EVERYBODY’S HEARD ABOUT THE BIRD
By Rick Shefchik. (University of Minnesota Press, 352 pages, $29.95.)

Sure, Minneapolis was the birthplace of the Replacements and Trip Shakespeare. But Midwestern  rock ’n’ roll dates back much further than that. Former St. Paul Pioneer Press writer Rick Shefchik explores the pioneer bands of the 1960s — the Trashmen, Bobby Vee, the Castaways, the Fendermen — as well as groups that never quite hit the big time. Illustrated with tons of old photos, many of smiling young men in matching suits.

Shefchik will be at Chapter 2 Books in Hudson, Wis., at 2 p.m. Dec. 12.

AMETHYST AND AGATE:  POEMS OF LAKE SUPERIOR
Edited by Jim Perlman, et al. (Holy Cow! Press, 163 pages, $18.95.)

These 70 poems tell stories of storms and ice, nostalgia and longing for home. Together, they paint a picture of the power of Lake Superior, the way it dominates the landscape. “In winter/it is another world,” writes Linda Glaser. “Think of it as a kingdom of ice,” writes Norita Dittberner-Jax. But Susan Hawkinson thinks of it in summer: “Big Lake and sky /waves and light/let the world wait … /while we refuse/all calls from shore.” Color plates of 15 paintings by local artists are a nice complement to these fine poems.

PORTAGE:  A FAMILY, A CANOE AND THE SEARCH FOR THE GOOD LIFE
By Sue Leaf. (University of Minnesota Press, 249 pages, $16.95.)

Drawn to boats from way back (despite her parents’ worries), Sue Leaf, in her fourth book of memoir, takes to the waterways, exploring nature from a watery point of view. Beginning with her first canoeing experiences as a child, these essays span 35 years and range from the Boundary Waters and the Mississippi River to Canada, Montana and elsewhere. Leaf is a thoughtful, observant writer, and these 28 essays, while steeped in nature, are also about much more — family, and fear, and adventure.

DOWNTOWN:  MINNEAPOLIS IN THE 1970s
Photographs by Mike Evangelist; text by Andy Sturdevant. (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 144 pages, 150 photographs, $29.95.)

The street photography of Mike Evangelist, writes Andy Sturdevant, has an “unfamiliar-but-not-alien quality” that makes his images resonate. This collection of 150 color and black and white photos is not beautiful — the 1970s were not a beautiful time — but it is evocative: Dayton’s, Donaldsons, Powers, lumpy city buses, the Nicollet Mall strung with holiday lights. Things didn’t look better then, but they did look busier, more vibrant and far more interesting.

The authors will sign books at Magers & Quinn at 2 p.m. Dec. 20.

MINNESOTA STATE OF WONDERS
By Brian Peterson and Kerri Westenberg. (Mark Hirsch Publishing, 152 pages, $39.95.)

Over the course of one year, Star Tribune photographer Brian Peterson visited the four corners of his home state. He crouched in bogs to get close-ups of flowers, hiked the prairie to watch bison roll in the dust. These 110 photographs focus on the natural: prairies and bogs, forest and rivers, moose and owls. Peterson can take a picture of a rock and make it beautiful. (It’s true: See page 32.) Graceful stories by Star Tribune travel editor Kerri Westenberg add perspective and context.

Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune’s senior editor for books. facebook.com/startribunebooks.