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Published May 17 2012

5 Things Friday: 5 books that have landed on my desk

A month or so into starting my reporting job, an odd thing began to happen. Books from seemingly random sources began appearing on my desk, almost as if they’d been delivered by a secret book buddy.

Though it’d be nice to have the time and space to review each of these titles, I fear the precedent I might start, potentially ending up as a book-bombardment casualty.

At the very least, since someone went through the trouble of placing these books in my path, I thought I’d highlight them here in their still-not-read-yet form:

1. This hot-pink, pocket-sized ditty, “Stuff Every Mom Should Know,” came into my palms at least a month ahead of its navy-blue counterpart, “Stuff Every Dad Should Know.”

Both published by Quick Books, they sell for $9.95 and include 143 mini-pages.

The introduction of the mom version, written by California mothers Heather Gibbs Flett and Whitney Moss, states that most parenting manuals omit day-to-day tips like how to make Mickey Mouse pancakes, what to do with your child’s Social Security card, or which household items can be used as toys in a pinch – “the real stuff every mom needs to know.”

Like the dad book, it’s sectioned off by age group, from “baby stuff” to “teen stuff and beyond.”

The dad version, by Pennsylvania father Brett Cohen, includes plenty of practical tips, too, but with a fatherly lean.

While the mom book begins with how to swaddle a baby, the dad version starts off with how to start saving for college. It goes on to the basics like how to hold a baby and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before diverging into such topics as “Male Humor: What Is and Is Not Funny.”

The dad book ensures readers that while new fatherhood shares some characteristics with bachelorhood, such as “late nights with a bottle in your hand,” it’s a whole new and adventurous twist.

2. “A Message for my Child” or “Un Mensaje Para Mi Hijo,” features a poem authored by Bismarck, N.D., -native Patrick Atkinson, written for his now-grown, adopted son, Ernesto, when he was a boy. Ernesto also illustrated the 34-page, bilingual book.

The poem begins, “I can give you life, but I can’t live it for you. I can give you instructions, but I can’t tell you where to go.”

Proceeds from the sale of the first addition will feed, clothe and house poverty-stricken children through The God’s Child Project founded by Atkinson. The books sell for $14.95, or at discounted prices when bought in bulk.

3. If you’re a knitter looking for a way to introduce the Bible to children, “Noah’s Knits” by Fiona Goble might be a good pick.

The 80-page, fully illustrated book contains instructions for creating knitted dolls of Noah, his wife and 14 pairs of animals.

“Noah’s Knits,” which sells for $16.99, is also somewhat interactive. Once made, the resulting creatures can fit inside the book’s cardboard fold-out art, and walk on a ramp that is also included.

4. I’ve met Minnesota author Candace Simar, and while I have yet to dig into her debut title, “Abercrombie Trail: A Novel of the 1862 Uprising,” I had added it to my “to read” list because of its tie-in to our area’s history.

In an author’s note, Simar explains that her great-grandfather drove the stagecoach from St. Cloud, Minn., to Fort Abercrombie, N.D., in the years directly after the Sioux Uprising, also known as the Dakota War of 1862. “I became entranced with the idea of what he might have experienced had he arrived in Minnesota one year sooner.”

This 285-page book, published by North Star Press and priced at $14.95, is a result of those imaginings.

5. Like the first couple titles, I’ve paired the final two reads, both published as parenting-book parodies by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Written by men, these two potentially could be thrown into the mix of possible Father’s Day goodies.

“How Not to Kill Your Baby: A Slightly Useless Guide,” by Jacob Sager Weinstein, claims to be a “revolutionary new way to raise perfect children, get them into a good med school, and keep them safe from ever being sad about anything.”

If you think this is serious stuff, it might not be the book for you or the new father in your life.

The 126-page, fully-illustrated book includes a pull-out poster, “The Official Growth Chart of Doom.” One entry, at 18 inches high, pegs baby at “below average length for a newborn” and “at risk of rejection from National Baby Basketball League.”

And so it goes.

The second title, “What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding,” includes a cover award “sticker” claiming the coveted honor of being “Not the New York Times #1 Best-selling Pregnancy Book.”

Authored by Thomas Hill, this is a third-edition take-off of the bestseller, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” for new moms.

The mock version features such fathering insights as “eight reasons not to even attempt to pick out maternity clothes” and “why watching teen-pregnancy reality TV does not replace childbirth class.”

It sells for $12.99, or $13 plus tax if you really want to be honest with yourself.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Roxane Salonen at (701) 241-5587


Editor’s note: “5 Things Friday” is a weekly feature in SheSays that will run on – you guessed it – Fridays. It will focus on quick tips, ideas, activities and more – all in bunches of five. If you have a “5 Things Friday” suggestion, contact us at shesays@forumcomm.com.