“Junonia” by Kevin Henkes

Kevin Henkes who is known for his picture books, has written this chapter book for a 8-12 audience. The main character, Alice, spends each February vacation in Florida with her parents (they live in Wisconsin) renting the same cottage on the beach. Although an only child, Alice looks forwadr to seeing the renters of the other cottages each year whom she considers a sort of extended family. This year is special because she is turning 10 years old during the vacation. However, upon their arrival it seems that several of the yearly renters will not be joining them as usual and Alice is unhappy.  It doesn’t look like the week will be full of the promise she had hoped. Then her mother’s best friend calls to say she will not be coming alone as usual, but bringing a boyfrind and his young daughter.  As Alice navigates the week’s changes, she matures and learns to sympathize with her company and find happiness despite the unwanted changes.

“Family Pictures” by Jane Green and Hurray for ….

…Hurray for Consumer Reports. In its May 2013 issue article “101 Secrets from Our Experts” it promotes the Public Library as an overlooked resource more people should take advantage of to help fulfill their research needs.  CR mentions the databases offered by libraries as well as help from actual people: librarians.

To piggyback on Lillian’s review of Joanne Trollope’s novel “The Other Family,” I just finished listening to Jane Green’s audio book “Family Pictures.” Two women are unknowingly married to the same man. When the husband can no longer continue his charade, the lives of both women fall apart.  The connections of their two families and how they rebuild their lives have, perhaps, too many coincidences, but life is stranger than fiction and who’s to say it couldn’t happen? An entertaining listen combining tragedy, snobbery and romance.

“The Other Family”

Joanna Trollope’s “The Other Family” is an interesting story about a man with two families.  The story opens with the death of Richie Rossiter, an English singer/pianist.  In his prime he had a very big following, especially with older audiences.  We get to know about Richie through the women in his life.  It seems that when Richie was in his mid-forties, he left his wife and teenage son for a younger woman.  Although there is nothing new about this kind of story, Trollope’s observations are an honest look at an age-old tale.

Basically, we learn how these women cope with their loss.  Richie’s first wife, Margaret,  lives in northern England in the area near Newcastle on Tyne.  She and Richie never divorced, and Richie doesn’t seem to have had much contact with his son Scott.  She has made a career for herself as an agent for musicians and is very independent.  Even though she and Richie haven’t had any contact for more than twenty years, his death causes her to reevaluate her life.  Chrissie, the younger woman, and Richie never married, although they had three children together.  These girls adored their father; the youngest one never even knew that her parents weren’t married.  This family lives in London.  The settings are an important element, probably more meaningful to English readers who know these areas better.

The characters of Margaret and Chrissie hold the story together.  Truthfully, Richie’s children come across as either dull or plain selfish.  Eventually, of course, both women find more meaning in their lives.  Although this isn’t great literature, the story does move along, and I became interested in what these women were going to do to get beyond this life changing event in their lives.

Hook Magazine Article about Palisades architect

I was glancing through the March/April issue of Hook Magazine when a subtitle of a paragraph caught my eye: Eric Gugler in Palisades – a Personal Note. Right below the type was a picture of the Oval Office, and that really grabbed my attention. It seems that when FDR wanted to knock down the West Wing of the White House and rebuild, he turned to a young architect who had a background in the classics but wasn’t afraid of embracing innovation. This young man was Eric Gugler, the husband of Anne Tonetti Gugler. Eric, together with FDR, was responsible for the design of the Oval Office, from the set-in bookcases in the wall to the ceiling medallion of the Presidential Seal. Gugler also designed the placement of the two high backed wing chairs in front of the fireplace, where the President and visiting heads of state are seated. Wow! I thought this was a pretty exciting fact about our neighborhood.

Now THAT’S  being famous. Unfortunately he has since passed away, in 1974, but the author of the article visited Annie Gugler and saw the original maquette models of the Oval Office that Eric Gugler designed. What an interesting article.  Please check it out if you haven’t already read it…

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress announced last Thursday that it is adding 25 new recordings to its audio registry.  The National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress selected these recordings for preservation based on “their cultural, artistic and historic importance to the nation’s aural legacy.”  It is a mixture of classical, pop, rock, and everything in between.  Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 album “Sounds of Silence,”  the punk rock debut album from the Ramones, and Chubby Checker’s hit “The Twist” represent music that had an enormous impact on the younger generations of their time.  In the category of classical music, Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s opera “Einstein on the Beach” and a 1958 recording of Van Cliburn playing Tchaikovsky”s Piano Concerto No. 1 will also be honored.  The original cast album of “South Pacific” and Ornette Coleman’s “The Shape of Jazz to Come” are also on the list.