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?
Are 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. At 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.
A 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. Each 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.Here’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.”
The 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.After 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.
After the glass house, we moved on to the beautiful gardens.From 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.Feeling 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 northwest.I 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…
Many 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.
Any 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. A 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?And 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.
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.
Above 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.Years 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.
A 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!)
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.
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.
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.I 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.Let’s go downstairs where boot campers are already hard at work.This 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.In 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.
Since 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.
Each 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. And 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 Art.Our 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!). There 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.On 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.Have I mentioned the delicious food? All meals were expertly prepared by master chef, Heidi Stemple (below) along with her KP assistant, Laura. Every 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. As 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:I 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.Sunday 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. As 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.
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.