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Happy Pub Day, Karen Thompson Walker - THE DREAMERS Available Today!

Happy Pub Day, Karen Thompson Walker! Get your copy today!

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An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles.

“This book is stunning.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life—in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams.

Join Madeline Miller in Greece for an Exclusive 6-Day Reading Retreat - Talking to Homer!

An exclusive cultural event will take place in Greece from September 26th to October 1st 2019.

It will be hosted in Westin Costa Navarino, an idyllic destination in one of the most unspoiled and breathtaking places in the Mediterranean with a history spanning across 4.500 years!

The 6-day “reading retreat” is designed for a limited number of participants, with the award-winning American author of the iconic books Circe and Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller. Miller draws her inspiration from the writings of Homer and is well known for her ability to bring the myths into the contemporary reality, creating a relevance that promotes the ancient Greek spirit and culture.

The retreat will feature reading sessions, workshops and open discussions with the author, as well as interactive activities and tours. The in-depth journey into Homer’s myths and stories will be facilitated by the contribution of the well-known Classics Professor and an honorable researcher at The Academy of Athens, Dr. Evi Papadodima.

Participants will immerse into an ancient culture and nurture their souls with the wise learnings of the glorious past. They will be given the opportunity to interact with like-minded people and enjoy the experience of visiting the pristine beaches of Greece, a land of spectacular beauty with an endless variety of landscapes.

The event is exclusive with a limited number of participants. The list will be finalized by the end of March 2019, the latest. Early bird participation has been announced for the period until the 31st of January. Tickets can be found through Eventbrite and exclusive travel agents.

Register today for the early bird discounts!

 

Barnes & Noble Selects THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM as the January 2019 National Book Club Selection!

Courtesy of the Associated Press
Posted January 8, 2019

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Barnes & Noble, Inc., the world’s largest retail bookseller, announced The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict as the January 2019 selection for the Barnes & Noble Book Club, a national book club designed to bring readers in communities across the country together to discuss some of the most compelling books being published. Due to its overwhelming popularity with customers, the Company also announced that the Barnes & Noble Book Club will now be held monthly at all stores nationwide. It was previously held on a quarterly basis.

For this month’s pick, Barnes & Noble will be selling a special Exclusive Book Club Edition of The Only Woman in the Room. A free Book Club night for customers to discuss the novel will be held on Tuesday, February 5, at 7 PM local time. Customers can buy the book and sign up for the Book Club in their local store or online at BN.com.

Filled with unforgettable characters and storytelling that readers will want to discuss with other readers, The Only Woman in the Room is the exhilarating story of a woman who could change the course of World War II. Hedy Lamarr was best known as an actress, but she was also a noted inventor, and this evocative historical novel tells the story of her escape from Nazi Germany to her success in Hollywood, as well as the radio guidance system she developed for torpedoes.

The Only Woman in the Room is exactly the type of page-turning, but also thoughtful novel that book lovers will enjoy reading as well as discussing,” said Liz Harwell, Senior Director of Merchandising, Trade Books at Barnes & Noble. “Customers have loved discussing our picks so much that the Barnes & Noble Book Club will now be held monthly. We’re looking forward to many more compelling and timely books to bring readers together in our stores throughout 2019.”

The Barnes & Noble Book Club Exclusive Edition of The Only Woman in the Room comes with a Q&A with the author and a Reading Group Guide for discussion. Customers can buy the book now on BN.com, or at their local Barnes & Noble.

THE ONLY WOMAN IN THE ROOM Named Among BUSTLE and MARIE CLAIRE's Best Books of 2019!

Courtesy of Marie Claire and Bustle
Posted Dec 25, 2018

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If you feel like hibernating for the month of January, waiting out the cold and storing up your energy for the beginning of the the 2020 presidential season, your instincts couldn't be better served. From the first week of January onwards, a fresh new slate of women's fiction—a genre that covers a lot of ground, but one I consider to be books that star strong, multifaceted female characters, written by women—will come out, and, trust me, you'll have more than enough reading material to last you through the winter.

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Maybe you've never heard of Hedy Lamarr, the real-life Nazi-era actress and scientist, but after reading Marie Benedict's fictionalized account of Lamarr's life, you won't be able to stop thinking about her. Lamarr was a screen siren, the heir to a massive fortune, and the co-inventor of technology we still use in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth today. When she invented the technology, the U.S. Navy wasn't receptive to using it—even though it could have helped fight the Nazis—and it wasn't until the '60s that her invention was taken seriously. A lawyer by trade, Benedict writes about Lamarr's life with a biographer's precision.

Out on January 8, 2019!!

Marie Benedict Named to Library Reads Hall of Fame!

Courtesy of LibraryReads
Posted Dec 19, 2018

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The LibraryReads Hall of Fame designation honors authors who have had multiple titles appear on the monthly list since 2013. As of the October 2018 list, when an author’s third title places on a monthly list via library staff votes, the author moves into our Hall of Fame.

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This month, Marie Benedict’s forthcoming novel The Only Woman in the Room was selected, thus initiating her into the Hall of Fame. “A fascinating look at a famous movie star with an unexpected past: Hedy Lamarr, the Austria-born screen siren who was also a brilliant inventor. Brisk pacing and atmospheric scenes of pre-World War II Europe round out this intriguing work of historical fiction.” –Alissa Williams, Morton Public Library, Morton, IL

Previous titles on the LibraryReads list:
The Other Einstein: A Novel (LibraryReads October 2016)
Carnegie’s Maid: A Novel (LibraryReads January 2018)



HEY, KIDDO a Finalist for YALSA Award for Excellence in Young Adult Nonfiction!

Courtesy of Young Adult Library Services Association
Posted Dec 12, 2018

Congrats to Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who’s powerful graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo has just been named a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults!

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A raw graphic memoir, author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka depicts his complex upbringing - including a search for his father, difficult interactions with his heroin-addicted mother, and day-to-day life with his grandparents. Illustrations–ample in gray, burnt orange, and earth tones–conjure the feeling of vague memories.

We’re working on Jarrett’s Fall 2019 Speaking schedule now (filling quickly), so if you’re interested in hosting him for an event, get in touch with us right away!

Vesper Stamper's WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS Nominated for William C. Morris Award!

Courtesy of the American Library Association
Posted December 11, 2018

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Big congrats to Vesper Stamper, who’s gorgeous YA novel What the Night Sings has just been nominated for the prestigious William C. Morris YA Debut Award! First given in 2009, the award honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The award's namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.

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What the Night Sings is a haunting, first-person account of Gerta, a musically talented teenager, who learns of her Jewish heritage only after being sent to Auschwitz and, later, Bergen-Belsen. Torn from her father, she clings to his viola and discovers her own voice and strength after the liberation. Lovely, lyrical prose and ethereal illustrations make Stamper’s unusual story sing.

The winner will be announced at the ALA Youth Media Awards, on January 28, 2019.

A WELL-BEHAVED WOMAN Nominated for Southern Book Prize - Vote Now!

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Congrats, Therese Anne Fowler - who’s gorgeous novel A Well-Behaved Woman has been nominated for the 2019 Southern Book Prize! Finalists were chosen by southern independent booksellers, and represent books that are written by southerners for southerners, published in 2018. Voting is now underway, and can be done in person at participating indies or via the link here.

A|U Monthly Muse - December 2018

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December 2018: Historical Inspirations

Looking for the perfect book to gift your friends and family this holiday season? Historical fiction is a genre that draws in nearly everyone, and novels based on real events and historical figures are even more likely to compel those on your list this year. These armchair historians and literary archeologists take inspiration from the past, sparking beautiful narratives that not only entertain, but enlighten. Happy Holidays!

What Makes CIRCE a Great One Book One Community Read?

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Described as "high fantasy" and an "accessible way to read Greek mythology," the Springfield-Green County Library’s One Read title for 2019 is the mythological fiction novel Circe by Madeline Miller. The characters in Greek mythology, and Circe, in particular, are relevant today because they have the same joys and struggles – even dysfunctional families.

The New York Times calls it "A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story." See why "Circe" is called "a triumph of storytelling, an intoxicating epic of family rivalry, palace intrigue, love and loss, as well as a celebration of indomitable female strength in a man's world."

Read the Interview with Madeline here!

Karen Thompson Walker Sees the Possibility of the Impossible

Courtesy of Publishers Weekly
Posted Nov 16, 2018

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Sleep, the holy grail of the new (or, in this case, repeat) parent, is the subject, in a way, of Karen Thompson Walker’s haunting, hypnotic second novel. The Dreamers (Random House, Jan. 2019) takes place in the fictional Southern California mountain town of Santa Lora, where a sickness descends one evening in early fall. A first-year student at the local college leaves a party, goes to bed, and then doesn’t wake up; a few days later, she’s dead. Soon after, another girl falls asleep. She doesn’t die, but nor can she be roused. Though the college attempts to quarantine the students, the sickness spreads, first among the residents of a dorm and then outward: to the janitor who cleaned their rooms, to a clerk at a convenience store, a backpacker, and a young bride, and soon to the doctors and nurses caring for the sick teens, who sleep “like children, mouths open, cheeks flushed. Breathing as rhythmic as swells on the sea.”

As if the creep of a mysterious sleeping sickness weren’t eerie enough, the world around Santa Lora seems to shimmer and vibrate with threat. The mountain lake is vanishing, the region is prone to earthquakes and landslides, and the forest is “fertile for fire.” As Walker’s compassionate, omniscient narrator asks, “What if misfortune can be drawn to a place, like lightning to a rod?” Keep Reading…

Martha Hall Kelly is Channeling History

Courtesty of AARP Magazine
Oct/Nov 2018 Issue - Written by Martha Hall Kelly

Photo by Ethan Hill

Photo by Ethan Hill

I was never that interested in history. A child of the ’60s, I always thought of myself as a feminist, but I happily deferred to my husband — a poli-sci major — when it came to guessing Jeopardy! questions or helping our three children with their social studies homework. All those treaties and battle dates just didn’t move me. 

So in the spring of 2000, when I drove a couple of hours north of my home to tour the historic Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden in Bethlehem, Connecticut, it was mainly to see the property’s famous lilac gardens. My mom had recently died, and I had a sense that the estate, once the country home of philanthropist and Broadway actress Caroline Ferriday, would take me out of myself and my sorrow for an afternoon.

I lingered among the sweet-scented lilacs, and then on a whim decided to tour the interior. Walking through the rambling 18th-century house, I came to Ferriday’s study, which remains just as she left it when she died, in 1990. On her desk stood a black-and-white photo of a group of smiling women. “Those are the rabbits,” the guide told me. “Prisoners at Ravensbrück, the largest all-female concentration camp in Hitler’s Third Reich.” These Catholic women had been arrested during World War II for their involvement in the Polish resistance. They were called rabbits because Nazi doctors turned them into laboratory animals, operating on their legs to insert glass, dirt and tetanus bacteria, or to remove bone or muscle tissue. Some of the 74 young Polish women subjected to these experiments died of infection or disease; others were executed when their usefulness ended. But 63 survived the war, and of these, Ferriday brought 35 to the U.S. for rehabilitation.

Photo courtesy of The Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

Photo courtesy of The Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

After hearing their story, I was unable to get these brave women out of my head. Recently retired from my job as an advertising copywriter, I had been planning to relax. Instead, day after day, I immersed myself in World War II history. I stayed up late, listening to books on tape about sea battles and the Luftwaffe as my husband slept beside me. Before long, I — a person who had never written anything much longer than a TV commercial — was traveling to Europe for research and working 12-hour days to outline a novel based on the rabbits’ story. Funny how curiosity can make a person work harder than any 9-to-5 job ever could.  Keep Reading…

Enter the Wild World of Actress Hedy Lamarr

Courtesy of BookTrib
Posted October 24, 2018

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An actress, inventor, and keeper of secrets, the beautiful Hedy Lamarr was among many Jews who fled Europe during the 1930s and came to Hollywood to start a new life.  Born in Vienna in 1914, she studied acting with the innovative theater director, Max Reinhardt.  But she made the mistake of appearing nude in Ecstasy, a 1933 silent Czech film, and never quite shed the sex goddess stereotype.  When Hedy died in 2000, The New York Times noted that her life had been “messy and sad.”

In her newest novel, The Only Woman in the Room (Sourcebooks Landmark, Jan 2019), Marie Benedict tells a vibrant, nuanced story about the ambitious actress. The only daughter of assimilated Jews, Hedy made a bargain with the devil by marrying an Austrian arms dealer named Fritz Mandl who would, she believed, protect her from the Nazis.  But he turned out to be a brutal man and a fascist who encouraged Hitler to launch the Anschluss in 1938.

By that time, however, Hedy had fled to London where she contrived a meeting with the powerful movie producer, Louis B. Mayer.  From there she proceeded to California and five more husbands and several children, and starred in films with Robert Taylor, Clark Gable, Victor Mature, and Spencer Tracy.

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Hedy’s thrilling escape from Fritz might seem like the climax of the story.  But when the U.S. enters the war and the Holocaust comes to dominate the news, Hedy feels anguished guilt about not sharing crucial military information that she overheard at Mandl’s dinner table back in Vienna. It is here that Benedict portrays the actress at her very best, as a co-inventor of spread-spectrum technology, which would, Hedy proposed, enable the Navy to manipulate radio frequencies and thus prevent the jamming of codes.  Readers will be fascinated by Hedy’s mastery of scientific theories as well as her ingenuity and persistence, as Benedict winds up with the glamorous actress once again upon a stage before a rapt audience.

Read the Q&A with Marie, who provides more insights into her work!

Making Meaning and Purpose Out of Tragedy - Speaker Allison Gilbert

Courtesy of Allison Gilbert

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On 9/11, I was a television news producer for NBC New York. Dispatched to the World Trade Center, I was covered by debris when the second tower collapsed and taken to Bellevue Hospital. ER doctors cut off my clothes to assess my injuries and tubes were put down my throat to help me breathe. I thought I was pregnant. (To round out the week, my father died of cancer that Friday, September 14, 2001.)

Yet I was one of the lucky ones. I survived.

It’s with this experience that I am both honored and deeply humbled that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum has named me official narrator of its first audio tour of the primary Historical Exhibition, the only journalist and eyewitness to be so honored. My personal story is featured throughout, and my recollections are also revealed in “Witnessing History,” an overview of 9/11 and its aftermath, narrated by Robert De Niro.

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The Historical Exhibition audio tour is 40 minutes long. Since the museum opened, visitors (and individuals offsite) have downloaded the Audio Guide app more than 900,000 times.

Narrating this new audio guide (listen to a sneak preview clip) was a deeply personal and profound experience. Giving voice to my memories of that day, in addition to co-writing Covering Catastrophe (and other books on grief, loss, and resilience), has helped me make meaning and purpose of tragedy.

To Schedule Allison for a speaking engagement, be in touch with us today!

Rachel Kadish Talks Tolerance at Jewish Book & Arts Festival

Courtesy of Houstonia Magazine
Posted November 5, 2018

When Rachel Kadish published her epic and engrossing third novel, The Weight of Ink, last year, the reaction was swift and unanimous: Not only did it hit a literary nerve—it was a bonafide hit. The New York Times Book Review’s podcast called it “incredible,” while the Jerusalem Post called it “Kadish’s greatest achievement.” Publisher’s Weekly chimed in with “vivid and memorable,” and The New Republic called it “deeply moving.”

Kadish herself calls the whole experience “wild.”

“It’s been really wonderful,” she says of the attention. “This has brought me things I never expected and taken me to places I’ve never been.”

One of those places is Houston, where she hasn’t been in many years. This time, she’ll be the featured speaker for the Community Read portion of the annual Jewish Book & Arts Festival at the Evelyn R. Rubenstein Jewish Community Center on Monday, November 5. She’ll discuss the book and take questions from the audience.

The Weight of Ink tells several intertwining stories. One thread follows an academic researcher called in to look at some 300-year-old scrolls found under the stairs of a house in the London suburb of Richmond; another tracks the 17th-century scribe who wrote them. Revolving around a collection of letters and sermons that offer a glimpse into the lives of Jewish refugees from Amsterdam, The Weight of Ink tells a deftly woven story about class, education, and the deep spiritualism of Judaism.

The tome ultimately took Kadish a dozen years to complete, but she’s proud of the outcome, and equally proud to share the story of strong women.

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“I stumbled upon this quote by Virginia Woolf,” she says. “It’s something like, ‘What would have happened if Shakespeare has an equally talented sister?’ Woolf’s analysis is that she’d have died young and never written a word. And I couldn’t help shadow boxing with that. Like, what would it look like for a talented, smart woman with vision and nowhere to put it in a time when women’s access to education was limited?”

That problem factors prominently in the book. Ester Velasquez is a Portuguese Jew living in London in the 1660s, a scribe for a blind rabbi and a solid thinker in her own right. When elderly professor Helen Watts and her younger assistant Aaron Levy uncover the depth of Ester’s involvement throughout their present-day research, they must grapple with questions about legacy, faith, and what we know and expect of ourselves.

“It’s such an immersive book,” says Kadish. “When I speak to people, I always want to get to the answers of why we read and write fiction—what historic value does it give to us that straight-up history often doesn’t. For me, fiction makes the world a safer place. It’s a way to see other lives and other people. So I know I am going to talk about how fiction can build bridges between us.”

That The Weight of Ink has become so beloved by critics and readers affords what Kadish feels is both an incredible opportunity and an incredible platform: to talk about issues of Judaism and about refugees. In a novel that shines light on the Jewish refugee community in 1600s London, Kadish offers parallels to refugees in today’s world.

“We need tolerance,” she says, “and I’m grateful I have a platform to talk about that. But mostly, I am just delighted that people care about my 17th-century characters that I was writing about at midnight all those years. It’s just mind-boggling and lovely.”

The Story of Grit and Determination Young People Need to Hear - HEY KIDDO

Courtesy of Baird Middle School
Posted November 4, 2018

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In partnership with Ludlow CARES Coalition, Baird Middle School kicked off Red Ribbon Week this year with an author’s visit by New York Times best-selling author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka. During his talk Krosoczka spoke to students about his latest graphic novel, Hey, Kiddo; a  memoir about being raised by his grandparents and growing up in a family dealing with addiction.  He reflected on his childhood and adolescence, as well as sharing how art has kept him engaged and motivated throughout his life.

“Addiction crosses all boundaries -- gender, race and socioeconomic status,” said Krosoczka as he spoke to the audience. “Addiction affects students, parents, family members and friends of all ages. My hope in writing this book, Hey, Kiddo, was to help readers better understand how addiction affects all of us, and to provide an example of how to persist through difficult times by focusing on personal interests and talents.”

Like an estimated eight million children in the United States, Krosoczka  told the audience that he too is the child of a parent who struggled with addiction; first speaking publicly about his mother's addiction to heroin, and being raised by his grandparents, in a widely shared 2012 TED Talk (How a boy bcame an artist).

I feel incredibly fortunate that we were able to have a nationally renowned author like Jarrett Krosoczka share his inspiring story to all of our students and staff. His story is one our middle school students need to hear- how grit and determination helped him succeed, in spite of a complex childhood.
— Stacy Monette - BMS Principal

Krosoczka is a two-time winner of the Children's Choice Book Award, an Eisner award nominee, and the author/illustrator of more than 30 books for young readers. He is best known for his Lunch Lady series and his picture books, including Punk Farm, and Star Wars Jedi Academy books.

He was also very proud to share with the audience that, Hey Kiddo, has been selected as one of the five finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards for Young People's Literature. The winner will be announced on November 14 at the 69th National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City.

Sprinkled throughout his presentation Krosoczka shared personal family photos and videos, played music from his youth, showed clips from his TED Talk, read excerpts from his book, and shared both difficult and rewarding experiences from his childhood with his “not so perfect” family. His conversation was impactful and inspiring on a multitude of levels. Keep reading…

SOLD ON A MONDAY is a NYT Bestseller!

Congrats to Kristina McMorris, who’s wonderful book, Sold on a Monday, is now a New York Times Bestseller!

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The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs, and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family's dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

A|U Monthly Muse - November 2018

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November 2018: Books For Young People

With Thanksgiving break right around the corner, it's a great time to gather books for kids to read while off from school. We've got three amazing authors to suggest this month, who's books not only entertain, but provide inspiration, teachable moments, and important topics for further discussion around the dinner table.  It's a great time to schedule Spring 2019 school visits - be in touch with us soon to arrange an event!