Author Archive

The Strings Attached

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In the town where I grew up, Newtown, Connecticut, the town hall, the library, and a school all stood as monuments to the generosity of one benefactress, Mary Elizabeth Hawley. They were named after various members of her family and built in that 1920s/30s style meant to evoke stony

The Right Words

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For my daughter, who just turned two, language is plastic. She pokes it and stretches it to find out what it can do. Joyfully, she tells stories (only some of them true) about her day. She loves to list the parts she and the cat do and don’t have

We Have Something to Say

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Inside most classrooms lives a beast, many-eyed. If you’ve been a student in a classroom, especially in those early grades when a year lasts an eon, you’ve been part of this beast. You saw your elementary-school teachers with a collective, sharpened vision (their combovers, fluffy perms, paunches, thick, magnifying

On Opening Secret Rooms

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My childhood copy of The Secret Garden is unusually pristine for one of my books though I read it many times. Two of us must have worked hard to keep it that way; the book was my mother’s before it was mine. Next to the flowery, rabbity bookplate I

“Death!/ Plop.”: The Instructive Power of Very Bad Art

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In the basement of three small theaters in Massachusetts lives a collection of some of humankind’s worst artistic efforts: the Museum of Bad Art. Everything in the collection is gloriously, earnestly bad (the curators reject anything that seems bad by intention). You can go there. You should. The photograph