Booksink's HamletHub Sat, 23 Sep 2017 10:23:36 -0400 My Life Off the Post Road: Idyll

Dozens of snow-white, long-necked, down-laden swans – surely the reincarnation of the Bard himself – float, nay, waft, down the serene waters of the Avon. All’s well here in idyllic Stratford…

Except for a few things, including the soft greenish poop with which said swans strew the paths parallel to said river.

1. The Tangled Web that Bureaucracy Weaves. I cannot get a proper mobile phone plan unless I have a bank account, from which the carrier (EE) can debit my monthly fee, even though I offered up my internationally accepted credit card as a sacrificial lamb to guarantee the payments. I cannot open up a bank account until I get a letter from the Uni (yup, I’m trying to blend in with Brit-speak) confirming that they intend to educate me for the year. Even though I have a passport, Tier 4 Student visa, confirmation of acceptance, receipt for tuition payment, and a signed tenancy lease on a flat. I cannot register for an NHS doctor or get any of the myriad generous student discounts until I collect my national and student IDs. From Birmingham. An hour away. In different locations. On different days. And I cannot call anyone at any business number to inquire about these or any other administrative issues without forking over a sum large enough to feed my friends and family (who I can actually call).

2. Domestic Issues. I love my new flat, but it has confused and confounded me at every turn. Each sink has separate hot and cold water spigots. So I have to choose between washing (or should I say scalding) my hands, face, and dishes with instantly near-boiling water (thanks to the on-demand, prominently kitchen-wall-mounted water heater), or frigid ice water. Never with a combination of what I wistfully remember as warm. The adorable vacuum cleaner is called Henry. Literally. Round and red, he looks like a character from Thomas the Tank Engine. His bright eyes and wide smile make me almost happy to Hoover. Almost. Looks can be deceiving. When I switched him on for the first time, the odor that emanated led me to wonder what the previous tenant had eviscerated and vacuumed up. Changing the paper bag in Henry’s belly proved treacherous and left the small sitting room carpet and me covered with the sinister dust. Hopping (well, okay, carefully hoisting myself over the hurdle-height tub side) into the shower for immediate decontamination, I encountered a slow, gurgling drain which I nearly gagged de-gunking. The refrigerator-lite is smaller than most hotel minibars. I have taken the fridge’s inadequacy as a welcome confirmation from the culinary gods that I’m not meant to cook. Ever.

3. The Road to Rome. Or in this case, Tesco, the nearest supermarket, is paved with quaint, but very uneven cobblestones that make my shopping trolley jump and clack for the entire 2 ½ mile round trip walk. In the rain. I decided to stock up on non-perishables (given the fridge limitations), and in doing so, learned that even on wheels, a fully packed cart is hard to schlep for over a mile on slick streets. I believe that I may have slightly dislocated my trolley-tugging arm, and my wrist looked weird and bulgy by the time I limped back into my second floor flat. Fortunately, since I couldn’t fit everything into the cart, the weight of the extra bag and my purse in the other hand dislocated that shoulder correspondingly.  So I’m in balance.

It’s all part of the adventure of settling in to a new place. It makes for great stories. I have walked and cleaned and lugged and investigated so much in these few days that I felt I’d earned an enormous, currant-filled scone (pronounced scahn) and a pot of Earl Grey tea in the Royal Shakespeare Company Café. Where I’m sitting and writing and watching those gossamer swans float down the flowing Avon without a care in the world.

Photos by Diane Lowman

]]> (Diane Meyer Lowman) Local Writers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 09:35:57 -0400
The Hickory Stick Bookshop Celebrates Banned Books Week 2017

The Hickory Stick Bookshop will celebrate Banned Books Week, this year running from Sunday, Sept. 24 through Saturday, Sept. 30.

Throughout the week, The Hickory Stick Bookshop will feature Banned and Challenged Books, and educate the public on how and why books are still being banned or challenged in our country today. Stop in to free a banned book from jail, have your mug shot taken as a rebellious reader, vote for your favorite banned book, enter to win prizes, and learn more about Banned/Challenged Books that are still facing resistance today across the nation.

Celebrations will culminate on Friday, Sept. 29 from 5 - 7 p.m. when The Hickory Stick Bookshop will have a fREADom Party, featuring readings and artwork from local students and educators, and themed refreshments. Prizes will be awarded at the party, and the winning title for “Washington’s Favorite Banned Book” will be announced.

For over 30 years, since its inception in 1982, Banned Books Week has reminded us that while not every book is intended for every reader, each of us has the right to decide for ourselves what to read, listen to, or view. Thousands of bookstores and libraries across the country will celebrate the freedom to read by participating in special events, exhibits, and read-outs that showcase books that have been banned or challenged.

“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.” - Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

All events and activities are free and open to the public.

The Hickory Stick Bookshop is located at 2 Green Hill Road in Washington Depot, Conn. For further information about this event please visit or email

]]> (The Hickory Stick Bookshop) Readers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 08:53:00 -0400
Book Signing with "Connecticut Rock ’N’ Roll: A History" Author Tony Renzoni in Fairfield on Sept. 30

Long neglected in the annals of American music, the Nutmeg State’s influence on the history of rock ’n’ roll deserves recognition. On Saturday, Sept. 30 from 12 - 3 p.m., author Tony Renzoni will be at the downtown Fairfield University Bookstore to meet & greet customers and sign copies of his new book, "Connecticut Rock ’N’ Roll: A History." Copies of the bookwill be available for purchase and signing at the downtown Bookstore event.
Connecticut’s musical highlights include the beautiful harmonies of New Haven’s Five Satins, Gene Pitney’s rise to fame, Stamford’s the Fifth Estate, and notable rockers such as Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Rivers Cuomo of Weezer and Saturday Night Live Band’s Christine Ohlman. Rock Hall of Famers include Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of the Talking Heads and Dennis Dunaway of the Alice Cooper Band. Some events became legend, like Jimi Hendrix’s spellbinding performance at Yale’s Woolsey Hall, Jim Morrison’s onstage arrest at the New Haven Arena and teenage Bob Dylan’s appearance at Branford’s Indian Neck Folk Festival.
With in-depth interviews as well as rare, never-before-seen photos, Renzoni leads a sonic trip that captures the spirit and zenith of the local scene in "Connecticut Rock ’N’ Roll: A History."
A graduate of Sacred Heart University, Renzoni is a rock ’n’ roll enthusiast and an avid collector of rock memorabilia, amassing a record collection of over 10,000 vinyl records. He has authored over 1,000 weekly guest columns published in the Connecticut Post newspaper and website. During a 38t-year career with the federal government, many as a district manager in Fairfield County, Renzoni was a recipient of more than 40 awards, including his agency’s highest honor award.
The Fairfield University Bookstore Downtown is located at 1499 Post Road, Fairfield, Conn. For more information, phone (203) 255-7756.
]]> (Fairfield University Bookstore) Authors Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:47:41 -0400
Awesome Autumn Book Sale Fundraiser begins Sept. 23 in Wilton

The Wilton Library's Awesome Autumn Book Sale Fundraiser begins Saturday, Sept. 23. Proceeds will benefit the library.

Hours are as follows:

  • Saturday from 9. a.m. - 5 p.m. with a $5 admission from 9 - 10 a.m. Entrance to the sale is free to the public from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
  • Sunday from 1 - 5 p.m. 
  • Monday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. All items will be half-price on Monday.

The sale will feature books for all ages, from board books to bestsellers, and in a range of categories, among them mysteries, travel, gardening, and biographies. Items include gently used, new, collectible, rare books, and DVDs. There will also be more than 1,100 classical, jazz, and Latin CDs and close to 100 classical DCDs, more than 30 percent of them new in their shrink-wrap. Vinyl enthusiasts will find more than 400 records.

The Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton, Conn. For more information, visit, or phone (203) 762-3950.

]]> (Books, Ink editors) Readers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:40:29 -0400
“Sunday Afternoon Talks” Return to Stratford Library on Oct. 1

The fall season of “Sunday Afternoon Talks,” Stratford Library's monthly series of free and open to the public talks featuring prominent local guest speakers, resumes on Sunday, October 1 at 2 p.m. with “The New Haven Railroad’s Pioneering AC Electrification and Its Locomotives.”Engineer Richard Abramson is the featured guest speaker. 

Having an interest in trains and the New Haven Railroad since childhood, Abramson went to work for the New Haven RR in 1968, continuing on with Penn Central, Amtrak and several other railroads. He became a locomotive engineer in a career where he held numerous positions in 44 years of service. He retired in 2012 as Superintendent of Operations for the Housatonic Railroad in Canaan, Conn.

For the Library program Abramson’s power point program will cover the pioneering AC electrification of the New Haven RR, why such a project was undertaken beginning in 1907, and the electric locomotives that pulled the trains. The New Haven's electrification served as the prototype for other railroads that electrified using what the New Haven and Westinghouse had developed.

A complete schedule of future talks through May 2018 is now available at the Library or online at

]]> (Stratford Library) Clubs Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:26:22 -0400
"Seeing is Being" Exhibit Opens Sept. 21 at New Canaan Library

"Seeing is Being" is a show about awareness and moments of clarity - those rare moments when everything seems to stand still and one actually sees. The exhibition opens at New Canaan Library's H. Pelham Curtis Gallery on Sept. 21 and runs through Nov. 5. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 3 -5 p.m. in the Curtis Gallery with a Q&A with the artists beginning at 3:30 p.m. All are welcome to attend.

These moments of "seeing" come to the three featured artists in different ways, yet carry the similarity of creating artwork that resonates with emotion and impact. For printmaker Deb Chaney, the moment is brought about by radical color and movement. Her luscious prints seem to vibrate, each one to its own pulse. In Cris Xavier and Edhu Nascimento’s Windows series, the artists partially obscure the object to create a reveal, drawing and focusing the viewer's attention. Their work announces that seeing is the point, not the view. In her collages, which she terms “Land Escapes,” Xavier pares it down even further by employing the barest of lines to liberate the view from itself, to literally allow the landscape to “escape” from the confines of landscape and be freshly experienced.

Curated by Mary Moross and Micaela Porta, "Seeing is Being" is sponsored by the Art Committee of New Canaan Library.

New Canaan Library is located at 151 Main Street in New Canaan, Conn. For more information, phone (203) 594-5000.

]]> (Katherine Blance) Beyond Books Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:20:00 -0400
Digital-Age Romantic Drama “Sex with Strangers” Runs Sept. 26-Oct 14 at Westport Country Playhouse

Westport Country Playhouse will stage “Sex with Strangers,” a romantic drama about ambition and fame in the digital age, from Sept. 26 through Oct. 14. The play is written by Laura Eason, who is best known for four seasons as a writer/producer on the Netflix drama “House of Cards.” “Sex with Strangers” is one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. in ’15-’16 and’16-’17 seasons with more than 50 separate productions. The director is Katherine M. Carter. The play includes adult themes and language.

“’Sex with Strangers’ is about the ways modern relationships are influenced by the internet,” said Mark Lamos, Westport Country Playhouse artistic director. “It also entertainingly deals with the generational differences between a woman who falls for a younger man. She's a 30-something author struggling with her second novel. He's a 20-something blogger whose book about casual sex has rocketed to the top of the bestseller lists. Their mutual exploration of each other's needs and points of view makes for a funny, rueful, and up-to-date look at love, sex, and how different we find ourselves as we seek togetherness in a world that keeps changing every time we press 'send'.”

Playwright Laura Eason is a Brooklyn-based screenwriter, playwright, and writer/producer on the Netflix drama “House of Cards,” which received a WGA nomination for outstanding writing in a drama series, and three Primetime Emmy Award nominations for drama series. She has more than 20 produced plays and adaptations, including “Around the World in 80 Days.”

The performance schedule is Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Wednesdays at 2 and 8 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Special series feature Taste of Tuesday (Sept. 26), LGBT Night OUT (Sept. 28), Opening Night (Sept. 30), Sunday Symposium (Oct. 1), Together at the Table Family Dinner (Oct. 3), Open Captions (Oct. 8), Backstage Pass (Oct. 11), Playhouse Happy Hour (Oct. 12), and Thursday TalkBack (Oct. 12). 

Westport Country Playhouse is located at 25 Powers Court, off Route 1 in Westport. For more information and to buy tickets, visit, or call the box office at (203) 227-4177, toll-free at 1-888-927-7529.

Photo by Cynthia Astmann

]]> (Books, Ink editors) Beyond Books Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:12:52 -0400
The Ferguson Library's Third Annual Pub Crawl Happens Oct. 24

The Friends Book Shop and the Friends of The Ferguson Library will host the Library's Third Annual Literary Pub Crawl on Tuesday, October 24 beginning at 6:15 p.m. The event has sold out in the past, so get your tickets early!

Attendees, who must be 21 or older to participate, receive a Literary Pub Crawl Passport at the Ferguson Library. Tickets are $15. Proceeds will benefit the library. Click here to purchase tickets.

The evening will take place in downtown Stamford with stops at Bar Rosso and Hudson Grille, among others. Pub crawl specials will be provided at the stop, along with entertainment, provided by Curtain Call, The Stamford All-School Musical, and Westfair Singers.

The Ferguson Library is located at 96 Broad Street in Stamford, Conn. For more information, call (203) 351-8243.
]]> (Sally Allen) Readers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 07:06:11 -0400
Opening Reception for the Westport Library's Transformation Project Exhibit on Sept. 22

Ten years in the making, the Westport Library's major renovation is scheduled to begin in mid-September. The current $19.5 million plan will not change the building's footprint and will last 18-21 months, during which the Library will remain open. The newly installed Transformation Project exhibit in the Library's Great Hall showcases renderings of the planned renovation by architect Henry Myerberg's New York-based design firm, HMA2.

On view through Nov. 27, the exhibit will have an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 22 from 6 - 7:30 p.m. in The Great Hall, to which the public is invited and which Myerberg will attend (please use the Upper Level entrance).

Salient features of the renovation will include a newly designed entrance that capitalizes on the Library's location in the heart of downtown and a redesigned Riverwalk Level that will house the bulk of the Library's adult book collection, offering quiet reading areas and unparalleled views of the Sugatuck River. The Main Level will be transformed into The Forum, an open, flexible space for multiple everyday activities that, for special events on the Forum Stage, can convert to accommodate an audience of up to 600 people. The Main Level will also feature an increased number of conference rooms and quiet areas, an enlarged Library Café, a larger dedicated MakerSpace, a HackerSpace workshop with prototyping equipment and co-working space, and a state-of-the-art recording studio. The expanded balcony will offer more conference rooms and provide open study/reading areas, which can become mezzanine seating for large events on the Forum Stage.

Founded in 1986 by Myerberg, HMA2 is a recognized leader in the design of learning places. The firm's notable education and library projects include  American University of Central Asia; American University of Paris; Amherst College; Baltimore Hebrew Library and School; Bryn Mawr College Rhys Carpenter Library; Davidson College Library; Hampshire College; LIBRARY Initiative, NYC Schools; and Washington, DC, Public Libraries.

Construction will be handled by A.P. Construction, headquartered in Stamford, and Soundview Construction Advisors of Greenwich will provide design and construction advisory and management services for the project.

The Westport Library is located at 20 Jesup Rd. in Westport. For further information, phone (203) 291-4800, or visit

Photo: Rendering of the Westport Library's planned Jesup Green entrance by architect Henry Myerberg's design firm, HMA2

]]> (Westport Library) Readers Fri, 15 Sep 2017 06:57:39 -0400
"The Compassionate Achiever" Author Chris Kukk Speaks at Byrd's Books on Sept. 26

WCSU professor, Chris Kukk, will explore his new book, "The Compassionate Achiever: How Helping Others Fuels Success," on Tuesday September 26 at 7 p.m. at Byrd's Books. Click here to register online.

About the book: A powerful, practical guide for cultivating compassion-the scientifically proven foundation for personal achievement and success at work, at home, and in the community.

For decades, we've been told the key to prosperity is to look out for number one. But recent science shows that to achieve durable success, we need to be more than just achievers; we need to be compassionate achievers.

New research in biology, neuroscience, and economics have found that compassion-recognizing a problem or caring about another's pain and making a commitment to help-not only improves others' lives; it can transform our own. Based on the most recent studies from a wide range of fields, The Compassionate Achiever reveals the profound benefits of practicing compassion including more constructive relationships, improved intelligence, and increased resiliency. To help us achieve these benefits, Christopher L. Kukk, the founding Director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation, shares his unique 4-step program for cultivating compassion.

Kukk makes clear that practicing compassion isn't about being a martyr or a paragon of virtue; it's about rejecting rage and indifference and choosing instead to be a thoughtful, caring problem-solver. He identifies the skills every compassionate achiever should master-listening, understanding, connecting, and acting-and outlines how to develop each, with clear explanations, easy-to-implement strategies, actionable exercises, and real-world examples.

With the "The Compassionate Achiever," everyone wins-we can each achieve success in our own lives and create more productive workplaces, and healthier, less violent communities.

About the author: Christopher L. Kukk, Ph.D., is a professor of political science and social science at Western Connecticut State University; founding director of the Center for Compassion, Creativity and Innovation; and faculty advisor for the University and City of Compassion initiatives. He is also cofounder and CEO of InnovOwl LLC, a research and consulting start-up for solving micro and macro problems through innovative education. He was an international security fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, a counterintelligence agent for the United States Army, and a research associate for Cambridge Energy Research

Byrd's Books is located at 126 Greenwood Ave in Bethel. Visit them online here. 


]]> (Byrd's Books) Authors Fri, 15 Sep 2017 06:45:53 -0400
Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge: “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss

Christopher: Well, I know you well enough to know that when you say no to coffee, especially in the morning, all is not right in Whoville.
—“Christopher Returns” (season 1, episode 15)

One hard thing that comes up again and again in the Gilmore Girls series is the struggle to understand someone whose perspective differs markedly from one's own.

Lorelai doesn’t understand her parents, and they don’t understand her. Sometimes Rory doesn’t understand Lorelai, and Lorelei doesn’t understand Rory. Also Luke can be confusing. And Kirk … forget about it.

That it’s hard to understand differing viewpoints … well duh. Just because we’re sitting within arm’s length of each other doesn’t guarantee we’re having the same experience. I may be sitting at the seat with the view of the sea while you’re sitting at the seat with the view of the kitchen.

When we’re having these vastly different experiences, it can be hard to remember to ask questions and to listen to the other person. It can be hard to see the other person as human. Our view of the world is based on empirical elements. It’s “factual,” you see. We just forget that our empirical reality is part of a larger collection of empirical realities that all together make up a whole. We forget about the “whole” part.

What I love about Gilmore Girls is how it makes us confront the messy, complicated, sometimes upsetting, whole. It constantly challenges our understanding and judgment of characters, and invites us to do the same beyond the screen.

In one early episode, Lorelei has an epic meltdown because Emily received Lorelai’s wedding news coldly. In the beginning, we might be on Lorelai’s “side.” We might be like, “[gasp] what is Emily's problem?!” Until we find out she heard the news about her daughter’s wedding from a stranger (Sookie). Emily may seem not to care, but in fact, she is deeply, desperately hurt.   

In another early episode, called “Christopher Returns,” Christopher’s father blames Lorelai for ruining his son’s life and mocks the life she has made for herself and “that girl,” meaning Rory. In the moment, Richard defends Lorelai, almost to the point of violence. Later, she approaches him to thank him for what she assumed was his protectiveness. But he reveals his motive was born from something different—sacrifice and loyalty. He sacrificed his own feelings about Lorelai’s choices out of loyalty to his blood, his family. Then Richard tells Lorelai that he and Emily didn’t deserve to have their daughter disappear from their lives. And he is right. Problem is, Lorelai is also right that she didn’t deserve to live a life of what was, for her, misery.

So much of the series is these characters trying to see each other, to find their way back to each other, in spite of their different values and views of the world.

If you’ve read Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears a Who,” you might see intersections: “Horton Hears a Who” tells the story of an elephant called Horton who discovers that what he thought was an insignificant speck of clover contains a vibrant tiny town, called Whoville. It has its own complex, if itty bitty, infrastructure invisible to Horton’s eyes. He can’t see it. It’s not his experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real.

The story begins with Horton walking around the Jungle of Nool, minding his own business, when he hears “a very faint yelp / As if some tiny person were calling for help.” Seeing nothing but a tiny speck of clover, Horton gives it a think and concludes the speck must, in fact, be home to a teeny tiny person. He vows to protect it because, he says, “A person’s a person. No matter how small.”

Except a know-it-all kangaroo hops over and decides Horton must be crazy. So the kangaroo spreads the word, and the jungle creatures gang up on Horton and his speck. Three monkeys grab the speck and pass it to an eagle, who flies it far away to a clover field, where it drops it among about a billion other specks. Determined Horton combs patiently through the clover field until he recovers it.

At this point, the jungle creatures have just about had it with Horton. They tie him up, beat him, and tell him they’re going to drop the speck into a boiling vat of Beezle-Nut oil. They don’t see what Horton sees, so their response is to beat him and destroy what he is trying to protect.

In desperation, Horton exhorts the tiny Whos to make as much noise as they can to prove their existence and save their world. The mayor of Whoville rounds everyone up (or so he thinks), and they’re still not loud enough. That’s when the mayor realizes one little shirker called Jo-Jo is messing around with a yo-yo when the town’s about to be boiled out of existence. Jo-Jo is brought to the town’s summit. He lets out a yelp. The jungle creatures hear it, and the town is saved.

Meantime, Horton continues his refrain throughout the story: “A person’s a person. No matter how small.”

If you have this book, you might have noticed the dedication, which reads:

For My Great Friend,
Mitsugi Nakamura
of Kyoto,

During World War II, Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, was an editorial cartoonist for a New York newspaper. He produced hundreds of political cartoons in support of the war effort, which included supporting the internment of Japanese-Americans and creating racist caricatures in his comics. Eight years after the war ended, Geisel visited Japan and saw first hand the devastation the bombing of Hiroshima caused. “Horton Hears a Who” was published in 1954, a year after Geisel’s visit. You already know to whom he dedicated the story.

Knowing this brings new perspective to “Horton Hears a Who.” Especially to the moment after Horton recovers the speck, when the mayor of Whoville tells him, “When that black-bottomed birdie let go and we dropped, / We landed so hard that our clocks have all stopped. / Our tea-pots are broken. Our rocking-chairs smashed. / And our bicycle tires all blew up when we crashed.” Especially to Horton’s desperate cry to the Whos to raise up their voices and be heard. Especially to the mayor’s insistence that every last Whovian unite in a single purpose to prevent further destruction.

In the grown-up land of the Gilmore Girls, uniting in a single purpose is harder than anyone would like it to be. Conflicting beliefs and desires crash into each other over and over again. The girls, and the people around them, have to keep on picking up the pieces and trying again. Like Horton. Like Horton's author. Like all of us.

We would love for you to join us on this challenge. To see the complete list of books, please visit The Gilmore Girls Reading Challenge. If you would like to participate, please email

]]> (Sally Allen) Readers Fri, 08 Sep 2017 17:34:55 -0400
On the Children's Shelf: "Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom" by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

My friend's daughter lent me some amazing books this past summer. I didn't get to read as much as I wanted to and am finally digging in to her suggestions. The first booked I grabbed was "Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Selma Voting Rights March" by Lynda Blackmon Lowery. This book is the most powerful book I have read in a long time.
Blackmon Lowery gives readers a unique view of the Civil Rights movement. She was jailed 11 times before her 15th birthday. She shares the experience of listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr speak. She takes you inside the marches, inside the jails.
This memoir written for middle school readers is so inspiring. It's real and raw and shows today's young readers the battle other youth have fought in our history. While many young teens may not feel that they have the power to change things, Blackmon Lowery and other teens showed bravery through fear, determination through set backs, and belief that things can change.
This is a book I will definitely be sharing with my middle school readers.
]]> (Jessica Collins) Readers Fri, 08 Sep 2017 13:32:26 -0400
My Life Off the Post Road: Jai, Ganesha!

My friend Blanning sold her family home, packed her stuff into two PODs, and hit the road after her parents died. Shortly before she left, we chatted on our yoga mats before class one day. She told me of her plans to load a backpack and her dog into her red Jeep, and head for points west.

“For how long,” I asked? “Where will you go? Stay?” I, security-minded and Type A, needed to know. She didn’t, and smiled and shrugged. “I’m not sure, we’ll see.” I shared with her my newly hatched, fledgling idea of moving to England to study Shakespeare.

“Your face lit up when you told me that,” she said. “You have to go!”

Many months later, I signed up for a writers’ retreat in the Columbia River Gorge, just outside Portland, Oregon. Her Facebook page indicated that she’d soon head there.

“I’ll be in Portland in April, and would love to see you,” I messaged her.

And meet up we did, the day after she arrived in town, at the famous and fabulous Powell’s Bookstore.

We shared delight over our serendipitous meeting, details of her trip to date, and my plans. She was genuinely pleased that I’d pursued the nascent Shakespeare idea, and that it would come to fruition. “I just knew you’d do it,” she said.

She would return east soon, leaving her car in storage and her dog with a wonderful sitter (who makes him fresh salmon for dinner) as she made her way to Ireland to explore that Emerald Isle and her roots. We hugged as I left her to explore the miles of books and promised to keep in touch.

As my plans for England solidified, Facebook once again told me of her whereabouts. She’d explored much of Ireland and Scotland and would be in London right around when I’d arrive.

I messaged her again. “Will arrive in Stratford Upon Avon 28 August (adopting the sensible British habit of putting the date before the month) Want to come up for a visit?”

Her “yes!!!” came back almost as soon as I hit the ‘send’ button.

And so she did. We spent my second day in the country together. I showed her my flat and Trinity Church, where Shakespeare’s bones rest, not a full block away. We strolled the Royal Shakespeare Company’s lush grounds adjacent to the river Avon. She’d brought a small packet of her parents’ ashes (which she’s been scattering throughout her sojourn) to sprinkle in the river. As we approached the railing just behind the RSC Theater, we heard rhythmic drumbeats and loud chanting. Men clad in marigold orange T-shirts and women in a colorful rainbow of saris lined the opposite bank, as several canal boats filled with similarly dressed young men played in the water.

Our yoga teacher trainings and long-term practices have given us both an appreciation of Hindu gods and traditions, but we were not sure exactly which deity or holiday they might be honoring.  This festive celebration seemed quite an auspicious coincidence, especially since the music quieted and the crowd disbursed just as the last wisps of grey powder settled on the water’s surface. A lone pink lotus blossom floated in between the banks.

“Wow, that was amazing. What timing,” she said. A bit speechless, we just stared reverently as the ashes settled.

We both feel the presence of our departed parents very strongly. Here in Stratford, I marvel at the burgeoning population of two of my mother’s favorite creatures: swans and butterflies. In Connecticut, my parents lived in Stratford. We both experience these and other coincidences and “lucky” opportunities often.

Leaving the riverside, we shared tea and scones at FOURTEAS, a 1940’s-style teashop in town (her father served in WWII) before she ran to catch her train back to London. We promised to keep in touch, certain that our paths would cross again. “We MUST keep meeting like this,” we laughed as we hugged goodbye.

As I strolled back to my B&B, I saw the Hindu revelers again. Now, they drew a crowd (and created a cloud) as they tossed neon pink powder high in the air and let it cover their hair, faces, and clothing as it fell. I thought of the fine ashes falling earlier that day and smiled at the similarity. The drums beat and the men danced, hands waving overhead.

“May I ask what you’re celebrating?” I asked one of the younger men.

“Of course! We honor Lord Ganesh. Come, join us!”

I wove through the crowd to its center where several men carried an intricately painted and embellished statue of the elephant god, as large as a child. The women placed herbs at his feet and lit incense as everyone chanted.

Soon they loaded him onto a canal boat and cruised the river with him aboard. The joyous mood was contagious, and people everywhere stopped to watch and sway with the hypnotic music. I followed the path of fuchsia powder on the pavement back to my room.

The auspicious day brought not one but two wonderful visitors: Blanning and Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles. So many have already been removed just to let us both come as far as we have this year. His presence on the day we fortuitously came together again bodes well for a clear path for us in these days and months to come. Jai, Ganesha!

]]> (Diane Meyer Lowman) Local Writers Fri, 08 Sep 2017 13:25:52 -0400
Award Winning Storyteller Kate DiCamillo Visits Fairfield on Oct. 12

Kate DiCamillo, award winning author of "Because of Winn-Dixie," "The Tiger Rising," and "The Tale of Despereaux," will discuss her newest book, "La La La: A Story of Hope" featuring enchanting illustrations by Jaime Kim. A nearly wordless graphic story follows a little girl in search of a friend.

DiCamillo will be at Roger Ludlowe Middle School Auditorium, located at 689 Unquowa Road in Fairfield, on Thursday, Oct. 12 beginning at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Fairfield University Bookstore (1499 Post Road in Fairfield) or online at Tickets are $20/family and include a copy of "La La La: A Story of Hope" and the Kate DiCamillo presentation and book signing. A special musical performance by the Tomlinson Rolling Strones led by music teacher Sara Hoefer will kick-off off the evening event.

“La la la…” A little girl stands along and sings, but hears no response. Gathering her courage and her curiosity, she skips farther out into the world, singing away to the trees and the pond and the reeds — but no song comes back to her. Day passes into night, and the girl dares to venture into the darkness toward the light of the moon, becoming more insistent in her singing, climbing as high as she can, but still there is silence in return. Dejected, she falls asleep on the ground, only to be awakened by an amazing sound ... She has been heard. At last.

With the simplest of narratives and the near absence of words, DiCamillo conveys a lonely child’s yearning for someone who understands. With a subtle palette and captivating expressiveness, Jaime Kim brings to life an endearing character and a transcendent landscape that invite readers along on an emotionally satisfying journey.

The Star Tribune writes of the book, The text of this book is one word: La. But the story is abundantly clear.” 

In addition to "Because of Winn-Dixie" (a Newbery Honor Book), "The Tiger Rising" (a National Book Award Finalist), and "The Tale of Despereaux" (Newbery Medal Winner), DiCamillo authored a completed series of early chapter books about a pig named Mercy Watson. DiCamillo’s young adult novel, "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" was the winner of the Boston Globe Horn Book Award. She is the fourth U.S. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature—one of only six writers to have won two of the annual Newbery medals introduced in 1922. DiCamillo lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but she spent much of her childhood in Florida.

All of Kate DiCamillo’s books are available for purchase at the downtown Fairfield University Bookstore. She will personalize unlimited copies of  "La La La: A Story of Hope," and fans may choose any one other DiCamillo book for the author to personalize at the Tomlinson Middle School Event.

To learn more about Kate DiCamillo, visit her at

]]> (Fairfield University Bookstore) Authors Fri, 08 Sep 2017 13:14:58 -0400
"George & Lizzie" Author Nancy Pearl Speaks at Wilton Library on Sept. 13

The Wilton Library will welcome "George and Lizzie" author Nancy Pearl on Wednesday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. Pearl will speak about her debut novel about an unlikely marriage at a crossroads. A Q&A and book signing will follow the free and open to the public talk. Books will be available for purchase courtesy of Elm Street Books in New Canaan. Registration is highly recommended. To register, please click here, or call (203) 762-6334. 

George and Lizzie have radically different understandings of what love and marriage should be. Over the course of their marriage, George is happy but Lizzie remains ... unfulfilled. When a shameful secret from Lizzie’s past resurfaces, she’ll need to face her fears in order to accept the true nature of the relationship she and George have built over a decade together.

With pitch-perfect prose and compassion and humor to spare, "George and Lizzie" is an intimate story of new and past loves, the scars of childhood, and an imperfect marriage at its defining moments.

Nancy Pearl speaks about the pleasures of reading at library conferences and to literacy organizations throughout the world. She is a regular commentator about books on NPR's Morning Edition. Check her out at

Wilton Library is located at 137 Old Ridgefield Road in Wilton, Conn. For more information, visit

]]> (Wilton Library) Authors Fri, 08 Sep 2017 12:34:10 -0400