Virginia Johnson

Ethan Allen: His Life and Times by Willard Sterne Randall

Ethan Allen: His Life and Times by Willard Sterne Randall

If you don’t live in Vermont, the name Ethan Allen may just be a furniture brand to you. But the life of this key figure in the American Revolution embodied a lot of the conflict between the colonists and their English overlords. From relatively humble beginnings, the Allen family became involved in trade and land ownership. The problem was, wildly rich speculators from New York had in mind to keep New Hampshire land under the tenant farm system whilst the struggling farmers wanted to be able to own their land outright.

Bread to Bake

March yourself into the kitchen, and start making some delicious bread! We have recipes for kid favorites teamed with fun books for a smart, sweet weekend treat.

A Day of Knights

What is a knight?
The simple answer would be a soldier who fights on horseback while wearing armor, but there’s much more to being a knight.

Who were the first knights?
There have been soldiers on horseback for thousands of years, but what we think of as medieval knights first came into being during the time of King Charlemagne (Charles the Great). Charlemagne was a Frank (Frenchman). His knights kept him safe in battle and won him many victories. Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland) was written about Charlemagne’s most famous knight.

Author of the Month: Uri Shulevitz

Picture book writer and illustrator Uri Shulevitz came into a world on the brink of a devastating war.  The son of son of Abraham and Szandla (Hermanstat) Shulevitz, Uri (pronounced oo-ree), he was only four years old when German bombs falling on Warsaw drove his Jewish family out of the city and into an eight-year period of travel in exile throughout Europe before finally settling in Paris in 1947, when Uri was twelve years old. 

The Presidential Election: How It Works

It takes almost two years from the time the candidates announce they are running to the day that one of them will be sworn into office. Let's take a look at how the winning candidate will get there.

American Library Association Names Best Books for 2012

Newbery Medal Winner Dead End in Norvelt

Every year the American Library Association gives awards for the best new books for children and young adults. Probably the oldest and most famous of these prizes are the Randolph Caldecott Medal, given for illustration, and the John Newbery Medal, given for children’s literature. This year, life stories and family stories feature prominently in the prizes.

The 2012 Newbery Award-winning young adult novel, Dead End in Norvelt, is set in the 1960s.  Norvelt, Pennsylvania—named for EleaNOR RooseVELT--was created by the federal government in the 1930s as a place for laid-off coal miners to live. By 1962, Norvelt has become the author’s small-town hometown…a place for spending his 12th summer getting into trouble in all kinds of interesting and often funny ways. Jack Gantos has written something here that blends fiction with autobiography for a really entertaining and memorable read.

A Room of Your Own

It's the first thing you see when you get up in the morning and the last thing you see when you go to bed at night. It should be a space that really expresses you, not just a collection of random backpack kibble.

With the right paint color, some interesting fabric, cool posters, and one or two fun yet functional light fixtures, you can create a room that's perfect for your daydreaming self and may even make homework time a little easier to take.

To get started, think about what you need to make your room work for you. You may think a calendar and a desk are pretty dorky, but you have to have some place to put your work stuff, yes? And your room is a MUCH better place to get down to school business than the dining room table or the den. So figure out where you're going to put the hafta's and then feel free to play with the rest. After all, Mom and Dad are going to be much sweeter about springing for a few decorating extras if the purpose is to improve your studies. ; )

Once Upon a Time with Charles Perrault

"As soon as he entered the wood all those great trees, and the interlaced brambles and thorns, separated to let him pass. He walked towards the castle, which he could see at the end of a great avenue. He was surprised that none of his companions had been able to follow him, since the trees had closed in again as soon as he had passed. But he did not falter. A young prince in love is always brave."

Sleeping Beauty. Cinderella. Puss in Boots. Little Red Riding Hood.
These enduring stories were created as we know them by a brilliant man who lived in 17th-century France. Although similar, but simpler stories were gathered more directly by the folklorists Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the 19th century, it was Charles Perrault's addition of delicate and amusing words, crafted to entrance a noble audience, that caught fire with readers' imaginations and were the basis for the way these stories are remembered today. It is easy to see the difference between a story collected by Grimm and a tale sculpted by Perrault. A Grimm tale is simple and direct and sometimes alarming while Perrault's are laced with details that still fire modern imaginations.

Homework Helper: Virginia in the Civil War--The Battles

One hundred and fifty years ago, life was turned upside-down for residents in our communities.  Stafford County was occupied by Union troops. Fredericksburg changed hands many times between Union and Confederate and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War. Spotsylvania County had the battles of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the Wilderness, and Chancellorsville. Thousands of men encamped and fought here. Many died here. Our state—even just our own area--has some of the most fought-over ground in the country.

Time to Get Popping

Popcorn was grown by Native Americans long before the Europeans came to the New World. The Aztecs used it, strung into garlands, in their religious ceremonies. Peruvians toasted and ate their popcorn, which was called pisancalla. During the 1830's, it was "discovered" by American farmers who, using a new kind of plow, planted acres and acres of it during the 1850s. By the turn of the 19th century, popcorn vendors could be found in every big city. They'd sell their wares by the bag or the ball and make a profit of about 70 cents on every dollar!