Something about the change in the seasons makes us want to take stock of things - we inventory our lives by way of our houses, our clothes, our yards, and take note of what's been accomplished and what still needs to be done. The change from winter to spring seems to especially inspire us to take stock and prepare for the warm months ahead. Readers tend to do this as well. This time of year finds readers thinking about what they've read and what they plan to read in the coming months while they relax on porches or decks, bask in the sun at the beach or while away the time on vacation. We're going to share what we've read so far this year and later we'll share what we hope to read in the coming months. The lists are long (well, two of them are anyway) so you should get many good ideas for your own reading life. The titles are linked for those of you who reserve online through infosoup.org. Read more »
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is one of my favorite books from childhood. I had my own copy of the book, a gift to me from a much loved Aunt who encouraged my love of reading by giving me suggestions of titles to read and occasionally gifting me with a book. The author, E.L. Konigsburg, died on April 20th at age 83. It seems that more and more of the people who wrote the books that defined my childhood are passing on and while this is to be expected it's still hard to accept. The "Mixed-up Files" was a running away novel and is still, in my opinion, one of the best.
The book was written in 1967 and was awarded the Newbery Award for Children's Literature. I read it a few years later when I was nine or ten. Claudia, the main character in this in this story, decides to run away after suffering one injustice and another. But Claudia didn't pack the usual paper bag with a change of clothing and a peanut butter sandwich. No, Claudia thought ahead, enlisted her younger brother (who had the money to execute this ingenious escape) and carried off her caper with a degree of sophistication that impressed this small town girl. Claudia lived in the city, as in The City, and she made a new life for herself and her brother at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The money that was necessary for subway fare is why her brother was included in the plan. How they elude security guards, get themselves fed, secure income and find places to sleep at night are the fascinating details of this story. They know they need to "disappear" during the daylight hours so they quietly tag along with the student groups that come through the museum each day on field trips. The unexpected benefit of this is that they become very knowledgeable about art. They also learn a thing or two about the museum's inner workings, so when the museum comes into possession of a statue that may or may not be the work of Michelangelo, they start investigating the mystery. This leads them to the woman whose name graces the title of this book, and eventually back to the place they belong...home. Read more »
Last week-end was one that revolved around books and authors in a big way. It started Friday evening when Lyn and I attended a presentation by author Pam Flowers at Manawa Elementary School. Kudos are in order to Jeni Mursau and the Manawa School District administration for bringing Ms. Flowers to Manawa. Flowers is an adventurer who, along with various dogs, has raced in the Iditarod, trekked 2,500 miles across the Arctic Circle on a sled, and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail. Flowers also writes books about her adventures, and travels all over the United States visiting schools to give presentations about her experiences, her books, and her dogs. Friday evening she talked about her trip down the Trail with her dog Ellie. Ellie's Long Walk is the book she wrote after their long adventure. Sadly, the week before Flowers and Ellie were coming to Manawa, Ellie died from Botulism poisoning after ingesting some unknown substance on a beach in Texas. Ellie lives on in Flowers' book about her and she sounds like an extraordinary dog. The Library purchased all of Flowers' books and within one hour of them getting on the shelves they were checked out. I think they will be popular for some time to come.
Saturday evening found me in Spencer, Wisconsin, by way of Marshfield, where a friend had a show of his art work at the LuCille Tack Center for the Arts. It just so happened that the Center was also hosting Michael Perry that evening and that Marshfield was a central location for several of my college friends to meet up so we could enjoy both shows together. Read more »
The photo above is of the St. Anthony Park branch of the St. Paul (Minnesota) Public Library. St. Anthony Park is a beautiful neighborhood with winding, tree lined streets, quaint houses and a great little business district. The centerpiece of the neighborhood is this Library. I've passed through this neighborhood many a time, while visiting friends, and every time I pass this library I am in awe of it. It sits up on a fairly impressive hill and looks out over the little shops and restaurants it anchors. Every big city has its adorable neighborhoods and many of them are made stronger by a venerable branch of the public library. I imagine working at this place, going for lunch at one of the cute little restaurants, walking home each day to my little house. It's the only way I can envision living in a big city. My guess is there are people who really do live this life right in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. Read more »