Top Picks: Steven Satterfield's cookbook 'Root to Leaf,' Mark Knopfler's album 'Tracker,' and more

The animated film 'Song of the Sea' will please all ages, the documentary '180 Days: Hartsville' looks at one city that's doing something right when it comes to education, and more top picks.

Harperwave
Cartoon Saloon
Glitterbeat

High-water Mark

Mark Knopfler offers the gruff with the smooth. On Tracker, the songwriter performs 11 roots songs with a burred voice and a buttery guitar sound so recognizable you could pick it out in a blindfold test. Lovely melodies such as “Long Cool Girl,” “Broken Bones,” and “Basil” are too languid for Knopfler to require the sweatband he famously wore when performing as a member of Dire Straits. Yet these affecting tales about a newspaper copy boy, a boxer, and an overlooked novelist exemplify his masterly songwriting craft. 

Get ready for spring greens

Root to Leaf, by Southern chef Steven Satterfield, is a leafy response to the nose-to-tail food movement. At his Atlanta restaurant Miller Union, Satterfield has developed a keen sense of how best to fully use in-season produce, whether it is appreciating the cleansing bitterness of dandelion greens or munching on edible blossoms. There are plenty of familiar staples here, too, in this vegetable-first cookbook. 

Against the odds

The 2013 documentary “180 Days” followed a Washington, D.C., high school over one school year. Now, codirectors Jacquie Jones and Garland McLaurin present 180 Days: Hartsville, which highlights one city that’s doing something right. Hartsville, S.C., is achieving a 92 percent high school graduation rate despite the fact that more than half the students are from low-income families. It premières on PBS on March 17 at 8 p.m.

Joy and release

If bluesman John Lee Hooker had been raised in Mali, he might have made music like this. Gandadiko, by Malian singer/guitarist Samba Touré, is hypnotic, soulful, groovy, and captivating. These 10 songs are more upbeat than his previous album “Albala,” reportedly recorded while radical Islamists punished any musicmaking in his village with public stoning. “Gandadiko” is the sound of joy and release.

Magical animation

Song of the Sea, an Irish animated film inspired by the stories of selkies (magical Celtic creatures), centers on two siblings who embark on a journey and are guided by a magical shell flute that belonged to their mother. A great wash of transcendent imagery floods the screen. It’s easily one of the best children’s films for all ages that’s ever been created. The movie will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 17.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.