Reading the North

Canyons and Ice: The Travels of Dick Griffith, By Kaylene Johnson
Heat : Adventures in the World's Fiery Places, By Bill Streever
Raven's Friends: Alaska Animals Far and Wide, Written and illustrated by Kim Sherry

Canyons and Ice: The Travels of Dick Griffith

By Kaylene Johnson (Ember Press, $24.95)

The blurb: The author recounts the adventures of Anchorage resident Dick Griffith, whose journeys have led him on far-flung and sometimes dangerous adventures across Alaska, Canada, Mexico and the American West.

Excerpt: "In a secret crease of landscape between the town of Girdwood and Eagle River valley sits a small cabin, tucked away off the trail of even the nearest backcountry path. Deep in the Chugach Mountains, the Raven Cabin was a sanctuary that drew Dick back again and again for the sustenance of wild untamed places.

"In autumn of 1959, after his walk through the Brooks Range to Anaktuvuk Pass, Dick decided to return to school for a degree in Civil Engineering from Marquette University. He and Isabelle and the kids moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and lived with Isabelle's mother until they bought a house. It was not the happiest time, being with a mother-in-law who had always considered Dick a ne'er-do-well.

" 'She was right about that,' Dick likes to say."

Heat : Adventures in the World's Fiery Places

By Bill Streever (Little, Brown and Company, $26.99)

The blurb: Alaska author Bill Streever follows his best-selling book "Cold" with this exploration of what heat really means, from sweating it out in Death Valley to the chemistry of cooking to the Big Bang.

Excerpt: "Heat, from a human perspective, is more than just a matter of high temperatures in the shade. Two doctors working in the 1950s watched marines in the heat and humidity of Paris Island, North Carolina. They wrote of 'disabling heat' at temperatures in the eighties. Young marines wore fatigues, helmets, cartridge belts, bayonets in scabbards, and boots. They carried full canteens, rifles, entrenching tools, and twenty-two-pound packs. Marching in the sun, running in the sun, low-crawling in the sun, digging foxholes in the sun, they complained of cramps and exhaustion. Young marines occasionally collapsed.

"The doctors saw that temperature alone could not predict heatstroke and heat exhaustion as well as what became known as the Wet bulb Globe Temperature."

Raven's Friends: Alaska Animals Far and Wide

Written and illustrated by Kim Sherry (Aunt Phil's Trunk, $9.95)

The blurb: In this children's book, a Camai the raven introduces kids to the different animals one can find all over Alaska.

Excerpt: "Alaska is huge, with much land to cover,

"so here is the plan: You read, I will hover.

"Chase my dark shadow and learn a fact or two,

"Animals are special for me and for you.

"Most folks never meet the burly polar bear,

"he is well known for his webbed paws and white hair.

"On Arctic ice sheets he is happy to roam,

"he finds this harsh habitat a comfy home."

Compiled by Matt Sullivan, Anchorage Daily News