BROOKINGS – The South Dakota Humanities Council has selected the 2017 One Book South Dakota and Young Readers One Book South Dakota.

“Kitchens of the Great Midwest” by J. Ryan Stradal is the 2017 One Book South Dakota, while the Young Readers selection is “Tales from Deckawoo Drive: Books 1-3,” a bind-in of three books in a series written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. Both books will be featured in book discussions, presentations and more as a part of South Dakota Humanities Council programming.

Stradal and Van Dusen will appear at the 2017 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood and Rapid City.

The Rise of the ‘Foodie’ Culture

Food and family intertwine in “Kitchens of the Great Midwest.” From Lutheran church bake-offs to chili-pepper eating contests, this book captures the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and the ways food creates community and influences identity.

“Kitchens of the Great Midwest” centers on Eva Thorvald, born into a food-obsessed family and blessed with a uniquely sensitive palate. By turns quirky, hilarious and vividly sensory, this book tells an unexpected mother-daughter story about the bittersweet nature of life – its missed opportunities and its joyful surprises.

"All Midwesterners will find something to relate to in this book, whether it's baking bars from old family recipes or hunting for game for the next meal," said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Festival of Books. "Stradal also provides some very timely and often humorous commentary on current food trends and the disconnect between rural and urban cultures."

As South Dakotans read and discuss this novel throughout 2017, they may also be inspired to try some of the recipes included in certain chapters.

Those who wish to enhance their gatherings even further can take advantage of a Book Club Kit (http://bit.ly/KitchensGMWBookKit), prepared by Penguin Random House with the author’s input, suggesting just the right snacks, drinks, and music to create a party atmosphere.

Stradal will appear at four special dinner events throughout South Dakota – three in July and one immediately prior to the 2017 Festival of Books in Deadwood (Sept. 21-24), where he will deliver a keynote address. Watch sdhumanities.org for schedule details.

A native of Hastings, Minnesota, Stradal edits the fiction section of The Nervous Breakdown and works as an editor-at-large at Unnamed Press. He lives in Los Angeles and has worked as a TV producer, notably for the History Channel’s “Ice Road Truckers” and Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch.”

A Chance to Meet the Illustrator

Students around South Dakota will get a unique treat this year with their copies of the 2017 Young Readers One Book “Tales from Deckawoo Drive: Books 1-3” – the chance to meet illustrator Chris Van Dusen and learn more about his work.

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As part of the 2017 Young Readers Festival of Books, Van Dusen will visit third-graders in Rapid City on Sept. 21 and throughout the Northern Hills Sept. 22-23, giving drawing demonstrations and sharing his experiences of illustrating his own books and books written by others. DiCamillo, a past Young Readers Festival author, will also send a video greeting to the students.

The Young Readers bind-in will include three books: “Leroy Ninker Saddles Up,” “Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon,” and “Where Are You Going, Baby Lincoln?”

The trio of books will provide endless entertainment for young readers around the state.

Interconnected Storylines - Mercy Watson, Mr. Magee and King Hugo

"We think youth will really respond to the interconnected storylines of these three books, all of which take place in the same neighborhood and feature some of the same characters," said Widman. "We're also excited to give students a chance to meet an illustrator and see how he works, whether he's illustrating another author's books or those he's written himself. Students are going to love his drawing demonstrations."

Each of these adventurous characters first appeared in the popular Mercy Watson series, also by DiCamillo and Van Dusen, so they will be familiar to many students.

Author/illustrator Van Dusen brings humor, adventure, lively language and richly colored, kinetic illustrations to his children’s books.

Along with Mercy Watson, he has created unforgettable literary characters, including Mr. Magee (and his trusty dog, Dee) and King Hugo (the royal with the big ego).

Van Dusen has also created illustrations that have been published in magazines and books and printed on T-shirts and greeting cards. He lives in Maine with his wife, two sons and, naturally a dog.

For more details about the South Dakota Humanities Council and South Dakota Festival of Books, including the Young Readers Initiative, visit the SDHC online at http://www.sdhumanities.org/ or call (605) 688-6113.


The non-profit South Dakota Humanities Council, founded in 1972, delivers humanities programming to South Dakotans. As a steward of the state’s heritage, the Council promotes the exchange of ideas to foster a thoughtful and engaged society and the appreciation of South Dakota history, literature and the humanities. The council works through grant-making and cultural programs, including the Festival of Books and One Book South Dakota. Learn more at www.sdhumanities.org.

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