When Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys first heard The Beatles' "Rubber Soul," he just about fell off his surfboard. "I said, 'That's it. I really am challenged to do a great album,' " Wilson recalls. In turn, he floored Lennon and McCartney with Pet Sounds, a masterpiece that's been reissued with detailed sleeve notes, bonus cuts, and a footage-packed DVD.
PBS mixes math and mischief in its snappy retelling of Curious George, debuting Sept. 4. The inquisitive monkey gets into scrapes (filling the Man With the Yellow Hat's home with doughnuts and bubbles) that teach preschoolers such concepts as zero and the scientific method. The sweet-natured mayhem is narrated by William H. Macy. (And look out for the recent "Curious George" movie, on DVD Sept. 26.)
Beach-house living – wherever you reside – now has a manual. Mark the end of a sun-kissed summer with The Barefoot Home (Taunton Press), a sumptuous coffee-table book by Marc Vassallo celebrating "unfussy," informal home design that emphasizes natural light; hardwood; and clean, open spaces. Due out just after Labor Day.
You say you want your John McPhee and you want it right now? Got an itch for a Charles Addams cartoon that must be scratched? The New Yorker magazine has put every inch of every issue it's ever published (approximately 4,000 to date) on a 3-by-5-in., 80-gigabyte USB hard drive for you to plug in and peruse to your heart's content. At $299, that translates to about 13 cents per issue.
A 16-letter word – four words, actually – for "uplift" is Akeelah and the Bee, now on DVD. The story of an inner-city spelling wunderkind who overcomes all obstacles stars Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne. Eleven-year-old Keke Palmer, as Akeelah, casts her own spell.