Virginia Johnson

07/05/2013 - 10:37am
Runnery Granary by Nancy Farmer, Pictures by Jos. A. Smith

Something is stealing the grain in Mrs. Runnery’s granary. It must be weevils, thinks she, as she sets out spiders to eat them. But in the morning, the frightened spiders are clinging to the ceiling, their webs torn. It wasn’t weevils eating the grain. What could it be? The farmers need this grain from Runnery Granary to mill into flour so they can eat in the winter.

07/02/2013 - 8:52am

This author has had enough wild, true-life experiences to fill an entire shelf of books. She grew up helping her parents run a hotel in a part of Yuma, Arizona where all kinds of shady characters hung out. As a kid, she was brilliant, brave, and very sure of herself. Nancy didn’t care for school much. Indeed, she was dyslexic (and undiagnosed) and failed two grades because of it. But as she got older, she did read all the classics in the hotel library. One day when ditching school, Nancy discovered the cool spaces and amazing stories at the public library. Reading took hold of her and never let go.

07/02/2013 - 3:00am
A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans

A Treasury of Foolishly Forgotten Americans, by Michael Farquhar, is a fascinating series of cleverly-penned essays on true-life characters whom you’ve probably never heard of but definitely are a part of American history.  Meet Jack Billington, the Mayflower Murderer. Not all of the passengers on the Mayflower were sterling souls. He may have signed the famous Mayflower Compact, but Billington never kept his end of the deal. He was a foul-tempered wastrel whose son almost (accidentally and stupidly) blew up the ship on the way over and Jack had the gall to badmouth Miles Standish. For this he was bound, neck to ankles, at which point his bravado lessened considerably. But Jack Billington did not learn from that experience and went on to meet a knave’s fate.

07/01/2013 - 3:01am
Faerie Wars by Herbie Brennan

As Faerie Wars, by Herbie Brennan, begins, the prince of a magical realm has escaped the palace in the dead of night. Someone is trying to kill him. Months pass, and, on the run from an encounter with Lord Hairstreak's men, Prince Pyrgus found himself running full-tilt down Seething Lane. A factory lay just ahead and once inside he slipped on a white lab coat and blended in with the rest of the workers.

06/27/2013 - 8:53am
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

In Dragonsong, by Anne McCaffrey, girls are for working in the kitchen, mending nets, keeping the house clean and tending the sick and the children. That’s all, and that’s enough as far as Yanus, Sea Holder of Half-Circle Sea Hold is concerned. His young daughter Menolly may –think- she has some musical talent, but that’s not a girl’s proper place. Never mind that Petiron, the old Harper, believed she had a real gift and taught her what he could. The daughter of a lord has an established place, and all her twiddlings on the harp won’t change that.

06/25/2013 - 10:44am

Summer's here at last. The pool's open. The weather's scorching hot. What could be better for an afternoon treat than a big bowl of ice cream? A big bowl of ice cream and lots of friends—that's what! Read on for frosty facts and tasty treats.

06/25/2013 - 10:02am
The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

Mr. Ali is a bored gentleman, a bit of a perfectionist, and—much to his wife’s chagrin—recently retired and constantly underfoot. Mr. Ali clearly needs something to do with his cleverness. His rather small house with carefully tended garden and comfortable veranda is a beautiful, small haven in the heart of a busy Indian city, but it is not enough to hold the interest of a man so distinguished and wise. And so, The Marriage Bureau for Rich People began in the Alis’ front room.

06/11/2013 - 6:42am
Great Maria by Cecelia Holland

As Cecilia Holland’s historical romance Great Maria opens, our young and pretty heroine is doing what any well-bred medieval girl might be about on a blustery afternoon: visiting a religious shrine some miles from home and contemplating a life in the convent. Guarded as she is by a handful of her father’s knights, she cannot help noticing that one of them is extremely young and handsome... and that he has noticed her. But when a sudden vicious attack leaves her in dire peril, it is an older knight with cool gray eyes who defends her and brings her back to her father’s castle.

06/06/2013 - 3:31am
Thunderstorm by Arthur Geisert

It’s Saturday afternoon on a working farm in the Midwest. Kids ride along as baled hay is taken to the barn. At 12:15 PM, lightning strikes a power line. That gets the attention of the people in the truck and the animals in the fields... and under the fields. In Thunderstorm, by Arthur Geisert, there are almost no words, the only “words” are time signatures as the thunderstorm rolls across the farm, getting stronger and causing problems for everyone around.

06/06/2013 - 10:08am

On July 4th, burgers sizzle on the grill, and cold drinks are passed around. Happy dogs play with frisbees, and sunburned kids finally climb out of the pool. In the growing darkness, fireworks begin to crackle and zoom overhead. At last a special song starts playing, and all the people get quiet as they remember the reason for the celebration.

When the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, they were doing a very brave thing. They knew that there would be no easy way to make the words they put on paper real. The Continental Army would have to fight for the country's right to exist.

People made up new songs, often using old tunes, and sung them in the streets of America. These were full of pride and jokes about the British. There were lots of them! Some, like Yankee Doodle, are classics we still remember, and many songs told the war news, such as An American Frigate,* that tells the tale of one of John Paul Jones' battles on the sea.

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