Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 15, 2009

A Castle and a Bookshop

On this sunny, cold Sunday, my husband suggested taking a ride to New Hampshire. We hiked around Madame Sherri’s castle relics left from the home of a costume designer for the Zigfield Follies back in the roaring twenties. Or something like that. There’s a lot of myth and gossip around her. We saw a smooth frozen pond:

and this:

Especially for my pals in California, here’s what’s so very cool, or not, in footwear in New England. At least I could navigate hard snow and ice wearing L.L. Bean with pull-on ice cleats.

Then, on to civilization, at its peak: The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, N.H. Here’s what I left with:

A nature-loving student, Anne, first brought this picture book by M. T. Anderson and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes to my attention, and I’ve recommended it to others since. Me, All Alone, at the End of the World pairs perfectly with an essay M.T. Anderson published in the Horn Book a few years ago about his childhood spent in nature and imagination. I snatched it off the bargain table. Megan Schliesman of CCBC gave a riveting synopsis of the Printz Award winning Jellicoe Road (a novel within a novel always intrigues me) at the Wisconsin Reading Association last week. Kelly kellyrfineman wrote that I must read Toys Go Out and its sequel, so I will. At last. And The Worcester Review features articles about Robert Cormier, which I’ll read before passing it on to Jo jbknowles who I know adores him. I already learned that in the Leominster, Mass. Library where he was trustee for fifteen years, there’s now a diner-like booth, where teens can hang out, in the Robert Cormier Center for Young Adults, more commonly called “The Bob.”

As if all this wasn’t enough fun, driving back, I started musing about the never-ideal title of the novel I’ve been revising. Swapping words with my husband, I hit on a title that made him not go, um, no, or make some wisecrack. In fact he almost shouted, “Write that down!” (as my daughter knows, this is rare). Sorry I can’t write this cool title because I want to live with the sweetness before someone maybe bursts my bubble. Right now, slapping on a good new title is giving me the energy to finish the thing, or this round of it.



  1. Even before I read the rest of the text, I was all “Squee! You will love Toys Go Out!” Only now I feel pressure, because you’ve paid money for it, and what if I turn out to be wrong? Not that I believe that to be possible. It would be like you not loving Winnie the Pooh.

  2. Did I even know M.T. Anderson wrote picture books? Must check this out.

  3. I know, he’s way too talented! This is a sort of quiet book which I’m not terribly surprised slipped through the pub;lciity cracks.I think you’d like it. He did a more raucous pb biography of Hadyen, also illus by Hawkes, that’s also wonderful and I think got a bit more notice.

  4. Toys Go Out! You lucky duck!! Yes, you will definitely love it . . .

  5. How can I resist a Squee! The names alone seem worth the book; I was smiling at the jacket copy. In that rare event it’s not my cup of tea, I know I could pass it along … and, now, look, Jama is backing you up! I have a novel to finish reading first, but …. hey, it’s short — maybe with a cup of tea mid-afternoon…

  6. Of course I’ve heard others who like this book — but these personal recommendations — my to be read pile is huge, but this slim book may wrestle its way out of order. The antidote to the mid February humbugness creeping in.

  7. Sounds to me like a perfect day!!! I want to see those castle ruins, hear the history, visit that bookstore.
    I also want to know your title, but hey I understand why you are hugging it to yourself for awhile.
    Happy reading.

  8. Quite perfect! And thanks for your interest in my title! Maybe I’ll whisper it to you first. I think I should live with it for at least 24 more hours, but the good news is I checked Amazon and no one has taken it.

  9. Do you have to practice a lot to walk in those? 🙂
    Congrats on the title!!

  10. Fun on cleats! It’s life on a hill in winter.
    Thanks re the title. The glow hasn’t yet faded, though I’m still not confident enough to try it beyond my husband!

  11. What a lovely day out! And with the ice the way it’s been around here, I fully appreciate those cleats. (Three cheers on the title, too! That alone makes it a banner day.)

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