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News & Reviews

The Story of Celia Thaxter

and Her Island Garden




(pub.5.17.2022) 40 pages

Authors: Phyllis Root and Gary D. Schmidt

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Character: Celia Thaxter


" Celia Thaxter grew up on a desolate island off the coast of Maine, where her father worked as lighthouse keeper. Amid the white and gray of the sea, the rocks, and even the birds, young Celia found color where she could: green mosses and purple starfish and pink morning glories by the shore. And she planted her first garden, tucking bright marigolds between rocky ledges. When she was twelve, Celia’s family moved to nearby Appledore Island, where her father built a large hotel, and Celia planted a bigger, ever-growing garden with nearly sixty types of flowers, from asters to wisteria.

Guests flocked to the hotel from around the world, among them such writers as Longfellow, Whittier, and Hawthorne. Celia had been writing poems about the island, her garden, and the sea, and they would be printed in magazines and books, making her a foremother of writing about nature. "

Tantalizing taste:

" In the springtime, after long winters, Celia sailed back to Appledore, carrying the seedlings to plant her garden. Year after year, she planted. She planted pansies, sweet peas and hollyhocks, dark larkspurs and foxgloves, and tall sunflowers and red dahlias and nasturtiums and golden California poppies - and yellow marigolds. All summer long the flowers blossomed and brightened the island, pretty as a poem, pretty as a painting. All summer long the birds were at home in her garden - and even her house."

And something more: A Note on Celia Laighton Thaxter at the back of the book explains: "In the middle of her most famous poem, 'Land-Locked,' Celia Thaxter wrote, 'Have patience, - here are flowers and songs of birds, / Beauty and fragrance, wealth of sound and sigh, / All summer's glory thine from morn till night, / And life too full of joy for uttered words.' If Celiz Taxter were to summarize her entire life in a single stanza, she might have chosen this one.

...Publishers encouraged Celia to write about her childhood ... and then to write about her garden on Appledore... Today, though the buildings she knew on Appledore burned down over a century ago, the garden has been re-created on the island on which she is buried, and with which she will forever be linked."

How M.S. Subbulakshmi

Used Her Voice for Change



Farrar Straus Giroux

(pub.11.8.2022) 40 pages

Author: Suma Subramaniam

Illustrator: Shreya Gupta

Character: M.S. Subbulakshmi


" Before M.S. Subbulakshmi was a famous Carnatic singer and the first Indian woman to perform at the United Nations, she was a young girl with a prodigious voice.

But Subbulakshmi was not free to sing everywhere. In early 1900s India, girls were not allowed to perform for the public. So Subbulakshmi busted barriers to sing at small festivals. Eventually, she broke tradition to record her first album. She did not stop here. At Gandhi's request, Subbulakshmi sang for India’s freedom. Her fascinating odyssey stretched across borders, and soon she was no longer just a young prodigy. She was a woman who changed the world."

Tantalizing taste:

" She became friends with other women attending the conference. With their encouragement, she traveled to nearby towns by train, bus, and bullock cart. Everywhere, she was the only woman among the singers. And she was never offered the best time slot to perform.

Her path was long, but Subbulakshmi was determined. After every song, she bowed, and in her smile, the audience saw a glimmer of her strength."

And something more: Author Suma Subramaniam's letter to the reader explains that "M.S. Subbulakshmi's life [1916-2004] is an example of how a small-town girl with a great devotion to her craft realized her dream. In her time, it was rare for a woman to make a mark in the world. I wrote this story because through this astounding human being's life, we can learn that the ability to heal ourselves and the world is within us."

The Story of Maryam Faruqi,

Trailblazer for Women's Education




(HarperCollins Publishers)

(pub.1.17.2023) 40 pages

Author: Reem Faruqi

Illustrator: Hoda Hadadi

Character: Maryam Faruqi


" Maryam was a trailblazer for women’s education and the author is her granddaughter, creating a personal, inspiring tale.

Milloo lives in a time when school is considered unnecessary for girls. But to Milloo, education is essential.

When Milloo reads, her thoughts dance. Milloo courageously dreams of becoming a teacher, but in fifth grade her parents tell her she has had enough school. Milloo is heartbroken but finds a way to achieve her educational goals, graduating high school and college with honors. When she’s married, Milloo’s husband tells her to stay home, but she does not let that stop her.

She decides to open a school in her house and later opens more schools around Karachi, Pakistan, fulfilling her dreams."

Tantalizing taste:

" 'Milloo! Time for school!' yelled her brothers.

Milloo snaked past the sabzi wala,

cha-chaed past the chai wala,

danced through the dusty alleys,

all the way to school.

Although Milloo knew every answer, she didn't raise her hand

She looked down at the floor.

One day Milloo's teacher didn't come.

Children drew on the chalkboard.

Children stood on chairs.

Children threw paper airplanes.

Milloo wanted to read, but it was too noisy.

She closed her book.


She put her hands on her hips. She stomped to the front of

the class. She whistled loudly.

'Enough is enough!'

Milloo grabbed a piece of chalk and began to teach her class.

When the teacher returned, Milloo raised her hand the highest."

And something more: Reem Faruqi, in the Author's Note explains that her " grandmother, Maryam Faruqi (December 13, 1920-April 9, 2012), affectionately called Milloo by her father, is famous for founding Happy Home Schools in Karachi, Pakistan. These schools are still thriving today...She won scores of lifetime achievement awards, including the President's Award for Literacy (1987) as well as awards from the prime minister and the president of Pakistan. She educated thousands of students, students who have flourished in various professions in life."

Where to find Jeanne Walker Harvey books

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