The Word on the Street

New England book and author news

Patricia Ellis Herr’s daughter Alex in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
Patricia Ellis Herr
Patricia Ellis Herr’s daughter Alex in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Before she turned 7, Alex Herr climbed New Hampshire’s 48 highest peaks with her mother, Patricia Ellis Herr. The elder Herr’s book “Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure” (Broadway) is a testament to the power of a “can do” attitude. She is frank about the mistakes she made as a novice hiker; over time, she learns to err on the side of caution. Sometimes she and Alex turn back when the weather is threatening even if they are close to a summit.

It’s a lesson Patricia learned in part from her husband, Hugh Herr, Alex’s father. He was considered a child prodigy in the rock- and ice-climbing community when at the age of 17 in January 1982 he was lost on Mount Washington for four days. Due to frostbite, both his legs were amputated. He created his own artificial legs and is now a tenured professor at MIT where he invents and builds robotic prostheses.

Boston Globe-Horn Book winners

A painter and photographer known for his massive-scale portraits and a Harlem bookseller whose store became a reading room of the civil rights movement are the subjects of two 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature. “Chuck Close: Face Book” (Abrams), written and illustrated by Close, is the nonfiction winner. “No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller” (Lerner), written by Vaunda Michaux Nelson and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, is the fiction winner. Picture book winner “Extra Yarn” (HarperCollins), written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Jon Klassen, is the tale of a girl who makes the world cozy, colorful, and happy.


For the first time since the awards were established in 1967, the winners were announced in New York City at BookExpo America, the book publishing industry’s annual gathering.

Poetry club remembers Frost

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It was only after Robert Frost returned from a stay in England in 1915 with his family that America began to take notice of his talent. He subsequently won four Pulitzers, recited a poem at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, became an eloquent spokesman for the importance of poetry and the arts in the life of the nation, and traveled to Moscow, where he had a long talk with Premier Nikita Khrushchev.

The New England Poetry Club, of which Frost was a cofounder, kicks off its summer series at the Longfellow National Historic Site in Cambridge at 4 p.m. June 24, with a second look at one of the nation’s best loved poets. F.D. Reeve, Frost’s translator on the Russian trip, will offer his reminiscences. He will be joined by poet X.J. Kennedy and David Barber, poetry editor of The Atlantic. Having initially rejected Frost’s submissions, editors at The Atlantic Monthly changed their minds after he returned from England. The series schedule is at

Coming out

“Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing”by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers (Knopf)

“Wicked Business”by Janet Evanovich (Bantam)


“Little Night”by Luanne Rice (Viking)

Pick of the week

Katherine Osborne of Kennebooks in Kennebunk, Maine, recomends “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty (Riverhead): “Silent film star Louise Brooks was accustomed to being the center of attention, but that is not the case in this exquisite novel about the summer of 1922 when 15-year-old Louise traveled to New York for dance training. At the center of this story is her chaperone, 36-year-old Cora Carlisle, who has her own reasons for traveling to New York.”

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