Virginia Johnson

01/23/2017 - 9:06am
Rowan Hood: Outlaw Girl of Sherwood Forest

A mother's protection is a wondrous thing. When Rosemary felt her mother's powerful spell wrap around her so hard it forced her to the ground, she knew she had no reason to be worried for her own safety. But then it cut off as though cleaved with a sword, and Rosemary knew that something terrible had happened to her.

01/18/2017 - 12:09am
Cover to The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary

If you like a good cooking show—and a good story—dive into John O’Connell’s The Book of Spice for a lot of kitchen knowledge, delivered with an English accent. From his first try at tandoori chicken at a family picnic, Mr. O’Connell was hooked on the beautiful differences spices could make.

As seasoned cooks know, spice is very nice, and there are certainly more of them available now, both online and in the supermarket. Indeed, there are so many herbs, spices, and blends that it’s a daunting proposition to select one to try out. Surely it would be better if you understood not only their uses but also their fascinating histories.

01/16/2017 - 12:08am
Cover to Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey

Why didn’t Cinderella’s father protect her from the “wicked” stepmother? And surely the prince wasn’t the first handsome boy she laid eyes on! Besides all that, do wishes magically happen? In Cameron Dokey’s Before Midnight, a reworking of the Cinderella story, all of these questions are wonderfully explored.

Cendrillon’s (Cinderella’s) father and mother had a legendary love. When her mother died just hours after she was born, Etienne de Brabant took it . . . badly. He cursed his late wife’s garden, swore that he never wanted to see their baby daughter, and took off for a divided court, leaving behind another baby—a boy whose identity he did not reveal.

01/06/2017 - 11:53am

On May 29, 2005, a public dedication ceremony was held at the Richard Kirkland Monument, adjacent to the newly restored Sunken Road. Workers spent months burying power lines, removing pavement, and restoring the stone wall. All of this recreated the look and feel of what became one of the bloodiest pieces of ground in the Civil War.

Fredericksburg rises from the fall line of the Rappahannock River. Its natural hills are generally considered to be just part of the scenic landscape. Wealthy townspeople, such as the Willis and Marye families, built their mansions on the heights. Before the Civil War, the scenery was pleasant but otherwise unremarkable.

12/27/2016 - 2:55am
Cover to The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook

Heavy holiday meals got you down? Even if you were virtuous and limited your intake of feast foods, odds are for that all that sweet stuff left you more than ready for a change of pace.

For almost 70 years, the Rodale Institute has been teaching people how to bring the good stuff into their diets. Their motto from the beginning: Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People. It’s still a good motto. They’ve led the organic gardening and farming movements for generations, and they know what they’re doing. They also know how to cook—and not just the fancy recipes that rely on ultra-special ingredients. The Rodale Whole Foods Cookbook is as solid as it sounds.

12/26/2016 - 2:54am
Cover to Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

All they want is a Homecoming.

Dicey Tillerman is the 13-year-old big sister, and it’s up to her to look after the younger kids—a situation that becomes a lot more complicated when their mentally ill mother abandons them in the parking lot of a shopping mall.

Their mother said they were going on a trip to see their rich Aunt Cilla. Maybe their mother got confused, the way she does. Maybe she is already at Aunt Cilla’s waiting for them. Maybe not.

12/13/2016 - 11:20am

Vera Baker was born in Los Angeles, California, on January 28, 1927. She and her family moved to New York City when she was quite young. Luckily for Vera, they lived near a studio space called Bronx House where she learned painting, writing, acting, and dance. When she was nine-years-old, one of her paintings, called "Yentas," was put on exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art. She was filmed there explaining to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt the meaning behind her work. The Movietone film reel ran before the regular features at the movies. This, Vera recalled, made her quite a big shot in the neighborhood!

Fast Facts:
Born: January 28, 1927, in Los Angeles, California
Parents: Albert Baker and Rebecca (Porringer) Baker, Jewish immigrants
Attended: the High School of Music and Arts in Manhattan; bachelor's degree in graphic arts from Black Mountain College in North Carolina
Married: Paul Williams (divorced in 1970)
Children: Sarah, Jennifer, and Merce 
First book (illustrated): Hooray for Me! with text by Remy Charlip and Lilian Moore; First Book (written and illustrated): It's a Gingerbread House: Bake It, Build It, Eat It
Selected Awards: Caldecott Honors for "More More More" Said the Baby and A Chair for My Mother; Parents' Choice Award (illustration) for Three Days on a River in a Red CanoeJane Addams Honor for Amber Was Brave, Essie Was Smart; Regina Medal of the Catholic Library Association for her body of work; NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature for her body of work
Arrested at a women's anti-war protest at the Pentagon in 1981 and served a month at a federal prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia.

12/13/2016 - 2:46am
Cover to Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk—A Visual Guide by Josh Katz

It’s said England and America are two nations separated by a common language. Aye or yeah, it may be more pronounced on the other side of the pond, but Americans certainly have their regional dialects, too. In 2013, Josh Katz was curious about which words and phrases were used where and how the same words might be pronounced differently in different places. So, he did a survey.

This project could have been really dry, but Mr. Katz has a gift for language, and some of his results spread on the Internet like wildfire or bushfire or a forest fire…. Well, you get the idea. The results are laid out attractively with maps and commentary in his Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk.

12/12/2016 - 1:48pm

Why not learn to juggle? It’s a fun way to impress your friends even if you are just a beginner. Like sports? Juggling is said to increase your hand-eye reflexes and your coordination. Like to be in the spotlight? It’s a great way to show off in a talent show, andk if you get really good at it, you can do it professionally at festivals or parties.

12/13/2016 - 12:53pm

Slow, sleepy winter days find many animals curled up in their dens. They sleep warmly through winter, awakening in spring ready to enjoy the renewed Earth. This unusual, deep sleep is called hibernation.

What Is Hibernation?

True hibernation is a very deep sleep. The animal's body temperature drops, its breathing slows, and it is very difficult to awaken. But some animals, such as most bears, do not really hibernate.

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