Reading the North

Arctic Aesop's Fables: Twelve Retold Tales

By Susi Gregg Fowler, Illustrations by Jim Fowler (Sasquatch Books, $10.99)

The blurb: The old tales of Aesop are given new life in this colorful picture book, telling old fables such as "The Lion and the Hare" and "The Fox and the Crow," but with an Alaskan twist.

Excerpt: "A wolf, wandering alone on the tundra, was feeling a little hungry when his keen nose told him there was food nearby. Following the scent, he found a nice, meaty bone. Perhaps a bear had left it behind, but 'finders, keepers' is the rule of the wild, and the wolf was grateful for something to fill his belly. A cozy hollow among the grassy tussocks on the other side of the river would be just the right place to enjoy his meal.

"As he leaped from rock to rock across the river, the wolf glanced down. There, looking up at him, was another wolf -- and that wolf had a bone, too. It looked as if the other wolf's bone had more meat on it than his. Outrageous! He was determined to get that bone for himself."

The Boreal Herbal: Wild Food and Medicine Plants of the North

By Beverley Gray (Aroma Borealis Press, $44.95)

The blurb: In this massive source book filled with pictures and information, Beverly Gray talks about dozens of types of plants that one can expect to run into in the boreal forest, telling where they may be hidden and how to cook them for consumption.

Excerpt: "Nature Heals! This is my intrinsic belief. It's why I wrote this book and it's why I live in the northern boreal forest with my family. Every day I am grateful for what nature provides us: shelter, heat, food, medicine, clean air, water, and energy.

"Up North the summer months are intense. The profusion of light and warmth brings food and medicine in abundance. Nutritious and healing plants can be enjoyed, gathered, and preserved throughout the season for use during our long, dark, and cold winters."

Alaska and the Airplane: A Century of Flight

By Julie Decker and Jeremy Kinney (Braun Publishing, $24.95)

The blurb: This book takes a look at the history of flight in Alaska, since its beginning as far back as 1913 to now. With dozens of photos, the story is told of how the airplane has helped the inhabitants of Alaska, especially when it was their only means of contact with the rest of the world.

Excerpt: "In July 1913, a group of local merchants was awaiting delivery of a large crate that had been shipped from Seattle to Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, then best known for marking the midpoint in all directions of the Territory. The crate had traveled from Seattle to Skagway by ocean steamer, then from Skagway to Whitehorse via steamboat, and finally from Whitehorse to Fairbanks aboard another steamboat navigating Alaska's Chena River. The sender of the package was a couple: James V. and Lilly Martin.

"James Vernon Martin (1885-1956) was a Harvard-educated aviator and inventor who had served with the Merchant Marine and who in 1910 had organized the first international air meet in the United States. His wife Lilly was England's first woman aviator. James and Lilly were on the aviation demonstration circuit and their well-traveled crate contained an airplane."

Compiled by Chad Walker, Anchorage Daily News