Nonfiction on Parenthood, Growing More Vegetables, and Hip-Hop Artist Gucci Mane | Xpress Reviews

Week ending September 8, 2017

Copaken, Deborah & Randy Polumbo. The ABCs of Parenthood: An Alphabet of Parenting Advice. Chronicle. Aug. 2017. 64p. photos. ISBN 9781452152905. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452152905. CHILD REARING
In this gift book by author/screenwriter Copaken and photographer Polumbo, readers are treated to snippets of parenting wisdom in an A–Z format. Of course, “X is for X-ray” (“Accidents will happen. It’s inevitable.”). But there are surprising little gems, too, such as “C is for Cucumber,” which reminds us that “Once a pickle, never a cucumber again,” thus to treasure the fleeting beauty of infancy. Boasting a rich palette of colored pages and exquisite photos, not just of babies but of saxophones, ice cream, birds, and more, this would be a lovely baby shower gift.
Verdict Guaranteed to make any expectant mother weep; not a requirement for libraries.—Julianne Smith, Ypsilanti Dist. Lib., MI

Jeavons, John. How To Grow More Vegetables (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land with Less Water Than You Can Imagine. 9th ed. Ten Speed. Jul. 2017. 264p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780399579189. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9780399579196. GARDENING
More than 40 years ago, Jeavons (director, Ecology Action) began championing the benefits of a high-yielding, resource-conserving approach to growing vegetables, fruits, and other types of produce. His methods have been adopted by small farmers and gardeners around the globe, and now a new generation of growers can reap the benefits of his wisdom. The ninth edition of How To Grow provides the information needed to turn any plot of land into a source of high-quality, high-quantity produce through such means as deep soil preparation, companion planting, and ecoenvironmental methods of dealing with insects and weeds. Jeavons’s book is the complete antithesis of the kind of glossy gardening companions that promise quick-fix solutions to any landscape problem. Instead, it is a serious, thoughtful, and thought-provoking guide that will richly reward home gardeners and small farmers committed to implementing the techniques advocated.
Verdict For a more productive garden that ultimately will lead to a more healthy environment for us all.—John Charles, formerly with Scottsdale P.L., AZ

Mane, Gucci with Neil Martinez-Belkin. The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. S. & S. Sept. 2017. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9781501165320. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501165337. MUSIC
Hip-hop artist Radric Davis, aka Gucci Mane, was born in Alabama and raised under less than optimal conditions in Atlanta. He culled traits from his alcoholic father and lessons learned from dealing drugs during the height of the crack epidemic, parlaying these experiences into a platinum-selling music career. Known as the Godfather of Trap Music (a subgenre of Southern rap characterized by gritty lyrical content, 808 bass, and synthesizer-heavy beats), he is responsible for some of today’s most well-known artists, including Waka Flaka Flame, Migos, and Young Thug. Hampered by poor decision-making, a fractured family, and personal and professional relationships fueled by an addiction to prescription cough syrup, Gucci Mane’s career has been a roller coaster of resounding successes and failures all detailed in this self-aware autobiography. The title, written with former XXL Magazine music editor Martinez-Belkin, chronicles Mane’s disputes with other Southern rappers, stints in rehab, court cases, and incarcerations. Many in the performer’s inner circle believe his erratic behavior goes beyond addiction to undiagnosed bipolar disorder, but he attributes his issues to post-traumatic stress disorder from his environment and upbringing.
Verdict Accessible and conversational in tone, this book juxtaposes Gucci’s genius and self-destructive tendencies in a way that will elicit responses from ire to empathy. Recommended for rap music scholars and fans of Gucci Mane and trap music.—Tamela Chambers, Chicago Pub. Schs.


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