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New England Literary News

New publishing partnership, youth writing, and books to donate

MIT professor Alan Lightman is author of the upcoming “Ada and the Galaxies.”Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/file

Publishing pair-up

MIT Press and Somerville-based Candlewick Press are teaming up on a first-of-its-kind collaboration, uniting a university press and a publisher of children’s books to launch two new imprints, MITeen Press and MIT Kids Press. They’ll be publishing books on STEAM topics for kids and young adults, on subjects including the environment, the Internet, and planetary science. The partnership will combine the muscle of MIT Press and the university, with an advisory board made up of faculty and press employees, and Candlewick will manage commercial details and manufacturing, including partnering with their sister press Walker Books in the UK and Australia. The first books, scheduled to publish in the fall of next year, include a picture book by Alan Lightman, MIT professor and author, most famously, of “Einstein’s Dreams”, called “Ada and the Galaxies”; a guide to learning Chinese through emoji mash-ups called “Hanmoji” by Jennifer 8. Lee, Jason Li, and An Xiao Mina; and “MIT App Inventor,” a guide for how to code apps for middle-grade readers by Hal Abelson. Karen Lotz, Candlewick’s president and publisher, hopes that these titles “will expand the imaginations and aspirations of the next generations of budding thinkers, designers, scientists, leaders, and inventors.”


Pandemic project

For a new book project, the student-run Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB) of 826 Boston is inviting young voices across the city to submit writing for an anthology centered around self-identity and staying empowered during a pandemic. In a letter to students in grades 7-12, the YLAB writes of how though coronavirus has turned life upside down, “one thing that we can control is how we use our voices to make change. We must have hope and stick together.” They are looking for poems, essays, narratives, and original artwork from Boston residents; there’s a 750-word limit, and submissions are being accepted through midnight on May 24. They offer a few prompts to get juices flowing, including “What has the pandemic or social distancing allowed you to discover about yourself?” “How has your identity transformed or evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic?” “Is there a major event or person that has influenced you? If so, how have they contributed to your identity?” Students need not adhere to these prompts and can write about anything about self-identity or the pandemic. “We believe that we can all share our thoughts and feelings together. We are the future. We are not going to let this pandemic stop us or keep us stagnant,” they write. For more information and to submit, visit


Delivering books

Due to COVID-19, the Boston Public Library isn’t able to loan books in the usual ways, and some people don’t have the resources or the Internet connections to take advantage of their digital offerings, so the library started the “Books for Boston” initiative, delivering books to a variety of nonprofits that serve high-risk populations. So far they’ve delivered over 1,400 books to area organizations, including Boston HOPE at the Boston Convention and Expo Center, the Pine Street Inn, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, the Black Seed Writers Group, Women’s Lunch Place, Elizabeth Stone House, and others. They’ve got a goal of delivering 5,000 books, and are purchasing the books from local bookstores, having spent over $14,000 at Trident, Frugal Books in Roxbury, Brookline Booksmith, and Porter Square Books. In a statement, Mayor Marty Walsh praised the program, saying, “When you’re doing the right thing and staying at home, you need and deserve access to books and art more than ever.”


Coming Out

Sansei and Sensibilityby Karen Tei Yamashita (Coffee House)

Take Me Apartby Sara Slisgar (FSG/MCD)

Little Eyesby Samanta Schweblin, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell (Riverhead)

Pick of the Week

Charlee Bianchini at the Bookstore of Gloucester recommends “The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks” by Terry Tempest Williams (Picador): “America’s national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing. Terry Tempest Williams, the best-selling author of the environmental classic ‘Refuge and the beloved memoir ‘When Women Were Birds,’ returns with a literary celebration of our national parks and an exploration of what they mean to us and what we mean to them.”

Nina MacLaughlin is the author of “Wake, Siren.” She can be reached at