Here in Minnesota, the winter months can be brutal. A good book, a cup of tea and a blanket can make them a little better.
In this new feature, we highlight books from Minnesota authors. Got a recommendation? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "Book Nook."
"On the Shortest Day" by Laura Sulentich Fredrickson, illustrated by Laurie Caple
This children’s book about the winter solstice follows a young girl and her grandfather through Minnesota landscapes. Throughout the book, she's searching for something, so there's a bit of mystery woven into the alliteration and beautifully descriptive words. The mystery is solved at the end, so there is a nice conclusion.
What makes this book so captivating is the illustrations. Each page is filled with brilliant watercolors by Laurie Caple, who tucks in native creatures and features on every page. She captures the light of Minnesota winters beautifully.
Young children who may find the text a little advanced will be drawn in by the illustrations. My 9-year-old who reads at a third-grade level said, “I don’t understand all of it, but I LOVE it! I give it a 20 out of 5!” Upon hearing that this was the author’s first children’s book, she said, “She did a great job!” Out of the mouths of babes, I suppose.
Fredrickson is a writer and retired educator who lives in Wabasha. Caple, who lives in St. Joseph, Mich., has illustrated more than 20 books.
"On the Shortest Day" is available at the Rochester Public Library, and online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Target. It is also available directly from the Minnesota Historical Society Press, at shop.mnhs.org.
"Memory Lane: Life in Lanesboro During the 40s & 50s" by Barbara Danielson Daiker
In this short chapter book, Danielson Daiker shares her memories of the small Minnesota town where she grew up.
The book reads smoothly, like a conversation with an older relative. Reading it feels like listening to them talk about their childhood memories. Danielson Daiker includes great details. She breaks each subject down into short one- or two-page chapters, on topics from the layout of the city to school life, and even touching on the polio epidemic.
This is a great book for anyone who grew up in Lanesboro or any other small southeastern Minnesota town in the 1940s and ‘50s. It also gives younger generations an opportunity to read a firsthand narrative about that time and place. Danielson Daiker includes more than a dozen photos in the back of the book, sharing her family and town landmarks with the reader.
Danielson Daiker is a retired school teacher and mother of three children. She dedicated the book to her late husband, the Rev. Bernard Daiker. She's lived in Johnston, Iowa, since his passing in April 2019.
"Memory Lane," which is self-published, is available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and SCRIBD.
"My Life Behind the Wheel" by Lyle W. Lieder, illustrated by Erik C. Lindgren
"My Life Behind the Wheel" is the memoir of Lieder, a Methodist minister with a love for automobiles that has spanned almost a century. He has a collection of almost 200!
The book is filled with wonderful anecdotes, details and humor. Photos and artwork Lindgren are nestled in the short chapters of this thick book. Lieder, who founded many antique car clubs throughout the years, takes the reader along for many interesting rides in this book.
Lieder, a retired minister and teacher, grew up on a farm outside Northfield. He now lives in Rochester with his wife. He will be 99 in March.
Lindgren, who was born in Iowa, now lives in Colorado and continues to capture automobiles and steam engines on canvas.
"My Life Behind the Wheel," which is self-published, is not available online and is currently out of stock at Sweet Reads in Austin, but will hopefully be available soon.