Virginia Johnson

10/02/2017 - 1:48pm
Cover to Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts by Laurie Carlson

Is Arts & Crafts class your favorite camp activity? Does working with yarn, felt, and fabric put you in a happy, creative place? Then, Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts, by Laurie Carlson, might be the best book ever.  It has directions for all kinds of fun. With its very clear instructions, you can learn to weave, knit, crochet, and even spin your own yarn if you like.

10/02/2017 - 1:48pm
Cover to Over and Under the Pond

A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”

So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.

And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.

Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.

07/06/2017 - 12:25pm

"Look, Mom, a shell! A beautiful shell!"

If you go to the beach this summer, you may find dozens of seashells, each uniquely wonderful. Plan on filling a whole jar with your favorites: scallops and angel wings (piddocks), whelks and sand dollars.

10/02/2017 - 1:48pm
Cover to Rail-Trails Mid-Atlantic: The Definitive Guide to Multiuse Trails in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia

Rolling down the highways, watching the usually dull scenery go by, you might never guess that there are interesting places to explore not that far from the interstate. For some people, being a hiker means doing the Appalachian Trail, preferably all the way through. But there are a lot of other trails, many just as scenic, within an hour or two or a day’s drive of our area.

10/02/2017 - 1:49pm
Cover to The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Li Lan, a lovely but unassuming girl from a scholarly family fallen on hard times, is rather taken aback when her father casually asks her one night if she would like to become a ghost bride.

Her nursemaid is furious. Even suggesting such a thing is unlucky, although Li Lan would be living with a rich family, and it’s probable that all of her family’s debts would be taken care of.

Ghost brides were an old tradition brought to Malaya (colonial Malaysia) from China, where a young man who had died might still be given the precious gift of a wife to honor his memory.

But who is Li Lan's ghost groom? The only son of a wealthy family who was odious in his manner and appearance, whining and fat. He saw Li Lan just once when he was alive, but so entranced was he by her beauty that he is still pressuring his family to make a match. Yes, still. He thinks he has everything she might want in the land of the dead, and he isn’t giving up, although Li Lan is equally determined to resist him—especially after she meets a young man who she believes suits her far better and is very much alive.

10/02/2017 - 1:50pm
Cover to The Children’s Garden: Growing Food in the City

In Carole Lexa Schaefer’s The Children’s Garden, there are so many things to see—and do! It’s the children who are watering, weeding, and scattering seeds. They are also the ones who enjoy the many vegetables and herbs. Brightly colored illustrations, by Pierr Morgan, are cheerful and relatable.

Young readers and listeners may be inspired to start their own gardens, whether on a windowsill, in the backyard, or by taking part in a community garden. Gardening teaches children how nature works and to value their own work in the world. Gardening also allows them to enjoy the literal fruit of their labors and is a great way to spend more time outdoors.

06/22/2017 - 12:11pm

Provensen and Provensen. Alice and Martin. Martin and Alice. Two illustrators and writers working so closely together that their styles were indistinguishable. It was the same style really, gentle drawings so delightful in their clarity that they subtly underscored the text of the dozens of children's books that they illustrated.

10/02/2017 - 1:50pm
Cover to And Then Comes Summer by Tom Brenner, illustrated by Jaime Kim

It’s time to “throw on flip-flops and breathe the sweet air.” Time for lemonade stands and “hide-and-seek until the darkness wins.” A Fourth of July parade, an ice cream truck, a trip to a silver lake—there’s so much to enjoy in Tom Brenner’s new book, And Then Comes Summer.

07/07/2017 - 3:08pm

Elizabeth Fitzgerald was born December 28, 1927 in Baltimore. Her family was filled with successful, professional people who formed a loving and uplifting environment for Elizabeth. She had a great childhood filled with wonderful memories of taking The Train to Lulu's with only her sister for company to see her relatives further south.

06/13/2017 - 2:02pm
Cover to Spice Dreams

Whether you consider it a melting pot or salad bowl, America’s culinary culture is rich with spices, both savory and sweet. Caraway seeds add piquancy to Jewish rye breads. Paprika, hot or mild, gives Hungarian stews and meats warmth and subtlety. Vanilla, theoretically the blandest of flavors, is intrinsic to many beloved forms of chocolate, cookies, cakes and even tea and coffee.  

Indian spice blends, named curries when made up for Europeans, vary from district to district, from mellow to fiery. In Ethiopia, a berbere spice combination may take a dozen different ingredients—typically including chiles, allspice, cardamom, and fenugreek—to create unforgettable flavor.

If you are interested in exploring new types of cuisine or want to learn more about these ingredients’ place in world history, books about spice can brighten your summer.

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