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Book Bag


By Greg Ruth

Graphix/Scholastic Inc.


Illustrator and artist Greg Ruth, who lives in Cummington, has written and drawn numerous children’s books, comics and graphic novels, including “Our Enduring Spirit,” a children’s book that combines his illustrations with the speech President Obama made at his historic inauguration in January 2009.

In the graphic novel “The Lost Boy,” recently published by a division of Scholastic Press, Ruth has fashioned a dark tale about a young boy, Nate, who’s not looking forward to moving to a new town with his family. On top of that, the house the family moves into has some strange secrets: Under the floorboards of his bedroom, Nate discovers a tape recorder and note addressed to him, and he’s soon caught up in a mystery about another boy who vanished without a trace from the town decades ago.

Before long, a host of bizarre creatures — a talking doll, insects riding on dogs, and ominous, lifelike trees — are watching Nate, and his next-door neighbor, a sarcastic girl named Tabitha, is warning him about dangerous woodland spirits that may have targeted him. The two must team up to unlock a mystery that threatens to overwhelm them and the town.

Ruth uses black-and-white drawings to give “The Lost Boy” a suitably dark look, though he also gives Nate and Tabitha enough snarky lines to keep the tone of the story from becoming too melodramatic. “If we’re done hugging the murderous villain and all, I’d like to know how we get home,” Tabitha says at one point during their adventures.

“The Lost Boy,” written for middle-school readers, is the first in a series of graphic novels Ruth has planned that will involve the same characters. He is also working on the art for “Indeh,” a graphic novel series written by actor Ethan Hawke that will examine the lives of legendary Apache warriors Geronimo and Naiche.


By Enid Keil Sichel

Levellers Press

Physicist and oceanographer Enid Sichel, a Smith College graduate, has written numerous technical publications and also holds seven U.S. patents. Now Sichel, who has worked in industry, government and academia and splits her time between Hadley and Woods Hole, on Cape Cod, offers a memoir of sorts about her varied career.

“The Physicist’s Cat,” by Levellers Press of Amherst, is less a traditional memoir than a series of vignettes — short takes on amusing but often telling moments from Sichel’s life, or droll observations of changes she’s witnessed, anything from her time as a rare female graduate student in science in the 1960s to wild creatures that have lived in or around her home.

In “Signal to Noise,” for instance, Sichel notes some of the odd social and behavioral changes cell phones have brought about: “Other behaviors, much less charming, include people walking around alone with an invisible hands-free phone, talking and gesticulating. It was once a sign of psychosis. More peculiar by half is the sight of two people walking companionably together but each talking into a cell phone to other people. Or at least I hope it is to other people.”

The title of the book comes from a thought experiment conducted by physicist Erwin Schrödinger. He was thinking about quantum states, represented by a live cat and a dead one, and illustrating how the act of measuring a quantum state affects the outcome of an experiment. The titles of the book’s stories are topics in physics — “Attraction and Repulsion,” “Inelastic Collisions” — that, to physicists, are jokes about the subjects of the stories.

And though a number of cats figure in Sichel’s book, she’s never owned one herself.

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