new england literary news

Illustrations auctioned to benefit Marathon bombing victims

“The Great Paper Caper" is being auctioned off  as part of the We Art Boston project.
Oliver Jeffers
Oliver Jeffers’s “The Great Paper Caper" is being auctioned off as part of the We Art Boston project.
Beth Krommer’s "The House in the Night" is also being auctioned off.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, artist Joe McKendry, who lives in Brookline with his wife, Susan, and their three children, wanted to do something positive for the city.

An illustrator of children’s books, McKendry knows well that stories can comfort, inspire, and help children and adults feel safe and hopeful so he decided to honor the role of story time in the lives of families by celebrating and auctioning art by children’s book illustrators. He named the effort We Art Boston. Proceeds from the online auction will benefit the Emergency and Trauma Fund at Boston Children’s Hospital. It funds physical and emotional care to families coping with a disaster.

Getting the fundraiser rolling was easy. Every illustrator McKendry asked to donate artwork said “yes” and offered to invite other illustrators to join the sale. The total now exceeds 40 artists. Many of the characters and stories featured in the sale will be familiar to children and parents. They include McKendry’s illustrations of the city’s first subway from “Beneath the Streets of Boston” (Godine), Henry Cole’s penguins from “And Tango Makes Three” (Simon & Schuster), and Matt Tavares’s portrait of the Red Sox slugger from “There Goes Ted Williams” (Candlewick).The sale also will include new artwork, such as a collaboration that is a fanciful rendering of “We Art Boston.” Children’s book illustrator Barbara McClintock topped the letter “B” with the figure of Rita Jeptoo who won the women’s division of the Boston Marathon moments before the bombs went off.


The run-up to the sale features a unique opportunity for children. They are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animals to Porter Square Books in Cambridge beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday (Oct. 5). McKendry, McClintock, and Tavares will draw portraits of the animals. Donations to the trauma fund will be welcomed.

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The online art auction begins Oct. 10. Artwork will be on display on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, across from the New England Aquarium, on Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be live music and opportunities for children to make art and books. Rain date is Oct. 27. The auction will close four days after the Greenway event. Check We Art Boston’s Facebook page for details.


Did Edgar Allan Poe have an affair with poet Frances Sargent Osgood? It isn’t clear. What is known is that each was married when they met and the two Boston natives maintained a correspondence that Osgood wrote was “in accordance with the earnest entreaties of his wife, who imagined that my influence over him had a restraining and beneficial effect.” Using historical research as a point of departure, Lynn Cullen’s new novel “Mrs. Poe” (Gallery) is largely set in New York City during the mid-1840s though a climactic scene takes place in Boston. In the novel, when Poe and Osgood meet at a literary gathering, Osgood is attracted to him and flattered to hear that he admires her work. Things get complicated when Poe’s wife, Virginia, wants to be Osgood’s friend, too.

Coming out

“From Scratch: Inside the Food Network” by Allen Salkin (Putnam)


“The October List” by Jeffery Deaver (Grand Central)

“Ian Fleming” by Andrew Lycett (St. Martin’s)

Pick of the Week

Mary Toni of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn., recommends “Longbourn” by Jo Baker (Knopf): “It is the very enjoyable ‘downstairs’ version of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ — the lives of maids, housekeepers, and footmen at the Longbourn estate. Even Jane Austen herself would be enthralled with this tale filled with fully realized characters, a very romantic plot, and tantalizing glimpses of all our favorite literary figures.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at