Virginia Johnson

A Guide for Area Commuters

Washington D.C.
capitol of the free world
and of potholes too

From Honku : The Zen Antidote to Road Rage by Aaron Naparstek.

Well before dawn breaks over the I-95, the race begins. A quick shower, a quicker breakfast, warming the engine, and settling into the chilly seat-- our commuters know the routine... the engine turns over, the heat comes on, and the open road awaits, at least until that bottleneck at Potomac Mills.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Jack is plunked down on a rocky Maine beach straight from the wheat fields of Kansas. His father, a Navy captain, thinks that the nautical prep school is a good match to square away his son who seems to be adrift after his mother’s unexpected death. But Jack finds out in Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early that it’s going to take a lot more than a tightly-made bed or learning how to row to get him back on course.

Author of the Month: Sharon Creech

“I have a normally strange family.”

Award-winning author Sharon Creech wove a lot of her own life into her books for young adults, including her first one, Absolutely Normal Chaos. Written as a journal as are many of her novels, what strikes a reader immediately are her humor and casual way of storytelling. Everything is told offhand, as if it doesn’t really matter—just a 13-year-old chattering. Until what happens does matter and things get serious. That’s when readers are grateful for the humor, and having a strong if strange family really becomes important.

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

Shadow on the Mountain by Margi Preus

Margi Preus’ Shadow on the Mountain is a gripping adventure story of teenagers risking death to defy the Nazis who have invaded their country. It is also almost entirely true.

Red, White, and Blue Music

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 everyone gets quiet as they remember the reason for the celebration.

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Gemma Doyle is furious with her mother. They may have the same untamed red hair and deep green eyes, but in Libba Bray’s historical novel A Great and Terrible Beauty they are completely at odds with each other. It’s Gemma’s 16th birthday, and try as she may, she is making no headway whatsoever with getting what she really wants for a present—a ticket back to Merrie Olde England where she can make her debut in society and meet some nice, eligible young men.  But her mother won’t budge. Gemma’s to stay with her parents in India. And then something terrible happens. She gets her wish… at a horrifying cost.

The Foxfire Book

The Foxfire Book

Anybody interested in DIY projects or maker culture or just getting back to basics should take a gander at the Foxfire series of books. Beginning in the late 60s and continuing on through today, a class at a rural Georgia high school decided to take a different tack at English class and create a magazine.

They had no money so the venture needed to pay for itself. As there was little market for poetry or short stories found in ordinary high school magazines, they decided to print folklore and folk ways gathered from people in their own community. It was the beginning of something amazing.

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Set in the Gilded Age of the 1890s through the beginning of the 20th century, Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland, paints a not always pretty picture of New Yorkers’ lives during one of the city’s most bustling periods. These were the days when the Statue of Liberty was new, thousands of hopeful European immigrants crowded into slums, and, for a few talented and lucky young women, there was a chance to be independent and earn good wages at Mr. Tiffany’s stained glass studio.

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

Molly’s father was determined to get rid of her. Her mother, believed mad and kept locked away, had no say in the matter. After all, Diane Stanley’s The Silver Bowl is set in medieval times, and if a father wanted to drag his street urchin of a child to the castle and hire her off as a scullery maid, there was no one to say him nay. Never mind that she’s seven years old.

Happy Birthday to the Delightful Bruce Degen

One of children’s literature’s most beloved authors and illustrators was born in June. Bruce Degen created Jamberry and illustrated the hugely successful Magic School Bus series.