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    Duxbury event celebrates Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’

    Robert and Judi Vose purchased the property of Olga Huckins, who inspired Rachel Carson to write "Silent Spring."
    John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
    Robert and Judi Vose purchased the property of Olga Huckins, who inspired Rachel Carson to write "Silent Spring."

    Artist Eric Hopkins (above) grew up on North Haven island in Maine’s Penobscot Bay, 12 miles from Rockland, where he now has a gallery and studio.

    In “Eric Hopkins: Above and Beyond” (Down East), Carl Little, author of books about John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper, traces the trajectory of Hopkins’s formative years and his studies at the fledgling Montserrat School of Visual Art in Beverly and at Rhode Island School of Design where he took a course with glass artist Dale Chihuly. When Hopkins returned to Maine, “that mighty island [of North Haven] swam back into focus,” Little writes. He still loves flying above the islands. Much of the book is devoted to a portfolio of the artist’s paintings, many of them his bright, bold, aerial island panoramas.

    The book recently won a New England Art Award from the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research, which annually honors the best books about the region’s artists.

    Tribute to author


    Following aerial spraying of DDT over Duxbury in the summer of 1957, birds dropped dead. “The ‘harmless’ shower bath killed seven of our lovely songbirds outright,” wrote Duxbury resident Olga Owens Huckins. “We picked up three dead bodies the next morning right by the door. They were birds that had lived close to us, trusted us, and built their nests in our trees year after year.”

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    Huckins described the devastation in letters to the Boston Herald and to her friend Rachel Carson that were a cry for help. She wanted the spraying to stop until the effect on wildlife and humans was assessed. Carson listened. She credits her friend’s letter as an impetus for writing “Silent Spring,” her seminal 1962 book about the dangers of pesticides. In the book’s acknowledgments, Carson states that Huckins “brought my attention sharply back to a problem with which I had long been concerned. I then realized I must write this book.”

    Judith and Terry Vose, the current owners of Huckins’s Duxbury property at 281 Powder Point Ave., are preserving the site as a bird sanctuary and a tribute to the two women. On Sunday, May 27, they will celebrate what would have been Carson’s 95th birthday by opening their land to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be bird walks and talks by environmentalists. For more information, e-mail

    Gates ‘Reader’

    It’s difficult to keep up with Henry Louis Gates Jr., the prolific Harvard professor and PBS superstar. Now there’s “The Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Reader” (Basic Civitas) edited by Abby Wolf. This compendium of his work on African-American literature, history, and culture spans three decades of inquiry and insight, from an interview with Josephine Baker and James Baldwin to an essay on hip-hop group 2 Live Crew.

    Coming out

    “The Columbus Affair” by Steve Berry (Ballantine)


    “Floating Gold: A Natural (& Unnatural) History of Ambergis”by Christopher Kemp (University of Chicago)

    “The Taliban Cricket Club” by Timeri N. Murari (Ecco)

    Pick of the week

    Lisa Fabiano of Wellesley Books in Wellesley recommends “Dreamsleeves” by Coleen Murtagh Paratore (Scholastic). “This novel for 9- to 12-year-olds is full of inspiration and hope. Aislinn is spending the summer before eighth grade taking care of her younger siblings. Her dad’s drinking problem is getting worse. The best thing about Aislinn, though, is that she knows what she wants. She puts her dreams on her sleeve for all to see and help her achieve.”

    Jan Gardner can be reached at Jan Follow her on Twitter @JanLGardner.