There is no rhyme or reason or rules about my list here. It’s just folks I know and folks I like who are here on the Shore and in Southern Delaware and who do what I consider first-rate work. If you know folks who fall into that category, give them a plug in the comments!
• The great photographer Dave Harp is partnering again with writer Tom Horton. Their latest, “Choptank Odyssey: Celebrating a Great Chesapeake River” is not quite ready yet, but preorders are being accepted at that link. Also, here is where you can find other books featuring Dave’s pictures. (Disclosure: Dave is a friend.)
• The amazing Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson are a husband-and-wife team in Chestertown. He writes, she draws. The children’s stuff they do as Bobbledy Books is outstanding–you can shop for individual books here, but you will likely make a bigger splash by giving a Bobbledy subscription deal so that your little loved one(s) get eight fun-filled envelopes of interactive and super-creative stuff from Matthew & Robbi between now and next Christmas. The duo also makes intriguingly odd little books for grownups under the banner of Idiots’ Books. My wife and I are quite happy as charter subscribers to that operation. (Disclosure: We are friends with this crazy pair.)
• Jill Jasuta’s photos have been flying off the walls in recent weeks at the Dorchester Center for the Arts and the Leggett Gallery at Chesapeake College. You’ll find a good amount of Jill’s work available in print formats and as notecards over on the Secrets website. More to come in 2016: Jill has been working on fun new formats, such as wood blocks and ceramic tiles. You can follow her progress here at the JJP Facebook page, and if you see something there that you like, but you don’t see it on the Secrets website–speak up, we can fix that! (Disclosure: Jill is The Secrets Photographer.)
• The two children’s books featuring Hog Island Sheep are first rate all the way around. Here is “Red, White, and Ewe.” And here is “A Twisted Chimney Tale.” Really, they are great fun–do not mistake them for a pair of those not-up-to-snuff kids books that you end up getting out of some sense of buy-local guilt.
• Near as I can tell the photographer Jay Fleming is nothing short of a miracle worker when it comes to snapping pics of watermen on the job. His first book, “Working the Water,” won’t be out until late in the new year, but Jay has put together a sweet 2016 calendar full of sneak-preview images. Scroll down a bit here for info on how to buy it.
• Kevin Fleming’s photojournalism career has taken him to 28 countries and put him time and again on the pages of National Geographic. But he still specializes in images of home, which for him is Delaware. Here is the page where he has books & notecards on his website, and here is the page where he has some prints on sale that have to be seen to be believed. (And yup, Kevin is Jay’s father.)
• Erick Sahler’s specialty is a little different. The Salisbury-based artist deals in silk screen art prints known as serigraphs. If that sounds stiff and formal, well, you will find a mix of whimsy, humor, and true-blue Shore love over here at his website.
• Here are two other frequent sources for the Sweet Scenes I post at the Secrets Facebook Page. One is Robyn Phillips–she has beautiful prints for sale at her website. Another is Jennifer Casey. She is based on the other side over in Annapolis, but you will see from the sweet prints over at her website that there is no reason to hold that against her.
• Writer Hal Roth is an Eastern Shore treasure. For several decades now, his specialty has been finding and then telling great stories that have deep roots in the people and culture of the Delmarva peninsula. Here are a few of his books on Amazon. (Disclosure: Hal is a friend.)
• The Berlin-based glassblower Jeffrey Auxer has a killer deal with his gift boxes full of ornaments, starfish, or good luck Christmas pickles (hey, it can’t hurt). The artist himself will pick out the contents. That way, us amateurs don’t have to sweat out the ordeal of making choices.
• If someone on your list loves ghost stories, Mindie Burgoyne is your gal. Here is where you will find the various entries in her “Haunted Eastern Shore” series of books. Look around the site and you will find your way to gift certificates that can be used on “Chesapeake Ghost Walks” and bus tours as well.
• The best and funniest Shore-themed T-shirts and sweat shirts can be found at the Crabi Gras stores in Cambridge, Easton, St. Michaels, and Crisfield. Plus did you know that Bird Wheeler of Bird Dog and the Road Kings has his own line of hot sauces? Got a bottle of the sweet variety in my fridge right now. (Disclosure: The ruler of the Crabi empire is a friend.)
• Earlier this year I picked up Kirk Mariner’s history of itty bitty Saxis, Virginia. I didn’t expect a page turner, but, all kidding aside about my penchant for nerdy bits of local history, it was chock full of fun stuff. Now I am trying to decide which Mariner history comes next–Wachapreague, Chincoteague, or Tangier? Here is Kirk’s Amazon page. (Oh, and if you are a backroads wanderer type, you need to get Mariner’s guidebook, Off 13, before exploring the Eastern Shore of Virginia.)
• Easton native Michel Elben taught kids for a while at the Phillips Wharf Environmental Center on Tilghman Island, so it makes perfect sense that she would try her hand at a children’s book like, “There’s No One Like You: The Adventures of Madelyn the Terrapin.” (Disclosure: Michel’s mother is a friend.)
Feel free to share some other gift-giving secrets along these lines when it comes to stuff that celebrates the Eastern Shore and Southern Delaware. It will help me build a bigger and better list next year!
—Written by Jim Duffy
NOTE: The illustration up top here is by the artist Yuching Chen.