I watched Dunkirk when it came to the theaters this summer hoping for an outstanding movie, and I got one. A favorite actor, Cillian Murphy (Batman Begins, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, In the Heart of the Sea), portrayed the desolation of the shell-shocked “Shivering Soldier.” There is a point to never formally naming those characters caught between the German onslaught and the English Channel. They are everymen in their terror, helplessness, and humanity. But, I wondered, who are they? Who are all the nameless ones upon the shore, waiting for deliverance? Who are their rescuers? What are their stories? What could be their stories?
The Maggie Bright: A Novel of Dunkirk, by Tracy Groot, begins in an English shipyard in 1940. Clare Childs has inherited a handsome 52-foot yacht from someone she barely knew. She’s tricked it out as a houseboat and makes a small living renting out its rooms as a sort of floating bed-and-breakfast. But Clare doesn’t intend to remain in the harbor forever. She’s saving up whatever spare change she has to sail around the world. For her, it will be the full escape she’s needed ever since she was orphaned at a young age and brought up in isolation by her skinflint uncle.
How is back-to-school treating you? Are you on top of your assignments and after-school activities? Is your room a great place to relax and work, or is it a pile of piles—of clothes, of papers, of toys, of … stuff? It’s hard to relax, have a good time, and get decent grades when your chaos works against you.
Right now, it may seem as though it’s just too much to take on, but once you get in the habit of treating your time and space as valuable, you will find your days can be much less stressful. No more running late, losing important things in the piles of unimportant things, or procrastinating on projects. It’s not hard. It just takes consistency and a gentle push in the right direction.
Getting It Together (A Smart Girl’s Guide) shows you many of the habits that can depress your day and then tells you how to change them without ever being super judgmental. Whether you are a clutter queen or time management is your tyrant, this book can be a huge help in improving your day-to-day experiences.
Brimming with the fruits of the harvest, the cornucopia has become an important symbol of American Thanksgiving. Its origins go further back in time to the ancient Greeks. According to their myths, young Zeus gave his foster mother Amalthaea a goat's horn that could be filled with whatever she wished.
"I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs." —James Herriot
James Herriot was the pen name of James Alfred (“Alf”) Wight, a Scottish vet who practiced in England’s Yorkshire countryside, beginning in the days just before World War II. He wrote with humor and warmth, and, once he finally started writing, he soon found himself on the bestseller lists for stories about his work with animals and their people, beginning with If Only They Could Talk (known in the U.S. as All Creatures Great and Small). Additional volumes followed, each one filled with wise and wry observations.
There’s something about folk art that brings a touch of warmth and whimsy to a home. The elements of designs are simple yet used imaginatively, and the overall effect is extremely pleasing. In Imagine a Forest: Designs and Inspirations for Enchanting Folk Art, Dinara Mirtalipova shares her creative methods and designs with you.
Columbus Day is sometimes called Discoverers' Day. In the spirit of discovery, take some time to learn about the world as it was in the days of the European explorers. You can make a compass, learn about the stars, read about other explorers and discoverers, and find how even our way of eating has changed since the Europeans came to the Americas looking for gold, glory, and, yes, tasty cooking spices.
In 1800, the land held by the new United States was small compared to what was called Louisiana. Louisiana was named for King Louis XIV of France. It was part of a large claimed area in the New World called New France. It stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from the Appalachian Mountains to the Rocky Mountains.
Sometimes, it seems like everybody goes hiking and camping in the great outdoors in the sticky, sweltering summertime. Those are the days when the bugs are at their worst, and the heat alone can leave you panting on the side of the trail before an hour is done. For an easier time of it, grab your gear in the spring or fall. Cooler days and mostly bug-free trails make for great hiking adventures, whether by the ocean or in the mountains. November 17 is Take a Hike Day, but any day is a good day to hike.
If you are looking for picture books with charming rhymes that tell funny stories to amuse preschoolers and their adults, Julia Donaldson is your author. She got to fame as a children’s author in a roundabout way. Before she set down words between book covers, she used to write children’s songs and plays for British TV and radio.
Julia has written well more than 100 books, and it all began with A Squash and a Squeeze, which was originally written as a song for children’s television. It’s the story of an elderly woman who is unhappy that her house seems so small. Fortunately, a neighbor has a very clever solution!
As a musician, Julia was happy to set her stories down for all to see—and keep: “It was great to hold the book in my hand without it vanishing in the air the way the songs did.”
Virginia has long held the nickname of “the mother of presidents,” and surely its most famous native son was the first president, George Washington. His birthplace in Westmoreland County, now a national monument, can be visited today and often features living history performers demonstrating what life was like in the times he knew. George Washington’s Virginia, by John R.