Bradley Trumpfheller’s new collection of poetry, “Reconstructions” (Sibling Rivalry) glistens with spit and starlight, and settles deep with a fertile, mulchy earthiness. The poems root themselves in blood (cousins, an uncle, grandmothers, a mother, a father), in the body (knees and arched backs and eye sockets), and the natural world (wolf’s bane, nightjars, kudzu, bougainvillea). Words like “daughter” and “wife” become verbs in this sensual exploration. Their lines live at the place between waking and dream, a realm not everyone can pull off in language; but when Trumpfheller writes “All my cousins slow-dancing / in their cowboy boots & antlers” and “you husked and yesterdayed” and “everything smells like wings,” somehow we know exactly what they mean. The poems hold the sinister and sublime, provoke small gasps from the unexpected and exactly right: “I put a third moon in the poem / to have enough dead light to dig by." And a stirring litany of blessings includes this: “Bless my tongue wrapped around another boy’s name while he chokes me into my ancestry.” Sonically, imagistically, Trumpfheller – who works at the Brookline Booksmith and co-edits the website Divedapper – bewitches and thrills. They will read and discuss the book at Brookline Booksmith on Friday at 7 p.m.
“For Kids of All Ages” (Rowman & Littlefield) is a collection of reviews, recollections, and responses to children’s movies from members of the National Society of Film Critics, edited by former Boston Phoenix film critic and regular Globe contributor Peter Keough. It’s to be read not as a guidebook for parents for what films to feed kids, but a primer on “how to watch a movie critically.” Taken as a whole, the collection of short critical essays celebrates the “awe, terror, wonder, grief, desire, hope, as well as love” that can vicariously enter our lives through movies, as Keough puts it in his introduction. The films discussed range from classics like “Old Yeller” and “The Wizard of Oz,” to “Clueless,” “Shrek,” “Three Amigos,” “Boyhood,” the Toy Story franchise, Paddingtons 1 and 2, and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” among many others, from the obvious kid-geared, to the boundary-pushing, to films – like Pixar’s “Up” – that moves kids and grown-ups both. There are forays into deformity, monstrosity, heroes, animation, the dreamy and nightmarish, and more. The book is savvy, enthusiastic, and intelligent, with deep heart and humor, stirring our own starry-eyed recollections of those first moments of being transfixed and transported by movie magic. Keough and Gerald Peary will discuss the book at the Boston Public Library on Monday, February 24 at 6 p.m.
Based on a passage in the Talmud regarding mice bringing breadcrumbs into the house before Passover, when all leavened food must be removed, “The Passover Mouse” (Doubleday) a debut children’s book by Acton-based writer and artist Joy Nelkin Wieder and illustrated by Shahar Kober, tells the story of a mischievous mouse who wreaks havoc on a village’s Passover preparations. In a spirited telling of the tale, and with lively, expressive illustrations, Wieder and Kober create a story of concord and community rising out of discord and chaos as the little mouse throws Seder prep into upheaval, and as the people come together to figure out how to go on. The book mixes facts about the holiday with the feel of folklore, and is a playful celebration of generosity. Wieder will read and discuss the book at the Concord Bookshop on Sunday at 3 p.m.
“The Force of Non-Violence” by Judith Butler (Verso)
“The Cactus League” by Emily Nemens (FSG)
“A Map Is Only One Story: Twenty Writers on Immigration, Family, and the Meaning of Home” edited by Nicole Chung and Mensah Demary (Catapult)
Pick of the Week
Don Luckham at Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, New Hampshire, recommends “Rat Rule 79” by Rivka Galchen, illustrated by Elena Megalos (Restless): “The story of a girl on the day before her 13th birthday who must search for her mother in a strange, comical, and worrisome land. She meets many dear and dangerous characters in her search and must find ways through the obstacles of a world that at first make little sense. A coming of age story and a story about feeling the weight of change.”