Virginia Johnson

An American Thanksgiving

Everybody knows that the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, right? Well, probably not, but it was the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving that gave us our Thanksgiving holiday as we know it today.

The Pilgrims came to the New World looking for a way to worship God as they wished. They were not Puritans. Puritans wanted to change the Church of England to do away with its bishops but keep its ties to the government. The Puritans went on to settle the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The Pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony were Separatists.

Hurrah for Astrid Lindgren!

When Astrid Lindgren was a little girl, a friend read her stories about the giant, Bam-Bam, and the fairy, Viribunda. Astrid Lindgren loved these stories. Some part of the author never grew up and the result is the enchanting adventures of The Children of Noisy Village, Ronia, the Robber's Daughter, and, of course, Pippi Longstocking.

"I write books for the child I am myself. I write about things that are dear to me--trees and houses and nature--just to please myself."

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

The ten Boom family lived a quiet, respectable life in the Dutch town of Haarlem. Corrie and her father made and repaired clocks. Her sister was their housekeeper. They were loved by the community. But in neighboring countries, Nazi Germany was rising, and soon it would sweep into the Netherlands.

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Before Ever After by Samantha Sotto

Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After is a magical, mysterious, and romantic treat.  Shelley was a very locked-down person before she met up with Max, who took her and a bevy of eccentric souls on a European tour unlike any other. Stuffed into a VW microbus and crossing the English Channel, Max leads them on a truly fascinating tour off the usual path. Along the way, Shelley and Max fall deeply in love. It’s a pity it can’t last.

Rudyard Kipling’s Tales of Horror and Fantasy, with an introduction by Neil Gaiman

Rudyard Kipling’s Tales of Horror and Fantasy, with an introduction by Neil Gaim

Rudyard Kipling, an amazingly gifted British writer who was born in India, tells stories of ghosts, gods, reincarnation, and the joys and madness of the human spirit in the collection, Tales of Horror and Fantasy.

The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

The Midwife’s Apprentice by Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman’s The Midwife’s Apprentice draws readers into the past with the story of an unwanted girl making her own way in the perilous Middle Ages.

Katherine Paterson's Healing Words

Best known for her Newbery Award-winning books, Jacob Have I Loved, as well as Newbery Honor winner, The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Paterson's very personal style of storytelling strikes nerves with her readers, who are able feel her characters' emotions, giving them practice for dealing with life's sorrows. What keeps her books from being simple studies in misery is her ability to find the humor and grace in any situation.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Sisters Pearl and May Chin are “Beautiful Girls”—artists’ models in 1930s Shanghai. They live in amazing times in a modern city, dancing at nightclubs, dining at expensive restaurants, buying new outfits, and having lots of admirers. Neither college-graduate Pearl nor everyone’s darling May give much thought to their futures.  They think they can go on like this forever, marrying as they choose, if they choose. Unfortunately for these Shanghai Girls, they are quite mistaken.

Russka: The Novel of Russia by Edward Rutherfurd

Russka: The Novel of Russia by Edward Rutherfurd

Edward Rutherfurd’s Russka is a sprawling, engaging book that delves into the lives of many generations who are determined to survive and even thrive in a Russian village.

Columbus Day: A Day of Discovery

Columbus Day is sometimes called Discoverers' Day. In the spirit of discovery, take some time to learn about the world as it was in the days of the European explorers. You can make a compass, learn about the stars, read about other explorers and discoverers, and find how even our way of eating has changed since the Europeans came to the Americas looking for gold, glory, and, yes, tasty cooking spices.

Pizza Without Tomato Sauce?

The explorers who came to the Americas found the food enjoyed by the native people to be very different from what they knew at home. They had never seen tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, maize (corn), pineapples, chili peppers, or even cocoa. The vegetable dishes from the Europe they knew relied on parsnips, cabbages, peas, carrots, turnips, and onions. After being at sea and living off of a diet of lentil soup, salt beef from a barrel, salted sardines, hardtack, and other delights, the fresh, new foods of the islands would have been an astonishing change.