award winning – NY Is Book Country Mon, 21 Feb 2022 13:01:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 award winning – NY Is Book Country 32 32 At the Westerly Library: a first look at some banned books | Guest columns Mon, 21 Feb 2022 01:15:00 +0000

If you’ve been paying attention to the news lately — and frankly, even if you haven’t — you’ve probably heard stories about books being challenged and outright banned across the country. Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Censorship of reading material dates back to at least the 17th century in America (hello, Puritans), and seems to have become something of a leisure activity for some school systems and organizations. In response, the American Library Association has celebrated our freedom to read with an annual “Banned Books Week” since the early 1980s in which it shines a spotlight on these books. Banned Book Week isn’t until September, but given the recent spike in the number of disputed materials, now seems like the perfect time to highlight some of these titles!

One of the latest books to make headlines is Art Spielberg’s “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel based on the memories of the author’s parents, who survived the Holocaust. A Tennessee school board banned the title, removing it from its curriculum, due to language and other “objectionable material.” It seems not everyone finds it objectionable, though: in the weeks that followed, it skyrocketed to the top of the bestseller list, was out of stock virtually everywhere, and also had a long list of reservations here at the library. School boards, beware: it seems the best way to ensure that a book is widely read is to ban it!

Kidding aside, restricting materials in schools and libraries can have a lasting and negative impact, especially on the young people they claim to “protect”. Many frequently challenged books have LGBTQ content or characters, which sends a clear message that there is something wrong or shameful about being gay. Some titles that regularly appear on “most banned” material lists are Cory Silverberg’s “Sex Is a Funny Word” and Juno Dawson’s “This Book Is Gay.” The former is an award-winning sex education comic that aims to help parents and caregivers talk more openly and effectively with children about sex, love, consent and more. The latter is described as a funny, entertaining and informative “exploration of sexuality and what it’s like to grow up LGBT”. Other great titles for children and teenagers on the subject of gender identity are “All Boys Aren’t Blue” by George M. Johnson, “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe and “Melissa” by Alex Gino (previously published under the name “George”).

There are certainly plenty of other controversial and menacing books in the library, from Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” to Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project.” Stop by and check them out, or browse our contested material displays for more interesting titles.

Most requested books

1. “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

2. “Wish You Were Here” by Jodi Picoult

3. “The Maid” by Nita Prose

4. “A Step Too Far” by Lisa Gardner

5. “Apples never fall” by Liane Moriarty

6. “The Judge’s List” by John Grisham

7. Lucy Foley’s “Paris Apartment”

8. “Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr

9. “The Recovery Agent” by Janet Evanovich

10. “The Match” by Harlan Coben

Most requested DVDs

1. “Belfast”

2. “Gucci House”

3. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”

4. “Encanto”

5. “Marvel’s Eternals”

6. “All Creatures Great and Small: Season 2”

7. “King Richard”

8. “The Beatles: Come Back”

9. “The Hate Game”

10. “Sing 2”

This week

MONDAY – The library will be closed for Presidents Day

TUESDAY – 10am-7:30pm, Crafternoon To-Go – This month we’re doing magazine murals. Pick up your kit in Reference while supplies last; 1:00-4:00 p.m., Community Resource Advocate – Our volunteer Community Resource Advocate is available to help connect you with local services/resources. Email him at; 2-3:30 p.m., Virtual Tech Social – We meet on Zoom every Tuesday to answer your technical questions. Prior registration is required; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Knit and Crochet Club – The Knit and Crochet Group meets on Zoom. Please email for meeting details.

THURSDAY – 4-4:30pm, Teen Book Club – Join our Teen Book Club via Zoom to discuss a book you’re currently reading and get recommendations on what to read next! For more information or to register, please email

FRIDAY – 4-4:45 p.m., Chopped: Library Edition (Ages 7-12) – Our take on the hit cooking competition shows! Participants will receive a mystery ingredient, return home and concoct a culinary masterpiece, then show it off via Zoom. Registration is mandatory. To verify for more details or to register.

SATURDAY – 10:30-11:30 a.m., Zumba in the Park and Library – Try Zumba for a fun workout! Classes are FREE and will take place on the lawn near the gazebo (weather permitting) or in the 3rd floor terrace room (in case of bad weather).

Cassie Skobrak is a reference librarian at Westerly Library and Wilcox Park.

Jan Pieńkowski, illustrator of Meg and Mog books, dies at 85 | Books Sun, 20 Feb 2022 16:56:00 +0000

Jan Pieńkowski, the beloved illustrator and author of more than 140 children’s books, has died aged 85.

Pieńkowski, whose work included the pop-up books Meg and Mog, lived with Alzheimer’s disease.

Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House Children’s Books, confirmed he died on Saturday morning.

Pieńkowski’s work is often inspired by his Polish childhood and his experiences as a wartime refugee. His interest in paper cut-outs stemmed from his stay in an air-raid shelter in Warsaw, where a soldier amused him by cutting newspapers into shapes for him.

Meg and Mog, made in collaboration with the late writer Helen Nicoll, was an illustrated adventure series about an unfortunate witch and her striped cat.

Pieńkowski said in an interview that the series gave him the opportunity to turn monsters from his childhood into harmless toys. He drew his palette from comics such as Desperate Dan and Dennis the Menace.

“Jan was one of the great storytellers: an exceptionally talented creator, who was guided by what interested him and who treated children as his equals,” Dow said Sunday.

“There was an impatience and wonderful curiosity about him as he sought new ways to tell stories: tapping into his Polish roots with his cutout and silhouette work; his extraordinary use of color; his pioneering interest in computer drawing; and of course his award-winning pop-ups that have challenged publishers and printers to find new ways to create his books.

Pieńkowski, she added, meticulously pored over every detail “and yet achieved the nigh-impossible: simple, magical storytelling, which is why his books – like my personal favorites and those of our family, the brilliant stories of Meg and Mog – live on.I was very lucky to have had the chance to know him and work with him.

After Nicoll’s death in 2012, Pieńkowski worked on new titles Meg and Mog with his civilian partner, David Walser, a translator, artist, musician and writer.

“One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that Jan never treats kids like kids,” Walser said a few years ago. “It wouldn’t occur to him to talk to them, he just behaves perfectly normally… When he works with kids, he’s one of them.”

British author Ed Vere, who is Walser’s godson, said: “Jan Pieńkowski has lived an inspiring life dedicated to creating books of the highest quality – pioneering, clever, beautifully thought out and always created with a playful flair. some pleasure.”

He added: “Full of love, curiosity, art, thought, fun and laughter. He will be greatly missed, as a man and as a leading figure in children’s books.

For his work as a children’s author, Pieńkowski received the 2019 award Booktrust Lifetime Achievement Awardwhich has in the past been credited to some of the biggest names in children’s books, including Shirley Hughes, Raymond Briggs and Judith Kerr.

Critic Nicolette Jones, who presided over the judges selecting Pieńkowski for the award, said he “brings magic to children’s illustration”, while fellow judge, SF author Said, said: ” Books such as Meg and Mog have shaped so many generations now that they have become part of the fabric of British childhood and culture in general.

Pieńkowski has also been twice nominated in the UK – in 1982 and 2008 – for the International Hans Christian Andersen Prize, the highest honor given to creators of children’s books.

He won the Kate Greenaway Award in 1971 with writer Joan Aiken for their second collaboration, The Kingdom Under the Sea, which included Eastern European fairy tales. He won his second Greenaway Award in 1979 for the spooky pop-up book Haunted House, which demonstrated his gothic leanings.

Pieńkowski was born in Warsaw to a squire father and a scientist mother. He was three years old when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, forcing the family to move to Europe before finally settling in England in 1946.

In London, he attended Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Holland Park, where he learned Latin and Greek, before going to King’s College, Cambridge to study classics and English.

He has illustrated for Granta magazine and designed posters for university theater productions. Early in his career, Pieńkowski was employed to sketch live on the BBC Watch children’s show!, before the book world found out.

Along with Meg and Mog and his pop-up books, he is known for his illustrations of fairy tales by Perrault and the Brothers Grimm, The Nutcracker and The Mountain of Glass: Tales from Poland.

Fans paid tribute to Pieńkowski on social media following news of his death. Children’s author Christopher Edge wrote“When I think back to my earliest memories of childhood reading, Meg and Mog’s books shine brightly. Thank you, Jan Pieńkowski.

Children’s author and illustrator Shoo Rayner added: “Sad news – Jan Pieńkowski was an inspiration to me when I started.”

The London Review bookshop job: “RIP Jan Pieńkowski – Haunted House is one of the best books in the store, every time a child discovers it while browsing the children’s section, they are blown away.”

Charter Books, JPT will present Buster Keaton’s “The General” and a conversation with author/critic Dana Stevens on February 10 Thu, 03 Feb 2022 21:41:13 +0000

Charter Books and the Jane Pickens Theater present: Dana Stevens, Slate film critic and author of Camera Man: Buster Keaton, the dawn of cinema and the invention of the 20th century.

On Thursday, February 10 at 7:30 p.m., Dana Stevens discusses her new biography of Buster Keaton, followed by a screening of Keaton’s best-known film The general with live musical accompaniment by composer and keyboardist Jeff Rapsis. After the film, Dana Stevens will sit down for a chat with Professor Matt Ramsey, head of the film department at Salve Regina University.

Newport’s newest independent bookstore is proud to present this unique event in partnership with the Jane Pickens Theatre, where Buster Keaton’s silent films have previously been shown to local audiences.

In her genre-defying work of cultural history, the leading film critic of Slate places the unique creative genius of comedy legend and acclaimed filmmaker Buster Keaton in the context of his time.