Tiptoe Joe by Ginger Foglesong Gibson, illustrations by Laura Rankin; Greenwillow Books ($17.99)
A friendly bear wants to share his secret with other creatures of the woodland, in this charming cumulative tale, a perfect bedtime read for little ones and a nice choice for a new dad on Father’s Day. The simple rhyming text is accompanied by the charming artwork of former Buffalo News illustrator Laura Rankin, who offers woodland creatures brimming with personality, from Joe in his red sneakers, to a rabbit in yellow vest, a moose in spectacles, a beaver in a purple hat, a turkey with polka dot bowtie and an owl wearing beads. Although the publisher’s target age bracket is 4 to 8, this seems like a lovely book for parents to read aloud to much younger children.
– Jean Westmoore
By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There by Tom Sizemore, with Anna David; Atria Books, 240 pages ($26)
The cover photo of Tom Sizemore’s autobiography, “By Some Miracle I Made It Out of There,” is a perfect introduction for what’s to come.
The actor stands looking up at the camera, instantly recognizable because of his work portraying tough-guy characters in such memorable 1990s films as “Saving Private Ryan,” ‘’Heat” and “Natural Born Killers.” His face, though, looks worn, and his eyes are those of a man who’s been to hell and back. And that’s exactly what his book details – Sizemore’s ascent to the height of cinema, working for the Steven Spielbergs and with the Robert De Niros of the world — and his drug-fueled descent that left him imprisoned and out of options.
“By Some Miracle” – the title is taken from a line uttered by his “Saving Private Ryan” character, Sgt. Mike Horvath – is a painfully honest look at a man, who, by his own admission, had become a “spoiled movie star” and an “arrogant fool” who at his lowest point was “a hope-to-die addict.”
Sizemore recounts his friendships with Hollywood’s elite – Sean Penn, Robert Downey Jr. and De Niro among them – and his dalliances with actresses Edie Falco, Elizabeth Hurley and Juliette Lewis. It was during Sizemore’s tabloid romance with former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss that his life truly fell apart. He was convicted in 2003 of harassing, annoying and physically abusing Fleiss.
Readers interested in a behind-the-scenes look at Hollywood’s machinations will love Sizemore’s book, but it’s not for everyone. It’s written in a plain, sometimes coarse prose befitting some of the hard-boiled characters Sizemore brought to life on screen. And the subject matter can at times be difficult to stomach – sex tapes, copious amounts of drug taking, etc.
– Mike Householder, Associated Press
In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist by Pete Jordan; Harper Perennial, 448 pages ($15.99)
Pete Jordan, a native Californian, went to Amsterdam several years ago on a biking pilgrimage. He’s still there. And his new book, “In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist,” is a funny, engaging and exhaustively researched tribute to Amsterdam’s unique biking history. But more than that, “In the City of Bikes” is a portrait of one man’s obsession.
To live in biking heaven, Jordan, the author of the memoir “Dishwasher,” takes a series of menial jobs in Amsterdam. He studies Dutch and rides from one end of Amsterdam to the other, day and night. When the locals ask him why he, an educated American, is scrubbing floors in Holland, he revels in giving this cryptic answer: “So I can be stuck in a bicycle traffic jam at midnight.”
The Dutch don’t quite get Jordan. Bikes are just part of who they are. “To them, bicycles were as a natural as air or water – and hardly anything special,” he writes. But Jordan has always thought bikes were special. He begins his book by telling us, briefly, about his San Francisco childhood, and a rite of passage many a Californian will find familiar: the acquisition of his first, prized bike, a “puke-green” affair from a toy store that bears the name “Dill Pickle.”
In adulthood, Jordan’s love of bikes only grows. Sadly, most Americans don’t share his fixation.
Not everything about the Dutch bike scene is rosy. He learns the swear words bikers shout at one another. Paying the bike tax is a pain. He discovers there’s a brisk trade in stolen bikes.
None of this deters Jordan’s rampant cyclophilia. He can’t find many books about Dutch biking history, so he starts to research the subject himself. Most of the nearly 400 pages of “In the City of Bikes,” in fact, concern themselves with a breezy, highly detailed account of the origins and history of Dutch bicycle culture..
– Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times