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Bookworm Gift Guide

Virginia is a popular topic, and Virginians are a productive bunch.



For Children

"Drumbeat in Our Feet" (Lee & Low Books, $16.95) weaves the history and tradition of African dance into a modern-day performance by Batoto Yetu, a New York City children's dance troupe. The text is co-written by native Richmonder Patricia Keeler and Angola native J£lio Leitao, founder of Batoto Yetu. It's alternately rich with both facts and play. Keeler's intricate illustrations conjure images of ancient power and emotion on the faces of the children as they dance.

"A Monarch's Journey" (, $19.99) by Chesterfield County kindergarten teacher Judy Nickels, follows a she-monarch and her eggs through metamorphosis, from summer in the United States to winter in Mexico. Simple rhymes laced with scientific terms and their definitions don't overshadow the stunning full-color photography of a butterfly, up close and personal.

"Sparks Fly High: The Legend of Dancing Point" (Melanie Kroupa Books, $16), as retold by Mary Quattlebaum and illustrated by Leonid Gore, is not your average book about a haughty Virginia colonel dueling with the devil in 18th-century Williamsburg. Oh no — this is a dance remix that does not end with a fully ousted devil. The ending's moral ambiguity is sure to spark the imaginations of its young readers.

Virginia Tech head football coach Frank Beamer and his wife, Cheryl, have joined forces with Mascot Books to create the newest in the "Mascot" series: "VT: Yea, It's Hokie Game Day!" ($17.95), illustrated by Miguel De Angel. Perfectly rendered for the offspring of hardcore Hokie fans, this book will make you proud to be a Virginian. Unless, of course you went to U.Va.

Food & Spirits

The newly expanded edition of "Seasoned in the South: Recipes From Crook's Corner and From Home" (Algonquin Books, $14.95) by Bill Smith, with a preface by Lee Smith, is the perfect gift for someone you plan to visit often. Smith's blend of gourmet and familiar recipes, organized by season, paint a spicy and flavorful vision of rich tastes in the South.

"Carbs & Cadavers: A Supper Club Mystery" (Midnight Ink, $12.95), by Richmonder J.B. Stanley, is a whodunit oddly peppered with nutrition labels, calorie counting and healthful recipes. While it's a quick and fun read, be careful who you share this murderous diet book with; others may get offended.

"Wine, Communism and Volcanoes: A Story of Chilean Wine" (Apprentice House, $16.95) relates Virginia resident and vineyard owner Walker Elliott Rowe's three-month stint in a Chilean winery. As much about Chile's politics as its vino, Rowe's detailed narrative weighs heavier on the side of education than intoxication.

Virginia History and Geography

"Our Virginia" (Voyageur Press, $19.95), a coffee-table book written and photographed by Pat and Chuck Blackley, offers a potent reminder of the wide range of natural beauty the state has to offer. Accompanied by minimal text, the photography captures both historical and eternal images of Virginia's rural splendor.

"Road Cycling in Central Virginia: A Guide" (University of Virginia Press, $22.95) by Sue George, founder of the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club, is a great gift for athletes with wandering fever. Replete with 62 detailed maps and valuable pointers for rides from 10 to 30 miles, this lightweight guide is instructive for both beginning and intermediate cyclists.

"Sitting on the Courthouse Bench: An Oral History of Grundy, Virginia" (Tryon Publishing Company, $32) composed of more than 40 interviews and 140 photographs, was written by Grundy high-school students and edited and assembled by Grundy native Lee Smith. Down-home and casual while deeply rooted in history and family lore, the voices issuing from this small, flood-devastated Virginia town form a literary tribute sure to endure.


"Civilized Men: A James Towne Tragedy" (The Dietz Press, $17.95) is a historical novel by Ivor No‰l Hume, the retired director of Colonial Williamsburg's Department of Archaeology. It's based on an award-winning screenplay written in 2003. Queen Elizabeth II honored Hume for his contribution to British culture in Virginia.

"New World Burning" (Two Mountains Publishing, $13.95)by Daniel Watkins is a fictional account of ruling-class rebel Nathaniel Bacon's attack on Colonial Virginia's new government in 1676. The author himself has lineage to Jamestown's original colonists.

"Jamestown's Story: Act One of the American Dream" (The Dietz Press, $15.95) by the late Parke Rouse Jr. follows Jamestown from 1607 to the modern day, through a rich array of illustrations, photographs and fast-paced text. While acting as the executive director of the Jamestown Festival, Rouse, an employee of the Jamestown Foundation for nearly 30 years, was instrumental in bringing Queen Elizabeth II to Virginia for the 350th anniversary celebration.

"Jamestown: The Buried Truth" (University of Virginia Press, $29.95), an in-depth study by the lead archaeologist of the Jamestown Rediscovery project, William Kelso, is an archaeological reconstruction of the earliest settlers. Rich with full-color photographs, Kelso's narrative pieces together the Colonial American puzzle using the 500,000 artifacts he's personally unearthed, from tobacco pipes to skeletal remains. S

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