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Clicking on a book cover will search for the book in the catalog. If it is not part of our collection, you may request it by clicking on the Can't Find It link. An icon indicates if the book is chosen by a panelist as one of the year's best.

Make It, Take It
By Rus Bradburd. Cinco Puntos Press. 188 pp. $14.95.
Bradburd was a college basketball coach in the Southwest for a decade and a half before earning an MFA and switching to teaching. Putting those years of experience to literary use he provides a fast-paced tale of the dark side of college basketball recruiting and coaching, setting his tale at a small fictitious university in southern Arizona. []

Mapping Wonderlands: Illustrated Cartography of Arizona, 1912-1962
By Dori Griffin. University of Arizona Press. 218 pp. Index. $55.00.
There has been little scholarship on the methods used to package Arizona and promote it as a tourist destination in the first half of the twentieth century, but now "Mapping Wonderlands" provides an insightful look at the role cartography played in luring tourists to a little-understood state. Eye-catching illustrated maps that painted an Arizona rich in culture and natural wonders established it as a tourist mecca in the minds of the traveling public. Enhancing the state’s vacation appeal was the goal, even when it led cartographers to include a highway or two that were yet to be built, or to fudge the distance between attractions. Author Dori Griffin gives historical context to the themes employed by the mapmakers (natural landscape, man-made environment, indigenous culture) and seals her case for the importance of cartography in picturing Arizona as a vacationer’s wonderland with the inclusion of sixty-six well-explicated maps that, had they been presented in color, would have increased reader appeal, but are no less intriguing for the lack of it. This fine book has important things to say about how the way Arizona told its story in the past impacts the way Arizonans, and the rest of the world, perceive the state today. []
Mapping Wonderlands is an enjoyable “show and tell” of Arizona’s early illustrated road maps, the kind that show cartoonish Indians weaving rugs, sombreroed Mexicans sleeping under giant cactus, and pallid tourists basking in the sun or riding horses at a dude ranch. Author Dori Griffin has fun with it all as takes us on a tour of the state’s natural wonders, historic places, and growing cities. Romanticized vacations and prosperity were the messages, and these art-filled maps strived to depict “civilized places rather than empty spaces” so that outsiders would want to come here. You’ll recognize the work of artists like George Avey and Norton Allen, and you’ll marvel at the how these maps – part navigation, part invitation -- “sold” the state to travelers, tourists, and businesses. The book is important because it helps explain how Arizona got to be the Arizona we imagine it to be. []

Miera y Pacheco: A Renaissance Spaniard in Eighteenth-Century New Mexico
By John L. Kessell. University of Oklahoma Press. 232 pp. Index. $29.95.
Top Pick
Venerable Southwest scholar John Kessell brings to life one of New Mexico’s first map makers, Bernardo Miera y Pacheco, who lived in El Paso and then Santa Fe until his death in 1785. Miera was a farmer and businessman who eventually became a local official and advisor to the governor. He is best remembered for drawing state maps as early as 1749 and later accompanying and mapping the 1776 Dominguez-Escalante Expedition and Anza’s campaign in 1779. He traveled widely among the Native American nations within and bordering New Mexico. He also made religious artwork, and his family life reveals much about the lifestyles and politics of early Santa Fe and El Paso. Kessell brings him to life, and shares illustrations of Miera’s fascinating maps and art. []

Miss Illegal Alien Beauty Pageant
By Frank De La Cruz. . 124 pp. .
An over-the-top spoof of a pageant set in Tucson, Arizona, in which the narrator (who was also the announcer/moderator of the pageant) drifts verbally downward until he is finally faced with an audience that wants only to see the end. []

Moon Saw It All, The
By Nancy L. Young. Little Five Star . 39 pp. $11.95.
Top Pick
Another beautifully illustrated picture book written by Nancy L. Young and art work by Nadia Komorova. This story is set in a desert creek bed at night with all of the desert critters joining in for dancing and singing. 'Porcupines whistled with quails all abristle, roadrunners tap-danced in-between.' is one page showing us roadrunners poised to tap dance. Delightful. []

Mountain Trees of Southern Arizona: A Field Guide
By Frank S. Rose. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Press. 104 pp. Index. $19.95.
I confess to swooning over guidebooks, especially useful ones about nature. With detailed color photos and clear descriptions, this is one of the handiest tree guides imaginable. Forty-one Southwest trees are included, ranging from blue elderberry through the pines, oaks, and willows to western soapberry. This is a companion to the author’s Mountain Wildflowers of Southern Arizona, and with both books you should be able to identify almost any of the plants you see in the Sky Island mountains of southeastern Arizona or southwestern New Mexico. []

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