Marcia Strykowski

Libraries–Big & Small

Libraries of all shapes and sizes have been around for centuries and it seems I’m drawn to them wherever I travel. I recently visited a large modern library in Seattle, WA. This enormous building (362,987 square-feet!) was newly designed in 2004 and has eleven floors.library 2double escalatorlibrary 8 (1) - CopyThe Seattle Central Library is beautiful in a flashy sort of way, but definitely not as cute and cozy as one I popped into last weekend. The Woods Hole library in Massachusetts, moved to this new fieldstone building in 1913. There are some beautiful works of art displayed on the walls inside, including historic paintings and a village quilt, as well as a wall hanging by fellow blogger Salley Mavor.library 1DSC00772DSC00773library 7Now let’s go across the pond to a very impressive library. Over 400 years old, the gorgeously designed Bodleian houses a vast quantity of information for the University of Oxford. Although much more spread out than shown in this picture, one of the highlights is the Radcliffe Camera (c. 1740) left, which was taken over by the Bodleian in 1860. Visit if you can!bodleian-library fixHere’s another small library, the lovely 1897 Ogunquit Memorial Library, located just a hop, skip and a jump from the Marginal Way, an enjoyable coastal walk.maine library - smallerWhile we’re in Maine, we might as well visit the Belfast Library, another stone beauty and gorgeous inside, as well.library 6 BelfastThe pretty library below, built in 1903, can be found in Auburn, ME.Library,_Auburn,_MElibrary BermudaSome libraries are rather plain, almost like a storefront, but their signs can still be fun to see. And you just might find a terrific sculpture sitting out front. This rendition of a mother reading with her children is at the Bermuda National Library in Hamilton and is called “The Joy of Reading.”joy of reading bermuda
Another historic library is the Boston Public Library. The below illustration shows the reading room. Somewhat recently, BPL had a big renovation and now there are glowing tiger cubs in the children’s room!library Reading_Room_of_bpllibrary bplI can’t leave out the very famous and important Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. I’ll include a couple of inside shots to show off the beautiful architecture.library of congress public domainloc 2locLast, but not least, another one of my favorites: the Nevins Memorial Library in Methuen, MA, happily sharing books since 1883.DSC09501DSC09502DSC09503DSC09504DSC09505DSC09506

If you’d like to learn about the history of libraries, I found this to be a well done video: click HERE  The video that follows it is a bit dated, but also interesting, wherein a Simmons College professor talks about how technology will shape the future of libraries.

At my library, we are always hoping to hear what people want–our faithful patrons, as well as those who hardly ever stop in. Nowadays, libraries are about communities, not just for research or quiet study, but more often a meeting place to share ideas, learn new skills, and meet new friends. What do you want from your library? Do you go often or not at all? If not, why not?

More New Books!

I haven’t posted about book purchases for a while. Below are some of the books I’ve recently added to my library’s children’s collection. These selections caught my eye, either by fabulous reviews, popular subject matter, beautiful illustrations, or all three. I wish I had time to read and review them all on the spot, but I’ll get there eventually.

Let’s start with picture books. These are all fun subjects with great illustrations and I’m looking forward to checking them out soon for a closer look.
june pbsSo many wonderful picture books:
june pbs2june pbs3Here are some new middle grade selections:
june mg fictionAnd more!
june mg fiction 2If you’d like to see what I bought a few months back (with more information about how librarians choose what to buy), check out this post: New Library Books.

Seems every time I put an order in, another great book comes to my attention. What have I missed this time?

Happy Reading!

The Glass City

chihuly glass 5Are you familiar with world-renowned Dale Chihuly’s amazing work? I was first introduced to his glass wonders five years ago during the Boston Museum of Fine Art’s magnificent Chihuly: Through the Looking Glass exhibit. chihully mfa comboAt that time, the MFA bought a permanent addition to their collection—an icicle tower that stands over 42 feet high. It is made of blown glass and steel. Take a stroll through the museum’s courtyard—you can’t miss this lime-green beauty.

IMG_4881 Dale Chihuly May 2012 CREDITA quotation from Dale’s website gives insight as to why this extremely talented Washington native does what he does: “Glass has the ability, more than any other material, to bring joy and a certain happiness to people.” And he is doing just that with exhibits around the world.

Recently I was fortunate to be in Seattle where my daughter was receiving a diploma. By chance, a long-time friend would also be in Seattle on business…in the same hotel!

When she suggested we squeeze in a visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a somewhat permanent exhibition since 2012, it was the perfect opportunity to experience one of Seattle’s top attractions. chihuly glass 2Each time we stepped into the next gallery, a new breathtaking display was in view. The boats in the next picture sat on a solid sheet of black glass. The effect was so perfect and smooth, I almost touched the surface to make sure it wasn’t really water.chihuly glass 4Here’s another quote from his website: “Glass itself is so much like water. If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up looking like something that came from the sea.”
chihuly glass 3The Persian Ceiling is one of many highlights. The below photograph was taken while looking up at a small section of the impressive ceiling above us.chihuly glassAfter gliding through the vibrant galleries, we entered the glass house. It was a cloudy day, but if you’re interested, you’ll find much better pictures of this expansive room on the Chihuly Garden and Glass website.
chihuly glass 6 After the glass house, we moved on to the beautiful gardens.chihuly glass garden COLORchihuly glass three 2 - CopyFrom the beginning, we knew the Emerald City might just as well be called the Glass City. Even the airport had an exhibit of  glass sculptures inspired by children’s artwork. Our hotel was filled with Chihuly works, including photo books and poster-size prints of his designs in each room. One day, while looking at one of his glass-encased drawings on our wall, I discovered my daughter’s reflection was sitting inside the picture.chihully comboFeeling all inspired and creative, I kept my back to her and snapped several shots as she got comfortable on the window seat way over on the other side of the room.
To elaborate on the Glass City theme, here are a few photographs taken at Glasshouse Studio which we discovered in Pioneer Square. Going strong since 1971, this place is the oldest glassblowing studio in the studioDSC00607DSC00608I don’t know about you, but all this bright creativity makes me want to learn to work with glass. Although, I have a feeling it’s even harder than it looks…

Spirit Animal Blog Award

spirit animal 2Many thanks to Jennie!  I am humbled and grateful to be chosen for this honor by an exceptional blogger and I apologize for taking so long to announce the award. I often say Jennie’s students are very fortunate to have her in their court. She’s a thoughtful, passionate preschool teacher and you can check out her posts for yourself over at A Teacher’s Reflections.

Spirit Animal Blog Award Acceptance Rules:

1.) Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their page. Done!

2.) Post the award on your blog. Done!

3.) Write a short paragraph about yourself and what your blog means to you.

Back before my first book was released, my publisher suggested I take up blogging. My first reaction was: no way, what in the world do I have to say and who would care? But, I gave it a try. I set everything to private, didn’t allow comments and likes (knowing I wouldn’t get any) and stumbled through my first year of posts. Little by little I got more comfortable and realized there are all types of blogs and no rules. I could pretty much talk about whatever I chose. I finally opened up to comments and started reading other blogs. What a wonderful world of kindred spirits are out there! I’ve learned so much. Who knew so many people reminiscence about the same things, get excited about the same great works of art, love the same books, and on and on. I guess you could say I’m hooked on blogging now.

4.) If you could be an animal, what would it be?

Since Pup the harbor seal plays a big part in my Amy books, that’s who I’ll choose. Plus, you’ll have to admit, he’s pretty cute. Life would be near a beautiful island with a cluster of good pals–not overly populated, lukewarm waters, and NO sharks!


5.) Pick and notify ten nominees.

So difficult to choose ten nominees from all the interesting blogs out there, but here goes off the top of my head. Absolutely no obligation to participate. I just like spreading the word about your blogs/websites and I’m making sure not to repeat from previous shout outs.

Art Norton Photography
The Thankful Heart

Paper Dolls!

petticpatAny fellow paper doll fans out there? I’ve loved paper dolls ever since I was old enough to work with scissors. I sometimes made my own dolls and clothes with the help of the Sears catalog. One store-bought television inspired collection I remember owning years ago was Petticoat Junction. paper doll shirleyA more recent series includes a classic Shirley Temple set which contains three dolls with the largest being almost two feet tall. To temporarily digress a minute, her cheery face reminds me of the beautiful new Shirley Temple stamps recently released. Have you had a chance to check them out?patty duke velvetAnd who remembers Betsy McCall, often featured in McCall’s Magazine? (I couldn’t find any public domain pictures, but I can still see her sweet little face). What a treat to find her every once in a while in the back pages of my mother’s magazines. Later, in the 90’s, Good Housekeeping Magazine often featured paper dolls created by illustrator Joan Walsh Anglund, who recently had her 90th birthday.
My sister recently found her old paper doll collection and therefore I’m adding these interesting dolls to the post. The two smaller ones (called Bobbi Girls) came with a bar of soap to wash their clothes. Each outfit (and doll) also has a back view.dolls with hair

My interest in paper dolls carried over to adulthood and when my Amy books were accepted for publication, it was a natural step to create an Amy paper doll. I whipped up the doll just for fun long before seeing the final book covers, which is why the two Amy’s look nothing alike. You can see for yourself, if you click here.

DSC00578Above is a French paper doll set. Lea and her clothes are made out of a sturdy plastic-like paper that won’t rip. Each outfit is reversible with an entirely different look on the back.

Below are a few more of my favorites. Not surprising, most seem to have a literary connection.favorite paper dollsYears ago, we had a paper doll party for my daughter’s eighth birthday. All the attendees colored and decorated paper dolls who looked just like themselves. Their faces and hairdos were snipped out of recent photographs and then glued to the dolls’ heads. There were also two or three sheets of clothes for them to color.paper doll party final
DSC00576A large paper cut-out person decorated the wall with smaller ones scattered here and there. Even the cake sported a paper doll theme (plastic cake toppings shown at left). Homemade dolls using photographs is a great way to bring long overdue diversity to paper dolls.

Paper dolls have been around for many centuries. The first one to be manufactured was Little Fanny, produced by S & J Fuller of London in 1810. Little Fanny was set up as a small book of chapters with a new outfit to go with each episode. And here in the states, the first paper doll to be mass-produced was The History and Adventures of Little Henry, created by J. Belcher of Boston in 1812. There are mixed reports, but with some research I discovered Henry first debuted in London two years previous, also with S & J Fuller.

Here’s a sheet of Little Red Riding Hood from 1913. It was created by Margaret Hays (who happens to be Grace Drayton’s sister. Who’s Grace, you say? Read on!)red-riding-hood 1913

Celebrity paper dolls became popular during the 1830s, beginning with those fashioned after Swedish ballet star Marie Taglioni who tended to wear elaborate stage outfits. Below is a 1919 magazine illustration featuring actress Norma Talmadge.Norma-DOLLS

And we can’t forget one of my all time favorites: Dolly Dingle! She was created by Grace Drayton (1877-1936), the fabulous illustrator who also brought us the Campbell Soup Kids.
1922_Dolly_Dingle_by_Grace_Draytonpaper dolls

Picture Book Boot Camp

I’m back after an amazing adventure! Attending Picture Book Boot Camp this past week was a high point in my decades-long interest in creating books for children. Picture Book Boot Camp translates to spending four fun, inspiration-filled days at Phoenix Farm in western Massachusetts with a prolific group of authors, led by literary legend Jane Yolen and her talented daughter Heidi Stemple.Phoenix FarmI felt extremely fortunate, not only to get accepted into camp, but I got to sleep right there at Jane’s fabulous homestead. The beautiful room I stayed in is called Solatia after one of her books and is located on the second floor of the spacious farmhouse. Like the rest of the rooms, it is filled with books and other fascinating décor.solatia roommy roomLet’s go downstairs where boot campers are already hard at work.StairwayworkshoppersThis was the fourth boot camp Jane and Heidi have generously offered. Click here for information about upcoming programs. It may seem quite pricey at first, but when you break it down, it is well worth all that you get, along with a heavy dose of inspiration. I easily rationalized it by skipping other conferences for a while. At PBBC4, there were ten campers in total, all with traditionally published children’s books (one of the application requirements). Half of the campers spent their nights at the lovely Old Mill Inn, a pleasant stroll down the road.old millIn case you’ve had your head in the sand, Jane Yolen, award-winning author of over 350 books, is often described as today’s Hans Christian Andersen. For those more visually inclined, boot camp might be equal to moving in with Meryl Streep for acting lessons and home cooked meals.

fools jokeSince Friday was also April Fools Day, during morning teatime I offered my campmates a pan of homemade brownies and tricked several of them into reaching for a treat.

OWL MOONEach day at Phoenix Farm began with an original poem and ended with a bedtime story. On Friday night, Jane read her 1988 Caldecott-winning book Owl Moon the way only she can read it, in her true, melodious voice.  She wrote the book about her family’s own owling adventures, with daughter Heidi–still a child at the time–as the main character. OWLAnd then, us boot campers were invited to go out owling with Heidi. Therefore, not only were we led by an expert owl caller, but the actual girl from Owl Moon! To top it off, a little screech owl responded to our call.

Saturday was another fun day that started off with a trip to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book at CarleOur visit included a special behind-the-scenes tour where we saw where the matting and framing are done. We also got to go inside the vault where all art is stored in archival boxes. Because they fade over time, much of the collection, especially the older pieces, needs to rest for ten years between displays. We felt privileged to see original work from some of our all-time favorite books, such as Caldecott winner Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (at which the whole group gasped at its beauty). Also, Louis Darling, Jr.’s illustrations from a 1955 Ramona book by Beverly Cleary who celebrates her 100th birthday next week (in case you’re reading this–Happy Birthday, Beverly!). raggedy annThere was a full-color book dummy for There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly a Caldecott honor book from Simms Taback, and to go back much further, there were beautiful pieces created in 1928 by Johnny Gruelle for his Raggedy Ann and Andy books.

Back at the house, along with manuscript critiques, lectures, and discussions, we also learned about the current market and publishing industry from two special guests. Mary Lee Donovan (below in blue), Editorial Director of Candlewick Press shared her great knowledge. It is now evident to me why Candlewick books are of such high quality, always standing out on the shelf.Mary LeeOn the fourth day, Dr. Susannah Richards, PhD brought her vast wisdom to the group. She’s a wonderful resource and is on top of all the latest book releases. Here she is with a few new picture books.Susannah 2Have I mentioned the delicious food? All meals were expertly prepared by master chef, Heidi Stemple (below) along with her KP assistant, Laura. Heidi chefEvery mealtime brought opportunity for more conversation and plenty of laughs. Thanks to Heidi for this picture of us digging in, while gathered around the dinner table. pbbc dinnerAs mentioned, there were ten of us and it was awesome to hang out with authors of so many of my favorite books. One example: Wouldn’t it be thrilling to have Ramona or Scout walk into the room? Well, that’s how I felt when Libby arrived. I had read most of my fellow campers’ books beforehand. One of them was Blow Out the Moon, a lovely story of the author (Libby) writing about when she spent a year as a young girl at a British boarding school. You can click on this sampling of the group’s work:group booksI can’t even begin to share all that I learned, but for those who would like to read Jane’s wise words, be sure to check out her book on writing: TAKE JOY. I’ll be forever grateful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I even got up my courage and poked my head over Jane’s shoulder at the very desk where she wrote Owl Moon and many, many other wonderful books.jane & marcia ovalSunday morning we were greeted with a light dusting of snow covering Phoenix Farm. I ran up to the aerie and took this picture out the window by Jane’s writing desk. Snow phoenix farmAs I made my way back downstairs a beautiful melody reached me. One of my fellow boot campers (Aimee) was playing the grand piano in the music room. Beautiful ending to a perfect workshop.
pbbc group 1pbbc certificate 001


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