Tome for the Holidays

If you are looking for some Minnesota travel-inspired stocking stuffers this year, you may not need to look any farther than the Minnesota Historical Society Press. This fall, the press announced three new books that inspire readers to enjoy the great outdoors.

Minnesota’s own Eric Sevareid made a name for himself as a radio and television journalist during his nearly four decades in broadcasting at CBS News. Early in his career, Sevareid worked closely with Edward R. Murrow during World War II and became one of the “Murrow’s boys.” Over the years, he covered the events of the day as a foreign correspondent in France and England before returning home to become the Washington bureau chief. Yet long before he began his work on national television, Sevareid launched his journalism career by recounting his adventures during a 2,250-mile canoe trip he took with his fellow traveler, Walter C. Port, in 1930.

Just days after graduating from high school in 1930, Sevareid and his friend launched their secondhand 18-foot canvas canoe into the waters of the Minnesota River at Fort Snelling, beginning an ambitious summer-long journey from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay. The Minneapolis Star sponsored the trip, and the budding journalist shared his adventures with the newspaper, which eventually were published in 1935 in book form, Canoeing with the Cree. This classic adventure has remained in print, inspiring wilderness enthusiasts and armchair travelers alike for nearly eight decades. The Minnesota Historical Society is reissuing the classic in a limited collector’s edition, which includes the newly designed book with a forward written by Ann Bancroft, a multipurpose tin, and a colorful art quality map annotated by Ann Raiho, who along with Natalie Warren were the first women to replicate Sevareid and Port’s route in 2011.

A grandpa introduces his grandchild to the joys of ice fishing in a cozy ice shack in the Minnesota Historical Society’s recently released picture book, One Frozen Lake. It might seem like simple hours of fishing on the surface, but as this book by Deborah Jo Larson shows, this unique northern pastime holds special magic for a child. Expertly illustrated by award-winning artists Steve Johnson and Lou Fisher, the children’s book shows how entire ice towns sprout up on the frozen lake, how eye-catching lures can dance on the end of a line, and how a Minnesota tradition can get passed down from one generation to the next.

And finally, the historical society also recently published a playful, yet practical, guide for the budding outdoors adventure: The Minnesota Book of Skills: Your Guide to Smoking Whitefish, Sauna Etiquette, Tick Extraction, and More. I think that wonderful title alone gets at the Minnesota travel experience quite well. I didn’t quite realize it until I read some excerpts from the book, but Minnesotans are a skilled bunch, who are eager to share their knowledge. Learn how to select the right fish bait, pick wild rice or tastefully displace your taxidermy. Its light-hearted nature makes this book an appealing gift—especially when learning such Minnesota-specific skills as creating seed art, or baking a Bundt cake.

Meet the Minnesota Book of Skills author, Chris Niskanen:

Valley Bookseller, Stillwater
December 1, Noon

St. Olaf Bookstore, Northfield
December 1, 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Minnesota History Center Bookstore, St. Paul
December 9, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.