Virginia Johnson

09/28/2016 - 12:28am
Cover to The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs by Tristan Gooley

Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way • Predict the Weather • Locate Water • Track Animals—and Other Forgotten Skills

Tristan Gooley, the only living person to have both flown and sailed solo across the Atlantic, has set down a fascinating, discursive discussion of the many ways a person might learn to find his way in the wild.

09/27/2016 - 12:27am
Cover to Journeys Home

Actor and travel writer Andrew McCarthy eventually discovered his family roots in Ireland and added on more family besides when he wed a Dublin girl.

His several-page story of a reunion across generations is part of Journeys Home, a collection of more than two dozen tales of seekers who found out more about themselves by finding where they came from: Cuba, Africa (and then to Virginia), Peru, Prague, India, Taiwan, and England, among others. Journeys Home is replete with glorious photographs, old and new, that are typical of the quality a reader would expect from its publisher, National Geographic.

09/22/2016 - 12:24am
Cover to Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn, by Kenard Pak, is a gentle read-aloud that follows a girl walking through the forests and fields and town of a changing world.

“Hello, thunder.”

“Hello! You can hear my low rumble from far away.

My clouds loom over the open fields and quiet hills.”

09/21/2016 - 12:23am
Cover to Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians

Nature programs on TV can only go into so much detail about the fascinating history that underlies our beautiful world. After all, there are commercial breaks to consider and trying to produce a show for the most casual channel surfer. So viewers come away with an idea of what a place looks like—and maybe a few facts about it—but for the truly curious, there is a dearth of content.

Mountains of the Heart: A Natural History of the Appalachians, by Scott Weidensaul, has been a go-to classic for around 20 years. Written in a casual and fascinating yet scientifically accurate way, the narrative draws in readers who do not want to crack academic tomes on the subject but who do wish to learn more about the region’s alpine tundra and the still-living remnants of mighty chestnut trees.

09/19/2016 - 8:59am
The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris

Gawain of Orkney doesn't need a squire. He's yet to make it to King Arthur's court to be knighted, and, if he does need a squire later, he has a few brothers in the hinterlands who will do. For his part, Terence is perfectly happy taking care of his foster father, the hermit Trevisant. He is a kind boy and an excellent cook, though granted a bit confused at present. Just recently the trees had started talking to him.

Trevisant, however, has other ideas. After a shared pot of excellent stewed rabbit, the hermit tells the pair that they are destined to achieve great things together. Terence tells Gawain that it must be so, since Trevisant has the gift to see the future as if it were the past.

09/28/2016 - 8:56am

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.

10/25/2016 - 2:38pm
Woodstock Memories

More than forty years ago, crowds of young people converged on the quiet farming town of Bethel, New York, for a legendary concert. For many, it was the pivotal cultural event of their lives. Many of the Woodstock Generation may be at retirement age, but the memories of those wild summer days rock on in books, music, and video.

09/14/2016 - 12:18am
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs. Perhaps it’s not a fascinating name, but it –is- the name of a fascinating woman. Born to a poor but loving family, thirteen-year-old Maisie goes into service in a grand London house. How very fortunate for her that it is the home of a clever and bored lady bountiful.

09/13/2016 - 12:18am
Cover to Irena’s Children: A True Story of Courage by Tilar J. Mazzeo

History is complicated, and people’s lives are even more so. In the short biography and video clip that Facebook has to share, Irena Sendler is presented as a Catholic woman who saved approximately 2,500 Jewish children. That is true, as far as it goes. Irene was certainly a courageous woman, and she came from Catholic roots and was devoted to the Church during her later years. But there is more to her story. Real heroes often lead complicated lives, as readers of Tilar J. Mazzeo’s Irena’s Children will discover.

09/12/2016 - 9:20am
A Knot in the Grain and Other Stories by Robin McKinley

From the moment she was born, the black-haired girl with the sad eyes never made a sound. When she was a child, her parents discovered that her true talent lay with quickening the mending of bones and quieting fevers. The local healer Jolin noticed as well, and, as she had no daughter to teach, she took Lily as her apprentice.

That was going well enough until Lily met a mage-marked stranger who brought the hope of a cure—and perhaps of happiness for them both. But what would be the cost?

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