Dear Book Lovers, Welcome! I am delighted that you have found The Through the Looking Glass blog. For over twenty years I reviewed children's literature titles for my online journal, which came out six times a year. Every book review written for that publication can be found on the Through the Looking Glass website (the link is below). I am now moving in a different direction, though the columns that I write are still book-centric. Instead of writing reviews, I'm offering you columns on topics that have been inspired by wonderful books that I have read. I tell you about the books in question, and describe how they have have impacted me. This may sound peculiar to some of you, but the books that I tend to choose are ones that resonate with me on some level. Therefore, when I read the last page and close the covers, I am not quite the same person that I was when first I started reading the book. The shift in my perspective might be miniscule, but it is still there. The books I am looking are both about adult and children's titles. Some of the children's titles will appeal to adults, while others will not. Some of the adult titles will appeal to younger readers, particularly those who are eager to expand their horizons.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Black History Month - Celebrating African-American Inventors

Clockwise from top left: Benjamin Banneker, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver,
Dr. Shirley Jackson, and  Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.

There are so many things that we take for granted. We eat our potato chips, drive safely on roads thanks to traffic lights, eat food that has been transported long distances in refrigerated trucks, travel in elevators, and turn on our home security systems without once thinking about the men and women who thought up these inventions. Every single one of these innovations came into the world because of the genius of an African American inventor. Indeed, so many of the things that we use every day were invented by African American inventors whom we have never even heard of. 

There are a few books on the subject that you might looking at:

African American Inventors by Otha Richard Sullivan

Monday, February 21, 2022

Black History Month - The story of a brilliant African American inventor

One of the things I love about reviewing nonfiction children's literature is that I learn a lot. When I started reviewing titles for Black History Month I got to 'meet' so many wonderful men and women of African descent who stories are inspiring. I saw how many of these stories never ended up in history books, and I like to do my part to set the record straight in my own small way. African Americans, and other people of African descent around the world, have made enormous contributions to society, and we need to learn about their achievements about the honor them. 

Today you are going to meet an African American inventor who created many useful things in his productive life. One of these inventions, in particular, saved lives. 

To the Rescue: Garrett Morgan Underground 
Monica Kulling
Illustrated by David Parkins
Non-Fiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Tundra Books, 2017, 978-1-101-91882-1
Garrett Morgan was the seventh child of former slaves who lived in Kentucky and worked as sharecroppers. It was a hard life, and when it was time for Garrett to leave school so that he could get a job, the fourteen year old decided to travel north to Cleveland, Ohio, to see if he could find a job that was less unremitting. 
   Garrett started out sweeping floors in a clothing factory but he did not keep that job for long. When he noticed that the sewing machine belts were always breaking he invented a belt that was stronger, and thus he earned him his employer’s gratitude and a new job as a sewing machine repairman. 
   This new job served Garrett well and by the time he was twenty-one he owned his own sewing machine shop, and a house. He and his wife, Mary Anne, then opened a tailoring shop as well. 
  Garrett had a gift for inventing. Quite by accident he created a hair product that straightened curly hair. This invention led to him creating a new business, the G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company. The success of his cream and other hair products gave Garrett the financial freedom to spend more of his time inventing.
   When Garrett saw a need he set about trying to create a product that would take care of that need. He saw that firefighters required some kind of device that would help them rescue people from smoke-filled buildings, and so he invented the Safety Hood and Smoke Protector. 
   Though his invention worked well, Garrett could not get the local fire departments interested in the hood, because Garrett was African-American. Then a disaster struck the city which changed Garrett’s life forever.
   All too often black inventors and innovators are not given credit for their creations. In this book Monica Kulling tells the story of an inventor whose inventions literally saved lives. Her engaging writing brings Garrett Morgan to life for young readers, and David Parkins’ ink and watercolor illustrations takes children back to a time when everyday life was a lot more dangerous than it is now.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Bookish Calendar for March - Books for March birthdays, holidays, and special days


Dear Bookish Friends,

Here is the Bookish Calendar for March. I'm bringing it to you today so that you have plenty of time to plan for days that interest you and the children in your lives. Many of the birthdays and special days on the calendar link to review pages for books that are associated with those birthdays and special days. For example, March third is the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell, and I have reviewed several books about this remarkable inventor. If you click his name on the March Bookish Calendar you will be taken to the page where these reviews can be found. 

March is National Craft Month (USA)
March 3rd is World Wildlife Day You can find many books suitable for this day here.
March 3rd is World Book Day (UK and Ireland)
Match 20th is the Spring Equinox
March 21st is World Poetry Day
March 22nd is World Water Day
March 23 is National Puppy Day (USA)
March 26th is Make up your own holiday day (USA)
March 27th is World Theatre Day
March 28th Earth Hour

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Book Hoarding? What's that?

Dragon: Do humans hoard things? 

Human: Sometimes, I guess. Do you have a big pile of treasure somewhere? 

Dragon: Absolutely not! Those gold hoarding dragons really give us a bad name! 

Human: So what do you hoard? 

Dragon: Books, of course

Human: But you're a fire dragon. 

Dragon: I know! I find these poor abandoned books, but I can't even read them because I'll burn them

The human runs off and grabs an armful of books, before coming back to sit by the dragon.

Human: "Chapter One. The Mole had been working hard all the morning, spring-cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and splashes of whitewash over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above, below, and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Newsletters from Groundwood Books for Educators, Librarians, and Parents

My friends at Groundwood Books, a marvelous publishing house based in Canada, have a new program that I'd like to tell you about. The Groundwood Newsletters are designed to provide educators, librarians, and parents with strategies, tips and information to accompany fiction and non-fiction Groundwood books. 

Each newsletter is centered on a single topic, theme or genre with a list of recommended titles that will encourage young readers to explore and engage with the theme. The series will include lots of great resources such as reading, writing, arts and media responses; a spotlight feature on a Groundwood author/illustrator; a curated book list with brief annotations; and additional links to the Groundwood website for more book information and/or teacher guides. They are written specifically for teachers by a well-known academic and children’s lit specialist.  The series of five newsletters will be distributed once a month but late subscribers will have access to any of the newsletters already delivered.

The theme for the January Newsletter was Exploring Acceptance, Belonging, and Community through Picture BooksThe Groundwood picture book titles featured in the newsletter focused on such matters as race and ethnicity, gender identity, the immigrant experience and bullying. When listening to these
books being read aloud, or when reading these books independently, students can be inspired to
confront intolerance and foster a sense of inclusion. In this way, the titles encourage students to
think about acceptance, belonging and community. 

You can sign up for the newsletters HERE

The 2021 Caldecott Award Winning Picture Book - Watercress

When I was six years old my parents and I, along with my aunt, some friends, and our pets, left the only home I had ever known. A civil war had been raging in the country where I was born and we had no choice but to leave. We left behind our house, most of what we owned, many of our friends, and the graves of loved ones who had been killed in the conflict. Even now, all these years later, the clouds of my refugee and immigrant memories still drift across my sky once in a while. 

The book I am reviewing today won the prestigious Caldecott Award on January the twenty-fourth of this year. It is a powerful and beautifully illustrated story about a child whose parents had to leave their homeland when their lives there became unbearable. She feels no connection with her parents' homeland, and she does not know their story until the day when the past reaches into the present. 

Andrea Wang
Illustrated by Jason Chin
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Holiday House, 2021, 978-0823446247
One day an old, faded car containing a girl and her family is driving down a dirt road that is lined with rows of corn. Between the edge of the road and the corn fields there is a ditch full of water. The mother has “eyes as sharp as the tip of a dragon’s claw,” and she sees something in the ditch. She calls out and her husband slams on the brakes. 
   Wild watercress is growing in the ditch and soon the girl, her brother, and their parents are in the ditch. With rolled up trousers and bare feet they walk through the cold water, mud squishing between their toes, cutting the watercress. When a car drives by the girl hides her face, ashamed of what they are doing. American people would never gather watercress in a ditch, but the girl’s parents were born in China, and for them being able to collect watercress to eat connects them to their homeland and their past.
   Back at home the girl refuses to eat the watercress that her mother serves with dinner. As far as she is concerned eating free food is just as shameful as wearing hand-me-down clothes, and taking furniture that other people have thrown away on the side of the road. 
   Then the girl’s mother brings out a photograph to show her daughter. It is portrait of the mother with her parents and her little brother. She begins to tell the story of her family, a story that is threaded with pained and loss.
   All over there world people leave their homelands to start new lives elsewhere, driven away by war, famine, persecution, or a natural disaster. This story is based on an event that took place in the author’s life. When she was a child her Chinese immigrant parents collected watercress from a roadside ditch, and their behavior only reinforced for her that she was different. Being different can be hard for children, and they often fervently wish that they could be like everyone else and fit in.
   With great sensitivity and gentle touches of emotion, the author tells a story that is dear to her heart. It is a story that will resonate with anyone who has felt as if they don’t belong, and it is also a tender tribute to all those families who have had to start over in a new place or foreign land. 
   Jason Chin’s art perfectly complements Andrea’s lyrical text. His watercolors bring together the traditions of western and Chinese art, beautifully connecting the past with the present. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

The new television series of Around the World in Eighty Days

 This February the BBC and Masterpiece released a new television series that is loosely based on the story in Jules Verne's Around the World in Eighty Days. The story has been changed a fair bit, but I have to say that it is very entertaining, and is beautifully made. I am enjoying the series a great deal, accepting that this is an adaptation of Jules Verne's tale. If you are a purist and only watch films that are faithful to the books that inspired them, then this series will probably not suit you. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Did anyone try to go around the world in eighty days?


In Jules Vern's book, Around the World in Eighty Days, the heroes in the story are men. The book was first published in French in 1872, and at this time adventure stories did not have female heroes; it simply wasn't done. 

The story caused quite a stir, and I would have thought that many gentleman adventurers would have tried to duplicate the journey taken in the book. I cannot find a record anywhere of a single man doing so. Not a one. Really, did none of the gentleman adventurers of the time read books? Did none of them have even a soupcon of imagination or derring-do? 

Apparently not. It wasn't until 1889 when someone took on the challenge. A woman called Nellie Bly undertook to travel around the world in eighty days for her newspaper, the New York World. She managed to do the journey within seventy-two days, and she met Jules Verne in Amiens in France. Her book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days became a best seller. Who was this remarkable woman?

Nellie Bly was born Elizabeth Jane Cochran on May 5, 1864. Her family owned a lucrative mill in
Cochran, Pennsylvania. At the age of six, Bly lost her father. Unable to maintain the land or their house, the family moved. Her mother also remarried but later divorced due to abuse. While attending Indiana Teacher’s College, Elizabeth added an “e” to her last name becoming Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. Due to the family’s financial crisis she was unable to finish her education. No longer in school, Bly focused on helping her mother run a boardinghouse. One day an upset Bly decided to pen an open letter to the editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. Her short but important piece pointed out the paper’s negative representation of women. The editor not only read Bly’s response, he printed her rebuttal, and offered Bly a job as columnist. As a newspaper writer, she took the pen name Nellie Bly. Although Bly was a popular columnist, she was often asked to write pieces that only addressed women.

Wanting to write pieces that addressed both men and women, Bly began looking for a paper that would allow her to write more serious work. In 1886, she moved to New York City. As a woman, Bly found it extremely hard for her to find work. In 1887, Nellie Bly stormed into the office of the New York World, one of the leading newspapers in the country. She expressed interest in writing a story on the immigrant experience in the United States. Although, the editor declined her story, he challenged Bly to investigate one of New York’s most notorious mental hospitals. Bly not only accepted the challenge, she decided to feign mental illness to gain admission and expose how patients were treated. With this courageous and bold act Bly cemented her legacy as one of the foremost female journalists in history. 

Nellie wearing her travel outfit. 
After pretending to be mentally ill for ten days, the New York World published Bly’s articles about her time in the insane asylum on Blackwell’s Island in a six-part series. Ten Days in a Mad-House quickly made Bly one of the most famous journalists in the United States. Furthermore, her hands-on approach to stories developed into a practice now called investigative journalism. Bly’s successful career reached new heights when she decided to travel around the world after reading the popular book Around the World in 80 Days. Her trip only took seventy-two days, which was a world record. Bly would only hold it for a few months.

In 1895, Bly married millionaire Robert Seamen and retired from journalism. Bly’s husband died in 1903 leaving her in control of a massive manufacturing company. In business, her curiosity and independent spirit flourished. Bly went on to patent several inventions related to oil manufacturing, many of which are still used today. In her later years Bly returned to journalism, covering the woman suffrage movement and World War I. While still working as a writer Bly died from pneumonia on January 27, 1922.

I have reviewed several books for young readers about Nellie Bly, which you can find in the TTLG library. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

A BBC Radio Theatre Production of Around the World in Eighty Days

When I was growing up my parents used to listen to the BBC World Service throughout the day. They were journalists and at that time the BBC provided the most up to date news from around the world. I grew heartily sick of the introduction music for the news programs, and heartily sick of listening to the news every five minutes, or so it seemed to me. Being the child of not one but two journalists had its disadvantages. 

In addition to the news, the BBC had many other programs, and one of the things I enjoyed the most were their radio theater productions. These programs were more than just audiobooks; the story was told using multiple voice actors, background sounds, and music. I listened to many stories this way, including A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Wind in the Willows, and Around the World in Eighty Days. You can still find these recordings online, and today I bring you the excellent BBC production of Around the World in Eighty Days. Please click on the image above to get to the recording. You can listen to the program on any device that can access YouTube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Happy Birthday Jules Verne, the author of Around the world in Eighty Days.


Jules Verne was a 19th-century French author who is famed for such revolutionary science-fiction novels such as 'Around the World in Eighty Days' and 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.'
   Jules Verne hit his stride as a writer after meeting Pierre-Jules Hetzel, a publisher who nurtured many of the works that would comprise the author's Voyages Extraordinaires. Often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction," Verne wrote books about a variety of innovations and technological advancements years before they were practical realities. Although he died in 1905, his works continued to be published well after his death, and he became the second most translated author in the world.
   Verne was born on February 8, 1828, in Nantes, France, a busy maritime port city. There, Verne was exposed to vessels departing and arriving, sparking his imagination for travel and adventure. While attending boarding school, he began to write short stories and poetry. Afterward, his father, a lawyer, sent his oldest son to Paris to study law.
   While he tended to his studies, Verne found himself attracted to literature and the theater. He began frequenting Paris' famed literary salons, and befriended a group of artists and writers that included Alexandre Dumas and his son. After earning his law degree in 1849, Verne remained in Paris to indulge his artistic leanings. 
   Verne continued to write despite pressure from his father to resume his law career, and the tension came to a head in 1852, when Verne refused his father's offer to open a law practice in Nantes. The aspiring writer instead took a meager-paying job as secretary of the Théâtre-Lyrique.
   In 1856, Verne met and fell in love with Honorine de Viane, a young widow with two daughters. They married in 1857, and, realizing he needed a stronger financial foundation, Verne began working as a stockbroker. However, he refused to abandon his writing career, and that year he also published his first book, The 1857 Salon.
   In 1859, Verne and his wife embarked on the first of approximately 20 trips to the British Isles. The journey made a strong impression on Verne, inspiring him to pen Backwards to Britain, although the novel wouldn't be published until well after his death. In 1861, the couple's only child, Michel Jean Pierre Verne, was born.
   Verne's literary career had failed to gain traction to that point, but his luck would change with his introduction to editor and publisher Hetzel in 1862. Verne was working on a novel that imbued a heavy dose of scientific research into an adventure narrative, and in Hetzel he found a champion for his developing style. In 1863, Hertzel published Five Weeks in a Balloon, the first of a series of adventure novels by Verne that would comprise his Voyages Extraordinaires. Verne subsequently signed a contract in which he would submit new works every year to the publisher, most of which would be serialized in Hetzel's Magasin d'Éducation et de Récréation. 
   In 1864, Hetzel published The Adventures of Captain Hatteras and Journey to the Center of the Earth. In 1865 Verne was back in print with From the Earth to the Moon and In Search of the Castaways.
   Inspired by his love of travel and adventure, Verne soon bought a ship, and he and his wife spent a good deal of time sailing the seas. Verne's own adventures sailing to various ports, from the British Isles to the Mediterranean, provided plentiful fodder for his short stories and novels. In 1867, Hetzel published Verne's Illustrated Geography of France and Her Colonies, and that year Verne also traveled with his brother to the United States. He only stayed a week — managing a trip up the Hudson River to Albany, then on to Niagara Falls — but his visit to America made a lasting impact and was reflected in later works.
   In 1869 and 1870, Hetzel published Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, Around the Moon, and Discovery of the Earth. By this point, Verne's works were being translated into English, and he could comfortably live on his writing.
   Beginning in late 1872, the serialized version of Verne's famed Around the World in Eighty Days first appeared in print. The story of Phileas Fogg and Jean Passepartout takes readers on an adventurous global tour at a time when travel was becoming easier and alluring. In the century plus since its original debut, the work has been adapted for the theater, radio, television and film, including the classic 1956 version starring David Niven. A new serialized television series of the story was recently made, and I'm enjoying watching it. 
   In all, Verne authored more than 60 books (most notably the 54 novels comprising the Voyages Extraordinaires), as well as dozens of plays, short stories and librettos. He conjured hundreds of memorable characters and imagined countless innovations years before their time, including the submarine, space travel, terrestrial flight and deep-sea exploration.
   His works of imagination, and the innovations and inventions contained within, have appeared in countless forms, from motion pictures to the stage, to television. Often referred to as the "Father of Science Fiction," Verne is the second most translated writer of all time (behind Agatha Christie), and his musings on scientific endeavors have sparked the imaginations of writers, scientists and inventors for over a century.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Let us dare to enter a world full of Wonder


In 1993 I started writing a children’s book, and in an effort to better educate myself about the craft I attended a Society for Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators conference in New York City. One of the speakers, a renowned children’s book author, impressed on her audience that one of the most important things that an author must do is to “read, read, read.” I read. Many of the books that I ‘studied’ were ones that I had not read as a child and these included, The Rescuers, Miss Hickory, Stuart Little, The Same Stuff as Stars, and many more. Others were books that I knew well, but had not read in years.

All this reading caused me to catch the Children’s Literature Bug, and as a result I became a children’s book reviewer. In the late 1990s I created Through the Looking Glass Children’s Book Reviews (TTLG), an online journal that showcased children’s books of all kinds. To date the online library contains 9,621 reviews. My goal was to help adults to find captivating books for the children in their lives that would encourage the children to become lifelong readers and learners.

In the fall of 2021 I decided that I would shift this focus a bit. I will continue to review books that I hope will capture the interest of young readers. Perhaps one of the books I review will turn them into bibliophiles; one can hope. In addition, I will be reviewing and exploring children's literature that will appeal to adult readers.

Over the years I have learned that children’s literature has a lot to offer adults. The language one finds in children’s books can be so rich and so exquisite that at times it can quite take your breath away. Themes are explored in ways that force adult readers to re-examine their own beliefs and perceptions. Simple truths that we have forgotten are suddenly brought to the fore, and when we look at the world we start to see things in a new light. Here is an article that I think beautifully explores why adults should read children's literature.

I believe that adults need children’s literature more than ever, to counter the struggles and darkness that often overlays our lives. I invite you to set aside your “I am too old for this” ideas and give yourself permission to read children’s literature.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Happy Birthday, Norman Rockwell


I did not grow up with Norman Rockwell's artwork the way so many of Americans did; his art did not make its way to the Middle East. Then, when I was in my teens, my American grandmother sent us a lovely book full of his artwork, and I often looked through it; I had never seen art like that before. 

In 2018 my husband and I flew out to Rhode Island to take our daughter to her university orientation. We took a few days to explore the area, and one of the places we visited was the National Museum of Illustration in Newport. There I got to view some Norman Rockwell paintings 'in person' for the first time. It was timely because we also went to visit Wendell Minor who illustrated the book I have reviewed below. Brian and I had a wonderful visit with Wendel and his wife Florence, and got to visit his studio, where the artwork in this book was created. 

Illustrated by Wendell Minor
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2019, 978-1-4424-9670-5
Long before Norman Rockwell was a famous illustrator, he was a child who didn’t play ball very well, a child who could not jump over three orange crates like his big brother did. What Norman could do, even then, was to draw really well. The children in his neighborhood would ask Norman to draw them a picture, and so he would. With pieces of chalk, he would draw something marvelous on the sidewalk, which would delight his friends. 
   Drawing was in Norman’s blood, which meant that he didn’t always find it easy to pay attention in class when he was in school. You would think that a person who loves to draw so much, and who was so good at it, would find art school easy, but he didn’t. It turned out that Norman had a lot to learn, and he had to accept his teachers’ criticisms with humility and equanimity. He “listened, learned, and got better and better,” working hard at his craft.
   Out in the “real world” Norman took every illustration job he could find. He needed the work to pay the bills, and he needed the practice. As he created illustrations for booklets, textbooks, and a children’s book, he felt that he was chasing his “dream of becoming a great artist,” but he was also “being chased by the fear” that he wasn’t “good enough.”
   At the age of twenty-two Norman decided that it was time to see if he had what it took to be an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post. This publication was the most popular magazine in the United States at that time, and every week there was an illustrated “picture-story” on the cover. Norman took five of his illustrations to the magazine’s editor and was floored when the man said that he would take all of them. 
   Norman went on to illustrate more than three hundred covers for the Post. Creating an illustration that told a story was not easy, and it took a lot of work on Norman’s part. He had to come up with a concept, draw sketches, and find models when needed. Dealing with his animal models could be quite challenging as they would not always cooperate. How do you get a turkey to sit still?
   Norman’s covers, which usually portrayed everyday people doing everyday things, were hugely popular with the American public, and he became famous. His paintings were charming, often funny, and so easy to relate to. In an imperfect and often unpleasant world they presented “the best side of things.” 
   Later in life Norman began to use his art to address issues that were dear to him. Some of the things he painted were controversial, but he created them anyway. He realized that he had to paint the truth, even if that truth was distressing or grim. Sometimes painting what was good and right in the world was not enough. 
   The narrative and artwork in this wonderful book tells the story of a man whose art delighted many thousands of people every week for years. It is clear to sense how deeply the author and illustrator connect with the story of Norman Rockwell. Their affection, respect, and admiration for the artist can be felt in every sentence and every piece of art. 
   At the back of the book readers will find a biography of Norman Rockwell, notes from the author and illustrator, a timeline of Norman’s life, and some examples of his paintings. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

February is Black History Month


Dear Bookish Friends,

February is Black History Month. Throughout the month I will be exploring books about African Americans and other men and women of African descent who have made the world a better place for all. 
   Black History Month is an annual event that celebrates the achievements of  people of African descent. It is a time for recognizing their central role in world history. Also known as African American History Month, the event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.
   The story of Black History Month begins in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. That September, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent.
  Known today as the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), the group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs and host performances and lectures.
   In the decades that followed, mayors of cities across the country began issuing yearly proclamations recognizing "Negro History Week." By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the civil rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, "Negro History Week" had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses.
   President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Today, Black History Month is a time to honor the contributions and legacy of African Americans across U.S. history and society—from activists and civil rights pioneers such as Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Rosa Parks to leaders in industry, politics, science, culture and more. 
   Since 1976, every American president has designated February as Black History Month and endorsed a specific theme. The Black History Month 2022 theme, “Black Health and Wellness,” explores "the legacy of not only Black scholars and medical practitioners in Western medicine, but also other ways of knowing (e.g., birthworkers, doulas, midwives, naturopaths, herbalists, etc.) throughout the African Diaspora. The 2022 theme considers activities, rituals and initiatives that Black communities have done to be well." 

Happy February! This month's Bookish Calendar and celebratory days


Dear Friends,

A happy February to you all. I wish you a month that is rich in books, music, art, new and joyous endeavors, and moments of soft repose. 

February comes from the Latin word februa, which means “to cleanse.” The month was named after the Roman Februalia, which was a month-long festival of purification and atonement that took place this time of year. See all the month names.

February is the only month to have a length of fewer than 30 days! Though it’s usually 28 days, February is 29 days long in leap years. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar (c. 713 BC); originally, winter was considered a month-less period. 
Originally, February was made the last month of the calendar year. Eventually (c. 450 BC), February was moved to its place as the second month.

This month's Bookish Calendar  is packed with birthdays and special days.  Among others, the writer Charles Dickens, artist Grant Wood, and inventor Thomas Edison were all born in February. 

In addition, February is Black History Month, and today is the beginning of the Lunar New Year. This year is the year of the Tiger.  

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