Spring 2020 Books from Midwest Authors

a circle in the center of a collage says "books from midwest authors spring 2020" and is surrounded by cover images from (clockwise, beginning in the top left) Alice's Musical Debut, 100 Things to Do In Nebraska Before You Die, You Will Do Great Things, Detour Iowa, and bear. with me [a field journal]

Seasonally, I share new books from Midwest authors. I try to include a mix of genres, and books from big publishers, small publishers, and even self-published works. Some books I've received free review copies from the publisher or author; I will disclose whenever that is the case. Amazon links are affiliate links, which doesn't change your price, but means I get a tiny bit of Amazon's profits if you choose to buy after clicking through it. 

This unusual spring, many of us have more time than usual to read. I wish this wasn't happening this way, but I do view that as one of the silver linings! Whether you're looking for something to read your kids, or a quick escape from reality into a captivating novel, Midwest authors are ready to deliver this season! Here are a few I've had the privilege of checking out so far this spring:

The Welcome Wagon by Cori Doerrfeld

A cartoon bear with jeans, a green sweater, and red glasses looks through a telescope atop a tree fort below a title that reads "The Welcome Wagon A Cubby Hill Tale" and at the bottom of the page is the name of author Cori Doerrfeld

About the author: Cori Doerrfeld is a Minneapolis mom of two, an alum of both St. Olaf and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and a prolific illustrator of adorable books! You can find out more about Doerrfeld and even download a FREE Cubby Hill coloring sheet on her official website
Publisher: Abrams
What's it about: The Welcome Wagon is the first book in Doerrfeld's new series, Cubby Hill and features animals who have adventures together while learning about kindness and inclusivity. The book is part of a deal with Hasbro, so while no toys have been announced yet, I hope there will be some!
Our favorite part: My kids loved the adorable animal characters, and especially loved when all the animals were having an ice cream party. Bobbi Bunny was my kids' favorite character, and my son excitedly noticed that Cooper, the bear cub wears glasses like him!
A busy city scene shows the woodland creatures of Cubby Hill in the Welcome Wagon by Cori Doerrfeld

Who's it best for: Preschoolers and early elementary students. 
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of The Welcome Wagon at most major bookstores, including online from Amazon: 

100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die by Tim & Lisa Trudell

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, and I am writing a book for this series!

a red book with the title, 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die, and the authors' names, Tim and Lisa Trudell, sits on a wooden table

About the authors: Tim and Lisa Trudell are prolific writers who share their love of Nebraska and the Midwest more generally on their blog, The Walking Tourists, Lisa as a co-owner of the Midwest Travel Network, in their previous books 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die and Unique Eats and Eateries of Omaha, and in publications like Living Here Magazine: SE South Dakota and NE Nebraska. Tim's daughter Mal went to Morningside with me, so they have a special connection to the Sioux City area!
Publisher: Reedy Press
What's it about? 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die is the ultimate Nebraska bucket list and includes places to eat, drink, shop, explore, and enjoy!
inside 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die, a photo on the left shows Kool-Aid paraphernalia, while a photo on the right shows a man hammering something at the Stuhr Living History Town

Our favorite part: I loved reading about some Nebraska attractions that I have never heard of before, like the home of Kool-Aid, and reading more about iconic places on my bucket list, like Chimney Rock!
Who's it best for? Anyone who visits Nebraska and/or loves reading about travel in general. I definitely think Sioux City area readers will love adding some of these great places to their must-visit list.
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of 100 Things to Do in Nebraska Before You Die directly from Reedy Press, or from Amazon:

Detour Iowa

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes

Detour Iowa's cover features three small photos at the top, then a white section with the word Detour in green and the word Iowa in red, then another photo in the bottom third of the cover and the author's name, Mike Whye

About the author: Mike Whye is a renowned photographer and travel writer, with published books about Iowa and Nebraska, as well as shorter works appearing in local, regional, and global publications, from the Omaha World Herald to South Dakota Magazine and even National Geographic! You can find out more about Whye on his website.
Publisher: History Press
What's it about? Detour Iowa is a historical tour through our state! Whye dives deep into the history of Iowa, highlighting historical landmarks and sites that even Iowa travel afficionados and lifelong residents may not have heard of.
a page from Detour Iowa by Mike Whye features a mysterious stone from Blood Run National Historic Site in northwest Iowa

Our favorite part: I thought it was really cool that there were places in this book I have never heard of. I'm writing a Siouxland travel guide right now, and I was worried there might be a lot of overlap, but there really isn't. You definitely need both! One particular site that I found interesting but had never heard of is the Manson Impact Crater from a meteor that once fell in northwest Iowa.
Who's it best for? Anyone interested in Iowa travel and/or history!
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of Detour Iowa from Amazon:

You Will Do Great Things

a light green book cover shows a teacher with short blonde hair and black glasses and the title, You Will Do Great Things, and the name of the author, Jennifer Schmitt

About the author: Jennifer K. Schmitt is a special education consultant who lives with her husband and two daughters on a family farm near Rockford, Iowa (near Mason City.)
What's it about?  You Will Do Great Things  features kids who come to a teacher with concerns about what they perceive as their shortcomings. Examples in the book included both common personality traits like difficulty controlling a temper and physical disabilities such as hearing loss. In every case, the encouraging teacher flips it around and shows the kids how their uniqueness makes them particularly able to do great things!
Our favorite part: My kids really liked seeing all the different kids. As a mom of a kid with special needs, I really appreciated the positive, inclusive tone!
an inside page of You Will Do Great Things shows a cartoon teacher with short blonde hair, black glasses, and an artsy black vest, encouraging a child that they will do great things!

Who's it best for? Elementary age students. Would be a wonderful thing to have in a school resource room.
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of You Will Do Great Things from Amazon.

Bear. With Me.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes
a white book with a black bear sketched on front shows the title in a typewriter font, bear.with me [a field journal] and the author's name, Kyle White. the book is balanced against a tree, with rocks and pinecones scattered around.

About the author: Kyle L. White is an author and illustrator living in northern Illinois with his wife and family. He not-so-secretly pines for his home state of Wisconsin. White's other books include Neighbor As Yourself: Midwest Essays, Poems, Etcetera, "Winter is Scissors, Wisconsin River of Grace, and more. You can find out more about Kyle L. White on his website or connect with him on Instagram.
What's it about: Haikus inspired by the northern woods, accompanied by White's drawings of bears and other forest critters.
Kyle White's Bear. With Me{[a field journal} is open to a stark white page with words in a black typewriter font, sharing Haiku #8: lichen covered rocks. lake, birch, cedar , meadow, sky. kitchen, bedroom, den. The book sits on a lichen covered flagstone.

Our favorite part: I loved the book overall, but my very favorite haikus were the funny ones. This book is exactly what 2020 needs--peaceful, funny, full of hope for time outdoors.
Who's it best for? Best for teens and adults, but not inappropriate for kids. My 10 year-old didn't understand all the haikus without some guidance, but that just led to some fun poetry interpretation discussions, and I view that as a positive, not a negative. I think this would actually be a great book for teachers and homeschooling parents to source materials for a poetry unit!
Where to buy it: You can buy a copy of Bear. With Me {a field journal} from Amazon:

Alice's Musical Debut

a black girl in a green dress sits at a black grand piano playing, and the words Alice's Musical Debut appear above the image, with name of author DuEwa Frazier underneath

About the author: DuEwa Frazier is an award-winning author author of poetry and middle grade fiction books, along with short stories for all ages, and this is her first children's book! Frazier grew up in New York and St. Louis, and has an extensive resume including acting, writing, her own Ted talk, and has even been nominated for the prestigious NCAAP Image Award! You can find more information about Frazier on her website.
Publisher: Alice's Musical Debut is published by Lit Noire
What's it about: Alice's Musical Debut is about how a little girl in Detroit named Alice finds her rhythm and learns to play piano. At the end of the book, we learn that this little girl grew up to be famed musician Alice Coltrane!
Our favorite part: My kids loved seeing Alice play outside with bugs, but everyone's favorite scene was Alice and her mom snuggled together on the piano bench making music together!
a black woman in a yellow dress plays the piano and sings while her daughter watches

Who's it best for: Preschool and elementary age. Would be a wonderful read-aloud story for home, a general classroom, or for a music class!
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of Alice's Musical Debut from Amazon:

Roadside Attractions Adult Coloring Book by Tonya Prater

I am awaiting a review copy of this book which is on the way. I will update with a bit more information once it comes!

About the author: Tonya Prater is a travel blogger at Travel Inspired Living and the author of several books, including 100 Things to Do in Cleveland Before You Die and Secret Cleveland: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
What's it about: This adorable adult coloring book features quirky roadside attractions from across the country, ready to fill in with your favorite colors!
Our favorite part: Otters are my favorite animals, so I am most excited to color the giant otter from Minnesota! Will update more once the book gets here.
Who's it best for: Teens and adults, however the "adult" part refers to difficulty, not any inappropriate content, so you could definitely let younger children color it without any worries!
How to get a copy: You can buy a copy of the Roadside Attractions Adult Coloring Book from Tonya's site or from Amazon:


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