot

16. Tuck Everlasting

17. Pat the Bunny

18. When Marian Sang

19. Knuffle Bunny

20. Where the Sidewalk Ends

21. Bud, Not Buddy

22. Corduroy

23. The Phanton Tollbooth

24. The Little Engine that Could

25. The Giver

26. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

27. Black on White

28. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

29. Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret

30. My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother

31. The Mitten

32. The Runaway Bunny

33. The Hunger Games

34. Swimmy

35. Freight Train

36. The Secret Garden

37. The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

38. Diary of a Wimpy Kid

39. Zen Shorts

40. Moo, Baa, La La La!

41. Matilda

42. What Do People Do All Day?

43. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

44. Good Night, Gorilla

45. The Composition

46. Not a Box

47. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

48. Hatchet

49. Martin's Big Words

50. Sarah, Plain and Tall

51. Sylvia Long's Mother Goose

52. The Lightning Thief

53. The House at Pooh Corner

54. Through My Eyes

55. Smile!

56. Living Sunlight

57 The Bad Begining

58. Harvesting Hope

59. Dear June

60. Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

61.The Lion & the Mouse

62. Diary of a Worm

63. The Invention of Hugo Cabret

64. My Truck is Stuck!

65. Birds

66. The Maze of Bones

67. Esperanza Rising

68. Counting Kisses

69. The Magic School Bus at the Waterworks

70. Blackout

71. Bridge to Terabithia

72. Are You My Mother?

73. Tea With Milk

74. Owl Moon

75. Holes

76. Peek-a-Who?

77. Hi! Fly Guy

78. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

79. Llama Llama Red Pajama

80. What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?

81. Lincoln-A Photobiography

82. Ivy + Bean

83. Yoko

84. No No Yes yes

85. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

86. Interrupting Chicken

87. Rules

88. Grumpy Bird

89. An Egg is Quiet

90. Puss in Boots

91. Team Moon

92. What Shall We Do with the Boo Hoo Baby?

93. We the Kids

94. I Took the Moon for a Walk

95. A Single Shard

96. Gossie

97. The Adventures of Captain Underpants

98. First Words

99. Joyful Noises: Poems for Two Voices

100. Animalia





The most romantic stories ever.

Posted by: Laurie Hertzel Updated: February 14, 2012 - 12:06 PM



File photo by Tom Wallace.

File photo by Tom Wallace.

Is the scene in "Persuasion" when Capt. Wentworth leaves the love note for Anne Elliot the most romantic love scene ever written? (Oh, to get a letter that says, "You pierce my soul!")

Or maybe the tragic, true story of Abelard and Heloise is the most romantic book ever. The version I read, back in high school, was one I discovered in the stacks of the Duluth Public Library. It was written by George Moore, and the Duluth library had a first edition from 1921--bound in black leather, with yellowed, deckle-edge pages,.

The dialogue was not set off by quotation marks, but flowed through the text in what seemed to me to be a very poetic manner. I devoured that book, weeping a little, wishing, perhaps, just a little, that I, too, could be seduced by my teacher, who would then be castrated, and I would then flee into a nunnery where we would write passionate letters to each other for the rest of our lives.

It seemed, at age 16, to be the perfect relationship.

(And oh, the books you can find in your library!)

And of course there's Catherine and Heathcliff, though they left me colder than they did my friends. And that moment in "These Happy Golden Years" when Laura and Almanzo get engaged, and she offers her cheek to him and says, primly, "You may kiss me." It doesn't take much; it's all about timing and context and, of course, the way the author builds to that moment.

What are your favorites? Your most romantic books, or stories, or scenes? It's Valentine's Day. Let's get those hearts a-pumping.








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