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    New England Literary News | Nina MacLaughlin

    Bobbie’s Meadow to open at Carle museum; local groups get NEA grants

    The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art

    Eric Carle Museum plays outside

    The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art will hold a celebration on June 23 for the dedication of a new outdoor space in the apple orchard on the museum grounds. Bobbie’s Meadow is named in honor of illustrator Carle’s late wife, Barbara Carle, a nature-loving co-founder of the museum.

    The ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at 10:30 am, with music from the Expandable Brass Band, and coincides with the publishing of a new book “What’s Your Favorite Bug?’’ (Henry Holt) by Eric Carle and others. Enlarged illustrations from the work will be scattered throughout the meadow.

    The rest of the day includes a talk by a naturalist who will introduce people to the animals found in the meadow; a storytime and creative-movement session with the Center Dance Studio based around Carle’s book “Little Cloud’’; opportunities to explore the different types of bugs around the meadow, with nets, cages, and observation boxes provided; and Caldecott-winner Brendan Wenzel will lead a story time with his book “Hello Hello.’’ And inside the museum, there’s a case (at right) devoted to work Carle created for his wife, including Christmas and Valentine’s cards. For more information and a complete schedule, visit

    Bar Harbor setting


    The tall pines, rocky shores, and austere New England landscape of Bar Harbor, Maine, is the setting for Terri-Lynne DeFino’s summery new novel, “The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses)’’ (William Morrow), out this week. The book follows one-time literary legend bad-boy Alfonse Carducci as he makes a final home at a Bar Harbor retirement community populated by the aging literati. There he meets nurse Cecibel Bringer, whose face was badly damaged in an accident. She serves as an unexpected muse to the blocked Carducci, and he lets her regain a sense of the possibility of love. DeFino, who lives in rural New England, has written a beachy book in which the fictional world and the real one blend and blur, and about the ways in which age doesn’t limit our ability to connect, and the opportunities to be found when one stays open being inspired.

    Big Read Grants announced

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    The National Endowment for the Arts has announced the recipients of its Big Read grants, which fund book-related programming in communities. Of the 79 awards, four went to New England organizations. The Attleboro Public Library will receive $15,000 for a program on Ron Carlson’s novel Five Skies.’’ In Connecticut the Ferguson Library in Stamford will get $13,700 for one involving poet Kevin Young’s “Book of Hours,’’ and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas in New Haven was awarded $15,000 for their plans involving Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.’’ In Rhode Island, the Foster-Glocester Regional School District will get $15,000 for a project on Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.’’ In other prize news, Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich of Boston received a Lambda Literary Award in the lesbian memoir/biography category for her book, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir’’ (Flatiron).

    Coming out

    Comemadre’’by Roque Larraquy, translated from the Spanish by Heather Cleary (Coffee House)

    A Carnival of Losses: Notes Nearing Ninety’’ by Donald Hall (Houghton Miflin Harcourt)

    New Poets of Native Nations’’ edited by Heid E. Erdich (Graywolf)

    Pick of the week


    Rebecca Nachman at Belmont Books recommends Doing Harm: The Truth about How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick’’ by Maya Dusenbery (HarperOne): “If you are a woman, care about a woman, or are at all involved in the medical field, this book is a must-read. Using scientific data, sociological research, and anecdotal evidence, Dusenbery sheds light on the medical gender bias: a deeply ingrained, widespread issue that prevents women from receiving adequate medical care. Though some of the examples are horrific — take the college student with a ruptured organ who’s told she’s just anxious — the information is important, and the book is easy to understand.”

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