Marcia Strykowski

Scenic New England

As most of you know, I was born, bred, and buttered (as they say around these parts) right here in New England and no matter where I travel, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be. As is typical here in June, one day was warm and the next cool, however there were plenty of perfect weather days for sightseeing. I’ve been using my little point & shoot camera for years, nothing fancy, but still I can’t resist pulling it out wherever I go and where I’m drawn is usually to water. Here are a few quick shots from last month. First we’ll pop in on Ogunquit, Maine where the tulips were still going strong past Memorial Day.Then we’ll swing by Prescott Park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.Can’t leave out Newburyport, MA. Boats of all sizes stop by this pretty little harbor.And last, but not least, it was quite a treat to see the Tall Ships in Boston. We even got to go onboard one of them.

So, that was June and I’m thankful for a bright start to the season. If only summer would slow way down, I’d be happy as a clam at high tide. 🙂

The Tiniest Books

After enjoying your comments on my Tiny Books post, I decided to do a post on even tinier books. These first pictures show books I’ve had since childhood. All are hardcover with book jackets. First up is the Christmas Nutshell Library by Hilary Knight. This cute little boxed set includes 4 tiny books, each 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. They were published in 1963 by Harper & Row and are unpaged (meaning no page numbers). Titles are A Firefly in a Fir Tree, Angels and Berries and Candy Canes, A Christmas Stocking Story, and The Night Before Christmas.There are also wonderful collections of Maurice Sendak books in the Nutshell Library series. My next book is A Pocketful of Proverbs by Joan Walsh Anglund (also unpaged). This 1964 tiny book with case was published by Harcourt, Brace, & World, Inc. It is 3″ x 4″ tall. Next up is a completely wordless, hilarious set of books created by Mercer Mayer. Four Frogs in a Box was published by The Dial Press in the early 1970’s. Each book is 3″ x 3 1/2″. Titles are A Boy, A Dog and A Frog (1967), Frog Where are You? (1969) A Boy, A Dog, A Frog and A Friend (1971 by Mercer and Marianna Mayer), and Frog on his Own (1973). The Little Book of Hand Shadows stands 2 1/2″ x 3″ tall and is reprinted and adapted from the original 1927 edition. This beautiful little book put out by Running Press in 1990 was created and drawn by Phila H. Webb and the verses are by Jane Corby. There are 77 pages. Also above is another pretty book from Running Press, 1992. The Nutcracker by Daniel Walden and illustrated by Harold Berson was adapted from the ballet which was based on E. T. A. Hoffman’s 1815 story: The Nutcracker and The Mouse King. There are 155 pages in this tiny 2 1/2″ x 3″ volume.

The below photograph shows a group of my daughter’s tiny books, all of them less than 4 inches wide. Here are two public domain pictures that show just how tiny books can be. I did a little research on Charlotte Bronte and her brother Branwell’s tiny books which they made when they were only 13 and 12 years old. There are 20 of them and I was happy to discover that 9 of them are nearby in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. They measure less than 1″ by 2″ and have amazing detail. You can see one of several at this link.

The smallest book in the world is 2.4mm x 2.9mm and is housed at the San Diego Central Library. It’s an ABC book, leather-bound and printed in 4-color. A strong magnifying glass is needed to see, never mind read, this tiny tome.

Speaking of wee books, my thoughtful son and daughter-in-law gave me this beautiful little leather book necklace. It actually opens up and contains blank pages with pretty end papers. Those of you who are really into collecting tiny books might like to join the Miniature Book Society. Their well-done website has a wealth of information.

Tiny Books

In an age of tiny houses (all the rage in USA and Canada) and tiny food (very popular in Japan), I’ve been thinking about how we also have tiny books. The librarian who orders nonfiction at my library is rather petite and seems to like small things, so at first I thought she might feel a connection when ordering such tiny books. But won’t they get lost on the shelf? I wondered. However now I’m realizing she was just ahead of her time. Nowadays these hidden gems seem to be popping up more and more. Below are a few tiny nonfiction books that caught my eye when we recently added them to our library collection.

Nature’s Remedies is a beautiful little book with delicate watercolor illustrations throughout. This user-friendly guide introduces beginner herbalists to a wide variety of medicinal herbs.

I haven’t read The Minimalist Mom but the subtitle alone: How to Simply Parent Your Baby seems to bring a breath of fresh air to all the old texts on the rules of parenting.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up certainly got me motivated to get rid of a few bags of stuff. The narrative sometimes seems a little bit over-the-top but overall the reasoning for how life can be simpler and less stressful when one owns less clutter is definitely one I agree with.

Possibly because I’m part Danish, but I absolutely loved The Little Book of Hygge. I listened to the audio version read by the author himself. This isn’t always the best choice for readers, but Meik did an excellent job and his Danish accent brought much to the performance. I for one quickly got in the mood to gather friends, sip warm drinks, and play board games, all the while a storm rages outside.

At only 5 inches square, Genetics in Minutes is unbelievably packed with information as well as with many photographs and diagrams. There are over 400 pages containing user friendly concepts of genes, DNA, biology basics and much more. As the back cover states: Genetics in Minutes is the “fastest way to grasp genetics, from Darwin’s finches to Dolly the sheep.”

Herbs + Flowers is another little book about herbs but this one explains in detail how, when, and where to plant them  (and even describes what each one tastes like). There are lovely illustrations and a good index at the back. Thirty-two of the most popular herbs and edible flowers are included.

I haven’t dipped into these last three books yet, but their covers prove they hold important information. When flipping through 21 Ways to a Happier Depression I found it to be very visually pleasing–a nice design with splashes of watercolor paintings and quotations sprinkled here and there.

Don’t let these diminutive delights fool you; not only do they easily fit in a pocket or purse for on-the-go reading, but on closer inspection they all seem to reveal great thoughts worth pondering.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful summer and as always, thanks so much for reading!

Edited to add… many of your wonderful and very appreciated comments refer to miniature books, those extra tiny 2 or 3 inch versions of real books. This gave me the fun idea to do a post on those as well: HERE, so thanks for that. For this post, books are mostly 5 x 6 or 5 x 7 inches. Not super tiny, but still tiny in the same way that ‘tiny houses’ are not the size of Little Free Libraries or bird houses, yet still very small when compared to regular houses. 🙂

Tea Time

A while back we had a tea expert come in to do a program at our library. She talked about the various teas, historic significance, health properties, and rituals; mainly focusing on the time period of the Downton Abbey television series.There was a variety of tea foods to sample.And for those who didn’t have a hat, there were plenty to choose from.Time for tea and conversation. Scenes from Downton Abbey were projected on the screen behind the speaker.The presenter brought many items to display.I popped back out of the picture to take one last shot showing these fine friends in front of the big screen.A few years ago the library hosted a different type of tea party, one for the younger set. Click on the below picture to see more of their tea time activities.And once upon a time I hosted a big tea party at my home. If I could only catch up on my to-do list, I’d love to have another one. Click on this next photograph to see a few more pictures from the party.I’m not sure what brought tea to mind this morning, but perhaps it’s because I’m listening to the audio version of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See. If you check her website, there are all sorts of videos and information about her research for this intriguing book as well as special tea packages for book groups.

“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – C. S. Lewis

E. B. White

Elwyn Brooks White was born on July 11, 1899, in Mount Vernon, New York. In a 1980 article from the New York Times he discusses his name: “I never liked Elwyn. My mother just hung it on me because she’d run out of names. I was her sixth child.” Later, at Cornell University, he was called Andy and the name stuck with him for life. Andy had several newspaper jobs before starting at the New Yorker magazine in 1927. He worked there as a writer and contributing editor throughout the rest of his career. This is also where he met his wife Katharine. Their son Joel was born in 1930. White wrote plenty for adults including his contribution to The Elements of Style which is familiar to just about anyone who has ever studied writing. As for his classic children’s books, the first was Stuart Little in 1945. This story about an adventurous mouse became very popular. Next came Charlotte’s Web in 1952. I would guess everyone is familiar with this beautiful classic. If you’d like a real treat, I highly recommend listening to the audio book read by the author. I’ve heard it took him many tries to get through the emotional parts of the story without bursting into tears while recording.  The success of Charlotte’s Web was followed by The Trumpet of the Swan in 1970. Awards included the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal in 1970, the National Medal for Literature in 1971, and a Pulitzer Prize special citation in 1978. White died at his home in North Brooklin, Maine on October 1, 1985.
I recently had the pleasure of attending a program about E. B. White. This event was the closing ceremony of the annual Newburyport Literary Festival. After an interesting discussion, a question and answer session followed. Panelists were Melissa Sweet and Martha White. Melissa is the amazingly talented illustrator/author of one of
my most favorite new books of the past year. Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White is one of those books you want to put on your shelf to return to again and again—so much to see on each page. Martha White is not only an author herself, but she is also E. B. White’s   granddaughter. The talk was moderated by journalist Leslie Hendrickson. The second picture shows Martha speaking in front of the large slide show that accompanied their talks.I would  someday love to be one of the lucky few who get to visit and tour E. B. White’s homestead in Maine, but until that day I’ve put together some of his wise words to wrap up this post.

Furry Friends & Prairie Life

I’ve been a bit too busy to blog lately, but I figured since a picture’s worth a thousand words, I’d put up a few of my recent photographs. I am so fortunate to work at a public library. Every day is a new adventure depending on which patrons (regulars or newbies) come through the door. Once in a while it’s pure magic when I can witness a new friendship happening right before my eyes, such as what took place the other day when two senior men got into a lengthy passionate discussion about the miniature war tanks we have on display, each visitor with their own history to share. The thing about libraries is we want to help, we want to make your life better by what you take away from each experience, whether it’s a new author you love, or an exciting program. And you can’t beat the price—it’s all free!
As part of our Spring Read this year everyone read Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And then after also reading The Wilder Life, we skyped with Wendy McClure (she not only wrote this interesting book, but she is also the Editorial Manager at Albert Whitman & Company in Illinois).To wrap up the spring events, this past weekend we hosted a very successful Pioneer Day. Due to showery weather it was held indoors. Here are a few highlights.Children made cabins out of pretzels and peanut butter.And they churned butter! The kids enjoyed shaking their own personal jars filled with heavy cream. After it turned to butter, they spread it on snacks and gave it a taste.There was a wonderful spinning demonstration happening on the main floor. (One of the personable spinners was so disappointed she’d misplaced her authentic pioneer costume). Although they both have fancy spinning wheels and looms at home, these small wooden wheels were perfect for sharing with others. The children learned all about shearing wool, spinning it into yarn, and the beautiful garments that can be made from a wide variety of soft colors.While all this was going on, upstairs we had an awesome performance by a local violinist. She played “Oh, Susanna”, “Pop Goes the Weasel”, and other timely tunes. And then the kids got to try their own hand at fiddlin’ (just like Pa in the Little House books). She taught them how to carefully pick up their instruments and then find notes on the strings. There were several sessions and everyone got a turn.Much fun ensued when the little goat triplets arrived. Only three months old and they were the stars of the day.Speaking of animals, the director of my library is a volunteer at a local farm where they’ve rescued many of their residents from bad situations. On this beautiful farm they are nurtured and loved in their new forever home.Roger the donkey watches over everybody and is very territorial (although when he’s busy, the farm cat sneaks into the little barn buildings to check things out). As peaceful as the barnyard appears, they all seem to be waiting for something. Did you hear it? Maybe the swish of a pail or the creak of a wagon wheel?All ears perk up, YES!It’s time for second breakfast! Everybody run!Let’s take turns, plenty for all!

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