New Books and Featured Titles
Backlist: Celebrated Titles since 1995

The Blacksmith's Tale or Once Upon a Flower

Dana Phillips, Illustrated by Sheila Waters and designed by Julian Waters.

102 pages (hardcover); $24.95 list 

ISBN 188 9274 070

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"Longer ago than most people can remember, and in a place just out of sight from here, a man about your father's age spent a snowy, snivvly night hiding from the mountain wind outside the gates of a prosperous walled town...." So opens this fable for dreamers of all ages, as the fleeing man seeks sanctuary on the remote ledge near a medieval-ish mountain city, a sort-of Zurich in Narnia. Clever and strong, the man named Cherce seeks seclusion because he has discovered a miraculous secret: In his hidden garden, he grows almost-magic flowers which. . . . which do things that simply can't be told on a website.

 

Cherce shares the secret with his ward, a lad named Found ("because he was") and the girl Dovely. She is the daughter of Oraxion, the Burgomaster, the chief bureaucrat in this stodgy market town, the cradle of retail, where adults positively adore commerce and conformity. Yet the daring youngsters march and skip to their own drummers. They unloose a daisy-chain of events that lead to disaster, plunging the mercantile mountain into a perilous, stupendous, hysterical CRISIS!

 

Taken all together, here is a fable that will take parents and grandparents back to the "chapter books" of your childhood. It is a story that will transport today's child of any age into that captivating realm of fantasy, morality, adventure and imagination.

 

This prizewinning volume owes its remarkable visual appeal to the graphics team: English-born illuminator Sheila Waters and her son, designer/calligrapher Julian Waters. Mrs. Waters is celebrated in lettering circles throughout the world as a letterer and illuminator, once the youngest fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators. Julian is known by cognoscenti as the finest calligrapher in America today. His memorable commissions include advising Maya Lin on the Vietnam Memorial and designing lettering for postage stamps such as the "LOVE" stamp.

 

Unique in its particulars, The Blacksmith's Tale was designed, typeset and printed with an attention to quality rarely seen these days. For example, it uses the ligatures of yore: paired letters such as æ, fi,fl, etc. appear in single characters. Likewise, the book includes special typography "type tricks" in which words and letters are laid out to reflect action or mood.

 

The Blacksmith's Tale or Once Upon a Flower, was honored for both its cover design and interior graphic design by The Washington Book Publishers. It was the only book to be doubly honored in competition among such distinguished presses as the National Geographic Society, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Press and Time-Life Books.

 

Off Soundings:

Aspects of the Maritime History of Rhode Island

Alexander Boyd Hawes

Foreword by Professor John Hattendorf

324 pages; maps, copious notes, index; $39.95 list

ISBN: 1889274054

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A work of substantial scholarship, this richly illustrated volume surveys the colony and state of Rhode Island throughout the age of sail—"a very useful and important contribution to the field of maritime history, and to Rhode Island history in particular," writes Naval War College Professor John M. Hattendorf in his Introduction. Yale Magazine called it "absolutely fascinating." Winning first place awards for its design, also received a John Lyman Award from the North American Society for Oceanic History. The Providence Journal called it a "best read" of the year, and it was recommended by the Massachusetts Historical Society's New England Quarterly. Designed by Robert Wiser and Kathleen Sims, this is a particularly handsome book as well. The Rhode Island Historical Society exclaimed to its members "Anyone who loves history, who loves the sea, and who loves Rhode Island (or New England) will love Off Soundings…. Buy it, borrow it, read it. You'll not regret it."

 

Shetland Breeds: Lessons in Husbandry and History

Various Authors, Edited by Nancy Kohlberg and Philip Kopper

179 pages and photographs (hardcover)

ISBN 1-88-9274-10-0

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Both charming and informative, this small illustrated book describes the world's richest variety of indigenous farm animals in one locality, the eponymous livestock and fowl of the Shetland Islands—Shetland Ponies, Shetland Cattle, Shetland Sheep, Shetland Goose, Shetland Duck, etc. (There used to be a Shetland Pig and a working Shetland Sheepdog, but no more.) As this multi-author volume points out, the evolution and development of these near-subspecies is the remarkable product of natural selection and selective breeding. The book holds special interest for the "minor breeds community" throughout the English-speaking world, namely breeders, vets and devotees of rare animals.

 

Rights of Our Passage

Rev. Dr. Francis H. Wade

 

A cycle of spiritual reflections to limn the Christian year. This is PPI's second volume of sermons by the long-time rector of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC. Now formally “retired”, Dr. Wade has served as interim dean of Washington National Cathedral, chaplain of the nation Episcopal church’s General Convention and a professor at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Meade’s Reprise, a novel of Gettysburg, War and Intrigue

John Duke Merriam

324 pages (hardcover); $25 list

ISBN: 1889274186

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This story retells Gettysburg's historic battle and alters it - with twists like a spy ring of slaves, and new heroic characters in blue, in gray, in mufti, in negligees. More than a novel of the Civil War, it is an epic of the coming peace: The longed-for armistice comes sooner; the statesman Abraham Lincoln governs, rebuilding the South and repairing the Union. Meade, a hero and military governor, is beset by enemies like the conniving politician/soldier Dan Sickles. Colonel Fitzpatrick helps former slaves work their new lands while doing battle with himself to win his soul's passion, "The Angel of Gettysburg," beautiful Maeve, once a camp follower who was drafted into service as an army nurse.

Discovering Margot Peet

Henry Adams and Marianne Berardi

242 pages, (hardcover); Illustrated; $100 list

ISBN: 1889274321

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Margot Peet was nearly 90 when an art historian interviewed her about studying with the iconic artist Thomas Hart Benton six decades earlier. Knowing Mrs. Peet to be a museum patron and socialite who painted for pleasure, the scholar was surprised to discover that she was also a gifted artist of exceptional talent and achievement, yet unknown outside of her lifelong home, Kansas City. To some, Kansas City seems an unlikely place for artistic genius, a town spawned by riverboats and railroads. Though ignored by savants on the East and West Coasts, it has played important roles in the history of art in America and it thrives as a cultural capital of the Middle West. Discovering Margot Peet, The Artist and the Art World of Kansas City writes the record on both counts and in two narratives one about the person, the other about her milieu. Marianne Berardi s critical biography recounts the life and appraises the oeuvre of this unsung genius, a woman of parts. Margot Peet s love of painting was nurtured by a favorite aunt, and later by three notable teachers, the last and the most influential of them Tom Benton, then America s most famous artist. Peet combined both discipline and her innate gifts to work brilliantly in oil, watercolor and pastel. A grande dame and a mother, she was driven to make art both by boredom with her status and by despair over a private tragedy that has driven other women to distraction. By definition an amateur (she rarely sold her pictures), Margot Peet created deft portraits, sublime garden landscapes and vibrant floral still-lifes that display the highest degree of excellence and finish, as Dr. Berardi writes. All this in Kansas City, her font and inspiration not the farming hub and corny setting of musical comedy, but a dynamic metropolis whose early 20th-century civic leaders made a cosmopolitan oasis on the edge of the prairie in America s heartland. Henry Adams s authoritative appreciation of Kansas City gives this neglected cultural capital the overdue credit it deserves as a portal of art history in America and a cradle of our culture. 

Things Temporal and Things Eternal; The Life of George Cheyne Shattuck, Jr.

J.C. Douglas Marshall

Foreword by The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold

261 PAGES; $35;  Illustrated

ISBN: 1889274305

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Dour and disciplined, wealthy and aristocratic, George Cheyne Shattuck, Jr. seems to have been the model 19th-century Boston Brahmin: physician, professor at Harvard Medical School; co-founder of the progressive breakaway Episcopal parish, the Church of the Advent; solitary founder of St. Paul’s School in Concord, NH. Yet he was haunted by his own demons. As Douglas Marshall reveals in this illuminating biography, Shattuck was a child of his time—a born conservative and reluctant innovator. In his foreword, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, honors “The determination and radical imagination of this churchman and physician” whose legacy has influenced many, particularly through the celebrated preparatory school, St. Paul’s.

Gow: A Father, a Son, a School

David Whitcomb Gow

374 pages; $30

ISBN 188927417-8

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Early in the 20th century, a gifted teacher identified an all-too-common tragic figure: the bright child who failed. Peter Gow encountered boys (in particular) "who paid attention in class and did their homework" but simply could not learn to read, write and spell as did their peers who were no smarter. Setting out to learn why these boys could "fail in the classrooms of competent teachers," he began addressing the constellation of learning problems now lumped under the rubric "dyslexia." In 1926 Peter Gow founded his own school in upstate New York, and in time made it a haven—often a springboard—for boys with learning disabilities. His "secret" lay in patience, repetition, small classes, individual attention and faith in the unique array of talents within every boy. Thus The Gow School grew to be a landmark academy in special education, as Peter's son and eventual successor David Whitcomb Gow describes in this revealing autobiography. In large part a history of this seminal institution as it celebrated its 75th anniversary (in 2002), David Gow's opus is also a history of the Gow family, a personal memoir, and finally a primer on teaching children who have learning problems.

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