Virginia Johnson

Saving Summer in a Jar: Preserving the Fruits of the Season

This is the time of year when delicious fruits and vegetables fill the homegrown gardens and bins at farmers' markets. An abundance of heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn and sweeter peaches make August the right time to practice the very rewarding work of preserving.

Damsels in Distress--Not!

Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce

Her father was the King of Thieves in the capital city of Tortall, now "retired" to lead the Crown's secret service. Her mother is Alanna, the best fighter in the kingdom and the first woman to ever be a knight.

The Apprentices

The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones

Being a permanent part of the King’s Royal Procession isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when the realm’s magic depends on him tromping up and down the countryside to keep the Isle of the Blest blessed.

Here Be Dragons

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, thought 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.

Gifted, Talented, and Magical

Sometimes it doesn't take years to become a great magician.

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Sophie talked to hats. No, they didn't answer her, but she talked to them just the same. "You have a heart of gold and someone in a high position will see it and fall in love you," she told one. Soon enough a plain-looking lass bought the plain bonnet and sailed off with the heart of the Count of Catterack.

Happy Birthday, Neil Armstrong

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Born August 5, 1930, Neil Armstrong has been an aviator, test pilot, and university professor. And, on July 21, 1969, he became the first man to walk on the moon. In the days before the Internet or cable television, people around the world gathered around their sets to watch history being made.

Mildred Taylor Shares Family Stories

Mildred Taylor writes from the experiences of her own life and the tales told by her loving relatives. Her stories have won many awards including the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Award. Mildred was born in Mississippi on September 14, 1943. The hatred and prejudice all around made her family decide to move north when she was just a few weeks old. In the North, there was less prejudice and better opportunities for the Taylor family.

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."

Verna Aardema: "The Bookworm Who Hatched"

"Long, long ago, when the earth was set down and the sky was lifted up, all folktales were owned by the Sky God."

So begins an Ashanti tale, Anansi Does the Impossible!, retold by Verna Aardema. Anansi the Spider and his clever wife, Aso, use their wits to buy the folk tales for the Ashanti people. Verna Aardema spent much of her life retelling these folktales.

Step into the Past with Patricia Beatty

Patricia Beatty made history fascinating with her tales of young men and women caught up in America's beginnings. She was a good researcher who felt out the roots of her stories, adding details to let the reader experience what life was like long ago. She researched in libraries but also drew on her own knowledge when creating her books.