Irv Korman begins his storybook “The Legend of Hanukkah Harry” with a look at growing up as a Jewish boy in Akron in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Jewish population of the city was less than 2 percent. He doesn’t mention any specific intolerance other than having to make Christmas ornaments in school and bantering with his friends about Santa.

Korman then reveals how he learned about Harry: As a teen attending Beth-El Congregation, he spoke to an old man named Nachum at the social hour after Shabbat. Nachum beckoned young Irv to his table and told the story.

Harry, a camel salesman, lives in an ancient oasis town called Aridez. He spends most of his free time chatting with his friends in front of the camel herders’ union lodge while his wife, Polly Esther, makes fancy hats, using Harry’s camels as models.

One day Harry’s friends complain that the union hall is full of toys they must get rid of. The camel drivers pass the time on their routes making toys out of things they find along the way. Harry’s assistants tell him the camels keep escaping from their corral.

Harry later notices a group of children following one of his hat-modeling camels; one of the children tells him they have nothing else to do. Can a little divine inspiration and some delicious matzo ball soup help Harry solve three problems?

The clever punnish character names might need a little explaining for younger readers.

“The Legend of Hanukkah Harry” (32 pages, softcover) costs $12.99 from online retailers. Irv Korman also is the author of “A Citytown Christmas Conundrum.” The bright illustrations are by Chloe Corbett. Hanukkah begins at sunset Sunday.

 

'The Devil's Wind'

It’s not easy to get out of the pirate business. In “The Bloody Black Flag,” Book One in the excellent pirate mystery series by Steve Goble, “Spider” John Rush was working happily as a carpenter on a merchant ship when it was beset by buccaneers and sunk. He and his friend were taken aboard the pirate vessel and pressed into service, and Ezra was murdered. Though the death was made to look like an accident, Spider was able to solve the crime.

Now in Book Two, “The Devil’s Wind,” Spider, his protégé Hob and another man, Odin, are laying low in Port Royal, Jamaica, waiting for their new ship to set sail and hoping to go unrecognized as the pirates who had escaped from their Royal Navy captors. Their new captain is a serious, steady widower who won’t tolerate anyone teasing the ship’s cat, let alone leering at his comely daughter.

Spider and his friends are nervous aboard because of the presence of Sam Smoke, a notoriously vicious pirate; they can’t identify him without outing themselves as former pirates. When the captain is found dead from a gunshot wound inside his locked cabin, with a note reading only “I’m sorry” beside him, it is accepted as a suicide caused by grief, but Spider believes otherwise, as does the captain’s daughter.

Just like its predecessor, “Wind” is full of realistic seafaring scenes, false suspects and vivid language. The savage real-life pirates Ned Low and Anne McCormac (later Bonny) figure in the plot.

“The Devil’s Wind” (251 pages, softcover) costs $15.95 from Seventh Street Books, an imprint of Prometheus. Steve Goble is a former journalist; he lives in Jeromesville in Ashland County.

 

Garfield biography

The name of Horatio Alger Jr. is inseparable from the “rags to riches” story, in which an impoverished but plucky individual rises to prominence through resolve and hard work. Moreland Hills native James A. Garfield is an ideal example of the theme, and the University of Akron Press has reissued Alger’s 1881 biography “From Canal Boy to President: The Boyhood and Manhood of James A. Garfield.”

Alger includes the facts of Garfield’s impoverished childhood, hard-fought education, election to state senator, Civil War service and brief presidential administration. He eulogizes Garfield after his death but passes over the actual assassination and agonizing decline.

Garfield was such a remarkable person that there was no need to invent details of his life, but Alger makes up conversations and feels it necessary to report that an incident from Garfield’s teaching days was based on an actual event. It makes the reader wonder which incidents were fabricated.

“From Canal Boy to President” (263 pages, softcover) costs $16 from the University of Akron Press.

 

Events

Barnes & Noble (7900 Mentor Ave., Mentor): Michael J. Jordan signs “The Company of Demons,” a novel about the return of Cleveland’s “Torso Killer,” 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday; Michael Eging and Steve Arnold sign “The Silver Horn Echoes,” 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday; Caitlin Ambrose signs her children’s book “Happy Tails: To the Beach!,” 6 to 8 p.m. Friday; Donald Templeman signs his science-fiction books including his latest, “Crilen and the War of False Prophets,” 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Children’s author Lindsay Bonilla joins Story Time with her new book “Polar Bear Island,” 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday; Hudson resident Jim Van Keuren talks about “World War II POW Camps in Ohio,” about German and Italian prisoners at Camp Perry and other places in Ohio, 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Barnes & Noble (28801 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere): Cuyahoga Community College professor Clara Jean Mosley signs “Paris in America: A Deaf Nanticote Shoemaker and His Daughter,” about growing up with her Native American father in an African-American Delaware community, 2 p.m. Sunday; Terry Pluto talks about “The Browns Blues: Two Decades of Utter Frustration: Why Everything Kept Going Wrong for the Cleveland Browns,” 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Market Garden Brewery (1947 W. 25th St., Cleveland): Cleveland native Teri Ellen Cross Davis, author of “Haint,” winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Prize for Poetry, joins the Brews + Prose reading series, along with poets Johnny Cook and Eric Odum, 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Barnes & Noble (4015 Medina Road, Bath): Chris Smith talks about and signs his picture book “Hoopsmiths,” which he wrote with his brother, former New York Knicks teammate and former Cavaliers player J.R. Smith, 3 p.m. Sunday.

Stark County Public Library (Lake Community branch, 565 Market Ave. SW): Julie Ann Lindsey, author of romantic mysteries including “A Geek Girl’s Guide to Murder” and the Kitty Couture series, conducts a writing workshop, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Kent State University Bookstore (1075 Risman Drive): Terry Pluto signs “The Browns Blues,” noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Barnes & Noble (198 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake): Terry Pluto signs “The Browns Blues,” 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Mitchell’s Tavern (24282 Center Ridge Road, Westlake): Dan Coughlin signs “Just One More Story: A Last Batch of Stories about the Most Unusual, Eccentric and Outlandish People I’ve Known in Five Decades as a Sports Journalist,” 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Public Library of Youngstown & Mahoning County (Poland branch, 311 S. Main St.): A Local Author Fair will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

Trade Winds Lounge (319 E. 200th St., Euclid): Dan Coughlin signs “Just One More Story,” 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday.

Cuyahoga County Public Library (Southeast branch, 70 Columbus Road, Bedford): Laura DeMarco signs her pictorial history “Lost Cleveland,” 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Register at 440-439-4997.

Barnes & Noble (381 Boardman-Poland Road, Youngstown): Roslyn Torella signs “Lowellville, Ohio: Murder, Mayhem and More,” about the Mahoning County town from the 1850s to the 1920s, 11 a.m. Saturday.

Winking Lizard Tavern (25380 Miles Road, Bedford): Terry Pluto addresses the Wahoo Club Holiday Luncheon and signs “The Browns Blues,” 11 to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Other guests include Len Barker and Joe Charboneau. Open to all; the cost is $45. Call 440-724-8350 for information.

Gunselman’s Tavern (21490 Lorain Road, Fairview Park): Dan Coughlin signs “Just One More Story,” 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Books-a-Million (6751 Strip Ave. NW, Jackson Township): Terry Pluto signs “The Browns Blues,” 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Hudson Library & Historical Society (96 Library St.): Advance notice to register for Sheila Tate, press secretary to former first lady Nancy Reagan, who will talk about her book “Lady in Red: An Intimate Portrait of Nancy Reagan,” at 7 p.m. Dec. 10. Call 330-653-6658.

 

Send information about books of local interest to Lynne Sherwin, Features Department, Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309 or lsherwin@thebeaconjournal.com. Event notices should be sent at least two weeks in advance.