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President Doti’s new children’s book a holiday treat

September 9, 2010

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A sneak preview of President Doti’s and Lisa Mertins’ new book, A Christmas Adventure in Little Italy.

He climbs mountains, he runs marathons, he’s a competition ballroom dancer, he cooks…oh, and he’s one of California’s most respected economics experts.  As well as running a pretty respected university, we must say. 

And now President Jim Doti has added another facet to his resume – he has just published his first children’s book!

Based on a memory from his childhood in Chicago and richly illustrated by Lisa Mertins, A Christmas Adventure in Little Italy is the tale of little Jimmy, his beloved dog Blackie, his Nonna (grandmother) and a holiday adventure that features family warmth, a bit of suspense (not too much for the little ones), a nun, a Radio Flyer red wagon, an angel, a snowstorm, and (of course) fresh-baked biscotti.  In fact, there’s a recipe for Jimmy’s Nonna’s Biscotti included in the back of the book!  

We’ve read the book and we’re not just buttering up the boss when we say it’s really very, very good.  The first rule of children’s books is “don’t talk down to your audience,” and the author’s respect for his young readers is evident from the start.  He deftly sets the scene (in Nonna’s kitchen, to begin with, and later out in the streets of Chicago’s Little Italy), and you can almost smell the sweet biscotti and hear the snow pattering against the window.  Mertins, who provided wonderful illustrations for the Orange County Register for many years, is also key to the book’s charming impact: her intricate pastel-colored renderings of the main characters and the city bring the reader into a time and place that seem both familiar and nostalgic.   And, really, who can resist a tale of a boy and his dog?  A Christmas Adventure in Little Italy will enchant young readers (and listeners) and grown-ups as well.

The book,  published by Jabberwocky Books, is $14.95 plus tax (and shipping if ordered online) and available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other local bookstores. Watch here for news of President Doti holding book signings as the holidays approach – including an event at the Leatherby Libraries.   

A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book will be donated to the Kathleen Muth Reading Center at Chapman University.

For more information, to read excerpts and author/illustrator bios or buy the book, visit

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