World War II

08/17/2011 - 3:31am
In the Garden of Beasts

It's 1933 and President Roosevelt is having a devil of a time finding someone to appoint to the post of ambassador to Germany in Erik Larson’s In the Garden of Beasts. All of the usual picks politely decline the post, as news of Germany’s foreboding political atmosphere drifts to America. Roosevelt eventually settles on William E. Dodd, a historian at the University of Chicago whose primary goal is to finish his multi-volume historical treatise on the antebellum South before he dies. By most accounts, Dodd is an odd pick for ambassador, being neither rich nor well-connected. Most ambassadors entertain lavishly during their appointments, and it is expected that the costs will come from their own coffers. Frugal Dodd immediately made waves by pledging to live solely on his meager income, almost unheard of in cosmopolitan Berlin.

Dodd naively sees the appointment as a respite from the trials of University department chairmanship and a boon of time to work on his project. He, like most Americans, is grossly uninformed about the political machinations happening in Germany, as Hitler, Göring, and Goebbels vie for power and German Jews are increasingly menaced. The entire Dodd family decides to come along to Berlin, ready for a new lark: the professor and his wife, Mattie, their son, William Jr., and their beautiful, flirtatious, 24-year-old daughter, Martha (who happens to also be fleeing the wreckage of a precipitous marriage to a banker).

08/02/2011 - 2:48pm
May I Bring a Friend by Beatrice de Regniers

"I think of writing--particularly of writing picture books--as a kind of choreography. A picture book must have pace and movement and pattern. Pictures and text should, together, create the pattern, rather than simply run parallel." --  Beatrice Schenk de Regniers*

Quick Facts:

Born:  in Lafayette, Indiana, on August 16, 1914
Favorite writing genres: picture books, folk tales, poetry, and plays
Well-known books: May I Bring a Friend?; What Can You Do with a Shoe?;  Everyone Is Good for Something;  David and GoliathIt Does Not Say Meow, and Other Animal RhymesLittle Sister and the Month Brothers
Her last name is pronounced, “drain-yay”
Education: Attended University of Illinois, 1931-33; University of Chicago, Ph.B., 1935, graduate study, 1936-37; Winnetka Graduate Teachers College, M.Ed., 1941.
Career:  Member of the Eloise Moore Dance Group, Chicago, 1942-43; copywriter, Scott Foresman, publishers, Chicago, 1943-44; welfare officer, UNRRA, Egypt, 1944-46; copywriter, American Book Company, New York, 1948-49; director of educational materials, American Heart Association, New York, 1949-61; editor, Lucky Book Club, Scholastic Book Services, New York, 1961-81.
Awards:  May Children's Spring Book Festival honor book, New York Herald Tribune, 1958, for Cats Cats Cats Cats Cats;  Boys' Clubs Junior Book Award, 1960, for The Snow Party;  Indiana Authors Day Award, honorable mention, 1961, for The Shadow Book;  Caldecott Award, 1965, for May I Bring a Friend? ‘s illustrations by Beni Montresor; certificate of excellence, American Institute of Graphic Arts, for communicating with children;  Brooklyn Art Books for Children citation, 1973, for Red Riding Hood: Retold in Verse for Boys and Girls to Read Themselves.
Memberships: Authors Guild, Authors League of America, Dramatists Guild, PEN, Society of Children's Book Writers.
Died:  March 1, 2000, from a stroke at her home in Washington, D.C.

 

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