Time to Make Your Book Shopping List…


It’s list season!  There’s a new “best books of 2017” list in my email every day, and although there are many books that appear on every list (Lincoln in the Bardo), there are surprises too. For example, the Washington Post’s 10 Best list includes Saints for All Occasions by  J. Courtney Sullivan, a novel published in May, but I may need to loop back to that one…

Along with Nancy Perry, my friend and colleague from the Norwell Public Library, I am making my own list of the best children’s books of 2017.  It’s fun for us to compare notes. Although we generally agree on the books to be presented at our annual James Library event, there are several that one of us is more passionate about than the other.  In the middle grade fiction category, Nancy is more enthusiastic than I am about Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm. I like it, but it did not reach Sunny Side Up heights for me.

We are in complete agreement that A Good Day for a Hat by T. Nat Fuller is one of the best picture books (for young children) of 2017.  It is a brightly colored and fun book that is a guaranteed hit for story time.

Outside of our list, which I will post after the event, we decided to include ideas for book themed gifts. It occurred to me that between libraries, Kindles, and random book purchases, some kids have already read the most popular books. Along with that, the holidays are an opportunity for parents, grandparents, and friends to indulge a child’s special interest.  And so for you early shoppers, here are books to expand a child’s horizon or support a new hobby…

Dreamers, Designers, Builders

Out of the Box: 25 Cardboard Engineering Projects for Makers, by Jemma Westing

When Jackie Saved Grand Central: The True Story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s Fight for an American Icon, by Natasha Wing

Fallingwater by Marc Harshman

The World Is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter

Engineered! Engineering Design at Work by Shannon Hunt


To Infinity and Beyond…

My Journey to the Stars by Scott Kelly

Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing by Dean Robbins

Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America’s Pioneering Woman in Space by Tam O’Shaughnessy


Kind Words 

Why Am I Me? by Paige Britt

Come with Me by Holly M. McGhee

Most People by Michael Leannah

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers

A Different Pond by Bao Phi

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs


Inspirational Women

The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levinson

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

The World Is Not a Rectangle by Jeanette Winter

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

There are other categories, but I wanted to save room for these pictures –

There was no posing involved in this picture!  Just a wonderful moment for a teacher and student in the library this week:

And a new mural at the very popular Four Square Court, designed and painted by our middle school students with the help of Marshfield artist Sally Dean:

Happy Book Shopping!



New York, Kipling, and Midnight at the Electric…

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We were in New York last weekend, but although it was a short visit, there was still time to go to the Strand. We arrived at 10:55 a.m. on Sunday for the bookstore’s 11:00 a.m. opening, and there were people lining up outside.  It was a wonderful moment – to see a line at a bookstore. I should have taken a picture, but instead we hurried into line. One of the best things about the Strand is the display signs. This was one of our favorites:

I purchased a copy of Midnight at the Electric, a young adult novel by Jodi Lynn Anderson, to read on the train ride home.  The starred Kirkus review sparked my interest, but I didn’t expect the novel to be so powerful.

This is a really good book and definitely one to add to your list for anyone ages 12 and over.  It opens in the year 2065 and a sixteen-year-old named Adri is preparing to move to Mars. To train for the launch and life on Mars, Adri goes to Kansas to stay with her 107-year-old cousin, Lily. At Lily’s house, Adri finds letters that lead her to the story of Catherine, who lived during the Dust Bowl and then to Lenore, who lived in England during WWI. It sounds confusing, but all of the stories are connected in a way that left me tearful at the end of the book. This is my favorite kind of reading experience – a book that was not on my “list,” but ended up being one of my favorites of this year.

Speaking of the Strand, this week’s The New Yorker cover is awesome – an illustration by Jenny Kroik of a woman shopping at New York’s go-to independent bookstore. This one will find a place on our walls.

While we were in New York, we saw an exhibit at the Bard Graduate Center. John Lockwood Kipling: Arts & Crafts in the Punjab and London focuses on Kipling’s work as an illustrator and designer in British India. He was also the father of Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book and Kim.  I read about the exhibit when it was at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, but it would have been a challenging day trip.

Kipling spent ten years teaching at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art in Bombay (now Mumbai) and eighteen years as the curator of the  Lahore Museum in Pakistan. His influence on both cities was remarkable. As part of the exhibit, there are videos about the buildings he helped to design, but his illustrations are the stars.

This one is interesting. It’s a menu for Rudyard Kipling’s twenty-fifth birthday celebration. Designed and drawn by John Lockwood Kipling, the illustration shows Rudyard as a baby being carried and below that, Lockwood and his wife looking into Rudyard’s crib. The adult Rudyard is the man smoking a pipe.  It’s hard to read the menu, but it includes turbot and oyster sauce and plum pudding.

This is an 1884 illustration of Rudyard’s sister, Trix, that reads: “An unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed, happy in this — she is not yet so old, but she may learn.” Not sure what to make of that, but a beautiful picture.

I’ve also been working with Nancy Perry, my friend and colleague at the Norwell Public Library, to prepare for our annual presentation of our favorite children’s books of the year.  This year’s program will be on Thursday, November 30 at the James Library in Norwell at 7:00 p.m. It is a free and fun evening of conversation about books. An added bonus is that Buttonwood Books and Toys will be there to sell books. Please join us if you can.

At school, I’m reading Countdown by Deborah Wiles with our middle school students as part of our focus on life in post-WWII life in America. Inly’s 6th graders are learning how to be responsible and smart news consumers. Yes, we are talking about how to spot fake news!  We are looking at how to navigate the wild world of the internet and who to trust – no easy task in this divisive climate, but the kids are having fun.

I’ve been somewhat obsessed with book covers recently.  Given all of the “noise” in our ears and eyes, a book cover that causes you to stop and look is powerful.  Books may be old technology, but seeing someone’s art as a billboard for a story, is one of the greatest pleasures of book shopping.

Here are a few that caught my attention this week:

A friend saw this copy of Brave New World at her parent’s house –

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of RBG vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter has a wonderful dust jacket, but….

This is what’s under the jacket –

And the end pages are worth the price of the book –

All of the sudden, it’s really cold and windy and there is no denying that winter is almost here. My response was to buy these:

Happy Reading!

Books in Bloom and Book Projects…

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So many photos to share today….

On Saturday, I went to the James Library in Norwell to see the annual Books in Bloom display. Here are a few highlights of the colorful and whimsical displays:






Earlier this week, some of Inly’s 4th, 5th and 6th grade students presented their book projects.  The kids designed board games, drew pictures, and made cool little people and desks!






Update on the new school library – shingles!


All out of pictures for today….stay tuned!