Do you ever go to your local library to hear an author talk about their writing process or share their latest book? I’ve been to quite a few over the years at various libraries and now that I have my own books out there in the world, I sometimes am a guest at those same libraries. Here are a few pictures from one of my latest events.I shared a couple of very short videos with the group including James Taylor singing “You’ve Got a Friend” which is featured in Call Me Amy. I also shared my book trailer and talked with the kids about the seal release I attended–shown here.
After that, we made a paper craft. Since Pup the harbor seal is one of the characters in Call Me Amy and Amy’s Choice, I scoured the internet for a craft featuring seals. I found a great one on papercraftsquare.com. Only trouble is the directions are in Japanese (which I can’t read!). We struggled through, but the craft involves quite a bit of fine snipping and fussy gluing, so I’m not sure if I’ll use this particular craft again. Beforehand, my son made me a demonstration model which came out wonderful, as shown in the below picture.Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves despite the tricky craft.As I’ve mentioned before, the Amy books have been read and enjoyed by all ages, not just for their intended audience of tweens. It’s been amazing how many women come up to me during book fairs and either say their name is Amy or that they were born in 1973. OR that they were the same age as Amy is in 1973. Here’s a picture of one of my largest book club turnouts. I don’t believe there was anyone named Amy present that day, but I remember many of them said they enjoyed the flashback to the seventies.
I’ll include a few more library event pictures. There’s often more talk about school visits when it comes to hosting children’s book authors. Maybe because of the ready audience—a classroom full of kids all the same age—or maybe it’s because teachers are more encouraged to have this type of program.
If you’re an author, I’d love to hear what type of event you prefer—library or school—in the below comments. Or perhaps neither is your cup of tea and you’d much rather stick to festivals or bookstores. For those of you who enjoy going to author events, what do you always hope will be on the agenda—a reading from the book, questions & answers session, show & tell about the writing process, or….?Thanks for reading!
Before publishing my last post, I searched for paintings of girls of various complexions to be included in the portraits I shared, but between the time period and my need to use only public domain pictures, my choices were limited. Rather frustrating, since nine different countries were represented in that post.
For this second part of the post, I’m not limiting myself to girls reading by themselves, but instead I will also be sharing groups and pairs. I had already planned it this way—one post of solo portraits and one post of paintings with multiple models, so you can imagine my delight in spotting an almost hidden book in this breathtakingly beautiful Japanese silk painting.The above is entitled Two Girls by the Sea and is signed Kafu, but with no other information as to the true identity of the artist. It was painted on silk c. mid-1920s and now resides in the Honolulu Museum of Art.
This next painting also has a bit of mystery (at least to me). It was created circa 1901, but I haven’t figured out how to spell the artist’s name and therefore I have no information on him. The name is in a language with symbols I can’t figure out. (Russian?) You’ll find his signature in the bottom left corner. (Makobck..?) If anyone has any ideas, let me know!
There are many paintings by French painter Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919) depicting girls reading books. One was in the last post and after deleting three other options of pairs of girls reading, I settled on this one from 1892. I think they may be sisters who also appear in some of his other works.
Since a picture’s worth a thousand words, here are a few more without too much commentary.The above cute pose was painted by Leon-Jean Bazille Perrault (16 June 1832 – 1908) a French painter.Henri Lebasque (25 September 1865 – 7 August 1937) was a French post-impressionist painter.Laura Muntz Lyall (18 June 1860 – 9 December 1930) was a Canadian impressionist painter known for her portrayal of mothers and children.
This next picture of a young teen is from c. 1785, Lucknow, India. Although not certain, Portrait of a Bibi is thought to be painted by Johann Zoffany. You may say she’s holding a little mirror (or her smartphone?), but I’m thinking it’s a small book of cherished words.After much searching to find more diverse subjects for this post, I suddenly realized the following pictures did indeed have books in them, if only you look closely. Each of these three girls has at least one hand out of sight. I’ve decided they are holding their books below the artist’s vision (off-camera, if you will) while having their portraits painted.
Lilla Cabot Perry (13 January 1848 – 28 February 1933) was an American artist who worked in the American Impressionist style.Portrait of a Young Woman, above, is from the late 18th century. Beautifully painted by Jean Etienne Liotard (22 December 1702- 12 June 1789) a Swiss-French painter, art connoisseur and dealer.Wada Eisaku (1874 – 1959) was a yôga painter of the Meiji through Shôwa periods, and was director of what is known today as the Tokyo University of the Arts. So easy to picture the book this young beauty is holding in her right hand.
I’ve got to get another woman painter into this collection, so here is Louise Catherine Breslau (6 December 1856 – 12 May 1927). Born Maria Luise Katharina Breslau into a German Jewish family of Polish descent, she spent her childhood in Switzerland and as an adult made France her home (where she dropped “Maria”). Suffering from asthma all her life, Breslau turned to drawing as a child to help pass the time while confined to her bed. The above was created by Alfred von Schussler who must have painted it quite young as he only lived for 29 years, from 1820 to 1849. During that time he lived in Germany and Italy.
Are you familiar with The Fairy Tale? Walther Firle (22 August 1859 – 20 November 1929) was a 19th-century painter from Germany. I’ve had a print of this picture on my library wall for many years. Here’s another painting of the same scene from a different perspective. c. 1900And last, but not least, is a stunning painting (c. 1900) of a very clever girl. I believe she is hiding a small book behind her fan and taking peeks at it during her breaks. I hope you’ll zoom in on this one, the handling of the translucent fabric is amazing. Simon Maris (12 May 1873 – 22 January 1935) was a Dutch painter.
Of course I’ve still left out many beautiful options, as there is only so much room in a blog post. And that’s my answer to the following questions: Where are the boys? The grownups? And for that matter, why aren’t there more women painters? Yay, for the three L ladies: Laura, Lilla, and Louise for bringing their beautiful work into the world. And yeah, the men are pretty talented, too. Thanks for reading!
Have you ever watched a child, or anyone for that matter, deeply engrossed in a book? Maybe they wear a slight Mona Lisa smile. Maybe they glance away from the page for a minute, but still have a faraway look in their eyes. Or maybe they even cry, gasp, or laugh out loud. There are so many gorgeous paintings from the 19th century of people reading books. This one (upper right) is slightly after that period (1905) and is by Albrecht Samuel Anker (April 1, 1831 – July 16, 1910). He was a popular Swiss painter and illustrator who often depicted scenes of 19th-century Swiss village life. For the sake of post length, I’ve limited my favorite portrayals to the following: young girls reading books by themselves. The picture at left was created in 1855 by Austrian painter Eduard Klieber (1803-1879). It was around the time of many of these paintings (mid 1800s) that beautiful books were first produced for children. With a German influence, both type and illustration improved and the fashion of only writing about morals and manners was finally starting to decline. When we study these expressive paintings, it’s interesting to wonder what the girls are reading. Could it be a book of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm, or maybe Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)?Above painting from 1877 is by English painter Sir Frederic Leighton (3 December 1830 – 25 January 1896). Good idea to use a book-stand as some of these old books look pretty heavy.Even back in 1863, there was multitasking going on. This girl probably couldn’t choose between her two favorite hobbies, deciding to enjoy them both at once, instead. Her joy is beautifully captured forever by German painter Meyer von Bremen (28 October 1813 – 4 December 1886).
Look at the concentration and emotion on this lovely young lady from 1850. So completely absorbed in her book, she seems unaware of being studied by Austrian painter Franz Eybl (1 April 1806 – 29 April 1880) who created this timeless oil on canvas.
Not exactly a book, but let’s head over to Greece to enjoy this humorous portrayal of a young girl reading what appears to be the daily news in 1882. Could she be reading about political candidates? She has been captured forever by Greek painter Georgios Jakobides (11 January 1853 – 13 December 1932).Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (7 March 1802 – 1 October 1873) painted the above portrait in 1835. An English painter, he is best known for his lion sculptures in Trafalgar Square.Above painting is by Emil Rau (1858-1937), a German painter. I love the light coming in through an unseen window.An example of the highly recognizable style of French artist Auguste Renoir (25 February 1841 – 3 December 1919). A leader in the development of Impressionist painting, he completed the above in 1886.Ilya Yefimovich Repin (5 August or 24 July 1844 – 29 September 1930) was a Russian realist painter who gave us this lovely Reading Girl in 1876.We can’t leave out Winslow Homer (February 24, 1836 – September 29, 1910), American landscape painter and printmaker, best known for his marine subjects. He painted the above work: Reading by the Brook in 1879.Anton Ebert (1845-1896) was an Austrian painter who painted the above girl (c. 1890) with two little books to enjoy.
Three more to go, all too beautiful to leave out.From 1869, the above masterpiece is by English painter George Goodwin Kilburne (24 July 1839 – 1924).Albert Gustaf Aristides Edelfelt (21 July 1854 – 18 August 1905) was a Finnish painter. Although the above was painted in 1881, it has a more contemporary look to me. Except for the shoes and lack of a cellphone, this might be the girl next door. The dog looks very much like author Cynthia Lord’s adorable little dog, Milo, with one ear up and one ear down.Last, but certainly not least, The Shepherdess (c. 1890) by English Illustrator Myles Birket Foster (4 February 1825 – 27 March 1899).
That’s plenty for now, Happy Reading! Please check out the second half of this post here.
I recently took a trip up Mt. Washington in NH via the Cog Railway. When I returned I was curious to learn more about its history. I’m happy to report there is a lot of online information including many public domain pictures from 150 years ago. I’ll share a few with you and we can compare the old with the new. Our group (celebrating a few recent birthdays) started out quite early and arrived about an hour before takeoff. Because the weather was rather iffy, it turned out an earlier train still had room available, so we hopped on that one instead, with no waiting—ALL ABOARD!A similar group, anxious to board the Cog, is shown waiting below. Photo by Franklin G. Weller (1833-1877).
On the trip up, our brakeman (at right) gave us a rundown of what we were seeing and a bit of history. The Cog Railway made its first trip up the 6,288′ mountain in 1869, running on wood-fired boilers. Starting in 1910, coal was used. Today’s trains are biodiesel-powered, but they run on the same tracks and use the same cog technology as they did long ago. Even though they appear old-fashioned, these newer locomotives have a computer package on board that runs the engine and monitors its exact position on the track.
On August 31, 1899, F. O. Stanley and his wife, Flora, of Newton, MA, drove a ‘Stanley Locomobile’ to the top of Mount Washington and became the first people to make this journey by car. It was a dangerously steep trek and took them 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach the top, not counting stops to add water (7.6 miles). The engine was put in low gear to descend, and brakes were used continuously.Our trek up and down the mountain was quite a bit different. Several places of interest to see on the ride were the halfway house, hikers (yes, they still moon the Cog), streams, lots of trees, wildflowers (including lupines!), and maybe even a moose…After a pleasant ride up we reached the top of the highest mountain in New England in about 45-50 minutes. We were met with so much fog it was impossible to take in any views. Apparently there are only an average of 65 clear days a year. This next picture might look like one from long ago, but I took it last weekend and only after a bit of enhancing did any color show.But still, it was a fun trip and we were happy to reach the Tip Top House which was built in 1853. Visitors can go inside and stroll through the rooms of this old-time hotel. Cog riders get to hang out on top of the mountain for an hour which is plenty of time to visit the weather museum, gift shops, and cafeteria, and there’s even a post office if you’d like to send mail with a special Mt. Washington zip code stamp to those down below. We also went inside the old Tip Top house and found our way around the foggy summit.
My friends at the top:These two hikers came up the long way on foot on a cold, but brighter day in November 2007. Looks like the sign has had a paint job since then; in fact it’s probably a yearly requirement with so many visitors hanging onto it for dear life, so they won’t blow away. Hikers from all over climb this mountain as its summit is part of the Appalachian Trail.One of the displays in the museum reminded me of when my nephew worked in the weather observatory on Mt. Washington, home of possibly the most turbulent weather in the world. Back in 1934 winds were recorded at 231 miles per hour. No wonder people look like they’re walking a little strange.Sadly, this unpredictable weather accounts for tragedies over the years. One of the most famous being the death of Miss Lizzie Bourne in 1855 . She succumbed to the elements after climbing up with her cousin, Lucy, and uncle, George. It’s difficult to imagine hiking in layers upon layers of Victorian garb, plus she also may have had a heart condition. They left at 2 p.m. and were halfway by 4 p.m. As darkness fell with a heavy cloud cover they couldn’t find their way and the girls were too tired to continue on. Lizzie’s uncle spent hours building a rock wall to protect his daughter and niece only to find Lizzie dead when he finally stopped for a much needed rest himself. After the long night, her grieving uncle discovered with the morning sun that shelter at the Tip Top House had only been a few hundred yards away. Lizzie was buried on what was to have been her wedding day. Never quite the same, Lizzie’s Uncle George died 15 months later. He was the same Bourne who built the amazing Wedding Cake House in Kennebunk. And since this post is all over the place, I’ll include a picture:Time to return to our focus and head back down the mountain.If you’d rather travel by steam, there’s still that option, as well. There’s always one steam locomotive scheduled for the first trip of the day. After we came back down, I caught a peek at one moving along the track.Overall, not too much has changed in over 100 years.
For those who might hesitate when reading reviews of the steep incline, have no fear, it’s a very safe ride with only two major accidents, the last one being 50 years ago. It’s a little pricey ($69) to ride the Cog, but it’s well worth it, just make sure you pick a good weather day!
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.The 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.Now 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!Here’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.While we’re in Maine, we might as well visit the Belfast Library, another stone beauty and gorgeous inside, as well.The pretty library below, built in 1903, can be found in Auburn, ME.Some 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.”
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!I 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.Last, but not least, another one of my favorites: the Nevins Memorial Library in Methuen, MA, happily sharing books since 1883.
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?
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.
So many wonderful picture books:
Here are some new middle grade selections:
If 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?
Call Me Amy chosen for 2014 Best Books of the Year!
Keeping the Blogisphere a Beautiful Place
Spirit Animal Blogging Award
Call Me Amy Book Trailer
Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.