Week ending June 20, 2014
Galimberti, Gabriele. Toy Stories: Photos of Children from Around the World and Their Favorite Things. Abrams. 2014. 108p. ISBN 9781419711749. $24.95. PHOTOG
Documentary photographer Galimberti’s approach to children and play leans heavily on the idea that forcing small children to dress up and pose statically behind an obsessively arranged array of small plastic toys will give us meaningful insight into their minds. No child is playing with any of the objects in this volume, although a few are clutching things as props. Five-year-old Henry from Berkeley stares straight at the camera, hands in pockets, obviously aggravated by the whole ordeal. Readers aren’t told who selected the specific toys pictured or who arranged them. The photos reek of fashion layouts and display none of the empathy shown by numerous 20th-century photographers who depicted children absorbed in street play. Every toy present is a manufactured item; none are made of natural materials or found objects. The single exception to this rule is the depiction of Ernesto, a hulking three-year-old who has battered coffee cans into submission with his quartet of slingshots and a lethal array of stones. His dead-level gaze and turned-down mouth bode ill for those who have made him spend the day indoors.
Verdict Despite the title, this book is not about children or toys; it is a cataloging of objects and owners without a great deal of insight into the relations between the two.—David McClelland, Andover, NY
Sonderman, Joe. Postcards from Route 66: The Ultimate Collection from America’s Main Street. Voyageur. 2014. 304p. illus. index. ISBN 9780760346112. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781627882019. TRAV
Here is a visual record, in postcard format, of the amenities on offer to travelers on this historic highway, which begins in Chicago and winds its way west through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, ending in California. In Missouri, it is noted that the Bridge Head Inn later became an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) headquarters owing to dioxin contamination in the area. Kansas had only 13.2 miles of Route 66, but the area is said to be haunted by “Spook Light.” Oklahoma boasted an attraction with a supposedly tame buffalo that later killed its owner/trainer. In Texas, a restaurant offered free dinner to anyone who could consume a 72-ounce steak in one sitting. Arizona was home to the Geronimo Trading Post and the longest stretch (162 miles) of Route 66. Wigwam-style motels dotted the entire route, though few remain. Most postcard reproductions are in color, dating from the 1920s to 1960s, and include a brief history of the subject portrayed. Cities along the route are indexed for easy reference.
Verdict The book is a curiosity, in the shape of a gigantic postcard, and is a hefty one-inch thick. Of interest to fans of America’s historical highways.—Janet N. Ross, formerly with Washoe Cty. Lib. Syst., Sparks, NV
Tate, Debra. Sharon Tate: Recollection. Running Pr. Jun. 2014. 272p. photos. ISBN 9780762452347. $30. FILM
Tate offers a lovingly crafted biography of her sister, the late actress and fashion icon Sharon Tate. Appropriately, she provides a photobiography, with several pages of her reminiscences and quotes from Hollywood notables interspersed among the color images. The author starts with Tate’s childhood as a mobile army brat, continues with her first forays into acting on such television sitcoms as The Beverly Hillbillies, and focuses on her film appearances, most especially her starring role in Valley of the Dolls (1967). She also covers Tate’s marriage to director Roman Polanski. The large-format book includes many never-before-seen photos and presents a story of a self-effacing, shy, caring person who radiated inner as well as outer beauty.
Verdict The author delivers a well-done, intimate photo-bio of a budding star that will make readers both angry and sad about Sharon Tate’s premature death at the brutal hands of the Manson clan in 1969. Recommended for general readers.—David P. Szatmary, Univ. of Washington, Seattle