Books

new england literary news | NINA MACLAUGHLIN

New children’s book visually celebrates written word and storytelling

An image from “A Child of Books.”
An image from “A Child of Books.”

‘Child of Books’ team together

In their best-selling picture book, “A Child of Books’’ (Candlewick), Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston created a visual celebration of the written word and the power of storytelling to open doors in the imagination. For the first time in the United States, the two will be together to talk about their work and sign books at the Boston Athenaeum on Feb. 25 at 1 p.m.

Jeffers, a children’s book author from Northern Ireland who lives in Brooklyn, and Winston, a London artist who explores typography, worked together for over five years to create the story of a girl and boy who adventure through forests, over seas, up mountains, and around fantastical castles. The landscapes throughout are sculpted from the sentences of classics from literature.

Fragments, paragraphs, and pages from “The Secret Garden,’’ “Great Expectations,’’ “Black Beauty,’’ “Peter Pan,’’ “Frankenstein,’’ as well as works by Robert Louis Stevenson, Beatrix Potter, Herman Melville, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and many others are shaped to make the world that the little boy and girl travel through. It serves as a potent message to kids, and a good reminder to adults, about the transportive power of stories in our lives.

Significance of African-American literature

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Danielle Legros Georges, Boston poet laureate and Lesley University professor, has gathered five local black writers and teachers for two panel discussions that will explore the significance of African-American literature. The first, “Blackness in the 21st Century” will focus on black identity. It will feature Ifeanyi Menkiti, Wellesley professor and Grolier Poetry Book Shop owner; Nicole Terez Dutton, former Somerville poet laureate and an editor at The Baffler and Transition Magazine; Barbara Lewis, director of the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture at UMass Boston; Nikòl Payen, writer and Quinsigamond Community College professor; and Enzo Silon Surin, Central Square Press publisher and Bunker Hill Community College professor. “The panels are meant to underscore how African-American literature has been and continues to be a source of celebration of black lives, sustenance in struggle, and site of resistance,” explains Legros Georges. The first gathering will take place Feb. 23, at 6 pm at the Rabb Lecture Hall of the Boston Public Library. The second panel, “Black Style, Black Language,” is slated for April 3.

Warren joins ‘This Fight’

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“Consider this MY warning,” Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted recently. “We won’t be silent. We will speak out. And we WILL persist.” Warren has emerged as a strong and fiery leader in the Democratic Party and a vocal opponent of the current administration. She brings her vision for the Democrats to a new book, just announced, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class’’ (Metropolitan), which will be published April 18.

Coming out

“There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé’’ by Morgan Parker (Tin House)

“The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond’’by Stephen O’Shea (Norton).

“Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character’’ by Kay Redfield Jamison (Knopf)

Pick of the week

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Marilyn Racette of Book Ends in Winchester recommends “The Fifth Petal’’ by Brunonia Barry (Crown): “Set in Salem, it’s no surprise that the story has connections to the 17th century witch trials. But the roots of the story go right to the darkness within human nature. The suspicious death of a young boy on Halloween night leads police chief John Rafferty back to Salem’s most notorious cold case. Brunonia twists the plot with skill, weaving past and present together, creating a story that’s haunting, and characters that I felt I knew.’’

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter.” She can be reached at nmaclaughlin@gmail.com.