My Librarian: Virginia Johnson

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I've been interested in history and writing since I was a kid. Thinking of being the next Marion Ravenwood, I earned a degree in anthropology from William & Mary. Upon graduating, I somehow managed to finesse an entry-level job at the Smithsonian, having done summer study at a Roman fort excavation in Warwickshire.

Despite enjoying the chance to stabilize (carefully clean and box) artifacts from Captain Cook's voyages and ornamental Japanese swords and guns, it was clear this job had no career path. It was back to being a local tour guide (Mary Washington, Eliza Kortwright Monroe, and I are well-acquainted) for a bit until the library took me under its wing.

A stretch at the College of Library and Information Science at the University of Maryland taught me many things, including the way of the storyteller and how to do a bang-up job on a pathfinder about King Arthur. Since coming to CRRL, I've migrated from Youth Services to Research to the Web Team, where I do a lot of writing and editing.

I have a tremendous interest in Virginia history, probably as a result of growing up in "America's Most Historic City." I particularly enjoy the odder stories from history, historical novels, magical realism, multigenerational sagas, mysteries, British fantasy and humor (often combined!), psychological horror--or Gothic, if you prefer, and novels set in other cultures.

Drop me a line. I'll find something good for you!

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Recent Booklists

Reviews & Blog Posts

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 - 10:45am
Cover to Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields

When “Baltimore boy” and chef John Shields brought his Chesapeake Bay-style cooking to California years ago, he was urged to write a cookbook about the regional cuisine. Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields is in its 25th anniversary edition now, but its recipes and reminiscences are as fresh as they are delicious.

Monday, April 2, 2018 - 1:59am
Cover to Spectacular Spring: All Kinds of Spring Facts and Fun by Bruce Goldstone

If your young child likes vivid photographs with lots going on and lots to think about, your family will enjoy sharing Spectacular Spring: All Kinds of Spring Facts and Fun, by Bruce Goldstone. Like many of the Dorling-Kindersley books, this one has two ways to read it.

For example, one headline reads, “Days Get Longer." You might prefer to just go from headline to headline for the youngest listeners. As your children grow and their interest levels in the details of the world around them increase, bring in the rest of the words on the page. Below "Days Get Longer," you'll see, “Spring begins on the vernal equinox. In the Northern Hemisphere, that’s a day near March 20 when day and night are both 12 hours long.”

For older readers/listeners, there are also pages devoted to some of those how-and-why questions, with their own bright illustrations, such as, “How Do Umbrellas Work?” and “Seeds Travel in Many Ways.”

Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 10:32am
Cover to Is It Passover Yet? By Chris Barash, with pictures by Alessandra Psacharopulo

Chris Barash’s Is It Passover Yet? is a sweet and gentle choice for young children who are excited as Passover draws near. Through simple rhyming text and bright, clear pictures, we first see the signs of spring—animals frisking and plants growing. Then, we see a human family is getting ready for a special time, too. They clean the house together and make traditional dishes for their expected visitors.

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