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Dave Wood's Book Report, Dec. 3, 2008

There's a little something for everyone this week.

It's stocking-stuffer time on the prairie and local publishers are stepping up to the presses with a slew of fun books for teenagers of all ages.

Remember the movie "Slap Shot," starring Paul Newman?

Minnesota sports chronicler Ross Bernstein has recapitalized on this hit with a new book, "Slap Shot Original," by Dave Hanson with Ross Bernstein (Triumph Books, $24.95), introduction by Jeff and Steve Carlson.

The late Paul Newman gets into the act on the dust cover with a remark about the famous Hanson boys: "They were very professional and they were completely crazy. We drank a lot of beer."

Bernstein just keeps cranking out books, including one for baseball buffs, "The Code" (Triumph Books, $22.95), forewords by Rob Dibble, Torii Hunter and Jack Morris, about baseball's unwritten rules and its "ignore-at-you-own-risk code of conduct."

Finally, he just sent me a nicely put together coffee-table book, "Sixty Years and Sixty Heroes" (Bernstein, $24.95), forewords by Bud Grant, Kent Hrbek, Joe Mauer and Lindsay Whalen.

Bernstein celebrates Gopherland sports by selecting a hero a year, beginning with George Mikan in 1948 and ending with the Minnesota Wild's Mark Parrish.

I spent my first grade in a one-room schoolhouse in Larking Valley, so I dove into a lovely new coffee-table book from the University of Iowa Press, "Harker's One-Room Schoolhouses: Visions of an Iowa Icon" (University of Iowa Press, $24.95), photos by Michael Harper, essay by Paul Theobald.

It's chockfull of artistic black and white photographs of Iowa schoolhouses. You know, the ones with Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington hanging up front and the pot-bellied stove that scorched eighth-graders on the far end of the room.

Hazel Thorson Stock Stoeckeler, University of Minnesota professor of design, emeritus, kept a record of her foreign travels by painting small watercolors of places visited.

She's now collected them in "Porthole Views of the World" (Nodin Press, $29.95), and added poems by Elizabeth Weber.

Years ago, my wife and I stayed in an old Portuguese fortress on the Atlantic, Guincho. So did Stoeckeler, and here's the poem by Weber that accompanies her lovely splash of color.

'Who remembers that Portugal and Spain once divided the world in two

with Portugal claiming all Africa and Asia? You didn't

until you read your guidebook.

And you didn't know that guincho means caterwaul

Or that this three-star hotel courtyard still holds wells

With water for a whole garrison,

And where expensive plush thick carpets line stone floors

soldiers ran to their places along the walls,

where you sit down to duck foie gras wrapped in cabbage,

men complained about weevil-infested bread or maggoty stew

and when you look at the beaches, all you see is white sand,

and when you look at the ocean, all you see are surfers/coasting in on high rollers."

The Great Minnesota Fish Book," by Tom Dickson, illustrations by Joseph R. Tomelleri (University of Minnesota Press, $34.95), will make a handsome stocking stuffer for the angler in your family.

Be sure to buy a very large stocking for this weighty tome, beautifully illustrated by Tomelleri and described by Dickson, the editor of Montana Outdoors.

I was especially interested in a chapter devoted to little known Minnesota bait fish, some of them, like the incredibly beautiful 2.5-inch Northern Redbelly Dace.

Outdoor writer Ron Schara has it right when he said this book about fish resembles a well-stocked tackle box.

Northern Treasure," by Susan Davis Price, photos by John Gregor (Afton Historical Society Press, $40), is indeed a treasure.

This beautiful coffee-table book celebrates the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Horticultural Research Center's 100th birthday.

Gardening author Price says it's indeed ironic that when Horace Greeley told young men to go West, he warned them to avoid Minnesota because you couldn't grow apples there.

Wrong, Horace!

One of the arboretum's first directors was a fellow named Charles Haralson, who developed one of our favorite apples.

"Northern Treasure" is loaded with historical photos and new photographs.

Cooks in your family will enjoy browsing through "Make it Minnesotan!" edited by Patricia Miller (Nodin Press, $19.95), foreword by Sue Zellickson.

Every county in Minnesota is represented. Local cooks have been generous with their family recipes and anecdotes about eating customs from one end of the state to the other.

Dave Wood is a past vice president of the National Book Critics Circle and former book review editor of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Phone him at (715) 426-9554.