Italian Cooking, Arresting Butterflies, and Gutsy Girls

Whimsical illustrations, close-up photos, and inspiring stories enliven print.


Mama Tried, Traditional Italian Cooking for the Screwed, Rude, Vegan & Tattooed by Cecilia Granata (2016, Microcosm Publishing, 159 pp., $11.95)

California tattoo artist, fine art illustrator, and longtime vegan cook Cecilia Granata combines her loves in a catchy cookbook with more than 100 recipes from Italy’s varied regions and puts them aside her arresting inky illustrations. It’s a recipe book for intuitive chefs who don’t mind experimenting with eyeballing amounts and improvising with on-hand ingredients. Born in Verona, Italy, Granata presents Italian names alongside the English translations, so reader-cooks can brush up on their Italian as they whip up crochette di patate, asparagi afrodisciaci, insalata di riso, and non nutella.


My Butterfly Collection, On the Wings of the Butterfly by Stevanne Auerbach (2016, Regent Press, 176 pp., $9.95)

Just in time for spring, this book pays tribute to butterflies and includes gardening tips on how to grow milkweed and nectar plants to attract the dainty harbingers of ecological balance. Numerous photos, handsome drawings, and a list of how to say butterfly in numerous languages, from Acoma to !Xu, round out essays, poems, and news articles about butterflies with the oversized paperback culminating in a worldwide list of species that may become extinct. This collection, from a Berkeley-based publisher, will please those who marvel at the change of the humble, inching-along caterpillar into a fluttering fritillary of brightness and provide ample opportunities for reflection on the amazing creature.


The Gutsy Girl, Escapades for Your Life of Epic Adventure by Caroline Paul, illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton (2016, Bloomsbury USA, 150 pp., $12.99)

Touted as “Lean In for young girls,” this how-to book by Caroline Paul, one of San Francisco’s first female firefighters, calls on all adolescent girls to seek adventure, tossing aside all thoughts of fear, caution, and failure. Paul likes spinning tales full of havoc that morph into learning opportunities that develop guts, stick-to-it-iveness, and character. The book is full of journaling opportunities with cute, whimsical illustrations and graphics by another San Franciscan, Wendy MacNaughton, tying the stories and lessons together. Mixed throughout are snippets on sheroes like journalist Nellie Bly, swimmer Lynne Cox, and surfer Maya Gabeira.

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