Virginia Johnson

04/18/2017 - 2:15am
River of Darkness by Rennie Airth

It takes a serious case to bring Scotland Yard detectives to the countryside, but, without doubt, that is what the local Bobbies have on their hands. Detective John Madden, a hollow-eyed veteran of the Great War, has a knack for discovering the truth behind baffling crimes, even if his manner leaves some of the more politically savvy officers cold. In the case of the violent murder of a fine, upstanding family, the horrors presented are disconcertingly familiar to him, even if they do not match their otherwise bucolic village setting.

The mystery behind Rennie Airth’s River of Darkness unfolds in a time when class distinctions were still very real, but the 1920s was also a period of greater freedom, when some women, such as the village’s lovely Dr. Helen Blackwell, might discover other outlets for their interests and passions. All the while, men who had survived the war might not survive the battles that raged in their minds. Psychiatry was still in its infancy, and fingerprints, as well as casts of footprints and tire tracks, were the common limits of scientific investigation. The rest was up to logic, hard experience, curiosity, and intuition.

04/19/2017 - 9:49am
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

“It was June and long past time for buying the special shoes that were quiet as summer rain falling on the walks. June and the earth full of raw power and everything everywhere in motion.  The grass was still pouring in from the country, surrounding the sides, stranding the houses.  Any moment the town would capsize, go down and leave not a stir in the clover and weeds.  And here Douglas stood, trapped on dead cement and red-brick streets, hardly able to move.”

The opening piece in Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine finds Doug Spaulding at the start of his twelfth summer, yearning for a pair of running shoes that will let him be a part of the glorious season. Like the dandelion wine bottled and stored in his grandparents’ cellar, the memories of that long-ago summer are preserved to be savored by his readers.

04/06/2017 - 2:07am
Cover to The Language of Angels: A Story about the Reinvention of Hebrew

What happens if no one speaks a language for nearly 2,000 years? Is it dead? Latin and ancient Greek are sometimes called “dead” languages because they are rarely spoken anymore. We still use both those languages, especially for worship services or studying science and literature, but most people do not talk to each other using either language every day.

It was the same for Hebrew, which has also been called “the language of the angels.” A Jewish scholar and father, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda was one of many Jews living in Palestine (part of the Ottoman Empire) in the 19th century, and he wanted to give the Jewish people who had drawn together from across the world a shared language, a language that reflected their faith.

06/20/2017 - 2:00pm
Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

As an art student, Donna Seaman naturally studied artists of the past, thumbing through photographs and reading sketches of their lives and works. It didn’t take her long to figure out there was something wrong with these pictures. In too many, the male artists’ names were proclaimed, but the women, when they did appear, were simply listed as, “Identity Unknown.”

On a mission to make these women and their works known, Seaman did the research on seven whose art and lives were every bit as intriguing as their male counterparts. We meet the provocative sculptor Louise Nevelson, “The Empress of In-Between.” Her medium was wood, and she derived much inspiration from ancient cultures. The essay “Girl Searching” introduces Gertrude Abercrombie, whose specialty was edgy, emotional and autobiographical paintings. She cruised Chicago in her vintage Rolls-Royce and held jam sessions in her three-story Victorian brownstone, earning her title, “Queen of the Bohemian Artists.”

05/23/2017 - 11:34am

A Solid Beginning

Arnaud “Arna” Wendell Bontemps was born on October 13, 1902, in Alexandria, Louisiana, a child of middle class parents of mixed racial heritage—what is sometimes called Creole. His father, Paul Bismark Bontemps, was descended from French plantation owners living in Haiti and their slaves. After coming to the United States, the Bontemps family lived free in Louisiana for decades, and the many of the men worked as skilled brick and stone masons for generations.  In addition to working his trade, Arna’s father also played music with a popular band. Arna’s mother, Maria (pronounced Ma-rye-ah) Carolina Pembrooke was descended from an English planter and his Cherokee wife. Maria taught public school and enjoyed creating visual art.

05/23/2017 - 11:33am
Meeting Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is famous today for her memorable words. She should also be remembered for her indomitable spirit.

04/03/2017 - 8:43am
Cover to poemcrazy

Are you inspired by life, whether light or dark, to mark moments or passages with words that dance, shout, or whisper your personal truth? You might be poemcrazy. Author (and poet) Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge certainly is. In her book, she shares how she sees the world as a poet as she’s progressed from shy teen to mother to writing workshop presenter.

04/01/2017 - 2:03am
CRRL Guest Picks: Stephanie Lyles

Besides being a business development officer at NSWC Federal Credit Union, Stephanie Lyles is also on the board of the Leadership Colloquium at UMW, which prepares women to work toward "a lifetime of leadership." Winner of the Laurie A. Wideman Enterprising Woman's Award, Stephanie has been recognized as an "independent, energetic spirit" as well as being "ready to act in business and in the community, and lead with values of the highest level of integrity and honesty."

This month, Stephanie shares her personal and professional favorites with our library community.

03/31/2017 - 1:19pm
Cover to Prairie Day

Are you looking for warm and classic stories to entrance little ones? Introduce them to Laura Ingalls and her family with My First Little House Books. The original Little House series has been beloved for generations, so why, fans of the chapter book series might ask, do we want to look at a series rewritten and freshly illustrated for small children? Why not just read the original?

My First Little House Books have a different intended audience and therefore a different method of telling the story of the pioneering Ingalls family, who move from territory to territory, looking for a better life and being willing to work hard for it—but also having fun.

Perfect for a lap-sit storytime, these 14 books joyfully recreate the atmosphere of the original Little House books, while Renée Graf’s glowing illustrations faithfully follow and enlarge upon original illustrator Garth Williams’ gentle style.

03/29/2017 - 2:01am
Cover to Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

The best science teachers bring their subjects to life. They intrigue and entrance their students, often by explaining how everyday events they have observed, such as swirling a dollop of milk in a cup of tea or coffee, are really quite similar to what happens elsewhere in the Universe on both a much larger and much smaller scale. By hooking their students’ interest in a relatable way, a great teacher can inspire them to see their world differently, to open their minds, and to understand the underpinnings of our daily lives.

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