Virginia Johnson

12/12/2017 - 10:02am

An aquarium is a watery world in miniature. It can be as complicated as you want or just a simple and safe place to keep a beautiful and patient pet. If you're new to fish keeping, you should start with the basics, but even beginners can have a terrific aquarium. Both beta fish (also known as Siamese fighting fish or bettas) and goldfish are good for first-timers. They're attractive and not so demanding of a special environment in order to thrive.

12/11/2017 - 2:16am
Cover to Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen

Georgie has had enough of being under her stepsister’s thumb. Binky’s wife Fig is determined to keep the castle colder than even its normal drafty self by not lighting rather necessary fires, and what food there is seems to be doled out in ever diminishing quantities. To top it off, Fig has found a way to save even more money with a scheme to use Georgie as an unpaid governess for years to come.

12/08/2017 - 10:18am

The huge boulder rolled deliberately in the middle of the road was the first sign of trouble. On May 11, 1889, along a dusty trail in Arizona, an unlikely bunch of desperadoes made off with $28,000 in gold from U.S. Army Paymaster Major Joseph Washington Wham. Buffalo Soldiers from the 24th Infantry were part of the 12-man escort that would go down fighting that day.

With a cry of "Look out, you black sons of bitches!" a buckskin-clad bandit opened fire on the wagon train from his advantageous position on the heights. The soldiers grabbed their guns, stored in the second wagon. Some were able to take cover, but others, such as Sergeant Benjamin Brown, were struck quickly by the hail of bullets coming from the other bandits, estimated to be between 12 and 15 in number. This didn't mean the soldiers stopped resisting the onslaught.

12/01/2017 - 2:08am
E.B. Lewis: Artistrator

"Artists need to fill themselves to overflowing and give it all back." -- E.B. Lewis

E.B. Lewis almost didn’t become an illustrator. Which means he almost did not open a visual pathway to African American culture and history that can be enjoyed by children in libraries and schools all around the country. He thought of himself as an artist, not an illustrator. When he thought of children’s book illustrations, he imagined pictures that were engaging, funny, sometimes almost cartoon-like. That wasn’t for him.

But an agent saw his work and insisted E.B. look at what was going on in children’s books now. As he sat in a bookshop, poring over the many wonderful books available for young audiences, he realized he wanted to be a part of this. He had been teaching art to special needs kids, a job he would have to set aside because publishers were hungry for his art to accompany the great stories they had already bought from the writers. He plunged into illustrating full time, sometimes working 15-to 18-hour days. He’s illustrated dozens of stories, including a Caldecott Honor book, and several projects have won the Coretta Scott King Award.

11/23/2017 - 2:02am
Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World

Making bread from flour, yeast, water/milk and whatever else goes into your recipe is one of the most satisfying things a person of any age can learn, and there are so many good lessons for homeschooling, too. There’s measuring, of course, but there are a lot of little things that baking reinforces. Patience: it takes time for a loaf of bread to rise. An eye for detail: how do you know when the bread is mixed enough? When it's done? Sharing: whether you’re sharing an Amish or sourdough starter or a complete loaf of bread, sharing can be the best part of baking.

Even with all those good lessons, author Elizabeth Harbison and illustrator John Harbison go it one better by including a cheerful history of bread making in their book, Loaves of Fun: A History of Bread with Activities and Recipes from Around the World. You’ll learn how people across the world and across time have made their bread. They might use different kinds of flour. They might not even use yeast. But it’s all bread, made to be enjoyed—and shared.

12/06/2017 - 12:02pm
Reading and Watching Through the Holidays

Sometimes the holiday whirl at the big stores makes your living room seem like the most festive place of all. On a chilly night with a book in your hand or a classic film on the screen, you can relax and enjoy the holiday—after a visit to the library, of course, whether online or in person.

11/16/2017 - 1:57am
Cover to Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story

With its simple, glowing pictures by Jill McElmurry reminiscent of folk art, Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sharing the Bread is a rhyming, picture-book distillation of the many good things about a shared Thanksgiving. All the family—aunt, uncle, mother, father, sister, brothers, grandmother, grandfather—help make the feast, and all the family enjoys sharing it.

11/17/2017 - 1:32pm
Washington D.C.
capitol of the free world
and of potholes too

From Honku: The Zen Antidote to Road Rage by Aaron Naparstek.

Well before dawn breaks over the I-95, the race begins. A quick shower, a quicker breakfast, warming the engine, and settling into the chilly seat. Our commuters know the routine. The engine turns over; the heat comes on; and the open road awaits—at least until that almost inevitable bottleneck.

11/14/2017 - 1:56am
The Cornbread Gospels: Over 200 Recipes by Crescent Dragonwagon

People can be mighty particular about their cornbread. They have strong feelings about which kind of meal to use (yellow or white), what to cook it in, what to use for leavening, and what to add in for extra flavor—or not. From such regional and personal beliefs comes Crescent Dragonwagon’s The Cornbread Gospels, with delicious takes on this homespun favorite.

If you’re looking to expand your knowledge of the joys of cornbread, whether it’s a semi-soufflé of spoonbread for the Thanksgiving meal or something plainer to go with your New Year’s Day black-eyed peas, The Cornbread Gospels has your dish. Drawn from the recipe files of excellent cooks from across America and around the world, you’ll get a taste for different cultures as well as their preferred methods and flavors, with the talented wordsmith Crescent Dragonwagon as your guide.

11/09/2017 - 10:36am

"That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors and officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea." (Resolution of the Continental Congress, 10 November 1775.)

November 10 marks the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for the creation of two battalions of Marines to serve the new nation. Each year in Marine posts throughout the world, traditions such as the birthday ball and the cutting of birthday cake continue, bonding generations of warriors together as they celebrate their shared brotherhood.

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